I don’t like to think I’m sheltered, but that doesn’t mean I’m not.
I grew up in a controlled environment: the suburbs of Long Island. Given that, a lot of what I learned about the world was from a certain, shall we say, “distance”. I received a great education and even got to go on a handful of vacations that showed me more of the world than I’d normally be exposed to. But, ultimately, it was all from the remove of a classroom, a TV screen, a scenic overlook, or an all inclusive resort next to a beach. And once I was diagnosed with ADD, my environment became even more controlled, focused, quantified, codified. That structure has stayed with me to this day, and it’s invaluable. It makes my life possible, guiding everything from how I get ready in the morning to my writing process.
But I’m getting off topic. The great thing about ADD is that even when you lose a thread, your attention will eventually return to it, sooner or later…
What I want to talk is framing – about how much of the foundation of learning relies on the perspective from which you’re taught. As I touched on in my Starship Troopers review, framing has a huge impact on how you view something. Which is something I have to remind myself every time I see the political cartoons of Ben Garrison. I’d rather not link his stuff directly to Unlife, so to get an idea of what I’m talking about, why don’t you just google the guy to get some context. Seriously, take a look. I can wait.
You good? Take a breath. It’s pretty bananas, especially when you’re used to liberals holding the entertainment baton.
This blog post isn’t about how one point of view is better than another. In fact, it’s about how there isn’t really such an obvious binary in most arguments, and yet, depending on how you’ve been taught, we often only see two sides in our minds – the right point of view and the wrong one. This guy falls firmly into what I’ve been taught is the “wrong one”. But according to the worldview that he and his fans were taught, theirs is the “right one”.
And that’s kind of crazy to think about. Not because of the content, but how radically different those perspectives are from each other.
Growing up, I looked at political cartoons as, well, older people trying to do comics. It was never my cup of tea, but I appreciated the cleverness of going for a double meaning through blocking and caricature. And though I didn’t agree with most of the ones I grew up around, it wasn’t until recently I realized how… I don’t know, “left of center” they were.
You see, from a controlled environment, you’re only able to see certain things in certain ways. Politics, for example. If one thing can be said of this election, it’s shining a light on how differently the two parties see this country and what it stands for. Our controlled environments are so radically different from each other, no wonder it’s become a life or death struggle for the fate of America and every ideal we hold dear. We are so removed from each other’s points of views about life, and how to live and experience it, that we’d rather paint the opposition as some cartoon rather than try to have a real discussion. And sure, as a liberal I tend to think of other liberals as being in the right, but painting my guys as altruistic and virtuous and conservatives as zealot bullies isn’t productive. We’ve made a battle of good and evil out of person that lives over here versus the person that lives over there.
Anyway, my final point is this: scrolling through Ben Garrison’s site, I saw a George Carlin quote. “It’s a big club, and you ain’t in it. You and I are not in the big club.” I always took George Carlin to be a liberal, but his voice goes beyond just those ideals I have been taught, and reaches people from all different walks of life. Maybe looking for more perspectives with such universal appeal would be better for us as a nation in the long run.
Or we can just keep trying to overpower the other side by any means possible under the guise of righteousness. That’s fine too, I guess.