Communication, or the Lack there of Communication in America

By Josh Schoenblatt

Today started with an interesting, intelligent, long debate opinionated talk on guns. As I sat through the debate, I gained a better understanding as to why major legislation has stopped in congress. However, before I can explain this, we need to diver deeper into how a community works.

One point that we all take for granted is that our community -the American Community- is constructed. This is done through meaningful and intelligent actions from the people as well as the government. To give a high level recap, a community is constructed through narratives, punishment, norms and more importantly through meaningful conversation.

Meaningful conversations are important for maintaining a community because communities are constructed for people with similar views or beliefs. The only way to maintain those similar views is by talking about the problems. In America this has not been the case. People today yell their opinions, ignore others opinions and speak about wrong  theories as if they are facts. None of those help to solve a problem or issue.

During the “debate” many students came up and spoke on their thoughts about gun control. Yet throughout their speeches, few of them meaningfully added to the debate. The speeches from students could be put into three categories: emotional, not factual, and factual. Only the latter of the three categories moved the debate forward.

Emotional responses, in my opinion, do not have a place in a debate. Things like “remember the kids” tells a person nothing. It does not give an opinion, it does not give a plan of action and it will not help the community get closer to a decision. Emotional responses are great when you are talking to a friend, but they do little help for academic and political/legislative listeners.

If you want to speak at a debate, you need to have your facts straight. If you do not know the types of weapons that are being talked about, you probably also do not have a deep understanding of the issue. Also if you do not understand the difference between the types of weapons, you opinion will not help the talk and will instead draw away from the conversation. Facts and logical conclusions are what make a meaningful conversation. Its a way to keep people accountable and make a level playing field for a conversation.

The factual and logical speeches from students helped move the conversation forward. It was not enough to make the debate a meaningful conversation thought. Hearing their comments that were backed by solid facts with logical conclusions made the debate less painful better.

So what does this have to do with congress? When we listen to Congress speak on legislation, what do we hear? Incorrect facts, emotional stories about their constituents, and if you are lucky, a logical and factual argument. Whether we like or accept it, Congress is a direct reflection of America.

In this country, we have evolved to a point where incorrect facts and emotions are more important than logical sound facts and theories. That is why major legislations does not move.

Is this a fixable problem? I believe that it is. However, it would take hard work from everyone. It would require people to first educate themselves on issues. And comedy central does not account for fact checking. The more facts you have in an argument, the more credible you sound.

Next, realize that not all answers are reasonable. “Just get rid of all guns” is neither constructive, logical or possible. For a meaningful conversation to work, the theory being put forward needs to be possible and preferably detailed.

Finally, everyone needs to listen. A meaningful conversation is a two way street. If you cannot listen to the opposing side, you should leave the conversation. It’s highly important to be fair and reasonable.

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