How well do you know anyone else or even yourself? Most people automatically assume they know themselves perfectly and from that little self-conceit they believe they know most of the people around them extremely well too. I’ve decided to challenge you to step out of your comfort zone and really think about what things you believe to be true about yourself and what things really are true based on how you conduct your life. All it takes is a short list of the things you say you believe and a quick honest appraisal of how in practice you live up to your own value system to see that you, like just about everyone else (since we’re none of us saints) , falls short on just about every metric we deem as a worthy value to uphold. This can be a humbling experience when you first start doing it, but after time it can help you learn to work on your areas of particular weakness and also help you build on your areas of strength.
Long ago these types of character-building exercises permeated society from religious institutions all the way through our political institutions and down through our civic organizations and educational system. Teaching “good citizenship” rested upon teaching the building of a good character. These days “good character” got kicked to the curb, replaced by being green, being a diversity advocate, being non-judgmental, and being value neutral. In other words nothing is right or wrong and if you believe there are moral absolutes, well, you need to be re-indoctrinated to get with the new regime. The only institution that still pays lip service to values constantly is in the military and that leadership has been hijacked by political sycophants for the most part.
To avoid making this too deep of a theological exercise, let’s just focus on the difference between actually “knowing people” and “knowing about people”. The first one takes more personal effort, because it involves actually making a personal connection with individual people and listening to them. It takes time to get to “know people”. To “know about people” ranks as a shallow second and third hand exercise where what you know usually comes from other people, in other words, much of it is little more than gossip that you accept as fact. In our personal, everyday life this distinction might not have a huge impact other than to create unnecessary conflicts with neighbors, co-workers and within our own families. And believe me, it’s hard to resolve some of these deep-seated misunderstandings based on not knowing what’s truly in the hearts of others. It’s hard work listening to others and really trying to understand what other people think, believe, dream.
While believing incorrect or absolute lies about other people isn’t usually too earth-shattering in our everyday lives, having our media and political institutions reduced to consumers of “knowing about” people rather than taking the time to “know people” leads to many very unsettling results. For instance reporters often zoom in on neighbors when seeking to add context to stories, yet do they ever bother to think that perhaps the neighbor hated the person whom the story is about? Do they bother to seek a broader understanding of the situation?
In this Newtown massacre within the first 48 hours, the press reported so many false stories that by the time they started coming up with a few facts, their credibility was nil and the damage had already been done. Long ago most news organizations prided themselves of being reporters of the truth, with reporters trained to seek out who, what, when,where, why and how. Now we have live ‘reporting” where reporters fill the long segments with rambling gossip, innuendo, pop psychology detours, and plain emotional outbursts that should have no place in real journalism.
When this trend of accepting lies without question captures our political system, our Republic may be doomed. Our founding fathers told us that the system they devised will only stand for a moral people. Our electorate now falls mainly on shallow emotional hot-button issues, which both political parties shamelessly play. The key factor in every election should be the character of the individual running for office, but we know that standard fell to the wayside long, long ago. In the past 20 years, our moral compass as a nation died and we now have a media that helps promulgate lies for political advantage. This mostly benefits the left, because the vast majority of journalists fall to the left politically.
During the Clinton years this dangerous threat to our Republic came to be known by the rather innocuous term “spin”. Spin is the deliberate, concerted effort of your elected officials to lie and deceive you. If you accept “spin” as truth or excuse it as just part of politics, then seriously there is little hope of rescuing our society from the moral sewer where these Clinton spinmeisters left us decaying. George Bush did spin some facts on the “war on terror” (a term that is in and of itself a fallacy), but they avoided the cheap character assassinations that the Clinton crowd excelled at. Now we reached a new level of lying where cheap race-baiting tactics get used at every turn to keep the most shallow, intellectually vapid person ever to reach the Oval Office in power. For rational people to accept flimsy “composite” white people as representative of the white mentality and to listen to his constant vile stereotyping of white people, conservatives, rural Pennsylvanians (having grown up as one – well I took offense), well we are on a dangerous course here. Now, the left is embracing junk science to promote the idea that conservatives are “genetically’ intellectually inferior beings compared to the liberals.
These dangerous paths always lead to governments running way off course to extremes, where an idiot like Roseanne Barr, seriously suggested re-education camps for conservatives. Where was the outrage from the left about that insanity???
Americans need to wake up and realize that before they side up against other Americans they had better take the time to walk up to those who hold different views and sit down and talk first. Perhaps by actually getting “to know” other people, we might be able to bridge the gaps and build a stronger nation, where all views from all people get heard at our political kitchen table. And just maybe communities might get back to holding potluck dinners where everyone comes and shares a meal and gets to know his/her neighbors.
What an amazing concept that is – getting to know other people, up close and personal. It just might revolutionize America;-)