The Interview & How Things Almost Ended Up All Wrong

Earlier this week I was reading a report about a man in a position of power at a large media organization and the litany of accounts from the women working there detailing his horrible treatment of them. Their stories range from “I always suspected something bad was going on” to years of abuse and manipulation.

While I was reading one article in particular, my mind was suddenly flooded with the recollection of something I hadn’t thought much about in a long time. I spent the next few hours after that thinking about every detail I could recall and then I spent a few more hours thinking about what it meant to me now.

Before I tell you the story, let me just say that I am keenly aware of my experience being nothing compared to the women I was reading about. I’m not trying to suggest otherwise and I’m certainly not telling this story so anyone will feel badly for me.

I’m telling this story because many times when people hear the accounts like those of the women in the news now, they have trouble processing the reality of these situations even if they believe the women. It all seems like someone else’s reality or the reality of some part of society they have never seen or touched or heard about outside of a movie theater.

I struggled with whether to write this and struggled even more with whether to post it for several reasons, not the least of which is that I despise appearing vulnerable in any way. To be honest, if I hadn’t looked up the person involved in this and discovered he died two years ago, I would not have shared this.

All that being said, even if no one else reads this, I can read it and appreciate how much I’ve grown as a person since then. I can read it and appreciate how good my imperfect life is right now. I can read it and appreciate that despite my many mistakes, I ended up none the worse for it.

Looking back on what happened fifteen years ago, knowing what I know now, it’s hard for me to believe how foolish, naive, unwise, etc… I was at that time. But then again, that’s exactly the point…

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A Quick Thought On The Slippery Slope Of Hate Politics

We seem to be living in a very precarious time in the US, where average white Americans are becoming increasingly more radicalized against anyone who doesn’t look, think, pray or love exactly like them. I know the people who have been the targets of hatred have felt like this for years, but I, perhaps naively, thought we had been making some small steps toward a more inclusive society. At this point, my overwhelming sense of dread for what is to come has prompted me to put my thoughts into written form.

This is just my opinion on my own personal blog, so take it for what it’s worth.

I’ve been thinking a lot about how what we are seeing play out in American politics feels like the long, slow ascent up the first hill of a roller coaster. It will not take much to propel it over the top and send it plummeting down a terrifying hill. The people willingly along for the ride aren’t nihilists hell-bent on the destruction of the Earth. They are just regular people whose fear and anger have made them easy targets for manipulation.

It reminds me of the slow transformation of Germany before World War II. I think the passage of time has made many forget that the Nazis didn’t start their assent to power by saying “we need to exterminate the Jews (and others).” It took years of misdirection, deception and fear-mongering to incite the requisite amount of anti-Jew, anti-Polish sentiment for the German people to even start to support their country’s involvement in another war and even then, acts of aggression by neighboring countries were created or exaggerated in order to sway public support (much like the reports and events that swayed public opinion in the lead up to the Spanish-American War).

The Nazis painted the German way of life as under attack by foreign aggressors. They played upon the economic woes and fears of the regular, everyday people, like you and me, and used their lingering resentment over previous wars and confrontations with neighboring countries to plant the seeds of acceptable hatred and the denial of compassion for other human beings who were different from them. Every bit of this was done under the auspices of making the world a better, safer place.

Even after the German people were at a “sufficient” level of disdain for their government’s chosen enemies, the Nazis didn’t just lay out the details of the plans for the “Final Solution”. They continued to use propaganda and deception (we’re building hospitals, we’re helping them, stay out of the ghettos because it’s not safe for you there, etc). All the while, the real aim was the acquisition of power, empire building and genocide. Many of the people believed the party line because the sentiments the Nazis worked so meticulously to instill made them easy to satisfy with deceptive information and made them lack any impetus to question whether any of it was true or what was really going on.

This is the truly terrifying reality of what we are seeing in the United States. We keep asking “who are these people?” that support leaders with such blatantly hostile approaches to any person or group of people who aren’t exactly like them. The answer to this question is “They are us”. They are your parents, your siblings, your cousins, your aunts and uncles, your friends, your co-workers.

We have eaten up the spoon-fed doses of what is happening in the world laced with the poison of hatred and resentment for so long that what should be considered radical ideas of intolerance and unacceptance no longer seem all that extreme to many people. They believe that the world is not a better, safer place because it is constantly under attack by whatever group of people they have been led into resenting so strongly. This belief is what allows people to accept that immoral means are justified by seemingly moral ends. The sentiment of “If we can just get back to when things were good, before {insert group here – women, black people, Muslims, gays, immigrants, etc…} messed everything up” allows people to rationalize a host of actions they would otherwise consider reprehensible and detach themselves from human compassion.

Just something to think about.

A Family’s Struggle

My sons, 7 and 9 years old, have made lots of friends at school since we moved here a little over a year ago. My older son befriended a classmate who was held back a year so he’s 10 years old. We’ll call the boy “C” for our purposes here. C has had trouble at school not only with grades but also with some misbehavior such as taking things of very minor value, like a shiny rock or a Pokémon card, from another child’s bag. The items were returned and he served in-school suspension for this. C gets picked on by other kids sometimes and does his share of dishing it out too. He is often at the park across the street from his house where lots of preteens and teens hang out after school so he tends to act a lot older than his age would indicate. He has a younger brother who is 6. We’ll call him “N”. N has some developmental issues both physically and mentally.

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