“Can we start normalizing rational thought and not picking sides or fits about the “other side”? Where have all the moderates gone?” — Kayla on social media.
Long known for a place where people connect with friends or find new friends while sharing snippets of their lives, social media is facing its own crisis these days. It has morphed into a form of Jekyll and Hyde personality, depending on one’s affinity to or aversion of what they discover.
In this case, the conversation was generally positive. As it progressed, five respondents, including myself informed the author that moderates were present and participating in the discussion.
One trait of a “politically” moderate person is a reluctance to engage in any conversation which may lead to any conflict regardless the source. Whether one is center-right or center-left, conflict is not a desirable option. Rather, clarification of ideas, correcting misinterpreted comments, negotiation and settling differences via acceptable compromises is preferable to dispel misunderstanding.
The question remains, however. Kayla’s initial question points to an area of concern: we must return to normalizing rational thought. It’s not about taking sides or demonizing a person because they disagree with us. It is, however, about having constructive dialogue in a civil, respectful manner, even when people disagree. If we cannot do this without getting angry, without resorting to name calling or making personal threats, we must disengage and leave the conversation, immediately.
Screaming insults at someone, even while an opponent disengages is not an example of expressing rational thought. Making threats, questioning an individual’s character or spreading misinformation regarding an opponent’s integrity via coffee shop talk or social media is not an example of expressing rational thought.
Ed McBroom, a Republican state senator in Michigan discovered how irrational thought was instrumental in an assault on his character and integrity. A dairy farmer and Chairman of the Senate’s Oversight Committee, he was responsible for insuring the state’s election was conducted with the utmost integrity. When there were calls for an investigation into the election process to determine if fraud influenced the outcome, McBroom oversaw the committee’s work, interviewed hundreds of witnesses, subpoenaed thousands of documents and records before making their findings public.
His report concluded there was no impropriety uncovered which substantiated claims of massive fraud. He wrote, “our clear finding is that citizens should be confident the results represent the true results of the ballots cast by the people of Michigan….” Source, The Atlantic, June 30, 2021, by Tim Alberta, “The Senator Who Decided to Tell the Truth”.
The fallout among those believing in conspiracy theories was immediate and intense, including a response from the former president.
“I can’t make people believe me,” McBroom said, an air of exasperation in his voice, “All I can hope is that people use their discernment and judgment, to look at the facts I’ve laid out for them, and then look at these theories out there, and ask the question: does any of this make sense?”
People who have known him for life have rejected his statements of electoral integrity, preferring to believe what they have read on social media. Not long ago, McBroom would have dismissed any notions of societal irrationality. He is not dismissing it anymore.
Rational thought demands we seek the truth with a mindset that is both inquisitive and skeptical, using critical thinking skills capable of determining the accuracy and credibility of the facts presented.