Thursday, March 5, 2009
© 2009, the Institute for Applied Common Sense
We have a colleague, a nice guy, who loves Doberman Pinschers. He loves them so much he’s raising 29 of them at his place.
When we visit him, the dogs do what Dobermans always do.
They bark. They snarl. They attack.
They do so not because they know who or what we are. They’re just in attack mode; in that mode by virtue of the way our colleague raises them.
(About dogs: You can’t make a Doberman behave like a Cocker Spaniel anymore than you can stop a Labrador from curling up on your lap and slobbering all over your sofa. Dogs are simply what they are. So be careful when you fall in love with a puppy, okay?)
Our colleague’s Dobermans got us thinking.
All of us have stress in our lives, and we all react to it differently.
Even though we, individually and collectively, are facing what any reasonable person would call dire circumstances, it seems to us that more and more people these days are firmly set in a default mode on the “attack” side of the register, and as a result, civilized discourse may well have become as extinct as the poor dodo bird.
With fear, well-founded fear at that, running rampant through the land, our recent attention has been directed to a radio commentator whose new book, “The Audacity of Failure,” is expected out soon.
However, for several years now, we’ve been subjected to a constant stream of “something,” which does not have the most pleasant aroma.
How odd, we’ve thought, that so many would resort to the slinging of this “hash.”
Don’t they realize that failure - on the part of any of our institutions at this stage in the game – would amount to a Pyrrhic victory? That incessant ideological chatter will take us nowhere?
Are the slingers, on both sides of the debate, so completely devoid of common sense that they fail to recognize that their slinging might negatively impact the personal empires which they’ve built?
Derail their ability to collect dollars from their advertisers, not to mention dampen their listeners’ interest in spending money for the things their advertisers hope to sell?
Try a little enlightened self-interest on for size, we say. Your own. Your country’s.
Last week, we ran across an article entitled, “Running Scared? Fear Isn’t Good For The Economy Or Your Health.” We could only say, “No hash, Sherlock.”
Feeling a little exhausted, we sent an email to a friend: “… people claim that politics has always been nasty. However, there is something different going on now. Nasty has gotten real nasty, and personal. All the attacks, the name-calling, the questioning of people’s intelligence, the constant dissection of every word and move, with all of it designed to make people look bad. Is getting one’s way that important? It’s as if much of society has had this pent up anger and frustration, which they previously chose not to express, and that the political campaigns gave them license to say what they really felt. What thinking person would want to enter public service?”
We’ve obviously chosen our friends wisely, because she responded with a new insight.
“Anger and negativity have become synonymous today,” our friend wrote, “when in truth they’re two different emotions.”
“Negativity in the national discourse,” she noted, “has become purely intellectual.”
“None of us are born [negative],” she said. “In fact, I dare you to stop by any grade school playground and find one child who would qualify as negative by nature.”
Fear. We’ve felt it a couple of times. The night before taking the bar exam was the first time we remember. And we’re feeling it again.
Earlier today we sat in front of the computer, fearful, unsure, stomach churning. Probably like a lot of people.
The thing about people, it dawned on us, is that all of us, some to a greater degree than others, were born with the genetic coding necessary to think through the obstacles we encounter.
Paraphrasing our friend’s comment about the lack of negativity of children, it also struck us that, unlike our colleague’s Dobermans, none of us are genetically coded to bark, snarl and attack only.
Common sense says we must be guided, in Lincoln’s words, “by the better angels of our nature.”
There has to be something bigger than this ideological dispute.
Do we still have those angels?
© 2009, the Institute for Applied Common Sense
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