“To create peace in our lives–and in our world–we need to be able to sit with frustration and hold the tension of opposite views.” Parker Palmer
Polarized and Divisive
I find TV News (both network and cable) to be outrageously divisive. Their intent seems to be to persuade their audience toward taking one position or the other. And if they are not arguing for “positions on issues,” they seem to seek to whatever outrages their audience. The goal, then, of the vast majority in the medium does indeed seem to be outrage, and certainly not reconciliation.
And such goals have made us who we are today as a culture, in mid 2022: polarized, divisive, unapproachable with differing points of view, vitriolic, and to top it off, many are far too certain about the veracity of their own beliefs or positions.
I Could be Wrong
Certainty can be a most divisive issue. We may be better off with a somewhat tentative resolve regarding certainty—that is, knowing that no matter what we believe there is a chance we could be wrong. And it is in that state of knowing we could be wrong that we might nurture a healthy diet of uncertainty. Because uncertainty allows space for another person to have a valid opinion opposite of mine.
Who knows? I might even learn something from someone with an opposite position. In his latest book, The Practice, Seth Godin writes, “Ideas occur when dissimilar universes collide.” Colliding universes are very likely to initiate creativity and generosity and, if we’re lucky, connection. Isn’t that just about the bottom-line of all we seek in life, connection—with our purpose in life, with our relationships, with the Holy, and with those we serve in our jobs and careers?
A Blessing or a Curse?
Personally, I am either blessed or cursed by seeming to hold onto opposing views to most everything that really matters. Let me admit it: regarding abortion, guns, and almost all “isms” I find myself understanding and often agreeing with both arguments. But I am not in “the middle”; I merely find valid points to both sides—I allow myself to sit with the frustration and tension of holding onto opposite sides at the same time. I am swayed by logic, data, history, and intuition; and well-argued positions almost always possess their own forms of logic, data, and history.
Personal and Ideological Connection
I really agree with Parker Palmer on this one: why not “sit with frustration and hold the tension of opposite views?” In doing so, perhaps we may see the value of connection. I want peace and not vitriol. Although we can never have concurrence about ideas and positions, we can still monitor our humanity and seek to not allow disagreements (mostly about subjects that we have absolutely no personal influence on) to set us against one another.
Sit with the frustration; hold still with the tension; and then seek connection.
Are Really Just Questionably Justified Opinions
Photo courtesy of Connecting with Tension and Frustration at istockphoto