Monday, July 6, 2009

Catatonically Speaking

What defines productive discourse? This question recently took sharp shape in my mind owing to some online conversations I had. In particular, these conversations concerned sociopolitical matters. Naturally, I took the progressive stance, while the other participants veered in a more conservative direction. Of course, conservative mindsets are mostly muddled and misguided, but that's a different tirade for a different time.

I became acutely aware during the course of the dialogues that we were arguing from different angles. We weren't merely expressing philosophical divergences, but we were debating in different modes. The more conservative dialoguers were mostly talking from the standpoint of personal ideology, while I was striving to stay entrenched in factual evidence. And of course personal ideology is rooted in experience but can also evolve from media-shaped perceptions, and given how constricted and censored the media is, this is a poisonous approach to discussing politics. Indeed, it is no approach at all.

For when pondering and discussing sociopolitcal matters, we must always deconstruct facts in the brutally frigid light of day. Sure, we can propound personal ideology - for example, I believe that torture is inhumane, while another person may harbor an antithetical viewpoint (as outlandish as that may be) - but in the end it's the meticulously logical dissection of facts which will lead us toward the fount of truth.

Now, granted, as we learn from the mystical arts, it's the heart that reveals the deeper dimensions of veracity. And this may be so, but we also learn that the mind and the heart are ONE. The heart has been cherished as the source of emotion, but how unorthodox is it for a westerner to understand the heart as habitat for logic as well?

Logic and emotion need not be inimical forces. Logic, it is true, can often conquer emotion, just as emotion can assuredly overwhelm reason.

But how about logic and emotion working in a sort of brazen ballet, where neither cancels the other out, but rather the two are mutually complementary?

Poetic digression aside... the point I am making is that we cannot approach sociopolitical concerns from a place of limited experience (shaped by media) and expect either to engage in productive discourse or to touch on even a twig of truth. We must employ the rational arts.

For otherwise, we will always shutter our hearts to the grave suffering endured by billions the world over. We will not be able to clearly see that it is lack of affordable housing, a dearth of jobs, viciously cyclical poverty conditions, institutionalized discrimination, inequitable economics, and underfunded mental health programs, that lead to homelessness. We will instead labor under the insidious illusion that homelessness is the "fault" of those who find themselves in the streets, when logically speaking, ANY of us could be homeless.

And otherwise, we will always think that, say, torture is an acceptable tactic when dealing with those who transgress laws. But when you logically analyze the concept of torture, you will invariably arrive at the conclusion that it is an abhorrently inhumane technique. The torturer is inflicting injury without concern for physiological anguish - just like the pain inflicted on others by the one who is being tortured.

And so on, ad nauseum.

Contrary to cliche, there are NOT two sides to every story. There is truth and untruth, right and wrong, well-informed and ill-informed, benightedness and enlightenment, but once we discern the facts about what leads to the epic suffering that afflict so many, we cannot close ourselves off from our compassionate cores.

And this is what defines progressive ideology: Employing heartfelt logic to discern compassionate resolutions to looming sociopolitical problems.

This issue of Clockwise Cat features some searing sociopolitical commentary as well as some acidic satire. And, as usual, we are lovingly laden with poesie and fiction, and find ourselves pleasingly peppered with essays, reviews and art as well.

And all of this in some way pays implicit homage to productive discourse, as these pieces serve up factual evidence that art is dialectical.

May your days be joyously imbued with meaningful and artistic discourse.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I think on some issues there may be more than one valid side.