This article appeared in the October 24, 2018 edition of the Monitor Daily.

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America’s crisis of misunderstanding

Edgard Garrido/Reuters
Central American migrants, part of a caravan trying to reach the US, line up as they wait to open the gate on the bridge that connects Mexico and Guatemala in Ciudad Hidalgo, Mexico, October 21, 2018.

Today was as good a day as any for us all to have a Howard Beale moment from the 1975 movie “Network” – to get mad and not to take it anymore. Start with the conversation around the migrant caravan moving through Mexico toward America.

This presents a difficult set of choices. Should a nation with comparative abundance turn its back on those in need – on people whose daughters and granddaughters, data show, would likely expand American wealth, innovation, and growth? Or should a nation be compelled to accept those who come to its borders uninvited even when it has ample problems of its own? There can be no single right answer to questions so complex and ethically fraught.

Yet the state of the debate on cable news and beyond is often rigidly self-convinced along partisan lines. One result is reckless or willful misunderstanding of the other side. The unwillingness to understand others leads to the too convenient solution of demonization and delegitimization. The apparent mail bombs sent to CNN, Barack Obama, and Hillary Clinton Wednesday are only the latest examples of where this mental toxin leads

As much as immigration or transgender rights or the Supreme Court, the acceptance of willful misunderstanding is a crisis because it makes honest, constructive discussion on those issues impossible. Fortunately, the solution lies not in Washington but in our own conscience – and what that prods us to ask of one another, from Facebook friends to politicians.

Now on to our five stories. Today we examine what a surge of online donations says about American politics, why the words of spirituality are being heard less often, and how the best way to tackle a problem in Chicago was to make it even bigger.  

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This article appeared in the October 24, 2018 edition of the Monitor Daily.

Read 10/24 edition