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"Affirming a side in conflict only entails promulgating and adhering to their ideals."

Could someone explain what this sentence is trying to say? I'm not very good with my vocab. Thanks!


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PROMPT: Affirming a side in conflict only entails promulgating and adhering to their ideals.

"affirming" - Choosing a particular side in a conflict or ... publicly and strongly promoting one side over another in an issue (but not necessarily in terms of actions but in terms of words and propaganda).

Key word here is "only" as this is used as an adverb meaning "nothing more than" ... AMBIGUITY in the prompt, i.e. makes the prompt arguable - Is it really the "only" requirement (solitary) ... just giving verbal support? Or does "choosing a side" require active involvement and full engagement ("walking the talk")?

"promulgating" - promoting or proclaiming - just being a mouthpiece

"adhering" - holding/supporting/practising/devoting

"their ideals" - one side's beliefs, perhaps unattainable?

Re-writing the prompt: Does taking a side in a conflict mean more than just saying you are taking a side? Does taking a side require you to do more than just give verbal/intellectual support? Is it sufficient just to offer moral support and not act out that support? Don't you have to do something to demonstrate your support other than say "I agree with you, but you go first ..."?

"The end justifies the means ... but don't ask me to justify the means!"

Are we (in any conflict) limited by what we say we can do and what we can actually do? Is there an in-built hypocrisy in supporting a particular set of beliefs (passive) but not acting on them in any physical or existentially meaningful manner?

Conflicts involve people: aggressors, perpetrators, non-aggressors, victims, conscientious objectors, neutral observers, propagandists, conciliators, appeasers, "compromisers", winners, losers, heroes, cowards, moral ideals, immoral ideals (depending on the side you might take) etc.

Those who "walk the talk" may be different in their involvement in a conflict than those who "talk the walk"!

Conflicts also involve reporting and journalism which may proclaim professional neutrality - the facts and only the facts. "Truth" as is said, "is the first casualty in a war" and the partiality or impartiality of any commentary is open to analysis. Tragedy is also an inevitable end point of most (if not all) "conflicts" and such "tragedy" may be a result of active involvement just as much as it is of passive involvement and as much due to an adoption of neutrality ("Great idea but what else do you want me to do ...?", "I don't want to be involved in this, so I won't become involved" or "This is not my fight!" or "These are the facts and ... seriously ... I am not making any judgement about who is right or wrong.").

REAL EXAMPLES: Supporting the ideals of "democratic freedom" in various North African and Middle Eastern countries, but providing limited rather than total involvement. Listen to the "diplomatic" support - Do actions speak louder than words? Currently with the tragic circumstances in the Ukraine, have you heard the politicians public statements, "You are either part of the problem or part of the solution ..." or is it as easy and as simple as that? I may have a personal view here on which I will never be able to act ... does that make my moral outrage at events any less, or my helplessness any more, and my lack of involvement any less culpable?

LITERATURE: Fowler in "The Quiet American" - dilemma - to become involved or not to become involved? "Neutral" quiescent observer to participant (although at a distance)? Megan Stack in "Every Man in this Village is a Liar" - the consequences of involvement both personally and politically and her early naivete and the gradual changes in her ideological perspective towards American participation ...

QUESTIONS: Is a person prepared to face the consequences of being "actively involved" in a conflict? Is a person prepared to accept the consequences of NOT being actively involved? Is a person prepared to turn their back and live with the pragmatics of survival and their own conscience? Is a person prepared support the moral imperatives of one side of a conflict, but not act on their conscience (for whatever reason)? is apathy an adequate response to a conflict in which we are not actively involved, but see the moral rights of one side over another?

"Is the pen mightier than the sword?" "Do actions speak louder than words?" Or as the prompt suggests is giving public support for the ideas of one side in a conflict ALL that we have to do? Or do we have to do more?

The dilemmas suggested are perhaps "real" ...

Hope that helps?


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Thank you very much! Very helpful
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Good question. 'Promulgate' isn't a common word in most people's vocabularies. It means 'promote or make widely known (an idea or cause).'

Basically, the sentence is saying:

"If you take a clear side in a conflict (as opposed to being somewhat neutral and taking a clear stance) leads to one-sidedness in a debate and means that individuals are less likely to be able to see both of the picture."


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Thankyou for that!
No problem. Hope that helps to clear up some of the confusion.