COLUMN: Accept nuance into your’s and others’ worldview

Dogmatic belief a danger to democracy

Amazingly, an individual is able to hold contradicting opinions and still manage to function in this world.

A common political criticism in a world full of dogmatic ideology is that if someone does “A”, they can’t possibly also believe in “B”.

This plays out in nearly every political argument — perhaps most recognizable when people use the argument that individuals use fossil fuels, therefore their climate change views are illegitimate.

Here’s the thing.

Using exceptions as means of argument is a tired trope and is ineffective when searching for long-lasting societal answers.

Human beings, by nature, have contradicting opinions that are ephemeral, short-lived or misrepresented.

The personal use of fossil fuels does not mean that any expression of environmental concern is null and void. The only reason to present it as so is to end a discussion before it starts — which is the exact opposite reason we elect people.

Regardless of your opinion on climate change — mine being, ‘It exists, we’re screwed’ — good environmental stewardship should be at the forefront for any government or business.

This means you can believe that steps need to be taken to protect our environment from a changing climate, while also believing that pipelines are good for Alberta.

Believing in any particular ideology that requires you to give up on nuance is — quite frankly — incorrect, lazy and dispassionate.

I don’t personally know how to rectify my simultaneous beliefs that catastrophic climate change exists and that the Alberta economy requires fossil fuel pipelines — but to deny that people can have more than one thought on any given topic is insane.

People are nuanced; people have conflicting agendas; and overarching answers that please everyone are extremely rare. This means that we need to argue in a way that is fair to nuance.

If we assume that one, non-threatening outlier belief discredits an entire discussion — than we are excluding many needed greater discussions.

By using excluding language in our political discussions, we are trying to score political points rather that find societal solutions.

Yes, it is impossible to please everyone but to force everyone in any given group to buy into every dogmatic belief of an ideology is entirely against what a secular government is intended to do.

Differences should be celebrated, nuance should be recognized and consensus should be what we strive for.

In short, if our only intention in governance is to hurt our opponents by discrediting every choice they make compared to their other choices — than we have lost the spirit of good governance.

Ideological dogmatism has no place in a modern democracy.

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