Saturday, October 24, 2009

This is Not a Blog Post

I don't know what they're called, but there seem to be a lot of them around these days. And I'm sure if I went back in time, I'd find a lot of them at any time I elected to stop at. It's a good thing that time doesn't exist, except within our own heads.

What I'm talking about are people who are convinced, beyond any reasoning, that the times in which they live, the country in which they live, or the people with whom they are forced to live, are the stupidest times, countries or people who have ever existed since a) That bolt of lightning struck that little pool of hydrocarbons, thus instigating the chemical and electric chain reactions that brought life to this planet, or b) God said that it was bad for Man to be alone on the Earth.

And, as whenever I get to thinking about these people, I also begin thinking of Rene Magritte. I happen to like most of his work, certainly that which does not involve naked ladies. The Son of Man, depicted here, is my favorite, because of the obvious incongruities -- and the not-so-obvious ones, certainly his left arm bending backwards rather than forwards, as if it were attached backward, is amusing and a bit disconcerting at the same time.

So how do I tire these negative-vibe merchants in with Magritte?

It's all in the perception.

It's really easy to say that, for example, we have the stupidest politicians of any era today. That's certainly been said of George W. Bush. While I agree that some of the decisions he made were not correct, I have a hard time with those who insist ours is the true Era of Stupid. I am, of course, referring to the book I'm reading at the moment, The Making of the President 1968, which details the acrimonious events that led to Richard Nixon being elected in that year. No one back then had a corner on smarts, and there was plenty of stupidity flying around as well.

What goes on is this: Folks are attuned to current stupidity, and tend to look at the past through rose-colored glasses, recalling only the highs, not the lows. John F. Kennedy was a great president who did, well, he did a lot of great things. He started us on track to the Moon! He started the Peace Corps! Vietnam? That was Nixon. Wasn't it? (Nixon, of course, is the exception. Everyone remembers Watergate. Few remember the Kitchen Debate, China, Egypt, what have you.) Obama, currently, is having the opposite effect. He can do no wrong. Which if, of course, a fallacy. Obama at the moment seems intent on creating a Nixonesque Enemies List which, while being human, is not presidential.

In other words, we've all got that surrealistic apple floating in front of our faces, blocking our vision to everything except what they eye can catch beyond the apple, and that's not all that much. And at the same time, our left arm is on backwards and WE DON'T NOTICE AT ALL.

There is a scriptural reference to that, of course, which is bound to get somebody out there upset:
And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?

Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye?

Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye.
(That's Matthew 7: 3-5.)

I confess to being a hypocrite at times. Some times I see the bad rather than the good, not realizing what that says of me and my perception of the world. This is one of the reasons I try to read a lot, because I know, at the foundation of all things, I'm pretty ignorant.

The Internet, in many ways, aids this perception, as people of all stripes are more easily capable of finding other like-minded people and excluding other perceptions of reality. The apples in front of our faces are getting bigger.

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