“Life’s tough, but it’s tougher when you’re stupid.” — John Wayne
Choosing who we listen to and learning from life’s mistakes can help
—So speaketh the prophet, John Wayne.
I know, this quote sounds pretty harsh — but then, this is JW. We can’t necessarily expect loving overtures from the man, the cowboy, the legend.
And it tickled me, for various reasons, including just how ‘on brand’ it was for him. But the real reason it became the title is because of just how true it is.
And I’m not looking to be disrespectful, I’m simply thinking of those who choose to be adamantly attached to opinions, outlook, perspective — with no curiosity.
These people aren’t looking for more information to expand their knowledge on the subject; they’re looking to be right, with the limited information they’ve accrued.
We’ve all met someone like this. They once heard a soundbite that they liked, or who told it, and that ‘fact’ became their living, breathing truth.
“It is what we know already that often prevents us from learning.” —Claude Bernard
And there’s a fervor to this attachment to finite information. A digging down, being adamant they know, and they love the fact they know. It’s their ‘precious’ (kudos to Lord of The Rings).
They say there’s a danger to a little knowledge, and I’d add that it’s doubly dangerous when taken as the Gospel — even when it’s from a less than stellar source.
“The most important thing I think teachers can do for young people is to make them inquiring, is to ensure that they know how to gather information, that they check information and they take their information from a multiplicity of sources.” — David Puttnam
The media has provided us with thousands of examples of loud, know-it-alls (and I’m not even referring to the outgoing Trump here). You’ll find them all over Youtube, other social media — where loudness is king. Ranting is better than merely informing, telling is better than convincing, and it seems there will always be willing believers.
“Look at me, do what I do, be like me, I know best,” the loud voices shout, sounding as convinced as any self-righteous preacher, building their disciples by the thousands.
Yes, we’ve always had these snake oil salesmen in walks of life, but at one time, they had limited reach. Now anyone can come across them via clickbait, simply browsing, with no intention of actively seeking out this promiser of dreams.
I have some family members who are more than happy to dig into a belief, hold it like the holy scrolls, and get more entrenched if questioned on it. Reason doesn’t work as a counter because it is perceived as an attack on their beliefs, their core, their person.
Maybe it’s always been there, but the web seems to have increased the gravitas of these views, or perhaps the fact they can return to the source and drink more of its Kool-aid. Emboldened, reinforced, they go back into the world replenished, with ever more confidence.
We all get to choose our leaders, our influencers, the voices that speak to us. It’s where we go to find them where we can show some discerning qualities — if we’re smart about it. We can do some due diligence on the source before we commit wholeheartedly to their world outlook.
These are dangerous times, where we can access all types of news, other information at the click of a button, a flick of the wrist. It’s all there. The only thing we need to do is choose the source.
And it’s not as easy as it sounds. When we don’t know what is True anymore, then who or what do we rely on for that Truth?
“In the news feed on your phone, all stories look the same — whether they come from a credible source or not.” — Katharine Viner
It seems 2020 has been the ultimate in misinformation (to date — it can also get much worse). In twenty short years, the internet has taken us as a nation to this misinformation age. A large portion of the population imbibes half-truths as gospel — in the same way we’d accuse Russia in the past. I say ‘past’ as their citizenry seem more discerning of what they get fed today.
Taking a step back from the precipice, I see I’ve ranted a little myself. I find it frustrating that so many are taking shortcuts to be informed, then going forth and spouting it, looking to convert others. It feels like a disservice to society at large.
I’m hoping we can teach the next generation to be more discerning in where they learn and from whom. Life is all about avoiding mishaps, learning from any wrong turns, not making the same ones again, so that we can grow in our lives. But if we’re learning from a dubious source, we’re being waylaid as opposed to helped.
For those who choose to be adamant in their outlook, against all the seeming evidence, they’re in for a hard ride. After all, we were given these brains to problem-solve. If we don’t use them to learn, the same mistakes will be made, the same surprises will be had, and life will be more challenging.
We rose above the animal kingdom due to our smarts, and I firmly intend to use everything at my disposal to live an easier, simpler life.