Get Off The List [on Merely A Thought Monday]

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“Are we even aware of our biases anymore?  ~Shawn Langlois, 2018 Marketwatch. Check out the chart.

“What we all feared has happened. Trump has been normalized.” ~ Bill Maher

“I think they’ve been unleashed.” ~ J after listening to the poolside conversations at the YMCA

It was an accident of timing that I was directing a production of the docu-drama, GOD’S COUNTRY, with college students in Santa Fe, NM when George W. Bush was up for re-election. The play chronicles the rise of a white supremacist group and the man they murdered, Allan Berg, a Denver-based talk show radio host. Much of the dialogue is drawn from court documents from the trials of the white supremacists and the transcripts of Allan Berg’s shows. It’s chilling.

The students and I studied hate groups. We studied division. We read studies about how easily a person or community can be slowly drawn into a mindset of hate. It’s a prescription, like slowly boiling a frog. Angry people are an easy mark to be led down the hate path.

One of the studies that stayed with me was Lawrence Britt’s The 14 Characteristics of Fascism (at that time, the USA exhibited many of the characteristics on the list). The list was chilling in 2004 during the production. It is horrifying now that we’ve waded into the swampy waters of #14: Fraudulent Elections. Last week in the USA  an entire political party (with one exception), despite overwhelming evidence, lined up and gave explicit permission to their leader to allow a foreign power to manipulate our elections.

David Neiwert wrote a book, called In God’s Country: The Patriot Movement and The Pacific Northwest. In it are eye-opening tales recounting how a community becomes complicit with its haters. “Boys will be boys.” “Oh, that’s just who they are.” “They didn’t mean any harm by it.” “Turn a blind eye.” Hate crimes rapidly multiply when a community is willing to let it slide. Explain it away. Normalize it. “That’s just who he is.”

And what happens when the enemy, the latest scapegoat that unifies the party-in-lock-step (#3 on the list), is the other half of us, the other party? What happens when indecency is rewarded and ignorance applauded? What happens when fear is the reason the lock-steppers cover their ears and claim that they see no evil? Low-information comes with a very high price.

As they say, history repeats itself. And, somehow, we find ourselves – at least half of our nation – embracing the list.

 

read Kerri’s blog post about INDECENCY

 

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Ask A Question [on Merely A Thought Monday]

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“The world is as full of opinions as it is of people. And you know what an opinion is. You say this, and somebody else says that. Each one has an opinion, but opinion is not truth; therefore do not listen to mere opinion, it does not matter whose it is, but to find out for yourself what is true. Opinion can be changed overnight, but the truth cannot be changed.” ~ Krishnamurti, Think On These Things

She said with easy confidence and utter conviction, “The earth is warming because it’s spinning on its axle.” I was so stunned that I had to close my eyes and count to ten.  This thought-tree has no roots. It contains no thought. It’s lost in a mix-master of metaphor. It is a common marker of our times, a wildly confused opinion mistaking itself for a fact.

Propaganda (noun): information, especially biased or misleading in nature, used to promote a particular political cause or point of view.

I am wary of using the word ‘ignorant’ because I believe it applies to all of us. Ignorant (adjective): lacking knowledge or awareness in general. I’m not wary of using the word ‘lazy.’ Lazy (adjective): unwilling to work or use energy. Belief without investigation is lazy. And, it is dangerous.

“Political ideology can corrupt the mind, and science.” E.O. Wilson

Denial, as Roger once taught me, is one of the most potent forces at play in the human drama. David Neiwert tells the story of German villagers, at the end of the second world war, stunned to learn that the facility next to their village spewing ash was an extermination camp. Even though, every day, they watched trainloads of people enter the camp, and every day, saw empty train cars leaving the camp. They did not question. Every morning the villagers swept thick ash from their sills and walkways; they claimed that they had no idea. They were told it was a work camp. They believed what they wanted to believe – what they needed to believe. They did not question what they were told.

We are not the first human cohort to exhaust our resources or poison our environment. We are the first to attempt it on a global scale. We did not invent propaganda machines nor are we the originators of intellectual laziness. We simply have bigger, louder machines and more potent tools to toss around our unquestioned opinions. In the meantime, the earth, I’m sure, will continue to spin on its “axle”…er…axis. With or without us and our dedicated opinions.

 

[for grins and a good place to begin asking your questions, visit the NOAA Global Monitoring Division. Take the time to watch the CO2 movie – all of it. Write a few questions for yourself. Then, for grins, Google human population growth and sustainability. Draw no conclusions. Spout no opinions for a spell. Simply ask questions, check sources. Read some more. Learn to discern between fact and opinion…and your opinions about facts].

 

read Kerri’s blog post on NO SIDES IN CLIMATE

 

 

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