On increasing polarization in the public sphere

Describing “poisonously polarized times,” Tony Schwartz begs for less of it:

I can’t ever remember living through such poisonously polarized times: the left and the right, immigrants and their antagonists, warring religions, and perhaps above all, the haves, who have ever more, and the have nots, who have ever less.

As William Yeats put it, “Things fall apart, the centre cannot hold, mere anarchy is loosed upon the world.”

Doesn’t it increasingly feel that way?

We each move frequently between at least two realities, unaware we’re doing so. The more primitive one, fueled by the lower parts of our brain, is instinctive, reactive, survival-based and selfish.

The higher one, filtered through our pre-frontal cortex, allows us to be intentional, reflective, future-oriented, and generous. In this state, we’re capable of shaping our deepest values, delaying gratification, and making sacrifices that serve the greater good, including our own.

It’s an introspective piece that leads me to believe that Tony Schwartz would make a friend of the finest kind. But, with respect to the current debate about the role of government, I’ll not take his advice today or tomorrow. The tea-partiers, with the help of various Republican enablers (who know better), have been playing with torches and threatening to burn the house down. After we’ve put the fires out, we will all have time to reflect about peace and love. Meanwhile, until the 2012 election reveals the winner of the current round, those of us who have informed insight into our current predicament must continue to speak up.

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About Guy N. Texas

Guy N. Texas is the pen name of a lawyer living in Dallas, who is now a liberal. He was once conservative, but this word has so morphed in meaning that he can no longer call himself that in good conscience. Guy has no political aspirations. He speaks only for himself.
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