Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Out in the Real World

"Many writers do little else but sit in small rooms recalling the real world." -Annie Dillard I write these posts from a regrettably uncomfortable chair in a very cozy study with a lush view outside my window and a strong cup of $12/pound coffee sitting at my elbow. I read a lot of news online, in magazines, on blogs, and in my local daily newspaper. When I begin to go stir crazy, I ride my bicycle three miles around the neighborhood...and sit back down. My "real world" exposure is mostly in runs to the grocery store, emails and phone calls with like-minded friends, and the tidbits my husband brings home at the end of the day. Here's his report from yesterday, as he traveled from Austin to Colorado: Flew to Denver today next to a woman who told me that although she really didn't like McCain, she was not voting for Obama because he was going to be indicted soon for his association with Rezko and Ayers... Then told me about how irresponsibly the Democrats had been running up the national debt. Next she went on to say how criminal it was that all the fat cats were walking away with millions in our economic crisis. Then she told me how she was supporting her mom now because she (mom) had been impoverished by medical bills because she could not afford insurance...but she (the woman) thought a national health care plan was a really bad idea. I commented that I had grown up on national health care in the US military and she agreed that it had been really good when she was in the Army too...but reminded me that it was really bad in Canada where people have to wait in line to see a doctor...like she did when she was on a voluntary HMO (Kaiser) when she lived in Oregon. She concluded that what she really wanted to see was for McCain to croak quickly after the election so Palin could be president. "She would be a great president. I don't think she really needs to know anything...she has great common sense...that's what a president really needs." Wow! I really should get out more. Sitting here in my comfy room, the real world I like to recall is one in which people end their opines on controversial topics with, "What do you think?" Had this seat companion of my husband's stopped to ask this question, she might have been gently encouraged to at least examine the inconsistencies in her story. As I pour my third cup of coffee, I like to imagine a real world in which Thinking + Dialogue = Wisdom...even if we don't all agree on the final answer. To carry the math analogy one step further, honest conversation asks folks to show their work. That helps reduce the occurrence of answers that come from glancing on your neighbor's paper and copying her work. Right? I am wide open to embracing our differences. I am feeling quite closed to embracing our ignorances. Ninety-nine percent of the US population can read. It seems reasonable to hope that most folks you run into out in the "real world USA" have been doing their own reading about the issues and the candidates currently before us. Instead, apparently, it's a bit more like a bad reality TV show. Wouldn't it have been nice to find out the woman sitting next to my husband was not a real voter, but a plant for Network XXX's latest episode of "Pass the Nuts?" Eighty-percent of US households have easy access to the Internet. Would it be too hard to google "candidates +issues"? Then you folks out there in Real World America could count on at least 4 out of 5 informed conversations about this election. Oh my. What makes us comfortable running in packs and letting others do our thinking for us? I must leave this comfortable space and get out more. My room is apparently a bit too small to imagine reality with accuracy. How fortunate for governments that the people they administer don't think. Do you know who said this? Adolf Hitler. Peace?


Anonymous said...

"Show your work..."

I like it.

carolf1968 said...

You are getting good at this blogging thing. Keep it up.

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