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Mon Oct 21, 2019, 02:13 PM

Superstition [View all]

“When you believe in things
That you don't understand,
Then you suffer,
Superstition aint the way”

Stevie Wonder

I find it odd that anyone – from dirt poor to billionaire – could still support Donald Trump in any way. There are a few who I know from my high school graduating class that are at least willing to suspend the Democrat versus republican context, however briefly, to at least consider this in terms of the Constitution. But they are the tip of the ice cube.

The nephew of a classmate who was logging a few trees from my property gets it. He told me that he had voted for Trump, because he had believed “he was just like us.” Now he knows better. I asked him if he thought that Trump had ever, in his life, worked as hard as the logger had today? “I guess my dad forgot to give me $400 million,” he answered. Yet that hasn't clicked in most Trump voters' minds.

I wondered why? What would it take? Is it even possible?

The first resource I looked to was an old favorite, “Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors,” by Carl Sagan and Ann Druyam (Random House; 1992). Obviously, I have a limited understanding of this or any of Sagan's works, but they always get me thinking.

I like their comparing humans to “a newborn baby left on the doorstep, with no note explaining who it is, where it comes from, what hereditary cargo of attributes and disabilities it might be carrying, or who its antecedents might be.”

In this instance, it is about these questions they raise: “How did we get into this mess? How can we get out? Why are we so quick to distrust those different from ourselves, so given to unquestioning obedience to authority?”

I think from long ago, “modern” humans and some of our cousins were superstitious. They were using the new front of their brains to make sense of life. This combined with another part of the brain, closer to the stem, that seems to compel ritual. Prehistoric human beings seem to have engaged in hunting rituals, for example, that may seem quaint today. But they were an important part of the human experience, and in trying to exist within their environment. And these are not that different than some of the things people do today.

Many athletes have “lucky” socks or some other item of clothing. I have relatives who have lucky golf balls. As a youth, I had a favorite pair of boxing trunks that I associated with being unbeatable. At least I did until fighting a guy who was not a true believer, and who beat the hell out of me. Darned him.

These are examples of how human beings often look outside of themselves for “power.” This, of course, ties in with the concept in psychology of “locus of control.” An internal locus of control means that a person believes that they can exert a significant influence on how their life goes. An external locus of control means a person believes that outside forces control their lives. The majority of people fall somewhere in between on this spectrum. They recognize there are things they can control, as well as things beyond their ability to influence.

Now, let's consider this concept in an expansive manner that includes examining what we might call the religious and spiritual rituals that human-kind has been practicing since agriculture became a primary source for food for the community. This allowed groups of people to live in settled locations for extended periods of time, and as these groups became larger, created social stratification at levels greater than previous community life had. For example, this led to what is known as priesthoods, where rituals included a separation between the individual and the energies of life that was filled by the priesthood. This, of course, is by definition the creation of a mass external locus of control within the community. Even today, we witness people who believe that “eternity” comes after death, rather than understanding that we share in the eternal “Now” right here, right now …..for it has always been “Now,” is currently “Now,” and always will be “Now.” An internal locus of control allows one to recognize, for lack of better word, the miracle of participation in the eternal “Now.”

The same external locus of control allows for the separation between the individual and government. In a healthy society, that participation found in the internal locus of control is evident in democracy. It's not that true democracies do not experience and struggle with human and non-human problematic issues. Of course they do. But they do not contain large numbers of people who believe in things that they don't understand – which always and only results in masses of people believing that some heroic figure – be it a politician or god – will come to their rescue. Someone who will do for them what they are fully capable of doing for themselves. (A true “leader” does for those unable to do it for themselves.)

Now, let's toss in rituals. Professional, college, high school, and neighborhood sports are good exampples of social rituals. We are seeing an increase in violence in many of these contest, especially within the crowds that are watching them. There is hostility between the fans of opposing teams. This leads to fights, from within high school bleachers, to outside of stadium parking lots. There are behaviors associated with riots in cities where teams win national titles.

Now, I am a simple-minded man, incapable of deep thought. I tend to play one-dimensional solitaire. But I think that much or all of this can be accurately applied to “politics” today. There are two obvious teams, and there are sub-teams within each. Billionaire republicans do not view themselves as on the same team as poor white trash. Yet that poor white trash believes in their heart of hearts that they have more in common with those billionaires than with poor Democrats, especially those who are not white. Thus, they are easily exploited. The billionaires capitalize on their ignorance.

At it's best, the Democratic Party is an alliance of many different sub-groups, that are united based upon common interests. That does not imply we all have the same life experiences, beliefs, and values. But we find things in common. Men and women are different, thank goodness. Black, brown, red, yellow and white people have some different experiences, but have the capacity to find common ground. Wealthy Democrats live very different lives than poor Democrats, yet they share many experiences.

There are tensions within our party. A great example was found when a young, poor, brown woman named Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez challenged the old, wealthy, white man named Joseph Crowley in the 2018 primary. One doesn't need to look to the current rage that republicans aim at AOC …..re-read some of the discussions from DU at the time. Plenty of Democrats used to argue that she was too young, too “left,” and had no business challenging the established office-holder. The negative ritual of “party politics” came into play. Today, we see that AOC not only didn't “hurt” our party, but has instead improved it in numerous ways.

As we approach the 2020 elections, which includes contest ranging from presidential to the House and Senate to state and local offices – as well as primaries and general elections – it's important to remember that no single sub-group within the party has all the answers. We should not allow ourselves to be offended by those who think differently than ourselves. You might be in the Joe Crowley camp, or the AOC camp, but we should be on the same team. And we should remember that a logger works a lot harder for a lot less than a Donald Trump.

H2O Man

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H2O Man Oct 2019 OP
spanone Oct 2019 #1
H2O Man Oct 2019 #2
Uncle Joe Oct 2019 #3
H2O Man Oct 2019 #4
Uncle Joe Oct 2019 #5
tblue37 Oct 2019 #6
H2O Man Oct 2019 #7
melman Oct 2019 #8
H2O Man Oct 2019 #9
lunatica Oct 2019 #10