Tag Archives: radical

polarization is dangerous

I’ve already written about this, but I have not seen any progress on the situation, only a rapid race to extremes so…

Polarization of our politics and culture is not the answer!

Boxing people into groups based on generalizations is not the answer!

Grouping people into vast generalizations based on anything, ESPECIALLY political parties, isn’t going to help build bridges, it’s only going to create a deeper disparity between the ability to connect with others! Labelling people and letting those label stick without the subjects full ownership isn’t going to help build a culture and society of peace!

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us vs. them is a quick way to the end

I know. It’s hard. It’s really hard. It’s much easier to say that all Republicans are racist and that’s the reason why our county is racially divided. It’s easier to say that old white men are the reason why we’re still living in a patriarchal state (which, I mean, has a lot of truth to it…but that’s not the ONLY truth). It’s easier to say that white, liberal, 20-40somethings are responsible for our culture of political correctness. It’s easy to blame BLM for rising racial divides. It’s easy to blame the Green Party and Libertarians for Trump’s election. What I’m getting at here is that it’s easier to BLAME the OTHER than taking responsibility for creating a culture of inclusiveness.

I didn’t feel the need to write about my experience at the Women’s March on DC because it wasn’t different than other of the marcher’s narratives from around the world. It was empowering. It was a sign of the times. It was being part of a movement. It was a feminist environment, and I’m so grateful I was able to experience it.

However, I was irked about something I noticed at the march, which mirrored a flaw within our society. It was a meaningful event that was exclusive to a certain type of [liberal] woman. I’ve spoken about this to close friends, but my biggest qualm with the women’s march was that it was in no way welcoming to Republicans, and certainly not to women who supported Trump. And that’s a problem, because that only widens the divide we’re creating as a country. I’m proud that we can champion the Woman’s March was the largest rally in history and a gold star for feminism. However, we also must be critical and recognize that there was a subset of women who were not welcomed, and this whole thing was supposed to promote intersectionality!

The only way that I think we can fix this is to stop with the vast generalizations and start having conversations. I vehemently disagree with Trump, but to allow that to influence how I feel about everyone who voted for him is wrong and destructive. It stops conversations before they happen, and more importantly, actively halts the creation of new ideas and new ideals. Polarization allows for the breakdown of all systems in which the participants are left within a society that is understood strictly as good vs. evil, and that’s not realistic, it’s fucking dangerous. But we’ll allow it, because it’s easier, and it’s more fun to think of ourselves as the “good guys” anyways.

So, I challenge you to start thinking about how you may have allowed sweeping generalizations to affect your ability to promote a society and culture of peace, while also reflecting on the possibility that perhaps you have allowed your own identity to be defined by concrete constructs… 😉

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Why I Went to Trump’s Inauguration, What it Was Like, and What I Learned About Myself.

I’m still trying to process my inauguration day experience. When I was there on Friday, living in it, I didn’t have much time or energy to examine all of the things happening around me. I used all yesterday to compress after returning to Northeastern PA from the inauguration and Woman’s March in DC, and spent the day trying to find peace of mind by watching the first season of Parks and Rec (what a funny show!), yogaing, and eating my weight in Korma Paneer.

So here’s what I experienced at the DC Inauguration:

When I told people that I would be attending the inauguration, most questioned why and what my motives were. I spent time meditating on whether I should attend the inauguration since election day, and the more heated the country became on both sides, the more I felt compelled to attend. Inaugurations are historic days, regardless of who is president, and I’ve never attended one before. My professor gave me and two of my friends permission to miss class to attend, and since Scranton is only about a 4.5 hour drive from D.C., I knew I would regret it if I didn’t go.

So that’s the easy answer to why I went: because I could and it is a historic day. My true, number 1 reason for attending was to promote love and to act as a representative of peace, to represent the ideology that we can communicate with each other even if we think differently, that we can listen to each other, and that true, positive change can happen if it’s governed by an underlying value of love. I expected that there would be a lot of anger and emotion on both sides of the inauguration, and I wanted to show others that it is a possibility to attend to issues with an open heart and mind.

We drove late Thursday night to my friends’ home in Harrisburg where we slept for a few hours. (Shoutout to Mike and Dana for letting us stay at their beautiful home! And to Brendan who let us stay Friday night!) At 5am we embarked to drive the rest of the way to Rockville, Maryland, where we parked the car at the metro station. The Rockville stop on the metro station is one of the last stops on that subway line, which means that it’s one of the furthest stops from capitol where we were headed.  When we got on the train, there was a family of four with a sign that said “need 1 more silver ticket for inauguration”. They looked sad, and even a little pathetic, to me, but now thinking about it in hindsight, they probably were just tired, and I allowed my bias to form an opinion about them. There was another Trump-supporting Baby Boomer couple, who were dressed patriotically, the wife even donning a red, white, and blue scrunchie. I looked directly at them, but they wouldn’t make eye contact with me. I soon would find out that this would be the norm for many of the Trump supporters. Anyways, the train was pretty much empty, and we had our choice of seats.

We got out at Metro Station, in downtown DC, where roads were blocked off all around the Capitol. We walked around for a little while to get our bearings and then decided to make our signs on the steps of a lavish apartment building, on the same block of a checkpoint for people who had tickets to the inauguration. I had some leftover “Stein/Baraka” lawn signs that I brought with me, which turned out to be really durable protest signs, so thanks again, Green Party, for helping me be an advocate. All of our signs promoted love. Mine said “True Change Only Comes from Love”, Kim’s said “Love Trumps Hate”, and Dawn’s read “If It Isn’t Intersectional, it isn’t Feminism”. Throughout the day people told us that we had the right idea, gave us thumbs up, and asked to take pictures of us, which was encouraging, and helped me keep my head up in a place of strong emotions and negativity.

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Me, Dawn, and Kim at the beginning of Inauguration Day.

The first group we came across was where we were making our signs, outside of a security checkpoint for people who had tickets to the inauguration to enter. The Freedom Socialist Party held a demonstration outside of the checkpoint so any Trump supporters who wanted to get into the inauguration would have to pass through them. There were probably 40(?I’m pretty bad with estimating people sizes) people dancing and chanting. I heard later that they also had a gay dance party outside the security checkpoint, so Trump supporters would have to walk through shirtless gay men in glitter and butch women in cargo pants dancing to George Michael. I am OK with this type of demonstration. However, it was during this early morning protest that I saw the only violence of my trip. My group wanted to walk over one block, and the easiest way to do this was to walk through the demonstration and turn the corner. Behind us, a few young, college-aged men, donned in the red hats and dark trench coats, tried to follow in our path. All of a sudden, a bunch of demonstrators started screaming “Shame! Shame! Shame!” in their faces. I’m not one who would protest in this way, but the protesters weren’t really doing anything wrong. The three of us were pushed to to the side, while a police officer helped escort the Trump supporters through the crowd. Then, the cop grasped his hands together in front of him and forcefully, and violently, rammed himself through a group of the protesters, causing a few of them to fall to the pavement hard. This was the only violence I witnessed, and I have to be honest, if I’m truly trying to be objective, it was the Trump supporters who really did nothing wrong in this situation, however they did seem smug when the police officer forcefully pushed people away to get them into the security checkpoint line.

We did see an Antifa group marching and running through the streets with their signs held high shortly after this occurrence in the morning. Antifa appears frightening if you don’t know about them, and I know many on the right and left want them to be labelled as domestic terrorists. They’re a militant left group, and support fear tactics, such as bearing arms while wearing masks that cover their faces. Antifa was the most radical group I saw at the inauguration, and I believe they were the ones who burned the limo in the over-sensationalized “riots” that were depicted on mainstream media and who punched Richard Spenser in the face.

The first mean-spirited thing said to us was right after a reporter from CBS asked to take our picture. A group of well dressed and groomed white, 20-somethings, in red hats, walked by, sniffed the air, and said “smells like hippie” and all laughed while they past us. We received numerous other statements like this throughout the day, all of which were unprovoked. While we stood in the inauguration line, one Trump supporter turned to Kim and asked her if she was a Trump supporter because her sign read “Love Trumps Hate”. Kim calmly replied that she supports love, and wasn’t a Trump supporter. He was condescending towards her, I had to take a few deep breaths and remind myself why I was at the inauguration, in order to not say anything negative to him and his group. I am so proud of us for not giving in to negativity during the inauguration, especially in times I felt threatened.

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Mixed Crowd of Supporters and Protesters Waiting in Inauguration Line

So, yeah, we stood in line to get into the inauguration, even though we didn’t have tickets, simply because we didn’t know where else to go. Almost everyone in line was a protester. There were a few businesses that opened their doors for people to use their bathrooms, and one business even had free hot chocolate and coffee available. It was easy to tell what businesses were protest friendly because they didn’t look any different than their normal state. We didn’t dare try to use the bathrooms in the businesses that were decked out in all things MAGA, which there were a bunch of.

After I watched on my phone Trump’s swearing in, we marched in the Anti-Inauguration March which had demonstrators from all different types of activist groups. It was a sea of people chanting “This is what democracy looks like!” and “No Trump! No KKK! No fascist USA!”. We were getting hungry and when the march passed by a soup and sandwich shop, we stopped in to grab lunch.There weren’t many people in the restaurant, and we took a much needed rest sitting in the open dining area. Shortly after we started our lunch, the red hatted people started filing in. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t feel a little threatened being the minority in that cafe, a smaller version of what the city felt like the whole day, where the anger and hate was palpable. One couple that lunched next to us asked if we were protesting, which we said yes. The woman then gave us a poncho and extra handwarmers she had, and explained that she didn’t need them because they were on their way home after watching their president’s inauguration. She was kind, and it’s this human connection that’s what’s really important. Regardless of political views, she was compassionate towards us, fellow human beings.

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While we were standing in the inauguration line

We did listen to some of the other conversations happening around us in the cafe, in which I heard a table talk about that protesters just are protesting to get their picture taken. I heard some other similar dialogues, but tried to tune and block them out as much as possible. I was happy to leave the lunch place when we did. I felt like easy prey for someone to take their anger out on, and more red hats kept flooding through the doors.

We were able to get in to see the parade, which also was an experience in being the minority. We stood in a checkpoint line for probably an hour, and the vast majority of those in line with us were Trump supporters. We were all connected by a common thread of feeling annoyed towards a man with a megaphone preaching that we were all going to burn in hell and that doomsday was near.

So, we get through the checkpoint and the protesters have taken over a large area. No red hats, but also no room to really move or see the parade. We walked a few blocks over to where the crowd was thinning, but was also turning redder. There was an open space where we could kind of see the parade, however it was standing under a big group of Trump supporters who were standing on a ledge, about two feet higher than us. They were basically hovering over us, and I was waiting to get spit on. It was hard to ignore the “Blue Lives Matter” chant when the police marched by. I wanted so badly to turn around and say, “BLM isn’t about devaluing others lives!” but I bit my tongue, and continued to watch the parade.

When Trump drove by, we could only see his and Melania’s silhouette waving through the black tinted windows. It was at this point, when the crowd around us was screaming in excitement and adoration, that I felt real resentment towards Trump. He couldn’t even roll down his window to wave at his supporters. What a fucking coward.

We walked over to K and 14th Street where the “riots” happened. We could smell tear gas when we approached. We saw the limo that was set on fire and the Bank of America and Starbucks which had their windows broken. I don’t believe in destruction of property, and violence doesn’t solve anything, but people are tired of this wealth disparity! And although I don’t agree with it, I can understand it. The upper class doesn’t know the plight of the underclass, and setting a limo on fire seems like a small rally cry in the context of the enormous unrest.

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Limo that was set on fire, and SUV that was damaged. Also, the glass pane with spray paint there said “We The People”

So out of this whole day, you want to know what really got under my skin the most? It was the rich people walking to the inauguration balls around sunset, dripping in diamond jewelry and smuggly fitted tailored tuxes. They would not look at us. I tried smiling at them, but they refused to make eye contact. I don’t know if it was because they sincerely believe that they are the ones that make America great and can’t see us, or if they are afraid of us- maybe their fear of all the protesters has blocked their ability to assign humanity to any of us, regardless of motivation. Or, maybe, they really don’t care about anyone but themselves. I have never felt so small, so less-than, compared to a group than I did walking by these people. But then, after thinking about this the past few days- maybe they really do fear me, the protester, the other. And if this is the case, then I have some strength and influence over them, because I am NOT afraid of them. And that’s pretty empowering and gives me a glimpse of greater hope for the future of our country.

 

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Narrative Theory in our Political Context

Ok, shit,  guys, we need a plan. I have let myself sit the past few weeks in this sad, heavy, cold, quiet panic of our encroaching doom (T-minus 30 days until inauguration), and I need to jump the fuck out of this thinking. Okay, okay, here’s a quick breakdown of how I think about life: I think there are only two emotions: fear and love, and love > fear. Everything boils down to these two things. And because of the internet, because of widespread and easy communication, it’s much easier to let our thoughts be influenced by others. So, I have let myself become fearful, because the collective feels fearful, the news I read, the people I surround myself with, also have a type of fear- which is completely understandable. I’ve been living with fear the past two years. But now I realize that I need to shift my heart and brain towards love. That is the answer.

I need to look to the future with a  sense of belief that the future will be AMAZING. That 2017 will be a great year. Because here’s the deal, we have one life, so I better believe that this life is going to be the best life possible. It’s work for me to think like this, and I need to practice thinking about everything this way.  I don’t know if there’s “God”, and I doubt that any religious version of a deity exists, but I think there’s something, even if it’s just little tiny balls of energy sperming around the universe for eternity.

So, the future is coming no matter what we do. We can’t go back in time. This is what we have: A really crazy person with only interests of corporate greed has guided his entire life, who has been filling his cabinet with the worst of the worst, what’s proving to be a hard brick-red Congress, and likely having a conservative supreme court. So, the opposition is in charge of everything and the hand hasn’t been this heavy in decades. This is not how our democracy is supposed to work out. We are supposed to have checks and balances.

So, narrative theory, or “narratology” as fancy scholars like to refer to it. I wasn’t familiar with narrative theory until this past semester in school, where my practice class was about using different theoretical perspectives and figuring out what my own personal lens is (feminist and narrative). Ok, so narrative theory asserts that people have an understanding of their life based on their own personal experiences. How they understand these experiences is what creates the “life story” of the person, and thus influences their thinking and understanding of life and future events.

We get so stuck in these narratives that we believe that it’s all true. For instance, and I hope he doesn’t get mad at me for using this example, but my father recently retired. This has been difficult for him, as it is for most people who have spent their life working and now have that huge part of their life missing. He was talking to me the other day and said that he felt bad because he knew he always imagined fly fishing after he retired, but the river levels have been too low for him to go fly fishing. So I brought up the idea of, “what if you never thought about fly fishing? What if that wasn’t what you had planned your whole life to do after you retire? What would you do then?” and this was a WHOLE brand new thought. He was so caught up in his self-prescribed understanding of what his life would be, that it was like a door opening when he was able to think about the possibility of opening his mind to doing something else- to changing his narrative.

Ok, so narratives are powerful. I have seen the word “narrative” used a billion times during the past year to describe political events. What someone’s narrative is, influences how others to think about them. We love underdogs. So, we think about Bernie Sander’s narrative, and how he worked so hard to become a Senator and spark up this political revolution that is gathering kinetic energy, waiting to explode. This narrative helped people connect with him, because we often judge people by their narrative.

We love good stories. We love a good movie with a great plot, with great character development, that we can relate to, even if it’s just relating on the surface value and of being empathetic. We can’t really relate to Trump’s narrative because it hasn’t been set out for us. But Trump used his voter base’s narratives. He listened to what they had going on and used it to reinforce their thinking. In many places, including towns in Northeastern PA, the consensus is that jobs have been shipped overseas, and that “true” American’s aren’t gaining in life because of illegal immigrants. Trump helped reinforce this narrative by running a campaign that promised to fix these things. He didn’t help these people understand a different narrative, one that is more honest towards the situation. He didn’t come out and say that companies are moving overseas because of trade deals and that illegal immigrants either work for wages that most people wouldn’t get out of bed for and that illegals don’t have any rights (ie to welfare, etc) in America. It is much easier for Trump to reinforce a false narrative than try to expose an honest one. So in this lack of truth, it is easier to appeal to heartstrings than the brain.

Another good example of narrative theory is the Joe Biden-Barack Obama-BFF memes. I love these memes so much. I love that it seems like Biden and Obama are legit best friends forever and that Joe is a hapless dude who acts as the protector little miniature watchdog for Obama. I love thinking about Biden and Obama like this. But you know what, it’s probably not true. And this narrative only allows us to think about Biden and Obama as good pals, and that’s honorable, and thus their candidacy must be honorable too. It leaves little room for doubt or for exploring what an alternative narrative might be. Although I think it is a form of propaganda, I do love a good Biden-Obama meme.

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love it

Alright, I’m not sure if this makes much sense, but it’s something that’s been on my mind the past few months, and I figured I’d try my best to explain how I have been noticing narrative theory used in a way to influence people’s understanding of politics, current affairs, and past actions done by our government.  Narratives are formed in the mind, but can be reinforced by using both love or fear. It just depends on how we want to view them.

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4th-Wave Feminism

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4th wave feminism really isn’t that radical

There isn’t a ton on the internet about fourth wave feminism, so I wanted to throw my idea about this subject out there. I think this is especially important right now in our political context.

I wanted to write a little bit about this because I’ve encountered some third-wavers who believe it is sexist for a woman to not vote for Hillary Clinton. They believe that electing the first female to the white house will help conquer goals within their doctrine of third wave feminism

Under my belief, definition, and values of fourth-wave feminism, voting for a woman just because she is a woman is sexist.

Side Note: While searching the internet, I found more anti-women content in regards to fourth wave feminism. I forgot that there are people out there who are truly sexist to the core, which is so crazy to me.

Here’s my values as an American fourth-wave socialist feminist:

  • All genders and sexualities are equal
  • The 1st, 2nd, and 3rd wave feminists paved the path I walk on today.
  • Whoever is better fit for a job should get the job.
  •                 If there is a fitness test to be in first line of combat, and a woman fails it, then she shouldn’t be granted special opportunity to be in the first line. This only brings down the whole team.
  •                 If there is a man and woman who interview in front of a board of all men for an executive position, and the woman has a better work history and is the better candidate, than the woman should get the job.
  • Women need to support women
  • Men need to support women
  • Men and women have equal parenting rights. Men need to be just as responsible for their children as women.
  • A transparent patriarchy still exists which influences everything- our entire system of government, social norms, values, and all aspects of daily life.
  •                 This patriarchy is constantly changing and is symbiotic in nature to women’s advancement
  • There should not be an assumption that women want a family, to be mothers, or any other institutionalized gender roles
  • Women need to learn to validate themselves based on their minds, not their appearance. This underlining assumption of visual judgement needs to be destroyed so that it is not carried into future generations.
  • Men need to validate women based on their minds, not their physical appearance.
  •                 True progress will begin when women are not silently objectified by men and women
  • The goal of feminism if to have an equal playing field for men and women. Once we get to this point, feminism will no longer exist because there will no longer a need.
  • Feminist efforts cannot progress unless classism, racism, and all social conflicts are included in the efforts.

 

Ok. Short and sweet. Just thought I’d throw this up here since I’ve been thinking about it a lot lately.

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solidarity with other social justice issues is the only way 4th wave feminism can progress

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In Defense of the Green Party

In Defense of the Green Party:

Full Disclosure: If it matters, I am a registered member of the Green Party but the following is in no way affiliated with the Green Party of the United States, or any political party. This is my own opinion, and only my opinion.

I feel scared to openly admit that sometimes, that I’m a registered Green Party member, and that’s a weird thing. So I want to break down how I feel about the democratic process, in a brief nutshell:

What I want and value: love & world peace & fairness & equality in the world. I know that’s huge and subjective and metaphysical, and I don’t know how to get there, but I do know that the Green Party’s Platform aligns best with what I believe in. Concerning the real, the big, issues, I think that we need a whole transformation. I don’t know if it should come in the form of a revolution, but we need a freaking big change. And listen: Everyone, one day, can be alright. I truly believe that. We’re all in this together, we can make it work. What we need to do is to put our heads in collaboration conjunctively, and figure it out. But that can’t happen when we are constrained to a two-party system.

So, here’s what’s up. The shit that we see on mainstream media and a lot of the internet is only a piece of the pie. The “Can you believe what she just did?”, “Oh, you won’t believe what Trump just said!”,  “So-and-so is back up 2 points in the polls!”, “So-and-so drops 2 points in the polls!”.None of that matters. Seriously, it doesn’t, but it makes up everything that a lot of people know, and that’s a real big problem.

Listen, there is anger on all sides. There’s a lot of hate and darkness, and it exists everywhere. You can’t get away from it. It’s smeared all over the place. Hate is fear is fear is hate.

So here’s what I want: I want to vote for someone. That’s how I’ve always felt about doing my civic duty and casting my ballot. I always want to vote FOR someone. Because that’s where my true values lie. I want to live in accordance with MY values. I want MY goals to come true. And not to come off too cozy (or snotty), but I think I have pretty good values. And that’s what it all comes down to, ya’ll. No matter what my party affiliation may be, I’m always going to vote where my heart and conscious are. And right now, that happens to most closely lie within the construct of the Green Party.

 

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