Monday, June 16, 2014

June 14th, 2014 "The War on the Poor:The Battle For Religion" (Part 2 of 3) "Dialogue"

Today's show now posted for your viewing and commenting pleasure, is a "raw" cut, which means it has not yet been edited. When that edit is complete, I will reload the edited version to the Blog Talk Radio site, and this blog as well.

In a quick re-listening (always a difficult task for me), I must tell you I was not drunk. That being said:

The working title for this episode was "Dialogue".

The term comes from two Greek words of origin. The first is "Dia", which is most correctly translated as "two". The second word is "logos", which most correctly translates to the English word "words".

The rather common definition of the term, then, comes to us as "Two words". The words themselves are each owned by another than yourself. The idea behind it is that it takes two to have dialogue, or discourse on some subject or another.

Before the words matter, the concept of dialogue should be addressed. Sometimes, by voluntary participation, two different words, or ideas, or positions find each other in the same place at one time. In these days, many feel compelled not to speak at all. Most of those who feel a significant allegiance to one position or another may not come to that position from a logical path. When faced with the option of participating in discourse, any number of emotional responses might immediately feed the mind, while completely ignoring the voice. Words make us think. They also make us feel. Emotions do not think. Logic does not feel.

It would therefore make some sense that these two relational differences might at first seem to be antithetical to the entire notion of dialogue. That's because they are. These two worlds exist as polar opposites, yet they do feed into the human determination of what in politics we call "position". Do you have a position on ____?

How many times will your initial response be something like "Well, I'm not sure. Let me give that some thought (and emotion) and I'll get back to you. Would that be alright?" Why should it be? Why not?

Asking for, or offering a position on virtually anything can nail you forever to that particular spot, no matter what the topic may be. It may be a voluntary assignment, or an involuntary determination placed upon you by another. We have this overwhelming competitive spirit as humans (well, at least those of us with a belly button!) that we will most often immediately gravitate to the internal opinion that we are needing to be "right" (correct). Our opinion or understanding of a topic really takes a back seat to our intent to win.

Politics is filled with this dangerous paradigm. We must, however recall that, across the arc of human history, politics has started or ended many fewer conflicts between humans than religion ever has. Human secularism has sought to fill it's population from that perspective, namely if religion has wrought this, then religion just is not for me. Further, and in these days more commonly, we hear that having a religious identity or a personal faith is an outward sign of our ignorance. I refer to such thinking as "fleeing to the extremes" because that is precisely what we do. How can dialogue exist in such an environment?

Oddly enough, that very truth has become a defensive weapon on one side, and a powerful offensive weapon on the other side of the Battle For Religion. One reason fleeing to the extremes is so potent for both sides is that the middle ground is vacant. It is the middle ground where dialogue potentially exists. As a result, dialogue just doesn't happen.

Is it possible to create dialogue in such a place with views, opinions and/or convictions are so concretized as if hard wired within us? What is it that we fear losing, and at what cost? If we can come to grips with this answer, not only does dialogue become possible, but so does dialogue about pretty much anything else. Therein lies the hope of some, and the greatest possible danger to others. The ideology surrounding this concept is the power center for both. When we exit the possibility of dialogue, we give up the possibilities for dialogue, consensus, and compromise. We need not give up our religious or faith beliefs to have such a dialogue, yet we constantly feel threatened at the notion.

Abortion. Marriage Equality. The Death Penalty. These are but brief examples of a very long list of issues which are, or are alleged to be centered around the idea of "religious liberty". Some look at our First Amendment to The Constitution as giving American citizen the freedom OF religion, while others view the statement as insuring the American citizen the freedom FROM religion. Sadly, there are very few better examples of fleeing to the extremes. The First Amendment prohibits the establishment of a State Religion. This comes from history, specifically feudal and fiefdom theology of Europe, where towns were said to belong to a specific religion. We said that we would not have such a thing as a State Religion here in America. Some States and Commonwealths did establish official "State" religions upon their founding. Pennsylvania and Massachusetts come to my mind. Utah comes to mind. Pilgrims were considered to be a religious sect. That notion, and those constitutional foundations have since been repealed.

Bring us forward through the annals of our national history, and you arrive at the notion of religious liberty as it applies to virtually everything, and usually in a most negative way. The Catholic Church is excoriated for it's denial of child sexual assault while protecting the perpetrators from the world of Justice. Many Catholics now face the wrath of ignorance by those who tell them that being Catholic automatically implies their support of pedophilia. This is the cultural insanity that can originate in one wrong logical thought. Why bother having a dialogue about this, or any other religion-centric topic?

For the same reason we should come together, and reason together.  The American citizen is not asked which side should win. The American citizen is not asked who is right in the position they hold.

The American citizen is required to answer the question that asks "What is the best result for the citizen?"

If we can just come together with our different opinions and convictions, especially with the answer to this question as the basis (and limit) of civil discourse, there is much we can do. There is much we cannot do, issues we cannot reasonably arrest and force into the common marketplace of ideas, debate and discourse. But there are many things we can do. Having a reasoned, civil, respectful, honest discourse is something we can, should, and must do. We must determine that we will not flee to the extremes.

Even in conversations about religion.