Sunday, May 06, 2007

The Blessings of Imprecision by Louis Evan Palmer

It's safe to say that many dialogues or debates would benefit from more imprecision. Imprecision aids in gaining a strategic perspective. It also aids in discarding less pertinent detail which can reduce clarity rather than enhance it.

Imprecision is the balm of diplomacy; the vital truth about diplomacy is that it is not war. So, when we see diplomats being demeaned and derided, particularly, for their imprecision, then we know we are on the way to conflict, the way of force.

Death counts is one area of public debate where imprecision will often help. Here, the numbering systems of primitive societies, that is, one, two, many, is more useful. Clearly, we still want people who are experts and can derive as objective and accurate an accounting as possible but we must acknowledge that many agendas drive these number counts. Not the least of which is how much reliable relevant information is available.

But, when the toll gets high, it is sufficient for most discussions to simply state that a very large number of persons perished. The indisputable reality is that such a loss of life is a massive tragedy and that "we" should respond as quickly and effectively as possible - to prevent, to detect, to protect, to prosecute. But for the public or the body politic, the fuzzy broad truth is enough, a morass of numbers and maps and charts will not enlighten the matter

The general how and why is useful to uncover but without getting bogged down in too many specifics. As in, at a high-level, a root cause for genocide is having a group, or groups, of people who are considered less than human. This can be from the point of view that a specific group is considered not fully human or a given group considers itself so superior to other groups as to render them subhuman by comparison.

Who feels this way and why or the merits of their arguments should not be part of this discussion which is that any diminishment of a person's treatment and rights under the law and by society can, in a worst case scenario, lead to genocide or enslavement (which is a kind of "living" genocide).

Another powerful weapon in the arsenal of manipulation and victimization is fear-mongering. While wars have been waged purely for gain, wars can become virulent in scope and menace when fear is successfully invoked. When that happens, there will be many offerings at the temple of the Cult of the Enemy.

Also noteworthy, is an emphasis on differences, say ethnicity or religion or classes or castes, and a slew of associated, wide-ranging postulates which serve to create and maintain an adversarial stance between these groups.

Specificity is a hallmark of repression and arbritrary rule. It allows for the segregation and branding of society. It allows for the differential application of the law and its protections. It permits targeted sanctions based on involuntary membership. The imprecise way of categorizing people is merely to say they're all humans. All. And further, that they have the same rights. Same. All.

It's a necessary simplication which is closer to the true sense of what a majority want for our society than any of the various details that may be used to "clarify" society's meaning but which instead confuse and detract and, ultimately, jeopardize our freedom and security - for a divided, hostile and suspicious world cannot have lasting peace.

The Blessings of Imprecision, The Way It Can Be, Louis Evan Palmer,
Copyright 2007 Louis Evan Palmer lives in Ontario Canada. His short stories have been published in numerous publications.


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