Editorial: The death of reason
We deplore the constant and apparently increasing absolutism expressed by persons in the position to govern, lead, or influence the nation. Public officials and those who make their living off the business of politics, such as lobbyists, PAC leaders and party officials, and those who drive up ratings through commentary, are all guilty.
The absolutism applies to almost any topic of public discourse. Guns. Education. Immigration. Health care. Climate change. Religion. Foreign policy. Taxes. You name it. There is no middle ground. They will fight about it.
Absolutism defies the laws of gravity and balance; and among some of those influenced by it, absolutism can lead to intolerance; to a portion of intolerant people, to prejudice; to a small portion of those, to extremist acts. This is a dangerous end result of refusing to reason with your opponents.
Have we forgotten the wages of absolute extremism?
May we remind our readers that just a little over a decade ago, Americans were united in a fight against religious extremism that had struck at the heart of our political and economic institutions, inflicting tremendous damage to the national fabric and psyche. Wars have resulted, in some ways ill-begotten or carried out, and the religious extremists on the other side continue their fight against the American way. The world is not much safer than it was in 2001; although our nation is doing a much better job of intelligence, albeit sometimes at the cost of our civil liberties.
Must we also become a nation of extremists? Where is the reasonable public discourse that has held us together through prior crises?
We lament the death of reason. A common idiom, “my way or the highway,” expresses the crude absolutism of following just one school of thought with no allowance for others’ opinions. “Come now, let us reason together,” says the Bible. Which method of discourse is more likely to allow our beloved nation to continue on the road of progress and enlightenment?