I was listening to Sam Harris’ podcast this morning, and was struck by one of his main themes: that America is currently dealing with two dangerous “cults” of thinking. Namely, Trumpism and “wokeness.” As I think about this, I realize that this is yet another way that binary or dualistic thinking is dividing us. We’re reaching a point of “either/or” realities — for people trapped in these bubbles of thought, they are forced to choose between fully accepting a reality based on falsehoods, or not supported by evidence or risk excommunication and social stigmatism from their “clan.”
You think the election wasn’t stolen, or that storming the Capitol is wrong? You are shunned by your peers. Similarly, you think that while systemic racism may exist in places, that there is not a vast conspiracy to disenfranchise minorities, and that people are entitled to disagree with other people on matters of race relations without being labeled a racist? You are also shunned by YOUR peers.
This is dangerous. It forces us into a discouraging area where we must be “all-in” to be accepted, otherwise we are cast out… seen as those “wishy washy” people in the middle who are unwilling to “take a stand.” In fact, I believe it’s much more difficult to acknowledge the complexity of our beliefs and see each others as true individuals.
Binary thinking leads us into a world of black and white… right or wrong. Imagine a world without color… and even without grey — only black or white. To me, that’s not inspiring.
Closing our eyes to the complexity of ourselves and others as individuals leads to a place where we forsake all of the wonderful beauty and nuance that exists in order to seek refuge in an increasingly shrinking bubble of generalization and simplification. We live in one universe, inhabited by many people. We should treat discourse in the same way.