I once wrote a piece wherein I stated that young children hear what they understand. Many readers agreed. In retrospect, however, I should have expanded the theme to include ALL of us, not just young children.
The process begins when each of us becomes self-aware and it ends when each of us dies. It’s important to consider that what we understand is always a combined function of IQ, intellectual curiosity, and topical interests.
However, social environment and home life are just as critical because they beget our preconceived notions. And, good or bad, preconceived notions tilt the scale away from a need for truth and towards a need to believe.
The late Art Linkletter told the country; “Kids say the darndest things.” He made millions as a result. Regardless, I hear some of things they say almost every day.
For example, about 3-years ago during a pre-school Christmas play, a child, 5-year-old Amanda, recited the Hail Mary.
In the presence of about a hundred parents and grandparents, Amanda, with all the reverence a 5-year old could muster, prayed; “Hail Mary, full of grapes…”
Everyone froze… deadly silent, some of us turning a pale-blue, trying to stifle our chuckles. But, we DID it!
Long before that (1987), I was standing next to a customer and his young son in a local Radio Shack. The sales clerk had just finished explaining that he (the customer) needed a “serial interface.”
As the customer and his young son—he couldn’t have been more than seven—left the store, the boy told his dad; “Mommy always buys cereal at the store.”
And, I will never forget the genuine concern that 6-year old (Doris) had for her “pop-pop.” In her words, he had “Cadillacs” and the eye doctor was going “operate” on him the next morning.
And, then, just last week, a very articulate and reflective four-year-old, Jonathan, cleared the air as to precisely who betrayed Jesus at the Last Supper; it was Judith Asparagus.
These things are both harmless and funny when it comes to children. The late Art Linkletter also proved how profitable it could be.
But, adults say some of the “darndest” things, too. And, much of the time they are neither funny nor harmless.
Sadly, intellectually incurious adults (aka morons) never consider, for even an instant, that what THEY understand might be dangerously inaccurate or, even worse, flat out stupid.
They also forget that our children hear these pronouncements and assume they’re biblical truths. And, voila, preconceived notions begin to multiply like rabbits.
Nowadays, there is no shortage of sources for propagating lunacy. Some of the political and lifestyle talk-radio shows—nationally syndicated, as well as local—are prime examples.
In fairness, most call-in talk-show hosts are NOT jerks. Many of them either discovered or CREATED a market for their brand of output. They’ve simply found ways to dominate their field.
While a few of them are sometimes unintentionally disingenuous, they’re NOT stupid. Regardless, a handful of them, in my opinion, should not be on the air.
But, thanks to an over abundance of intellectually incurious callers (morons), these few are the ones who continually use the airways as a personal digital outhouse to relieve their frequent bouts of verbal diarrhea.
Their callers do the same thing. A few months ago, for example, a local morning radio host was discussing the “war on terror,” and the fact that most Muslims are not mindless fanatics intent on either converting all Christians to Islam or killing them.
An older-sounding woman called the host and explained how pleasant, kind, and compassionate her Muslim next-door neighbors have ALWAYS been towards her. “You can’t find nicer people,” she told the host.
WOW! I thought she was agreeing with the host’s contention. Wrong! She cleared my misconception up quickly over the next 4-seconds.
“Do you think they may have an ulterior motive?” She didn’t even wait for the host’s response before she said, “Personally, I suspect that it’s all an attempt to lessen their feelings of guilt when they kill me.”
Nothing. He just thanked her for the call. Worse, seven calls followed this one, not one of which challenged her statement.
But, over the next fifteen minutes, a shouting match raged between the “Righties” and the ‘Lefties” over whether the host was or was not a Liberal “do-gooder” in sympathy with terrorists.
Never address stupid positions with serious responses. It’s a waste of time. In terms of debate tactics, logic-based intellect is no match for fact-starved, emotional investment. This particular radio host must have known this.
“Why did your people attack us on September 11?” A couple of his “friends” asked this question, in all sincerity, of Ray Hanania.
Ray was a veteran syndicated Chicago political columnist who covered the Middle East and mainstream American issues.
He’s an Arab-American married to a Jewish woman. For a long time, they lived on the South Side of Chicago. But after 9/11, things abruptly changed.
He was suddenly persona non grata to most of the reporting media. It came close to destroying him.
His reply was the fact that he was from the ever-tough South Side of Chicago and he wanted to know how they could be so sure the terrorists were “South Siders.” Again, stupid questions do not warrant intelligent answers.
Anyway, Ray turned to stand-up comedy in order to survive financially and to help diffuse social hostilities. I’ve heard his routine; he’s quite funny, as confirmed by his couple of featured stints on The Comedy Channel.
He’s also back to his syndicated column. But, to this day, about half of his income comes from his stand-up comedy routine.
Closer to home, a couple of weeks ago, I was helping some fourth-graders with their math—I’m a volunteer tutor in math and science. Two of the boys got into a verbal war over something.
Whatever it was, it ended with one calling the other a “communist.” The other responded with, “I’m no Obama boy!”
I calmed them down and asked the whole group if any of them could define communism. One of them said that communism is “when people come into this country to kill Americans.” The others seemed to agree.
Long story short… I disagreed and their teacher invited me back to give the class a “little” social studies talk on political/economic systems—in terms of nine-year-old logic, of course.
But, as I type this, I’m still wondering who told these kids what they understand. It scares me because THIS is where it all begins. Good or bad, our kids hear what they understand and they hear it from adults.
We’d better get our arms around this soon. Not doing so won’t end the world, but I cannot find it in writing that America is forever.
Oh, and speaking of preconceived notions, I missed Jerry Springer again last week! Where the dickens is Dr. Phil when you need him?
Joe Walther is a freelance writer and publisher of The True Facts. You may comment on his column by clicking here.