25 thoughts on “Break the left-right paradigm

  1. Very wary of this.
    Idea is interesting/appealing, but….
    Splits everyone off from one another, and that’s downright dangerous. It’s then an anything-goes situation.
    People are not so great, they love the mass too much.
    God forbid anyone who stands up for themselves. Wouldn’t last 5 minutes.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Michael. We might partly agree and be talking past each other. I am not calling for anarchy or dismantling of civil infrastructure (police, government, etc.), but for a shift in consciousness. Putting the cart (civil infrastructure) before the horse (shift in consciousness) is where most revolutions go wrong, turn bloody, and end up with an even more authoritarian system. I do believe, though, that sorting people into “left” and “right” has become quite destructive, although there may have been a time when that was fruitful. To the extent that this left-right model splits people into groups, I am against “splitting people off” to play them against one another. To the extent that my proposition “splits people off” from those two boxes, I am for “splitting people off.” The politics of “us versus them” belligerence is not inborn but learned, often learned at university. As another recent meme said, “Turn off the news and love your neighbor.” Or as the ever-prescient Timothy Leary said, “Drop out, turn on, tune in.” So you and I might agree somewhat. Or we might disagree. That’s OK too – more points of view, more genetic variation for a successful future 😊

      Liked by 2 people

      • Hi, and thanks for your fulsome response. Also allow me to apologise for fireing off like that.
        UK had eased restrictions and people were out again. Some of us hoped we’d learn something. But no – beaches were left full of litter, and when asked to clear up after them got a load of aggressive abuse. No feel for nature/the planet, no neighbourliness, just selfishness and arrogance, and… same old crap.
        Local raves – rape, killing, and knifings. Oh yes, and tons of litter.
        What’s to like?
        Maybe stop reading da noos?
        Keep safe; keep well.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Thanks, Michael. I had no problem with your first response. Per your second, yeah, a long ways to go in terms of collective consciousness, but you are right that turning off the news helps. My solution is hitchhiking (14 countries hitchhiked since turning 60, mainly Europe but a bit in US and Latin America too). At the end of every hitchhking day, especially in Europe, I can say, “Today, Iranians, Russians, North Africans, black guys from England — all picked my up just to help a brother out with no regard to nationality, race, or anything else.” If I watch the news, I think it’s all about wars between races and nationalities, etc., but after hitchhiking, I realize that at the grass roots, most people are generous to each other without regard to all those traits the newspeople think we should be fighting about. Every time I watch the news, I have to go hitchhike somewhere to cleanse my soul 🙂

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  2. Nice sentiments, but it’s the picture that says it all. I have had it framed within my view for years and it always warms my heart and soul.
    To bad and unfortunate that we humans cannot be as noble, true, and filled with unconditional love as creatures great and small show us. Sigh.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Indi. Unfortunately, I can’t remember the original source of the picture (an animal rescue place in Asia somewhere??), but as you know, it’s been going around for a while (sans the text of course, which is my own). Like you, I can’t remember another recent image so packed with emotional content and spiritual wisdom. A real lesson to be learned by humans there. Gary

      Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Rosaliene. The good news is there are a LOT of us. The bad news is we’re getting no help from the superstructure of media, political operatives, or academia. Then again, the good news is there are a LOT of us. Drop out, turn on, tune in!

      Liked by 2 people

  3. I bet we could talk all night about this. I’m new to this examination. I wasn’t strong enough to try to understand it because it is wrapped up in the daily news that is so often filled with hatred. Yet there are stories of hope. But from what I can see based on my very new and limited knowledge, this two-party system doesn’t work. It makes us choose the best of two bad choices. I worked in Atlantic City at the Sands in the late 80s and a lot of the people who worked at Trump Towers were very unhappy. He was known as a voracious, callous businessman whose bottom line was money. When I saw his buffoonery during the 2016 elections, I never took him seriously, yet there was a terrible unease. He was always about image — his vanity was clear during his TV shows. So how, I wondered, could he allow himself to be portrayed in such a poor light? The division and disillusionment among my children’s’ generation began with that. So I asked my family, “Who gains from this?” And I was told that it is anyone who hates America that gains. They cannot outfight us – not when our military budget tops every other country in the world — combined — almost. So it seems they found another way to destroy us — from the inside. These fake constructions called Democrat and Republican are ripping apart families and friends — they have in my life. I don’t see the same news that some of my family does. If we follow the money I think we’ll find out who is funding this insidious, calculated, and maybe years-long plan. This is what I’ve learned so far but mostly I’m just more confused. I don’t know how to fix it but I have read that there are other ways that work really well that other countries are using with great success. Right now my heart is being broken on a daily basis by the news while I learn in even more depth something we all should have been taught in school. I am sitting at the feet of new teachers now. So is it morning yet? Wow — I wrote a lot. I’ll put on the coffee. =) By the way I got your book Hippies and I love it so far. ♥.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks, Niki. That’s a lot of good stuff you put on the table for me and my readers. Sometimes we get caught up the political theory and forget about the impact on everyday families. I’m not at all surprised by the climate Trump created in those workplaces. He is definitely part of the problem. I’m not really conspiracy-minded. I do believe these formations — Dem/Repub, lib/conservative — emerge organically by people either trying to empower their vision of a better country or enhance their combined self-interest — but once they get started, it too quickly becomes a cult-like allegiance to party over all else, and as you say, that makes it easy to exploit for those who just want to see failure. (Frankly, I would be shocked if the US, Russia, China, and lots of smaller extremist groups did NOT try to interfere with each other’s political squabbles, but I think the main problem is internal — “us versus them” till death do us part is just a bad model for problem-solving when you’re all stuck on the same ship. There is pretty much no hope at the level of political superstructure but there is hope at the grass roots level, where there are a lot of people like you — ready to just ignore all the divisive politics and love the neighbors you meet on the street without regard to their race, gender, past sins, political affiliation, or anything else. I hope u like Hippies as much as I liked your Elanthian Love Songs 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • I’m really happy you liked my book. Yours is trippy in the best kind of way so far.
        You know, I feel very unprepared mentally for all this as far as knowledge. And I just got locked out of Twitter where I was keeping all my notes because I thought it would be a cool idea to make my under1000skies twitter birthday the same as our first post which was 1 Oct 2013. Suddenly I get a white screen message ~ “You’ve been locked out of Twitter because you are not 13-years old.” No. No, I’m not.

        ♥.

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  4. Agree! The pendulum just swings ever further from the center and it seems sometimes that we’re all heading toward some form of extremism. And symmetrism is as false, comparing ideologies and grievances and sins one to one, instead of looking for a common theme that could unite people.

    Liked by 3 people

  5. Nice words—but given where we are, how does one do that? And how neatly do the terms right and left even apply? I think we’re living in a center-left country being warped by a woefully unstable far right leader backed by self-serving cowards who won’t tell the emperor how dreadfully exposed he is.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, how to start isn’t easy. Whether we use the terms “left/right,” the binary thinking seems to apply bigly (yes, “bigly” is now in the Scrabble dictionary 😊), and I think it’s the largest problem, even larger than Trump per se (though as you know I’m no Trump supporter). A large majority of my politically active friends on social media take their cues from their “side” of the binary. Obama or some Dem/liberal says we need policies to protect the environment, so all conservatives must be against protecting the environment – not because it’s rational but because we must destroy the other side. Trump says we need to look at the economic consequences of a worldwide recession caused by lockdowns, so suddenly all of my liberal friends say we must never do that, it becomes an either/or (“save lives or save the economy”). Never mind that the UN estimated that the global recession resulting from lockdowns could lead to “hundreds of thousands additional child deaths in 2020” or that AP reported hundreds of millions at immediate risk in India and central Africa due to food chain disruptions caused by lockdowns. None of that matters. Trump said x, so we must say y. Meanwhile conservatives react by saying we must ignore the virus and oppose all safety measures because liberals are for safety measures. It’s zero-sum, idiot activists on both sides, while sensible (i.e., apolitical) people are shouted down for saying can’t we look at both. It is zero-sum on both sides, as there seems a correlation between how politically active you are and how much you cower in terror of being kicked out of you club for not behaving in a zero-sum manner. Related now is the idea of thought police watching every move. You can lose your job or be destroyed on social media for not following the party line (e.g., the NYT editor who just lost his job for allowing publication of an op-ed article by a Republican senator is just one of many examples). A lot of people are fed up with the zero-sum nonsense but have not found a voice in the superstructure of media, academia, and political operatives. But if we can wedge a voice in somewhere – maybe starting in social media, we can maybe start a shift where it is uncool rather than cool to play zero-sum politics and shut down all dissenting opinions, where we can discard all the political belligerence we learned — especially what we learned at universities — and just love our neighbors, focusing on the best in them (and in us) regardless of race, gender, so-called political affiliation or anything else. That does seem possible — at least the first part about breaking the zero-sum thinking — to me (though I’m known for being naively optimistic at times 😊) because a lot of people seem ready for that shift. So I’m trying to do my small part by putting “nice words” like these out there (and irritating a few of my friends who are still invested in zero-sum thinking, but I try to smile and keep them engaged as best I can 😊)

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      • I guess our social circles are different. I don’t know anyone who says, for example, that it’s either follow the science on the coronavirus or follow the economics. I think it’s clear to most rational people, including the scientists, that the two are intertwined—we must do both—cautiously. The question was when to “open” and I worry about the answer as we seem to be accommodating ourselves to lots of deaths that appear to have been preventable. And there’s no question in my mind that trump’s politicizing wearing a mask will be another instance of his increasing the harm—just as his indoor rally will do.

        I actually wondered how you—whose devotion to loving coexistence I don’t question—felt about the worldwide demonstrations. I have written about race a number of times—three posts recently—and I don’t see how we can move beyond racial identity without addressing the many manifestations of racial injustice head on. I was called a racist by a white woman who quoted MLK’s “not color of skin but content of character…” statement. Well, of course that’s the goal, but I have no doubt where MLK would have been on Black Lives Matter had he lived. If you care to tell me your thoughts, I’m most interested.

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        • Mixed feelings I guess. On the one hand, it is inspiring to see so many people, white, black, and other, joining together to push for a more racially harmonious society. Hoping for positive transformation. But I am probably less optimistic than many. History is littered with liberation movements that start out with legitimate grievances, become overly destructive, and end up with a more authoritarian power structure than the one they toppled. So I see much beauty in the protests but I also see in the broader scope of woke progressivism much potential for the more militant, the angry, the haters who want to draw blood from the “other side” to hijack things. Once you emphasize the “evil” of the other side, it’s a short step to “anything goes.” You may be right that I need new Facebook friends, but I see a lot of bloodthirst to get back at those who voted for Trump. Also, the suppression of opposing views, all the scarlet-lettering coming from the woke progressive side (there are many examples like the NYT editor one, where people lost jobs or were publicly bullied into submission on social media for deviating from the party line) is an ominous sign for me that the beauty of the movement may be hijacked or become something quite repressive in its own right. Per your MLK quote, weirdly enough, I think conservatives today are probably closer to the mark. Of course, King knew that races were not judged fairly, but when I see photos of him marching arm and arm with whites and others, I can’t help but think he meant we should start by judging people NOW by the content of their character (and look forward to the day when that becomes the norm, but it only becomes the norm if we start now). I really believe his instinct was to sort people by values, not races. It was those of us on the side of justice, white, black, and other versus the racists. Today people seem to use King all too often to sort people into white and black boxes with moral tags for each box; they draw battle lines between races instead of between value systems — especially with the endless generalizations about white people. I believe King was trying to tear down those boxes, to redraw those battle lines so we could see each others as brothers and sisters with those who shared our values and not just based on skin color. And I believe he want to start redrawing those lines NOW to get the fight on the right footing. I believe he was much more radical than anything we see today from any side. Even woke progressives seems conservative, even reactionary and militantly segregationist, compared to King’s radically integrationist and love-based message, his idea that we should start sorting people TODAY by their values and not their skin color. I think he’d be disgusted with the whole spectrum. I’m signing him up for my meme 😊

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          • I certainly agree that MLK would have wanted exactly what we saw: people of great diversity peacefully protesting together.
            And I’m well aware of his radicalism. But he was under no illusions that things would happen NOW.

            As for Bennett’s firing, I’m not sure “wokeness” is relevant. Cotton wasn’t just expressing a far-right view; he was advocating the use of the military against American civilians—which in the situation we’re in with the President and Senate majority we have—is tantamount to tearing up the Constitution and fomenting violence. And Bennett apparently sought that Op-Ed from him. The Times has no obligation to give a platform in these tenuous days to such a screed; I think it was stupid and inept on Bennett’s part.

            I guess the difference between our thinking is that you’re more concerned about a left that I don’t see as dangerous at this point, and I’m more concerned about a right that has already demonstrated how dangerous it is. I still believe for the most part, we are a center-left country where people want the same things: security in their jobs, healthcare, and personal safety—regardless of their race, gender, or any other category.
            If that makes me one of those questionable “wokers”—so be it.

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            • My impression is that King saw that it would take time but the first step is to start seeing people in terms of their values instead of in terms of their skin color. That is not the end point, but the start point. And I agree that is a good start point that can inspire people (rather than putting people on a race-based defensive) to join hands across races and try to fix the problem of racial inequality together. Again I think he was trying to remove the battle lines between races and put battle lines between value systems. Today, left and right seem equally inclined to go back and draw the battle lines between races and start generalizing on that basis. It is true that I certainly fear more than you do the breathtaking speed at which social media can destroy one’s livelihood and reputation for saying something that bucks the party line. The good news is that you and I (and most) agree that most people want the same things: security in their jobs, healthcare, and personal safety—regardless of their race, gender, or any other category (we just disagree on which strategies move us in the right direction and which drag us back).

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