I remember something I learned almost 40 years ago in a basic introduction to computers class i.e. G.I.G.O. (Garbage In, Garbage Out) & it struck me recently how relevant that is to American society today.
I have been struggling for over 30 years to connect the dots and/or simplify some of the complex issues facing us. I am a working-class guy & I have experienced or seen much of the suffering visited upon my fellow blue-collar citizens over the course of my life.
The only difference between me & most of the people I have known or met in my life is that I have an insatiable appetite for knowledge & strive to make sense of the chaos that engulfs us. Many, if not most of my family & friends over the years have dismissed my obsession & laugh at my efforts. But I continue in this lifetime goal because of my belief that each of us can make a difference.
Returning to G.I.G.O., it dawned on me that because we find ourselves now living in a “post-literate” society where many, if not most people, won’t or can’t write, & more and more people prefer texting to speaking to one another, we are facing an even greater mountain of obstacles than I had thought?
I hate to sound so doom & gloom but burying our heads in the sand won’t make the problems go away & certainly won’t save us from a possible nuclear exchange or total climate destruction.
I live in a constant state of frustration because I can’t seem to find the right words to awaken & inspire others to realizing that reading good books—challenging books like in the set of the Great Books of the Western World that was published by Encyclopedia Britannica—helps us develop our critical/analytical thinking skills.
And writing helps us to organize our thoughts & speaking to one another affirms our humanity i.e. gives us comfort & the energy to continue in the struggle to save ourselves from the destructive & greedy ones.
Tragically though, many of the so-called “best & brightest” have an almost religious devotion & belief that technology & Silicon Valley in particular, will save us. Well as I said, G.I.G.O. and if we (the working class & the technocrats) continue to cling to this delusion, we are shit out of luck!
My religion (and I love saying this because I know it drives the “Christian” evangelicals/fundamentalists crazy) is humanism i.e. we got ourselves into this mess & it’s up to us, not some mythical god, to get ourselves out of it.
I don’t know how true it is but when I hear it claimed that our average attention span is less than that of a goldfish, the more depressed I become. How can we reach people when the violence & titillation of murder, sex, destruction, greed, the end of the world, etc. preoccupies them? Oh yeah, speaking of our gold fish attention span, it gives a new meaning to that phrase; “living in a fish bowl” eh?
Moreover, when I see the absolute loyalty to Trump no matter what he does or says, it’s hard to not slip into utter despair. That craven cretin & totally despicable person even had the audacity to proclaim that he could stand on fifth avenue in New York & shoot somebody and it wouldn’t affect his supporters’ love for him. I wonder if they’d even turn a blind-eye to his inhumanity if he were to rape their 12-year-old daughter? I don’t ask this lightly but because it seems that we’ve sunk so low in terms of what is acceptable behavior & speech in this country.
I’ve known Jeff for fifteen years. Terrific guy. He’s a lot of fun to be with. It is even said that he likes beautiful women as much as I do, and many of them are on the younger side. (Donald of the Duck Dynasty Klan)
Yet still there is hope & fighters like Bernie Sanders inspire hope in many of us. And despite the betrayal of the so-called liberal MSNBC & their attempts to sabotage Bernie’s campaign like the DNC did in 2016, it is possible that Bernie could pull it out. So, in that spirit, I too continue to struggle to reach people & show them some concrete tools they can use to empower themselves.
A few of the “tools” that I tell people about are the Great Books which I already mentioned & which has a study guide for people interested in forming a small group to discuss/debate the Great Ideas that are central to Western Civilization as well as Eastern Civilization.
And one book in particular that a Jesuit scholar turned me onto many years ago is titled; “Problem Solving & Comprehension” by Arthur Whimbey & Jack Lochhead.” It is full of challenging problems with guides for people to work together in finding solutions so you need at least one other person to work through them together.
Continuing on, when trying to explain why people should read the more challenging books of our civilization, I use this analogy; suppose you are going to enter a foot race with the fastest kid in your school, well, you know that you are going to have to put out far more effort than you would if you knew your opponent was only a mediocre runner. In other words, the tougher the challenge, the more effort you’ll have to expend & as a result, you may not win but you’ll definitely come out stronger.
Developing our critical/analytical thinking skills is self-empowering & helps make us less vulnerable to liars & con artists like Trump.
We are at a critical point in human history & we can take the “Critical Path” that Buckminster Fuller showed us or we can continue to “Amuse Ourselves to Death” that Neil Postman warned us about & continue chuckling at the monomaniacal moron in the White House but the last laugh will be his & will be on us if we don’t get serious about saving ourselves & our planet!
—Rob DeLoss, Gold Beach, OR Feb. 12, 2020
I have this nagging feeling that perhaps I wasn’t as clear as I could be re: G.I.G.O. & its relevance to this critical point in history? In a nutshell, if as I argue, the information that we are fed via the “news” & the web is more & more unreliable and at the same time, we are getting dumber & dumber because of our lack of critical & analytical thinking skills and several other factors such as a habitual liar in the Oval Office, it’s becoming more important than ever that we become highly skeptical & suspicious of what we read, see, or hear on the web as well as in the news. Anybody can post on the web & if you are ruled by your emotions i.e. hot button topics like God, Guns, & Gays which the 1% know how to play like a finely tuned musical instrument to manipulate the public into voting against their own best interests, you are playing a sucker’s game. And this game isn’t a game at all, we’re talking about our lives & the sustainability of our planet that our lives depend on!