Understanding Is Not Agreement

Dear Editor,

Sixties solutions are going to be unsuccessful for 2020 problems. The shocking death of George Floyd should be thoroughly investigated to identify actual causes to develop successful solutions. All peaceful protesting should be allowed. However, automatically jumping to racism explanations increases division. It builds walls when success requires open input from all perspectives. The only way to break the cycle of racism is to stop demanding understanding from others while refusing to understand those others. Understanding does not necessitate agreement. We need real open dialog, not “discussions” intended to provoke arguments. We all need to stop hating others more than we think those others hate us. We all need to stop holding every member of any group responsible for the acts of a few representatives.

Emotional responses are healthy. However, they should be complemented by facts. Emotions lie. They make us misperceive truth as a lie and a lie as truth. Patterns are more easily misinterpreted. Strong emotions make it easier to discount valid differing perspectives as trivial obstruction.

COVID-19 restrictions unearthed years of misunderstanding. Stress elevated protesting to rioting and income loss elevated rioting to looting. Isolation stress increases us-against-them, grass is greener, perceptual distortions. As a current nonracial example, with no end in sight, many are working massive overtime, while others are laid off. Overtime workers want more time to relax. Unemployed want more work time. Isolation decreases external sensing required for rational comparison. It’s easier to believe others are better off with less effort. It’s easier to make unrepresentative explanations. Since we are not allowed to see evidence ourselves, we are dependent on individual politically motivated interpretations.

As social beings, we depend on variety of perspectives to remind us of these dangers. Counter perspectives are currently restricted to homes. The internet censors and provides “counterpoints” to only one perspective. As social beings, the only “acceptable” social activity is demonstrating in support of only this perspective. Several participants have admitted that these acts provide sense of community that has been lost. We all need community. Full participation will be rewarded with socialization. Advising caution/logical investigation continues loss of socialization.

Open the entire country. Demonstrators are concerned of unequal enforcement of laws. Agree with the protest or not, governments should not be able to choose which social activities are legitimate for a COVID exemption and which are not. Encouraging “equality” with unequal treatment is discrimination.

Alan Burke