Surely by now, everyone has noticed those in today's America who seek to further divide us to enhance their own political power and erase our constitutional right to express legitimate doubts and questions over what's happening to our nation and why.
If these suppressors of honest dialogue had their way, no one with an opinion different from theirs would ask about what's really transpiring around them, or actively seek truths.
There is no place for critical thinking and rational discussion with these folks, only lemming-like group-think in lockstep with their goal for imposing power in our supposedly free nation. Only their oft-uninformed opinions and beliefs are valid and acceptable in their extremely narrow world.
This untenable situation ought to trigger deep concerns, since most of us know it's natural for most functioning adult human minds to question when things either seem illogical or make no sense. Gosh knows, there are plenty such questions nowadays.
Besides, I prefer thinking for myself. How about you?
Questioning leads to knowledge and life-altering facts that often prompt necessary reforms while revealing critical truths versus propaganda and pervasive media spin.
It's been my experience that things seldom if ever turn out positively when we make decisions based on deception and untruths.
So the next time someone questions my ability and right to question the validity of what's being spewed 24/7 by a clearly biased national media, especially involving politics, I'll invite them to entertain their own thoughts rather than actively trying to change mine to fit their preconceptions.
I still advocate for common sense and the value of evaluating truth over blindly accepting calculated deception simply because a personality is appealing in their self-promotional rhetoric.
A few related truths: We don't work for elected officials. They work for us. Our rights as Americans are granted by God and our Constitution, rather than come-and-go politicians and their agendas to gain and hold power solely for themselves. We still live under a Constitution that grants freedom and justice for all rather than a handful of extremists.
It's little wonder trust and faith in our institutions has plummeted to an all-time low.
As a recent social media meme put it: Questioning reality doesn't make anyone a conspiracy theorist or "anti-anything." It does, however, mean you are naturally blessed with a curious and discerning human brain capable of critical thinking, rather than joining sprawling herds of fearful sheeple huddling mindlessly in the pasture.
Ideologies for dummies
This gem appeared as a reprint in our paper the other day as an explanation of the differences in political ideologies. It's worth repeating.
Socialism: I have two cows and give one to the neighbor.
Communism: I have two cows and give both to the government and they might just give you some milk.
Fascism: I have two cows, give all the milk to the government, which sells it.
Naziism: I have two cows. The government shoots me and takes both cows.
Capitalism: I have two cows, sell one and buy a bull.
My recent column about the intentional dearth of checkers in some Walmarts these days drew considerable response from readers across the state. Here are a couple.
From Joe in White Hall: "The only Walmart in Pine Bluff had no checkers last time I went in there. Last three times I was there I left without my purchases. The first time I filled my buggy and discovered there were no checkers, so I left the buggy sitting there and went elsewhere. Second time I made sure they had checkers before I shopped. Stood in line 20 minutes, then a guy checked all my stuff and then told me he could only accept cash. So I left my stuff there again.
"Last time I only needed one thing. Walmart was the only store in town that had it. Took it to the only open self-check, scanned and bagged it [but] the machine wouldn't take my money. So I left my item and haven't returned. Now when I need to go to Walmart, I go to Sheridan where they have plenty of checkers.
"You cannot pay with a check at self-check, and I use checks so I can keep up with my budget. I don't want to use a credit card for everything. But more businesses are only accepting credit cards ,so they lose my business."
And this from Claire in Jacksonville: "I am a Kroger shopper ... I, too, prefer to check out with checkers and to have my purchases bagged, not having to do this myself. I prefer the Kroger in Jacksonville. It has no self-checkout lanes. The store is small, easy to find what you are looking for, and you get to know the employees and they get to know you.
"There's quite a difference in another Kroger I occasionally shop in North Little Rock. ... If lanes with checkers are open, they are usually crowded with shoppers with full carts and if you don't have a full cart, it is not worth waiting."
Mike Masterson is a longtime Arkansas journalist, was editor of three Arkansas dailies and headed the master's journalism program at Ohio State University. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.