Public Discourse

I had the opportunity this weekend to engage in what I am sure would have been healthy “debate” with another individual concerning whether or not Barrack Obama was legally the President of our country.  The argument put forth was, in a nutshell, that the POTUS was born in Kenya, that his birth certificate was forged (“The ink was still wet on that damn piece of paper.”), that he is giving the country away (to what or whom, I do not know), etc.  In essence, the sort of sensational and boring tripe that one expects to garner from chain emails and the diaries of political conspirators.  Needless to say, I passed on the “opportunity” presented.

But why did I pass?  One would assume that, given my proclivity for politics and my field of study, that I would have jumped on the opportunity to exercise my political voice.  Not that the topic at hand was politically centric, it merely happened to center around a political figure.  But such subject matter does seem to be a contemporary political meme, rearing its head with the same frequency as a Dolan comic and stirring up just as much disgust in the general (or perhaps rational) public.

There is a finite amount natural resources available to mankind.  Crude oil, forestry, natural gas, coal, etc.  One less considered, but just as limited, resource is the mental functions of human beings.  We will all expire some day and those functions will cease.  Our ability to create new ideas, pose hypotheses, and formulate arguments will fall away into darkness with our consciousness.  As such, it is important that we do not squander this resource.  Healthy debate is one thing, but expending mental faculties in pursuit of a useless game of who can shout louder while plugging their ears to drown out the inconvenient truths of the opposition is an exercise in futility on par with defending the beaches of Normandy.  One must pick and choose their battles, fight them when appropriate, and leave the opposition to wallow in ignorant indignation when the occasion calls for it.

This weekend called for me to walk away from the field of battle.  One must be able to recognize when the situation exist for a healthy and informed back and forth between individuals who respect each others opinions and will listen to reason.  And one must also be able to recognize when, as the old saying goes, this dog won’t hunt.

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About Sean D. Hillyer

Sean Hillyer hails from the Buckeye State and loves all things Ohio. He is a US Army veteran of Kosovo and Iraq, a student of Political Science, and a wannabe homebrewer. In addition to "Schweinfurt Expats," "wtf, Cobra?" and his prodigious Twitter output, he is also a contributing author for Social Democrats, USA. Sean currently lives in Schweinfurt, Germany. View all posts by Sean D. Hillyer

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