By Oswald Sobrino, J.D.; M.A. (Econ.); M.A. (Theo.); M.L. (Master of Latin), doctoral student, University of Florida.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Burst the Bubble

I see it all of the time--the proverbial "living in the bubble."

I go pick up a friend attending a conference and browse through the books for sale: book after book of far left, radical ideas that scream "nonsense." Even the attendees, many in their twenties, have their own way of dressing which looks like a throwback to Woodstock. So young, yet so tired. Do they even realize it?

I am sure that, if I attended a Tea Party conference, I would also find the book selection to be full of similarly nonsensical fantasies posing as very adamant nonfictional prescriptions for fixing the world, with the works of Hannity, O'Reilly, and Limbaugh rounding off the canon of right thinking.

Of course, you see this living in a bubble--happily free of interacting with hard realities and differing perspectives--in religious settings. The traditionalist group will have its own book preferences, as will the New Age group: each will have its own newly written holy writ based on its own favorite inspired writers of the movement.

The bubble creates spasms of self-congratulation. The bizarre ethnocentric nationalism of, say, the Spanish region of Catalonia will hold a clearly propagandistic and highly manipulated straw poll for independence and feels that it has accomplished something world-historical. The rest of the world does not notice, or just shrugs.

Right-wing political ideologists will look at the recent midterm Republican victory and feel that they are again riding the zeitgeist because they are the good guys and the good guys just have to win. Democratic ideologists will do the same when their turn comes.

Self-congratulation in a bubble is very dangerous. Ignoring reality is very dangerous. The hubris can lead to actions that will ultimately shipwreck and may damage many in the process. Civil wars come to mind.

In my view, the antidote for such self-congratulatory "bubble-living" is to seek out others who think and live differently and befriend them. Dialogue. Conversation. Friendship. No one has to win in a conversation. That is the road to reality. And the mere act of reading widely and deeply without prejudice helps to make that conversation intelligent and insightful.

Burst your own bubble.