Did We Move, Or Did The Scale Shift?

I don’t think most of us change our views much during the course of our lifetime.  Oh sure, as we age, as we learn new things, learn about history, about political and social ideologies, are exposed to new experiences, we may shift our viewpoints, but I don’t think we do much of a swing from the time we were young.  When I focus on young people in my ‘good people’ posts, I always have the feeling that these people, some as young as five or six years old, are going to grow up to be awesome adults with humanitarian values.  We are who we are, and while our views may shift, I don’t think the core of us changes much over time.  Cruel children grow into cruel adults, children who have compassion as children, typically grow into kind, compassionate adults.

I grew up in the 1950s, came of age in the 1960s during the Civil Rights movement, and for as long as I can remember, I’ve been appalled and disgusted by man’s inhumanity to man, by the depths of cruelty of which the human species is capable.  When I was very young, I asked questions … LOTS of questions!  Drove my parents to drink, I did!  I stopped asking questions about religion, for I figured out early on that there were no answers, but I continued to ask questions about other things, like why my best friend, whose skin just happened to be brown, couldn’t be in our family Christmas picture that would be sent to my grandmother.  She was, in my book, part of our family.  Or why certain people had to sit in one part of a restaurant while others sat in another.  I didn’t know the words ‘racism’ or ‘bigotry’, but I saw that different people were treated differently, and I didn’t like it, didn’t understand it.

So, if one must use labels, I suppose I’ve always been liberal-minded.  I don’t think that in the “land of milk and honey”, the “land of opportunity”, anybody should be homeless or have to put their children to bed hungry at night.  I think the more education we can give our young people, the better equipped they will be to deal with the challenges ahead and help make the world a better place.  And I think education through college should be affordable and available to every single person.  I think great wealth is the most useless waste of resources – resources that could be saving lives and benefitting far more people.  Those are, of course, liberal ideas, but no different than I’ve believed for all of my adult life.

However, while at one time I was just left of center in socio-political ideology, today I and my views are called “far left”.  I’ve wondered about this for some time, had a vague notion that it was the ‘right’ pushing the left further from the center, and last night I found this clip by Robert Reich that explains it perfectly and makes much sense.  Take a look … see what you think.

The Never-Ending Mind of Filosofa

I think many of us are still focused on the election results and what it all means going forward as a nation, and I am no exception. Try as I might to put it out of my mind, it keeps coming back like a boomerang.  I’ve been doing a lot of thinking these past couple of days/nights, and I thought I’d share just a few of my thoughts with you.

There is much reason to be relieved by the results of Tuesday’s election, but … I would urge caution – it was not a sweeping mandate.  Republicans had more to do with their own losses than Democrats did with their wins.  They pandered to Trump, let him choose the candidates, and as usual Trump chose poorly.  Trump’s criteria was two-fold:  to earn his support, the candidate had to pretend to believe the 2020 election was ‘stolen’ from Trump, and the candidate had to swear an oath of loyalty to Trump … not to the Republican Party, not to the country, but to one single ‘man’, Donald Trump.  Even a number of Republicans were, as is now obvious, offput by the unqualified candidates Trump chose to support and it was that, more than anything else, that drove some of the Republican losses this week.  The Supreme Court also played a role, unwittingly, in the unexpected Democratic wins with their decision in Dobbs v Jackson Women’s Health Organization.  People care about their rights. It would behoove our politicians and our Supreme Court Justices to keep that in mind.  The government exists to serve the people, not the other way around.

Republicans seem to have forgotten the actual purpose of government’s existence.  As Lincoln said in his Gettysburg Address, government is to be “of the people, by the people, and for the people” … the operative word here being ‘people’.  All people.  Democrats’ policies are primarily people-centric, while Republicans seem more interested in making the nation wealthy, but only for a few at the expense of the rest of us.  While I won’t go so far as to say that nobody should have more than another person, I will say that I find anyone who has millions or billions of dollars to his name to be obscenely, grotesquely uncaring about humanity.  Sure, if you work hard, you make your company successful, you should reap the rewards, but not to the point of having billions of dollars while other people in your country, your own city, are going to bed hungry at night.  THAT is simply inexcusable.  And yet, that is what the Republican Party stands for.

I have heard it said that there is no real danger of an autocracy taking over in the U.S., for we have the Constitution.  Folks, the Constitution is a document, and like any document, it is only as good as the people who are in charge of upholding it.  A document can be destroyed, can be altered, can be burned.  It is a concept, a foundation upon which we build, but it is not indestructible.  It relies on the people we elect to defend and uphold it, and … AND it relies on We the People to agree to honour it by ensuring those we elect to support the Constitution, actually do so.  I wonder how many voters in this country have actually read the U.S. Constitution?  It’s only just over 8,000 words, including the 27 amendments, just about the length of 8 of my blog posts. And the language is simple enough for anyone who can read at a 9th grade level to understand.

The document was intended to grow along with the nation, not to be a set-in-stone, unwavering set of laws.  The framers knew that times would change, situations would evolve that might require additions or alterations, and they fully expected those additions and alterations, expected the document to grow with the times.  And to an extent, it has.  Women were given the right to vote in the 19th Amendment, ratified in 1920, just barely over a century ago.  It was the 26th Amendment, ratified in 1971, that gave 18-year-old citizens the right to vote – this came about largely due to the war in Vietnam and the case was made that if an 18-year-old was old enough to risk their life for their country, they should have a voice in our government.  The last amendment passed was the 27th, in 1992, that disallows members of Congress from granting themselves pay raises that would take effect prior to the next election.  1992 … 30 years since the last amendment to the Constitution.  A lot has changed in that time, and the document is sorely in need of some updating, but back to the point … it could be destroyed without too much ado.  It is a safeguard, but … just as your home is your safeguard against the elements, wild animals and wild people, your home can be broken into, burned down … destroyed.  So can the Constitution.  So can democracy.

Discord & Dissension – Part I – Intro

The year is 2020.  Ten days into the new year, and so much has already happened that we cannot keep up.  The world is teetering on the brink, and all thanks to one ‘man’:  Donald Trump.  Yes, that Donald Trump, the ‘man’ who sits in the White House, in the highest position of leadership in the nation, despite the fact that he lost the election by nearly 3 million votes.

The year is 2020, and the United States will be having an election on November 3rd, in just 298 days the people of this nation will head to the polls to cast their vote for their representative, some for their senator, and all for the next president.  Or will they?  In 2016, between 58% – 59% of eligible voters actually voted.  WHY?  Because …

  • Hillary Clinton was a woman
  • Hillary Clinton was not “warm and fuzzy”
  • Hillary Clinton was blamed for her husband’s indiscretions
  • Donald Trump claimed that Hillary Clinton was responsible for the lives lost in Benghazi, though that myth was long since de-bunked
  • People who had hoped that either Bernie Sanders or Jill Stein would gain the Democratic Party nomination were disappointed and thus stayed home, rather than vote at all
  • People claimed they were “making a statement” by not voting

There are many more reasons, of course, but folks … think about it … barely more than half of the people who could have voted, did.  Throughout the relatively short history of this nation, men and women have put their lives on the line to protect our right to have a voice in our government, and some 40% of the nation’s citizens threw that right away.

Because of that … mainly the apathy and ignorance of people in this nation … we are currently facing a number of crises in this nation, not the least of which is that an impeached president, trying to distract the public from his own crimes, is leading us down a path of destruction.

The year is 2020, an election year, possibly the most crucial one in the 233-year history of the United States of America.  If we lose this one, we may well be responsible for ending life on this planet as we know it today.

The year is 2020, and here in the U.S., the two parties, Democratic and Republican, are more divided than at any time in history.  There are strong ideological differences, as there have always been, but it goes even beyond that.  We are almost two separate nations without a line of demarcation, and the sheer antagonism between the two is toxic.  How did we get to this point?  How can we ever reconcile the seemingly irreconcilable differences? Where do we go from here?

The year is 2020, and we are determined to make our voices heard, to do our part to put an end to the madness that has overtaking the U.S.  Who are we?  We are Jeff and Jill – you know us from On the Fence Voters and Filosofa’s Word.  We are going to spend part of our time and some of our voices in the coming ten months trying to make a difference. We will be in your inbox most Fridays screaming WAKE UP, AMERICA!! We are all, democrat or republican, Christian, Jew, Muslim or atheist, black, brown or white … we are all in this together and in order to make this nation whole and healthy again, we need to start … somewhere!  We hope you will join us in our little project, and we look forward to your input and suggestions.

Next Friday, 17 January, Jeff will begin with a bit about each of the two parties, the origins and how they got where they are today, then Jill will follow up with where we go from here.  After that, we are going to be considering ways we can make a difference in this year’s upcoming election, how we can get voters engaged, make them see how important their vote is, etc. We will also be discussing things like religious liberty, the long-term effect of judicial appointments, and whatever else seems relevant in any given week.  We want you to feel free to jump in with comments or even a guest post if you feel so inclined!  That’s our plan for now, at least, but with the landscape changing daily, sometimes hourly, our focus could change over time.  That’s the fun part … we have no idea where we’ll end up!  So, until next Friday …


Labels, Labels, LABELS

Yesterday, a friend & reader left this comment on one of my posts:

“I don’t know if anyone has addressed this before, but it scares the bloomin’ hell out of a lot of us who USED to claim to be of the Christian persuasion. We don’t want to see this happen at all either. There are millions of us who feel that way. But the right-wing conservatives yell louder than we do. The rest of us are out there trying to push others to recognize the dignity of all people. So how do WE get the presses’ attention. I, for one, and most of my friends, am tired of being lumped into that crazy arse group of fundamentalists. (rolls eyes…) They horrify me. Ooo! Let’s crucify anyone who is gay, but we just have to pray for the Strumpet because he’s misguided, so we can excuse his behavior. What a load of crap.”

I must admit that it made me stop and think.  This is the problem with labels for people.  Labels on cans at the supermarket are a wonderful thing, for we would not otherwise know if we were getting corn or green beans.  Labels on clothing help us know the proper wash water temperature and how to care for a shirt or pair of pants.  Labels on most ‘things’ tend to be helpful and serve a purpose.  People, however, are not ‘things’. labels-3We label democrats and republicans, but what do those labels mean?  I know the basic ideologies of each of those two parties, but does that mean that every single person who is registered as a republican is against Universal Health Care?  Or that everyone who calls himself a ‘democrat’ supports a woman’s right to choose an abortion?  Think about this one for a bit.

We label men and women, heterosexuals and gays.  But why must the label define the person?  I have been as guilty as any of referring to republicans as ‘idiots’ and ‘fools’, though I count among my friends a few republicans who are good people, neither idiots nor fools, else they wouldn’t be my friends.  I remember one time in college, when I was venting to a male professor who happened to be a mentor and trusted friend, and I said that all men were assholes (don’t ask!).  His reply was, “Well, since I am a man, and you believe that all men are assholes, then either you think I am an asshole, or you think I am not a man.  Which is it?”  I have never forgotten that conversation, because I learned something that day.  I learned a lesson that I have since forgotten on more than one occasion:  don’t label people.

labels-2For the past decade or so, the political climate in the U.S. has been becoming more and more divided, antagonistic.  There is, no matter who you are or what ‘side’ you are on, “them” and “us”.  I hear it often … “well, he’s on our side, right?”  And I know that I cannot change that divisiveness with a simple post of about 1,000 words.  But I hope that I can make those who read these words stop for just a minute and let’s do some thinking.

European immigrants first came to this nation seeking religious freedom, freedom from persecution.  That means, at least in my mind, that you can be a Christian, go to the church of your choice, and follow the tenets of your chosen faith.  It also, however, means that Sal Rosenstein down the street can follow his faith, go to Synagogue as he chooses, and light the Menorah at Chanukah.  It means that Ali al-Dabbagh has the right to pray to Allah and attend the Mosque of his choice, without fear. And it further means that if I choose to observe no religion, I am free to do so without condemnation or persecution.

Recently, in this culture of divisiveness we are experiencing, some within the Christian religion have expressed some fairly radical views – views that the majority in this nation do not necessarily support, and that even many within the Christian faith do not support.  Without delving into the specifics, those views are largely discriminatory against any who are different in any way.   This group of people have been obnoxiously loud and vulgar in voicing their views and have drawn the attention of the press and the public alike.  Remember that old saying, “the squeaky wheel gets the oil”?  It’s true.  It’s not right, but it’s true.

To judge all Christians by the actions of only the evangelicals who would ban the LGBT community, rob a woman of the right to control her own body & destiny, and insist that the United States is a ‘Christian nation’, is wrong.  It is just as wrong as it would be to assume that all women with blonde hair are dumb, or that all tall people play basketball!

We will never stop using labels, for they serve a purpose.  If you are robbed at gunpoint in your home and you call the police, they will ask you for a description of the robber.  Male or female?  Black or white?  Young or old?  Tall or short?  These distinctions are necessary in this case, not to discriminate, not to judge, but to identify.  When we are discussing a group of people who behave in a certain way, it is simplest to label them as republicans or democrats, Christians or Jews, males or females.  So no, the practice of labeling human beings is not likely to see an end any time soon, but … let us stop and think when we are writing or speaking, before we apply a label, before we generalize about a group, let’s at least try to make sure that we are not using such a broad label that the net catches those who do not belong.  It’s tough, especially in today’s culture of ‘us’ vs ‘them’, but it’s only fair.

The majority of people in the world, I like to believe, are peace-loving, kind, caring individuals.  There are some who are otherwise.  Let’s try not to confuse the two.  If we must judge, let’s do so based on actions and behaviours rather than on labels.  Let’s try not to judge the whole based on the actions of the few.

*** Note to readers …. I think some have perhaps taken offense to my words in this post, and I want to set the record straight.  I was pointing no fingers at all, unless it was the fingers I had pointed at myself.  The reader who left me the comment, C, made me stop and think and realize that it isn’t fair to lump all Christians in with the evangelicals who are gay-bashing, white supremacist bigots.  I realized just how many times I had done this, and I was ashamed.  That said, I also understand how hard it is not to label or categorize people these days.  Please, take no offense from this post, as none was intended.