“Truth is the first casualty of war.” This often-cited phrase was first used over a century ago by British human rights activist Ethel Annakin. Today, we are engaged in a different battle: one of ideologies. The right and left hurl insults and misinformation at each other. No longer are people encouraged to think critically and seek the path that leads to the truth. Most participants of public debate define their position by their opponent’s stance and go against it. It’s easier to stick to one’s tribe than engage in civil discourse.

There are many important issues affecting each of us. Most are complex and require critical analysis and compromise. A lot of people are just worn out by the current state of public discourse and decide to tune it all out. It’s understandable. But if we define debate by only two points of view, we will continue to have two warring factions in America, and these problems won’t get solved.

Russian dissident writer Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn published an essay titled “Live Not by Lies.” He wrote, “And he who is not sufficiently courageous to defend his soul – don’t let him be proud of his ‘progressive’ views, and don’t let him boast that he is an academician or a people’s artist, a distinguished figure, or a general. Let him say to himself: ‘I am part of the herd and a coward. It’s all the same to me as long as I’m fed and kept warm.’ ”

Let’s challenge ourselves to show restraint and seek alternative viewpoints to this groupthink mentality.

Kevin Landry

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