The Problem Is We Don’t Really Listen (or Read)

Buzz is on his hobby horse, folks, so you might wanna skip this long, boring post…

A couple of problems all bundled up into one…

Problem The First:

“It strikes me how these Hollywood people are so much like 18th century English nobility in their behavior.”

“Yeah, well, that’s kinda to be expected.  Anytime you have a privileged class they act like they are entitled to it.  And if you criticize this, they accuse you of saying you hate your country or hate God.”

“What, you’re saying Hollywood loves America?!?!?  Hollywood hates America!  They hate God!”

“No, they don’t hate America.  They love America.  America made them rich and famous.”

“Yes, they do hate America!  Look at all the causes they stand for!  And they hate God.”

“Well, I’ll grant you some of them hate God, but that’s not my point -- “

“Hollywood hates America!!!”

“No, they don’t.  Ask yourself what business these celebrities are in -- “

“You’re crazy!”

“No, ask yourself what business these celebrities are in -- “

“If you keep talking like that we can’t be friends!”

“Listen to me…”

“Just shut up!  Don’t keep talking!”

“Listen to me!

“What business are celebrities in? They’re in the business of being famous. They make their money off their fame. They will do whatever is necessary to be famous.

“When I was working for Stan Lee Media I learned you can buy any celebrity anywhere anytime and for any cause so long as you meet their price. They just don’t care.  All they want is to be rich and famous. They will espouse one cause this week and the next week espouse a completely opposite cause if you meet their fee.

“Rock stars, artists, movie stars, politicians, millionaires, they all have a sense of entitlement. And if you challenge that sense of entitlement, if you say they’re no better than anybody else, just luckier, because while it takes skill and ability to be a success, it also takes a fair amount of good luck as well, then they defend themselves.

“They say you are unpatriotic.  They say you hate God -- “

“Hollywood does hate God!”

“Listen to me!  All privileged people say that when you start criticizing the existing order.

“Look at the Schuller daughters & sons-in-law with the Crystal Cathedral. They felt entitled to the money they made off the Crystal Cathedral. The church wasn’t there to provide to the members but to give them a lavish lifestyle. They wouldn’t accept criticism that suggested they weren’t entitled to their position and money so they drove out everybody who opposed them.

“And in the end wound up killing the goose that laid the golden eggs.

“Do the Schuller daughters & sons-in-law hate God? Of course not.  Do they hate the Crystal Cathedral?  No. But they can’t accept criticism of themselves and will defend themselves and their position in any way possible, same as a rock star with a hit record, an artist in a famous museum, or a politician elected to public office.

“They will accuse their critics of being anti-American*and / or anti-God.”

“Hollywood hates God!”

“That doesn’t matter. They will say anything they think they need to say to defend their position.

“We are not that far apart in our positions. I don’t think Hollywood celebrities are ‘good’ people. I don’t trust their judgment on public issues ‘cuz I know it’s bought and paid for. I’m just saying that when challenged, they will claim you’re un-American or you hate God or you want censorship because those are the weapons they have to defend themselves.

“I’m not saying they’re right at all.”

.

.

*  Or whatever country / culture applies

.

Problem The Second:

We don’t listen.

We don’t look.

I’m a writer and an editor by trade.

I’ve been taught how to tease meaning out of a morass of words.

Most public speech I read -- politicians, celebrities, anybody selling anything -- has a lot of prevarication in it, deliberate obfuscation & ambiguity designed (usually) to hide a lack of genuine content or (often) provide plausible deniability wiggle room for the future flip-flops or (worse) create the impression the speaker is saying / endorsing something 180-degrees the opposite of what is being espoused.

I see this, and to varying degrees I’m amused / bemused / outraged, depending on who’s saying what about whomever.

John Mitchell, he of Watergate (in)famy, once (in)famously observed: . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Watch what we do, not what we say.

And he was spot on.

I would just modify that to say that if one reads closely what is being said / written, one finds the true meaning lurking around the corners.

It’s like that scene in Pete’s Dragon when they throw the tarp over the dragon and for one brief moment he obtains a tangible shape.  You don’t really see him, but in the outlines of the thing they’re using to cover him, you recognize what he is.

Paradoxically, it’s often best to ignore what is being said and, in the words of Mark Felt (a.k.a. Deep Throat, yet another Watergate figure), “Follow the money.”

As I’ve posted before, Put On The #@$%ing Glasses.

.

Problem The Third:

Why are you so threatened by a contrarian opinion that you would want to end a friendship?

I can understand if I was a criminal who harmed people, or had been exposed as a raging hypocrite who presented a false face to you & the rest of the world.

But why does a contrarian opinion (which, as I demonstrated, wasn’t even that contrarian to what you thought) provoke that kind of a response?

There’s something very, very wrong when 3rd parties you don’t even know can turn you against a person who has stood by you for decades.

…and I don’t think it is you that is the very, very wrong thing.

.

Problem The Fourth:

There are people who love power and prestige and money and will say / do anything to get it.

They will spread lies & grotesquely distort other people’s ideas, demonizing them, casting them as the ever insidious Other in order to gin up fear against them.

People have legitimate concerns about personal security, job security, being able to provide a safe home & food for their families.

There are individuals & organizations who take those legitimate concerns and, in order to put more money in their pockets, ratchet up minor differences of opinion into evil insidious conspiracies aimed at stealing YOUR money, taking away YOUR liberties, denying YOUR rights, etc., etc., and of course, etc.

These people are demagogues, and no matter what their motives may have been when they started out, by the time they become demagogues they are embracing evil.

Their followers, the people who listen without really hearing, they may not be evil in and of themselves, but by swallowing the lies, by accepting the extreme vilification of an opposing idea, by living in fear, they are encouraging the spread of demagoguery.

I could quote a thousand statesmen & philosophers on this topic, but I think no one sums it up quite so well as The Batman:

I Luvz Me Some Folk-Theology

...aaaaaaand, We're Back