Stressed in the middle
And some clever ways to deal with community problems...
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This one is more political in nature…
I never fit well in any box. I have a "yeah, but" for most "you are" that people try to assign me to. A few things are a clear cut from where I stand. I am a woman. I think for myself. I value choice, and freedom of expression, but also the responsibility to consider others, the environment, and our collective future on this planet.
The wider I expand the lens, and the more I include in my circle of consideration, the more complicated choices become, and the harder I must think before making them. Yet, choices must be made.
Ideologies make choosing easier. The thinking is done for people. They only need to consult a scripture, a guru, or a politician.
I know this last statement will automatically upset some folks because no one wants to think of themselves as puppets. I get it. But if one honestly examines the information diet they consume and justifies it by saying that that's the only truth out there must stop immediately and consider that they've fallen into an ideological black hole.
Of course, an ideological black hole sucks you in, and it's almost impossible to leave. For starters, all your friends are in there with you. Could you leave them behind? Worse yet, could you admit that past choices were awful, wrong, or misguided.
To stay in it means to continue making such choices. This dilemma tortures many.
Not me. I prefer to remain in an ambiguous state of constant negotiation with reality in which I can change my mind about anything when given more and better information. I don't owe allegiance to my past misunderstandings and ignorance. The hell with it. So, when someone tells me, "but you said," I respond, "true that, but now…" While this may seem inconsistent to many, I call it progress and adaptation to change based on what reality necessitates.
Lucky for me, I didn't have a Twitter account for 97% of my life. No one can go back and dig up some old, dusty, no longer representative of me tweet and try to hang me for it. I don't have to worry about getting fired unless I want to fire myself. Being my own boss has some advantages.
When the transgender movement started a few years ago, I said, "Great! Let people be who they are." I didn't have a problem with cross-dressers when they were called transvestites. So why would I have a problem with people who now have a way of achieving a look and a life they think represents them better? Adults can get it however they want it, as long as no one gets hurt!
But people ARE getting hurt. Like girls getting accosted in the bathroom. Like children who generally change their minds about everything within a week, getting hormone treatment to become the opposite sex. Like students who learn that human biology, as nature evolved it over more than 3 million years into male and female forms, is a social construct, even though Homo Sapiens predates societies by about 250,000 years.
Let's look at this critically and figure out why 25% of youth suddenly identify as transgender. I say, let's put some safety rails, especially when it comes to kids and their bodies. If we can make kids eat their veggies before dessert, can't we make them wait until they are old enough to drink before we give them sex-changing hormones?
When the BLM movement started, I said, it was about time. Then it escalated to anarchy, riots, and looting. Squatters encamped in Seattle's and Portland's city centers caused issues for local residents and businesses. The "defund the police" idea took off. Now I ask, "do you really want to be your own cop?" Do you really want to catch the thieves robbing your store yourself? I look at what's happened to San Francisco – the homeless, the drugs, the petty theft, broken car windows, and dirty streets, and I don't want this in my neighborhood. I don't want the police to hide in back alleys to avoid seeing and interacting with suspects and then getting blamed for this, that, or something else. I don't want them getting ambushed either and losing their lives.
Back in 2014, while in my Master's program, as a result of the Ferguson, Missouri riots, I wrote a paper in which I argued that the social contract is broken. I had all sorts of alternatives to violence ideas for training police departments to de-escalate situations instead of shooting black people. I still have those ideas, but at the same time, my understanding of why black people get roughed up more than whites have also changed. I can't just blame it on bad cops anymore.
The numbers show that black people kill each other in the poorest of neighborhoods. To blame it on white police officers is to obscure that fact and to force ignorance of the underlying causes of black poverty, which are much more complicated to admit, address, and reverse as a society.
In fact, I've shifted my understanding towards the necessity of having a solid police force armed with laws to protect regular people from all sorts of criminal behavior. I've seen laws that are too liberal get passed and bring about terrible unintended consequences for local communities. Tieing cops' hands only helps criminals run free.
(If you want to read a heart-breaking, eye-opening essay on the fall of San Francisco, read this by Nelly Bowles in The Atlantic, in which she does a comprehensive policy consequence review of her hometown.)
I will be called a conservative bigot by the Progressives for writing the preceding.
I used to say that guns don't kill people any more than cars do. But then I found out that we have more guns than people in this country in conjunction with so much anger and hatred (read Why Americans Are Killing Each Other.), I now seriously consider gun control. In fact, I don't think I feel safe going to the movies, my doctor's office, or the supermarket. Perhaps, we've gone overboard. Kind of like having a beer will relax you. But drinking the whole keg will land you in the hospital with alcohol poisoning. We don't consider people responsible enough to allow them to drink until they turn 21 but let them buy guns. And yes, I've heard the one about the military. People can be 18, join the military and get a gun, so why not in civilian society. Probably because in the military, they are vetted, disciplined, supervised, and trained!
While the little guy hates his neighbors, blaming them for the ills in the country, mega-corporations skate tax-free year after year. While working folks can't afford housing, the mega-rich pump billions of dollars to lobby the government for favorable policies. Regular, working people got billions in handouts during the pandemic to get them by and help them cushion their income losses. Now, conservatives blame these policies for the rise in inflation. People forgot that when the market crashed in March 2020, the Fed stepped in to bail out Big Business to the tune of trillions of dollars. Conservative politicians celebrate "corporate welfare" while opposing welfare for the poor. Meanwhile, homelessness continues to grow, infrastructure like the roads and the electrical grid continue to decay, and the middle class continues to shrink. I am no longer sure how "fiscally intelligent," let alone "fiscally conservative," they actually are. I am questioning the sustainability of the situation, as lopsided as it is.
I will be called a liberal by the Conservatives for what I just said.
I came out in the 15% of Stressed Sideliners, right in the middle of the political spectrum. You know, those stressed because the politics of this country no longer make any sense. Not socially. Not economically.
Things have changed so much that now I score more conservative on social issues and more liberal on economic issues. That's news to me because I identify as a social liberal and fiscal conservative. But I guess this was before the woke movement took over the liberal side, entirely usurping the social sphere debates, before daily mass shootings, and before corporate bailouts on a massive scale defined the new welfare system.
It seems politics gravitate toward money and the extreme vocal minorities on the right and left fringes. While the Ambivalent Right, Stress Sideliners, and Outsider Left make up the middle and more the 1/3 of the neglected voting population!
At the end of the day, I have one vote to cast and lots of bitching to do. But at least I try to stay awake and not outsource my decision-making process to an ideology. Somehow, this makes me feel better. Being part of the 15% right in the middle makes me feel like I belong to an exclusive club of free thinkers to which hardly anyone wants to belong.
But on an optimistic note, I'd like to imagine that more people will drift to the middle disillusioned and looking for common sense. Perhaps, someday, our politicians will take notice, too.
More on Progressive ideology by a fellow writer…
I wonder why wokeism was able to dominate the left-liberal mainstream, and conclude that it offers the privileged a way to appear compassionate and cosmopolitan, while offering the unprivileged a way to scapegoat all their problems on other people's prejudices.
In 1995 the journalist Irving Kristol quips that a neoconservative is a liberal mugged by reality. In 2017 I'm a liberal mugged by reality, but I don't become a conservative, because I realize the enemy of truth is not leftism but ideology itself.
The most successful ideology in the West today, wokeism, has succeeded because it's perfectly configured, not to establish social justice, but to establish more copies of itself. It's a memetic superbug evolved for contagion rather than truth or compassion, and if contaminating others requires it to delude the senses, twist the truth, and darken the heart, then so be it.
Read the whole thing here. It’s long, but it’s worth it.
And someone named Michaell has some novel solutions to a variety of local problems! I wish we had one here too. Read this and have a good laugh!
Thanks for reading.
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