While I had many who seemed to agree with the assessment of Barack Obama I posted Sunday, I had a couple who didn’t. I’m never offended when someone disagrees with me because I think debate is healthy in a free society but too many folks these days debate to defend against the facts rather than their opinion or their interpretation of the facts, whatever those facts might be.
Often, people have formed opinions based on emotion and have excluded or ignored any facts that might tend to undermine it. They formed what they believe based on blind adherence to an ideology, a religious faith (or non faith), racial bias, and sometimes little more than what is trending on social media. Confronted by facts they can’t really dispute, they try to ignore them by calling into question the credibility of whomever they’re debating.
It’s a fairly weak position that isn’t all that difficult to overcome which is why it never offends me. I consider these people to be uninformed fools at worst and simply naïve at best.
Sunday, for example, I had a woman take great exception to my reposting of an article I had read that questioned Barack Obama’s decision to play golf while 21 American Embassies were closed due to a fairly significant and credible threat by Al Qaeda. The threat was so credible that the President’s Key Advisors and Cabinet Secretaries were meeting to discuss it. The President did not attend that meeting.
The question that was put to me in a somewhat disdainful way was, “Do you expect the President to supervise everything? He trusts his staff as he should.”
Well – yes I do actually. I do expect the President, or any leader, to be on deck during a crisis. That’s leadership and the role of leadership is to lead. You can’t lead if you’re invisible and if you aren’t going to lead but rather are going to leave things to others to handle, what in God’s name do we need you for?
Still, I didn’t bother to try and debate this with the young lady. There are some people you can’t talk intelligently or civilly with and there is simply no point in trying. As I continue to age, somewhat gracefully, I find I have less and less time or patience with silly and foolish people so I just ignore them.
But that doesn’t mean I have all the answers because I readily admit that I don’t. The other side of aging, somewhat gracefully, is the realization that there is a great deal you know nothing about and questions about what is going on in the big world for which you don’t have answers.
I pretend I do when I’m talking to Maggie but I don’t think I have her fooled. She’s pretty quick is our Maggie.
I was thinking about all of this last night and came to a dozen or so questions for which I don’t have answers but wish I did.
Why do so many march in the streets to demand justice for a young man brandishing a knife when he is shot by police or another young man who initiates a confrontation that results in his death but nobody marches in the streets demanding justice for John Wrana?
John Wrana was a 95-year old veteran of WWII, a war hero living in a nursing home. He needed a walker to get around and this past week, he refused medical treatment and became quite agitated when nursing staff tried to pressure him. That resulted in the police being called who, despite being asked by staff not to harm the old man, tasered him and then shot him in the stomach with a bean bag propelled from a shotgun.
He died from internal bleeding.
The police claimed they saw a knife but neither family or nursing staff saw a knife in the possession of John Wrana who was sitting in an arm chair when he was shot.
So – where are the demands for justice for John Wrana? Where are the marches in the streets, the statements from all those sanctimonious and self-righteous social media hypocrites and folks like Barack Obama, Eric Holder, Al Sharpton, MSNBC, CNN and all the others who bellied up to the bar for Trayvon Martin and Sammy Yatim?
Why did the Members of Congress pass the President’s healthcare plan without reading it but demand to be exempted from it once it is passed? If it’s such a great deal, why aren’t they the first to sign up for it and leading by example?
Why do people who publicly expose their ideas, opinions, bigotry, racism and hatred on social media worry about whether or not their government monitors their social media accounts? What could they possibly have left to hide other than their lack of self-respect or respect for anyone else?
Why did President Obama’s surtax on the top income earners exempt Hollywood celebrities and why did his increased income tax on the wealthy include tax increases on the middle class he promised six months earlier to protect from tax increases? Why do governments in Canada increase taxes on the average citizen while continuing to provide tax exempt status to unions, NGOs and political parties?
Why does the Government of Canada permit the suppression of minority language rights in Quebec in violation of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, The Quebec Charter of Rights and the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights?
Why do so many people believe that the lies that are told by those they support are somehow less important or damning than those told by those they oppose?
Why do we resist any form of protective regulation on the Internet while demanding more regulation and government control in the real world?
Why are Christians ridiculed for their faith in Christ while other faiths are treated with respect and accommodation? Shouldn’t all faiths and non-faith be treated with equal respect?
Why do so many who immigrate to countries like Canada, Great Britain and the United States to escape tyranny and in search of a better life insist on repeating the very intolerance, hatred and bigotry they fled? Why does the American government think that providing amnesty to the millions who have broken their laws to gain entrance to the country is good policy? If they are already spying on their own citizens out of fear that there may be native-born terrorists evolving, why would they grant amnesty to illegals that they have neither vetted nor background checked? Why do some politicians in Canada think it’s a good idea to give voting rights and passports to non-citizens permanently resident in the country?
All of which makes me ask the simpler question – just what value does citizenship actually have to those who have been elected to protect it?
I also wonder why law enforcement doesn’t apply the law consistently or equally to all groups but takes a decided ‘hands-off’ approach to specific minorities that break our laws and that promote hate and violence.
Why do so many continue to protest every conceivable issue in the streets when it has accomplished so little? Why do many who protest believe that the best way to draw attention to a cause is to vandalize and destroy public and private property? At what point do the clueless consider something less pointless and more effective? Considering its record of success, why do so many continue to cling to the failed idea that protest is the preferred method of conflict and issue resolution? Why do so many of our politicians either turn a blind eye to the illegalities that are attendant on many protests or actually defend and even join protesters? Isn’t their job to defend equally the rights of all and to apply our laws to all equally?
Why is society reluctant to take a hard and principled stand on protecting our children and on eradicating poverty; on fundamental educational reform that focuses on literacy and how to learn?
Why do our governments send billions to other countries instead of spending it to prepare for disasters like Hurricane Katrina, Hurricane Sandy and the Alberta floods? Why do they ignore the crumbling infrastructure and economic foundations of our cities until they reach crisis levels as it did recently in Detroit?
Why have our governments not developed long-term energy, economic and environmental strategies that work synergistically with each other rather than implementing stop gap measures in response to crises for which they didn’t prepare? Why can they not make timely and effective decisions on things like pipelines and democratic reforms? For that matter, why are our politicians the biggest threat to our democratic processes, economic viability and fundamental rights and freedoms?
Why do we allow stupidity, hypocrisy, greed and corruption to rule us by special interest that influences and controls the agendas in politics, business and social issues? When will we learn that our societies are being hijacked as much by those who claim to be trying to save them as by those they claim are raping them? When will we learn that there is no difference between business greed and union greed?
And the one that hangs me up the most – why do so few people bother to actually think anymore?
You probably have questions of your own but my concern is not so much that we don’t have the answers. It is that we may never find the answers because we’re too divided to listen to each other anymore. We’ve degenerated into factions that yell at and blame each other for the cause of the questions in our lives rather than sitting down together to see if we can find the answers to them by working together.
It starts by agreeing that a fact is a fact and then agreeing on the facts in front of us. If something is black or white, there is no point arguing that fact and yet, it happens every day all day out here in the real world and all across Twitter and Facebook.
“Don’t bore me with facts – my mind’s already made up!”
Well, I suggest we unmake our minds a bit and free them up to come to agreement on basic facts. Once we’ve done that, we can discuss and debate what they mean and how to resolve issues but there is no point in debating anything until we agree on just exactly what it is we’re discussing.
There is an old truism that the greatest lies we tell are the lies we tell ourselves and I believe that as long as we continue to deny the truth about fundamental facts in order to defend weak and poorly founded opinion, we’ll never resolve or find answers for the bigger questions we face together as a society.
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