Monday, February 11, 2013

He's no longer the freaking Pope

So the Pope has retired, which seems perfectly reasonable, if somewhat unexpected. Hopefully it'll encourage future popes to do so before becoming ill.

I am not a fan of the Catholic church as an institution. It has done real harm, both in the cover up of abuse of minors, and in their work against contraceptives leading to higher rates of HIV and AIDs. These are real serious harms that are done by it, not to mention the institutions opinion of women and homosexuals.

So can't we focus on just that? Do we really get anywhere by calling Ratzinger a Nazi, when a quick examination of what actually occurs implies quite the opposite. On child abuse and Ratzinger's complicity.. well I don't think its as cut and dried as some people argue. It seems like he may have taken some action to stamp out such abuse, but this actions may not have gone far enough. Its not easy to know, as the Catholic church is hardly known for its transparency, but I think its a leap from that to calling him a paedophile, as some insist on doing.

The left does this all the time. Blair is a Nazi, a fascist, a war criminal. I don't really care how much truth there is in such statements, but I can guarantee that people aren't going to listen to you if you make them.

Lets generally suppose that every position that those on the left wing take is correct. Well if thats the case, we should do our best to make sure everyone accepts these positions too. Now we could do that by force, which historically hasn't gone brilliantly, or we could try to change people's minds.

Changing minds is difficult. It doesn't happen over night, and its very hard to do in the sphere of politics. We don't want to be tricked into a position, we want our "team" to be correct. Ideally, our team should be the truth. Even if we think Blair is a war criminal, it might behove us to make the argument, carefully and articulately, that he has participated in a series of actions that lead us to believe that he can be called a war criminal, rather than just loudly chanting it at people.

Its too easy to dismiss the other side as unthinking and arrogant, especially if all we do is chant slogans at each other. The truth isn't always in the middle, but its unlikely to be exactly where we are either. Conversations are good, where we exchange ideas and thoughts, make arguments, try to see the argument others are making and see if they make sense. Every time we say that the Pope is a Nazi, that Bush is a moron, that Palin is insane, we shut off conversation because the people we are talking to no longer want to listen.