warning: Long Blog Ahoy!
This isn’t usually a political blog. Mainly because, as expressed yesterday, I have come to the opinion that my opinions on the subject have, over the years, been too much motivated by mere personal feelings, and cultural and psychological biases. And I haven’t been inclined to inform myself about the various subjects well enough to feel that my opinions should ever be forcefully aired. Not that I haven’t tried. For instance I did “weigh in” quite a bit on the topic of Scottish Independence a few years back. And yes, I still think that would be a good thing.
However, the title of today’s blog, suggests that I might be about to weigh in again on matters political. Well, kind of.
It’s certainly not that I feel any more able to talk about this one. On the contrary, I have probably watched less of the coverage of the hostilities in Israel And Palestine than pretty much anyone on the planet. It’s such an emotional subject that I find it personally more helpful to listen or read, when I am paying attention. This is purely, through a kind of wise selfishness - it is in order to help me maintain my own decent levels of mental health, without which I am no use to anyone. Especially myself.
Anyways, as little as this issue directly effects those of us who aren’t a part of the conflict, that doesn’t stop there being vast amounts of extremely heated opinion, and sometimes complete hysteria, exploding onto a Social Media Feed near you. This has affected me directly, in so much as my very good wife has very strong feelings on the subject. In her case, these are motivated by a religious faith that I don’t share. She has been posting a lot in support of Israel, and I support her absolute right to do this, but her often religious take on the issue, in my opinion, vastly detracts from any valid view points and links that she shares.
As I say, I believe very strongly that she has the right to share them. And shutting off any ones voice is never an answer. But in recognising that she and her opinions are vastly, perhaps recklessly, in opposition to a lot of what is out there in our popular media, I felt inclined, as a person in love with that very woman, to try and pay closer attention to all points of view, including hers, on the subject.
It happens that I am a subscriber to a meditation app by Sam Harris, who has introduced me to the wonderful world of mediation and mindfulness. But Sam also has a podcast called Making Sense, in which he talks and speaks with people to try and “make sense” of all kinds of subjects that affect our nations and cultures.
Now, in my opinion (oh damn, I’ve given one) Sam Harris is pretty much the most reasonable voice out there on almost anything you care to mention. That sounds like fanboy talk, and, hey, if the shoe fits…
But Sam has got him into a lot of trouble at various times, with both the “Left” and the “Right” on the traditional political spectrum. This is simply because he doesn’t approach any subject from a particular political allegiance. And his strong, though very well constructed arguments, often give folk from both sides the credence to think that he is very for, or very against, their own particular tribal stances. And vice versa.
To my mind, whether or not you agree with him, he is simply always searching for the truth, and expresses himself in the clearest and most measured way possible. For better or worse. That in itself is a good thing I think.
Why am I telling you all this? Well, it turns out that, though very much a secular, not religious voice, Harris backs up at least some of the positions that my wife is shouting about over on Facebook.
And so I’ve listened to his very strong, but as always very reasoned takes on the topic. My own previously limited and biased perspective (for all sort of weird and wonderful reasons related to my own religious and personal history) has been challenged and in many ways changed in the process.
And so, in lieu of me having anything coherent enough to say on the matter myself (“we were starting to wonder” I hear you say) I would encourage you to have a listen to what Sam Harris has to say on the subject of the conflict between Israel and Palestine, and, the even larger and wider issue of Islamic Jihadism worldwide.
Before you listen, I would add this. We all seem to get quite quickly turned into partisan tribalists by our own biases these days …”they said (insert your own personal trigger words) therefore they must be on the side of evil” … kind of thing. But I hope, if you have the time, that you listen to the whole discourse in context, whatever your own personal hot buttons might be.
I suspect that for most of my readers, some of whom are good friends, this will be a challenging listen. But, I hope that you know me by now as someone who isn’t trying to peddle The Truth The Only Truth, And Nothing But My Truth. I’m just a fellow passenger on the Trying To Navigate Through The Fog Ship.
In reality, we are all travelling on this less than water tight ship, and we’re on a fairly gusty ocean at the moment. I believe it helps to listen to each other. Especially when feelings are running high.
ps. The highlighted “have a listen” link above is to youtube and is only about half of the full podcast. If you want the full podcast talk then get in touch, and I can send you a link to a full version, as I’m a subscriber.