I Thought We Were Better …

In countries like Russia, China, Saudi Arabia and many others, one man or group of men (it’s always men, never women) control the people, their actions & behaviours.  But in a democracy, a true democracy, it is the voice of the majority that determines the laws of the land.  The United States was founded as a Democratic Republic, which is somewhat different than a pure democracy.  In a pure democracy, laws are made directly by the voting majority leaving the rights of the minority largely unprotected. In a democratic republic, laws are made by representatives chosen by the people and must comply with a constitution that specifically protects the rights of the minority as well as those of the majority.

Today in the United States, it is the will of the minority that is trampling all over the rights of the majority.  The majority of people (60%) in the U.S. are for stricter gun regulations, yet there is no movement in this direction.  The majority of people (54%, with only 28% wishing to overturn it, with 18% who don’t care one way or the other) are in favour of maintaining Roe v Wade, supporting women’s rights, yet the Supreme Court is fully poised to overturn Roe.  The majority of the people (66%) in this country support Biden’s ‘Build Back Better’ program to help people who were financially affected by the pandemic, yet Congress trashed it.  70% of all voters were in support of the Freedom to Vote Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act last year, yet Congress also trashed both of those.  So … we can only conclude that the minority is dominating the majority and that is NOT in keeping with ANY form of democratic principles!

A few weeks ago, I reblogged Brosephus’ post titled America Is Dead.  At the time, I qualified my view of it, saying that I still had hope for this nation to rebound and that I would continue fighting with renewed resolve to restore the rights and will of the people – the majority of the people.  But yet again, I am discouraged, for it seems that the people in this nation today are so divided that there is no longer a UNITED States of America, but that we should change the name to the DIVIDED States of America.  In truth, it is almost as if there are two completely separate sub-species of humans living here.  We laud Abraham Lincoln for ending the Civil War, for bringing the nation back under one umbrella, but today we are as divided as we were in the 19th century.

Our friend Keith, who is among the most reasonable men I know, suggests we do more to open the lines of communications between the two sides, initiating dialogue, calmly asking those with opinions different from our own why they think as they do, and finding common ground, areas where we can compromise.  I agree with Keith’s premise, but is there so much as a square inch of common ground remaining these days?  It seems to me that the common ground was the first casualty of the great divide.  My concern is that there will be many more casualties of that great divide in the future.

Every day it seems that more and more schools and communities are banning certain books, even classics such as The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain, or To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee.  WHY?  I first heard the claim that such books made white children ‘feel bad’ about how Blacks were treated back in the day, but of late, it is said that the books are being banned because they make Black children feel bad about themselves.  Either one is naught but an excuse for the reality which is that white supremacists do not want the next generation to be taught about the racism that has been a part of this country since before its founding.  Do they honestly think the children won’t learn about it anyway?  Isn’t it far better to have a compassionate teacher explain what happened, why it was wrong, and how we have worked throughout the past century to rectify it?  How can you simply cut a piece of history out of the history books?  How will they explain what Dr. Martin Luther King, John Lewis, Rosa Parks, Malcom X and others were fighting for when those who are children today reach high school and college?  So, I argue that books cannot be banned in schools and libraries, except perhaps books like Fifty Shades of Grey.

But my voice is not heard, more books are being banned daily, and if I were independently wealthy, I would mail a copy of Maus by Art Spiegelman to every child under the age of 12 in the nation.  Maus is a nonfiction graphic novel that depicts Spiegelman interviewing his father about his experiences as a Polish Jew and Holocaust survivor, yet the book is banned in a number of places.  Are we also, in addition to trying to erase our racist past, trying to erase the Holocaust, or anti-Semitism, or even World War II???  Are people really so narrow-minded that they believe our children won’t learn these things, one way or another.  And even more to the point, do they seek a return to those things such as extreme racial hatred, anti-Semitism, and violence against any who don’t fit into their own views?  For that is exactly where we are headed if we hide the reality of the past from the next generation.  It’s almost as if some have looked at the steps forward of the past 50-70 years and decided it was too much, that they wanted a ‘reset’ button to take them … take us all … back to the 1950s, the days of Happy Days television show, the days of segregated diners, segregated schools, and school prayer forced upon every child.

America’s claim to fame has been that it was a nation of immigrants, a diverse nation, but today it seems we want to erase that, to become a homogeneous country where everyone thinks, looks, and acts exactly the same.  How terrible, how boring, and how surreal that would be.

Those who wish for more, rather than fewer civil rights, who wish to keep Roe, Obergefell, Brown, and other Court rulings that have given rights to those who were once without, are not trying to force their way on others.  For example, and I’ve said this many times, if you don’t believe that abortion is right, then you are free not to have an abortion!  If you do not like same-sex marriage, then marry someone of the opposite sex!  Nobody, but nobody is forcing anyone to have an abortion or marry someone of their same gender.  But it is those with narrow minds and shallow views who would force the rest of us into their very small, dark box.  I don’t wish to live in that small, dark, terrible box, nor would I wish it on anyone else.

I thought we were better than this.  Obviously, I was wrong.

45 thoughts on “I Thought We Were Better …

  1. Great insights, as usual Jill. Yes, I do believe The Divided States of America should be the new title of our country. We’ve allowed a group of loud-mouthed bigots and white supremacists to take the rest of us hostage with their extreme agenda. I do not know how we change it. I honestly don’t.

    Liked by 2 people

    • You hit the nail on the head, my friend, when you say “We’ve allowed …” We didn’t value our democratic foundations enough to fight for human rights, but kept thinking that everything would turn around with the next election … or the next … or the next. And now, here we are, on the brink of losing it all. I don’t know how we change it either, my friend, and I’m not even sure that at this point we can. We have to try, though, and that starts with screaming at the top of our lungs, calling out the injustices, trying to open the eyes of those who would prefer a Trumptatorship to a democratic republic.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. My dream would be to actually divide the US up between red and blue..we are so far apart right now. I know it would mean, I’d have to move to a colder climate and more expensive housing, but hey, it might be worth it.
    Seriously I know this won’t work, but I see no turnaround for the next 20 to 40 years with new generations, but even that I’m not so sure..

    Liked by 1 person

    • Y’know, Mary, I’ve had the same thought. It truly seems that there are two entirely separate cultures in the U.S. today and … try as we might, we cannot manage to see eye-to-eye on virtually ANYTHING. But … the divide would have to be like a major surgery … everyone with racist GOP beliefs goes south of the Mason-Dixon line and the rest of us go north. It’s more complicated than just finding housing and dealing with a different climate, though, for what about jobs and corporations … power grids … agriculture? I think it’s virtually impossible now, but somehow we better be finding ways to live together and at least tolerate the other side, or we will soon see blood running in the streets.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Isn’t there a case to be made that the ultimate problem is control of society by technocrats? The Musks and the FB guys of the world are amoral. They don’t care about the divisions in society because they feel they aren’t bound by “the rules.” Google and Facebook have tried — unsuccessfully thus far — to make they case that they are exempt from European and US courts.They control the public dialog, but they really don’t care about the content. The ostrich-like quality of these managers is that they have no clue about how those divisions and dialog could become a threat to them until it happens.Before that happens, perpetuating chaos simply adds to profit and power.

    I suspect there is a substantial common ground, but the people managing the dialog have no interest in showing that to anyone.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hmmmm … you make some interesting points, Vic, some that I hadn’t thought about. I’ve long felt that the wealthy are the biggest part of the problem — their arrogance, their disregard for the other 99% of the world, and their sense of entitlement. But the higher up technocrats are also a part of the wealthy. And as you say, they largely control the dialog, although not completely.

      I’ve always thought that deep down, we all shared common concerns and values, but of late I’ve begun to wonder if that’s true.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Honestly, I don’t think the shared values are there. They disappeared with the functional deaths of both religion and philosophy, neither of which play the role in society that they held even 50 years ago. Instead we have people who worship at the bank and view whatever comes after they die as meaningless.

        Liked by 1 person

        • You may well be right, Vic. Lately it does seem as though there are two distinct sides and they have very little in common. If it is true that we no longer have shared values, then … there is really very little hope for a better world someday, is there?

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  4. Jill, great piece and many thanks for the kind words. A couple of points. We need to be heard when we push back, so listening and being civil will get us a better chance at that mission. There are certain ideas that need to be heard as rebuttals to some of the inane suggestions.

    For example, if building a border wall is the number one issue, why did the former president renege on an agreement he made of $25 billion for a border wall in exchange to making DACA law?

    For example, do you really want to do away with contraception which is favored by the significant majority of men and women? Even the significant majority US Catholic women disagree with their own Pope on this issue. This may qualify as the most idiotic idea ever.

    For example, the majority of US women and men favor Roe v Wade with the governance on timing in place. It is less of a majority than the one on contraception, but most women want a safe choice. I personally would not advocate for one, but it is not my body.

    As for the bigger picture, we must understand that the restrictions on freedoms, voting and books is demographically motivated. Per Steve Schmidt, a former Republican strategist, he said the Republican party has long feared unfavorable demographic projections dating back to studies done by the Koch Brothers around twenty years ago. So, if they could not woo more voters, the other solution is restrict the process. He even noted gaining majority in 2/3 of state legislatures is a goal, so a constitutional convention could be called and some federal governance laws could be brought up for change – one I recall was appointing Senators. I truly wish I was making this up, but these are his words not mine.

    Keith

    Liked by 3 people

    • Many thanks, my friend! As I told Roger, I edited it with you in mind, so it’s cleaned up a bit from the original!

      I fully agree that we need to be heard, and as we’ve discussed before, if you lower the volume, ‘they’ have to shut up in order to hear us. But … some simply keep on talking and yelling, not hearing a word we say.

      I suspect the whole border wall issue was a farce from the beginning, with Trump never intending it to be built, but using it as a campaign strategy in 2016, creating and playing upon the ‘fear of immigrants’.

      I said to someone on Twitter the other day that if the Court overturns Roe v Wade, and then states take it a step further by banning contraception, women should demand that any male who does not act responsibly be castrated. Truth is, though, I think there’s no way the states will succeed in doing away with birth control. But then … these are strange times and … I wouldn’t bet the farm on it.

      Many years ago, circa 1974, I didn’t know I was pregnant, but I was. The fetus was not viable and had it not been removed, I would have died and left my two (at that time) other children orphans. Today, I would be considered a felon for that surgery in some states. This is very scary.

      Agreed that those constraints on our freedoms are demographically motivated, but the area seems to be expanding. I was thrilled to hear Michigan’s Governor Gretchen Whitmer stand firm that she would NOT allow abortion to become illegal in her state. Trouble is … someday somebody else will be governor. I think that all other things being equal, the MOST important thing right now is to protect and expand voting rights, for as you say, the current attempts to disenfranchise so many is part of the Republican plan to ensure they win, for they cannot win on their non-existent platform! If they put half as much effort into finding out what is important to the people and developing a platform based on those issues, they might be able to win without cheating. Sigh.

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  5. Even though, the, ideals of America, is, built on the beliefs of, freedom, but, there are, actually, a ton of historical, proofs, that, freedom in the U.S., is, only, an, imagined, ideal, that, there are, no free places in the world, because, where there’s man, there’s, that, desire, that need for, controlĺing, each other.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Much of what you say is correct. There are varying degrees of freedom depending on your level of wealth, colour of skin, gender identification, gender, and other ‘qualifiers’. You’re so right, though … where there’s man, there’s the perceived need to control others. The fatal human flaw.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Pingback: I Thought We Were Better … — Filosofa’s Word – The Voice of the Voiceless

  7. Several of our legislators have made comments along the lines of “I haven’t come to Parliament to speak up for the rights of the majority or the strong. They can take care of themselves. I came to Parliament to protect the rights of the minorities and the weak as the clamour of the majority and the strong drowns out their voice”. That’s the type of person I vote for.

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  8. Oh, Jill, yes these are sometimes the best of times, but more often the worst of times, capable of spawning great books of literature. I remember reading Richard Wright’s books and being so ashamed of my own ‘white’ legacy in Mississippi, that I think a part of me blocked out most of what I read, because it was so painful. The ‘banning’ of books at this time is appalling to me.. it’s like whispering, ‘Shhhh, let’s don’t talk about this.’ It’s who we are. It’s our history, the culture – even if not balanced, it is just that – our history.

    Clifford Taulbert’s “Once upon a time when we were colored,” was a lovely read – honest about what it was like (about 40 miles from where I grew up) … Yes, we need to be sensitive, but also candid and acknowledge, “yes, this happened, I am sorry – can we please find ways to move forward and make it better?’

    As for the Roe vs Wade, I think that all people are responsible for their actions, and as noble as it is to speak for the unborn, I also think that those people should think ten times every time they consume one ounce of meat – an animal had to die and be butchered so that they could eat the meat. What about speaking up for the animals? Don’t they have the same rights or even greater rights since they are already living and breathing?

    It’s not our role to judge others; we are all on our own unique paths. But it gets so complicated at times.
    I saw a clip of Mississippi’s governor this morning – an interview — and the comments – all ranges – and then I shut down the computer and thought of my many blessings – one of them for living where it’s a bit like it was ‘Once upon a Time…’ I am witnessing the same evolution of culture… we are all witnessing the evolution – or devolution.

    “Just be nice.” – is there a t-shirt with that saying? Hmmmm.

    Like

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  10. In the future I think its only the children of the elite will be going to colleges and Universities. There has long been an attempt to deny or whitewash the Holocaust by denying there were any such thing as Death Camps or that it was impossible to have killed so many Jews .Both the Netherlands and Switzerland have had politicians arguing this.I myself wonder in the current climate if the only ones wishing abortions are Democrats since surely Republicans wouldn’t want to go against their own policies.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yep, I remember making that same prediction back when Betsy DeVos was appointed Secretary of Education. She’s gone now, but others are trying very hard to ensure our children, our hope for the future, are still largely uneducated after 12 years in primary/secondary schools. Y’know … they can inhibit the teaching of our past, they can even whitewash history, but it’s still there, it’s been recorded and sooner or later it will come out. They want us to believe that this nation is not built on racism and other forms of bigotry, but YES, IT DAMN SURE IS!!! And someday, inquiring minds will delve deeper and wonder why they were lied to. If there is still a human species on earth, that is. Sigh. Part of me is ready to wash my hands of this entire nation, and yet … another part of me is donning the boxing gloves, prepping for the fight.
      Cwtch

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Clearly our “leaders” the world over, with varying degrees of ineptitude dislike freedom of choice…
    Not too sure what to do about it. Accountability? Recall? Taking to arms has never really worked well. (The Terror in 1793 in France is a “good” example…)
    Signed: “Helpless”?
    (Or raving mad…)

    Liked by 2 people

    • Like you, I can see what is happening, can see the problem, but am not clear on the solution. Sadly, based on what I know of history and of today’s events, I suspect it will get much worse before it gets better. Perhaps people have to face the worst that humans have to offer before they will fight to make the world a better place. Helpless — that is very much how I feel at the moment. I see the injustice, know it is wrong, know why the other side is pushing it, yet I don’t know how to stop the madness. Sigh.

      Liked by 2 people

        • Yes and it could take generations…we shouldn’t expect it to change in our lifetimes. Things do tend to come around again, but now we are all facing the threat of severe climate change and the potential after all this time, of nuclear war. The times are truly different.

          Liked by 3 people

          • I agree with you, Mary … the tides of history change slowly compared to our relatively short lifetimes. I still think that humans are bringing about their own extinction by largely ignoring the effects of climate change and refusing to sacrifice so much as a smidgen of ‘convenience’ to try to save the planet for life. I have my own thoughts there … that perhaps other life forms would thrive without humans and the planet might be a better place at the end of the day, but … that’s just my dark side talking.

            Liked by 2 people

            • Oh no I agree with you 100%. Earth would be better off in the long run without man. It would take awhile, but the natural balance would re occur and some species would adapt to climate change and once fossil fuels were not around and forests returned, the climate might “right” itself, as well. All would be good. And yes,mom willing to go now.

              Liked by 2 people

              • Humankind has destroyed balanced ecosystems, killed off entire species for naught but sport, and is in the process of destroying the largest rainforest on the planet. Eventually, Mother Nature will simply say, “ENOUGH! Bye-bye, you morons!” And who could blame her?

                Liked by 2 people

  12. As usual, you’ve exquisitely summarized where I stand.

    Yes, I understand and respect the idea of ‘finding common ground’ and ‘opening lines of communication’ between those on different sides of an issue. I first began hearing this directed at me back in 2003 or so, when Dubya’s administration was driving us toward war. It didn’t like ‘the other side’ ever wanted to find common ground, nor to compromise. Since then, they — and yes, I’m generalizing and tarring many with the same broad brush — disavow proven facts, decrying that as ‘fake news’ if they don’t agree with it; and lie with little impunity, trying to claim that what they said is being taken out of context, not what they meant, or that they meant something else, even when confronted with video and audio evidence. The last straw with trying to communicate with this ‘other side’ was when they elected Trump. Trump, with his many affairs and several wives, and his greedy, rapacious business ethics, was held up as a gold standard of good behavior. That insanity was just too much.

    Yes, I once thought that we were better than this. I’m continually floored to learn, again, that a large segment of the population is not.

    Hugs and cheers, M

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you, Michael. These are difficult times, heartbreaking times, when we realize that the fantasy we grew up believing is dead, perhaps never existed. And as you point out, while Trump deserves a lion’s share of the blame, this madness started long before he became a household word. We’ve been losing ground for decades. I thought that when Obama was elected, we would set it to rights again, and in many ways we did, but it was an illusion, for ‘THEY” were merely biding their time, planning to ensure that the nation would never again stand for humanity. I admire Keith and wish I could emulate his calm “let’s sit down and talk” demeanor, but for the most part I am too angry, as I see my rights and the rights of others being eaten by the big GOP monster. What will this nation look like in 20 years … 50 years? How will history record this time? Frankly, I am happy to be old and in poor health … perhaps I will avoid the worst of it, but then … the people I love will be left behind to endure it. Sigh.

      Hugs ‘n cheers to you, dear Michael!!!

      Liked by 1 person

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