Once people decide to STOP SEEING inconvenient facts, then you have lost their reason. And they have lost their own reason. And at that point, communication is at a standstill.
Therapists like myself see it at the end of marriages, all the time. You can tell when one partner, or both, have stopped caring about what’s true. They’re simply done. There’s no longer any good will. There’s no longer any benefit of the doubt. It doesn’t matter what’s true. You’re simply done.
That’s how it has become with America, as a whole. People in opposing factions have stopped listening to each other. Facts no longer seem to matter. I hear Trump supporters say to their friends who detest Trump, “Will you do me a favor? Will you turn off CNN or MSNBC for one week, and simply go on YouTube, watch Trump’s interviews and press conferences or speeches — not Fox News, just the raw data — and decide for yourself? Even if you don’t become a fan, will you at least evaluate objectively?” Stunningly often, the answer is NO. No reason is given. It’s treated as self-evident.
Years ago, before it was this bad, a Republican friend told me he was arguing, in a benevolent and intelligent way, with a Democrat about capitalism vs. socialism. He asked his friend to read Ayn Rand and share his thoughts. To both our surprise, the Democrat replied, “Why would I want to do that? It might challenge everything I’ve ever believed in. I’m not prepared to do that.” Insert shocked silence here.
And Trump supporters, or any kind of conservative or libertarian, will likely say the same if a similar request was made by a leftist. Of course, I don’t find many leftists making these kinds of appeals. They seem to take their conclusions as self-evident, and if you disagree with those conclusions you are considered insane, if not evil.
Reason has broken down. All I can tell you? When reason and good will are this far gone in a marriage, the marriage is long past over. In fact, marriages are usually well into divorce by this point. A divorce is kind of like a civil war. Some divorces are worse than others, and some civil wars are worse than others. A few divorces are benevolent, but most are not, and most leave lasting wounds. And divorce is truly where we are. When people VIEW their differences as irreconcilable, and there’s no swaying them, it’s over.
I say this not as a Trump supporter, a lover of the Bill of Rights, a Republican, a conservative, libertarian, Objectivist nor anything else in particular. I’m simply saying it as someone who observes irreconcilable differences all the time, in my professional life, and now, to my horror, I see it happening in the country as a whole. If anything, it’s worse.
I cannot predict the future and will not try. Things are so bad that I can’t even predict what it will look like by this fall’s election. In 2020, I have learned just how bad things are in this country — worse than I ever ascertained.
I can only tell you that this is NOT sustainable.
Michael J. Hurd