Perspectives: It’s what we stand for that matters

OPINION – Having to eat your own words is something few of us find palatable. But there’s one instance where I’m glad I was forced to do it.

When I got my first radio job, I remember telling my colleagues how I would never do talk radio. Talk radio struck me as something that required too much effort to become informed enough to do well.

Fate was apparently listening and chuckling quietly.

Twenty years ago, I was asked to temporarily fill in for a departing talk show host and I reluctantly agreed to do so. After a few weeks of depressingly safe topics that no one could possibly find disagreeable, I slipped up.

I let my guard down and became passionate about a particular topic. Not quite Brother Beck weeping into the microphone passionate, but definitely speaking from my heart. And something very unexpected happened.

The phones began to light up. Some callers agreed while others argued with me. Discussing current events was challenging and it required becoming better informed on a wide variety of subjects.

Learning to develop my own viewpoint was a serious task. Having that viewpoint challenged regularly helped me grow thicker skin and greater patience.

I also found that I faced an interesting choice that accompanies any position where one is placed in the public spotlight. I could either be known for what I stood for or I could be known by what I was against.

Being against something or someone is almost always the path of least resistance. Entire media careers have been built upon giving others a steady supply of emotional demons to wrestle. It is depressingly easy to persuade others to define themselves by enemy-driven thinking.

But standing for something requires real thought and effort.

This means that we must give serious contemplation to what we are willing to die for as well what we’re willing to live for. Decisions of this type are too important to leave to others. There are innumerable charlatans and manipulators who spend lots of time and money trying to influence those choices for us.

Whether we live in a state of ignorance or education depends entirely upon our willingness to learn. The type of learning required is something that goes well beyond institutional education or media information.

Charley Reese said it perfectly:

To be truly educated, a person must have learned the basic facts of history, geography, science, math and language. Then the person must be taught the rules for clear thinking. He or she should also master at least a second language, and then must be motivated to continue the learning process for as long as he or she lives.

If we allow others to steer our thinking, our efforts and our lives will be spent benefiting their agendas at the expense of our own happiness. Standing for what matters most to us means learning to say “no” when others insist that we carry water for their pet cause or think as they do.

This is not as easy as it sounds when someone is using intimidation, ridicule, or shame to try to bend us to his or her will. Stepping away from the collective herd is a conscious choice that requires a degree of courage and resolve.

It requires being able to articulate what we stand for and why it matters. This means that we must take responsibility for what we know and resist the temptation to live on borrowed light.

Standing for something means understanding why certain principles are sound and others are not requires actual study and contemplation. That means turning off the television or computer and reading old books and original sources.

Those who do this quickly learn that human nature has not changed throughout human history. Principles that can stand the test of time were understood long ago. Hindsight allows us to see what worked and what didn’t.

On the other hand, being against something requires only the ability to parrot bumper sticker slogans and emotion-driven soundbites. It requires little effort and minimal understanding. Remember, it is the path of least resistance.

A person who approaches his or her life by clearly knowing what they stand for will be hard to lead astray. They won’t tell others what to live or die for or allow such things to be dictated to them.

We only change the world when the things that we stand for matter more to us than the things we despise.

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Bryan Hyde is a news commentator and co-host of the Perspectives talk show on Fox News 1450 AM 93.1 FM. The opinions stated in this article are his and not representative of St. George News.

Email: bryanh@stgnews.com

Twitter: @youcancallmebry

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2014, all rights reserved.

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8 Comments

  • JJ May 29, 2014 at 10:16 am

    It is important to stand for what you believe in and to have an opinion. It is equally important to understand that your stand may be wrong and there may be better ideas that you are willing to listen to. There is a fine line between standing for your beliefs and being ignorant.

  • Joanna May 29, 2014 at 2:05 pm

    Ugh…this article, combined with the self-description of being a “truth-seeker” and pot stirrer makes me want to absolutely barf. What a holier than thou, humble-bragging sophist. I wish SO badly StGNews would consider getting a real journalist to write “perspectives”, because this high-and-mighty drivel does nothing but trigger the gag reflex.

  • Ron May 29, 2014 at 3:23 pm

    Well said, JJ. Since Bryan is so fond of quotations, here’s one from Oliver Cromwell. When Parliament was on the verge of voting to execute King Charles I, Cromwell (who had, of course, headed the insurrection against the king) said: “I beseech you, Gentlemen, by the bowels of Christ, to consider that we might be wrong.” Considering that we might be wrong is vitally important to any decisions we might make.

  • CHJ May 29, 2014 at 5:24 pm

    Thank you for your thoughtful, articulate article. I enjoyed it very much. I’m afraid too many in the world are against “whatever” and almost consistently parrot what they have heard others say. I am grateful for your continuing articles.

  • Chris May 29, 2014 at 7:33 pm

    Interesting piece from a writer whose typical column is a rant against everything he finds despicable about current American society.

  • Maggie May 29, 2014 at 9:06 pm

    I think it is funny that the people who responded to you pretty much proved what you wrote!
    You might as well parrot a bumper sticker with this crowd. It will at least give them a reason for being, on the days you write. No critical thinking allowed !

  • Roy J May 31, 2014 at 10:52 am

    People who know something about old books and great ideas are rather more inclined to think that while there are specific principles and ideas discussed throughout the history of the West, what men have thought about them has changed radically from one generation to the next. “There is more error than truth in the great books’, said Mortimer J Adler, one of the fathers of the American great books movement. Ralph McInerny, prolific author and professor of philosophy at Notre Dame was known to have said that “the great books are not the same as the good books.’ If someone is looking for evidence of this, and also in the primary source reading list to end all reading lists, they need look no further than the Syntopicon of the Great Books collection.

  • PK June 4, 2014 at 1:51 pm

    I can’t tell if JOANNA is trolling or really just proved Bryan’s point. Loved the article Bryan some very solid points that more need to adopt. JJ and RON have some great points too.

    People arguing about the president always make me chuckle. I would love to blame the president for our problems but I can’t bring myself to when the Constitution begins with the 3 most important words of the entire document.

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