If America’s Going To Heal Itself, FIRST, It Needs To Ditch The “Magical Thinking”

Believing in Magic is fun. It’s the deus ex machina side door out of anything hard and overly challenging. Like Life.

In the theater, it’s “god from machine” — an ending that doesn’t actually add up or make sense but — it was time.

It’s why religion proliferates still — even in the face of cold, hard facts that contradict it. Cold, hard facts aren’t nice. Facts aren’t in the “nice” businesses. They couldn’t give a rat’s ass whether you “like” them or not. Hell — “You” don’t even exist to them.

Facts just are. They’re a-political. They don’t ascribe to any particular faith. To look at them, and interpret them, you don’t need a church. You need a mind. When you refuse to use your mind, a church will quickly step in and do the thinking for you. But churches don’t base THEIR worldview on the world, they base it on their foundational texts — written kajillions of years ago by well-meaning but uninformed men.

If the scribes who wrote what eventually was assembled into the Pentateuch (the Old Testament) — including Genesis — had known that microbes and pathogens exist (therefore explaining sickness and disease) or that earth was NOT at the center of creation (in fact, we’re nowhere near it’s center — if there even is one), they would NOT have written the texts they wrote. Their texts would have been informed by their knowledge. It’s kinda how knowledge is supposed to work.

Instead of the “Book Of Genesis”, perhaps there’d be the “Book Of String Theory” or “The Book of Quantum Physics”.

If that were the case, there’d BE no Magical Thinking.

America has always been extremely friendly to Magical Thinking though. I’m sure it’s not a coincidence that a bunch of offshoot, whackadoodle religions were born here. You can think of Protestantism as an offshoot of Catholicism (and Christianity as an offshoot of Judaism), but what the hell is Scientology an offshoot of — other than Chicanery? At least Mormonism pretends to be an offshoot of Christianity (though it takes Christianity to crazy bullshit places even Paul would have called it “over the line” and “beyond anyone’s capacity to believe it”. I’m sorry — Jesus visited North America? Um, no — if he existed, he most certainly did NOT.

The reason nonsense like Mormonism & Scientology (and a host of other to-silly-to-speak-their-names beliefs) finds purchase here is that Americans have always had a “thing” for Magical Thinking. We believed, for instance, that not outlawing slavery in our foundational document — our Constitution — would work out for us. The Civil War and its aftermath says we got that wrong.

Magical Thinking starts early. We force it on every single kid. Some of it — sure, it’s endurable: fairy tales, Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny… But the rest of it is just pure ignorant masquerading as something else. It’s what adults tell kids when they (the adults) don’t know the answer: it must be god. It must be ooga-booga. It must be MAGIC.

No — it’s not Magic. It’s NEVER Magic. Magic does not exist.

If a surgeon or pilot stepped out to say hello before getting down to work — and they said they had decided to forgo science today; instead they’ve placed the outcome of YOUR surgery or YOUR airplane journey in the hands of MAGIC (better hope it works!), I don’t think YOU would want them to continue.

There’s a reason.

Quick side note. I differentiate between “religion” and “spirituality”. I don’t equate spirituality with magic — though the relationship between them is fraught. Spirituality is awe. It’s wonder at what we don’t know yet. I also don’t necessarily equate magic with any religion’s core message — so long as the core message isn’t its magic. Take Jesus, for instance. One can laugh at Magical Thinking all while happily Doing Unto Others. You don’t need the magic to take a little good advice.

Advertisements

2020 Will Be Different BECAUSE So Many Women Are Running

Our Main Stream News Media sure love a horse race. I guess it’s because horse races are easy to report. Who’s the favorite (according to the odds makers)? Who’re the jockeys? Then – when the race gets run — the winner is almost always easy to identify. A simple story for simple minds to tell.

But not all horses are the same. Some have no business running in races. And some will outclass any field they run in.

And some horses aren’t horses at all. They’re women.

Even as things that have never happened before happen, our MSM insists that these things have happened before. Presidents committing treason, for instance. Or so many women running for office and winning.

At present there are 5 Democratic women running. According to the Washington Post, there could conceivably be 11 (https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-fix/wp/2017/01/09/11-democratic-women-who-could-run-for-president-in-2020-ranked/?noredirect=on&utm_term=.5dd174e9044a ) .

The lingering passion, among Democrats, is for a woman to get the nomination again. Whereas Hillary Clinton’s win was stolen from her, the next woman president won’t suffer that. It’s almost a guarantee. I pity the fool who even tries it. Women are on the come in American politics. They are transitioning from being “A” player to “THE” player.

Now — here’s what our MSM still doesn’t get: As women become more dominant in American political culture, they will directly impact that culture. Presently, American political culture is overwhelmingly “male” in its nature. Trump has taken it to a kind of perversely viagra-y extreme — like a painful erection that won’t go away and isn’t even capable of coming. It’s an erection for its own sake.

Trump epitomizes it especially when he says things like “I alone can fix it”. That is a supremely “MALE” thing to say. No woman would ever even think such a thing because her biology knows better. A women, pregnant with child, needs help. She needs help to carry her child, to bear her child and to raise her child. Yes, indeedy — it takes a village. Women know this. It directly impacts who they are, how they think, how they plan.

It directly impacts how women interact — with other women and with men. When women have to problem solve — that gets impacted too. They look around at the collective — the women nearby — the women going through the same sorts of things — and they seek both communion and council. They seek consensus. They seek a working relationship with the community that will assure both their safety and happiness and the safety and happiness of their children. Nothing, to a mother, is more important than that.

This is the organic result of having children begin their lives inside yours.

Men — for comparison’s sake — while capable of genuinely loving women — are designed to spread their seed far and wide. Think of it as “Flirt N Squirt”. That, too, impacts how WE think and behave — and practice politics.

Men don’t need anyone else to survive. We can, if we’re of a mind to, flirt n squirt till the day we die (or lose the capacity to flirt and/or squirt). That’s why only a man could even imagine saying “I alone can fix it”. Because a man thinks he can “be” or “accomplish anything” all by his lonesome.

He’s wrong, of course. Absolutely wrong.

With so many women running — not just for POTUS but for offices at every level — their way of thinking and doing things will impact the way we currently do things — the men’s way. Instead of male unilateral decision-making, we’ll shift toward female multi-lateral decision-making.

Here’s my other bet. Unless they’re forced to compete with men, women don’t naturally ‘dick measure’. Unlike men who love to break each others’ balls, women (though capable of cruelty) commune together. I would be shocked-as-hell if the lineup of Democratic women — as they debate each other — started dissing each other the way Donald Trump took off after every opponent he had.

Women won’t (my bet) stand there and snipe at each other like angry little boys. Because they aren’t — and never were.

My bet is that women have already changed our political culture profoundly. As usual, our Main Stream News Media are the last to get hip to it.


Does Anything Epitomize Conservative Thinking Better Than ‘A WALL’?

The prototypes for U.S. President Donald Trump’s border wall are seen behind the border fence between Mexico and the United States, in Tijuana, Mexico January 7, 2019. REUTERS/Jorge Duenes – RC1B258D6BC0

We stand on a precipice — one of many precipices we seem to end up standing on here in The Age Of Trump — being held hostage by Donald Trump’s campaign slogan ‘Build The Wall’. It’s absurd on it’s face. If you tried to WRITE this — as a script or a novel — you’d bomb because no one would buy it as a premise. It’s too absurd, ya see…

“Build A Wall” began its life (as most things Trumpian do) as an exercise in cynical marketing. During the 2016 campaign, Roger Stone & Sam Nunberg suggested a way to easily remind Trump to rant about ”illegal immigration”. They proposed a cheer line: “Build The Wall”. The icing: “Mexico Will Pay For It”.

‘Build A Wall’ & ‘Mexico Will Pay For It’ were never ever ever based in reality. They never ever EVER were connected to any sort of actual policy beyond pure unadulterated racism. They were mneumonics — memory devices designed for a narrow-minded, forgetful, but deeply racist OLD MAN — Donald J Trump. The wall is a metaphor for everything Trump.

It’s a metaphor for everything CONSERVATIVE, too. To call building a wall — and thinking it’s actually ‘defense’ — is Medieval. It’s more ancient than that actually but — for the sake of kindness, we’ll call it Medieval. As we learned today — Trump’s wall can be chewed through by a common saw that anyone can by at Lowe’s (shop them instead of Home Despot — the guy who owns Home Despot is a Trumpian).

Turns out the word ‘impenetrable’ & ‘wall’ don’t go together…

Donald Trump wants us to ‘buy’ that his wall is ‘impenetrable’ just because he says it is. That’s how authoritarians ‘think’. A thing is so just because I will it. The way sycophants work is they say ‘Yes, it is!’ regardless of the truth. That’s CONSERVATISM right there. Conservatism is the willingness to deny every bit of WHAT IS because you want it to be HOW I WANT IT — regardless of how inaccessible the one place is from the other.

This is Trump’s Wall – post ‘sawzall’…

Conservatives have built a metaphorical wall in their minds around a notion of ‘How It Was’. That’s what they want to CONSERVE — just as their name says. They don’t WANT to go into the future (they certainly don’t want to Progress there…), no, they want to stay in the past — in a place the they’ve CONSERVED.

The overwhelming majority of Americans don’t want to conserve what was since it was weighted so heavily against them. That would be women & People of Color & the LGBTQ Community & Immigrants to the country & Asylum seekers & Frankly, Anyone Who Isn’t White-Christian-Male. WE want what this country can BE far, far more than what it WAS.

To that end, we lend our talents, our passion, our tax dollars, our hopes. Our citizenship comes with great privileges but also awesome responsibilities. A lot of us see it as our duty — as citizens — to help steer this Nation toward the place where as many Americans as possible enjoy the fruits of our common ‘struggle’. That’s not something to conserve — it doesn’t exist yet. But it’s at the very CORE of the American Promise: Come, Give Us Your Best, Work Hard — And We Will Share Our Bounty With You As You Share Yours With Us.

That’s what Conservatives want to KEEP OUT. That’s the thing they want to WALL against. The Truth is, walls don’t keep out Human Progress. Oh, they can delay it a bit — but no wall has ever truly kept human beings captive.

Only a fool conservative would think so.

What Republicans Forgot: INTEGRITY Matters

Regardless of how we’re all physically ‘born’, we all arrive in this world with 100% of our Integrity intact. Whether or not we get to the end of our lives with it STILL intact — that’s entirely up to us.

The ‘thing’ about Integrity is, it’s an ‘all or nothing’ proposition. Ever meet someone with 99% of their Integrity? What’s up with the 1%?

Our Integrity is iron — yet destructible as gossamer.

When set and kept at 100% it should be seen as inviolable. An impenetrable Force Field of Righteousness, built on facts & open-eyed analysis of those facts & The Truth. That’s the iron.

The gossamer is anyone turning off the Force Field to entertain offers. Even if you opt to ‘stay pure’ — you entertained offers. You even allowed for the ‘appearance’ that you were for sale. Integrity can never ever EVER be for sale. Integrity popped — like a soap bubble. Made of gossamer.

Lying instantly destroys Integrity. Allowance for lying destroys Integrity. Acceptance of lying destroys Integrity. One always has to ask ‘WHY?’ Why lie to begin with? Why’s the Truth ‘problematic’?

In the case of the Republican Party — they’ve been lying to us because they recognized as the Reagan years ended that electoral politics would not favor them going forward. The demographics were already trending completely against them (had more Americans voted regularly, that distinction would have been clearer a lot sooner). The only means to keep power for a few more generations was via the Judiciary.

Or — the Kochs reasoned apparently — one could rewrite the Constitution and make White Christian Male hegemony PERMANENT. To do that they’d need 37 states — so they could convene a new Constitutional Congress. That was very definitely in the Koch Bros sites. The last election — where Democrats took back 7 statehouses — destroyed that plan; the Kochs were within ONE STATEHOUSE. For reals.

The majority of Americans do not want what the Koch Bros want. That’s probably because the majority of Americans are not white, Christian men. But, of course, ya can’t exactly sell that come election time. So the Kochs find themselves politicians — Republicans — who are willing to lie.

And there goes their Integrity.


What WASPS Look Like

I grew up in a bubble.  

It’s true.  Pikesville, MD (just outside northwest Baltimore) was so predominantly Jewish that clever (non-Jewish) people called it ‘Kikesville’.  Get it?

My public high schools — Pikesville Junior High & Pikesville Senior High — were so predominantly Jewish that even the non-Jewish kids took the Jewish holidays off because they knew — school was going to be a ghost town.  Virtually all of my friends were Jewish (not all but close to it).  We tribalized inside the bubble based on which of the major synagogues your family belonged to.  Most of us were reformed or conservative Jews.  The orthodox among us were the outliers. Wait — you don’t eat steamed crabs?  What the hell is wrong with you?

In Baltimore, there was a strong Irish Catholic presence.  Evangelicals hadn’t taken hold yet so the Mainstream Protestant pool was bigger.  Most Protestants aren’t WASPS.  WASPS aren’t just followers of some variation of the Protestant faith, in their minds, they’re its originators — their families go that far back. WASPS are as insulated a culture as Jews can be with one huge difference.  Lots of Jews seek to assimilate.   WASPS don’t ever.   To them, they’re the thing everyone else wants to assimilate INTO.  To them, they are the Gold Standard.  They ARE White Culture.

My closest brush with WASPs & WASP culture was when I got accepted to the Gilman School — where some of Baltimore’s WASPiest WASPS sent their progeny.  I begged my parents not to send me.  Gilman was an all-boys school (a very, very GOOD school) and that seemed an impossibility to me.  I wanted to take my chances with public school like all of my friends (fortunately for me, the Baltimore County School System was pretty good).  WASPs were an alien culture to me even then.

When I arrived at Vassar College, WASPS were among the first shocks to my system.  We’re not talking big, knock-you-on-your-ass shocks, we’re talking ‘the-world’s-more-complicated-than-you-thought’ shocks. 

Quick sidenote: The other culture I ran into that shocked me as I had NO concept of it whatsoever was California Culture.  My first college gf was from Marin County and her wild high school escapades were actual wild high school escapades with naked hot tub parties and drug dealers that made our high school escapades look… well, like high school escapades.

WASPS did everything differently. They thought about food differently for instance.  If my housemates and I were throwing a party (I lived off campus most of my time at Vassar), the Jews in the house always overbought food while the WASPS always overbought liquor.  Who cared if there was nothing to eat so long as the booze kept flowing.  THAT was foreign.

WASPS prayed differently, of course.  And they spoke differently.  They stood differently and engaged with you differently.  In ‘Annie Hall’, Woody Allen nailed the differences between WASP families and Jewish families perfectly with a split screen of two families (one each) at dinner.  The WASPS are all very well-mannered, quiet, always speaking in turn while the Jewish family talks over each other like a tic.  Something of that deep-seated English fear of embarrassment remains at the core of most WASPs.

Being an outsider, I found WASP culture fascinating — especially its latent (as opposed to its blatant) Antisemitism.  The Catholic Church’s history of Jew-hating was a flashing electronic billboard of cruelty, brutality and blood lust.  WASPs on the other hand — at least where I grew up — kept their Antisemitism a little cleaner.  It was so hard-wired into their culture that you could miss it.  But it’s there — even with your friends.  

Look — we’re tribal creatures, every last one of us.  Strange as it may sound, I don’t mind my friends being Antisemitic if, at least, they own that it’s there in their makeup.  Jews making jokes about Jews is one thing.  Someone else making jokes about Jews — just cos they can count Jews among their bff’s — that’s always going to be a dicey, ‘it was in the tone of my voice’ proposition.

After college I shared a cute little carriage house in the Cobble Hill section of Brooklyn with two dear friends, both WASPs.  A few days after I moved in, we had an Easter party for lots of our friends — and I made the ham.  I was genuinely touched when my two WASP friends and housemates praised my Easter ham for its authenticity.

I had assimilated successfully into them, you see — at least, as far as I was going to be allowed to assimilate…