Tribes and Sects – One Nation, Under Siege

When the Stories We Tell Ourselves get so long and involved, embellished, enshrined in ritual, and removed from the very people doing the telling that it takes longer to understand them than it does to get drunk on Bud Lite, things usually begin to change.

Sometimes they change strictly for reasons of expediency. Continue reading

Stories We Tell Ourselves

Stories are at the heart of human culture.  Stories are the basis for entire industries.  Stories are the foundation of all fiction writing.  Stories are what we tell our kids, what we tell each other, and most importantly, what we tell ourselves.  We never seem to run out and we never tire of telling the best ones over and over.

When a group of people tell each other the same stories over and over, they grow closer.  They find they have commonality.  There is plenty of grease for the wheels of their society.  When they tell each other lots of conflicting stories, tensions rise; divisions occur.  When they tell themselves one story and tell others a conflicting one, they are generally criminals, liars, or hypocrites. Continue reading

Patriot Games

Consider this:  The word “patriotism” has never been well-defined.  Or perhaps it has never been defined well.

The dictionary says patriotism is “the quality of being patriotic.”  Well, that’s about as helpful as a pet pig in a manure wallow.  It continues, “Vigorous support for one’s country.” Continue reading

Pretenders

I remember playing cowboys and Indians when I was a kid.  That’s not politically correct any longer, but I grew up in the days of the western, when you couldn’t turn on the TV without seeing cowboys and Indians shooting at each other, and Roy Rogers and Gene Autry were still playing in the local theater on a Saturday morning.

There was a good deal of land around where I lived and my brother and I and the one neighbor kid would run around pretending to be either a cowboy in a white hat or Crazy Horse.

Forget the insensitivity to the previous genocide of the Native Americans for a minute.  We were six or ten; we knew nothing of that; no one had told us (no one did tell us until I was in college, actually), and we had a great deal of fun running around, dropping, unsuspected, out of trees on our enemies, shouting “gotcha” and “Bang, you’re dead.”

A favorite ploy, if you were playing on the Indian side was to cover yourself in grass and weeds and then pop up when the cowboys rode by (think Monty Python’s King Arthur) shooting them with suction cup tipped miniature arrows from a tiny bow you could buy at Woolworth’s Five and Dime.

We knew we weren’t cowboys or Indians.  We were “pretending.”  And it was magical. Continue reading

Hal 9000: Good Morning, Dave.

The term fake news isn’t new.  But it wasn’t a term you heard very often until the past election.  Suddenly it was everywhere.  It was originally intended to describe social media and internet posts and stories that were either outright lies or grossly misleading.  During the election, new sites were constantly emerging on the internet devoted solely or in part to these types of stories.

There were a number of reasons these sites became prolific.  Some were purely partisan political sites that went beyond “slanted” stories or “spin” to promote a candidate or disparage an opponent.  Many were run by current or past members of the Republican elite.  These were not a well-coordinated force, but they were some of the first.

Others were simply profit making endeavors, preying on the public’s fascination with outlandish stories and their need to see people in high places brought low – especially if those people had different political views than they do.  The lure of profit simply by having someone click on a web site link was irresistible to many.  Kids in Macedonia financed their record collections.  Marketing experts in the US got richer.

And then there was the Russian government sponsored campaign. Continue reading

Happy Birthday America

Maybe we’re talking about this all wrong.

What if all the things we think matter, don’t matter?

What if all the things we despise are actually good?

Maybe, not only are we talking about things the wrong way; maybe, we are just wrong.

That would explain a lot, wouldn’t it?    I mean it would explain just about everything.

We’re wrong. Continue reading

Right, Wrong, and the Character of a Nation

It would appear that we face a political crisis which many liken to the days of Watergate.  While there are similarities, what we face today is unlike anything we have faced before, and we are lying to ourselves if we do not admit that and dooming ourselves if we do not face it.

During the Nixon administration everyone knew that breaking into the Watergate Hotel was wrong.  Everyone knew  that Nixon’s cover-up of that break-in was wrong.  Both Republicans and Democrats looked at the evidence and knew it was wrong.  It wasn’t just illegal; it was wrong.  Nixon placed the well-being of his presidency and his party above that of the country and the law and the congress and the country said “that’s not right.”  Members of his own party went to Nixon and told him his presidency could not survive what he had done.  He may have been “Tricky Dick,” but he wasn’t a “Stupid Dick.”   He resigned. Continue reading