In a well written and clever article in AL.com, August 2, 2020, Dan Carsen laid out the bad logic and incorrect reasoning we can expect to see in the election cycle—and unfortunately in many other areas of discourse. In my opinion it should be a test everyone has to pass before they are allowed to post anything on social media. Between now and the election, from time to time, I am going to share examples he gave.
Just one today:
Fancy Latin name — Ad hominem: Attacking the person and not the argument or position is an ad hominem. In a debate, if one person offers a position, and the response is to call the person stupid or worse, the response is ad hominem. The issue is not addressed, the person is attacked.
He suggests a kissing cousin is guilt by association. When asked a question the policy issues are not addressed but rather the opponent is attacked by associating them with the “wrong side.” Already, the political ads in Alabama are filled with ad hominem reasoning.
Unfortunately, I have observed such attacks by supporters on both sides of the political spectrum. Repeatedly I hear –Democrats are stupid and with equal vigor Republicans are stupid. What I would love to hear are serious approaches to complex issues.
Henri Nouwen: In semi-quarantine, I continue to start each day with a choice—approach the day in a positive manner or rue what I am missing. In recent days, I am repeatedly reminded of Henri Nouwen. A brilliant Catholic priest, he was tenured at Notre Dame, then Yale, then Harvard. After a sabbatical year at Sunrise—a L’Arche community in Canada – he resigned from Harvard and spent his final years living in the community with severely challenged people.
I have returned over and over again to one of his important thoughts – he believed he learned much more about what is truly important from the severely handicapped than all of his years in higher education. He experienced the sacred in a smile, in a loving touch, in thankfulness for the simple.
He was not denigrating higher education – I believe he was encouraging us to prioritize and choose to be thankful for the essentials of life which are of the highest importance. Taking opportunities to love, be joyful, have inner peace, to be kind, tolerant and generous should be my priority. I need to be thankful for those gifts and I should take every opportunity to experience them with others.
Friendships: I am in a poetry workshop. A dear friend to the leader of the workshop died this week. Participants in the workshop wrote something in honor of the friend. I was moved by how important friendships are as we age.
As this blog is being posted, a dear friend is in surgery. He is facing the likelihood of cancer with the hope of a successful surgery with no need for radiation or chemotherapy. I pray for success.
His surgery is another encouragement to me to stay in touch with those I love. COVID gives me time and flexibility to write, call and email friends. I have the opportunity to offer words of encouragement, words of support, words of thanksgiving. I am making a special effort to reach out to friends, to celebrate good memories and not dwell on the limits of my situation.
Recommendations: COVID also allows me to have the time to enrich myself by the books I read and the things I choose to see on the computer and television. In that regard, I recently received two excellent recommendations from friends.
The first is a Christian panel discussion about race relations. I found it to be a sensible, thoughtful discussion from a Christian perspective. The panel is a group of black and white people in the Tampa/Clearwater Florida area. The moderator is Dr. Willie Rice, pastor of Calvary Church in Clearwater Florida. It is long, it is from a Christian perspective and it is an excellent discussion by reasonable people.
The second is a speech by a Messianic Jew, Dr. Eiton Barr. In the talk he documents the history of antisemitism found within the Christian church. Not everyone may agree with his theology, but every Christian, in fact everybody, should be aware of the troubling history of the prejudice.
Seek knowledge, seek understanding, gain wisdom.