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"Sometimes it's not what you say, it's how you say it."

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Can We Just Talk?

Fights at Little League games.  Road rage fisticuffs at intersections. Looting at street rallies.

Fortunately, in public areas like ball fields, roadways and sidewalks, examples of confrontation between Americans remains the exception rather than the rule. Taverns, ballparks and local festivals remain peaceful places of social engagement where our banter and bustle is mostly congenial.

In stark contrast, witness the public comments section of virtually any online news publication.  Rife with verbal beheadings, oratorical stabbings and conjugational drive-by shootings, the rhetoric of America resembles the crossing of bayonets at Gettysburg. Slaying by comment seems to be the rule and not the exception.

Politics and religion have always been the third-rail of civil discourse.  If political speech were sheet music, we would find that disagreeable chords lie not far beyond the first stanza and always have.  But customarily we permit ourselves to hear a few bars before coming to blows.  An opening tune, in recognition of our free speech heritage, has traditionally been welcomed as an opportunity to seek agreement, or to clarify our differences, before we choose weapons and commence paces.

Not so in 2014. Hash tags, labels and keyword browsing give us sufficient evidence to draw and quarter a fellow citizen before his tweet resonates in his vocal chords. American discourse evokes images of  the angry horde of hyenas depicted in the motion picture Lion King.

As an example, review the following comment exchange and witness the demise of rational discussion that typifies how frustratingly coarse our conversation has become:

Comments in response to a Washington Post opinion column by Mitt Romney --
9/4/2014 9:10 PM EST
America is a net exporter of global security. Allies and trading partners depend on us and we receive and demand favorable treatment in return. Exporting Security serves our national interest by protecting our borders, our commerce and foreign policy. Security serves our foreign economic interest by maintaining free, fair and open markets and avenues for trade with willing trading partners. Our security complex serves our domestic economic interest by creating jobs, technology development, tax revenues and by projecting our economic strength to a global theater. None of these interests detract from our humanity, our engagement in social issues, or our national values as expressed for nearly 100 years. The question I have is this...can a majority of Americans agree that a strong military strengthens both our economy and our national interest?

9/4/2014 9:23 PM EST
America is a net exporter of arms and mayhem you idiot, we make a lot of money off of global warfare and unrest. our security complex is sucking the life out of our economy, pigs at the trough, not productive jobs, a majority of Americans can agree we are being ripped off by the MIA. get a brain united

4:08 PM EST
Hoystephen - you replied to my statements of fact, policy and prescriptions with an emotion-laden broad-sided rant devoid of a counter theory. I hope the effort relieved you in some way. Are you really so angry, or is that the anonymity talking? I am not a neophyte, however I fail to understand how our society seems united at the bar, at the ballgame, at the local festival and yet so contrary in politics and policy. A disagreement without a conversation is a fight. Is that what you really want?

This exchange was quite mild by modern standards. But the pattern is set. Intellectual points, followed by unsupported insults and condescension, followed by the proverbial "last word."

 So what has transformed our civil society into a downward spiraling intellectual cesspool?

Give me a moment to strap on my medieval armor before venturing my opinion.

[Read in snarky tone of voice] The philosophy of secular egoism combined with the psychosis of narcissism draws swords against natural law and the common law penumbras of the Magna Carta. Resistance to the constraints of existential ideas threatens the self-centered ego and causes eye-popping violence of the mind directed toward Theo-centric world views.

There you have it! Now be off with you. 

I will save the unpacking of my snarkily delivered theory for another post dedicated purely to a study of philosophy and human nature.

Suffice it to say that America is coming unglued at the philosophical seams. Like a raving lunatic swatting invisible flies, an ape chasing a prize, a squirrel protecting a nut; Americans are governing themselves increasingly by instinct, emotions and relativism and less by tradition, logic and principles. The irrational is taking leave of the rational.  What more should we expect if our celebrated origin is an evolutionary primordial amoebic ancestry?  We are nothing more than advanced animals.  The least we can do is act the part.

A philosophical discussion between a man, who is not the center of his own universe, and the equivalent of the lunatic, the ape or the squirrel is senseless.  If only the lunatic, the ape, or the squirrel could pause and reflect on their condition, resist the shackles of their secular humanist, publicly-financed programming, and open their mind to the world outside their Id.

In summation, one might accurately conclude that I have dubbed certain opposition, "close minded".  Funny and ironic that the charge is often leveled equally toward the author.  Fair enough.

Well I guess there is nothing left to discuss then.  Bayonets fixed, resume the flaming!  Let's burn the villages, the crops, and the libraries. Forget about our families' well being! To heck with posterity and peace on earth and good will to men. Lets live in poverty, famine and mortal threat. Lets live like Mad Max meets Burning Man 365/24/7.

Honestly, I don't know an American of any cultural, ethnic or political background that lives for chaos, or truly desires to live among the ruins of America.  I know I don't chose that future.  If we can agree that we prefer peaceful living, prosperous living, and lasting legacies of freedom, can we just talk?

Who cares if the horse is dead, the line of reasoning threadbare.  If the field of study has been plowed to wasteland, is respectfully rehashing it from the beginning worthwhile for the hope of a better future?  An argument without a conversation is a fight.

I just hope that we have not permanently crossed the Rubicon from polite scholarly exchange to endless volleys of damning fireballs from the pits of hell.  It is becoming increasingly difficult to justify football, beer and fist-pumps with Fred at 7pm, followed by flaming, shaming and politically correct maiming by Fred at 11pm.