Sunday, January 9, 2011

The Death of the Canary

In the wake of Congresswoman Giffords' tragic shooting, the so-called blogosphere has descended once again into madness. I really should say, "The blogosphere has further descended into madness."  It's already been pretty awful for some time now.

Today's Internet is a wonderful tool which allows anyone who wishes to avail him or herself of the tools, to publish a semi-professional looking newsletter or weblog about anything that suits him. This wonderful resource has given us such gems as "The Art of Manliness", Blog Talk Radio, Banjoquest, GeekDad and "Pirates, Man Your Women". It also gave us countless political blogs that attract small groups of true believers who use the cover of anonymity to say really nasty things about people and ideas they do not like.

Both sides of the current debate have their mentally unstable. I try not to get drawn into debates with them. It becomes apparent after very few passes that the person is operating on less than all cylinders or, as my Dad used to say, "A few bricks shy of a load."  Dad was a bricklayer in his halcyon days and loved his hod-carrier metaphors.

At some point, as it did in the United States in 1859, the insanity of the fringes overwhelms those of us who, under normal circumstances, would rather peacefully go about our business, raise our kids and go fishing ever once in a while.

They used to take canaries down into the mines with the working crews. Canaries are sensitive to poisonous gases and if the canary dropped off its perch, the miners knew to make a run for the surface if they wanted to live.

To me, this country's political canary has been looking a bit peeked lately. The hatred on both sides is beginning to spill over. The effect is much like what happened in my neighborhood during the David Koresh debacle at Waco. We lived less than an hour from the standoff. When they yielded to his demands and put his deluded ramblings on the air, we began to see a steady stream of schizophrenics and delusional paranoids, passing through our town on the way to Waco, drawn by the insanity that was happening there.

That did not turn out well for anyone involved. Both the feds and the people in the compound were sucked into an escalating struggle, fed by outside agitators and media frenzy till the whole thing literally caught fire.

The appearance of support for delusional thinking only deepens the psychosis of the person thinking delusionally. Encouraged, the deluded can become violent and others may be drawn into his delusion in the ensuing violence and mayhem.  Unfortunately, we face, in today's political discourse, the same problem my church had with David Koresh and Islam has with Al Quaeda.  Fanatics cast themselves as "holier than thou". They prey upon our doubts about ourselves to try and make us feel guilty that we aren't doing enough. We may, as my church did with Mr, Koresh, throw the bum out, or, as Islam is apparently doing with its jihadists, feed the crocodile hoping he doesn't turn and eat us. Either way, fanatics will burn you.  My church got bomb threats when Koresh set himself and his followers on fire and we had nothing to do with him. Peaceful Muslims get tarred with the same brush as the terrorists because they fear to speak out and get themselves blown up for their trouble. 11000000

Fanatics hit us with accusations one upon another.  "Why don't you help get out the vote?"  "Why don't you write more letters to your Congressman?"  "Why don't you make some signs and get out to the rally?"  "Why don't you care about Obama's birth certificate?" "Why don't you care about the polar bears?" "How can you shop at Wal-Mart?"

They draw people into their fanaticism by painting themselves as more righteous, more caring and more courageous. They want us to feel guilty for not believing as they do. It doesn't help that the country is in deep trouble right now. It doesn't help that we have external enemies who would see us fail and will help in any way they can. These factors only make us more vulnerable to they hysteria bred by fanatics.

The canary is wobbling on its perch. If we don't want to wind up dead on the floor of the mine, it's time we head for the surface. We were headed for this during the Carter administration. I remember feeling every bit this discouraged and at odds with my fellow countryman over the direction we were taking.  Ronald Reagan led the country to the surface for a time. He was a breath of fresh air for most of us.  Even though a lot of people balked and bad-mouthed him, he stayed relentlessly positive. We need a leader of that caliber and I don't care if it's a he or a she, a Democrat or Republican, a Christian, Jew or whatever.  We need a change in the way we talk to each other and I'm not just talking to my liberal friends.  I'm talking to the folks who publish some of the vicious stuff I've seen from people claiming to be Tea Party members.

I'm warning you, you come to a rally with that garbage on your signs and we'll send you elsewhere with that filth.  There's no place for poisonous talk like that - especially not from conservatives and Christians.

We must recapture our civility if we hope to win the debate. A good share of Ronald Reagan's power was his unfailingly good-natured attitude, his graciousness and respect for his opponents.  It was the silk glove over the iron fist and it made all the difference.

So, how about lets take it down a notch everybody? Let's get some air in here. Let's resuscitate the canary. Let's treat others the way we want to be treated. A very wise carpenter once said that.

It's good advice......


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