Picking and Choosing

The truth is that most of us pick and choose the things we feel are important, never stopping to look at the sum total of what garners our support or checking those things for consistency. Consider that people become really energized over the Second Amendment to the US Constitution, which they feel (rightly or not) guarantees them the right to own firearms. Generally speaking, people are aware of and favor the Fifth Amendment. The rest of the Amendments we are perhaps minimally aware of or want to see applied very selectively. The same people who hold these positions consider themselves patriotic, but are they really?

The First Amendment to the Constitution reads as follows:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

We regularly hear people prattle on about free speech and their rights to a very distorted version of free exercise of religion, but we hardly ever hear much about freedom of the press – among Trumpian Republicans, especially. Instead, we hear a lot about “fake news,” a classic example of Freudian projection if ever there was one. We have seen reporters exiled from press briefings and the rhetoric of the administration lead to death threats toward reporters. We hear about a desire to restrict the press, and the outgoing administration in Washington did everything it could to damage news sources that are at least minimally credible while promoting those that served its propaganda aims.

Here is a principle to consider: the public availability of more information is always better. That’s not to say any of us should or could consume every bit of news that is offered. It is to say that anyone who wants to limit the number of outlets available to the public is trying to manipulate that same public and doesn’t have its best interests in mind. In a time of rising fascism around the world, we would do well to keep the importance of a free press in the front of our minds!

What Really Matters

Westerners are bombarded with information every minute of every day. Much of it goes by and isn’t absorbed, much of it is taken in and stored for later, some of it is immediately processed and used, but taken in total it is more than we can use and is a significant cause of stress. What can we do about it?

overcome-information-overloadThe easiest intervention is to simply turn it off. Do you listen to the radio during your commute? Try silence, or if you can’t tolerate the silence try listening to recorded music without commercials – but work toward silence, because even music is information. Are you in the habit of having the television or radio running in the background when you are at home, even if you think you aren’t paying attention to it? The truth is that you are paying attention to it, even if you think you are doing something else. The more we move toward doing one thing at a time and eliminating background noise, the better off we will be.

At first, you may feel a bit uncomfortable with the reduced stimulation. That is only because you are unaccustomed to it. In fact, our central nervous systems are operating on overload. While it’s true that reducing unnecessary stimulation will make us more efficient, the most important reason to work toward it is that it will positively impact our health and our relationships.