August 20, 2014

Seeing is Believing

There have been a lot of articles flying around me this last week or so.  Ferguson, abortion, the cops, the media, fraudulent companies...things varying in nature and weight.  There seemed to be a theme among most of what I read.  I tend to read the comments below the articles simply because I find more useful information there than the article itself.  The conclusion I came to has been quite interesting to me.

I've always tried to maintain a mental air of neutrality.  Yes, I have opinions and occasionally I'll lean more toward one side than another, but I try hard to see both for what it is.  The thing that resonates with me on heavy topics is that people find a side and vehemently defend it, regardless of common sense, evidence, or empathy.  I don't have that ability.  Well, at least not without a certain amount of listening, reading, observing, and thinking.  I can't take anything on face value, I never could.  Not that I don't believe what someone tells me, I don't walk into anything with the idea that someone is going to deliberately misinform me.  Or that perhaps, they themselves know nothing about what they speak.  It's very simply that I take it all with a grain of salt.  Depending on the weight of the subject, I will research until I find- if not a truth- then a middle ground of evidence.  I'm not convinced by statistics, those can be altered.  I will read multiple resources until I find ones that either completely dispute one another, or have enough similarities that I can make an educated guess.

I have read so many article comments that were militant, angry, ugly...all things negative...simply because of an opposing opinion.  I am not so vain or so right that I expect people to agree with everything I believe in or take offense to.  On the flip side of that, I don't hate or begrudge anyone their opposing opinion.  Maybe it's the adult in me, or maybe it's that my mind is that open.  When it comes to laws, I understand that they are designed for the greater good of the whole, not certain groups or individuals.  There will always be a large conglomeration that will disagree with a law, whether it's for religious reasons or personal ones.  There will always be someone to whom the law does not apply...but the law is there for the good of the many...not the one.*  This is why certain laws are in effect.  Many times the makers of such laws have to make a decision, how many are affected by the law being enacted vs it being repealed.  They have an obligation to protect the majority.  That's simply the way it is.  It's not pretty, it's not clean and shiny, but neither is reality.

There are a sound number of followers in this world.  The natural leaders seek them out and gather them together sometimes without even realizing they've done it.  We, as pack animals, need that dynamic.  In order to avoid the whole "too many chiefs, not enough Indians" issue, there has to be a fair amount of type A's out there who are willing to guide the masses.  It only takes one good speech maker to snag the attention of a pliable group, once the attention is sufficiently snagged...mild melding* begins.

The Romans were the perfect example of the fickle nation.  Literally, if Caesar died in the morning, the new emperor was crowned that afternoon...loyalty shifted then.  In less than a day, the world had a new leader and all were in allegiance to that leader.  No thought, no, breaking in period, no wary moments of distrust...just blind faith in a regular man given power.  Sit back and think for a moment, how many of us do this exact same thing?  Be it with an elected official, a parent, a teacher, a many of us follow blindly without question simply because we believe we must?  Have you ever been betrayed by that politician?  That priest?  That best friend?  Have you ever been lead astray "for your own good"?  Have you ever been lied to "for your own good?"  Every day of your life.  What have you yourself told your children instead of telling them the brutal truth about something?  Did Fluffy the Turtle really get loose and go find his fellow turtles?  Or did you find his carcass behind the couch while vacuuming?  "For their own good."

The government lies to us, they lie by omission, they lie by deliberate falsehoods, sometimes they even tell us the truth.  Because we are so accustomed to being lied to, we don't believe the truth.  Religious factions will do the same things with somewhat subtler methods.  Leading the masses is much easier than one would believe it is.  All it takes is one good speaker, and a handful to buy into the message.  Spreading it comes naturally.  Followers want to believe what they are told.  It's human nature, again...we are pack animals.  We are biologically geared to fall into compatible groups and work together to thrive.  There is nothing exactly *wrong* with this, it's just that at some point we, as a society, need to recognize our humanity and learn how to find some individuality.  Why go out of your way to hate that person who is of a different mind than you?  Many times arguments start because one person feels the need to shove their agenda down another's throat.  A simple agree to disagree is not agenda shoving.  Let's be clear on that.  If I tell you I don't agree with you and attempt to explain myself so you understand it...I'm not expecting you to agree with me or "come to my side".  I'm simply explaining myself.  Honestly, I couldn't care less what your personal position on it is.  Unless you romantically co-habitate with me, sleep with me, or share a child with me, it's not my business.  This is a communication technique many, many people lack.  There's a fear associated with anyone "different".  People fear what and whom they don't understand.

Maybe that's just my flaw.  Maybe I can't just follow blindly.  I was a good Marine...but I was never a great one.  I never fully conformed.  If you're a natural born follower, that's OK.  Just keep these few things in mind:

Question everything.
Believe nothing.
Go with your gut.
Draw your own conclusions.
And lastly...if it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, and looks like a's probably a duck.

*yes. Those were blatant Star Trek references. Yes. I am a raging geek.

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