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03. March 2017 · Comments Off on LIGHT OR HEAT? · Categories: General · Tags: ,

The theologian Karl Barth tells the story about hosting a colleague at his home in Basel for a few days.  One evening, the guest wanted to go for a late evening walk, while Barth was ready to got to bed. So before turning in, he showed his guest how to work the porch light switch.  In Europe, many houses have an exterior switch for the porch light so that people can switch it on to find the keyhole when coming home late at night. This uses less energy than simply leaving the porch light on.

So the two parted company – one for a late night walk, the other one off to bed. When Barth’s visitor returned, he had forgotten which button was which and so he randomly pushed the doorbell button resulting in a shrill noise all through the house.  Barth greeted his friend with the words, “that’s just like us theologians.  We aim to bring light and all we can manage is noise.”

Now I have in my day heard more than one sermon that was more noise than light, and I probably preached one or two myself!  But I would like to give this a wider application and say that there is a lot of noise these days in editorials, TV talk shows, and on the streets.  I am talking about the noise resulting from the US presidential election.  The debates during the election were all about noise from all sides.  The election and subsequent inauguration of President Donald Trump has resulted in more noise – in the streets from the “Not My President” people and everywhere. I’m tired of it, and I will not participate in these vitriolic discussions.

What is surprising to me, is how much “noise” seems to be coming from the liberal left side: the folks that are all about freedom of opinion and speech.  Their demonization of their opponents makes it look like freedom of speech is wonderful if it is their point of view being expressed, but not any other position that they disagree with.

It seems that everyone feels free to weigh in on any political topic, regardless of whether they actually understand the issue. Read a good sample of the FACEBOOK comments – an astounding number of people demonstrate that they have no knowledge whatsoever of foreign policy, economics, sociology. And yet they blast away at anyone who dares to take a position that is not in line with their special interest. Lots of heat.  Little or no light. It gets really tiring after a while. So while I read some of this stuff, I “hide” the profiles of the most annoying offenders.  You say, “why don’t you share all your good knowledge about these things, Dieter?”  Frankly I enjoy a good political discussion.  But not in a forum where you get shot down without being even listened to.  And also, frankly, because some of the issues facing North American Society are so complex that a layman such as I do not full understand them. Therefore I keep my mouth shut and have people wonder whether I am stupid, rather than opening it and removing all doubt.

Its really been a long time since we have seen or heard a decent political debate on either side of the border (and yes, by that I also include the present leadership race for the Conservative party in Canada). In a healthy debate, there are opposing viewpoints.  In a healthy debate one questions, and if possible refutes the opposing viewpoint.  But one does not attack the person who disagrees with us, for that is called an ad hominum argument (I’m not sure what the gender-nonspecific term for that is).

So if someone on the left, or on the right has some good arguments that are enlightening – lets hear that. But if all you want to do is make noise and call people names,keep it to yourself.  Its boring.

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