REFLECT UPON THIS: What The World Needs Now… Respect @RRBC_Org @RRBC_RWISA @Tweets4RWISA @JohnJFioravanti @NonnieJules #Quotes

Our friend John Fioravanti hasn’t posted for quite a while, but when he did yesterday, it was a post worthy of being shared far and wide. John is kinder than I am, but his words resonate with me, as I believe they will with you. His post is moving and thought-provoking, worthy of some deep thought about how we, as humans, can do better. Thank you, John!

Fiora Books by John Fioravanti

“We need to reject any politics that targets people because of race or religion. This isn’t a matter of political correctness. It’s a matter of understanding what makes us strong. The world respects us not just for our arsenal; it respects us for our diversity and our openness and the way we respect every faith.”

~ Barack Obama

Barak Obama head shot

As a retired secondary school educator, I am a firm believer in lifelong learning, and it need not take place in a formal classroom. Today, the Internet allows anyone who is curious to discover information and analysis about any topic they can imagine. It is in the context of the lifelong learner that I wish to reflect on President Barack Obama’s words quoted above from his final State of the Union Address on January 12, 2016.

In my study of history, I realize that human progress does not occur in a linear pattern…

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Fear of Immigrants?

I am asked, “Why does Donald Trump hate and fear immigrants so much?”  I have no readily available answer, but it sets the wheels turning in my mind … why does he?  We know what he says, but we also know that is only hateful rhetoric designed to instill fear in his 30% – 40% base who must be kept in fear so that they will continue to cling to him, to support him.  He says that those trying to immigrate to the U.S. are animals, not people.  He tells his base that the migrants are murderers, criminals, and rapists and that we are in danger from them.  But he knows better, for otherwise why would he feel safe at Mar-a-Lago or at his golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey, both of which have undocumented immigrants on staff?

Why, then, does he fear them?  The answer is that he doesn’t fear the immigrants … he fears losing his base if they ever figure out the whopping lies he has told them.  His rhetoric about migrants is a tool, nothing more. Let us meet a few of the migrants that attempted to come to this country in the latest caravan … the caravan that Trump has wasted so much of our money sending troops to “defend us against”.

Meet Jennifer and her daughter Lucia.  They fled Honduras because life there was very hard and had become increasingly difficult because of the persistent violence.Jennifer-Lucia.jpg

And here’s Junior and his mother Maria.  Junior’s father was killed by gangs in Honduras.Junior-Maria.jpg

And here is 17-year-old Maeli. She joined the caravan with her young son because she feared for their safety in Honduras. They’ve been largely met with kindness on the long journey north, but things have been tense in Tijuana. She and other migrants had been staying in a makeshift camp on the beach when a crowd of local residents threw stones at them.Maeli-son

And this is Juan Carlos, 16 years of age.  The gang members that killed his two uncles in Honduras were pressuring him to either join their gang, else be killed himself.Juan-Carlos.jpg

Now here we have Nelson.  Nelson is legally allowed to cross the border, and has three children living in Pennsylvania.  So why is Nelson part of the migrant caravan?  He said he wanted to experience the solidarity of the caravan, so he was traveling with them. He will wait until the rest are able to cross, he said, before he does.Nelson

So far, I haven’t seen anybody that looks like they are here to murder and rape us, have you?  As I have said before, surely there are some unsavory characters who traveled with the caravan, but … people, look around the U.S.  You want to see unsavory characters?  Look at the “Proud Boys”, look at the followers of Richard Spencer … those who have swastikas tattooed on their bodies.  Look at the white-hood-wearing cowards of the KKK who make their mischief anonymously, then run.  Look, for that matter, at the likes of former Judge Roy Moore of Alabama.  I could go on all day naming people in this country, citizens who were born right here, that I wouldn’t want to meet in a dark alley.

Keith-Luke-neo-Nazi

Keith Luke, convicted rapist/murderer who “just wanted to kill non-whites”

So back to the original question.  There is nothing to fear from these people and Donald Trump knows it because he has “illegal” immigrants working for him in his estates.  Donald Trump is a racist, a bigot, and a white supremacist.  Remember Charlottesville?  He claimed the white supremacist and neo-Nazi groups who held that rally were ‘very fine people’.  When he came under fire even from his own party for those remarks, he walked them back for one day, and then repeated them.  But is he really a racist, or does it just suit his purpose to be one?

Donald Trump has disparaged Hispanics, African-Americans, Middle-Easterners, Asians … but the only time I have heard him speak of a white person in the same terms was if  they were democrats or journalists or women or handicapped or Jewish.  He puts down women every chance he gets.  He denigrates and mocks the disabled.  Remember his mockery of reporter Serge Kovaleski?  It truly reminded me of something a high school freshman might do.  Trump doesn’t just hate immigrants … Trump hates everybody.  If you can do something for him … a vote, campaign donations … then he will pretend to like you.  But the truth is that Trump thinks anyone who is not just like him is second-rate, and thankfully there are few who are ‘just like him’.  In order to satisfy his own ego, he must de-humanize the rest of us in one way or another.  In order to satisfy his dwindling base, he must keep up the lies that immigrants are dangerous, women and African-Americans are stupid, and so on.

I suspect that Donald Trump doesn’t fear immigrants at all, for they provide him with a much-needed platform to keep his base cowering and looking to him for protection.


Photos courtesy of the New York Times.  For more, please see the original article

The Conversation — Part I

On Tuesday night, as I was responding to comments on my post titled This Is Not A Game!!!, about climate change and the recently-released NCA climate change report, I came across one comment that provided so much food for thought that I knew I could not do it justice in a single, quick response.  The commenter is our friend Maryplumbago, and she has covered almost every single topic that is relevant to our nation today.

I asked and received her permission to use her comment as a foundation for this post.  Mary poses so many ideas and questions, that I’m afraid I stepped onto my soapbox and didn’t know when to step down, so this is Part I of … either two or three parts, depending on when you guys start throwing rotten tomatoes at me and yelling for me to step down!  While I have not left out a single word of Mary’s, I have taken the liberty of rearranging the order of her points in order to be able to break this into more manageable parts.  Mary’s original comments are in normal text, my responses in blue.

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So many thoughts here …

I believe, as do reasonable people, that climate change is real and that we contribute to it and have been warned about it for many years now and it’s coming close to being too late.

The problem is reasonableness … most people are apathetic to it and care only for their own selfish lives and not beyond that. Others think it’s all a hoax and buy into trump’s idiocy and republican greed for profit at any cost.  

I think that certainly greed and profit play a huge roll, but when you drill down to the level of the individual, resistance to change and convenience are the two driving factors.  Try telling John Doe that he must trade in that big gas-guzzling SUV for a more environmentally friendly car with better fuel-economy.  Try telling his wife that she must recycle her trash, segregating plastics from paper from metal from glass.  Try telling them both that they should forgo their vacation to Florida this year, eat less meat, carpool to work, or turn down the thermostat and wear a sweater.  They will not be happy, for it is an inconvenience, and one they don’t feel they deserve. 

Then there are the fewer reasonable ones … but what can we do? I’m afraid the answer is nothing.

Well, we cannot sit back and accept that there is nothing we can do.  I don’t pretend to know the solution, but a couple of things come to mind.  First, people typically tend to wake up and change their attitude really quickly when they are personally and directly affected.  I think that the more we publicize such catastrophic events such as the hurricanes of the past two seasons, and the devastating wildfires in California for several years now, but especially this year and last, it must make people stop and think, “what if that was me?”  Education … repetition … keep hammering the message home.  And, of course, it would be greatly helpful if our federal government would tell the truth for a change and stop pandering to the wealthy fossil fuel barons.

When you see lines blocks long for a lotto ticket, crowds pushing and shoving on Black Friday in a Walmart, a racist winning a political race, hatred for immigrants, hatred for the “other” and on and on … do you really think things can get better? That people will change even after trump is gone? And this stuff is spreading to other countries.

There’s the quandary, isn’t it?  Trump is merely the manifestation of those things that have lain dormant, simmering just beneath the surface, apparently, while the majority of us had little or no idea.  The greed, the rudeness to get that last toy on Black Friday … are, I believe, all signs of people who are not satisfied with what they have, but always seek ‘more’.  The blame?  To some extent, I think the blame falls largely on advertisers who, in their efforts to promote their products, create the illusion of “need”.  This has always been the case, of course, but today it is magnified 1000-fold by the internet, by social media where viewers are bombarded by constant targeted ads.  If, for example, you’re just pondering, say, a new washer & dryer, so you go visit a few sites just to see what’s out there and at what cost.  The next day, you will be seeing ads for the latest and greatest in washing and drying machines on every website you visit, as well as your email box being filled with ads for the same.  Pretty soon, you’re convinced that your happiness depends on that new washer & dryer – the one with all the bells & whistles. There is truly no such thing as ‘internet privacy’, and the advertisers have free reign to troll you and then target you in their marketing plan.

The hatred for immigrants is based on fear.  I cannot explain that one well, other than to look back at the European settlers’ treatment of Native Americans centuries ago, and our treatment of African-Americans as slaves until 1865, both based on he fear of ‘other’.  That fear continued until … well, apparently it has never ended.  We thought we had made remarkable progress during the Civil Rights Era, and perhaps we had, but much of that progress has since been lost. 

I used to think that yes, once Trump was gone we could set about un-doing the damage he had done and the ‘great divide’ would begin to heal.  I no longer think that, although I firmly believe he is exacerbating an already tragic situation, instilling fear, supporting white supremacists and attempting to isolate us from our allies.  That does not, however, mean that I don’t think things can improve — merely that I think it will take more than simply saying “bye-bye” to Mr. Trump.  Ideally, we need a true leader to emerge and begin to heal the illness in this nation.  We need another Martin Luther King, or John F. Kennedy, a person who is strong, intelligent, charismatic, and understands the divisiveness of today.  A person who will work with people to allay fears rather than to create them.

To be continued … Meanwhile, feel free to join in the conversation!