Q & A: In what ways are many liberals out of touch with the real world?

I’ll tell you one big way (speaking as a radical leftist) – I was under the delusion that the overwhelming majority of Americans were kind, non-judgmental, and fairly smart, and there were just a few very loud White Supremists and other bigots making a lot of racket… I thought working-class white Americans were upset because the economic system was going less and less in their favor, and although some folks blamed those worse off than themselves for this, they would support legislators and programs that helped everyone – including themselves.

Turns out there are apparently a LOT of Americans – perhaps a majority – who are consumed with hatred towards those unlike them, whether those people are brown, non-Christian, non-hetero-normative, not American citizens, whatever. There are a LOT of Americans – perhaps a majority – who would support policies that hurt them personally, as long as those unlike them are hurt worse.

This is not a reality that it has been pleasant to face. Thanks for asking.

REALLY well said, Sadie! <applause> I’ve been saying much the same, always in a bit of a daze. I thought those you speak of, the ones consumed with hatred to the point of madness, were part of the “lunatic fringe”. I knew they were there, but such a minority that they shouldn’t be taken seriously. I was so… so wrong. What an unpleasant lesson to learn. At the (very) least, know you’re not alone.

That’s interesting Paul. There’s no need to project. I’m happy to tell you what I thought. 😉

I’m southern. My entire family is southern. My grandfather was one of the most racist individuals I’ve ever known. He refused to eat food prepared by African Americans. He saw one spit in a white person’s food once – that was enough for him.

My mother was his only child. She rejected everything he taught her about racism. She married a military officer, traveled the world, learned all she could about living a life based on the idea that everyone brings something amazing to the table. This is what she taught her children.

Which brings us to me. When I lived in New Orleans I had a great deal of hate directed at me for the color of my skin. After Katrina, when Mayor Nagin assured the world that “We as black people, it’s time, it’s time for us to come together. It’s time for us to rebuild a New Orleans, the one that should be a chocolate New Orleans. And I don’t care what people are saying Uptown or wherever they are. This city will be chocolate at the end of the day” I was the least surprised person in the world. Ok, I was a little surprised that a politician said the soft part loud, but that’s it.

It made sense to me that a minority population would want to claim a city where they could live as the majority. But even then, trying hard to listen, to see what it was like, I was still outside the experience. I still thought that the hate, the prejudice, the discrimination was directed by a very vocal, extremely active minority. Surely humans as a whole were better than that. Which isn’t to say that African Americans don’t experience discrimination. Not at all. But the majority of people do not default to hate. African Americans, like all others who experience discrimination, were actively targeted by humans on the verge of madness. A vocal minority. The lunatic fringe.

That was my mistake. My partner teaches Cultural Diversity classes. I help grade the papers. I’ve read the stories for over a decade, each one describing what it’s like to live under the thumb of prejudice based on stereotype. I vowed that I would not behave in that fashion. I would not tolerate the presence of anyone who did. I taught others not to act on hate. When Obama was elected I took it as proof that these efforts were working. That hate was still present, but not dominant.

I was wrong.

I didn’t understand how comforting hate and anger is to so many. I didn’t understand that some humans truly believe they can hate in the name of love. I have a very difficult time comprehending how someone can hate in the name of Christianity. I didn’t think hate was winning.

I was wrong.

Chocolate City speech – Wikipedia

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Q & A: How does a 14 year old save up money to leave home?

Unfortunately, the legal system is already against you. You aren’t old enough to sign a legal contract. Which means you won’t be able to find a place to live or to hold a job until you’re either legally emancipated either by age or court order.

If you start your own business your parents will have to start a bank account for you, as well as fill out the legal paperwork. If you go into child acting or modeling, same deal.

So, without having to deal with contracts I’d default to the old standbys. Recycle. Pick up every piece of trash that has value. Babysit. If that isn’t your thing, petsit. Go door-to-door asking if your neighbors need help with anything – yardwork is just getting going at this time of year. Offer to wash cars after a storm. If you’re getting good grades or have a special skill you could tutor.

If you’re still able to talk to your parents at all, ask them to set up a bank account for you. There’s no need to tell them why. Tell them you want to learn about money management or anything else that floats your boat. If you can do that, and you’re crafty, you can try selling things on Etsy or Ebay.

I was scrolling around and found this and this. Word to the wise – proceed with caution. There’s lots of opportunities out there. There’s also lots of people trying to take advantage of someone with less experience. Check things out ahead of time if you can, make sure it’s legit. I wish you the best.

Q & A: Who was the most ignorant American you have ever met?

CaptureMy partner teaches Cultural Diversity to college freshmen. Over the last 10 years she’s run into African American students who’d never even heard of American slavery. Other students in the same class assured her that Africans were happy to be transported (for free!) to the greatest country in the world, so they could work happily alongside all their friends. It wasn’t slavery, it was a lifestyle upgrade! (where to begin??)

Most of her students have never heard of the Japanese American internment camps of WWII, about 1/3 thought American Indians are extinct (some thought they were invented only for the movies) and nearly all of them KNOW for a fact that Arabs and Muslims mean the same thing – the two words can be used interchangeably. (where to begin??)

Let’s see. There were those who just assume that Civil War and Civil Rights are the same thing, and that slaves could escape their cruel southern masters by hopping a bus (they’d have to sit in the back of course) before joining MLK to protest – right after Rosa Parks was shot. (No, really)  My favorite student essay might be the slaves who escaped from England. Longing to see the Statue of Liberty they steamed into San Francisco Bay, after visiting Hawaii. (no really)

27_stegosaurus_tom_millerBut I didn’t meet any of these nice people.  For one I’ve actually met you have to go to the DMV.  My partner and I were waiting to get an updated ID.  What was typically a long wait was made even longer because the computers had gone down statewide.  So we waited, and waited….  Eventually the fellow sitting next to me struck up a conversation.  They had rotating trivia questions about the state posted on a screen, so he and I started a fun little competition (this is how I learned that the Stegosaurus is the state dinosaur of Colorado).

But that could only amuse for so long.  The nice fellow next to me started muttering about how inefficient the DMV was, and the government in general.  I had to agree, there’s a lot of room for improvement.  Encouraged (my bad!), he started to explain his opinion of Socialism, and why it is the basis of all evil.  Not wanting to antagonize the guy I was going to sit next to for the next few hours, I cautiously agreed that any system of government, taken to the extreme, was a bad thing.  Encouraged (my bad!), he warmed to his topic and started describing in detail all his perceived ills of “The Man”.  But the more he carried on, the more it became obvious that he had no idea what any form of socialism actually consisted of (imagine if he knew there was more than one!).  In fact, he was actually describing a pretty accurate description of Fascism.

If you’ve read my blogs for any length of time, you know by now that my partner is a college professor.  She is a much nicer person than I am, on the whole.  But she can only handle so much egregious ignorance in one sitting.  So she looked around me, smiled sweetly, and said “You realize you’re talking about fascism, right?”  The look on his face was so comical I had to bite my tongue to keep from laughing.  Then, indignant as all hell, he decided to explain that she had NO idea what she was talking about.  Oh dear.  She listened for a few seconds, then nodded and said “That’s not socialism at all.  It’s Fascism.  And you’re right, it’s pretty much the definition of evil.”

By now my new friend was so indignant he was almost babbling.  I gave up trying to smooth his feathers.  Instead, I tried a different tactic.  “I’m not quite sure what Socialism is…. “, I began.  Huffing a bit, he agreed this was certainly true.  “… so I was wondering if you could explain it to me.  What is the definition of Socialism?”

I almost felt sorry for him.  On the one hand he was happy and flattered that I had handed the conversation back to him, and that I asked him to explain things.  On the other hand, there was no possible way he could define the term.  But he was mollified to the point where he admitted that he didn’t know the precise definition, even while he certainly knew what he was talking about (unlike my partner…)

“Oh, I can help there!”  I whipped out my handy cellphone and called up the definition. “so·cial·ism – noun: a political and economic theory of social organization that advocates that the means of production, distribution, and exchange should be owned or regulated by the community as a whole. ”

“That’s how the United States creates and maintains schools.”  My partner was not being subtle.  “And roads,” I included.  “And the police,” she added.  “And firefighters, and the military, and …”

45046-anger-verses.800w.tnThe look he gave us might have frozen a campfire.  “I’ll thank you to read to yourself!”  Then, as much as it was possible seeing as how we were seated next to each other, he turned his back on the pair of us, reached into the backpack at his feet, and pulled out a Bible.  He opened it to Leviticus (of course he did!) and kept his eyes firmly fixed on the page for the rest of our time there.  Interestingly, he never turned the page, he just stared at it, as though the very act of opening the Bible rendered any other argument invalid.  I thought about sharing my favorite passage from James with him, but I decided he’d had enough for one encounter.

Don’t get me wrong.  I understand the dangers inherent in taking Socialism to extremes.  Any form of government can be bent and twisted into something horrible.  But this guy so clearly had no idea what he was talking about, I thought it was my civic duty to insert a few facts into his skewed worldview.  This was several years ago, before he no doubt voted for Trump with glee.  But I do wonder if he still remembers his encounter in the DMV.  I suspect not.

Edit: BTW, the first photo depicting “happy slaves” isn’t a political cartoon.  It’s actually from a children’s book published by Scholastic – “A Birthday Cake for George Washington”.  The book tells the tale of all the happy slaves who work for our nation’s first President and why they were delighted to bake for him, especially on his birthday.  Just… where to begin?

Q & A: My 16-year-old daughter came out to me as bisexual. I want her to have a traditional life with a husband and kids. What should I do?

Well…

You may wish to consider apologizing. Because “I want her to have a xxx life” doesn’t really factor into anyone’s life but your own. SHE is quite old enough to make her own decisions regarding her sexuality. Tell her you’ve thought it over, that you overreacted, and apologize. Let her know that though you’re surprised by this, you love her very much and support her. As an added touch to show that you mean it, and to illustrate how classy people behave, you may wish to invite your daughter’s girlfriend over for dinner. Get to know this person who is such an important figure in your daughter’s life.

You can do this. FWIW, it caught my parents by surprise too. But they eventually understood and supported us. Her parents do not. In fact, they refuse to acknowledge I exist. Guess where we live? A few minutes from MY parents. Her parents are 2,000 miles away and see their daughter at Christmas. That’s it. Don’t be them.

Q & A: What’s the most unprofessional thing a doctor has said to you?

006.gifOne for me, one for my mother. I arrived for my annual physical a little early to fill out any needed paperwork. While I was bent over my clipboard, my doctor’s nurse approached the woman behind the desk. She leaned over and said quietly “What’s that?” nodding in my direction. “That’s a physical” was the reply. Then they both groaned softly.

It’s common practice for patients to be objectified by their condition, especially if it’s chronic. But that was the first time I’d witnessed it, let alone experienced it. I immediately switched to a different practice.

My mother cut her hand badly enough to need stitches. I’d taken her to the nearest ER, which was a small, local offshoot of one of the area’s largest hospitals. She was eventually seen by two EMTs who happened to be there. They were clearly friends and gossiped as they stitched her up. One was complaining about how quiet mountain towns are, and how happy he was that he’d transferred to the big city. The other one, the one working on my mom, agreed. “Yeah,” he replied. “Denver’s got all the good trauma.”

simpsons_doctor.gifMy mother tensed, but didn’t say anything. I was horrified. I believe I said something like “Did you just say that?” My mother, ever the peacemaker, tried to laugh it off. The two mental giants didn’t even understand why we were upset at first. “The GOOD trauma??” I prompted. Finally it clicked. They started stammering that if you’re someone who has dedicated their life as a first responder, it’s best to go where the action is. Their talents are wasted in a quiet little mountain town. Finally they just sputtered to a stop and slunk out the door. I’m sure they thought that we, as civilians, would never “get it”. Oh no. We “got it” just fine. No matter how good you are, sweetheart, your best day is someone else’s worst day. Celebrating that day is obscene.

Q & A: What are some ugly truths of life?

Nearly everything you believe to be true is the product of carefully crafted propaganda.

If you believe the lies you’ll be a much happier member of the herd, but you’re living in a dream that can shatter at any moment. If you know the truth not only will you be set apart from the herd for life, but if you try to tell the truth to a member of the herd they’ll think you’re a liar at best, crazy at worst. Here’s one example. There are lots of others.

Q & A: What are some good occupation/job suggestions for those on the autism spectrum and others who wish to be alone as much as possible?

The best job I ever had was testing prototype cars for Roush. We had a set pattern, driving across the plains for the first 3 hours, then up into the mountains for the next 4 hours. Though we drove in a small group it was still like going on an eternal road trip. Just me, great tunes, and some of the most beautiful landscape in America. Best of all, no one was breathing down my neck. As an added bonus I drove the night shift. As a natural night owl anyway the hours were ideal and we had the roads more or less to ourselves.

The only downside was when it snowed. Mountain driving in a snowstorm is not fun, and some of the roads they had us going down were not paved, very steep, narrow, twisting and no guard rails. I have a few white hairs from nights like that. Even so, if they offered me the job again right this second I’d take it!

Roush Industries – Test Driver, Vehicle Evaluator

Q & A: Will Trump lead to the downfall of the USA?

Woah. That’s quite a question! And just a tiny bit slanted. 😉 I’m not sure why you asked me to answer it, but I’ll see what I can do, with the disclaimer that I am a citizen with a high IQ. I am NOT a political expert.

No one person is powerful enough to lead to the downfall of this country. Not even the President. But as a symptom / symbol of a horribly dysfunctional political environment, it’s hard to beat Trump. I could make the same statement about Hillary Clinton. The last campaign cycle was off the charts for boneheaded mistakes on all sides. The few who tried to draw attention to what was going on were shouted down.

The charges of corruption are very disturbing, though not terribly surprising. The Clinton campaign has been charged with rigging their party to favor her nomination over Bernie Sanders. I tend to believe those charges are accurate. The Trump campaign has been charged with conspiring with Russia to rig the entire thing. Though it wouldn’t surprise me if it was true, and I think Russia certainly was involved, I suspect Trump’s personal involvement was minimal. He probably knew they’d try, and assumed all involved are too powerful to be held accountable, even if they got caught. So the only reason he wasn’t more hands-on was because he didn’t really care.

I could go on, but the facts before us are well documented. I think of our political system like a house eaten by termites. The exterior might seem “business as usual” but it’s being eaten away from within until the entire structure is on the verge of collapse. Trump is a big cockroach. He may be what topples the thing into sawdust. But if he does it’s because of failure at EVERY level. The corporate owned media is a farce. The people – where are the people? How could so many buy into so many lies? The train may wear Trump’s face, but all involved are to blame for the wreck.

Q & A: What is the worst thing about life?

It’s too short.

We, as a species, are making the same mistakes over and over. When I read something written in ancient times it’s remarkably similar to today. They’re complaining about taxes and that their kids don’t understand them etc. If we lived longer (in a healthy state – not body breaks down at 50 and we live to 3,000) I’d like to think we’d be less frantic, more considerate. And I hope that as a species we’d learn a few useful lessons, including how to pass those useful lessons on to the next generation.