2012-03-15 / Sam Bari

Navigating the slippery slope


When journalists confront the unspoiled whiteness of a blank page, they are much like skiers standing atop a mountain covered with virgin powdery snow. Both page and mountain present awesome possibilities. However, they are also slippery slopes.

Experienced wordsmiths address subject matter that they believe will interest readers and compel them to follow the writer’s creation to its conclusion.

If written well, the stimulus of expertly crafted, profound verbiage will sweep readers away on a wave of unforeseen, thoughtprovoking wisdom, and unexplored avenues of reason. That is usually the plan when scribes view the yet to be violated page.

Like the skier, who must plan a course to safely navigate the snow-covered mountain, the writer must navigate the proverbial slippery slopes of the unwritten page. A good plan is particularly significant when the topic involves writing about the political arena.

Political ideas are like snow; a fresh blanket of the white stuff is not new, it’s just different from its predecessor.

Abraham Lincoln said, “Books serve to show a man that those original thoughts of his aren’t very new at all.”

I believe he was right. Until quantum mechanics is well defi ned, and Max Planck, one of the founders, becomes a household word, I fear that original thought will continue to be a rare commodity.

And that’s what is happening in today’s political world. There are no new ideas. Journalists are regurgitating old news as history repeats itself.

Without doubt, we are experiencing dramatic change in everything from the climate to global economy, as well as massive shifts in political power. Nonetheless, none of the changes in today’s world differ much from events that date back as far as Constantine and the Roman Empire.

In the USA, half the country insists on separation of church and state, while the other half wants separation of church and state only if all laws and new legislation support their religious beliefs. How many times have we heard that?

Women are demanding their right to decide on women’s health issues that are being legislated by men with the exclusion of women in the decision-making process. One would think that a modern society like ours would be above such archaic thinking, but it is not.

Women and minority groups are also demanding equal rights as defined in the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights. That should not be necessary, but it is. Wasn’t that supposed to have been resolved in the Civil Rights Act of 1964? Hmmm…guess not.

We find ourselves in a quandary over immigration. Some might call it an immigration problem, but what the country is experiencing is mass migration. Anyone who studies history will find that migration has caused many major conflicts. Its roots are usually political, religious and/or economic oppression, or the availability of food.

The fight is never over ownership of land. The fight is about who will manage land and who will be allowed to live within the boundaries of self-claimed borders.

The methodology in today’s migratory efforts might be different, but the intent and results are the same. “Life in our country stinks, so we’re going to settle in yours, one way or another.”

We did it to the North American natives when we migrated from Europe. Somehow, we thought we had the right to claim their land for ourselves. So we just took it by force. The incumbent residents had no choice, although many history books tell the story differently. Today, many countries are experiencing the problem, not just the United States. Nothing new here.

To be candid, human beings are innately selfish. Voters usually take action to initiate political change based on how the perceived change will affect their personal lives. Rarely does anyone vote on behalf of the common good. Politicians make election promises based on what they think the majority wants to hear.

However, for reasons beyond my realm of comprehension, this year’s elections are different from most. Social issues that reflect bourgeois ideology and do not affect the well being of this country economically, environmentally, or internationally, could be the deciding factors in the outcome. That is a sad testament to the mindset of our citizenry.

God help the writers who are bold enough to take a stance on any of these issues. No matter what they write, they alienate at least 50 percent of their possible audience. The political arena has always been a challenge facing writers with the courage to navigate the slippery slopes of that dangerous mountain.

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