What’s the Real Issue Here?

by The Augustan on 09/22/2014

Have you ever listened to someone share their opinion on an extremely controversial topic and had a nagging suspicion that they were not being completely forthright? Perhaps you had a feeling that they had a motive they were unable or unwilling to communicate?

Frankly, there are times when I am not completely forthright about the reasons behind my actions. 

It is nearly impossible to prove whether or not someone is being truthful about their motives; however, I suspect that many people routinely conceal them. Freedom, patriotism, and religious doctrine are ideas that can easily be manipulated to disguise less virtuous motivations such as hatred and intolerance.

When asked directly, some may offer logical explanations for their views that, while plausible, somehow seem insufficient.

It points to something beneath the surface.

How often are people straightforward about exactly what is driving them? I cannot say for certain, but I have a hunch that the issues that people are most passionate about, and consequently fuel the longest-lasting debates, have far less to do with the issue itself and more to do with the motives that people rarely admit.

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Floyd Mayweather Jr., ISIS, and the Counterpunch

by The Augustan on 09/15/2014

In the ring, boxer Floyd Mayweather Jr. is a tactician. One of his particularly effective moves is retreating to the ropes, dropping his hands, and leaning forward. With his face entirely unguarded, he appears to be an ideal target.

But is he?

Along with being a skilled pugilist, Mayweather is known for being an antagonist. He stirs his opponent’s emotions by taunting them. They are so eager to knock him out that they attack recklessly and find themselves caught with multiple counterpunches.

In light of the horrific beheading of reporter James Foley, is there a lesson that can be learned from a boxer’s tactic? Boxing, like any form of combat, is a contest of strategies.

The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, also known as ISIS, is a violent extremist group that uses acts of terror to accomplish their agenda. But could they be as calculating as they are barbaric? While politicians and pundits debate how our military should  respond to ISIS, have they considered if our military should respond? There is no question that ISIS should be eliminated. That said, we should think deeply about what ISIS is trying to accomplish.

Perhaps there objective is to distract us from other terrorist activities or provoke a direct military attack? After all, civilian casualties have proven to be a compelling recruitment tool for extremist groups. It is possible that a direct military attack is the appropriate response to ISIS. It is also possible that ISIS is just another demented terrorist organization motivated by religious extremism.

That seems apparent.

Mayweather’s opponents frequently make the mistake of not looking past the obvious when he taunts them, retreats to the ropes, and leaves his face unguarded. Hopefully, our eagerness to defeat ISIS will not leave us reeling from a counterpunch.

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Please Share Responsibly

by The Augustan on 09/8/2014

As a social experiment, share a seemingly true news clip or meme on Facebook that you know is inaccurate. Observe exactly how many of your Facebook friends “like,” comment on, or share it as if it were true.

Regrettably, speculation that is supported by gossip can easily pass itself off as fact. As the saying goes, “If many believe so, it is so.”

There are numerous memes, articles, and posts on social media sites that can be disproven with relatively little research. Understandably, few people have the time or resources to verify all of the information that is presented to them. Still, by using good sense, questioning our assumptions, and being mindful of any biases that we may have, we can fairly evaluate information and guard against becoming a thoughtless cog in the online rumor mill.

Perhaps taking the time to think critically about information found on social media sites before sharing it seems like a burdensome task. But consider the burden that lies, misinformation, and slander is on people trying to have meaningful discussions about serious issues.

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