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THE OSTRICH SYNDROME

April 11, 2009

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As we embrace the ninth year of the new millennium, we are experiencing inevitable and necessary shifts in our social, economic and cultural infrastructures. Many of us are thinking “out of the box” while others are trying to keep us in it. We are seeking new ideas that go beyond ideology and what’s been the norm in the past. We are questioning, and rightly so, our business and elected leaders and their collective authority. More importantly, we are not influenced nearly as much by the blather coming from some portions of the media. In other words: we’re waking up.

Some of us have been here before. As a musician and a teenager of the 1960s, I grew up during a time of significant societal changes. There were big changes in music: Elvis Presley’s restricted “moves” in his performance on the Ed Sullivan Show.

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The “British Invasion” spearheaded by The Beatles.

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The anti-war protest songs of Buffalo Springfield and Sgt. Barry McGuire.

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The American auto manufacturers made big changes with a new generation of automobiles that revolutionzied the industry. Up until then, the family sedan dominated sales.

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Then, by simply changing the body styles of their mid-sized coupes, they introduced a never-before-seen style of American automobiles that took the country by storm.

Ford took their Falcon and turned it into the Mustang in 1964-65.

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A year later, Chevy followed suit with the Nova and created the Camaro.
Sales skyrocketed for both companies.

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Also, for the first time in my life, we as citizens started to really question our leaders, especially after the assassinations of John and Bobby Kennedy and Martin Luther King, Jr.

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The complacent living of the 1950s was quickly ending. We became more aware and less gullible. We began understanding how federal policies affected all of our lives – in this country and around the world. It was, to say the least, a monumental shift in this nation’s history.

There were those who said that because we were questioning “authority” our country was (to quote one of my relatives) “…going to hell in a hand basket!” They were happy with the status quo. I remember hearing “What’s wrong with the way things were when I was growing up?” They wanted America to be as it was portrayed on TV shows like Father Knows Best, Leave It to Beaver and The Andy Griffith Show.

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But the reality of America was far different. Once many of us became aware that there were aspects of American life that were not so pleasant for many of our citizens, we started re-thinking much of what we had been raised to believe. Leadership that opposed this new-found awareness stuck their “heads in the sand” when it came to addressing the large issues around our changing social environment. As far as they were concerned, the way things “used to be” is the way things should be – there’s no reason to change. Call it the The Ostrich Syndrome.

Since then, many of this country’s leaders have intentionally divided us along social, economic and cultural lines. Much of this division has been perpetuated by politicians, using variations of this “used to be” theme to get elected. It’s also been used by religious leaders to draw the line between “right and wrong.” This is why we often hear statements like “We’re losing the moral foundation this country was built on!” and “We need to get back to what made this country great!”

I’ve yet to hear anyone give a clear explanation for what is meant by these statements. For me, they have the sound of “coded” rhetoric. (Note to self: Make this a future rant.)

When I hear these and similar statements, it’s obvious that those who would lead us back are actually fearful of moving forward – a symptom of The Ostrich Syndrome. Their fears become religious mantras and campaign slogans, tapping into a narrow segment of our population. This segment doesn’t care about what is occurring beyond their personal lives. They don’t want to be bothered. If someone or something threatens to “disrupt” their tiny part of the world with the introduction of new social concepts, they become fearful, angry and defensive. Politicians, religious leaders and portions of the media have tapped into this fear with great success.

Yet, as I write this R&O, I see positive signs that we are finally starting to move away from The Ostrich Syndrome.

There is an interesting phenomenon occurring among those who want us “back in the box.” They are starting to say and do the most ridiculous and outrageous things imaginable to garner attention. In the past I’ve talked about Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity, so we won’t go there.

But how about a new concoction of “crazies?”

Allow me to introduce you to the insanity that is Glen Beck.

Throw in a layer of Dick Cheney.

Add another one of Newt Gingrich.

And top off with Michelle Bachman.

Add sprinkles of your other radical “favorites” as desired. Allow FOX News to serve it and violá – a new “crazies” masterpiece that is guaranteed to satisfy even the most extreme elements in the Republican Party.

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Why all this angry, fear-mongering, attention-seeking behavior? They’re losing ground! Most Americans have moved beyond this lunacy. The “crazies” are pulling out all of the stops in a last-ditch effort to remain relevant. It’s the fourth quarter, only a few seconds left on the clock, they’re on their own 5 yard line and they’re down by 8. What’s left? The “Hail Mary” pass. That’s it! Rather than get their heads out of the sand and do the hard work of re-educating themselves to new plays, they keep saying and doing variations of the same things over and over again – only louder, in more venues, more often, and with bigger props.

Much like a child throwing a temper tantrum, these acts of desperation seldom affect the rational observer. They do, however, have the possibility of inciting the non-rational, fringe elements of our society into a fear-based anger – which could result in violent behavior – all under the banner of Patriotism. For now though, they’re just making some noise. As far as I’m concerned, they are as worrisome as a cloudy day.

America, we’re starting to “get it.” Those that have been here before know there is pain in the process. We also know that we’ll be stronger and wiser as the pain subsides.

Change is inevitable, often difficult, and always for the better.

Sincerely,

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www.MichaelKontras.com

One comment

  1. […] “I think certain members of congress should be investigated for un-American views” Bachmann, throw in Mike Huckabee, and you have the Loonies Reunion Tour. The only one missing is, you […]



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