Wednesday, September 28, 2016
And yet nowadays, as yesterday, I realize how much I appreciate listening to people whom I somehow trust to have done the homework that underpins or supports the conclusions they might then make. How do I know they've done the homework? The honest answer is that I don't. But somehow I trust their minds and their efforts. It's an iffy business, one that calls the usefulness and truthiness of conclusions into question, but still....
The thought train rose up again yesterday as I caught a snipped of an interview with Andrew Bacevich, a former Marine Corps colonel during the Vietnam war. He is one of a handful of men whose thinking I trust. Why? Well. because he seems to have done his homework. But has he? The honest answer is, I don't really know. I know I agree with many of his conclusions, but that's not the same as saying he has done his homework.
Homework is like slashing through the undergrowth of some jungle. Slash and cut and collect and then slash and cut and collect some more until, perhaps, a pool of clear water is attained -- a respite and resting place at which to drink my fill. But such a pool -- such a place of ranging, pure agreement is no place to rest. All around, without surcease, is the very jungle that brought me here. The pool is just a reminder of the fact that no matter how much homework is done, still the homework is not "done" in some perfected sense. It is just a place where I choose to rest and learn to say, "I don't know."
For all that, there are a handful of people I do trust and do feel at home with and am pleased that they have, if only in my mind, done their homework. Those who have not done their homework are everywhere -- full of conclusions that rest on rickety legs. I can smell them; I can feel their thorns ... blow-hards and feather merchants who think because there is agreement there is therefore truth.
I am tired of those who get by or don't get called out when they reach conclusions that lots of others share. Blowhards and feather merchants ... and yet how do I know that those I admire are any better?
The answer is, I don't know and I am as lazy if not lazier than the next fellow.