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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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Not in Kansas any more

I guess I’ve been pretty lucky: in over 45 years of working I’ve only fallen into one job where the boss was, as I politely call him, a challenged individual. I served as the administrative assistant to a service office in a major hospital. The function of the office was to make sure all the electronic machines in the hospital worked correctly and for the most part everyone who worked there was good at their job and fairly easy to get along with. But the boss seemed incapable of building a team; he often made remarks that hurt the staff. After five months of trying to make the place work smoother I started looking for another job. One day he called me into his office, handing me a written letter. In there he told me I was the most worthless AA he had ever had. I looked up at him and said, “Why Mr. H, that is the most you have ever said to me and you still have not opened your mouth.”  Feeling I had nothing to lose I pointed out he had never trained me and if he wanted me to do something he could teach me.

His response was amazing. “It should be intuitive knowing what I want.”

“No,” I told him, “how can that be? You never have spent any time with me. I don’t know you except by your behavior. And that is nothing I care to emulate.”

Anyway, I was able to move on a little while later and he probably is still terrorizing people under his supervision.

The only other person who treated me this way was an abusive man who I foolishly married. He rarely spoke except to deride me, find fault and tell me I was worthless. But he, like the boss, expected me to know what he wanted without any effort of communicating it. It took me about the same amount of time to extricate myself from that relationship. And years to rebuild my soul.dont-be-a-fool

The point? Words AND actions are important to knowing anyone.  Listening to words that paint pictures with no basis in demonstrated actions means you better prepare yourself.

Today Kellyanne Conway, counsel to our President elect, has said we should not hold him responsible for his words.  Most of us had already figured that out with over 70% of what Trump says proven to be at least partially  false by various fact-checking organizations, but this is more. Conway is trying to do current and future damage control to things Trump tweets when he gets riled up, when he has something he feels he needs to say, or just generally any old time. If he is awake, assume that something potentially confusing/humorous/dangerous is being tweeted.pants-on-fire

So, okay, we won’t rely on Trump’s words for accurate information. Let’s go by his actions. One recent move as he plans to step into the White House in a few weeks is to have a clean slate. Understandable. But unlike all prior Presidents who kept experienced people in place until he had the authority to hire new experts, Trump has fired all current high ranking staff and appointees. He wants all ambassadors to come home. He has fired the people in charge of the nation’s nuclear weapon arsenal. His actions leave a vacuum of leadership within the administrative branch of government.

Now, truly, the working staff of all the departments that are affected can most likely keep things rolling along. However, there will be no one with authority to make decisions that might be out of the ordinary.integrity

And with Trump, we can expect nothing normal.


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Love is Blind

We have a candidate for President of the United States of America which, despite some increasing dysfunction, is the voice of the free world. The President is a leader that the rest of the world watches, our allies and the ones that need careful handling. The President needs to be a person the nation and the world can respect.

So, this candidate has said that he can shoot someone on 5th Avenue in New York City and his followers would still love him. Love is blind.

This candidate has said he can not share his tax returns until the audit is over. The IRS says he can share them. He just says the same thing again. And his followers don’t care. Love is blind.

This candidate has said he believes the Department of Education can be mostly eliminated. He also has said he loves dumb people. His followers smile. Love is blind.

This candidate says that climate change is a hoax. That it is snowing so it must mean there is no global warming. (See above statement about loving dumb people.)  That he would eliminate the Department of Environmental Protection.  And his followers cheer. Love is blind.

This candidate says Hillary should have stopped Bill from his philandering. His followers ignore his own infidelities and think he is right. Love is blind.

This candidate says he will bring jobs back to America. No one questions why his own clothing line uses factories in Asia. At the first Presidential debate when asked how he would bring jobs back, he did not answer the question. He has no answer but his followers are not needing one. Love is blind.

This candidate says he is a great businessman which is hard to understand with countless business failures and a number of bankruptcies.  More stories are coming out about how he did not pay subcontractors to the point of causing their businesses to fail. But his followers are not those people so they don’t care. Love is blind.

This candidate has made it very clear that women are valued by their shapely bodies and big boobs. He denigrates women who have pointed out how his behavior is inconsistent with his words on issues.  He did not like how a moderator asked questions during a primary debate so he made a comment demeaning her because she is a woman and has hormones. And his followers, including women, do not react. One told me he didn’t mean it. Love is blind.

This candidate says there are people with good genes and only they should have children. This is only one of many statements he has made that indicate his admiration for Hitler.  But his followers do not recognize themselves. Love is blind.

This candidate made behind closed door deals with Cuba during the United States embargo. He does not act as if laws apply to him. His followers find excuses to not care.  Love is blind.

This candidate thinks there are changes needed to the Constitution, including ending the balance of power between the three areas of government. (See above note about Hitler.) But his followers know only the Second Amendment and nothing more about the Constitution so are not concerned. Love is blind.

This candidate says that more nations should have access to nuclear weapons. In a world with so much anger, allowing weapons of mass destruction in more hands is not a way to a peaceful existence. But his followers are silent. Love is blind.

And why is love so blind?  Because of Killery, they say. Thanks Obama, they say.

These blind people are the ones who claim this is a Christian nation and there should be Ten Commandments in all courtrooms. Can they state them? Do they live by them?

And Jesus made it even simpler….bringing it down to TWO:                                                                        ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart
and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 
And
‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’

These blind people need new glasses.  And somehow, the ability to reason better.nohatebig