What If Trump Is Right?

I don’t support establishing a database of Muslim Americans or saying that we should automatically bar all Muslims from entering the U.S.

But I am guessing that a headline suggesting Trump might be right is going to generate some knee jerk reactions and that some people might make some assumptions about who I am and or what this post is about based upon it.

That is because we seem to have entered a time where fear and intolerance are living together in perfect harmony and that concerns me.

Too much of the discourse around me is centered on labeling those who disagree with us as being whatever the appropriate pejorative term is for their particular persuasion and not upon listening to what is being said.

Fear & Anger Lead To Bad Choices

My teenager and I have been engaged in a discussion about what the new Star Wars movie is going to be like and whether it will live up to the hype.

Early on I reminded I him that I saw the original in the back of a station wagon at a drive-in in 1977 and that I had to contend with three little sisters, two of whom screamed throughout the movie.

He asked me what that had to do with anything and I said that I wanted to remind him I have three times as many little sisters as he does so he can’t ever complain because I had it worse.

That led to a response about how my daughter is the equal of all three and that I just don’t understand she is like a Sith lord in her ability to wreak havoc.

I shook my head, recited the words below and said “repeat after me.”

Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering.”– Yoda

I promise you the 8 year-old kid who watched the original in ’77 had no idea one day he’d use any parts or pieces of it in his parenting efforts.

Anyhoo, after we finished with the Star Wars mishegoss I sat him down and talked to him about current events and reminded him that fear and anger lead to bad choices.

We talked about Japanese internment camps and I reminded him we know people who were forced to live there and reiterated it wasn’t something we could support.

“Some people will argue about how some things happen because of the time and say you can’t understand what life was like because you didn’t live it. That is true to a point, but some decisions are indefensible regardless of time.”

He nodded his head and we covered a wide swath of topics that ran from some of the things that are happening on college campuses to terrorism and presidential elections.

“You can’t bury your head and say you don’t want to talk or learn about some things because they might be offensive or hard to talk about. You can’t label entire groups as being bad because of some people but you can’t fool yourself into thinking that if you are nice everyone will be too.”

That last part has gotten harder and easier to talk about because he is old enough to have a more sophisticated conversation and understand nuance better, but it is still tough to keep chipping away at whatever innocence is left.

What If Trump Is Right?

I read an update that asked what if Trump is right and suggested that people weren’t listening because they hated what he stood for.

I intentionally didn’t engage because the conversation was a cesspool of shouting and name calling but I can tell you in broad terms my feelings on it.

Life is not black and white but there are some principles I refuse to bend upon. I will not give into fear and believe that every person of XYZ race/religion is bad or interested in killing my family, friends, me or fellow citizens.

Nor will I let my belief in the good of man stop me from believing in the right and need to defend ourselves and others from those who would do us harm.

I won’t be a victim, a sucker or a bully.

I am not afraid to say that some ideologies and beliefs are superior to others but too closed to say that mine is the only way.

evolutionA Final Thought

I saw a status update that suggested if we wanted technology to come up with a mutually agreeable solution to the gun problem we should ban the release of Star Wars until such time as it had been developed.

The punch line was something to the effect of “the nerds will have it worked out before the next Comic-Con.”

There are an awful lot of smart, talented and accomplished people out there. It seems to me that we are not using that brain power as well as we could be and that if we did maybe we’d have better answers to some of these issues.

But first we have to stop letting fear and intolerance drive the conversation.

Edited To Add: Some people think the headline is nothing more than linkbait. If that is all you got from this maybe I didn’t do as good a job communicating my thoughts as I wanted or maybe you just didn’t read it as closely as you could have.

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10 Comments

  1. Adrian Massi December 9, 2015 at 1:10 pm

    I’ll be the first, or maybe just the most current, to say I don’t know what the answer is. That being said sitting around and being nice, because it’s PC, is likely not going to solve the problem. I can think of many solutions but as you’ve stated there are many intelligent minds out there and hopefully they will craft a solution that works. I’ll agree it is easy to give into fear and move toward intolerance, however to the two are not synonymous. Fear is a natural instinct and one that most animals possess, it’s part of the will to live or survival instinct. I think fear is a good thing and like any other emotion can be positive if channeled correctly.

    The most naive thing I seem to be seeing offered up is to go on with life and not concern myself with whats been going on. That being said, I should just be aware of my surroundings and report any suspicious behavior. My mind literally spinning with ideas and it leaves well, it leaves me here.

    • Joshua December 10, 2015 at 10:14 am

      The discussion that needs to be had to engage in real problem solving shouldn’t be hampered by fears of what can and cannot be discussed because someone might be offended.

      The solution doesn’t have to be based upon if it will offend or not but if it is in accordance with the principles we want to live by and will it work.

      I am against a database and or banning entry to all fill in the blank because I see it as ineffective, dangerous and offensive.

      It is absolutely not in line with the values of the country too.

      But I understand the concern and the fear, it is reasonable. The question is do we let it drive us or do we master it.

      Like you said, channel it correctly and it can be useful.

  2. Larry Bernstein December 8, 2015 at 6:37 pm

    With the tension going on, it might be tempting to agree with him. However, it would also be wrong. Yes we absolutely must be vigilant and proactive in keeping the country safe. This proposed action is not the way to do that.

    • Josh December 9, 2015 at 12:27 am

      I can’t look at it and help but wonder if this is what led to Kristallnacht. This kind of awful rhetoric, unchecked and repeated.

      We can’t let it go there. I don’t think we will, I don’t think collectively we are willing to ignore the wrongness of it, but people are fallible so…

      • Stan Faryna December 10, 2015 at 5:08 am

        The coming horrors, persecutions and tribulations, I fear, will fall upon both the Jewish and Christian people like flat-nosed and grinning Mack freight trucks bearing down on geese waddling across a highway.

  3. Stan Faryna December 8, 2015 at 3:49 pm

    What happened to Jack? I don’t get email updates for Jack’s blog. If you see him, tell him I said, ‘sup…

    I would like you to consider the possibility that a deficiency of brain power may not be the problem. Faith in science, technology and human progress has moved beyond a leap to space flight a la superman. It’s a bird. It’s a plane. No, it’s just dumb. It doesn’t really fly. Not any better than a Macbook Pro or Alienware out a window. They just aren’t aerodynamic among the other problematics of Newtonian physics. [laughing]

    Yup. Been there and done that.

    Human nature is in itself problematic from several perspectives – evolutionary and otherwise. We’re not robots but even if we could be, we have to remember that even basic computer programs have serious limitations, err, and blearg.

    How do we adjust or mature gently into that scary place?

    The key problematic of democracy, multiculturalism, and humanity (in general) is that the worst in us is always as present as is the best in us. Human progress may even be more statistically disadvantaged than human error, failure and misfortune.

    The often misunderstood and somewhat broken theory of evolution does not mandate human progress – neither as a species nor cultures and civilizations. Darwin speculated that we may have a history – NOT a future.

    There is no such thing as a happy, final human solution. The previous attempt at a materialistic, final solution, as we have seen, was horrible, heart-breaking, demonic…

    So what we gonna do?

    Elie Wiesel asked himself why he wrote Night.

    “To help prevent history from repeating itself?” he asked himseld.

    Sometimes, I want to go sit in the corner and mutter to myself because the answer to Elie’s question could very well be – to prepare us for the coming madness and horror.

    • Josh December 9, 2015 at 12:26 am

      Hey Stan,

      Jack emailed you.

      Some years ago I was told by a colleague that the Holocaust could never happen again, especially not in the U.S. He was highly offended when I said we were no better than any other group.

      In the midst of his tirade I told him we had chosen to make better choices and smarter decisions and that had enabled us to correct some of our serious missteps and work up setting things up so they didn’t happen again.

      All that being said, I have limited faith in our ability to avoid some of the major failures in people that we have seen in other places.

      Limited meaning we are capable and willing to take reach higher and do more but given the right circumstances there is reason to believe we can fall.

      I expect the ‘trick’ to preventing it is vigilance and a willingness to call out bad behavior.

      Not a guarantee, but it helps.

  4. Danny Brown December 8, 2015 at 1:46 pm

    I saw a snippet of an article this afternoon, which I haven’t had time to click through to yet, and it was about Trump not being the problem, but instead the base GOP followers bring the bigger one.

    Not sure if that piece is right or not, as – like I said – I haven’t read it. But I’d say it’s probably a bit of both – Trump is getting great support for his views, as ignorant and crass as they are. And that is something to be feared, if America still wants to be looked up to as a country to admire.

    • Josh December 9, 2015 at 12:21 am

      There is a leadership issue in Washington, right or wrong it exists and people are reacting to it.

      The uncertainty surrounding the current situation and what is going to follow is generating some significant issues and that gives an opportunist like Trump a chance to try and leverage that fear.

      I am a cynic and skeptic about the intelligence of the average person and their willingness to read and think for themselves so it makes it easier to push some of this crap around.

      I have to believe that he is going to get tripped up by some or all of this hateful rhetoric. It is not just shameful, it is embarrassing.

      We’ll see very soon just how many of my fellows are willing to let fear of the other lead them into down a dark path.

      In the interim I hope that more people pick their heads up and start having real conversations.

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