As I See It: The Ides of March

Columnist Pete Abler talks about the need to teach people to think for themselves


The Roman Emperor Julius Caesar was assassinated on the 15th of March in 44 B.C. The Romans didn’t count each individual day in a month, but referred to a day as so many days before or after a fixed day.

The 15th of each month was a religious holiday that marked one of those fixed days. And following Caesar’s assassination, it has come to signify a day of bad luck.

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Caesar certainly wasn’t the first leader to have the bad luck to be assassinated. Biblical and ancient history is replete with tales of kings, emperors, chieftains and other leaders who were eliminated by any number of means by enemies, rivals, jealous “friends," wives or disgruntled servants, underlings, and employees.

Modern-day assassins usually resort to pistols and rifles, and the assassination of leaders has been eclipsed by a plethora of “accidents” that may befall a critic or someone who irks a despot.

Enough about Russia.


In our country today, character assassination is the preferred method for dealing with rivals in the political arena. It is used by nearly everyone in politics to some degree. It seems like the worst and most outrageous examples are used for the highest political offices.

False claims, innuendo and outright lies are used because they work; and they work because they rely on emotion instead of logic.

And that, my friend, is because we no longer teach and prepare most of our children how to think for themselves.

Nature has such wonderful laws. I always enjoyed math and the sciences in high school.

In algebra and geometry we learned methods for solving specific types of problems. As we progressed, we were expected to tackle harder and harder problems by using the knowledge and methodologies we learned.

There is no emotion in mathematics — except for the copious tears of frustration shed by my daughters and me while trying to teach them algebra.

Physics and chemistry were additional subjects where you learned another set of laws and had to apply them in understanding gravity — the attraction of bodies — beyond what most teenagers were thinking when I went to high school!

Additionally, mass of objects, acceleration and moment arms were followed by the magic of chemistry and understanding elements and their molecular structures and how they combined to make new compounds … all of which helped to expand our foundation for analyzing and solving problems.


To really discover the truth in any area, we have to gather as much information as possible. Then, we have to evaluate that information based on a number of criteria — source, accuracy, already known facts, etc.

Perhaps we will have to do more research and seek opinion and facts from other sources to validate or repudiate assertions or conclusions. If one’s only source of news is social media, network and cable news programs and the print media, we are ill-informed, misled or getting outright lies.

Every news outlet has an agenda. You will be presented with “news” that supports their agenda. You will hardly ever get to see a full speech, news conference, debate or other event.

You will see a carefully chosen video clip, snippet of an interview or a transcript that may have been altered before it was released. You may be presented information that supports the character “assassination” of an individual who is not supported by this particular news outlet.

If you haven’t been taught to think for yourself, you will swallow the Kool-Aid flavored with lies, innuendo and misinformation. You will be convinced you know the truth and acted on it.

Only, you’ll be wrong and eventually we will all pay the price. All because no one trained you to think and analyze before you make a decision.

Look at our own state. The DFL believes the one-vote majority (courtesy of the abortion issue) in the Senate was a mandate. Let’s see how you feel a year from now.

That’s the way I see it.


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Echo Journal Columnist / Pete Abler

Opinion by Pete Abler
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