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May 8, 2017 | by  | in Editorial |
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Editors’ Letter

Everyone seems sure of what they know, what they believe, and who has got it so obviously wrong. When I read articles, think-pieces, tweets, people just sound so certain. I’ve often come across pieces that don’t provide context or definitions and it feels like I’m entering in the middle of the conversation. I’m constantly worried of being uninformed or misinformed.

But where do I begin? Do I go to the origins of a movement, seek who coined the term, or try find the earliest record of an idea? This would assume there is a beginning from where I’m able to then trace a linear path to the present.

Henrietta argues in her column this week that “intersectional thinking is urgently needed for people to claim space” as positions and identities can become rigid: “A list, rather than a web of identities that coexist, overlap, can result in stigma or privilege in certain spaces, and sometimes both. It sometimes seems like you have to ‘out’ yourself as these things in order to come across as having valid perspective, which can make deeply personal debate all the more difficult.”

A web is a more useful way to imagine identities and narratives, and leaves little room for a hierarchy of knowledge. To extend her argument, in these situations what is the basis of knowledge? Is there a truth? Or is truth only accessible from within a certain perspective?

Mikee’s feature ponders this exact question in our digital age of ‘post-truth’. How do we reach understanding when faced with a sea of competing ‘facts’?

One response is “I do not wish to understand.” Yet, as she says, “I cling to these ‘facts’, I even actively seek them out, a condition which I suspect is not peculiar to me.” Perhaps because the pursuit of facts offers the promise of total comprehension.

But this goal is elusive. The act of understanding is itself an act of an individual to will the world to order, to pull disorder into the light of the reason. If this is the case, “then it is no trifle that we should cultivate an understanding that is […] honest, dynamic, imaginative, and compassionate.”

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