Grasshopper Soup: Free speech, free lunch and different ideas |

Grasshopper Soup: Free speech, free lunch and different ideas

Who says there’s no such thing as a free lunch? I get Newsweek magazine for free. It started showing up in my P.O. box with my name on it, and you can bet your brand new pair of costly Sarah Palin eyeglasses I’m not paying for it.

Have you ever noticed how so many articles in newspapers and magazines reference, in paragraph after paragraph, sources who don’t want to be named. They aren’t even saying anything controversial enough to come back to haunt them, but they are so afraid of the back-stabbing, gossip-ridden, reputation-destroying, blog-clogged political climate in this country that they request anonymity for statements as harmless as, “No problem.”

What a great country we live in. Isn’t it nice to know you can speak your mind without fear of retribution? We sure have come a long way since Bunker Hill.

Maybe intolerance is more deeply rooted in our society than I would like to believe, and my recent column comparing national elections and politics to student body elections in grade school more insightful than I thought. The pettiness and lack of maturity in children lingers well into adulthood. It can spoil an entire country. Who can you trust these days? Cops? O.J. Simpson? Mister Magoo?

There is a time for tough talk, tough measures and going after people. The current mortgage crisis may be one of those times. Like most problems it is a crisis in human nature. The attempt by some to dump all the blame on unsuspecting home buyers reveals only the tip of the iceberg. The federal government, Wall Street and private enterprise were already so predisposed to either pride, arrogance, or lack of character, a false sense of financial security or poor judgment they allowed themselves to meddle in a complex global economic web, like little kids alone in a candy store.

There are those who do business with common sense and uncommon ethical standards. If they are an endangered species then what will we do? They say that Alan Greenspan knew for years exactly what was going on with mortgages and failed to live up to the responsibility of his office and ignored it. Of course, my sources will remain nameless.

Another time for tough talk is when a person or group, no matter who they are, resorts to anger, name calling, false accusations and financial and political punishment against others who freely choose different ideas. Our nation has too many people like that; meddling, unscrupulous people who hold others to a higher standard than they set for themselves, or insist that everyone fall in line with their view of the world, or else. Of course, it may be impossible to convince them of their own cognitive dissonance. When they get together and organize (God forbid), it becomes cognitive cacophony.

Read George F. Will’s column in the August 29th issue of Newsweek. He said it brilliantly, but with a little pessimism. He suspects that cognitive cacophony may be the natural order of things. If it is, free speech will forever remain a professional risk, and the highly perceptive and intelligent among us will be forever ineffective.

Aristotle said, “It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.” If you are angered instead of entertained by ideas you can’t accept, then, according to Aristotle, at least there’s a solution for you ” shut up and read!

As far as I am concerned, of all the major issues facing us today, none is more problematic than cognitive cacophony and the crisis of human nature. We can’t even understand, let alone solve, the other problems if we don’t fix those two first.

If you can figure out how, I’ll buy you a free lunch.

” Bob Sweigert is a Sierra Sun columnist, published poet, ski instructor and commercial driver. He’s lived at Lake Tahoe for 25 years.

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