Rigor Mortis

Trump can’t provide any specifics. Bernie can’t explain where he’s going to find the money. Hilary still can’t account for her emails. Rubio is on rewind. And Cruz is not on cruise control. And worse, millions of Americans are declaring “______ is my candidate” when they don’t know the first thing about their candidate’s platform or policies. It’s a clear case of rigor mortis, the death of intellectual rigor. It’s true, it’s true. We don’t study any more. We actually don’t read much (40% of college graduates never read another book). We certainly don’t think enough, or seek to develop informed points of view. And when we do read it’s in sound bites and from sources that are so pre-disposed to our disposition that they don’t enlighten, they just reinforce our erroneous beliefs. And to get psycho for a moment, it turns out that studies reveal that when you show somewhat educated citizens facts and figures that refute what they believe, they only believe what they believe more.   Yikes.

Rigor mortis applies to how we vote. It applies to how we manage our health, our wealth and our lives. It’s an epidemic fomented by our 24/7 sound bite world, but it’s not caused by it.  I theorize that the cause is a desperate and insatiable search for comfort or its cousin, the unrelenting avoidance of sacrifice. To study up on the differences in our presidential candidates is to sacrifice time to enjoy some sitcoms. To take the steps to lose weight and get our vitals in line is to sacrifice comfort foods. To get our financial house in order requires giving up shiny new cars and granite countertops. And who could live without those? The issue before us may be less the quality of our presidential candidates and more the quality of ourselves. The question is how well are we guiding our lives and the range of our elections? Whether we are making decisions less on our delusions and what makes us feel good and more on the facts and realities before us. Wishful thinking and wanton hoping is exactly that. Maybe it’s time to bring rigor back to life?

Karen Stein