Too many people seem to think that they alone have clarity and authority, and use their voices as weapons rather than as tools for construction.

Criticism is easy. Acknowledging uncomfortable truths that may cloud a stance seems to be much trickier, and is missing in most of the media. This is the habit of the 21st century thus far, as it plays out in politics and media everywhere–including in the USA. “Either you are with us or you are against us.” That has been true for the left and the right, and the rational middle either keeps quiet or is kept quiet by the bluster.

The fear of acknowledging any truth to other sides, or attempting to understand how other people can see a situation from such a different perspective, is part of our dumbing down. Politics, whether domestic or international, is more than a lost art. It is a blood sport–quite literally, around the globe.

Clearly, education has failed US. Rather than broadening our minds, we seem less able to consider the complexities of our world. Rather than seeking wisdom through education, we reflect a bombastic, reductionist culture that claims to love freedom, but has yet to understand the complexities and compromises of liberty and peace.

Freedom to rant and incite is not the goal of this experiment called Democracy. Telling part of a story with hyperbole is propaganda–whether the story is familiar or new. We use pieces of stories to construct whole narratives that, more often than not, distort truth. Tweets and posts and thoughtless news (and faux news) stories are cacophonous and foment hate and anxiety.

All these pieces that get aired and posted to justify the rights of one side (and the wrongs of the other) are too often just bits and pieces–fragments of truth. We have become more dedicated to our piece than to our peace.

When I decided to become an educator, I saw education as the path to peace. Clearly, knowing (or reading or hearing) isolated facts does not equal education. An educated mind is one that can weigh facts and opinions, and consider consequences–intended and unintended. Education is the opportunity to engage beyond one’s circumstance and experience. The old saying “knowledge is power” has become distorted by the deception that we are better informed because we have more cables and channels and devices. We have much more input, but seemingly less real knowledge and much less depth. Our broad bands connect us with pieces of information that get used for the pursuit of power more than for the pursuit of peace.

Perhaps old constructs need to be reconsidered, especially in this digital media age. What would it take to consider or possibly accept additional points of view? A piece of this? And a piece of that?  It may be the only way to pursue peace and not go to pieces.

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