I’ve been immersed in foreigners for 10 years now; mostly Iraqis, mostly progressives. It took me a long time to understand even a little of where they’re coming from. They kept telling me “There’s no Freedom here.” It was hard to unravel. They weren’t talking about the right to vote, free speech, or equality. They were talking about the culture of suppression, prejudice, sexism, and powerlessness that we are born into. "You vote one day, make a choice, and then they ignore you for four more years." It’s hard to see what you grow up inside of.
Trump has allowed us a fresh and often harsh look, and for this I thank him. His foul-mouthed criticisms are sometimes correct. It affords us a time to reevaluate the America we all live in. And it ain't lookin' as good as the myth.
Much of Trump’s support comes from Americans who have the same view as many who judge our country from a distance. They see the corruption, moneyed power brokers, behind the scenes manipulation of public opinion, and the deep fear and systemic racism that pervades.
What they see is real, and denial has allowed us to look the other way. We live in a sexist boys-will-be-boys rape culture. We hold certain truths to be self-evident but they apply mainly to the white privileged men that call the shots by defining laws that protect the rich and politically powerful.
Freedom is just another word if you are black and live in fear when your children leave the house. Or if you pray that your daughter will not be accosted on the street for wearing a hijab. Or cringe when your Christian, Muslim, or Jewish house of worship is defaced with racist symbols (or burned to the ground). How strange it must be to be a Sikh and fear that you will be mistaken for a Muslim.
Unfortunately, Trump is not a solution. Trump may decry the injustice, but he is not equipped to do anything about it. His popular support will be no match for the machine that will force his hand should he be elected. His power as President will not be effective in stemming the tide of discrimination and violence he has unleashed. His privileged-rich-boy-viewpoint will not allow him to see, much less remedy, the ills deeply entrenched in our America.
What America needs is a well-educated populace that can mobilize a non-violent, justice-oriented movement that grows from the bottom, drives two-faced politicians from local office, and supports the rights of the people, not the rights of big-dollar donors. A Clinton administration, as corrupt as it will be, will offer domestic policies that make the justice revolution possible.
There. I’ve exhausted my hyphens-for-a-stronger-America. Up the revolution.
"Our most fruitful course is to stand firm…accept disappointments and cling to hope…
While there is much grounding in past experience for all these feelings [of anger and despair], a revolution cannot succumb to any of them. Today’s despair is a poor chisel to carve out tomorrow’s justice." [MLKing]
A Muslim woman wearing a hijab, sitting on the R train, was being verbally-anti-Muslimly abused by someone standing in front of her. 4 or 5 people got up to form a wall facing the seated woman; giving their backs to the bigot. They talked quietly to her, reassuring her, ignored the ranting, and kept it up until the other woman got off the train. Some smiles. No applause. Everybody just got back to their commute. Yo. It’s just New Yorkers being New Yorkers.
It’s 2016: each month we are losing more people in Chicago than those recently murdered in Brussels. Intimate bios personalize ISIS victims while Chicago’s dead are dehumanized within a cloud of statistics. The ISIS gang blankets the media but we don’t often hear about Chicago’s Latin Kings. If we did we’d begin to see significant parallels in radicalization paths and underlying causes.
No solutions, even substantial mitigations, are possible unless the deep societal, political, sociological, and psychological drivers are exposed. Yes, it’s maddeningly complicated, but we need to include all the underlying causes in the search effective change. It won’t help if we point to income inequality and a need for policing-reformation in Chicago without talking about the deeply entrenched American Racism and Greedism in which the Latin Kings exist. ISIS flourishes in a global mirror of these elements.
The world is not a fair place. The Rule of Law has become an illusion of Justice that serves the rich and powerful. We blind ourselves to the facts because we are afraid of the pain that the truth will bring. And, yes, the truth will hurt: twice. Once when we empathize with those who suffer, and once when we acknowledge our personal passive/aggressive contribution to the suffering. Such is empathy, the ability to feel the pain of others. But now enters Compassion.
Compassion allows us to take the energy of pain, anger, and guilt and turn these forces into ‘good works’. Individually the ‘work’ can be a simple as having civil conversation with someone who thinks differently. It can mean organizing a demonstration for Reform. It can mean just going to that demonstration to be counted as one who cares.
That’s the big ‘C’ Compassion, the one that says empathy is fine, but “What are you going to do about it?” It’s a transformative movement that flows from each individual upward through successive layers of power. In a Democracy guided by Compassion each vote will move this world toward more peaceful tomorrows. That pain you were worried about will be eased.
Now the FBI is telling schools: “Report students who criticize government policies as potential future terrorists.” (like speaking out against war?). Report those who “talk about travel to suspicious places” (like visiting your relatives, back home in Palestine, Iraq, Pakistan or wherever?), “Using private messaging apps” (Twitter Viber Chat Wickr Bleep? ). This has the smell of a police state that #Trump would probably applaud. The FBI repeatedly, but subtly, points at Muslims with examples pointing to religious differences and immigrant families.
This unscientific approach, when word inevitably gets out, will foment greater #Islamophobia, and will further alienate students who already feel discriminated against. If you are trying to radicalize a group of teenagers, this policy seems like a great help. @121Contact
#ThinkingAboutThinking Nearly half of America’s Christians think of themselves as Christians first and Americans second (47%). That’s pretty much the same percentage as Muslims (49%). White evangelicals are much more likely to identify first as Christians (70%).
A [single] recent study has found that there is a strong tendency of people to change their factual beliefs to fit their moral inclinations. They call it solution aversion and it may apply to attitudes from climate change to gun control, from abortion rights to Medicare, and it applies to you and me, too. [Kay and Campbell]
Two main mechanisms drive this assault on logic and reason:
System Justification: We want to believe, and subconsciously try to convince ourselves, that what we believe in is essentially good. Contrary information undermines confidence in our selves.
Moral Coherence: We want our beliefs to fit nicely together. Reevaluating our foundational beliefs is dangerous to our sense of well-being and takes a lot of energy.
We could move toward more rational, less panicked, and more peaceful tomorrows if we foster a sense of pride in what David Brooks called “mental virtues”. We could teach our children the value healthy skepticism, openness to the knowledge of others, and the growth benefits of challenging ourselves with new information. Humility about one’s own understandings and beliefs would be a big step forward.
Where is the love? Oh, it is there, but lies hidden beneath the whirl of anxiety pushed by the media to keep us from thinking about the truth. The wind of despair reaches us all as we witness Flint, Iraq, Syria, Nigeria, and the daily onslaught of the Scary News of the Day. It makes us sad but we try to ignore it. We have other things to worry about.
We worry about our income, the size and power of the Federal Government, social security, terrorist attacks, the economy, the affordability of health care, our children’s future. The media fuels our worries and keeps us from the truth that there is enough for everyone: water, medicine, jobs, safety, and yes, even power.
And our fear keeps us from mindfulness; from feeling what is going on in our own minds; from being taware, acknowledging and accepting our feelings and thoughts. Our worries beget fear; fear begets anger; anger begets an irrational longing for simple answers and a place to put the blame.
Just beneath the thin cover of lies beamed at us sits a great ocean of love. It is our true and natural understanding of the way things were meant to be. We can use the energy of our sadness to get together and take direct action in the face of the illusion that we are powerless. We can move this world to more peaceful tomorrows. #Flint @PeacefulTomorrows @bruce121Contact
About a hundred miles south of Baghdad, in the Shia holy city of Najaf, a new school rises on the site of an old hawza. It’s a two-for-one deal.
The building holding the hawza will continue the ancient role of training Shia clerics. The other structure will house Christian priests and Sunni clerics focused on teaching about the complexities of Sunni schools and Christian sects.
It’s a first. It's another step toward more peaceful tomorrows.
I don’t want all Christians to apologize for the clinic shooting. I want everyone to stop attributing the actions of the few to the many. And while I’m at it, I’d like to see the mainstream media acknowledge the existence of Christian terrorism.
They could start with an educational piece about the Phineas Priesthood, an American white supremacist movement that claims Christian inspiration and opposes interracial intercourse, racial integration, homosexuality, and abortion. They could list attacks by their members.
They could go on to teach us about:
the Army of God (who openly promote killing abortion providers),
Eastern Lightning (whose members beat a 37-year-old woman named Wu Shuoyan to death in a McDonalds in China when she refused to give them her phone number)
The Lord’s Resistance Army (who have killed thousands in Uganda, the Congo, the Central African Republic (CAR) and South Sudan)
And other American groups:
The Covenant, The Sword, and the Arm of the Lord (CSA), Defensive Action, and the Montana Freemen. (this is only a partial list)
Instead of making believe it doesn't exist we owe it to teach our children and remind our adults about the reality of Christian terrorism, and teach about the delusions of extremism.