When a Guest Host is a Square Peg and the Hole is Round

Mike Max filled in for John Hines today over at WCCO 830.  No really issue there.  Mike Max is a likable guy and has a rather quirky, but entertaining, way about him.  (I love those Dickey’s BBQ endorsements!)

But Mike Max is sports, right?  And he’s good at sports.  The poor guy was out of his element today when the subject of Benjamin Netanyahu‘s speech to United States Congress came up.  Mike boiled it down to the simplest terms and his callers followed suit.

Mike suggested that our support for Israel is about terrorism.  Well, maybe…perhaps that is an ancillary reason for supporting Israel, but it much more complicated and nuanced than that.

A number of self-described “informed” people called in, mostly critical of Obama and our what they seem to think of the president’s weakness and wrong direction.  But there wasn’t a like of sense in anything said.  Opinions truly trumped facts.  They didn’t square with complexity or politics of our relationship — let’s call it co-dependency — with Israel.  It was discouraging.

Mike Max lamented that he no longer expects to see in his lifetime solutions to many of the problems surrounding us now.  That’s discouraging, too; and very sad.  But he is probably correct.  Like Mike Max, I like to think I grew up in a more hopeful age.  I’m guessing he and I are close in age.  Unlike the mood of just a generation or two in the past — when things were not necessarily all that great, by the way — we don’t seem to have much hope today.  More significantly, we don’t seem to have much care.  While listening to Mike’s show today, that seemed obvious.

The callers have such a simple — and simple minded — view of things.  It is an easy Manichean understanding of good and bad.  It is what it is simply because we have chosen to make it so.  The so-called informed callers have prejudices and opinions, not information, at least not information that can be processed in any meaningful way.  And without meaningfulness, there isn’t hope and there certainly isn’t care.

Mike Max didn’t exactly fit in this discussion.  So in a strange way, when he sounded like he was throwing is hands in the air and complained that hope had disappeared with his youth, he had made a rather brilliant point…but missed the point.  And that gave voice to a loose dialogue that slowly revealed a lot.

It isn’t so much what is going on in Washington or Israel or with ISIS or Iraq that matters, rather it is what is going on here.  If we are going to restore a sense of hope, we have to stop being intellectually detached from events in the world.  People need to engage ideas and sometimes admit they are wrong or admit that the other guy is right.  Somewhere in between lies a better way.  But we are not there.

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