So. For the past couple of weeks I’ve been drafting a piece for my Medium page about how I developed my political beliefs. Let me admit, it’s been hard. Super hard. Once I dug in I realized that I believed several things about politics and the economy without any more grounding than personal experience and emotional inclination.
This writing is an iterative process. I write down what I believe – about the safety net, for example – and then I sit and try to figure out my thinking. Occasionally I remember some data I used, but not often. And then, this is the hardest part, I try to locate the origin of my belief in my past. Because if we don’t use data, shouldn’t we excavate our non-data-founded reasoning?
I’d say deconstruct, but you can’t deconstruct what you can’t even see.
A woman on a Facebook thread once told me, I paraphrase, she believed in building the wall because her housekeeper said the new immigrants were bad. The role of the personal anecdote to reinforce innate biases.
I’m still writing, still editing, still trying to make the piece useful. Why? Because while my specific beliefs aren’t particularly edifying, perhaps the process of self-examination can be. I hope if we question ourselves, we won’t be so defended when questioned by others, and collaboration might become possible. Or if we understand where we differ, not in opinion but in our understanding of the facts that predate opinion, maybe those who study will get guidance on where to focus.
I wonder if the stalwarts here might help out. Can you locate those moments when you made up your mind? Have you catalogued your beliefs and in that process understood their origins? Or do buried thinking, reactions, events, drive everyone?
Say it isn’t so. Say this has been only my own failing, and the rest of you had done your homework before now. If this question feels too weighty to answer, that’s OK. Just tell me it’s too hard to respond and at least I won’t feel like such a dodo for finding this almost too hard to write.
Have a good weekend everyone, much affection radiating out from here in Northern California.