Monday, November 14, 2016

Labels Cause Division - Enough is Enough

I used to speak very openly against harsh racist/sexist rhetoric. It seemed that anyone and everything was called racist or sexist even in many cases that hadn't a shred of evidence. Mentioning so only ever proved my "white privilege" in the eyes of those spewing such rhetoric. I would then be called racist and sexist myself trying to disguise myself as an advocate of equality. I tried to fight on the side of reason and understanding and it yielded only false accusations and hate in my direction. I remember it being quite frustrating and even to the point of anger. I wrote out a detailed record of my upbringing showing just how much integration and non-racism I grew up with here in hopes to prove my lack of racism and worthiness to have an opinion:

At some point, however, I gave in. I decided that even though I cannot see the racism around me due to my "privilege" (despite hating the use of that word in such a way), it must indeed still be a problem elsewhere. Riots and shootings and what-have-you showed the racial tensions and proved that it was a problem. I decided that indeed we need to do more and just maybe I was wrong about it not being a huge deal. I drank the same Kool-Aid as all the other progressives and noted every external racial injustice as proof of the tensions that I could not personally see. Part of this switch had a lot to do with the fact that I clearly identify Republicans as wrong about so many other things--so why not assume they're likely wrong about this issue too? Further, I saw Trump's victory as solidifying it. Clearly he was a racist, sexist, xenophobic bigot and therefore so much of the country must be fine with this and we obviously have a problem.

But what is the truth? The truth can be extremely difficult to determine. There clearly is some kind of tension and problem, but where does it truly stem from? I found myself labeling Trump supporters as racist, sexist, xenophobes for even contemplating Trump for president. I became one of the very people that I tried discrediting for so long. But why? Because of the media I consumed. I saw so much rhetoric about Trump's racism and sexism that I could not see it any other way. It became so obvious to me that I could not fathom anyone being so awful of a person as to vote for him. The media convinced me so thoroughly of Trump's incompetence that it polarized my view against him and his supporters. I became quite angry to the point of wishing I had someone or something to lash out against. In short, the media took away my reason and turned me into one of the illogical zombies I used to try to reason with.

Which got me thinking... How much of the tension we see today is actually due to the media trying to prove a problem exists? If they make enough people convinced and angry, it will create a bigger problem itself. It made me angry, hateful, and spiteful when before I was being very careful, collected, and thoughtful while seeing both sides of issues. Minority groups are absolutely terrified now due to Trump's win and whose fault is that? The media made him out to be such a racist that we expect him to deport and destroy all minorities and let the KKK rise up and rule our country. Their fear and our compassion for them now leads us to hate and violently protect or protest. It makes us want to make our own voice louder and more clear and fight the "haters." I imagine that many of the anonymous acts of hate and vandalism in the name of Trump might very well be leftists trying to make him look worse and "prove" just how bad Trump and his followers are. There's really no way of knowing, but that doesn't stop us from point the finger with accusatory labels.

So what is the truth? I can't really say. I only know my own little bubble and the rhetoric I hear from the media. The media might be creating its own problems, so it's hard to truly trust what I see. Clearly there is some kind of problem, but the root cause is far too intricate and complicated for me or anyone to comprehend from their home. In such a regard, perhaps it is best that I simply mind my own business. The racism going on in Ferguson, for example, has nothing to do with me. The racism in my own home town (which seems non-existent where I live) is my own business which apparently needs little to no change. If I worry about my own and everyone else worries about their own, then perhaps we can better get down to truth. Those in Ferguson know exactly what's going on in Ferguson and only they can make it better. But even for them, I wonder how much they're feeding on the media to make them disproportionately angry or even making the police disproportionately fearful. We're not seeing things through our own lenses but through the lenses of a hyped and hysterical fear-mongering media.

The concept of keeping to self actually scares me, however, since I don't want to ignore the plight of others. But without full knowledge, I could just as easily make matters worse rather than improving them. If I want to help Ferguson, I should probably move to Ferguson. As it is, I do not live there and I should probably focus on my own affairs. This is probably best seen as a general concept, however, rather than a hard-fast rule. Things like Global Warming affect everyone everywhere and I certainly cannot see it here in my little corner. This, however, has some clear data. Temperature averages are entirely objective. Amount of racism is entirely subjective. So if I see something racist or sexist, it becomes my responsibility to stop that crap in its tracks, but if I don't see it, I can't hardly think any longer that I need to personally do something.

The fact is, the world is filled with people and unfortunately, lots of people suffer. I cannot solve every problem and likely I cannot personally solve any problem. I have the greatest chance only at home. On top of this, there are those who clearly use our compassion for their own gains who create companies and organizations to fuel our flames and take our money when we try to help. By getting so inflamed and trying so hard to advocate for these "poor souls" that we know nothing about, we very well might be creating more problems than we resolve. If we want to support such causes because it seems better than doing nothing, then fine, but we should probably leave the anger, hate, and rhetoric out of it. I think we're being played, and the rich are benefiting from our fighting against one another. If we're truly concerned about people, then we should first concern ourselves with our tongues and how we treat those around us. We know very little of what we think we know, and others think they know things quite differently than what we think we know. It is nearly impossible to judge. So we should focus on kindness all around and fix what is in our immediate field of view. In such a way, we are far less likely to be controlled by media and become a pawn of hate and division.

All that said, I'm really still wondering about Trump. There were so many things that pointed to him as a terrible person and the only thing I even know about Hillary were her emails to which she had been thoroughly examined and found entirely innocent. But again, that's just the media I watch. I know for a fact that there were far worse things mentioned when Bernie was running against her. My memory is simply too short to remember what those were. She is just as much "the man" as any politician before her and Trump is anything but. He may be a terrible person in many ways, but he's not "the man" as far as we know. In such a way, I'm rather interested in what will truly happen. Will he fill the role that everyone is crying about? Or will he actually do something to break our corrupt system? Who knows. And with the media I see, it's awfully hard to tell. As it is now, they're continue their rhetoric that he's assigning white nationalists and whatever else into power and we should all fear for our lives and the lives of minorities. But again, the left is quite prone to false labels and over exaggeration. So I don't know what to believe anymore. They cried wolf too many times and my ears are beginning to ignore such cries.

At any rate, no matter how terrible Trump is or might be, I take comfort in remembering that the vast majority of people who voted for him did so for legitimate reasons and concerns beyond hate. And if the other half of the country can't see that, then I'm going to have to say that they, themselves, are the problem. But if they can see it, then we have a platform for common ground. We need to stop fighting each other and instead start agreeing everywhere we see the chance to agree. If we do that, then Trump doesn't matter at all. The people will rule and Trump will follow. We have a lot of people who care, but they need to learn proper manners and to stop vilifying the rest of the world. Otherwise, we will simply become all the more polarized for practically no reason and things will devolve even further into hate when we could instead make some significant progress.

In short, enough with the labels already. The labels only make things worse. When someone is labeled, their ears close off and conversation is impossible. If we truly want to do some good, then we absolutely must stop labeling. The reason we got the polls so wrong, I imagine, is because all the labels were shutting people up so that they did not feel free to speak except in the closed, private, voting box. Labels have got to go.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Lessons From Trump

I have been wrestling with my thoughts since the election like so many others. A lot of Trump supporters are now getting a lot of flack which they likely had not been getting in such heavy doses before. Because, quite frankly, we all saw him as a giant joke with no chance in hell of winning. But he did, and now we are pissed and scared shitless. We were proven oh so wrong and we are absolutely stunned by this outcome.

I am now finding a lot of Trump supporters taken aback as if they voted for their favorite candy and now they are being yelled at for it. They do not understand why they are so suddenly being maligned and hated--why everyone thinks they're racist, sexist, xenophobic, bigoted haters. They are confused much like we are. Most of them think we are overreacting. And yes, some of us certainly are. But it is extraordinarily hard not to be in these circumstances. Trump supporters just don't see what they've just unleashed.

Before listing out the detriment for Trump supporters to understand, I'd like to start with why people voted for Trump to begin with. It is not because they are racist or sexist even though Trump brings such people out of the weeds. This is an entirely ignored side effect from Trump supporters which shows only their priorities, not their racism or sexism.

Here is why people voted for Trump:

Because he is Republican.
This is more complicated than the surface looks. Republicans now own the House, Senate, and President. They didn't vote for "Trump" with their vote, they voted for Republican domination. For republicans, this is a good thing. For the rest of us, God have mercy!

Because of Abortion
We need to stop the rhetoric that they are anti-women for being anti-abortion. They are not convinced by our false labels and it makes us look stupid. They are anti-abortion because they truly are convicted that it is murder. By labeling them with such colorful language, they got pissed for being so demeaned and rose against us. They do not see it from the perspective that women should get to "choose" to kill babies and they are continually told lies within their bubbles that babies are aborted on the day of delivery. Thus, to them, this is hugely important.

Because He's a Businessman
In their logic, our country needs a businessman to get us out of debt. Trump is a businessman. Therefore, he'll get us out of debt. Obviously this ignores a lot of problems: he's not by any means a good businessman, he's got a conflict of interest as a businessman, and he plans to give cuts to the wealthiest in the nation thus making our economy worse. But hey, a bad logic is better than "I want the racist!"

Because of Obamacare
For some people, the cost of healthcare has become insane. They cannot afford their premiums and their out of pockets. They did not trust that Hillary would fix this and in fact would "expand" up on it. Hillary offered no details on how she would make it better. She simply said she'd keep what worked and fix what didn't and Trump at least offered to abolish it which is a guaranteed fix for them. It adversely hurts many other people, of course, but people will look after their own first. Hard to care about the poor when you yourself are not making it in the middle class.

Because He's Not Establishment
He's not "bought out" by giant corporations. Yes, this ignores that he is in and of himself a giant corporation. They didn't get that far in the math, I guess. They, like us, are sick of big money in the white house and they thought he would stop it. The Democratic party screwed us over by screwing over Bernie who would have been the non-establishment choice and perhaps would have gotten some Trump votes for himself. They messed with the program and they burned us. We should be more pissed at them than anyone else at this point.

Because of Immigration
People see our country failing and they incorrectly attribute the waste to the poor who get things for free without working--especially those who are not citizens. This is not true, of course, but it's what they think and it makes sense as a baseline assumption of one-depth logic. Because of it, they think that deportation will fix it. Of course, this ignores that illegal immigrants are actually paying more taxes than people like Donald Trump, but it's not because they're xenophobic that they want them deported.

Because they Are Racist, Sexist, Xenophobic, Bigots
Some people truly did vote for this reason, I am sure, but so many Trump voters likely fell into one or more of the above without considering the effect he might have in this manner. These haters are now acting out because they think it is okay given that half the country voted for their racist man. They are mistaken, of course, that they were at all trying to uplift this kind of behavior. The fact is, they did not see this as big of a deal as it really is. And how could they? They're not living it and when they talk about it, they are immediately labeled with false colorful language that pisses them off and encourages them to fight back. And fight back they did.

Why We Are Devastated

Global Warming
Whether or not you believe this to be occurring, we of the left certainly do believe it. It is not a matter of opinion to us. All the facts point this way. The only hoax comes from fossil fuel companies who benefit from not switching to renewable energy. There is a catastrophic risk in not dealing with this. So much damage is already done and more will be done if we do not move quickly. We don't have 4 years to wait for Trump to screw with it. This is (or should be) #1 priority and we cannot afford a denying president. This is not paranoia, it is 100% real. Please oh please do some research on it.

Our economy is not sustainable as it is. I know this is why people voted for Trump, but the fact is that he will make it worse. He has proven time and again that he is the most important thing on his mind. From not paying his contractors, using donations to buy paintings of himself, from sexually assaulting others, and being openly racist in his rental dealings. He is not in favor of the rest of us and he is himself a giant corporation. We have zero faith that he will make things better and has an unfortunate ability to bring us into a great depression. We only barely escaped it in 2009 but we only bought ourselves time. The problem was not resolved. Trump could very well collapse it single-handedly.

We've been at war for some time, yes, but Trump is a very trigger-happy man with a set of nuclear codes at his disposal. While many glibly say, "Ah, hell, just nuke 'em!" Trump might very well do just that. He is very unstable, selfish, and foolish. And even if he doesn't make the call, it is clear that Russia's Putin is very excited for Trump as president. Either he and Trump are friends, or Putin plans on using the advantage of a foolish president to pull some crazy shit. We want to prevent crazy people from having automatic rifles, but we just gave nukes to a hateful, ill-tempered man. This is a very dangerous situation.

Whether or not one believes it is a sin for a boy to like boys or a girl to like girls, there is a huge problem in how America treats such people. The LGBTQ community and other minorities are mistreated in so many ways that they often live in fear. Electing Trump, whether or not you are a hater yourself, has already unleashed a flurry of attacks. With such a leader as Trump, they feel free to express their hatred far more openly than ever before. This has created a hole of intolerance and made the lives of so many people far more dangerous than before.

We've been trying so hard to make sure that everyone has an equal chance at success. Not everyone does. This is disproportionately affecting minorities and women. Whatever you think the reasons are, it is a mere fact that the discrepancy exists. I think we've done a terrible job by labeling people and throwing the word racism around like candy at a parade, but it is in fact a reality. And this reality is becoming all the more apparent specifically due to racism and sexism that is now seen as appropriate because a racist and sexist was voted into the white house. Our efforts at equality will now be stunted, but hopefully we can overcome anyway.

What I've Learned

I Was Right - We Are Jerks
I was correct in thinking that the language used by the left was detrimental. We unleashed this upon ourselves with accusatory word-choice. And we keep right on doing it even now. We cannot throw around accusations of racism, sexism, and so on without the opponent getting sick and tired of it. I know just how easily those words are thrown around because I am an advocate who has been so accused many times myself. We need to calm the f&#* down and get our act together peaceably.

Education is oh So Important
The common denominator in all our problems is lack of concise argumentation and ability to use logic. People think with so many things other than their brains. Some think with their reproductive organs, some with their sphincters, and others with their eyes. We need to think logically and critically before we kill each other in a rage. The problem, however, is that so many of us are incapable of logical thought. We do not teach logic in school and we do not teach the psychology of our brains that leads to poor conclusions. This needs to change.

We Really Need Voting Reform
We are fed up with voting for two parties. Our current system requires that we do by nature of requiring a majority and allowing only one vote. It is an ancient and easily corruptable system. It must go. We need this:

I Don't Know What to Do
This is the biggest pill to swallow. I know what's wrong, I know what things outside my power would fix it, but I lack the skills necessary to make a change at my level. I've been saying these things for so long. I've been kind, patient, and understanding in my explanations and dealings with people hoping to spread it around but people don't get it. Maybe it's still making its rounds, but it did not save us from this mess. Like this post, I am sure only a few will read it and certainly no one will share it if it follows all my other endeavors. I am at my wits end trying to figure out how to impact a culture. I'm a nobody. It does not seem like it's up to me. I am not the motivational speaker you're looking for. So what do I do? Give up? Keep trying? I don't know. I don't know what is my role in all of this. I just know the problem and the big-picture solutions with nothing to do with any of it but cry. Hopefully someone else with more clout and money can do the right thing and get the rest of the masses mobilized for good.