Saturday, April 18, 2009

A Nation of Whiners - Part 3 (Conclusion)

After his 2003 HBO special, Victory Begins at Home, comedian and social commentator Bill Maher caught no small deal of flack for his harsh critique of our morphing social values, which has resulted in—in his words—the “feminization of America.” By this, Maher noted that America as a nation has become a place where sensitivity is more important than truth, and feelings are more important than facts. The more dogmatically adherent or PC-bound among those who hear this would conclude that such words were the rantings of a Neolithic-era misogynist; a more open-minded person would see that there is a great deal of truth behind them.
From job interviews to the Bully Pulpit of politics, we Americans would rather hear what sounds pleasant rather than what has validity…what makes us swoon rather than what makes us suspicious. This mindset has carried over into almost every aspect of our daily life, as evidenced by our daily walk over eggshells in order to avoid saying something which may offend those who elect us to office, those who hire for employment us, or even those who are supposed to teach us. Truth, humor, or—God forbid—the freedom to speak one’s mind no longer seems to matter; all that matters is the single-minded social mandate not to hurt someone’s oh-so-precious feelings. It’s gotten so that anyone can be offended by anything that anybody says at anytime. As a result of this evolving (or devolving) "need" to put our emotions in the driver's seat, so to speak, the need to express opinions or glean facts suffers. The ability to critically analyze and think suffers. The idea of free speech suffers. The need to tolerate what are (questionably) intolerable thoughts and ideas suffer. And in the end, progress suffers…or do I have to mention that at one time, a great many ideas and words that we were, at one time, quick to malign as “offensive” have become a part of mainstream thinking.
There is nothing wrong with having passion for a cause or idea that we hold dear. The problem arises when we make those ideas so sacrosanct that we attack and malign anyone we perceive to assail them (shades of Galileo being threatened with execution by the then-all-powerful Catholic Church for daring to question the "divine" belief that the sun revolved around the Earth). America was founded on the idea of the FREE EXCHANGE OF IDEAS, which in a less-than-perfect world, should occur without censor or sanction. The bottom line is that just because something offends someone doesn’t mean that it should not be said, nor does it mean that what is said is inherently wrong just because it "offends" us. We're "appalled" when President Obama compares his poor bowling skills to a Special Olympics level of play, but we all but ignore the continuous stream of taped messages from Bin Laden & Co., that warn us infidels of the next wave of impending attacks on American interests...clearly our "sensitivities" are misplaced.
The solutions lay in the fact that we as individuals need to expect the truth at times, as opposed to “correct answers,” understand the context in which something is said, look at the intent of the statement rather than its emotional effect on you, and, for God’s sake, grow up! Not everything someone says is meant to be offensive. Sometimes, we have to take utterances at face value. If we have problems with words, thoughts, and ideas which—without intent—offend us, one has to wonder how in the world we are going to deal with the same uttered by individuals who truly are out to hurt us. Are we to curl up into a fetal position in the nearest dark corner, like frightened little girls, sucking our thumbs whenever someone hurts or offends our “sensitivities,” or do we “cowboy-up” like adults…whom at one time were admired for their physical and emotional toughness?
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1 comments:

  1. I say saddle up damnit it's time to ride. On a more serious note...There are times when I think I'm a know it all...but then I read your blogs and immediately curl up into a fetal position in the nearest dark corner, frightened, sucking my thumb, thinking who is this arrogant, pompous, thought provoking demagogue??? THIS WORLD AIN'T BIG ENOUGH FOR THE BOTH OF US DAMNIT!

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