Tuesday, April 20, 2010

An Exchange of Ideas

A very good friend of mine expressed his concern that my political posts on Facebook were getting a bit too polarizing. That's unfortunate, because it's not my intent to place a wedge between free thinkers on opposite sides of the issues. I'm not sure when it happened in America, but we've somehow tumbled from a nation of ideas, in which folks gathered in taverns over a pint and discussed issues and theories, to a nation that forces each of us to choose sides and toss mud over a concrete wall.

I must admit my own guilt first. I've gotten caught up in the hyper-dramatization of of opposing viewpoints. Perhaps it's too much reality TV. I think, if America is to remain a great nation, it will be when individuals return to some state of open dialogue. We fought a war with real bullets so that we'd never have to return to such extremes again. But if we continue to build this wall between Americans who differ even slightly in opinion, I fear we are heading down that path again. Besides, you simply cannot get a decent bottle of ale on the battlefield.

What I find most concerning is that there are truly intelligent, even brilliant, people in this country who are not willing to voice their opinion for fear it may alienate those close to them. That is a tragedy. America was built on ideas. For the new generation of builders to suppress their gift of intellect is akin to a great artist fearful of displaying his work in public.

In the world of fiction writing, tension is the bond that holds a story together for two-hundred pages or more. It is the same in real life; without that intellectual tension, our minds stagnate and we end up a generation incapable of expressing ideas. If we go about our days discussing nothing more intellectually stimulating than the latest episode of American Idol or the Lotto jackpot, then that life transcript will end up on the reject pile within two sentences.  

If we cannot discuss our differences on the battlefield of ideas without reducing ourselves to public shunning, then America, like a novel with no tension, will slip off into mediocrity. As it stands, all sides are preaching to their respective choirs. How great is thy comfort zone.

So let's begin here. I'll post my thoughts on this here blog. I'm very conservative, so that's where my debate will always begin. For a good explanation of what that is, check out the Heritage Foundation "First Principles."   I also base my economic theory on that of the Austrian School of Economic Theory. I'm not an economist by any stretch, but I like the free market approach.

The rules (because it's my football and my backyard) are simple: comment with thoughtful responses, ones that you think will change my opinion (if you disagree) or support my opinion (if you agree). Once the debate is reduced to numerous exclamation points or ALL CAPS, we call a truce and move on. Fair 'nuff? Trust me, my friends, both those who agree and those who disagree, there is nothing more fearful to a tyrannical government than a society of thinking men and women who are willing to boldly voice their opinions.

Just ask a King named George.

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