Politics, Reason, Social Justice, Society

Tools for Truth & Action that Matters

“In an ever-changing, incomprehensible world the masses had reached the point where they would, at the same time, believe everything and nothing, think that everything was possible and nothing was true… The totalitarian mass leaders based their propaganda on the correct psychological assumption that, under such conditions, one could make people believe the most fantastic statements one day, and trust that if the next day they were given irrefutable proof of their falsehood, they would take refuge in cynicism; instead of deserting the leaders who had lied to them, they would protest that they had known all along that the statement was a lie and would admire the leaders for their superior tactical cleverness.”   – Hannah Arendt,  The Origins of Totalitarianism, 1951

past-and-present

Official White House portraits set the tone.

So Donald Trump is the now the 45th president of the United States; a man who couldn’t be more different on almost every level from the 44th president.  There’s enough written about the new president and the potential dangers of his fascist leaning,  misogynistic, racist and trump-quote-3isolationist views that there’s nothing new I could add here.

Tens of millions of women and men have marched, since the inauguration, and protests roil online and off about cabinet appointments and early administrative actions.  And there are also plenty of people who are pleased about our new president.

Either school of thought, however, as well as those in between require vigilance – a willingness to stay informed, to understand the facts of the matters that govern our lives, and to take some meaningful action when governance strays from upholding the Constitution  to authoritarianism, discrimination, or otherwise abusing the rights of the governed – the citizens by whom the president is employed.

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Culture, Humanity, Literature, Philosophy, Politics, Race, Social Justice, Society

Pass the Mic

How do we empower the people we call the voiceless?  Pass the mic.
 – Amani Al-Khatahtbeh, editor-in-chief of MuslimGirl.com, June 2016  panel at the White House’s United State of Women Summit


An editorial cultural-appropriationpiece by Lionel Shriver caught my eye in the Tampa Bay Times this morning.  Not familiar with Shriver’s work or immediately with the context of her situation as a keynote speaker at the Brisbane Writers Festival, the editorial puzzled me.

“Briefly, ” she wrote, “my address maintained that fiction writers should be allowed to write fiction — thus should not let concerns about “cultural appropriation” constrain our creation of characters from different backgrounds than our own. I defended fiction as a vital vehicle for empathy. If we have permission to write only about our own personal experience, there is no fiction, but only memoir. Honestly, my thesis seemed so self-evident that I’d worried the speech would be bland.”

As a writer and an avid reader, the topic interested me, and at first I couldn’t see what the issue was. Of course readers have to speak in other voices, and sometimes from the perspective of people different from themselves.  Without the ability to do that, we wouldn’t have Huckleberry Finn or To Kill a Mockingbird.   Right?

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Compassion, Culture, Humanity, Kindness, Politics, Reason, Social Justice, Society

Played for Fools

cognitive-bias-chartI’m well aware that we have a very human tendency to think we’re being open minded when we’re mostly supporting our own existing world views.  Buster Bensen did a great piece on the issue of cognitive bias over on Better Humans recently and even provided a handy “cheat sheet” for improved self-awareness.

But even with my bias chart at hand to help dt5me approach the current political landscape with a truly open mind, I don’t see any other way to view the current Republican candidate as anything but an immature, manipulative,  narcissistic bully unfit to shine the shoes of any American, let alone function as the leader of our democratic republic.

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