Thursday, April 09, 2015

orphan annie eyes

I have discovered a rather disturbing quirk in my personality.  I am turning into an old grouch.

Self-awareness is not my strongest personality trait.  So, these revelations often come as Gypsy Rose flashes rather than as daily revelations.

My latest catalog of personal flaws happened as the result of two separate lunches.

I regularly eat lunch at one of two restaurants in San Patricio.  Both are owned by Canadians, but the staff is Mexican.  Well, a certain type of Mexican.  And that is partly what this essay is about.

Two of the waiters will often sit and talk with me about topics on their respective minds.  It turns out they share the same name, they are both in their early twenties, and they both spent their education years in The States.  One has dual citizenship.

I suspect they talk with me because they know I enjoy playing the role of raconteur understudy.

One of the waiters has been talking with me about heath and fitness issues for over a year.  Yeah, I know.  Talking with me about health and fitness is like talking with Oprah Winfrey about household budgets.  But he does. 

Things like: Is it true that if you drink a glass of orange juice each day, you will never have a cold?  Or whether doctors suppress the truth about herbal medicines because they would go out of business if the truth got out.

The other waiter has started talking with me about the Illuminati -- and a bushel of other conspiracy theories.  Some which he seems to find very compelling.

The source of all this, of course, is the internet.  As most of us have learned, the internet is simply a store of data that has not been filtered through the gauze of judgment. 

It contains great references for all types of information.  But there are plenty of cesspools.  Just as there is in the world of the printed word.

The Illuminati stuff is akin to the Protocols of the Elders of Zion.  Actually, some sites are merely a re-publication of the same anti-Semitic nonsense.

I watched Schindler's List last night.  The movie has always had a very profound effect upon me.  Spielberg created a masterpiece by making mass murder a very personal human crime.  If I ever ask myself how could this possibly have happened, I need only look at the nonsense published on some internet sites.

And there is the rub.  We all pack around a Louis Vuitton stuffed with various prejudices.  Some of them are valid.  At least, to the extent they are based on our experience or research.  We have learned how to evaluate data to see if is based on fact -- or if it is just another of those wild animals that tears down the fences of the logic paddock.

I know I have rolled my eyes far enough back to do a good imitation of Little Orphan Annie when hearing some questions.  Unfortunately, it is an automatic response.  Having heard a lot of the same misinformation for most of my life, it is hard to remember that not everyone has yet had an opportunity to process the dross from the silver.

It helps if I remember where I was in my twenties.  At least my late teens.  I was a sucker for every conspiracy theory that exercised its insect-legs through my mind.  I bought and read every book about the Kennedy assassination.  I was enthralled by books describing super-natural events.  I was even seduced by Ayn Rand.  Well, by her writing.

For both young guys to be interested in these topics is nothing surprising.  What should pleasantly surprise me is their desire to talk about them with me.  They seem to enjoy the conversation -- even if they do not accept my analysis.

That should be a good reminder to me.  Too often I see people (especially, older people) simply brush off "silly" questions raised by young people.  As if the very action of raising the question is a social affront.

That is why I need to be a bit more careful with my first reactions when they ask me questions.  I am not there to argue; I am simply a sounding board to put some structure around critical thinking.

And I am more than happy to do that.  Whether the question is faith or politics or nutrition or even the Illuminati.

More than anything, I suspect, I enjoy the role of mentor.

I bet that now turns into another of my excuses for dining out.


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