Saturday, September 5, 2015

Logically Speaking

We have lost our ability to debate. The fine art of debate was once a sign of creative, intellectual thought. One would spend hours researching facts, and constructing the framework of a provocative debate. The formality of the setting alone set the tone for civility and decorum.

Our platform is now the pseudo anonymous world of social media. Our carefully crafted words are replaced with stinging nasty barbs formerly reserved for the likes of Maury Povich or Jerry Springer or Jeremy Kyle. We try to defend and justify our nastiness with one-liners ripped out of context with zero regard for the validity or accuracy of the statement. We don't check or cross-check our facts. We just launch our projectile word vomit wantonly towards our target.

I was involved with a small Internet skirmish myself recently. I saw a salacious post from a friend and figured out rather quickly there was no way in the world the contents of said post were accurate. I checked on Snopes and sure enough, it was a quote from a satirical site. The person exalted with saying some pretty toxic statements didn't actually say those things. As the on-line scuffle escalated, I decided to chime in with a friendly "check your facts, mates" and referred them to Snopes.

I had no idea this was an invitation to verbally assault me. Snopes is no longer credible because it is owned by a liberal. Who knew? I guess the Bible is no longer quotable if that logic is allowed to stand.

Logic. See what I did there? In one fell swoop, I took a rapid, ridiculous leap based on my own prejudices and opinions and made a sweeping generalisation. I am not alone. I watch this happen time and time again. In the end, neither Snopes being owned by a liberal nor my sincere belief that Jesus was indeed the first liberal have anything to do with whether or not Ben Carson was misquoted.

If Snopes is so offensive to you, then I have some suggestions.  Snopes does give the origins of the original sources when they can verify them. Check those original sources. Look at the dates of posts. Make sure that the post comes from a reliable news source, understanding my definition of reliable is probably not going to match yours. In that vein, check more than one news source. There are hundreds of satirical sites on line. Be careful. You may fall victim to a completely fabricated bit of "news". It happens.

Remember when we used to argue and banter on the playground? After all of their limited defences and come-backs are exhausted, children often resort to spewing such intellectual gems as "well, your mother dresses you funny". Social media is rife with such cerebral pearls. We are headline readers and zinger flingers to the point that we lose the very crux of the argument we are ourselves trying to make.

We have lost the art of debate. We are so convinced that our oft re-tweeted and shared post reducing our particular opponent to tatters will sway our most intractable rival to come over from the dark side and join us, that we ignore Robert's or anyone else's Rules of Order and go straight to the attack. We bypass conventional munitions  for the wordsmith's version of chemical weaponry and sit back and watch the carnage.

Black lives matter; as do red, yellow, white, green and purple. Espousing one colour without mentioning all does not eschew logic. The Kentucky Clerk of Court's  personal divorce record should  not be  in question in regards to her not issuing marriage licenses to others within the bounds of the law. To use her marriage record as a logical debate is to bypass the real issues. It is neither logical or real debate. I love my black brother in law. I love my daughter's partner who happens to be a man in blue. Logic does not enter in to the equation.

All of us collectively need to take a breath. Love the person, even if their beliefs and opinions make us cringe. My parents taught me long ago, well before the Internet was a mere twinkle in Al Gore's eye, that one should avoid talking about religion and politics with friends.  Can you imagine Facebook without a political or religious rant? I can't either. And I must go so I can post this to my wall....

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Let Your Heart Be Troubled

My Facebook page has been a story of irony and contradiction these last days. Daily adjurations to keep Christ in Christmas are posted alongside derisive rants about migrants and “those people” who need to "go home".  Incessant  proud boastings of “God’s blessings” in the form of new jobs, vacations, large homes or luxury vehicles are right there along with “THEY aren’t going to take MY jobs”, or calls to build more fences and drop more bombs.

I am a Christian. Whether or not somebody says Happy Holidays versus Merry Christmas does not offend me in any way, shape or form. I believe I am no less a Christian if I choose to be inclusive in my greetings.  I am, however, highly offended that the very teachings of Christ are being twisted and manipulated in order to excuse less than Christian behaviours. I question the Christian-ness of turning our backs on our fellow human beings.

Maybe I am naive. Maybe I want to believe in world peace and love and caring for others. Throw in a verse or three of Kum Ba Yah and I am on my way. Add a candle or two and I am hooked.  I would rather be accused of treacherous naivety and heinous kindness than to be lumped in with those who seem to live by the “I got mine, you get yours” philosophy of life.

My daughter recently travelled back to the United States to begin her new life; a new beginning. She rode in down-comforted first class with its champagne and surf and turf excesses. In stark contrast, many, many women are risking their lives and the lives of their children to board flimsy, leaking rafts in the hope of starting a new life: a new beginning.  My daughter was simply going to start a new school and begin a new major. These other women are fleeing bombs, and war, and rape, and torture, and hunger.

My daughter, a non-taxpaying student there simply by birthright was welcomed with open arms. The others, mothers desperate for their children, not given refuge.

Did I miss a few chapters of the good book? Did I skim too fast to read the ending? Did I misunderstand that we are to feed and clothe and shelter those who are in need? I realise the Bible was penned in Greek originally and translated many times after, but did I miss the whole point of Matthew 25:35-40?

  35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

 Did I misinterpret Matthew 7:12?

 12 So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.

I do speak southern. Maybe that is it. Is there special version that says God blesses the fortunate as evidenced by cars and the latest "it" bag and Disney vacations, but somehow doesn’t bless the poor, the hungry, the desperate; the least of these?

I am not so naive that I believe there are quick easy solutions to the human crisis we all want to sum up in fifty words or less using such demeaning and dehumanising labels as migrants, or immigrants. It is as if these folks asked to have their lives torn apart by war, and their homes obliterated in order to come and take YOUR job and keep you from enjoying that entire behemoth slice of cake at the local Cheesecake Factory without sharing.  I do agree with British Prime Minister David Cameron’s statements that we need to find a way to broker peace and to keep these crises from happening in the first place. But, Mr. Cameron, sir, if you don’t mind me pointing out, your pat platitudes don’t put food in the mouths of children and shelter over the heads of the mothers and fathers and sons and daughters right now.  Good on you for looking toward the future. Their futures look pretty bleak right now.

And to my fellow Americans, aren't we blessed  the Natives Americans didn't have fences up when our ancestors arrived with no jobs, hungry, cold and sick  to give us a chance at a better life. "Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free"  must  just be a nice poem with an outdated message. It is apparently no longer applicable. We got ours. You get yours. Just not here.

Hit me. I am waiting for the “you are just a socialist; not a real Christian; blame it on Obama, blah blah”. Label me. If that helps you sleep at night, fine. If that helps justify living in excess while your fellow human beings are terrified, cold and hungry, go ahead.  If flinging out your pseudo-Christian pap makes you feel safe because it allows you to believe this could never happen to you but only to THEM or THOSE PEOPLE, then I only have one thing left to say.

Happy Holidays.