Sunday, February 25, 2018

Cogar: Accepting our reality

Dec. 30, 2016 at 11:22 p.m.

With all the discussion lately about "fake" and "real" news, I wanted to talk about truth. However, I soon came to the conclusion that "truth" is so perspective driven that I would have a hard time making my point no matter how loosely I defined that word. So I have decided instead to comment on the term "reality" and why that may be an even more accurate description of what I want to say.

Reality, as I will use the word, is the here and now. It is the day-to-day business of living. It is the paycheck, the rent, the gas in the car. It is medical bills or the possibility of them. It is the cost of higher education and the future of our children. It is how we think when we make decisions about our lives and where, when, and how we live them. Reality includes the day-to-day decisions we make and those we allow others to make for us. In this context, it is also how we view our political options and what, if any, action we wish to take.

So let's talk about what is real and not what we imagine to be real, or fake, or wishful thinking. Let's talk about reality in terms of what we strive for and what is now.

America is the only place where society considers the phrase "that's history" a term of derision. The here and now is not static. What's gone before is prologue to what is to come. Societies and cultures don't operate in a vacuum.

In America, that is too often forgotten, as if because it is "past" it has no further significance. The fact is that what has gone before should be a lesson on what is to come. It's a lesson that is, sadly, too often ignored. So the reality is that if the promises made to you, designed to make your life better, don't work, why are you still allowing them to tell you they will?

Why do we blame our elected officials for not responding to our needs but keep voting for candidates and incumbents who keep trying to feed us the same solutions that clearly don't work, didn't work four decades ago and aren't working now? Perhaps it isn't the system that is broken but the application of that system that is at fault. And what makes us believe that inexperience in how the railroad operates makes someone qualified to drive the locomotive?

Another "reality" we must be aware of is that we are no longer able to think in terms of our reality as being confined to America. The world has become a much smaller place and we must try to adjust to that reality. Not only has social media brought the rest of the world into our homes, but global trade and the global marketplace are integral to what we own, drive, wear and consume. If we continue to ignore that reality, we will find ourselves more and more isolated because the world will no longer revolve around us and what we want. Being a "leader" is only effective if the following are convinced that those who lead are interested in the welfare of those who follow.

We are still an exceptional nation and people. We still live in a society that offers more freedom than any other. We still have choices that a great part of this ever-smaller world would love to have. The key is what we do with those choices. We can choose to fear the world, the changes around us and make decisions as a reaction to that fear, or we can accept them as "real" and reach out to them. We are not required to especially like them, be comfortable with them or even approve of them. But ignoring them must not be an option.

Nor must we disparage, dismiss or belittle that with which we don't agree or understand. Much of what we fear is based on false facts, misconceptions, and an unwillingness to accept that what we feel and believe is not necessarily the only reality in an ever-shrinking world.

Acceptance is neither a failing nor a liability. Acceptance is who we are when we are at our best.

— James Cogar, a Longview resident and chairman of the Gregg County Democratic Party, is an occasional contributor to the Saturday Forum.



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