Thursday, October 22, 2015

Is the world becoming more chaotic?

If so, can we stop it?

Because the population continues to increase around the globe, we're creating more crazy people than ever. More right-wingnuts, more terrorists, more religious fanatics. There will be more mass shootings. More fighting. More fear. There's so much religious zealotry that now vast stretches of the Middle East are virtually uninhabitable.
Ethnic groups hate each other for reasons that should have long since been forgotten. Revenge, honor killings, mutilations, are still more important to some people than their lives. Why are these kinds of 'codes' still in existence? In some parts of the world I might be shot for writing this blog.
The astoundingly astute Steven Pinker says the world is actually experiencing less levels of violence now in contrast to other historic periods. Yet we still have bombings and beheadings on a daily basis. When will we grow up? When will we get civilized - all of us? Is it not possible? If not, why not?
Do we thrive on drama, to escape boredom? Why do so many people see no alternative to violence? Why is perversion attractive? Why can’t we come up with positive activities to offset the tedious existence so many suffer?

Proportionally there are many more of us - sane, responsible people. But can we prevail? Can the best of us control the worst of us?
Science and technology have the potential to save us, as always. Ingenious entrepreneurs and inventors will continue to create gadgets to make our lives more comfortable and entertaining. Researchers will continue to find drugs to cure our ailments - including cancer pretty soon. We will make mechanisms to fight global warming and reverse the effects of the increasing natural disasters.

But politically in this country we have a party that tolerates, even encourages, ideology and ignorance over intelligence and fact. We have openly racist, belligerent candidates running for the highest office in the world. It should be unthinkable for someone like that to get anywhere near the control over our military (including nuclear) resources. Yet, somehow it isn't. They're not joking. Will we end up with a rational, experienced, even tempered, cautious leader, or one of the rest of them?
The blurring of truth in the media and the avalanche of easily available misinformation is fertile ground for extremism and crazy thinking. Fighting hurricanes and earthquakes seems an easy task compared to the fight against the tidal waves of ignorance.

Obviously one culprit is economic inequality. As long as huge numbers of people have virtually nothing, chaos is practically guaranteed. Everyone wants to create jobs, but not everyone agrees on how to actually do it. Education is an easy answer. But what passes as education in some places is simply propaganda and brain washing.

Those of us who have been around awhile tend to have a more measured outlook. We've lived through what were touted as the worst of times before. Does it only seem more frightening now because of the media spotlight? History has always moved in waves, one generation reacting against the previous one and pulling back from going too far in any direction. Are we due for a correction soon?

Some things seem self evident. Fighting violence with more violence never really works. It is diplomacy and 'using our words' that create positive outcomes. Understanding each other's situations goes a long way toward diffusing conflict. Why can’t we do more of these things?

The human race needs some sort of injection. Of common sense? Good judgement? Emotional intelligence? The ability to properly prioritize? We need to erect verbal dams: convincing counter arguments to stop the flow of extremism.
One solution would be population control. A worldwide attitude that no more than 2 children per family is desirable to provide a good quality of life…it would cut down on the number of crazy people. Another is tolerance, and not just for the ‘neighbors in your gated community’.

Is the human race doomed to inertia or a reverse of evolution? To stall and ultimately even start sliding backwards instead of progressing towards a better future?

There may be no easy answers. Do we have the will and capability to come up with and implement the hard answers?
I just don't know. And I'm beginning to get skeptical.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Our media is a mess.

A free press is vital to democracy, so how about a responsible press?

Seems like they’re all competing to be the biggest muckrakers and sensationalists.

It’s quite obvious that one of the motivations in mass shootings is the urge for the spotlight; fame for alienated loners. Yet, even venerated news outlets like the New York Times continue to publish the names of the perpetrators. I suppose all news outlets figure ‘the public has the right to know’ and if they don’t mention the name, other sources will. But does the public really care? I have a feeling we would all value less gun violence over finding out these identities.

One example of questionable choices by the media is a recent televised Hillary Clinton town hall event. The network TV reporter asked questions about her E-mails. The invited citizens wanted to hear about women’s issues, gun control, policy and plans.
How many times has the media reported on her private server, compared to the coverage for her issue statements: clean renewable energy initiative, economic policy proposals to encourage long term growth through profit sharing tax credit, revamping capital gains tax and reforming executive pay; her continuing efforts to fight terrorism, universal preschool, lowering health care costs, modernizing the energy infrastructure, cutting interest rates on student loans, restoring voting integrity, helping people with disabilities, etc, etc?

The public has a right to know those things also. Why do we have to dig through websites to get it?

There is still such a thing as truth and facts. The media tries to be very accurate when it comes to information about news events. Meanwhile there are candidates for the most important decision facing a democracy - choosing a president -  who are not challenged when they ‘stretch the truth’. In the interest of appearing unbiased, we get presented with smear tactics with no rebuttal. Character matters, which is why the media should challenge those who recycle inaccuracies. More fact checking PLEASE!

The pundits tell us a section of the voting public wants ‘Washington outsiders’ as an explanation for why certain candidates are ahead in the polls. But it’s also the result of the choice of news messages. In what seems increasingly to be a popularity contest (when it ought to be more like a job interview), name recognition is the ultimate prize. The media is complicit in pushing certain people to the front.
And they should really think about what they’re doing to this country.