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The Art of Silence and Wilderness Thought

May 1, 2008

Rhetoric was known as the “art of speaking” among the ancient Greeks and Romans. Without question, there is more than a little rhetoric that is cast about in election debates and in political circles. The best speakers speak with a human voice of depth and are unafraid to show healthy doses of emotion. The best speakers emphasize good reason, present evidence and even use a little logic. What America has witnessed in the world of free speech is that few things are more powerful than emotion.

Effective politicians have learned that through the manipulation and creation of emotion, people can be persuaded more easily than a combination of the best public speech. Whether truthful or engineered, that is where the human voice of feeling comes into play.

Keeping cool when under fire cannot be understated, especially in a world of emotional beings in a tense or unstable situation. The reality of the U.S. economic situation is exactly this kind of scene. Sometimes, keeping your mouth shut is the best medicine. There are times when biting your tongue in silence is better than feeding the constant need to defend yourself.

That would seem to be the case in this election year. The senator, Barack Obama has been the constant brunt of emotional “trash talk” by his competitors. Many citizens, even the best of them are able to be swayed by creative emotional releases with little substance. What many citizens fail to realize is that the people that exhibit behaviors will continue to repeat those behaviors and more behaviors like them. Behavior is one measure of the character of a person.

The verbal snipe seems to be the successful in politics because verbal sniping often seems to work. Because of the nature of being human, sniping is easy. Most people of substance and character have something that can be used to hunt them down. Criticism from a safe distance is often the easiest attack, but sniping usually shows disrespect, petulant attitude and sarcasm.

Loose lips have been said to sink ships. What most folks fail to realize is that the sniper is the one that benefits most from the activity, even when the charge has little or no element of truth. Distortion of the truth is a potential gold mine for the verbal snipe.

Unfortunately, emotional beings that we are, we often accept the verbal snipe as fact when the quibble revolves around some aspect of morality or deeply held belief and longing. The need to be right is a human reaction, even when there is little or no basis for it. Then, the misled listeners tend to drift toward the position of attacker.

Verbal sniping among contenders shows bad faith and malicious attack under most circumstances. The United States citizen often buys into the idea that knowing someone makes a person dirty. This standard has been continually misapplied and heralded by the media and we buy it.

Politicians are politicians. By necessity, they associate with one another and others that are involved in the same world. Applying this standard sullies all of them when applied universally. The argument can be made that corruption begets corruption. How far you desire to take a fair judgment needs to be uniform and consistent.

Honorable people exist among some of the most base and corrupt. The job of the American public is to know what honor really is and enough about the politician to make the best choice possible.

The largest issue that the government faces is not individual issues, but the character of the person that holds office, whether in the executive, judicial or legislative branch. Pettiness is usually not recognized or is confused as dealing with the issues when it is not. The American public has continually made poor choices based what was represented as issues over the character of the person. That short-sightedness is exactly why the nation is where it is today. As a result, the U.S. Constitution and the founding documents of the country have been sidelined. As a result, the form and function of the country has suffered to a great degree. Collectively, we have corrupted our own society and government because we have refused to hold to the original standards that made this country what it is.

This land needs a change. If you believe in conspiracies and the control of secret societies, you probably hold that no attempt at change can possibly yield the results you long for. This is a cop-out to avoid your part in the process along with any hope of change for the better. What you say and what you do is important to the process of the nation as long as it exists. Banish the old thinking of corruption regardless of reward. America needs to get out of wilderness thinking and be willing to look beyond the current reality. Fear and selfishness is exactly what has brought us here. The thinking that is in place is exactly why America is in the wilderness of its’ own collective mind.

E. Manning

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