Inspired by my friend Lori Isner's plea.
I watched the Republican Convention. I found it boring and shockingly simple. (We get Katy Perry and who sang at the RNC?)
I have a question for all of you: Do you really believe the “End Times” are here and a con man can fix it? An Islamist con man or a billionaire con man, a con man is still a con man, and he doesn’t give a damn about you.
I have listened to Obama haters and Hillary haters for years. I still don’t know why they hate them so much. I have tried to understand. I don’t know if they know exactly why they hate them so much. Are certain people attracted to a more hateful culture, or perhaps it’s merely banal preferences and nothing more? What’s your reasons for hating? I want to hear your reasons. I want you to try to convince me because I want to defeat hatred. I’d like to live in a world where hatred is rare and fleeting.
All Americans should know that talk radio is full of inflammatory speech. There is hate speech across the political, ideological spectrum. There is obviously a big market for hate in the world. Hate and fear are human emotions. I can’t imagine a tiger hating a leopard. Only our species, I suspect, know how to hate. Imagine the days when we found it entertaining to watch a heretic burned at the stake. We didn’t have TV shows to represent it, we went to see the real thing. Did we hate the plague way back when or did we just fear it and marvel at the mysteries of God’s punishments?
From my perspective, certain types of people seem to thrive on hate speech a tad bit more than others; certain people seem a bit more sensitive to any slight coming their way. Certain types of people also seem to love fire and brimstone and divisive rhetoric leading to biblical conflict, bloodletting, and death. I don’t like those kinds of people. But there are good reasons to go to war and we should all demand to know them and understand them before we start weighing the costs of collateral damage and personal sacrifice. We should also demand to know if winning such a conflict may have a real chance of improving things.
I can't tell you how many conservative Americans in Hong Kong told me they would return to the USA, grab their guns and join the new civil war if Obama got elected. They seemed to be convinced that a black, Kenyan, Muslim in the Whitehouse would be the end of the great "American Way". They all stayed in Asia of course. Is their current horrific and panic infused narrative an extension of their disappointment in having to endure eight years of Obama? Why do so many seem to gloat and revel in the destruction of Syria, screaming from their armchairs, “I told you so, I told you so!” The new breed of lone wolf terror we're seeing every day is confirmation of what? “It’s their fault!” “It’s their fault.” “Kill them!” Are we really still so interested in manufacturing reasons to go to war that we’ll ignore the hard work required to defend ourselves from the buggy software of bad ideas? Are dead soldiers and suffering troops the only things that represent righteousness? Is that it? Does God require our suffering and vengeance in the name of the Lord, in the name of Mohamed? How many YouTube channels are devoted to survivalism and tactical gear? Religiously inspired war, is that all we can hope for? In the name of this or that God or ideology must we really destroy our kind hearts and our natural will to live? Must we find our love for our children snuffed out by anger and grief? Is a journey back to the middle ages, or ancient barbarism all we can hope for? Can't we do better than that? Are there not more noble projects to consider?
Even the very brightest and best of us can be vulnerable to fear-based narratives. A negativity bias does exist. But I want to know your true aspirations. What are you willing to do for your average man or woman obeying the rules and struggling to survive. I’m talking to those of you who think of yourselves as leaders. There is evidence that ideological propensities have some basis in our genetics and how our genes express themselves due to environmental circumstances, and we are all, to a certain extent, determined in our beliefs by our communities. None of us are as free as we think we are to choose our beliefs and behaviors. Social norms get the better of all of us to various degrees. But when you think of yourself as a leader in your domain you had better have a very detailed description of your beliefs and ideas ready for any audience. If you want us to follow you we need to know what you want for us, why you want it and how you’re planning to get us there. The devil, my faithful friend, is always in the details.
In my opinion, rationalism breeds hope while faith in anecdotes often sends one toward hatred and fear. If humans continue to survive and thrive we may evolve into more rational and loving creatures. But if we are to survive and thrive we must deal with real existential threats, threats that are real deal breakers, threats that could end the human race. There are also true enemies to a more enlightened way of life and they must also be defeated. We have to hold all communities accountable for their ideas and beliefs. We have to pick the right battles and win them. And we have to tame the beast within us, and to do so we’ll all need some loving support.
Things are so good now it's hard to imagine we might not make it. And yet, many people have become so negative that the "End Times” is the most exciting and relevant motivating force in their lives. Perhaps it is time to reevaluate the definition of modernity. Perhaps the black box of technology is the only thing evolving. How terrifying is that?
We’re still simple, superstitious animals unable to contemplate the fruits of intellect and wisdom. We are, perhaps, too well entertained to invest the time and energy required to entertain good ideas, to contemplate the complex, to finesse our understanding of the facts and invent simple solutions that would bring a stronger and deeper peace and prosperity to us all. We are still too vulnerable to con men who take advantage of our fight or flight instincts in order to enrich themselves at the expense of everyone else.
I know Hillary haters will always hate Hillary; to change one’s mind about hate admits a certain betrayal of oneself. I understand that but don't let him in people. Be patient, a better Republican will come along in four years. But only if Republicans commit to making themselves better Republicans. Your party is going through a bad patch perhaps, but things can turn around. Just say no to the scam, please. Our system is less than perfect but it's still worth fighting for. We only have to work together to improve things. Look around you and be thankful you’re an American. You don’t need a faker’s help. A savior is not coming to fix things. We have to fix things.
I hate labels. I am tipping right and left hoping to strike the right balance. I suspect, like most of you, I just want to be proud to be human. I want the human race to live up to its potential. Now that’s a project worth suffering through a marathon of baby steps.