DEBATE

One symptom of our toxic individualism is our inability to debate differing propositions en route to discovering truth without triggering a collective sense of personal attack. People hold beliefs so closely and seem to have such an inability to function or self-actualize in spite of these beliefs, or hold a belief while understanding themselves as a meaningful individual independent of that belief, that any contradiction of a belief they hold is perceived by them as a contradiction of their identity and worth. “If you disagree with what I believe, you must hate me as a person,” is in essence what we tell each other, in many more winding and self-exalting words. How we need to usher back an older sensibility regarding belief and conviction that upholds dignity while fairly critiquing the thoughts the dignified person holds. Is it so elusive that one can deeply love his or her fellow human while deeply disagreeing with the beliefs and convictions that fellow human holds? When truth was the victor, personal feelings about each other were based on the inherent dignity of the fellow man, and society worked to help lead itself toward truth one word at a time, not associating the wrongness of a belief with anything except just that: a wrong belief. Now, we’ve so emphasized the person outside of truth, operating under the notion that a person should be entitled to any belief they’d like simply because they exist, that we’ve spun ourselves into a position of being unable to speak truth without being accused of being hateful. This cannot be good for us.

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