Voting isn’t the most important part of democracy. What matters far more is what precedes the vote—ideally, an exchange of ideas, conducted in an atmosphere of mutual respect. Unfortunately, our political era is marked more by slogans and applause lines than a serious effort to engage in thoughtful deliberation. Complex times demand complex conversations, but in the age of the bumper sticker and the tweet, ours are getting simpler and simpler. Social scientists worry, rightly, about the ways in which technology enables us to live in echo chambers, where we confront only those who agree with us. What we spend less time thinking about is how the technologies themselves, no matter what their content, often make it hard for us to cope with complexity. Yale professor Stephen Carter argues that the last best hope for restoring a healthy discourse relies on a simple and age old tool: books.
- 2016 Festival