To Comfort The Afflicted
And Afflict The Comfortable

To Comfort The Afflicted And Afflict The Comfortable

Wednesday, October 27, 2021

Observercast

Listen Carefully

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BY DON NELSON

I have heard from more than one person that they want nothing to do with politics because all politicians have their own agendas. Well, yeah, that’s why they are involved.

Then when pursued the issue becomes the failure of politicians to carry through with what they say they are going to do. My experience has been that it is up to the “buyer” to examine the “product” to determine whether it is worth investing in.

Anyone that seeks public office, whether it is a local position or a state or a national office, has an agenda. It is up to the voter to know what that agenda is and to make smart choices.

In my case, I started years ago listening to the many ways opinions are framed. How does the person speaking try to appeal to the listeners? It has something to do with my agenda, as well. If what I hear seems to run contrary to my personal agenda then it is up to me to find out just how contrary.

While in college, in the 1960s, I began formulating my understanding of political ideas. I began to become aware that there were those who campaigned on behalf of what was good for business and productivity and growing wealth, and there were those who campaigned on behalf of human issues. They spoke of education, health and helping others less able to help themselves.

During the several “wars” that our young men and women – out of obligation to their oath of allegiance – have fought and many died, I listened to the arguments, the same arguments about business and productivity and growing wealth coming from those that were most in support of the conflicts. Those that were less inclined to support the conflicts were more focused on the human cost – both to us and our adversaries.

Every individual has an agenda. For some, it is very simple: selfish survival. For others, it is how can I get more things and climb a bit higher on the societal status ladder? For still others, the agenda is how to create an environment where compassion and mercy are the engines that drives society.

Dystopian novels are not pleasant reading. They tend to be downers. They also tend to portray a vision of what might be the outcome for society.

It was George Orwell’s 1984 and Animal Farm that first got my attention. Recently it is The Water Thief by Nicholas Lamar Soutter that raised my interest. The little book titled They thought they were free – the Germans 1933-45 by Milton Mayer sharpened my critical thinking regarding what has been happening both politically and socially in this nation.

You can bet your sweet bippy everyone has an agenda. It is the responsibility of every single citizen to understand what those agendas are.

Sadly, but interestingly, there are people within the population that are so pre-occupied with day-to-day survival that they do not, will not or perhaps cannot take the time to inform themselves.

We once had a president that spoke boldly about the need to be informed, to take education seriously. John Fitzgerald Kennedy never failed to take an opportunity to speak to the importance of education to the nation.

“Our progress as a nation can be no swifter than our progress in education. The human mind is our fundamental resource.”

The importance of being informed and educated participants in the political arena was equally important.

“The ignorance of one voter in a democracy impairs the security of all.”

His convictions regarding the outcomes of being an uninformed population were not the first to be expressed. As far back as the early Greeks it was understood to be critical to progress.

If you are excusing yourself from social and political involvement because “politicians have agendas” then you need to get off that turnip wagon.

Start by listening to what is said and how it is said. Watch for those little switches in tone or those apparent changes of mind. Above all else pay attention to who is working for the general improvement of life for everyone; listen carefully for a concern about justice and mercy. Focus on where a compassionate word can be heard.

Yeah, there are and will forever be agendas. The choice belongs to you and me.

Don Nelson lives in Lawton, OK and is a frequent contributor to The Oklahoma Observer

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Arnold Hamilton
Arnold Hamilton became editor of The Observer in September 2006. Previously, he served nearly two decades as the Dallas Morning News’ Oklahoma Bureau chief. He also covered government and politics for the San Jose Mercury News, the Dallas Times Herald, the Tulsa Tribune and the Oklahoma Journal.