Mint, Anyone?

Certs is a candy mint.
Certs is a breath mint.

The commercial’s voice-over narrator settles the improbable and stagey argument between the two twins in polka-dots by giving them a verbal shake.

You’re both right.
New Certs is two mints in one.

The more polarized our politics becomes and the more obnoxious our public discourse, the more I find myself wanting to verbally shake participants on both sides. Stop!

Isolating rogue regimes like China
doesn’t help them become less rogue-ish.

Retired Canadian politicians who are
still influential in policy circles
have business ties to China that are unseemly at best,
conflict-of-interest-producing at worst.

Both can be true.

Current and former Canadian politicians have personal ties to,
and have received personal benefits from, charities.

Canadian charities rely on
government support to thrive, even to survive.

Both can be true.

Disparaging someone’s race, ethnicity,
nationality, gender, or orientation is not OK.

Shouting-down someone who is expressing
opinions different from ours is not OK.

Both can be true.

Offensive behaviour does not build community.

There is no human right “not to be offended.”

Both can be true.

Medical scientists are our best hope in this epidemic.

Medical scientists disagree among themselves
(and sometimes with themselves)
about what’s best to do.

Both can be true. So, “Stop.”

I’d say, “We’re both right” but I can’t go quite that far. As long as we refuse to acknowledge that the person we’re arguing with or the position we’re arguing against also has some truth on their side, we’re not right: not as individuals and not as a society.

Even though discussion (as opposed to argumentation) doesn’t build audiences to sell to advertisers, and doesn’t give us that old self-righteous glow, maybe we could put a little less energy into proving our own point of view and a little more into finding common ground for improving a persistently messy and stubbornly imperfect world.

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8 Responses to Mint, Anyone?

  1. Jim Taylor says:

    Oh, my, would that your viewpoint could be universally accepted — nay, endorsed, absorbed, believed. Richard Rohr says the same thing (in several books) but he uses the mind-fog-inducing term “non-dualistic thinking”. You said it better.
    Jim T

    • Isabel Gibson says:

      Jim T – Thanks, Jim. On a related note, I watched part of a “roast” of Frank Sinatra where then-President Reagan was speaking. His gentle humour was in sharp contrast to what we see now, pretty much from all sides.

  2. In the midst of existential threats, a hierarchy of matters of seemingly lesser concerns emerges. It is more difficult to see nuances in “the big picture” under that kind of pressure. Matters that would seem paramount under other conditions become appendages of the cataclysm. You show a superior ability to hold both rational viewpoints in your analysis of situations. I know I struggle to keep such a perspective “under fire.”

    • Isabel Gibson says:

      Laurna – I think we all struggle. I can be calm on the page, usually, but not always during the conversation. You raise an interesting point about our tolerance (for the cognitive dissonance that comes with “not landing” on a position – or not “hard”) dropping as we have to divert mental resources to deal with the stress of Other Matters.

  3. barbara carlson says:

    In what universe could this be achieved? — and the entrenchment just seems to deepen with time, in my long life’s observation. If I could eliminate one thing, with a wand, it would be the ridiculous and deadly devotion to “isms” — of any kind — especially their perversion.

    They’ve been the cause of much of man’s inhumanity to man — to deny or change your belief system means admitting you’ve been wrong or stupid, and that’s as hard as admitting to being conned. Con men of every ilk, including religious “leaders”, rely on this, and get away with evil.

    I may be off point here, but thanks for listening.

    • Isabel Gibson says:

      Barbara – I don’t think you’re off point. I agree that we often justify/explain our inhumanity by appealing to an -ism of some sort, but I fear the root cause lies deeper in our hearts. We seem to be built to find a way to distance ourselves from others. That doesn’t mean we can’t push back against that tendency.

      • barbara carlson says:

        One’s Tribe can only be so inclusive and then everybody else is Other. “Go away, not invited,” kind of thing.

        But I do know people who love everybody, judge no-one, or at least until they get to know them. Ha!

        • Isabel Gibson says:

          Barbara – I had a Northern Irish professor tell me not to refer to the Catholic/Protestant troubles as tribal conflict (this after he had been at pains to explain it wasn’t really religious warfare – that is, not based on differences in dogma). He saw that word as a pejorative, “something only primitive people would do, not people like us.” I took his point, but I use it as you do and think we all have our tribe(s).

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