Snake Oil, Skittles, and Bitter Pills; Part Two

Getting the message across…

Where was I? Oh, yeah, the message; and the problem is presenting that message to those whom we know share many of our ideals. The fact is that so many of us don’t understand why the people we try to engage with don’t seem to comprehend what we’re saying.

They don’t comprehend the logic of our arguments because they are no longer even listening.

Are you still wondering what I’m talking about?

Here’s the thing, too many of us have no real awareness of our audience. We have no real awareness of the people we are trying to move in a given direction with logical arguments.

More and more, people don’t necessarily share the same particular views on religion and morality and, just like most of the rest us, they don’t want to be talked down to. They don’t want to feel like the people they are listening to are also trying to convert them to a personal life philosophy while they are in the process of making a political argument or point.

Know it or not, most conservatives do just that to their audience; they even do it to other conservatives who don’t share the same theological belief system. I know very well, as I am one of those people.

Many conservatives tend to make arguments and wrap them around their personal religious viewpoints as to the reason why their argument is correct. Often, they use their religious text as a baseline from which all of their arguments spring. What they don’t realize is that in doing so, they are inherently dismissing and de-valuing the other person’s viewpoint or beliefs. They rarely, if ever, allow for the fact that the person they are speaking to may have arrived at the same moral conclusion without taking the same theological route!

The audience’s viewpoint, theology, or life philosophy is called into question, critically found wanting, and then dismissed all in the same breath; without the benefit of it even being part of the dialogue!

Do you want people to listen? Do you want to engage them in conversation or civil debate? Do you want to refine and strengthen your own viewpoint and maybe get people to understand why things like the ACA and ‘free stuff’ are a horrible idea? Why hard work and merit are a good idea? Why it is bad to give the government more power without the benefit of oversight? Why it’s bad to give the government more power through making more Americans dependent upon it?

If that’s your goal, then stick to the subject at hand. Have the other conversations later if you feel like they are important. Make yourself aware of what you are saying, and be cautious of the judgment you pass on others with your own seemingly innocent words and attitudes. Be aware of your comments and the level of respect you are affording another’s underlying beliefs. Even if they aren’t the same as yours, they are just as valid to them as yours are to you.

Many people believe that there is only one group that it’s still okay to ridicule, deride and publicly make fun of in America. I agree that this group is consistently persecuted. The question is; why has it become generally acceptable?

A big part of the reason is the people in that particular group have reached a point where their very conversation points, while not overtly offensive, can be construed as such; often times due to a passive-aggressive manner that can often come across as hostile. It can sound like they are talking down to and passing judgment on others who do not believe as they do.

The message that comes across is ‘since you don’t have the same theology or read the same text, you can’t possibly fully understand’; that translates to ‘you’re not educated enough to really get what I’m saying.’ People tend to react more strongly to the passive-aggressive approach than to a direct confrontation.

People get tired of being told (or having it implied) that their personal belief system is inadequate and they are not capable of truly understanding the real morality. They get tired of being preached at. Instead of investing the energy in correcting the attitude, they just start tuning out.

This fight is hard enough without our audience tuning us out. Our argument is a good one. We have facts, historical events & outcomes on our side. We can win just on the merit of facts alone. It’s the only chance we have to return this country to its former state of greatness. It just requires some discipline and humility. It requires some thought as to who you might be addressing.

As so very often happens the message is right on. It’s how the viewpoint is presented that makes it palatable or not. Re-form your message. Keep in mind what demographic your audience might fit and wrap your message up in the right paper.

Not doing so comes across as arrogant and judgmental.

To do so is not disingenuous nor is it a denial of one’s belief system; It’s simply good tactics.

Bigotry, Tolerance, and Heroism

The most stupid-ass thing popped up in my social networking timeline. It’s a picture of five men from the University of Virginia swim team posing together with one holding a sign that says “Two of us are gay and the other three don’t care.”

Does no on else see the contradiction inherent in the picture itself?

First of all, not only do you not care, but neither does anyone else in America! And if you actually Don’t care, why are you holding up a sign that says anything at all?

Second of all, is that supposed to make you some kind of hero? That you supposedly are posing with a couple of gay men when the truth is that anyone who matters never really cared what people do in their bedroom to start with? Oh, You golden, tolerant bunch of college kids! The rest of the country is so proud of you!

Shullbit. People like this are full of crap. Stop making an issue out of it either way! Being tolerant doesn’t make anyone morally superior or some kind of social justice hero warrior, it makes you a good person. And bragging about being such a tolerant person because you have gay teammates, actually makes you an intolerant bigot to begin with, eager to be able to look down on everyone else because of your self-perceived superiority that you are somehow better than everyone because you are so tolerant of of others being gay.

That is bigotry, You self serving, egotistical, >censored<!!!

News Flash: If you find yourself needing to be tolerant of something, that means you had a problem with it to begin with.

Snake Oil, Skittles, and Bitter Pills

Who is really at fault?

Jonathan Gruber is the latest furor, and for good reason. I have an issue with Gruber, of course, but not from the same angle most others do. I’m surprised that most others of my own political bent have missed this, seeing as we tend to be advocates for personal responsibility, but then, in the midst of the uproar of a crowd with a handy scapegoat available, it’s really easy to miss the underlying causation.

Everyone is yelling about what a horrible individual Gruber is for assuming the American public is stupid and for calling them stupid, and for what he actually did, and he is certainly a piece of human debris devoid of any real morality; but here’s the thing. The bill got passed. He was right.

On the whole, though there were what seemed like armies of people (to us) out there yelling the truth, the American people still bought it, lock, stock, and barrel. So who is at fault here? Is it Gruber for at fault for being a greedy snake-oil salesman and a hustler? For goodness sake, it ended up being what amounted to $5.9 million dollars at stake for him to rake in from various sources in the government. Who do you know out there whose soul or their moral grounding could resist that kind of low hanging fruit? I would say that even among us who were shouting from the rooftops, there are a fair number who would quietly shut their mouths and put out their hand.

There have always been and will always be people like Gruber. He is a parasite, a waste of human skin in the modern world. There will always be shysters who care for nothing except profit at the expense of everything else as long as they remain one of the rich and powerful.. The problem is that the American people were that stupid! We haven’t learned a darn thing!

So who is at fault? The American people are at fault, of course! We Are!!

We’ve lost something vital that used to be a trademark, a pivotal element of the American paradigm. Somewhere along the line, the balance got tipped, we went from being a beacon of Freedom and Liberty, from being a meritocracy that genuinely cherished hard work and rugged individualism, to being a crying, shrieking group of hungry baby birds, all with our hands out and our mouths open waiting to be fed by the producers, the ones who still held on to a dying set of ideals.

Those ideals being that hard work is what makes us special, what makes us stand out and grow prosperous- and help others grow prosperous along the way!- as they invent, and as they fall and get up again; as they build, and they overcome adversity, as they improvise and adapt become more than they were, in the process making the world a better place for everyone. Those people who understand that Freedom is nothing without strict adherence to its unshakable partner, Responsibility.

I can hear many of the people on our side of the argument now saying “But it can’t be our fault! We were that ones who knew, we were right! We were the ones sounding the warning bell from the roof tops! How can you say that we bear any responsibility?”

I can say it because it’s true. We weren’t good enough. Our message wasn’t clear enough. No one wanted to listen to what we had to say, the moment we started speaking we were dismissed. And that’s a bitter pill.

The other guys were promising free stuff! They were giving away the farm! We were saying that it wasn’t possible, that the people still needed to get off of their collective ass and actually work hard for the rewards they expected; that they needed to think, and to take responsibility, to vote and to hold their representatives accountable. They were saying that everyone was going to be swimming in skittles and rainbows as they rode their unicorns to the candy shop!

There’s reason enough that people didn’t want to hear our message, we’ve become a lazy nation of non-producers who feed off of the back of the producers, and the producers are getting more tired of it every single day. They are throwing their hands up and joining the crowd saying “if the government is going to give the stuff away, I might as well get my share.”

But there is even more reason why the message wasn’t being heard, that people were tuning us out. Anyone who knows me should know where I’m going next. The message was hard enough to convey since we were fighting against an opposing message that seemed much more appealing, but that wasn’t enough.

The overwhelming majority of people on our side were trying to point out what an actual calamity the Affordable Care Act was and that it was being rammed through with no chance for review for a reason, as so many other laws and bills are these days. But those people, in other words us, can’t seem to stick to the message, to the political argument about why any given argument we present is logical and correct.

I know so many people who wander about in confusion, wondering why the people that they know can’t see the logic in what they’re saying, the message that the quintessential American attitude is what has carried us this far and is the only thing that can carry us farther; that more government and less personal control is a bad thing. That giving up rights for security is a horrible travesty. They know that their friends are hard workers who believe in merit, and hard work and making their own way! But why don’t those friends understand?

If you want the answer to that, you have to be willing to listen, to be open-minded and willing to undergo a critical evaluation about how you present your message, and be willing to make some changes. For now I’ll leave it that.

Gruber is our fault; our responsibility. We let the snake-oil salesman set his cart up in the village square and now we’re paying the price. That the rest of the village wouldn’t listen to our warnings about his miracle cure-all is, again, our fault.

Change will only come at a price. The question is, are you willing to pay that price?