I have been taking time from my holiday preparations most days to read editorials and Facebook links on what's happening in the world of politics.
The last big news event was the Republican Debate Tuesday evening. I did watch some of it, about a half hour or so. That was enough. The biggest topic of debate seems to be who will take us into war the fastest and the messiest. Fear permeates everything. Everyone seems to be the enemy: the Muslims, the terrorists, the illegal immigrants, the potential legal immigrants, the drug peddlers, the abortionists, the gun control supporters, the President and Hillary.
The candidates took shots at each other and more than once ended up in a shouting match. Falsities were presented as facts, and posturing predominated.
The bottom line was that we must all be afraid, very afraid, and it's working on a large segment of our population. I have thought about this a lot. There are a lot of unhappy people in our country. Why? Well, since 2008, people have lost good paying jobs and can only get low paying replacement employment. Due to economic downturn, it is harder to get ahead, and even to hang on to what they had. There is limited and unequal opportunity. When this happens, people tend hang on tightly to what they have, become more selfish, and draw in, like turtles. Then they have a limited view of the real world. They feel insecure, and look to protection from walls, guns, bigger military guns, and politicians who tell them they should be afraid. Fear mongering is good politics.
Today I read a New York Times editorial written by Charles M. Blow that attempts to put this fear phenomenon into perspective. Here is an excerpt.
"It has been said that this Republican cycle is dominated by fear and frustration among Republican voters who are not satisfied with national politicians and are becoming increasingly afraid on a number of fronts.
"The anger I agree with completely, but I prefer another way of phrasing — or possibly explaining — the fear: overwhelming insecurity.
"I would posit that most of the issues that get traction in these debates, and indeed have gotten traction among Republican voters this cycle, have to do with a tremendous insecurity about power and safety — terrorism, the economy, immigration, gun rights, refugees, exploding drug addiction among white youth, policing, all of it.
"We live in an America that is changing in dramatic demographic ways right before people’s eyes. Many of our largest cities are already majority-minority or soon will be. The electoral map, altered by this growing number of minority voters, makes it increasingly difficult for Republicans to win the presidency, even as they enjoy overwhelming successes on the state and legislative levels.
" Pew Research Center on Tuesday published a piece, “Five Facts About Republicans and National Security,” that included the following observations:
1. For Republicans, international concerns now dominate.
2. Republicans broadly support an aggressive approach toward the Islamic State and global terrorism.
3. Republicans are more concerned than Democrats about a number of overseas security threats.
4. In September, Republicans opposed the United States decision to accept more refugees.
5. Most Republicans associate Islam with violence.
"Want to understand why the Republican primary session — including last night’s debate — seems like such an absurdity to those of us who feel grounded in the belief that smart solutions can be arrived at, solutions that don’t involve bombing Middle Eastern countries until we can determine whether “sand can glow in the dark”? There is one word you have to keep in mind: “insecurity.”
I want to emphasize a line from that last quote from the editorial: "why the Republican primary season...seems like such an absurdity to those of us who feel grounded in the belief that smart solutions can be arrived at, solutions that don't involve bombing Middle Eastern countries..." Add to that solutions that don't include building walls, closing mosques, prohibiting immigration or pathways to citizenship, and arming yourself.
Yes, I do believe we can arrive at smart solutions. I also believe we can adjust to our changing society. I believe the answer to many of these issues is to become informed and educated. Our free public school system is what assures that we continue to be a melting pot. Being sure of facts before accepting rumors, half truths, and outright falsities is essential to maintaining balance and overcoming fear.
As we enter into this holiday season, I will not watch and live in fear of my fellow man. As we approach the solstice and the gradual return of the light, I will work to stay enlightened to the truth, and do my best to spread that light.
Peace be with you.