Tuesday, August 28, 2007



Today I had my once-every-four-weeks haircut. I’ve having it cut by the same nice woman for the past 15 years. Usually we talk about child-rearing or movies or something harmless. We talked politics for the first time today. Well, not really – she just expressed the determination that she would take her family to Canada if a draft was re-instituted in order to protect her young son (and possibly daughter). This was followed up by some brief expressions about how “wrong this war is.”

She’s probably in the majority here in Moscow on the Willamette. So I cautiously expressed a few alternate opinions about the complexity of the situation, worded in an open-ended fashion that invites additional contemplation. And as with most other verbal interactions I have with people, it is only afterward that I come up with what I should have said. This is not to say that my desire is to win a verbal argument, but to invite the other party to examine things from a different point of view.

On the way back from my appointment, I came up with this one: “One is always free to choose whether or not to fight. But a fight always involves two adversaries. And your adversary, facing the same choice, may just choose to kill you regardless of your choice.”

Then I came up with this one: “Would it be better for your son to be forced to believe in a certain god than it would for him to be drafted?”

The problem I have is that both of these statements, while very obvious to me, are not so obvious to most of the people I encounter. I often feel like nobody even considers such things to be possible in modern America. Sadly, I can’t make people go take a class in World History or Western Civ to learn how truly unique and recent our condition of personal liberty and self-determination is. Even more sadly, the hardest and most important lessons are learned first-hand.

Those statements I make are often met with hostility – either because the other person completely disagrees with the statement, or more perhaps because any statement that is outside of the person’s world-view is automatically met with hostility. Perhaps I should be clearer in such discussions by saying that it is not my intent to force somebody to believe as I do, but to ask that they see the situation from a different viewpoint.

Am I that bad in the art of verbal persuasion? Or are the people I correspond with so unwilling to hear another viewpoint that polite discourse isn’t possible?

1 comment:

El Jefe Maximo said...


Funny, I've had similar conversations, and experiences.

One thing I've noticed about most of the serious Lefties is that they are positively theological about politics. Most people of the right-wing persuasion that I know reject leftism because leftism is stupid and is a philosophy built on "shoulds," totally at odds with how life is actually experienced in the real world.

But lefties reject reality, and construct their worldview around their view of good and evil -- and they think the right, and right-wingers are, pure and simple evil.

When good and evil are invoked -- you can abandon all hope of using persuasion. Most serious lefties I know are militantly atheist...but the truly weird thing about them is, in another time and context, they'd have been the loudest singers, and most certain Bible thumpers in the whole Christian church. One of the weirdest experiences of my life was being denounced by an old friend because I was part of the "Christian Right" in tones and terms that would have been easily recognizable to missionaries or the Carrie Nations of another era.

Leftism as it exists in the US is an ersatz religion -- substituted for the traditional Judeo-Christian faiths because it asks nothing of its followers; allows them to feel righteous because it gives them "shoulds" to shout from the rooftops, and solves the guilt problem produced by abortion on demand.

(I may expand this into a post on my own blog).