Why “The Contrarian Blog” and what does that name imply about what you are likely to find here? Well, a few initial thoughts and a disclaimer or two are in order before I proceed.
To begin with, this is ultimately kind of my wife’s idea. Insofar as so many of the good things in my life have been drawn from her inspiration…or prodding, or nagging or whatever motivation I needed at the time, the fact that I have chosen to write a blog dedicated to societal commentary should come as no surprise to anyone who knows me. It is for my wife and her infinite patience in listening to me ramble on about so many things that this blog is dedicated.
The purpose of The Contrarian Blog is not to simply talk about and offer thoughts on politics, theatre, foreign relations, film, art, public policy, food and fashion, current events, poetry and literature, finance, education, crime, travel, religion, humor, medicine, technology, music, leisure, science or whatever else in our society may call for an opinion. There are many on the blogosphere, some far more worldly and educated than I who can speak with expertise on almost any subject. But that is not why I am here and I hope it is not why you will be here.
It is my hope to offer differing perspectives on all of these topics and more. It is to stir up debate. It is to make you think. In short, I will probably come off quite often as trying to be “contrary for the sake of being contrary.” But honestly, despite my nom de plume of “The Great Contrarian”, that is not my intention. I see no merit in arguing simply to be difficult or yes, contrary. But in today’s society, where opinions, thoughts and simple personal musings can fly around the world in seconds, I find there is a great need to have someone out there in cyberspace urging pause to stop and think about the things that happen in our world. “I heard a voice crying out in the wilderness.” writes the prophet Isaiah. I will not be so arrogant or self-centered as to put myself on a pedestal to be The Voice of Reason on the internet. I will, however, try to offer perspective and commentary that will endeavor to make one to pause in a world moving at light-speed to slow down and even stop for a moment. I want you to allow your intellect, your values and your conscience to have a moment to actually work. When you consider it, that’s something rather hard to do these days.
People in the internet age (I can’t bring myself to using the term “netizens” or at least not yet) approach almost every issue and subject today from an extreme viewpoint. The angry voices on the radio and know-it-all pundits on TV rarely help. A film critic may have an opinion a particular movie. A lawmaker may have a stance on a certain issue. An activist may urge immediate action on who-knows-what but without such action the sky will surely fall. How much room is there in each of these circumstances for a counterpoint? In a society of blogs, online news “sources”, Facebook posts, tweets and so on that are so often filled with bile and rancor, we stop listening and thinking. I have come to the conclusion that it is the ability to compromise where others prefer to simply dig in to one position and never budge that is the hallmark of an enlightened person. Let’s face it. We can do a lot of damage that way and I find it highly undesirable, even distasteful, to have a kneejerk reaction to everything given access so much information and no opportunity, or desire, to really process any of it.
In my desire to communicate what’s on my mind, I have had people say to me “Well, if you want to be a catalyst for change, why not be a teacher or run for public office?” I would like to state right off that I respect education and revere teaching as a vocation of the highest order. To be blunt, I simply can’t do it. Regrettably, we seem to live in a society that often marginalizes teachers, cuts their funding and attempts to blame the ills of youth on those who try to educate and prepare them to live as responsible citizens. Education is a discipline that I truly believe calls for tremendous effort, self-sacrifice and dedication. Teaching, perhaps, is less a vocation and more of a calling, more so than anything else a person may feel “called” or otherwise compelled to do. I do not have the ability and I don’t feel that I have been called to the classroom, so I will leave it to those better than I to take up such an endeavor.
I can’t run for public office, either. It’s isn’t that I think I’m not qualified. Given the complete dysfunction of the United States Congress and state houses across the country right now, it occurs to me that the only real qualification necessary is complete obstinacy and the ability to demonstrate that skill (and I believe that it is, in fact, a skill) at an Olympic level. It’s not even that I don’t have the financial means to embark on a professional campaign, to debate the issues and then let the people decide on Election Day if I have made my case as to why I should represent them and their wishes in government. It’s that I feel the purpose of our American government should be to legislate, enforce and interpret the laws in our society that ultimately work for the common good. One can say that everybody knows that from grade school, but we all know that is often not what government actually does these days. I may present fresh ideas to a legislative body, but like teaching, governing needs to be done by people who have the patience and yes, goodness and decency, to listen to and govern the many millions of us as best as they can and try to create that “More Perfect Union” that was written about when this nation was founded. Again, I can’t do this.
I am a person often consumed by so many thoughts and opinions about so many topics all at once that I often find it difficult to express everything on my mind or even to get everything down in intelligible sentences. As it is with most of us, the human tongue and fingers are constrained by the speed of human thought. Who can convey the full meaning of so much so quickly? Here in this blog, this unique format, I will try to express my thoughts and share the thoughts of others so that perhaps those in power and those of us who perceive that they have no power, whoever they are and wherever they may be, might be moved to create a society that is better. Here is a place to offer a differing viewpoint of The Way Things Are to help shape The Way Things Should Be. The idea sounds crazy. Maybe it’s just the silly and perhaps juvenile hope of one person in a sea of billions for Something Better. But it’s not crazy…