Identity

A comment responding to an earlier blog entry asked, "What in our current society leaves you the most dissatisfied?" I responded, "The quality of discourse/debate." i will expand on that response in this blog entry.

I am: male, white, Irish/German heritage, imbued with Christian/Protestant values from childhood, 72 years of age. These are incontrovertible primary facts of my identity.

I am: heterosexual, agnostic, citizen of the USA, widower, retired, challenged by some medical conditions. These are secondary facts of my identity derived at least in part from the primary facts.

I read non-fiction, enjoy art, love animals, mountains and forests, wish to loose weight, volunteer in a local library. These are tertiary elements of my identity.

The tertiary elements are derived from the primary and secondary facts of my life but are conditioned primarily by the intellectual, emotional and spiritual dimensions of my life.

Finally, I have a unique individual identity as a consequence of the interaction of my personal attributes with every experience encountered since birth.

The consequence of this entwining convolution is a unique individual with convictions, opinions, beliefs, assumptions, misconceptions, contradictions, sensitivities, passions, etc., etc. that defy simplistic description or categorization.

Now consider a single selected event. One year ago, the USA held an election including the selection for the highest office in the country. [Note bene: I did not cast a ballot for President of The United States.] During the campaign leading up to that election, one candidate said, "You know, to just be grossly generalistic, you could put half of 'the other candidate's (sic)' supporters into what I call the basket of deplorables. Right? The racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamaphobic — you name it. And unfortunately there are people like that."

I am appalled.

In my opinion the comment does not even rise to the lowest level of Paul Graham's Hierarchy of Disagreement - name-calling. And, the audience cheered. This and innumerable other comments by all candidates fail the most rudimentary expectations of civil discourse. The absence of even the most basic elements of social civility may well be the consequence of the absence of a common understating of objective reality, the reduction of all values to a minimum relativistic common denominator. Logic is abandoned, rational discourse is abandoned, morality is abandoned to situational hyperbole and integrity is replaced by expediency.

This, then, is part of a more comprehensive response to the earlier comment and question.