BY KENNY BELFORD
It’s an expression I’ve frequently stated … ignorance is a choice.
On a grand scale, I’ll readily concede that sub-average intelligence is a factor that can lead to or contribute to ignorance. In our society today we’ve elevated ignorance to an attribute status.
We have masses of individuals that have pride in their ignorance, combined with a need to put it on public display.
Those that have agendas, armed with real knowledge, have found these groups willing to be exploited and used as props and pawns to further their objectives. They recognized there is a large faction that willingly has no desire to become informed, preferring to become inflamed instead. There’s little doubt it’s happened before, but not on this scale.
Also, the rhetoric that’s now a common part of our national dialog has never reached this danger zone of hate speech, accusations, absurd claims, threats and calls for an escalation of discord.
We’re on a path that will have tragic consequences and there are no voices of reason that are resonating to tone it back.
The protest event on Sept. 12 in Washington gave us a good look at this movement. The estimates of crowd size were impressive. Some 60,000 to 70,000 Americans showed up, angry and looking for a venue to vent their anger. Only days after the event, promoters of the protest were apparently disappointed at the crowd size and fabricated new claims.
On his cable television program, Glenn Beck produced a photo of an event from a decade ago as a visual and claimed there were 1.7 million in attendance. He cited as his source some university that he couldn’t name.
Fabricated claims of crowd size aside, to really understand this event we need to listen to what the attendees expressed as their concerns. A number were interviewed in a non-confrontational approach, allowed to freely express their views, their concerns, what they were angry about, and offer their reasons for attending. It was a cross sampling of age and gender.
However, there were no minority interviews since that section of America chose to not participate.
By now it should be painfully clear there is no debate to be won with this faction. To have an honest debate between sides requires an equal balance of knowledge, real knowledge derived from facts. Emotions don’t count as facts or knowledge. Both sides of an issue must be informed or there is no possibility for a spirited discussion, only shouting like we witnessed in August at Town Hall meetings across our nation.
The end result of shouting matches yields no positive outcome, except to prohibit any possibility of real discussion.
A disruptive technique doesn’t advance a cause, it only serves to keep knowledge at bay. Large groups that have willingly committed themselves to a position of ignorance, that cannot see merit in acquiring knowledge, and only desire protest and yelling are not reachable. There’s little value in making the effort. It serves no purpose other than to become a willing target for their yelling and uninformed rants.
As the health care reform issue moves into the final days of crafting change, our leaders would be well advised to keep that thought in mind. As a parent, I can remember instances when one of my very young children might have to receive an injection from a doctor, an event they knew was going to hurt. We all know that it’s not a practical approach to try to reason with a three-year-old resisting an inoculation that is for their own benefit. It’s futile. So most of us just went ahead and helped accomplish what needed to occur for their own benefit.
That’s where we are in the health care reform issue. Our leaders should take the same approach. Craft a measure that accomplishes a change that’s good, ignore the wailing and protests of the three-year-olds, and just pass it and go on to fixing the next set of unresolved crisis level problems left for us.
– Kenny Belford lives in Tulsa, OK and is a regular contributor to The Oklahoma Observer