Sunday, September 24, 2023

Why I Do It


Our friend Les made this remark that set me off on this rather rambling rant.


“It's comical for a while but spending too much time reading and responding to the sheer idiocy of these fascist loving tRump worshippers can be dangerous for one’s sanity.”


I understand how trying to reason with people trapped in a cult is almost always utterly futile. I engage with them out of curiosity and to express MY thoughts and reasoning. I do it to examine and refresh all the facts and evidence needed to support my thoughts and reasoning.


My sanity has survived far worse dangers than the mere words of the deluded or insane. I learned long ago my best tools for maintaining sanity are to have a moderately sick sense of humor, and to NEVER take personally anything anyone says.


Humans are often moody creatures operating on emotional reactions to unpleasant or unfamiliar events, or to other people's behavior or opinions, and to circumstances or information they don't want to accept.


All humans experience a degree of emotional response to the world around them. It's natural and good. And like everything natural and good, too much can be harmful.


The emotional fight/flight signals from the amygdala can be more dominant in conservatives and authoritarian personalities. MRI scans have confirmed the amygdala is more active and larger in people who identify themselves as conservative than in those who identify as liberal. They tend to be more distrustful of the unfamiliar. They are generally suspicious of something new rather than curious about it.


This fight/flight response was important for early humans to survive the dangers of the prehistoric tropical savannah. We all still have this survival mechanism to various degrees, and it can override our other mental faculties. Today it can be largely manifested in conservative people who feel threatened by change or by others they don’t understand. It is manifested in the police officers who are quick to shoot an unarmed person because they “felt threatened”. The overactive amygdala is found in bigots and racists, in hate groups, in cults, and all the way up to dictators who start wars.


Right-wing Political propaganda has always been about stirring resentment and anger wrapped in an appeal to patriotism. The subject's amygdala gets activated. FOX(R) and hate radio like Limbaugh have been working this gold mine of emotional reaction for decades.


We know our fellow Americans have long been conditioned by right-wing propaganda. And, yes, it IS a vast Right-Wing Conspiracy. It's a media empire, supported by the most ruthless and greedy ultra rich and angry white nationalists. See the wealthy "sponsors" of Clarence Thomas and the enraged people at a Trump rally for who they are. So, it's obvious Trump is a master at triggering the amygdalas in his cult. He's skilled in ramping up resentments, anger, fear, and hate. He wants them to fear and hate the people HE fears and hates. And they swarm to him because he fears and hates who THEY fear and hate.


He twists their sense of patriotism into blind loyalty for him. Their emotional response fuels his drive to power. ‘Twas ever thus with tyrants and autocrats. Such authoritarian leaders are sociopaths. We have to accept the fact there will always be irredeemable authoritarian sociopath followers behind those leaders. It truly is pointless and futile to try to appeal to their conscience because they never had one.


But most Trump followers are not sociopaths. They are simple people or conservatives who really don’t put much thought into public policy, politics, or the nature of politicians. They are easily duped and malleable once they fall under the charm and charisma that sociopaths can wield over them. Sociopaths and con artists can be very charming and are skilled at manipulating emotions in their targets and marks.


I dearly love my niece and nephew who have fallen into Trumpism. I will be as kind and loving to them as to my other nieces and nephews. I don’t want to hate anyone for their religion or political beliefs, but I strongly dislike the arrogant hypocrites and authoritarians who want to impose their beliefs on others.


Hate is both self-destructive and destructive to friends, family, community, and country. I choose not to hate. But that doesn’t stop me from getting quite pissed off at times.


When I see these sad souls raging and frothing their hearts out, I hope they have someone like me who can still love them. If they can emerge from under Trump’s spell, they'll need support from family and friends.


It can happen. A friend of mine finally saw Trump for what he is after voting for him both times. He's conservative but told me he hates religious hypocrites. The other ray of light came to him when Trump's pal Putin invaded Ukraine and started killing his relatives.


So why do I allow the Trump Cult to comment here?


I confess my sick sense of humor finds these exchanges entertaining. I can even learn something when I gather information to convey or support my points.


I also acknowledge my tolerance and patience for hate and willful ignorance has its limits. We all have defense mechanisms that eventually arise. I’m no saint and might resort to mockery and insult in retaliation. At that point it just becomes a sport of verbal jousting, and a sick sense of humor is my armor. And yes, it does come across as tilting against windmills.


Still, I believe discourse is better than discord and reason is better than fear. An open mind is better than a closed mind.  And appealing to the humanity in others is better than demonizing them.


I keep in mind that discourse, reason and appeals to humanity will not reach some people. Those authoritarian personalities do not want to learn what they don’t want to know. The best we can hope is an idea or fact might slip into a closed mind.


But I also do this out of love. I believe love grows and hate destroys.


I love learning, and I love seeking and sharing truth.


I love the fact we can all learn from people who are different from us.I love the world of nature and the bounty of life on Earth.


I love living on Earth, breathing clean air, and drinking clean water.


I love my country and homeland.


I love our founders’ ideal of consent of the governed.


I love the Constitution, despite its seriously antiquated flaws on militias, presidential elections, and the Senate.


I love the Constitution's clear language on separation of powers, taxes, regulation of commerce, and provision for the general welfare.


I love equal justice under law.


I love freedom OF and freedom FROM religion.


I love our remaining vestiges of democracy and representation.


I love a nation with a government of, by, and for the people.


I love freedom.


I love family and friends.


I love my teachers and elders for their knowledge and wisdom.


And I love children, and want a safer, kinder, and more peaceful society for their future.