Tired of the Hate-filled Rhetoric

I have grown weary of the current rhetoric: me good, them bad.  I’m disgusted with the media as a whole, and after reading this article in Politico, I’m doubly upset.  I think most of us know that the media does not necessarily represent the Average American.  To the contrary, media outlets cater to a particular audience, and that audience thinks like the media.  So, for example, the New Yorker, obviously, has an East Coast philosophy that does not translate well to the West Coast sensibilities.  The Times are each biased by location, and those locations are all large cities (Dallas, Houston, Chicago, Miami, etc.). The rest of the country, apparently, does not really matter.

Some may think that that is just fine. “I live on the West/East Coast, so I’m content,” seems to be the feeling.  The media bubble mentioned in the above article makes complete sense when taken in context with the demise of actual paper news, loss of newspapers. It’s a money game (always follow the money).  Paper publishing costs a lot; paper, ink, printing, journalists, distribution.  The advent of the internet certainly changed all that. Hundreds of thousands of jobs were lost, and with that, coverage of more localized news has nearly vanished.

What does that mean? It means the media is biased to their location and staff, not the people they purport to represent.  We end up with the nonsense of rhetoric, and by virtue of 24 hour news channels, we get sucked up into believing it.  And what is rhetoric? By definition it is: “language designed to have a persuasive or impressive effect on its audience, but often regarded as lacking in sincerity or meaningful content.”   Lack of meaningful content.

We need to start thinking for ourselves, and not let the media play to our fears and biases. Bias/prejudice mean a strong inclination of the mind or a preconceived opinion about something or someone. A bias may be in favor of or against an idea or person or people. Prejudice implies preformed judgment even more unreasonable than bias, and usually implies an unfavorable opinion: prejudice against people of another religion or race. 

Everyone has bias in some form or degree.  It’s only human to base one’s beliefs and morals on one’s own personal experience. However, this leads to prejudice against ideas outside of our personal experience, reality and world. Prejudice that is not easy to shake. Only way to remedy this is to open one’s mind to the infinite possible points of view. The media helped us do that once upon a time. Now it is up to each individual to learn how to open their minds to ideas they might normally be opposed to.  Wouldn’t you like it if the Republicans and Democrats cared more for the country than party?  Personally, I see no reason to have political parties.  I’m a registered Independent for the last 25 years or so, but I still have preconceived ideas and a deep dislike to changing my mind. I also have a deep desire (now) to open my mind more, and possibly even change it.

This is where Free Thinking and/or Critical Thinking comes in.  It helps to take the emotion out of the equation, which where we all go wrong. It’s our emotions that get in the way of critical thinking. Think like a scientist; take a theory and set about to disprove it.

I don’t think using critical thinking will make me change my mind about the fact that Trump doesn’t belong in the White House, but it may help me understand how he came into power, and why the media did not accurately report on what All Americans wanted, just what the Average American wanted.  Not the same thing at all. The average American makes $65,000. I make half that with my and my husband’s income combined. Nothing average here.

So. No more rhetoric for me or from me (I may slip now and then, but I am trying).  Ted Nugent promised that he would no longer engage in such talk. If he can, certainly I can. It hasn’t been a month yet, and since his announcement came only after a Republican senator was shot and nearly killed, I’m having trouble buying it. I checked his FB page and website and don’t see anything hurtful or hateful. But neither do I see his denunciation of hateful rhetoric.  I’d never gone to those sites before so it may be he never posted the rhetoric there. For now I’ll give him benefit of the doubt. I want you to believe the same of me.

I know advice is worth it’s price, but my advice? Stop talking only with the people who already agree with you. Stop using only media sources that favor your preconceived ideas. Expand your media horizons and you may find out some very surprising things. What I’m trying to say is, try to keep an open mind and think for yourself–don’t let the media do it for you.

Bipartisanship

As a society we are taught there are three (or four) things that should never be discussed: Sex, Religion, Politics (and money).  I only agree that talking about money is unwise.  But the rest are what we should discuss!  If we were able to teach our children tolerance, compassion, understanding and empathy, it would be quite a different world.  Instead we teach them not to talk to those who are different, or whose opinions are different from our own.  This breeds contempt, misunderstanding, frustrated anger, and festering hate.  Just the things the GOP seems to want people to feel.

Can there ever be such a thing as bipartisanship?  Truly?  What if we could change that? Would you try?  I would and will. Do you believe that nothing should be off limits to public discourse.  A little honesty, buttered with some empathy might go down better than angry rhetoric.  At least that’s my mind.

I don’t want to listen to the other side either, truth be told.  But neither do I want to see my world continue to be blown apart by hatred, anger, misunderstanding, rumor, and lies.  I see no reason that can’t change. If we want it to.  I am now on a search for a means to have real, open dialog with those with views opposing mine.

I wrote a few weeks ago about a lost opportunity to talk to the “other side” of an issue. Not many people want to listen to someone else’s side of an argument.  We merely wait on our side of the conversation for something from the other to tear into and deny. Name calling is easier than holding our tongue.  Spouting the same tired rhetoric is more appealing than using our own minds and hearts to listen.  Hating easier than understanding.  Empathy can’t be taught, apparently.  Nor maybe compassion.  But we can learn to understand one another.  Maybe become more tolerant of our differences. But to do this we need to have real, honest communication with each other.

We know that our rhetoric has become empty phrases devoid of personal meaning.  So let’s quit spouting the same old lines and come up with a new strategy.  I’m thinking radical here, but honesty is definitely something to shoot for.  I know that goes against the grain when talking politics, but honesty in political discourse–wouldn’t that be something?

Restraint will also need to be learned. Drop your preconceived ideas and ideology at the door.  We need to enter into these discussions with an open mind.  A very tough thing to do.  I’ll admit I have a serious bias against the religious.  I didn’t realize how closed minded I was, until fairly recently.  I’m endeavoring to change that personality flaw. Perhaps you don’t fully realize that you are unreasonably closed minded about something or someone?

Brainstormed recently w/a friend about how to accomplish this, we thought the first thing we need to try to do is teach people how to think for themselves.  A thing is no longer taught in US schools, along with civic responsibility (but that’s another blog).  Too many people do not understand the meaning of the phrase “critical thinking.”

So we need some sort of public education format, Meetup groups and the like, to provide a place for people who want to understand, an opportunity to do so.  Who would teach these classes?  Good question.

Forget the GOP.  Ignore the labels of Republican and Democrat.  Understand that liberal and conservative are opposites, not hate groups.  I’d like to see us stop labeling ourselves. African American, Hispanic, male, female, liberal, christian, conservative.  I get that it is instinctual to label and order our worlds in order to understand them.  However, this no longer seems necessary.  Can’t we all just be “people”?

Want to help build bridges to the other side?  Interested in understanding critical thinking?  Want to debate the issues in an educated way?  I want to learn how to do that. I am quite guilty of not wanting to understand opposing views, but I also know that it is unhealthy to do so.  For all of us.   Join us?

 

Resist- II

Since about October, I have struggled a little with balancing our new ‘reality’ with some of my Buddhist way of thinking. “Things are happening as they should and I need not interfere” is kind of the gist I came away with during my studies.  In fact I spend quite a bit of time with my therapist discussing that balance between life, and a fulfilling life.  You know, the whole Buddhist “root of all my trouble is wanting” idea.  Yet I want things to change.  So much.  So much more every day.

I want Trump–No.  Not impeached.  No, poor man is sick.  I’d like him put in a small hospital room for the rest of his life.  A soft room with bars and bullet-proof glass on the windows, the gentle light of a tv as it plays The Apprentice on endless loops.  I’m all for hiring the handicapped, but the man is absolutely certifiably delusional.

I know a little about delusional from personal experience.  I know he truly believes what he says.  I know he doesn’t think we’re stupid.  He doesn’t think of us at all.   He truly believes he is entitled to anything or anyone any time he wants.  He believes it when he says he thinks he’s doing a swell job, and accomplished so much in so little time.  His claims of being prosecuted.  The ‘fake news’ and ‘alternative facts’ fit in perfectly in the life and mind of the delusional.  You must buy into his delusion, or you are the enemy.

His brief press conference of yesterday has only hardened my resolve to be involved.  He thinks he’s a 5 year old and can stomp all over your sand castle if he wants, just because it was better than his.  He is still that spoiled, confused child.  Don’t get me wrong, I don’t have a lot of sympathy, but just thinking about him that way makes me a little less angry, but a lot more scared.

I want us to get rid of Trump (and the rest of his swamp creatures if at all possible) as soon as possible.  It becomes obviously more urgent every day.  You did see at least some of his so-called press conference?  And still, there is this niggling feeling that I maybe shouldn’t interfere.  Shouldn’t be involved.  Maybe I’m just trying to find an excuse to stay in my own corner, complain and pass along worrisome memes.  It’s much easier not be involved.

Then today I read this article out of the Huffington Post:  They posed this question:

What can Zen Buddhism teach us about the art of effective activism in the wake of Donald Trump’s presidency?

to  Thich Nhat Hanh, a Vietnamese Zen master who has been a social and environmental activist for since his early days protesting the Vietnamese War.    This article addresses the issue of balancing Buddhist thinking with activism.

The article quotes from his book At Home in the World where he says:

“Mindfulness must be engaged.  Once we see that something needs to be done, we must take action. Seeing and action go together. Otherwise, what is the point in seeing?”

“Nonviolence is not a set of techniques that you can learn with your intellect,” he goes on to say. “Nonviolent action arises from the compassion, lucidity and understanding you have within.”

 

This article finally set to rest my qualms over my level of involvement.  And I hope I can bring his teachings of non-violent protests with me.  I hope we all can.  So teachers, parents, and concerned citizens, arm yourselves with the knowledge of peaceful protest and let’s get to work!

 

I’ve Been Thinking

I met with a number of anti-Trump people last week.  So nice to meet everyone and discuss rationally how we can work together toward a common goal.  We talked about phone calls, email and letters to our local Democratic reps.  One woman mentioned maybe we should call and write to the Opposition.  I thought it was a great idea. One way to change something is by force, which we are attempting by large protests.  We put enough pressure on our ‘own’ reps and they in turn put pressure on Congress.  That was the strategy in the ’60s and it worked then, but took a long time.

But we don’t really need to convince the convinced, do we?  Why are protesters not confronting the Opposition.  That is who we must convince.  Now.  I’m assuming this is the harder course, since it would involve far more diplomatic skill than most of us have, and we see just how long that might take.  But we need to invest that time and effort to convince our elected representatives on both sides that ALL of America is not fine with the new administration our elected representatives put into office.

My husband had the idea that we might petition the Supreme Court to intervene in their capacity as the holders of the Constitution.  Do they have that kind of power?  Can they arrest Dump?  Can they charge him with crimes against the Constitution and the US?   I did find the short answer which was essentially yes, but it would be difficult and messy. If anyone has information on whether this can be, or should be, done, please let me know.

 

An Open Letter to Trump supporters

Dear Trump Fan

You must understand that the anti-Trump group is not simply upset that there are questions as to foreign manipulation in our election process.  It’s not simply that my preferred candidate did not win.  It’s not because most Trump supporters are Obama haters.  It’s because the man is simply UNFIT.

He lacks the knowledge of how to govern.  You might say, yeah, it’s one of the things you like about it.  But knowing how to govern involves understanding others’ points of view.  If I read a book, or several books, about government and how to be effective doesn’t mean I know how to govern.  But I would have a leg up on Trump.

He lacks the diplomacy that is required when dealing with foreign dignitaries.  Sure, you say, he knows plenty of foreign big wigs.  Yes, but those big wigs only deal with Trump on business.  They may respect that, they may not.  It could be they just put up with his lack of grace and humility because he is making them money.  Well, the government is NOT a business, and probably shouldn’t be run like one.  Businesses look at the bottom line, profit and loss.  A country doesn’t profit from its people, but is supported by them via taxes.

To be an effective leader, one must have empathy for the other guys.  Something Trump certainly appears to lack.  In fact, I’m not even sure Trump can define ’empathy’.  Nor can many of his supporters.

One must have compassion for ALL citizens, not just those who agree with you.  Belittling other groups is counterproductive, and makes one look small and childish.  Very un-Presidential.  Disrespectful.  Something Trump seems not to understand.  Respect is earned, and treating others disrespectfully diminishes one’s chance at being respected.

I don’t believe our President should be tweeting criticisms about TV shows, or people who disagree with him.  My President has more important things to do.  My President barely sleeps, has no time to watch TV, let alone have twitter wars.  It diminishes respect for My President in the eyes of other countries, which reflects badly on me.

For a democracy to work, it cannot be run like a dictatorship.  The American people will not yield their rights to a dictator.  Perhaps Trump and his supporters don’t know what a dictator is.  Well, it is exactly what Trump proposes with his refusal to meet with certain members of the press.  The elected leader of this country is bound by the Constitution to allow Freedom of the Press.  There are plenty of Trump supporters who know the Second Amendment very well, but many seem to be ignorant of the rest.

I won’t even go into the lies.  I don’t expect politicians to tell the truth, but I do expect them to own up to their ‘misstatements’ and offer a clarification, or an apology.  And an apology is not “I’m sorry you got mad at me when I called you stupid.”  It is “I’m sorry I called you stupid.  That was untrue and unkind.”

Yeah, your candidate won.  And since no charges are forthcoming from those who claim voter fraud or foreign influence, etc., I’ll go so far as to say he won legitimately.  That still does NOT mean he is a suitable representative of me, or people who think like me.  He can’t legislate people away.  He can’t ignore the majority, not for long, anyway.  One group of people does not have more privileges than another.  At least they shouldn’t.  Trump and his supporters seem to think it’s ok to ignore the rest of us.  The British didn’t take the resistance seriously either.  You do know how that ended, right?

Moving On

Despite my best efforts to ignore the holidays, they are still just around the corner.  I did manage to do a little holiday baking, for the sake of being neighborly, but not being religious, nor a rapacious consumer, it gets harder and harder to participate in the holidays.

I am thankful for all the things I have and continue to work on being kind.  To others and myself.  Thank you, all my readers, followers, and friends here.  I appreciate your time and effort in reading and commenting on my little blog, and for supporting me during my Midlife Crisis and Beyond.  I have been getting less and less active, both posting and reading and have decided, that, while I will continue to miss all of you, my mind is currently occupied elsewhere.

I send you all the blessings of the universe and fulfillment.  Thank you for being part of my life.  Remember to be kind, and if you can’t be kind, be silent.

 

Random Rants

I’m convinced the Tecfidera I started taking for my MS six months ago was causing these sudden weird mood swings.  They are like nothing else I’ve ever experienced.  It happened so fast, Jeckel and Hyde-like, from talking pleasantly and something went off in my head.  I became angry with Husband.  He could see coming, a small (relatively) meltdown.  By the time we got home we were arguing–sort of. When we got home I went in and took a long shower and a long hard cry while Husband ignored me.  I went from pleasant day to suicidal in under an hour!  That cannot be normal, but I cannot find anywhere on the internet anyone mentioning almost anything about this kind of side effect.  I saw one question on a community board but no one had responded to it.  I know when I tell the doc that I stopped taking it and why she’ll come up with an excuse that it can’t be the med.  Or will she be reasonable and listen to me.  Rare or not, while I’m not really done testing my theory, but the last time I took a pill was Thursday, I’ve been feeling better every day since, I feel more normal and balanced.  Cheerful even.

I got frightened a previous time it happened and quickly went to my shrink.  He has seen me for about 6 months now.  I’ve always come in smiling and doing fine.  In fact last time we met we talked about lowering my dosage,  This time, I come in upset and crying and he just looks at me.  Nothing to say except to recommend counseling. Then he says, “I will refill your prescriptions.” and jotted something in my chart.  Clearly he is not the doctor I need.  I was so spoiled by my last doctor.  He was young and sweet and caring and actually talked to me.  He spent sometimes 30 minutes with me on a bad day.  This new guy, I’m in and out in less than 10 minutes.  He’s made his $500 an hour in ten minutes.  Imagine how many patients he can see in a day.  Cynical?  Yes.  But very true. Counting this one, I’ve seen four docs like this.   Perhaps it’s because II chose one of the least expensive health insurance options, I get the least “good” doctors?

happyBut it is what it is.  I know.  People hate the phrase.  I don’t.  I find it very much an Easter philosophy.  Like something Confucius might have sad.  I heard it first from my boss at the time.  IT was when my marriage was crumbling.  It really resonated, and I adopted it.  I don’t say it constantly, so.don’t hate me.

I posted the other day about diet and trying to change mine.  I’m addicted.  There.  I said it.  In some literature my Husband’s liver doctor gave us, studies have shown that sugar is more addictive than heroin.  I believe it.  I have been working on staying away from sugar.  But we had an apple pie last night.  Of course I had a piece (two actually, I didn’t eat much dinner).  And, of course, last night was halloween, so we have mini chocolate bars left.  I’m absolutely spineless when things like that are around.  I love to get the last piece, too.  What’s that about?

For those of you who read this far, I add the following photos.  A tiny mystery.  I have this plant growing in the yard.  It’s basically a weed, I guess.  I’ve been trying to identify it all day online.  I’ve seen a couple photos online, but not information about it.  My dogs love to eat it.  More than grass.  They haven’t gotten sick yet, so I know it’s not poisonous.  Plus I think animals are instinctive about that.and know which plants are safe to eat.  Husband says I’m wrong and shouldn’t let them eat the stuff.  So if anybody can tell me what this is and that it’s safe for animals, I’d appreciate it.

DSC03508
The seeds.
DSC03505
Growing bud. They open up more as the stem grows.

DSC03506When I told my shrink I regularly take 2 hour naps.  Pretty much daily.  He said a nap was 15 minutes.  Since I was a teen, if I took a nap, it was always more than an hour (barring sickness).  I’m trying to take fewer naps, can’t seem to take shorter ones.  If Husband wakes me after an hour or less, I am groggy and sometimes it’s so bad I have to go back to bed.

Hope you are all having a marvelous weekend!  I send you thoughts of happiness, peace and contentment.  And now I’m going to do yoga instead of napping.   We’ll see how that goes, I doubled my pain and anti-spasm pills this moring, the pain was too bad.  I’m hoping going back to yoga will help.

I had the last (small) piece of pie for breakfast.  I figure, at least there’s fruit in it.  I’ve only had three mini candy bars (so far).