Read a provocative anti-union blog post Monday about the Wisconsin state government/public employee tinderbox. And over 100+ of the first comments. I was struck by three things.
First, there’s almost no middle-ground. The vast majority of commenters are attacking the blogger and one other. Is this a uniquely polarizing issue or is the intense debate symbolic of an increasingly divided polity? I’m not sure.
Second, I’m intrigued by the sporadic pro-union commenters who irately announce they’re unsubscribing from the blog. They’re saying to the author I’m so dismayed with your position on this political issue I will no longer be associated with you or read you—nevermind the body of work that prompted them to subscribe in the first place. Some sins are unforgivable. Was there anything worth reflecting on in the anti-union diatribe? Unless you’re insecure in your beliefs, why be threatened by thinking that’s antithetical to your own? At times, all of us “unsubscribe” from the people around us by tuning them out? What does it accomplish besides increased polarization?
Third, far too many high school teachers and college professors teach discrete factual information that’s readily available on smart phones, netbooks, laptops, and desktop computers. Instead, they should use rich content as a means towards an end, the end being a greater appreciation of ambiguity. Given the widening chasm between right and left in this country, young people who learn to value contending viewpoints, think conceptually, and grow comfortable with subtlety, nuance, and ambiguity, will have a distinct competitive advantage in tomorrow’s knowledge economy whether union members or not.