Sunday, September 4, 2016

Cloudy Forecast

I dream of lives we could have had before 
Where the heat is broke down open doorways
Like waiting for a trick to score
 It seems that way sometimes
I wonder where we're all going
 I'm homesick for your primal knowing
I wonder why the wind keeps blowing
You through my mind
Try and take the high road
Remember we were friends
I want to be your Crystal Baller
I want to show you how it ends

Reading through old blog posts can be a dangerous exercise.  The urge to edit them inevitably strikes.  Like taking a trip in some eerie time machine, it's fascinating, enlightening, and often embarrassing to read them.  In the end, combined with the Journal posts they comprise an odd body of work; one that stands on it's own, accurately depicts my synchronic version of reality, and chronicles an ever evolving worldview.

A few passages in particular jump out now.  Four years ago, when writing about the upcoming general election, the main theme was normally two-fold: 1. A new type of vision in government/politics is needed  2.  Not voting in the general election will help send that message emphatically.  These particular paragraphs sum up my state of mind at that time precisely: 

You matter what the outcome of the election...trouble is coming.  For many reasons, from foreign wars, economic collapse, the election of a black president, to the corporate political/geopolitical agenda, and the rise of the Tea Party, the country is polarized like never before.  If President Obama wins, there will be many from the Baby Boomer Old Guard that will consider it the last straw.  If a Republican candidate wins...many will believe they have 'lost their savior.'  The truth is:  They are both wrong!  No matter which way it goes, a couple months after the election, folks will realize that nothing has changed for the better, and that nothing is going to, and the thunder and lightning will turn to rain and hail.
If we continue to vote for the corporate-controlled, one party system in this country, it will continue to hurt all of us. We’ve got to stop talking about change and be the change that we want to see.   The people are the sleeping giant, and the sleeping giant must awake.  We have to be pioneers and not be afraid of the unknown.  Many call this option unrealistic.  It is not unrealistic.  What is unrealistic is to continue to expect the one party system to do anything to uplift the American people. 

Fast forward 4 years with lots more education and study under my belt, and it's clear that I was at least partially correct, if somewhat naive, and wasn't alone in my sentiments.  As I recently wrote in the September Journal:  We all see and know well what has happened politically in America over the past 15 months or so, and there's no profit or point in re-hashing the tale at this point.

Along with that education and study, combined with my life experience, came a more complete/accurate understanding of the 'way certain things work.' As an anthropologist, archaeologist, and scientist, my interests now can be summed up with one word: 'variation.'  Just this morning I was discussing the importance of diversity  and it's relationship to creativity with my three sons.  We also discussed 'the dark side' of diversity; in the forms of racism, bigotry, and social injustice.

As we discussed variation among political/social ideologies in the US, the conversation strayed to the influence of social media on the political process, and how it has clearly revealed just how wide the spectrum of variation of love/hate, tolerance/intolerance, and confusion/understanding is among the citizenry in this country, and how deep the social divisions actually run.  As stunned by these revelations as anyone else, my sons pressed me to account for this vast ideological gulf of variation among a population with so many common elements; living in a Nation based on principles of equality.

Since there's nothing quite like a complicated socio-cultural, anthropological question to start your day with, I took one last bite of my LIFE cereal, and gave it a shot.  Undoubtedly of course, there are a myriad of factors which contribute to socio-political variation among all human populations.  However, one main contributing factor of socio-political variation among the American population is the perpetuation of the myth that America is a "Christian Nation."

Now, it is true that many of the first European immigrants to America were seeking religious freedom.  It is also true that many Americans are Christians.  Regardless, America is not now, nor has it ever been, a Christian nation.  It is instead a secular nation, tolerant of all religions, even Satanism.  This is simply a fact, and rather than launch into an evidence filled rant, I'll stick to how this fact is relevant to the issue of socio-political variation in America.


The Christian God's commandments (particularly the first 4) came with a death sentence for those who broke them.  The founding fathers of America however, drafted a document known as the Constitution.  This document limits governmental power in a way that directly opposes the rules of the Christian God.  The government can't put a citizen to death for worshiping 'other Gods,' cursing, idol worship, or ignoring the Sabbath.  

The United States of America ensures its citizens' rights to free speech and freedom of religious expression; in absolute contradiction to the first four commandments.  To protect minorities against the majority, they opted for this constitutional republic instead of a pure democracy.  Most (outside of radical fundamentalists of all faiths) frankly consider this a superior arrangement.  Instead of rebelling against the reality of this glaring inconsistency, or simply accepting and understanding the idea clearly like the rest of us, a large segment of American Christians, oddly enough, adopted it (cognitively dissonant error) as their own, and continue teaching their children incorrectly that American ideals and Christian ideals are synonymous.   Clearly they are not!  Perhaps by co-opting the American ideal the Christians feel that they could then give credit to God for America's achievements, or unduly influence American socio-cultural actions and behaviors, which has historically been the case?!  After all, America's inclusive founding principles, which also result in religious diversity, have arguably allowed the US to rise to the top of the global pile.  

This process of believing in the myth of a Christian nation begins by teaching children to first believe in an infallible invisible deity in the complete absence of tangible evidence.  As much as from true belief, in my opinion this is also frequently done under the misplaced good intention of instilling moral values.  Instead of simply teaching right from wrong on a humanistic level of reasoning, the child of Christian parents is taught to obey the rules of the Christian God unconditionally in the face of the ultimate reward/punishment, and then told what the God commands.  In my experience, many modern American parents also do this out of tradition, in the face of social/familial pressures, or because they lack an alternative plan.  

Once blind religious faith is achieved and positively reinforced, people are now culturally pre-primed disposition-ally to accept other situations where cognitive dissonance or outright disbelief in the absence of corroborating evidence would otherwise occur.  As millions of us may bear witness, this subsequently allows them to ignore established facts, actively retard, resist, and discriminate against naturally occurring social changes while simultaneously promoting the technological advances that drive them, rewrite history, and absorb and repeat outrageous claims outright with no concrete follow-up investigation.  Blind religious faith is a helluva drug!

As an anthropologist and a human, I intimately understand and appreciate the myriad reasons why people adopt religion.  As an American I also respect their legal rights as such.  It would additionally simply be wrong to ignore all the good things and people who are drawn to/from and practice religion.  Let's not forget I started this lecture harping about the importance of diversity......but with the rise of Donald Trump and his Christian followers, we have reached a cultural impasse.  Corporatized American Christians have been conditioned for generations to passively accept contradictory/conflicting input as the norm, such as the myth of a Christian nation, and to operate based on that faulty programming.  The results have been somewhat surreal.

They can make national news clashing over court clerks issuing same-sex marriage licenses, but have zero problems with them issuing truckloads of divorce decrees.  Obvious oddities can make sense to them like a group of men making all the decisions surrounding women's health care.  They will spend years and raise $100 million+, to build a for-profit apologist's wet dream of an amusement park in rural Kentucky, that will lose money and not convert a single soul, when it would only cost $80 million to build a house for every homeless person in the State of Kentucky...All this even though there was 'no room at the Inn' for their Savior.  The same people who support a rich white man for POTUS, who is loudly saying that America is a lousy place, are the very people who condemn a 'privileged' rich black athlete for agreeing; cheering for the rights of Constitutional freedom on Saturday, yet not recognizing when someone is properly exercising them on Sunday, vigorously promoting a bootstrap mentality while concurrently vigorously financially, physically, and vocally supporting a trust fund baby. Truly there is no limit to the length of this disturbing list potentially.

A set of comments from a friend of The Deconstruction Zone on the matter illustrate and encapsulate ALL of this magnificently.  You'll either get it or you won't:  

I don't understand what everyone is yelling about. A football player won't stand up for the national anthem or something? The national anthem is a shitty song and football players are gladiators. You don't watch gladiators to see your civic values reinforced. You watch gladiators to see people beat the shit out of each other. I'm honestly surprised we haven't already started growing football players in tubes fully grown and waiting to violently hug each other to the ground. I don't want to stand for the national anthem either. What are you going to do about it? Are you and your dumbass friends going to beat me up, you fascist piece of shit? Last time I checked you douche bags claimed to care about freedom of expression but once again you've proved that the bill of rights only applies to people who look and believe the way you do.
The only time Americans get mad at sports people is when they point out that they're black and that other black people are the victims of violence in this country. If you beat your wife or torture dogs you can still be a hero. USA! 
It's only been the national anthem since 1931 and it has a whole bunch of extra verses about conquering and killing that no one ever sings. Plus it's the likely source of the in God we trust bullshit so there's that [...] there's racist pro slavery stuff in it too:
"No refuge could save the hireling and slave
From the terror of flight or the gloom of the grave,
And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave."
Go ahead and stand for that
I'll repeat:  America is not a Christian nation.  America is a secular nation, whose citizens and government tolerate and protect freedom of religious expression,  A secular nation, where we understand that population density drives social complexity; social complexity subsequently drives technological organization, which then causes new social complexity, which then leads to new technology, which then results in more social complexity, which then... change is paradoxically the constant.  We see countless examples of this historically and prehistorically.  It's IMPOSSIBLE to promote expansive capitalistic technological organization while attempting to hold social complexity in a static state indefinitely.  Sooner or later, the rubber has to meet the road.  It has probably been this way since we knocked the first rocks together.

Trump is going to lose the election, unless the state of the Union is even worse than I think.  But in the end, Trump isn't really the problem; he never was.  No matter who wins the election, many of us have a seriously bleak outlook, as we now know just how many of these delusional 'true believers' are actually out there, how deeply ingrained those beliefs go, and what some of the negative social repercussions are.  They are horses you can lead to water, but most will never drink; like old dogs, they refuse to learn new tricks.  They are the obstructionists.  They are also our family, friends, neighbors, co-workers, and fellow Americans...and they number in the millions.  

We love them, want them, need them, and we've always been glad that they found something that works for their peace of mind.  But in a real sense, we KNOW now and can no longer deny that no matter how wonderful they are otherwise, they are functionally impaired on a certain level, and that impairment detrimentally affects the larger society.  We must redouble our efforts to try to bring them along/educate them (and our children) on the true ideals of America as quickly as nearly any and every means necessary...for the sake of us all..beginning with a good hard thumping in the general election.  What other rational choice is there?!  If we allow them to continue to hamper us, divide us, to bring us down as a Nation and a people; we all go down together.  

Although it is unpleasant, and they are not used to it, these good, but confused, people must be constantly challenged, and educated (or ignored outright when that fails) when they voice their bizarre, outdated, uniformed, opinions, and their (mostly well-intentioned) voices must not continue to be the loudest; given inordinate weight in larger society.  In a complex interdependent society such as we've created, change is inherently grindingly difficult in general, as the various ideologies and interests compete for the position of lead dog on the team.  The longer we silently condone those that disallow, disavow, and actively resist desperately needed social change, these believers of the myth, the longer it will be until that change occurs...if ever.  More and more Americans of all stripes are recognizing the need for us all to step up and be "people of our times."

Dave ~ Thanks for your time.  I hope we get to know each other better.