Washington Post has a featured article claiming that there are two Americas following the election of 2016. This line is getting old. The same claim was made in 2000, 2004, 2008, and 2012. After each of these elections, many people, on both sides, woke to a rude awakening that many people in country did not see the world like they do and great many of them decided to reject the reality in favor of their comfortable dream worlds.
I don’t know if I can decry their choice of the dream worlds. The sad truth is that we need only deal with a tiny fraction of the “reality” in course of our lives. “Evolutionists” rarely engage in extended conversation with “creationists” about evolution, beyond the crazy caricatured. Perhaps they do interact far more often than they realize, but they do so behind the businesslike face focused only on what transactions they conduct. They certainly NEVER engage in conversations as to why they think as they do, what they see in the reality that might not be visible to one side or the other, and what that means to each. The sad truth, of course, is that there really is no “need” for those conversations. Why would I want to talk to people whom I don’t know and probably won’t like why they think or how they live their lives, when I can see ever more confirmations of how great my world is and how right my way of thinking is? The worlds, of the premises, values, preconceptions, etc. that different camps occupy are so different that, sorting through what the moving parts would take an enormous effort and empathy, and it is not clear what gains would accrue to the side that does the understanding at the end. Will they be able to “enlighten” the other side to change their mind? Will they be grateful for being enlightened, even? Will they like you for your having wasted time arguing with them? If you can avoid having to deal with them on the issues that are uncomfortable easily enough, why not just avoid them instead of engaging them? Technological change has made it easy to engage with the world–the parts of the world that you like–while making it so easy to tune it out as well–the parts of the world that you don’t like, at least.
In a sense, these are the sins of Judas Iscariot that I had written about a few days ago. Seemingly being damned for all time, being labeled as the great betrayer, is after all, a big deal. If I am being asked to betray Jesus Christ, why would I not be sullen, resentful, and wondering why I’m being forced–for you cannot refuse Jesus Christ, after all–into such a wretched situation, except, of course, Jesus Christ is going to be crucified. But, a Korean proverb says, a splinter under your fingernail hurts far more than a stake through someone else’s heart. Satisfying your needs and wants and addressing your troubles and duties have to come first. People are demanding that things be done yesterday and so forth. You don’t have time to think about things beyond your world, other than they are crazy, irrational, and most importantly, “irrelevant.”
No, I am not calling for liberals to understand the Trump supporters, at least not just them. If anything, I’m asking that everyone, on all sides of all issues, should take a step back, look around, and take stock. They should try, in a perfect world, to seek out people who are least like them, give them a hug, and try to converse with them in search of what makes them tick. But that’s silly. We don’t live in a perfect world. People don’t have time to understand others, especially those who are not like them, for good reasons–it takes too much time, effort, and leads nowhere obvious and might lead to a lot of troubling realizations even.