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The Enchanted Collection of Amy Zerner and Monte Farber
The Enchanted Collection of Amy Zerner and Monte Farber
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Tuesday November 25, 2014

Make your base secure

I've been appalled by the incivility, no, make that the hate and shameful ignorance of many news and blog comments and, to a lessor extent, the social network postings I've been reading and have not wanted to add to the noise level. But I can remain silent no more.

The first rule of warfare is "Make your base secure." If you have an ideological battle on your hands, then you cannot win if you are off-base and insecure, blinded by hate. You must be calm, centered and secure and not just in the knowledge that you are correct. You must want to be correct but must stay open to all things presented by your opponent. When it comes to theories and ideologies - and most of the things I've read people believe to be truer than true are just that, theories and ideologies - and you may quote me, Monte Farber: "When you're sure you're right, you're surely wrong."

You may very well be right, but to assume that you are right and everyone who disagrees with you is wrong (not to mention a dangerous criminal) is the kiss of death to scientific reason. As the great British naturalist, Sir Thomas Huxley said, "I'm too much a skeptic not to believe that anything is possible." Be secure that you are doing the best you can in presenting your truth, honor your opponent's viewpoint, and then and only then can something powerful and important happen. Without the honoring of your opponent you can cannot win.

Another profound Chinese thinker of antiquity, the great General Sun Tsu said "If you know your enemy and you know yourself, you need not fear the result of one hundred battles." And here is where so many of the well-meaning bloggers and commenters dishonor themselves and their causes. There seems to be an iron curtain of stupidity that has fallen and seems to be preventing those on both sides of it from believing the possibility that their opponent is sincere in their beliefs and patriotic in their motives. We certainly seem to be a house divided and you know what Abraham Lincoln pointed out about the possibility of a house divided standing - it cannot.

Mark Twain said "The nation is divided, half patriots and half traitors, and no man can tell which from which." So, is the deplorable state of incivility and bias which poisons almost all the writing about government, not to mention government, itself, something that has always existed? Perhaps, but that does not mean it has to continue the way it did before the Internet and modern education. Are we doomed to use the most modern technologies simply to promulgate the same hate and prejudices and ignor-ance of the past? Are we simply consumer fools whose gadgets control us and simply feed us music and movies and someone else's reality and merely keep us from having to hand wash our clothes and dishes?

Ignorance is a great word because it points out that the knowledge and the truth is there but it is being ignored. This is what has dampened the fire of my desire to use my skill as a writer to add my voice to the online debate; the debate has become debased. Whether it's blogs, social networking sights, Twitter and it's imitators, you name it, name calling has replaced the power of ideas. Posturing like roosters about to fight has replaced the presentation of facts and conclusions reasonably drawn from them.

And so many of these "useful idiots," as Stalin called those whose idiocy served his purposes, are obsessed with predicting the future, my area of expertise, predicting the demise of this party or that party in the coming elections, the ascendancy of this political idea over that idea, the fall of this or that politician. We are not a house divided, we are not even a shack divided. We are an outhouse of a nation that is quickly becoming full of what outhouses get full of. We need a pump-out.

I am a child of the sixties who has now entered his own personal sixties and I know now what I knew then: Love is the answer. As the great Sri Chinmoy, whom I had the privilege of seeing speak in 1966, said "When the power of love replaces the love of power, man will have a new name: God (I'd say God/dess). I still believe in Karma, the Golden Rule. I believe in Love your neighbor. Love your enemy. I'm not saying you have to meet or  hang out with them or even forgive them, though that gives you incredible power to deal with them. I'm saying give them what you want them to give you, respect for your opinions and a fair hearing. If that was going on in the bloggosphere right now, we'd be getting somewhere as a nation instead of spinning our wheels in the mud that's being slung. And if you disagree with what I'm saying, I don't have a problem with that and I respect you for doing so. It's a free country as of this writing.

That is a great fear of mine from reading the news compulsively each evening as I do. I fear that people are so intimidated by the opinions of others that they would support suppressing the opinions of those they disagree with! That is so outrageously non-spiritual and un-American that it infuriates me, but I would never want those expressing such hateful stupidity to not have the ability to expose their ignorance by speaking and writing it. That would be un-American. Yes, this is still the land of the free.

The problem is that for too many people, free means you don't pay. As a business person I know that someone always pays for anything that is made, sold and bought. There's no such thing as a free lunch, the price is built into the drinks being served. And we will pay none the less for not being civil to each other as we create the new America that must be created.

As our nation's greatest thinker, Thomas Jefferson said, "The price of freedom is eternal vigilance." It is a good thing, no, a great thing that so many people are getting involved in the political discourse, demonstrating their vigilance. The trouble is that, like all beginners, they can sometimes be dogmatic, unsubtle, and often work against their own best interests by their unbridled zeal and unheld tongues. But I do not doubt the sincerity of anyone who claims that their desires and decisions are based on their patriotism, even those in the Texas School Book Debate who supposedly want to remove Thomas Jefferson from the schoolbooks, which would be a sin against everything American if ever there was one.

And that is the point bloggers and writers and journalists and pundits and commentators and commenters on all of the previous. America thrives when free and fair discourse thrives. We are all Americans and we have to start acting like it. I do so look forward to the day when instead of reading nasty things about people who are most likely sincere in their desire to do what is right, I read statements that hew to Evelyn Beatrice Hall's heart stirring words, often attributed to Voltaire, "I may not agree with what you say, but I will fight to the death for your right to say it."

November 08, 2014 
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