2020 is going to be interesting, to say the least. Although my goal here is to try and stay on the even keel I have to admit, with all that has been and is currently happening, I am not especially hopeful for this next year let alone the future in general. Despite my involvement with The Proversation and the topics we both pay attention too; I do tend to distance myself from social media and the typical avenues offered by the more popular media outlets. I just don’t find being “triggered” useful. I have a hard enough time not keeping myself from being in a state of constant rage when checking in on the state of the world each day. I also understand why being divided and tribal seems to have become the norm over the last few years. It is not easy to stop and think through a position from multiple sides, putting yourself in the other person’s shoes when on the surface the opposing views are so extremely polar opposite to what you think is right and reasonable. Having a group that seems to share your views and offers such a sense of community makes it easy to feel justified and correct in whatever position you both subscribe to. The problem I see here is, what is actually being accomplished? What do you suggest we do to solve all of our issues, and how does that solution come out positive if it is based on hate and narcissistic contempt?
More and more I connect with the political allegory of the 1956’s “The Invasion of the Body Snatchers” and find myself intentionally repressing the urge to speak out and reveal myself as human when faced with the now daily interaction with someone seemingly completely devoid of empathy, depth, or complex thought. I know it is wrong, but the consequences of confronting an outnumbered callous majority at times bring out either caution or cowardice and I am shamed by both.
I am then doing exactly what I am pointing out above? Maybe not in such an extreme way, but by not engaging with the foundational belief that we are all on the same side ultimately nothing useful gets done. Over the last few years the carefully crafted incessant profit-making mantra of emotional triggering has become so commonplace in all facets of media that most people have forgotten what, or in the case of our younger generations, have never known what is like to have an honest, balanced, impartial representation of provable facts. What we used to call “The News”. Make no mistake, this is intentional. A good example is Facebook triggering algorithms. If you show an interest in seeing memes that say some clever put down against your chosen enemy the quantity of those types of memes will increase dramatically. All at the cost of factual provable information that provides a balanced well thought out mature viewpoint. What do you want? Would you rather be part of the problem or part of the solution?
So, what can be done? How can we start this New Year moving in the right direction? As for me, I plan on actively showing more compassion. I will ask questions when faced with the invading body snatchers and kindly, patiently dig down into the why’s of their tribal beliefs while urging for fact-based objectively driven original complex thought. I will try and promote self-responsibility, the truth of our connection, to not only each other but all life. I will push the shallow away. I will continually try to focus on what matters and shun all that does not. A good example of what I am suggesting is represented in Ricky Gervais’s 2020 Golden Globe Monologue. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LCNdTLHZAeo )
I am not necessarily referring to what he said, but rather, the view he took on the so-called “elites” he was addressing. And let me be clear. I am not saying to add a new enemy to your list! I am not saying to now hate actors or rich people. We have made it this way. Why do we make heroes out of those who either pretend to be something they are not or play games for a living compared to those who actually devote their very lives to developing new technologies, medicines, medical processes, work diligently to help those in need, or devote their lives to protecting us from those who define our worst nightmares? I think the correct approach is what Ricky Gervais was attempting to suggest. We need to get our priorities straight. We need to stop bickering and focusing on what tickles our baser emotions. What do you want for 2020 and beyond? Because right now I bet you couldn’t give me, or yourself for that matter, a coherent well thought out the reasonable answer?
So, this is the challenge I present to you. Stop participating in your own manipulation. Stop listening and putting your trust in people and organizations that don’t know or care about you. If “they” have any possibility of profiting or benefiting from you then stop engaging with them. This is a basic rule of capitalistic thinking. If no one buys it, it fails, it goes away. We definitely need to stop buying into the extremely divisive behaviors that have distracted us from being the one thing that should be uniting “us” as Americans! There really is only one tribe in this context – American – and anything that tries to divide us is just playing to our inadequacies and I think it is time to put an end to the “Divide, Conquer Profit” model that seems to be the focus of our media, politics, and corporate elite. It’s high time we find a way for ALL of US to put our heads together and start solving our problems together.
I have come to a realization, that at this point in human history and my subjective life, that the hopeful stories I told myself about who I was and what we were as a species and our overall place in the history and purpose of this universe and reality is just that, a bunch of hopeful stories. And here is the root of the problem. This is not a movie. Objective reality is real. The level of fiction that we each seem to innately apply to filter the objective reality each moment of each day has us each seemingly believing that it will all just be ok. That someone or something will save us from ourselves. All will be fixed, “I” deserve to be saved compared to “those”. The daily hero is “me” and anyone or anything that opposes that storyline regardless of provable factual evidence are not just wrong, they are evil and now an enemy. Sadly, the majority would rather focus on that inner story compared to stepping up and helping fix our mutual objective reality.
Ultimately the larger changes needed are structural. The political and corporate systems will only change if we change them. Getting money out of politics, reversing the personhood status of corporations, re-democratizing democracy by giving the power back to “We the People”, focusing on modernizing our infrastructure, investing in education and health care for every member of our population, and reinventing our international relationships would be a good start. And yes, we have to figure out a way to pay for all of that in a reasonable, logical, efficient and fair way. I am certain, however, that being one of the richest countries on the planet if we put our heads together, we could work this out.
If actors and sports stars can make tens of millions of dollars just to entertain us. If millions can be spent on fashion and cars and gadgets that do nothing but make us feel good. If corporations can spend billions of dollars on lobbyists to sway presidential elections and get out of paying taxes and get out increasing the average wage. If our politicians (republican and democrat) can continue to maintain a system where they spend an average of 4hours of each day on the phones getting money for their party and spend an average of 80% of their total time looking for money to get reelected compared to doing the jobs they were elected to do. I am sure we can figure out some logical and reasonable changes to the current system that would allow us to develop a fair and workable medical care system, get every able-bodied American an education and a good-paying job, and fix and modernize our infrastructure.
I urge you to try something new – think for yourself – don’t disregard this as an insult. It isn’t. Rather, applying healthy doubt bolstered by fact-based research from multiple sources from all sides will provide a more rounded and honest understanding of objective truth. Before you post or repost that latest meme that does nothing but makes you feel good, don’t! Ask yourself, what would you do if you found your child participating in a behavior that was intentionally meant to hurt some else, disregard rules or laws, be arrogant or narcissistic, acting dishonorably to those who were born with less than you or with physical or intellectual challenges or differences? Would you congratulate them? Or would you try and change that behavior because you were brought up to be a better person than that. Because you understand that everything you do now affects not only your future but those you are close to.
If it isn’t ok for them, why is it alright for you to behave in that way?
I have very close friends and family on both sides of the proverbial political spectrum. I want all of them to do well. I want the same for you.
Ultimately, my promise for 2020 is to try and live up to that better person I know I can be.
My hope for all of us in 2020? I hope we not only realize that we are all in this together but start acting like it.