Why am I doing this?
I started Ratlands in 2003. I was grappling with major cognitive dissonance in my life. I was trying to come to terms with the fact that a lot of the things I thought I believed about the world around me just could not be reconciled with a lot of the things I knew to be true about the world around me based on what I had lived and especially what I had seen in 20+ years of working in corrections. Ratlands was my attempt to come to grips with the cognitive dissonance. At the time, I didn’t even really have a firm grasp on what the problem was. I tried to describe what I was doing like this:
I have some concerns about things that are happening in America and in Kansas. I think some are scary, some are inevitable and some are both. I have gut feelings that some of the things we are doing aren’t necessary. But mostly, I’m just trying to get it straight in my head. Some of the positions I’ve taken on some of this stuff and the arguments I make in support of those positions have suggested to me that some of my other rationales for my opinions probably aren’t justified, I often end up opposite sides of the fence on seemingly related issues. And, although I’m trying to get this sorted in my head, I end up linking to a number of articles in other places. Invariably, whenever I’m trying to express an idea, I find someone else has already said it in terms more eloquent than I could manage. And more concisely.
What you won’t see is the sort of shrill name calling and “in-your-face: I’m right, so you are evil” babbling that currently passes for political discussion. These are serious times, these are serious issues, and they deserve serious, introspective discussion, because we ARE going to have to make some hard choices about how we choose to live in the world. Unfortunately, you probably won’t find the serious, introspective discussion here. I’m just not that deep a thinker.
What you will notice is that what I think and believe is filled with all sorts of strange contradictions. I have become fascinated in recent months with the contradictions. Some of what you see here is just me trying to trace my beliefs and ideas back to their sources.
But why a blog? Well, I’ve been writing to clear my head since I was in high school. I started with sappy, maudlin poetry, which, I guess, is standard lovesick high school behavior. I just never stopped writing. I had the good sense to realize I have no talent for poetry and moved on to journals. I still have most of them. The common denominator in all of them is that I tend to get real whiny. Trying to work some of this stuff out in my head was, and continues to be, important to me. The threat that someone, somewhere might actually read this stuff has kept me focused on the ideas and has, at least for the most part, minimized the whining.
P.J. O’Rourke is supposed to have said that earnestness is “stupidity sent to college.” Well, I’ve been to college. I guess you will have to make the call on the stupidity part.
I think I’ll close with my original ending for this page:
Well, if you’ve read this far and aren’t a member of my immediate family, I don’t know whether I should apologize or congratulate you or just tell you to turn off your computer, get up, and go to bed…