The Choice Is Ours

The events of the past few weeks have caused me to step back, try to look at the bigger picture, try to see what’s happening here.  A friend from the UK recently said he did not know what had brought this country to this pass, but that it needs to end.  I think we can all agree that it needs to end, but … what did bring us to this pass?  How did we become such a divided nation filled with racism and hatred, intolerance and threats of resolving our differences through violence?

I do know that the racism we thought had largely ended in the 1960s with civil rights laws and integrated schools, buses, diners, etc., had merely gone into hiding.  There came a point where it became politically incorrect to express racist views, and those who dared do so were shunned.  The feelings of superiority by some whites, though, never actually went away, they just festered under the surface.  So, did we come to this pass by electing a Black man as president, not once but twice?  I’ve often thought that was the start of where we find ourselves today.  But that is a simplistic answer, and the election of President Barack Obama, while it certainly plays a role in our current situation, cannot be the entire answer.

Part of the answer, I think, comes from the uber-capitalism that has enabled some to become multi-billionaires, while others stay awake nights trying to figure out how to pay the rent and put food on the table.  In the U.S., with as many millionaires and billionaires as we have, there is no excuse for any child to go to bed hungry at night … but they do.  Single mothers work 2-3 jobs trying to make ends meet, and it’s a daily struggle, while others live in such luxury that they never have to do anything they don’t wish to do.

But what’s really puzzling is why some of those very people who struggle to manage to pay the bills are some of the most die-hard supporters of a regime that nearly worships wealth.  Trump & Co have made no secret of the fact that they have cut taxes on the wealthy, rolled back environmental and safety regulations in order to increase the profits of those already rolling in dough.  And yet, nearly half of the people in this nation – people who work hard to feed their families – still support Trump & Co.  WHY?

Why?  Because they are convinced by his rhetoric that he is their ‘president’, that the things he does are helping them.  Why are they convinced?  Because they are taken in by his fist shaking and his gutter-snipe verbosity.  They believe him when he says he has done more for Black people than any president except Abraham Lincoln.  They believe him when he promises the tax cuts were to help them, even though there is no proof in that pudding.  He has convinced them that immigrants are harmful to our society, to our economy.  They have not yet come to understand that any benefit they have gained from his policies is but a crumb compared to the benefit to the corporate giants.

People in this country want simple solutions to complex problems.  Income disparity, healthcare, education, immigration … Trump offers off-the-cuff solutions to these issues.  Take immigration, for example.  Simple solution:  impose a travel ban on people from Muslim countries and build a wall on the southern border to keep out the “rapists and murderers”.  But this completely ignores the fact that Muslims are not terrorists and Mexicans are not rapists nor murderers.  It also ignores the fact that immigrants add much of value to our country.  They bring new ideas and add cultural diversity.  To deny immigrants entry, to vilify all immigrants, is to spread racism and prejudice throughout the nation.  Those who would wish for a homogenous white, Christian, male-dominated society seek a nation that I would never choose to live in, one that would soon stagnate for lack of innovation, lack of diversity and interest.

The people of this nation are more divided today than at any other time … I would venture to say that the ideological differences in the Civil War era were not as far apart as we are today.  How did we get here?  Perhaps by being a nation of people with too much freedom, too many ‘rights’.  We have become a nation of greed, of “me first”, as evidenced by the refusal of some to wear a mask when in a public venue, claiming that mask mandates violate their civil rights.  Never mind that they are putting not only themselves, but their families, friends and co-workers at risk by exerting their ‘rights’.

Joe Biden has promised to be the president of the people – all the people, not only democrats, not only white Christians, but every man, woman, and child in the country.  He has promised to try to heal the wounds of divisiveness that have festered for the past decade, and especially the last four years.  I fully believe he will try to do exactly that, but his success depends on us … We the People must be willing to work together, to put aside petty and irrelevant differences.  Are we willing to do that?  I wish I could answer in the affirmative, but it’s rather like a loaf of moldy bread.  If there are just a few little spots of mold, you can cut them off and the bread is still good.  But, there comes a point where there is more mold than bread and you might just as well throw it out and buy a new loaf.

Unlike the moldy bread, we cannot simply throw out all the people of this nation and start over, so we have two choices:  we either learn the art of compromise, learn to embrace rather than eschew our cultural and ethnic diversity, learn to respect our fellow humans, else we will devolve into a nation of violence where it isn’t even safe to be on the streets.  We need to stop the petty bickering, need to accept that things won’t always go our way, need to learn to adapt to adversity.

It’s our choice what direction this country takes in the coming year, my friends.  Government can only do so much … the rest is up to us.  My New Year’s wish for us all is that we can build bridges instead of walls, offer friendship instead of hate, put away the guns and offer the proverbial carrot rather than the stick.  The choice is ours …

53 thoughts on “The Choice Is Ours

  1. Wow, Trump actually came through for the little guy! Both sides managed to cut the pork barrel fat, increase aid for working adults, and approve the new bill overnight for Trump to sign. I’ll give credit where credit is due – well done Congress, and President Trump!

    Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said that he had spoken to President Trump about the agreement and that Mr. Trump would “absolutely” sign it as it is written today. “He’s very pleased with this legislation, and the impact that this is going to have,” Mr. Mnuchin said.

    Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.) said the bill had been “improved substantially” since Democrats joined the negotiations. “To all Americans I say: Help is on the way, big help and quick help,” Mr. Schumer said.

    Days of frantic negotiations on Capitol Hill between Senate Democrats and Republicans and the Trump administration produced an agreement less than a week after first Mr. McConnell introduced an opening offer. Lawmakers spent the weekend in Washington in dayslong marathon sessions to reach a deal, and Democrats twice blocked procedural steps as talks continued.

    While the final terms of the bill remained under wraps early Wednesday, lawmakers had been eyeing sending one-time checks worth $1,200 to many Americans, with $500 available to children, with the assistance capped above certain income levels.

    Those payments would be in addition to a broad expansion in unemployment benefits, which would be extended to nontraditional employees, including gig workers and freelancers, according to a Democratic aide familiar with the negotiations. The agreement is also set to increase current unemployment assistance by $600 a week for four months.

    The Senate is also poised to approve $350 billion in loans to small businesses in an effort to keep Americans on payrolls as economic activity across the country comes to a standstill.

    A major challenge in the negotiations was roughly $500 billion in corporate aid, much of which will go toward backstopping Federal Reserve loans. The Treasury Secretary will have the authority to directly lend a slice of those funds, and Democrats had sought to place controls on the money. The agreement will create a new inspector general and oversight board to oversee the aid.

    Mr. Schumer wrote in a letter to Senate Democrats Wednesday morning that the legislation will also invest $150 billion in the health care system, already straining to respond to the quickly expanding number of infections across the country, and send $150 billion to state and local governments saddled with costs related to the virus. Those funding increases are among several lawmakers had intended to include in the package.

    In the same letter, Mr. Schumer said the legislation included a ban on stock buybacks for any company receiving a government loan from the stimulus package. The ban lasts the term of the government assistance plus 1 year.

    Democrats also secured a provision in the agreement that bans businesses controlled by Mr. Trump, the vice president, members of Congress and heads of executive departments from receiving loans or other funds from the stimulus bill. Children and spouses of those people are also banned, according to a senior Democratic aid.

    Liked by 4 people

  2. Thank you for sharing!!.. it has always been there, simmering in the shadows like a cancer and in the past society has been able to “throw it under the rug”, to “kick the can down the road” and create an illusion… today, with technology helped by the virus thingy, climate, etc., reality has reared it’s head showing the universe what it society really like… again, it will be up to the “foundation” to gather the courage to work together, to evolve, to either survive or go the way of the dinosaur… “The saddest aspect of life right now is that science gathers knowledge faster than society gathers wisdom”. (Isaac Asimov)…. 🙂

    Hope all is well and in spite of life’s challenges, you and yours are having a wonderful holiday and have a very Merry Christmas filled with peace, love and happiness!!.. 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

    • All very true, my friend. It would seem the pandemic and Trump have brought out the worst in all of us.

      Merry Christmas to you, Dutch! I hope you are able to enjoy the day, and yes, that it is filled with peace, love, and happiness.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Many thanks, Hugh!!! Good to see you up and about! I hope you’re feeling better? Yes, you’re right of course, but I simply do not understand the mentality of those who fear people simply because they don’t look like them or eat the same foods, dress exactly alike. What does it matter? Sigh. Merry Christmas, dear Hugh!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I’m going out on a limb here, against my liberal instincts. One phrase in this piece struck me: the one about single mothers struggling. My mum was a single mother, like many of her generation whose husbands were killed in WWII. And yes, we struggled, but there was support, in recognition oif the sacrifices our fathers made. The children of modern single mothers mostly have living fathers. My question is: why have we in the Western democracies allowed fathers to shirk their responsibilities to such an extent? I know it’s all to do with escaping the patriarchical dominance and control that men used to have over women’s lives. But it needs to be accompanied by an insistance that fathers face up to their duty as parents to support their children emotionally and economically. It is surely not hard to see that this has played a part in creating the divisions in all our societies. How large a part, I don’t know. But I have no doubt that women asserting their independence has left many men, brought up to believe it was their role to protect and support women, with a feeling of being left out.
    Hope you can find enjoyment in the coming days, and that 2021 brings much to cheer all of us.
    Frank

    Liked by 3 people

    • You make good points, and ask a valid question, Frank. One to which the only answer I can give is that at least in the U.S., our society is still very much male-dominated and for a woman who divorces her husband, no matter the reason, there is a stigma attached. The courts will typically order a nominal amount of child support to be paid by the father, but enforcement is often lax. I was one of those single mothers of three, and worked two jobs plus went to university to earn my Master’s degree … sleep was a luxury. There are men who take their responsibilities seriously, and I believe their number is growing. But, there are also the ones that claim it’s a woman’s problem and they wash their hands of both mother and child. You’re right, that women asserting their independence has left some men feeling left out, or bitter, but why? There was a time we weren’t allowed to own property or vote … is it so wrong for us to want equal rights, to want to get an education, a good job? Sigh. I don’t know all the answers, but I do know that a large portion of the single mums in this country are seriously struggling to feed their families, and that is just wrong.

      Happy Christmas to you and yours, Frank. I’m afraid that 2021 is going to be a year of turmoil here in the U.S., but I hear that a trade/security deal is close between the UK and EU, so I am very hopeful for you guys!

      Liked by 2 people

      • Of course I agree that women were treated appallingly in the past. But equality should mean taking an equal share of the burden of creating, nurturing and educating the next generation. In any partnership each has to cede some of their independence and join together in interdependence. Applies to international partnerships too! Why can’t Britain and France have equal access to fish in the waters that lie between them? (As of 11:50 am GMT I haven’t heard an announcement that an agreement has been reached, although the ‘noise’ has been positive for the last 24 hiours!)
        Make the most of the seasonal holiday, Jill.

        Liked by 2 people

        • I fully agree. I think, though, from what I see, it depends largely on the parent, whether father or mother, wanting to be an active participant in their child’s life and being willing to make sacrifices to do so. Your analogy to international relationships is also apt, and I’ve asked that question at least a few thousand times! I’ve got my fingers crossed for an agreement before December 31st … today would be good! Happy Holidays, my friend. I hope you and yours find some joy in the season, despite all the troubles.

          Liked by 2 people

  4. It seems Trump has decided to veto the stimulus bill b/c $600 aid is to little, he wants $2K per person. Not sure the Republican Senate would allow such an increase. This is shaping up to be an internal battle between Trump and his party.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Jill, our country has been harmed by the divisiveness. It prededed the outgoing president, but he has used it as a lever and made it worse. We will not begin healing until this president leaves. His petulant behavior has shown people how not to act when faced with adversity. Hopefully, his temper tantrum will paint the picture of just what kind of person he is. That is the only good thing that can come from his behavior. Yet, we must do our part to heal the division. Keith

    Liked by 3 people

    • We have indeed been harmed by it, both as a nation and as individuals. I’m not even sure if we can begin to heal once he leaves, for there are still those who would continue his hateful rhetoric and harmful policies. At least, hopefully, we will no longer have to hear his childish temper tantrums and he will no longer be in a position to cause even more damage. Sigh.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Jill, for those who are not deep down MAGA fans, I think the outgoing president has shown his hind end even more than before during the last several weeks. It is hard to lose any more than he has, but he is still up there swinging away. With his staff leaving, he may find himself more alone than he cares to be. The outgoing president needs a audience. Maybe he can get all those people he pardoned to come work for him. Keith

        Liked by 2 people

        • I find it interesting that he is alienating the people who have put their careers on the line to support him, such as Barr, Pence, and McConnell. As you’ve quoted from I think Woodward’s first book “Fear”, if you’re on his good side, don’t get used to it for it won’t last. I just wish for him to fade into oblivion. His pardons this week were unconscionable, especially the Blackwater ones, and he’s still, I hear, considering imposing martial law prior to the inauguration.

          Liked by 2 people

          • Jill, I did not pay attention to his latest tirade. There is very little reason to read what he is blathering about. From where I sit, the most corrupt and deceitful president in my lifetime pardoned so many corrupt people that Republican Senator Ben Sasse said the pardoning Trump is doing is “rotten to the core.” Said person has claimed wide-scale deceit with election fraud, but cannot seem to convince judges, even Republican ones, of such. His latest claim in Wisconsin was voted down by a Republican judge.

            For him to say all the judges, SCOTUS, the FBI and Justice department are incompetent for not pursuing what he wants is actually brazen, but also quite funny. The OP and his supporters have lost 59 out of 60 court cases, which is an unheard of level of incompetence. In fact, his lawyers and campaign are being sued for defamation by Dominion Voting Systems and his attorneys still may be sanctioned for wasting the courts’ time. Keith

            Liked by 2 people

            • I don’t bother to pay attention to his tirades anymore, for they remind me of some of the fits my son used to throw when he was about 2 years old. Every now and then, I will respond to something I see of his on Twitter, mostly just for my own satisfaction, but otherwise I ignore him as much as I can. However, his latest … refusing to sign the spending and stimulus bill … is unconscionable. It is beyond that, even … it is pure evil. So many millions of people stand to be hurt by his childish temper tantrum. And, he is also poking Iran and Iraq with a stick, almost as if he wants an international crisis …

              Liked by 2 people

  6. I see from the new stimulus bill what the chances are for co-existence. While the Democrats fight for the best they can get for the people, the Republicans fight for 100% tax deductions on Corporate lunches and for employers to be exempted from liability of putting employees in harm’s way with the Coronavirus (and probably everything else). The Democrats gave way in order to get the miserable payments that the people will receive but it’d better than nothing. So you have two sides with politicians claiming to be doing the will of their own voters. I think maybe the new civil war should go ahead between the politicians themselves and the people can tell the victors what they want in the next four years. I’m sure that might disappoint a certain section of the Republican side who are just itching to use their weapons on people for a change.THE WORLD NEEDS AND DESERVES PEACE. Be that Peace.
    Can anyone tell me why Israel gets 500m in the Stimulus package?
    Cwtch

    Liked by 4 people

    • Sadly, it does appear from everything we’re seeing that we will not be able to find that common ground, that the one side will only be satisfied with having everything their way. But, I think we have to try, for if not, then what does that leave us with? Where do we go from here if we decide we cannot ever agree on anything? Sigh. Yes, the world needs peace, but first people are going to have to learn to respect others and put people ahead of profit … until that happens, I think there can be no peace. As for the money for Israel … if that is true, and I haven’t verified it yet … Netanyahu and Trump are two peas in a pod, both corrupt as hell, and I presume it’s just Trump’s little ‘gift’ to him. Sigh.
      Cwtch

      Liked by 3 people

      • But I didn’t think Trump had anything to do with this package until now. I suppose the money could be part of that Government Spending for the new year passed at the same time, but for me, it still begs the same question, why? They’re not a third world country in need of aid.
        Cwtch

        Liked by 2 people

        • I’m told he was kept informed by members of Congress (we can all guess which ones) throughout every step of the process, so nothing came as a surprise to him. And now, he has apparently vetoed the entire spending bill, which included this stimulus package, and gone to live in luxury at Mar-a-Lago until after the first of the year. We effectively have no president at the moment, but then we haven’t had one for the last four years, so what’s new? I agree with you on Israel and will try to do a bit of digging as time permits.
          Cwtch

          Liked by 2 people

  7. Jill, this might be your best. Excellent post, and I can tell, it comes straight from your gut. We do have choices to make. The question is, are those who religiously follow the corrupt current president willing to let bygones be bygones? I don’t think so. I hate to say that because I want to be optimistic. But all I have to do is look at some who are in my own family that will never get over him losing. They’ll never give Biden a chance, no matter what. I think, too, that until we as a country are willing to take a serious look at our social media and the danger it poses to democracies around the world, we’re never going to begin the chance to heal. Because the vitriol on these networks are driving us all further and further apart. Black v white. Rich v poor. And on and on it goes.
    Here’s hoping that President Biden becomes one of the best presidents we’ve ever had. Believe it or not, I think he has a chance Jill. I really do. Because if he can navigate the country out of the disaster he will inherit, he truly will go down in history as one of our best presidents. We need for that to happen!

    Liked by 7 people

    • Dear Jill,

      You have composed an excellent post full of hope and reflections on how the USA has come to such a pass, or rather, a mess. And I can see that the crux or gist of your post lies in the penultimate paragraph:

      Unlike the moldy bread, we cannot simply throw out all the people of this nation and start over, so we have two choices: we either learn the art of compromise, learn to embrace rather than eschew our cultural and ethnic diversity, learn to respect our fellow humans, else we will devolve into a nation of violence where it isn’t even safe to be on the streets. We need to stop the petty bickering, need to accept that things won’t always go our way, need to learn to adapt to adversity.

      You are indeed at one of your finest, and I observe that your finest often reveal itself when you are less snarky, and less riled up by the specific (political) matter or event of the time.

      In any case, I am very inclined to agree with Jeff that there will continue to be little or no chance that the sorry state of affairs will truly, significantly, fundamentally or dramatically change for the better. Why? Because too many folks have been highly ignorant of the real, underlying issues and causes that cut across all citizens, sociopolitical spectra, administrative engines and legislatures, plus information literacy, media literacy, critical thinking, community psychology, critical consciousness, sociopolitical development, and the dilemmas afflicting the fourth estate, all of which are highlighted and discussed in my latest post entitled “Misquotation Pandemic and Disinformation Polemic: Mind Pollution by Viral Falsity” at https://soundeagle.wordpress.com/2020/12/19/misquotation-pandemic-and-disinformation-polemic-mind-pollution-by-viral-falsity/

      In particular, I have devised a detailed twenty-point Checklist, which is beneficial to not just laypersons and citizens but also those who deal with history, archival research, investigative journalism, media studies, social science, behavioural science, political science, law, (socio)linguistics and information literacy.

      Liked by 6 people

      • You’ve done amazing work here. I really like the Checklist. I don’t know that being intellectually curious is something that can be learned. There’s a group of people who would never go to any great lengths to either prove or not prove what a certain media outlet is reporting. They simply do not want to hear anything that refutes their already hardened views. Back in the day, growing up in the seventies and eighties, with no social media and only a few media outlets, I do not believe that a Donald Trump-or Trump-like figure, could have ever come to such prominence. I really don’t know how we can change the trajectory we’re now on. The genie, as they say, is out of the bottle to stay, I fear. Regulation would certainly help, but how far do you go? Do we breakup big tech? Do we start censoring speech? No easy answers my friend. I suspect that fact-checking organizations will continue to grow in influence. Maybe that will help things a bit. But even with that, people will wonder who runs/owns them..are they left, right, center etc..? The way I look at it, at some point you have to trust some of these news organizations. No, not 100%. But we must be able to distinguish which ones are credible, and which ones are complete trash. To some, it just doesn’t matter. Thanks for sending the link. A very useful tool my friend!

        Liked by 3 people

      • Thank you so much for your kind words! Yes, I sometimes manage to put the angst and snark aside and do a more introspective piece, but sadly these days the snark is near boiling over most of the time and writing about those things that cause it is my only outlet. I’ll be checking out your post later today and am eager to see your checklist. Thank you!

        Liked by 2 people

        • Dear Jill,

          You are very welcome. I would like to inform you that when you read my said post, hovering (with a mouse cursor or by other means) over a stylized or hyperlinked text or image will bring up a tooltip showing you additional information. So, it pays to hover on any item of interest to obtain extra information.

          Liked by 2 people

    • Awwww … now you’ve made me blush! Thank you, Jeff! No, I don’t for one minute think that the diehard trumpeters are going to suddenly sit up and be ready to compromise, and to be perfectly honest, neither are we who have hated Trump and his rhetoric for 5 full years now. But somehow … we must find common ground, or this nation is doomed. I can see this nation breaking up into a number of smaller ones, with some people stuck where they truly don’t belong, and constant battles between the nation-states. Sigh.

      I share your hope that Biden has that magic touch and can do what right now seems un-do-able. That he can untangle the crazy web of conspiracy theories, of racism, of every phobia known to mankind, and make this nation whole again, for it damn sure isn’t right now. Sigh.

      Liked by 4 people

      • It could indeed be too hopeful to expect (too) much from Biden, just as some people had been during Obama’s two-term presidency, unless enough of the fundamental issues that I have been highlighting since 2017 can be sufficiently and effectively addressed. Otherwise, history will repeat itself. In any case, let hope (and plan) for the best!

        Liked by 1 person

      • Biden will probably frustrate both of us by “reaching out” to the other side a little more than we think he should. At some point, if they keep smacking his hand away, he’ll have to give it up. It was always my number one criticism of Obama. I thought he was a bit too naive to think they would ever work with him when they never had any intention to do so. I think, and hope, that Biden will not fall too deep into that rabbit hole. We’ll see….

        Liked by 3 people

        • I’m sure you’re right, but if Biden gives up on finding common ground, where does that leave us? How do the people of this nation continue to live and work side-by-side with such deep ideological differences? I think Obama, rather than being naive, wanted to believe that people were better than they are, and wanted to think he could get them to set aside their petty differences.

          Liked by 3 people

          • True, and he did try to speak to all of us like we were adults. Not like we’re a bunch of dumbasses, like Trump does. And his cult believes every word.
            I do think Biden will really give it his best to do find common ground Jill. But the party on the other side is…well…rotten to the core. I do think there are a few who might dance; Romney, Collins, Murkowski…maybe a few others. We shall see.

            Liked by 2 people

            • Good point. And he doesn’t differentiate between Democrats and Republicans, as Trump does. He treats those of us who aren’t enamoured of him as the enemy! I’ve never felt so foreign in my own country before. I hope that over the next two years, Biden can convince people that what he is doing is for the good of us all … so that they vote out some of the members of Congress that are in the pockets of wealthy corporations, especially the fossil fuel giants. I’ve given up on Collins … she’s a sponge, but Romney seems to have a conscience, as does Murkowski. I just hope that starting on January 21st, we no longer have to see Trump’s ugly mug on our computers first thing every morning!

              Liked by 2 people

              • What a relief that will be! And hopefully, a Senate with Democratic control. I know that’s wishful thinking but if it happens, Biden will at least have a better chance of getting some things done. How Georgia could vote those two clownish crooks in, I’ll never know. But if they do, they deserve them.

                Liked by 2 people

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s