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closing the divide

 
steward
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Howdy James, welcome to permies!

I wanted to get your take on something that happened to me last year. My best friend and his wife are very liberal while I am libertarian/conservative. We are all "friends"on facebook , they did not like a post I made on my home page and started hammering me to the point of being violent !. I value their friendship so was trying to be nice, (one of the things we learn about here at permies), I asked them three times to calm down and not to attack me on my own page. They would not stop. So I "unfriended them".
It seems that we ,at least in the USA, are becoming so divided, especially when it comes to politics. To the point of willing to throw away life long friendships. What is your take on this and how do we close the divide?
 
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That's a very good question.  Sometimes, in my country anyway, I feel that this divide is almost deliberate.  Not just much political parties, but on lots of different issues.  The way the news is presented seems to vary depending on where in the country you live.

An example: There was about 4 years in a row where my local news reported that there was a crop failure for wheat in Alberta.  During that time, the price of a big bag of flour went from $4 to $16.  At the end of year 4, I had friends visiting from Alberta and they were shocked at how much we were paying for flour as it's only $2.50 in their shops.  These same four years, their news reported there, that there was a glut of wheat produced and when my friends drove in the country, they could see the wheat being left to rot in the fields because there was too much wheat to sell to the marketing board.  The media where I live was frustrated at the farmers for not growing enough, the media in Alberta was frustrated at the customers for not buying enough.  In reality, the problem was purely manufactured by marketing boards and media.  But now there's one more wedge between us and the people who grow our nation's staple crops.

I think that this event really opened my eyes to something I suspected for a while.  The strategy of divide and conquer seems to be very popular.  If a population spends their energy fighting aginst themselves, then they spend less energy looking at what is actually going on.

I think the first step to closing the divide, is to be alert to the idea that these ideological divides could be deliberately manufactured.    Possibly, your friends (and even yourself) are being manipulated into fighting with each other?  



Another experience that really hammered this home is reading (or more to the point, re-reading as an adult) 1984.  The idea that system could be set up with the pure goal of maintaining power for power's sake, not for purely personal gain, is very interesting.  The big problem with that book, why I feel it could never be 'real' is that it forgot to give the people the illusion of choice.  Do you want 'broccoli or carrots for dinner' give the child the feeling they have a choice without alerting them to the fact that they are being manipulated into eating a veg.
 
steward
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Very interesting and pertinent topic. Whether it's personal and between friends, or public and wide spread, this 'divide and conquer' scenario is playing out all over the world. It makes me sad, angry, and a bunch of other emotions. My man considers me a 'radical', and does not see or agree that this type of manipulation is being perpetrated by the media, politicians, manufacturers, and corporations. He just doesn't see it - or doesn't want to see it, I can't figure out which. He thinks I'm over reacting. But it is very obvious to me.

Miles: it IS sad when friends and loved ones are so eager to defend their stance, that they are willing attack friends and family. I think that a lot of it is fear - some people just don't want to see what's really happening in the world, and they'll hang on to their beliefs no matter what. I can understand that, but I can't understand alienating others who don't share their beliefs. It is very sad.

R: Having lived many years up north in farming country on the BC/Alberta border, I have witnessed this very thing. It is a bizarre and rather frightening thing - the power of the 'rulers' to manipulate us through the media.

So, much to say on the topic. But I'd best think on it more, and try to say it well, rather than ranting.  
 
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@Tracy W and Re: Divide and Conquer.  "He just doesn't see it - or doesn't want to see it, I can't figure out which. He thinks I'm over reacting. But it is very obvious to me."

It's hard enough when we can even be honest with ourselves, but add to it the fact that people *can* be dishonest with themselves and then, to a greater or lesser extent, dishonest or veiled in their interactions with others.  After phone calls with parents this weekend, wife and I were discussing the amazing ability they possess to hear only what they wish to hear from sources they only wish to believe.  But more to the point of the thread as started by the OP, I do think that forms of communication that fall anywhere short of person-to-person real-life dialog will suffer several weaknesses.  When one confronts a radical departure of opinion vis-a-vis a friend or otherwise, in a face to face dialog, and given the desire to maintain communication and (hopefully) friendship, one can ferret out in the other and explain for themselves the basis on which the opinions may differ.  By following this through a meandering dialog, one can often find the base reasons for one's intense positive or negative opinions, which often have little to do with the topic of contention.  

We began as beings that did not have verbal language, so much body language is missed with social media or other forms of communication.  After verbal language, we developed written language.  In the realm of "divide and conquer", written language was one of the first tools that removed ("divided") participants in dialog from each other by virtue of the message being a 'recording'.  I can imagine just about everyone here having fumed at one point or another over a voicemail, email, letter, or some such communication, only later to have had a face to face dialog that completely cleared up the issue.  So even though divide and conquer is commonly known for its origins as a military strategy, it appears to have been a well-understood political tool for some time.....and its efficacy continues to this day.
 
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Great question Miles. This is a very serious problem. I'm not sure what we can do about it in others, but something I notice when I leave some space for views counter to what I think people are more open to me. A starting point for me is to assume that people are well intentioned and not idiots, its a work in progress.
 
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