October 17, 2007
We’ve all got our personal causes to support, beliefs to believe, and guiding principles govern our lives. Without them, we’re doing nothing without a reason. For a while, I considered myself to be doing nothing without a reason. Maybe laziness. Or apathy.
It’s been pretty amusing getting back into the thick of things when it comes to the big two: politics and religion. The two that when a discussion breaks out online you can usually see a fight coming a mile away or everyone getting really quiet/awkward. The two that we’re encouraged NOT to discuss at work because people have differing ideas.
I was uninvolved with politics and I didn’t exactly care about religion for quite some time. I’m back in my involvement. I’m reading lots of news online and watching The Colbert Report daily. “News” shows like The Daily Show or The O’Reilly Factor aren’t worth watching.
It makes me upset that typical evangelism doesn’t really apply to politics and religion. Typical evangelism would be just spreading the good news about a new restaurant, a TV show, or a rockin’ new band.
For example, a friend says:
Dude… you should listen to this band. They’re called Hurt. Their new album is pretty awesome, give it a try.
Or even better, you say:
Hmm… who is this band? I like their sound and this song is pretty awesome.
With television and politics you get the opposite. Bully tactics, regardless of what side of the political spectrum you’re on, make us very very stupid. They also drive us further apart when we aren’t really that different. Rarely do you see a political show whose true goal is to have an open dialog about politics. You have omnipotent host vs. poorly-spoken non-representative extremist member of political party. Bill O’Reilly is notorious for this, but what a lot of O’Reilly haters don’t do is point out when someone like John Stewart does the exact same thing.
The shows don’t create an environment for an open idea exchange, they just create an environment of idiocy and bullying. They drive left and right further apart, creating more galvanized views which will refuse to unite for a common good.
Agreeing with bully tactics ultimately makes you stupid. Bullying takes something like the Holy Trinity, which isn’t exactly an easy thing to understand and reduces it to a yes/no question. It takes an idea like socialized medicine and makes anyone who says “we just can’t afford it, we need something more economically sound” a child hating villain.
Unfortunately, bullying gets attention. Making someone who doesn’t agree with you look like an idiot is very easy to do… and it gets pageviews/ratings from people who like to say “me too!” and “haha”.