If I were to refer to cartoons with all the word bubbles having jagged edges and lurid colors, could you fill in the words? BAM! CRASH! BOOM! BLAST! You get the idea. Not exactly the stuff of reasoned, principled debate. Well, that’s what the “click-bait” world has become. To get more followers for your twitter/instagram etc. (anti)social media, or to get more click-throughs to your website, the formula is simple: Be outrageous, be incendiary, be vicious, be brutal, be truthful…oops, the last one was a mistake, I got carried away with all the beings.
What are some of the headlines that appeared in just one day, a few days ago? “CNN blasts Trump”, “Trump crushes Acosta”, “I hope Trump is assassinated” (Maria Chappelle-Nadal, Mo. state senator), “Bannon slams Afghanistan speech”, “any spark could set off an explosion” (Al Sharpton). You get the idea. But what is really the root of the problem, for that matter what IS the problem?
Incivility itself is A problem, but THE problem is not recognizing that we each have on a pair of goggles called “worldview-colored glasses.” We each truly see things that some others don’t see, or we don’t see things that some others do see. We each interpret what we see and hear and feel through the prism of our worldview. For you who are new to this concept, a definition may help. Worldview. noun. “The overall perspective from which one sees and interprets the world. A collection of beliefs about life and the universe held by an individual or a group.” I question whether this word is really a noun. The process of turning a concept into a noun–nominalization–is really a way of limiting it’s impact.
If Your worldview determines how you filter and interpret events, isn’t it as much an adverb as a noun? It matters, because no one is responsible for a noun. It’s a thing, you possess it or not. But an adverb modifies an action, and someone is always responsible for an action. I can take some examples of actual events that happened, and show how the headline–the interpretation–differs with worldview. But first, the crucial underpinnings of worldviews are presuppositions. They are beliefs and assumptions, usually unconscious, that prop up the worldview. If they are questioned, even accidentally, by something said in any context, a mature and self aware person can examine their presuppositions and determine if they are accurate, and if not can reconstruct more accurate foundations for their beliefs if debate is allowed and new input welcomed.
What if debate and new input is not allowed? What if the discomfort that is “triggered” when presuppositions are questioned leads instead to retreat, defensiveness, and suppression of uncomfortable views? Well, that’s what we have on campus these days. As if “safe spaces” (hiding places from having to hear viewpoints that differ from your own) were not a bad enough idea, what happens when you want to “celebrate” your graduation only with people like you? What happens on campus today becomes media outlook and political decision tomorrow.
From the NY Times (who thinks these are great ideas): “This spring, tiny Emory and Henry College in Virginia held its first ‘Inclusion and Diversity Year-End Ceremonies.’ The University of Delaware joined a growing list of colleges with ‘Lavender’ graduations for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students. At Columbia, students who were the first in their families to graduate from college attended the inaugural ‘First-Generation Graduation,’ with inspirational speeches, a procession and the awarding of torch pins.”
The Times celebrates this “diversity”, because in their worldview, the only diversity that is not acceptable, indeed doesn’t exist, is diversity of opinion. But you say, “they know that there are other opinions, right?” No, there are no alternative valid opinions, there is only good vs. evil, and by definition any disagreement with their worldview is not a difference of opinion, but evil itself. If you don’t believe me, just follow the headlines.
So that raises the question, “Are all worldviews equally valid?” What if a worldview is based on false presuppositions? If we can no longer question presuppositions without being accused of something–being insensitive, mean-spirited, homophobic, Islamophobic, racist, sexist, offensive–what we are then stuck with is the . How did we get here? That will be the subject of my next post.