America, the country that lost nuance
America; where nuance and reason go to die
Albert Maysles said that “tyranny is the deliberate removal of nuance”, and nowhere is this more evident than in the mainstream media and on social platforms, particularly Twitter, the platform on which the death of nuance is often blamed. The words and arguments posted there aren’t really part of a discourse. Everything is a battle. “You’re either with us or against us”. It’s pure demagoguery.
Lack of nuance is putting our democracy at stake. Some people argue that nuance is the holy grail of liberals and intellectuals and that it is nothing but a display of muddled thinking and ego puffing. I would probably argue the exact opposite. Being nuanced offers the possibility of other opinions on a matter, it does not cloud the objective fact to a complex matter. If you think about science for example; science is powerful precisely because it does not rush to judgment and careful weigh all the evidence presented. Somehow this approach has been entirely left out in matter of politics.
My issue with the lack of nuance has a large spectrum from feminism to grammar. In any given debate now, people will cherry-pick parts of your statement and fixate on all the ways in which you could be wrong rather than listening with the notion that there might be nuances in your sentences. Debates have become so polarized with each side needing to be 100 percent right and the other 100 percent wrong.
The truth is that there are two sides to everything. Some people do cheat welfare. Some teachers are inept. Some officers are inept. Some “Christians” do commit atrocities. So do some “Jews” and some “Muslims.”
Some people will die because of the availability of a gun. Some will be saved. There is no clear moral dividing line for abortion. American planes firebombed innocent German civilians in World War II. Petroleum pollution is causing some of our global warming. There are other cost-effective ways to solve our transportation crisis.
I’m sure no one will continue reading beyond this point because I haven’t 100 percent confirmed their ‘correct’ view of the world. A notion which used to sadden me, now just terrifies me. Are people so scared to have their world shaken that they can’t look beyond their own biases? Are people that opposed to expanding their brains?
I always believed that people who are either unable or unwilling to accept nuanced positions just didn’t possess the intelligence to look deeper into an issue and therefore recused themselves from any situation where they couldn’t immediately demonize or dismiss the other side of the debate or issue. I’ve always wanted to be proven wrong on this but in today’s contentious political climate, it has only been confirmed over and over .
You want to talk about curing the vicious polarity currently destroying our democracy? Simple – bring back the nuance. Accept that you can be wrong, accept that you don’t have the whole truth and accept that someone you disagree with could teach you something. Stop being limited by your own fears and biases. Your brain can hold many truths at once. Embrace it.
Photo by Trent Yarnell/Unsplash