Now and again, various diplomats ask me about English idioms or snippets of text that they don’t understand.
If you sincerely desire a truly, well-rounded education, you must study the extremists, the obscure and “nutty”. You need the balance! Your poor brain is already being impregnated with middle-of-the-road crap, twenty-four hours a day… no matter what… Network TV, newspapers, radio, magazines at the supermarket…even if you never watch, read, listen, or leave your house, even if you are deaf and blind, the telepathic pressure alone, of the uncountable normals surrounding you will insure that you are automatically well-grounded in consensus reality.
What particularly through my diplomatic colleague was the sentence “You need the balance,” because balance with what?
I did my best to explain that the Reverend Ivan Stang is not in fact one of those inspirational Christian pastors with whom Koreans are so often enamored, but I’m not sure I managed to convey the extent to which Stang is a figure of counterculture and satire — elements of our culture that most Koreans have difficulty grasping anyway.
I followed that up by suggesting that the balance was between the mainstream point of view, which we will learn automatically, and the views of the extremists, which it takes effort to study. I think I got this idea across.
Unfortunately, I didn’t get a chance to ask where the diplomat had stumbled across an inspirational quotation from Stang, of all people. But know that the Spirit of J.R. “Bob” Dobbs, Jr., has entered the United Nations!