October 29, 2018

How Much More?


I can absorb only so much horror and experience so much disgust until I must relieve some of the pressure.  I can yell and pound my fists on the nearest hard table. I can take a sabbatical from reading the front section of the morning paper. 

And, I can write something that breaks away from my normal post topics.

Pipe bombs mailed to political targets. Is this a step in our "evolution" that cannot be taken back? Is killing of opponents now on the table? Is assuming, even for a second, that the targets of the bombs did it themselves as a political ploy a leap of conspiracy theorizing that should never see the light of day, but did?

Synagogue killings in Pittsburgh. What level of hate must someone possess to do this? What could possibly have been the lifetime of built up delusions and lies to cause a human mind to warp to this degree? What rational mind would suggest that the best answer is an armed guard to prevent the massacre?

Grocery Store shooting. Two people shot to death at a grocery store in Kentucky, simply because they were black.  Two lives gone, simply for being in a place where another human being, so full of distorted rage, decided it was his right to end their existence due to the color of their skin.

And, the event this past week that finally pushed me over the edge: a lock-down at my grandkids' school: Police, SWAT team members, terrified children, frantic parents left outside the school buildings with no information for 40 minutes, imaging the worst.

My grandson huddled behind chairs, one day after his 12th birthday, praying that this wouldn't be his last day on earth. My granddaughters staring at police with weapons and body armor, desperately wanting mommy. Mommy, in her car in the parking lot, watching police arrive, with no way of knowing the fate of her children, becoming more terrified and distraught by the minute.


It turned out a youngster brought a toy gun to school, one that was designed to look exactly like a real 9mm weapon. All ended with no injuries, at least physical ones. Mentally, the children's safe world had been invaded and made deadly for a time. "This is the new normal" became the summary. 


96 Americans are shot and killed every single day. In two days that would equal my high school graduating class. Yes, people who should not have guns will always find a way to get one. Yes, we have the right to bear arms for sport and self defense. But, that argument loses its power when that "right" is abused so constantly and when the answer is always, more guns.

This post has very little to do with gun control. It has to do with impulse control. It has to do with the hate that is flowing freely all around us.Our nation is being torn apart not by different opinions but by different visions of reality and truth. Words that once meant the same thing to all of us now serve to separate us, violently and with malice.

Too many leaders have zero concern for the long term health of society. All is about power, ego and image, the next election or next political "win." The ultimate short game is only appealing if there are winners and losers...for some even losing isn't enough..it must be elimination.

We are becoming an of an out-of-control, self-absorbed and delusional, reality-deficient society. Every single one of us is just a moment away from becoming another statistic for no other reason than being at the wrong place at the wrong time, holding a particular set of views, or exercising our First Amendment rights.

Yes, the individuals who killed the people in Pittsburgh and the Kentucky grocery store were mentally sick. Yes, the man who allegedly mailed the pipe bombs was seriously out of control. And, yes, killings like this occur with shocking regularity throughout our nation's history. They are not "owned" by any one political party, viewpoint, or time in history.

But, the number of hate crimes over the last few years, and the frequency that insane conspiracy theories are given plausibility by media, both public and social, is clearly a reflection of how we now talk and think about each other. 

We have created a world where instant communication means instant dissemination of the most violent, implausible, ridiculous claims and counterclaims. Stories and fictionalized scenarios that we wouldn't accept in a crime novel, are given credence and believability, instantly, and with no take back or serious thought.

America is a strong country. We have a history of overcoming problems that would have destroyed a less stable system. But, every empire, every major power, eventually fades from view. That is the reality of history. It is either destroyed by an an outside enemy, or a moral collapse within. This is beginning to feel like the latter. 

How much more can our present day situation remain unchanged before we cross a point of no return? I wish I had an answer. 

For now, I only have a deep, deep feeling of disappointment and fear in the pit of my stomach. 

Your thoughts and comments are encouraged.

64 comments:

  1. My son asked me yesterday what I thought about the Pittsburgh shooting. I told him I no longer listen to the news so I have nothing to say to him nor do II have any opinion. I keep my own head inside a special zone that is happy and free. I no longer am paying attention to what is going on around me.
    People reap what they sow.
    Hillary Clinton calling Trump voters 'deplorables' hasn't done much for the American people. Idiots like Maxine Waters calling for her constituents to rise up and hassle Republicans where they live, work, eat, socialize isn't helping either. Listening, seeing and reading the non-stop daily hateful rhetoric of our media isn't helping anyone either. The news will never stop. The hatred of Trump will never go away until he is either killed, dead or impeached. Simply amazing hatred that goes on and on and on and on. So, I turned off the news. I refuse to read what is going on. The horror of the imminent immigration invasion at our borders should make anyone shake in their shoes. WTF is going on? I have nothing to say to my son. I have nothing to say to anyone. I give up. All I can do is pray each and every night that no harm comes to my family. I pray to God for protection because there isn't a living human being left on this earth who can help us anymore.
    You reap what you sow.

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    1. I am leaving this comment in place as an example of what I find so off base today. The obvious blindness to his/her own hate and distortions while seeing it in others is the heart of the problem.

      I do agree with one of this person's statements: You reap what you sow. As a country we are reaping the product of unfettered distrust, misinformation, and open hate.

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  2. I find it fascinating that a supporter of the nastiest/rudest/most tone deaf president in American history would no longer listen to the news so she? can go into her happy place.
    I wish I could go into mine. But as an American and a Jew I found the events of this weekend to be beyond sickening--yet sadly not unexpected.
    I get why you are fixated on your grandchildren's lockdown. that shouldn't be happening. I am so sorry.
    Yet it's happening every damn day. In large part because the leadership of this country doesn't scream "enough, it's been enough. I apologize for acting as if my words couldn't hurt people..."
    But the sad fact is that since Charlottesville when he said that there are fine people on both sides, he showed many of us how incendiary his words can be. He obviously showed it to the people who helped hate crimes go up 84% (I believe) since 2016.
    I disliked Hilary Clinton calling people "deporables" but how long ago was that? To fixate on that is to show bigotry and hate.
    I try to practice kindness because I truly believe the only way goodness can win is when people are kind to one another.
    But as an American, a liberal, and finally but obviously not least important, a Jew, it becomes harder to each day. I guess the author of the above comment believes that Jews brought on our own killings as you "reap what you sow."
    Placing blame on the victims--the oldest congregants who couldn't fall down quickly enough--is not just beyond sad, it's evil. And yes the immigrants are going to turn up on our borders next week. I know that for a fact because I heard it on Fox.
    I don't want to sound like this. help me by discouraging people who so readily place blame and refuse to understand that we have all played a part in this mess. And people who have nothing to say about a mass killing, any mass killing are people who might blindly follow a despot. (Please delete this comment if you find it incendiary. I just found the above comment to be filled with hate and I don't need hate today. I live in the real world and can't go be in it crying.
    Kindness begins with all of us.

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    1. "I don't want to sound like this" fits me, too. I don't want to think like this, I don't want to write like this, I don't want to live like this.

      Neither do I want to run away and leave my country to the haters on either side of the argument. But, I'll be damned if I know what to do about it except make the tiny corner of the world I touch be a little better, with charity, kindness, and tolerance. At the moment, that feels so insignificant.

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  3. I'm not reading the news every day these days, but I do check in once a week or so to see what's been happening, or more frequently if we get asked about something wherever we are. People in France and now Italy are puzzled and confused: "What is happening in the U.S.? Why are these things happening?" and we have to go check on these things. I never have an answer other than racism, anti-Semitism, violence, etc. have always a part of America, and that I believe most Americans find those things abhorrent, but until recently they were kept hidden by many we would call "decent people." Now it feels like a rock has been overturned, and all the ugliness that was hidden under the rock has come spilling out.

    I sometimes think of Roosevelt's Four Freedoms, which he articulated in early 1941, as the world spun into the horrors of WWII, but before the U.S. was involved. Those basic freedoms are:

    1. The freedom of speech and expression
    2. The freedom to worship God in one's own way
    3. Freedom from want
    4. Freedom from fear

    All four of those freedoms are under attack today, as evidenced by the violence of this past week: the bomb threats, the murders in Kentucky, the synagogue shooting, and yes, the lockdown of your grandchildren's school. What was the President's answer to the synagogue shooting? That places of worship perhaps should have armed protection. What has our country come to when people can't worship as and where they choose without an armed presence at their place of worship?

    The word "freedom" gets tossed around a lot these days, but IMO "freedom" has come to mean that some will have freedom (i.e. to keep and own whatever guns they wish and as many as they wish, and use them as they see fit), with the rest having their freedoms curtailed in order to accommodate the others' "freedom." People now live in fear, stay home, and now it's been suggested from the President of our country that they have their churches and schools become armed camps. I am pro-gun for hunting and for sport, and of course for the military, but the word and concept of "freedom" rings hollow here when only part of the populace's "freedom" is being protected.

    And the idea of an imminent immigrant invasion? Can anyone still read a map? This "caravan horde" of 7,000 immigrants made up of mostly women, children and the elderly is currently just across the SOUTHERN Mexican border, well over 1000 miles from our southern border. We don't even track hurricanes when they're that far away! And yet somehow we are being overrun, and the caravan is being "financed" by Jewish elements, which came up as one of the reasons why the synagogue shooter felt he had to act.

    A fish rots from the head. Someone might not believe the President or members of his political party are racists, or anti-Semites, or encouraging violence, but as someone wisely said the other day, racists think he/they are racist, anti-Semites think he/they are anti-Semitic, and those would commit violence think that violence is being encouraged. No one can or should ignore that.

    I too have a deep fear in the pit of my stomach, Bob. We are at yet another make or break point right now for our country's future. I keep reminding myself that we have lived through other dark times as a country, up to and including a civil war, and we will hopefully be able to emerge from this dark period as well as a better, kinder, stronger nation. I am encouraged by the number of citizens that have registered to vote and who are voting in next week's election - many Americans are "fired up" as the expression goes, and have had enough. We shall see.

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    1. The "horde" of "Middle Eastern-infected" people heading to our southern border once were the type of human beings we cared about. They are fleeing a life of violence, death, and hatred for what they hope is a better life. Guess what: they are headed to a place with exactly the same problems. Their miserable state is only useful as a political talking point, not as an opportunity to make human lives better.

      Yes, we lived through the civil war where hate and distrust ran rampant. But, the racism and hate that triggered that conflict didn't end with that war, it just went underground for one hundred years until coming to the surface again with the Civil Rights movement of the 1960's. Then, back underground until today.

      History does tend to repeat itself.

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  4. That was so well said, Bob...you captured the situation exactly as I see it. It's not only the US society and democracy in danger, this is happening worldwide...just look at the leadership now in the Philippines, Turkey, Italy, Hungary, now the unbelievable election of a new despot in Brazil (not to mention Russia of course). Angela Merkel is in trouble in Germany, one of our strongest world leaders. The Trump rallies are haunting reminders of Germany in the 30s. I do still believe the majority of Americans still hold the foundational values that made the country great, but if they don't register and vote and begin to take back over the country and the government, we will be lost. I can't see how we can survive 6 more years of this insanity and destruction of all things we've worked so hard to built up over the last decades. And let's be frank, the MOST critical reason we need to take back over this country is to try to get some sane leadership regarding climate devastation. It could very well be too late to save our planet, but by golly, it sure is worth trying. If we don't, what people are doing to each other every day will be of minuscule importance compared to the wrath Mother Nature has in store for us for mistreating her so miserably. That is the most profound threat to your wonderful grandchildren and all the rest of us. God help us all.

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    1. The election in Brazil is terrifying because the new leader has told people exactly what he wants, who he hates, and what his plans are for military control and the environment. He still got 55% of the vote. If we need another powerful reminder of how politicians everywhere have failed their own people, Brazil is the latest example.

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  5. We can't drop out just because we don't like what is happening in the country or the world today. There are two basic ways that things get changed: the gun or the vote. I would much prefer the vote. Hold those presently "leading" the country accountable and things will eventually change.

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    1. Obviously, voting next week is critical. But, I question what exactly that will do, at least in the short term. You and I both know the talking points after the results will be voter fraud, fake news, more anger from one side of the other, and more violence.

      I think we are past the point where one election cycle will fix anything. It is an important first step but somewhat naive to think it will still the troubled waters.

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  6. I stumbled across your post and agree with it 100%. Some of my family lives in the US, and I worry about them, they're black and living in a country that does not welcome them. My aunt re-married to a man who happens to be Jewish, and I heard about the shooting and I hoped it was not their synagogue. I don't get why after Sandy Hook, and countless other incidents - people cannot see that more guns are NOT needed. I hope a good solution comes eventually, and comes soon.

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    1. Our blind spot about guns is remarkable and impossible to explain rationally. Of course, 480,000 people die from cigarette smoking each year in the U.S. and that remains legal and openly for sale, too.

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  7. Agree with every word of your post, Bob. When nothing happened after Sandy Hook, I really wondered what it would take for sensible gun laws in this country. Apparently nothing reaches that level. It's beyond disheartening. And arming everyone isn't the answer IMO. The Wild Wild West comes to mind. Surely we've evolved beyond that.

    As for ignoring the situation and living in one's happy place/mind, that's a pretty naive position. Anyone who thinks they're going to avoid this is kidding themselves. It's all a matter of place and time. And absolving our current administration is just being Pollyanna IMO.

    The whole situation is beyond upsetting and I really hope we see some checks and balances at the polls next week. We're in a world of hurt here, and the person in the most powerful position in the world is stoking the flames.

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    1. It is not possible to explain away our collective reaction to the mass murder of our children. The tired and ridiculous argument that controlling guns means only the bad people will have them is too stupid to debate. Guess what, the bad people already have them and are killing us. Americans own 40% of all the guns in the world!!!!!! Guess where the most people die from guns? Here.

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  8. I am so upset and disillusioned by all this. And the first commentor...well I have no words.

    The only media pushing lies and hateful conspiracy theories is Fox, Rush Limbaugh, Alex Jones , Steve Bannon and their ilk. Of course everyone has biases, but not to the degree of the far right and their hate and bigotry.

    Another mass shooting and we will see more and I can just imagine what we'll see as 2020 comes closer.

    Why do we hate the immigrants heading our way seeking safety from a horrific existence. Our ancestors were all immigrants wanting a better life.

    When did religion become more about hating gays and and minorities than helping our fellow man and not judging others and their lifestyle choices.

    It all sickens me but to tune out is not the answer. Vote and stand behind good education that might enlighten some people to the realities of humanity, the environment and peace.

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    1. If we look at the big picture it is impossible to not throw up one's hands in frustration and shame. The only (partial) answer or solution is at the local level and with the people and situations we interact with on a daily basis.

      I have about given up on my generation. I hope that those who come after us have a world left to enjoy and a society that loves more than it hates.

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  9. I've lived in rural Alberta all my life. For many years, I didn't worry about locking things up because crime just wasn't an issue. Times have changed. There are organized gangs targeting rural property owners because the police response time allows the perpetrators time to steal. Some property owners take the right to defend their property quite seriously, ending in gun violence, and making the headlines. The latest target is often easy to spot because now there's a gate at the entrance. Rural communities are banding together, sending alerts about suspicious activity so they can rally and send a physical presence of numbers. I think of the countries I've visited that have gated yards, houses, windows. And now I live in an area that is no different. The socioeconomic/political pressures of the world have come to me. Bob, it sucks when it hits so close to home. When I ask "Why me?" I can only respond, "Why not me?" What makes me immune to those pressures. Like you say, Bob, "...make the tiny corner of the world I touch be a little better, with charity, kindness, and tolerance. At the moment, that feels so insignificant." Do what you can.

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    1. I don't believe in a God who tests people with evil to teach patience and perseverance, I do believe in a loving Supreme Being who has put a little bit of itself in each of us. Our job is to feed that part and starve the part that makes us hate and strike out.

      Evil is part of the universe but how dominate it becomes is totally dependant on the humans who inhabit this world.

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  10. I'm glad you left the first comment up, Bob. There are too many like him who have come out of the woodwork since this administration became our fate. I've never witnessed so much mean and nasty rhetoric in my life. Every day it gets worse. The lies keep pouring out of that puckered face like water and no one in his political party will stand up to him. It's beyond sad and frightening. I am praying this mid-term election will change the direction we're going in now. It is time to stand up to the hate and mend our beloved country. Ignoring the news is not going to make it go away. Accepting the lies is not going to roust the truth. Keeping this administration in power is never going to bring us sanity or honesty or truth. It will never unite us. This election is the most important I can ever recall. It helps me to know that most of the people in my life, whether physically or through the internet are good and sane and just as angry as I am.

    b

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    1. This midterm is crucial, but I don't believe it will quiet the rhetoric and lies. In fact, it has the potential to make things worse in the short term. The 2 months between the voting and the seating of the newly elected officials could be very, very rocky.

      That said, Betty and I had our early ballots in the mailbox the very next day after they arrived.

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  11. I have to make an observation of the comments here in their entirety, Bob. The first one by Anonymous is obviously slanted in one direction, the Right. He/she is attacked immediately for his/her stance. The followon comments from those attacking are obviously slanted in the opposite direction, the Left, by their attacks on the President, Fox News, absolving Clinton of her Deplorable comments, annd anything they disagree with. Do those on the Left somehow think they have the moral high road in this argument just because they have an intense dislike of at least half the country, based upon all the polls? I don't believe so. All it shows is that they are part of the problem since neither side will budge or extend a hand to the other. Until both sides agree to put down the rhetoric nothing is going to get better in this regard. And if anyone thinks this somehow started with the election of President Trump they are sadly mistaken. It started long before he became a lightning rod for those who dislike him.

    This week in TN there was a rally for a Republican Senate candidate in Nashville. It was disrupted by those on the Left who started kicking and screaming, and they even shouted out despicable comments when the crowd was observing a moment of silence for the victims of the Pittsburgh murderer. Is this civility? Is this what those on one side view as somehow morally superior? I personally don't, and whether the incivility comes from those on the Right or the Left, it is still incivility.

    Personally I am a supporter of the 2nd Amendment. I choose to carry for protection of myself and my loved ones. If others choose not to I completely understand; not everyone is comfortable doing so. But to cast the 99.9% of citizens who are gun owners and law-abiding as also in the same boat as those who are full of hate and mental illness causes those law-abiding citizens to dig in their heels even more on the issue of gun ownership. Whether anti-gun proponents want to admit it or not, their intense rhetoric is probably the largest reason for the proliferation of gun ownership in the country, as those who support the 2nd Amendment feel their rights will eventually be infringed upon.

    I do not know the answer or answers, Bob, since society has been getting more and more unhinged for many, many years now. As a Christian I see the decay of the structured family as one culprit; the epidemic of drugs across the country has certainly not helped. But I know that one side castigating the other, and the opposite in turn doing the same, is not part of the solution. The comments here on your blog today point that out. Does anyone truly think they made a change in those with an opposite view? I doubt it very much.

    God Bless everyone during these trying times. I hope for the best for you and yours.

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    1. While I disagree with some of what you say, Chuck, your approach is civil and so much more constructive that our first commenting friend. I was hoping you would leave your thoughts because I know enough of your positions to know you would provide a counterbalance to the majority opinions here. And, you are a friend, so when I say I disagree with many of your points, that does not to harm our relationship...in fact, it probably strengthens it.

      We are supposed to be about a constructive exchange of ideas, not a drawing of an uncrossable line in the sand. That may have worked at the Alamo, but not now.

      As you say, at the moment no one is really listening, so any reasonable argument is drowned out by the screaming and shouting of the other side. Sad.

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    2. Absolutely true, Bob. I don't think less of you because we don't agree on some things; we agree on enough regardless. Friends are friends, and differences can sometimes make those friendships even more interesting. Take care.

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    3. ChuckY - yours is the comment here that I find myself most in agreement with. Thank you for putting it so well.

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    4. When I was a teenager, my parents were Kennedy and Johnson Democrats, and my father's parents were hard core Goldwater-ites. As I told someone elsewhere, there were definitely some heated discussions on occasion. But they were dinner time discussions and debates, and no one threw something at the other party, walked out the door and said that they could not be around them or anything of the sort. There was something called reasonable disagreement. These days, there are way too many places where that doesnt exist. And social media exacerbates that!I simply mention to a group of gals that the "caravan" is mainly asylum seekers and not illegal immigration and instead of a discussion in my knitting grou, folks are throwing down their yarn. It's us instead of them.

      Personally, while not a second amendment type, i agree fully with the right to bear arms, It just seems to me that on this issue (like abortion) there is no middle ground. Why should we allow a man who is convinced of abusing his wife and kids, and who has a restraining order, to have a gun? And it has to be said, who needs a machine gun for home protection or hunting.

      The bigget issue that I see however is words. It maybe a cliche, but words matter. And as a national leader with a following, you have to take the responsibility for those words and actions. Democratic vs Republican politics aside, I see the current guy in charge throwing words around with abandon, and then being suprised, or pretending to be surprised, at the results. The last guy who was so divisive was Richard Nixon, a guy who fully admitted that dividing America was fun. That recovery aftermath was a long long time. Is he the only guy doing it on either side? Absolutely not. He is, however, the guy in charge. The guy who is supposed to be the example to all of us. The guy who is supposed to be showing the rest of the world, who we are. The politics of left and right, Republican and Democrat aside, is Donald Trump who we are? Really?

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  12. What a contrast this post and the comments are to the one proceeding it, what we loved about our childhood. You echoed the thoughts and feelings of many of us. It seems our nation is fueled by anger and hate, from the lyrics of songs our young people are listening to while blocking out the world around them to the words of politicians who seem to take no responsibility for the influence their words have. It is very frightening. When I started working on a church staff 30 years ago I never dreamed I would be attending a seminar on how to protect your people from the danger of being gunned down by some mad person in a service, yet I know the pain of living in a community where that took place and having a pastor friend who experienced it in his church. I liked what you said in a previous reply. We can try to make the tiny corner of the world we touch be a little better, with charity, kindness, and tolerance. It may not seem like much but it's what our world needs and what we can do. I love our country as Barbara said most people are good and sane. May that sanity come back to our nation.

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    1. I did not plan on following the "feel good" post about childhood memories with this one, but events forced my hand. I didn't feel I had a choice.

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    2. I'm glad you did. What you said needed to be said.

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  13. I live in a red state and within that state a very red county. I hate to use colors to characterize my environment, but more and more my ability to cope with my supposed fellow citizens is vaporizing. Last week my small city appointed a new City Clerk, to start work today (Monday, Oct. 29). In a town with few decently paying jobs, this is a plum position for someone to land. A picture of the new clerk and the Mayor was posted in a local news Facebook page. I noticed the new hire was not from the city, and not even from the county, so my curiosity got peaked about what her credentials were to land the job. None were given in the news article. So, I thought, "Oh, let me take a look at her FB page." I found that it was "wide open" with no privacy settings, so I could see all her posts. What I found is that, intermingled with her overly religious Christian posts and posts about being a good parent, were countless other posts and reposts which I could only characterize as "hate filled." Posts were not only pro-Trump, but anti-Muslim, anti black politicians, anti-the "mob" Democratic party, and anti-immigrants. I emailed the Mayor. I posted on the news site that this was inappropriate FB content for a city employee. Most perons responding to my post supported her--one even claiming that I was wrong to call her posts "anti-immigrant," because they were actually anti-illegal aliens. Most posts were supportive of her, i.e. saying her politics won't be influencing her job and that she had "free speech" to post what she wanted. I countered that I had no problem with her politics as long as they didn't take the form of hateful derogatory trashing of other religions and ethnic groups or politicians who just happened to be black.

    CONTINUED

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  14. CONTINUED

    The above exchanges occurred on Friday. Saturday morning I headed out of town for an overnight trip to see a concert. I did not turn on the news before leaving. I listened to my i-pod the entire drive, so again no news. While driving, I started reflecting, "Did I get over-wraught over the new city clerk's FB posts. Did I over-react?"

    When I checked into my motel room, I flipped on the TV and CNN came on describing the Pittsburg murders. I then started thinking, No, I didn't get over-wraught. Good people need to start calling out those who are choosing to be hateful. We need to stand up to hate, error, distortion, and lies whenever and wherever we encounter them, especially in our public employees.

    Back home this morning though, a small medical semi-emergency, tipped me over the edge. That bit of extra stress caused a cascading feeling that "I can't live this way anymore," i.e. being surrounded by a sea of "red" hate. One of Trump's most hateful MAGA speeches was delivered in my state just a few weeks ago. In a letter to the editor of my local newspaper, a local resident wrote that he counts it as "one of the proudest moments in his life to have been standing and cheering behind Trump during this speech." Just watching the speech made me ill, and some of my out of state blue-tinged friends thought the speech was despicable and hateful.

    After quick trip to the eye doctor (have to return this afternoon) I found your latest blog post in my email. I am so glad you posted, because I was thinking that "I alone am truly losing it--everyone else seems to be coping--but not me." Thanks for leaving the first post in place! It gives a partial picture of the environment of people I live within daily. I'm always tempted to just say, "idiots" but that doesn't do it. I don't know what they are anymore.

    Your post was so timely as I really needed to hear a sensible person speak up and speak out. I felt I was all alone in feeling that I was losing it, until you posted this latest entry on your blog and let the replies stand (although I haven't read them all yet).

    I don't want to live in a coccoon isolated from the TV news. I don't want to turn off. But, more and more, if this is a social war, a social battle, a political vote, or a political battle, I don't know how to fight it (anymore). I can vote. I can continue writing letters to the editor calling people out, but is that of any use except perhaps to harden the positions of those I oppose. The city clerk probably started work today, turning off (ha ha) all her hate from 8 to 5, although I'll wager she does FB at lunch! I would like to enjoy my life (my last remaining years as I somehow look on it) and not have to deal with what now feels like evil minded people. Is it evil? If so, where is it coming from? I don't believe in a God inflicting anything on us (an opinion which I think you also stated). Also, is not Trump per se who dis-quiets me, it is his supsporters and those he is inspiring. It is post number one a thousandfold.

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    1. I wish I had some encouraging words of comfort for you and others, but at the moment I don't. Voting is obviously a necessary step, but not likely to tamp down the emotions and lies.

      I lived through the civil rights period of the 60s, went to Washington to march against the Vietnam War, protested various social issues on my college campus, and then did my duty with 6 years in the Army Reserves.

      Where we are now feels so much worse. The open racial hate and violence, the attempts to label people unlike us as subhuman and disposable, the use of religion to kill....all leaves me wondering where the "great experiment" known as American democracy is headed.

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    2. This is a post I could have written. Everything you said reflects how I feel. And including also is that I too live in a red state and in a very red county and the only thing that saves my sanity is a few friends who are on the same page and many fine blogs I follow of like minded people.
      It is very disheartening and I agree it’s not just trump, as he’s just one racist man, but all his followers that support him and it’s a lot. This I just cannot fathom why. Surely not that many Americans are racist and totally lack empathy. I could go on, but don’t feel alone. You are just in the wrong state or county, like me, but out there are many in blue states or counties that don’t feel this way.

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    3. Thank you Bob for your reply. I marched myself and even once did an anti-war hunger strike. I worked with some people at my college the very early 70s to replace the armed with guns campus policemen stationed at entrances to campus with unarmed civilians. The only reason then for stationing these campus policemen there was to keep people off campus who hadn't bought a parking permit for $30.00 or to greet visitors! We argued that guns at the entrance was bad PR, appearance wise. The campus police agreed, probably because it made for a boring work day to sit at a gateway all day. I don't know if the policy ever reverted, but now I'd ask for armed gunmen to return!

      Thanks Mary for your reply, but I'm sorry you're experiencing what I am, although it does make me feel less alone to hear from someone who understands. If it weren't for internet contacts, I'd feel truly alone. The only trouble is though, I've read posts from people in so called blue states who claim that outside the blue enclaves, it can be just as bad as what I find here, for example in more rural areas of blue states. An email friend in California tells me he sees the same, MAGA hat wearers sprinkled throughout. Anyway, nowhere feels safe anymore. At the classical music concert I attended Saturday night, I found myself wondering a bit, "what if a gunman should burst in at any moment?" All I could do was notice where the exits were.

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  15. Your Blog today is RIGHT ON. I don’t believe that we will ever – in this lifetime – know the world that we thought we lived in as children. Maybe we just were not aware of all the threats around us – I do remember the drills in school where we hid under our desks in case of an ATOMIC BOMB – what idiots we were to think that we were protected in ANY WAY!! And how many people dug bomb shelters – we were so naïve. But it seemed that we were united as a country in our fight to combat THE ENEMY – whoever we perceived that to be. Now we just live with fear every day because the enemy is here – and it is US.

    I fear for our grandkids – will they always live with the threat of some kind of terror just around the corner? And I do think the media – ALL OF THEM – just continually stir the pot of distrust and fear in our country. I seldom watch the national news – the local news is bad enough.

    As a Christian, I have to believe that God is in control of all of this – I just sometimes wonder what we are supposed to do and how we are supposed to act in the world today. Our church is housing immigrants that ICE has detained – and I am not sure if I agree or disagree with this whole action. I know too many people who have come into the country thru legal means – not an easy thing to do – and wonder why I should approve of the thousands of people entering illegally that we are accepting and seemingly trying to help. As a Christian I am to welcome strangers – But I am also instructed to respect the rules our country has set – doesn’t some of this seem a contradiction?

    Thanks for listening to my ramblings this morning. I am so sad that this happened to your grandkids!!!

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    1. Thanks, Pat. You have expressed the conflicting emotions well.

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  16. Hi Bob! I agree that we live in challenging times and that EACH of us must take whatever steps we can to be more compassionate and kind to each other--even those who won't do the same for us. I think a real key in your post is how you became hyper-aware of the situation once it involved someone close to you. Unfortunatley, I would dislike believing that will be the only way some people get involved. We MUST VOTE and do what we can to turn the situation in Washington around AND to change the voice of people in our local communities--city councils, county seats and state seats as well. As Gandhi said, promoting peace does not mean we sit on our hands and hide. Active peace and promotion is the most courageous thing any of us can do in these times. I trust that this post allowed you to express something within you that needs to be expressed by us all in our own way. ~Kathy

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    1. I believe the reason so many people haven't reacted strongly to the erosion of our culture is because they haven't been directly affected. We seem to be a society that has a tremendous ability to ignore a problem until it personally smacks us in the face.

      When parts of Miami, New York, and Los Angeles disappear under water, suddenly we will wake up to climate change. When our kid's school or church is attacked we take violence more seriously. I guess that is just human nature to turn a blind eye to a problem until we can't ignore it any longer.

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  17. Hello Bob! Thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts on this topic. I have read all the responses to date and find many of them laced with the same rhetoric that causes divisiveness that is so prevalent today in our country. I read undertones from the words people are choosing that can easily show that individuals prejudices towards one belief system or another. From calling people racists to anti-semantic, to mobs, to etc etc etc all we are doing is fanning the flames. Social media is one of the key platforms today that people are using to hide behind the semi safety of their keyboards and clever names to avoid real, face to face dialog. I tend to not post much on social media platforms about political views as many times ones comments in writing can be taken out of context with what their non-verbal expressions and body language add to the discussion. We are social beings and no matter how introverted or extroverted we may claim to be, we all need in person human interaction, and relying on social media and the media in general, whom are mostly in the business to make money and profits through advertising revenue which is driven by ratings, is limiting our ability to really work through and address our differences and compromise on a path forward. I saw post calling out Fox News, Rush, and other conservative leaning media and the lack of balance pointing out the exact same behavior from liberal leaning media. It's not one belief system or another causing these issues. It is the lack of true in person discussion and compromise versus many people just listening to the less than factual information being shared by social media or the media in general and making their opinions based on what they hear or read. We should all be meeting and talking at the local level first and foremost with ground rules enacted to respect each person's inputs and try to openly listen to what that person is trying to state. I worked for many years in corporate America, and that process is what I saw employed by organizations that were successful in not only propelling a company forward but also in recruiting and keeping talent. Organizations that were divisive and constantly confrontational tended to wither in time. We have several key issues at the national level that we need to address but we will be unable to address these issues as long as we don't work together to resolve. Just my thoughts on this topic for what they are worth. I am proud to live in a country where, at least today, I am still free to state them.

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    1. Calling truths and undeniable facts fake news or creating our own reality to fit our emotional needs is incredibly dangerous to a society. When truth becomes relative and lies and conspiracy theories become commonplace, nothing constructive can result, regardless of what side of the aisle they come from.

      I believe social media has done more to tear us apart than any other single factor in the last 5-10 years. All of us have a dark side that will surface if there are no checks and balances. Social media (how terribly misnamed this is!) not only allows the filth to flow, but as you note, actually encourages it for monetary gain.

      I read a story in the paper this morning about a parents' movement in Silicon Valley, of all places, to cut way back on the amount of screen time children are allowed. There are even pre-schools that use only wooden board games and simple teaching tools instead of Internet-connected sources. They are attempting to introduce their children to the joys of face-to-face interaction. Imagine that!

      Thanks, Dave.

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  18. I have been working on my voting ballot all day. I will vote for republicans and democrats as I vote for the person that I believe will do the best job. Ignoring all the negative ads and looking at peoples records is extremely challenging and I can only hope that I am making the best choice.
    I believe it is vital that we allow everyone to express themselves without resorting to violence. "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." Thank you for your words and for this forum. Thank you to all the people who have made comments. God bless you all.

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    1. For the first time in quite awhile I took the time to research several candidates who were in competitive races. Luckily, all of them had web sites and Arizona provides detailed bios. Even so, it took some time. But, it felt important to do the extra due diligence.

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    1. My ongoing spiritual study is providing a serious amount of comfort

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  20. Bob, I would like to say that to call out behavior or language as racist or anti-Semitic or violent, or label it as such is not showing prejudice against another's belief system. Racism, anti-Semitism and other forms of bigotry NEED to be called out for what they are, and if anyone feels they or their beliefs are being attacked when those words are used then they need to stop and ask why they feel that way. Calling out bigotry in any form is not indicative of liberalism or conservatism in any way; it is standing up for your fellow man or woman whether they be citizen or immigrant.

    As a white, Christian person in the United States I can be oblivious to the slights, racism, taunts, violence and other hurts that are committed daily against others in our country. That's what it means to be privileged. Idon't have to worry about being followed in a store or worry that my ballot will be tossed because I left off a hyphen. I don't have to worry about being called by a slur, right to my face. I don't have to worry about being shot if I'm stopped for a traffic violation or just for having white skin. These forms of bigotry NEED to be pointed out. All of us NEED to know that certain words denote racism or anti-Semitism even if on the surface they seem innocuous ("globalist," "nationalist," and so forth).

    I could go on and on, and to a point I will talk with anyone but I am not going to worry about someone's feelings when racism and anti-Semitism rear their heads in any form. There is a time and a place for civility, but there is something very dangerous going on in our country right now and there are times where one cannot not be silent.

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    1. I have to hold myself back from laughing at this statement. Racism needs to be put in perspective. The yardstick is different everywhere. It is very naive of you to assume you are privledged. As a Christian woman you would be stoned or even killed in a Muslim world just for showing your face or driving a car. As a white woman, if you were stopped for a traffic violation in certain sections of Africa, yes, you would have to worry about being shot for said traffic violation. Even traveling through certain parts of Europe and Asia, you will be bigoted against simply for being an American Citizen. Who here in America is setting up the standards for racism or any form of bigotry? Nowadays, simply wearing a red baseball cap can get your legs broken. Who decided wearing a red baseball cap is something to despise? Y'all think things will be solved on November 6th, when you cast your vote? Was not Trump elected by voting? Candidates today aren't telling the public what they stand for or what they will do for the people. They are simply stating they are either for Trump or against Trump. Vote for ME, I stood up to Trump. Really? That's the new yardstick?
      America is very divided. I had no idea just how bad it has become until I read this forum. It is no more conservatives vs liberals. Right vs left. It has become the pro-Trump vs the anti-Trump. Does anyone see how ridiculous that is?
      Sorry Laura, you are not a privledged Christian white woman. Just by your making that statement about yourself makes one wonder the true meaning of bigotry.

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    2. Laura's post was very specific, 'As a white Christian woman in the USA.' For you to attempt to broaden it to the entire world does not negate the default privilege white people experience here in the USA. So are you suggesting that racism and anti-Semitism should not be called out here because it exists elsewhere against white people or Christians? That it should simply be tolerated? I'm confused by what you are looking to suggest in response.

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    3. I think Anonymous is making Laura's point without realizing it. Wherever racism rears its ugly head, in whatever form, it needs to be stamped down. Laura's point is dead on: being white in America brings with it certain privileges that are not earned and only exist because of underlying attitudes about skin color and religion.

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  21. Bob,

    I share much of your frustration and despair.

    My life in science has, and always will provide the basic foundations for my life; including the social, political and other issues on the spectrum. Many of my non-scientist friends increasingly find this approach odd, but I have always been an outlier. Science is my political party.

    I have a tee-shirt that I wear often that states: “Science Does Not Care What You Believe.” As I explain to those who question it, I am not discounting belief, but rather pointing out that without supporting evidence gleaned from empirical observation, experimentation and tested theory we merely have belief. Our beliefs or “gut feelings” may be correct, but they also may be in error. Only investigation, evidence, testing and repeated questioning will tell us what we need to know with any degree of certainty.

    This is where we now find ourselves as a society. Our intuitions and emotions are the source of what we “want” to be true and thus we spend a lot of time in “confirmation bias”— seeking sources and leaders that will reinforce our beliefs. Social media has provided a means to surround ourselves with opinions and other “true believers” that further harden positions, impervious to facts and evidence to the contrary and making it unnecessary to question anything. I see in our citizenry the same emotional fervor that I have witnessed in the crowds watching athletic events. I have observed otherwise mild mannered civic leaders “lose it” at an athletic event, displaying deep anger and emotional outbursts I did not know they were capable of. This is true for many on both sides of our current divide. It is these emotional beliefs and loss of rational thought that can magnify into the behaviors and atrocities that we are now witnessing. The “other” is demonized and therefore any action against them is justified.

    The death of facts and evidence in favor of relative truth and “alternative facts” has been disheartening for me to say the least, as I spent my career teaching young students the importance of such a foundation. But anti-intellectualism, anti-education and anti-science continues to grow. The “Cultural Revolution” under Mao in China is a stark demonstration of the end-product of a society that embraces this way of thinking. Minorities and political opponents are the first to be scapegoated (“lock her up), and then the intelligentsia follow for persecution shortly thereafter. With the end of reason we see the death of facts, reflective thought, perspective and thus are left to toss about in a sea of opinion and confusion.

    My love of science and evidence-based living has not provided me much comfort of late. I believe we have reached a tipping point on many issues and have fallen over the cliff on some—such as the gun issue and climate change. It is too late in my opinion for solutions to either. We need to concentrate on ways to adapt to what has tragically become the new normal. As you mentioned in an earlier response, when cities flood and your neighbor threatens you with a gun it all suddenly becomes real.... and unfortunately, too late.

    As for myself, although I try to remain engaged, I am finding myself increasingly taking the position of Voltaire’s “Candide. “ I am “tending my own garden.” I will let social and cultural evolution and the biosphere sort all of this out. Short of a serious, unifying existential threat, I see no way that our current society can bridge the divide and reach any consensus on most issues. I will help those in need where I can and continue to express my perspective when it is asked for. Otherwise I will watch…. and weep.


    Rick in Oregon

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    1. I feel your pain, Rick, and experience much the same reaction. I have never understood the feeling that education and knowledge are bad, to be feared. or the enemy. In a society that can't live without its technology, it makes no sense. Sometimes I wonder if a new version of the Dark Ages is upon us. When truth is the enemy we are in deep, deep trouble.

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  22. I would be very upset if any of my relatives had their school surrounded by police and I did not know what was going on, so I totally understand your being distraught. I am very middle of the road, political wise, and vote for both Democrats and Republicans here in the deep Southern U.S., even though I work for a politician. I have to handle cases at work for folks who absolutely hate me. Folks hate me for prosecuting their loved ones. Other folks hate me because they feel like I am too lenient with criminal defendants who hurt their loved ones. At the end of the day, I just try to do the best I can, with the facts I have, and hope it is legally correct. I do watch my back because in my jurisdiction, police have been ambushed and shot. Since I am the one handling the cases in court, a lot of that Law Enforcement Officer hatred extends to me. It is unfortunate that I have to be armed, and have protection at my own house. Since this is a retirement blog, I will relate this to the fact that I may retire earlier than planned, taking a reduction in benefits because I want to be alive to enjoy the benefits. I agree with Bob, that social media has made the hatred worse, and has made the cases I prosecute that much more difficult.

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    1. What the hell ever happened to moderation and middle-of-the-road beliefs. Why does everything have to be hard right or hard left?

      Betty and I sold our RV about 18 months ago. We are seriously thinking of getting another and simply hitting the road. It has become way too taxing to deal with America's reality day in and day out from our suburban, middle class neighborhood.

      Obviously, we won't escape problems but we will be free to change our environment with a simple drive down the road. Running away? Maybe.

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    2. I imagine you know about this website, but it has lists of places you can stay with your RV for free with a little bit of volunteering time. It makes me wish I were an RVer. I've talked to people doing this, and they have all sorts of nifty ways to make it work. One couple even got Netflix disks by having them delivered to General Delivery at small post offices in small towns.

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    3. I forgot the link. https://www.volunteer.gov/

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  23. Well said Dad. I am reminded of a Maya Angelou quote, "Hate, it has caused a lot of problems in the world, but has not solved one yet."
    Travel has given me the gift of experiencing different cultures, religions,ethnicities,food,politics, policies,entertainment and outlooks on life. The commonality I have found is that everyone wants to love and be loved in return. To be respected and seen as they are, just the way they were created by the higher being they believe in. To learn and have personal growth, economically and socially.
    To see generations beyond them grow in a healthy, safe and thriving society.
    It is harder and harder for me to come 'home' to a place where these basic rights are being threatened.
    I see a country so divided that only a catastrophic event or a civil war will level us as empires before and begin again. And I'm an optimist!
    What scares me the most is that hate and ignorance is not seen as hate and ignorance as any kindergartner who sees someone being bullied could point out. Trouble is, the 'teacher' that he is to go to is worse that the bully. He calls him names and hands him a gun. Go deal with it yourself. Who are we to look to? Each other?
    It's as if half the country is deaf and blind, shouting and marching toward a cliff. The other half hears and sees everything in 3D and surround sound on an IMAX screen, with their arms out, palms bent and heels dug in trying to prevent the crowd from running them over or push them off the cliff with them, trying to communicate but finding their own screams just echoing in their ears and head.
    Human decency, love and kindness has always been the solution, but we have never been able to do the math.
    Sigh. I'm going to go hug my dog.

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    1. Well, you are not unknown to me, daughter!

      You are blessed to travel the world and see how insulated any country can become when it assumes it has all the right answers. You see the universal need to love and be loved are too easily trampled under by the fear and tribal instincts of our fellow humans.

      I think you have a perfect, short term solution - hug a dog. They love unconditionally and have no idea what color, religion, political party or nationality their owner is. And, they don't care.

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    2. Beautifully written,especially the next to last paragraph.

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  24. Take a look at CDC mortality data and you'll see that we worry very little about the things that will most likely kill us. We worry a LOT about things that are so rare that we would be highly unlikely to actually find ourselves in those situations.

    We worry about those things because they're on the news, and everything is on video now. For millions of years our brains learned from stories and observation, and the things we saw that were shocking were the ones that stuck with us the hardest. Now we see every tragedy in the world as if it's right in front of. Studies have shown that people's brains react to videos similar to how they react to reality. Video providers know the value in shocking people, and make that a priority. It isn't good for us. It destroys our perspective.

    The other thing we see a lot (particularly on cable and social media) is politically-motivated individuals complaining about various Americans - arguments which will be repeated a lot but aren't the least bit convincing to anyone who isn't already convinced of them. What's the point of preaching to the choir? That also destroys our perspective, and that isn't good for us either.

    So tuning out is not such a bad idea. I've canceled cable TV, and I read news rather than watch it. I try to think of issues in perspective of numbers and odds. Like all of us I'll most likely die from something preventable (probably cancer or heart disease), so if I worry about who will kill me, I don't need to watch the news - the answer is in the mirror.

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    1. How do we tune out the movement from facts not always accepted as true, incivility, racism, and sexism? It is extremely dangerous for a society to accept extreme polarization as the new normal.

      Your point about the odds of being killed in any one incident is well taken. But, when mass shootings or a representative endorsing white nationalism becomes part of our daily fabric something vital is slipping away.

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  25. I have written this 10 times. I think I am ready with my flame suit.
    To scapegoat a President, who was elected in a Democratic Republic, is normal. Jefferson and Adams did their best to scapegoat each other. Even Washington had mud constantly thrown at him.
    Lockdowns seem new to you- but they have been happening for years and years.
    I had enough in the 80's when I was often found in the center of a football field from a cleared building from bomb threats. There were also government mistakingly burning down "cult" religious compounds. I taught my first global warming class in 1982 (and saw pollution gone wild with US plastics in China in 1991).
    I had enough in the 90's when I knew children who feared going to federal buildings after OK City bombings. There were the shootings at gas stations. Drive by shootings in Phoenix were common (I lost a friend).
    I had enough in the '00's when objects in the sky became weapons. Schools became easy targets.
    We can go on and on, can't we?

    Each time "we" have taken steps. We are working forward.
    It takes a "bandaid" pull to see the mess and clean it up. Sounds trite for such a serious thing---but better to explore the mess then let it continue to fester. Sometimes something really dramatic comes forward and the rush to fix is real. But, progress is actually very slow. As in life, it is all about one foot in front of the other. We love our neighbors as much as we can.

    I dislike Trump's mouth- BUT he is finally addressing some of the issues that have needed to be addressed for many, many, many years. Golly, he may even go after fixing immigration, SS and Medicare.....Lord knows those all need help! He comes to an issue with both feet stomping the floor. Sometimes I just want to throw up, but I don't. Who would have thunk that HE would work on prison reform (that helps so many of the homeless I help)....Or take on China??? We might have to pay more and buy things that do not completely pollute our earth? I never thought I would see the day!
    Trump is working on them in a very different way. It hurts to watch. I voted for and waited for real solutions under Obama. I am doing the same with Trump. The US has issues. People have issues. To say he created the issues, that is called scapegoating.
    My life experience is that "We" (320 million people) are in a pretty great country. If we were not, there would not be foreign people having babies here, or paying coyotes to go through the border, so they could become citizens :) We will get through this. 2020 is going to be TERRIBLE, but we will get through that as well.
    Dogs everywhere are getting lots of loving these days.

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    1. I will not test your flame suit.

      Since opinions can't be true or false, yours are valid and held by tens of millions of Americans. I don't happen to be one of them. Trump is attacking some of our problems while creating so many others, and fanning the flames of disunity, on purpose, for his political and personal gains. His constant lying hurts even his most diehard supporters and America's moral standing in the world.

      But, that said, I certainly would not support any attempt to remove him from office by any method other than legal ones. I agree, the next few years will be miserable regardless of the midterm results next week. 2020's campaign season will probably be much worse.

      Can we all hold onto what we share in common? Time will tell.

      BTW, if someone else responds to your thoughts with flames rather than reasonable arguments, that comment will be deleted. It is the least I can do to keep things civil on this little corner of the Internet.

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    2. People can differ on policy. Policies can be sound, based on evidence and research...they can be expedient, based on political considerations or to serve monied interests, or they can be honest attempts to address a problem. Thoughtful evaluation and transparency can help reveal the true nature of a political policy and program.

      My current overarching discomfort is an outgrowth of my feeling that character matters. A lot. And my distress is rising because character and integrity does not seem to matter anymore to an increasing number of people. It started with the Clinton fiasco and has continued to lessen in importance. Ronald Reagan had to work hard to get the endorsement of the Evangelical community during his bid for the presidency because he had been..... DIVORCED!. Once. How far we have fallen.

      The importance of character and ethics(along with civics) is no longer a part of our public school curriculum, and I strongly "BELIEVE," but cannot prove, that these help in the formation of good citizens and good government and when they are absent... you get what you have.

      I feel we have lost our way. Others feel it is the best of times. We can solve our problems and reach our goals through dialog and consensus, or by destroying our political opponents. American seems to have chosen the latter path. It remains to be seen how that will work out going forward.

      Where are the role models for young people? And if we had them, could they put down their phones long enough to notice and learn from them?

      I am not optimistic.


      Rick in Oregon

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    3. All important and troubling points, Rick.

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  26. I have chosen to cope with the current political climate by taking the long view and by focusing on small things I can do to lower the rhetorical temperature. In terms of the former, I have found Colin Woodard's analyses (in American Nations and American Character) of the divisions that have been part of our nation since its founding helpful. In terms of the latter, I make it a point to respond respectfully to those with whom I disagree and to challenge the use of hateful rhetoric by those who deplore its use on the other side of the debate. When I see friends sharing posts on social media that make false claims, I ask them to provide evidence for the information or to take the post down. This semester, I am teaching a course at my local Senior College about how we can think productively about inequality. I really do believe that many small things can add up to a big difference.

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    1. The stress of everything has given my wife a rash. I didn't realize that was possible but apparently it is. I am trying to convince her to not read the front section of the paper until later in the day.

      We both agree our only rational response is the "fix small things" approach. I like your idea of asking friends for proof of false claims on social media. Does that work?

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