I've written here before (several times) about the difficulty of listening to perspectives that differ from my own. Like that little boy, I just want to cover my ears and make a bad face. A recent article in the New York Times made me think about this again. The subject was social scientists, and one presenter at a meeting of said scientists was John Haidt.
This seems important to me. And others must also find it so, as this article is currently numero uno on the Times website list of "most popular." This is also a topic that blogger D. G. Myers has brought up several times in the months that I have been reading his blog. Here's one of them. I found out about D. G. Myers because he discussed my novel on his blog, and Google Alerts alerted me to same. And although not everything he said about my novel was complimentary, he also honored it, and this seems to be a pretty good thing in the world of reviewing. He's a tough critic (and an incisive writer), and the fact that he took my book so seriously was pleasing to me. One thing he said in a follow up to his review was that he liked my book because he couldn't tell what my politics were. Some books/novelists wear their politics on their sleeve, as (Myers says) Franzen does in Freedom (I haven't yet read his novel).[He] polled his audience at the San Antonio Convention Center, starting by asking how many considered themselves politically liberal. A sea of hands appeared, and Dr. Haidt estimated that liberals made up 80 percent of the 1,000 psychologists in the ballroom. When he asked for centrists and libertarians, he spotted fewer than three dozen hands. And then, when he asked for conservatives, he counted a grand total of three.“This is a statistically impossible lack of diversity,” Dr. Haidt concluded, noting polls showing that 40 percent of Americans are conservative and 20 percent are liberal. In his speech and in an interview, Dr. Haidt argued that social psychologists are a “tribal-moral community” united by “sacred values” that hinder research and damage their credibility — and blind them to the hostile climate they’ve created for non-liberals.
But that wasn't really what I wanted to talk about (politics in novels). The subject was general lack of exposure to and interaction with diverse perspectives and the impact of this lack. You probably can guess that I think this lack is not such a good thing but that I'm pretty much in the same boat as those social scientists.
And here's the thing I like most about blog posts. No need to wrap it up or come to some conclusion or final point. Some of my favorite blog posts meander and then leave it in the hands of the reader.