Showing posts with label understanding. Show all posts
Showing posts with label understanding. Show all posts

Friday, January 27, 2017

Understanding is key

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Albert by Wikimedia
Any fool can know. The point is to understand.” ― Albert Einstein 

To me, ideas like that are the reason Albert Einstein was such a genius--that and so much more--of course. If he lived today, folks would simply say 'he gets it.' Just because he lived two centuries ago, doesn't mean we can't still glean wisdom from him.

Since the election of Donald Trump as our 45th President, there seems to be a wider than ever chasm within our country. There are folks who voted for him, that are completely confused as to why some of the rest of us are being so critical.

"Give the man a chance," they say. "Wait and see what he does."

I have been following politics for decades. I watched every minute of the inauguration. I watched nearly every debate. I follow the news from a variety of sources, both print, local, and cable. I was even paid to write it a few years back. What is more important though, is that I've participated in the democratic process, both as an activist and a journalist. I've watched how things work. I'd like to think I understand the process.

I'm pretty active politically on social media sites, where I've met with a wide variety of views. Some are similar to my own, while others are diametrically opposed. This includes a wide range from friendly banter, humor, to disagreement and downright rudeness.

For those who have been really critical, my observation has shown that so many of the most vocal are the first ones to say how much they despise politics. They do not obsess over the coverage of political events. They may catch the evening news or even a cable network. Or, they participate in water cooler discussions at work. Or their talk about current events with friends over a beer on the weekend. Politics is really everywhere, like it or not. 

Sometimes, people are just too busy with their lives to pay close attention. But that limited involvement does not provide a real understanding of this ever-more complicated subject. 

Watching what has gone on in social media is a lesson in misunderstanding. The name-calling is merely a ruse for "I don't know what I'm talking about." It was especially heinous during the Obama years.

Calling Barack Obama Obummer or Hillary Clinton Killary was simply a sign of ignorance, pettiness, and frankly, immaturity that belies credibility that doesn't even measure up to misunderstanding.

To quote our recent Nobel Prize Winner Bob Dylan, “Sometimes it's not enough to know what things mean, sometimes you have to know what things don't mean.” 

In the case of Donald Trump, this is paramount. He says something one minute and contradicts it the next--literally. There is no way to know that without following all that he says. Trump is great at giving lip service, telling people what they want to hear, but he has nothing behind it. Remember when he was pro-choice. Now he orders his Vice President to attend a pro-life rally. No one knows where he really stands on the issue.

While it sounds good to cut regulations, what that actually means is business will prevail over property rights, healthy food choices, clean air and water, to name a few. Making money will be the only thing that matters. Imagine doing away with the regulations that have cleaned up rivers and streams where raw sewage used to be dumped. Regulations protect endangered species, keep from building in flood zones, guard against too many chemicals applied to our food, protects our children from harm, etc. Doing away with regulations is dangerous. Sometimes the price is just too high, even at a cost savings. Trump doesn't get that. Business is all he knows and all he wants to deal with. There is more to governing than a bottom line.

Politics requires study. It just isn't enough to hear news filtered through someone else. 

So don't be so hard on those of us that have real concerns about the operations of this president. He has been in office just one week and has already burnt too many bridges.

The greatest example may be his insistence that Mexico pay for a wall Trump wants. He has talked smack about building a wall on the southern border with no thought as to how his words are received by Mexico, one of our best trading partners and closest global neighbors.

Donald Trump is so arrogant and so hell bent to make money off everything he can, in violation of the oath he took to uphold the Constitution, that I wouldn't be surprised if he had plans to build his wall and then establish an aviation flight school on either side of the border. That way, he could get a little piece of the action from all those rich drug dealers and criminals he claims are coming here. 

Seriously though, Trump wants Mexico to pay for a wall between the U.S. and Mexico. Mexican President Enrico Peńa Nieto said no and is offended at Trump's insinuations, not to mention the words he used about Mexico sending us its rapists and murderers. Just this week, Nieto canceled a trip he had planned to the U.S. Trump is angry that Nieto won't agree, so he is looking at other ways to get the job done. He doesn't seem to care about how much it will harm the people he works for--us! He is talking about imposing a tax on imports. 

Vengeance has no place in governing, yet Trump has exhibited several instances of his need to get even with people who are critical of him, much like he did with Hillary Clinton, who once was an invited guest at his wedding. 

In addition to angering one of our best trading partners, taxing goods in Mexico will include higher priced fruits and vegetables and other imported goods. How is this beneficial to anyone?

There have been so many things in the last seven days that are offensive and downright dangerous, like Trump's claim that when we pulled out of Iraq, we should have taken the oil. First of all, that would be a violation of the Geneva Convention. Furthermore, how does Trump's off-handed remark potentially harm our soldiers stationed in Iraq--soldiers charged with peace-keeping duties? I certainly hope soldiers aren't killed because of Trump's bravado.

We all have a long way to go to understand how our government operates. It will be more difficult in time, as Trump plans to silence the media that disagrees with him. This, to me, is the most dangerous thing of all. Without a free press, we might as well be Nazi Germany. 

Don't ever stop asking questions. Don't ever stop trying to understand. But if you do, please don't complain about those of us who do.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

We need to hear from Bill Cosby

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Bill Cosby, now under scrutiny from alleged past deeds
Allegations in recent days have been leveled against Bill Cosby by a long line of women. These allegations are disturbing for so many reasons, but the biggest danger is to try to paint this picture in black and white, without the predominantly gray areas that must be examined. 

Understanding what really happened all those years ago is not going to be easy, especially when only one side--the side of the alleged victims--of the story is being told. Media can't be expected to paint a complete picture when all the facts aren't available. 

What has been written will likely result in so much regurgitation from all who have an appetite for every morsel of information about this seemingly scandalous story. The danger to the truth comes when seasoning is added to those morsels in the form of sensationalism and misinformation added by both media sources and the consuming public.

It is for that reason that I think Cosby owes it to the millions of people who have admired him for years, to at least explain his side of the story.

Like all others, I am trying to understand this story. 

I admit I rarely watched the Bill Cosby show. I doubt I ever watched a half dozen episodes. I don't recall ever watching I Spy. So, the only thing I really knew about Bill Cosby was the comedian that I saw on variety shows. I considered him to be a very funny guy, in a real world view kind of way. 

He wasn't really even on my radar, until he began talking to black youth about their behavioral issues. That impressed me. Someone had to do it. Someone had to take a stand that might affect the uptick in black on black crime in the inner cities. Someone with standing had to be heard. 

The first thing I have to say is that we must not judge what happened 30, 40, 50 years ago by the standards and attitudes which have evolved since that time, particularly in regard to feminist issues. Times have indeed changed. Woman have come a long way since those days and see things through a completely different lens. We must not use that lens to judge the past.

As a society, we need to define and discuss rape. This one word covers everything from the violent, horrific physical act that includes beating, bruising, and death or near-death experiences that happen to include sexual intercourse, to the more psychologically-harming drug-induced sex act and everything in between. I believe there are very many variants of what we now call rape. 

The way rape is viewed by law enforcement varies from state to state as well as in judicial remedies. But probably the biggest road block in the understanding of rape may be in the interpretative differences between men and women. As much as we are equal, we are also different. We need to better understand our differences.

One thing that has changed drastically, and with good reason, is the tendency to blame the victim when it comes to sex crimes, whether it be a woman or a man. The catch all seems to have been provocative clothing. While this is of course no reason to rape someone, nor should any woman dressing in sexy clothes be targeted or blamed, we need to understand why clothing may be a contributing factor to why someone rapes. Instead of casually dismissing it, its context must be understood. 

Our society is to blame for much of how this story has seemingly unfolded, at least from what is known. Why do we treat celebrities as though they are god-like? Why would a 19-year old girl accept drinks and especially drugs offered to her during a seemingly casual encounter? Is Bill Cosby a rapist or is he suffering from a sexual addiction? What was his motive? Why would anyone think it is OK to drug someone and then have sex with them without their consenting participation? 

There are so many more questions about this story, but the bottom line is, I'd like to hear from Cosby. Is he sick? Is he still sick? Does he want to live the rest of his life with this cloud of certain speculation over him? Is his attempt to counsel inner city youth his way of apologizing for his own indiscretions? What do the women he allegedly violated hope to get from telling their stories? 

Until those questions are answered, it is impossible to draw conclusions.