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Say What? Experience

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When it comes to elections, this is a quality we can't afford to ignore

Experience

One of the terms being used during this Presidential election cycle is a term that generally means much the same to everyone who uses it... experience. Considering that those claiming it as an adjective seem to have differing opinions on what constitutes experience, what follows is an attempt to broaden your conception of experience.

To most people experience means the consequence of some activity or action. It can cover a wide range of subjects, all of which manage to accumulate. In some instances the sum total of experience can be a point of pride, a very sore subject or just one of those things... life.

The point of this discussion is that experience is purely and simply a matter of age. When we begin life we have no experience, zero exposure. For good or bad that condition does not last very long. What the young child experiences or his reaction to it is obvious early. They cry. It usually doesn’t take too long for the child to learn that crying produces results. Experience is alive and well.

The long and short of it is that experience is part of the learning process. In the minds of some, experience, aka common sense, is far better than a formal education. That is especially true of those whose school days ended early. For those whose school days went on and on, what was taught occupied the space in the brain that experience could have used. At some point in most of our lives being taught in a classroom came to an end. What was learned from then on could be described as experience.

Now to some, the more formal the education the less important becomes experience or learning outside the usual setting. The higher up, the more prestigious the school, the more advanced the degree, the less importance is attributed to the lessons based on experience. The greater the ego involved the more self-confidant the person becomes. At that point there is a threshold. On one side is the learning that was taught. On the other side is the learning that comes from experience

The danger posed by those who have lots of the former and are short on the latter is that there is going to be a lot of on-the-job training. We used to call it OJT. To a certain extent life is OJT. But in some instances the experience life has provided will be better and more helpful than what was taught, painful as it might be to admit it.

Those whose ego will not allow them to admit there is something they don’t know at that point are likely to make a mistake. When that person happens to be the President of the United States and Commander-in Chief it’s too late to “learn the hard way.” It follows to claim experience when there has been none is to deceive. To claim experience when there has been none is just plain dishonest.

There is no sin in acknowledging there are some things a person does not know. The fact is no one is all seeing or all knowing. The really intelligent person will readily admit there are things he or she doesn’t know. Life experience is accumulating the sum total of what time and place and circumstance has thrown at you and surviving to live another day.

When weighing the importance of experience take a close look at those who seem to ignore it. They usually are young and don’t have enough experience at anything except making it to class on time, to count.

Another aspect of experience that is easily overlooked is predictability. Surprises are great on birthdays but otherwise they usually are not so welcome. Someone with experience is far more predicable than one without. A good example in the current race is the difference between Obama and Clinton. He is unpredictable because you don’t have anything to go on. On the other hand she is very predictable because there is a track record. Same goes for McCain. Knowing what to expect is considered important by those who have been over the road. The first time voters don’t have a clue. Change for the sake of change is just plain stupid!

In the final analysis the older we get the more we are inclined to rely on our experience. Some call it “gut.” At some point we no longer have to look at the manual. It follows that the younger we are the more we rely on what we have been taught Take a closer look. Those who offer experience are way ahead of those who don’t have any. OJT may be good at the local burger joint , but only when you can’t hire some experience.

In all campaigns the incumbent runs on his or her record. The challenger runs on his under- standing of the job which usually means he has no experience. The question boils down to which is better - the known quantity or the unknown. Rhetoric fortunately is not a viable substitute for experience. Which is better... a good talker or someone who has done it?

When we have been mislead, betrayed or simply misguided it was usually by some smooth talker, confirming what happens when experience is ignored or under valued. Let us not do that any more; at least, not for a while.

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Author info

Paul Rechnitzer Paul Rechnitzer Transplanted 30 years ago, Paul is a retiree from the oil business who knows no other place he would rather live and breathe local history.

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