I don’t like politics or economics. I don’t like them, because they engender such powerful emotions and conflict. The matters they involve are the most direct in affecting the overall condition of life itself for a society. I love religion, because people can be content with dialoguing in a kindly manner and the assumption that in the end “we’ll see who was right” but until that time, religion is just a purely personal thing. Politics and economics affect society at large and the smallest decisions at that level have enormous consequences for the suffering of a society. Nothing is clear cut, and you can’t be content with “we’ll see who was right in the end,” because doing so means potentially unraveling the fabric of society or causing immense suffering and pain for future generations. In some cases it can mean saving countless lives and livelihoods. I recognize that as a spiritual person, my highest goal is the reformation of global society into a place of happiness, well-being, wisdom, and freedom. This is the goal of science as well. But one must remember that politics and economics (in theory) have this very same intent. The problem being of course that no one really knows for sure what the best way of doing things is, and you can’t just be content with differing views. Another’s view could mean you lose your job, your most cherished freedom, or your life. So what can we do?
I have great respect for those who can dedicate themselves to the most contentious of subjects and fight for their opinion of the most effective policy to benefit their society. This is a noble aim (not to say that all such devoted individuals are devoted to this aim in particular. Many are of course power-hungry, status-craving, sociopaths, but i do hold respect for those who aren’t). We all can’t have perfect knowledge of the infinitely complex political and economic systems. We will all have our views on the best specific policy, and we are all likely to fight passionately over our particular chosen views. In the end, we won’t really know what the best policy is. One socio-economic system may work perfectly in one society, but be chaos in another.
What we can be sure of, is that we all (excluding the sociopaths) have the best interest of society in mind. We should remember that when discussing such contentious issues with others. Religion has the benefit of sacredness, which usually commands respect from people, making dialogue much easier. Even debates between the most conservative of religious fundamentalists rarely results in emotional outbursts at one another, and this is because of the embrace of the sacredness. I think it’s important that we transmute this force of sanctity to all contentious subjects, as it allows for the most constructive of dialogues and helps all sides to remember what the primary aim actually is: The benefit of society.
Sure many people hold views that are purely going to affect their own lives for the better, but this isn’t always the case. And even for such individuals, they have convinced themselves with full certainty of the positions they hold and why those policies are the best for all in society. We don’t have the right to deny them of this, just as we don’t have the right to deny a religious view. The intent is still in the right place, even if it took some serious cognitive dissonance to get there.
Now i’m not saying to just be complacent with others’ views if you really think they are harming society. Please do not think this. Fight for your all-important social or economic or political cause (i sure will). Again, i simply ask that people always remember that the final aim is the benefit of the whole of society. If this truly becomes the motivation for all individuals who discuss these subjects i hate so much, then i believe most problems would fix themselves and the society in question would reach the most effective equilibrium. So please, fight on for your view, but remember that your end goal is a compassionate one, and argue under the assumption that the person you’re attempting to dissuade or disprove or debate with is operating under the very same principle of compassion. It’s the best we can do until such time as we enter a utopian world of unity and understanding, or we die as a species.