When I post something new, I check back a day or two later to see if anyone has unfollowed the blog. My curiosity is about what topics cause some to say, what the hell is this…I’m outta here. It doesn’t bother me. Being the pragmatist I am, I assume their departure is about boredom with topics, nothing new to see here or, perhaps, not really that pragmatic after all. I’m assuming anyone following this blog would consider themselves pragmatic at heart. And you don’t have to agree with everything I post. It’s sort of like marriage in that you don’t have to always agree with your spouse to still love them (mine, by the way, doesn’t read this blog).
Speaking of marriage, and from experience, it’s better when spouses (and significant others) are both pragmatists. Otherwise, the pragmatist finds him or herself trying to cope with their partner’s less-pragmatic approach or response to topics. The pragmatic one sees accompanying issues and considerations while the latter is only focused on a direct strategy that mitigates something as soon as possible. This divergence can happen with two pragmatists, but is atypical much of the time. That said, primary relationships are already inherently hardwired with emotions that can turn two pragmatists into highly irrational individuals in an amazingly short amount of time.
Irrational implies emotional because emotions seem irrational in many ways, yet they often serve pragmatic purposes. When evolutionary biology is combined with cognitive psychology, the result is evolutionary psychology, which studies why human behavior has become what it is. From pair-bonding to group socialization and cooperation, and even etiquette, there are good reasons for emotions that reinforce behaviors that improve survival and reproduction. What might be described as an unintended but inevitable consequence are yet other emotions, such as anger, that are triggered when some evolved behaviors have functional variations — to put it nicely.
Of course, unlike pragmatism itself, these “pragmatic” emotions only serve the purposes for which they evolved (in terms of evolutionary psychology). The pragmatic process is outside of this realm. It’s really about critical thinking, a subject missing from general education and a skill undeveloped or underdeveloped in many. Ideologists are not pragmatists. In fact, they essentially disdain pragmatists as lacking true principles and values — all too willing to compromise anything and everything. Plus, ideologists make a mockery of critical thinking by fabricating supportive “reasoning” for their ideological tenets via selective use and misuse of data — tenets derived not from reality but from how idealists want and expect the world to be.
It’s reasonable to have ideals. We all have them to varying degrees. But pragmatists know them to be relative to reality rather than being reality. This difference is critical when it comes to approaching any issue, big or small. Immigration, for example, is a contentious issue that illustrates this point. On one side are conservatives who want all illegal immigrants deported prior to any revisions of immigration law, a requirement that is never going to happen. On the other side are immigrant advocates (known as liberals to conservatives) who believe the current administration is deporting record numbers of immigrants already. The reality is that immigrant deportations have declined 43 percent in the last five years. This change has occurred without desired revisions in immigration law, which almost certainly offends conservatives while being ignored by advocates. Reality and idealism are not aligned.
I write about the many ways pragmatism can matter because alternative approaches are not viable solutions. They may fulfill idealistic values and beliefs, but they lack functionality and more often than not actually make things worse. A lot of people can see when something isn’t working, but only the more pragmatic individuals among them can actually find agreement on doing something instead of doing nothing. Those who derive greater satisfaction from their principles and beliefs can’t seem to grasp how much worse doing nothing can be. They are only focused on avoiding compromise so they can claim that the integrity of their values remains intact. To me, as a pragmatist, these individuals are already on dubious moral ground. They just don’t know it.