Historically, Americans have always had a good relationship with the idea of political discourse.
For the most part, throughout a significant chunk of our collective history, we were able to separate our emotions and feelings from facts and logic. We were able to focus on broad historical trends and leave our feelings by the door.
Well, something changed dramatically fairly recently.
I am, of course, talking within the last 25 years. We have reached a point in our history where people are more afraid of being offended rather than seeking the truth.
I don't know about you, but as a mature and responsible adult, I know that the truth is not free. I know that you are going to have to pay for it in terms of your convenience and in terms of your sense of certainty.
Believe me, I have had many moments of truth where the things that I assumed were true turned out to be lies. Do you think those moments were comfortable? Do you think those moments were filled with emotional joy? They weren't. They were quite painful.
Because at the end of the day, nobody likes to look like a fool. Nobody likes to be told that they are wrong.
However, what separates truly responsible and intelligent people from the rest of the population is that they are willing to take the risk to be found out. That's right. They are willing to take the risk to be wrong.
And unfortunately, we live in a world now where it's so easy to hang out with people who think just like us so we will never ever reach the point where we will be called out. In fact, it's too easy to set up a Facebook account where the only people you follow are people who already share the same ideas as you. Do you think you will grow in that environment? Do you think you would be challenged?
One of the most important things that I've ever learned when it comes to political and personal beliefs is the idea that personal knowledge is like a muscle.
For your personal awareness and your overall intelligence to improve, you have to challenge it. In other words, you have to absorb information that you are not all that comfortable with.
Why? When you do that, you challenge your emotions. You say to yourself, "Okay, this is not easy for me, nor is it convenient. However, I need to go through this because I am forcing myself to look at facts. I am forcing myself to use my reasoning ability and my rational skills to use logic to get to the bottom of an issue."
Unfortunately, more and more people are choosing to ignore this altogether. Instead, they would rather go for what feels right. They'd rather focus on things that feel true and accurate.
Well, unfortunately, the world doesn't revolve around our feelings. That's how tribes are formed.
And sadly, a lot of people base their identity around their tribes. Either you're a liberal or a conservative. Either you're a Democrat or a Republican. Either you're black or you're white. And a lot is lost in translation.
I'm not saying that we have reached that point where tribalism has fully killed off genuine political discourse, but I can't help but think that we're getting close.