Biff America: Changing a monkey’s mind (column)
“Never discuss politics or religion with friends or family.”
I have been unable to locate the source of that quote. For some reason I thought it was Mark Twain. It was not.
Twain did say, “In matters of religion and politics, a man’s reasoning is very often not above that of a monkey’s.”
I have friends who make a living at political pontificating. Better them than me for a couple of reasons.
The first being, no matter what you say or write, a large percentage of the population will not listen or read past your first sentence. And moreover, those same folks will often begin their emails to you with, “Are you really that stupid? Is anyone?”
The second reason I try to give politics a wide berth is that I might be wrong. Yes, I have some very strong political opinions. They’ve been formed from decades of life experiences and many hours of research and reflection. But those same life experiences, coupled with a privileged middle class upbringing, fiscal naiveté and counter culture lifestyle, have shaped a perspective that for many others would be as foreign and difficult to understand as my Boston accent.
Twain also said “It’s easier to fool someone than convince them that they have been fooled.”
But what I’m about to say I contend is beyond refute: The political polarization in this country needs to stop!!!
We are so busy denouncing the other political side, we forget to acknowledge what is wonderful about our nation. We hold in such contempt those who have a different opinion that we can’t see, other than that specific view, there is much that unites us. Even more destructive, the prevailing anger and negativity has fertilized hate and violence.
I don’t care if you are in bed with Trump or you shower with Schumer, the current mood in America is counter productive and dangerous. I’m talking about outlandish insults, misinformation and personal attacks that just breed divisiveness and cloud the issues.
It is up to us, the lib-tards, deplorables, snowflakes, Trump-bashers and Hilary-haters to disagree, but accept that we love our nation equally.
We need to look for what unites us and to separate what is real from what are the stereotypes. We also must fact check and analyze our sources and resist those sources that attempt to inflame and divide.
We can’t count on the political courage of our leaders to denounce the bad behavior. By the same token, we cannot expect the fringe news media to do anything more than aggravate.
Much of what we hear in the media and from pundits and politicians is slanted and designed to divide us. They portray themselves as the harbingers of truth in hopes to keep their jobs by promoting propaganda.
Propaganda!!! — The vast majority of those who support gun control don’t want to outlaw all guns. Most of those who call for tougher immigration laws are not racists. Even many otherwise compassionate folks support getting a handle on entitlements. You can back the rights of athletes to kneel in protest yet still support our veterans and military.
I honestly think this acrimony is a byproduct of all of us having too many sources of information and opinions and not enough time to research them. We lend more credence to those who speak loud and emphatically rather than measured and thoughtfully.
The bottom line: before we are left, right or middle, we are people. People, who want to live, love and have fun and friends. Those who attempt to divide us aren’t our friends or neighbors, they are just trying to keep their jobs by scaring us. I don’t trust any host, columnist or pundit that is too intellectually lazy to acknowledge any positive aspects of the other side.
Yes, our perspective might differ as do our opinions on politics and/or faith. It is part and parcel of our democracy to fight for our beliefs with our time, energy and votes. It serves nothing and no one to fight each other.
So in that light, whether you are in bed with Trump or shower with Schumer — I respect your right to choose — I just hope to God there is no video………
Jeffrey Bergeron, under the alias of Biff America, can be read in several newspapers and magazines. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Biff’s new book “Mind, Body, Soul.” is available at local shops and bookstores or http://shop.holpublications.com/products/biff-america-mind-body-soul
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