My regular readers may have noticed that I have not posted a blog in a few days. The summer is my busiest time of the year. For the next nine weeks work is crazy for me. I am going to try to blog daily. However, the reality of life may lead it to be only a few times a week or shorter daily posts. Once mid-August rolls around, I will be back to my normal and daily blogging schedule.
Knowing your Audience
The last few days have been a political and religious whirlwind. So much is happening around us. Politically Scott Walker has fought off the recall, Republicans in the Senate have once again blocked the discussion and passage of an equal pay law for women, it appears as though the definition of marriage may go to the Supreme Court as lower court ruling in MA and CA are likely to be appealed to that level. The political list of controversy is endless. So too is the religious. Planned Parenthood is still under attack, women’s rights are very much being trampled over, the Catholic Church is moving towards orthodoxy, evangelical Christians are gaining in power, money, and influence, again, the list is infinite.
We are living in a tumultuous time here in the U.S. I am just shy of age 40. I remember thinking that recent and older generations had “big battles” that needed fighting. Some were literal battles, such as WWI, WWII, and Vietnam. Some were political such as the women’s suffrage movement and the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960’s. It would be foolish of me to predict what the future will hold for next decade of American life. However, I cannot help but feel that we may be at a precipice of great social and political change.
Politically, I cannot help but wonder where the GOP is heading. In truth, I am a center left political leaning person. I identify as liberal. When it comes to social issues I tend to move farther left. When it comes to economic issues, I much more of a centrist. I point that out only to highlight one fact. Prior to the Bush years, I did not detest just about everything the GOP stood for. I honestly believe that I have not moved farther Left, rather they have moved farther Right. Where are they going? Why are so many of our fellow citizens following, particularly when the GOP platform is not in line with their economic or social interests? This troubles me greatly. If the GOP truly implements much of what it is pushing for—non equality for homosexuals and women, cutting aid to the poor, cutting medical care to the poor, dismantling our national system of education, paving a rose colored road to success for the wealthy, where does that leave our nation? How far to the Right can such large numbers of people move before the nature of our country is threatened? (The same argument could be made to the Left as well, it is just not happening). I feel that some of these questions may be decided in the next decade.
The same arguments can be made for religion. Christianity reigns supreme in the United States. A major tenet of most faiths is evangelization. Christians cannot be content to leave their religion in their homes and houses of worship. It is not possible. These groups are becoming stronger, wealthier, and more powerful. Perhaps more importantly, they are becoming emboldened. As I write this, the Catholic Church is suing the government in an attempt to redefine the First Amendment. That is bold. Where does this end? Christians preach all sorts of nice things like love and peace, but those are largely absent in practice. History shows, when Christianity is dominant, it is also ruthless. How dominant will Christianity become in our country? Where will that leave homosexuals (behind an electrified fence?) Where will that leave people of other faiths or no faith? Where will that leave the rights of women? Where will that lead our country politically? Rather than Sharia law, will be living under some pseudo version of Christian law?—Clearly there is a movement for just that sort of thing. Where does this leave science? Regardless of what many scientists and Christians tell us, religion and science have never been, and are not now compatible. The gains of science always come at the expense of religion. One is looking forward, the other is looking back. If Christianity gains dominance, where does that leave science and the future of human growth and potential?
I do not mean to sound like an alarmist or extremist in my fears of where we are going. I do not know the answers to the questions I posed. What I am concerned with, and am alarmed about is apathy and or people who are “too busy” to educated themselves on these issues. I do believe the questions I asked above are of monumental importance and will be largely answered in the next decade or so. I am incredible concerned that most of my fellow citizens in the U.S. are not even aware of the questions, let alone the possible answers. Furthermore, they do not really care or do not have the time to care. This troubles me greatly.
I spent 6 hours in a car yesterday with a co-worker whom I get along with very well. He classifies himself as an “average Joe”. I would agree with him. We were talking politics. The following is a snippet from our conversation:
Him “You know, when it comes to this election, I have to go by the “feel technique”.
Me: “What does that mean?”
Him: “I do not believe anything that I hear from Obama, Romney, or either of their campaigns. They both lie, deceive, misrepresent facts, and accuse each other of all sorts of things. I assume that the truth is always somewhere in the middle. However, how I am supposed to learn what the truth is? I work full time, have 2 kids under the age of 12, coach a soccer and baseball team, own my house and 3 rental homes that I have to maintain and do the yardwork at, when am I to find the time to learn for example, what I think the best plan to fix our economy is? I would need to read all sorts of opinions from economists and look at factual data and come to informed opinion. I do not have time to do that, it is just not a priority in my life. So I go by the “feel” technique”.
Me: “What does that mean?”
Him: “I go by how I feel, I know that I do not want my taxes to go up. (His family makes less than 100k a year). I know that I have neighbors who are still out of work and some that have found jobs. I know the housing market still sucks (or I would sell some of these damn rental properties). Etc. If I feel the economy and country is going in the right direction, I will vote for Obama, if not, I will vote for Romney.”
Me: “So you are not going to rely on any facts, but only on subjective knowledge when it comes to voting.?”
Him: “I do not have the time for anything else. I would rather coach my kid’s sports teams than read up on politics. What am I supposed to do, not sleep?”
I share this conversation with you for one reason. I do believe that he is “average Joe American”. He wants to care, will vote, but seems blissfully unaware of any of the questions I posed above. Let alone of their importance. It is my belief that most of my fellow citizens have little idea that things like science are under attack in parts of the country, that women’s rights are under attack everywhere, that homosexual equality is about more than just homosexuals, and the list goes on.
The GOP and Christian groups are well aware of the fact that most of our fellow citizens are asleep at the switch, too busy, or too apathetic to either care or learn facts on their own. They use this to manipulate people into supporting policies and agendas that they in no way should be supporting. This troubles me.
In the past I often write about the need to speak up. Today, I want to reiterate that. If you are reading this, you are most likely not “average Joe or Jane”. It is not that I think my readers are special, sorry you (and I) are not special. However to sit at your computer and read two pages of political and religious commentary at my site, and knowing you probably came from a previous site and are on your way to another webpage means that you are taking the time to think about the real issues. You are concerned about many of the same things I am. You are probably a person who does prioritize learning as much as you can about the facts before you vote. If you are at my site you are most likely not a theist. This implies that you are also concerned about the role that religion is playing in our society. (I say that because the apathetic atheist is probably not reading atheist blogs). We are the people who need to speak up. We are the people who need to help educate our friends and family.
I mentioned as much to wife last night (also an atheist). She warned me about sounding pedantic and self-righteous. In this, I agree with her. The remainder of the car ride with my friend was a talk about many of the questions I asked above. I went out of my way to not sound self-righteous or pedantic but answered his questions as best I could. I went out of my way to leave my bias out of the conversation. (He knows I am an atheist and liberal) I told him, here is what I think, but do not just take my word on it, if this is an important question to you, learn as much as you can. In the end, I felt that I made one minor contribution to my greater goal—I spoke up…to one person…who thanked me for taking the time to shed some light on the hard questions. The key thing to note here, is that I did not “come off as all atheist and liberal” (his words). If I had, the conversation would have ended. That is not what he wanted. Did I get my points across? You bet, but in a meaningful and productive way. I urge all of you to do the same. We have to know our audience and adjust our arguments accordingly. I did not compromise one aspect of anything I believe (or do not believe in), in this case, calm rational speech got me much further than any other tactic.
Thanks for Reading. I look forward to your comments.
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