THE POWER OF TWO

This post dedicated respectfully to my good friends at BYTE BACK and HowardOwens.com (Howard Owens) and all the other bloggers who put their beliefs and opinions on the internet daily with consistency and thoughtful discourse. Few know how hard it is to do this regularly and well.

Two men sit side-by-side in a bar or in their respective living rooms on their laptops discussing politics, war, baseball and any other aspect of their lives they care to share with each other. Both are uniquely brilliant and similarly gifted writers and thinkers but they write and think from different sides of the coin in different states. Every so often, that coin becomes metaphysically dunked in a huge beer as the result of some mystical game of “Quarter Bounce” and these two gentleman both get dunked.

Said another way, the courage of their convictions sometimes brings them face to face in an ideological “old-West” showdown and bullets born of weariness of the discourse replace attempts to reason. And for men as brilliant as these, it is inevitable.

In a powerful way, we are all better off for it even though some may not understand the R-rated bullets.

I read HowardOwens.com (Howard Owens) and BYTE BACK daily even though the are politically as far apart as Mercury and Pluto. I’ve written about these men before, both love baseball and have eclectic taste in music and the arts. Both men are well educated in the tenants of journalism and take on challenging topics daily. While DIMN guards his real identity to ward off the scrutiny bloggers who happen to work for in the media have come under by their employers, Howard does not need to.

And each get a fair amount of comments on what they self-publish on their websites. Sometimes, the comments take on a life of their own and the debate rages. Sometimes it gets personal from miles away.

Men in a bar can see each other’s eyes and interpret meaning, gauge sincerity and levels of sarcastic jocularity. But it’s difficult to do this when reading comments that are unlimited by time and for the most part space. Once can go to bed having left a point they thought solid only to find a shocker in the comments the next morning. In some ways, blogging takes more preparation than writing for a newspaper. For one who writes “on the job” there’s almost always a solid editor scouring the content and massaging it to publication or hacking it beyond recognition.

Yet, in either case, I believe we take far too much of our freedoms for granted today. We rightfully worry about our government invading these freedoms while we tap away on our keyboards linking to unlimited news resources from all over the world.

We engage in political debate and get so fired up at our opponents “ignorance” that we forget how luxurious it is to be carrying on an instant written debate across the nation in nanoseconds.

Imagine having to write an inclusive letter and wait a week for it to arrive at its destination and then another week of the return discourse. Today, we are able to communicate to a multitude of folks simply by creating and pushing a button.

And we are becoming dangerously polarized politically. I sense that as the politics of cyberspace increase so does the vitriolic rhetoric of opposing thinkers. It’s too easy to hoist a tent in a camp of one’s choosing and stay there bolstered by like-minded thinkers.

There may be strength in numbers, but the emerging group-think is removing the need for individuals to develop their talents of debate, speech and thinking. And I fear that is a danger for the next generation to deal with.

Yet, as I sit here on the Independence Day weekend free to write anything I desire and publish it on this page one thought keeps coming back to me reflected in the cartoon at the top of this page: No matter how rough the tone of politics is or what we face as a nation our freedom of self-expression makes us ultimately stronger in character than we know.

At the baseball game last Wednesday there were hundreds of Canadians who crossed the border to watch the Toronto team play in Detroit. There was a Puerto Rican baseball team invited to watch them, too. And there were men and women of all colors, shapes and sizes surrounding me on the first base line.

We all engaged in what I call “positive heckling.” Since there were only about 12,000 fans total, Carlos Delgato could hear very well the fans begging him to come to Detroit. He answered that with a wide grin and a knowing laugh that it will never happen but he seemed to admire our spirit.

We begged “the other Carlos” (Pena) to throw baseballs to the kids or at least smile once in a while through his intensity for the game. Eventually, he did both.

And we even gave the bat boy who ran from the bullpen to the dugout a few times during the game a well-deserved standing ovation just for being on the field. He grinned from ear to ear. Baseball does that.

I’d love to get DIMN and Howard to a ballgame together so the three of us could toast to all we know we have and all we take for granted in America.

We might even agree that the cartoon below is worth more thought about how we can come together as a nation now that we have the technology to grow further apart faster in the ideological and political arenas.

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