Mean is being monetized. Now this is not news hot off the press, but we need to keep saying it until we realize what many of our fellow citizens are doing. They are paying for statements such as the children of Sandy Hook never existed, and the parents are actors. Or there is Trump who never misses an opportunity to give someone a derogatory nickname all the while creating a loyalty amongst his followers to him. They accuse without evidence that Democrats are pedophiles who sacrifice babies to someone or something. They harass voter election workers, teachers, and other public servants because they can. And they use these statements to prove they are fighting for a way of life, and they raise money through campaign ads and solicitations. This is not who they are for as the wise comic character of another time said we saw the enemy and it was us. In the feel good of allowing anything to be said and the misguided moral equivalencies theory we are culturally allowing this trend of follow the mean and you will find the source of the money.
If you do not believe me, do people try to make money out of the things they say or do that are nice? No in fact those people are classified as losers and weak. This is our culture. We support this new culture when we allow people to speak these things in front of us without a challenge to be better. Silence is not nice. How we challenge is what should be defined as nice. But to allow someone to spew venom is not only not nice but also harmful to our surroundings. It is a form of cowardice to allow folk to speak evil without confronting. Yes, it is true you will not change minds, but you will help to create an atmosphere where being nice is expected and encouraged.
I know that venting or ranting is all the rage. I am even writing in the Cranky Man Philosophizes section of the blog as we read. I have been known to rant and rave on occasion. But venting and ranting are only good if it leads to a positive attitude and action. Otherwise ranting and venting is stoking the embers of hate and violent behavior. The rant becomes a narcissistic exercise where you command attention of those around you and potentially release the worse in them. It also can pollute the social climate which you are in. Many people take their ranting and raving too seriously. They forget that all of life to a certain extent is a cosmic joke. To take oneself too seriously can lead to mental health problems. The inability to change with truth or fact and the lost of the ability to love and hear others is unhealthy. I also believe it can interfere with your ability to hear God if you are so incline. God has chosen me for this task and God does not need to interfere as I work out God’s call on the earth. Afterall, what is more annoying than Someone asks you to do something and stands on the side giving you instructions how to do it. Leave it to me I am on a serious mission here.
When you find yourself called to be insulting or attempting to always to make the news you can know you are not on a mission for anyone but yourself. Now you may do some good along the way but that is the default mode. The real mode is self-promotion or self-aggrandizement. Most people can forget the mission and lose their call in life. It is easy to move from call to do good to territoriality, narcissism, or climbing the ladder of goodness. It is easy to move from offering creative things to the world to show me the money, it is all about me, and using people. It is easy to move from want to save the world to lose your soul in an attitude of by any means necessary and being always uncompromising. But the cosmic joke of it all is we are to be jesters in our quest to tell the truth. We are to be humble to rise to the top of usefulness. We are to recognize our foibles first before we attack another’s foibles. The list could go on that should ensure us the world is a place of a lot happenstance, luck and mystery to insist we should take ourselves seriously.
So, smile at yourself often, take deep breaths, and treat others not as opponents or instruments for the achievement of your goals. Enjoy life and remember in the great scheme of things we do not even leave the primordial ooze without cooperation with each other. Divided cells stay in the slime and do not develop. We are only walking, talking mudballs according to Hebrew Scripture to paraphrase God took up the dirt and spat in it to create humanity and once we realize that everything is going to be okay.
The third stage of empathy is feeling the pain of others and truly feel an identity with the fate of others. Now keep in mind all of the above will say or emote these feelings. But this type of empathy is expressed not only when expected but in their daily lives with everyone they meet. They have genuine Concern about that pain or joy of someone without a need to be concern about others knowing they care. This stage is the hardest to achieve there are many scientists who believe that we do not have altruism in the human makeup. Some evolutionists say any feeling or deed interpreted as altruism has behind it an evolutionary survival purpose. You can understand this level of empathy is hard to develop. In a sense you must move from your natural evolutionary tendencies to obtain it.
Jesus expressed it this way in the Gospel of Matthew 46If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Do not even tax collectors do the same? 47And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even Gentiles do the same? 48Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.… Jesus is expressing the need to move beyond what you instinctually feel to a higher or new way of moving within the world. Most people never even try to obtain this stage of empathy. Especially in this age of division we are experiencing. But beyond the lack of effort there is also a deficiency in the knowledge of how to move toward this goal of empathy.
One of the instruments used to develop this way of being is now seldom used: the practice of intercessory prayer. The reason intercessory prayer has failed to be used is it has been misused and understood and therefore has been ridiculed and fell out of practice. What is intercessory prayer? It is where you pray for guidance in your life for knowledge o assist live with the people in your life. And yes, it is also prayer that a higher power may assist someone to have the assistance they need. But one can never ask for that assistance without a willingness to be the answer to that prayer. Prayer of this kind is more about what you should and can do in your life and less about what magic God or some other power can sprinkle onto the situation. It is an attempt by calling up the needs you perceive that are around you to learn how to feel and know those needs. This is not easy. You will be wrong many times. You will not truly understand the other person or you will be blocked by the assumption everyone needs what you would want in that particular situation.
When I pray for my children it should not be focused on what I want for them but praying what or how they want to happen. Of course, this does not include interceding for things that would be harmful. But here lies the rub not to deem something is harmful if it does not meet our expectations of what we want. If someone chooses not to have children for whatever reason and we desire grandchildren, it is not ours to pray that they change their mind. It is ours to contemplate in prayer and meditation what else is the thing they want. Think how problematic this becomes with people we love. Now consider to reach this stage you must move beyond loved ones and pray for your enemies and those who we do not have emotional ties. This task may seem impossible.
Intercessory Prayer begins in entering prayer and meditation thinking of those around you and not yourself. Meditating on the things that are happening in their lives and what to the best of our ability think upon those things they may need. What would make them happy, successful, whole?
Buddhist teachings by both Dalai Lama and Thich Nhat Hanh provide teachings on developing empathy. It begins with thinking about some item or service you have in your life and begin to visualize how it came before you. The hands that made, delivered, sold, maintained the item and appreciate them for their talent. ‘Now, when you recognize that all beings are equal in both their desire for happiness and their right to obtain it, you automatically feel empathy and closeness for them. Through accustoming your mind to this sense of universal altruism, you develop a feeling of responsibility for others: the wish to help them actively overcome their problems.’ Dalai Lama
Your dinner, your clothes, your car and so on. Express gratitude for all those hands that have made your meal, clothes possible. Now wish each of these people happiness. Wish for them good things too. And through the practice of gratitude for those things you have you begin to build empathy. Of course, those who do not offer you products deserve empathy too. Visualize the people you see on the way to work. The smile or the sadness and think on these people too. This how you begin to build empathy think of those you usually do not. According to science another way is to know someone from a group. People who have friends who are gay, black, asian, or another class are more likely to have favorable views of the population they know. This is the danger when we work and live in primarily segregated environments, we will be less likely to understand and have empathy for them.
To use an AA adage fake it to you make it is true for empathy too. We need to express concern and listen to others. We need not to be judgmental, but present. When we can control our need to respond or not always thinking of our reply, while someone is talking, we open the path to empathy. Empathy is not found when we are talking but when we are listening. Empathy is not found when we are unmovable but when we can shift our ground a little. Empathy is not found when we are defensive but when we are able to handle criticism. Empathy is when we cannot judge but offer a helping hand.
Of Course, the final and last step in empathy is to act on what we now feel and know because we are open to the other. We will make mistakes but if we spend time in others shoes and time in reflection after we have tried to assist we will develop a power slowly but surely to be empathetic. The world needs more empathy. Hopefully, we can answer the need.
This is the second blog on empathy. Everyone thinks they are empathetic, but few have more than the most rudimentary level of empathy. The second level of empathy is when you move from verbalizing your empathy to emotively expressing your empathy. You hear or see something that you assess you should have empathy or you feel some kind of emotional empathy (anger, sad, fear, feel anxious etc.,). You cry, yell, or shrink. But the empathy is expressed not to call attention to someone’s situation but about how their situation makes you feel. A classic expression of this when someone announces they feel your pain. The empathy is centered on yourself and not the situation of the other. You are no longer following societal norms you are indeed feeling their pain but your expression of it is about self.
They will feel most empathetic about things they have no control or do not encounter in their daily lives if ever. In fact, they can have some borderline psychological problems. Many moons ago I worked in a group home for paranoid schizophrenics. On one particular occasion, one of our residents came into my office in tears. This man was from an upper-class family and had shown at one time great potential. He had several poems published and was in an elite Ivy League college, but the disease had taken over his mind and left him mentally unable to function. He no longer could write coherently, and his conversations would often meander into delusions. But this day he was very coherent about the pain he was feeling. He had watched the news and there was an earthquake in some Asian country, and he felt horrible about this event. He somehow inexplicably came to the conclusion that he was responsible. He over identified with the plight of the people.
When the Twin Towers in New York came down after an attack I cannot tell you how many people around me knew someone in the Towers. Now this might have been true for some but impossible for most. In fact, when I asked them about this. They would play the Kevin Bacon game of 'twelve degrees of separation'. They knew someone that knew someone that knew. When I worked with people impacted with AIDS in the early days of the crises, I constantly would have people who wanted to ‘volunteer’ so they could meet for a day someone infected so they could say they knew someone with AIDS. They would break down in tears and say how important volunteering was for them. But often they would volunteer one day and be gone. Why only one day? Because it was not about the persons living with AIDS but about their need to show and be recognized for caring. I feel your pain.
This is often the realm of the liberal heart. You may be sensitive about the needs of others and how they may feel and your response is to let them know you understand. They feel a need to be affirmed that indeed they feel and even think right so they must be a good person. These individuals are usually known in racial issues as the fragile white. They want to be affirmed that they are not like other whites. They cannot be called racist because they feel and speak the right things. So even though they may participate in a racist system they are offended when confronted about this because they know how you feel. They are mad about it. They are depressed about it. So, you should be able to see that they are good people. These are what are called the rush to hush people who do not need to hear your stories because they make them feel bad and they already know how you feel. Thus, racism can continue at this level of empathy because you are not interested in ending racism but instead being recognized for your understanding of the problem.
This is a step up from stage one in that you are not merely fulfilling a societal expectation but indeed feel their pain, but it falls short of the deepest forms of empathy. In my next blog I will continue to explore a third stage of empathy. Until then try to listen to another’s needs and pain.
One of the side effects of the Russian War against Ukraine people is a resurgence of empathy. Empathy has been in shortchange recently. The bombing of civilians and the heroic nature of the people has made people in the United States on all spectrums of the political divide unite in their desires to help another country. We have moved from isolationism and shithole countries to being concerned for a country that many in the US could not find on a map until recently. This could be the salvation of our own country as we celebrate and empathize with another people.
I have observed through the years that there are four levels of empathy. We as a nation have recently been void of even the most rudimentary level of care for others. The first level of empathy is the one that society once demanded of us. It is when we see or hear of some tragedy occurring, we feel a need to be concerned and sad for those who this tragedy has fallen on. So almost routinely upon hearing of the tragedy we repeat the words or phrases How horrible, how sad, that’s not fair, or they were too young. Along with this verbal identification we may even feel a little twinge of pain for those experiencing the disaster. Sociopaths and psychopaths are devoid of these feelings and thus have trouble saying they feel sorry unless they feel cornered or want to impress or win favor with someone else. They are devoid of pathos, thus the names psychopath and sociopath.
It is by no means an accident that our culture and mores demand this basic act and feeling of empathy. Empathy stands as one of the cornerstones of Christianity. To amplify my point, I will preach (I would say briefly but my preacherly self says that may be a farce) a teaching of Christianity. Incarnational theology is the ultimate empathy. Placing oneself inside another’s world and making yourself vulnerable to it. Even unto the point of death both intellectually, emotionally, physically, and spiritually. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. (Philippians 2:5-8.) Whether you believe in the incarnation or not the theology of incarnation is at the heart of Christian teaching. Christians have forsaken the incarnational theology for atonement theology or the wealth gospel but if Jesus is not the incarnation of God or the embodiment of God’s way there is no gospel to proclaim or live. The human Jesus sacrificed his spirituality. ‘My god my god why have you forsaken me’ words spoken on the cross before his death. This shows he is unable to place his experience in any corner of his spirituality.
Yet without forsaking his own spirituality he could never achieve the resurrection. According to Christian thinking this is the path we are to follow. To try to live to understand others and to live sacrificially for them. “7Beloved, let us love one another, because love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. 8Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.… I john 2:7 -8. Because of this teaching our culture had ask us to feel for others and their needs. We are to have empathy. But as we move into a post Christian society mainly because American Christianity has lost its way and has become obsessed with power, class. Nationalism, and success this once normative behavior is disappearing.
We live in a society that no longer has or expects even the first level of empathy. We in fact celebrate the vulgar and profane used against those who we disagree. ‘My heroes are soldiers who do not get captured’ said Donald Trump of the late war hero John McCain. This was accepted even though the speaker was essentially a draft dodger. But this type of rhetoric has become all the rage recently. Asians, Gays, Middle Easterners, Jews, and Latinx have all become verbal and physical targets. Political Correctness has been turned on its head and is now thought to be wrong. We should be able to say what we think about minorities and others no matter how crude and meanspirited. In the recent past we had to be considerate of other groups in our public speech at least. This is not necessarily true anymore. The disrespectful are revered as truthtellers and bold. We have lost the ability to empathize or even feel a duty to empathize. Christianity is throwing its own teachings out the door. Sadly, maybe the Ukrainian war is one of the things that might bring it back.
Of course, here I have only spoken about the most rudimentary level of empathy but in the next few blogs I will look at deeper levels of empathy. Until then try to care for others a little more.
The latest boondoggle the Republicans would have us believe is that to state we will place a black woman, which we have never had, on the Supreme Court is somehow harmful. This probably will be accepted as gospel by many. But a quick look will tell you this is not as groundbreaking as one may think. President Reagan said he would appoint the first woman to the Court, and he did. Trump said the replacement for Ruth Bader Ginsburg would be likely a woman. When it was time to replace Thurgood Marshall the first Black Supreme Court .Justice, President Reagan went and found a conservative black court justice named Clarence Thomas. Clarence Thomas is no Thurgood Marshall. If you want to go further how many times have Presidents on both sides of the political spectrum declared they would nominate a conservative or liberal judge and not necessarily the most qualified.
While they are saying that Biden’s statement, he will nominate a black woman is affirmative action, they are challenging colleges race point application system in the Supreme Court. One might assume they did not want to see any people of color unless they agree with them in places of power or colleges. But they are taking white people’s places they complain. Yes and no. They are not choosing unqualified people but are adjusting the potential of an applicant by the circumstances they have grown up with. If you want a fair playing field, then you must create a fair playing field up to the gates of the college or you are ensuring white dominance. And I am sure this is not what they want.
There is also the assumption that black females are by default not as qualified as white men. You mean to tell me that there is not a qualified black woman out there. It would be a horrible commentary on our country if we have not created opportunities and experiences that would qualify a black woman. God Bless America we have some very qualified black women he can nominate. Unless you have a belief system that believes that a black woman is somehow inferior no matter what qualifications she may have.
The right can not have it both ways. They cannot say they are worried if we choose the first black woman for a Justice we will somehow have someone less qualified. And then in the next breath be against affirmative action. Because their argument is we do not need affirmative actions to assist minority communities in an upward mobility in all aspects of our society. But we cannot be sure we can find a qualified black woman to be on the Supreme Court. Otherwise, you are creating a system where whites stay in control. Almost like a caste system where your skin determines your place in society. Trump who has never been the candidate of people of color had three nominations for Supreme Court all three were white. It might be added as far as I can ascertain Trump in his three nominations did not have any blacks as the top contenders for any of his three nominations.
The right had three nominations and all three just happened to be white. Is this affirmative action? Because of racism in our history, we have had an affirmative action program for whites from 1787 to at least the 1970s. We have finally come to a place where we now have qualified people of color to nominate for any position in our government and we hesitate to appoint because it might be considered a hand-out or favoritism. Welcome to the world of Catch 22 we place blacks.
The truth is if we go by their recent track record they are a white promotion factory. The few people of color allowed are people who have very staunch conservative and white credentials such as Ben Carson and Clarence Thomas who only represent ten percent of their fellow blacks. Some would call that tokenism and others use other words for such nominations. If you are not playing the white way you do not get into the white power structure according to the Republican way of thinking.
Of course, historically Republicans have pointed to their platforms to dispute this. But currently the national Republican party has no platform and Mitch MCconell has stated in the mid-term elections they will not have a platform to run. So, this allows anyone to fill in the gaps for them or write their platforms.
I declare that the Republican Party has decided they are the party who wants to promote whiteness and they are opened minded enough to include people of color who agree with this platform.
The Gosars, Trumps, Greenes, Boeberts, Hannitys, and other flamethrowers are boring me to death. I can predict what will come out of their mouth 90 percent of the time. The other 10 percent is meant to inflame their constituents to violence or issuing threats to those they disagree with. I am not shocked by what they say I am ashamed. What excites me is not their rhetoric but good policy. The fast track for a vaccine was exciting and amazing. And there are a few other accomplishments I could name. But for the most part they are about opposing anything the Democrats do, offering no thought-out policies of their own, and only offering verbal grenades. Majorie Taylor Greene is not even on a committee for God’s sake. Her antics meant to excite no longer amuse me. It is a bad sitcom with a horrible soundtrack. The clowns have been sent in.
The headline read Trump is seeking revenge. For What? To even use the term revenge is a dangerous misnomer. He is threatening dually elected officials because they did not (overturn is not the right word) choose to be part of Trump’s insurrection. This is not revenge this is him continuing his insurrection. He has not given up even though his many attempts to overthrow our democracy have failed. He is still fighting to overthrow our democracy.
This is how it currently stands. Why the media covers every fart that comes from his mouth is unbelievable. They are enabling his efforts. Who cares who he wants as a candidate? At this point what significance is his adolescent rantings about people he dislikes? Why do we care about his unmeasured and unqualified views on subjects he knows nothing about. He knows science because his uncle was a professor? He knows best business practices because he went bankrupt six times? Should we publicize every candidate Putin wants elected? Putin plots our demise from without and Trump is plotting our demise from within. The cries from Trump’s far right cronies are the ’socialist’ are trying to destroy our democracy. Besides the fact that this is either a projection or a red herring according to who is saying it and why they are saying it. These ‘socialists’ were voted into office by the democratic process. Trump is trying to take power by manipulations and force.
These same people who complained about the deep state now have shadow diplomats, did Rudy Guliani (not even on the staff of the White House) make trips to Ukraine with the open approval of the President to dig up dirt on the Bidens? The whole Q Anon theory is about how a shadow government is working toward the overthrow of Biden and the other liberals. I guess it is who is running the deep state that conditions whether it is right or wrong.
Of course, these are the same people who worried about Death panels if Obamacare became the law of the land. Yet they were okay if the expendable elderly and immune compromised folk died while we achieved herd immunity. They also (because they ignored science and mishandled the virus) caused doctors to choose who received medical assistance because the far right practices of no masks or vaccines overloaded the greatest medical healthcare system in the world.
This is beyond boring it is banal. They have nothing but false flags and insurrections to offer. Will I stop being bored that depends on will they surprise me and vote for infrastructure plans, end wars, give us a good healthcare plan, offer solutions to inflation and energy crises that does not enrich the wealthy and make the poor and middle class poorer. If they do any of this I might show some interest. Otherwise they need to find a hobby and stay out of the limelight. Or if they must continue, do we have to give them publicity. They will stop when the money stops coming in and the hits on twitter drop. Most of their followers will find some other person to follow when the fanfare is gone. Maybe then they will vote for their welfare and not the welfare of those who could care less about them. It will be boring but we need to ignore and push through without giving them the attention they apparently are so in need.
I feel no need to tweak Trump or read his insane tweets. Greene can peek through all the mailbox holes she wants she has peaked. Gosar can threaten but without calling his name out he is no threat. It is time we leave the bores behind and move on to an exciting issues of personal leave, a better climate, childcare, jobs and the better things in life. Clickbait be gone.
Having an opinion does not make you smart. In fact, it can if held without humility or respect for other opinions, hamper your intelligence. An opinion can make you feel as though you have nothing to learn from others. Your opinion can cripple your ability to see things from multiple vantage points and is not receptive of new or different information. This tends to lead to the cliche of uninformed opinions or unrepentant notions that people hold despite all evidence. It also makes you seek information only from sources that affirm your opinion. Believing you are smart or have the only way of looking at things can lead to a lack of respect of others. This in the end will hamper you spiritually. The arrogance of holding a certain opinion is when you look at disdain at others. Arrogance or pride is one of the deadly sins.
Today, we have many people who invoke God but have long sense lost any real belief in God. Afterall if you can invoke at will God to enforce your opinion that is not God but a yes man. I believe the attitude of thinking an opinion makes you smart is connected to the lost of belief in God. God for many has taken on a magical incantation of words that either prove you right or give you the right to enforce your belief on others. Notice that none of this requires a belief in God. In fact, to invoke God’s name is to break one of the Ten Commandments Thou shall not use the Lord thy God’s name in vain. You as a human do not have the power to call God forth to empower you. It is more an asking thing you need to do. But nowadays if you have an opinion of what God thinks you can claim special knowledge and do not have to listen to others or the Other.
The things that I know I am intelligent on came to me through hard work. I studied, I listened to different points of view, I continue to think about them, to meditate about them, to read about them, and after years of this I have developed a strong sense of the essence of the issue. And the other essential part is it correlates with some rational world view others can understand. But how have so many become experts on so many things so quickly? I explain it with the sociological phenomenon of the ‘Freshman Effect’. The freshman/woman who has started their first year of college is confronted with many new ideas and experiences they have never had before. The adrenaline rush of new intelligence makes them feel invincible intellectually. They return home to tell their older and more experienced parents every new idea of which they barely have a handle on as if they are the gospel. At first it can be considered sweet naivete’. But it becomes worrisome when they become very cemented in ideas, they have not spent any real time. After a while, it develops into an annoyance and later becomes arrogance. And ultimately, if not careful. It can become authoritarian effecting their attitudes and life.
I think in the society and culture we are now experiencing the Freshman Effect. The internet has brought us new information and experiences and we have an intellectual adrenaline push from so many people of all ages at one time. The internet the land of anyone can say their opinions on any subject rather they know anything about it or not. The information they have is new but the deep thought and long lived with the thought is not yet there. Neither is the further study that Freshman will continue to get. I can hardly wait for broadband to reach all everyone. Our whole country can experience the Freshman effect.
The advent of the internet and the information it has made available is wonderful. The problem is too many have the Freshman Effect They feel that they now must express opinions on everything even those things that do not affect them or they even care that much about. And now they have found a piece of information or person on the internet that agrees with them. Their opinion not only makes them smart but beware they have people who agree with them.
We might make it through this. A minority full of opinions is now threatening to use violence to assert their opinion. This violence is both physical and verbal. And even intellectual. They deny science while claiming they believe in it, they practice racism while becoming angry when accused of racism, they challenge obvious facts while accusing others of this, they twist democratic institutions to their will while asserting they are patriots, and yes they invoke God as on their side while they live lives that do not have any real Godly love for others. We are in trouble. God help us all.
The problem with the world is too many of us want our way. Some of us more than others. We all seem to want to control others. Some of us more than others. We do this probably with an evolutionary need to create order. To move beyond an evolutionary need is difficult at best. But the need to is obvious.
If we are ever to create peace in our world our need to control others will be by necessity ended. For centuries some of us thought it was their divine rule to control the masses. Although America rid itself of kings and dictators these were too often replaced with the elite rich and academia, politicians, and religious leaders. Of course, none of these even ‘God’s Order’ are infallible. We all have our biases, fears mean streaks, power needs and so forth. All of which make our vision of order less clear. You have to be infallible to make right decisions especially when others are concerned. It does not matter if you have an infallible text to proclaim your self right. The text is interpreted by a fallible person. The interpreter, more often than not, is too enmeshed in their culture, family, ethnic, nation, region, and so forth to see entirely clear. What was it Paul said For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; I Corinthians 13:12. In other words are glass is only filled half-way with truth.
Any order we wish to place on others and our selves will only be half measures of what is true. But there are those who claim they have way more of the truth than the rest of us. They believe they can tell us how we should live and order our lives.
Yet the truth is more complicated than that. We do need some order in the world. The question is how much and about what. We need some rules to create order. The founding fathers and mothers put in the Constitution several safeguards to prevent the wrong kind of order being placed on us. The first was a system of check and balances. This never left one particular group, even those who might be elected, take total control. The legislature may legislate and the President may veto but his veto may be overturned with a two third majority. And even if the legislature overrules the veto of the president he is the enforcer of the law and could choose how stringent the law would be enforced. If both President and the legislators agree the Supreme Court has the right to decide if it goes afoul of the Constitution. They could say the law is unconstitutional and thereby nullify the law. Now if the legislature dislikes the Supreme Court decision they could legislate something closer to the Constitution or they could add an amendment to the constitution. A proposed amendment must be passed by two-thirds of both houses of Congress, then ratified by the legislatures of three-fourths of the states. So now the three branches are no longer the lone decision makers but a fourth group who have various needs are brought into the process. On top of all these checks and balances do not forget that the populace votes for all legislators and the President on both the federal and state levels. Wow the forefathers were deeply concerned about its future citizens forcing order unduly unto others.
Yet many today are convinced they know the way. And know what you should or should not be doing. Maybe a little humility is needed when we feel a need to impose order on others. What would be the guidelines for creating order. Here are a few suggestions.
The first borrows from the Hippocratic Oath ‘Do no harm’. You should never intervene (offer treatment) in another’s life to enforce your beliefs.
Another would be respect the dignity and inherent worth of all. No one is to be valued less. Everyone is to be valued and accepted not merely tolerated. Toleration leads to the openness to order someone else’s life.
Order that puts restrictions on others must only be applied if you are directly feeling harm from others. You are not to do harm and they are not allowed to do harm.
If you have Rights for any they are for all not some. There is no privilege class. Certainly, if you have advanced training you may be able to do some things others can not but that training must be available to all.
To those who wish to add order to others remember two things: First, before you control another take the beam out of your own lives before you try to remove the speck from someone’s life. Secondly, do unto others as you would have them do unto you.
Democracy is threatened by a filibuster not by allowing the majority vote make the decision. Under the filibuster you need a supermajority to carry the day in the Senate. Over what issues you may ask? Any issue you do not like is the answer. Unless of course you can convince the parliamentarian that it is a financial/budget issue in which case the majority can win by the most votes. Let me just say I like to make decisions by consensus.
But I had to learn the hard way you cannot do consensus with people who are of the disagreeing kind. In consensus decision-making people can support the decision or they can choose to step aside and support the decision of the group or step aside and offer no assistance with the implementation with the decision. On rare occasions when the decision was against your personal morality or thought to be a horrible decision you can refused to let a decision proceed. The problem was some folks had personal morality problems with everything. They apparently had bigger consciences than the rest of us. They would choose to hold up the process with anything that did not appeal to them. Whether it be office equipment or taking a stand on a moral issue. They were not interested in consensus but interested in the power consensus gave them.
Consensus offers many good things. One is everyone is on the same page and has been heard. It also offers a way to oppose without being unnecessarily oppositional. There is an understanding where everyone stands. It also allows the group not to have obstructionists.
The problem with consensus most do not have the concept of stepping aside or a spirit of cooperation with those whom they disagree. They assume that if a decision does not go their way they are almost responsible to become an obstructionist to the decision. Instead of believing that to allow a different opinion to proceed, despite negative feelings about it is a sign of strength; they view it as a weakness. Other people believe they should have a voice even in things that do not concern them. They also choose to believe that everything is of a moral concern to them. The combination of these two attitudes conceding is a weakness, everything is something of which to be concerned, and there is nothing that is not of moral concern to them leads to an obstructionist who feels justified in any action they may take.
This is the problem with the filibuster. The other side is not currently exhibiting a willingness or spirit of cooperation. Their leader (Mitch McConnell) has stated his agenda is to defeat the other’s agenda (President Biden). But it should be remembered the Republicans did not adopt a new platform in 2020 at their last convention. RESOLVED, That the Republican Party has and will continue to enthusiastically support the President’s America-first agenda; RESOVLVED, That the 2020 Republican National Convention will adjourn without adopting a new platform until the 2024 Republican National Convention. This was an unusual step and a total abdication of their responsibility to then President Trump. But Trump is the former guy now and we have no idea of what the Republican Party can say they in general stand united on. But we do know they want a voice on every issue. And that voice is to just say no to the other side’s agenda.
The filibuster is meant to bring the two sides to engage in a compromise that each could live with. Policymaking depends on each side entering in the process with mutual openness to the process. Yet one side’s leader has stated as their agenda to just say no. Others feel their way must win at all cost. Therefore, compromise is not the goal only forcing their will on the other is. They also act as though their side alone is patriotic, moral, or reasonable. Now both sides can have people that hold these attitudes but the Republicans hold these beliefs in much greater numbers than the Democrats. Also most Republicans hold these beliefs in a steroid high strung manner.
So, the question becomes can Democrats operate with Republicans when you hold a one vote majority. The power in the filibuster in this case grants the minority not only power but all power to obstruct the process. They are only going to agree to a policy that they view is heavily weighted to their side. This is demonstrated by their two proposals on the infrastructure bill. They offer Biden no new or little new money for infrastructure. They object to his way of paying for the bill and offer no starters for their way for paying for their bill. They do this despite Biden Administration’s suggestions being desired by a vast majority of Americans polled. They do this despite the Biden Administration’s winning the electoral college and popular vote. The arguments they offer for doing this are arcane. Biden did not win the election. Which he did according to the States election officials, courts, and even Congress which they are apart of. Although the Democrats won the Senate from the Republicans they won more seats from the Democrats in the House. They Republicans did win more seats but they did not take the majority in the House. And the fact is there were more Democratic seats up for reelection than Republicans. The more extreme Republicans accuse the Democrats are baby eaters and how could you compromise with that.
A super majority is ideal but an impossibility on issues such as infrastructure and voting rights something traditionally they would have no trouble agreeing on. But the era of Trump, QAnon, Limbaugh, McConnell does not make this possible. I do believe this era will pass but the filibuster allows too much power to obstructionists in the meantime. For now a simple majority will have to do.
Maybe it is my ego but I have never understood the white supremacist replacement theory. I mean are they that threaten by the competition of other races that they always create an environment where they have a leg up. Do not bring those non-white immigrants from other countries because they may bring ideas that everyone will like more than our white America. Call me a proud white boy but I am confident that my white culture can stand alongside those of other cultures.
Tucker Carlson recently complained about immigrants using the replacement theory, But the truth is he will be replaced because he has a one note song to sing and pounds the keyboard with it over and over again. He came from privilege and married into wealth he has not had to compete. Everything was handed to him. When he did compete the CIA rejected his application and MSNBC let him go. He has finally found a home for his one note show on Fox News. He apparently does not want to compete on a level playing field. He knows he might lose if he competes in a field with a lot of different opinions and abilities exist.
It reminds me as a military brat I would go to the nice gym that was on the military base. I would try to play in pickup games. Most all of the soldiers on the basketball court were black. They would not choose me. I was white and not a soldier so therefore they would always make me call down and wait for the next game to start. One day a 5’2 man who could not dribble or shoot and run the court very fast so there was no defense coming from him was chosen. I gave them my best are you kidding me look and called the next game. But I was determined when it was my time to play, I would stay on the court by continuing to win. I would show them my value. Now I was probably on those courts an above average to good player, but I made myself indispensable by hustling, rebounding, and playing solid defense. And because I spent a lot of time on the sidelines watching everyone play I began to know who to choose to create a winning team. Eventually, they would choose me to keep me from selecting a team that could not be beaten. I found a way to compete, win, and belong.
But these less than proud boys (maybe I should call them the unsure boys) insist that the scales continue to be tilted in their favor. You may replace me but I will make sure it is a poor choice for you. Now this may be considered arrogance but I enjoy other cultures and love to experience them but to be honest I am never threatened by them. I do notice the pros and cons of various cultures and try to learn from them. I think my life would be less rich and boring with out the many cultures I have been able to experience.
But it was not because of my whiteness that I won the basketball games. It was perseverance, a little skill, and a lot of watching and thinking. The idea of white culture unaffected or improved by other cultures does not exist. We started by learning from the Native Americans what foods to grow here. Since then Africans taught us how to grow rice and other crops and without their labor and ingenuity the South would never have risen in the first place to only fall later. The Chinese used their expertise in explosives to help build a railroad through the Rocky Mountains to bring to us the transcontinental railroad. Latinos have contributed to the culture of the Southwest enormously.
Our music is influenced by both black and Hispanic culture. Asian culture has taught us the art of meritocracy. Native American tribes influenced our confederations and according to Benjamin Franklin our views on democracy itself. And as the world becomes smaller through advances in travel and communication we will literally be left behind if we do not let other cultures inform us.
We admit this when we talk about corporate cultures. We look at other businesses and companies to determine what is it in their cultures that might inform or improve our companies that we are not currently doing.
It is possible in some future world that my culture may be asked to sit on the sidelines. But surely we can eventually prove that we have something to offer or they will be less than because of your exclusion. If not I guess we will have to result to rigging the system or staying on the sidelines as the other cultures pass us by.