Cummings: The mental midget

January 5, 2014 

Last Sunday, I wrote an article about our governmental system and the people who run this system. I said I believed in the system, but quite often I lose faith in those who try to run it.

I cited many examples but ended with one that is very close to me: an Obamacare example. A woman I have known for 35 years makes $866 a month, and she was told by an Obamacare representative that her “affordable insurance” would cost her $650 a month. Now, we all know that she qualifies for the “Obama Subsidy,” which will make her insurance almost free; that’s the system. But the person who is running this system (over the phone) obviously didn’t know that.

One of our irate readers from Lizella wrote:

“Okay Telegraph, it’s about time you stop over-reacting to the right wing criticism by continuing to turn over rocks to find mental midgets like Cummings to write weekly columns. He lies about Obamacare.”

People like me who write opinion articles live in glass houses; I know that. How many times have I seen rocks thrown at Charles Richardson and Dave Oedel, and how about Erick Erickson? Erick seldom writes a noncontroversial article. Usually, the rocks just bounce off our heads, but with this encounter I think I’ve learned two major lessons:

1. Shouting out denigrating epithets is pugilism -- not communication.

2. Loyalty to a cause can completely blind the loyalist to the other side.

First, a denigrating epithet like “mental midget” shuts down communication. When I swear at you or call you names, you go on the defensive.

The goal of communication is learning but you can’t learn anything if you’re just trying to defend yourself from my blows. The goal of prizefighting is to win; fighters are continuously throwing and blocking punches. They’re really not trying to learn anything. They’re just trying to win. Whenever I see or hear these epithets, I know the conversation is over. Nobody is listening anymore. Nobody really cares what the other person is saying. Now it’s just a game to find out who can shout the loudest, who can swear the meanest, who can win.

The second thing I have learned is the complex nature of loyalty. My reader from Lizella is loyal to the left-wing, liberal Democrats. He bristles whenever Obama or Obamacare is criticized, and that’s a good thing. We all applaud loyalty and hold loyalists in high regard. Our Confederate ancestors were loyal to the South, and many of their friends and relatives in the North were loyal to the Union. Both were highly respected in their own hometowns. Loyalty to a cause is something noble. Even though I disagree politically with my Lizella combatant, I sincerely congratulate his loyalty.

But loyalty can blind us. How many times do you think the Confederate soldiers sat around their campfire and expressed logical Union sentiments? How often did the Union generals tell their troops that the Southerners might possibly be right? Not very often. Once we pledge our loyalty to one cause or one idea, we find it very difficult to consider the other side. I’ll be the first to admit that I’m the same way.

This is true in religion as well as in politics, and it’s just as true in the business world. Last week, one of my business clients in Atlanta was criticizing his major competitor. “If he’s your competitor,” I said, “he must be doing something right. Why not find out what he’s good at instead of how he fails?” The answer to my question was a cold stare.

I know my Lizella reader is also giving me a cold stare, and I understand that.

He really doesn’t want to know my opinions. Why should he? I’m a mental midget.

View Dr. C.’s leadership videos on www.digitallydrc.com.

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