This and that: Some quick takes on various hot topics
Today we have a rundown of several brief editorials. Bear with me. So many topics; such limited space.
NO REAL EXPERTISE — In today’s world celebrities and star athletes speak out often on various issues. No crime in that. But the plain truth is most of them aren’t qualified to speak with authority on the subject at hand; nor do they have a level of expertise about the topics they wish to address. Actors should act. Musicians should perform. Athletes should play ball. Outside of their professional domain, their opinions shouldn’t count any more than yours or mine.
FREE SPEECH — That is not to say that they shouldn’t speak up when they want. In fact, any customer, client, consumer, or citizen can speak his or her mind on any issue. On the other hand, anyone can also reserve the right to place little value on what is said, or can choose to ignore the message altogether.
SORTING IT OUT — When considering the opinion of a prominent individual, we should get past the fact that a wellknown person is speaking and simply ask if what they are saying makes sense. Scrutinizing a person’s claims isn’t a horrible transgression. In fact, it is wise and prudent. Quite frankly, we should never be duped into thinking that anyone with a microphone or a platform is a reliable source. Being one of the loudest voices does not make for a monopoly on wisdom.
NAME-CALLING — Along the same lines, it appears we have abandoned the notion of legitimate debate on the issues. Instead, many people in the public eye resort to using insults or calling people names when they disagree, using labels such as bigot, Communist, fascist, Islamophobe, white supremacist, racist, sexist, left-wing wacko, or altright. In addition, when people cannot defend their views, they may stereotype others, or try to stir up negative emotions, or try to incite fear among listeners. As responsible citizens, we should not pay attention to those who resort to those tactics alone without advancing their views through rational dialogue.
PRO FOOTBALL — As a youngster I was fascinated with National Football League games and I continued to follow them closely all my life. But as the NFL delves deeper and deeper into social causes and political issues they are losing my respect, not to mention millions of viewers. A friend of mine recently said, “I just want to watch the game. When I tune in to football on TV I don’t want to see all of that crazy stuff. I turn on the game to get away from all that!” It’s true. Traditionally, an athletic contest has provided a break from worldly concerns. But thanks to outspoken athletes (some of them misguided) we have controversy shoved in our faces with each telecast. It is no wonder that pro football viewership is on the decline.
TROUBLES ON CAMPUS — In a similar matter, the perception on a number of college campuses today is that many students feel they have a cause for which to stage an unruly protest. If I did that as a young college student my dad would have simply told me, “You’re not there to start a revolution. You’re there to get an education. If you’re not going to do that, you need to pack up your things, come home, and go to work.”
BAD GUIDANCE — One of the reasons some college students may pitch a fit is that they have often been given unwise advice. One prominent politician (who will remain nameless here) told college-age crowds that they are to be the “disrupters” and that “it is all about you.” That, quite honestly, is foolish. As parents, we don’t want our children to be disrupters. In fact, it doesn’t matter if we are talking about a five-year old or a teenager, good parents do their best to make sure their sons and daughters are just the opposite. In addition, if we really thought it through, we would never want our children to have a mindset that it’s all about them. To feed that line of thinking to younger generations is to create a monster.
YOUTHFUL DIALOGUE — Furthermore, everyone should understand that when college students are ranting and raving it makes an older guy like me less likely to listen to their concerns. Don’t get me wrong. I appreciate young people and always found it rewarding to work with them. But sometimes amidst their unbridled enthusiasm they create a perception of themselves that is less than favorable. College students should take note: marching and throwing rocks and setting things on fire tend to make people think less of you. The older generations expect you to hold down honest work and talk as if you understand how the real world works. When you begin to walk and talk and act like a grown-up, it is amazing how much respect will come your way.
PUBLIC SCHOOLS — Have you ever noticed that almost everyone has an idea of how a school district should operate? It’s true. And people feel that way because they once attended a school themselves. Being a former student, however, doesn’t really make one fully qualified to know how to run a school. To really understand the entire picture and to learn what is best for schools, you should ask a teacher. Or a principal. Or — here is a novel idea — ask students. Only then can one begin to fully understand what today’s schools need to be about.
A POSITIVE NOTE — The topics of today’s column remind us that there are many issues that the country faces today. But as Americans we should remember that while there are many things that can potentially divide us, there are also many things that can unite us: the blessings of liberty, the great heritage of the nation, the love of family, the pride of our communities, the dignity of each individual, and the good will of our faith.
A POSITIVE FINALE — Recently I mentioned researching Martin Luther and the impact he had on the world starting in 1517. The late professor John Dillenberger wrote of how Luther believed that Christians, no matter what their vocation, can approach life with faith. Dillenberger wrote that, according to Luther, we can “face with confidence the conflicts and ambiguities of life and hope to be used by God…” He concluded, “This is possible because through the gift of faith we have learned to trust not in our own virtue, but in Him who rules over all and who alone can bring good out of evil.”