Posts Tagged With: Things to do when bored

Let’s Discuss Politics!! But first…

I know this is going to be hard to believe, but I actually had a really interesting and enjoyable conversation about politics last night.  What makes this even more shocking is that the conversation was with someone who has drastically different views than I do.  We actually disagreed, but managed to do so in a rational and respectful manner.

I bet you didn’t even know that was possible…  Typically the second politics comes up in a conversation everyone involved gets defensive and the discussion quickly deteriorates into an argument.  An argument in which both sides refuse to even listen to or consider the perspective of the other, choosing instead to talk louder and louder to try and drown out the other person’s voice.

I should know.  I’ve tried to have many such conversations, and I have very rarely succeeded.  There are a few things that bother me about this, not the least of which is the fact that I really enjoy a good, intelligent political discussion and I find that I can so rarely engage in one.  Most political conversation is completely unproductive and not worth the time.

Which brings me to the most important reason this situation bothers me: the discussion is typically completely unproductive.  See, in my opinion, conversation should have benefits other than just the benefits that come from social contacts in general.  Political conversation… honest, open, political conversation… conversation where both sides are actually willing to consider the possibility that they may be wrong, has the potential to make a real difference in our society and for our country.  Generally in political discussions I find myself up against an opponent who spews biased nonsense with no ability to back up their opinions with facts or even with thoughts of their own.

We are each individually responsible for helping to make this country great by being involved in our political system, and everything we do to be involved… protesting, writing our representatives, even just showing up at the polls and voting intelligently… it all makes a difference.  We all must work together to make a difference and to find a compromise that will work for the country as a whole.  If only we could make that happen.

So, what is it that is getting in the way of productive political discussion among individual citizens?

I’m sure there are a number of factors, but I think I have pinpointed a big one. While resolving it probably won’t entirely solve the problem, it could be a good starting point if we could get enough people to understand it and put it into action.

We all have to stop trusting the media and learn to do our own research.  I don’t care what your favorite news source is, it’s not entirely neutral.  Everyone has a bias, the only difference is the extent of that bias or how extreme the views of that source are.  The bias, as much as we’d like for it not to be, is ALWAYS THERE.  And I am not saying you have to completely shun your favorite news source, they all provide some useful information and perspectives in this seemingly never ending search for the facts.

I’m saying that you should be reading ALL of the sources.  Not all at once, of course.  Not even all of the content on all of the sources.  Who has the time for that? Personally I read CNN, BBC, Fox News, Huffington Post, New York Times, Washington Post, and my local news website.  And I watch… Jon Stewart!  But there’s also ABC, MSNBC, and any number of other websites you can check out.

No matter what sources you choose, I truly believe that when coming to conclusions regarding political issues, you should be looking to see what the various sources say, and you should be comparing what those sources say to the actual facts of the issue at hand.

I know… I know… sounds crazy.

But since, as I noted above, so many people just don’t know where to start.  I have put together what I hope is a simple to follow, common sense guide to researching political issues and articles.  Read it.  Comment on it.  Help me improve it or expand it.

Looking forward to discussing politics with you!!

Categories: Government & Politics | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Googling an old friend

I wasn’t feeling well for most of the day today.  So when I arrived home from work, I made myself a quick sandwich and headed straight for bed.

I read for a few minutes, then I fell asleep.

Woke up and read for a few minutes more, and fell asleep again…

Then I woke up again… and grabbed my laptop.

I did all my normal laptopy stuff, checked my email, checked my Facebook, commented on a few things, had a quick chat with my kid (yes, I Facebook chat with my kid from the next room)… then I just sat here in bed, still groggy and tired, feeling icky, and realized I just didn’t know what to do next.

Didn’t feel like checking the news.  Didn’t feel like blogging (at least at THAT moment I didn’t).

What to do… what to do…

So I looked up an old friend.  I don’t know what prompted me to do this, it was sort of a spur of the moment decision.  The friendship didn’t end well at all, she was particularly nasty to me, leaving me feeling used and abused, worthless, small.  And as much as I would like to be able to say that I am strong enough to just move on and not let it bother me, the truth is that it really does still bother me.

So I Googled her, and I found her blog.  And I read a few entries.  And what I found was what appeared to be a happy, confident, amazingly intelligent (to the point of being obviously somewhat arrogant), self-assured person with big dreams.

And as much as I would like to be able to say that I’m thrilled to find, through her online presence, that she is happy and doing well, that she is engaged and has had another child, that she is still in school and working on a graduate degree… the truth is, I’m ashamed to admit… part of me was hoping I would find a miserable wretch.

Why would I want that?  It’s a horrible thing to wish on another human being.  And I don’t really wish that, but in a way it would be nice.  Maybe I wish others had as hard of a time letting go of friendships as I do.  Maybe, just maybe, I was hoping that I would find some indication, however small, of the tiniest bit of guilt over what she did to me, even though I realize, of course, that if any such guilt exists, and it probably doesn’t, it would not be evident on her blog, especially not a few years later. Maybe I had hoped that her ability to so easily and cruelly dump on a supposed friend was a character flaw that would come back to haunt her down the road.

Actually, I think that’s it.  After she was so horrible to me I think I was hoping Karma would have bitten her in the behind.  There is a little voice in my head telling me that someone like that doesn’t deserve to be that happy, that successful.

So now I sit here, still not feeling well, still sleepy and in need of massive amounts of rest, but instead of sleeping I’m thinking of her.  I’m wishing ill on her while simultaneously kicking myself for thinking such horrible thoughts about a person who, despite how badly she may have treated me, deserves every bit of happiness and success she can find in this life.

I admire her for her strength and for her perseverance through the difficulties life has thrown at her.  Through young motherhood and a failed marriage, the adversity she faces in her communities for being an atheist in the bible belt, the stresses of trying to earn a graduate degree while caring for young children…  she is still plugging away and looking at the bright side of life.  She still has these big dreams and she’s going for it; I have a feeling she will let nothing get in her way.

Yet I am also very much aware that a quick Google search of a person isn’t going to give me the full story, and a person who seems, in their blog, to be happy, successful, driven, and optimistic, may actually be watching his or her life fall apart around them in reality.  Most people aren’t quite as honest online as I am.  So my looking to her blog for insight into her life is really quite ridiculous, and I am fully cognizant of that, so why do I let it bother me so?

I think I need to admit that I have identified in myself a character flaw.  Something that I need to work on.  An inability to move on when someone has treated me badly, an expectation that those who have hurt me so terribly will suffer themselves at some point for the pain they have inflicted, and a tendency to obsess over the past, to keep thinking back to those people and situations that have hurt me, and to try and make sense of them, make them *right* in some way, or find a way to feel vindicated.

We all have people in our past who have hurt us; I tend to have more than most, unfortunately.  Sometimes I think I would like to reach out to these people, see if a connection can be reestablished, heal those old wounds.  But I’m always met with fear that those wounds will be torn open again, rather than healed, and I’m not sure I can handle that.

Categories: All About Ellen Cabot | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

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