Monday, July 21, 2014

Nobody Right, Nobody Wrong

There is an existential argument raging in and about the industry in which I am employed that both in form and in substance is disheartening me.

Both sides have their arguments down almost to the point of cliche.  It is either good, without room for critical reflection and certainly without room for dramatic improvement; or it is bad categorically and should be scrapped and started over from scratch.

Having been around this crowd for 20+ years, I can tell you in factual terms that they are both right, and they are both wrong.  In making their arguments, both sides can wander from intentionally misleading to mindful (or mindless) blindness to the merits of the other's arguments.

Unfortunately for everyone else, the dualistic, polarized shouting matches of this sort have become the norm.  Discourse doesn't happen much these days.  Discourse has been left to loud displays of categorical, unyielding, and - it would seem - intentionally confrontational side-choosing. It just seems that in more and more critically important societal conversations, the only voices we get to hear are the unyielding ones.

The argument going on in my industry is societally relevant, and I would say critical.  To make it into something that can be yelled about, it has been turned into simplistic black-and-white components, leaving non-specialist stake holders and observers feeling the primal urge to chose from black or white, failing to consider the grays because those voices are drowned out.

Compromise is not always a good thing, but the complete absence of compromise can be equally destructive.  At least compromise follows discourse.  Winner-take-dualism is killing discourse. 

As a society, we wander along, declaring a "winner" and swiftly moving along to the next loudest topic, failing to reflect on the effect of our decision.  Governance becomes not much more than a jousting match with the prize of prudent governance being replaced with victory laps for the "winners".  Those governed end up the innocent bystanders.

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