Saturday, July 4, 2015

America the Great

The United States of America is having another birthday. It's a time to reflect on the history of a great nation. Some of it we may not be proud of, but each bit has led up to today. The United States is constantly evolving. As we think about the good, bad, and the ugly of America, we should also think about what we as Americans can do to make this country better. I have a few ideas that could help in general and aren't necessarily just for Americans. I will include American-ish examples, but if you're from China or England or Chile some if not all of these ideas could still help. Maybe not if you're in France though. Not sure I can fix that much hate. I'm JK Rowling (Just Kidding ROTFL). Anyway here we go.

Question Everything

If you care about something, question everything about it. Don't take anything for granted. Too often I see people accepting what they are told like it's chocolate ice cream. How do you know it's chocolate ice cream? That could be poop.

For example I have spoken with people who deny climate change and refuse to believe it is real. They say that I don't know the science behind it therefore I'm wrong to believe it is real. So I ask questions. Many times they are unable to provide any documentation themselves. If they are so passionate about a subject then why can they not provide proof? When I do receive links to articles that claim to provide proof of climate change being a hoax, I check the source of the information. Who wrote it? Who do they work for? I haven't been given a link to a single independent scientist that studies climate change who denies that it exists. The sources of these articles are nearly all paid by companies that would feel the impact of further legislative restrictions to publish opinions that deny climate change. Sorry sir, I will not accept your chocolate ice cream for I can tell for a fact that it is not cold and it smells like poop.

Demand More From News Organizations

I have seen this first hand in recent weeks where people have demanded to know the truth about a subject to the point of forcing news organizations to cover a topic. Yes I'm talking about #WhoIsBurningBlackChurches. The outrage over several churches burning down led to that hashtag to trend on twitter. Now Al Jezeera has even covered this story, but there are several other news organizations that still have not. That includes a certain news station who framed the SCOTUS decision on gay marriage as an attack on Christianity. It baffles me that they wouldn't cover this at all since they claim to be defenders of Christianity. I can't make this stuff up.

The point isn't to hammer on one news organization or another, but rather to point out that we have the power to dictate news coverage. Yes you WILL cover Godzilla having tea with the Loch Ness Monster! Most news organizations today aren't trying to inform you, they are trying to make money. If you want to be informed then you have to demand more from them. If they can get away with reporting outright lies when someone pays them to without losing viewers then guess what they are going to do? Fox won that battle in court, news organizations don't have to tell the truth anymore. I wish that was a joke. It is now up to us to hold them accountable because no one else will.

Demand More From Your Representatives

Politicians have been lying to us for years, but can we really count on news organizations to hold them accountable anymore? Liberal media will attack conservatives and the conservative media will attack everyone else. Both sides will ignore or dismiss the other side's points no matter how valid they might be. It's like watching two small children who don't know how to fight slap at the each other's arms. If you support any politician then you should be the harshest critic of that politician as well. Don't let them slide on the tough issues. How will they be prepared to duel with the opposing party if you keep using Nerf guns?

For example, I would like to go back to the issue of climate change. 97% of scientists who study climate have agreed that it is real. Some of our representatives still deny that it is real. The pope said it was one of the great moral issues of our time. The response from one such Catholic climate change denier is to tell the pope to "leave science to the scientists". Clearly they aren't listening to the scientists either, so who are they listening to? That is something the average supporter will not have an answer for.

We all need to let our representatives know that we will hold them accountable. We need to remind them that they need our votes and if they don't represent us properly then we'll take those votes to the other side. That doesn't mean voting along the party line all the time. Partisan politics needs to end. We all reside in a grey area, and it's time to destroy the black and white house that partisan politics lives in. Where's that wolf that used to blow down houses? Social Media is a powerful tool that cannot be ignored any longer. It's a tool that we all can use to get our point across as long as we unite in a common cause.

Discuss Don't Argue

There is a big difference here. A discussion is a give and take between two people aimed at finding the best way or to find the truth of things. It's an exchange of information. Exploring the tough questions is part of it too. You might not have all of the answers, and the person you are discussing an issue with might ask a question that you hadn't considered before. Like how does the introduction of Skittles effect how the United Nations would handle the problem?

It's OK to disagree. You don't have to pull out the ninja sword you bought on Ebay when the other person doesn't bend to your will. Keeping an open mind and actually listening is paramount. All too often people will devolve into shouting matches for no reason with neither side listening to the other. Name calling is not a valid point in any discussion. When you begin name calling in a discussion you have conceded defeat and have rendered all of your valid points moot. Do not pass Go. Do not collect a rainbow.

Realize that You are Not Always Right

I have no woman in my life right now, so I can say this... No one is right 100% of the time. Even I sometimes forget to clean up after myself leaving Legos all over the floor of my blog for the unsuspecting to step on. I apologize in advance if you "find" one with your bare feet. When you enter into a discussion with someone you are not always right. As much as you may try to know every aspect of everything, someone out there knows more about the subject you are discussing at any given moment. Also there is always the possibility that portions of what you assume are true might not be. How sure are you of the facts? 90%? 50%? 10%? Where did you get your information? Are you able to present verifiable proof? How reliable is your source?

I have been in so many arguments where the person I am trying to discuss an issue with would rather win the argument than know the truth of things. I've been called an idiot before simply because the other person was too lazy to do any research. It's OK to be wrong. You CAN change your mind about a subject. Just because you are wrong on one thing doesn't mean you will be wrong forever for everything. It's OK. Grab a Care Bear that you can snuggle with until you feel better about being wrong on something that probably doesn't even matter to you. What were we even arguing about anyway?

Happy Independence Day!

Well everyone it's time to say goodbye for now. July 4 I will be live tweeting as I watch Team America: World Police. For anyone who wishes to join me, I will be hitting the play button at 2 PM EST and using the hashtag #America and #Merica.

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