There is every chance that sooner or later, I’m going to say something in this blog that you disagree with, maybe even something you find offensive. That’s something I not only recognize, I’m counting on it and hoping that rather than storming off in a huff and never darkening my web page again, you engage with the offending post and tell me where I’ve gone wrong. I make no claims to infallibility, if I’ve got my facts wrong, please correct them; I will thank you for it. This blog is not intended to be (just) a place where I can spout off whatever nonsense pops into my head; nothing would please me more than to have an even split between people disagreeing and agreeing with me in the comments. I don’t want an echo chamber, I want a dialogue where anyone reading what’s written here feels free to add their own two cents (for as long as our strategic penny reserves hold out, that is) and call me out when I get something wrong. Something I feel is sadly missing from our current public dialogue is a willingness to actually engage in dialogue rather than talking past one another and seeking out our information from sources that feed into our existing biases rather than challenging them.
Biases are real, and I accept that not everyone is going to share all of mine, or even most of mine; what I would like to see is a general acceptance of that and accounting for it. I think personal liberty and social responsibility are two compatible concepts that ought to be pursued, but you may believe that moral or religious requirements and standards of behaviour trump those concerns; that’s fine. Recognizing that we aren’t looking at things from the same angle is the first step in finding our way to genuine communication; I don’t know how any two people can create a dialogue that goes beyond groupthink without first surveying each other’s position. Thinking of a conversation as two people travelling together to an unspecified destination, it would be a strange journey indeed if you couldn’t tell where your companion came from, is, or what direction they’re going in. If you don’t understand where the person you’re talking with is coming from, how can you possibly get anywhere together? It may turn out that you find yourself travelling all the way to the other person’s home and moving in there, but that’s rarely the case; more often than not, the best case result is that you just come to a point of agreement on where to go for coffee.
So, that’s what I’m going for here: I don’t necessarily want you to move in with me, but how about we figure out a way to agree on where we should go to grab a cup of coffee?