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Just listening

Posted: Tuesday, Mar 12th, 2013

Nearly 20 years ago, Roberta and I bought the “Julia Kunkee House,” an original Colony Home built in 1916. It had seen some very hard times as we discovered during our first winter. That winter produced exceptionally heavy rains, a good deal of which formed a waterfall in our dining room during the worst of the storms.

At one point, we had 11 buckets capturing streams of water. It was also cold as there was no central heating, just a fireplace in the living room. Many repairs later and considerable refinishing of woodwork has restored some of its original charm. Owning a Colony Home also provided an incentive to join the Atascadero Historical Society and attend their annual dinner.

It was a pleasant and informative evening, made more so by a number of local residents who stated that they actually read the columns I write; some even agreed with what I wrote. All were cordial but one; he had thoroughly enjoyed both dinner and copious quantities of wine. I gave him my cell number and said “let’s talk,” although he was convinced I was totally uninformed and got all my information from nefarious sources.

I find it interesting when encountering someone who sincerely believes that I really couldn’t believe the things I write or that if I just spent a few moments listening to their perspective, I’d realize the error of my ways and immediately acknowledge their inherent wisdom. When that doesn’t happen they resort to the standard fallback tactic of disparagement of character and intellect. It never occurs to them that conservative ideas might actually have merit.

Dennis Prager, a nationally syndicated talk-show host and Hoover Institution Fellow wrote an interesting piece regarding liberal unawareness and fear of conservative views last year. The gist of his article is that liberals tend to be unaware of conservative arguments and that they have convinced themselves that the arguments of the “right” are unworthy of their time or effort.

From cradle to grave they are immersed in leftist or liberal ideas and have no knowledge of their opposite numbers beyond the caricatures presented in academia, the media and Hollywood.

It may shock some, but long before I became a conservative, I was raised in a working-class democrat home. In college, I was more left than center but, as the cliché goes, “a young person who isn’t liberal doesn’t have a heart, but by age 30, if still a liberal, they don’t have a brain.” Perhaps just a cliché, but often more true than not.

It’s important to listen to the other guy and I do. I twice attended the global warming lectures given by our local astronomer, read the literature, the books, and own the movie which I’ve viewed thrice. I read the critics, evaluated the data and found the arguments for hysteria wanting. Public policy requires reasoned debate and consideration of all points of view, not dogmatic insistence on adherence to orthodoxy. Everyone benefits from civility and a willingness to accede that the other guy may have a point.

Al Fonzi is a retired Army Lt. Colonel and career intelligence officer with more than 30 years of service. He is a self-described conservative and active in several political organizations. Fonzi first moved to Atascadero in 1972.

For the complete article see the 03-13-2013 issue.

Click here to purchase an electronic version of the 03-13-2013 paper.

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