We hear what we want to hear and see what we want to see. This has been the story of humanity since time began. It’s why we fight wars over invisible gods or perceived principles of governance. It’s why we are unable to see the other side, or empathize with an enemy.
Humans are a peculiar species that can work together to cultivate empires and even break the bonds of earth to explore the heavens, but can’t have a civil dinner together.
This week, the implications of our inability to see eye to eye and understand another’s position came home in the form of an unrelated investigation that may or may not have turned up new evidence linked to a private e-mail server used by one of the contestants of the presidential election.
We’re going to stop here and let you re-read the sentence above, because it’s a little hard to follow. The whole thing is a little hard to follow.
The things that one of the presidential candidates are accused of are a little hard to pin down. Leaked e-mails detail the personal, otherwise-unpublishable back and forth of her campaign staff, including somewhat tasteless correspondence concerning Catholics and tone-deaf efforts to turn out black voters.
In a normal election, that might do some damage. Humans, collectively, might decide that these types of comments or activities are unbecoming the nation’s highest executive. Sure, we all like to eat the sausage, but seeing how it’s made is just too much.
But this isn’t a normal election.
One side doesn’t understand how the other can remain blind to how bad things have gotten while supporting a candidate who’s under federal investigation. The other side doesn’t know how things have gotten so bad that the other can continue to actively support a xenophobic misogynist who picks fights on Twitter like a slighted sorority girl.
This isn’t new, of course. Though the Obama Administration has been remarkably free of scandal, people nonetheless persist in throwing contrived criticisms their way, including that the president is a Kenyan-born socialist with a secret homosexual past.
Because, of course.
The fact is, no one seems capable of agreeing on the facts anymore. What’s real is up for debate. And that’s terrifying.