Thursday, June 23, 2016

Questioning our certainties

It's odd feeling when all around you are so certain they know the truth and what is going on and all those claims of certainty fall flat to ones ears -all of them, and all these certainties contradict each other.

The political theater taking place in the House of Representatives right now, with Democrats playing the part of noble activist and the Republicans playing the part of the status quo and establishment, .  It's a good show.  And of course this theatrical show down is over a piece of legislation no one really wants, that even if passed would be largely symbolic.  That symbolic act wouldn't be without significance or meaning. Artifice and theater have meaning and significance. I'm an artist and a rhetorician (I paint and preach), I believe firmly in the meaning of the artificial.  But I do wonder at the weight and attention we are giving this show down between Democrats and Republicans in the house. I believe it deserves less cheering and more reflection.

But that isn't what I wish to focus on.  In reflecting on this I see that what we think about the actions of the two ruling parties in this piece of political theatrics is already predetermined by what we presuppose is the best course of action, and the degree to which we are solidly Democrat or Republican.  So, citizens who are partisans of the Democratic party are predisposed to approve of the Democratic theatrics and predisposed to view negatively the Republican theatrics.  And the same goes for partisans of the Republican party.  We know the good guys and the bad guys in this melodrama it's just that the audience can't agree on which is which.

So we have our certainties, our bedrock beliefs, and we aren't convincing each other to change or compromise on those.  As someone who isn't convinced by either side of the political solutions offered to the tragedies of mass shootings and gun violence in our society, I'd rather we stop for a moment and question our certainties about the meaning of gun violence and our genuinely held beliefs about what we should do and what would keep us safe.  Maybe question even the dominant narratives about safety itself.

And we perhaps shouldn't stop there.  It is clear we are in a moment of deep crisis.  One understanding of crisis is that it is a moment of  possibility: A moment calling us to pause, to turn aside, to questioning and to rethink what we've believed to be true.  Rather, than a moment for retreating into certainties or of overt and brash action.  Of course any questioning presupposes a place from which to question.  A moment of crisis is perhaps also a moment to be honest with ourselves and each other about the indefensible presuppositions, prejudices and convictions that we won't and can't question while questioning other things.

Posts that follow this will probably be in this line of examination. Not an offering of solutions, but questioning in the hopes of creating an opening, in myself and other, a clearing for alternatives to what we in our certainties believe to be reality.  A clearing in which we can be silent in order to  listening to voices yet unheard and not anticipated.