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December 23, 2009

Hawthorn Hill: Issues and the arguments that follow

All too often we mire ourselves in unnecessary arguments and debates. There is of course a certain intellectual enjoyment that comes with that particular territory. I admit that there are times when I delight in arguing in defense of an opposing viewpoint just for the pleasure of the game.

Plato advised us long ago to play what he characterizes as the `believing game’ when confronted with an argument or perspective that might run counter to one’s own. Most often we find ourselves standing on firm ground, but the deeper, more objective analysis of a position that the believing game requires offers an opportunity to strengthen one’s position rather than weaken it. On the other hand, there are issues, however much they are debated, that are irrelevant to the larger question that appears to have sparked an argument in the first place. Given the infinite variety of ways we have of differing with one another, it occurs to me that we should be focusing less on our differences and more on our commonalities.

Unfortunately, there is a climate of contentiousness that has infected America to the point where unless we make a concerted effort to establish common ground in a civil manner this democracy we so cherish will go down the tubes.

An excellent example of an unnecessary debate is over the issue of climate change, i.e. global warming.

There is no doubt that the earth is warming up.

The consequences of that are clear and obvious. There are those who claim it is just another weather cycle.

It is also true that with respect to geologic time our records of climate fluctuations are slim.

And there are those who see us as the primary culprits. The truth is that it does not matter who or what is to blame. If we continue to pollute the planet and live in ways that are patently unsustainable, both environmentally and economically, then we are leading ourselves down a pretty scary path. I want a brighter future for my grandchildren and everyone else’s.

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