Emancipate Yourself…Maybe?

When the pain gets too much…We will then do something about it?!

 

How did we arrive at a point in our history where gangs of hecklers chase politicians from restaurants, where senate hearings have lost all decorum, where family members and friends part ways over politics?

Every day brings new examples of incivility and violence. In the last twenty-four hours, I have casually browsed several sites online. Here was a professor advocating castration for white Republicans; celebrities mocking a black singer for praising the President; strangers leaving death threats on the phones of politicians, judges, and their families; anonymous callers phoning in false accusations of rape; some wicked soul mailing the poison ricin to a Republican senator and to officials at the Pentagon.

Only a quarter of a century ago this ongoing malevolence would have shocked most Americans. Sure, conservatives and liberals attacked each other, but those disagreements resemble a dialogue in Plato’s Academy compared to the howls and antics we find in 2018.

Why is this? Here are five possible answers:

1. Technological Advances

Twenty-five years ago, the Internet and cell phones were in their infancy. Twitter was a noise made by sparrows in the yard. These devices are wonderful but allow every bozo with an opinion—including myself—to shoot that opinion into cyberspace instantaneously and often anonymously. From school bullying to Supreme Court nominations, our technology gives us the power to destroy a fellow human being with threats and insults.

2. University Ideology

Remember when many people, liberals and conservatives alike, poked fun at political correctness on campus? Well, those smiles are gone. PC remains rampant in our educational institutions, only now graduates of Harvard, Duke, Stanford, and a few hundred other colleges have injected PC into the world of business and government. In our public universities we have long tolerated professors calling for radical changes to American society. The agents of this transformation are now sitting in boardrooms and on government committees.

3. Historical Ignorance

Google “Americans ignorant about history.” Magazines as different as The AtlanticAmerican Heritage, and National Review feature articles lamenting this lack of knowledge about our past. In 2011, for example, a majority of adults didn’t know that the Constitution was the supreme law of the land. Others can’t identify the Bill of Rights, the Gettysburg Address, or the reason for celebrating Independence Day.

George Santayana famously remarked, “Those who don’t remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” Given the dumbing down of our citizenry regarding history, he may be wrong. Instead of repeating history, we may instead descend into a dystopia we can’t even imagine. Fifty years of steering away from courses in basic civics and denigrating American achievements have produced a bumper crop of malice.

4. Politics as Religion

Many Americans have take politics for their religion, fanatical as any Reformation Calvinists or Catholics. We make gods of our politicians and demons of our opponents and their leaders. We are on the side of the angels and they conspire with devils.

5. Washington D.C.

“Follow the money” is a journalistic axiom. Okay. Let’s follow some money. Of the 25 richest counties in the United States, 11 are located in the area surrounding DC. The city also hosts administrators and employees of government, think tanks, lobbying groups, and private businesses involved in federal endeavors.

In other words, the scorpion bottle of our animosities is not in Boise, nor in Austin, nor in Minneapolis, it’s in D.C.

These and more are reasons for our division, what some have called a “cold civil war.”

I can’t offer any grand solutions. But I can think of a small one. If we would just talk to each other and ask each other questions, person-to-person, without all the cacophony of the mainstream media and the politicians, if we could agree to disagree and then vote, then maybe we could find our way back to a country we can love.

Jeff Minick/Intellectual Takeout

My personal opinion?

Perhaps…we are tired of each other!  We’ve so long among our own insecurities, limitations, bigotry, family trees…We have just had enough!  But even as Bob Marley says,

Emancipate yourself from inner slavery, none but ourselves can free our minds…

Have no fear for atomic energy, ’cause none of them can stop the time!

 

I Remember 2018

At the unripened age of 51, I now realize that my teen years were framed by choice, free speech, pot and a vote that seemed inconsequential.  There had been assassinations, the Kennedy’s, Martin Luther.  And the term ‘conflict’…had been a thing of the past.  But to a child of 16: those were acts of the past.  Had times been more turbulent and less self centered in the mid 80’s; would my life had been different?  It hadn’t been until the A.I.D.S., virus and a governmental mishandle took place…did I begin to volunteer to make a difference.  Vote to make a change.  Things are much different now.

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It was last Saturday when it hit me that my entire life has been framed by violence.

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I don’t remember being born on Jan. 28, 2000, and I don’t remember being a year and a half old when 9/11 happened. I don’t remember the panic of my mother as she stepped outside our house in Washington and smelled the smoke of the burning Pentagon. I don’t remember her knowing I would grow up in a changed world.

But I remember other things. I remember being 7 years old and seeing adults who were sad, angry, shocked after something terrible happened at Virginia Tech. I remember not knowing why. I remember the lockdown drills at my elementary school, the helpful signs in every classroom telling us where to hide in case of a “Code Blue,” which meant active shooter. (I remember we were told that having all the kids in one corner, a misguided protocol no longer followed, was the best means of protection.)

I remember being in seventh grade, and I remember my teacher looking up from her computer, pale, and running out of the room without a word during a quiz. I remember her walking back in, tears streaking her face, as she told us there had been a shooting in Newtown, Conn., where her grandchildren lived. I remember her telling us they were all right, and I remember thinking of my little brother in his second-grade classroom and feeling my stomach churn.

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I remember walking into my high school the day after the Orlando nightclub shooting and seeing one of my gay friends sitting limply in a chair, eyes hollow. I remember sobbing. Often, I remember sobbing. I remember friends’ tears a year later, after the shooting in Las Vegas, and I remember feeling angry that I wasn’t crying. I remember Parkland the most clearly. I remember the silence. No one talked about it the morning after. No teachers mentioned it. I remember bringing it up at lunch but receiving only passing responses. I remember talking to my friend Max about how odd it was that no one said anything. I remember him gathering our friends to organize a walkout. I remember walking out, and I remember the silence of the crowd of students standing outside in the March cold. I remember the crackle of the megaphone we used as we read one name of one victim every minute. I remember those 17 minutes. I remember marching, once, then twice, and again and again.

I remember going with two friends last Friday to a Shabbat service in the spare room of a local Methodist church, sponsored by my college’s Jewish organization Hillel. I remember my friend Lucy leading the prayers, with her singing and playing guitar, and I remember my valiant attempts to sing along using the transliterations below the Hebrew in the books they’d handed out. I remember getting kosher dinner with them afterward as they explained to me how and why kosher food was a thing. I remember them describing the different kinds of Judaism they all came from.

I remember waking up on Saturday morning and seeing the news on my phone. I remember the sadness, shock, anger. I remember the haunting thought that the shooter might have gone to our service instead, or could go to the next one. I remember a stream of dripping wax burning my finger at the vigil I attended. I remember the look in my Jewish friends’ eyes.

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And it was then that I remembered everything at once. I remembered all the violence looming around me, and my friends, and my entire generation. I remembered that for anyone born near the year 2000, this is all we’ve ever known.

I remember filling out my absentee ballot a few weeks ago. I remember voting, hoping that weeks, years, decades from now I’d be able to remember that we changed.

##Julia Savoca Gibson/essay/Washington Post