What Happened to Our Independence?

A perfect vantage point

Tomorrow is Independence Day here in the United States. Free from the tyranny of British rule, that’s us for almost 250 years. It’s always a happy time, never more so than in 1976, when a few of my friends and I braved the traffic and the crowds to celebrate the Bicentennial at Point State Park in Pittsburgh. We were cautioned about the driving and parking conditions. We were warned about an increased police presence. We weighed the various pros and cons and we decided that we didn’t want to miss the celebration.

We decided for ourselves.

I wonder what has happened to that practice?

More and more frequently, I encounter conversations, news articles, and social media updates that seem to encourage very little independent thinking. People like to use the word “polarizing” but I’m not sure that’s accurate, unless you want to step into physics for a bit.

The type of polarization we talk about is the kind which breaks people into opposing factions. The other type is the type that we use in our sunglasses and some of you use on your cameras. That’s the kind of polarization that prevents some light from passing through a filter. I think that’s more common today.

Today, many people get their news from one source, one network, or perhaps one talking head. That source, in order to maintain its ratings, caters to its followers. The news is filtered, left or right, positive or negative and, as the old song says, we “don’t mess with Mr. In-between.”

Sometimes, the news isn’t just filtered, sometimes, its constrained. Certain elements are left out, other elements are emphasized. The “obvious conclusion” shifts one way or the other. If we leave things in that state, our opinion shifts. Our view of world events is altered, made better or worse than those events really are. Eventually, our history is written at an angle.

I could list many examples, but I choose not to. Not here. Not today. They would only polarize this audience. I will say that in the past few years, I can remember many times hearing a story from a friend or family member, and asking a question about an aspect of that story that they had not heard. I’ve been asked similar questions, and they always send me searching for more information.

As we celebrate our independence, I suggest we stop focusing on the British. After all, they have become one of our best and most loyal allies. I suggest that we take back our independent thought process. Switch channels. Listen to the other side. Consider all the facts and decide for ourselves where the truth lies. Let’s open our minds to possibilities that challenge the status quo we have come to rely on.

Polarized, but lot’s of value in the middle

By the way, if I can drift into physics just briefly; consider the image at the right. You’ve all done this experiment, probably in 4th grade. There’s a magnet under a sheet of paper onto which a bunch of iron filings has been spilled. Notice the clusters around the poles. Notice, too, the spread of filings between and around the poles. Filings drift from pole to pole, influenced one way or the other. No one side is always right.

The gallery includes photos from my walk with Maddie yesterday. It was going to be a hot day and, Maddie is in heat. In order to preserve her, ahem, independence, we walked very early. The neighborhood was alive. The captions tell the story. Click anywhere to begin a show.

And, if that “Mr. In-Between” thing brought back a memory, well then, you’re probably as old as I am, and you might enjoy this:

118 thoughts on “What Happened to Our Independence?

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  1. Ah, the days of actually reporting the news versus entertainment news which seems to dominate all channels as they also lean left or right. Add to that the fake news, and we are severely challenged to try and find some real facts these days. And, no one even mentioned ‘news reporting’ on social media. With everyone so focused on their smart phones and accepting what is shared, trending or gone viral, I’m not sure how the situation will improve. Good conversation though. :-)

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Im all for folks thinking for themselves. ESPECIALLY in this age of information technology. Sadly it seems like a lot of folks think this is some kind of revolutionary idea, and therefore SCARY AND BAD. Or something, I dont know.
    Great post though. :)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Linda. I thing the extreme approach is the result of having had to “step it up” several times to keep an audience. Big as the world is, there ain’t 24 hours of earth-shattering news out there. Well, except those bunnies.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Thank you, thank you, thank you!! Someone not only read my mind, but put the thoughts into words that clearly express what this country needs and needs badly – and happily that person was you!! This article will be passed around by me – you can count on that!!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you so much. Coming from someone who works so hard to find the truth behind the history we were taught, I really appreciate this comment. Can you imagine looking back on these times from 2075 and trying to figure out what really happened?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I think that is going to depend on just how much independent thinking goes on now. How many will be writing down ALL sides to every story, instead of just their own point of view. That’s IMO, for what that’s worth [haha].
        PS. Thank you very much for that compliment!

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Sadly, one of the tools historians used to use was the Congressional debates on the important issues. Between technology that isn’t always set up to save drafts, and partisan politics, I haven’t noticed much of that lately.

          Liked by 1 person

  4. What a great post Dan 💛
    Well said:
    “As we celebrate our independence, I suggest we stop focusing on the British. After all, they have become one of our best and most loyal allies. I suggest that we take back our independent thought process. Switch channels. Listen to the other side. Consider all the facts and decide for ourselves where the truth lies. Let’s open our minds to possibilities that challenge the status quo we have come to rely on.”
    The commentary with the photos is very cute … Bunnies and Maddie helps too!

    Like

  5. Unfortunately, this problem is not going away any time soon. This nonsense started in our halls of higher learning years ago and has now trickled down to high schools and even middle schools. Just this week there was a story out of California where a high school advisor rigged an election to defeat the conservative kids on the ballot.

    We don’t teach kids how to read, write and think for themselves. Differing viewpoints are not tolerated, and therefore not presented or accepted.

    The cumulative damage that we have done to ourselves cannot be blamed on the twisted media – although they certainly contribute by refusing to present real news and both sides of the discussion.

    If people refuse to study the issues, ask important questions, search for alternative solutions and engage in meaningful and respectful conversation, then I’m afraid we are in for more of the same in the years ahead, and it won’t be pretty.

    Our founding fathers are turning over in their graves this weekend as we celebrate our 242nd birthday tomorrow. It may take us another 242 years to regain our independence!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. The folks in Washington also eliminated requirements (i.e. testing) for Civics – remember that course? You won’t find it in the curriculum at a lot of schools. The blame is on us, the generation who once questioned everything but has settled to be spoon fed our favorite brand of pablum. We don’t teach our kids to really learn. The 24-hours of news is a joke. There aren’t 24-hours of stories, so they fill it with endless, often flawed “analysis.” The people who would have “respectful conversations” are bullied off most social media platforms. I wish I could disagree about the prospects for the future, but honestly, Bob, I don’t see it changing.

      Despite my preachy position, I hope you’re enjoying the 4th.

      Like

    2. I’m sad to have to agree with you. True history is too rarely taught, critical thinking is ignored (except for the critical part in the wrong sense), civility is dead, which means that true discussion is also in peril. I think we could produce quite a lot of power from the Founding Fathers spinning in their graves!

      janet

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Thanks Janet. People do seem to have dropped the “thinking” from critical thinking. It’s sad. I don’t know what it will take to wake us up. Maybe the next generation will realize how we’ve messed this up.

        Like

  6. Excellent post and points, Dan. Large numbers of the electorate have lost the ability for critical thinking. As long as something fits with their personal viewpoint, it’s true. If it doesn’t it must be fake. No one bothers to research. And yes, I’m speaking for my own country, too. After all, some of us elected Pauline Hanson. 🙄

    Liked by 1 person

      1. They also believe what they want to believe even if it’s outrageous. So younger people voting for an impossible wall or illegal immigration bans (as in the bans are illegal, not the immigrants). For pity’s sake, when my kids were in primary school one kid (known to all as the school bully) actually got elected school captain because he promised he’d give lollies to anyone who voted for him and he was going to get the school a swimming pool. You know what? They changed the rules after that. Any kid vying for a leadership role had to give their speech to the staff first so they could weed out any ridiculous promises. If we expect this standard from our kids, why do we no longer enforce it as adults?

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  7. Loved hearing Mr. In-Between. Takes me way back. Plus, I’ve never seen a black squirrel before. And like you, I think we all need to look at both sides of the coin. I’m getting sick of how the media shoves stuff down our throats. I’d rather listen to Mr. In-Between!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Dan, if I were teaching a writing class, I’d give you an A+ for this post. (OMG… don’t think that I read anyone’s post from a grading perspective… It’s just that this one is exceptional.)
    I had forgotten about the old science experiment! Fun memory and perfect analogy.
    Lastly, “If most people said what they were thinking, they’d be speechless…” Earl Nightingale.
    Have a marvelous Monday and a stellar Fourth. Hugs.

    Like

    1. Thanks. I love the stuff that’s reflected in puddles. It’s so much prettier. The bunnies are everywhere this year. There were 4 in our yard when we started our walk and we have a tiny yard. I’m glad you like the point, too.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Excellent post, Dan. One problem I see is that many people never engage in real conversation or meaningful discussion. They’re on their devices, getting everything instantly and with memes, rather than reading and thinking. “Conversation” is via tweets and the like and there’s no depth there. Everything has to be done instantly. Much as I like technology, our use of it has a lot to answer for.

    janet

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Another issue is that “news” is usually opinion now, as opposed to the days when there was an opinion page and the rest was reported relatively impartially. There’s also nothing saying that this is opinion and there’s too much that’s just wrong. But by the time it’s found to be wrong, it’s firmly in people’s minds.

        Liked by 2 people

  10. Loving the style of your writing, sir. I have read through some of your magnificent writings, especially the one-liner Wednesdays, they are really innovative and one-of-your-kind. Hope to see more from you. Have hope, write on!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Incredible post and oh so true….I have actually stopped watching the news. I will skim headlines on the web to make sure the world is intact and follow weather across the US and that kind of thing…Your analogy is a perfect example. Great post!

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I also miss the days when as a large family we would discuss politics from all angles and actually have a discussion without anyone getting angry…those days are gone…the rantings and that is the only word to describe it… from one of my siblings and their family members on Facebook is hateful….so sad…

        Liked by 2 people

        1. My brother and I are often pretty far apart but we can discuss just about anything and eventually someone will say “that’s a good point.” If you don’t hear that / say that once in a while, someone’s not listening.

          Liked by 2 people

  12. Hook, line, and sinker, some of the stuff people swallow truly baffles me. Mentor and I were engaged in a discussion along similar lines last week. You can’t watch only one channel or read only one paper, you must travel in other media to gather proper information. Thinkers always have this in common, even when their politics are opposing. I’m more a feeling person, but I keep my brain busy!
    I love your captions! Teeter-totter bird, FTW!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thanks. I’m lucky to be in a pretty reasonable group out here. I trust you guys way more than the networks snd newspapers.

      I’m glad you liked the photos. That’s one of my favorite pastimes, watching the birds in people places.

      Like

        1. I sent that comment before it was finished but you got the point. The result of that behavior is very often, inflated estimates of support. “Everyone I spoke with agrees with me” is s phrase I hear way more likely than it’s true.

          Like

  13. Well , you’re wrong ! As one of the iron shavings on the paper , I know . [ Okay , just kidding ; but I do suspect , as someone said , that if George Washington were around today , he may take the country to court , denying paternity . ] Happy 4th , Dan ! Good advice you give. :)

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Reblogged this on In Saner Thought and commented:
    AS we celebrate our birthday…I have read some good blog posts on other blogs and want to pass a couple onto my readers for their consideration and enjoyment…..if you like what you read then consider looking around his blog……….chuq

    Like

  15. The news has always been filtered. It just cannot be helped. After all, the reporters tell the story from their point of view. With this said though, why do we as the people who watch the broadcast or read the newspaper insist on sticking to one channel and/or newspaper for the news, especially since the internet has come into our lives? We can only make independent decisions that are worth anything if we have all the facts we can possibly find. Additionally, I do not witness anyone having discussions about what they have learned through the media like they once did several decades ago. Everyone seems to be afraid of… I do not even know what they are afraid of. They just are.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I think they’re afraid of a repeat of the kind of bullying conversations they’ve had at some point. I used to work for a guy that you couldn’t discuss anything with. He would get angry and nasty. It was easier, and, as an employee, safer to just nod and pretend

      Liked by 1 person

  16. Great post and great pictures! I especially liked the picture of the bunny on the sidewalk with the sun shining through his ears, and the one with the reflection of the yellow plants. Perfect shots!

    Liked by 1 person

  17. I’d rather focus on the objects in your gallery then put my head into worldly matters. What has come across sooooooo strongly lately people, a lot that is, are not THINKING. Its shocking and frightening that there seems to be a movement where the objective is to have all doing as the few say. NOOOOOOOO!!!!!! The surrealistic conversations that have come my way leave me just shaking my head and wanting to scream WAKE UP!! Honestly they don’t even see how they are being led by the nose. The agenda it seems is to eradicate the THINKING process all together. Holy moly! I’ve always questioned which of course landed me in hot water a lot but yet my independent brilliant mind will not be taken from me. So determined to carve a life according to me I am doing it and no one is going to tell me otherwise. Oops. Those fireworks last night have it seems gotten me a bit on the hot side today. 😬😉💕

    Liked by 1 person

  18. This is a super post, Dan. Something I’ve been wanting to shout to this country is, “Stop watching Fox News, CNBC and any other news entity that is biased to the right or left! Yes, they are biased! Read all viewpoints, go to unbiased news sources and think for yourself!” Then again, people like my neighbor’s stepmom, who told her that Fox News is where to go for unbiased news, would probably ignore me. I don’t understand where people are at these days, why they follow political candidates and their promises without thought or question. Drives me crazy…

    Thanks for the bunny and Maddie photos. I’d much rather look at those than watch the national news.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Mary. I want to shout, too, but so many people are set in their established patterns. They should ask “is that all there is to this story?” “Is that really the truth?” “why did he/she make those conclusions?” I’m glad I included the photos to give people a break.

      Liked by 1 person

  19. I don’t think things are any different now than they were in the past. (Anti) Social media just makes us more aware of it.
    Herbert Block, was an American editorial cartoonist who called himself Herblock. He was about to lose his job for having different opinions to the newspaper that he worked for. Fate stepped in just in time when it was found out that he’d been nominated for the Nobel Prize for literature.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks. That’s interesting. I’ve no doubt that that kind of pressure has always existed. I just think the line between news and opinion has been blurred quite a bit. I also think there’s a lot less discussion today.

      Liked by 1 person

  20. Such a good commentary on where we find ourselves today, Dan.This sentence captured your thoughts perfectly, and I will share it often: ” I suggest that we take back our independent thought process.”

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Janet. I get so frustrated with so many people who seem content to blindly accept some self-appointed authority. At least I know a lot of people in this community are thinking for themselves.

      Liked by 1 person

  21. Johnny Mercer sang his heart out and captured the feelings in my heart for being positive and staying neutral. I feel (most of the time) my post stays out of trouble. I have one faithful brother who loves church and his wife also is glad she met him about 27 years ago in a youth retreat where she had one of her pre-teens, his being a teacher, a true affinity for children. When asked to serve in a 24 hour lockdown at church he said yes. . . From there, Susan was like me at the time, single mother with three kids. We both laugh at Rich in a loving way. His heart and volunteer work is epic. The other brother is like my Swedish grandpa declared, an agnostic thinks there is something more than we are but concentrates on the people surrounding them. Less exclusion, more inclusionary vision. Randy believes in a higher being and some of his art is spiritual.
    My Dad belonged to one party, Mom belongs still to the other. In the mornings she can articulate “why.” :) Love would keep us all on the same page, universal loving Thy neighbor and not judging them. . .
    I hope like my fellow blogging friend Mike Lince did, he straightened me up on a rather liberal anti-war essay awhile back. I researched a bit, I trusted him even more. . . I hope people will push if I pull, tell me how the other side feels “If I should happen to step on any toes, along my path of blogging.” I apologized and corrected the post. It was in my “no pictures should be needed to read a good book, story or poem” period of blogging! Lol

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I try to stay off the poles, Robin but sometimes I do feel like taking a stand. Something’s are too important. I don’t care what party, religion or country you align with, as long as you have a reason. If you’re just doing what someone tells you (and you’re an adult) then I have to wonder. The facts are out there. Put your spin on them, and I’m fine. As someone once said, “everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but not their own facts.”

      Liked by 1 person

      1. The news in each place or source are distorted, slanted and not very factual.
        The Vietnam War was featured by famous, respected newscasters who didn’t find out the complete picture till veterans shared their war stories. I think the news wasn’t as bad as John Wayne movies in glorifying war, but I had cousins and a few older friends say it was “nothing like what we watched daily on TV.” Hopefully, years from now, we may have a better handle on today’s world situations, Dan.

        Liked by 1 person

  22. Seems like I am terribly late for this comment but better late than never. The next month in August India celebrates her Independence. I and Sarah discuss a lot about various matters including the political climate in India because that way we can vent out our thoughts which we cannot do publicly.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. I am not sad that I can’t vent my feelings publicly. I am sad that after 70 years of Independence and all that India is Shining marketing nothing much has changed on the ground level. Modernization and urbanization is not what I call Progress. Even if I take consider it as a symbol of progress, the cities only sum up 20% of the total population.

        Liked by 1 person

  23. Okay, late to the party. I just cleared out all that I didn’t get to when designing the new website. But I kept this to read. This is my take…
    News should be news, complete and unbaised, all the stupid facts fit to talk/print. I know that the news has been skewed for at last ten years, and it is one reason why I stopped watching MSN. We were at a small rally in Jacksonville Oregon (we used to live there) when Pres Bush stopped by for dinner at the local steakhouse. A VERY small peace rally with permits was also to be there — I mean, under 100 people including babies and children and very old folks. Tiny friendly town. The peace rally was told where they could be and did exactly that. Then out of the blue the

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