Our society is missing thoughtful debate

Jets roar above yard signs planted in silent protest. A gavel opens and quickly mutes a legislative session. An interrupting tweet drowns out a key testimony.

To these pressing issues of the day, people responded with tweets, posts and letters. Yet the total of their passionate support and protest became inconsequential white noise to the well-funded decision makers. One-way conversations change no minds.

What’s missing today is thoughtful debate at all levels of our society. The open clash of ideas is a productive exercise that identifies problems and produces viable responses. Public discourse is the decision-making muscle of a democracy.

The political culture and ineffectual leaders we have today are the products of a society that celebrates consumption but dissuades deliberation. By avoiding altogether the discomfort of a disagreement, everyone’s unchallenged opinion is correct but hallow. Fragile egos remain intact, but what suffers is our fate.

The prescription to these ills should include: constructive conversations among friends and neighbors, local newspapers willing to accept 600-word editorials from the public, unscripted open debates between candidates for every office and an education system that fosters the intellectual and practical skills to be a thoughtful, productive and influential citizen.

Each of us must possess a general willingness to be wrong. That’s when growth can happen. Ultimately, we should expect little to change until we are willing to change ourselves.

CapTimes – November 25, 2019