We're Inconsistent. And that's Good!
Sometimes good news isn't so much a matter of discovering a new good thing as it is recognizing that an existing bad thing isn't nearly as bad as we thought.
Case in point: the so-called culture wars. If you indulge regularly in op-eds, talk radio, and, let's face it, blogs, you're likely to be inundated with the notion that fundamental ideas about how society should be structured are tearing us apart. Backward red-state hicks are one step away from imposing federal laws that outlaw double beds and make it mandatory that kindergartners learn that Adam and Eve road dinosaurs to church every Sunday. Meanwhile, godless liberals are working tirelessly to slaughter every baby in site and make us all gay.
We are constantly being told how polarized we are, and that we are only getting more so. Well now there's this:
CHICAGO (Reuters) - The so-called culture wars rending America over such issues as abortion, gay marriage and stem cell research may be overblown, based on a U.S. poll released on Thursday.
"Despite talk of 'culture wars' and the high visibility of activist groups on both sides of the cultural divide, there has been no polarization of the public into liberal and conservative camps," the Pew Research Center said, commenting on its poll of 2,003 American adults.
Best illustrating the willingness of Americans to consider opposing points of view is that two-thirds of poll respondents supported finding a middle ground when it comes to abortion rights -- a solid majority that stood up among those calling themselves evangelicals, Catholics, Republicans or Democrats.
Here's the best part:
On five prominent social issues -- abortion rights, stem cell research, gay marriage, adoption of children by gay couples, and availability of the "morning-after" pill -- most Americans did not take consistent stances.
Just 12 percent took the conservative position on all five issues, while 22 percent took the opposite stance on all five. The bulk of Americans had mixed opinions.
The bottom line here seems to be that most people, in spite of it all, are reasonable. We can see the potential drawbacks in ideas that we favor and we can see the potential good that may be present even in ideas that we oppose.
This isn't to say that there's no polarization going on in this country. Obviously, editorial pages and political platforms are getting more and more polarized. But this may have to do more with effective marketing than it does with revealing a deep ideological split. Perhaps we've developed a resistence to marketing over the years and media and political types are forced to go extreme just to get our attention.
So not only are we inconsistent (in a good way) and reasonable, maybe we're even developing a resistance to ideological marketing? That's a hat-trick, folks.