Two Issues, One Problem

In my morning reading of the news, I’ve come across two major issues that simply show one giant problem in America. The first is the Supreme Court and the Affordable Healthcare Act. The second is the modern-day lynch mobs being formed to hunt down Zimmerman for the murder of Trayvon Martin. Both issues show one common problem; we’re unwilling to think through complex issues, but instead would much rather jump to conclusions.

The Affordable Healthcare Act, while noble in its intentions, is rightfully being picked apart in questioning by the Supreme Court. The idea that the government can force anyone to buy anything is simply absurd (before people point to car insurance, keep in mind you only have to purchase car insurance if you buy a car; the government doesn’t force us to buy anything as a condition of simply existing). At the same time liberals are bemoaning and attempting to defend what is really an absurd law, conservatives are attempting to defend what is really an absurd system. When we ask for the conservative solution, while some have a more nuanced approach, at the end of the day it looks at those who can’t afford health insurance and says, “Too bad for you.” Liberals think the system is broke and needs to be fixed, but it’s not. The system works fine, it’s just too expensive. Conservatives think the system works completely fine and just needs a few tweaks. The system doesn’t work fine, as there are multiple people who can’t partake in our system.

This issue points to the truth of a G.K. Chesterton saying that, “The business of Progressives is to go on making mistakes. The business of the Conservatives is to prevent the mistakes from being corrected.” The reality is that our current system is simply unaffordable (even by people who have insurance) and highly confusing for those with insurance (I’ve received 7 different “final bills” for a recent hospital trip; even the billing department doesn’t know which one I actually owe). In other words, we do need a solution, but one that doesn’t force the poorest Americans to pay for something that is 1/10 their income. We need to keep our high standards of healthcare, meaning it’ll remain expensive, but find a way to streamline things to try to make it cheaper, or give basic coverage to those who can’t afford healthcare (and reward employees for giving advanced healthcare to their employees, rather than punishing them for not doing so).

However, I don’t expect people to think on this issue. I expect people to react emotionally or along party lines – but we forget that doing so can often have dire consequences. Just ask Spike Lee. He recently tweeted the address of Zimmerman (the man who killed Trayvon Martin) implying, “This is where the guy lives, get him.” Problem is it’s not where he lives; it’s the address of someone completely unrelated.

Now as readers will observe, I certainly believe that Zimmerman was in the wrong and most likely deserves to be charged with manslaughter.  But the lynch mobs that are popping up are without excuse and an overreaction to an injustice. Offering “dead or alive” wanted pictures, calling for the death of Zimmerman, putting bounties on his head; these are not the actions of a civilized nation. Crime happens. Racism happens. But we only make it worse when we resort to vigilante “justice.”

Both of these issues highlight the biggest problem in America, which is that we refuse to think through issues. Some might say that I’m guilty of this too by declaring what Zimmerman did to be a murder, but I would argue that when one follows an individual at night, essentially stalking the person, and the person attacks you, you have instigated the attack. I came to this conclusion by thinking through the circumstance, regardless of the race or character of the individuals involved; if Person A stalks Person B and Person B attacks Person A for it, most people would view Person B as being justified. Person A may kill Person B, but this becomes manslaughter, not self-defense simply because Person A’s actions instigated the whole situation. In fact, in most circumstances people would agree with this. I tend to think that if a black man was stalking a white man and the roles were reversed, suddenly this would be about a black man murdering a white man. However, in this same scenario, the New Black Panther party would be defending the black man while those who are currently defending Zimmerman would be defending the white victim. Why is this? Because we’d rather go with gut reactions and rely on our biases than to think through the issue.

Why is it that America is becoming more and more polarized on issues of race and politics? It’s because we’ve found our comfort zone in terms of thinking and we refuse to leave it. We’ll watch Fox News and only Fox News. We’ll read Drudge, Brietbart, or some other conservative outlet. We’ll listen to Limbaugh and Hannity and no one else (except other conservatives). Or, alternatively, we’ll watch MSNBC and only MSNBC. We’ll read Huffington Post or Think Progress or the Daily Kos, or some other liberal outlet. We’ll listen to Maddow and no one else (except other liberals). In essence, we have created intellectual ghettos for ourselves, refusing to interact with other ideas beyond saying, “You’re an idiot and you’re wrong.”

The true sign of being open-minded is the willingness to evaluate ideas. By “evaluate” I don’t mean begin with our beliefs and work from there, because sometimes our beliefs can taint our viewpoint. We may approach politics through a libertarian or Communistic ideal, thus tainting any opinion that doesn’t align itself with our ideal. We may approach race issues as “white is right” or “black power,” but such beliefs merely taint other opinions. In those cases, we truly refuse to see how the other person sees the issue. This doesn’t mean we will necessarily agree with the person’s view, but it means we can understand it and learn from it.

Perhaps we should have a new standard in our discourse. We should only be allowed to vocalize our disagreement with someone once we can provide an explanation for the belief we’re criticizing, and the explanation is something the supporters of the idea agree is an adequate explanation. This means abandoning ideals and dealing with the fact that when it comes to practical issues, there are multiple ways to solve a problem. Instead of being high on attitude, we could for once attempt to be high on reason.

Or you could just say I’m an idiot and go back to your intellectual ghetto.



2 thoughts on “Two Issues, One Problem

  1. On the assumption I was 1 of only two blogs, and your piece seems largely in response to my comment, I’ll guess that it was. And so it appears we have ourselves a little tete et tete. Fun.

    Again. Where did you get your information? From the media. Has the media told all? Told truth? I don’t know. I can’t know and neither can you. Other reports have Zimmerman returning to his vehicle when requested by 911 operator and was then followed by the victim. I don’t know. If he is guilty of murder or manslaughter or anything, I hope justice will be applied to him fully. If the news has misreported the incident (I know-What a remote concept) and he was guilty only of curiousity and self-defense, may he go free. Either way, justice must be the supreme goal to the glory of God who is just.

    “He has told thee, Oh man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you but to DO JUSTICE, love mercy and walk humbly with your God.” Micah 6:8 Again. No color qualifiers.

    .”.. essentially stalking a person?” Twice in my short 57 years I have followed someone I felt was up to no good. (gunless) My presense evidently was a deterant and both times I was later informed of their behavior and that on both occassions I was following men police had suspected of robbery in the area. One did find himself incarcerated later….. for robbery. The other dissapeared from the community. I felt just. I felt like a good citizen. I felt like I may have saved someone’s property. I definitely do not feel that this particular “Person B” would have been justified in my eyes and possibly “most people”.

    I’m thankful that some act and do. And I have no reason whatsoever to believe that one of the affore mentioned night walkers would have been justified in beating me or that I “instigated the attack.” If I follow someone, the natural and understandable response for them is to turn and assault???? Really?? Seems that would be the action of a guilty party to me. Run maybe. Shout a question over my shoulder as I do? Or, in all probability, simply turn and ask if there were a problem. But turn and assault? Instigation? Place yourself in th victim’s roll. Someone’s following you. Is that your response?

    I’ve no idea who did what and when and how. All that I have is reports from a knee jerk media who relishes white on black crime stories. If Zimmerman is guilty, I hope he pays his penalty in fuill. Amos had no color qualifiers. I don’t know why a man would be racist and tutor black children in his home with his wife and then go hunting for a black man to kill. I don’t no why he would call the police if I had predetermined harm. I don’t know. And neither do you. Please, let the justice system do their thing. If it is done wrongly (another subject altogether) and knowingly so, then injustice will be a crime against heaven on their heads.

    I think you “think through the circumstances”, but I think you haven’t thought through all the way. I think I have. Your “Person A, Person B” scenario makes no sense unless a mind has predetermined that Person A is guilty. Let’s assume Person A was simply trying to be a good citizen and suspected that B was up to no good. According to some news reports (gospel), an inordinate amount of crime had occured in the area as of late. He follows a bit to see what B is up to. B notices, and instead of flight, he chooses fight. With no malice or ill intention whatsoever toward B other than suspecting he may be doing something illegal, Person A suddenly finds himself with a broken nose and the back of his head being smashed on the sidewalk. The pistol he carries to defend himself is his last resort. Manslaughter? Murder? Me thinks you have leapt too far form platform too close to a predetermination.

    I don’t know if that was what happened. Neither do you. I just want America to value justice more than color. To be color blind in the eyes of law enforcement and the courts. I think Martin Luther King Jr. had that desire. I think there is a nation of whites who’s big hearted and colorless care out number the bigoted haters by an insurmountable and vast majority. Hugely so. 20 to 1? 50 to 1? I’ll bet it’s a great big gob.

    But color blindness does not demand stupidity and Pollyanna naivete. If I live in a mixed racial community, shave my head, have tattoos that blanket my body with none reflecting good wishes or noble and lofty thoughts but are “in your face” and vile, do I not draw your attention? Is it possible that a responsible black man might follow to see what I’m up to? Hoodies represent reprehensible behavior by in large. Like my tattoos, I want to tell you I’m bad.

    Concerning my choice news. Sometimes I watch or listen. Sometimes I don’t. Sometimes I turn on NPR in the truck. Sometimes I switch to Fox. I’m not much for CNN, FOX, MSNBC shouting matches. But at the risk of sounding like I’m part of the overall problem, the conservative outlets seem to be significantly less guilty of gross error and half cocked blunder. I would love for there to be a “” focused exclusively on news media outlets. Newspapers, radio and television. And keep score. And publish score once a week. Of course, we would need to know that the .org was staffed with people who held honesty, integrity and truth to be of highest importance above any and all allegences. Hah! That’d be a trick.

    I believe that the polizarization of America is largely in part to people insisting it is polarized, profiting from the polarization and insisting that I’m still a bigot or that a black man is or……

    1. Actually, it wasn’t in reply to you at all.

      That being said, your last comment and this one do fit nicely within what I was trying to say; sometimes people say things before thinking through them.

Comments are closed.