Sunday, March 31, 2013

The Prager. Constructive Talk Radio.

I do much driving in the course of my employment and quickly learned that listening to music all day can leave a fellow feeling mentally exhausted. Looking for a change one morning I discovered sports talk radio and found myself blissfully encapsulated in a sports broth for several months. But even that wore thin without an ever-changing landscape of topics being discussed.

It was during the two month lull between football and baseball season that I encountered political talk radio, and I was enamored. Rush Limbaugh held my attention for a few years, I’m almost embarrassed to admit now, on account of his aggressive and demeaning tones he often takes. [I would like to clarify that the tones ultimately became the source of my embarrassment, they were not the means by which I became enamored.] I vastly agree with his positions, but I turned the corner on my appetite for the way his positions were presented.

After the November 2012 Presidential Election, finding myself boasting of a bottomless sinkhole of disappointment, I traded in my drive time listening with Mr. Limbaugh for a new road companion, Dennis Prager, an AM radio talk host. My interest in aggressive and angry tones expired that dark night watching the election results stream in. I wanted out of the angst market and Prager offered constructive conversation for the disappointment I was experiencing. I offer this prelude because, while I would like to claim the following pieces of wisdom as my own, it important to source the wisdom as pieces gleaned from The Dennis Prager Show.

·       Treat people equally, not the same.
We hear much talk in today’s politics and culture about fairness and equality, but there is typically a vacancy where qualifications should follow. People should be treated equally based on their equal standing, but not equally just because it would be polite or kind.

Example: A mom and dad should be shown equal degrees of respect. But let’s be honest, a mom and dad cannot be treated the same as if they are interchangeable. Each fulfills different parenting needs to their kids. Sure, there is much overlap in what they provide, but to say that they are the same is to purposely ignore the fact that a significantly disproportionate number of young troubled males were raised in single parent households.

·       Results are more important than intentions.
It is necessary to discriminate between good and bad results, not good and bad intentions. Rarely will a person or organization consciously set out to do wrong or harmful deeds. But if good intentions yield bad results, the source of those intentions need be held accountable.

Example: Consider charitable organizations. Virtually every non-profit organization seeks to do good deeds. But when making a donation you may prefer an organization with a greater degree of efficiency. Would you prefer to donate to a charitable organization where a higher percentage of the donation actually affects good results? Or would you prefer to give to an organization with a better Mission statement while it consumes a higher percentage in administration costs?

The same could be said when voting or making governmental policy. Look beyond the intentions and vacant calls for fairness and equality. What will be the consequences? Is the topic in question better for the country? Or is it simply better for a group of citizens at a cost to everyone else?

·       Let your brain decide, not your heart.
Feelings and emotions render the heart the decision maker while rendering the brain a non-factor. Where reason and a logical train of thought are absent, feelings will be the decision maker. The great thinkers throughout history used their brains to argue and decide between right and wrong. They were not emotion-based waifs, the proverbial impulse buyers at the check out counter loading up on gossip magazines, beverages, and snappily packaged snacks as if loading up for a road trip.

·       Standards supersede compassion.
Standards (read, the law) do not have a sliding scale of right and wrong depending upon the reasons why the law was broken. An action is either right or wrong, the sliding scale applies only as it pertains to the level of punishment. Ill-placed compassion, on the other hand, would indicate that a sliding scale of right and wrong is applicable, provided the reason for wrong doing was deemed good enough.

Example: A person that vandalizes private or public property has done wrong. If, however, they do it as a declaration of war against ‘The 1%’ they are defended by too many public officials as having an important opinion that is worthy of being heard and respected. By the standards I wield, my compassion goes out to the law-abiding citizen whose property was damaged, not the self-styled victim striking out in ignorance.

When making decisions, whether they are to affect a small number of people or the country as a whole, it is necessary to consider what the consequences will be on society. Decisions need be made in favor of an improved whole, not an improved set of individuals.

Thanks for hearing me out.