“Your mind is a lot like a parachute,” said the Dean of something or other at my college graduation. It was College Graduation, so I was drunk, hungover, or otherwise distracted, and I don’t remember much. But I do remember that comment.
There was a very long pause after he said it. I don’t know if he took a sip of water, or dropped his dentures, or was just being dramatic, but it was the kind of pause that begged you to finish his thought for him.
So I remember seriously mulling it over – how like a parachute? “…It will save you when you’re falling?” “…Strong and finely woven?” “…Fun to watch when it’s floating around in the sky?”
His throat cleared, he finally pronounced, “…It’s only useful if it opens.”
My initial reaction was along the lines of, “I put in four years for that?” But the sentiment has stuck with me.
Studies have shown that Americans tend to gravitate toward people who agree with them. While it makes sense to be drawn to people with similar values – and often that translates to politics – this also creates a vicious cycle. More extreme positions get reinforced, rather than challenged, and people lose sight of the value of dissenting opinions. Debatable foundations become accepted as fact, and people build their beliefs on them, polarizing in one direction or another, far from the oft-sought consensus fundamental to our society, mores and politics.
In America, a country whose people have more geographic mobility than most, people even tend to move to communities with similar beliefs – surrounding themselves with the like-minded, and making different opinions seem distant, unreal, and more ill founded.
In our own small effort to combat this, Motif is building an opinion section that will present opposing viewpoints on timely issues on the state or, sometimes, national level.
Yes, there will be some rhetoric and questionable logic – on both sides. But we’re hoping there will also be ideas worthy of consideration. So please, if you read along as we build this section. Don’t just read the side you agree with. And don’t just rail at the idiocy of the position you disagree with. Assess both sides – reach your own judgements, and use that parachute in your head