At a recent church gathering, a lady I know asked me to sit with her. “I have something to ask you,” she said.
She had recently read Dire Predictions, a book about global warming. I have not read the book, so she pointed out that the authors, Lee Kump and Michael Mann, stated that some scientists do not believe in global warming.
“I’d never considered there was another side to that argument,” she said, and she wanted my take on it.
I answered her simply. There are always at least two sides to every argument, sometimes three or four. “Forty years ago, ‘scientists’ were talking about global cooling.”
“But I thought all scientists agree that the planet is warming,” she said. “This book mentioned that some scientists disagree.”
“Some do disagree,” I said. “It depends on which scientists you believe and who’s paying them.”
The existence of a dissenting opinion shouldn’t be a surprise. My personal rule is to follow the money. In his case, who’s paying for the “research”? Who stands to gain for this or that conclusion? What is their motive? And believe me, there’s always a motive.
Whenever something controversial is accepted as “fact,” we owe it to ourselves to ask questions. But fact checking takes time and effort that few are willing to invest.
So we’ve become a nation of hystericals, eager to grasp the next cause and show our Facebook friends that we are not just informed but “in” formed of the prevailing opinion. Woe to anyone who dissents.
The point here isn’t whether my friend or I agree with the authors of Dire Predictions, but rather how refreshing it was to discuss a controversial topic as two polite human beings. Neither of us became angry or upset. In the end, we conceded that the problem with too many people is intolerance.
In a free society, everyone is entitled to an opinion. Therefore, everyone has a right to be wrong, or do they? We claim we love diversity and hate bullying, but all too often we scoff at anyone who challenges our beliefs. We call them names, say they’re crazy or worse. Watch cable news. Read what’s on Facebook or Twitter. The bullies are alive and well and more than willing to take you down.
Maybe all of this self-awareness came about because we are surveyed to death or because we have been exposed to too much information, but these days, too many of us seek out sources to reinforce what we already believe.
Maybe this is why I love John Stossel so much. The former ABC consumer reporter built a career out of questioning conventional wisdom about such things as breast implants, crime and organic vegetables, showing how some “truths” have no basis in fact.
And then along comes the Trump Inauguration. I’m troubled by the backlash of performers invited to perform during this week’s festivities. Several artists including opera singer Andrea Bocelli and Broadway legend Jennifer Holiday first agreed to put politics aside and accept the invitation. They later reneged because of threats to their career or for their own safety. That’s how uncivil our society has become.
The point is not whether you agree with Donald Trump’s policies or his Tweets or how he conducts a news conference. The point is that he will be our President. We owe it to the office, ourselves and our fellow Americans to put our personal agenda aside and come together as ladies and gentlemen. I know that sounds corny and old-fashioned, but the peaceful transfer of power is a big deal in our republic. It proves we aren’t a totalitarian state or some tinhorn dictatorship.
Yet, singing at the Inauguration for the President of the United States can ruin your career and might cost your life, thanks to bullies and blackmailers.
This is not the America I once knew, but sadly it’s the one we’ve created for ourselves.