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January 8, 2013

A Solution to “The Problem”

Farrell Keough

In a rare moment of unintelligibility, the wife (She Who Must Be Obeyed) agreed to go out on New Year Eve to a club a friend of ours manages. It was a most engaging evening – we saw old friends and met many new ones.


One of the most eye-opening experiences during this evening was the ignorance of the public on our history and the reasoning behind the creation of this Grand Experiment. While talking to a number of young people, it is truly amazing how errant their education has become over the last few decades. We cannot blame them for such ignorance as we are the responsible party! Until we recognize and accept this responsibility, nothing will change.


That said, what are we to do?


Each of us has our own specific talents – some are good at economics, some at business, some at talking, the list goes on. We need to embrace these talents and take them outside of our current sphere of influence. In short, deal with those who have a different ideological perspective in a genuine way.


But let’s backup and make some determinations as to how we have come to our current condition before we consider mechanisms to alter it.


The change in our society was neither a conspiracy, nor was it kept under wraps. More than 20 years ago, while attending an Environmental Protection Agency conference, one of the speakers actually noted that “like China, we must inculcate the young generation to understand and believe our perspectives.” This is a single example in one area – these same kinds of conversations were going on in many areas of media, science, politics, etc. The two things make this important: it worked and it generates little questioning of its accuracy or truthfulness.


Since that time we have seen dramatic changes in our media and educational system – the changes most dramatically being toward a progressive ideological bent. For instance, while talking to some young adults they were unaware that President Ronald Reagan did more than engage in wars or that Rachael Carson (Silent Spring) was not a scientist.  They have no life experience, nor has our education system lead them to any other conclusion – most especially, they have been trained not to question this information. Again, we have the responsibility for this – not this upcoming generation.


You are not reading anything you did not know. Yes, the media and our educational system are biased toward a liberal ideology. The question still remains, how do we deal with this?


First, if you know of a young adult who has a predilection toward these honorable careers, encourage them to follow through. Of course, it will benefit them to realize they will be surrounded by “like thinking” people who do not embrace differing viewpoints. Rocking the boat in these environments often leads to being passed over for career advancement – although we have seen some slight shifts in this paradigm and – with further advances – we may see more.


Another area of great importance is the area of advertizing or media influence. We have all seen those vapid, pedantic, intolerant, and annoying The More You Know public service announcements – or more aptly named – propaganda spots on television. These are so transparent and government-backed that they have become a type of joke to some and a viable mechanism to influence the social fabric to others. Yet there is no dialectic. In other words, conservatives do not have such TV spots.


Some of us remember the old Schoolhouse Rock short of How a Bill Becomes a Law. This television short was tremendously influential. This grew out of a cultural shift toward government financed television – not from the private sector. So-called conservatives do not seem to embrace this type of education. We are far behind in our influence of the “next” generation, and we have only ourselves to blame.


What would happen if conservatives used a tool they have had for generations? What if many conservatives bought small shares of stock in companies like CNN or MSNBC? What if, over time, conservatives owned enough stock in these media outlets to influence the Board of Directors and the decisions as to how broadcasts were determined and created? Having recently spoken with a certified public accountant about this idea, her mind was churning over the implications. Consider how this kind of approach would alter our current society.


At the next party you attend, try something different – speak about politics. The general idiom of never speak religion or politics has taken on a new and profound meaning in our culture. In short, if people speak about politics with a differing perspective, they are often seen as non-tolerant. Of course, this is a lie just as speaking about President Barack Obama’s policies in a negative manner is not racist.


The truth is that a huge majority of the public wants to speak about these issues. As seen in the last national election, there is a true dearth of knowledge about how government works and where it should or should not exist. Listening, but also passionate discussion, will open new avenues and important ways of thinking for you and your new sphere of friends! You will be amazed at how many people truly desire to hear and discuss a well-defined viewpoint.


Finally, we must consider the core values we espouse. Do we think and speak about these values on a regular basis such that we thoroughly understand what we believe and what the repercussions might be? Do we engage our elected representatives in such a manner that we are comfortable that they, too, consider and know their core values? Unless we thoroughly understand our convictions, we are not able to understand others or address their viewpoints.


This now brings us full circle. We must come out of our sphere of comfort and speak to others with differing views – especially the younger generation. Not only does this sharpen our own perspectives and values, but one never knows how much positive influence you can have on others.


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