Why can’t we all just get along?

Those famous, admirable, and heartfelt words of a troubled and far from blameless Rodney King, the victim of a famous police beating in 1992, are sometimes mocked, but King had a good point.  It is incumbent upon us as citizens and as decent human beings to try to find common cause, mutual forbearance and, wherever possible, grounds for agreement.

 

Amidst all the unrest of the past two weeks, perhaps what is most disturbing for civilization’s long-term health is not any individual incident, no matter how bad, but instead the immediate division into two warring camps. Setting aside the killing of George Floyd itself (everybody agrees that was just awful), public debate and private conversations alike are rife with angry assertions that one must either be pro-police or pro-protesters/rioters, anti-antifa or anti-Trump, racist or thoroughly “woke.”

And Lord forbid that anybody have a nuanced opinion on Drew Brees!

Well, if you insist that all life involves nothing but “binary choices,” then stop reading. Leave this site. And please go hide under a rock.

This site takes the position that it is possible to say there are systemic (not just individual) problems in too many police departments, but without saying that all or most police are racist or brutal. This site recognizes as an obvious truth that there are generic ways that white people are “privileged,” but without assuming that all whites are racist, even if only implicitly. This site insists that the only voices not allowed are ones that advocate violence against innocents — or that tell others they must “shut up,” except to shush up the shut-uppers so everyone else can have constructive conversations.

This site insists that, as I wrote in an essay for a college magazine way back in 1986, we must have “discussion without repercussion.” This is not because one side or the other doesn’t have the better or a particular argument, but because even the wiser side should listen to the other “because it [the wiser side] always strives to be [even] more right,” and it recognizes that the other side has important perspectives that can help it get there.

Nobody will ever accuse me of anything other than strong opinions. Still, in today’s polarized world, I sympathize more and more often with the voice of Billy Joel in one of his lesser-know songs, “Shades of Grey.”

These days the edges are blurred, I’m old and tired of war
I hear the other man’s words
I’m not that sure anymore
Shades of grey are all that I find
When I look to the enemy line
Black and white was so easy for me
But shades of grey are the colors I see
So….. As you read the pieces that appear below this, you’ll see me crossing back and forth across the supposed battle lines, trying to take each issue, distinctly and particularly, as it comes. If you want somebody advocating that the other side be crushed, this site isn’t for you. We don’t need a civil war; we need civil discussions.  — Quin

 

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