Every once and a while, I get a wild hair and want to just write.  Most often, I discard these musings, because ideas take quite a bit of work to mold into a form suitable for sharing and, thankfully, not all thoughts are fit for sharing.  Maybe this one will pass muster and become a post.  If nothing else, if the post makes it, the reader will understand why it takes me so long to produce one for my blog.

It seems to me that our society is headed for a dark period.  Unlike the fall of the Roman Empire, the fall here will result in too much information and knowledge, not too little, and the overwhelming use of rhetorical flourish, media power, and outright lies to render what is truly good anathema.  The reasons for the fall will be many and argumentative, as will the notion of a or the fall in and of itself.  The truth is that we are already in freefall, and it began long before the Trump Administration.

We are of course the foe, us and those skilled at exploiting our human nature.  Aristotle makes this technique clear in The Art of Rhetoric; it is over 2,300 years old (ca 340 BCE).  What is relatively new is the ability to get messages out using rhetorical flourish to appeal to enormous groups thereby creating fragmentation in society without recourse to diplomatic discourse resulting in unruly mobs who don’t really know what they want in the first place, except for deeply wanting to belong, to have a purpose, to make a difference, to escape the ennui of daily life and the oppressive forces that seek to impose their will, be that some change or the current state, on all of us but who are actually us, are empowered and elected by us, and come from our ranks.

We should be careful to note that media coverage includes events, and small groups of people receive large amounts attention thereby, sometimes, distorting the view relative the population in general. 

The technique widely in use is one originated by Philip II of Macedon, a contemporary of Aristotle: divide and rule.  The basic technique, raised to perfection by Joseph Stalin in forming the Soviet bloc, evil bastard that he was, is to craft areas controlled by a powerful ruler that encompass two or more warring parties held at peace by the despotic regime that relies on mutual hatred to ensure that unity against the despot will not occur.  Just look at the splits in countries formed by the Soviets after they became free and you will see the technique as it has unraveled to form national identities. 

Alexander the Great, the son of Philip II, tutored by Aristotle, and likely arranger of his father’s murder, used a similar technique in his conquest of the then known world.  His flourish to the technique was simple and effective: cash money.  Mercenary troops upon whom he depended went to the highest bidder, you see, and he could not dilute his forces and still conquer new regions.  It was therefore imperative to put trusted people, usually local people, with minimal additional mercenary troops in control of conquered regions, not imposing cultural or religious changes, and making sure that every pot had a chicken in it, currying favor and support from the local citizenry.  Capture the treasure first and defeat the army second was often his strategy.

After Alexander’s death, which was likely a murder, the kingdom split into several successor kingdoms, perhaps most notably the Seleucid (Syria and surrounds often including Judea) and Ptolemaic (Egypt and surrounds) dynasties.  Names you know resulted – Hanukkah is the festival resulting from the defeat of Seleucid forces in Jerusalem and rededication of the temple, and Cleopatra VII, yes that Cleopatra, was a Ptolemy and the only one who had bothered to learn the Egyptian language and customs.  Once the Carthaginian wars taught them a thing or two, Rome arose to dominate the region.  Like Philip II, Rome wanted its territories to be held in tension to reduce troop presence and keep tribute, cash and goods, flowing from their provinces.  Rome played a protection scheme with their allies, promising but rarely delivering protection unless of course tribute was in jeopardy and when they did intervene, no one was safe.  Perhaps that’s why we say no one is safe when the Texas legislature is in session.

Now comes the part with which I struggle endlessly.  To me, parallels to, and likely similar outcomes in, our modern society spring out of the page like a pop-up greeting card.  To the reader, who is most likely far too wise and otherwise occupied with the pleasantries of life to really feel the weight of both ancient and modern worldviews and actions, the relationship is irrelevant, dull, monotonous, tedious, and boring.  And, frankly, I often agree and discard what I’m writing.  After all, and in truth, I did once get a D on an English paper in sixth grade with the notes from my teacher being “dull, monotonous, tedious, and boring” – perhaps harsh by today’s standards, but she opened a world for me, the world of well chosen and piquant words, and that criticism was valid, true, and helpful.   Birth, and rebirth, is a painful affair both for the mother and the child.  I’d hope that Mrs. Lobenstein would now say “it was worth it”, or perhaps looks down from Paradise and smiles.

Making the segue is difficult, but let’s give it a try.  The thing is, my view of the world, my worldview of what makes the world go ‘round is stuff that feeds the time warp and feeds our society and those ancient societies.  Where we connect, we understand each other well.  So let’s talk a little bit about how I see the world, modern (post-modern to be exact) and Ancient.

First and most importantly, people are people.  Humans have not changed in the last 10,000 years.  We are each unique, we each have genetic and cultural heritages, and we have tendencies and characteristics that span nature, nurture, and everything between.  While there are genetic traits and certain skills that certain physical adaptations make one group better at specific athletic feats than another, there really isn’t a difference between human varieties or genders in terms of intellect and innate potential except for the variation from individual to individual.  What causes difference is the technological advancement of a society, the level of education, the worldview, the society’s cultural normative behaviors which may be thousands of years old, and myriad other things not innate to any given human group.  Likewise, customs and what is considered wise or common sense does vary from society to society.  For instance, in western culture, when someone gives you a business card and you pull out your wallet and put it in, you’re telling them that you’re keeping their information handy and are likely to use it.  In certain other cultures, you’re telling them that they merit your hind side in a sort of “mooning”.   When we deal with these differences, we must always resist imposing our worldviews on those societies as a means of establishing superiority lest we discard what we may learn.

The second thing is humility.  When we view a culture or events, we humans quickly form opinions about those events based on our worldviews, culturally normative behaviors, and so forth.   We tend to impose our rationale on others to judge their actions, yet we are not they and quite often we simply cannot understand their views.  Here, too, I have many examples in my own lifetime.  For instance, when various movements were insisting that a person sharing their differentiating traits must lead the movement, by which I mean Black Lives Matter must be lead by Black Americans, Gay rights movements must be lead by LGBTQ persons, Me Too must be lead by women who’ve suffered at men’s hands, and so forth, I was initially insulted.  Then, in humility, the simple truth became evident – I cannot understand their movement.  I can empathize, sympathize, support, defend, mentor, even protect, but I cannot represent.  That’s why, to the irritation of many, I insist on reading Jewish interpretations of Jewish works as one source among others.  I cannot represent Judaism or, to be correct, the many views of the broad Jewish community any more than I can represent the views of evangelical Christians, albeit I’d say that Episcopal church has a lot more truly good news than the evangelical (after the Greek word euangelion – good news or a reward for bring good news)  community. 

Humility is extremely important when we seek to analyze the news, who wrote the news, what they’re trying to say, whether or not they’ve jaded the story, and so forth and so on.  So, when we consider content, it is of paramount importance to include content created by the persons whose wisdom, plight, and behavior we consider.  That’s why I prefer listening to a speech compared to reading a summary or reading a full bill rather than reading a summary of the law.  And, in my view which is admittedly biased, you should also have that preference.  Dig to the truth as best you can even with our inherent inability, in many cases, to fully understand because we are not members of the group writing.

With those two elements, and accepting both, one can then make the enormous leap across time correlating perspectives and cultural drivers to detect similarities occurring in the now and at least possible outcomes from the then.  However, this is a rational endeavor and humans with aroused passions are not rational, so the rational endeavor must also be irrational in understanding at some level what will inflame passions and lead to strong, even violent responses.  Aristotle also discusses this in The Art of Rhetoric.

In considering America today, I think it also a requirement to understand that the United States is and always has been an ascendant culture.  By that I mean that we are a culture unfettered by allegiance to longstanding monolithic norms, whose primary purpose is to enable human excellence.   That means that we are self-critical, self-improving, and live on the brink of societal unrest, even civil war, most of the time.  Pleas for unity are as vapid as they are encouraging because we are many peoples united by improvement for everyone but never to be united by the erasure of our varied and distinctive cultures, traditions, and religions, or history.  This is key: we are a society that improves by conflict and resolution, by open raucous debate and mudslinging.  To think otherwise is just silly, and this is a major difference, an enormous difference, between American worldviews and just about any other society ever to exist on the planet.

Like a lot of the books I study, the segue has been longer than the text. 

At any rate, here we are in a society that is tearing itself apart in various ways towards, one supposes, two basic ends: improvement of justice and protection of the status quo.  But this is not what it appears for there is no agreed status quo, outside of the constitution, to protect, and justice presumes that the courts are at issue whereas it is in fact the governmental policy involving police, prosecution, and the laws themselves that are at issue, not the basic concept of justice.  In other words, we have arrived at that stage where nothing is rational, linear space becomes curvilinear and filled with Star Trek worm holes, and factions become more interested in conflict than improvement. 

The siege of Jerusalem nearly 2,000 years ago speaks to me, whereupon factions inside of the besieged city fought a civil war, burning the very food supply to encourage fighting against Rome rather than risking peace.  It was not the Jewish faith that they protected, neither was it their freedom.  No, each faction simply wanted to prevail in control and be held to be right, and they presumed that God would protect the temple.  That’s in large measure what led to the American Civil war, that notion of having been right to enslave persons, and it’s still what holds some of American culture away from embracing the reality that we have lots of improvements to make in our ascendant culture to realize the great dream that it represents. 

I hear Queen singing “I want it all … and I want it now” in my head, and I hear Spock saying “After a time, you may find that ‘having’ is not so pleasing a thing, after all, as ‘wanting.’ It is not logical, but it is often true.”  You see, with having comes responsibility and maintenance, reality, and truth, how pleasant a thing is wanting and how courageous is having.  Plato got it, when will we?

Yep, there we have it, another one bites the dust, another spate of misspent time writing nonsense.  By the way, the phrase “bites the dust” of course in other languages is about as old as it gets.  This refers to the head of a slain animal (or enemy human) being carted / drug back home head hung low touching the ground as the cart or sled bounces and literally biting the dust.  But who cares?  Then, again, it would be quite a pun to ask an Ancient Egyptian warrior for a show of hands – you might just get exactly what you asked for – those folks had a tradition of keeping somewhat of a  fish stringer of the hands of their slain foes. 

“And your ancestors created soccer by kicking enemy skulls around and marauding through villages as they did so, didn’t they now?”

“Sorry everybody, please meet Ani, of the Papyrus of Ani, the weighing of the heart scene from his customized papyrus Book of the Dead is directly behind me on the wall and he chimes in from time to time.”

“Ani and Tutu, Steve.” 

“Yes, sorry, I’ve forgotten to introduce your wife, the lovely Tutu, but she’s not with you now.”

“No, she’s enjoying the field of reeds, but it seems you needed help so here I am.   Now the way I see this, Steve, you’re a coward.  You know what you’d like to say but you won’t say it because you’re afraid of what people think.  Isn’t that true?”

“Go on, then, Ani, if you’re so sure, let’s hear what I want to say!”

“Well, let’s see then.  You’d like to say the a culture or society requires intersections of certain worldview elements in order to be cohesive and peaceful, and that all sorts of propagandists are doing their best to make sure that those cohesive elements are destroyed in American society.  Isn’t that about it?”

“Good start, Ani.  But I’d say a lot more …”

“That’s why no one reads your writings, Steve.  Remember that writing coach, less is more.”

“But Browning’s poem says that in an insane even inane context.”

“Nonetheless it’s true – short and to the point, Spartan, Chekhov style.”

“Look here, it’s my post anyway.  Your goatee needs a little trim doesn’t it?  Anyway …” I stop writing.

“Go on, power through it, I’m growing impatient with you,” prods Ani.

“Well if you must know, the problem is that it’s not really the propagandists it’s that people become convinced and angry and violent with no rational expectation for change or remediation.  I mean, you must want something more specific than ‘Justice’ if you protest, unless of course it just feels good to protest.”

“Clearly you need contemplation, Steve.  Sleep on it.”

And I did, and perhaps some triage will save this post.  But we’ll turn in a different direction for a while.

A friend of mine, then an Episcopalian Priest and now a Roman Catholic Priest, once told me that once the church split (in AD 451), it was inevitable that it would split again and again.  The first split was, one reads, over dogma regarding the nature of Christ, whether he was divine or both divine and human although power and position cannot be excluded.  As you know, the denominations of Christianity, including non-denominational churches going their own unique ways, are, dare one way, legion.  Most recently, the Methodists have split over human sexuality and same sex marriage, and as an Episcopalian who supports same sex marriage, I am in a position to understand the struggle.

Now overlay the myriad reasons for fragmentation of the church onto society at large and perhaps you see what Ani and I see.   The church has / churches have faltered under their own weight, from corruption throughout Christianity, from too many rules that do not represent the faith (and leaders that violate the very rules they impose and get caught), and it’s relevance is being lost in favor of individual spirituality, because of its inability to grow, adapt, and improve within the basic core as past behaviors become repugnant to modern eyes (and were always most likely repugnant to Jesus in the first place).  The church loses its common single imperative to love with sacrifice as Jesus loved us, to be the suffering servant of Isaiah.   So, too, our society which loses its two primary functions: mutual defense and peaceful trade – those are, after all, what we seem to find as reasons for communities in the earliest human settlements. 

“A FOGGY DAY in London Town … had me low, had me down …”

“The last thing I need right now is a fat, singing, critical, cat, Mittens.  Do shut up or I’ll not be gentle with your next insulin injection!”

“Well, you do need help, let’s not deny it.  Still, I spurn you as I would spurn a rabid dog.”

“Cats spurn all dogs and everyone else besides.  That’s what makes you attractive.”

“Suki, ‘your’ cat, did sit next to the poodle, Melissa and seem to be quite happy, did he not?  Not all dogs, just irritating dogs … and humans.  My God, the slobber, it’s like being around ‘Alien’.  Now get to my point, Steve.  It’s still quite foggy in this post.  Out with it or throw it away and come and brush me.”

“Have you any constructive criticism, or are you just being an irritant?”

“By George, I think he’s got it,” says mittens, strolling out of the room, tail held high.

This is the nature of the fall – the descent into unbridled dissent, mutual irritation.  Common needs, food, safety, trade, and so forth become abstracted by prosperity and lead to intractable positions resulting in enmity, stalemate, and societal decline as the poor gradually replace the middle class and constitute a large majority of the population thereby invalidating the ascendant nature of society, creating an aristocratic class, and leading to ineffective, inept, fractured governance and ultimately societal collapse due to lack of credible and trustworthy leadership.

We see, in part, the manifestation of the progressing fall in gangs and groups forming territorial boundaries and holding the local population under both threat and protection, akin to Feudal societies where life of the commoner is worthless, yet different because there is no allegiance to a purportedly greater cause in the person of the queen or king.  The lack of cooperation with the police, due not only fear of the gangs or otherwise organized criminal factions, as well as cultural taboos on “snitching” but also due to the police themselves, the fear they create and the contempt, underserved and deserved, in which they are held, creates street justice and undermines the very fabric of our society.  Without filling in the holes this creates, society collapses street by street.  And the spate of laws they are required to enforce, such as prohibition phase II (the War on Drugs), don’t help much neither.

Like our society, Jerusalem as it was in 70 CE (AD 70), had enormously thick and impenetrable walls (yes, ours are not literal).   When Vespasian left Jerusalem to become the fourth and final Emperor that year, he left his son, Titus, to conduct the war.  Frustrated by the walls, Titus denuded the area of trees and built an enormous and very tall siege tower from which to launch an attack.  The Jewish citizens of Jerusalem met this threat by undermining the tower, burning the supports, and causing it to topple as that portion of the tunnel collapsed.  The tunnel, a marvel of engineering, went under those impenetrable walls  and was not filled in prior to the collapse under the siege tower, or after, eventually resulting in the tunnel collapsing, the wall being breached, Jerusalem being taken, and the temple, sadly and not on Titus’ orders, being burned.  Indeed, the battle of Jericho was most likely quite similar with the Jewish troops undermining the walls while the rest of the population circled the city as a distraction, pulling out the supports when the great shout was made, causing the walls to tumble down as the undermining tunnels collapsed. When we use the term undermine in English, this is what it means. 

An ascendant society undermines itself towards the end of causing demolition of long standing but wrong positions and policies and making way for improvements.  That’s something landmark Supreme court cases can do, for instance.  And it is quite often a consequence of elections at all levels.  That said, the system cannot survive the descent to dissent whereby each individual selects which laws are fit for them to obey, the classic example being stop signs and traffic signals, albeit it depends on peaceful resistance and demonstrations against tyrannical, unjust, or unnecessary laws.    The process depends on society following a process, even if that process is a civil war, such that issues are settled and the ascent can begin anew.

A falling society descends into perpetually self-destructive actions and demands without coherent opposition consensus on causality, remediation, or means of achieving ascendance.   Philo of Alexandria, a contemporary of Jesus of Nazareth wrote in On Abraham, XXVI, “And the cause of its excessive and immoderate intemperance was the unlimited abundance of supplies of all kinds which its inhabitants enjoyed. For the land was one with a deep soil, and well watered, and as such produced abundant crops of every kind of fruit every year. And he was a wise man and spoke truly who said—‘The greatest cause of all iniquity is found in overmuch prosperity.’”  As  history repeats, we have fallen into the trap of overmuch prosperity, of distancing the seats of power from those who toil, of losing our will to struggle for our dreams selfishly striving to perpetuate what we perceive to be the current state which is, in fact, a passing vapor which we will later regret and despise.  This has, historically and as discussed above, led to the rise of “strong men” that hold the bickering parties together through fear and tyranny.

This is what I see: that America is become more concerned with individual rights and complaints than with a society focused on mentoring, enabling, empowering the and improving the individual and all others.  We focus on events, not causes, we focus on individuals, not endemic legal and cultural biases.  We want to believe that the existing system is perfect when the thought is absurd and, to the America that rebuilds itself constantly, anathema.  Here a digression into scripture, one of my favorite stories, seems in order, one about complaining too much and one story that warns us to be careful what we ask for.  Please do note in what follows that the Hebrew underneath the word translated as LORD is YHWH, the personal name of God given to Moses.  Longstanding Jewish tradition is to say Adonai (Hebrew for Lord) rather than uttering the divine name when reading scripture.  Almost all Bibles follow this tradition with my favorite Bible, the 1966 Jerusalem Bible, breaking the tradition and using the name, Yahweh.  It makes the text much, much, more personal. And, the Book of Jonah is translated for us by none other than J. R. R. Tolkien, ooh la la.  I’ve use the scholar’s choice, the New Revised Standard Version below.

The rabble among them had a strong craving; and the Israelites also wept again, and said, “If only we had meat to eat!  We remember the fish we used to eat in Egypt for nothing, the cucumbers, the melons, the leeks, the onions, and the garlic; but now our strength is dried up, and there is nothing at all but this manna to look at.”   Now the manna was like coriander seed, and its color was like the color of gum resin.  The people went around and gathered it, ground it in mills or beat it in mortars, then boiled it in pots and made cakes of it; and the taste of it was like the taste of cakes baked with oil.   When the dew fell on the camp in the night, the manna would fall with it.

Moses heard the people weeping throughout their families, all at the entrances of their tents. Then the LORD became very angry, and Moses was displeased.  So Moses said to the LORD, “Why have you treated your servant so badly? Why have I not found favor in your sight, that you lay the burden of all this people on me?  Did I conceive all this people? Did I give birth to them, that you should say to me, ‘Carry them in your bosom, as a nurse carries a sucking child,’ to the land that you promised on oath to their ancestors?  Where am I to get meat to give to all this people? For they come weeping to me and say, ‘Give us meat to eat!’  I am not able to carry all this people alone, for they are too heavy for me.

If this is the way you are going to treat me, put me to death at once– if I have found favor in your sight– and do not let me see my misery.”

So the LORD said to Moses, “Gather for me seventy of the elders of Israel, whom you know to be the elders of the people and officers over them; bring them to the tent of meeting, and have them take their place there with you.  I will come down and talk with you there; and I will take some of the spirit that is on you and put it on them; and they shall bear the burden of the people along with you so that you will not bear it all by yourself.   And say to the people: Consecrate yourselves for tomorrow, and you shall eat meat; for you have wailed in the hearing of the LORD, saying, ‘If only we had meat to eat! Surely it was better for us in Egypt.’ Therefore the LORD will give you meat, and you shall eat.

You shall eat not only one day, or two days, or five days, or ten days, or twenty days, but for a whole month– until it comes out of your nostrils and becomes loathsome to you– because you have rejected the LORD who is among you, and have wailed before him, saying, ‘Why did we ever leave Egypt?'”

But Moses said, “The people I am with number six hundred thousand on foot; and you say, ‘I will give them meat, that they may eat for a whole month’!  Are there enough flocks and herds to slaughter for them? Are there enough fish in the sea to catch for them?”

The LORD said to Moses, “Is the LORD’s power limited? Now you shall see whether my word will come true for you or not.”

So Moses went out and told the people the words of the LORD; and he gathered seventy elders of the people, and placed them all around the tent.  Then the LORD came down in the cloud and spoke to him, and took some of the spirit that was on him and put it on the seventy elders; and when the spirit rested upon them, they prophesied. But they did not do so again.  Two men remained in the camp, one named Eldad, and the other named Medad, and the spirit rested on them; they were among those registered, but they had not gone out to the tent, and so they prophesied in the camp.  And a young man ran and told Moses, “Eldad and Medad are prophesying in the camp.”

And Joshua son of Nun, the assistant of Moses, one of his chosen men, said, “My lord Moses, stop them!”

But Moses said to him, “Are you jealous for my sake? Would that all the LORD’s people were prophets, and that the LORD would put his spirit on them!”  And Moses and the elders of Israel returned to the camp.

Then a wind went out from the LORD, and it brought quails from the sea and let them fall beside the camp, about a day’s journey on this side and a day’s journey on the other side, all around the camp, about two cubits deep on the ground.   So the people worked all that day and night and all the next day, gathering the quails; the least anyone gathered was ten homers; and they spread them out for themselves all around the camp.

But while the meat was still between their teeth, before it was consumed, the anger of the LORD was kindled against the people, and the LORD struck the people with a very great plague.  So that place was called Kibroth-hattaavah, because there they buried the people who had the craving. (Numbers 11:2-34 NRSV)

From this, we learn how we all whine – don’t we sound like those people? And of course we learn why the Sanhedrin in Jerusalem consisted of 71 people – the seventy mentioned plus Moses (the Mishnah confirms this). Finally, we learn the answer to a common Biblical joke – who besides Adam and Eve had no parents? Joshua, the son of None.

America is not polarized into two camps, no, it is fractured and splitting more and more as my Priest friend predicted of the church, whining and bickering and demanding action that is not broadly agreed upon. It is as though we crave confrontation at this time rather than improvement.  The source of our many divisions is a lack of agreement on the vision for our country, specifically that it is an always has been ascendant, not progressive, but ascendant – a society that seeks to better the standard of life for all of its residents, that exists to promote liberty and justice for all, that thrives on fair exchange, removal of barriers, admitting wrongs and correcting them.  These principles unite this country and how they are articulated involves all of us equally and at all levels (local, city, county, state, federal, global) of interaction.

“But you yourself descend into dissent, Steve my friend.”

“I don’t really think so, Ani.  I mean I’m writing in some specificity about causality, that we become lazy and disconnected from our shared dream when we get overmuch prosperity and that we need to rekindle the great vision of a land of opportunity, not one of systemic inequality, neighborhoods full of violence and murders, and criminals becoming more and more bold.”

“Perhaps, but you … comment dit-on … yes, that’s it …  You bitch and moan but you don’t do anything about it, kind of like those protestors in Portland at the moment.”

“Now he speaks French …”

“But of course, a civilized language unlike your English.  It’s the Hyksos all over again.”

“They did bring the wheel to Egypt, you know, Ani.”

“But unlike you we weren’t complaining dragging everything around on sleds!  Just look at my papyrus – not a wheel on display.  We kept those old traditions, at least in our art you know.”

“But you did change.  The Book of the Dead, or as you call it the book of going forth by day, was originally limited to an afterlife for royalty and grew to include the common man.  Anubis was gradually supplanted by Osiris as the king of the Duat, the underworld.  Now what do you suppose would have happened if the wealthy decided to take back the afterlife from the common man?”

“Without the weighing of the heart against justice and truth for every person, things would get pretty bad, I suppose.”

“That’s really my point, Ani.  You know the big difference between Lipit-Ishtar and the Code of Hammurabi compared with the Book of the Dead and the Tanakh (the Hebrew Bible) is that in the former, the powerful were never directly punished whereas in the latter everyone is equal before their judges, especially in the Tanakh.  In our society this simple notion of individual accountability is being lost which heralds disaster in the now.”

And that’s what I see.  I see our society turning into one of complaints and demands rather than one that struggles on the rocky road of ascendance towards the shining city on the hill that enables everyone to be what they want to be within their abilities, to maximize their happiness and potential.  I see a country determined to create shame for our very ascendance and the fact that we didn’t fix this or that problem, however large and murderous it may have been, earlier – something that we can’t fix now, rather than being pleased that we’ve risen above those times and renewing our commitment to correct things in the now and the future.  I read lots of news stories comparing us to Europe which actually has a horrible record yet is held up as some sort of guiding light which is preposterous.  Even on immigration, I mean, just look at the plight of the people forced out of the horrible accommodations in Lesbos by the recent fire, the treatment of people forced to stay at sea, and perhaps die, by the EU who will not admit them, the money paid to Turkey to keep people from the EU, and so forth and so on. 

Shame can be a good thing, and perhaps we need more of it when people are not accountable for their actions.  Trying to impose shame on a culture, or an ethnic group, should be anathema to us but that’s what we’re about right now.  If it balanced the scales, that might be useful, but it does not.  No, it leads to people being even more strongly in opposition and unwilling to listen to or hear the truth.  If we do not turn to what needs improving, with specifics in mind, and do not turn away from trying to shame and enrage others, our society will falter and perhaps fall.  That’s what I see.

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