Sunday, June 26, 2016

Food for Thought

"Five percent of the people think; ten percent of the people think they think; and the other eighty-five percent would rather die than think."
~Thomas Edison

"Thinking is the hardest work there is which is probably why so few engage in it."
~Henry Ford

I've sat down to create this post a few times over the past couple weeks, sometimes just staring at the screen unable to focus my turbulent thinking, other times ending up by deleting what I had just composed.  Troubled because although I could well  be in the ten percent of people that Edison designated, I know I am not in the eighty-five percent.  I am willing to do the hard work.  I value critical and creative thinking.  I work to understand my own thinking, as well as that of others.  I struggle when I can't.

Why have I struggled?   Because, over and above the obvious craziness of the Orlando horror, the circus of this year's political campaigning and now Brexit,  I am on the verge of despair.   Not only because of the lack of cooperative, responsible thinking but what appears to be the downright refusal to do so.  It's not just the oversimplification of complex issues or rampant generalizations.  Or the name calling and innuendo, the righteous polarization.  Or the casting about for blame rather than determining responsibility.  Or even the out and out lies.

  • It's hearing a neighbor say he can't understand why so much air time was given just because a  bunch of "queers" got killed.  Or the  pastor who said he was only sorry that more of these "pedophiles" weren't killed.  Or another pastor who called the murders God's retribution.
  • It's the Governor of Florida saying that Isis is responsible for the murders, not the killer with a semi-automatic.  (Now Isis doesn't have to claim responsibility, our politicians will do it for them.)

  • It's our seeming inability to consider it could be an act of terror AND a hate crime.

  • Or that compromise in any way could be a win.

  •  It's the refusal to let a bill come before the House of Representatives even when it's obvious it would have been voted down.

  • It's the outright refusal to answer a question, not just to sidestep it.  And the reluctance or inability of too many interviewers to drive for anything more.

  • It's panel members who shout at each other, talk over each other, make snide comments, demand a respect for their point of view that they do not give others' opinions.  

  • It's the TV ad calling for telephone calls to assure that Donald Trump is not denied the presidency...not the nomination, but the presidency.  And I thought the election was to take place in November!
  • It's the feeding, the fueling of fear, anger, distrust, hatred, no matter the consequences.

  • It's the labeling of anything remotely moderate or tempered as weak or stupid, ill-informed, elitist - anything that will serve to diminish it.

And then, this morning a moment of clarity - during one of the Sunday morning political shows, the topic of fact checking came up in response to claims made by the major candidates.  One of the panel simply dismissed fact finding as an example of journalistic elitism and followed his assertion with the statement that the American People don't care about facts!  End of the conversation.  One man blithely declaring he speaks for the American People (all 300+ million of us) and asserting that we are not interested in the facts, - or, as challenged by another panelist, care about hearing the truth.  Not only a refusal to think anything other than what someone tells them to believe, but a devaluing of those who even suggest that they do.

Less confusion, yes.  Less dismay, no.

I know fear and hatred are not new.  I know partisanship and polarization are not new.  I have been voting since the 60's after all.  But the issues are so much more complex today and the sheer mass of humanity so much greater.  The consequences of the demagoguery that is sprouting up around the world could be devastating.  We should be thinking more not less.  We should be thinking together.

Less confusion, yes.  Less dismay, no.

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