What Choice Do We Have?

This wonderfully well-written blog post was shared with me today. It articulates the perception that Trump and his devout followers create. This perception is of their own making. It is difficult for the rational mind to make any other assumption than the ones outlined by this blogger.

The thing I have noticed, which I have been noticing elsewhere as well, is that there are so many confused people who are seeking a leader who does not require them to read or think on their own. They simply want someone to tell them what to do. Trump is excellent at reassuring his followers that they need not think because he will think for them. Somehow this assurance is more comfortable for them than continuing to struggle with an imperfect Hillary or a revolutionary Bernie. Certainly, it is more comforting than shifting through the mass populace of Republican candidates who only seem to confuse the GOP identity rather than define it.

Those who commented on this blog who either did not read it, or did not understand the literary nuances of it, or simply hated what they saw, struck out, attacking the blogger and demanding that the blogger give equal critical measure to the other candidates. Others who read the blog but found it to make them uncomfortable with their choice to follow Trump asked the blogger to tell them what other choice they have.

What other choice do we have? We can choose to do more than ask someone else to do the research and work for us. Yes, we all like to share a quick meme or thought, but we need to research and reason, rather than simply seek a shepherd to follow.

Election Ignorance and Disillusionment

The lack of basic election knowledge shown by so many people commenting today makes my head hurt.

Getting past all the anger and rude rhetoric which dominates the online conversations, it becomes evident that the bigger problem with the political and election system is the ignorance which creates confusion and threatens to disenfranchise the voter when the hype dies down and disillusionment sets in.

It seems understandable that many might be confused by the nature of the U.S. political process. It is not as if each state or each party follow the same procedures. Even the general election process seems simple compared to all the variations to be considered during the primary season. However with the internet just a click away, answers can be found for those who are confused. There are articles to read, charts and diagrams to consider, and plenty of video explanations for those who need a person to explain it all when the charts and articles fall short. Despite all the material designed to reduce the confusion, there are many who cannot seem to grasp the basic principles of primary elections. Maybe they get caught up in the national news and forget to seek out information on their own state. Maybe they simply do not realize that the primaries and caucuses are all about choosing a party candidate rather than pitting one party against the other. Whichever or whatever it is, the confusion is problematic. Only one person will win the general election, leaving many to wonder why their vote today did not seem to count when November rolls around.

 

Artisans and Their Worth

Too often artisans are viewed as having less worth than their mechanical counterparts. In truth, an artisan is not only someone who can create an item of practicality and beauty, but they are often the keepers of the history of the craft they love. Their work is priceless, even when they do place a price tag on it. Handcrafted should never be devalued, nor should people be surprised when a lovely piece of work is priced much higher than the average person might wish to pay. Whether it is the hobbyist or the professional, handcrafted work is much more than just an average mass produced item found in a retail store.

Artisans

Who is expendable?

I just read something that gave me pause. 
 
In response to President Obama inviting Ahmed Mohamed to the White House, certain opposition voices criticized the president over his priorities.
 
Why didn’t he invite the family of the woman in California who was shot by the illegal immigrant to meet with him? Why didn’t he invite the families of those killed in South Carolina?
 
As questions of this nature continued, I kept feeling a greater sense of disquiet. The tragedies which occurred in these examples were perpetuated by criminals, people who through either direct intent, or through a lack of responsibility and adherence to the law brought about a terrible result, someone’s death. These were criminal acts committed by criminals.
 
However in Ahmed’s situation he was the victim, not of a criminal act, but a victim of the government. He was treated by those in authority as if he was a criminal for doing the very thing we hope our youth today will do – get excited about learning.
 
While we may debate how the authorities should handle the serious task of protecting our youth, let’s not lose sight of whom we are protecting. If in trying to protect our youth we trample on their rights, have we not taught them a terrible lesson? If in trying to protect the whole we damage the one, have we not already lost the battle?

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Sanitizing the History of War

Not so pithy but I felt this was important to share on both blogs.

Pithy History

The study of history can be a wonderful method of instilling patriotism and civic pride into a nation. During the early years of the Cold War, the study of history was viewed as a vital way to instill the notion that the home nation was virtuous and grand, but opposition to a sanitized version of history was growing even as ultra-patriotism became a propaganda tool. Certainly, the sanitization of the history of war did not begin during the Cold War, but during that half century, the sanitized version of history was considered patriotic, and history critical of the homeland was seen by many  as being subversive. Therefore, the shock was profound when footage of war was televised for all to see during the Vietnam War. A generation reared on stories of the noble victories which had defeated tyranny, slavery, totalitarian abuse, and genocide found themselves faced with the horror of…

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Change, Secession, and Liberty

Looking at another time when change was contested.

Pithy History

When a traditional way of life is challenged, turbulent emotions run rampant. Fear and anger replaces reason. As 1860 neared its end, the southern states of the United States of America began to secede from a union which had been forged from the blood and sweat of forefathers, both northern and southern. Assured that the election of Abraham Lincoln would doom the institution of slavery, secession was viewed as the only option in what was believed to be a northern attempt to abolish, not only slavery, but a way of life. The governor of Texas opposed secession even though such a stance invited attack upon both his person and his reputation as defender of the state. Governor Sam Houston argued against secession and when his arguments failed to sway enough voters, he argued for a return to independence rather than a confederation with the other seceding states.

Society, particularly southern…

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Change, Marriage, Hope

Change is often tumultuous and disconcerting. Even long anticipated change can cause anxiety and stress. Underlying even the most anticipated change is the presence of fear – fear of the unknown. For change tends to lead to a ripple effect and to further change, often a less planned or predicted change. However anxiety, uncertainty, and fear are never good reasons to remain tethered to outdated notions of societal norm that directly hinder the liberty of large groups of individuals.

Just as one person’s religious tenants does not devalue the beliefs of another, the value of one couples marriage does not decrease the value of another’s simply because the two unions differ due to physical appearance.

There will always be those who wish to tear down the beliefs of others or to create anarchy, but we must not confuse them with those who simply wish for equality and liberty. Rather than fearing those who wish to tear down the pursuit of spirituality or those desiring to undermine the bonds of marriage, supporters of religious freedom and of the sanctity of marriage should celebrate a change in society which increases support for the institution of marriage. Whether a civil marriage or a marriage performed by a spiritual leader, marriage can now be celebrated, supported, and enjoyed by a greater proportion of the human race than ever before. Marriage can now be a bond which does not discriminate.

It is true that change of this magnitude will not arrive without a ripple effect of further change, and it would be foolish to believe that the ripple effect will necessarily be positive. Yet, fearing and predicting doom is a sure way of encouraging doom. In times of great change, it is much better to set anxiety aside and press forward with hope.

Rainbow2

 

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One Bite at a Time – Adjusting a Classic Saying

For years I have used the old saying,

“How do you eat and elephant – one bite at a time.”

Recently I realized something was missing. In light of the disposable nature of a commercial world and the addiction of instant gratification, I feel the old saying needs to be adjusted.

So how do you eat and elephant?

One bite at a time, day after day, until the task is complete. 

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Myth Rather Than History, Fiction Rather Than Fact

Twenty-five years ago the Berlin Wall, a dramatic symbol of the Cold War, was breached and then torn down. Yet, even after a quarter century, evidence of the Cold War culture permeates daily life. Regardless of policy decisions in Washington or the ongoing debate among scholars as to whether the Cold War ended or an new Cold War is beginning, evidence that many people long for the clear-cut, black-and-white days of the Cold War is easily found; days when media and governmental propaganda directed the public to the larger imperial struggle rather than at the ground level crises the Cold War policies perpetuated.

Crisis and war abound today with coverage of human tragedy and violent conflict filling the media streams, but intervention by Russia is viewed as being bad and intervention by the United States is viewed as necessary, even if some acknowledge it as a ‘necessary evil’.  Cries for humanitarian assistance from those who are suffering, at times, are obscured by political tirades calling for retaliation and the placement of blame.

When World War I, The War to End all Wars, ended and the call for greater international cooperation went forth among the nations, politics stood in the way. When, after another great war, a second US president called for cooperation, the United Nations was formed. Yet, once again political rivalry and imperial competition undermined international cooperation. Under the cloud of Cold War animosity, it became evident that the United Nations could not prevent violence or war. However, despite such animosity, the United Nations became a vehicle for humanitarian cooperation. As the twentieth century wound down, there was hope that human suffering could be effectively addressed internationally even if it could not be eradicated.

The dawn of a new century violently reminded the world that there were many who preferred violence over peace. Sadly, the lessons of the twentieth century were not headed as fully as they should have been.

Isolation from the world was not the answer, nor is it ever an effective answer. No nation can become a hermit in this modern world without causing internal suffering. Military and humanitarian intervention into the crisis ridden regions of the world is a price great nations pay for the economic gains such regions provide. During the nineteenth and twentieth century, the United States expanded its trade and its influence worldwide. Time, and time again, the United States touted its right to intervene, first in the Americas and later throughout the globe. It was not the only nation to do so. The great nations of the twentieth century all benefited from the colonial and neocolonial policies that provided wealth to their citizens. The competition for resources led to war and certainly contributed to the Cold War game of Risk that dominated half a century. This competition also led to some of the turmoil of today, and is being used as justification for many of the atrocious acts of violence being perpetuated by radical power hungry groups. Yet, rather than working in cooperation to combat the human suffering that increases daily, the great nations seem to have splintered, at least if one reads the propaganda filled media accounts which focus on sensationalism rather than facts.

Has the world become more violent and less compassionate than at any other time in human history? Or is there simply greater means for news of the violence to be shared?

These questions cause me to ponder and reflect on the state of humanity and the crisis of mankind, but there is a bigger question that keeps tumbling around my head and disturbs me on a deeper level. Why would someone wish to sensationalize or embellish the already horrific levels of violence occurring in turbulent areas of the world? It is easy to understand those who wish to ignore the horrors man inflicts upon man, to deny the reality that man can be the most uncivilized of the creature of the earth. Those who hide from the ugly of mankind seek isolation and are naïve enough believe that closing their eyes in the face of danger will make the danger disappear. It is easy to understand their reasoning and their motivation, but the motivation of those who wish to make the horror worse than the evidence supports is much more difficult to pinpoint.

Do they seek to demonize the enemy? During World War II, the strategy of demonizing the enemy was key to gaining support for war. When the war was over, the hatred for the enemy was to magically disappear and the demon to become a friend. The same strategy was used throughout the Cold War. This strategy of demonization worked well for governments (even if the magic of friendship failed) and now seems to be adopted by non-governmental organizations (not necessarily a new tendency) with far reaching consequence including creating a huge volume of untrustworthy ‘news reports’ which make evaluation of world events difficult at best.

If demonization of others is the motivation, then what is goal? Certainly the issue of the worldwide violence and growing humanitarian crises is of great concern, but of greater concern is the growing push for more violence – retaliatory violence. When governments are behind the call to war, there is need for level headed evaluation and hopefully international cooperation. When the call to war comes from sources unknown or sources with questionable motives, the need for level headed evaluation and hopefully international cooperation is much greater.

Sadly, such cooperation seems to be of little value in a world which is seeking a hero, a world in which myth has replaced history and fiction replaced fact.

 

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The Sadness of Finding Fault

We all do it at one time or another, finding fault. In the process of evaluation, it is vital that both positive and negative attributes are noted and examined. Yet, even when the evaluation presents a finding of greater negative than positive, it is up to the individual to choose how to process the findings.

When buying an object, say like a car or a sofa, it is clear that the positives must outweigh the negatives. However, since very little in life is perfectly positive, we do well when we focus our thoughts to the positive attributes of the imperfect.

Sadly, it is often the case that when evaluating people, whether it be an individual or a group, we focus on the negative aspects more than the positive, even when the positive attributes outweigh the negative. Worse yet, we seek to blame others for the things that make us sad, angry, or depressed. True, the actions of others can adversely affect our emotional and physical state of being, but in the end we seem to choose to find fault with others more consistently than we try to find happiness in ourselves. When we focus on fault finding and neglect to nurture a spirit of compassion, we become the originator of a greater sadness than that which may have come from the actions of others. For while we can separate ourselves from others, we cannot walk away from our self.

 

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FYI: I cannot view, nor do I endorse any of the ads that are shown on my blog.