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    The AtlanticConor Friedersdorf8/20/2022 min
    17 reads8 comments
    The Atlantic
    17 reads
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    • SEnkey1 year ago

      This piece is well worth the read for a lot of reasons, but this nugget stuck out to me:

      If a member of a civic body expressed frustration that a colleague refused to read the Bible, the Quran, The Wealth of Nations, The Communist Manifesto, Atlas Shrugged, or Dianetics, and couldn’t understand an accusation until they did, most observers would see the problem. Drawing on outside concepts is fine. But if you can’t explain your position unless everyone reads your source material, then the fault lies with you. No one in a public meeting should have to read the books you consider important, much less accept that the ideas in those books are sacrosanct.

      As humans we often confuse conviction for understanding. I do this all the time. I read something and feel deep down and that it is capital-T - True. I then go to share the idea or concept with someone else and realize I can't really explain it so well....what happened? While I am convinced by the argument/idea - I don't actually understand it. At least, not well enough to explain it simply, which is what real understanding is. I then have to fall back on the same refrain - "You just have to read it."

      Which is to say that I can sympathize in some way with everyone in this article.

      • bill
        Top reader of all timeScout
        1 year ago

        💯👍 What an exceptionally thoughtful comment. Thanks for sharing!

        This is my fav part of the article:

        I had to remind myself that no one is at their best in tedious meetings held remotely months into a global pandemic, and whatever their relatively minor imperfections, these people dutifully show up, far more than most, to do civic work. On substance, I remain undecided as to which faction has the better position on screening policy. Both sides aired concerns that seem reasonable and defensible to me.

        Introspection is key. Fixing ourselves is a private act. These are hard questions without “right” universal answers.

        I haven’t shared this publicly (online) yet, but a few weeks before George Floyd was killed, I started seeing a black guy that I met on a dating app. So, this global conversation about race (and privilege) has been intensely personal for me from day 1. I have always considered myself to be a part of the solution, not the problem (I was the only white person to serve on the exec board of my college’s NAACP chapter; I worked on Obama’s presidential campaign; and I have more black and non-white friends than I can possibly count) but I have realized that this “work” only matters to the extent that it has helped me fix myself. These days, I’m really bursting with opinions and experiences that I wish to share, but that’s kind of the problem. It doesn’t matter if I know things. It matters if I’m at peace with myself in my heart. Sometimes I am. Sometimes I’m not.

        Love is great. It solves everything. But also, it’s hard. If love wasn’t elusive and challenging, it would be meaningless. I’m not sure how that relates to race relations, but it’s something I want to remember to think about.

        1. Update (8/22/2020):

          PS I’m white. I just realized that my comment won’t make sense to readers who don’t know that. I grew up in an extremely white town and went to extremely white schools. Basically, I didn’t even know any non-white people until I left for college.

        2. Update (8/22/2020):

          Oops. Just realized I already ID’d myself as white in the original comment. (Should Readup just have profile pictures?!)

        • SEnkey1 year ago

          I'm coming to the same conclusion myself. When people's attitudes or views frustrate me on a given topic I remind myself -that's me five years ago (or more depending on the subject). This is not to say that all my views are right, or that I am 'further along' or 'more advanced' than others and that eventually they will all think like me. It is more my way of humanizing others and understanding their perspective.

          A small stakes example: When two lanes are merging to one for construction, I used to be in the camp that you should get over early and that people who ran to the end of the closing lane were cheaters and scum. Then a friend pointed out to me that it actually moves the traffic along quicker and is designed for cars to go all the way to the end of both lanes....I knew she was wrong (of course!) so I looked up a study on it and.....dang it. She was right. I changed my way of thinking. But when I hear others complain about it, or see people give me a dirty look as I use the closing lane - I more than understand.

          Changing myself is something I can do. Holding myself accountable is something I can do. I'll keep working on me before I push too hard for everyone around me to be better than I am.

          • bill
            Top reader of all timeScout
            1 year ago

            That example is actually a really great one because it’s perfectly arbitrary and yet we ascribe moral judgment (“cheaters and scum”) - such an enlightening realization.

            We are living in an age of great misunderstandings. I think a lot of people think that other people are evil. But people ARE fundamentally good. Everyone’s trying.

          • Karenz1 year ago

            What would’ve happened if a black guy was bouncing a white baby on his knee? Would that’ve been racist? I cannot believe the baby incident sparked this whole controversy and that it continued after the nature of the relationship was explained. To accuse this guy of using the baby as a “prop” is ludicrous to me and shows the extent of the divisiveness to which our country has come. We can’t just say the problem is Trump because we have intolerant idiots on all sides of the issues.

      • anayar1 year ago

        I mean it’s the ridiculousness of the way these arguments are trotted out that gets me. “I don’t really understand what I’m talking about but AT LEAST IVE READ A BOOK. You haven’t read the book? Well clearly (a) I’m right by default because you haven’t read it and (b) you’re actually racist for not reading my book.”

        Scary stuff. I don’t know how educated people end up enveloped in ridiculousness like this but clearly education itself may be part of the problem. Sometimes ignorance really is bliss.

        There’s also something to be said when it’s people of color who have to do the work to try and argue with the self-hating madness taking over a certain coastal educated white person. What fun times we live in!

    • bartadamley
      1 year ago

      Very interesting read, just goes to show when working towards meaningful solutions... it may not always go pretty, based on a lack of understanding of a given theory.

      How do we curtail arguments/solutions into a form that all can understand? I will admit that the whole idea of anti-racism is a concept I lack understanding about, but would love to learn more.

      In civic life generally, policing perceived microaggressions should never take priority over or distract from the shared project of improving policies and institutions.

    • normanbae1 year ago

      Take a step back, put away the fists and learn to listen to each other. Otherwise, we get this.