This is my response to our national shame: the election of (s)trump(et). Why a shame? If you have to ask that then you probably don’t want to read, and will likely not understand, this blog. Go forth and do good things then. The rest of you read on…
I am writing this from a hotel in Boston proper, literally overlooking the site of the Boston Massacre. Remember that from high school history classes? Ironically enough, home of the Boston Tea Party and The Sons of Liberty –fighting against tyranny. Having experienced the Obama administration and the disrespect by the right toward him, I am somewhat humbled by being at ground zero of the American Revolutionary War, fought against a mad tyrant by men and women, who wanted representation and self-determination so badly that they took up arms against their own government. Earlier, I stated that I was experiencing a sense of irony. I said that because the rabble that sought to slander President Obama and his good works, did so because the respect for life and decency by that man was anathema to those, who find gay people, minorities, and intellect nothing more than sub-human.
Moreover, the founders of our nation, and this is more than just Founding Fathers to me because this Nation was formed not through fancy words written upon hemp paper, but through the sacrifices of whites, blacks, Hispanics, straight, gay, man, and woman. This collective determined that the injustices and perturbations had grown beyond the acceptable: corruption, nepotism, murder, and the dilution of their voices in the political process.
My visit caused me reflect on more recent, but equally powerful events.
Yesterday. Had we not bore witness to the righteous inclusion of those same “minorities” in our world? Had we not kindled a flame to light the world that was chasing the shades of kleptocracy, racism, ethnocentrism, and of xenophobia? Did we not, the goodly and enlightened, clasp hands with one and other in a pledge of solidarity, echoing the sentiments of never again?
Today. The light is not extinguished, but it is most certainly shielded. We clasp each other now, not in joyousness, but in fear. Our proud nation transmogrified from a shining example of democracy and intellectualism into an absurd parody akin to Moon Over Parador with our golden-hair plugged leader raping our ideals, our character, our people with the hubristic phallus of his febrile utterances and actions.
Tomorrow. The Tree of Liberty must be from time to time refreshed with the blood of tyrants and patriots.
Disenfranchisement of the masses is one of the greatest threats to our democracy. While the term is used more to describe the removal of a right to vote, it also means the attenuation of an individual’s voting power/influence.
During the framing of the Constitution, the drafters of the document and of our government had envisioned each congressional district to represent approximately 50-60K people. Today, congressional districts sit at about 700K citizens per.
I am sure that there will be more than a few repuglicans, who will argue that the Founding Fathers could not have imagined the US as being as large as it has become. One of which, I disagree with in its entirety. Remember, they had come from over-crowded cities before coming to these shores. They were ever hopeful of America’s growth and expansion. There is ample evidence to support the discussion that THEY saw the importance of a growing America –through immigration, might I add. James Madison, argued that the Constitution actually depended upon this pluralism –in number and representation:
“This freedom arises from that multiplicity of sects which pervades America,” he stated at the Virginia ratifying convention, “for where there is such a variety of sects, there cannot be a majority of any one sect to oppress and persecute the rest.”
What we have seen over the course of nearly 250 years is the dilution of this plurality DESPITE growth. Now, instead of a group of people oppressing the minority, it is one person, who can change the fate of nearly 700K people, and when working in concert with other like-minded oppressors, can affect the fate of the United States.
It is time that we look at other avenues of inquiry beyond Third Parties, rogue politicians or limiting contributions by person or entity. By returning balance back toward the people in terms of true proportional representation, we can limit influence of hate groups, extreme party politics, the wealthy, and most of all politicians.
We can have a responsive and beholden to the people government, but only if we, The People, stand up and take charge of the system for a short period in order to re-establish our Republic. Sic Semper Tyrannis.
I find it interesting that no one has compared the current catastrophe known as our every day since the ascension of our glorious Verlierer (German for “loser”, which is a much better way of describing trump that trumps Führer) to that of the Gilded Age.
The first Gilded Age has its start somewhere around the end of the Reconstruction Era and in the middle of the Victorian Era. The G.A. saw a period of rapid economic gains for the wealthy and there was substantial growth in wages across the demographics, but especially in the industrial worker. Life had the appearance of overall growth in almost all areas, but the truth was less ideal. The G.A. hid serious social problems from several economic depressions (1873 and 1893), increased economic stratification, growth in political corruption, technological advances that parred the work force (machines are more efficient and cheaper). Railroads were very similar to the internet today: moving finance, moving people (albeit not the physical aspect of humanity for the internet), and changing the way that American governed and made money.
It was the age of laissez-faire capitalism, the great industrialists (Mellon, Carnegie, Morgan, and Vanderbilt –just to name but a few): An age that demanded ruthless competition and social stratification.
The rich and powerful codified and hardened their rule and the rest of America suffered from their greed.
Do you not see similarities?
Our profanely inspired (yes, profane) confuser-in-chief seems to be in pursuit of a new Gilded Age. An age of decadence, the Ursprung of Gekkoism, and an age that saw the excesses of wealth, gilding over the true social and economic issues of that time. Why not? How better to deal with the serious issues of our time than with hyperbole, ambiguity, antimeria, and aposiopesis?
Like the Gilded Age of the early 20th Century, we are witnessing now a sharp spiral into sharp partisanship, racial tension, the return of big(ly) business –albeit they never really left, but governed from the shadows, the rapid growth in technology and its pervasive nature into all aspects of our society, the mischaracterization and defamation of immigrants, and not the least of all, the miasma of greed and guile in our political system.
We will bear witness in the next several years, something we are only beginning to see now, the rape of American middle class wealth and power, as politicians and businesses raid everything we own for their own profiteering. The poor will truly become the people of Oliver Twist –orphanages and debtor prisons are likely not far behind.
This is all more than just a probable; this is more than just possible –If we let them.
Looking to politicians to solve our problems is really anathema to the good order of things in our lives. You don’t ever entrust the fox with guardianship of the hen house.
As politicians and the wealthy put the gild on our prisons (with or without windows), are we going to meekly enter into those cages? Those cells? Those boxcars?
To quote and to proffer for renewed consideration, these hallowed words from the American patriot, Thomas Paine:
These are the times that try men’s souls: The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of his country; but he that stands it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman.
Do we stand or shrink?
I am reading the novel, We, by the Russian author (yes, I know there seems to be a lot of Russian these days) by Yevgeny Zamyatin. If you haven’t heard or read this novel, I highly recommend it. It is a dystopian work and the Russian authors are very good at this genre. Hell, they are basically the gods of existentialism and dystopian literature for good reason: one just has to look at the history of that region and it becomes clear.
Anyway, We, really is a foundational novel for the concept of authoritarian dystopias and the internal struggle for the populace for individualism and a better life. 1984 may be a cornerstone of American dystopian literature, but Orwell owes Zamyatin a tip of the hat for paving the way.
What does this have to do with the trump and our struggles? Well, for starters, you can’t help but notice the similarities in how the One State and our Big Brother in the White House and his sycophantic coterie of Brown Shirts have trampled our hopes beneath their pseudo-religious (recently, I heard the term for trumplidites referred to as Cult 45, which I love!) and xenophobic pandering to our country’s morlocks in the hate group communities. By any measure, two steps backward for our country and very reminiscent of this work. Also, I liked the connection between the Russian author and the putinency of trump.
Also, I have been giving thought to the connection between utopias and dystopias and our recent President, who claimed hope as his catch phrase. They are really very closely related regarding themes of hope and individualism. Don’t get me wrong, I liked President Obama, but I am not a believer in utopias.
What both utopias and dystopias have in common is hope. Hope, you say!? How so? Well, first of all, both utopias and dystopias (with exceptions) have a commonality in that they exhibit polyculturalism, such as Thomas More’s work Utopia or even H.G. Well’s A Modern Utopia: Compare these to dystopias such as We or in more modern literature the Mockingjay series. You may say, well, utopias are amazing places of egalitarianism and dystopias are places where there is no hope. In actuality, both utopias and dystopias are more in common than at first blush: Both have an apoplexy of social movement for the broad spectrum of the society. One may believe utopias as better places to live because they give the perception of the ideal, but just because your prison has a window, doesn’t make it any less a prison.
Where am I going with this? I believe that we need this conflict between the current evolution of One State/Big Brother and progressive thought to move us forward. Struggle is a catalyst for growth and as Darwin showed, struggle brings about evolutionary change, which always a system to maintain homeostasis. Radical or revolutionary change provides too great an upheaval, which alters a system too far from the norm. However, such revolutionary change or Black Swan events in terms of the system do test the resiliency of that system. Perhaps, trump is that Black Swan event? Perhaps, Obama was? Time will tell, I guess.
Needless to say, we have been afforded the opportunity to compare two examples of hope and greatness under President Obama and now under the putinency of trump. While hope under Obama was more positive to our brand, our enemies in Cult 45 see trump as their hope. You can’t deny that both have offered us visions of the way ahead and we should be thankful for that. Ask yourself if you could truly know joy if you did not know sorry?
So, at this junction of time and space, we have been afforded two visions of the future, presented by two differing factions. I hate to simplify it to such a binomial, but a third way has not really been tendered or proffered for consideration.
Honestly, for the time being, I’d rather have windows in my prison because I believe in the power of the American people. I believe in the ideals set down on hemp paper by a bunch of idealists back in the 18th Century. I’d rather work hand-in-hand with the multi-colored fabric of our society. In sum, and to paraphrase, I’d rather laugh with the sinners of diversity than cry with the homogenous self-proclaimed saints and saviors of America.
I said that utopias and dystopias are more similar than different for a very good reason. While I thought that President Obama and Clinton before him offered a seemingly better future than does the current iteration of alt-right wingers, I don’t believe that their path is the only one to be blindly followed. In the case of both, the society that they offered led to stagnation.
We need to stop following the path presented to us and create the path that politicians need to follow. For too long now, we have been tethered to men and women, who have their own agendas. They have become in turn, untethered to the social contract that once bound their actions. We have allowed this to happen because, like in a utopia or dystopia, we didn’t see much use in trying to struggle: Our lives weren’t too bad and most of the problems of the world didn’t affect us directly. We had our personal struggles and they were more than enough a load for one to bear.
Yet, history has shown that a society, a culture, does not move forward on the efforts of one person. I hate to coin the phrase, but it does take a village.
Earlier, I stated that you can’t know a quality of something without having experienced its polar opposite. I have lived for years in Africa and spent a good deal of time in Afghanistan and Iraq and can state with experience and sincerity that we can be better as a nation and a species. It is our responsibility to be better. The world looks to us still to lead and almost in the same way that Alexis de Tocqueville once declared of a nascent America’s light that had diffused its warmth (of social theory and democracy) around and tinged the distant horizon with its glow.
Are we the generation that will lapse into dystopia because of our fears, our neglect, our inhumanity, our acceptance of the status quo, to extinguish that light, and permit authoritarianism to reign unchecked in the world?
Work hard and you will do well. Don’t worry about what others do, only what you do. Always tell the truth. Don’t sweat the small stuff. The meek shall inherit the earth. Do any of those comments sound familiar? Yet, putting them into practice will likely get you crushed in the world.
Sure, you may think that adhering to antiquated notions like the Golden Rule or being that upright person will make you a better person, but what does that exactly mean and who cares?
No, I honestly think that those maxims are fabrications by the wealthy and powerful to give us hope and reign us in. Point in fact, the Bible as it stands today in the Catholic tradition (not that even more fabricated evangelical movement, which makes even this lapsed Catholic gag at their heretical thoughts and deeds) was fashioned out of several traditions, translated multiple times, slapped together by Synods (notably the Synod of Hippo) and all by the supposed learned and religious castes (most of whom were from the nobility or wealthier classes).
If anything, the rich know how to protect THEMSELVES above all others, so it is no wonder our most notable proverbs seem to only benefit the greedy, rich, and powerful. If you don’t believe me, do your own research into how and who penned some of our more famous quotables. I can tell you up front that not a lot of poor folk had the time nor the education to coin such phrases.
Honestly, the most profound of truths regarding our plight comes to us from the materialist, Hobbes, when he classified humanity as “the life of man, solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short.”
So, we toil with the dangling hope tied to the stick that both prods us forward and whips us to compliance. We toil and pin the hopes of a better life on such glib phrases that are supposed to inspire us such as “Better is a poor man who walks in his integrity than a rich man who is crooked in his ways.”
And the sheep go baaaa—aaaaaa. Bleat on, you poor wretches, right until they draw the knife across your throat.
This week we were witness to the theater of the absurd in our political system. We pinned hopes that we would continue to see relief from high medical costs through the ACA, while uncaring politicians, who know little about health care, played golf or basked in the joy that the ACA would fall to their machinations. The rich fiddled, while we burned.
Yet, despite the support for healthcare for us, the normals, here in the US, those pampered, privileged, and uncaring rich scum, promised to continue to fight for overthrowing the ACA to replace it with their version of tax relief for their friends.
I do believe that a purge is necessary: A purge of the wealthy from our politic system.
Our representatives always throw out Biblical quotes to prove their religiousness, well, I have one that seems to be over-looked:
1 Corinthians 4:20: For the kingdom of God is not in word, but in power.
It is high time that we seize power, my friends, before the wealthy and elite take us further down a path of destruction. Let us show them power.
We live in a modern society upon which disposable is predicated. You can’t have one without the other –or so the rationale goes. Fast living demands that we are not hampered by the trivialities of limitations.
However, what is the cost of such freedoms of excess? Everything that can be made can be unmade and made again, right? That is what we do when we recycle and when we compost. Such practice is almost Newtonian in its simplicity.
Humanity is something that cannot be so easily recycled or remade once it is lost nor reduced into such a simple equation.
What is the measure of humanity? We are human and shouldn’t that be the basis of humanity. You can’t act human without humanity. So, there is a point that through several iterations of transitive and commutative properties, I could demonstrate that to be human (and by substitution, humanity) is to be a thinking and feeling being. However, somewhat akin to the problems faced by the Apologists of the Catholic Church, I cannot demonstrate goodness in that humanity. That definition is bound by the social mores and folkways of a society. For simplicity’s sake, let us agree that kicking puppies is bad on one end of the spectrum and giving up your seat to an elderly person is good on the other end.
So, given our newly discovered humanity, albeit with a lot of glossing over of some cracks in the theory, we can also arrive to an agreement that we also have a fairly good approximation of good and evil. Nietzsche may be rolling in his grave, but I will go on record as to say that we needn’t concern ourselves with what is beyond good and evil for the moment.
In the Spring of 2003, I found myself among several 100 that had taken up residence somewhere in the southeastern portion of Afghanistan. I was company executive office, which was less a job than an adventure, but the position did afford me the leeway to befriend many people: one of whom was the company medic. Sadly, time has eroded his name from the neural landscape of my mind. I do remember his kindness, his passion to help others, and the soft spot in his heart for children.
Like wars of the past, present, and future, there were and will be victims across the spectrum of ages, nationalities, and gender. The cold hardness of steel cares not for whom it favors with its hot caress: of all the things in the world, it is one of the great equalizers.
No matter where I have been, I have found that children in pain, all sound the same. I am not talking about a scraped knee or bruised flesh. The cries of a child starving, or getting lacerations cleaned or having charred skin debrided can never be unheard.
She was brought to us by her father, who perhaps was under some delusion that we could do magic or perhaps to show the other locals that Americans cannot save them if they could not even save a child. Either way, she came to us after suffering through a horrendous gas explosion. Their cooking stove exploded and she suffered nearly 30% 1st degree burns over her body with her face being a large portion of that percentage.
The medic worked furiously alongside several other medical personnel to first stabilize her and then to begin the long task of treating her injuries. While our medic was top-notch, we were nothing more than a slightly larger than normal combat outpost. The girl and her father being local nationals did not warrant a medi-evac to higher care, so our medic did the best that he could with what he had on-hand.
The cleaning process took an indescribably long time.
After a few days to a week’s time, the doc felt comfortable enough with the belief that given a few more days, she would be well-enough to travel back to her home with her father. Her scarring, as with any severe burn, would be without question a life-long disfigurement.
You know how people get when their team wins something big? The emotions in the camp ran along those lines. We won. We had saved a child’s life. In times of war, when there is nothing but death, you transcend statistics. As Stalin had stated, one life lost is a tragedy, so extrapolating from that, one life saved is also a statistic, but for positive relevancy.
We had won, so we thought.
Several days later, word came back to camp that the little girl’s father –her protector and the only person whom she should have trusted—had had her euthanized. Her had deduced that he could not afford to keep her because the cost of her care over her lifetime would have been extreme. He also figured, so we had heard, that he would never get her married off. She became a burden and not a daughter in his eyes. So, he took her to the local “doctor”, who was a man, who had inherited his doctor’s practice once his brother, the real doctor died. Yes, inherited and not gained through training.
Who knows with what he injected her. Hopefully, it was painless, but I’ve been to Afghanistan and there is nothing about that place that is painless.
We wept. Some of us did more openly than others, but no one wept more profoundly than our medic. He was inconsolable for a few days and then the anger set in. We all wanted to kill that man. To seek vengeance for justice is not a crime when the act perpetrated is so vile, so unimaginable.
Our commander spoke to us and he was a good man to do so. His words were not orders. His words were not harsh nor were they laden with excoriating verbiage. He simply said that this was their land and their rules. We reported the incident to the local government, who were confused as to why we would be so concerned with the death of one child since we had to clearly killed thousands without blinking. They also did not see the child’s death as murder, but a mercy.
Hobbs’ was not wrong when he said that life is: “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short”.
The situations in Afghanistan at that time were far the worse that what Americans could ever expect or be forced to handle. That man had nothing and expected less than that for his daughter. It wasn’t Islam or Sharia law that drove him to commit that heinous act. It was a calculated necessity. Had his humanity had been driven from him? He made a conscious choice to end his daughter’s life for the best of everyone involved. As I stated earlier, I cannot demonstrate the goodness or evil in an act. In the eyes of his community, what he did was right.
We, we Americans, are better than that.
We are a land of plenty. We are a country replete with men and women, who do not have to ever face the deprivations that people like that father did. We are a nation that prides itself as being a bastion of hope.
We do not need to build walls to protect us. We need compassion. Men, women, and children run from their countries, and undoubtedly there are some criminals in that influx of people. They run to us because they feel that they can trust us. We are the only land left that will open its arms and let them in.
Shall we then turn to symbolically euthanizing them? What do you think happens to refugees when the cameras turn off? These people are not actors, who are paid to starve and look pitiful on our very doorsteps! They are human beings. They have humanity. That very humanity that I argued is a cogent and emotional being.
To some people, that father did a righteous act, but the greater majority of the world views him as a loathsome creature. What then will the world think as we build this aesthetically pleasing and unassailable wall that would make even Mary Shelley blanch at its monstrosity? Shall we listen to the Raphael Hythlodaeus’ of our government in pursuit of a white utopia?
The questions that we, as a collective, must answer are thus:
- Do we subsume our humanity to the fears of the unknown?
- Shall we become the father of this story?
- Where do we draw the line? Humanity is not simply washed away with one act, but the cumulative effects of many acts.
In no way do I hold the answers nor do I expect anyone to. What I do know is that the sounds of that child’s screams were far less painful to my soul in retrospect than her silence became.
I’ll take the screams because I cannot bare the silence.
The great thing about having an insane petty dictator is that , and you really need to think about this, nothing you do from now on can every really be embarrassing or off-kilter. Indeed, the vocabulary for us has been almost expanded into infinity when it comes to what we say, how we say it, and the need for rationality/integrity. What a great time to be a student! You never have to quote or show reference again in any document. trumplethinskin has gifted you the ability to lie, lie, lie without repercussion.
What a great time to be alive! Unless you are a woman, ethnic minority, or not heterosexual in which case, you are boned.
Seriously, has there ever been a time when everyone pretty much universally thought our government was an amalgamation of liars, cheats, and thieves?
Has there ever been a time when almost 1/2 of the population didn’t care?
I turn 49 on the morrow and looking back on my life, I remember struggle. We were a poor family, white trash by most standards now. However, even at the worst times, did I ever think that we would be in this position as a nation. In fact, truth be told, my father was a tyrant. He took the typical police officer’s route of being a drunk and abusive man. Honestly, I didn’t mind getting the beatings, I prided myself in being able to withstand the backhands, the belt, and the hair brush. However, the worst action was when he stopped hitting me and made me watch him beat others. He would tell me that this was how a man behaved. Almost instinctively, as I saw family members cry and cower, did I know that THAT was not how a man behaved.
A man does not hit, abuse, or belittle others. A man does not act an embarrassment. A man does not sit idly by while others, weaker in fortitude or capability, are systematically denigrated for person pleasure or gain. No, a man, stands shakily to his feet, numb to the blows, numb to the pain, at all costs, and spits from hell’s heart at his and his people’s enemies.
Certain training has taught me one important fact, that there are somethings worse than death.
You may not feel this way now. You may never feel that way. Nevertheless, I ask you to ask yourself these important question, especially if you have children: is this how I want to be perceived by others? Is this how I want to be remembered?
A man stands up despite the adversity. It is our duty and responsibility to ensure inter-generational justice. To leave a better world.
Do you want to leave a better world? Do you believe that ONE man behaving badly can adversely affect the lives and fates of millions? If you do then you need to work toward a better life for us all. Resist. Resist the temptation to be silent. Resist the desire to capitulate. Resist will all your being to bow down.
It took over 30 years, but I understand UNDERSTAND the ending of Tale of Two Cities: “It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done; it is a far, far better rest I go to than I have ever known.”