Many years ago, my husband was scuba diving in the chilly waters off the northern California coast when he came across a shipwreck. He spotted another diver, similarly clad in a standard black wetsuit, exploring the same area. In the friendly spirit of shared activity, the two divers pointed out to one another unusual aquatic life growing out of what remained of the old, sunken vessel. At the end of the dive, my husband surfaced, removed his goggles and put on his glasses. Only then did he realize that the other diver was actually a seal. The human camaraderie he thought he was enjoying existed only in his imagination.
I’m pretty sure that current American polling regarding the 2016 elections is being restricted to human beings. Nevertheless, I am beginning to suspect that I might be able to communicate better with a seal than with some of those being polled. At least my expectations would be realistic.
Current polling on Hillary Clinton is beyond my comprehension. I may disagree with those who support her because she is female or because they think she is the most electable Democrat or because they think she will agitate for their interests, but at least I comprehend their viewpoint. What I don’t get is how, even today, 41% of those polled say she is honest and trustworthy (Washington Post-ABC News poll). Even assuming that a generous 20% of people are so out of it that they think that Peter Rabbit, Darth Vader and Mickey Mouse were the first three presidents of the USA, that still leaves a lot of people. I could accept, in a horrified sort of way, if these people said that although she is secretive, evasive and completely morally flexible they think she’ll be a great president. But to say she is honest and trustworthy? I would have to think that my husband’s seal and I would more readily agree on a definition of honest and trustworthy than I would with these folks.
Last week, my daughter sent a funny video clip depicting a futile attempt of herself explaining to her two year old daughter the difference between make believe and lying; truth and falsehood. Little did she know that she could label her failure as completely suitable future voter education.
P.S. Sheryl Sandberg wrote an incredibly beautiful and moving Facebook post to mark a month since her husband’s death. While I think my comments last week about the ideas in her book, Lean In, were fair and not in any way disrespectful, perhaps I should have held back my Musing for a few weeks, considering her personal circumstances. Either way, I think her post is well worth reading.
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And Wilson had so many experts ready and willing to make it so.
You will get no opposition, James, on the idea that animals have finely tuned instincts, and many of their senses are more finely tuned than ours. I think I need to read more about the Wilson presidency.
Despite the cogent warnings of AJW that animals are animals and people are people and never the twain shall meet, still I wonder if some animals (if not all) are quicker in the uptake than we realize. And although they might be less able to conceptualize and verbalize, certain animals have proved to me that they possess a near-psychic grasp of things that are happening and often of things that are about to happen. Dogs and cats, the constant companions of humans, can sense the approach of their master from afar. And many animals, as reliable as the canary in the mineshaft, can sense the impending onslaught of an eruption, quake or tidal wave, sensing signals in the earth or in the biosphere long before humans are aware.
The Rabbi approached the seal without fear, on a comradely one-on-one basis, so I find it hardly surprising that an intelligent animal would mimic his gestures or respond in kind. Sometimes is the joke on us humans?
As for the dumbing-down of the populace, Progressive President Woodrow Wilson started it all when he advanced the federal control of education, announcing that we need no independent and free-thinking men of letters. What we need, sez he, is docile and obedient automatons informed enough to follow and execute basic instructions but by no means clever or educated enough to challenge their supervisors.
You’re making an excellent point about people not knowing what their opinions are until they know what other people think. And it’s getting worse with social media. People won’t even buy an outfit before sending pictures to their friends to find out if the friends like it. I do see some hope in the easy ability to put things up on Youtube etc. I wish conservatives knew how to use it more than they do.
I was pretty aghast when my mother-in-law told me that she had voted for Hillary Clinton last time because she was a woman. Now, I don’t even have the guts to ask what her plans are. My kids and I have discussed how media shapes the opinions of certain sets of people. These are people who don’t know what their favorite song is until they see an article or poll on it, that sort of thing. My kids know several young people like this. In this day of multiple sources of information, I guess the left controls more than enough of all of them to shape public opinion. I just find that kind of nauseating at times. Or rather, I guess what I find distressing is how people want to be told what to think and feel. Sometimes they even make me feel a little envious, when I’m feeling particularly down about it. I’m glad I have decent people around me most of the time.
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