Contact the Author |

20 Jun

              Sorry, folks, but I think we are getting stupider as a country.  I’m not talking about what our foreign policies are, or how we do things overseas, or even about our own government policies.  I’m talking about as a people, as a population.  In other words, us.

              Here are a few things that make me think that. 

              First, just anecdotally, from the high school where I work, is an example from the Math Department.  Every year, a pre-calculus class is offered.  Ten years ago, there were four or five sections every year; that’s about one hundred students taking this advanced math class.  Last year there was one.  It’s not because of lack of resources; it’s because of lack of interest and ability on behalf of the students.

              Second, in my last eight years as an educator, I have personally seen student performance in math and language arts (reading and writing) drop.  Of course, good students do good work, but the capability of the average student seems to be slipping.  Part of it is COVID, but there was a problem before that.  I do what I can to help my cadets, and I know plenty of teachers that work hard and are giving their all, but the slide continues.  Inattentive parents, the internet, aliens from space, blame what you will, but it’s happening. 

              Third, as a society, we have the attention span of a dog on a squirrel farm.  If it’s in front of us, we care; if it’s not, we don’t.

              Here are examples of that from just the last four months.

              Russia invaded Ukraine, blatantly putting the world in danger of another World War.  If you think I’m overexaggerating, look up how World War II (the long awaited sequel to the Great War), started in Europe.  One man wanted more land to restore what was once an Empire.  He promised he would stop, but he didn’t, and millions of people died (this is separate from the War in the Pacific). 

              Ukraine was all the talk at the time, and it should have been.  Another war in Europe, contained or not, would be devasting, and we are starting to see that now.  It’s like starting a fire in dry grass and hoping you can contain it.  Historically, the world community came together and almost unanimously denounced Russia and implicated sanctions and sent military aid, including some really cool anti-tank weapons that are given the Russian tanks major headaches (can you say “jack-in-the-box?”).

              And after about a month, our attention waned, and then it spiked again with the Uvalde shooting.  Gun rights and gun control and the second amendment was everywhere, and we were captivated and had discussions and many people with little knowledge or intelligence had lots to say.  It was the bright shiny thing of the day…and as a result Ukraine got pushed into the background.

              Sadly, it appears that most Americans (especially young Americans; high school, college, twenty- somethings) don’t care enough to track even one news story.  Many more who think they understand “current events” can follow only ONE news story; any more than that they get overloaded and their brains short circuit.

              Of course, if you have read this far, you are probably expecting me to name the January 6th Hearings as the “next shiny object.”  I wish I could. 

              And here is where I get really scared; because a lot of Americans aren’t watching those hearings and really just don’t care.

              Let me say that again.  A lot of Americans aren’t watching, or following, or even care about a hearing that is reporting on one of the singular events in the history of our country.  An event where our legacy of peaceful transfer of power and our very democracy was challenged.  They don’t care; it’s not important to them.

              I have heard a lot of the excuses. 

              “It’s a witch hunt.”

              “It’s one sided.”

              One Republican senator said “he didn’t have time.”  I agree with him; he was busy ignoring gun violence in this country (note:  I didn’t say gun CONTROL; it’s different).

              I’m not red OR blue.  I’m a Navy blue and gold retired military officer who believes in the Red, White, AND Blue, and I think EVERY American over the age of about 12 SHOULD care about the hearings.  The fact that many don’t speaks volumes.  Two thoughts popped to the front: 

  1. Regardless of what side you are on, what better way to have civil discussion on why you disagree than listening to the other side’s case?
  2. People are scared that what they believe in will be debunked; rather than feel they have been duped (which in this case may actually have happened), they ignore the information completely.

It immediately jumped out at me with these two things have in common; a lack of critical thinking skills.  One of the basic tenets of critical thinking is the “ability to try to see things from the other side.”  Another is “gather as much information as possible.”  You can throw in two more:  “try to identify biases” and “question conclusions.”

If you do those things, and still want to argue about the hearings, good for you!  You exercised your right to critical thinking!

Of course the hearings will have a bias.  So does CNN and FOX and most other modern news sources.  They give us information with their own personal spin, in order to try to tell us how to think.  But for those who understand what it means to be a critical thinker, we ignore that part and come to our own conclusions.

For the record, I think both political parties are basically full of you-know-what, and that we need term limits and voting reform and a bunch of other things so that the world stops making fun of us.  But what I see from the hearings and the responses are the following:

The committee is presenting something at least very close to evidence, spoken by experts and backed by video documentation and testimony taken under oath (assuming that means something to people anymore).  The rebuttals are based on anecdotes and seem more focused on discounting the hearings based on bias rather than presenting facts that would counter what is being said.  This smacks of the same procedure Republicans used after the 2020 presidential election.  Cry foul, but don’t offer real evidence.  In 62 courts, many with judges appointed by King Donald, cases were dismissed because there was no evidence of election fraud.  Some of those were dismissed “with extreme prejudice” (courtspeak for “you are out of your friggin’ mind”).  That same justice system is trying and convicting many of those that stormed the Capitol.

I know, I can hear it already.  “But it’s a huge conspiracy by the Democrats!”


Have you SEEN the Democratic party?  It would be easier to get thirty high schoolers to agree on ONE flavor of ice cream (and I’ve tried) than it would be to get the Democrats (or the Republicans, or our government in general) to pull off anything even remotely close to a conspiracy on that level, never mind keeping it a secret.  Politicians routinely leak just about everything, but they can cover up a nationwide multi-level conspiracy to keep the will of the people down?  Good grief.

The will of the people was that for whatever reason most of them wanted a different president.  Sorry King Donald.  You got a lot of votes, more so than any president in history, except for the guy who beat you. 

Whether the successor is doing a better job is a personal opinion.  Whether he remembers what day of the week it is up for debate.  What is not up for debate (because we debated it ad nauseum) was that Joe Biden got more legal popular votes and more legal electoral votes than Donald Trump.

So, to sum up, we have the attention span of dogs chasing squirrels, we seem to be losing more and more critical thinking skills because of it, and many Americans aren’t following something that is actually pretty important.

I’m not a Democrat.  I’m not a Republican (I consider myself an independent).  I believe in our system, flawed as it is, because during a twenty year military career I visited a few places with much less functioning governments.  I’m not asking you to watch the committee hearings or follow the news so you can see that one side is right and one side is wrong.  I’m asking you to care about your country enough to read news FROM BOTH SIDES and come to your own conclusions.  Then act (PEACEFULLY) as that conclusion drives you. 

Don’t let “American” become synonymous with “apathy.”


Big shout out to my friend Jake. We don’t always agree, but we both served this country for a long time and we both like to express our opinions. Check out his blog at QUOTH THE RAVEN.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.