And must take the form of declaring a side.
We are in the midst of a highly conflicted time in the history of public discourse. Never before has every individual had access to so much information, spanning every continent and topic, and yet the dominant form of engagement between people is declarations of ‘for’ or ‘against’. At a point when nuance and diversity should be at an unprecedented high, they are spiraling towards all-time lows. We must either be a supporter of A or a supporter of B. Nothing in between, no room for shades or degrees of compromise or qualification.
Over the past century, our connection to the world around us has expanded both geographically and ideologically. It has given us access to ever increasing amounts of information making us feel a part of everything happening everywhere. A simultaneously exhilarating and overwhelming experience. Our instinctive reaction to overwhelming complication is to crave simplicity. We want everything and everyone to fit into clear, simple, and definitive categories. Column A or column B. Sadly, things in life are rarely that simple.
Forming opinions about ourselves and our surrounding environment based on the information we have accumulated to date is a core component of how we interact with the various aspects of our lives, as well a key component of our sense of personal identity. Our perception of the world around us and the place we see ourselves as having within it are completely dependent upon our assessment and understanding of both. In short, our opinions.
Having space and freedom to form those opinions, to analyze our gathered information through the lens of our personal perceptions and experiences, is vital to our mental health and sense of self. Forming our own thoughts and opinions is central to our ability to feel and function as individuals. The information and experiences we compile will always be influenced by the input and involvement of outside forces but our sense of personal identity depends our ability to process things under our own steam and determination.
The freedom to then express those thoughts, feelings, and opinions openly without the fear or threat of summary, corrective, conformative persecution is the primary component of a free and democratic…