“Our world is more connected than ever before, but that has brought with it a seemingly endless variety of information and opinion sources. Instead of coming together, we are becoming more tribal. We are dividing ourselves into identity groups with opposing worldviews and even different facts. The result is unnecessary conflict and an inability to solve our shared problems. We are in a state of “culture war”.
But we can move forward in peace, and with a sense of fairness. We can make our lives fundamentally better. There are basic principles we’ve known since the Enlightenment, that when embraced and extended, will allow us to live together in community once again. To construct a shared understanding of reality, bridge our differences and rebuild our institutions. But it requires a deeper commitment from all of us, toward greater curiosity, empathy and integrity.”
A sense of community and shared worldview are intertwined. Without a generally unified understanding of what's true, based on a similar set of facts and tools for reasoning, the feeling of community becomes impossible. And without that, it's very difficult to have the kinds of conversations necessary to resolve these differences. We are lacking in both right now, and that must change if we are to continue as a functional society.
The only way out of our tribal information and thought bubbles, is to break down our beliefs about the world and each other that keep us separated. A “liberal” perspective does that by asking that we take a step back and reconsider most of our assumptions, except for these two:
1) No One Gets the Final Say On What Is True
2) No One Has Personal Authority
These rules make us equal in determining what's true and reasonable. They are the building blocks of science and reasoning. They require that we prove to each other what should constitute fact and what kind of arguments are justified. Over time, we build upon agreements to establish what we thereafter consider to be a shared source of knowledge, but nothing is beyond future revision. Everything we know arises out of experience and conversation. But this entire process rests upon collective adherence to some core human qualities:
We must balance fighting for what we reason is true even if it's unpopular, with changing our minds when it's appropriate.
We must cultivate the desire to always know what is factual to the best of our ability, in the world and ourselves.
We must care enough to work towards understanding others and then consider their interests when we take action.
To advance our goals in the larger society, we must build entities and ways of functioning that can take our vision further than we can alone. To do more together. Generally, we must build and maintain strong institutions in the following overlapping areas:
Regular Dialogue About Our Lives
We must have deep conversations over time in real life. When you understand the life experiences that made a person who they are, it becomes much easier to accept their opinions when they challenge your own. That's a better, and necessary, way to live.
Greater Autonomy Over Our Minds
Our understanding of the world is determined by our experience and what we pay attention to. Sadly, that's now ever more well understood by those trying to manipulate us. We must do a better job of managing it for ourselves and even others.
Closer To Objective Reality
While we are all limited by our personal experience, we have methods and peer review to ascertain facts. But it takes time and resources. If we don't pay people willing to both do that work and be transparent about it, our society at large will be either more ignorant or misinformed on purpose. This pertains to science and journalism, but also the great art that tries to tell us how it feels to live another person's life.
A More Rational Approach to Life
Reason is the path out of darkness. There's a basic level of knowledge and critical thinking that must be embraced by all the people of a society to make progress possible and avoid the worst ideas becoming a social contagion.