Thinking In Time (2015Sep16)


Wednesday, September 16, 2015                                              1:51 PM

It’s very rude to say things about people we care for—but it is impossible not to think things about people, no matter how much we love them. The analytical part of our minds has no filter—that comes after. This leads most men to believe that lying, frequently and profusely, is a vital part of a happy marriage. Still, I’ve found that any thoughts that may occur to me will be skewed by my emotional inertia—if I’m feeling critical, I’ll find criticisms; if I’m feeling good, I’ll notice goodness.

Emotional inertia is a very important thing—if I keep an eye out for it, I can sometimes stop myself before I really get ‘on a roll’. And that’s not to say I stifle my feelings—when we’re ‘on a roll’, conversationally or interactively, we start to look for the next rung on the ladder we’re building—it leads us on, but it can also lead us away from our intentions. Sometimes it leads us to a place we don’t want to get to—so I find being ‘on a roll’ to be vastly over-rated.

Further, I don’t really like to be definite about anything immediately—the more important a decision is, the better it is to give it time to work itself out in my head. ‘Sleeping on it’ is folk wisdom in this vein—to go to sleep and wake up the next day, on its surface, doesn’t appear to have any value—yet I can’t count the number of times that doing so has allowed insights to present themselves, insights that took their time coming to the forefront of my consciousness.

Conversely, “time and the tide wait for no man”—taking one’s time isn’t always an option. While I can be pretty clever at a slow pace, I’m terrible at snap decisions—I’m slow-smart but fast-stupid. It amazes me sometimes how stupid someone can be—and still beat me in an argument. Part of that is due to the old saw: “The fundamental cause of the trouble is that in the modern world the stupid are cocksure while the intelligent are full of doubt.” – Bertrand Russell, “The Triumph of Stupidity” (1933). But in truth, there is also the simple fact that my education doesn’t recall itself to my mind instantaneously—another person with less than a tenth of my knowledge can nonetheless easily out-talk me.

Thus I am forced to disagree with another famous quote of his: “To realise the unimportance of time is the gate of wisdom.” – Bertrand Russell, “Our Knowledge of the External World” (1914). No doubt, in context, his use of “Time” and of “unimportance” refer to aspects other than those I am addressing—especially as he is speaking philosophically, while I’m talking about a sort of ‘applied mechanics’. He speaks of understanding—I’m going on about missed opportunities and un-ducked punches.

One last Bertrand Russell quote: “Is there any knowledge in the world which is so certain that no reasonable man could doubt it?”

I saw Jimmy Fallon doing a comedic interview with Donald Trump—who didn’t seem to find any cognitive dissonance in being laughed at by the entire audience for his policies and positions—as if he knew he would get in the last laugh. His platform seems to be: “I’m ridiculous—trust me.” We do, Donald, we do—we trust you to be ridiculous. Trust you with the presidency?—not so much. Survey question: What scares you more—Trump, or the people who would vote for him?

The GOP isn’t the only institution being put through the wringer of self-regard by Mr. Trump—the Media, as well, is finding it difficult to air anything other than Trump coverage—he’s such a ratings-magnet that they completely abandon all pretense of keeping us informed. We will be entertained by the news—and nothing more—until their new clown-god drops out of the race. Should the Donald actually become our Chief Executive, we will never see another straight news story ever again.

He will be ‘proof of concept’ that we will watch the news no matter how skewed or devoid of substance it becomes—the last barrier to infotainment, the audience’s expectation of maturity and analysis, will have fallen.

But none of this is the media’s fault, or Donald’s fault, or even the GOP’s fault—this is about human nature. We are all being given the option of either thinking seriously about difficult issues, or being distracted by the funny clown. I confess, the funny clown calls out to me—he says, “Why worry? Why be all serious about things? Let’s just wing it!”—and who can resist him?

The only counter-weight is the Presidency itself—it stubbornly insists that running the most powerful nation on earth involves life-or-death decisions about complex issues. It refuses the premise that running our government is like running a business—it refuses to place profit above human rights, faith above freedom, or wealth and power above the people. It fairly screams that Donald Trump’s election, rather than investing him with dignity, will strip any vestige of dignity from the office itself.

And someone will have to explain to me how a majority of us would have the wisdom to elect an Obama, twice, and then become brain-damaged enough to replace him with a joke in a suit.

The answer is probably that we are all willing to take a suggestion for a fact—Hillary Clinton, it has been suggested, did something wrong with her e-mails. It’s not a fact. There are no specifics. There’s no evidence of any harm done by her admittedly unwise combining of personal and professional e-mails. Still, between the GOP spin doctors and the media’s lust for scandal, it has become a meme—Hillary is dishonest. Who can say? Perhaps she is. She’s a politician, after all—their profession is as notoriously vulnerable to unpopular, bare facts as it is to popular, but false, rumors.

I’d like to ask all the people who say they won’t vote for Hillary because they think she’s dishonest—do you trust Trump? Do you truly trust any of the other 16 candidates? Or is this just another example of the double standard for women, i.e. a dishonest man is just a politician, but a dishonest women is a criminal?

And just how dishonest do we think Hillary is? I think she’s defensive—the GOP began to attack her when she was only the First Lady, without any actual standing in government other than a symbolic one. But she has been cleared of any substantial wrongdoing in every one of their manufactured scandals, from Whitewater to Benghazi. I don’t understand how so many failed attacks by the GOP has left their reputations untouched, yet managed to taint her image through sheer persistence—how stupid are we, the voters?

We are like the high school class that witnesses a bully pick on the weak kid every day—and decides to join in the ridicule rather than doing the right thing and defending their classmate from the bully. We have the opportunity to elect a great American, and our first woman, as President—and we’re seriously considering, instead, a spoiled billionaire with no experience. Again I ask—how stupid are we?

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