I shared a meme. It’s something many of us do, have done, and perhaps we’ll do it again. This meme was a reworking of a famous poem by German Pastor Martin Niemöller.
A message was then posted which questioned the post. I almost replied that the post was only shared, and not mine. That reply would have been disingenuous at best. I shared it because I agreed with the idea that we need to be both aware and caring. I have not identified the writer although I have put a part of his reply in quotes. I have left him anonymous, one because he’s a friend and this is not a personal issue. It’s a discussion. My second reason is that I hope that we can always approach things in a civil manner. If we lose the ability to communicate, we will eventually lose ourselves.
His reply was, “But what specific policy since Obama left has been anti-Jewish? What anti-Black? What anti-Muslim, all Muslims? What anti-all Mexicans? What anti-gay? Hoist on your own petard.”
I have not presented a petard to be hoisted upon. Trump’s campaign and his ongoing assault on propriety, common sense and your constitution are the problems before the world. What Trump will do to the world is the issue we will all face. Trump is like an elephant in musth. He seems to have little focus, no clear direction or objective. The ongoing blind destruction of policies and relationships, the trampling of enshrined rights, nor much else done by the newly minted president, don’t seem to be an issue for some Americans.
The first steps to repeal the Affordable care Act, to roll back hard-won advances for LGBT rights, to imperil women’s rights and health, to continue racial profiling, to deny climate change, to either defund or muzzle critical government services, to deny sanctuary to those in need, to violate treaty in order to violate both the environment and human dignity, and to smugly demand that UN member nations lock step with ill-considered and provocative statements. None of these things that have been put on paper, tweeted, broadcast, or signed as executive orders, should surprise anyone who has followed the campaign and has an inkling of the current administration. Governments disappoint us, but they usually parcel the pain out over an entire term.
Pastor Martin Niemöller’s original poem has been referenced, and to be fair trotted out, numerous times in response to a variety of issues both political and social. Is it apt here? It is pertinent only in as much as one chooses to look at the situation, and consider, “what next?”
As long as we keep the lines of communication open, we have a chance. My greatest fear is of extremists on both sides who use any excuse to further an agenda. They spend more time shutting down discussion than considering their, and other, opinions. Here in Indonesia, we have some fairly radical organizations that shut down discussion through intimidation and by using the political and legal clout of highly placed friends. A local governor has been charged with blasphemy and there have been a number of large protests against him. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/dec/27/indonesia-court-blasphemy-trial-ahok-jakarta-governor
That the governor is Chinese and Christian does not sit well with the leaders of these groups. Their organizations are in turn being used to further the political ambitions of a few highly placed, and somewhat convenient, friends of more recent vintage.
If America does not reinvigorate and safeguard its freedoms, its media, and its education system, with open and honest discourse then the world stands to lose a powerful instrument for positive personal, national, and global rebirth and innovation. America has been called the most powerful nation on Earth. The American President is regarded as the leader of the free world. He must be tasked to do better, for America and for the world.
Leadership is a responsibility, not a perk. We must all demand more of our leaders. We must hold our leaders to a higher standard. Whether we are American, Canadian, Japanese, German, European, British or Indonesian we must live deliberately in this moment. When we allow ourselves to be divided along religious, racial, national, economic and ideological lines we hasten the moment when we can be drawn and quartered along more personal lines.
CEOs and boards preach fiscal responsibility and cost cutting without smelling the pungent irony.
New year, new cuts. New governments, new rationales to save money. New managers, time to trim that fat. Programs are cut, or they are reduced. Job are cut or apportioned among a smaller pool of people. People are downsized. Unlike Antman, getting downsized doesn’t make us stronger or more effective.
No one is expendable. If people are sitting at desks twiddling their thumbs then they haven’t been assigned meaningful work or given the training to see what else could be done. We have all worked in corporate cultures, both private and government, where coasting through the days is routine. This is not because the people are not needed, or that work needing to be done is not available.
Many public parks and streets could be cleaned by workers who are idle or on reduced schedules. Many actual projects could replace unnecessary road ‘repairs’. How many office tasks could be accomplished in lieu of the six-hour meetings? In fact, this isn’t the real issue. Government houses cry budget and cost cutting up until it comes time to boost their own salaries and cash their own pension checks.
CEOs and boards preach fiscal responsibility and cost cutting without smelling the pungent irony. The services that are cut. The help that is no longer available and the individuals, families, and communities that are impacted have little relevance for social and economic visionaries valiantly struggling towards the 18th hole.
Watching the president elect’s inaugural address last Friday I was struck by two things; one that this was a remarkably coherent speech and two that bits of the address were eerily and disturbingly familiar.
The coherence was not expected as the President’s streams of consciousness, ramped up by contempt and vitriol, rarely are focused or logically ordered. A recent speech at CIA headquarters supports this opinion.
The president started off well. His respectful tone towards Chief Justice Roberts, Presidents Obama, Clinton, Bush, and Carter were appropriate and dignified. His exclusion of Mrs. Clinton was perhaps not nice, but one wonders if ‘President’ Clinton would have mentioned Trump or Bernie Saunders. Trump then got to the meat of his discourse. In a movie-trailer worthy synopsis, he pointed out the perceived problems with the ‘carnage’ happening in the United States.
He proceeded to isolate the USA, on the way to making it great again. ‘From this day forward, it’s going to be only America first, America first.
Every decision on trade, on taxes, on immigration, on foreign affairs will be made to benefit American workers and American families. We must protect our borders from the ravages of other countries making our products, stealing our companies and destroying our jobs. Protection will lead to great prosperity and strength.’
The familiar echoes were the ‘giving power back to the people’ and ‘building with American hands’. And then there was the Charlie Sheen moment, when ‘America will start winning again, winning like never before.’ The echoes of Bane, of John Frederick Paxton, and oddly of Bernie Sanders seem at odds with a speaker, who rarely evokes anyone but himself.
The imagery of an American heartland littered with broken people, rusting dreams, and crumbling infrastructure is not altogether untrue. Coming from the newest resident of the White House, the statements seem a tad ingenuous. To be fair, the image of the 45th president striving mightily to protect people, and using every breath in his body to change the course of mighty rivers may fill some with hope.
Now comes the big moment. ‘Finally, we must think big and dream even bigger. In America, we understand that a nation is only living as long as it is striving. We will no longer accept politicians who ‘are all talk’ and no action, constantly complaining, but never doing anything about it.’ I am reminded of the scene in Monty Python’s The Life of Brian where the talk is all of ‘not just talking’.
‘The time for empty talk is over. Now arrives the hour of action.’ As if the point needed to be underscored.
That this individual, so long divisive, so long derisive and so often disinterested in anyone but himself, could talk of healing, of racial harmony, of a shared creator. That he could speak of caring what happens to a child in Detroit or Nebraska under whatever sheltering skies he may see in his mind’s eye. These statements can only bring back the impassioned question of Joseph Nye Welch, “Have You Left No Sense of Decency?”.
I come not to praise the American Dream, but to bury it. We have seen the savage and public assassination of common sense. We have seen the naked aggression of an orange orangutan, and we have witnessed both reward and appeasement. We watched as leaders, lawmakers and the media stood aside and the Republican Party was allowed to build up their creature. We watched as the Democrats, through their arrogance and their malfeasance, attached the electrodes.
Make no mistakes, have no illusions America; you all brought this bigly monstrosity to life.
This morning, I am not any more fearful, but I am awake. We have seen the enemy, and it remains us. We have looked into the abyss and the abyss has looked back and chuckled. It’s honestly not that bad. Your only problem is the same problem you had yesterday; you expect others to be better. Sorry, they aren’t – and they’re not likely to change. Business is run to make a profit. Banks run to make a profit, and politicians run to make a profit. A US Presidential campaign does not spend billions of dollars, directly and indirectly, to put someone in a position to make a few hundred thousand dollars a year. It pays that money to put a mechanism in place to manipulate and enable manipulation. The mechanism is oiled and placed to engineer profit. Nothing has changed.
His Orangeness is a disaster, but he is also a cynical master of BS and dream-manipulation. This saffron-hued, irritable and ill-mannered manifestation of intolerant self-entitlement is an immature masturbatory power fantasy that handily plays into the wish-fulfillment of the millions deserving of better lives. There exist impatient millions, deserving for no other reason than they’ve bought into the lie of the American Dream, and they are willing to follow the dream-whisperer.
Sorry dreamers, you had your chance and you blew it. With Carter, and again with Sanders – you blew it. The working class exists to be worked, the middle class exists to grease the wheels of industry. The rich exist to get richer. The poor exist to scare the resistance out of everyone and make them content to be above it all.
Your participation in this is not entirely dictated. You can be more educated. You can be more informed. You can be self-motivated. You can work to realize hopes and actualize dreams, or you can just choose to sit. Stop waiting for change. Stop blaming others. Do better. Don’t support leaders, policies or businesses that do harm. Make better choices. Take responsibility. Make a change within yourself.