Suspension of Reason: the purposeful or unconscious decision to ignore obvious facts on behalf of a world view that is inconsistent with reality.
There are occasional — OK, very rare — times in the lives of outdoorsmen when the ability to suspend reason is a help.
An angler knows by experience she should bypass a riffle too shallow to hold fish of any size. But an illogical sense of optimism may send a cast into the obviously unproductive water. And once in a great while, that cast will result in a trophy fish who just happens to be passing through.
A chukar hunter is well short of the top of a hill as sunset approaches. The rest of the hill lacks the rocks and sagebrush that might provide cover for a covey of chukars. Reason and good sense would send him downhill in time to arrive at his vehicle before dark. But chukar hunters are not renowned for reason or good sense. Sundown finds him cresting the top of the hill without having seen another chukar. However, the last slash of sunlight reveals a beautiful obsidian arrowhead, a discovery that keeps him smiling all the way down the hill — even in the dark.
Unfortunately, the suspension of reason is not restricted to outdoorsfolk. And it’s almost always accompanied by poor decision making and harmful results. All too often, our politicians and leaders are especially vulnerable to the malady and their decisions affect us all.
But why, it is fair to ask, would our leaders suspend reason so completely as to take actions obviously at cross purposes with the long-term good of the American people? Why withdraw us from participation from the Paris Climate Accord, when the overwhelming scientific evidence says it may be our last chance to reverse a global warming-caused collapse of the ecosystem on which all life depends?
Well, probably because so many of our senators and congressmen follow the example of a man to whom every issue has only economic considerations and every decision made is the one that will make the most money today.
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As we are seeing on daily tweets, each more egregious than the last, a man to whom money is the only measure and to whom bullying is the only diplomacy, soon learns to discard reason completely and depend on his baser instincts for all his decisions and responses.
Hatred. There is no doubt that our current president hates his predecessor and is driven to erase every vestige of Obama’s legacy. Obamacare is the most obvious example but recent decisions to reduce the size of National Monument lands and open them to gas and oil exploration fall in this category as well.
Greed. Weakening coal emission standards and air pollution standards have increased profits, but acid levels in New England lakes have already begun to rise. Acid rain redux. Who’d have thought it could happen again?
Vengeance. Watching our president deal with California in recent weeks has been a study in prepubescent pettiness. His attempt to roll back California’s emission control standards is just one of a series of transparent moves designed to punish the left-leaning state for standing up to him on a variety of fronts.
Not all of our president’s decisions result from his baser instincts. Some come about just because he is ignorant. The impacts of global warming are hard to see with your own eyes when your outdoor experiences are limited to Florida golf courses. And hard to learn about when you can’t read and process information.
But you don’t have to worry about climate change if you just call it a hoax and ignore it. And that is perhaps our president’s strongest quality, the ability to put his head in the sand and ignore a problem. His allies call it strength of will.
Me, I call it cowardice.