Popular Philosophy 1.1
Yesterday, we discussed political correctness as a philosophy of popular culture that can divide couples on moral grounds. When either side considers his or her position to be the morally superior one, the battlefield is set, without the two even realizing that the real issue is simply their respective operating systems (See “Why Men and Women Fight, Part 2).
Much of popular philosophy can divide couples for the same reason. Issues such as identity politics, globalization, education—any subject that enters our culture will be hotly contested—simply because some people tend more toward protection and others tend more toward connection.
When one party in a coupleship believes that immigration threatens our cultural unity (protection), and the other feels that we should welcome people from other cultures (connection); when one party thinks that people should have to earn their keep as much as possible (protection), and the other party feels that underprivileged people should be given handouts until their opportunities are equal with the majority (connection); when one party believes that criminals should be brought to justice (protection), and the other feels that some people are automatically treated unfairly because of their race (connection); when one party believes that identity isn’t something you choose from a menu of options (protection), and the other feels that people should be accepted no matter who they declare themselves to be (connection); when one party subscribes to FOX (protection), and the other depends on CNN (connection), the stage is potentially set for bitter battles over what each considers moral high ground. And these are just a smattering of the issues that popular philosophy kicks up into our psyches for consideration.
Cats Meow, Dogs Bark
Fortunately, there’s a way for couples divided along these philosophical lines to virtually eliminate their verbal battles. Stop talking about popular philosophy together! You can’t make a cat bark or a dog meow, so stop trying! Neither of you is right or wrong! You’re just different, and it’s why you were drawn to one another in the first place.
Perhaps that sounds simplistic, but if you try it, you might like it! There are plenty of other people who will listen to your opinions and think you’re brilliant. At the same time, your partner will collect a following of star-gazers, too. You don’t have to desecrate the sacred ground of the other. Leave it alone, and enjoy other aspects of life together.
Tomorrow, popular philosophy will present different issues, and the tide will swing the other way. Focus on following your grain and let your partner do the same. Moralizing these issues will only divide you, and you’d be foolish to try to change the operating system of your partner. Accept him or her as is, and learn to appreciate your differences.
Of course, if you’re both political activists, your respective opinions might strain your relationship beyond what any relationship can handle. Some couples can manage this. Most cannot, I’m sorry to say. If you have little to connect you beyond popular political philosophy, you might need to consider that the relationship you’re in may not be compatible. The choice is yours, and no one can make it for you.