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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- ON Kilter: Watching Obama’s other hand, other hand, and sleight of other hand – 2013
- Thinking clearly and independently in an election year (OPINION) – 2012
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.
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