Laurence Kaufman: Stick to the real facts |

Laurence Kaufman: Stick to the real facts

Other Voices
Laurence Kaufman

It's easy to be aware of and agree with the allegations of the lack of civility in today's world. Is it possible to achieve a breakthrough in mutual respect in this era of overheated rhetoric and alternate facts? Should we be able to discuss in a thoughtful and civil manner ideas of our citizens who present widely divergent and opposing views on any given topic?

Perhaps we could begin by agreeing on the issues that are the most deserving of our attention. Is it possible to agree on the five or 10 most important issues facing our nation and address them? For instance, is the nation's economy more important than the use of unisex bathrooms in school? Is the misuse of the internet to post inappropriate photos of marines worthy of more attention and discussion in the media than the future of Americans' health?

We each have a limited amount of time and ability to absorb information and to form opinions, so let's focus on the issues that are of paramount importance. If we can't agree on this, then we will certainly not be able to have any real measure of civility. There are an abundant number of issues that we as citizens should be concerned about — the environment, health care, immigration, international terrorism, drug use, infrastructure needs, education for the future, employment and the economy, the national debt, issues of free speech, personal freedoms. These are issues that should command our attention. Each of us needs to disregard the unimportant matters that merely serve to distract and instead focus only on issues of greater significance.

If we can somehow agree on the important issues, only then will we might be able to respectfully discuss our differing points of views. If we can achieve this goal, I would then ask that each of us remember a thought presented years ago, "Each of one of us is entitled to create his or her own beliefs, but none of us is entitled to create our own facts." Thus, we need to be able to distinguish between facts and the mischievous "alt facts." If we find ourselves unable or unwilling to recognize this fundamental distinction, then we will find our ability to have civil discourse to remain beyond our reach.

Our emotions may provide the “heat” but ultimately it is the “facts” that offer all us the light of wisdom.

It is important for each of us to remember that our opinions that are accorded the most weight by others are those that find their support in demonstrable facts, not in our visceral reactions.

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Our emotions may provide the "heat" but ultimately it is the "facts" that offer all us the light of wisdom.

Laurence Kaufman lives in Nevada City.

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