Updated: Aug 17, 2021
The world of ideas and beliefs is like a flea market, where hawkers and barkers try to out-scream one another, each trying to pull the undecided to their version of truth.
At a time when information is more available at everyone's disposal, sifting through the noise to get at the truth has become a laborious process.
To wear or not to wear a mask. To vaccinate or not. Where even the scientists are confused and their statements confusing, ideologists squeeze themselves in. Where ideologies are involved and interpretations of the world are pre-packaged, people’s minds are difficult to change.
“In North America and elsewhere, communities are fractured along ideological lines as social media and algorithms encourage individuals to seek out others who think like they do and to condemn those that don’t,” writes Kyle Conway, author of “The Art of Communication in a Polarized World.”
“This social and political polarization has resulted in systemic discrimination and weaponized communication trends such as gaslighting and fake news,” he added.
In most cases, ideological clashes in a cut-throat competition for what is true ironically result in the suppression of free speech and the fettering of free thought. The mob tyranny gives rise to the reprehensible “cancel culture.”
Released in March 2020, Conway’s book confronts the modern world’s communication crisis by navigating the gulf between clashing viewpoints. He explores how individuals can come to understand another person’s view and provides the tools for shaping effective arguments capable of altering their belief.
The Guam community cannot be characterized as ideologically rabid— fortunately, I would say. Where facts are clashing the conflicts are unresolved, the island residents process information independently and rely on their own intuition. Despite minor resistance, compliance with the Covid-19 safety measures has contributed to the community’s success in the battle against the ruthless adversary.
In general, political parties on Guam often find a way to meet each other halfway. But just the same, the community is not immune to polarization.
The proposal to amend the Guam Medical Malpractice and Arbitration Act, for example, has created a rift between doctors and senators. Between the governor and the senators, there's a growing rift over what to do with the federal windfall. But engaging in a debate is how we weigh facts. Disagreements are a necessary inconvenience to every free-thinking society.
As for the future of Guam, the community is clearly fragmented— making it even more necessary to continue the public discourses to help us arrive at a collective decision.
(This explains our roster of Insights columnists associated with different—sometimes clashing— points of view. Talk show host and former senator Bob Klitzkie joins our pool of columnists including Robert Underwood, Aline Yamashita, Vincent Akimoto, Jayne Flores, Zaldy Dandan, Gabriel McCoard, Jay Shedd, Joy Santamarina and Theodore Lewis.)
In his book, Conway deepens our understanding of what it means to communicate and opens the door to new approaches to politics and ethics. “The Art of Communication in a Polarized World" is an essential guide for surviving in our polarized society.