I always refer to my concept of right and wrong as a “moral compass.” It has nothing to do with religion and everything to do with the Christian Golden Rule — or its Jewish predecessor: “Do not do to others what you would not want done to you.”
In Hebrew, the language is built on “roots” which are rearranged to mean words with a similar intent. So the word for “north” is “tzfohn.” The word for “morality” is “tzfohna” and “compass” is “tzfohneet.” Thus as a compass points north, your moral compass keeps you pointed in the right direction.
Hebrew doesn’t even have a word that means “good.” There’s a word for correct (as in correcting a test paper), but the closest you can get to good is “righteous.” The word for “wrong” is “unrighteous.”
I’ve concluded that “religiosity” and “morality” have little to do with each other because you either have a moral compass — or you don’t. Anyone can claim “God told me to do this (awful) thing” and no one can disprove it since God has been silent, but that moral compass is something most of us are born with.
Yet these purported “believers” can be bought for cash or equivalently purchased with promises to support his or her ‘bid” for election or re-election. What kind of moral compass changes direction for cash or power?
I find it almost impossible to accept anyone who considers themselves righteous — Jewish, Hindu, Christian, Atheist, or undecided — who would will his soul for cash or power. I don’t think I will ever understand.
Like many other countries, we’ve hidden our ugliest history in the backs of closets. We have written phony history books and made sure our kids read them. Now we wonder how come they don’t understand history.
A good start would be to teach them what actually happened. The good, the bad, and the ugly.
Andrew Jackson President of the good old U.S.A. wiped out entire tribes of Natives. But that was only one part of the slaughter. They kidnapped children and beat them until they were “American.” More to the point, too terrified to be anything else.
Does that sound familiar?
Then, of course, there was slavery, over which we fought the bloodiest war ever in this country, followed by a never-ending cruel inequality that still remains and continues — with the help of our disgusting president — to grow.
And let’s not forget interning Japanese citizens — many of whom were born here — during World War 2.
We’ve always felt we were morally superior to Those Other Countries who slaughtered and mass murdered people for whatever idiotic reason they held. Yet here we are (and were) doing the same.
We haven’t started killing immigrants yet, but who knows? Trump is just being Trump, so if he thinks it’s a good idea, I’m sure his sycophants will step right up and follow his orders. Or maybe they’ll do it just for fun. Nothing would surprise me.
You can bet Sean Hannity will be explaining how it’s not even happening anyway. And 28-30% of all Americans will smile because mass murder sounds like a good idea to them. They will volunteer for jobs in “the camps.” A job is a job.
With a president who has so little conscience that he thinks kidnapping foreign children is good politics, does murdering foreigners if he thinks it might help him get reelected sound too far out? Assuming he isn’t planning to bypass that whole annoying election process, that is.
A couple of weeks ago, he said (who knows what he is really saying?) we are returning to the old-fashioned method we’ve been using for the past 50 years. We’ll stop refugees at our border and say “Sorry, no room. Go home.” This is what we used to before you-know-who moved to the White House.
Someone asked me why we can’t make room for them. No idea. This country is built on the sweat of hungry immigrants, but we seem to have lost our way. As long as we have borders, we are obliged to keep track of who comes and goes across them.
I’m too far down the line of brilliant thinkers who have turned our world into whatever it currently is, but don’t you wonder ever what would happen if we didn’t have artificial lines around “countries” and lived in a single world? Then we could just hate each other for personal reasons.
I’ve been saying for some time that it isn’t enough to rail against the conditions in the concentration camps currently being filled with those seeking asylum in the U.S. We need to propose some solutions. Today I received a communication that offers solutions–or at least ways in which we can support those attempting to institute measures to end the atrocities in these camps. Here is a link to view what is happening in the camps–many of them run by a big-time contributor to Trump and several senators as well as a list of things you can do to help.
“These concentration camps (let’s call them what they are) will be under the control of the Department of Homeland Security, but within the Department of Defense. Unlike ICE facilities, which allow site inspectors inside, there will be no inspection of military-run camps.
The military will be able to deny access to anyone it chooses. No media. No oversight. Lawyers will not be allowed in. Human rights monitors will not be allowed in. The camps will also be protected airspace, meaning that no drones can fly over them to take pictures of what’s going on inside. The Trump administration will be able to conduct itself in whatever way it wants to without anyone knowing what’s going on inside.”
From the Washington Post, these are Cohen’s quotes, not something “made up” by the writer. I’m sure he had help with it because these words have the ring of a professionally written and carefully polished speech.
That being said, I think this sums up much of what many of us feel:
“Mr. Trump is an enigma,” Cohen said in his opening statement. “He is complicated, as am I. He has both good and bad, as do we all. But the bad far outweighs the good, and since taking office, he has become the worst version of himself. He is capable of behaving kindly, but he is not kind. He is capable of committing acts of generosity, but he is not generous. He is capable of being loyal, but he is fundamentally disloyal.”
He went on to say:
“Donald Trump is a man who ran for office to make his brand great, not to make our country great,” Cohen said. “He had no desire or intention to lead this nation – only to market himself and to build his wealth and power. Mr. Trump would often say, this campaign was going to be the ‘greatest infomercial in political history.’”
America. The greatest infomercial in political history? Also, probably, the biggest dive from greatest to pettiness, racism, ignorance, cruelty, and rampant destruction of what have always been the beauties of our world.
From the Post:
Cohen has insisted that “blind loyalty” is what drove him to commit crimes on Trump’s behalf. Federal prosecutors have contended that Cohen “relished the role of ultimate fixer” and that he was “driven by a desire to further ingratiate himself with a potential future president — for whose political success Cohen himself claimed credit.”
“Taken together, these offenses reveal a man who knowingly sought to undermine core institutions of our democracy,” prosecutors wrote in a memorandum to a federal judge before Cohen was sentenced. “His motivation to do so was not borne from naiveté, carelessness, misplaced loyalty or political ideology. Rather, these were knowing and calculated acts — acts Cohen executed in order to profit personally, build his own power, and enhance his level of influence.”
I can understand why many people would be hesitant to believe the words of a man who, in the name of ambition, would follow a man he knew to be bad in every way that counted.
On the other hand, these people are defending the exact same bad guy and I will bet that every one of them knows how evil Trump really is. They aren’t doing the right thing. They are doing the politically expedient “thing” which they know to be wrong.
I find it hard to fathom anyone having that level of ambition, yet I see it everywhere. Even back in college, there was always one little wormy kid who would do anything to grab the job you were trying to get — and this was back when we weren’t even paid for the work. It was all a matter of personal honor.
Too many people have no honor. These days, it would seem that more than ever, people have no honor — just a personal agenda. Furthermore, they don’t comprehend the concept of honor. They think it’s about ambition and flags … but it isn’t and never was.
Time for a personal story. In my freshman year of college, I met a boy and we fell in love. I was 16. He was 17. He wasn’t a virgin — but he was barely not a virgin. I was a virgin — I was 16, after all — so we went to be together in a borrowed apartment and it was wonderful. It was. He eventually turned out to be more than a little psycho, so while we had an affair that lasted many years, we did not marry. Oddly, he shared Garry’s birthday. As did another boyfriend from that period.
I know we all don’t believe in “fate,” but that’s pretty fateful. I digress. Back to the story.
I actually told my mother about it. You have to understand that my mother was all in favor of modern sex and not being held to old-fashioned standards, so when she went completely bonkers, I was baffled, boggled, and bewildered. I said: “What about …”
And she said: ” Not MY daughter!”
That was when I realized that your beliefs and your BELIEFS didn’t have to be the same. Mom decided I needed to talk to the grand dame of her sisters — my Aunt Kate. My mother’s oldest sister.
She was born in “the old country” and was the only member of the household who still kept Kosher. She remained Jewish without ever casting aspersions on family members who had gone another way.
I adored my Aunt Kate. She was beautiful, a dead ringer for Katherine Hepburn as a young woman. Even older, she had cheekbones to die for. But beyond that, she was deeply and passionately kind. There was inherent goodness about her I have known rarely through the years.
I told her what had been going on. She listened. Quietly. Then she said: “But what about honor?”
I had never considered honor as part of the love/sex/passion thing. Nobody had used the word, not even my mother. It was a concept that swept in from the past and put the issue into an entirely new perspective. And I never forgot that for some people, it’s about their version of religion or faith. For others, there are just “rules” you follow because “you’re supposed to follow the rules.” For Aunt Kate, it was about honor. And after that, I never forgot to consider whether or not what I was doing was honorable.
Shortly after that conversation, I pointed out (proudly) to Aunt Kate that I was still wearing the fake fur coat she’d give me when I was in Junior High School because I loved it. Horrified that I could still be wearing that old coat, in the middle of Manhattan, she pulled off her coat and gave it to me. I tried really hard to give it back, but it stuck. Until I moved to Israel when I got rid of most of my heavy winter clothing, it was my “good coat.” It was a fake beaver coat. No fur, just poly whatever, but it looked and felt like the real thing and had a wonderful swing to it.
We had lunch at a hotel dining room and I tucked my arm into the crook of her arm and we walked locked together down the avenues of Manhattan.
That’s what is missing from today’s America. Our sense of honor is gone. We stand naked and shivering in the winds of ambition with no moral code. There’s no one worse than us, though there are a few probably at least as bad other places.
Our days of lecturing the rest of the world about right and wrong are, I think, over. Or at least over for the next 50 years while we try to repair our image. Maybe longer, depending on whether or not the chaotic Democratic Party can collect itself and think nationally and rationally.
Let us find honor for all rather than self-aggrandizement for a few.
As I’m writing this, there was a “free speech” rally that went on in Washington DC. It’s was held by a bunch of right-wing white supremacist neo-Nazis. They seem to feel that their civil rights are being violated because a whole bunch of people don’t like them.
Because they’re white, you see. They’re being persecuted because they are a superior race. Oddly enough, many people take umbrage with that claim.
The “rally” ended up consisting of a couple of dozen of these poor downtrodden racists and thousands of counter-protesters who believe that NAZIS ARE BAD!
These white supremacists seem to feel they’re being persecuted because they’re being denied their right to free speech. The super nut-job Alex Jones is crying and moaning because his shows have been taken off almost all the major social media platforms — like Facebook, YouTube, and ITunes.
Why? Because he spouts insane dangerous conspiracy theories. That the massacre of elementary school children in Newtown, Connecticut was a “false flag” operation. It didn’t happen. The kids and parents were actors.
Because of this, those poor parents have been hounded by nut-jobs that believe this crap. They’ve received death threats. Some have had to move more than once to escape the harassment.
Think about that. Those poor people lost their five or six-year-old child and now they have to deal with this. The only good news is Jones is being sued by a lot of these families.
White supremacist groups and neo-nazis complain when they have a rally or publish hate-filled bullshit on social media platforms, the places at which they work see the posts — and promptly fire their asses.
They claim they’re being punished for exercising their First Amendment rights. This is bullshit. They’re being fired because they’re racist assholes.
Their problem is that they don’t actually understand how the First Amendment works.
Here’s what it says:
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof, or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”
What does this mean?
No law can be passed by the governmentto prevent you from saying whatever you want in public, no matter how fucking dumb, sick, stupid, or racist it might be.
But here’s the way it actually works.
Just because you cansay anything you want, doesn’t mean you should. Nobody has to listen to it or agree with it. I or anyone can say you’re an asshole because of the stupid racist thing you just said.
Social media platforms are notgovernments. They can deny you access to their service for any reason at all including NOreason. It’s in the service agreements on which you click on but never read.
A business can fire you for any reason they want and which includes no reason except they don’t like you (“You don’t fit into our culture”).
It’s not surprising that businesses, big and small, don’t want racist hate-spewing dick-wads working for them. Who can blame them? It’s bad for business.
Free speech means you can stand on a street corner and spout any kind of bullshit you want. But you need to understand — there may be consequences.
Like getting fired.
Or having thousands of people show up to exercise their First Amendment rights to say you’re an asshole.
Or, to put it in terms white supremacists can understand.
You’ve heard it all your life. You hear it at ball games. You hear it at every political rally, regardless of which party is telling you how great they are. Hell, we got an overdose of it during the 4th of July celebrations.
So now that there has been a “second” summit with Kim Jong-Un, described by him as “disappointing” (other translations say “depressing” and personally, I call them “futile and stupid” — and by Pompeo as “Not so bad” leaving the rest of us wondering “What summit? Was there a summit?” I have to again ask the question: What are we best at? Leaving out sports like football and baseball … what else?
Better health care? Better crime levels unless by “better” you also mean “more of them”? Where is America’s “sweet spot?” Good question, don’t you think?
But let’s get real for a second. Are we really number one? Are we the best country in the world? If so, at what?
Recently UNICEF released a “Child Well-Being in Rich Countries” study. They ranked 29 developed countries according to the well-being of their children on a number of factors. Where did the greatest nation in the world rank? Number one, right? Nope.
The US ranks #26. To be more specific we rank:
#26 for “Material Well-Being”.
#25 for “Health and Safety”.
#26 for “Infant Mortality Rates”.
#26 for “Low Birthweight”.
#22 for “Immunization Rates.
#27 for “Preschool Enrollment rates”.
#25 for “Participation in Further Education”.
#16 for “Overweight”.
#29 for “Teen-Pregnancy rates”.
#12 for “Being Bullied”.
It goes on. Were we #1 for anything? Yes. We were # for “Alcohol,” meaning we have the top rank for the absence of drunkenness. But considering our current government, can you blame the rest of the world for drinking more?
Republicans love to say that the U.S. has the greatest healthcare system in the world. The Commonwealth Fund ranks us #11 out of the 11 most developed nations. The World Health Organization ranks the U.S. #37 out of all the countries in the world. Just below Costa Rica and just above Slovenia.
But you know what we are best at? Putting people in jail.
From Wikipedia: “In October 2013, the incarceration rate of the United States of America was the highest in the world, at 716 per 100,000 of the national population. While the United States represents 4.4% of the world’s population, it houses around 22 percent of the world’s prisoners.”
Take that North Korea! Take that all you Third World Dictators! We’re number one! Lock us up! Lock us up! Oh wait, we’re already doing that.
You know what else we’re good at?
Ripping children, toddlers, and babies from their mothers and fathers because they had the nerve to travel thousands of miles from their home countries seeking asylum because their lives are in danger. We’re number one at ignoring their screams as their parents get dragged away, having no idea why this is happening.
We’re number one at putting them in overcrowded cages.
We’re number one in putting them in outdoor tent cities where the daytime temperatures reach 100 degrees.
We’re number one at telling a parent who is in custody that his or child is “taking a bath,” only to find the child has been taken to some unknown facility 1000 miles away.
How do I know this? Because I can’t think of any other country doing this! I did a Google search. There was a country that did this and it didn’t end well for the country — or the children.
It’s pretty much common consensus that our internment of Japanese-American citizens during World War 2 was the lowest point in our history — discounting slavery, of course. That would be lower.
This horrific excuse for an administration says they are just enforcing the law. Except there is no law that says you have to rip a baby from his mother while she’s breastfeeding!
Our Chump-in-Chief says: “It’s the Democrat’s fault!”
Wow, I didn’t see that coming.
The Director of Homeland Security says there is no policy of separating children from their parents and they’re not doing it.
I watched her say it on TV next to another screen showing kids being separated from parents and being put in detention camps.
The California top court ordered the Trump administration to get those families back together by the end of this month — July 27th. Anyone giving odds on this really happening?
The administration has basically admitted that they are doing this as a bargaining chip for getting that stupid fucking wall. Ponder that for a second.
One man was so distraught over losing his kid he hung himself while in detention. Pity about that. Give Trump his wall and maybe this can all go away. If there is a devil, he’s sitting in hell going WTF? Dudes, dial it back a bit! This is over the top for anyone with half a conscience.
There’s a difference between patriotism and nationalism.
A nationalist says “My Country, right or wrong. Love it or leave it.” They think our country is like a sports team you support no matter how badly they are doing.
A patriot says “I love our country but when our government is doing something wrong, we point it out and you are obliged to fix it. We’re not perfect. We can do better.”
My country right or wrong? Here’s the full quote.
Our country is not a sports team. We love to say that we are a nation of laws. Great. But shouldn’t we also be a nation of human beings? A nation of compassionate people with some modicum of decency?
We’re a nation of immigrants.
We all came from somewhere else. Except for Native Americans. If you want to get really technical, even they walked here from a land bridge from Russia around 50,000 years ago, so they’re immigrants too.
One of the most important icons of this country is the Statue of Liberty. The plaque on it has the famous words “Give us your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.”
It should be changed now to “Give us your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free. We’ll rip your kids away from you and huddle them into overcrowded detention centers.”
Something to think about as the end of the month approaches and the big day of the reunification of immigrant children and their parents is on the schedule.
I’ve made a point of trying to find some sliver of humor in any of the blogs I write. I have to admit I got nothing on this one. I even teared up a few times while I wrote it. So I’ll try to end with a joke.
How many Trump administration people does it take to screw in a light bulb? Answer? 20,010. One to change the bulb, three to blame the bulbs failure on the Democrats, three to blame it on Hilary and Obama, three to say the bulb didn’t need to be changed in the first place, and 20,000 ICE employees to commit horrific acts of child abuse.
Because most of us are rational, we not only loathe the guy running our government. We also really want to know how he became such an awful person. We all know people — some of us are those people — who grew up with abusive parents. Desperately poverty. Rich and privileged, lower, middle, or undefined class. One of many children. An only child. Male. Female. Other.
Most of us turned out okay. Even those who have (had) (still have) a lot of issues were never completely loathsome. All of us had a few good points. Someone thought we were okay.
But then, there’s Donald J. Trump.
So I thought I’d run a little survey.
His father was a pretty ugly guy in his own right. A racist slumlord, I’m sure he passed his beliefs to his kid. But other people have rotten parents and they don’t grow up just like them. Rich and poor, children can grow into decent people, no matter how they began.
What made the difference? If it wasn’t a contract with the dark one? A television renewal failure? What happened to turn a rich asshole into the pit of evil?
To participate in the Ragtag Daily Prompt, create a Pingback to your post, or copy and paste the link to your post into the comments. And while you’re there, why not check out some of the other posts too!