Learn the Hate

America. It’s a divided place. This is no great revelation born of years and years of study and contemplation, but a conclusion one can make by scanning the Internet or television or media of your choice for ten seconds. 

One-third hates the other third, and the remaining third doesn’t care. 

But those two side that hate each other, boy is there a lot of enmity. 

This “blue state/red state” divide has gotten worse since these terms came into vogue around 2004. 

The red side accuses the blue side of living in a bubble. The blue side claims the bubble is a myth. 

The bubble is a myth? Please. I live in it. 

I’ve got a red-state core but I love and travel in blue-state circles, so I notice things others might not.

There’s a lot of hate, yes, but there’s is precious little understanding about why. 

And I think this is a big problem. 

It’s as important to understand why the other side hates you as it is to understand why you hate the other side. 

I hear a lot of the affluent, highly educated urbanites laugh at Trump’s constituency, but underneath the indignation and political disagreement is a layer of genuine hurt: These folks don’t understand why many reject them and the work that they do. 

Being called the “deep state” for merely doing their job. Distrusted as the cause of economic misery. And worst, being accused of not caring, which to this set is what really stings. 

They’re supposed to be the compassionate ones! What gives? Continue reading “Learn the Hate”

The Great Unveiling

Psst! Pay attention. These are exciting times! 

People are asking questions. Big questions. Challenging things that nobody challenged before. 

Did you ever wonder why things seem to work the way they do? Have you found yourself scratching your head at the mountain of bad decisions made by the powerful among us, those we may in a fit of charitable sentiment call “our leaders”?

They can’t all be that stupid, can they? They’re not all short-sighted and venal. Right?

Right?

We’re all familiar with The Wizard of Oz and the great and terrible wizard’s admonition to “pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.”

I know, I know: The analogy is too obvious. But things become cliche for a reason. 

I think we’re on the verge of seeing something similar. It’s kind of exciting. 

But “exciting” doesn’t always mean “pleasant.” Continue reading “The Great Unveiling”

Make America Humble Again?

While neighborhood-scouting in the tony areas of Northern Virginia with my family, I saw a house proudly decorated with signs reading the following:

MAKE AMERICA HUMBLE AGAIN

I wasn’t able to get a picture since I was driving, but here’s how they looked: They weren’t homemade, so I know there’s some enterprising company wishing to express this sentiment (which only seems to arise when a Republican is president, but I digress), and there are obviously people who want to pay for this sentiment. 

The text was meant to simulate something, a name-card, maybe, reading “Make America ________ Again,” like a political mad-lob. The word “humble” was written in a cursive script in the blank space, and the whole thing was on a pinkish background. 

Not the sign, but the closest picture I could find.

The signs got me thinking about the concepts “America” and “humility,” which is a persuasion win on both the signmaker and the sign-hanger’s part. 

But given what I know about America specifically and geopolitics at large, was America ever humble?

It’s the same way people wonder if America was ever great (hint: It still is, but mostly in relation to most everywhere else). 

America began life as a gigantic “Eff You!” to the most powerful empire in the world. 

It prevailed against incredible odds, and somehow survived the difficult decades after, to emerge some two centuries later as the world’s only superpower.

It’s kind of hard to be humble with a history like that. 

Look, we all know it’s not going to last. All empires–because that’s what America is, like it or not–have their ups and downs. And they change forms. 

Look at England, for example. It’s not the same country it was in 1066, or even 1966.  And yet it persists. 

America isn’t even that old, and we already don’t exist as founded. We haven’t for a lot time. 

America as founded died a long time ago, and is now firmly in the “smells funny” phase.  Continue reading “Make America Humble Again?”

Other People

It’s always about “other people,” isn’t it?

When we judge, we act like we alone are uniquely above any criticism. Everyone else is the problem. We’re the solution. 

We all do it, even those of us who try to be aware of it

Judge not, that ye be not judged.” Words to life by right? 

Yes. But this isn’t a command to never judge–take a look at the next part:

Judge not, that ye be not judged.

For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.

–Matthew 7:1-2

In other words, be very careful what you say to others. And don’t be a hypocrite. 

Of course, evil should be judged harshly. Or things that can lead to evil. But don’t be so self-righteous to think yourself immune from this, or bristle when you get the same treatment from others. 

To many, evil is subject to interpretation. I tend to stick with immutable principles like those given by God, but your mileage may vary. 

So that’s evil. But what about stuff you disagree with? Or that you just find silly or annoying?

What about other people’s habits and mannerisms that just irk you?

“They do this, they do that, they just piss me off!”

But maybe it’s not them. Maybe it’s you.

If what other people do doesn’t affect you, or isn’t evil or doesn’t lead to evil, who cares?

In other words, pick your battles. Make them worthy of your time, energy, and judgment. 

As with most good things, though, this is easier said than done. 

I fall into this all the time. Social media makes it easy. 

Mockery is fun. Ridicule is a coping mechanism. Complaining lets off steam. 

But I wonder: What do people say about me and people like me?

Probably stuff I would object to as untrue

Exactly what other people say. 

Someone has to be right though, don’t they? Something has to be true and the other false. 

Usually. 

I know we’re a divided nation, and that’s fine. There needs to be a contrast between different ideas and their consequences. 

This is why my maxim is to attack ideas and not people. Continue reading “Other People”

Uncivil Society

How do you know it’s time for a divorce? The answer is different for every couple, but sometimes taking to the streets and smashing and burning stuff when you don’t get your way is a good sign. 

I’m obviously talking about this week’s U.S. presidential inauguration, culminating with the actual swearing in of our county’s new president today.

And people can’t talk about this without losing their minds!

You might be screaming “Not my president!” at the screen right now. Sure. Okay. But reality being what it is, he is your president, like it or not. 

And one half of the country clearly does not like it, to the point that they’re trying to stop the swearing in from happening. How, I’m not quite sure, but it sure sounds violent. 

There are two certainties about politics though, which you need to keep in mind:

  • There is fraud in every single election going back over 100 years. 
  • Everybody wants integrity and ethics until their guy gets in office. And then it’s time for defense mode. 

You’re dreaming if you believe otherwise. 

Like I’ve said before, people (read: rioters) are governed by their worst-case fantasies

Listen: Nobody will be rounded up into internment camps. That seems to be everybody’s biggest fear. But it is not going to happen. 

    And yet here we have rioting based on fantasies. 

    Even if things start going really well for the country, expect more rioting and agitation for the next four years. 

    I find it hilarious that so-called anti-fascist movements the world over are some the most violent, fascisistic, and yes, racist and hate-filled people around. 

    Anyway, my point is this: I don’t see how the country will ever “unite” or “heal.”

    I mean, it’s not even policies at this point. It’s fundamentally different views of human nature.

    This divide has been there for generations, but I would say that the year 2000 was the turning point. It might be irreconcilable now. We’ll see, but I’m not hopeful. 

    The days of each side wanting the same thing, but differing on the approach, are over. The end goals are completely different. 

    Decent people on either side can coexist. But there are enough radical, violent, and well-funded nutbags with evil intent around to ruin things for everyone. 

    Good job. 

    So what happens after Trump is sworn in? I don’t know. All I can hope for, as I did on Election Day, is that nobody dies. 

    Of course, someone did die on Election Day. Because this is America in the 21st century. 

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    What We Want In Stories

    Star Wars: Rogue One controversy, blah blah blah. 

    The writers popped off online about being explicitly anti-white supremacy or whatever and casting no white men as heroes, they faced a predictable backlash and subsequent boycott, and the world of pop culture is in a tizzy. 

    Whatever. 

    Look, I’ve seen an overtly hostile and political piece of pop culture before to make up my own mind about it, and it was a piece of something else. 

    Yes, new Ghostbusters suffered the unpardonable sin of just being a flat-out bad movie aside from any political axe to grind, real or imagined (but mostly real). 

    So Rogue One…yawn. I wasn’t planning on seeing it anyway for a few reasons:

    1. I am not a huge Star Wars fan: Give me the original three any day. 
    2. I did not care for the prequel trilogy. 
    3. I did not care for The Force Awakens
    4. I am suffering from sequel, franchise, and extended universe burnout, and
    5. I find it wearisome when politics is injected into entertainment. 

    So what do I personally want in stories? What will make me happy? Continue reading “What We Want In Stories”

    The Year The Masks Came Off: Celebrities, Lies, and Why It’s Good to Know Where Everybody Stands

    112016-music-kanye-west.jpg

    Entertainers should just shut up and sing right?

    Nah.

    In the past, I would have shared this attitude, but not anymore. First of all, I have no problem enjoying somebody’s art even though their politics may differ from mine.

    What I dislike more is being lied to.

    That’s right. One of the things I’m thankful for this recent year and a half is that peoples masks are coming off, whether their entertainers, public figures, or my fellow citizens.

    I want to know peoples biases. I want to know people’s likes and dislikes. And I want to know whether they hate people like me or not.

    You see, there’s a huge difference between a difference of opinion and outright hatred. The former is manageable. It’s possible to coexist with people you disagree with, because you can be civil. And there might even be areas of common ground. But even if there aren’t, it doesn’t mean you have to hate each other.

    But if there is outright hatred? That’s manageable to. It lets you know who to avoid or who not to spend your money on.

    I’m big into free speech. This is why things like the Hamilton/Mike Pence incident or Green Day once again popping their mouth off or Kanye West ranting and having mental breakdowns don’t bother me in the least bit.

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    Colin Kaepernick another NFL players want to kneel during the National Anthem and be disrespectful towards this country? Fine. That’s freedom of speech. And if people don’t want to go to NFL games or watch them on TV, that’s freedom of speech too.

    If Kanye West of Green Day lose fans, or have irreparably damaged their brands, oh well. That’s America. That’s the risk you take when you stepping into the arena.

    Michael Jordan, a Democrat, apocryphally said “Republicans buy my shoes too” when explaining why he did not want to publicly support Harvey Gantt run against Jesse Helms in 1990.

    Whether he said this or not, it’s obvious that Jordan’s lack of activism had something to do with his bottom line. Is this good? Bad?

    It’s neither. It’s a personal choice. The same way consumers have a choice whether to spend money on things based on politics alone.

    I can think of two celebrities who manage to go about their politics publicly without being arrogant asses about it: Denzel Washington and Gary Sinise. Washington, a Democrat, and Sinise, a Republican, support their causes and candidates and yet retain their status as non-controversial, beloved actors because they are respectful to the public at large, who ultimately pay their salaries.

    It’s a simple equation for celebrities: Don’t insult your audience. And yet . . . Continue reading “The Year The Masks Came Off: Celebrities, Lies, and Why It’s Good to Know Where Everybody Stands”