THE IMPONDERABLES OF NEW JOURNALISM
by Shad Moarif
People can be left-handed, right-handed or ambidextrous. The last one could be thought of as being “both” or “neither”. Mixed laterality (or sidedness) can include those who are not one-sided all the way i.e. they can be left eared, right-eyed, left-handed but right-footed. Invariably, left-handed and ambidextrous populations are small but significant minority.
Within the realm of the ambivalent, we also have ambi-sexuals who are widening the gender/sex spectrum from male-female, to LBGT…and so on.
Populations that are ambivalent either by necessity or by choice, are often a gifted minority with exceptional neurological wiring. They are the principal drivers of innovation and change. By contrast, the non-ambivalent majority behave in almost the opposite way. They dislike rapid (often mindless) social change, prefer long-term stability, familiarity and predictability. They feel weighed down by innumerable, conflicting choices that unfettered freedom brings.
Laterality can be“neither” or “both”. So can Liberal-Secularism. In terms of political-faith tribes, Liberal Secularists belong in the ambivalent crowd. They can be remotely atheistic, privately religious or emphatically agnostic. They can be quite pluralistic and accommodating. They are far better positioned to see “all sides” than any other group. They span a spectrum.
At the other end of the spectrum, they can also neglect and ignore all sides, rise above them to look down upon them them from a safe distance. Their polite and patronising neutrality creates a safe space between them and those below. This space is reserved for “noise”, for those espousing whatever they wish. Liberals will defend the rights of others to speak out, without agreeing with them, but that’s pure public posturing. Logical rhetoric.
And It doesn’t ring true any more.
In the present climate, such an attitude is perceived by most as superior, arrogant and selfish. An increasing population on the Right associate Liberal Secularists with a minority Global elite who own most of the planet’s wealth and natural resources. They are seen to straddle different sides of the political divide so they may control or manipulate conflicts to their own advantage. Or they are seen to rise above the divisive ideological frays of “those quarreling ideologues” below. (If left to themselves ideologues will repeat the Inquisition or the Crusade!)
So they rolled out political correctness to sweep such unpleasant worries and fears under the carpet. They bleached all social discourse and debates with political correctness to subdue passions and promote instead, cerebral, soulless values in which Right and Wrong was severed from Good and Bad. It is not surprising that over the past two decades liberal secularists have not been able to argue their values or profess their identity clear-headedly. Their reasoning appeals less than before. It feels less persuasive.
Liberal-Secularists and the extreme Right are now here to stay. They both swim in a wider mainstream of politics, voting and positioning for power. Their potentially unresolved conflict is slowly forming a new norm all its own. It has invaded our consciousness. It has begun to reside within, making us divisive, argumentative, indecisive and often…. uncertain and moody. It’s getting to be a painful place for many because it is unfamiliar, and we don’t know what codes and rules to follow to manage it. But already we are starting to see the blurred outlines of future demands that it’s making upon us:
We have to learn to live with questions, not answers; with uncertainties, not certitudes. We need to find new, reliable ways of distinguishing the true from the fake. The old ones rested on assumptions that are crumbling.
So for starters, we may have to permit contrary theories and quarrelling truths to co-exist in our hearts and heads. Resolving them by venting or fighting the “non-believers” is not an option. We have to give our new ambivalent state a chance to grow inside us until they take a form that can be defined and understood better. If we struggle with them long enough we may be able to negotiate our way through what we understand, not through what makes us angry. We may be able to make meaning out of it in new and novel ways, ways that are still un-charted by neurons swivelling inside our brains.
Perhaps New Journalism could consider dwelling longer and more reflectively upon our present state of bewilderment, wonderment, puzzlement with Hope undergirding them all. And pain, too. Social media may have some of the answers. But it is also turning into the mischiefous medium for mangling messages.
New journalism can help all sides restore the broken links between between mankind’s past accomplishments and future promise in more intelligent ways.
It can move its locus away from intellectual elitism that is eroding the legitimacy, trust and authenticity of Secular Liberalism. It is isolating them from a large populace whose grievances cannot be ignored or sublimated. Journalists, too, are experiencing a new kind of curiosity: it comes from increasing uncertainty about what they should believe, how they should portray and explain contemporary narratives. Often the liberal media is incensed by: “Really!!? How do we explain that? But that’s unthinkable!”
Not any more. New Journalism needs to explore, understand and share its new journey with greater confidence and hope. It will come when they ally themselves with a majority who are struggling to articulate a different future for themselves. Worryingly though, it is a population who regard secular-liberalis as a breed inexplicably obsessed with change.
It will be good to bring to a new generation of readers a refreshing whiff of new Journalism: one that bonds with them, is on their side as companions on an unknown journey of Hope for a better life. Perhaps one day new journalism can even begin to give them a new voice but not before trying on an attitude that feels good, right and true.
To most. ©copyright Shad Moarif ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
Copyright © Shad Moarif, 2017, London ALL RIGHTS RESERVED