A couple of days ago I attended a World Peace, Human Rights and Freedom rally in downtown Brisbane. The start was substantially late, so I had plenty of time to observe and ponder.
Today, we are divided into seemingly inconsolable ideological contingents, estranged by different narratives, both carrying their own truth, data and stories. There is significant disagreement on the course of action and even what those actions represent.
In this antagonistic soup, both divisions blame the other for the fall into unethical and immoral behaviour and decisions, having being tripped up by odious and corrupt influencers and organisations. It seems that the antagonism inevitably ends with a familiar and consistent collapse in dialogue.
We are becoming an increasingly contrary society. I experience it on my morning bike rides and I see it on social media. It is blatantly obvious as it currently plays out on our global health stage. I noticed it at the rally.
On an individual level, if you become polarised within yourself, it can be hard to make a decision. You can become stuck in patterns. These patterns may become lifelong: a lifestyle. Expanded to societal scales, a population that can’t commune with itself, has no choice but to tumble with the momentum.
With this unwanted momentum, it’s hard to see the forrest for the trees: to have common objectives, pathways, aspirations and dreams. It’s classic control theory to divide and conquer. Keep the masses confused so that no unifying counterforce can be assembled. Small problems eventually, seemingly, become too big to fathom and nothing reaches resolution. In the end, we are faced with confusion, inertia, and impotence in the manner of our current challenges.
The problem with arguments, is that the dispute distracts focus from the real source of the issue: symptoms and not causes. If you had a headache, contention about whether the best choice is to take an aspirin or have a sleep takes away from the real issue — the cause.
Ok. Maybe that’s fine if your headache is intractable? But is that what we are talking about here? Are our current health issues untreatable? Do we have NO other options? Almost certainly, this virus will be around forever, in one form or another. However, if viral history is any sort of teacher, then we will understand that humans didn’t survive and thrive this long without developing an amazing, adaptable immune system and that viruses will generally mutate to ensure their survival, which ultimately means the survival of their host.
In the meantime, don’t let the symptomatic treatment diminish the desire to tackle the real issues, otherwise we will still be here in the years to come.
If we limit the discourse to two extremes of action — either / or — then we run the risk of wholly implacable solutions. As a populous, we will be faced with two completely objectionable options. Because each option is objectionable, each supporter base will objectionable. This will then further bury the root issues and causes.
How this issue has been portrayed in the media and in politics agitates our health concerns. It has split the population and diverts notice from the genuine platform of cause.
This diversion and oppositional stance draws our attention and comprehension from the intimate workings of the human body. This is where the real discourse should exist. It also shows me how to find my place between poles.
The body does not work according to single, narrow interventions. Science reduces our view to that which is measurable, necessitating elimination of all other variables, so that a particular unit / drug / vaccine can be studied. However, the body doesn’t work that way. The body is a delicate web of interconnected systems and there are always, always checks and balances to be made when the status quo is changed. This necessitates an integrated and systematic evaluation and intervention process. As a polarised society, like most arguments, we are participating in the wrong debate here. The distractions divert us from need-to-know facts and alternative options.
Relativism, roughly put, is the view that truth and falsity, right and wrong, standards of reasoning, and procedures of justification are products of differing conventions and frameworks of assessment and that their authority is confined to the context giving rise to them (https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/relativism/).
Simply put, relativistic thinking is the belief that reality is relative, depending on the adopted perspective.
I find this to be true today. Peoples opinions are defined by their personal experience. One’s view of our current plight will most likely be different if they have lost a business or can’t pay a mortgage compared to someone who doesn’t feel the need to leave home much or who may be financially stable. It will be different if they’ve lost a loved one to an illness or virus compared to someone who has seen their child suffer a vaccine injury. Until recently, some from the bush who have been relatively ambivalent and unaffected by lockdowns have changed their views once restrictions hit their area.
Relativistic thinking contributes its part to polarisation in today’s society.
The problem is, we are progressively encouraged to participate in divisive narratives. As a result, we become fodder for exploitation and it dams the flow for any democratic impetus for us as a whole, to launch coherent and necessary change. There are great forces of power in today’s society, both seen and unseen, that guide our narrative. How can we be organised and relevant enough to stand for ourselves when needed if we are combative over ‘symptomatic’ and misleading issues?
A people in conflict with itself cannot move ahead.
It is entirely plausible that economic and political extremism is THE most important hurdle to community and planetary health today.
There is no easy solution here, but we must begin somewhere and somehow. This view to segregation has become engrained. It is getting worse and it has seeped into the deep spaces. To heal, we must reach the deep places. The best advice I have heard to undo the mental inclination to polarise is to share and listen to our stories that deconstruct the antagonism. This is in part, why the Paragon Health Wellness Wall facebook page was started.
We absolutely must make headroom, legroom and elbow room for relativistic thinking and intricacy and entanglements. They are life. Room must exist for non-polarising alternatives.
Can we notice the deep motivations within ourselves that polarise?