I think all the time

That’s not unique, and yet . . . I get the feeling most people aren’t thinking about the things I think about or — if they are — they’re not thinking about them the same way.

Let me get the following out of the way: I am not saying I’m right, not claiming to be better, not asking anyone to agree with me.  

In fact, I welcome contrarian and dissenting opinions. Mind you, “welcome” means that I’ll engage you in a discussion. If you think differently, if you think I’m wrong, if you find fault with my logic, the kindest thing you can do is to make me see the light.

What do I think about? Why, everything and anything, of course. My mind is like a butterfly in a vast flowering field, each flower representing a different opportunity to “taste” new ideas.

I imagine some of what I ponder is common with other people’s interests. It’s difficult making the case that what’s happening — both here in the US and globally — is of little consequence to our lives so it makes sense that it should occupy a fair amount of our attention.

I am, perhaps, more pessimistic than most when it comes to our future as a society and as a species. Except, maybe, the people who believe the world will end today. That’s not hyperbole. Some people figure September 23, 2017, marks either the end or the beginning of the end of the world, literally. Furthermore, they’re happy — even giddy — at the prospect. You see, their imaginary friend is supposed to show up and basically mass-execute the majority of humanity. Yay!

My pessimism, however, stems from considering many interconnected factors. I suppose the big elephant in the room is the government, and before assumptions are made as to my stance on particular individuals, please understand my contempt for politicians is broad-based and indiscriminate.

It’s true that I have zero respect for the buffoon currently in the Whitehouse, zero respect for the party he represents, and zero respect for lingering supporters, but don’t take that to mean I hold any favorable views about the opposition party.

. . . do you know what’s funny about that last paragraph? I could have written that during the terms of any of the last seven presidents and it would be just as valid as it is today.

Why only the last seven? Well, that takes me to my late twenties; before that, my brain was not fully developed[1] [2] and hence actions and decisions and opinions and beliefs before then are suspect. Any opinion I could offer about Ford and Nixon is due more to reading history than relying on personal experience I could trust.

That, by the way, is one of the reasons I’m not as worried as some are about what they see happening on many campuses . . . them kid’s brains are still forming.

I guess the difference between me knowing everything back when I was in my early twenties versus now at my current ripe age of sixty-four is that now there’s a better chance of it being true.  

~ ~ ~ o o o ~ ~ ~

Levity aside, the election of Trump has exposed something that might be useful, namely, just how dysfunctional our government is in the face of any challenge of note. I say it *might* be useful because all evidence points to us not making use of the information.

Of course, we get what we sow[3]. Meaning, we get the government we deserve, the government we elect, the government that not only reflects but also magnifies who we are.

Before readers start claiming they did or didn’t vote for this or that other candidate, know that I speak of generalities. Like it or not, we are a fractured society, split apart by overwhelming self-interest reinforced by ignorance, driven by a sense of entitlement fed by a false narrative, and hampered by a lack of grit, self-reliance, and fortitude.

Today, everyone is a victim of this or that injustice, usually perpetrated by others who, coincidentally, feel exactly the same way. The key word is “victim.” Honest, is there anyone left who is not a victim of something or other?

Be it this presidency or the last or the prior ones, people elect into office candidates who confirm the voter’s victimhood and promise not just restitution, but retribution.

Before you argue, be prepared to defend specific actions on behalf of specific groups, be they arranged by gender, ethnicity, or religious affiliation. Sure, the players change, but that just deepens the divide as we transition from one administration to the next.

I don’t know if there is an actual “they” other than as a loosely organized block of special (business) interests and crooked politicians, but regardless, I’ll say that “they” like it like this.

~ ~ ~ o o o ~ ~ ~

There is a case to be made that identity politics is at the root of a lot of the strife and is pushed because it takes attention away from bigger and more systemic problems.

The term is probably overused by some and misused by others, but for the purpose of this discussion, I refer to the Wikipedia definition whereas identity politics “refers to political positions based on the interests and perspectives of social groups with which people identify.”  

On the surface, it seems like a good idea but — per my observation — the benefits quickly get swallowed up by a common problem.

Let me illustrate it thus . . . let’s say there’s a population of hungry people. Now, let’s say people start grouping themselves by weight.  

As a population, they have to solve the problem of being hungry, but they instead get tangled in arguments about who is hungrier based on weight disparity and how that disparity should be addressed. The lighter people maintain they are the most deprived and hence should get extra food. The heavier people maintain they have the higher requirement of caloric intake and hence they should get extra food. People in between the extreme side with one side or the other depending on where they fall from the mean.

Soon, no one is working on solving the hunger problem as they’re all too busy arguing about who deserves special treatment in the form of more access to food which no one is working to get.

It’s an oversimplification, but that’s where I see us now . . . people no longer debate how to solve problems, but rather debate who can claim the greatest victimhood.  

While there are real problems with disparities based on gender, ethnicity, and so-called “racial” characteristics, they pale in comparison to the fact the majority of people face similar economic struggles.

To my tired eyes, we all lose when the argument shifts from how do we feed everyone, to which group is more deserving to be fed first/better/more/etc.   

This group-self-identification — often fueled by people who stand to personally gain from promoting such views — is what has contributed to an increasing divide in the US population.

Now, sure as shit, someone is thinking something along the lines of “yeah, but you’re white, so everything else being equal, you’re always going to fare better.”

I got news for you; I’ll fare better because I’m educated and have some money and that is somewhat tied to me having a bit of brain and even more to have come here to the US as opposed to remaining in what is now Slovenia.

“Because you’re white!” someone still yells.

Except, and this is the key point I’m trying to make, there are whites who fare no better than anyone else despite their whiteness, and there are nonwhites who fare better than I do despite their non-whiteness.

“But, but, ratios, numbers, trends, statistics!” someone yells even louder.

I guess it depends on what you choose to look at. More whites are poor (18.8 million[4]) than other races. Switch to percentages within individual groups, and there is a lower percentage of the white population that is poor compared to other ethnic/racial groups.[5]

At this point, someone starts throwing the “racist” label my way and explaining how I don’t understand white privilege. Rest assured I understand all sorts of privileges, some that I have and many I don’t. When talking about privilege, people concentrate on race, but ignore other characteristics leading to unearned privilege . . . in general, tall people fare better than short people in most careers, as do “beautiful people” (as currently defined by a fickle society), as do people who are born into wealth (regardless of other markers), as do people who are fit as opposed to overweight, and people who are smart could be accused of cognitive privilege. There are all sorts of privilege that is unearned and my point is that the answer is not to add more categories but to even the playing field. 

Americal Indians have the highest rate of poverty than African-Americans, and African-Americans have a higher rate than Hispanics. Some groups are not even mentioned in the national news, but they too fill the ranks of the poor.

But, let me ask you this . . . say you are poor — and unless you are an American Indian — do you feel any better or worse knowing there might be a greater or lesser percentage of poor in a group other than your own?

I’m going to call it a strong “NO!” . . . you are still poor. At that point, you’re not so much interested how your “group” is doing as much as how you and the rest of the poor people are doing, regardless which group you belong to.

 I think identity victimhood is derailing our discussion about what to do about problems we all face. Also, when someone starts demanding more help for one group versus another, it can — and does — cause resentment, suspicion, and more victimhood.

Some might ask “Tell us, oh sage one, what is the answer?”

Weren’t you listening? There is no answer, at least not in the near future. As I see it, once we depart from rationality, compromise, reasoned and honest discourse, once we splinter into groups and groups within groups, and more groups, we’re all gonna eventually go the way of the Dodo. That’s the heading we’re on now, per my estimation.

We’ve been there before, to be sure, and we’ve survived it but living through it — as we are now — is pretty shitty. Plus, I still say there’s a good chance one of these times we don’t survive it, and the US will be no more. At least not as it was conceived and idealized.

Where will all those groups be then?

~ ~ ~ o o o ~ ~ ~

Besides, if we’re going to talk about groups that are maligned, mistrusted, and generally despised, I give you . . . atheists. Heck, one-in-five Americans don’t think citizens who are atheists have the same rights as other citizens. [3]

The chances of an openly atheist politician getting elected to any office are slim . . . to the Presidency? . . . 100% . . . no one is going to convince me Trump is religious even though he ran with the Bible (pristine, unread, and upsidedown) in his hand. Without the support of the Fanatical Christians . . . er . . . Evangelical Christians, he would have lost. And, don’t tell me they voted for him because they saw Trump as an astute politician. Nope. He promised them religious tyranny . . . er . . . religious freedom.

You can argue — and I do — that religion is one of the pillars (the other being race) supporting identity politics.

I don’t think I’ve been as worried as I am now about the possibility of a Taliban-like Christian faction taking power here in the US.

Again, not hyperbole. I mentioned before . . . for Christians, god comes before country. It even comes before family. The Christian god, of course. I stand by my statement that their condemnation of Sharia Law is based on envy and not on hating the idea that religious law should replace secular laws.

It amazes me that in this day and age we still hear religious leaders blame the unfaithful for having drawn god’s punishment in the form of natural disasters.[6][7][8] There are elected officials who have voiced similar concerns.

That is of particular concern because I have no desire to serve the role of scapegoat in the eyes of irrational and delusional people.

Wait . . . I hear it’s insensitive and insulting calling people who believe in made-up stuff delusional. Why, some people are even proposing laws to punish anyone who says things like that. They can’t very well pass a blasphemy law[9] (not yet), but they are working their way to it by expanding the idea of Hate Speech. All you need is to claim to be offended, and you might be able to put someone in jail for calling you delusional. Perhaps I should smile when I say these things. You know, one of my disarming smiles that end up making me look like a hyena about to feast on a carcass.

. . . perhaps I should just be quiet . . . people would like that.

But no . . . I also have opinions about out international affairs. Luckily, that’s gonna wait for a different post.

That’s it. This post has ended . . . except for the stuff below.


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