"GOP Strategist: Trump 'Beclowned Himself' At G-7 Summit"
Beclowned himself? thought I.
I opened the article,
Can't wait to try it out sometime.
A couple of days ago while scrolling down the Yahoo News page I came across this headline:
"GOP Strategist: Trump 'Beclowned Himself' At G-7 Summit"
Beclowned himself? thought I.
I opened the article,
Anyway, according to the article, after Donald Trump made an annoyance of himself at the G7 summit,
...refused to sign the joint economic agreement, stormed off in a huff,
...and escalated a trade war and a war of words between the United States and Canada,
...Steve Schmidt posted the following on Twitter:
Ah yes, thought I, I get it: by his behavior at the G7 Summit Donald Trump made a clown of himself; in other words,
And I thought to myself, what a wonderful word!
Can't wait to try it out sometime.
...entitled, "I Don’t Know How To Explain To You That You Should Care About Other People."
As I read through the article I found myself thinking, Yes..yes..yes...YES! That's it! That's how I feel, too!
And so, on the chance that there may be quite a few more out there like myself and Rachel who hold in their hearts the same conviction as Ms. Chadwick but had not the words to clearly articulate this conviction, I'll share her words below in hopes that they'll speak to you, too.
I Don’t Know How To Explain To You That You Should Care About Other People
By Kayla Chadwick
Like many Americans, I’m having politics fatigue. Or, to be more specific, arguing-about-politics fatigue.
I haven’t run out of salient points or evidence for my political perspective, but there is a particular stumbling block I keep running into when trying to reach across the proverbial aisle and have those “difficult conversations” so smugly suggested by think piece after think piece:
I don’t know how to explain to someone why they should care about other people.
Personally, I’m happy to pay an extra 4.3 percent for my fast food burger if it means the person making it for me can afford to feed their own family. If you aren’t willing to fork over an extra 17 cents for a Big Mac, you’re a fundamentally different person than I am.
I’m perfectly content to pay taxes that go toward public schools, even though I’m childless and intend to stay that way, because all children deserve a quality, free education. If this seems unfair or unreasonable to you, we are never going to see eye to eye.
If I have to pay a little more with each paycheck to ensure my fellow Americans can access health care? SIGN ME UP. Poverty should not be a death sentence in the richest country in the world. If you’re okay with thousands of people dying of treatable diseases just so the wealthiest among us can hoard still more wealth, there is a divide between our worldviews that can never be bridged.
I don’t know how to convince someone how to experience the basic human emotion of empathy. I cannot have one more conversation with someone who is content to see millions of people suffer needlessly in exchange for a tax cut that statistically they’ll never see (do you make anywhere close to the median American salary? Less? Congrats, this tax break is not for you).
I cannot have political debates with these people. Our disagreement is not merely political, but a fundamental divide on what it means to live in a society, how to be a good person, and why any of that matters.
There are all kinds of practical, self-serving reasons to raise the minimum wage (fairly compensated workers typically do better work), fund public schools (everyone’s safer when the general public can read and use critical thinking), and make sure every American can access health care (outbreaks of preventable diseases being generally undesirable).
But if making sure your fellow citizens can afford to eat, get an education, and go to the doctor isn’t enough of a reason to fund those things, I have nothing left to say to you.
I can’t debate someone into caring about what happens to their fellow human beings. The fact that such detached cruelty is so normalized in a certain party’s political discourse is at once infuriating and terrifying.
The “I’ve got mine, so screw you,” attitude has been oozing from the American right wing for decades, but this gleeful exuberance in pushing legislation that will immediately hurt the most vulnerable among us is chilling.
Perhaps it was always like this. I’m (relatively) young, so maybe I’m just waking up to this unimaginable callousness. Maybe the emergence of social media has just made this heinous tendency more visible; seeing hundreds of accounts spring to the defense of policies that will almost certainly make their lives more difficult is incredible to behold.
I don’t know what’s changed ― or indeed, if anything has ― and I don’t have any easy answers. But I do know I’m done trying to convince these hordes of selfish, cruel people to look beyond themselves.
Futility can’t be good for my blood pressure, and the way things are going, I won’t have health insurance for long.
...and my 2018 commencement speech.
(For anyone who might be interested, here are the links to my commencement speeches from 2015 and 2016. I believe in June of 2017 I, along with much of the country, was still at a loss for words):
I post my yearly commencement speech around this time of year as a benefaction to young graduates, a few words of advice that might not have been covered by the keynote speakers at their commencement ceremonies.
So, 2018 graduates, here is my commencement speech to you:
5. If you are talking to someone and another person comes along who you know but the person you're talking to doesn't know, don't just turn from the person you were talking to and begin talking to the new person; first introduce the two people and make sure both are included in the conversation. If you are in a group introduce the person to everyone in the group even if you only intend to talk to the new person for a minute or two. Being able to pull off this maneuver smoothly and naturally is a social skill worth cultivating.
...(I'm not talking about #MeToo here,
8. Remember that the candy bar is important, not the wrapper. I'm talking about people, actually. And candy bars, too.
9. Consider the famous quote by some unknown sage: "Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt." You shouldn't necessarily live by those words. Just keep them in mind. And be careful what you do say. Don't say everything you're thinking. Unless it's something kind.
12. What people refer to as common sense often turns out to be nonsense. Don’t latch onto easy-sounding truths because easy truths often aren’t true. The world is seldom black or white,
14. If you're ever feeling terribly down or depressed, try to look past the moment you're in; it's hard to do, but try. And turn to someone, get help, and remember that depression is a disease that can be treated with medication and therapy and the pain you feel is a symptom that's crying out for treatment. And remember that your life doesn't belong to you alone; it belongs to your friends, your family, your co-workers, everyone who loves and cherishes and depends upon you; your life belongs to your community and your country and this world that you were created for and placed in for the purpose of doing some good. Remember all that, no matter how badly you may be feeling at some moment in time.
15. Read a local newspaper - online is fine - and a national news source. Keep up with and care about what's going on in our nation and the world even if world events don't yet affect you. Because they will eventually.
It just makes you these guys.
17. Reject the above guys and rather live by The Golden Rule, also known as The Law of Reciprocity, (which was, BTW, coined by Jesus in Matthew Chapter 7, Verse 12), which is the principle of treating others as you want to be treated.
19. Think of yourself as a citizen not just of your own country but of the world.
20. And finally, remember the quote of the philosopher Seneca: "There is no easy way from the earth to the stars."
Rainbow, Randy, "The Kim Davis Cell Block Tango," https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=14C3TZg6NQM
As everything old eventually becomes new again - or just won't go away - and in light of some events and people of long-standing persuasions that continue to make news,
...I decided today might be a good day to to re-post an excerpt from an old post I wrote about the cruel things human beings inflict on each other in God's name.
The post, published on 8/18/2015, is called "Question it!"
Here's the excerpt:
No matter how abhorrent and contrary to human decency - not to mention how illogical - a behavior or mindset might be, people will cling to almost anything that they believe fulfills the will of God.
Thus people will stand up for, fight for, have been known to martyr themselves for their religion, even when the rules of their religion run contrary to their own well-being or the well-being of their children, not to mention the well-being of others. So there's no talking, arguing, fighting, negotiating, or persecuting someone out of their deeply-held religious beliefs. And yet sometimes people's minds and hearts do change on their own.
Aside from the personal sustenance - and sometimes, sadly, personal profit - people draw from their relationship with God, religion has given people the strength, courage, and conviction to do much good in the world. But it has also given people what author Oliver Sacks has called a harsh "capacity for bigotry and cruelty".
I believe that everyone, no matter how devout and no matter deeply-held their life-long convictions, needs to question their religion from time to time, even if - especially if - their religion discourages questioning its rules and dogma.
Does your religion teach that your religion is the only way to know God? Question it.
Does your religion teach that all beliefs outside your religion are wrong or false? Question it.
Does your religion teach that God prefers your religion over every other religion? Question it.
Does your religion discriminate against particular groups of people based on their race, ethnicity, religion, gender, or sexual orientation? Question it.
Does your religion teach that some people are less deserving of human rights than you? Question it.
Does your religion teach that you are better than those outside your religion? Question it.
Does your religion have rules so hard and inhumane and unreasonable that nobody could possibly keep them? Question it.
Does your religion have strict rules about things that God couldn't possibly care about? Question it.
Does your religion teach that some people are above the laws of human decency because of their religion or their status within their religion? Question it.
Does your religion teach that God places ritual above behavior? Question it.
Does your religion teach dogma that you yourself find mean, unjust, unkind or just plain senseless? Question it.
Does your religion paint God as harsher on, more demanding of, and more judgemental of others than you yourself are? Question it.
Does your religion teach beliefs that go against your own mind and heart? Question it.
As for me, I come from a deeply religious background and I had 18 years of religious education, from elementary school through college. I've read the Bible almost from cover to cover. I attend religious services weekly* and have listened to and taken notes on years' worth of scriptural exegeses on God's relationship with us. I've questioned and questioned and questioned my religion until I've distilled my beliefs into my own religion, for all I know shared by no one else but me, that has only two rules of dogma, and even these Two Commandments I have a hard enough time keeping:
1. Be kind to everyone.
2. Be the best person you can be.
That's my religion and, I believe, God's will. Though I question still.
*I no longer attend religious services every week but did at the time the above was written.
...the owner of a hardware store in Tennessee posted the following sign in his store window:
...first posted his "No Gays Allowed" sign three years ago in response to the Supreme Court decision legalizing marriage between same-sex couples.
However he took the sign down several days later because of local
backlash - apparently the good folks of Grainger County, East Tennessee don't take kindly to overt bigotry - and was compelled to replace it with a more amphibological message:
Nevertheless Pastor Amyx - the hardware store owner is also a Baptist minister - continued to sell anti-gay merchandise in his store.
...and erected an outhouse on which he hung a sign, reading, "Transgender Bathroom out of service indefinitely."
But Jeff Amyx returned the "No Gays Allowed" sign to his store window a few days ago after the ruling in favor the homophobic baker, calling the Supreme Court decision a victory for Christianity.
Welcome to the club, Pastor Amyx.
I'm a piano teacher who teaches lessons at my students' homes, and while driving around from student to student I often to listen to WTVN, the Columbus, Ohio Fox News affiliate radio station.
On weekday afternoons, around the time I'm usually driving, there's a call-in show called Woody and Company during which the host, Woody Johnson, presents topics to his listeners, who then call in and comment with their opinions or personal stories on the topic.
Yesterday afternoon the topic of conversation on Woody and Company was the Supreme Court's ruling in favor of Jack Phillips,
As WTVN is a conservative radio station with a mostly conservative listening audience - or at least the people who phone in to Woody and Company are - it wasn't surprising that most of the callers that I heard were in agreement with the Supreme Court decision, though some seemed not to understand that this decision was a narrow one based on a technicality - a member of the Colorado Civil Rights Commission apparently made a disparaging remark about the baker's intolerance and so a previous ruling against the baker had to be overturned, go figure - and not a green light for Christian businesses that wished in the future to discriminate against gay customers.
But then there was one caller, and older-sounding guy who spoke with the Southern Ohio twang commonly heard in these parts.
He said that he was a Christian, a conservative, and gay. He said that he was raised in the church and that it's hard. His voice filled with emotion, he said that none of us is perfect, and he wondered why the Colorado baker chose to refuse service only to gays. He asked, what about people who over-eat and are guilty of the sin of gluttony? If a gluttonous person walked into the baker's shop and wanted to buy a cupcake wouldn't selling the cupcake be a sin because it would be feeding that person's gluttony? Divorce is a sin, he pointed out, so what about baking cakes for divorced people? Why single out gays?
The talk show host, while he thought it a great question, didn't offer the man an answer.
So I will.
Master baker Jack Phillips is a bigot who, like so many bigots, drapes himself in a cloak of self-righteousness that he calls his religion and he invokes the name of God to defend his intolerance of people he's been carefully taught to shun.
And in the end, when such a person has been imbued his whole life with the belief that his exclusivity, contemptuousness of and hurtfulness to others are virtues ordained by God, don't expect any rhyme, reason or logic from him, and certainly no empathy.
And in this case no justice, either.
Maybe I have a thing for words because I'm a writer, or maybe I became a writer because I have a thing for words, but whatever, every day I spend a lot of time with words: thinking about them, researching them, using them, playing with them.
...and I don't mean erudite, esoteric words that nobody's ever heard of, as such words are generally not useful for my purpose.
No, I spend my time looking up common, ubiquitous words that I already know the meanings of, or think I know the meanings of, because when in slightest doubt I like to make sure that a word means precisely what I think it means - surprising how often I find that a word's meaning isn't precisely what I thought it was - and that it's the strongest word I can use to string together the words preceding and following it.
To that end it's not unusual for me to look up the meaning of a word, then not completely happy, look up the word's synonyms, then choose a synonym and look up its meaning, then choose another synonym and look up its meaning as well, then look up the meaning of a synonym of the synonym, then the synonym of the synonym of the synonym, then go back and re-try the original word and then start the process over again. I'm like someone standing before a mirror attempting to put together an outfit from a stack of clothes, trying on then discarding then trying on again then discarding again piece after piece until the whole outfit looks and fits perfectly...or else giving up and just making do, which is what I sometimes end up doing when, try as I might, I can't find the perfect word.
All of this to say: When I heard about Samantha Bee's use of the word she used to describe Ivanka Trump...well of course it's not that I'd never heard that word before and of course I knew what the word meant, or what it was meant to mean by Samantha Bee, or what I thought it was meant to mean by her - not a nice word to describe anybody, though mayhaps Ivanka Trump merited it,
Still I'm sure I was not the only person who found themselves wondering about the word, it's exact meaning and corollary meanings, so as to discern exactly in what sense this word was -or wasn't - the best fit as Ms. Bee used it in the context of her monologue.
So I looked it up on vocabulary.com and here's what I found:
Turned out I did not know the correct definition of "feckless" after all. I always thought "feckless" meant "reckless," which would have well enough described the risk Ivanka took to her brand by posting a sweet photo of herself basking in the joy of motherly love while her father's policy has Immigration agents grabbing babies from their mothers' arms.
However "feckless," according to vocabulary.com, means "'ineffective', but is also used to describe someone who is irresponsible, incompetent, inept, or without purpose in life."
So that word works much better to describe Ivanka Trump.
As for the other word that Samatha Bee called Ivanka Trump, the word that she used "feckless" to modify, the "c" word, as we polite folk prefer to call it, that particular pattern of letters has been designated a filthy obscenity, though if one inserted an "o" before the "u" then it would be a fine word, as it would be if one substituted an "a" for the "u" and inserted an apostrophe before the "t." But those four letter as they stand, are an X-rated insult in the English language.
That is to say, as I've always understood the definition of that word.
(Though, I don't know, just taking that word on what it sounds like it should mean, to me the word "cu**" always sounded like some kind of fur hat,
Anyway, I actually did want to look up the "c" word to see exactly how it's defined. But I didn't dare type those four letters into my computer, as pulling up that word online probably would have opened up Pandora's you-know-what.
"Equal And Opposite Reactions"
by Patti Liszkay
Buy it on Amazon:
The Book Loft
of German Village,
Or check it out at the Columbus Metropolitan Library
I am a traveler just visiting this planet and reporting various and sundry observations,
hopefully of interest to my fellow travelers.