It’s been a funny week so far in politics. Not the hilarious kind, but the type that comes across as being odd. Unless of course it’s in the middle of a Political and Brexit crisis that is, when everything odd or unexplainable seem to now have become pretty much the norm.
In the space of just a few days, we have seen the result of the European Elections presented as a majority for Remaining in the EU despite the Brexit Party having actually won.
We have also witnessed proceedings being launched by Remainers against Boris Johnson for a Leave Campaign slogan on the side of a bus, on the basis that suing him is in the interests of the public good.
If either of these incidents took place in circumstances where the underlying motivations and causes were completely isolated and therefore rare if not a one-off, there would be a significant outcry from the public.
That there’s not an outcry and no more than a shrug of the shoulders in some kind of bizarre form of acceptance that this is the way things are, raises questions about what’s really going on.
It certainly suggests that the act of twisting narratives to suit a specific aim is now so common, it doesn’t make many of us feel that there is anything wrong.
What a horrible place to be.
When we feel that we are right about something, it is very tempting for some and feels like a compulsory act for others to identify and out as guilty in some way, anyone who’s arguments or standing puts their own position in the shade.
Sadly, this approach of never being the one to be wrong has become in many ways a cultural norm.
Furthermore it has progressed to a point where going out to find anything that disqualifies the person or other party from being able to make their argument or justify the point that makes you feel you have been wronged becomes the priority rather than developing a better argument if it is possible to do so, or just accepting it wasn’t personal or about you, irrespective of the form.
Simply disqualifying that other party or person for any reason will then make you right again whilst they will then automatically become wrong.
It doesn’t matter how relevant to the subject matter the wrong that they have committed might be. Its mere presence means they are the guilty bastard. Their argument is therefore written off. And then you have won.
The whole thing works because whatever the narrative that is found, identified or created about those who must be outed to be seen by everybody as the real sinner, it will inevitably include an element of truth.
And in this context of making what someone is saying or doing wrong and against your own position, any truth which implies guilt in one way, implies guilt in every other form.
Politicians and activists have developed this whole process into an art form, using any information they can lay their hands on, to attempt to destroy the credibility of an opponent rather than take them on head-to-head on the issues – usually knowing that they cannot destroy any argument that questions their own credibility in this reasoned and genuine form.
Statistics and cherry picking words and sentences from historical speeches without care for the context in which they were said or written is a very popular way to further this cause.
There have always been people that have behaved in this way. But the rise and impact of the Internet and Social Media have taken the whole thing forward by not just one but probably many levels.
Just like the technology enabling it, the problem is growing in exponential form. It has done so because politics and the issues that surround it are about taste and are personal for almost everybody.
So when your ideas are unquestionably right, without realising it you become emotionally anchored to your position and therefore see anything and everything posed publicly to the contrary to being a personal attack, made worse because it has been delivered in such an open and therefore humiliating way.
Sadly, some are unconscious of the fact that they are even doing it. Others know, but fail to see anything wrong. Few get to the point where they question themselves when they see so many others doing it. How if doing something is so normal, can it ever really be wrong?
The question they should all be asking themselves is would I rather be right or happy?
But of course most will automatically conclude that the only way you can be happy is if you are proven right and that means that those who disagree must therefore be proven wrong.
Back before it became fashionable to attack the person, rather than simply playing the ball, there was a concept called the principle of charity, which relied on the reader or listener giving the benefit of doubt to the speaker or writer, looking at the whole message not just parts of it, or rather considering the picture made by the complete forest and not just that by a selection of trees involved.
Sadly when even journalists are open with the fact that they read and reread passages to see how they can spin messages different to create a new story, our information-led society is fast approaching a situation where it will be considered impossible by almost everyone to be scrupulously honest, if you actually want to get on and win.
Unfortunately part of the default make up of the human condition is that we run and hide from the real truth at every opportunity that we can.
That’s why facing up to accepting we have ‘lost’ an argument or accepting outcomes that we don’t like makes it easy to reinterpret the outcome, whatever the form.
image thanks to metro.co.uk