Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Q: What happens when you can no longer report what you think about an idea?

A: All that’s left is to report how you feel about it.

In his book, Culture of Complaint, Robert Hughes asserts that, as a culture, we’ve lost the ability to think. I agree. Newspapers have become reduced to running two column stories with lots of graphs and pictures. Movies are more visual action than dialog. And, public political discourse has ended up as nothing more than two minute answers with "one minute follow up" to questions that do nothing more than mirror the obvious.

It’s seems as if we have neither the concern nor the attention span to grasp complex ideas.

From where I sit, the important issues of the day are complex, very complex. Addressing problems with the economy and foreign policy with solutions that can be described in a sentence with less than ten words is an insult.

Sorry, “We’ll get Bin Laden where he lives.”, “The surge worked!”, “A nuclear Iran is dangerous.”, “Those making less than $250,000 will pay less tax.”, “We’ll buy toxic mortgages.” does not cut it. Pretending to be less smart than you really are for fear of voter backlash doesn’t cut it.

I am frustrated and I am angry. I am tired of the dumb stuff.

I want to tune into the next Presidential Debate (if you can really call it that) and I want to hear this:

My fellow Americans, the issues that confront us today are complex. In order to ensure the prosperity and well being of our nation, now and into the future, we must value thoughtful action.

Understanding complex issues takes time, skill and discipline. We cannot address problems that take days to understand with solutions that take minutes to explain. Therefore, I say to you tonight that I plan to take the time necessary to answer fully your questions to the best of my ability, no matter how long it takes! I will not bore you, I promise. Rather, I will engage you and invite you to join me in the labor that is required to act with wisdom.

We must move beyond the politics of sound bites to a politics based on comprehensive thinking about the issues at hand.

We must move beyond how we feel about issues to how we think about issues.

In the defense of liberty and freedom, being thoughtful and learned is no vice. Acting on unsubstantiated belief is no virtue.

And yet sadly I think the probability of this desire being satisfied is about the same as getting world peace in the next 90 days.

There’s a joke. It goes like this:

What’s the difference between a chimp and a human being?

A human being can reason and rotate his or her thumb. But some people only get the thumb.

Yet, no matter what, we still get to vote. So I will.

2 Comments:

Anonymous Dominic Cronin said...

From over here in Europe, my most striking perception of the so-called "bail-out plan" was seeing some politician on the news assuring us all that the team would work through the night to come up with the correct course of action. I don't know who the politician was, but he didn't seem to be aware that some people might have counselled a good night's sleep before doing anything so potentially important. Working through the night denoted action, and we must have some of that, eh? Never mind getting the answer right. As it turned out, the thing got voted out, but I'm still not convinced that democracy saved the day.

1:36 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

bah...senseless spew...

9:51 PM  

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