Critical Thinking vs. Constructive Listening
Again with the textbook... Right now I'm learning about the steps of listening. Very important and valid for a public speaking course. But, a thought occurred to me: Most people who dabble in politics (or do more than dabble) realize that critical thinking is very important. We read and listen to messages very critically, because, frankly, there's a lot of deceipt going on, both intentionally and subconsciously. Critical thinking is very important, and I'm not one to deny that (though I do think far too many people apply it without understanding it very well, but that's not my point here).
However, progress (not the progressive progress, but general progress) requires more than critical thinking. Critical thinking is what pits adversaries against each other, creating an atmosphere of duelistic mentalities. It's them or us, baby...which side are you on.
For those of us who do not want to be on either side, for whatever reason, this gets very tiresome. I'm not a Democrat, and I'm not a Republican. Yet, if I stand against the one, it's assumed that I am the other. When I visit liberal blogs, it's often assumed I'm a Republican. When I visit conservative blogs, it's often assumed I'm a Democrat. And, that's kind of funny...but the point is that I'm neither, nor do I wish to be either. I'm past that.
What I want to do is find the middle ground that the majority, the real American majority can stand on comfortably. None of us are going to be 100% satisfied with that situation, but most of us will be more comfortable and better situated than we are now. It seems like a very logical place for us all to want to get to, because our government would be fulfilling its Constitutional purpose. And yet our reality is far from this middle ground despite all the critical thinking that so many people try to do.
What gives? Really. It makes me wonder if too many people are stuck in the critical thinking duelistic mentality and haven't moved onto the point of compromise and common ground. For instance, as long as the other person is willing to continue a discussion in a civil manner, I can usually find some sort of common ground with most of the people I run across. It's also common for friendships to develop between this people I disagree with, or, at the very least, friendly nods to acquaintanceship. This doesn't mean I agree with the -- sometimes ever -- but it does mean there is a willingness between both people to acknowledge the value of the other's opinion, and the potential uses that opinion may have. Worst comes to worst and there's no common ground on any particular issue, remaining civil can, at the very least, help both people strengthen their arguments by watching where the other finds holes in the self same argument. Ideas can be strengthened, can become more sound, or can be discarded and re-thought through civil, constructive debate.
I do wonder how much better our country would be if constructive debate were a more sought-after pastime. It makes me think that perhaps Inclusive Debates could accomplish even more than I originally expected. T'were it only nearer at hand.