Thursday, April 25, 2013

The End of The Beginning

I was reprimanded by four of my supervisors, in an Emergency Meeting, when I worked for Sears (in a thankless job in one of their merchandizing offices) for something I didn't say, but that many people thought I said. This happened over 30 years ago, and now, probably everyone that was in that meeting except me is dead, but I still remember it. I was told, "It isn't important what you said or didn't say. What is important is what everyone thinks you said." And that it was my fault that the person who misheard me spread this rumor all over the office. I was also told to use more caution.

I'm less inclined, in my personal life, to be railroaded today, but I still see evidence of this prevailing mentality: The Facts Don't Matter. It is easier to base our actions on a well-publicized lie than deal with truth.

I should probably add a word of warning right about here. I am about as left-leaning of a liberal as you will ever meet, so if that kind of writing offends you, leave now. When I started this blog, I made a barely-critical comment about G.W. Bush and a couple of people stopped by to pee all over my post about it. I revised the article to comply with their sensitivities. They probably never even noticed. Too busy whining somewhere else? Well, those days are done. This blog is mine. Part of being a waiter, later, is not having to suck up to people, pretending to be something I'm not. Fair warning, then, that if you stumble upon this, I didn't write it to offend you, but I'm not changing it to please you either.

I think the dog and pony show at Sears is on my mind today because I've been thinking about other instances of stuff that isn't true that people react to as if they are because "it's important what everyone thinks you said." I think it's more important to go back and identify that original lie. Dispute the false evidence that the claims are made upon.

For instance: Standardized testing in the public schools.
We know this doesn't work. People do not learn the same way, have the same skill sets, express themselves identically, etc and we would be in one helluva mess if they did, but we evaluate students, and their teachers' performance, based on the premise that all of this is true, and excuse this travesty by claiming we "must have standards." The lie is that the only standard permissible is conformity. I wonder, how has it happened that our teachers are the last people we look to for answers about how best to educate? Instead, they are accused of being lazy, their job security and wage structure is attacked, and they are told how to teach - by people who have never taught a day in their lives.The standardized method is class warfare. It is a method of indoctrination, and a tactic for weeding out critical thinkers to create a paint-by-numbers hoard who will do as their told (by their privately educated peers of the wealthier class).

Another instance that gives me the same knot in my stomach as my Sears days is the whitewashing that's being pulled on the American public with tort reform.

In spite of the fact that measures are already in place to deal with abuses against the court system, we have been snookered into thinking that some sweeping, generalized cap limit on the amount of money we are allowed to sue for damages. This, supposedly, is to protect us, keep services and merchandize affordable, and weed out all of those people who take advantage of the court system.


We're going to neuter due process, but let the corporations run wild - unregulated, no holds barred - for our protection? There's A Modest Proposal, if I ever heard one.

And the third really upside-down rationale floating around right now is about guns.

The Second Amendment so clearly states that being permitted to own guns is for the purpose of a well-regulated militia.When the Supreme Court elected to redact the 13 words that precede our right to bear arms, we became more loyal to "what someone thinks they said" than to what they actually said. And this has become the basis for a defense for people buying guns for their kids, allowing all manner of assault weapons with multiple rounds of ammunition, and giving criminals easy access to weapons by blocking gun laws. We don't want to know the truth, and we don't want to fix the problems of rampant gun violence. We want to protect the corporations that manufacture the guns, because this is about protecting assets more than lives.

When I waited tables, my job often required me to acquiesce to a customer's unreasonable demands and cover for the inadequacies of my employer or the inferiority of their product. Slowly, but surely, as I distance myself from the mindset of pleasing others and learn how to stand up for myself, I see that none of us are doing each other any favors by accepting these commonly used lies about standardized tests, tort reform or gun control. Rather than allow the folks who benefit from these abuses to set the playing field for our discussions, we ought to be revisiting their initial flawed premises. If I could go back 30+ years, I would say to these bullies at Sears, "Yes, it IS important what I said, and if you are willing to ignore what I said in favor of something that is not true, I can't trust you."

Still, if I hadn't lost that crappy job, I might never have taken that Greyhound bus to Denver with $300 in my pocket, and begun my glamorous life as a waiter. (And he lived happily ever, after.)