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Fear or Stubborness?

It has been easy, since the campaign season, to compare statements and actions by Donald Trump with Adolf Hitler.  Image result for compare trump and hitlerAlso comparable is  the excited reaction of support by a significant minority of the population.  Additionally, what can also be compared is the silence of a larger minority of the populations, providing tacit approval.  These two groups provide a majority base for power.

So, using Nazi Germany in the 1930s and early 1940s as an example, why do “good”  people stay silent when witnessing discrimination of others? Later on, it can easily be understood that they were frightened that they too would become a target for internment or death. But at the beginning of the growth of power, why the silence?Image result for Germans quiet about Hitler

All  the insight I have is based on discussion with people I know who supported Trump during his candidacy. I was told “He doesn’t mean that” many times. When asked how they knew that, the discussion faltered, but the tenacity to that one statement was evident, “I know.”

Each of us is indoctrinated to think certain ways. It may be the way you were raised, or it may be completely opposite the parental viewpoint, but our upbringing-the ethics displayed in our households, the education we had (meaning how we learned to learn, not just how we did on tests), and the people in our close circle all influence the way we think and act.

I, for one, was taught early and often about World War II. My grandparents were immigrants in the early 20th Century and we lost family members in the Holocaust. It was personal and there was no doubt about it but I was taught to hate Germany.  As young as 3-years-old I watched the documentaries showing newsreels of US Army liberating the death camps. I know what slow starvation looks like. I also know what determination to survive despite the odds looks like.

When I had the opportunity to travel for work to Germany to spend six months there on a project working with the US Army, I was uncharacteristically slow jumping at the chance for free travel. I understood why and I tried hard to face that prejudice, learned as a baby, and overcome it logically. And I accepted the assignment.

Waiting at the Frankfurt airport for another part of the team to arrive from the States, I had plenty of time to people watch and came to an obvious but, to me, important understanding: they look just like me. And when our coworkers arrived, we got on a train to head to Kaiserslautern, and I thought, oh yeah, here I am, a Jew, on a train in Germany.   The next morning, reporting to the military office, I noticed the swastikas that were part of the architecture. The base had been built in the 1930s. The spector was all around me. Despite my best intentions, a certain low level anxiety showed I had carried much of my baggage with me.

So why did “good” Germans and others in occupied Europe, for the most part, stay quiet about the actions being taken against the Jews, the Communists, the homosexuals, the gypsies, the handicapped?  Was it mostly fear that they might be next?

Or was it that they really agreed that these groups of people were inferior and the nation, the world, would be better off without them?

We see denial of similar issues here and now in our own nation. For example, we hear lots of white people complaining about the silent and nonviolent kneeling protest  during the national anthem at professional football games. They believe, because it is the information being presented by news sources they trust, that the protestors are not being respectful of the flag and thereby the veterans who fought to protect our rights. They will not recognize the actual purpose of the protest. They believe that people have trouble with the police because they are bad people, but 100% stop talking about the  issue when I asked what a 12-year-old sitting on a playground swing holding a toy gun did so bad that he was shot dead within seconds of the police arriving on the scene.

This lack of facing facts is a clear sign of cognitive dissonance, the stubborn and willful choice to not consider information that is not aligned with their convictions.  And all of us have some level of this infliction.Image result for cognitive dissonance

It is so very easy to think that what I believe is THE RIGHT WAY TO THINK and that everyone else is crazy or stupid. But that way of thinking is also cognitive dissonance.

This morning there are statements by various high level Republicans who have an opinion about Roy Moore’s alleged sexual behavior affecting the upcoming election for Senator from Alabama to fill Jeff Sessions’ seat.  Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has stated that if the allegations are true, Moore should step out of the race. But other Republican leadership are once again blaming the women (why did they wait so long?) and are supporting Moore fully.Image result for sexual assault by men in power

With the recent #MeToo social media campaign I remembered and told my kids about one incident in my life where my boss tried to inappropriately insinuate himself into my life (I was 24 at the time and he was 49). Recently I read there is a new social media campaign gaining ground  to “Name the Pig.” Instead of telling how we were assaulted, we are encouraged to name the person who behaved illegally and unethically.  So, I think about that former boss of mine.  He would be 88-years-old now, if he is still alive. What good would it be to “out” him?  None, I believe. (I dealt with that boss directly, facing him and telling his he had been inappropriate and it had to stop. He listened and complied…..at least with me. )  But I also support every woman, from Anita Hill to the women who named Bill Cosby to the ones in the Moore situation, for speaking out when we are dealing with a man who has been a role model or could become politically powerful.

Meanwhile, we continue to have at the head of our government a man whose code of ethics seems to be best described as “ME FIRST.” The die hard supporters still believe in what the rest of us know are empty promises (I’ll get your coal jobs back, I will make sure everyone has affordable health care coverage….and more, so many more).  One supporter, in the course of a calm and reasonable conversation stated, “I think Trump is the savior of this nation.”  I knew that the ground had tilted and there was no middle place to find a commonality there.

So why are these people this way? Simply, they are not hearing nor reading what the rest of us are learning.  They typically rely on media that comes from the same viewpoint and never cross check with other news sources to see another aspect of the same issue.  Before condemning him or the countless others, think first. Do you? Do you cross-check issues that are getting your blood pressure up? Or do you just confirm with other sources that are in the same camp?

Image result for cognitive dissonance

Most of us react emotionally first and often speak next. Few recognize that if the information just received appeals to your sense of greed or outrage it MUST be verified by cross-checking across the media, liberal and conservative.  I urge everyone to take the few minutes it takes to do that search and read before climbing aboard some bandwagon that you might not like to own later.

Remember, the “good” people of Germany allowed things to take place that eroded their prior sense of right and wrong because it was not directly affecting them…until it it did, and then, it was too late for most to take a stand.

Image result for bill of rightsWe live in a nation that has an amazing set of laws backed by the Constitution that provides protections for all people here to speak their mind, gather in public, practice their faith, purchase weapons for home protection and hunting, keep from illegal search and seizure, protection from having soldiers living inside your home, certain rights of prisoners and people arrested, and other rights kept by the people and by the individual states. The NRA has massaged the fear of firearms being confiscated to drum up massive purchasing by frightened people.  The fact that some news agencies report on the inept leadership currently in Washington does not mean they are fake news; it means the people responsible want to distract you by blaming the messenger.

Don’t ignore the message.

 

 

 

 

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Targeting our Wallets

Maybe it was the way I was raised. Maybe it was years of tight cash flow and different priorities, but I have never been a big television watcher. So, I often do not know much about the latest popular show and definitely do not get assaulted by a lot of commercials.  Recently the games I play on my phone (Words with Friends and Sudoku) have started to run ads. Boo! But since that personal budget constraint makes me feel I have better things to do with $10 than pay to not have ads show.

So, I have been collecting slogans in the past couple of months. I know that the people who design ads are using words, pictures and sound to attract their assumed demographic for their products. I just do not think I fit many of those groupings.  Here’s a small example:

Perfect today, better tomorrow.  I don’t remember the concept being marketed but just looking at the words I think they missed it. What is better than perfect?  If we have perfect today, why change? But since most of us do not have “perfect” I guess some people buy into a better tomorrow with whatever they were pushing.

Luxury has no boundaries. Again, I did not note the item being sold but this reminded me of something my family discussed 22 years ago. (I remember when because I was pregnant with Sam.) We were on a summer vacation (cabins, not camping because of my pregnancy) when the lottery had reached 80 million dollars.  To kill time while we were driving we played the “what if we won” game. With 3 families in attachment, we bought everyone new houses, new cars, set up college funds for the kids and retirement funds for all the adults, went on several trips a year and believe it or not, by the 7th year we had run out of things to do and buy. BUT I reminded them that we, at this level of middle class, had really no idea how the wealthy spend their money.  For example, wouldn’t it be more comfortable to hire a private jet to fly us to Europe than even taking first class on a scheduled airline?  So I understand the concept that I don’t really know about acquiring luxuries.  So exactly whom is being targeted with this ad?

Fake but accurate. What?  I certainly not buying that news and information can be accurate if it is fake.  So let’s play with the idea of eyelashes, hair color, fake fur. All perfectly acceptable, but would you use “accurate” to describe them?

Double means double. This was for a credit card marketing their earned points system. But come on. Single means single. Triple means triple.  Horse means horse, Meaningless drivel is meaningless drivel.

Image result for double means double credit card commercial

Two bucks is better. Really, McDonalds? What is better about $2. Oh, you are flashing photos of your various drinks with whipped cream. So, what are you trying to tell us? They used to be more expensive? They ARE more expensive elsewhere (like Starbucks) and you are implying the quality is the same?  I have no idea. I just know that in the years McDonalds has been in business their prices have gone up, their serving sizes have gone down, and their food just doesn’t taste like the same thing I can fix at home…for less.

Image result for mcdonalds chilled drinks

Enjoy the Go.  Charmin wants you to have a nice experience. LOL  Here’s one that was not televised. I suppose we should be grateful.

So, just a small example of one that I felt were not talking to me.

On the other hand, I have enjoyed AND WATCHED several video ads in full recently. Two were for Audible. One was a woman on a train and the other was a older dude sitting in a cafe. Both listening. Both absorbed. Startling back to reality with some intrusion.  I recognize that feeling.  I haven’t gotten an Audible subscription yet but the next road trip I will.

Image result for audible ad

I also clicked on an ad for an insulated bottle that holds a beer bottle.  Now that product shows up in more ads on my internet feed. Love those cookies, eh?

The point is, ads work. Even for me who is not a big shopper. In the past year I purchased socks that were advertised on Facebook (and love them) and a solar charger that looked like it would work well for my daughter and her dude who do a lot of back country exploring.

But who finds themselves heading to Micky Ds to get some pink stuff?

 


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Better Friends

I’ll be 63 this year and so, my use of the Internet is not as vast and constant as my kids and their peers. I was introduced to the world of computers in my senior year of high school when I convinced my dad to let me skip physics and take the newly offered computer programming class. We learned WatFor, a kind of FORTRAN. Since the school had no computer, the teacher had arranged for us to use the computer lab at Rutgers. That was it, my sole education into computer language but it was enough to demystify the brave new world of cyberspace.

My kids got me to open a Facebook account and I now manage 4 other pages besides my own. They also had me open a Twitter account and I have never used it, believing that 140 characters just is NOT communication.  I recently signed up for Instagram and have received a notice that I have 17 followers but I have not posted anything. I wonder at that.

But let’s go back to Facebook since that is the bulk of my “talking” experience, beyond this and a few other blogs.

I have used Facebook to help market various activities. For example, when I lived in Huntington, West Virginia I was very much involved in the establishment of The Wild Ramp. I wrote a blog for the market and also posted on Facebook whenever I worked in the shop to inform consumers about yummies that were available.  I lot of people responded  to the things I wrote about and for The Wild Ramp. They were farmers, city dwellers, people who appreciated the effort made to grow healthy food and people who strove to improve their eating habits. The people who responded were from all walks of life and all aspects of the political spectrum.

By the time I moved to Oregon I had a lot of Facebook friends. Some in each place where I had lived: New Jersey, Connecticut, Tennessee, West Virginia, Colorado and Oregon. Many in other nations around the world. People with a myriad of educational backgrounds, living styles and financial comfort. We all had SOMETHING in common and celebrated that commonality, happy to have people to discuss things from different viewpoints.internet-friends-worldwide

But something changed when George W. Bush was running for President.  When I made a statement that I knew I could not handle the job and wanted a President who was smarter than me, a woman who had been friends for over 10 years and called me her sister, unfriended me.

It certainly got worse this election cycle. One by one most of my conservative friends chose to block me. They did not unfriend me; I know this because I received no message. I can’t say it was because they wanted to avoid confrontation; our earlier conversations included other friends of theirs who got downright rude. I was careful to post FACTS, not say anything like “you stupid idiots, why can’t you understand this?”. They said stuff like that but I didn’t.

But one woman told me that I often came across as better than them, because when they posted something I often posted something about the subject from a major and reputable news source. She said I was “preaching to them.” I countered I was sharing, just like they were. They preferred not to hear anything other than what fit their agenda, though.

So, I have fewer Facebook friends now….and the argument can be made that they were never friends but I have a problem with that.

Yes, they are not friends like someone I can trust will come help if I need a hand. But the people I have known on the Internet have often helped me through bad times with emotional support.

Yes, they are not friends like someone who has the same background as I do. Few people meet that level of requirement, and even the ones who grew up in New Jersey so we had similar factors in our formative years have different views on life.

I suggest they are different in one main regard. I believe they might not feel as sure about their concepts, their passions, their ability to explain themselves as I do and so they get angry and their word choices are full of that anger.   Perhaps my 8th grade English teacher who made us give a series of speeches did me and my classmates a wonderful service; we learned to explain ourselves to others. Maybe the skill of conversation has been lost (hey! why talk to your neighbor over the backyard fence when you can send 140 characters out into the world) and certainly the ability to present a persuasive argument was never learned by most people.anger-is-fake-power

I believe we ALL need diversity in our lives.  Different races. Different religions. Different nationalities. Different educational levels. Different IQ levels. Different physical ability levels. And yes, different political views.

However, as challenging as it is, it is discussion of those views that makes us better friends. Running away and cutting off difference of opinion results in people NOT knowing their neighbors. NOT understanding there is another way. Understanding there are other ways is not the same as changing your way, just hearing and considering.

Restricting your world to people who agree with you may be more calm, but it is not a world within reality.

Come back.  Don’t be afraid of differences. Sometimes you “score” a point. Sometimes I do. And we move to the middle. A place we all can be better friends.mahatma-gandhi-quote-the-difference-between-what-we-do-and-what-we