A little bit of this and that for 2022

Happy New Year everyone. May your resolutions last longer than your hangover. I have celebrated New Year’s in a number of ways, but this old soul is less inclined to stay up until midnight these days. Living on the east coast of the US, we have resorted to celebrating the New Year’s on Greewich time, so we are done early.

I learned yesterday the legendary actress Betty White left us just shy of her 100th birthday. She has always been a character and has played many different types of roles over the years. She played nice girl roles for the longest time, so when she played the back-stabbing Sue Ann Niven in the 1970s on the “Mary Tyler Moore Show” it was a shock. Yet, she went onto many other roles in the 1980s and 1990s on the “Golden Girls” and “Hot in Cleveland.”. And, she was a terrific humanitarian and friend to animals. May she RIP.

Going in to 2022 and its insane campaign season which started about eleven months ago, we must try to regain some level of civil discourse in our society. Since changing politicians and opinion entertainers seems nigh impossible. we will have to make this a ground up change and force them to notice.

Here a few rules of the road that might help:

-if someone speaks or writes with name calling, labelling and cursing as their modus operandi, do what I often do and stop reading and do not respond. If this is the how the person wishes to argue, then his or her argument is poor.

-cease watching opinion entertainers who are dressed-up spin-doctors at best and disinformation peddlers at worst. Some do their homework more than others, but you are being told an opinion, often times not a well-supported one.

-if you are getting your news from someone on social media who you like because you agree with them, please do not consider that news and refer to the first two items above.

-if you are getting your news from a politician, check other sources; some have more veritas than others, but too many are just spouting BS without doing much homework. I used to think elected officials knew more than we do (and some did), but I stopped thinking that long ago. They also expect us to have short memories.

-you have two ears and one mouth, use them in that proportion. Ask more questions of people and listen to their answers. Listen to understand, not to respond. Only then can you follow-up with comments, but make sure you give like you want to get. Calling a person an idiot is not a good sales pitch.

-be civil to each other. Sometimes the best thing to say, is not to say it. Look for common ground, by doing that listening thing noted above. You may disagree on five points, but agree on two. That is a start.

One final thought to drum in your head. An old friend used to say “you can never have enough cups of coffee with people.” Engage. Converse. Catch-up. And, thank the other person for their time and interest. Time and interest are the best gifts someone can give you.

Be safe in 2022. Be well and be wise.

Tell me why

When these words were penned by John Lennon and Paul McCartney (a few others also pitched in) and sung by The Beatles, they were focused on a lover who is beseeching a significant other to explain why. Here are two refrains:
Well I gave you everything I had
But you left me sitting on my own
Did you have to treat me oh so bad?
All I do is hang my head and moan
Tell me why you cried
And why you lied to me
Tell me why you cried
And why you lied to me
I was thinking of these lyrics when people who blindly support a cause, a leader, a political party, etc. find out that what they have been led to believe is not really true and never has been true. I have written several posts and made references to the documentary “Merchants of Doubt” where, in essence, highly paid PR advisors lie to people for a living. They are paid to tell you something is perfectly safe, when it is not, nor could it be.
These PR folks also play a heavy role in political advice as well, given the more tolerable name “spin-doctors.” Spin-doctor is another name for someone with a license to lie or perfume a pig. A phrase I have grown to dislike is “walking it back.” This is where a politician, business, or leader releases a concept or idea and when it lands with a thud or the backlash is huge, the spin-doctors advise on “walking back” the idea like it never happened. “Oh, we were just testing the waters, we really did not mean to do that,” might be an apologetic line.
However, we should not be surprised by the deployment of folks to lie to us or embellish the truth. The sad part of these lies is people die, become bankrupt, lose opportunity or do not consider something that might benefit them. In “Merchants of Doubt,” these folks led people to believe nicotine was not addictive, that flame retardants were helpful when they actually did little other than killing mothers and firefighters with various cancers, that climate change is, first not occurring, and now may be occurring but not man-influenced when the evidence and scientists say the answers to both questions are a resounding yes.
Or, the spin doctors have told us Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction, when most of the evidence was Hussein’s own spin-doctoring to let enemies believe he had more capability than he had. Because of this story, Americans and our allies died in battle and Iraq is in a state of unrest because we failed to stay in the country. Or, some would say Obamacare is socialism, so don’t sign up for it, when health care was and is a crying need for many. Even as it has been successful under several measures, there are those who have fought it tooth and nail and still do. And, if it was unwound it would be devastating to millions of Americans and our economy. That is a truth.
Ten days ago, I wrote a post on asking leaders more “why” questions. Leaders are excellent at not answering questions that they don’t want to. But, we need to ask them over and over again and in different ways to get the truth. The Governor of Indiana, Mike Pence, found this out the hard way a few Sundays ago. His evasive tactics showed he could not defend or explain a law he just signed.
We all must be truthseekers, as it is even harder to find these days. When we find it, we need to make others aware of it as often as possible, as the PR folks are very good at what they do. When some folks realize the truth, they will shed some tears and be ticked off, as people they trusted lied to them.