I’ll never forget a time when my husband Mike and his best friend Egon attempted to repair a plumbing problem in our house. They spent hours lying on the floor reaching underneath our kitchen sink all to no avail. In the end the leak that they had been trying to fix was worse than ever. We ultimately had to call a plumber who also happened to be a customer at the bank where Mike was an officer. With his expertise the man managed to have the problem fixed in under ten minutes. As Mike paid the plumber and complimented him on the great job he had done, the somewhat amused man commented, “Well I always believe that we should defer to those who actually know what they are doing. How about promising each other that I will come to you for banking advice and you will come to me whenever you have a plumbing problem?”
That bit of wisdom has become a mantra for both Mike and I over the years and it has worked exceedingly well for us. It makes much more sense to listen to someone with experience and a good track record in some field of endeavor rather than people who are mostly just voicing opinions. If I want medical advice I’m going to a highly qualified doctor, not my next door neighbor who has read a bit about the value of vitamins and herbs. I believe that I am going to get much better advice from someone with a medical degree who works to make people well every single day than just listening to homespun tales about untested remedies.
My pet peeve is that far too many people do not agree with my reasoning. If they have a question about banking and my husband answers it truthfully they will often argue with him as though his fifty plus years in the financial business is of no value. If I tell them what I know about education I’m often met with insistence that they have heard something different from a friend who has never taught a day in her life. It is incredibly maddening.
During the pandemic I have consulted with my team of doctors and my relatives who are physicians anytime I wondered what to do. People have nonetheless insisted that I am being led astray by my doctors. They insinuate that the medical people that I highly regard are lying so that they may get rich from providing vaccines. When I argue that I prefer to use more reliable sources than television personalities on Fox News to make informed decisions they suggest that I am just a sheep mindlessly following instructions from my doctors. Their comments make me want to scream, but I instead stay calm.
I find myself wondering when so many became so self assured that they are willing to argue with people who are well versed in how things actually work in various professions. I would never tell a licensed electrician that I have a better way of installing lights in a bathroom just because I heard about from some untrained source. it’s fine to ask questions, do some research, get second opinions, but to outright insult and impune bad motives to someone who is educated and well-versed in a particular area is infuriating. Sadly, it is something that is happening over and over again these days as large swaths of the population deem themselves experts in areas about which they know little or nothing.
I wonder when we became so distrustful of one another. How and why did we reach a point where we are unwilling to accept advice from experts simply because we don’t like what they have to say? I may find it difficult to give up sugar and carbohydrates, but there is no reason for me to accuse a doctor who advises me to do so of some evil intent. Still, it feels as though we have become a nation of chronic doubters and complainers. Instead we should be attempting to find truth from reliable sources. At least that is what I was taught while becoming educated.
I am learning that many people only want to hear what they already believe whether it is wrong or not. Trying to convince them that their thinking is erroneous is almost wasted effort even when the facts do not support their beliefs. I’m slowly opting just to remain silent rather than attempting counter the lies that they have been told. When I speak up without invitation I find that I am not only totally ignored, but all too often attacked for trying to help.
All of this makes me wonder how many people serve as jurors with preconceived notions guiding their decisions rather than the revelation of evidence. I worry about how votes are cast when I hear ridiculous propaganda and outright lies being embraced without question. I worry about what will become of our schools if teachers are forced to follow a watered down curriculum designed to make everyone feel good rather than to honestly discuss the truth.
These are things that keep me awake at night, so calling them pet peeves seems almost too kind. In truth I see them as a kind of ignorant darkness that is spreading like the virus that has so affected our lives. People are grasping at straws to feel better and in the process they are turning their backs on inconvenient realities that must be addressed. They are grabbing the idea of least resistance rather than facing the realities of problems that we must address.
We do not live in Disneyland. Ours is not a fairytale world where dreams come true like magic. We have to shoulder our problems together and seek answers from those most qualified to tell us what to do. Let the plumbers fix our pipes, the electricians wire our homes, the doctors prevent and treat disease. Find the experts. Listen to them. Follow their advice. Leave the back fence gossip for something less serious that the difficulties we now face. Learn how to discern propaganda and lies and distinguish them facts. That’s the only way that we will progress, and progress is always good.