Anthropology fascinates me. The workings of the human mind, how our thoughts and actions are influenced by social factors, what we learn to cope with and what we learn to fight -- it's all learned, and that means that if we're paying attention, we have the power to choose.
I've been following Robert Reich and George Lakoff, both professors at UC Berkeley. Reich was Secretary of Labor in the Bill Clinton administration, and now teaches public policy. Lakoff taught cognitive science & linguistics, and is now the director of the Center for the Neural Mind & Society. These two gentlemen encompass a broad and deep wealth of wisdom about where our society is and what we can do about it.
One major mistake we've all been making is repeating stories about how horrified we are about the incoming president's comments, cabinet choices, and plans for our country. We follow everything he says, which is important so we know what we're up against, but more than taking tangible action, we express our disgust, frustration, and feeling of powerlessness.
It's important that we process our emotions. I wonder if we can do that without talking about the man who seems to be the cause of our pain. It's not all on him -- there are strong forces of white supremism, racism, entitlement of the wealthy, nationalism, selfishness and greed at work in our country. Political correctness, once a positive force for managing these negative forces, has been attacked and weakened.
I'm reminded of the complicated physical battle in Syria. We started out fighting ISIS, but then we were also fighting Assad. Then we couldn't tell which rebels were fighting Assad with us, and which rebels were with ISIS. Russia openly supporting Assad's regime made relations with them more tense. We hardly know where to step, only that we don't want to step on innocent victims, yet that seems to be all we manage to accomplish.
We were starting a movement against income inequality, in our less physical but equally complicated battle here in the states. Then we found we were fighting a large force that thinks America should belong to the white man. Some of that force is wealthy, but a lot of it is the poor people we thought we were going to help by fighting for income equality. So now two wars are underway, and we're not sure exactly which people are enemies and which are victims. We'd like to put the whole mess on the president-elect's shoulders, but just like bombing Syria, that doesn't accomplish anything.
Worse, it feeds the narcissim that will soon be in charge of our government. The more we talk about him and his outrageous comments, the more we reward his unhealthy ego. Rather than bombing his lack of character, we need to focus on the positive actions we can take, and minimize the one enemy of both our fights, while watching his actions to keep our defenses up.
How do we do that? We network. We work on strengthening the democratic party, our most powerful weapon in both these battles. We train up new leaders with wisdom and self discipline. We exercise all the powers of our state and local governments and minimize federal influence. We starve the monster and feed the victims.
I'm still registered republican, but you can bet I'll be reading Reich and Lakoff, meeting with local liberals to protect the rights of the poor and marginalized, and speaking up, a lot, about all the issues, never mentioning the man we want to blame.
Make America Kittens Again
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Susie Snortum is passionate about improving society's compassion for meeting basic human needs -- food, shelter, clean water, and dignity.