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What Would You Do?

by on June 27, 2017

                                                                What Would You Do?

                                                                 by Marco M. Pardi

“All mankind is divided into three classes — the immovable, the movable, and those who move.” Arab proverb

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All comments welcome.  To those readers who have been hesitant to comment or ask questions, please be assured you may do so freely. In recent days several new people have signed on as followers, enabling them to comment freely, and it is hoped they will. All previous posts are open for comment by clicking on “uncategorized”. Reader participation keeps this site vibrant. MMP

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I am sure each of us has, at some time, known of or even been present when someone embarks upon an action which we are certain will have negative consequences.  Those of us who are parents have perhaps been called over-protective at times or, as is currently popular, helicopter parents. I am aware there are often two sides to these issues: Let them learn through their own mistakes – a plea I sometimes made in childhood; and, experience brings responsibility for those not so experienced.

Sometimes simple “common sense” is enough even when actual experience is lacking.  I remember an incident involving a freshly minted 2nd Lt. who had no field experience preceding his assignment to our unit.  As part of our perimeter defenses we routinely set trip flares hidden in the scrub brush.  A small stake with a metal ring was hammered into the ground and one end of a small gauge wire ran through the ring and out a few meters to anchor on the next stake.  The end of the wire passing through the ring went down to a slightly buried 60mm mortar parachute flare. This flare is topped by a small folding metal parachute, like a closed umbrella, which, as the flare reaches top altitude of a couple of hundred feet, deploys and holds the flare aloft as it burns bright as the sun for a couple of minutes.

As the Lt, I guess eager to show his superior skills and experience, inspected the set up he loudly pronounced a stake as being crooked (which didn’t matter in the least).  Before anyone could say anything, or so it was claimed later, he kicked the stake to straighten it.  Well, in doing so he tripped the flare next to it.  The front half of his boot, with much of his foot, went flying and he fell to ground with a badly shattered ankle and broken leg. Nobody laughed – at least not then, as it was necessary to stop the bleeding and get him to where he could be e-vaced to a surgical unit.

That was dumb, but aside from the inconvenience to the rest of us he was the one who paid the major price.  On the other hand, I listened to a guy laugh about being home on leave and intending to go on a hunting trip with his father’s dogs.  I should say I never saw this guy sober.  As he told it, he put the two dogs in the trunk of his car, then got so drunk he and his buddies forgot the trip and, when he awoke the next day he had to pull the bodies of the dead dogs from his car trunk. The dogs died miserably. He laughed.  Where’s a flare when you need one?   

There have been times I’ve assessed the likely outcome of an action as limited and not serious, thus taking no counter action.  Let them learn.  But I do take action in cases involving non-human animals, children, the disabled and the elderly. Seven days a week I receive several dozen email petitions, falling broadly into: Environment; non-human animal welfare; energy & conservation; and, socio-political issues including women’s rights, reproductive freedom, etc.  I have no problem risking carpal tunnel syndrome in pounding out responses, writing letters and signing most of these petitions.  I’ve also probably worn out my welcome by forwarding many of these to others.

But, bearing in mind that I do strongly differentiate ignorance (not having the information) from stupidity (having and understanding the information but rejecting it), I do pause for thought over some of the petitions to counter or stop actions or proposed actions emanating from elected officials.  I can’t help thinking about who elected these people.  Clearly, in my opinion, many of these actions and proposals are stupid and even deadly to the people who put these officials in power. We know with certainty the Trump administration came to power through the votes of the “under-educated, economically disenfranchised White” population.  I think that’s kind.  I would say the “stupid” population, crossing all demographics.  An inner voice counsels me to sit back and let these people reap the damage they will bring upon themselves.  This phenomenon is so well known it is the subject of analytical books such as Why Voters Vote Against Their Own Best Interests (my recall of the title may not be entirely accurate, but the message is clear).  I do not engage with people I hear espousing the “Alt-Right” philosophy, considering from experience the likelihood of changing a view.  So, is signing a petition or writing a protest letter – if they succeed, enabling stupidity?  That is, if the petition or protest succeeds in stopping the action does not that merely prevent the damage without addressing the stupidity which would have wrought the damage?  My mind tells me those voters will just snarl and grumble while dreaming up the next stupid proposal.  Let them bring their dwelling down around their ears.

A common mantra today is the Trump administration came to power because people were sick of inaction from politicians.  But, wait.  How did that inaction come about?  In the Congressional election cycles following the first Obama presidential election what we used to call “rabble rousers” inflamed ethnic, racial, and religious fears (He’s Kenyan, he will bring Blacks into power, he’s Muslim) to put forward a cadre of freshly minted Tea Party 2nd Lieutenants to take over Congress.  Needing to immediately prove their bona fides they began finding what they deemed to be crooked stakes, all the established ones. They brought the government to a standstill such that Obama repeatedly had to go around their power drunk bodies through executive actions.  Meanwhile, government was dying in the trunk of the car. These ignorant – or stupid – fools played directly into the hands of the lying-in-wait American Fascist Party.  This is truly the United States of Amnesia.        

But as I ponder this I realize the collateral damage that will ensue from failure to speak out.  As a parent and grandparent I think of the children and the world they would have to live in, if they can.  As a living being I think of all the other living beings on this planet, and their inability to participate in the decisions which affect their lives.  And so I rattle on with the petitions and the letters. My in-box is beckoning to me as I write this.

If you have read this far and choose to not respond, I get it.  Some people tire of my rants.  But please do me the courtesy of forwarding this to someone who might. Perhaps all those people you dislike?

I have a pretty good idea of what I would do.

 

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12 Comments
  1. Mark Dohle permalink

    I do understand your frustration my friend, and I for one respect you for your passion for justice. I do believe that many of our problems come from short-sighted thinking. Unlike you, politics is way beyond me. However I do think that people often react when voting, I think that goes from both the left and the right. Both sides have different perspectives that are at odds. Today, the divide is growing so wide that actual communication may soon be impossible for a rather large percent of the population. Not sure what it will be like four years from now. Everyone seems out for themselves, one group against all others. The glue is not holding I guess.

    Perhaps we have to see this to the end, though we all need to do what we think is good and just in seeking to find some answer to this dilemma. There are lots of remains/ruins from cultures that have died, either from outside aggression or from inner fragmentation. If we can’t bounce back, it is inner fragmentation that will do us in I believe. I am kind of glad that I am old ;-).

    I have no answers. I just hope you can continue, but don’t get bitter, for that leads nowhere, you will lose your way as well as your voice. You are very rational and thoughtful as well as passionate on a deep emotional level, a good combination. Ranters, are in the end, ignored, you are not that.

    Peace
    mark

    • Thank you, Mark. I very deeply appreciate your comments and I do see the wisdom in your thoughts. I think you are correct in pointing to the internal division, indeed the growing chasm. At times I think I have a glimmer of an answer, but then I see that even if it is at least a partial answer it faces insurmountable obstacles in implementation.

      It is hard to remain on an even keel, but I will heed your advice. Marco

      • Mark Dohle permalink

        I believe that to give in to bitterness and anger are true choices, but very easy and normal. Hence the way the world is and has always been I guess. To stay even keel as you say takes a choice that comes deeper in and I believe points to the “dying to self”, a way to break cycles that seem unending. I know that is no an answer for changing things, but of changing oneself. I do believe we can turn into the very ‘thing’ we hate if we feed into the fire of anger, which turns into a conflagration eventually. This is a constant struggle with me. My own inner wounds and ‘sins’ want to pull me under. I suppose as a Christian, I simply look to the Lord, a rough ride but it gets me outside of my own inner turmoil. I believe grace is always there, we just need to open up to it. To rely only on ourselves lead to burn out for sure. So I do have some concerns for you my dear friend and brother.

        As the abbot said today at our council meeting, we all have tortured hearts. I believe that to be true. Our societies and all that implies, I believe is just an outer presentation of the richness and brokenness/frangmentation of our human souls.

        I believe that the most common spiritual practice needed today is to walk calmly in chaos and to be loving and patient when we are pulled the other way.

        Peace
        mark

      • Thank you, Mark. I am taking this to heart. I will keep on doing what I think is true and worth doing, but I will keep your thoughts in mind. Marco

  2. Ray Z Rivers permalink

    I don’t think God made Trump president and don’t think he’ll remove him, though at 71 he is no spring chicken. You need to ask the voters who didn’t why they didn’t – and get them engaged. Is this really what they wanted?

    • Thanks, Ray. Good points. It seems finding people who will admit they voted for Trump is increasingly difficult. On the other hand, finding those who voted for the hard core State & local regime members is much easier. On a related note, many of the daily petitions/objections I sign are directed at the State & local officials. Georgia being a top to bottom Republican fortress, my only consolation is that I’m keeping their automatic reply engines busy. There is simply no hope for changing or resisting their agenda here.

  3. jkent33 permalink

    Your comparison story of the freshly minted lietutant bumped my memory to recall similiar tales of the new boss stepping in his own do-do! Including yours truly, but in fairness my handlers sheltered me from shame much as how your lietutant was treated with dignity. After spending 5 months under this mockery of a regime my ways have become hardened. I often find myself angry to my core from the actions of the stupid, or using another word lazy, among those voting for him. They were fine believing him, that by making money from the hotel interests, ensured his business acuman was well deserved. In reality that was far from accurate. Their lazy habits by refusing to dig deeper into his campaign claims supported falsehoods that have multipled into serious actions. I feel direct assaults on there people will not help, but rather as I have been doing is simply ignore them. Being in their company frustrates me leading to deal with my feelings of hostility and not theirs, which serves me no purpose. Going forward I’m attempting to share info that builds a fire in the hearts of those supporters, not to finger point, but to enlighten them on the issues that have occurred from his reign they initially brought to fruitition by their support. Hopefully, their passions for change will shine a light on their personal sphere of influence to take measures for positive change. After today my load may have shifted to a smaller burden from the idiotic attack tweets against FOX’s announcers. Time will be the only telling moment…

    • Thanks, Jerry. It has been said that Trump will impeach himself, but waiting for it is, as you say, not the answer. Of course, he is only the proverbial tip of the iceberg. As he arose he brought to light an entire demographic which had remained largely invisible up to now.

      But our first priorities must be that we keep ourselves stable and functional, or we cannot offer help to overcome this development. That is sometimes hard to do, especially when it seems there are few we can safely talk to.

  4. I’m the sort of person who can always be trusted to do what is expected of me, but this time I simply do not know what this is. I’ve tried to open the eyes of those around me to the truth of what ‘s happening, but some people simply don’t want to hear it; they don’t want to know. It reminds me of the three wise monkeys, except they refuse to see or hear the evil that surrounds us, and speak an evil that they don’t recognize as such. I read today that the numbers of people who want Trump impeached has grown larger than those who approve of him, and yet it will surprise me greatly if anything is done about it. As a nation, we have survived many tragedies, but this time I am not so sure we will make it through. Far too many of us are silent; far too many of us fear the consequences of saying the wrong thing to the wrong person. I sign the petitions, and I speak my mind to anyone who will listen, (and here I take a deep breath) but unless we all do that, and more, I fear the outlook for our nation, and the world, is rapidly approaching hopelessness.

    • Rose, your comment evokes two great sources of sadness: I agree with everything you say; and, I am so sad that the person whom I have known for so long, and assumed would go on to live a complete life of happiness, is brought to this. Your comments tell us we must include the deep injuries to people like you as a new category of collateral damage. Marco

      • Please don’t be sad on my account, my life is what it was meant to be. That you (and those I have met through you) are in my life has brought me great joy and inspiration.

        I hate what the world is becoming, and that it seems so impossible to change it. I can still read a little German, so walking through the holocaust museum this past week had a deep impact on me; I thought I would be sad, but instead I found myself incredibly angry. I may have embarrassed my sister, but I couldn’t help vocalizing the thought that it is all happening again. How can people not see that?

        I do not feel like collateral damage, but my eyes are wide open in a world where most are blind.

      • You are an inspiration, Rose.

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