Critical Thinking as Productive Questions

1. President Obama and President Trump agree that we need to unite as a nation, but should we?

2. Who benefits from unification?

3. Are there conflicts of interests and values that are both real and necessary?

I am watching the Academy Awards as I type, and the Academy just assured us that "Cinema through images brings us together." 

I certainly recognize the appeal of such a comment. But what are they talking about? Are they doing anything more than wishful thinking? Are they assuming that humanity has common interests?  How extensive are any common interests that do exist? 

When Trump and Obama agree, surely the rest of us can find common ground. But to agree to say the same words is far from agreeing about meaning. When the "unifiers" counsel us to come together, why are they so silent about the basis for the unity? 

Suppose, in contrast to the assumed world of those who urge us to unify,  the world consists of numerous conflicts, interminable struggles associated with our existecne in a world that stubbornly refuses to possess enugh resources to please the ever-burgeoning desires we fervently want this same world to yield. My property is not your property; my icome is not your income; consumers and producers have divergent desires; workers and employers cannot suddently consult one another and make their divergent interests waft away; the aged and the young each have precise needs the fulfillment of which makes demands on the same pile of resources; nations wish for the water and resources of other countries; current generations bless or harm future generations by their policy choices.

Do these differences stop existing in any fashion through an act of will to speak together? To those who believe the answer is "yes", please stop hiding your wisdom so effectively. 

But until you do explain to us how unification results where legitimate interests conflict, please give some thought to the negative effect of your repeated claims that we should all just love one another. Your advice suggests that active protest against injustice should stop. Those protests are unnecessary since all we need to do is "come togehter." Such magical thinking is an insult to both careful thinking and to the cries of marginalized groups. It substitutes quiescence and glibness for active resistance to the abundant human outrages we witness.

1. Is it possible that lions and lambs can lie together and negotiate toward shared ends?

2. Is there some avenue by which the few shared interests we have could be publicized and sold to warring factions to at least minimize the enmity associated with conflictinh interests?

3. Does anyone know of any avenue by which we can all stop saying words that sound good on the way out, but that cannot withstand even the most elementary analysis at the point where we think about wonder how to implement their sweet sound?


AuthorM Neil Browne