Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Wake up

In the car, the local C & W station switched to talk and the host was Rush Limbaugh. My first impulse was to put on Mozart for meditation because that man’s attitude undermines my zen. Astonished by his hail and brimstone rants, his rude authoritarian stance, and all the negativity, bordering hatred to anyone differing just a smidgen with him, I do finally shut his screaming down and I wonder why people expose themselves to this and similar hollering. Do people like to be bullied? Do they embrace these bizarre points of view because then they have ammunition to condemn all people who hold different opinions, without having to think, just imitating the other bully? If so, then they are displaying several characteristics of authoritarian personalities. This doesn’t mean they are all Nazi/Fascist racists, yet the extreme form of such a personality would lead to that. It seems that R.L.’s listeners want strong, straight opinions with no nuance. Options, ambivalence, careful analysis, exploring alternatives seem to disconcert them and thus these personality types become easy victims of the neo-con new-speak. They would believe that slapping, spanking a child is ok if screaming doesn’t help. Regular talk, intelligent conversation, laying out options seems a waste of time if you think that you convince the other by putting fear in them, yell or ‘correct’ the child into submission. This is a fundamentally anti-intellectual stance, very prominent in this country. After all they choose John Wayne’s ‘Shoot first, ask questions later’ attitude as a national icon. I do believe that confidence building, learning to trust the other, negotiating and striving for a win/win situation is the better approach, because each has his/her own responsibility and choices to make. The compassionate conservatives like the concept of tough love and translate the concept of responsibility in laying down the rules and then if you don’t make it, well they told you what to do and obviously you failed to heed their advice and thus don’t deserve any of their compassion… Neil Postman was a great educator. Let’s look at his example. He suggested that one of the first things we need to teach a child or grown up is how to use their ‘shit detector’, wondering does that make sense what I hear or read? Questioning all authority should be encouraged, because in our society authority is based on power, force and intimidation and not on the recognition of what is right or wrong. Some people may say that religion tells them right from wrong: the 10 commandments, the rules of the Torah of the Koran, the mythologies and cosmogonies. In ways that is true, yet the copyright of right and wrong is not owned by any religion. We need to think in what we do of the seventh generation, preserve the earth with all that lives in it, so that our civilization doesn’t over consume and die of obesity or suffocate in its own waste. And if we are not sure how to do this, well as Rumi wrote in the 13th century we’ll have to

Be helpless, dumbfounded,
Unable to say yes or no.

Until we know. We are all related. So let’s all wake up, think and drink from our own well and be fearless and authentic.

1 comment:

  1. Occasionaly, I will run across RL spewing his venom while searching for something worthwhile on the radio; stopping for just a moment to see who the "lucky victim of the day" is. His vexing voice soon eats into my ears and heart and I know that the pain will be carried with me the better part of the day. I do not understand how someone like that is paid to degrade and humiliate people.
    On a lighter note, I appreciate the addition of "pedagogy" to my list of favorite words that are not often used by the general public. It would be a much better world if the school systems would use the teaching practices of Postman.