Tag Archives: Conservative

The Revolution Will Be Built With Questions

These are ______ times. Some of my friends are filled with joy and optimism, while aggravated by the dire apocalyptic prophecy and protest of the majority of the rest of my friends. It is very polarizing with neutrality, consensus and dialogue being hard to come by.

 

I share in the belief that we are entering an apocalyptic period for mankind, where our environmental protections are dismantled, our ability to collectively work for the benefit of our families and community will be hampered, our education and economic power will be stripped from us by those entrenched in power, and everything we hope to accomplish and work hard towards will be dashed to pieces by great forces beyond our control, such as our government or the changing climate. For the first time since I was a toddler, we could have nuclear war. Woe upon us all.

I discovered my own powerlessness when I protested against the impending Iraq War back in 2003, knowing that the evidence for war was falsified and that the wool was being pulled over the eyes of the nation and that global sympathy for 9/11 was going to be squandered pointlessly for a personal vendetta in the middle east. A new generation is just now coming to this realization as the United States swings back the pendulum to, whatever this is. This is their Iraq War moment and they are just now coming to terms with their own powerlessness, whether it was the loss of Bernie Sanders or the election of Donald Trump as the leader of the world.

 

Powerless does not mean hopeless. Donald Trump won because he saw and understood things differently from how urban liberals do, myself included. The institutions that we established to understand and manage the world are disintegrating, the founding premises forgotten and challenged. Donald Trump is the wind that knocks down the sheds, scattering tools, debris and seed across the farm in the aftermath of a political tornado.

 

If protest doesn’t work and political engagement doesn’t work, what is left?

 

Let me take you back to a similar time – the 5th Century BCE in Athens. Athens was an amazing city and had successfully defeated the armies of Persia with the help of other Greek city states, such as Sparta. However, after the successful defense against Persia, Athens was defeated by Sparta, leading to significant political upheaval. Not to give away any spoilers for those of you who haven’t read Plato, but there is this guy named Socrates and he asks a lot of questions. Ultimately, in the end, Socrates starts a movement and ends up being brought on trial for “corrupting the city’s youth” with his teachings. He is condemned to death, which turns him into a martyr and modern philosophy, knowledge and, eventually, science is born. One could draw parallels between the Peloponnesian War and the cold war; the defeat of Athens by Sparta to the War on Terror.

 

Where am I going with this? My point is that the best challenge to our current period of facts, alternative facts and fake news is to ask questions. It is really easy to declare something wrong, whip up a bunch of emotion and move on, but the real trick isn’t convincing yourself or your disciples that you are right. You need to convince your opponent. In order to do that, you need to embark on the premise that your opponent believes what they say. Next, draw them out with questions. Break things down to smaller pieces or take the factoid on a journey and see if you arrive at similar conclusions. Ask the why, what, who and how.

In reading Plato, you discover that Socrates uses his question as a tool. He doesn’t just say, “You’re wrong,” but asks, “What do you mean by that? Is that like this other thing?” and so forth. You can guide your questions to a conclusion. Leading questions. Direct examination questions. Cross-examination questions. True or false questions. This forces all involved to look closer at what is going on and arrive at better knowledge. So spend more time asking questions once you get tired of protesting and advocating.

 

As an aside: When I first read Plato, I didn’t like Socrates. I thought he was a jerk. He just kept destroying people and they things they believed in. Nevertheless, Socrates definitely opened my eyes to the power of his tool – the question.

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A Dream Reminds Me of Loneliness

 

This afternoon, I had a dream where I was invited to a party at a stranger’s house. It was a nice house and I was the first person to show up. I recognized the voice of the host and it turned out to be a conservative talk radio host that I had heard earlier today in real life. He was nervous because he had broadcast an open invitation on the radio to come to his house for the party.

After me, an upper 30s white woman entered alone. She had curly hair. She was followed by an overweight black woman. They meandered through the house, not talking. The white woman got some white wine and I broke the silence of the house by getting the talk radio host to begin talking about himself. I sat, and he stood, by the door More people continued to trickle in and they were accumulating awkwardly throughout the house, not talking to eachother. I wasn’t really following the conversation, but at the next opening I said something along the lines of, “That sounds pretty rough, but it would be worse if they got the government involved.”

That got the other people engaged. I knew their shared politics would ignite the fire. Someone who was listening to the conversation, continued the conversation with the host, and I used this opportunity to slip away to the kitchen. In the kitchen, I recognized someone I knew from Toastmasters, Mr. L. I was happy to see a familiar face and we started talking. I enjoyed listening to his Australian accent, but I got the feeling he wasn’t being very open or expansive with his answers. Nevertheless, I was smiling.

The climax of the dream occurred when one of my crushes, Amanda, arrived. It was later in the party, after dark. She was dressed in black and I found her passionately arguing politics with one of the bystanders. She lit up when she saw me. We ran to eachother and hugged and kissed. We grabbed some wine and sandwiches and went down to the basement to get away from the conservatives. We met up with her girlfriend Tara and we just sat around, laughing and getting drunk. At one point, some softcore hanky-panky occurred near the white basement couches – nothing scandalous. Just a little making out and rolling around on the carpet and cuddling. We talked about leaving the house and checking out the town, but Amanda and Tara were staying at the house, and apparently we were in Milwaukee on a night were nothing was going on.

Then my mother arrived. I had gone upstairs to the kitchen when I saw her enter through the door. I was passively happy to see her, but I began to see looks of shame in the guests as we passed by. We went to the book shelve area next to the kitchen, a small office library.

“How do you like the party, Peter?” she asked.

“Its alright. I ended up running into a couple of people that I knew and its made my evening.”

“Oh, and they talked to you? They weren’t supposed to do that. See, you’re disfellowshiped,” meaning that I was no longer one of Jehovah’s Witnesses, “Not even (Mr. L) is supposed to talk to you.”

“Really? He’s a witness too?” At that moment, I saw him in the kitchen and he shamefully backed away deeper into the kitchen.

“Yes,” my mom said, “You really should come back to the witnesses, Peter. They are all waiting for you. Your true friends miss you.”

 

My brain was set on fire, but it made sense. She has told me these things in real life. My mom wants me to return to Jehovah. Politically, she would sympathize with a bunch of conservatives.

I woke up to the realization that this year, I am the loneliest I have been since 2006 or 2007. I can’t go back to being a Jehovah’s Witness. I just don’t believe the doctrine and to return for the succor of socialization is repulsively horrible to me. That would be selling out. I must stand alone.

 

The reality is that I must engage in building a new social circle. My old social circle has moved on for the most part. The benefits have been exhausted and the fruitage has been picked. They all have families and I have no family. I feel a queasy sickness in my stomach whenever I see or hear anyone say, “Family and friends are the most important part of my life.” I have failed to build a family and I feel like my friendships are shallow and passive. I know they aren’t, but I feel that way sometimes. In leaving the Jehovah’s Witnesses, I have rejected an entire piece of my life, much like an amputee has to reject a portion of their body.

This is what my dream tells me: I must begin anew.