Holding Many Truths: The Loss Of Nuance To Vicious Polarity

It’s the zoo’s fault.

No! Wait. It’s the parents’ fault.

No. It’s the gorilla’s fault — ah, yes, that’s it.

Hold up. It’s probably Captain America’s fault. Or Marvel’s.

Or Hillary’s, or Bernie’s, or yours, or mine.

This thing is the best, that thing is the worst. Ones and zeroes, baby.

Fandom is broken. Politics is a sewer plant on fire. Lady Ghostbusters is the end of cinema. A game is delayed and the only proper response is of course to issue death threats. America is a festering hole. We all shot that gorilla. The kid should’ve died. The zookeeper should be killed. You should be killed. I should be killed. God should flood us all again just to get it over with. The world is shit. Burn it all down. Burn it all up.

Everything is everything or it is nothing. We crave polarity. We loathe nuance.

This is a problem.

I read an article recently by the mightily hilariously wise Sara Benincasa about the election, and she asked a vital question: “Can you hold many truths in your brain at once?” As an adult, it seems to be that you have to. You must be able to hold many truths — not just about different things, but about individual things, as well. Sometimes these truths line up like little ducks, and sometimes they fight like snarly badgers. And yet, we reject that. We despise that level of complexity in our daily discourse — everything must be a toothy, wild-eyed dichotomy no matter how false it may be. Nuance is lost because nuance doesn’t bait you to click. The middle ground is widely populated with essential details, and yet it is at the fringes where we most find our reward: go to the middle and you get arrows from both sides. Stay behind the walls of your team’s fortification, though — ahh, now you will be celebrated, held aloft for your opinion, and all of you will drink and dance in frenzied froth-mouthed glory as you ready your next batch of arrows for THOSE OTHER MOTHERFUCKERS OVER THERE.

The gorilla is dead, and the kid is alive, and the worst news of it all is that it may not be anybody’s fault. Actually, perhaps the truly worstest news is that even if it is somebody’s fault, We The Unhuddled Internet Masses probably can’t actually fucking tell from over here in the digital bleachers. I’m sad the gorilla is dead. I’m happy the child is alive. I know some parents are not good with their kids, and I know some parents are great with their kids — and sometimes the parents who are great with their kids still miss the half-second window that their own child takes a header off the couch into the corner of a coffee table and needs like, 16 stitches. That’s not bad parenting. It’s just an accident. It’s just life. Life is full of things wonderful and horrible and a lot of stuff in between and it’s not always about WHO WE HAVE TO BLAME, WHO WE MUST HATE in order to make sense of it all. But blame makes it easier. Blame makes us feel just.

Captain America is a Hydra agent. Which means he’s a Nazi. Or it means he isn’t a Nazi. And he’ll be this way forever. Or for one issue. I have no idea. I know that I can hold multiple truths in mind. I know that I don’t believe the decision makes Marvel anti-semitic, nor are the creators and editors deserving of threats. I know that criticism against Hydra Cap doesn’t mean the critics deserve threats, either, and I know that the only way we seem to want to parse criticism is by dialing it up to 11 and then taking a hammer to the knob. Some troll either runs with the criticism and elevates it to death threats, or someone else says that criticism somehow punishes us all, even though criticism — agreeable or disagreeable as you find it — is an essential part of the pop-cultural conversation. And I know death threats are not an essential part of any cultural conversation ever, not against the audience, not against the storytellers.

I know that criticism doesn’t make you a hater. Or that telling a complicated story doesn’t make you a monster. Hate makes you a hater. And some stories are just stories and not sacred cows. I know that thinking the new Ghostbusters trailers didn’t look funny doesn’t make you a sexist, just as I know that hating the new Ghostbusters movie because it contains women makes you a total sexist even if you don’t tell us out loud that’s why you hate it. I know your childhood isn’t destroyed and if it is, that isn’t the fault or a movie or a TV show. I know wanting Elsa to have a girlfriend or wanting Poe to tongue-fuck Finn doesn’t make fandom broken. I know that not wanting Poe to tongue-fuck Finn doesn’t automagically make you a homophobe, unless the reason you don’t want it is because you think icky-ew-gross, then yeah, you’re a homophobe, you homophobe. I know fandom isn’t broken but it’s still got problems and problem-people and we need to see that, sometimes, and we need to talk about it even when it makes us uncomfortable. I know that social justice is not a see-saw scale from GOOD to EVIL, but rather, a delicate web, and sometimes you tug on one end and it shakes another part of the web you didn’t anticipate. I know that outrage is only outrage when it’s not the outrage you feel — because it’s easy to call something outrage when you don’t agree with it. People wanting representation in the storyworlds they love is not entitlement. People harassing creators and editors and artists are entitled and they are harassers, no matter how noble or ignoble their desires.

I know that Hillary is not a monster. I know that Bernie is not a savior. I know that if you look at both of them from a hundred feet up, they’re two qualified candidates whose policies are almost universally in line with one another. I know that Ted Cruz is the Zodiac killer. I know that this country might do better with more than two parties just as I know we live in a country engineered to reject the two-party dichotomy. I know that politics is corrupt. I know that Obama wasn’t the MAGICALLY PROGRESSIVE ANGEL we all wanted him to be, and yet despite that, he has done a lot of good for this country. I know that FDR revolutionized the country with the New Deal. I also know he put Japanese people in internment camps. We crave scandal and drama while shoving more complicated realities under the water so we don’t hear them kicking and screaming.

Many truths in your brain at once.

I don’t know where we lost that.

The Internet is probably a part of it. As I said yesterday in a rather long blabber-wank about fandom, I think the Internet is like a wonder drug. It does a great many things excellently, but it also has a lot of hinky side effects. Information moves fast on the Internet, and we’re more inclined to click the thing that either agrees or disagrees with us to the max. We don’t want somebody just to tell us we’re a little bit right — we want somebody to freeze-frame high-five us for just how fucking bad-ass right we are. We love confirmation bias. We greedily click the things that tell us what we already believe. We also seek to fulfill our wishes. This will cure cancer. This is what causes autism, ah, yes. My candidate is the best thing since masturbation, and yours is a pile of walking talking donkey shit and here look I have the polls to prove it, even though polls are notoriously unreliable and they require 1000 older people to answer landline phone calls at 2pm in Kansas. You’re stupid. I’m smart. America is the best. Wait, no, it’s the worst!

Maybe it’s the media, maybe it’s how we create and promote and read the news — news, after all, is just entertainment for the most part, isn’t it? Even in stories where we know there are real, genuine problems plaguing us — climate change or the post-antibiotic age — the stories either remind us how NOTHING IS WRONG GO BACK TO BED AMERICA or how EVERYTHING IS SO BAD WE MIGHT AS WELL JUST LIE DOWN IN THE MUD AND WAIT FOR A HORSE TO STEP ON US AND KILL US. Even there, nuance is lost. We push it away even in situations where we should know the score, where nuance and compromise both internal and external are key to tackling the tremendous problems we have in front of us.

Everything is everything. Or it is nothing. We won’t let one thing show many sides.

Maybe it’s just that we want answers. As our most renowned truant once said, “Life moves pretty fast.” Except we don’t stop and look around — we hard-charge through it, self-assured that as long as we have answers, as long as we are emboldened by unexamined singular truth, we can never be wrong. Rather than face the howling uncertainty of a gradational world, we want everything black and white. We need cancer to be cured because otherwise, that means children and mothers and really anybody at all can just die and nothing can be done. We need the zoo to be responsible, or we need the parents to face justice, because otherwise it renders that gorilla’s life meaningless. We need the thing we like to be a thing that is objectively best, lest we instead admit that so much of what we enjoy is subjective and not beholden really to any rules at all. Nuance is a lawless space, but if you’re willing to shuttle complexity to the curb, you can be assured. We are rewarded for our polarities — though, regrettably, one of those rewards is not progress, because when you’re willing to dig your heels in for everything and anything, and so is the other guy, it’s no surprise when the world burns down around you. (But at least you still have your principles.)

We need our enemies. We need our answers. We crave control. Can’t just be enough to think a thing. To examine it. We have to know the thing. We have to be faithful and ardent.

That’s not to say everything demands nuance. Human rights are vital. Representation is essential. Nobody should be starving, and they are. Everybody should have a right to use the goddamn public restroom of their goddamn gender-given choice, goddamnit. Donald Trump really is a demonic, Hitler-worshipping, self-tanner-drinking orangutan merkin who will almost surely lay waste to American Democracy the moment he presses his malevolent turd-cutter into the Oval Office chair. Not everything demands nuance and Devil’s Advocacy, no, and such diabolical advocacy can often be used to derail and dispute and distract (“Well, actually,” and “But, what if…”) — but the trick is knowing which fights need that ferocity and which ones don’t. If everything is a Crisis Level 1000, if everything is an echo of confirmation and an emblem of unswerving principle, nothing will ever get fixed, nothing will ever get done. Sometimes we need to swerve if only a little. Sometimes we need to be measured and uncertain. We don’t need Wicker Men. We don’t need heads rolling for every single transgression.

We do need nuance, sometimes.

We do need to hold many truths in our head, even as challenging and as uncertain and as muddy as that makes life. Everything can’t be everything or nothing.

Some things have to be many things all at one time.

P.S. Elsa needs a girlfriend and Poe needs a boyfriend, the end.

58 responses to “Holding Many Truths: The Loss Of Nuance To Vicious Polarity”

  1. Chuck, I think you should edit this blog to include this morning’s news about a black woman being cast in the role of Hermione Granger in the upcoming Harry Potter play. MANY MORE CHILDHOODS HAVE BEEN RUINED.

    • a) that’s awesome

      b) childhoods must be fragile like tissue paper, it’s a wonder any of us even REMEMBER BEING CHILDREN what with all the childhood-slaying going on

  2. goddammit Wendig it really chaps my hide the way you constantly try to push reason on the internet like it’s something we should be using on a daily basis. I’m frackin sick of you trying to get people to settle down and act like humanity is a good thing. You shove this crap down our throats all the while sprinkling em dashes willy nilly throughout your text. It’s enough to make me want to vomit unicorns

  3. “The middle ground is widely populated with essential details, and yet it is at the fringes where we most find our reward: go to the middle and you get arrows from both sides.”

    This. Lately, this is how I’ve felt every moment I log into social media. I’m pretty moderate on most of my opinions, which leaves me in a no-man’s land where I’m either “wishy washy” or “mealy mouthed” from one side or a straight-up racist fuckwad from the other. If I’m *mostly* for you that means I’m not *entirely* for you which means I’m fucking *against* you.

    It’s exhausting, and is driving me away from social media. I can’t seem to have a fun discussion online anymore, and even people whom I consider friends are making me question whether there’s even a place for me online anymore. I’m not willing to shift to the extremes, so I’m stuck belly-crawling through the much between the two entrenched positions, just trying to avoid the barbed wire and mortar fire.

    • Word. More and more I find I have to avoid social media. My level of anxiety has gone through the roof, and I don’t consider myself an anxious person.

      • This is why I avoid most of those types of topics. I see a mess of posts come across my feed and it takes all I’ve got to keep from responding sometimes, but I *know* that no matter what I say, they’re not going to agree. They’re going to do as Chuck says and dig in their heels and insist they’re right. Even among the social groups we both are part of, there is polarization. Frankly, I’d rather read, form my opinions, and except when truly necessary, keep my mouth shut. There’s much more fun in dog and kitten pictures or pictures of hot men.

    • I got fed up with all of it at the beginning of May. It had my anxiety level so high I second-guessed every tweet and deleted quite a few. I finally decided to stay away from social media in general for at least a month. I don’t miss it too much.

  4. The other day when a perfectly normal political discussion with my daughter –in which we concurred– ended up with me yelling, “I tell you will be blood in the streets!” I realized it’s possible that my anxiety level might be on stun. Collectively, I think we may have really egged the place. Perhaps it would be good to take a deep breath. Yep. Gotcha. Agreed.

  5. Some things might just be accidents, I guess, but this is not one. There are clear failures on the part of the zoo and the parents that led to that gorilla’s death. He should never have had to live his life trapped in that damn enclosure anyway.

  6. Every time I read one of your rants I breathe easier afterward.

    I am a historian of long, long ago. We (humanity) never lost “many truths in your brain at once.” We never really had it, especially not in the midst of societal crisis, except when we’ve struggled and fought for an understanding of nuance. And yet, when I’m talking with individual people in person, most express many truths — questioning, pondering, debating, learning. It’s astonishing to watch college students over a semester and actually see them learning, stretching, appreciating nuance and accepting that the answers are rarely easy or monolithic. People in reality are infinitely cool. But I think it takes deep confidence to acknowledge nuance, and I think we often operate from fear. Our use of the Internet is surely polarizing, and can stink, scum rising to the top of a deep pond. (Except you. Natch.)

    I write in a genre that is often either thoroughly excoriated or defended tooth-and-nail. There’s plenty of debate but precious little nuance in the debate, at least not on the part of authors and publishers of the genre. Lately — after more than a dozen books — I’ve been writing about my ambivalence about the genre. I’ve always felt it and I’m not sure why I’ve finally gone public about it. Perhaps because I’m weary of the lies in our public realm, the so-called debate that rejects nuance, and I can’t bear to write another promo piece that glorifies the good while ignoring the bad. It’s complex, it’s complicated, but to me it’s more interesting, human and real because of it.

    Thanks for the easier breathing today, Chuck.

  7. I am reminded of the “know thyself” sentiment – if we comprehend how complex, nuanced and capable we are of holding dichotomous beliefs as individuals, it becomes very difficult to regard the world without nuance.

  8. I do so like it when you have a rant like this because it means I don’t have to. When I hit my teens, I remember being really disappointed by my studies in history. It had moved from black and white, from Thingwhat did thing y to oojah and thing p followed to: Thingwhat did something we don’t know what although some accounts say he did thing y or that someone did it in his name, possibly to oojah, and we think Oojah reacted by doing thing p although recent evidence suggests it might have been thing x or thing u activated by his Lord chamberlain while he was asleep. We then spent the next year studying every scrap of evidence about Thingwhat and Oojah to try and piece together what really happened only to discover that there isn’t enough hard evidence ever to know for sure only that Oojah died was buried somewhere but we don’t know where and that Thingwhat wrote the official historical account, probably with a little bias. A.k.a. (Short form) we don’t really know what happened.

    The thing is, there are uncertainties and there is grey. I hated the grey to start with because I liked the world black and white. I liked it simple. Complicated may add texture and half tones and subtlety but complicated is scary. We all like to feel in control and I reckon the problem with nuance is, it takes that away and to live without that feeling we are in control takes courage. But reality isn’t simple and if we insist it is we are just pretending the world is flat, projecting our own unreality onto what actually IS with disastrous results.

    Everyone wants to control their destiny and that’s why they try to control others I guess. However I suspect the reality of life is that control is impossible and the only thing anyone can truly control is their reactions to what life throws at them. Maybe if we all paid a bit more attention to controlling ourselves rather than trying to control others the world would be a better place.

    Anyway, great post Chuck.



  9. I love how you take all my inchoate, stabby thoughts on shit like this and voice them for me with grace and passion in a way I can’t. I don’t get how people intelligent enough (one assumes) to set up and use a PC and access the internet, lose their effing minds the minute they get on there, lose all ability to think critically… no. Lose all ability to just think. And the sad thing is, they don’t now seem to know when they’ve logged back out again and are in the real world, and they bring that unthinking, uncritical it-has-to-be-someone’s-fucking-FAULT mindset with them.

    The internet has brought us so much, but the price we’re starting to pay… I don’t know. I just don’t know if it’s worth it.

    • I wonder how they would all react if we went back to dial-up and 20 hours of AOL a month for a year… lol. Either mass chaos, or they’d all calm down by the end.

  10. Longtime lurker here, I seldom comment on your posts but I read them all. Just wanted to say, this may be the most important and *helpful* post you’ve ever done. Thanks.

  11. Thanks for this. Especially the turd-cutter quip. I’m now putting that into my lexicon.

    But seriously, you’ve said something here that I’ve been thinking about for a while. I’ve inched away from so many recent conversations because it seems like most people can’t have conversations online. They can hold one idea, and to bring up another–even as devil’s advocate–is to call yourself out as not an ally. As part of the other team. To ask questions is to silence voices, to not ask questions is to silence voices.

    I was an academic before I wrote fiction (and academia is excellent at producing turd-cutters), so the whole it has to be one thing or another mode of thinking so goes against everything I’ve been trained to do. Still, I tend to keep my mouth shut, because on the internet, opening it often makes you a target.

    Thanks for voicing this more pithily and with more creative obscenities than I could ever come up with :O

  12. Poe does NOT need a boyfriend. he needs an older woman who can understand him and appreciate him for the magnificent cocky bastard that he is. I volunteer as tribute.

    Shades of gray are not fun (especially not that mish-mash of 50 of them.)

    I am done with the gorilla thing. The zoo executed its disaster plan flawlessly and then harvested Harambe’s genetic material. He will live on. He was a captive bred animal unsuited for life in the wild. His son may have a different fate because of the world-class breeding program in Cincy. When Jane Goodall came out in favor of the zoo, that was good enough for me (and I guarantee that she packed a rifle suitable for dropping 400-pounds of living freight train.)

    I will also be glad when primary season is over on June 7th. Even with the reminders of the mud and vitriol of 2008, this one is worse because the stakes are so high. The pit of failure so deep . . .

    And having personally experienced some of the abuse that is now commonplace on the net, it is stunning. Like many others, I didn’t know how bad it truly was. What was once a narrow slice of net-life called “gamergate” is commonplace, especially for women. Being told “u a stupid moran bitch lol” and “now, don’t get your sugartits in a twist,” is part of the price of being female on the net.

    After the Nevada debacle, some reporters tracked down one of the guys who was leaving messages for the chairwoman like “Answer your fucking phone you cunt bitch,” (dude, when you send a death threat by text, it shows your phone number,) the guy was really surprised that everyone was so angry at him. His excuse was that he was just excited and caught up in it. It wasn’t some mouth-breather living in his mom’s basement. He was some guy going to work when they contacted him. Yet, he thought that was okay behavior because he perceived that something in politics didn’t go his way.

    With all the blessings of virtual world (such as letting me live and work in a small cheap town without experiencing crushing loneliness and a job at McD’s) it has removed our social filters. I sincerely doubt that dude would have called a middle-aged woman “cunt bitch” to her face.

    And, yes, our nuance. Now, it doesn’t mean we have to tolerate every opinion. We get to moderate our corner of the virtual world. “Free speech” does not include spewing in the little fraction of virtual space we carve out. I had a guy tell me that he could comment on whatever I posted because free speech and there was nothing I could do about it. He was wrong.

    Sorry, Trump apologists will get shown the door in my corner of the virtual world. Along with sexists, racists, etc. I don’t want to hear about how confederate flags are symbols of history and culture and I will not debate things like evolution. But neither will I pile on a mother (who by witness accounts acted the same as a dozen mothers I see every day) nor will I shout “sue/close/burn the zoo” (I’m an engineer and a lawyer and see all the sides of that issue.) I just delete it and move on.

    I survived Superman dying (oh wait . . . ) and I’ll survive Cap. Lady Ghostbusters will make me laugh or it won’t. I am tired of reboots only because there are so many other stories out there. And sometimes I want to read a book in a familiar genre written by a cis-white-guy. That doesn’t make me a dominant culture oppressor. And preferring one candidate over another does not make me a “deluded sheeple lol.”

  13. Amen. My wife and I were talking last night about why does EVERYTHING feel so divisive now. Has it always been this way and we were too young to notice before? I mean, I remember people disagreeing in the 80s and 90s, politically, about game reviews, etc, but never to this level of constant hyper-polarized vitriol.

    We need to find ways to chill out and disagree in a fruitful, productive manner again.

  14. I remember back in fourth grade or so Reagan’s reelection was coming up. Because apparently schools were different then (somehow), us kids were talking about some of the issues IN OUR ACTUAL SPARE TIME (in a fourth grader sort of way–no one said we were brilliant).

    Two things I’ve never forgotten:

    One was in a class full of kids, many refused to vote the other party in because the man running for president would have a female vice president. And with kids, you never have to wonder, they’ll be quite clear why they hate a candidate. I remember that even then that shocked me, because many of the kids refusing were girls, and because I had already come to expect that stuff from the grown-ups, but I thought we were better. (Little did I know that feeling would follow me the rest of my life. Life lesson; NO ONE is “better,” we just like to think we are.)

    The other thing that got me was how often I was told to “get off the fence and pick a side.” BY FOURTH GRADERS. These kids weren’t even in the double digits, and due to having a weird birth date I was actually a year younger than most of my classmates (I entered school a little early). I would start talking nuances and complexities (again, in a fourth-grader sort of way) and the kids around me just shut down. They UNDERSTOOD what I was saying, they just didn’t CARE.

    “Pick a side.”

    That followed me too, every day of my life. I went on to do battle with my preacher, my parents, my family, my teachers, my peers, and more often than not I was told again and again that my nuanced views were destructive, were self deceptive, were ludicrous, were immature, were idealistic, were just plain stupid.

    “Stop sitting on the fence.”
    “Those in the middle of the road are liable to get run over.”
    “Pick a team.”
    “Pick a side.”

    The thing is, those kids didn’t learn to be like that from the internet since there was none, no clickbait around every corner, no popup ads and flash videos. Maybe TV taught them some, but cable in the 80s wasn’t what it is now. Talk radio wasn’t as big a thing, though it existed. Those kids learned theirt views–their anti-woman and anti-nuanced views–at ages 8 and 9, from their parents, who probably learned it from THEIR parents.

    “Either you’re a Commie or you’re on the side of Freedom!”
    “Either you’re a real man or you’re a sissy!”
    “Either you support the war or you’re on their side! (Vietnam back then, but how little this has changed.)”
    “Either you’re a dirty hippie or an upright American!”


    Either/or is practically BUILT into our culture at this point. There’s no escaping it.

    When you follow the history of political discourse you follow a nuanced conversation…until you don’t. It never seems to abruptly STOP so much as slowly peter out, trickling into something new. That something seems to follow the rise of mass media such as movies, radio, and television, though I think it could be seen on a slightly smaller scale in widely distributed newspapers. It’s like we WANT to be told what to think, because that’s so much easier than actually thinking.

    Either/or was taught to those fourth graders, who grew up and had little fourth graders of their own, who then grew up and did the same. Culture changes so slowly–we tend to know something is wrong for decades before we even begin to address it, much less change it in any meaningful way. We’re STILL fighting the birth control battle that began back in the 1800s, for pete’s sake! Because, you know, EITHER you’re a god-fearing Christian who supports a “woman’s place” OR you’re going to hell. There is no third option.

    I am not surprised to see this now, nor is it new. This is who and what we’ve always been–Red Sox or Cubs, God or the Devil, Democrats or Republicans, Coke or Pepsi, right or wrong. We have been herded into tribes and told to identify ourselves by their values, and we have complied in spades because, really, we have nothing else.

    So much of America is broke and overworked and running on little time and less sleep that no one can breathe long enough to enjoy their kid’s birthday party or a placid sunset or time with a neighbor. We used to identify with community but community is all but gone, so now we identify Star Wars or Star Trek, Coke or Pepsi, Democrat or Republican and make those folks our default communities instead. Shorthand communities, where we can immediately connect on one subject and, for just a small period of time, feel like we’re part of something bigger, something MEANINGFUL.

    Humans are desperate for that.
    Humans would KILL for that.

    And it’s brilliant, and sad, and terrifying, because it’s a perfect for of crowd and thought control–even if it’s being done by accident–and it keeps us divided, stupid, and at each other’s throats. And it falls right in with groundwork laid decades ago; “Pick a side.”

    And I really think it’ll get much, much worse before it ever gets better. I wish I didn’t, but I do.

  15. Well said, sir. Nuance is the perfect word. Every issue has it in abundance but like bacteria we can only see the festering boil that ruptures the skin. Even Trump is nuanced. He is the symptom on an infection that has afflicted millions of Americans. I don’t understand their disease but its existence is a Truth. A Truth that the rest of us need to accept and hopefully find a cure.

  16. […] This guy is crude, but he hits on a small point I agree with; nuance is lost in our culture, and that that has contributed to a loss of civility in our culture. Facebook is Exhibit A.   The point I’d disagree is where he equates nuance with “holding many truths in our head at once” if by “many truths” that is taken to mean a bunch of different beliefs that may or may not line up with each other. It is entirely possible to have a nuanced worldview that is internally self-consistent. By worldview, I mean all of those beliefs one holds taken together as a whole.   In fact, I would argue that for civil society to be civil, that it is essential for the majority of people in the public square to cultivate an internally consistent worldview. Let me explain why this is so.   Most people concerned with the problem of incivility see the lack of love for their neighbors. It is one of the foundational twin purposes of life; to love your God and to love your neighbor. To love either requires you to adopt of view of truth that defines it as any belief that corresponds to the way the world really is. By doing so, you commit yourself to seeing problems as they really are, which allows you to address the issues at their source; to fight for justice in a way that actually promotes justice, to love your neighbor in a way that is actually loving rather than co-dependent or enabling or damaging.   Without a commitment to believing true things, you leave yourself wide open to believing selfish things; things that seem right to yourself, to the way you feel, but which may not actually correspond to the way the world really is. And that is what creates the entire problem because it leads people to act the way that he spells out here: “Stay behind the walls of your team’s fortification, though — ahh, now you will be celebrated, held aloft for your opinion, and all of you will drink and dance in frenzied froth-mouthed glory as you ready your next batch of arrows for THOSE OTHER *bleep* OVER THERE.”   You lose the nuance. But by committing ourselves to believe true things no matter how uncomfortable they may be, we begin to address the incivility of culture by addressing the incivility–the lack of love–within ourselves.  […]

  17. The thing I’m most proud of, as a parent, is the fact that I’ve trained myself to tolerate the awful things my kid says. He comes home and says, “I hate beautiful colors, I only like cool colors” and I stifle my urge to go, “WHAT THE FUCK DOES THAT EVEN MEAN??” and instead I say, “Oh really?” and then I ASK HIM which colors are cool. And then I tell him that I like every color, at different times for different things. Because he is five. And I never want him to learn something truly atrocious and hateful from some kid at school, and then be afraid to tell me because I spent years berating him for having ignorant, sexist or racist ideas when he was too young to understand what he was saying. I want him to know that his ideas are ok to examine and change. And I want him to know we are safe people to explore them with.

  18. So timely, thank you. It is easier to post absolutes and outrage than it is to consider shades of context. While I think it’s important to call people out for their actions and words, it doesn’t have to be done with napalm every time. That just poisons all the ground for everyone.

    You’re not talking to anybody if you’re not listening, and I find absolutists on all sides guilty of that.

    I think I did a good job as a parent when I was ranting at someone driving erratically in traffic and it was my son at 17 who said, “You know maybe they’re just having a bad day.”

  19. First off, why can’t Poe have a boyfriend AND a girlfriend? Could make SW 8 & 9 real interesting. Even beyond the simple joy of watching certain people’s heads explode. (I’m imagining the end of Kingsmen which was completely over the top but amused me more than it should have.) I can’t comment on Elsa because I haven’t seen Frozen. (Yes, yes, I’m a monster without a soul. I can however, sing Let It Go. After dropping it an octave, of course.)

    Otherwise, I’m with you on the need for nuance. I’ve seen this for at least 16 years, since the ’00 election. It goes along with the idea that there’s only ONE IMPORTANT ISSUE and it’s yours and your position is the only possible and correct choice that a intelligent person could make. *eyeroll* I try to follow Linus’ path of loving humanity, even if I can’t stand people. Some days make it harder to do that.

    On a more upbeat note, just finished Blackbirds and I have to say that it rocked. Hard. Looking forward to starting Mockingbird this weekend.

  20. “the stories either remind us how NOTHING IS WRONG GO BACK TO BED AMERICA”

    i’m not sure if this was a deliberate Bill Hicks reference or not; but i love it either way!

  21. Ironically, I was listening to a radio program on water use in the west, and one of the panelists (I didn’t get her name and I’m sorry for that) said, “If you propose a simple solution, then you aren’t thinking very deeply.” Thanks for this post. Once again, you said what needs to be said.

  22. If the media tells you anything, don’t just believe it without examining it for veracity. The Internet can, at least lead you to corroborating facts or revealing lies. In the old days we _had_ to believe the news on TV and the newspapers because we had no way to check their facts. Now we do…

  23. Shit happens. Life sucks, get a helmet. No, if something bad happens to you, it’s not necessarily anyone’s fault. Somebody said something you disagree with? If you go nuclear and declare that person a (insert derogatory, inflammatory label here), well, let’s just say YOU are the problem.

    People need to start checking their outrage.

    And stay the fuck off social media before it destroys us once and for all.

  24. This seriously hits a nail on the head, people have forgotten how to critically think and let themselves get frenzied by uncited accusations that crop up all over the Internet

  25. And is this not an example of social media, for we flock here to see the wise and powerful Oz giving us his diagnosis for the social ills we all face. Without the internet’s content around the world, we would be poorer. The world would be much larger than it has become. It would be less attainable. As for critical thinking, it’s still taught in the school system. Some people respond to hysteria, some to balance, some to looking backwards and some forward. The balance is to retain the ability to take a breath, to check sources, to avoid becoming coming a case of Dr. Suess’ Scrambled Eggs Super.

  26. Did I miss some description of some evidence? So what the fuck *actually, really, verifiably” happened xor are none of you not interested?

  27. A gorilla died as a result of a child crawling, then falling into the enclosure. A parent hopped the fence to grab at the child. The gorilla stood the child on its feet and pulled its pants up, but when they tried to take the child, the gorilla took the child up and moved further into the enclosure with him. Panic overtook the onlookers and the gorilla ended up dead as he wouldn’t let the zoo officials near the child either. It was sad. There is debate as to how the child ended up in the enclosure.

    Trump made comments.
    Hillary made comments.
    Bernie made comments.
    None were about the gorilla, but caused a furor over political thoughts. Some contributors were rude, boorish, uninformed, paranoid. Roughly the world of reality on levels of hormones not conductive to rational thought.

    Lady Ghostbusters came out in movie theaters. So did lots of everything else. Somewhere someone made inappropriate comments about sexuality.

    All if it seems to be too much for those who spout nonsense or for parents trying to understand the world. Then the shooting in LA of a beloved professor, etc…

  28. IMHO, Poe needs a boyfriend AND a girlfriend. (Jedistormpilot trash here *runs away cackling*)

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