Political Labels: How ya gonna live up to them?

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“Okay buster, I’m a ‘——–‘ and proud of it!

“Well, I’m really more a ‘——-‘ and I don’t agree with you and don’t really know what your label means but I know it must be wrong and dangerous to our Country.”

“Listen buster, we ‘——‘ stand for truth, justice and the American way and no amount of your ‘—–‘ crap is gonna change that.”

“Oh yeah? Well I’m just as strong in my knowing stuff as you are and we’d all be better off if you just shut the hell up!”

“You people seem to think ….. ”

“I stand with all those Americans who blah blah blah”

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Who you callin two-dimensional?

The glory in being able to discern what we see in a three-dimensional way is that we can not only perceive automatically the differences between “near” and “far,” but also perceive cubes and spheres quite differently from squares and circles. Obviously such is a consequence of our enjoyment of depth perception.

Were that such were so for mental  images, conceptualizations and imagined realities. Which brings me to our notions of left and right in political and philosophical terms. It seems that particularly in philosophical/political contexts we mostly attempt to apply two-dimensional labels to ourselves in terms of our own intellectual prowess in seeing the world as it really is. Hence, left/right stuff does not reflect intellectual depth perception, rather two-dimensional thinking lacks depth or breadth.

Two-dimensional thinking is nothing more than either/or thinking on any subject. Today the subject is political philosophy which, in this country is dominated by either/or mindsets with their pretend basis and standard of comparisons that break behavior into right or wrong choices.

Either/or uses extreme extensions to praise or vilify other folks. For example, “liberal” is implied to be firmly entrenched next to “communism” via the “socialist” tendency while “conservatism” lies dangerously next to “fascism” via the “authoritarian” route. Another way of expressing this is the label-mindedness that considers the left wing or right wing enemies of Democracy depending on how an individual is living up to his chosen label.

Don’t label yourself. You will have less to live up to that does not belong to you and more freedom to be who you are.

Don’t label yourself. Be genuinely surprised then when you react in a way that surprises who you thought you were …. or who you thought you were supposed to be.

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New Version of the Serenity Prayer.

argument

Photo Credit: Roman Kosolapov / Shutterstock

“Grant me the patience to engage with the receptive, the impatience to avoid the absolutely unreceptive and the wisdom to know the difference.The wisdom to know the difference doesn’t come easy. It’s a hard art, and you will guess wrong sometimes, engaging with the unreceptive, and avoiding the receptive.

…”I frame it this way:

I try to be a nice guy
But if you show up done,
ready for a fight you’re
already sure you’ve won
I’m gonna do my best
to have you leave here disappointed
with your scheme to dip in quick,
pre-and post-anointed
as the one who only tutors,
teaching others what to think
cause it’s attitudes like that
that put the whole world on the brink.””

Yup … they’re coming to take me away ha ha ho ho he he …

non-conformity

I know that many who disagree with the dumb stuff I post – especially political or religious points of view – think act like there is something aberrant in how I got there (questioning how right they are versus how right I might be.)

Nonconformity and Freethinking Now Considered Mental Illnesses

Is nonconformity and freethinking a mental illness? According to the newest addition of the DSM-IV (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders), it certainly is. The manual identifies a new mental illness called “oppositional defiant disorder” or ODD. Defined as an “ongoing pattern of disobedient, hostile and defiant behavior,” symptoms include questioning authority, negativity, defiance, argumentativeness, and being easily annoyed.

The DSM-IV is the manual used by psychiatrists to diagnose mental illnesses and, with each new edition, there are scores of new mental illnesses. Are we becoming sicker? Is it getting harder to be mentally healthy? Authors of the DSM-IV say that it’s because they’re better able to identify these illnesses today. Critics charge that it’s because they have too much time on their hands.

At some point we must grow beyond those who have programmed who we are supposed to be

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In the shallow end of the pool we get used to water. When I have grown sufficiently used to it, I no longer need stand in 3 feet of water; no longer need to contemplate wetness and the feeling the cocoon-like sensations of water on my body. I come to youthful maturity – whatever maturity is – among others in the water with me, watching me, some serving as models for me and others modeling after me. We are all learning how to “be” in the water.

Others, mostly older wiser as well as some of those not-so-wise know-it-alls stand at the side of the pool shouting instructions regarding the rules of the pool. There are water wings available in case we feel needy. I don’t feel needy. I know I am safe and that I can comfortably splash around those in the pool with me. We pass time together allowing waters of the safe shallow end move, ebb and flow all around us.

Yet, I look out toward the other end of the pool, beyond the center rope. I see human beings just like me who are moving about in ways other than standing or splashing. They are not wearing water wings. Some are jumping, allowing themselves ti subj deep under and within the water before suddenly leaping upward out of the water – as high as they are able – before falling back into the water … like porpoises … like whales … having fun … enjoying the water, not threatened by it.

I see others climbing out of the water, wiping water from their eyes and faces, only then to lean forward and dive in head first. They then do not try to stand or jump out of the water. They swim, their feet not having touched the ground but used to propel them forward. Like eagles in the sky above, in the water, these human beings in their own way are soaring.

Others walk to the edge of the deepest part of the pool, climb onto boards – some stretching out over the water at unbelievable heights. They use these boards like I use a trampoline, flinging themselves out over the water, as high as they can before descending – some like arrows and others like cannon balls as they enter the water with joy, excitement and pleasure … like otters.

I want to do that.

Back in the shallow end of the pool, I tell the sideline coaches that I don’t think I need water wings today, but if I do I surely know where to get them. Some of the coaches smile and urge me on. Others, fearful that I might not need them anymore, caution me about water wings, deep water, drowning and other objects of fear.

I look once more toward the deep end of the pool and begin walking and splashing toward the far end. The water now laps and my lips, splashes in my ears, moistens my eyes. I am not afraid. At the point where the floor starts to move away and down from my feet, if feel the departure of the artificial grounding that formed the basis of my original ability to stand and splash in shallow water. I let my feet touch the declining floor one more time, feeling deeper water ebbing and flowing in all directions; seemingly offering me a universe of heretofore unknown sensations and knowings.

I raise my arms, preparing to stroke and paddle, fill my lungs with air, bend knees and anticipate my legs’ imminent departure from my usual anchoring stance. Aware of a new excitement sweeping over me, I leap into the air, rising out of the water, falling forward and command my arms and legs to do what they’ve always known how to do.

A begin what is for me a new dance in the waters of life … what I was meant to do.

aging excitement

Aging excitement

 

 

 

What I learned about being so right I might also be wrong.

Politics

Effective contribution to civic discourse:

What I learned about being so right I might also be wrong.

 

The greatest American Heroes are those willing to learn about sharing opinion … and then share it. To my chagrin, I have not tried to be a great American Hero, rather a Johnny One-Note who encourages political polarization as opposed to genuine civic and civil discourse.

The town-hall citizens that I believe were the civic hope of our Founding Fathers have a need to understand and preach political wisdom with among other things, three tools of communication:

Rhetoric – The art of speaking or writing effectively

Reason – The power of the mind to think, understand and form judgments by a process of logic

Persuasion – The action or fact of persuading someone to accept an idea, concept or fact.

A Con is not one of those tools.

A Con –  The act of cheating or tricking someone by gaining their trust and persuading them to believe something that is not true. A con is also the act of saying to someone exactly what that person is expecting to hear in order to create the illusion that speaker and listener are “on the same page.”

The goal of political debate is not necessarily to be “right.” Nor is it an advancement of a particular view of “the truth.” Rather, political debate has as its goal that of causing someone to act in a way consistent with the speaker’s objectives. Fundamentally as campaigns roll-out, political debate’s most important pursuit is the winning of votes.

Many political persuaders decided long ago that truth and reason are irrelevant to political debate. With competing ideas in a supposed democracy in which free speech is a function of persuasion, those most easily persuaded tend to be mostly one-dimensional, simple-minded or in fact unscrupulous regarding ends and means of persuasion.

If you would persuade, maintain constantly for yourself a reverence for reason and genuine truth. However, understand that you yourself may not know what is true, whether or not your reasoning can be shown as flawed and your own priorities not necessarily of the highest importance in the over-arching political and civic reality.

Unless you understand that your assumptive knowledge and wisdom are not drinkable bathwater, you have little to contribute toward genuine consensus.

 

Reason may not be the most effect tool of perceiving the correctness of your own perceptual truth and is perhaps of greater value in discovering for yourself what is not true.

 

Bearing a respect for reason and truth according to reason, political debate ought to be then a clear-headed objective of reaching consensus based on commonality of understandings of truth and reason.

 

Political debate is at its least usefulness when the principal reliance is on talking points, canned stump-speeches and the broken record of “Johnny One-Note” candidates. The object of such political persuasion is the creation of a voting base of Johnny One-Note voters who are obsessed with single or merely one or two issues about which a candidate or its party are obsessed.

 

Such becomes the Johnny-One-Note electorate about which it the following has been written and this is a quote I have publicly posted previously:

 

Author Oliver Lange in his novel, Vandenberg, had this to say about American society in the 1970’s.

“We proved the lie, were served up with a gagging portion of our own vintage distillation of apocalyptic horseshit

            — all the narcissistic swill about indomitable spirit, invincibility, courage and nobility of purpose

            — and demonstrated once and for all to those who looked on with interest a fact long suspected:

            that this nation, through a self-administered indoctrination of spurious righteousness, larded with the false rewards of superfluous luxury, had at last achieved the most tractable, malleable — let’s face it, spineless — people to walk the face of the earth.”

            – Vandenberg (later published under the title, Defiance) – The Journals, 1971

Lange’s Cold War novel concerned a fictional lone American holdout against a Soviet occupation of America – hardly a liberal theme by today’s standards.

Yet the description still appears to fit this society to a Tee.

Our politicians of both parties thrive on tossing our way narcissistic swill about what America stands for and what the American People are truly like.

I’m reminded of G.W. Bush during his presidency expressing surprise that the rest of the world might not see America and Americans in the same light as our narcissistic swill and all those talking points celebrities of all stripes throw at us.

For all of us as a political audience talk is cheap, indomitable spirits are prompted by the cheap theatrics and propaganda of pundits and political personalities, movies and commercialized patriotism more interested in money than global peace, global honor or global respect.

 

If we refuse to seek consensus among ourselves our whole lives will seem like unsatisfying and unavoidable implementations of ideas and notions entirely lacking in substance and socially redeeming value.

On speaking up and speaking out: The value of original thoughts.

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Copy-and-paste is fine if you are trying to point out what someone else said and/or the fact that you agree, disagree or have an alternative viewpoint.

Copy-and-paste is dishonest if all you are attempting to do is impress others with an implication that you are expressing your own original thought masquerading as someone else’s magic.

I have to admit … you are not my own creation

Someone else’s magic is not what cooks well on your stove.
You are moved to get involved but are not fully informed on the  specifics behind why you are aroused or motivated to join in the debate.
In the absence of doing your homework, you let someone else give you talking points and acting points … things you can say or do that at first glance seem to work for you.

You don’t question, search, ponder or pray … you just start talking and acting according to someone else’s coaching.
Like so many who appear in the sensational stories of broadcast media … you don’t fully know or understand what you are talking about.

By merely mouthing someone else’s opinion (which honesty requires that you acknowledge rather than pretend that you thought of it yourself) you remove all doubt as to whether or not you know what you are talking about.

Take it from someone who has by experience learned that fact the hard way. Do your homework before you open your mouth or write your piece.  Study things out in your mind, take time to learn and understand what you want to speak to … and admit when you have mis-spoken or written something that is not true. Then compose your own expressions of how you feel. No matter how well or poorly you speak and write, the more you write and speak, the better you’ll get at it.
Let real honesty govern what you say.

Your honesty.

Not the grandstand honesty coached by someone telling you how.

Ponder this quote from a sitting American President in 1958.

“It is difficult indeed to maintain a reasoned and accurately informed understanding of our defense situation on the part of our citizenry when many prominent officials, possessing no standing or expertness as they themselves claim it, attempt to further their own ideas or interests by resorting to statements more distinguished by stridency than by accuracy.”  *
– Dwight Eisenhower, * Ike’s Other Warning – max Blumenthal

Writers will tell you that if you want to learn to write, start writing and keep writing. For example, there is no better way than to find opportunity to stay engaged in writing about an issue than to start a blog,  write frequent letters to the editor, or contribute in other venues of writing that will be seen by the public.

Want to speak out effectively? Stay calm, poised and try not to shout and sputter saliva at the object of your attempted persuasion. It takes a bit of practice but in reality, what is needed is a sufficient number of activities in which you say what you have thought out. You can be angry, express yourself in strong terms, throw in sarcasm, satire, criticism -whatever. Just work on staying cool when you do.

Speak and write, write and speak … enough small successes generate confidence.

Mostly however, research your subject. You’d be surprised to realize how many in a crowd will sense how ignorant you are about the issue  and see through you to realize that you are verbalizing someone else’s words.

The best example of that are the older persons supposedly objecting to government involvement in health care but who add to their objections a demand, “… and don’t touch my Medicare!”

One line of verbal or written silliness – revealing more ignorance than wisdom – causes more loss of impact among those who listen to you and sincerely want to know than any mere extra-marital scandal involving a politician with whom you agree. People are more persuaded by well-thought-out and well-expressed original thoughts than any stump speech or slogan offered over and over again.

A lie is an un-original thought masquerading as truth.

A lie is a slogan without conscience.

At the end of the road, a lie is Commodus stabbing Maximus in the back but then failing in the arena while attempting to fool the crowd.