Jew, Atheist, Straight, Gay, Liberal, Conservative

We have a Jew, an atheist, straight and gay, liberal and conservative individuals in the same room and, they actually like each other. And can even talk about ideas and issues with which they disagree (and others in which they do agree or are really not that far apart). Who are these freaky guys?

Ben Shapiro and Dave Rubin.

Do they matter?

Yes. They matter generally because even though there have fundamental differences, they can still talk about their differences and if they can not come to agreement, at least will gain a better understanding of what those difference are. And they matter personally, for a couple of reasons. I have abandoned the news. Pretty much all of it. We have been without TV for over seven years. No cable, satellite or broadcast. A few months ago I deleted all of the news apps and social media apps from my phone and iPad. My life got quickly better. My stress levels went down. My outlook on life in general went up. If there was an incident anywhere on the planet that was significant enough to warrant my attention I would quickly learn about it from my few internet sources, a neighbor or someone down at the gun store.

Floods in California? Yeah, I heard about it a day or two later. Sad business, but what could I actually do and frankly did it impact my personal life? Trump uttering in a private meeting a word we have all used and some people saying it’s the end of the world as we know it. Why spend any of my remaining time on this planet paying attention to this crap?

But I try not to stay disconnected from all of the important issues and concerns. I try to filter the insane amount of noise and garbage to a few essentials. I strive to find and evaluate balanced views and opinions. This is not easy. What’s happened is that I pay attention to certain people who value ideas, independent thought, evidence and reason. It so happens that two of these people are Ben Shapiro and Dave Rubin.

I somehow found Dave a couple of years ago when he was part of the Larry King organization. I immediately liked his views, reasonableness, insightful perspectives and defense of classical liberal ideas. When he launched as an independent with his own internet based show and asked for fans to appear and talk for a few minutes, I immediately applied and was accepted. I was the old fart among the youngsters, but both Dave and I felt that I had something of value to bring to the conversation. It was fine and a grand experience.

Thinking back, I don’t recall when I first became aware of Ben. Maybe when he eviscerated Piers Morgan over gun control. Maybe a bit earlier. In any event, as I listened to Ben I was impressed that here is a young man who is an outstanding representative of American conservative values, a man who is rational, sharp, fact-based and willing to defend his principles in a courteous yet combative way when necessary. When I heard Ben say, “facts don’t care about your feelings”, I was in.

These days I refuse to label myself. I’d say I am an independent. I don’t do Parties. I don’t do identity. I do individuals, free speech, logic and evidence.

So, Dave Rubin’s guest on The Rubin Report recently was Ben Shapiro. If you are interested in how two knowledgeable and influential people can discuss important issues over which they hold different opinions (like abortion, race, religion, politics and the other hot button topics of today), and do this intelligently and rationally, you should give Dave’s conversation with Ben a listen.

Some of the other folks who regularly engage in a rational approach to today’s issues are: Sam Harris, Joe Rogan, Gad Saad, Jonathan Haidt, Jordan Peterson, Sargon of Akkad, Douglas Murray, Steven Pinker. There are undoubtedly more of these thinkers working out there, but these are the most familiar to me. Unfortunately, there is one systemic issue with their approach and accounting of events today. That blind spot has to do with age and the omission of the views, beliefs and activities of those citizens who are elderly and who live in rural, small town and out of the way places.

Demonstrations on campus and in the cities are big news. Facebook, Twitter and Instagram wars are given almost universal treatment. Practically the only older people’s viewpoints that are regularly considered are those people who are classified more by their economic, academic, political or celebrity status than by their age, working class status or geographical and demographic situations. In other words if you are old and you enjoy a relevant academic position, have significant wealth or are a business leader or celebrity, or a politician your voice may be heard. But otherwise, it’s like the rest of us don’t exist. Our opinions really don’t carry that much weight except for matters like social security or the annual celebrations of ancient battles. And, I’m sure some people reason privately, why bother. They are old. They will be dead soon. What does it matter what they think about internet privacy or Islamic terrorism?

Being an anthropologist by degree and an historian by inclination I know that most cultures, especially those upon whose ideas, discoveries and philosophies we have to thank for the building blocks of western and American societies did in fact value and incorporate the wisdom and knowledge accumulated by their elders. Today, however, even though I and many other “seniors” regularly use the internet, smart phones and other accoutrements of modern technology, if we aren’t “somebody”, we are most often ignored. I still think we have much to offer, even though much of what we think and do may go against the current grain of rapidly morphing social and cultural hot topics of the moment. My intent with this blog is to address many of today’s hot topics from the perspective of our elders, especially those who are really off the economic and super-zip area codes. Like everyone else, we were young once and know what it is like to go through those decades of passion, trials, cultural, societal and personal changes. We mostly managed to survive and learned to cope. Perhaps some of that knowledge and experience will still be heard today.


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