That line in the sand
For those of my readers who suffer from degenerative arthritis, they know all about the pain we suffer at times. Indeed, it can be a constant companion.
A year ago, I was struggling to get my work completed when I found out that errant vertebrates were pushing on my vulnerable spinal cord.
During the time leading up to and after the second round of spinal fusion, I sought something to help distract myself from the pain.
I began to watch Hallmark movies … instead of taking pain-killers.
But how could any manly man in good standing ever publicly admit such weak behavior, let alone explain it?
After watching several movies, I found myself looking for patterns in the program’s content. I would try to predict who, when, what and where changes would occur with characters and their situations.
Using similar storylines but changing key variables in Hallmark’s time-tested formula, their movies can be mass produced. And wa la … they are.
Take attractive male and female actors who are used on a regular basis and put them in mix and match strategies. Viewers are also courted with idyllic settings (quaint, charming mountain villages), tons of warm, fuzzy decorations and the actors have romantic occupations … all of which lead to finding their true love in just two weeks or less!
When comparing some of the older movies to more recent ones, it becomes evident that things have been changing at Hallmark. The network is walking a tightrope with a socially progressive format, counter to past desires of its loyal conservative fan base.
The dangers the Hallmark brand and others face include alienating viewers and consumers on the Left and Right side of the nation’s political and cultural divide. They at times take only a half-hearted approach toward satisfying these viewers.
Clearly in our nation, each side of the ideological divide has drawn a line in the sand, but there appears to be no commonality — no room for mutual compromise — in their lines, leaving an expanse of no-man’s land between them.
This no man’s land means that if you grant concessions to either side, but not enough to meet their full demands, they turn against you. While those on the other side of the divide, from whom you’ve taken away defining opinions and values, they also turn away from you.
It then becomes an issue of choosing one side over the other. One of my point is that TV producers create programming and find sponsors to satisfy our difference of opinion … or not.
We certainly see this playing out with various news networks and some programs that cater their content to one side or the other of our divide.
This endangers the truth.
Is it really necessary to try to force political compliance of viewers?
This is exactly what we face with so many presidential directives meant to bypass a Congress that is mired in gridlock.
Moreover, if each side of the ideological divide claims to act on the basis of a “moral mandate,” and each side has opinions that run counter to each other, who then is the good person and who is the evil person?
One side says ex-President Trump is an evil person, and the other side claims Nancy Pelosi is an evil person. When you define someone or something as “good,” you must also have a valid reason for someone or something else being labeled “evil.”
Christian philosopher Ravi Zacharias often went into the hostile arenas of college campuses to explain the reasons for his Christian faith. During those encounters Ravi would answer the question of good vs. evil using the following argument: When you define the word good, you must also be able to define the word evil. To define the parameters of something as good or evil, there must be evidence of a “moral law” that dictates the basis for this judgement. In order to have a “moral law” to define something’s evil or goodness, you must also have a “moral law giver” who has absolute authority and stays constant.
In Ravi’s case, he was talking about God.
If you run this argument the other way it goes like this: “Now if there is no Moral Law giver, then there is no Moral Law. If there is no Moral law, there can’t be any good; without good, then there is no evil. If there’s no evil, then there is no problem!”
But there is a problem, because the devastating effects to this nation are real from competing moralities, and if we can’t get them under control the results would be disastrous! (read my article “Power Tower”) It seems like every-day on the evening news cast, there is another clash of opinions between the divided cultures.
In closing I will give you this statement to ponder: Basing morality on a political ideology is extremely risky because when you give some human the flexible right of moral authority, you are giving them an unstable absolute authority that can become a real-life form of a dictatorship.
Along with that absolute power comes the reluctance to turn it over to someone else, which would mean the end of our Republic as we know it!
Ralph Dotterer Jr. is a lifelong Nittany Valley farmer, hayseed philosopher and barnyard artist whose roots in the same soil go back almost 200 years.