Sunday, March 12, 2023

Post No. 211: The Problem Being A Forward Thinking, Solution Grounded, Pragmatic Optimist

– © 2023, The Institute for Applied Common Sense™

If I did not know better and did not have the input of hundreds who studied under my mother during the 1950s – 1960s, I would suspect that she was a reincarnated, ancient Chinese philosopher. Always trying to get me to see both sides of everything, thus suggesting therein lies potential solutions. She was bigger than the racial and gender parameters generally assigned to her.

Here once again, I find myself at 3 am reading the National Review, which I am compelled by her memory to absorb on a daily basis, along with watching Fox News, in an effort to: (a) understand the mindset of the conservative / authoritarian governance faction; (b) determine whether there is a commonality of interests amongst a super majority of American citizens; and (c), being a "forward thinking, solution grounded, pragmatic optimist," try to articulate some amorphous consensus around which we ordinary everyday citizens can coalesce.

Contrary to many, I honestly believe that both sides in this ideological and cultural war should listen to and try to understand one another, because the stakes are bigger than any faction, no matter how defined or framed. As hard as I try, I find myself intellectually incapable of defining the word “woke,” other than the time I get out of bed. A central tenet of democracy is consensus finding. However, the professional politicians, like the handlers of heavyweight boxing championship contenders, can’t have that. There’s no money to be made.

Believe it or not, my distant cousin, Marjorie Taylor Greene, and I have not conferred on this idea of dividing up the country. To her credit, she came right out of the blocks advocating it, while those of you who have followed my roller coaster views know that I consider it an option of last resort before bloodshed. Despite coming from two dramatically different types of idiots, our positions have been severely criticized and labelled illogical and insane by 99% of the voting public, or at least the professional, non-resolution oriented talking heads on the media outlets.

And therein, perhaps, hope springs eternal.

Back in 2008, my writing mentor, Willy Hopkins, suggested I take a side on issues occasionally to develop an audience of any value. I ignored his advice, stating I preferred having both sides throw rocks at my positions. All I ever wanted was to have 2 or 3 readers say, “Hmmm.” “Interesting,” is the highest compliment in my view.

I am sure that my cousin from the great, sovereign state of Georgia is dead serious about her position, while I have proposed a national divorce facetiously on occasion, and to stimulate some debate on others. My primary motivating consideration has always been the avoidance of bloodshed, not the practical difficulties, and yet many consider bloodshed to be a periodic, necessary evil, before civilization returns to its senses.

I’m not a fan of politicians. They have few socially redeeming values. The vast majority of them cannot successfully maintain relationships with spouses of their choosing (as opposed to pure happenstance like citizens), successfully provide guidance to the offspring of their delusional blood flow distractions, or even balance their household checkbooks, and yet they have somehow convinced us that they should be our leaders regarding the big policy issues in life.

I invite you to read this piece from National Review, in depth, to gain a better appreciation of how complex a country we really are. No monolithic nothing, according to this analyst. It might also prompt some really creative approaches so we can surgically and strategically focus our work at the local and state levels, to avoid backsliding on individual freedoms and choices. I have to give the National Review writer his props, having exhaustively analyzed the s_ _ t out of the statistics, to show us that there are no true blue or red states, let alone “The American People.” The manipulators impress upon us that we are in separate camps since that advances their interests and enables them to further manipulate us.

I found the following quote at some point within the past couple of weeks and realized that although an ancient Chinese philosopher did not pen it, she could have: “The most powerful way to heal someone is to listen. Don’t think or judge. Just listen. People start to heal the moment they feel heard. You can’t be a healer if you refuse to step outside of your own emotions and view things entirely from the perspective of the other person.”

Our purported elected leaders aren’t in the business of listening. They are in the business of framing, to advance their own interests. The sooner we recognize that, the better off we will be without them, and their manipulative influences.


  1. I was thinking about what you wrote regarding the state of politicians positions on the divide in our country. Propaganda passed off for news distracts people from the facts. Unfortunately , with a lack of critical thinking skills readers and listeners come to rely on "analyst, reporters, and TV show host" as the informed voices. I say unfortunately because a vigorous "democracy" deserves a vigorously engaged populace. Passively watching the news is no substitute for talking with ones neighbor and deliberating the issues of importance.

    When we discuss points and counterpoints in person it becomes clearer who is listening and who is not. On a personal note, I have a technique I employ for my long winded conversationalist. If I put down the phone and leave the room and the other party does not notice I assess that they are engaged in a lecture or monologue not a conversation. Some people are Shakespearean in their expressions and can go a full fifteen minutes with no intention of being asked a question, nor allowing for feedback to their diatribe. Here in lies the problem with engaging the news and not the neighbor. TV host and unfortunately too many bloggers never ask a question and do not allow for questions to be asked if them. The give and take of discourse is a dwindling art form.

    I remember the James Baldwin and William F. Buckley debates where people of opposing views sat beside each other and had a give and take of ideas and countervailing ideas. They also listen, asked questions of each other and took the time to breathe so the other party could respond to the ideas expressed

    When was the last time you saw people who "report the news" actually facilitate an open discussion. Yes I know you may say the format of news does not allow for that. You may find that taking place on the Sunday Morning politico shows with again analyst. Instead would you be open to actually speaking with your neighbors about such ideas? Would you be open to actually engaging critical thinkers about their points of view in a dialogue of give and take? It may be fruitful to expand the discussion circle to include varying voices from the echo chambers of long standing relationships and to include fresh perspectives in a format that allows for give and take.

    Our elected officials represent those who voted for them, when they act as a representative. That is. Representatives keep open dialogue and even ask constituents how should they vote on particular matters. Many politicians act as trustees, they know what is best and need not engage their constituents. For this group is echo chamber is so solid that they already know what the constituents want. Moreover, they know what is best for the constituency.

    News outlets, more precisely propagandist, know what is best and therefore even when they ask questions they don't have the patience to listen to a response from other conversant. Instead like a preacher on Sunday Morning all they really want to hear is Amen from. The Amen Corner.

    1. A couple of thoughts, "I Was Thinking:" 1. Please accept my apologies for the delay in responding to your reply. Fifteen years ago, I had regular contributors who engaged in civil discourse. Those days are effectively gone. Thanks for your participation. 2. That is little you shared with which I could disagree. I think that you are spot on. 3. I, too, am very concerned about the lack of face-to-face human engagement. It's a major problem, and COVID exacerbated the problem. 4. Please continue to look for future posts. I plan to generate another within 24 hours. Thank YOU


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