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Let's be honest

America is divided.

Currently the United States is in the middle of a culture war: Republicans versus Democrats. Each side paints the other as naive, stupid, or even "the enemy". There comes a point in a conversation when you realize that the other person is talking about something completely different, or that there is some fundamental break that can't be bridged in a single conversation. This rupture is caused by such alien viewpoints that it seems like they are speaking a different language.

Different Lenses, Same Country

Each side of the culture views itself in a specific way. Charitably put:

Republicans seem to be trying to protect a way of life. They value hard work, loyalty, and they want to keep what is America's for Americans. They have Christian values as they were taught in church: life is sacred, family is sacred, the country and the church are sacred. Being a patriot to a republican means to stand by those who serve the country, to stand up for these values wherever they are. They want to practice their values in all aspects of their life.

Democrats seem to be trying to protect a way of life. They value diversity and equality. They include all people in the country, regardless of race, sexuality, gender or religion. They see deep inequalities and injustices that need to be addressed, and want to bring about positive changes to the country so we can evolve to better and better ways of life. Being a patriot to a democrat means to improve conditions for all, rooting out injustices and corruption, and celebrating differences as what make us unique and strong.

Both sides think the other is deluded. That they're promoting dangerous ideas, hurting the country and they've swallowed the lies of their party.

BUT: the majority of people on both sides are not stupid, lazy, or traitors.

Here's the truth

If you've stuck around this far then you are probably the kind of person I want to talk to. The situation is a lot more complex than "democrat versus republican." The issues are complex. In order to make sense of them and figure out how to help the country we need the proper tools. To find common ground, we're going to have to lose some of our illusions.

To break down the barriers in the country we need to be better ourselves.

Since both sides think that the other side is somewhat deluded, let's start there.

The term "critical thinking" gets mis-used a lot. What critical thinking is, is thinking about the quality of your own thoughts. I think of it in terms of "weeding the garden". My mind is a garden full of thoughts, but some things don't belong. Some ideas, like weeds, will take root and drive out the thoughts that are valuable and nourishing. Critical thinking can be learned and improved over time, improving the quality and clarity of your own thoughts and ideas.

Sacred Cows*

In the 19th century cows were an important part of culture in India. The cows produced milk and food, so they had a place of importance. Venerated for producing the milk that nourished people after they were weaned from their mother's milk, they were so important that they went from being protected to being "Sacred". It was sacrilege to harm a cow, they weren't just important they were holy! This created a host of problems. How to you herd a literal holy cow?

Fast forward to modern times: doctors in India had to warn people that cow urine or feces was not a cure for Covid. People were literally covering themselves in "holy shit."

How do I put this: have you ever met a cow? Nice enough critters, but not the brightest, cleanest, or easiest to care for. Frankly, I like them barbecued and served with potato salad. But who am I to say? I'm just a guy who grew up in Idaho.

To me "sacred cows" are ideas than need examining.

Let's kill some sacred cows, make some barbecue, and make our minds better.

* My apologies for inaccuracies in telling this story. I don't intend to offend through cultural appropriation or misrepresenting facts.

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