Why Two Personas?
Call me confused.
I am pretty much myself here on my blogs. I may take up different topics depending on where I'm blogging, or seek different audiences based on what material I'm working with. I may be very passionate about one topic, less so with others, and range from amused to irritated to irate to cynical or sarcastic. But it all feels to me like shades of me, not different person's.
I've been taking the opportunity to get to know my bloc-partner here at Debate Space, and following through with some of his links, checking other blogs that link to me through NZBear, etc. And I'm confused.
How can someone have what seems to be a civil discussion, wanting to talk back and forth with arguments, and facts, with basic discourse, then walk back to their own bloc and pick up with hateful venom? (My MILBLOG friends would say, I told you so. I'm not so sure, but want to ask some questions.)
What exactly is the point of this mutual exercise, from your standpoint? I know what it was from mine. Lively debate. Passionate argument. Reasoned analysis. Discussion, consideration of an alternative point of view.
LiberalAvenger's Response #1:
There is only one me - not two person's. I am passionate about my beliefs and I believe that in my own small way I am accomplishing something good through my writing and blogging.
I don't buy the "hateful venom" label. I think what you are encountering are my strong feelings about issues that are of prime importance to both of us. Because our respective positions on these issues are likely polar opposites you may be misinterpreting my rhetoric as "hateful venom."
As is clearly the case for you, my positions on issues aren't self-serving. I believe in the things I believe in because I am concerned for our country, for our children, for the people of the world... Most of us liberals recognize that our conservative counterparts believe deeply in what they are saying and doing. It is a constant source of frustration for us to be dismissed as "America-Haters." Conservatives need to understand that we love America, too, and we believe that our causes will benefit everyone. Just like you do.
I am an atheist. This doesn't mean that I hate religious people. It does mean that political snipes asserting that godless people are incapable of morality or craven political maneuvering that uses faith as a wedge angers me deeply. I believe strongly in the "separation of church and state." I am concerned about what I perceive as a slow but determined trend by conservatives to move our government towards a "theocracy."
I am a pacifist. This doesn't mean that I hate people in the military. It does mean that I have fundamental moral objections to war and violence. This doesn't make me naive. You won't find me arguing against the United State's critical involvement in World War II or the invasion of Afghanistan after 9/11. It does mean that the messy way we got into Iraq and the messy moving target of justification for the war and the messy post-invasion planning disappoint me gravely. It also means that I am unable to accept terrible things being shrugged off as the unfortunate, inevitable consequences of war.
I have other pet peeves that will undoubtedly be exposed over the course of our discussions. I hope that I can get my points across without appearing to be hateful.
What do I expect to get out of these discussions?
I value having access to somebody on the other end of the political spectrum in Iraq with whom I can ask questions and expect honest, articulate answers. I don't pretend to know everything, and I know that whatever we hear about Iraq or the military or conservatism passes through misc. filters on its way to the American public. I want to understand more.
I am also excited about the reaction our initial exchanges received. That it was remarkable that two people from opposite ends of the political landscape were able to communicate without conflict is indicative of a larger problem in our society. Perhaps we can set an example for better communication between our respective "sides" in the great left-right ideology war. We are stuck with each other and we are all Americans, after all. There are some fundamental misperceptions on both sides that get in the way of communication. Exposing the fact that Liberals don't hate America and Conservatives don't hate Muslims would be a start.
Dadmanly's Response #2:
I had an interesting experience that past two days that I think bears on this discussion. (And, as in that situation, I think I need to rethink if not my opinions, then at least some of my attitudes.)
I do not talk much to my siblings. Two of my sisters are liberal (okay one and the other says she's further left than that). I have been emailing a lot of what I've been blogging to friends and family, and while I knew that some of what I wrote might upset, bother, or anger them, I kind of made a decision that I didn't care, that if they didn't like it, they would tell me. (I think I also felt that, as a soldier deployed to Iraq, they needed to cut me some slack and put up with my opinions. (My family has never been one to shrink away from debate or argument, so I thought they would push back if they needed to.
They didn't. I underestimated to power of guilt and feeling obligated to listen to the poor army guy thousands of miles for home and away from his family. My Christian writings also bothered them (their faiths are different), but they didn't feel like I would accept or appreciate an argument about my faith.
Of course, that's not what I thought. I knew it was a lot of other family dynamic issues, and maybe some of that is true, but a lot is just what I've said: guilt, unease, and not feeling right about saying, "I don't think that's true."
In the end, my big sister stepped in and extended an olive branch of love, cutting through a lot of the deadwood of the past and inviting us to do the same. Our relationships are born anew, and we have an opportunity to move forward with more honesty, openness, and trust than we've had previously.
I guess I want to say I think I overreacted and misjudged what I read, or at least the motivations behind the words. There is some truth to the idea that "hateful venom" may often be translated "diametrically opposed to my view."
I think its true, we both are passionate about our causes and beliefs, and that we both want what's best, but see very different views about what that would be and how to get to that better place. When Conservatives see a liberal viewpoint and immediately brand it anti-American, that's wrong, counterproductive, and eliminates the possibility of dialog.
Our last discussion dwells in greater depth on matters of the "wall of separation of church and state, I won't repeat it here. I do think any perceived movement towards theocracy is all possibility and perception and no fact or actual movement. In fact, I would argue we grow more and more secular every day, and have begun to be antagonistic towards religious expression in the public square (unless it's multicultural).
I can respect a pacifist, even more, one who can acknowledge that some wars are necessary against extreme evil. I do think we are in such a struggle, but I can accept those who feel otherwise. That's the beautiful thing about America, and hopefully something about which we can both agree.
I very much appreciate your answer to the question, "What do I expect to get out of these discussions?" I think it is exceptional that you value opinion from someone who is here in Iraq, and that you want to understand more. I would hope I can say the same, I can't say I wanted to beforehand, but value the opportunity now. And I absolutely value the opportunity to help get the soldier's point of view out there, less filtered than might otherwise be the case. Thanks for the opportunity.
I too am excited about the reaction our initial exchanges received. I also think that the very fact our conversation and debate is so unexpected and rare is very indicative of a chronic problem for our society. We can set a better example, and resolve to foster more communication, less insult, a full hearing out of ideas, and a civil exchange of views. We are all in this together, we have this marvelous and precious legacy, this inheritance of liberty, that we might by contention and bitter argument separately destroy what we might otherwise jointly preserve.