By Jonathan Sacks
Thursday June 9th, 2022
Can We Reason Together - Part III
Chapter 13 – Two Ways of Arguing
Welcome everyone to the United Methodist Men’s Book Study –
How did we do with last meeting’s challenge:
-How can we hear the ‘other’ side?
Recap from – last week’s study - Safe Space
What is a ‘Safe Space’?
A place where challenging beliefs is not allowed, only supporting discussions. A Cloistered world.
What are examples of cloistered words today?
What happens when we stop discussions?
Do we Abandon the first amendment?
Are We all the same, and believe the same?
When our country was created, and at certain times in our history, we lived to high ideals, and we answered great challenges, we aspired to greatness… and even though we often fell short, we did not give up, we tried again.
What we forget we repeat.
When we let the truth die, all that is left is the will of the powerful.
Audi, Alteram, Partem… “Hear the other side…”
- Roman Senate admonishment
Chapter 13 - Two Ways of Arguing
PURITY / Back vs White / Us vs Them
Not Every issue is a clash between Right or Wrong…
Sometimes it is about choosing between two Strong, but In-compatible ideals…
Activism requited direct PERSONAL involvement… It does not change people or their minds by
casting Social Media stones.
There is a generational divide about how to be an Active Change Agent… BUT we cannot bring
lasting change by casting dispersions, indignation, character assignations, and especially self-
Making change is a grass roots engagement, person to person, not a social media engagement.
Name calling only shuts minds and mouths, and stifles discussion and change.
Why Twitter, FaceBook, Instagram, Truth Social are not about the truth, they are a platform with a
worldwide megaphone to shout out my indignation. They do not bring us forward, but take us back
to a cruder, less forgiving and smaller world.
Wokeness - Is not about bringing about change… it is about delivering punishment and division.
FOR THE SAKE OF HEAVEN
Using this concept allows us to consider first the other argument, to study it and then our own argument. Understanding that even the scripture may be interpreted in multiple ways.
This concept allows us to reframe the disagreement as a unifying idea, that both arguments may be the truth, but that one may better represent “The words of the living God.”
Truth is not an ALL or NOTHING choice. Sometimes interpretations are formed by the perspective (paradigm) of the opposing groups.
Our Own Intellectual Arrogance must be ruled out at the beginning “ Knowing that I am right and therefore You must be wrong.”
Populism - It was as deadly in Moses time as it is now.
Populism is the politics of anger. Numbers 16:1-3
Korach was the first recorded Populist - He divided the tribe of Israel, and
disregarded God’s directions to Moses.
Populism has re-emerged in the West as it did in the 1930’s and precipitated the rise of Nazi Germany.
What are the root causes of Populism:
Distribution of rewards (wealth) is unfair
When leaders work for their own financial or other interest, ahead of the people
they are to serve.
Undermining of Traditional Values ( 1950’s anyone?)
Perception of large scale immigration.
How Do Populists Operate?
Populist leaders claim that they alone are the voice of the people
That they alone can solve the “problems”
Stir up resentment to the “establishment”
Deliberately Divisive and Confrontational
They alone can “Restore” what was taken
They generate Fake News and call it Truth, and all opposing information “Fake News”
If Un-Checked… WHAT HAPPENS NEXT?
Extraordinary powers are Granted (or Assumed) by the leaders
Human rights are removed (LGBTQ, Woman’s Right to Choose, others)
Un-checked push for financial gain (Tax breaks to the Very Rich, while we pay more).
Completion of a breakdown in moral values and accountability.
For the Sake of Heaven
Why the Arguments and the way they are argued Is Important
When we have a fundamental difference, it is not wrong to argue, but we
must argue for the sake of TRUTH, not for the sake of Victory.
In an argument for the Truth... if you win, you win.
But even if you lose, you win, because the Truth was shown to all.
Postmodernism and the Truth -
The divisiveness of modern politics and modern culture flows directly from the fact
that we have lost our sense of community and sense of morality that allowed us to
understand we were a part of the same community and nation, sharing the same
fate, and collectively engaged in pursuit of the ‘common good’.
It was the appeal to the truth that forged our great leaders, as they sought that
truth, and not the power, and they sought healing not just a victory.
It is not a matter of winners and losers,
but of moving forward to recognize TRUTH.
A free society depends on the dignity of Dissent, and the discussions that follow.
When we stifle discussion of views contrary to our own, we stifle ourselves and our freedom
in the name of power (of being "right").
Challenge: Rebalancing - When we use social media, are we only casting stones?
Next Week – Part 3, Chapter 14 -Victimhood