The Consequences of Reckless Rhetoric
1 hour ago
With real people one has to deal with their foibles, quirks, and whatever annoys us. In virtual relationships our interaction is limited to written words, and while it fosters bonds quickly with those who share our beliefs, that sort of "substance" can mislead us as to the depth of our friendships.
Fascinatingly enough, this is not the first time in human history that corn has been overdone. From what archeology thinks now not only did excessive corn production bring down the downfall of the ancient Mayans but the Woodland Indians of the Mississippi Valley too. Not only is corn hard on the soil, but a diet heavy in corn is not necessarily healthy. Early mound-building Indians ate too much corn, say archeologists. Late skyscraper-building Americans eat too much corn too, in the form of meat fattened on corn.
But that is not the whole reason I criticize corn sometimes. I am heretical enough to think that it is not really great feed for livestock. My chickens don’t think so. They eat it only grudgingly. They prefer wheat to supplement their bugs and worms in the woods. When I eat corn, at least half of each kernel goes right through me. I have mixed hog manure with water and poured it through a screen and again, the yellow parts of the kernel were still there in the manure. It appears that almost half of the bulk of commercial corn fed to hogs goes right through them undigested. Squirrels regularly raid our corn crib. They eat only the germ out of each kernel and leave the rest. I think corn is like candy. It’s fun and fattening, and produces meat that is fun and fattening too.
It took a long time for science as a profession to catch on, because—pace a myth very widespread these days—science contributed next to nothing to the technological revolutions that swept the western world in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Until late in the nineteenth century, in fact, things generally worked the other way around: engineers and basement tinkerers discovered some exotic new effect, and then scientists scrambled to figure out what made it happen. James Clerk Maxwell, whose 1873 book Electricity and Magnetism finally got out ahead of the engineers to postulate the effects that would become the basis for radio, began the process by which science took the lead in technological innovation, but it wasn’t until the Second World War that science had matured enough to become the engine of discovery it then became. It was then that government and business investment in basic research took off, creating the institutionalized science of the present day.
OK, it’s true. We could have done better. By not having three kids we could have saved the atmosphere from an extra 28,223 metric tons of C02 each year — or 58 times the amount that we have saved by switching to a fuel efficient car, driving less, recycling, installing CFLs, replacing our inefficient refrigerator and old windows. And by adopting rather than conceiving, we would not have added to the 350,000 children who are born every day to a planet now burdened with 7 billion humans, and braced for more.
But let's be honest, these aren't the things people want to hear about when there's prizefighting to be done. Hence the backlash when Kennedy brings it up. Hence the forum threads and snarky Twitter rants. Not only are these types of stories a downer, they're not even sufficiently novel anymore.
After nearly ten years of wars, we've heard about so many wounded vets who have been forced to rebuild their lives that it's too mundane to seem special anymore. Even the tales of their injuries are no longer sufficiently horrifying for us, which is itself horrifying in a different way.
The wars go on, the soldiers get blown up, but back home we prefer to keep our pro sporting events free from such interruptions. Tell us about your sponsors, fine. But don't go off on this military thing again. We were having such a good time.
For Kennedy, the fact that people are sick of it is precisely what motivates him to tell them, again and again.
"I think people already have forgotten," he said. "It's not like I have a responsibility to do it, but I'm very passionate about it and I know people have forgotten how many guys we have overseas, how many guys are messed up, and how much these guys are sacrificing."
For Schlitz, who doesn't have Kennedy's celebrity pulpit, the focus is on helping the people who are still coming back from the wars, whether the rest of the country remembers them or not.
"It's something you can't always talk about," he said. "That's where that disconnect comes with civilians and the military, because there's no way to actually verbalize it and have someone comprehend what you've seen and what you've done."
It's even harder to talk about when no one back home wants to hear it.
Here is the point I like to emphasize, especially to the thousands of police officers and soldiers I speak to each year. In nature the sheep, real sheep, are born as sheep. Sheepdogs are born that way, and so are wolves. They didn’t have a choice. But you are not a critter. As a human being, you can be whatever you want to be. It is a conscious, moral decision. If you want to be a sheep, then you can be a sheep and that is okay, but you must understand the price you pay. When the wolf comes, you and your loved ones are going to die if there is not a sheepdog there to protect you. If you want to be a wolf, you can be one, but the sheepdogs are going to hunt you down and you will never have rest, safety, trust or love. But if you want to be a sheepdog and walk the warrior’s path, then you must make a conscious and moral decision every day to dedicate, equip and prepare yourself to thrive in that toxic, corrosive moment when the wolf comes knocking at the door.