Estimated reading time: 5 minute(s)
If you weren’t immediately turned off by the title, I’d imagine that at least a handful of readers are now completely done with this post, and—quite likely—done with GregsHead.net entirely.
That seems to be the current climate in our country, especially in the political world, and especially surrounding the man Glenn Beck.
What I don’t get is why we decide certain people aren’t worth listening to, without really listening to them. I had a conversation with a friend not long ago who said something a bit “off the cuff” about Beck, and, me being an actual long-time listener to his stuff—and, thinking this friend to be a thinker, rather than just a spewer of recycled words—I decided to initiate a dialog with him about some of the misconceptions about this much-maligned media personality.
I am not writing this to defend Glenn Beck. You’re likely an adult, and you can decide who and what you want to listen to, and agree or disagree with. That’s certainly not in question.
What I am so puzzled by is (and I’ve mentioned this often here) why we say things—often at least skewed, if not untrue—about other people (or other “sides”) instead of listening to each other. We just are not listening to each other.
And sometimes, it’s just because of a name.
I started listening to Glenn’s radio show before the 2000 presidential election. A few things caught my ear. First, I did agree with most of what he said, and even though he was a Republican then, he seemed more independent thinking, not just a Republican party supporter. (I am not a supporter of any party.) Second, his stuff was really just funny then. It was pre-9/11. Third… he told a story about his daughters that was intriguingly close to how I think as a parent.
And so, I began to listen.
The strange part is, until just recently, Glenn Beck was fairly irrelevant. 🙂 He was just a funny guy on the radio. But then, as he has changed over the years, and his focus became more on “educating” the American people on the parts of history we’ve not been taught, or been taught perhaps differently than actually happened… all of a sudden, it became not only unpopular to say you are a listener or a fan of Glenn Beck, but it’s downright evil! You must be stupid!
Here’s the thing. Sometimes I wonder why people think what they do. I bet you do, too. Obviously, mostly when they see something completely differently than I do. “How can they think that???” I wonder. Well… because they have brains, and they have put the pieces together slightly different than I!
The biggest problem in our country currently—probably in the entire world, actually—is that we do not allow others to be different. I mean, we say we do… but we really don’t.
If so, it would be OK for people to like Glenn Beck.
Glenn has been talking this week about the attacks on him. There are attempts to boycott his advertisers, discredit him, etc, etc. Even the president called him out by name. There is also a process in the works to limit and filter content on the internet in our country. (See “Net Neutrality” page at Wikipedia. Primarily a technology thing, but opens the door for censorship.) In a lot of ways, people want to “shut up” Glenn Beck.
Same goes for the Tea Party Movement. (Which is often associated with Glenn Beck.) But I actually know many people who, if they are not part of this “movement”, are sympathetic to it. (Even some who don’t listen to Glenn Beck!)
Granted, there are some people out there who are just joining the latest trend or fad. Whatever “side” that may represent. But I’m guessing, based on the people I know on both (or all?) sides of the political spectrum that nearly all of us have good reasons for what we believe. They may be misinformed in some cases, but I’d say mostly we’ve had some reason or opportunity to form a worldview and a set of values and principles with which we align ourselves. Our choice. Not a “party line.”
(NOTE: I am not applying this to the politicians in Washington. I’d say people with principles and actual well-thought-out beliefs in DC are the rare exception, rather than the norm!)
We have a tendency to lump people together. Especially those who do not think like we do. (Though, sometimes we assume someone who thinks similarly on one issue, will think as we do on all issues, too.) It’s just not true. We are individuals. There may be some—even many—similarities, but we are not automatons merely following our marching instructions. None of us. Your side, or their side.
So let’s allow people to express themselves… for real. Not just say that we do. If someone thinks differently than you, let him speak. There is a notion that people are not smart enough to filter through all the “stuff” out there … and so those who are saying things that are completely opposed to what we think should be “silenced” … but perhaps that is the scariest thing we could say. Once we silence one voice, who’s to say you’re not next?
I’ve said here a bunch of times that this blog is not a political blog, and that’s really true. But lately I’ve just been amazed at how divisive the name “Glenn Beck” has become and it made me think that we’re still not listening to each other.
And so I ask you… why not? Are you?
I hope so.
And, if you are turned off by the name Glenn Beck, and have never actually listened to Glenn’s show, perhaps you could listen for a few days. (One day would not be enough, I don’t think, to get past any prejudice that has been built up.) Or you can read his very short book “Common Sense“, get a copy from the library or a friend. Then, if you still don’t agree, rock on. But we just can’t make judgements without listening. Without doing proper research. We all deserve a chance to be heard.
And we all need to just listen.