Who’s Talking?

Column by Josh Spring, Executive Director

Digging Deep. How often do you dig deep into a topic, discussion, statement and/or controversy? Far too often we do not second guess, much less third and fourth- guess. We don’t question. We don’t think critically. We just accept. We assume that everyone presenting to us truly has good intentions and we accept what they have to say at face value. We do this all time.

Sure we sometimes talk about how we listen to TV advertisements for example when we really shouldn’t, or sometimes talk about how politicians really are not to be trusted, but do we really dig deep. There are so many issues that we are told are one way, when if we only thought a little bit critically and every now and then, did a little bit of research, we would realize that in fact what we are being told is a stretch or a complete untruth.

Not digging deep (usually mixed with fear created by those that don’t want us to dig deep) is what leads whole societies to eventually believe it is justified to murder whole groups of people, or commit wars, or believe that certain people are less intelligent because of how they look or that other folks are by nature more dangerous or that we should primarily invest in exhaustible resources and the list goes on. It is interesting (and frustrating) to me that those of us who think of ourselves as fore-thinking and progressive — those of us that have figured out what is really going on with the aforementioned issues, so often are duped by good-looking presentations –especially by people that claim to have the same opinions as ours.

It is sort of like sometimes in our need to be open, we act foolish. I cannot tell you how many times I have had great people exclaim to me that we no longer need to worry about a particular issue because the foe in the issue explained why it was not a problem to begin with. And if the person had simply referred back to the original reason that provoked us to agreed it was in issue and applied that critical thinking to the new strategic claim of the foe — they would realize it is still an issue. For example, someone may get impassioned at hearing that people are being forced from their homes through gentrification. This may even anger the person — so this person may ask the gentrifier why they are doing it and the gentrifier may respond by saying ‘well we are trying to bring progress and better economics to the area and we are making sure everyone finds a new home.’ So the once-incensed person comes back saying — ‘oh everything is fine, we will have progress and people will have new homes.’ And again you have to say to the person ‘So if you give someone a new home, that makes it okay to force them from their current home because you think who they are will stop progress?’ Really? “Is it okay to move people because you don’t want them?” And then the last question should be how did you so easily get convinced of something else?

It often seems that we struggle to take stands. Everyone is afraid to draw a clear line in the sand. Those that are against us do it most clearly, but even they struggle. In action they show that they want certain people out of sight, though they don’t often actually claim it, they make it happen and then when asked about it, they claim they actually want something better for people . As children we are taught don’t believe everything you hear. Why do we forget that? Next time you hear directly or indirectly that people who are normally marginalized were helped in the name of progress, go ask the supposed “helped people.” I’ll bet they have a different story, a true story. By the way, that is often where you find passion too.