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Nov. 20, 2019 | Wednesday
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Letter: What happened to the scientific method?
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Dear Editor:

In the last two issues of The Lake Report, I read two dissenting articles regarding our prime minister. As a public figure, elected into office, Prime Minister Trudeau is subject to scrutiny by Canadians, both on the job he’s doing for us, and how he’s seen on the world stage, whether favourably or otherwise. All public figures know this, most even encourage the discourse. 

Political events effect us all, probably more today than ever before. Amazingly, intelligent people can’t seem to have a civil conversation about issues. Politics have become polarized, heated and divisive. 

Most people seem to seek out others with like ideas who offer support and validation so, in groups, it’s not uncommon for one person to speak out assuming everyone is of the same mind and will endorse their view. 

Some don’t. Others stay silent. Those who do speak out, become suspect, their motives questioned. Instead of listening, sharing informed dialogue, even asking questions, the topic is taboo, unless all in the group agree. If there is one dissenter, that person may be dismissed, shunned, shut out or the subject is simply changed, so no one learns anything from each other. 

Growing up, we were taught to not talk about religion, sex or politics. They were deemed unsavoury. I’m not suggesting we return to those days, it’s in our own self interest to be informed. 

I wonder though, what happened to civility? When did we stop listening to, and appreciating another point of view to maybe learn something new or different. Today, the first impulse seems to be to put up barriers and fiercely defend those beliefs. 

Universities today determine free speech by what the majority finds acceptable, and rush to offer safe spaces where sensitive students retreat, rather than learning from differing opinions through free and open debates. 

In the cult movie Dogma, though irreverent, some parts even repugnant, I found a few meaningful and redeeming passages that have stuck with me over the years. An apostle explains, in essence, that a belief is very powerful. The stronger the belief is held, the more convinced and rigid a person becomes in that belief; dogma. Ideas however change and grow, opening to other ideas and new possibilities. 

It’s sad when political events that affect us all can’t be part of friendly discourse, but rather result in mud slinging — which brings me back to the two Lake Report articles. One was upfront about sharing his thoughts and ideas about our prime minister, the other seemed angry, and accused the first writer of propaganda (but by whose measure?) and resorted to name calling by comparing the first writer to be “similar to the behaviour of far-right hate mongers and U.S. President Donald Trump.” Not even sure why that was necessary in the second article! 

Instead of the vitriol, may I suggest we listen, question and ... go learn things! 

Patricia Nicholls-Papernick

St. Davids

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