Tuesday, August 6, 2013

"Problems, Problems, Problems All Day Long"

"Problems, problems, problems all day long
Will my problems work out right or wrong?"

When the Everly Brothers sang those words in 1958 they were naturally singing about the problems of adolescent youth. As a later verse lays it out "They're all on account-a my lovin' you like I do-o-o-o-o." But for all that their words were pretty close to a universal truth.  At any time, at any place, at any age, mankind is beset with "problems." What's odd is our proclivity more to sing about them then to actually look at them honestly and to seriously seek solutions.

But is that fair to say?  Don't we look for solutions?

In truth, no, we generally do not.  What we generally do is at best look for easy and quick answers that either promise an easy but in the end unsatisfactory "solution," or, as likely, simply cast blame and responsibility away from ourselves.

In this day and age when a thousands voices are just a few mouse clicks away that fact may seem particularly hard to understand. But having more choices doesn't in any way change the fundamental fact the we  generally don't want to have to actually make a choice at all. Easy answers are so much, well, "easier."

And looking for actual resolution to complex problems may require more than merely hearing someone else's answer -- be they presented in the form of  simple "common sense" solutions or in the form of a diatribe demanding "fundamental change." -This because what we typically choose to listen to is most often someone telling us -- perhaps just in more convincing terms -- what we are already convinced is so. People that offer us confirmation, not growth.

AM radio rants are an example of this -- be they expressing the common viewpoints of the left or, more likely in recent years, of the right.  But if we personally find such rantings unappealing lets not fool ourselves that the more erudite presentation we hear on NPR, for all their soothing sense and logic, or for that matter read in the columns and editorials of the N.Y. Times, is really anything different. Different in style, yes. Different in tone, yes. Different in objectivity? Not at all.  Rush Limbaugh, Bill Moyers and Paul Krugman have far more in common than we'd likely wish to believe, no matter which one's words may comfort us.

The above is a painful realization and one that is difficult to reach and truly accept. It means  that we - gasp! - are actually somewhat on our own. That we are required to think for ourselves -- to hear and actually weigh evidence -- and not just listen and nod our heads.  More than that it means we may wind up shaking our heads "no" when everyone around us -- everyone that matters to us -- is together nodding "yes."

In the weeks and months to come some of these TnT blog posting will be addressing common "problems," both personal and societal.

This blogger makes no claim to anything  approaching omniscience. Far from it. But I do promise to dig a little deeper, and remain a bit more objective, than that stuff we are offered daily on AM radio or read in the N.Y. Times.

As so well put in another set of lyrics, these from a half a generation later...

"You were still in school
When you had that fool
Who really messed your mind.
And after that you turned your back
On treating people kind.

You better stop, look around."

And that we will.

That much at least I can promise. :)

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