This post appeared at another website last month, which has been discontinued. The comments have been typed in as added, since they would not transfer.
It’s like being a Marine. You know, “Once a Marine, always a Marine.” It applies to sociologists, as well. Much to my relief, retirement from full-time teaching did not cause my brain to cease observing patterns, raging at injustice, or needing to voice my thoughts about whatever societal issue was currently monopolizing my attention. And we do have issues – enough to keep me Engaged, Enraged, and attempting to “Elucidate” for years to come. Since childhood, my very sociological response to “absolute facts,” presented without debate or even facts, has usually been “Says Who?” Perhaps my greatest concern about the issues themselves is that too few people entertain the question “Says Who?” The overload of hype from politicians, TV pundits, the internet and even our friends and acquaintances seems to have dulled our ability to think critically. The result is not useful for us, either individually or as a nation. We become knee-jerk reactionaries, pro or con, to the ideas backed by people with covert vested interests, simply because the ideas touch off an emotional response to our own preconceived but poorly educated understanding of how things really work. I used to tell my students “We get the government we deserve.” In a democracy, that would be a true statement. If my government doesn’t work, or misuses the privilege of leadership, my vote and the votes of those in agreement with me could rectify that situation. In fact, if I voted responsibly, as an educated citizen who researched the records of the people I voted for, I could keep many unqualified people from taking office in the first place. Of course, that worked when we had a well-educated and active citizenry. That was before our government could be purchased by the highest bidder. That was before profit became the sacred symbol of our civil religion. That was before our national attention span was shortened to mere hours as a result of the sensory overload stemming from irresponsible use of technology, increased leisure time that became more important than pride in accomplishing a good day’s work, and finally, before apathy set in because we began to actually believe “you can’t fight city hall.” (Actually, you can.) On this site I hope to share some of the thoughts of people past and present who have sifted through the mythologies of the political, socioeconomic, educational, and medical issues of our time, as well as sharing the words of those adept at living a full and rewarding life. I find more and more that the rage within me is calmed by a rational debate that not only reveals the facts, but examines different perspectives on interpreting said facts. In this way, while I cannot solve the world’s problems, I can decide which of them deserves my attention and my action. I can educate myself about what is a real problem, and what is a problem someone has invented or misinterpreted, or is using to manipulate my reaction. Should this effort attract a reader or two, perhaps they would share their own perspectives and add to the discussion. And I may respond by asking “Says Who?” because I am a sociologist. And you may ask me the same question.
TYLER COX Great read and I can’t wait to read your comments and “perspective” on such things. I have a strong notion you’re wanting this to be an interactive blog so I’ll see if I can catalyze another perspective.
JAMES PATRICK MURPHY MD, MMM Marylee, we don’t necessarily need another perspective..We need YOURS! Can’t wait to see what comes next. MARYLEE JAMES: Thanks so much for the encouragement, Dr. Murphy. And thanks, too, for being the one who “says” the truth with such clarity in Confluential Truth http://jamespmurphymd.com.
JOSHUA BROWN One of the main issues in our country is determining the proper role of government. I have read about numerous abuses of government power and it seems many still look toward government to solve our social and economic problems. If people could see that most our problems are a consequence of government abuse and overreach. Do we need another perspective? Absolutely! MARYLEE JAMES: I appreciate your comments, and would love to hear more about your ideas of determining the proper role of government. You seem to connect that with your statement about people “looking toward government to solve our…problems.” Please continue!
MARGO Great to read your thoughts. So far, I am in total agreement. MARYLEE JAMES: Thanks, Margo. Let us know when you have a different perspective, too.
DON HILL Sign me up! We need more public conversation and especially about what is true and what is simply rehashed unsubstantiated opinion. MARYLEE JAMES: Much appreciated support from a star in that particular endeavor! And I can sign you up as soon as I figure out how to do that! 🙂
ROBYN WIGGINGTON “We become knee-jerk reactionaries, pro or con, to the ideas backed by people with covert vested interests, simply because the ideas touch off an emotional response to our own preconceived but poorly educated understanding of how things really work.” well said! It frustrates me that people believe that just because something is published (or posted), it must be true. I love your question, “says who?” MARYLEE JAMES: Thanks, Robyn!
MARY: Love this!!
DOUG OSBORNE More people need to talk. One comment caught my attention. “We are more interested in our leisure time than in putting a good days work.” This may be because work has been devalued by employers. Not that they don’t want more work, but that they don’t want to pay a fair wage.
MARYLEE JAMES: Good point, Doug. Thanks.
JUANITA GIBSON I look forward to future postings! No one is speaking out, and/or no one is being heard. Great things used to begin with one small voice. Do we have any hope of this happening again? MARYLEE JAMES: Thanks, Juanita. When individual small voices join together in common cause, the weather is about the only thing they cannot change:).
PAUL YEARY Dr. James: What you wrote is very inspiring. I hope you continue to write. MARYLEE JAMES: Thanks, Dr. Yeary. I hope to do that, and really appreciate your taking the time to respond!