Wow

Two days ago I wrote a post where I ended by saying that the massive divisions in this country would, at some point come to violence. The next day, the capital building was taken over.

Yesterday was supposed to be dominated by Georgia’s election results and the counting of the electoral college. But we knew that there was a planned pro-Trump rally. This was the thing that made me write that post. I’m not a great prophet or anything. As many people have said, while this has been shocking, and sobering, it was not a surprise.

Many people have pointed out the extreme difference in reactions between this and when the Black Lives Matter demonstrations were going on in the capital. There was an immediate military response to BLM. Not just in the capital, but in cities all over the nation, while Trump supporters were welcomed inside by the police! BLM marches were demonized for a few bad actors damaging buildings. But the Trump rally turned into an actual invasion of our halls of government by, while I have not seen actual numbers, seems to be hundreds, if not thousands of people.

Now the people I listen to are calling for punishment. They are calling out leaders who encouraged this behavior. All of that needs to happen. But there is another thing that needs to be considered.

What are the Trump supporters thinking? They clearly see themselves akin to storming the Bastille, or throwing tea into Boston Harbor. They see themselves as victims. While we see them tearing down our democracy, they are being told that democracy is already dead. If we arrest then and impeach Trump, who they see as their only hope at salvation, what will they think? I don’t want to give Qanon any more traffic by looking to find out what is being said, but I have a pretty good guess.

They believe they are being oppressed and they must fight to take back their country. I suspect this was nothing more than a call to action for others that the battle has begun. Every attack we make to punish these bad actors, will make a martyr for their cause. They will only get more motivated in their right against what they perceive as tyranny. But if we let it slide, we are only telling future leaders to go ahead, there are no consequences for this action. We have to make sure that there are consequences for their actions. Go down the political line. Each congressman and governor that supported this needs to be held accountable too. But as we do this, we need to demonstrate that we show understanding and mercy. We need to do our best to show that we are not bullies. And we need to understand that our actions also have consequences. There will be fallout from our attempts to hold these people accountable. They will keep fighting. They have been told this story for so long that many have spent their whole lives waiting for the chance to fight to bring back what they feel they have lost. This did not start with Trump, nor will it end with him.

New Normal

Since March we have all been living under a drastically different ‘normal’. And we have all been asking “how long will it be until we can go back?” But what I have been asking is “can we go back?”

Between the biological virus rampaging the world, the bitter divide in my country, (and many others), and the political corruption, it is clear we are in strange times. But I want to explore how I think things got this bad, and what will happen next. Clearly, I cannot say with certainty, but I can tell you things as I see it, for what that’s worth. I’m just another person on the internet after all.

Let’s start with the ideological divide since that’s kind of where it all began. I first noticed it when George W. Bush was elected, but I was in middle school then. That’s the time when people start paying attention to these things, I guess. But it goes back further than that. Many people start it with Reagan or blame it on social media, but I think the roots go back much further than that.

White people who were bent on profit, fame, and power were the ones exploring the seven seas. It was easy for these people to convince other white people that they were better than the other peoples that were ‘discovered’ on these explorations. It’s only too easy to believe it when you are told you are better than someone else. This was the group that started settling this land.

They were followed by another group. This group is the one seeking freedom from oppression. But these people also believed they were better than other races. There is no escaping that.

This country was founded largely by the latter group. This is why freedom is so central to our constitution. But even in politics at that time, there was power hunger. When there are powerful people, there will be power hungry people. This group, so focused on their own freedom, had only a few people who had any thought for the freedom of other races. But there were some.

Eventually, the government was so full of power hungry men, they tore the country apart. This was hardly about abolishing slavery, but rather a fight for what states would have more power. Slave states had a disproportional amount of power to the number of voters. Non slave states didn’t like that, but slave states didn’t want to give it up. Eventually it became clear that while the south had the electoral power, the north had the military power. Abolishing the institution of slavery was kind of an afterthought.

Time marches on. The rich continue to get what they want from the government, while the poor are ignored. More people come to escape oppression, danger and hunger. The poor are told to blame the newcomers. People like the Irish are prevented from getting employed, adding to the existing racial struggles.

Native Americans have been massacred, Blacks are systematically murdered, Asians are left to be destroyed by plague, Hispanics are poisoned at the border.

The rhetoric of the power hungry gets better and better at convincing people who can vote (white men) they should blame minorities for their present misfortune.

When other people finally one by one gain the right to vote, the established technique won’t work as well, so blame starts to shift. Eventually the parties are blaming each other, and rather than each party holding a stance on a few issues while others vary within the party, every issue becomes aligned with a political faction. It becomes harder and harder to be in the middle.

The fact that one party shifted to political blame more and tried to court those minority voters, meant that the other party kept the people who still blame them. This is where we see the increasing division between the people who blame minorities, and the people who want to help minorities. All because one party didn’t actively blame them any more.

Meanwhile jerrymandering becomes so efficient that winning in these areas is less about competing with the other party, and finding middle ground, and more about catering to the extreme parts of the party.

Add into that firestorm the social media echo chambers, and you have a massively divided country. Each only listens to their own side, freedom and patriotism have been twisted to mean a very specific kind of opinion is considered American, and showing any sort of national loyalty is seen as having certain beliefs. This, in turn, means that some people avoid showing any patriotism at all even though they are, which fuels the opposing argument.

Because both sides listen only to their own sources and believe the other side cannot be trusted, it doesn’t matter to followers what atrocities their leaders commit. They probably won’t hear about them, or will only hear things blamed on the other side, maybe a defense here and there. Either side is primed to start a war. In traditional wars, each side controls its own media and spreads terrible stories about the other, during and often before actual fighting breaks out. Each side believes that they are on the side of right and will die to defend against tyranny, corruption, terrorism, and to protect their families, freedom, and beliefs.

This is the precipous upon which we stand. Both sides have been primed for war. Can we avert disaster? When will it start if we can’t? Will we even know in the moment when it began? Can we be sure it hasn’t already?

Today we have attacks by government employees on minorities nearly every day. These attacks are clearly racially motivated, but since these people also tend to be on the side that has been labeled as not patriotic, this also has a political component.

We have massive marches supporting or denouncing both sides in an endless parade. We have people on both sides literally taking up arms to defend themselves against the other side, who they have heard is stockpiling weapons. We have government officials stoking distrust in the very institutions and systems that make this country what it is. We have leaders deliberately spreading false information that costs lives.

This distrust will not go away after January 20th, just as it did not go away after the election. If we manage to avoid all out war, there will still be millions of people who will continue to believe that the election was stolen. Even if Trump does not set up a shadow government, these angry people will not trust the elections for many years to come. These election disputes may become a normal part of our elections. As we have seen, just because one side wins, it does not change the mind of the losers. The fallout from the civil war that has recently come to light shows these tensions can last generations.

Other people have explored what would happen if we devolve into open war. The short version? The people who have been training and stocking up tend to live in rural communities. Cities are very vulnerable because of all the systems it takes to keep so many people living in one place.

Is there any way to avoid this? I hope so. We need to find a way to make sure that people are hearing from both sides. But the government is not going to make that happen. That change needs to start with us. We need something to bring us together. The coronavirus had the potential to be that thing. But it was used to add to the division, to the point where walking out your door and what you wear when you do became a political statement. That unity will not come from the government. That change needs to come from us. In short, we need a drastic bottom-up transformation. We need to increase communication between people. By unfriending people you disagree with, you are increasing their isolation and your own echo chamber.

First they came for the Communists
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a Communist

Then they came for the Socialists
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a Socialist

Then they came for the trade unionists
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a trade unionist

Then they came for the Jews
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a Jew

Then they came for me
And there was no one left
To speak out for me

Today we can a few more verses to this dark poem. The Muslims, the Mexicans, the Blacks, LGBTQ+, the homeless, the addicted. All of these groups, and more, have been incarcerated in some fashion in response to supposed threats.

I will fully admit that although I vehemently oppose these attacks, I am one of the many who has not done enough to help. I have many reasons, but in a sense they are all just excuses. This should be much higher on my priority list. Not the least of those reasons if because my time is so occupied. As I have discussed before, in a real sense we do not need to work 40 hours a week. But by keeping people underpaid, the government keeps us too busy. More recently, by keeping the pandemic out of control, fewer people are willing to protest for fear of falling ill. Note that supporters are told not to fear, so they are able to gather in support.

The other big reason I have not joined marches, is because I have never seen them create change. Something happens, people march, politicians pander to their supporters, make a few overtures at change, people lose interest and nothing really happens. But this could be its own post.

We have to remember that both sides are being told that they are the victims. We need to stand up. But not against the other side, against the system that has led us to this point. Republican and Democratic voters and people are not the problem. The problem is the power hungry puppet masters at the top. In both parties. For all the good they claim to do, those who need help are never getting it. Politicians agree on more than they let on. They agree to keep the people down. The people are on more than we are told. We all want to make sure our families are cared for and that we maintain our rights and freedoms.

Chapter 17 (WIP)- Where Do We Go From Here?

Jessica sat on a bench looking up at an apple tree. Rodney stood up. “My brain is fried. Jessica, what would you like to see next?”

Jessica nearly jumped out of her skin! “wha-wha-whoa!!!’ Her initial shocked question became even more shocked as she fell of the side of the bench jumping away.

Rodney spun around and tried in vain to catch Jessica as she fell, confused, to the ground. “What happened? Are you all right?”

“Last thing I knew I was talking to a detective about a shooting.”

“Whoa! Ummmm…. That is uh..um…..interesting? You have been sitting here with me for about an hour telling me all about money, economies and artificially restricted supply chains.”

Rodney helped Jessica back up to the bench. “Thank you. I don’t know how I can ever exist here if I keep just getting dropped in at random times.” She rested her head in her hands in frustration and recovering from the shock she had just encountered. She sat silently for what seemed like eternity. Her mind raced through the real world and the dull day-to-day work and hospital filled haze of the last week. She thought about this amazing world she had concocted in her head and how real it seemed. Then it occurred to her that she seemed to be interacting with the world here even when she was not. She had been telling Rodney things when she wasn’t there. He thought that she was in the same history class as he was too, apparently. She tried to make sense of all of this chaos, until she realized that dreams don’t have to make sense. They are just dreams. She was just so desperate to escape her real life that she created this imaginary world, so she might as well enjoy it. “Ok, enough about me. Got anything interesting around here?”

“Well, most of what you wanted to see is pretty close. Let’s save the vehicles until you are a bit more um-” He struggled to find the right word, “stable. So how about we check out some of that automation?”

“That sounds good. Since we are thinking about food, maybe we should start there.”

Rodney thought for a minute. “The delivery is by vehicle, so that can wait. And preparation, well I’m not sure you ready for that.” He paused. “Why not? I can tell you about some of the infrastructure on the way.”

Jessica stood up to follow. “I know, most of our infrastructure is automated too, but people have to maintain it, don’t they?”

“Everything has sensors and routine maintenance is done by specialized robots. Initially building those and the sustainability overhaul took a lot of labor, but now it basically runs itself.”

Jessica thought for a moment, “I know I don’t know a whole lot about how modern life runs, but I’m pretty sure that in my world no one has bothered with a ‘sustainability overhaul.’ Is that just to make it something that allows it to be run by robots, or does it have to do with the environment?”

“Well, yes it got set up for the robots, but it was primarily because of the environmental damage we were doing before.

“For instance, to replace old fuels, the roofs, windows and sidewalks collect energy from the sun. Tiny windmills line the edges of most buildings. The roads were replaced with parks like this one. It’s not really my field, so I couldn’t tell you all the things they do. I know they are more pleasant and clean up something that would have wreaked havoc on the world.”

“That must have been expensive!” Jessica exclaimed before she realized how illogical her comment was in dream land. But she didn’t was to offend Rodney again, so she tried to play along. “But I guess that is kind of a non issue here, as long as people are willing to do the work and the materials are available.”

“The people who did that work knew that as soon as it was done everyone would have less work, most were passionate about the benefits. Some needed the hours for something they wanted. The more things that people don’t really want to do gets taken over by machine, the more that people get to do the work they love.”

“That’s really awesome that people here were able to get together in time to do something before the world starts going all to hell. Where I’m from, the people who are in a position to orchestrate something like that refuse, and tell everyone else that it’s not happening.”

Rodney was confused, but that quickly became concern. “Why would they do that? And how would people let anyone who would do that get into a position of power?”

Jessica started explaining about elections and loyalties and disheartened people and betrayal and power, before she stopped and just said, “Money”.

Rodney wanted to ask why people would put up with a system that caused so many problems, but he could see that Jessica was wondering the same thing. And his confusion was no match for her frustration.

They walked in silence for awhile, before Jessica stopped. ” Can I tell you something?”
Rodney was encouraged by her trust. “Sure, what is it?”

Jessica took a moment to figure out how to say what was on her mind. “I have been frustrated for a long time by the way things work in my world. This place seems to have all the solutions.” She paused for a chuckle, “Which might be why it seems like a dream.” She became serious again. “In my world I work all night long, every night of the week, just to have a roof over my head and food on my table. My boss won’t pay more than they have to, I have no time to look for a better job. Then one night a kid comes in to steal money and shot my coworker. Now I have not been working for awhile to recover. I don’t know how I will pay my bills. And on top of that I spent some of that time in the hospital. Each hour there costs more than I make in a whole week. I am beginning to wonder if I am making up this world as a coping mechanism. Each time I am here, it feels more real than the last time. Sometimes I think I am going crazy.”

Rodney took Jessica’s hands. “Do you feel this? Is this real?”

“It feels real. But how—“

“Never mind how. Never mind what other people think of it. You are here right now. Maybe you are only here in spirit, but does that make your experience of it any less real?”

Jessica was beginning to cry. No matter how many times she thought that she had released her stress and anxiety, it kept creeping back. She looked at Rodney, who lifted up her face to look at him.

“It’s alright. You will be taken care of here.”

Jessica sobbed, “But it is there that I am worried about.” Rodney gave Jessica a great big hug.

“I know I can’t help with there in any way but through your mind. How about we fill your mind with solutions, and try to find a way for you to make a real difference back home.”

Jessica pulled back and looked at Rodney. She was beginning to trust him, in spite of the strangeness of this place, these people, and his own persistence. “Thank you.”

Chapter 18 – False Expectations

Table of Contents

Religion

I consider myself to be an Eclectic Atheistic Agnostic Pagan. What the heck does that mean?

It means that I don’t really know what is going on out there, but I do not believe that any one entity is in charge, but rather that we are all connected. I take little bits from lots of different religions and sciences and put them into my beliefs together. I know a lot of people think that religions are not compatible with one another, but I find that most religions, regardless of the details, had one point in common; Be nice to one another.

I do not understand how people have begun associating so many negative things with religions. Bad people will do bad things. They will find an excuse anywhere. There are passages in religious texts that, taken out of context give fuel to people’s hates. This is not to say that religious texts teach hate, because they, as far as I have seen, do not.

In America right now I hear a lot about two religions in particular, Islam and Christianity. The story about Islam from one side is ‘They are out to get us” and the other side says, “we just want to live our lives, we hate the nut jobs who attacked just as much as you do”. The story about Christianity also has two sides, one says “Poor me, I am being attacked!” and the other says “You are the one in power, all anyone asks is to be on par with you.”

Islam is actually very similar to Christianity. In fact the books are so similar that people can’t tell them apart. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zEnWw_lH4tQ

I have gotten into multiple discussions with people where they argue that there is no way that Islam has roots in Christianity (some even claim that Islam is older than Christianity). People talk about how if they are not all out to get us, why are they not standing up to defend their religion? Now I see all over facebook, ‘Blaming all Muslims for ISIS is like blaming all Christians for KKK’ and this is a much more succinct way of saying it, but I would talk about how most people just want to live their lives in peace. Today, in the face of all of this hatred toward Muslims, many are standing up for themselves. I stopped watching the mainstream media long ago, but I doubt that they are covering any of that, since they are guilty of perpetuating the myth.

This is not the only religion that is being marginalized, with all of the hatred coming from Donald Trump, many non-Christians are fearing the worst, like the holocaust kind of worst. But somehow the other big religious battle getting any media coverage right now is the ‘War on Christmas’. I know it is all over the place online right now, but I am going to say it too. There is no war on Christmas. You are allowed to celebrate it all you want. We may get annoyed with the holiday starting two months early, but we can deal with that, and I don’t think that is what they mean.

When I was little I thought “Happy Holidays” referred to ‘holiday season’, or Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years. I was pretty clueless about non-Christian anything, so I made it fit with what I knew. As far as I remember, growing up ‘Happy Holidays’, ‘Merry Christmas’ and ‘Feliz Navidad’ were used pretty much interchangeably. (I grew up in New Mexico). I think that if that one store had just quietly switched to ‘Happy Holidays’ no-one would have really noticed. While I whole-heartedly approved of the announcement that it was done with the intention of being more inclusive, and still do, I believe that the announcement itself is what kicked off the whole thing.

I understand that part of the history of Christianity involves persecution, but I also recognize that since the conversion of Constantine, they have largely had the upper hand. Yes, some places not so much, but overall, after that Christian influence has flourished around the world. Aside from some small countries in some parts of the world and a few radicalized individuals, no-one really wants to kill Christians just because they are Christian. The ‘War on Christmas’ in America is really just a bunch of over-entitled people who have been told their whole lives that they are victims (because persecution is still taught like it’s a current issue) throwing a pity party because their entitlement is waning.

All anyone ever wanted out of ‘Happy Holidays’ or making a cup red is making people who celebrate other holidays around the same time feel more accepted. All we want is equality. We are not trying to take away your right to celebrate, we are not trying to minimize your holiday or religion, we just want to be able to celebrate ours with the same freedom.

So this Yule I want to wish everyone a Happy Holidays and Peace to the World.