All too frequently, there seems to be an inverse relationship between how strident a person is in expressing their opinions, and how much they know.
That is the subject of today’s 10-minute episode.
I became a Broncos fan by an accident of history. My step-father, Charles (Chuck) Warner, bought season tickets in 1960; I have been in those seats on and off since then. I have added to that accidental affiliation by listening to the homeboy analysts and announcers, seeking out fellow Broncos fans, and believing everything evil, mean, wicked and nasty about their opponents, especially their main rivals. When a bad call goes against us, I yell, “We was robbed!” When a bad call goes our way, my reaction is, “That’s football.” I yell like a fan(atic) when the Broncos run onto the field, and boo when their rivals emerge. When a Broncos player does something good in the community, I see him as a hometown hero. I have no idea what other teams are doing in the community–nor do I care.
I have never done even 5 seconds of research on why the team was founded, how it compares to other teams in terms of social impact, community responsibility or how the Broncos ownership and management sees the role of the team in the community as compared to other teams. I am a fan. A fanatic. And I love it. I was lazy in the selection of my forever team, the Broncos, but that did not deter my from being downright passionate about “my team.” Hence, the term lazy passion. I have a lazy passion for the Broncos.
All of that seems like harmless fun to me. At worst. At best, it is a fun, healthy attachment that I share enthusiastically with my family. But.
Isn’t that exactly how many of us–most of us–become attached to either a party or a political affiliation? It all starts with an accident of history; our family, where we went to school, the geography where we live. Then we add to that initial accident by creating reinforcement through the friends we choose, the news sources we seek out and headlines and cliches that we choose to believe and remember. No deep thought, no comparisons, no introspection, and no real challenges to our initial affiliation.
We cheer those who are “on our side” and boo all the others. Worse, some of us are beginning to even deny access to the field to the other teams. Haven’t we all heard, “Hate speech is not free speech.” What that really means is speech that I dislike, that I hate, should not be allowed. And the increasing use of threats like “By any means necessary” and “Political violence.” show that an increasing number of people want to substitute “correct speech” for the term “free speech.” Imagine for a moment the First Amendment protecting approved speech rather than free speech. And isn’t denying others free speech the same as not allowing the other football team to take the field? As I form that thought, it seems ridiculous on the face of it. And it is ridiculous. And it is no different than denying others the right to take the field with their thoughts and opinions. This shows how people who think and act like this have the same type of lazy passion for their causes as I have for my favorite football team.
What happened to, “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it” -Evelyn Beatrice Hall writing in Friends of Voltaire.
There are people, and how I applaud them, who gather pertinent facts, and apply non agenda-based reasoning before they take a position on a political or financial issue. And they are the ones who tend to be much less strident, much less demeaning of other viewpoints, and are far more willing to listen. Why is that?
Let me share one of my favorite stories, a story that may or may not be true, but has a lot of truth it. After a battle in WWI, a young shavetail, a 2nd Lieutenant, was having a post-battle reaction, shaking badly. He fumbled for a cigarette, and was looking for a match. Not finding one on his person, he saw a fellow officer off to his right, facing away, and tapped him on the shoulder, “Hey Mac, got a light?” When the officer turned around, “Mac” turned out to be the fearsome General of the Armies John Joseph “Black Jack” Pershing. The young lieutenant fainted dead away, and awoke to see five star General Pershing gently rocking him awake. As the Lieutenant was trying to stammer an apology, Pershing said, “It’s okay, Lieutenant. You can borrow matches from Generals, but never from a Major.” His point, of course, is that Majors do not have the self-confidence, the maturity, to react reasonably when a subordinate asks for something like a match. Generals are mature enough to handle that with grace and aplomb.
It is exactly the same in discussions and political dialog. The people who have studied their positions, who regularly challenge their own thinking, are the ones with enough self-confidence, enough emotional maturity, to react reasonably when they come across ideas and principles with which they have fundamental disagreements. Note, I am not saying these relatively calm people lack depth, conviction and passion. Quite the opposite. They are committed, convicted and convincing. Just not bombastic, and overbearing. The people who embrace their political opinions and beliefs with the same lack of thought and study with which I embrace the Broncos, are often the ones who are the loudest, and rely on cliches and insults to make their points. Lacking the comfort, the support, of a well researched position, they rely on shouting and arm waving.
There is nothing lazy about my passion for Revolution 2.0™. This is not just a podcast, this is a cri de coeur, it is a cry of my heart. And I am deeply privileged to share this mission with you.
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Will Luden, coming to you from 7,200’ in Colorado Springs.