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Buyer’s Remorse

by on August 6, 2020

Buyer’s Remorse

by Marco M. Pardi

I regret nothing, says arrogance; I will regret nothing, says inexperience.” Marie von Ebner-Eschenbach. Aphorisms

All comments are welcome and all previous posts are open for comment.

In the past few months I’ve read, seen, and personally heard a remarkable number of seemingly otherwise intelligent people expressing regret for having voted an utterly incompetent con man and fraud into the Presidency of the United States. I say seemingly otherwise intelligent because I’m mystified by why they would have bought into the lies and deception and voted that way in the first place. But then, many of these people were “single issue voters”, as in the “Right to Life” crowd – a vile misnomer which should read “Right to Birth” – who hoped this candidate would end abortion and even contraception. In essence, their magical belief in the full humanness of a fertilized egg helped elect an administration with social, military, environmental, anti-science, and foreign affairs policies that doom millions to an early death while destroying the lives of countless species on this planet. Of course, there were other agendas as well, such as those who hated Hillary Clinton but could not articulate a single coherent reason why.

There have been many articles and books published on why we vote the way we do, even strongly against our own best interests. Yet, distilling population data down to the individual with whom you are speaking still leaves a void. I perceive that void as the individual psyche, an amorphous cloud of emotions, biases, prejudices, and beliefs hopefully overseen by a governing body of rational thought. But what happens when the governing body loses its grip?

I’m not a psychologist, although one of the federal agencies for which I worked classified me as “psychological anthropologist” so I could travel widely and freely doing what I do best. But after seven decades of observing and listening I am still occasionally surprised when I hear someone I “know” say, “Well, I voted for Trump but I won’t again.” Is it the person of Trump they are disillusioned with, or have they realized the agenda of the people who ushered Trump into place? A few simple and non-threatening questions often bring out the answer, and usually it is the former: disillusionment with the man. Typically, they didn’t give much thought, if any, to the horde of flesh eating parasites hiding in Trump’s shadow, even after so many of them were dragged into the sunlight and dismissed and/or convicted.

That leaves me with the feeling that this now remorseful person remains vulnerable to the next demagogue that group of parasites loquaciously props in front of us. In sum, no great epiphany has occurred, the person with whom I’m speaking remains the same. So how do we reach the multitudes still out there?

In the early years of the Viet Nam misadventure we tried the “Hearts and Minds” approach, attempting to sway the South Vietnamese population to see us as allies and friends. The Tip of the Spear was the military group known as the Green Berets. Trained in the local language, field medicine, and the fundamentals of the culture, they quickly gained the sobriquet “Armed Anthropologists”. Well, we saw how well that worked out.

But it wasn’t an ill informed policy. Years earlier we saw how the failed Presidential campaign of Adlai Stevenson was brought down by common sentiment labeling him as “effete, an egghead”, and other aspersions directed at his intelligence. Clearly, an appeal to the collective intellect of the American voters was doomed at birth. An appeal to where the voters “lived”, that is, to their feelings, beliefs and emotions, may have worked far better. Facts and logic cannot gain traction in a vacuous mind. The Stevenson campaign failed to recognize that.

We saw repeatedly throughout Donald Trump’s campaign rallies that he aimed for the heart, not the head. As he strutted before his audiences the camera panned over seas of vapid, pre-orgasmic faces waiting suspensefully for his next inane, titillating claim. And the show went on.

Even now, though the rallies have dwindled in attendance for various reasons, the effects are manifest in the numbers of people refusing to wear masks during a nationwide, indeed worldwide pandemic. We so often hear the mythical refrain, “It’s about my personal freedom”, a core value in American life. But it’s not about personal freedom; it’s about one’s sense of responsibility to others. However, that calls for an exercise in logic, albeit simple, and those neural cells are just not active, if there at all.

About a year ago some in-laws and friends came for a visit. We had a mixture of three different languages represented and the accents were quite thick, sometimes making it easier to just drift into another language. One asked me why, after years of speaking English, she still spoke with an accent whereas I had none. I explained the large and universally flexible neural network associated with speech and how, in early speech development, our significant others reward some sounds and discourage others thus rewarding some neural pathways and allowing all the others to fall into disuse and become difficult to bring into use. Essentially, why children are more able to successfully become multi-lingual than are adults. I think the same applies, to some degree, in the development of other – directed logical thinking versus self – directed emotional feeling. If we do not stress thinking of others to children we must not be surprised when they grow into an adult who thinks only of his own wants and needs versus those of others. And I think this applies to “anti-vaxers” and anti-abortion/contraception people as well. In their mythical and magical little worlds they fail to see the damage they do to others, becoming reservoirs for disease, allowing their children to be at risk, and relegating women to the status of brood mares while at the same time voting to cut social and financial support to the resulting children.

Just as we take our time with children as they learn to form and properly employ words, we must do so with the development of logical thought and the calculation of consequences. In fact, this practice would be helpful in immediate ways as children enter school. For example, mathematics is logic expressed as numbers. Of course, the process of learning takes time but the earlier we start the easier it will be. I remember when high schools offered courses such as Home Economics. These should be reinstated nationally as required courses which include in depth learning about the environmental and social impacts and costs of products used in our everyday homes. Sex Education should be taught in every school with an emphasis on contraception and the long term costs of raising a child.

Admittedly, enrolling a formed adult in this process presents far greater challenges. Certainly, the easier course would be to claim these people are beyond repair and just hope the next generation corrects the problem. But the very existence of the next generation is mortally threatened by the actions of this one. There will be those we are tempted to give up on – “He’ll never change…” – and there will be those whose expressed logic is still heavily accented with personal biases, prejudices, and beliefs. But there are ways to start. One simple starting point is with the advertising industry. The messaging has to change from, Do you want this to Do you need this. Every item or consumable over a certain dollar amount must carry an equal time message stating its long term cost, the environmental cost of its production, transport and storage, and the social impact of these costs.

Churches that teach the “Prosperity Gospel”, that some God wants you to be rich and prosper, should be fully taxed in amounts commensurate with the damage to society and the environment their nonsensical myths are bringing. There are no socially redeeming qualities in the wanton destruction of the environment.

So, I recoil internally when I hear someone express remorse over having voted for the voracious locusts now holding most of the power in this country. Far more than what these late-comers feel, I want to know what they will do. I think two of the most overly used words in any language are, “I’m sorry”. Show me, don’t tell me. As the old Hollywood adage goes, Talk’s cheap.

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8 Comments
  1. Dana permalink

    Marco, as a retail worker during this deadly pandemic I get to see what people are purchasing.  Bear in mind this comes with as little judgement I can muster; I too make impulsive purchases and buy things I don’t necessarily need.  I also wonder how so many people currently have disposable income for seemingly non-essential items.  

    Then again, I’m a low-wage worker with thirty-seven new plants and various new containers in my bedroom.  Are those things I merely wanted, or could they be regarded as essential items?  Several are ailing because some indoor plants are known to be tricky.  And if there is no dedicated research prior to acquisition or proper care afterward, plants will die.  In the moment bringing one home brings joy, but I may very well lose some of my investment to a degree.  I joke with others I’m on “Plant Restriction” for the time being as though they care.

    My plants provide immediate relief and calm as I walk into my room after a challenging day spent with the public.  Many have distinct personalities and they make me smile and even laugh or cry sometimes.  Plants clean the air, although that is an added benefit, not a reason for my purchase.  

    I rarely spend money on myself, and detest most in-person and online shopping.  However, I do enjoy frequenting thrift stores for many things I need, including much of my minimalist wardrobe.  I usually choose Goodwill because I love the treasure hunt.  In doing so I benefit others and the environment.  Admittedly my main reasons are self-centered – the search, and the joy in finding something unique. 

    On rare occasions my parents wire an unsolicited amount of money.  At one time I decided I would no longer accept it, and even told them so.  I haven’t made that happen. I’m aware how they earn some of their income, and while not illegal it certainly is immoral. I never accept the gift without a degree of guilt.  

    But, if I always adhered to rigid black and white thinking I would also be jobless. The field in which I work supports and sells products that are destroying our planet and its inhabitants. Should I quit because of this? Naturally I wouldn’t or I’d probably wind up dying of starvation and on the street as I once could have been.

    I lived with rigid thinking in my teens and early twenties in many areas. For a few years I was an ardent vegan and practically cult-like in my thinking.  But today when I eat a slice of N.Y. style pizza out, I never do so without guilt.  I know exactly what I’m doing and the damage to non-human animals and the environment.  

    Most of my choices are good ones most of the time, and my carbon footprint is probably quite small by comparison.  Yet I cringe when I see the mound of plastic recyclables piling up because I eat mostly out of a microwave these days.  Grocery shopping has obviously changed; I no longer linger at the produce aisle in awe at how fruits and vegetables grow.  I get in and get out without much thought or any joy.  In a pandemic I now eat to survive; I no longer live to grocery shop and cook.  

    So what should I do?  Spend extra time in the store, thoughtfully choosing produce while potentially endangering myself and/or others if I’m asymptomatic?  Or do I head straight for the vegetarian items on the freezer aisles?  

    I think about these things a lot, and as you know, I enjoy thinking.  By the way, my plants are definitely a new special interest because I find myself working them into any conversation much like I did with Benjamin Franklin.  

    Thanks for the opportunity to share my stream-of-consciousness, Marco. 

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  2. Thank you, Dana, for the very thought provoking comments and observations. First, i would say you apparently NEED your plants (and they need you). And, I would say “black and white thinking” is not the issue; fully developed, contextual thinking is the issue. As we begin to more fully understand what we are doing, and the impact it has on fellow parts of the environment we likely will never see, we will become more Mindful. And, that mindfulness will come with “accents”, feelings of guilt, resentment, and so on. But instead of just banishing those accents, a project doomed to failure, we can marshal our minds to say, Yes, I did this, or I am this, but knowing it now I can either take steps to correct it or I can do better in other ways. In fact, your candor and your courage in speaking out is a precise example.

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  3. Dana permalink

    Thanks Marco. I often think about the cognitive dissonance in some of my behavior and actions, but there is always opportunity to do better. And when I’m pressed for time, I think a microwaveable vegan meal enclosed in plastic and cardboard is probably less destructive than someone super-sizing a burger and fries. On work days I’m away from home for twelve hours or so and too exhausted to think about cooking. I suppose I could prepare less wasteful meals on my days off, but I’d rather spend the time in research or writing.

    A lot of plastic and glass can be repurposed. I’ve done this with numerous items. All of my pens, markers, and paintbrushes are stored in pretty, colorful sparkling water aluminum cans. They’re aesthetically pleasing and useful besides. The tops come off safely and easily with a can opener, and surprisingly have no sharp edges. They’re already made from recycled aluminum, so in essence a gift that keeps on giving.

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  4. Thanks, Dana. I’m reminded of the saying popularized in the 1970’s: Think Globally, Act Locally.

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  5. Shopping in thrift stores and reusing plastic containers are certainly environmentally sane options, but they do add to my hoarding tendencies to some extent. I counter this by making item donations on a fairly regular basis, thus helping others while ridding myself of things I no longer need or want.

    I am surrounded on all sides by Trump supporters. It seems no matter what he and his ilk do to this nation, they simply can’t see the truth of it. For instance, his latest EO, which makes him look the hero while actually accomplishing nothing at all. When I pointed out the manipulation inherent in its creation (and who can’t see that this was the plan all along?), my husband and I got in our loudest “conversation” in some time. He called the Democrats “socialists”, and I countered with calling the Republicans “fascists”. I can’t say it was pleasant. Those who believe in Trump do so blindly, and there is little one may do which helps a blind man to see. I try, goodness knows; if he is re-elected, I don’t think either I or my marriage will survive.

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  6. Thank you, Rose. It’s sad, but sometimes I guess we have to do what we can quietly. I’ve often said, “I was born into a Fascist regime and I don’t intend to book-end my life by dying in a Fascist regime”. But that declaration is a feel-good, not a certainty. I’m sure “domestic tranquility” is at risk throughout the country, and the Covid pandemic certainly makes things worse.

    I’m sorry for the many families, especially the children who will be evicted once the landlords learn the executive action has no merit and they are free to do what they want.

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  7. Elizabeth Martinez permalink

    Hi Marco. I’ll reply to this in a day or two.

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  8. Looking forward to it.

    Like

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