Change of season, season of change

By Ken Frederic | Dec 03, 2019

Four weeks remain in the second decade of this new millennium. So far, we have survived the Y2K crisis, the acid rain crisis, the dot com crisis, multiple climate change crises, and the opioid crisis. We have even survived the incessant, insulting, hyperbolic headlines proclaiming them. Some say we have all but completely abandoned the moral and social norms that restrained the darker instincts of human behavior throughout the preceding millennia. But have we?

A lot has changed in these last 20 years, and nothing changed more dramatically than the way we get information and communicate with each other. The lie that once traveled around the world while the truth was lacing its boots now does so before the truth even thinks of its boots. Social media has shortened the timeline from hours to microseconds. But because lies spread faster and wider now does not mean more people are liars. It has also been said that the vilest writer will have readers and the greatest liar will have believers. But our pervasive fake news and hateful rhetoric does not mean people are more gullible or viler than ever before. The vile and dishonest just have the means to spread their toxic intellectual waste faster and maybe further.

We might do well to remember, this holiday season, those long-past decades when we were children. When family gathered, we listened. When we spoke, it was with respect and we did not interrupt others. Most of us also had an Aunt Mildred or Uncle Joe who did none of that and dominated the conversation both while present and after they mercifully left. After they were gone, we might be excused from the adult conversations that followed, but we still overheard and learned that a thunderous, adamant delivery produced neither agreement nor respect.

We would all do well to recall those unintended results. What was once just a private thought can now be posted in an instant. Anger, frustration, arrogance, and ignorance are not new, but the opportunity for reflection between thoughtless composition and delivery is gone. Thomas Swift observed that a falsehood will fly while the truth limps and once the people have been deceived, it’s too late for the truth. The lie has had its effect.

That is a cynical view of people, but the behavior of individuals and institutions today surely confirms that same cynicism informs much of what the media and individuals publish and broadcast. We must become more discerning consumers and more restrained, reflective speakers. Truth does not need to be shouted, seasoned with insults, or delivered with abuse. Name-calling and insults are the last resort of those who’ve failed on substance. We can be better.

The coming season will, hopefully, be a time of peaceful reflection and an opportunity, if we take it, for introspection while spending a lot less time with our devices and more time with people we know, like, love, respect and trust. For the lucky ones, whose families are not scattered across the country or the globe, there will be reunions. For those lucky enough to be part of a church community or a secular service community, there will be charitable works, fellowship, and conversations about purpose, enduring values, and for which we should be thankful. For others, it can be a time to join such a community and share the experience of making a positive difference for someone less fortunate.

In these things, we can, if we choose, focus less on ourselves and more on others, not to change them but to change ourselves into better people, better friends, and better neighbors by serving others’ needs. Perhaps we might once again learn that changing ourselves to be more what we would wish to be is easier and more satisfying than seeking to change others to what we would have them be.

Another View is a Maine Press Association award-winning column written by Midcoast conservative citizens/writers Jan Dolcater, Ken Frederic, Paul Ackerman, Doc Wallace and Dale Landrith Sr.


Comments (4)
Posted by: Ronald Horvath | Dec 05, 2019 15:02

You may, Steve, have just hit the conservative nail on the head.  If it hasn't affected him then Mr. Frederic -and all conservatives- considers it not important enough to care about.  Or as a wiser man once said:

 

"The modern conservative is engaged in one of man's oldest exercises in moral philosophy; that is, the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness." James K. Galbraith



Posted by: Stephen Betts | Dec 05, 2019 13:59

Ken,

You may have survived the opioid crisis but tens of thousands of our sons, daughters, brothers, sisters, mothers and fathers have not survived. I think that comment was extremely flippant on a matter that has claimed the lives of so many in our communities.

Steve Betts



Posted by: Kevin Riley | Dec 05, 2019 12:57

"we have survived the Y2K crisis'

You're welcome!



Posted by: Ronald Horvath | Dec 05, 2019 11:29

Just when you think our conservative cabal can't sink any deeper into their self-dug grave of hypocrisy they come up with this.


"Name-calling and insults are the last resort of those who’ve failed on substance."

Really, Ken?  Did you not even pause when writing that sentence to take just a tiny bit of the "opportunity for reflection between thoughtless composition and delivery?" How about some self-reflection?  No? I suppose not, now that your party is led (ironic term) by the most insulting, name-calling, depraved vulgarian in our nation's political history history.   In all honesty, do you really think you have any room what so ever to preach to the masses about personal  behavior?  "Honesty?"  What am I saying.

"The vile and dishonest just have the means to spread their toxic intellectual waste faster and maybe further."

Oh, of course, such as from the bully pulpit or the oval office or on Twitter at three in the morning.  Or maybe from the seat of a congressional committee in order to obstruct the badly needed justice for which the constitution cries out.  All come from the conservative side of the aisle, which is becoming well known for having "completely abandoned the moral and social norms that restrained the darker instincts of human behavior." Really, Ken, I couldn't have described the American right wing better.  Even some Republicans have had enough.

"Today's Republican politicians are spineless, rotten to the core, without virtue, without any level of human integrity, devoid of self respect, without courage and without the moral compass to recognize their own malevolence." -David Jolly, former Republican Rep. from Florida

"In fact, young people have made up their mind about the Republican Party, that it’s kind of the dumb party.” -George Will

"Yet at this moment in America’s history when the democracy to which my father pledged himself and the Constitution that he swore to uphold, and did faithfully uphold, are being degraded and chipped away at by a sneering, irreverent man who traffics in bullying and dishonesty, you stay silent...  If you are going to stand silent as America is dismantled and dismembered, as democracy is thrown onto the ash heap of yesterday, shame on you... But don’t use my father’s name on the way down.”
-Patti Davis, the daughter of former President Ronald Reagan


"I'm a lifelong Republican, but the Donald Trump surge proves that every bad thing Democrats have ever said about the Republican party is basically true."

“The current GOP still has a few resemblances to the party of old — it still cuts taxes and supports conservative judges. But a vote for the GOP in November is also a vote for egregious obstruction of justice, rampant conflicts of interest, the demonization of minorities, the debasement of political discourse, the alienation of America’s allies, the end of free trade and the appeasement of dictators.‘
“Like postwar Germany and Japan, the Republican Party must be destroyed before it can be rebuilt.”
-Max Boot, conservative historian

Well, there's little I can add to all that except to say I agree with most or all of it.  I'm sure you won't but it's becoming more and more clear to a majority of Americans that the right will say and do anything to retain some semblance of political power even when the arc of history is pulling away from them.  I think it's telling that our local conservatives can now not even bring themselves to mention trump in their writings.  I suppose it hard enough to claim that you have "beliefs" and "principles" despite the obvious evidence to the contrary on the evening news every night.  After all when you're led by a fool, it's almost impossible not to look foolish.



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