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The New Polarization

imagesA college student who rarely attended classes and turned in assignments poorly done or not at all, emailed his professor after receiving his final grade to ask if there was any way he could raise his grade — an F earned with a 25% average — to a C.  Even grade inflation couldn’t help this hapless soul.

But hope springs eternal, and wishful thinking has become so pervasive that it has a new name:  magical thinking, as if wishing just isn’t enough anymore.

It’s everywhere.  Government programs with no revenue to pay for them.  Students acquiring massive debt from loans to procure degrees in art history, classical philosophy or — no joke — viking studies.  State sponsored alternative energy schemes built on nothing but high-minded intentions.  School boards hiring puppet administrators and then firing them when student performance crashes.

On the one hand, we indulge in the most irrational flights of fancy with no concern for the consequences.  On the other, we resist thinking out of the box by denying ourselves the opportunity to engage people with opposing viewpoints in civil discourse.

Is this the new face of polarization?  Not just between groups, but within our own minds?

Instead, let’s turn it around:  challenge yourself to seek out new viewpoints and strategies, not to escape from reality but to deal with it and succeed.


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