Zev Levi

How to Avoid Accidentally Being the Moron

“You know we’re just waiting for you to die, right?”

That’s my internal reaction to old-school doctors that disrespect nurses. And old-school racists. I don’t say it. But I want to.

It’s just easier to develop moral norms without the input of people who disagree with basic social axioms (like the old humans have equal rights chestnut). It is because of this that the ability to ignore can be pretty helpful for a country; ignore the naysayers, outdated protocols, and superficiality. Just get on with it.

The Ability to Ignore

The problem is that this ability to ignore can become cancerous.

A country that develops brazenness to ignore adversity may find adversity-ignorance ingrained in its psyche. That brazenness tends to stick around in that society; “You oppose my action. I’m right so I’m doing it anyway. Deal with it.”

That, deal with it” is the cancer. A government that plays this card once in a while may lose an election. A country with this as its MO is not a long-term country. “Dealing with it” generally involves non-ideal pastimes like revolution, civil war, and persecution. Check history. Please tell me if I’m wrong.

Whether or not Israel’s current “deal with it” atmosphere is caused by it’s history of adversity, I’m not sure. But I’m concerned. I want Israel to be around a thousand years from now; I like the concept.

The alternative to the Ability to Ignore is the Ability to Convince; “You oppose my action. The future involves both of us so let’s explain our reasoning to see if one of us missed something.”

Accepting the duty of this engagement is difficult as it’s human to feel like anyone that disagrees is a moron. Survival is worth it.

The Ability to Convince 

Respectful critique is more effective than vitriolic spew so remember to respect the person, not necessarily the ideas. I propose these 4 oversimplified steps for political / ideological discussions.

1. Accept you might be wrong

Before you held your current opinions, you held others. That means you think that you were wrong in the past. If you haven’t reached the pinnacle of understanding, you will, at some stage, learn something that refines your beliefs. This means that you might be wrong right now. Listen to people that disagree with you because refinement can’t come from anywhere else.

2. Start with your priorities

Political policies are how a country achieves goals. Arguing policy with someone who does not share the policy’s goal is just an ineffectual way to develop upper arm strength. Or do anything else.

Settle on a shared priority like freedom or cultural preservation with your conversation partner; what do you both want?

You may find that your political differences stem from differences in your priorities. If so, prove the legitimacy of your order of priorities (without mention of policy).

E.g. Regardless of how, convince me why maintaining a country’s cultural identity is more important than opening its doors to refugees…

If you reach an axiomatic impasse (one of you believes that humans are responsible for one another, the other believes that humans are responsible only for themselves) be aware that your arguments’ foundations are just as subjective as theirs – if not, one of you would have been convinced. Then jump straight to point 4.

3. Talk numbers

Once you have agreed on a social priority, use third party, reputable sources to make the case that your political platform achieves it. Personal experience does not neutralize researched statistics. It feels like it does. It doesn’t. Point out flaws with statistics or accept them. Listen to your partner’s arguments (to correctly disprove them or) in case you decide to adopt them.

4. Appreciate complexity

By all means keep your politics. But please also appreciate that there are valid reasons to disagree with you. Not all the people on the “other side” are stupid or evil, and some of the people on “your side” are both stupid and evil.

Ignoring a problem lets it fester and turn violent. Respectful critique among disagreeing partners nurtures sensibility. Compromise between sensible parties is a moral way to ensure survival.

And survival is peachy.


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About the Author
Zev Levi is an Australian oleh cataloging how his opinions on local issues change and why.
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