There is always hope and options; bizarrely, we don’t seem to want them.

I’m astounded at the level of ignorance people numbly accept. Never have we lived in an age with so much knowledge and data so easily accessible, yet we want very little of it.

For hundreds of years–no, for thousands of years, education was the coveted goal of nearly all people. To learn to read? Have access to a scroll? Learn beyond the basic numbers? Luxury! Some families would sacrifice all they had just to send one promising child to get an education, hoping he’d bring some of it back to share.

Now, we want only entertainment and sensationalism.
Give us crying teenagers terrified by exaggerated claims of global collapse.
Give us elderly politicians screaming about non-existent cover-ups.
Give us celebrities and journalists telling us how we’re all stupid and wrong.
But don’t give us reports of real suffering where we can help, or solid data about the actual changes in the world.

And certainly don’t give us any hope.

The high schoolers I teach are convinced the world is a horrible place to be. They want no part of it, nor do they want grow old in it. Unsurprising, many are depressed and without hope.

Decades ago I visited Washington DC for the first time and got lost in a less-desirable part of town. The person I was driving with told me to lock the car doors, that the people who lived there were “willfully dumb and dangerous.” I thought that was harsh, and said so. The person pointed out that those under-educated lived within walking distance of the greatest museums in the world, all for free. They could learn anything and discover everything, if they just exerted some effort. But they wouldn’t.

They didn’t want to know.

That was before phones and the Internet, before we could carry the world’s knowledge in our back pocket.

And still we don’t want to know.

We willingly accept only the shallowest of knowledge, and we limply accept the worst of fates. Our youth feel powerless, their only option to whine and throw tantrums at the world. They fight problems that don’t even exist, while ignoring larger issues that truly threaten to swallow them up. They’ve been given hopelessness, and actually believe it. They’ve given up their imaginations, so they can’t imagine better options. There’s little rebellion against the angst they’re handed; they just pocket it and skulk away.

I teach my students a Holocaust memoir, hoping they’ll realize that the hopelessness Gerda Weissman Klein faced was far more real than any manufactured issue-of-the-day, and not only did she survive, but thrived, just like hundreds of thousands of others, and millions of people all over the world today.

We have to flood not only the Internet but the minds of our families, friends, and youth we associate with hope, success, and optimism.

We have to tell them how many times the world was going to “end” over the past so many decades (my husband’s yearbook from the 1980s warned about the impending ice age, and how to survive it). And how none of those predictions have come true. None.

Our kids don’t know this, that we’ve been shaking our heads, rolling our eyes, and sighing heavily for fifty years at these sensational predictions. They don’t know that hope always exists all around them, and that a glorious future still awaits them.

We have to tell them! In our conversations, in our interactions, and in our social media. We have so many options and possibilities for our future, and bizarrely those options are frequently ignored.

Our laziness and easiness will destroy us long before the earth will collapse. That’s one prediction I hope I’m wrong about.

Walls meme horizontal People stupid

 

Three ways to evaluate those who hold political power: when to run away and when to give them another week

I’ve created a list by which I gauge those in power: who I should run away from and who I’ll trust for another week. (By the way, the purpose of the world is NOT to serve us; this is how every major conflict begins.)

Now I won’t be naive and pretend that in the past those with power used it wisely. Thousands of years of dark history are against me on that. However, there have been bright points who realized that power was granted to them to see if they’d do the right things. Occasionally, true leaders and statesmen set aside their personal hopes and fears, and instead pursued the hopes and fears of the communities they represented.

Overwhelmingly, however, people with power have acted like 6-year-olds on their birthday, greedily taking everything handed them, believing they’re important and forgetting everyone else around them.  But they’re not as important as they deliriously believe, and usually the “day after blues” reveals that, too late.

So here’s the current draft of my list evaluating who to trust in power, still a work in progress. Feel free to send me suggestions.

When to run away from someone in power:

  1. When their every comment or observation is “I” based; they’ve forgotten they are to represent others and instead are obsessed with themselves.
  2. When their desire is to be front and center, when they use real problems and issues to get more attention for themselves (real people are merely tools). In fact, new problems may be “manufactured” to draw new attention to the person in power.
  3. When they’re increasingly defensive and angry, because only self-centered people are defensive and angry. (It’s a basic truth. Test that sad theory for yourself.)

When to support someone in power? Watch for this behavior:

  1. They focus on “you” not “I.” They (usually) remember that power has been given to them temporarily to do a job for others.
  2. They don’t give a flying fig what others think about them; they just go about doing what good they can. Often their public relations aren’t too good, but their results generally are.
  3. They don’t complain endlessly about problems real or manufactured. Instead, they go about fixing the problems. There’s action, not continued pontification.

Power in the United States is granted not because someone “deserves” it, or is popular, or attractive, or wealthy, or athletic. (Although you can make an argument that power has been granted to all of those in the past, and we can see now how those were mistakes.)

Power is granted to those we HOPE will take care of us, will fight for us, will remember that a large group of people are expecting them to represent us fairly and accurately. (Those people may also be popular or wealthy or attractive, etc. but those shouldn’t be the deciding characteristics.)

Many (most?) politicians forget how they got their positions, and instead of managing that power, the power tragically eats them up. It’s tragic for those they represent and even more so for the individual who really thinks that they’re someone important and special because they’re in office.

They’re not important or special. We the people get to take away that power, unfortunately often not until a lot of selfishness has been manifested (“My legacy!”) and a lot of damage has occurred, sometimes irreparably.

I suspect that Lord Acton’s quote of “Absolute power corrupts absolutely” can sadly be paraphrased to reflect modern politics as: “Any kind of power corrupts every kind.”

Walls meme horizontal POWER SERVE

New prequel coming Summer 2019!

Get the rest of the series here.

Book 5 Teaser–I take comfort in my delusions!

An acquaintance once accused me of being “delusional” because of my religious convictions. They didn’t mesh with his beliefs, therefore I was wrong.

But as I thought about all that I believed, I realized it gave me immense comfort and hope. Without that, I’d crumble and die.

So here’s my philosophy: Perhaps what I believe is delusional (and when you get right down to it, all of us are delusional at some level and in some way, such as hoping everyone thinks that is your natural hair color). But so what? If my delusions don’t harm you in any way, then don’t worry about them.

My acquaintance insisted that my beliefs in an afterlife were spurious, and that when I died I’d “be surprised there wasn’t anything there.” (I won’t deal with that illogical logic right now.)

I countered with, “My belief of what lies ahead make me happy, today. If I gave that up, I’d be despondent for the rest of my life. I’d rather be delusional and happy, than be ‘right’ and miserable.

He rolled his eyes at me, but I grinned back. I never wanted to live as self-righteously as he did. The poor man’s confidence only in himself and his brilliance made him absolutely wretched.

 

High Polish Tatra mountains