I was un-friended on Facebook for the first time recently. A couple of therapy sessions got me through the trauma, in case you were wondering. The details are not important, but let’s just say that advocating laissez-faire capitalism apparently qualifies me as a member of some sinister cult. The un-friender had always been, in my view, long on heat and short on light. Nonetheless, I found our exchanges enjoyable and enlightening.
We are at a major crossroads in this country. Roughly speaking, we see two camps whose boundaries are getting sharper and more distinct. One sees government as a solution–a mechanism to administer social justice by redistributing income. Giving up some economic freedom in the name of justice is OK by them. The other sees government as a problem, at least in its present form. This side prefers private solutions, valuing above all individual freedom.
As my readers know, I am firmly and unapologetically in the second camp. Nonetheless, I recognize that others hold different views and that this does not necessarily mean they are stupid or crazy. Some Tea Partiers are stark-raving mad and some liberals are as dumb as Ned in the First Reader. Welcome to humanity, where idiots and crazies can identify with most any group.
We sorely need to recognize that the destination is the same for both sides but the routes are far different. All of us want for human beings to prosper. Libertarians do not want to see people go without health care. Liberals do not want 98% tax rates for everyone. We each want people to be able to enjoy life without unnecessary suffering.
Let’s start there, recognizing openly that we cannot take both roads. Let’s agree that we all want what is best for humanity and focus on solid reasoning about how to get there. I am convinced that liberals advocate policies that will accomplish the opposite of what they want. My liberal friends are no doubt convinced that my vision will lead to eternal poverty for all but a few. Over a latte, let’s energetically but civilly debate how to make this wonderful species of ours even better.
I do not particularly resent being un-friended, but I did take notice. There will always be a large number of decidedly unhelpful people who shut down before any constructive discussion can take place. Let’s you and I not be in that number.