50 shades of for and against

“You are either part of the solution, or part of the problem.”

“If you are not with us, you are against us.”

“It’s my way, or the highway.”

“An enemy of my enemy is my friend.”

These popular phrases in our language illustrate the human tendency to form two clearly defined camps on a variety of issues – the proposition and the opposition.

What do abortions, gun-control, vaccination, corporate taxation, immigration, gay marriage and climate change have in common? Absolutely nothing, other than that they are all political issues in the United States. Further you’d see most people on one side or the other of those issues, depending on if you’re Democrat or Republican. As a Republican, you cannot favour lower corporate taxes while believing in climate change. As a Democrat, you cannot possibly be anti-abortion but pro gay rights. Inherently, there is nothing conservative or liberal about these policies – across Europe for instance, conservatives believe in climate change and are pro gay rights, while liberals can follow an anti-immigration policy.

Clearly, the need for people to belong to one or the other camp is more important to them than to take informed stands on important issues. But along the way, it kills nuance, which is essential for running large countries. (RIP – gay person who favours an uncontrolled economy).

The human brain’s automatic reaction to complexity is to lump everything we see into white or black. Our practice ought to be to slow the brain down and spare a moment to think critically on how many shades of grey exist in between.

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