Part of my demented mind longs for the old college days when intelligence, reason, wisdom, and kindness were universal aspirations, and the more one did to master himself and uplift others, the better the world became. If there was a difference in opinion, it could be debated. Perhaps more data was needed, but eventually truth and justice would prevail.

Now, we’re in the real world. What people say is not what they say. Those trying to be uplifting are portrayed as strawmen for projections of malevolence. Rather than reading a few pages of legislation and debating injustices, intellectuals prefer to consume sound bites and work themselves into a freaky frenzy. Somebody wanting to help can’t really negotiate with uninformed emotion. To paraphrase, what we’ve got here is political parties.

In the local daily, teachers are organizing another protest. Sides are throwing selected statistics at each other, when it is fair to believe the budget provides more than enough to give kids a good education – unless we are trying to teach kids they must be dependent on government money. In another article, more charges of discrimination are launched pertaining to the “sweeping, sweeping, sweeping” changes in state voting laws. In a third, Representative Tim Moffitt is refusing to go on the defensive to explain his exact words while talking to a minority of his constituency he knows will never support anything he does.

In a fourth piece on popular delusions and the madness of crowds, ministers are taking sides in a controversy brewing over ethics charges against Asheville’s police chief. At first, one would ask how congregations are supposed to get the evidence to make them judge and jury, but instead one discovers words of wisdom:

“For those who appear to be determined to discredit him, we challenge them to either come forward with some evidence or cease and desist with their distractions so that Chief Anderson, his staff and the police department can be about the business of policing the city of Asheville,” said the Rev. Keith Ogden, pastor of Hill Street Baptist Church.

It sounds good on paper, but in the real world, real slyballs instigate without a paper trail. So maybe I’ll just grab a sign and chant. It’s dumb, but maybe I can make some friends in a flock.