To See Clearly, Don’t Shy Away from Conflict: Chronicles During the COVID-19 Community Quarantine

Recently, I was in a heated Twitter debate about how people who had animal companions but were not vegan were essentially in a master-slave relationship.

While some of my friends argued with me directly, some chose not to reply and instead resorted to subtweets and snarky, shady remarks. Those who did the latter did not contribute anything substantial to the debate, because contesting ideas directly, while it seems superficially uncomfortable, allows people to test ideas and hones our capacity to argue well.

In a “Philosophy for Our Times” podcast episode, author Margaret Heffernan argued that willful blindness occurs as a result of our conflict aversion and inability to step away from our like-minded peers. If we only surround ourselves with people who think like us, we become comfortable with the ideas that are discussed within our circles.

Social movements do not happen because everyone agreed on everything. On the contrary, questioning ideas exposes our willful blindness to important matters, and encourages us to not just mull on things that never crossed our minds, but also act on them.

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