Damien’s Facebook link brought me to an interview with Mark Little about his new crowd sourcing media idea where some questions (via twitter) asked about the venture. Linking back through twitter, @marklittlenews brought me to another Karen Armstrong article about the Charter for Compassion. And here is where the day starts for me: thinking that Mark might be on to something if this is the way ideas get distributed. During his interview (and I wonder will he give the same time to his own RTE or to Today FM) he compares large media organisations to supertankers. They are too slow to turn quickly. His transport metaphors continue with the assertion that you either get off the tracks or get on the train but we’ll forgive him that one.
Armstrong says that we do not really understand each other when arguing and
despite the vaunted rationalism of our society, there is little genuinely Socratic dialogue going on. All too often in a debate it is not sufficient for us to seek the truth; we also have to defeat and even humiliate our opponents. In a panel discussion it is often evident that participants are not really listening to adversaries but busy thinking up a riposte that will deliver the coup de grace. [my link and emphasis]
Which is why we should be concerned about the ubiquity of news and ideas because truth-seeking is more important than getting one over on your ‘opponent’. If the Frontline experience the other night is anything to go by, and as a series of communities, we have a considerable way to go. The polarisation is taking place but the seeking of compassion is lost in the myriad of tweets, links and aggregators. We’re looking to get one over on our opponents by sneering (like Kenny did) and stepping is as the safe pair of ideological hands (like Hanafin did) rather than engaging with the anger. But then the moment is gone because there’s the death penalty to argue over and public servants to bait.