Rod Miller: Polaroids and Sour Grapes

in Column/Rod Miller

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By Rod Miller, columnist

We all carry, within our minds, a picture of what we want the world to be like. This image forms throughout our lives, based upon what we are taught and what we believe. By adulthood, it is pretty much ossified into something indelible, permanent, not subject to change.

That picture becomes a touchstone of life and assumes within us a place on our mental mantel right alongside religion, family, work and everything that we believe to be the foundation of life.

In fact, in times of uncertainty, that mental picture we have of what we want the world to be becomes the most important thing to us. We identify so strongly with that image that we, from time to time, become it. It becomes us.

When that happens, and we become invested in our own worldview to that extent, then we defend it as if we are defending our own person. Any event or any information that contradicts what we believe becomes a personal attack on us.

Faced with the dilemma of altering our personal picture of the world based upon outside evidence, or protecting a cherished belief system, humans generally defend their internal photography.

Nowhere is this dichotomy more evident than in our individual relationship with our own government. Politics is often the catalyst that causes our inner view of the world to obviate or override our ability to see things clearly.

Politics reinforces our ego-driven model of the world that says, “my ideas are right, and everyone else is wrong”.

When this happens, and we deny what is occurring around us in favor of that faded Polaroid we carry in our pockets, we deny ourselves a chance to learn and grow as humans. After all, why learn something new when you know everything already?

My good friends, we are fortunate enough to be Americans at this moment and to be presented with a rare opportunity to contrast our beloved internal image of the way we think things should be with the painful truth of the way things really are.

If we can’t handle that uncomfortable contradiction, then we might as well join those misguided knuckleheads who are storming the U.S. Capitol because they can’t accept reality.

Make no mistake, ever since democracy was invented, there have been losers. I’m sure that, when the Athenians voted with either black or white stones to go to war with Sparta, there were a handful of citizens who got their togas in a wad over the outcome.

The probably muttered to themselves, “But I’m right! I KNOW I’m right! And, oh by the way, where did all those black stones come from?”

If you lose and you are wrong, it doesn’t matter how loudly you proclaim your beliefs on the capitol steps, or what kind of flag you wave or hat you wear…that simply doesn’t alter reality.

It might make you feel better, and probably bolsters your own view of the world, but you still lost. Objective truth with prevail.

And to demonize elected officials who disagree with you, and to disparage the institutions that have kept our republic alive for a couple of centuries simply because your candidate didn’t win is the height of folly, both political and personal.

When a political party behaves this way, they do damage not only to themselves but also to the country and its citizens.

Don’t misunderstand, every citizen should have a deeply-held conviction about how our country should work.

Without that, we truly would be a nation of sheep.

But citizenship requires that our mental Polaroid of America must be subordinate to that of the entire populace. Without that, we truly would be a nation of criminals.


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