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Friday, June 2, 2017

Unfounded Optimism

If around at the time the United States government was initially constituted, I might well have been--depending upon "where I sat"--a supporter or opponent of slavery.  Aware of my tendency for optimism, I might well have thought along these lines:  "The opposing point of view regarding slavery is dead wrong.  But given time, the other side will come to align with my point of view.  The benefits will be so obvious, that a broad consensus will develop eliminating any need for strife or conflict."

Of course we know that such optimism would in time have proven to be entirely unfounded.  In my last blog Playtime is Over I suggested that the debate regarding the proper role of government has been seen in something of this rosy light (the embedded video is an excerpt of a debate between William Buckley and John Kenneth Galbraith).  There will be plenty of time for leisurely and friendly--even playful-- debate over the matter (seems to be the tenor).  The proper role in time will come to be so obvious that consensus will pop up overnight like mushrooms.  We are assuredly approaching no precipice or crisis; all ahead will prove to be (to use Churchill’s phrase) “broad, sunlit uplands.”

In fact, we see that quite the contrary appears to be happening.  Each side posits that their approach would have proven hands down its overwhelming rectitude but for the treacherous sabotage of the opposition.  And now cable news intensifies convictions confirming that our perspective is absolutely right, and the other insanely and nefariously wrong.  And since our chosen point of view so greets us in the morning and bids us goodnight, our little gray cells deeply entrench our pet perceptions through regular reinforcement.  If you are like me, you have been astounded that a friend you thought you knew well could so inexplicably and nonchalantly be captured by the totally absurd. Should we ask: Is there a grueling Civil War in our future in which the Mason-Dixon line becomes replaced by multiple bloody and contentious “Streets that follow like a tedious argument/Of insidious intent” (T.S Eliot)? 


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