It may be the curse of my training as a two-handed economist that leads me to see many things in an even-handed way: one the one hand…on the other hand. However, I woke up thinking about Rush Limbaugh! I hastily add that the thought was in the context of his recent nasty, personal remarks about Sandra Fluke (pronounced fl-oock, I understand), for which he issued an apology yesterday.
I recall a grammar school history teacher who often said “Vilification is no substitute for accurate denigration.” You do not need keen ears to notice that some of those involved in so-called political discourse that gets reported do not abide by that nostrum–maybe so-called commentators more so than politicians (though, in judging that balance, one has to take account of what the media report as distinct from what may actually be said or written). I also recall advice given to me by several coaches: “Do not confuse sport with real life.” No matter how things go in the game, it should not get down to a personal battle, or your personal feelings about an opponent; if it does, you will likely lose focus on what you are really trying to achieve. If my hand touches you, think that it’s incidental contact not an overture for a date or an invitation for a fight.
Of course, it is natural to like some people and dislike others. What is often amusing–and this is the even-handedness raising its head–is the asymmetry between like and dislike, a bit of which we noticed in the Limbaugh-Fluke furore. By all means, take issue with the lady’s views, but why do you have to vilify her? An attempt at humour, I read :-o. Looked at in the context of what sparked this, it may seem clearer. For instance, if I like President Obama’s policies I do not have to like him personally. I do not know the fellow, personally, so how can I pretend to like him just from seeing and hearing him? Ok, he’s an islander like me, but I am clutching at a straw. Likewise, if I do not like President Obama’s policies, why would I need to insult him? I do not know the fellow, so how can I pretend to dislike him just from seeing and hearing him? Ok, he has the chance to get up and wow people on TV and I am really jealous of all of that adulation, so here’s a sock to the jaw. Of course, for ratings, shock appeal, sponsorship money, and a host of ego-related reasons, I can throw out so-called love and hate for a person in equal or unequal measure, but it’s false. Well, it should be false. Let me get together with someone in a sauna and sit in the steam, dip in the icy waters, eat salty nuts and drink vodka for a few sessions, then after that decide whether I really cannot get on with a person, or that we are really simpatico.
It should be about energy-conservation, too. It is very destructive to the body to have all of that high emotion just gushing out over what people are saying. Take a deep breath, say “Namaste!” and think about being in the other person’s position before the venom comes shooting from the lip, or the cash register stops its cha-ching to remind that loose lips sink ships.