Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Bi Bi Bi


We have every reason to think that as a nation we are still a united state. People are connecting and networking like never before. More opportunities to see how everybody you know and anybody you knew is doing from minute to minute. Given the rise and evolution of sites like Facebook over the last five years, there is every reason to believe previously unknown uses and benefits await. Just imagine where all these postings, photos and updates might take us.
Yet...as a nation, we are more polarized than ever.
The gap in wealth in this country is so great that our middle class is disappearing fast as an ice cube in Death Valley. In a recent study, 50% of the American people reported that they could not raise $2000. in a two week time period. Month to month is more the norm now. The 2% with most of the wealth just can't seem to fathom that. "Why aren't they saving any money?" some ask, ignorant of unemployment figures, outsourced jobs, sixty somethings that can't afford to retire and twenty somethings spilling off the college graduation conveyer belts and piling up before returning to their parents homes to re-group and figure it all out.
But that is only one dimension of this paradox. With the rise of cable TV and the proliferation of so-called "news media," preaching to the converted has reached new heights. Seems to me that most folks are choosing to receive the information they want, with the results they want, rather that considering accuracy, truth, documentation, journalistic ethics and talent. We shout at one another more often than not.
Comedy doesn't help because the fine line between satire and seriousness is nearly indistinguishable. Unbelievably, for some, political labels or positions on the spectrum have become tantamount to diseases. Recently a friend of mine was angrily called a "socialist" with all the distain of an 18th century fire and brimstone preacher. When did "liberal" become something to fear, someone to avoid, devalue, or dismiss?
When I wonder what all this adds up to, I think that maybe it's all not that difficult to figure out. Seems to me that at their core, people either are empathetic or they are not. They either want to help others when possible or want to help themselves. Through that lens, this bi-polar, bi-partisan binary we have makes perfect sense.

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