Report From the States

I’m honored to have been asked by the webmaster here to contribute occasionally to his blog; this is my first post.

I’ve thought a bit about what the content should be. I certainly have little to offer regarding the political, social or cultural status of your country. My knowledge is limited by what little I get from the media here and much of that is related to the war in Iraq.

So, I’m thinking that some insight into what I observe here in the States might be useful to anyone interested.

As a seventy-year old, I’ve lived through some tumultuous times. Starting life in the placid, boring ’50’s, I’ve experienced the arrival of rock ‘n roll, the civil rights movement, television, Vietnam, several recessions, the Internet, Woodstock, assassinations, hip-hop, hurricanes — well, you get the idea. A lot happens in seventy years.

But what has alarmed me the most is the current toxic atmosphere of our political discourse. The air is more poisonous than I’ve ever seen it. Differences between parties and ideologies are expressed in hateful, scornful terms. Agendas of all kinds, political, cultural or social, have become impenetrable walls into which alternate points of view are not allowed entry. These agendas are like fortresses but unlike the physical fortresses of old where the sentry would ask “Friend Or Foe” before considering a stranger’s admittance, today’s agenda guards simply consider any new arrival as a “foe” and respond accordingly.

They defend their ideological fortress by attacking everyone who dares approach with ideas different from their own. They reject out-of-hand evidence that could change or modify their beliefs. An expression here about such behavior, which for example has been used to describe Blackwater in Iraq, is “shoot first, ask questions later.” That approach is the ultimate safeguard for the defender and may be what’s needed for survival in some dangerous situations. Tragic mistakes may occur, but the questioning enables potential corrections.

What I’m seeing, however, is “shoot first, ask no questions at all.” And nothing is ever learned. No corrections are possible.

This hardening of agendas means that our lives are slowly becoming a dance of black and white, with little consideration of the gray, which is where most of life’s answers can be found. Compromise and understanding are cast aside as spokespeople for various causes, parties, races, sexual orientation, gender issues or philosophies harden and promote their beliefs. People are becoming content to live and act in his own fortress, happy with the protection they think it offers, blissfully disinterested in alternatives.

I have some thoughts as to why this dynamic is occurring and I hope to express them in future posts. Until then, may your lives be happy.

John Boni has graciously agreed to occasionally write for Chowrangi. He can also be accessed at his blog,

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