Friday, December 18, 2015



When our oldest grandchild* was small, she had difficulty pronouncing the letter ‘v’. It tended to come out sounding like ‘b’, allowing me to amuse myself by getting her to say ‘unbelievable’.

‘Inconceivable’ is a stronger word, not well understood by children. I’m using it here to describe a thought, or concept, unreachable by a person’s mind.

Very few of us are able to think outside of our beliefs, to imagine that we might be wrong. And why bother? We’re not going to stop believing what we know to be right, and thinking that we might be wrong feels like treason. It needn’t.

Suspending one’s belief system, assuming it’s wrong, allows us to consider that opposing views might be correct—at least in part. We can examine opposing views with a more open mind, borrow (steal) bits and pieces to reinforce our own ideas, make them more practical, more acceptable to others, thereby achieving a better result.

Recently, I found the following headline on my computer: “Who is Anthony Scalia, and why is he so misinformed?” The article went on to describe comments made by Scalia (a Supreme Court justice) during hearings regarding a diversity program at The University of Texas. The writer described gasps heard throughout the room, and went on to quote others calling Scalia a racist.

I read a transcript of what he actually said, and am hard pressed to see racism in his comments. Further, I believe that consideration of his comments in formulating a better program would lead to better opportunities for black students.

My point here is not to convince you that Scalia was right, and his critics wrong, but to point out that clinging blindly to one’s beliefs can be counterproductive, preventing us from reaching better solutions that are far more likely to be adopted by all concerned.

Try it; you’re not admitting that you are wrong, not abandoning your most cherished values, just temporarily taking a peek at what the other guys might have to offer. Can Progressives wind up with programs that work better? Can Conservatives provide more opportunity-based help for those in need? And while you’re at it, think about getting our democracy back, getting rid of special interest money (all of it).  We don’t need 51%, even 5% as a swing vote might do it.

*Our granddaughter is a new mom and a very successful lawyer. Who knew?

Joe Bakewell.

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