Tara's Thoughts

Posts Tagged ‘critical thinking

“Learn from the mistakes of others. You can’t possibly live long enough to make them all yourself.”  — Martin Vanbee

 This little story came to mind today as I found myself, for the second time in two days, the lucky beneficiary of someone else’s experience. 

A small village had a system of plumbing pipes that had, for many decades, been maintained by one man.  Yacov had spent his years in the central control room learning the intricacies of the pipes and keeping the system running smoothly.

As is often the case, new technologies come along that interfere with the old ways.

One day the village elders came to Yacov’s house to inform him that they had decided to install a new, computerized system to run the town’s pipes. His services were no longer needed. Yacov smiled at them, accepted their decree and went back into his home to brew a pot of tea and enjoy the view of his garden.

Several days after the new system had been brought online the plumbing in the town failed.  None of the technicians could figure out what was wrong. Nobody knew what to do.  After a few days of listening to the townspeople’s complaints, the elders gathered at Yacov’s front door and begged him to please come fix the pipes.

With a small smile on his face and a glint of something in his eye, Yacov agreed.

Back in the control room the elders stood in silence watching Yacov as he stood very still for many minutes. He looked. He listened. Then he took a wrench in his hand walked over to a junction and tapped twice on the overhead pipe.  Lo and behold! the system began to run again.

Later that day the village elders received a bill from Yacov charging them $2000.12 for his services.  Outraged, they once again assembled at Yacov’s front door, this time shouting at him and asking how dare he charge them this enormous amount when all he did was to tap a couple of times on a pipe!

Yacov’s smile was wider than the village square as he said to them, “The 12 cents is for the tapping. The $2000.00 is for knowing where to tap!”

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My last post titled “Are You Sick Of Highly Paid Teachers?” generated quite a bit of buzz. At last count 122 comments on Newsvine.com  [http://tinyurl.com/hue99jl]

Although clearly labeled satire there were those who took the piece at face value and went to great lengths to argue with what they thought the article was saying. Others expended a lot of energy talking about the “privileges” of being a teacher (short hours, 3 months a year off, etc. ) and asserted that teachers need to step up and shoulder their fair share.

Without re-hashing the conversation (you can read all the comments and my replies on my Newsvine page by using the link above) let me just say that, when read as intended, what is offered is a sarcastic title with a Stephen-Colbert-style text that actually DEFENDS teachers and shows what nonsense it is to think that teachers aren’t already shouldering more than their fair share for far less than they ought to be paid.

Sarcasm:  Stating exactly the opposite of what you mean.

Satire: Using humor to show that a point of view or behavior is foolish.

Just recently I’ve seen a number of examples of sarcasm and satire that got interpreted by the viewer as though they were serious statements and a truly surprising misperception of a song lyric that really threw me for a loop.

The focus here is accepting that sometimes the world looks so completely different to the person standing next to you as to be unrecognizable.

The song in question was written by my good friend, singer/songwriter John M.  The title of the song is “My Mother In Me” and is, to most listeners, an ode to his mother listing the many ways John’s mother contributed to what is good and right in his life.

“She taught me how to walk in the light and live by the golden rule

And sometimes how to stand and fight. My momma didn’t raise no fool.

What you see is what you get and if you like what you see

Look a little closer – That’s my Mother in Me.”

Someone took great offense to the song hearing – I know not what or why – that it was an insult to mothers.  (??!?)

(By the way, it’s a great song. Click on over to John’s web site and give it  a listen.)

It seems a great many people these days are looking at what they want to see rather than what is actually in front of them. Others project from within themselves something that isn’t there. Still others, I am told, have a physical brain configuration that makes them incapable of perceiving satire and sarcasm.

How do you talk to someone who is convinced of a reality that your senses and the best evidence available tells you doesn’t exist?  Our perceptions are a result of the long chain of choices we’ve made up to this point in our lives.  To change how you see something requires that you back-track and reassess previously held beliefs.   (Education, by the way, is a big part of how we’ve come to hold our current beliefs. If you have the ability to think critically and analyze your reality rather than just react to it thank a teacher.)

There is an old Jewish saying that goes like this:

“If one man tells you you are a horse ignore him.  If two men tell you you are a horse think about it. If three men tell you you are a horse – buy a saddle.”


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As a member of the Americana-Folk/Rock band, John Zipperer & Friends, Tara performs in around Los Angeles, CA (with an occasional out-of-town appearance). Come see for yourself why John Zipperer's CD "Full Circle" has been on the top 25 of the Roots Music Report Album Chart for over a year!

Tara Sitser - Author / Singer/Songwriter

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