Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Greatness does not stem from ignorance

"Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity." ~ Martin Luther King, Jr.

These days as I look at the impending Trump budget, I wonder just what it is he intends to defend with the huge military budget and all the new weapons.  All I can come up with is corporations.  He's taking money from anything that protects the air, land and water, including protection of public lands, and allowing everything to go to the highest bidder.  As for the people of this country, he's shown nothing but disdain for them as well: not the immigrant who's worked hard in the field, not the family which has been here for years contributing to the nation's economy, not anyone with dark skin, or non-christian faith, or a slight accent.  He likewise ignores the innovators, he cuts research to sciences, not just climate change scientist, but scientists of all kinds.  Medicine, engineering, biology... where does he think the innovation for "greatness" is going to come from?

Doesn't he recall that it was the space race that brought America a great deal of that "greatness" he seems to long for?  The only thing I can imagine is that the new greatness isn't white enough for him and his cronies.  Not that it was ever really white, but it seems that he'd prefer hidden figures remain hidden.

How did we come to this?  How is it that so many people voted against their best interests and decided to follow a crude, ignorant loudmouth rather than elect someone with understanding of the system and the knowledge, intelligence and diplomacy to lead?

Time and time again, what I've heard from Trump supporter is "He's like us" or "He says what he means".   Basically, they elected someone who wasn't looking out for them, but who presented with a level of ignorance and arrogance that made him seem "like real people".

It's all part of the pop trend toward ignorance, where "educated" is seen as "elitist" and "polite (especially where 'politically correct')" as seen as "pandering".    We've come to worship rude and ignorant.  And that's a problem.

Corporations have know this is beneficial to them for a long time. They market cars with more cup holders to women.  They market horsepower to men.  Consumers need to ask about things like maintenance costs, reliability, and gas mileage.  This is why women end up paying more for razors that are pink plastic instead of blue, and why Bic was able to profit from a line of pens "for her".   It's because people are no longer able to discern between the appearance of a thing and the functionality of the thing.  The ability to think critically, the ability to question the assertion that something is "better" just because it looks "better" is lacking.

Perhaps if we really want to make a difference, it needs to go beyond just showing how the appearance of something, the appearance of the Trump administration, is not a good indication of how well it functions.  People still believe that because he's loud and ignorant, he has the same wishes and desires that they do, that he's looking out for them.  Instead, they must be able to put in the time and effort to listen to what's being said, to draw rational conclusions, and to act from there.

As long as people will simply blindly go along with what someone else tells them without really considering it, our government will get worse and worse, and so will our country.

And I blame this on the education system.  Children are no longer taught critical thinking.  Reading comprehension is superficial.  Kids learn on only the lowest levels of Bloom's taxonomy.

Until we start educating our children to reach the highest levels of this model, until we can get them to the "evaluation" stage, we will be spawning voters who will be unable to make wise and beneficial choices, and we will continue to generate a new breed of leadership who is incapable of leading, incapable of altruism, and incapable of understanding the importance and responsibility of being representatives of the people.

So what do we do about it?

It starts with teaching.

Challenge your children, students, and anyone you know to think and evaluate. Introduce them to science.  Encourage them to read.  Tell them the truth, then SHOW them how you know.  Have them evaluate the value of these statements rationally, citing credible sources, and understand what a credible source is.  Examine the difference between what a thing appears to be and what it is, as well as the differences between what is promised and what is done by our leadership.

It can be taking youth to a march. It can be showing a child a piece of kelp washed up on the shore. It can be looking at the moon, and recalling that man once walked there.  Anything that promotes both questioning and knowledge.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Beyond the Pink Pussy Cat Hats

There is still more to do.

I want to see pink pussycat hats at the science march on April 22nd, and the tax march on April 15th, and I want to see them standing outside Mosques and Synagogues with signs that say "We stand with you" and "You are welcome here". I want to see them worn at "Black Lives Matter" rallies, and marches to support the LGBTQ community.

Justice is for everyone.  Truth is for everyone.  And this country has enough to go around.

There are mornings I wake up and read the news and just want to crawl back into bed.  I understand feeling overwhelmed.  And I know that a lot of the women who have worn pink pussy cat hats have less at stake than others.  It's also tempting to have an intersectionality score card.  Having the time to argue about how much oppression you've faced is generally a sign of privilege.  The idea isn't to jockey for the position of "worst off".  There's a whole heck of a lot of difference between personal misfortune and systematic oppression, and having a list doesn't grant you the right to shut others out in your quest for a better America.

A better America includes equality and fairness for everyone.  You don't get less rights because you aren't taking away someone else's rights.  Human rights are not pie.  It's not about beating your brothers and sisters to the biggest slice.

And that's exactly where Trump supporters go wrong, and what we have to get across to them.  So many of the far right, especially those with white supremacist leanings, tend to think that somehow recognizing the human rights of others deprives them of something.  They can only feel supreme when they have someone to look down on.  Oddly, many of these people are Christian, and use religion to justify their contempt of others.

Even within the left there are people who are willing to make exceptions on who should be considered equal to them, because they are not fully enlightened, that they are still living in the darkness of judgement, which is the byproduct of a society that has systematically dehumanized various populations from it's very conception.  They are still picking and choosing, some saying Black Lives Matter while also saying that they are against gay marriage and gay rights.  Some support the Jewish population, but not the Muslims.  And of course some know exactly which "aliens" they want to deport.

For some reason, it's very easy for human beings to look at each other and see race, ethnicity, religion, gender, sexual preference, and a host of other characteristics, without seeing the HUMAN BEING.

Ultimately, however, we're all in this together, and we'll sink or swim together.  Even with the diversity of our beliefs, our languages, our cultures, if we cannot work together in this country or in this world, we will fail as a society.  We will have cut off the diversity of innovation and creativity, we would lose our most valuable resource in the variety of ideas and skills.  If we are at odds, we may even continue to lose lives.

The Woman's March was an amazing thing, and there are many amazing displays of concern and support around the nation as the government continues to try to divide us and strip us of rights, of our land, of our clean air and water, of health care, and of dignity.  But it's not all over with one march, with one song, with one slogan.  Not until there truly is liberty and justice for all.