A friend of mine on Facebook recently pointed me to a meme which he’d acquired over at Econlog:
The next time you’re engaged in a political discussion with someone who has very strong views different from your own, ask them if they can name two famous thinkers or politicians whose politics are opposed to theirs who they also think are very smart and genuinely concerned with making the world a better place. If they can’t, it’s not clear they are able to grant the good faith such discussions should have.
This was timely and appreciated as, at the time, I had been engaged in several frustrating back-and-forths — you know, the usual someone is wrong on the internet — and I was sure one of my primary interlocutors would fail that test, and then I realized I did too. It was a good reminder.
Dovetailing with that is this video I’ve had up in tabs forever and finally got around to watching:
The two points that really stand out to me here:
- Having only one story about a people or place doesn’t just mean that you’re probably wrong — it means you end up lacking the capacity to know you might be wrong. You lack a frame in which alternatives could fit.
- Stories, as so many things, are about power. In particular, the powerful are those who can tell stories about other people, and have them believed.
Normally I try to draw library connections with all my posts, but this topic is near enough to my heart I am posting it regardless. If there are connections, draw them as you will.