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BassetDad On November - 2 - 2010

“I have been called a curmudgeon, which my obsolescent dictionary defines as a ‘surly, ill-mannered, bad-tempered fellow’. Nowadays, curmudgeon is likely to refer to anyone who hates hypocrisy, cant, sham, dogmatic ideologies, and has the nerve to point out unpleasant facts and takes the trouble to impale these sins on the skewer of humor and roast them over the fires of fact, common sense, and native intelligence. In this nation of bleating sheep and braying jackasses, it then becomes an honor to be labeled curmudgeon.” ~Edward Abbey

I ran across this quote while idling time away some time surfing the web.  It brings to light a major failing in our society.  We no longer place value on truth and honesty.  We denigrate education and those who seek to break through the ideological shells we have surrounded ourselves with cold hard facts.  Politicians and businessmen are rewarded for their dishonesty, cold heartiness and their political maneuvering rather than the substance of their actions.  I hope I can buck this trend.  I hope I continue to value truth and honesty, never become too set in my ways, always be nimble enough to change my opinion based on new information and forever have the ability to weigh the facts and draw conclusions based on them.

I am not saying that emotion never clouds my judgement.  Sometimes it does.  I am human and prone to emotion driven opinions and actions as we all are.  While I hope to keep to a minimum the times when I fly on pure emotion, facts of the matter be damned, I will always defend the defenseless and give those who are struggling the benefit of a doubt.  I do not envy those who can distance themselves from decisions that hurt people just because it saves them or their company money.  In my opinion only a sociopath could make decisions that destroy hundreds or thousands of peoples lives and be able to sleep at night.

So, what is the proper balance between fact and emotion based decision making?  Can we not make business profitable without endangering employees, the environment or consumers?  Can we not govern with compassion for the problems that many of us face?  These are questions we must answer as a matter of corporate and public policy.  While I aspire to be a curmudgeon as explained by Edward Abby, I don’t not aspire to being one without a heart.

Categories: Observations, Society

Written by BassetDad

Financial Analyst and politically active in the Coffee Party USA movement. I am a huge hockey and baseball fan and love to travel.

10 Responses so far.

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  1. Questinia says:

    As soon as children know how to read and write, and probably before, they should be taught the essentials of critical thinking.

    Proper use of the English language is also now seen as unfashionable:

    • kesmarn says:

      Playing with language while knowing how/when to take off the trigger-lock as well is great fun, Q.

      I do hope Stephen Fry will forgive me for despising one neologism, though. That would be the word “refudiate.” And I despise it for the most irrational of reasons, too, I’m sorry to say: I can’t abide its creator.

  2. Khirad says:

    “The life of the law has not been logic; it has been experience”

    -- Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.

    I just read this in a book today and thought it kinda sorta fit here. Sorry, I know it’s not perfect.

  3. choicelady says:

    Hi BD -- thank you for standing firmly for truth. I tend to agree with AdLib that there is a balance between intellect and emotion, the latter important lest we become distant from those for whom we fight. Emotions have value in keeping the passionate focus alive. That said, you are so correct in assessing that emotion run rampant is very destabilizing when it trumps thoughtful reflection and assessment. So balance, balance, balance.

    I think the thing that amazes me about the Reeps is the pretense at being thoughtfully reflective. Oh, not Rush or Glenn but those in power who speak as if their Big Picture Book budget was a thing of substance. Or their rhetoric -- Dead Grannies -- actually reflected thought. Even when someone (like that wacko woman who insisted you could find ‘death panels’ IN the federal health reform bill) holds up “proof” they do so without actually reading it out loud thus not proving -- it says nothing remotely like what they claim.

    I am not sure we ever have bridged the divide between the learned and the unschooled. The very slogan from Missouri -- “I’m from Missouri. SHOW me” -- is a quest for that “common sense” we think trumps book larnin’ any day. It’s quite true that some of the stupidest people I’ve ever met are “intellectuals”; too many read but do not comprehend, and in that vein they mirror the anti-intellectualism of the unschooled.

    There is balance needed in all walks of life. I had a grad school colleague who’d never had an enduring relationship in her life, and her goal? To create “family policy”. Shudder. It is not essential to have children to be a good teacher, but it does matter if you’ve never even been AROUND children enough to learn even the basics of developmental stages, kid humor, fear, and joy. If you’ve never poured steel or talked with those who have, how can you make decisions about that kind of work and its value? If all you know is the Country Club, how can you value the Boys and Girls clubs within the inner city.

    WE make up our minds with neither practical experience or intellect. We think if someone says it on TV or the internet it MUST be true. I suspect, however, we really don’t CARE if it’s true so long as it confirms what we WANT to be true. As in the stupid debate between religion and science about which creates the best moral leadership, there is no real division between intellect and feeling. In either case there are those with insight and those with blinders. There ARE brainless curmudgeons, too, the Archie Bunkers of the world.

    Dedication to finding the truth means being willing to confront your own cherished ideas, and if that’s first in your hierarchy of values, you will go far. Curmudgeons of the world cannot yet unite until the value of self skepticism is equal on all sides. My fave saying when it comes to politics or other issues:

    Don’t believe everything you think.

    If more of us accepted that reflective position, we’d be a lot further ahead as a civilization.

    • BassetDad says:

      Thank you so much for your added insight. What you say is true, we are blinded many times by ideology or what we want the truth to be rather than what the truth IS. Once you start that ball rolling it is hard if not impossible to stop because it builds the bedrock on which additional knowledge is piled. When the whole house of cards comes crashing down, then what?

  4. AdLib says:

    Maybe it requires a proper mixture in the right proportions of emotion and intellect to have one’s decision-making process firing on all cylinders.

    Elections clearly have become exercises in exacerbating emotional decision making to manipulate the masses into giving one power…and overwhelming their power of reason. Because if voters made the most reasoned decisions, they wouldn’t vote against their own interests and in favor of the top 2%.

    How often are specifics on what a candidate will do, either provided to the public or the basis of their decision making? Instead, as you describe BassetDad, the public readily embraces being made emotional over elections, gobbling up the red meat and lies of candidates and not demanding solutions and answers to the major issues that affect their lives.

    The tragedy of emotions overwhelming reason is that no long term solutions can ever be achieved in this nation anymore. These mindless swing voters can hate the taste of fish today but order it again tomorrow and be disappointed that they don’t like how it tastes.

    The Repubs and their corporate owners spent decades impoverishing them, stealing their wealth, jobs, houses and retirement…and yet…when they aren’t being fed BS (as Obama has not done as a full time job like Bush, Reagan and the Repubs always do), they become outraged that decades of destruction to our economy haven’t been reversed in less than two years…so we’re kicking out the under-performers and voting in the saboteurs.

    Obviously, blinded by emotion, these swing voters’ thought processes never make it past kicking out those who have under-delivered on their wishes or those who have been best demonized…to consider who they are replacing them with.

    So here we are, just two years after the GOP devastated this nation’s and the world’s economy, plunged us into an unnecessary war that will end up draining maybe $2 trillion in our hard earned taxes, violated many of our rights under the constitution, lied to us, deceived us and set us on this course of great division…and these dimwit, emotional swing voters are looking to them with naive and hopeful eyes.

    I think it’s clear what emotion these swing voters make me feel.

    • BassetDad says:

      It is clear what you feel, I am certain it is much the same as my take. Our national memory seems to fade all too quickly and we find ourselves looking for instant gratification in all things. As you say, that simply isn’t going to happen with our economy in the state it is in.

      It does seem to me that a major difference between democrats and republicans is that democrats seem to govern by emotions felt for the underserved and disinfranchised. Republicans tend to respond to red meat and fear. Maybe this doesn’t fit all instances, but it seems a common thread.

      I know that we can turn things around without destroying lives and this nation. The how is difficult to figure out.

      • AdLib says:

        The RW inundates people with the emotions of fear and hatred to drown out reason and truth. Progressives employ emotion as well but often it is that of compassion and concern (for others, the future, etc.). That compliments reason.

        The sad truth is that simplistic, reptilian brain emotions are usually invulnerable to and more powerful than reason.

        Perhaps the Dems should see that reason and truth can’t defeat the emotions of hate and fear, maybe they should focus more on the positive emotions more and give these emotion-driven voters more to choose from?

      • boomer1949 says:


        In the grand scheme of things and as a Psychology major in college, I am a ESFJ…and a Democrat. There is a correlation (please forgive me, I was lousy in Statistics). On the other hand, I have been around long enough to recognize selfishness when it rears its ugly head; I can spot it a mile away.

        Funny, though, I raised two daughters (adults now), exactly the same way (or at least I attempted to), and one is selfish and the other is as giving as the day is long.

  5. kesmarn says:

    BassetDad, have you found that simply noticing the fact that there is injustice and unfairness in the way the Bush administration mishandled the economy and nearly everything else, will get you labeled (in some circles) as a “negative” person? Otherwise known as a curmudgeon?

    Yet — magically — the folks who attack the President in the most vile terms never seem to get that curmudgeon label stuck on them?

    Like you, I’ll wear that curmudgeon badge, if it means that I’m a person who sees things as they are!

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