We shape our tools and afterwards our tools shape us.

Marshall McLuhan

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Having just watched an excellent Frontline report entitled “Choice 2016” which carefully and insightfully chronicled the histories of our two most recent major candidates for President, Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, I am reminded of McLuhan’s genius.

Yes, we live in mass communication culture.  This is the tool we shaped, and now it shapes us.  Yes, the “airheads” of the medium dispatch the superficial but powerful images which we consume daily, weekly, monthly, yearly – over and over again.

These images form our view.  In this transaction, little of value or intellectual girth exists or is presented.

Think about it politically.  Look at our recent candidates: Hillary Clinton, Bill Clinton, Barack Hussein Obama, Donald J. Trump.  We are far from the Founding Fathers of this country, and further from the giants of political intellect that give rise to what America is and has been.

In today’s mass communication culture, the substance of the Left has little more intellectual depth than an image of Che Guevara on a tee shirt.

As for Conservatives – who among us can convey anything of substance of Irishman Edmund Burke who defines Conservatism and shows us its indispensable importance to a free civil society?

Thus, I offer you the critical tenets that comprise Conservatism:

  1. belief in a transcendent order – natural law which governs society and conscience and hence sees political problems at root as moral and spiritual
  2. belief in the depth, width and mystery of human existence and stands in opposition to narrow conformity
  3. belief that civil society is an ordered endeavor lest oligarchs rule
  4. belief in the intimate relationship between freedom and private property
  5. belief in prescription, custom and convention, and skepticism in those dedicated to the “reconstruction” of society, especially its perpetual “reconstruction”
  6. belief that “change” does not routinely bring progress and improvement.

For Conservatives, change must be ordered by prudence and Providence. Likewise, a Conservative is not governed by reason alone but seeks in society – a community of souls.

Further, he or she is wedded to the belief that life is good, a gift and worth living fully and deeply; that there are natural distinctions between people while equality of person is assured by the Divine and protected by law.

Additionally, he or she believes that when private property is attacked and diminished the central state becomes the “Master” of all – and God and the human person are reduced; and, that custom and convention are a check on man’s anarchic impulse to destroy what is good and seize power over all.

With this I ask you, do the Clintons, and Obamas, or Trumps, or the hand-puppets of mass communication media convey any insight worthy of your attention?

They may well convey earnest sentiments that we justifiably carry – but the question remains, are we or they learned?  Or in them do you become a tool being shaped?

Honestly, one wonders how it is that our current public figures pale in comparison to our Founders.  We had best begin to recognize the cost we endure in this image culture.

My advice: smarten-up.  Learn and think – and be very discreet as to whom you listen … Do not be a tool easily shaped.  Know what you believe and stand for and hold true to what has shown lasting value and divine wisdom.

Shalom.

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