This piece was inspired by people who responded to I Don’t Do Slogans with humanity so rarely seen today.
I had to laugh when I realized your lovely feedback was for me—I thought surely the comments must be meant for someone else. ;o) As you can imagine, disdain is the default response to most of my efforts. Invariably absent from their replies is even a notion of counterargument on the merits.
I wanted to address their behavior by tying it into what @-8 L- wrote:
It’s discouraging to invest time and energy in thinking about social/political problems only to be shouted down or painted as something because one doesn’t 100% buy into the day’s slogan or ideological platform.
It’s maddening, I know. But there’s enormous benefit to be found in the face of rapid-fire ridicule. I spend very little time on social media (increasingly cutting myself off over the last few years). I no longer have news apps, email subscriptions, no Facebook app, and no Messenger. And as an extra line of defense to steer clear of the front lines of folly, I force myself to log into Facebook on the rare occasion I go there.
The daily deluge of regurgitated garbage emits a stench I can no longer stand.
I’m turning off our Crap is King culture and not letting any unworthy distractions get in the way of my goals. But every now and then something happens like George Floyd’s death, and right on cue comes the March of Folly in full battle regalia. I just feel the need to say something about it—to harness that energy in the moment. And the love the challenge of channeling my thoughts to a world that will gleefully swat them away in an instant.
From the first word to the last—and every effort to finetune in between, I know what awaits me. No matter the quality of my writing or the trueness of my intentions. No matter how long or short their “burden” is to read. Show them mountains of evidence and they will nitpick over pebbles. Not even a lifelong record of objective scrutiny and demand for the truth matters one molecule to hermetically-sealed minds.
They will never know the edifying experience in the willingness to be wrong—and the freedom you feel in the appreciation of those who correct you. They’ll never know the lifetime of potential they threw away in steadfastly refusing the finest of all gifts that never stop giving: The courage to change your mind. And they’ll never know or even care about all those who pay the price for their pride.
How can I remain calm in a sea of absurdity? I’ve been trying to navigate those waters for decades, and I finally found my way. I wrote that post with peace in my pursuit—as I will no longer waste even 60 seconds on anyone uninterested in healthy debate. In response to their obnoxious snippets of certitude in slavish service of their mindless aims, I will thank them for reading, wish them well, and go on my way.
As a bonus to my serenity, every once in a blue moon the sliver of hope I hang onto is revived, and thanks to liberated souls such as yourselves—today is one of those days.
By late summer of 1756 Adams had made up his mind about the future. . . . Beholding the night sky, “the amazing concave of Heaven sprinkled and glittering with stars,” he was “thrown into a kind of transport” and knew such wonders to be the gifts of God, expressions of God’s love. But greatest of all, he wrote, was the gift of an inquiring mind.
“But all the provisions that He has [made] for the gratification of our senses . . . are much inferior to the provision, the wonderful provision that He has made for the gratification of our nobler powers of intelligence and reason. He has given us reason to find out the truth, and the real design and true end of our existence.”
To a friend Adams wrote, “It will be hard work, but the more difficult and dangerous the enterprise, a higher crown of laurel is bestowed on the conqueror. . . . But the point is now determined, and I shall have the liberty to think for myself.”— John Adams