Monday, August 18, 2008

Thou Shalt Not Question "The Ben".

Since I have been writing this column for the Progressive Journal I have received a great deal of feedback and pleasant criticism. No matter who I encounter when it comes to this column folks all have one critique in common, “Do you think anyone in Pageland knows what you are talking about” or “Don’t you think you are talking over the heads of most people in Pageland?” Even if these observations are true, that is not the point.

Because I have been given this wonderful soapbox on which to bloviate I want to raise the level of debate by informing my readers of their obligation to be informed and when informed, engaged. This above all is my goal. There is no way for me to accomplish this goal if I speak from a least common denominator position. Or, in words and concepts that all of us can easily understand. If I “dumb-down” my opinions to make them more accessible I do damage to the truths I wish to ruminate on. Many of the issues of our day are NOT accessible. Rather these issues are complicated and require more than basic understanding. Such is our world and it appears that it will only become more complex as time passes.

If I were to take on the lie perpetuated by the Right-Wing political hit-squads that Barrack Obama is a Muslim, I would have to give you not just his correct history but also a brief history of Islam. I would have to touch on issues of religion, conflict and how there is a long history of the fear of different religions being used to control the masses. I could do this in simple language and remove any information that might be difficult to understand or believe, but I would then be playing fast-and-loose with the truth and using fear and emotion to convince you rather than facts. I would rather have you read the correct and often lengthy truth rather than read a summarized version that appeals to the masses because it reads easy and only touches our baser instincts.

I think the people of Pageland are a very smart and savvy bunch and I think they should expect more from their information sources, politicians and each other. Yes, there are those folks that think that Russia just invaded the Georgia to our Southwest. And that the South Ossetians must be a misprint for South Atlantians. But, those folks do not dominate our community. Perhaps one day my column might even inspire someone to pick up an atlas or Google a term I have used. Perhaps one day at Beth’s Country Kitchen or Plyler’s Bar and Grill I will be asked if I think the use of measured force in Iraq and the largest diplomatic effort since the Marshall Plan constitute Smart-Power, and if so, does that then disprove the idea that both Hard and Soft Power are needed to be most effective in International Relations. Perhaps.

Until that day I will continue to give it to you “between the eyes” rather than sugar coated. I will use colloquialisms and foreign concepts that many will have to look up online or in a dictionary. I use these in the hopes that am coaxing you into being better informed and in turn more engaged. Less American Idol and more Less Evening News and more of your own original research. Less reacting to what your politicians are doing to you, and more influencing your own life.

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