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Fri Jan 4, 2013, 03:49 PM

How did people lose the ability to agree to disagree?

Our democracy and the right of free speech is based on the value the founding fathers placed on differing opinions. It is by the airing of differing opinions that people are either persuaded or not, or a compromise is found which while not giving either side everything it wanted provides a way for each side to feel good about the outcome. But ultimately, of course, the majority rules, which means that there will in most political matters be a large percentage of people and their elected representatives who are not happy with the result. Such is life in a democracy.

For such a system to work, for our democracy and representative government to function, it is of critical importance that even though people and their representatives may disagree with others as to a whole raft of issues, that, as lawyers say, “people agree to disagree,” that they understand that “reasonable minds may differ.” Which is to say that each side respects that the other side came to its opinions honestly and with reason ... they just don’t agree.

When, however, people become so convinced of the rightness of their opinions that they become self-righteous and ideological in their approach to issues ... that is they feel that they are not just right and the other side wrong but that the other side is somehow evil or harmful ... then there can be no compromise, there can be no reasoned discussion, there can be no art of persuasion and the process of our democratic government breaks down. And that is the state in which we have found ourselves these past few years.

How have we come to this point? Why has a system that has operated for more than 200 years, with the exception of the Civil War, with widely divergent points of view and often hot tempers reached the current impasse? Really, what we are seeing now in the posture of the two opposing sides is most akin to that which our country experienced over the issue of slavery and to a certain extent the civil rights movement. And that’s disturbing.

... (see blog post)

But how do we get both the public and their representatives to get down from these barricades they’ve erected? How do we get them to go back to the day when each side respected the other side?

As a Buddhist, I find the answer in the teachings of the Buddha. The Buddha taught that all things are empty of intrinsic existence, that they are of dependent origination. What that means is that every thought we have, every opinion we hold, all our perspectives are a function of our learned experience, whether within our family, our peer group, or the larger culture.

As a proposed statement of fact, this statement is unassailable. And when one truly accepts that fact, there is no way that one can say any more with certitude that I am right and the others are wrong. Even if one is Born Again, your opinions are based on the teachings of your peer group, your minister, and they were learned from someone else. They are as dependent as the opinions of a secular humanist atheist. And if anyone has the hubris to say that God has spoken to them and this is what God says, beware!

There should be only a few universal rules in coming to a compromise on issues. First, do unto others as you would have them do unto you; love and respect your neighbor as you do yourself. Second, do no harm to those who are vulnerable and need the protection of the state. Third, the social contract must be honored by all citizens, part of which entails that those who are better off have a social responsibility as citizens to help those who are not well off ... that’s what progressive taxation is all about. Fourth, there can be no sacred cows ... neither military spending nor entitlements.

Application of these rules would arrive at numerous ways to cut the deficit and slow the growth of the national debt through a combination of raised revenues and reduced spending without harming either individuals in need, the strength of the economy, or our national security.

For more on this and other issues see my blog, http://PreservingAmericanGreatness.blogspot.com
For more on the Buddhist perspective, see my Buddhist blog, http://www.thepracticalbuddhist.com

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Arrow 11 replies Author Time Post
Reply How did people lose the ability to agree to disagree? (Original post)
natrlron Jan 2013 OP
leftstreet Jan 2013 #1
forestpath Jan 2013 #3
MynameisBlarney Jan 2013 #2
global1 Jan 2013 #4
natrlron Jan 2013 #5
ieoeja Jan 2013 #6
natrlron Jan 2013 #7
KG Jan 2013 #8
TheKentuckian Jan 2013 #9
natrlron Jan 2013 #10
99Forever Jan 2013 #11

Response to natrlron (Original post)

Fri Jan 4, 2013, 03:55 PM

1. So, you're saying Buddha would cut Social Security

You lost me at

Fourth, there can be no sacred cows ... neither military spending nor entitlements.


That you would compare military spending to social programs suggests to me you have not yet achieved enlightenment

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Response to leftstreet (Reply #1)

Fri Jan 4, 2013, 04:03 PM

3. +1

 

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Response to natrlron (Original post)

Fri Jan 4, 2013, 03:58 PM

2. I do my best to be civil

with those I disagree with. It usually works out.
But sometimes, there are people that just can't be reasoned with, who don't want to hear facts that challenge their worldview, and who become increasingly combative.
Those people I don't have the slightest bit of patience for, and I generally tell them to go fuck themselves.
After I ridicule them harshly.

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Response to natrlron (Original post)

Fri Jan 4, 2013, 04:13 PM

4. I Think A Lot Of How We've Come To Where We Are On Agreeing/Disagreeing - Winning/Losing Should Be..

attributed to the 24/7 cable news and radio shows that continually pit there guests against each other and their emphasis of making it a point as to who won and won lost.

This 'fiscal cliff' debacle we've just come through is a perfect example. For months they were scaring the American People with it and talking about winning/losing - agreeing/disagreeing - and what either outcome means for us.

I think it was interesting that after the vote - they still talked about the winner and loser and both Parties and the People lined up on both sides of the issue. We had Dems saying we won and Dems saying we lost in the process. We had Repugs saying we won and Repugs saying we lost in the process. Bottom line - in my opinion - that was a good compromise - if we had people lining up on both sides of the results. That to me says - nobody got exactly what they wanted - but they got something.

Immediately after this vote - the talk turned to winning and losing on the debt ceiling issue. We've come through 2 years of winning and losing primaries and elections and what happened immediately after the election and we got the results - well talked turned to 2014 and 2016 immediately.

This constant, incessant and repetitive ramblings on these news programs - have conditioned us all to look for winners and losers - agree-r's and disagree-r's - that in my opinion as to how we've come to where we are on this ability to agree or disagree.

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Response to global1 (Reply #4)

Fri Jan 4, 2013, 04:21 PM

5. You are so right.

I have long said that the 24/7 cable news and radio talk shows have created and feed this perspective that if you're not with me, you're an enemy. They push extremism for its entertainment value and it's ability to grab people, get their attention. It's all us v them, all winners and losers. There is no "we."

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Response to natrlron (Original post)

Fri Jan 4, 2013, 05:19 PM

6. Too often "let's just agree to disagree" means "I know you're right, but refuse to admit it."


If you have ever publicly debated a RWer then you had to encounter this. They spin. You refute with facts. They change subject with new spin. You refute with facts. Rinse and repeat several times til finally they say, "let's just agree to disagree."

Well, no, let's not. I gave facts. You did not dispute any of my facts. So I believe we are agreeing that I am right, are we not? No? Then show me where I am wrong. Defend your assertion with facts and figures.


Of course, even worse are the ones who *will* continue arguing by simply refusing to acknowledge the facts. This is the person who wants to "win" and defines winning as getting in the last word.


Actually, I don't think "agree to disagree" and "agree to compromise" mean the same thing. It certainly does not work as a synonym. Nearly the opposite. You can "agree to compromise", but I can't see "disagree to compromise" working in a sentence.

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Response to ieoeja (Reply #6)

Sat Jan 5, 2013, 04:44 PM

7. I don't disagree.

The point I was making with those phrases is that they denote a respect for the other's opinion, not that they are willing to compromise. The problem with the far right nuts in Congress is that they have no respect for the liberal or even centrist position ... like the persons you talked about who will just keep on arguing. It's like we were satan. These are people who will bring the country down without a thought, as long as they don't get their way. I'm not asking that they agree with me, just let votes take place. Let others who are willing to compromise do so without being banished from the party faithful.

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Response to natrlron (Original post)

Sat Jan 5, 2013, 04:47 PM

8. some shit is just too important to compromise on...

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Response to natrlron (Original post)

Sat Jan 5, 2013, 05:17 PM

9. Who do you think that we are dealing with that would agree to the first 3 principles

that allow the 4th to be viable?

Hell, I don't the "centrist" can be relied on as honest brokers on the first three, the TeaPubliKlans are a lost cause. Yes, even the ones that voted for the last deal.

I'd also argue that the first three are very close in reality to making the 4th impossible as well.

How would one care for the at risk and honor the social contract but be willing to cut Social Security, Medicare, or Medicaid? I would argue that for many if not most the programs are too tattered and weak to met obligations to points 1-3.

I also don't cotton to scams, my retirement age is already 67. Don't fuck with my ability to survive. You fuck with that and ANY AND ALL bets are off. I consider that 67 to be a massive generational theft as is and a violation of the social contract. As it kicks in it will be a theft of wages from young and old as the labor pool gluts in response to a stupid game.
Compromise means I GAIN something in the exchange for what I give not giving to get less but retaining more than I might in a worse case scenario. Particularly one not really threatened in the first place but rather imagined by those that support whatever deal the politician with the appropriate letter by their name comes up with.

I also don't think it is processed that sometimes there isn't enough room to just agree to disagree, that works only when both parties can go about their business. One or the other gets their way. Folks can marry whoever they love or they can't. You can feed your children or they are hungry. You can afford an education or you cannot. You have control of your body or you don't. You are a slave or you are free.

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Response to TheKentuckian (Reply #9)

Sun Jan 6, 2013, 12:35 PM

10. The point of the

first 3 rules is that if you follow those, you will find ways to "cut" SS and Medicare spending without harming those who are in need. There are plenty of people who get both who have sufficient independent incomes so that they don't need it. I know that SS was set up as pay in and get paid, but with things as they are now, those who don't need it need to both give up their payments, which make no difference to their lifestyle anyway, and also pay more in SS taxes while they are working by removing the income cap for paying those taxes.

And you're right, you can't agree to disagree on certain fundamental issues ... like the first 3 rules that I posit should govern decisions on major issues.

And I'm fully aware that the Tea Party folks and others will never agree to what I've said ... at least not now. But one has to start someplace to have a discussion and raise the issues. And I think the first is each side having respect for the other. Nothing gets someone's back up faster than feeling that they are not being treated seriously or with respect.

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Response to natrlron (Original post)

Sun Jan 6, 2013, 01:08 PM

11. Sorry friend.

Both sides to every disagreement ARE NOT equally credible.

Global climate change is real and credible, attempts to dismiss it and stop efforts to mitigate it are not.

Cutting the bloated funding of the Military/Industrial/Complex's human meat grinder IS NOT equivalent to cutting the EARNED benefits of retirees, accumulated from a lifetime of work.

"The deficit crisis" is nothing more than a contrived scheme to gut those of us that aren't part of the Chosen Few.

And so it goes for issue after issue. I'll say it again in case you didn't understand the first time:

Both sides to every disagreement ARE NOT equally credible.

False equivalency is false.

No sale, try again.

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