Sunday, January 28, 2007

On Complex Truths

The world is not painted in black and white.

And yet there are those who would like to sell us this concept. It is easier to understand, easier to grasp, and easier to offer to the public than the more complex ideas of shades of gray.

We are told that if we don't fight them there we will have to fight them here. I suppose that is a simple idea that assumes we are required to fight them somewhere and over here or over there are the choices. But it really isn't that way at all, is it?

Americans are told that we are fighting for the 'flag', and thus, we need to protect the flag and pass Constitutional Amendments to limit our freedom of speech, no matter how distasteful it may be, and protect that banner that flies from flag poles across this great nation. It is far more difficult to explain that we were fighting for our freedom and that freedom includes the right to do things that we may not approve of.

Most of us live in conventional homes. We have a mother and a father or a wife or a husband and many of us have children. But that isn't the way it is with many Americans. They may live in homes headed by a single dad, a single mom, two dads, two moms, foster parents or maybe they even live on the street. So when the discussion arises that we should pass laws recognizing the 'sanctity' of the one man one woman marriage, it appeals to this same simple thinking. "Why not?" they ask. That's how we do it. But America isn't that simple or monolithic. We have complex arrangements in our households and our freedom is more important than regulation of our behavior.

"Support our Troops!" we are told. How could we possibly dissent from a war when our troops are in harm's way? How could we do that when that must, it is asserted, give aid and comfort to our very enemy! Isn't that treasonous to dissent? Clearly they put us in a 'catch-22' position. We are fighting for freedom, yet we should give up our freedom to express our opinions on the most important of questions according to 'them', the right to ask our nation to exit a war of our own making. And yes, we can ask, how can they claim to support our troops, when they send soldiers into harm's way to die or be dismembered for a war based on lies. No, supporting our troops is a complex question, not a simple one that is easily answered.

I am tired of the 'dumbing-down' of American discourse. We need to recognize that simple explanations are unlikely answers to complex questions.

Senator Kerry was ridiculed when he tried to explain the $87 billion question. But his answer was honest and to the point. Life is complex.

As I look to defining questions to address on this blog, I shall try to think and write in a complex fashion. Trying to look at questions that have answers that aren't in black and white. And challenging those that wish to do so.

Thank you for coming along for the ride.


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