Terry Boyles: Nuance needed | TheUnion.com

Terry Boyles: Nuance needed

Bigot: a person who is obstinately or intolerantly devoted to his or her own opinions and prejudices (Merriam-Webster).

The predilection to insulate one’s self from others that think and look differently is as old as time. Gather together in a close knit group and you have a better chance of surviving in a harsh environment. With the advent of internet search engines, blogs and social media, we can cleave to our clan with a mere touch. This insular world allows us to plumb ever narrower fissures of thought. Eventually, all questions have been filtered down to those which can be answered yes, or no. It’s either black or it’s white.

This environment, unfortunately, leads to lazy thinking where the difficult task of looking at the big picture, and examining one’s own prejudices can be postponed indefinitely. The world and it’s myriad peoples, complicated problems, moral ambiguities and conflicting data send the average citizen in search of a panacea.

Nuanced thinking and compromises, however, are required for the American-style, two-party, political system to actually work.

Every step forward is fraught with risk, but not necessarily the slippery slope to oblivion that folks on either end of the political spectrum seem to fear. The fear that cohabits with our bigotry is splintering our country into warring camps unwilling to cede an inch of their imagined territory. Angry diatribes abound. Blame is meted out. Congress is paralyzed. Families are rent.

I am not sure what the solution is. But I believe it must begin with a measure of personal humility. Changing one’s opinion, or simply listening to another’s, can be the hardest thing. I know. I can be the worst offender. Even this plea for nuance, I suppose, is a bit of a diatribe. If we could all make this simple admission, it would be a start:

Sometimes the correct answer is just “maybe.”

Terry Boyles

Penn Valley

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