This Grand Life

Random Musings From the Editorís Desk

By Kirsten

†Mustain

Elections bring out the ugly and irrational facets of human nature, and the upcoming presidential election in particular seems to be bringing a lot of hidden prejudices and hatred to the surface.

Perhaps it will ultimately have a cathartic effect on the American psyche, but that remains to be seen.

What has become abundantly clear to me is that racism and sexism are still alive and well in this country, even though people have become adept at calling them by other names in an effort to save face.

Unless oneís sole source of information is Fox News, the racism and sexism issues of this election have been hashed and rehashed in the media, so I wonít concentrate on them here.

Rather, I will say that it is not rocket science to surmise that the American people are eye to eye with a series of enormous crises that have been brought about, in part, by the utter incompetence of our elected officials.

In times of crisis, the most painful and important thing a person can do is to take a good hard walk down the road of self-examination.

We can all stand around and point our fingers at each other, but at the end of the day, that wonít solve anything.

It is time for our country to take a good honest look at itself and admit that some changes need to be made.

Denial at this point in time could be catastrophic.

Politicians, (such as the ones who currently occupy the White House), who are unable or unwilling to grasp that basic concept, will only cause further disaster. That means they must first be willing to look at themselves and admit the things they donít know, and acknowledge the things they need to work on.

I recently read about a scientific study that drew some fairly self-evident conclusions about human opinions and basic competence.

First of all, the study found that the average personís opinions are not swayed by fact. They arise instead from emotional and preconscious sources that feel so convincing that they persuade the human mind to ignore contrary information, regardless of how logical or trustworthy.

If a person becomes aware of that tendency in his or her own thinking, it becomes easier to override the emotional response and view the facts.

The study further found that incompetent people overestimate their competence (people as low as the 12th percentile ranked themselves in the 66th); incompetent people cannot recognize genuine skill, and incompetent people havenít the vaguest idea just how completely incompetent they are.

Contrarily, the study concluded that the smartest most competent people were precisely the people who suffered the most doubt, were most aware of their own limits, and were most willing to honestly admit it when they didnít know the answer to a question.

Being self-aware is the first step. A person who is self-aware can figure out that he or she doesnít know everything.

The Sybil called Socrates the wisest man alive, according to legend.† Socrates couldnít believe it, because he was primarily aware of how much he didnít know.† His conclusion was that the fool thinks he or she knows it all, and the wise person knows what he does not know, which is most of everything.

I think itís time we had some wiser more self-aware people in the White House.

Our current predicament calls for nothing less.

With that in mind, it seems to me that Obama is the wisest choice.