Citizen Tom has a good post up called “Why Such Hatred For Donald Trump?”, that discusses the irrationality behind the Left’s visceral reaction to everything he does. CT essentially makes the argument that Trump is a master at pushing the emotional trigger buttons of his detractors, whose idolatry of things other than God (ego, intellect, being right etc…) trips them up. I happen to agree with this.
As usual with a post from Citizen Tom it sparked some interesting conversation in the comments section. Scatterwisdom kicked things off by bringing up the psychological angle of what motivates people to behave in such a way. This shifted the conversation down some interesting avenues and all involved offered some insightful perspectives.
Scatterwisdom also referenced one of my favorite cultural philosophers, Jonathan Haidt, who had this to say:
“One thing that you find in most of the great wisdom traditions is the idea that reality as we see it is an illusion. It’s a veil, it blinds us, and enlightenment is taking down the veil, seeing things as they are, transcending dualities. And that, I think, is really crucial for thinking about civility, because that’s what happened to me in writing this book and in doing this research, is, I was a self-righteous, conservative-hating, religion-hating, secular liberal. And in doing this research over many years, and in forcing myself to watch FOX News as an anthropologist who just — “I’ve got to understand this stuff” — over time I realized, “Well, they’re not crazy. These ideas make sense. They see things I didn’t see.”
The feeling of losing my anger was thrilling. It was really freeing. When you get people to actually understand each other, and they let down their guard, and they learn something new, and they see humanity in someone that they disliked or hated or demonized before, that’s really thrilling. And that, I think, is one of the most important emotional tools we have to foster civility. Because once you get it started, it’s kind of addictive.”
Isn’t that great stuff? Basically, for civility in politics to exist, there has to be an acknowledgment that the other side has validity. It doesn’t you mean you have to agree with them, but there must be enough self awareness and humility to realize that not only do you not know everything, there are probably many things you are just plain wrong about. This pertains to ALL of us.
Haidt expounds on all of this in the transcript scatterwisdom links to, The Psychology of Self-Righteousness. Please do yourself a favor and take some time to read it after you finish digesting Tom’s post and the comments that follow. All are well worth it.