This academic year, my first on The Daily Tar Heel editorial board, saw national turmoil swirl around the concepts of truth and objectivity. The alt-right, postmodernism, identity politics, Trump — everything seemed to fray the ties that bind us.
From safe at home in our various towers (ivory and otherwise), we watched lost souls roam out in the world. Passing by, they told us our allies and neighbors had grown corrupt, and that our shared truths had rotted. We believed them. If we want a chance to put things back together, we have to sally forth from the gates and see if they were right.
Let me be clear: I’m not joining the post-election call for liberals to argue with Trump supporters rather than dismiss or insult them. Nor am I calling for conservatives to examine their consciences and awaken a compassionate revival of national values. Though either of those things would be wonderful.
I am calling for curiosity: I’d like “What do you think?” and, “Tell me about that” to be the national choruses. I want “What?” “Why?” and “How?” to be the first three verses to the alarm song we wake up to every morning, and “What if I’m wrong?” to be the traditional prayer before bed.
I am calling for flexibility: I’d like us not to fixate on winning others to a shared set of objective facts, but rather to seek to discover the facts (the memories, emotions, desires and dreams) about the subjective minds around us.