Black and White

Black and white.  Yes or no.  On or off.  In or out.  Left or right.  Western culture appears to tip toward the binary.  Those closest to dealing with the binary every day (self-proclaimed geeks) carry this right into their technological passions.  Are you an Apple fanboy or a Google fanboy?  a Mac or a PC? Linux or a geek-wannabe?  No Apple fanboy could approve of me.  I have an Android phone (after ownng the first iPhone through the iPhone 3GS).  No Google fanboy could approve of me, either.  I snatch my wife’s iPad every time she looks the other way.  At one point I had an Ubuntu server, a Macbook, and a Windows 95 notebook.

My liberal friends used to think conservatives weren’t liberal because they were either ignorant or stupid.  John Stewart with his “Restore Sanity” campaign added the idea that conservativism is crazy and if you are sane you will think as he does.

My conservative friends think that liberals are liberal because they are morally bankrupt and unpatriotic.

Once again I find myself caught in the middle.  But what is the middle?  Is the middle neither right nor left?  neither Apple nor Android?  One could achieve ‘middleness’ by moderation of one’s position.  This is a very stable middle position. What do I mean by this?  Imagine a tight rope walker.  As long as she stays on the rope she is balanced and in the middle.  She could carry a medicine ball across and remain balanced.  She could also remain in the middle by distributing weight to her right and left in such a way as to cancel each other out – equilibrium.  However, a slight miscalculation on an extremely far out weight, will result in the loss of balance.  Not so stable as the medicine ball.

Given the results of common genetic analyses, it is safe to say that very few of us, even those of us who think in these terms, are either Black or White.  We have ancestors who crossed color lines and we are delightful shades, not only of Black and White, but yellow and brown and red.  Binary thinkers would say that I am of a different race than my President.  First of all we are of the same human race.  Secondly, we differ only in the percentages of our racial mixture.

There are probably a few people that agree with all of the President’s policies and views.  There are probably a few people that agree with all of Sarah Palin’s views.  But I would not be at all surprised that if you added those two groups together, they would be far outweighed by those of us who agree with the Tea Party on issue X and the President’s policy on issue Y.  If you are one of those people in the United States, you will find that you are welcome in neither camp.

We mixed-politics people must vote for whoever gives us the best value for our vote.  To be rational, we should weigh the candidates stands on issues and then vary the importance of the issues to arrive at a decision as to whom we want to represent us in government.  I wonder how often that happens?

We have four primary sources of political information.  1- the campaigns themselves, 2-special interest groups (PACs), 3-the media, 4-the people speaking through blogs, YouTube, opinion columns, etc.

The campaigns and PACs apparently share a common goal, to win.  To do this, they have found two major weapons.  1-fear mongering and 2-mud slinging.  Vilify their opponent to such a degree that a voter will have no choice but to vote for them.

The media (both liberal networks and conservative Fox) share a common goal, market share.  The old-fashioned way to gain market share was to get the scoop on important information.  The new, easy way is through fear-mongering and mud slinging.  When I listen to the ABC news, I learn that the Tea Party consists of ignorant and unbalanced extremists.  When I listen to Fox, I learn that the Democrats are taking America toward socialism.  Supposed debates about the issues are usually either stacked in one side’s favor or consist of two red-faced screamers.

While the internet has introduced some correction to this information stream in the form of instant fact-checking, there is still plenty of smearing going on in our backyard as well.

I’m a huge proponent of free speech.  But wouldn’t it be an interesting campaign reform if campaign and PAC money could  only be used to state what the candidate or group was for and against instead of to characterize what their opponents were for or against?  They could still dig up dirt, but they would have to feed it to the media and let them decide if it had a basis in fact and merited being published.

Balance is boring.  Who wants to watch a show where people get along and discourse in a civil manner?  Sensationalism will always get our posts more hits than will information.  But in the end which neighborhood would you prefer, the one where people fear and slander each other or the one in which neighbors seek common ground and treat each other with respect and courtesy when differences continue?

Remember, when the Pharisee asked Jesus “Who is my neighbor?”  Jesus told the parable of the Good Samaritan by way of saying “Be the neighbor you would like to have.”  I guess what I’m hoping for here is a little “Peace on Earth, Good Will Toward Humans.”

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One Response to Black and White

  1. avatar art says:

    You said it all when you said,”Balance is boring.” After all, “Who wants to watch a show where people get along and discourse in a civil manner?”

    To live is to learn. And we only learn by disagreeing with the established conventions. I suppose that all intelligent human beings are contrary by nature. Socrates is the most famous example, but a search through history will reveal that all geniuses were individuals who questioned the norm.

    The other point I would like to make is that, as you observe, the media and others attempt to make discussions of topical issues a two sided question. Are you liberal or conservate, fiscally tight or free spending, libertarian or authoritarian? Life is not all black and white. Let’s pick the best of what there is. Your suggestion from the start. Question everything, and avoid the personal observations that the media prefers to boost ratings.

    Your approach makes for a better world, but flies in the face of human nature. Sad but true.

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