Relativism vs. Reality

Relativism vs. Reality

As The New Criterion turns 35 years old this year, editor Roger Kimball is exploring the topic of conservatism and populism. I’ve often been warned not to mix religion or politics into my coaching and consulting and I’ve equally-as-often reminded those critics that I do this for my cleft palate foundation, as a charity and as part of my mission to pay it forward and help other doctors in their practices, and as such, if they don’t like what I have to say, they can always fire me as a consultant and I’ll have to figure out how to spend my pay raise.

Onward. If you haven’t read some of the critical books in this arena like Richard Weaver’s, Ideas Have Consequences, or Russell Kirk’s, The Conservative Mind, I recommend you browse them and get a feel for the room.

Like other reviews here, I’m constrained by format and extreme brevity. Often I’m reminded of a single point and, thus, have a few paragraphs to use big works and big thinkers as a backdrop to drive my point home. That’s exactly what I’m doing with this month’s review of the first in a series of articles on populism by The New Criterion.

The point in considering the fact that ideas do indeed have consequences is that we must be grounded in reality. Our retreat from and avoidance of our own reality can have dire consequences. From a weakened ability to reason to loss of social order and individual rights, today’s distaste for reality and an entire generation who has never been told, “no” or kicked out of mom and dad’s basement, forced to get a job, even if it’s below their standards of what they think they deserve after racking up $40,000 in student loans, comes with a long list of consequences.

My job here and in other newsletters and live seminars is not to get you to like me. My name is taken in vain, more often than not, by most orthodontists. Instead, my job here is to help you think how to think. To accept your reality. Not as things ought to be or as you wish them to be but how they really are.

You can start by making a list of all the things that piss you off. Things your employees do or don’t do and things your patients and their parents do and don’t do that make your life difficult, that frustrate you. Now, stop pissing and moaning that things ought to be different and instead accept the fact that this is how they are.

One fine example, ALL of your parents want after-school appointment hours. You can whine and complain that no one wants to come at 10am or you can do something about it. We run late hours with two shifts of staff and we see adults and children with special needs during the quiet morning hours so that we can run a full capacity from 4pm-7pm.

Do I wish my reality was different? That I could work from 9am-3pm and go sailing the rest of the day? Perhaps. But, my patients and their parents are certainly are pleased that I’ve accepted the reality and found a way to deal with it.

There now, I avoided talking too much about politics but a stark reminder in one of my favorite journals prompted me to remind you about accepting your reality. My, wouldn’t it be nice if everyone in Washington D.C. did the same?

Worked at Burleson Orthodontics. Attended University of Missouri–Kansas City. Lives in Kansas City, Missouri.