Glenn Beck doesn’t get it. And that’s a problem for all of us.
The conservative CNN journalist published a commentary on CNN.com on Aug. 8 titled: Drive Naked, Save America.
In it he knocks the smaller efforts that individuals can make to confront the energy crisis on their own – peak oil, record gas prices, related economic woes, etc. – rather than wait for politicians to sort out the mess with so-called solutions such as offshore drilling.
In his commentary, he bangs up presumptive Democratic Presidential Candidate Barack Obama who recently echoed some well-known advice: Keep your tires properly inflated; it enhances fuel economy by up to 3 percent. Those details are touted at fueleconomy.gov, among countless other places.
Beck complains that solutions that require individuals to act in such small ways are inherently flawed because they require so many people following suit to make a notable impact.
His reasoning then is, Why bother? Not surprisingly, his actions then are, likely, nonexistent.
How to Close the Liberal-Conservative Communication Gap
As I continue to mull over the communication gap that divides conservatives like Beck and non-conservatives like myself, I try to figure out how we see the world – and its problems and potential solutions – so differently.
Where is Beck coming from? Why can’t he understand why people are willing to believe that small measures are better than no measures — or big ones that are too suffocated in politics and general bureaucracy to get off the ground?
Here is my current, working theory, based on Beck’s commentary:
Conservatives like Beck are not believers, even when fact substantiates the claim.
He no more is willing to acknowledge that proper tire pressure saves a worthwhile 3 percent of fuel, than he is inclined to acknowledge that 100 pennies equals a dollar.
To Beck, 100 pennies isn’t worth collecting. Never mind that 100 pennies that become a dollar that become $100 is mathematically equal to one crisp Benjamin (one $100 bill). No, Beck believes the only solutions are huge solutions. (Nevermind if they are the right ones for the indefinite future, or merely status quo pushing ever deeper.)
He acts as though his duty as a voice to nationwide millions is to inflict a high-schoolish tactic of mockery upon the public, only to draw chuckles from the in-crowd, rather than to produce any constructive effort.
It’s equal to calling for apathy and indifference, rather than helping to lead a concerted effort to improve our collective lifestyles through more mindful daily actions.
Nevermind that Beck’s beloved America is built on many individuals coming together for common causes by casting their singular voices as part of a larger movement.
One person, one vote, right?
Individual Acts Matter
One of the frustrating problems here is that people who are willing to act are overwhelmed by the portion of the population that prefers to sit on its overweight, collective, apathetic butt waiting for the Big Idea to arrive – and be heralded by the likes of Beck.
People who see the world as Beck does don’t believe that recycling one piece of paper every day is equal to saving 365 pieces of paper every year, no more than they think a jar of change on the bedroom dresser accumulates into dollars.
It’s shortsightedness. It’s lack of confidence and faith that they, a single flame of possibility, could actually impact the world. It’s a perpetual attitude of defeat, fear, distrust, inferiority.
It creates a situation in society where the collective weakest link causes the whole system – or planet – to falter in time.
The Continuing Problem
I can’t recycle enough paper to account for all of the Becks out there. I can’t inflate all of the tires. I can’t do countless things that add up to significant changes when embraced by the majority.
I only get one vote per election, after all. I can only do my part – and hope that those around me will do theirs, so we all can benefit.
That presents a big, big issue we’ve yet to overcome. As long as Beck doesn’t get it, as long as he and I stand so far apart in these issues, as long as he disrespects individuals who see positive growth even in minor actions, then none of us will prevail in the true sense.
The do-nothing crowd – those touting faith but seeming to have none – may win the conflict, but we all will miss the goal.
Graphic source: fueleconomy.gov