This and that: Some quick takes on var­i­ous hot top­ics

Siloam Springs Herald Leader - - NEWS - David Wil­son — David Wil­son, EdD, of Springdale, is a writer, con­sul­tant and pre­sen­ter, who grew up in Arkansas but worked 27 years in ed­u­ca­tion in Mis­souri. You may e-mail him at dwnotes@hot­mail.com. The opin­ions ex­pressed are those of the au­thor.

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.”

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