Monday, November 1, 2010

What is Sanity?

Since our blog’s purpose is “to restore sanity”, what is ‘sanity’? Has it been lost? If so, when?
Does it need to be restored? If it does, how can that be done?

Webster’s Dictionary defines sanity as “soundness of mind”. “Soundness” is the noun form of the adjective “sound”. Webster’s lists many meanings for “sound” including “free from flaw or defect”, “firm or strong”, “free from error or fallacy”, “logical”, “valid”, “thorough”, “showing good judgment”. Sanity’s first cousin is ‘reason’ which Webster’s defines as “the power to think”, “a sane or sound mind” or “the exercise of the faculty of logical thought”; sanity’s second cousin is ‘rational’, defined as “having reason or understanding”.

Why bother with dictionary definitions? Because they serve to establish common ground for communication between English-speaking and thinking people. In the absence of this common ground, those individuals and groups who persistently yell the loudest or who have the most economic or political power dictate what words mean.

While America is ostensibly a “free country”, many of its citizens willingly adopt viewpoints as
their own that are based upon lies or distortions or are illogical. By the definition of ‘sanity’, said viewpoints cannot be ‘sound’ and are neither rational nor the result of human reason. Those who adopt these viewpoints, while perhaps unwittingly, willingly become slaves to the agendas of the proponents of those viewpoints. In doing so, they relinquish their sanity.

Marcel Proust (Swann’s Way) wrote: “The facts of life do not penetrate to the sphere in which our beliefs are cherished; as it was not they that engendered those beliefs so they are powerless to destroy them; they can aim at them continual blows of contradiction and disproof without weakening them…” While the passage specifically referred to confinement by socioeconomic status and convention, it aptly points out that man’s sanity is often nowhere to be found.

As we approach Election Day 2010, civility seems to be totally lost: unlimited, non-disclosed corporate contributions; lying and distorted campaign smear ads; disrespectful , biased attacks against candidates by media members and organizations. Where and when does the madness end? Sanity can only be restored by individuals coming together to reject the status quo. It will take more than the just replacing the 27% favorably-rated Dem Congress with a 24% favorably-rated Repub Congress. “Throwing the bums (of whichever party) out” is just doing the same thing over-and-over; expecting a different result is Albert Einstein’s definition of insanity. VOTE, but think long and hard about how to restore sanity in 2012 and beyond. Start within!