When dealing with a problem we can assemble all available information, analyze it as best we can and honestly discuss all options for solving the problem. We can select only the information we agree to put on the table and talk about that, a more limited approach. We can agree not to talk about controversial or embarrassing subjects and agree that the problem is not something we will ever solve. I’ve always been in favor of the first approach, though it is no longer generally accepted as the way to solve problems. The second and third ways are much more common. These approaches apply to solving problems in our civic and personal lives.
As a citizenry we no longer expect disclosure from the powers that rule us, we expect spin. We are not given access to all of the pertinent facts, we are given a few facts in the context that will cause us to hopefully buy those facts, as presented. There is a fundamental divide in how people approach the things that vex us: we can yell at the television or we can read, analyze, discuss and write.
For those who yell at the television I will say this: at least you’re paying attention.
There is a divide between the open and closed approaches, a vast, deep chasm. There is no bridging this gap, sad to say. The advocates of a closed approach have their compelling reasons: often involving something embarrassing, shameful, illegal or otherwise painful that must be concealed. The advocates of transparency can be said to be unaware that all the rules of human society have changed– we live in an endless, brutal global war against violent extremists and the expectations we had before Terror are no longer reasonable. Transparency is a luxury people up against Terror can no longer afford.
This same divergence in approach applies in personal life. Some things are just too threatening to put on the table. So we agree not to discuss them. It doesn’t mean the things are no longer threatening. It means they are safely taken off the table as things we may talk about. It depresses the hell out of me, sometimes, that information people need to make intelligent decisions about their lives is withheld from them, by deliberate policy, by an unshakable decision. But on I march, as though the hell wasn’t depressed out of me.