Sunday, November 19, 2017

a bit of a treatise because I find it of interest-- you may not.

by Rain Trueax

The subject of tribalism and how it impacts the political landscape continues to interest me. I read a couple of good articles on it this morning (but won't share URLs as they're easy to find). Tribalism (which means my religion, political party, family, club, city, country, company, etc.) is and has been a necessary part of human interactions. Banding together we can do more than we can do independently, at least when we are working together. Tribes have power.

Tribes, over time, sometimes change what is acceptable as situations change.  Being capable of flexibility is part of why some tribes thrive and others disappear into the mists of time. Even supposedly, set in stone, sacred documents can be reinterpreted for a new zeitgeist-- if a tribe must become more competitive in their environment. Meanings to words change or can be changed. Ideas consolidate or disappear entirely.

Most recently, we have seen shifts in our culture where it comes to public statues and monuments. What historical figures deserve to be immortalized? There have been political arguments over the appropriateness of religious symbols in public places.  A big one has involved posting monuments to the 10 Commandments, religiously important to certain tribes for how they were supposedly gotten as much as what they say. Some go so far as to claim the 10 Commandments are the basis for American jurisprudence-- despite the fact that only four of the commandments could have a legal penalty in today's America.

In prehistoric earth, not all the rules and regulations were in writing. Mythologies were verbally passed down. In some cases though, there are written rules. Besides the Commandments, the Code of Hammurabi was written, but it's not the earliest in the Middle East. An earlier Sumerian one dates all the way back to the 21st century B.C. Evidence shows that the Sumerian Code of Lipit-Ishtar of Isin was drawn up nearly two centuries before Hammurabi came to power. Moses got his rules 300 years after Hammurabi (incidentally as a point of interest, speech recognition properly wrote Hammurabi...). 

Does the similarity with what Moses wrote for the law, to the Code of Hammurabi, mean he copied them from the earlier ones and didn't get them from his god? Not necessarily, although his story of the god writing them on stone is part of why the words were taken so seriously. Moses smashed the first set in a fit of fury at what the Jews were doing in his absence, but then wrote them again in stone where God again inscribed them... This is pretty similar to many religious stories of a god laying down the rules for behavior-- to a select few or one person like Joseph Smith. Such rules can have more weight than those a society figures out for itself.

In a practical sense, rules of behavior are how tribes operate. Leaders look at what it takes to settle disputes and have a peaceful and prospering community (sometimes maintain power for themselves or their particular tribe). Not surprisingly, many of those rules can end up similar. Who wants people stealing from each other or bearing false witness in a court of law, etc.? Tribes and leaders may also learn from earlier cultures when it's possible, whether that's written or orally retold.

The intention of the 10 Commandments themselves was for living a godly life.  They are not all intended to define who is punished for a crime. The Torah goes into more details regarding laws-- and even what to eat and what fabric to use. In the Commandments, things like honoring your parents are good things.  They are not legal laws.  Where adultery has been a law in our legal system, in most of the United States today it is not.  However, in some countries adultery leads to a death penalty - -based on religion and tribal protection of  cultural norms. In some Native American tribes, the penalty for adultery was cutting off a woman's nose. Amazing how often, it's the woman who is guilty and stoned to death or punished as if no other part of the act is involved. Saudi Arabia though has stoned both to death as equal opportunity at least in that. 

Those who espouse globalism pretty much talk against all tribalism because we are all one.  There should be no borders.  There should be no different set of laws.  Ironically, however, the system that promotes globalism in our country is a tribe.  Once you organize for a function it might be a temporary tribe, but it is a tribe that protects itself.

Most of us are not in just one tribe.  Even someone like me, who lives in the country and isn't much involved in society as such, does belong to tribes, but they are loosely defined.  They have purposes though, like environmental protection.  To belong to more defined tribes, there are rules where you toe the line or are removed from the tribe. Even when by choice, leaving a tribe can be an isolating, painful and even frightening experience when the tribal connection has been strong. When Native Americans kicked people out, it often doomed them. 

It is not so in all nations, but in mine, I can remove myself from a tribe and have done so more than once, when I have decided my core values, and I have those, are contrary to those of the tribe where I had been operating. I can honestly say I've never left a tribe and felt good about it. Tribes are strong and their emotional appeal is great. There are though stronger values and sometimes, we must honor those even when it's painful.

Voting is a place where tribalism can come into play.  How do we deal with a situation such as elections, where one of our core values is opposed by another? This is where strong tribalists benefit.  If you take your rules from a tribe, you allow them to dictate many of your life decisions.  It is simpler in some ways.

Some believe their tribe is led by their god.  We see this in some terrorist acts.  They are confident they are doing what their god wishes or even demands.  When a tribal view is strong, the people within avoid personal responsibility.  They yield some of their freedom of discernment to what they believe is a greater good. We also see this in political movements like feminism. 

Politically speaking, when it comes to choosing leaders, having a tribe tell you what you must do could seem easier. Without a dictating tribe, for me, when I recognize the imperfection of my choices, I have to make the best choice I know.  That led to voting for Bill Clinton when I knew he was less than I would have wished, character-wise and policy.  The same thing happened with Hillary Clinton.  A strong tribal affiliation could have made this easier. 

As we walk the narrow line of doing what we believe is best-- balanced with choices we often wish we didn’t have-- I think it’s key to be honest. We can admit our rat is not good but the other is worse for different reasons. We don't have to, in the case of say a Bill Clinton, attack the women as liars. We can recognize that given the options, he was still the best (and cringe a little as we vote or hold our nose as I did last November). 

A strong tribe could force us to deny what we believe is true.  It could lead to our no longer thinking for ourselves - -that is cult level in religions.  Sometimes political movements also become cults. Recognizing the benefits of tribes as well as their drawbacks is part of what I consider to be mature living and true in many arenas. I was in various tribes for about 2/3 of my life and then it quit working for me. Would I like a tribe today? Sure, I see their benefits. I couldn't give up, what for me, would be required. 

Life is not always pretty-- mature living often involves less than perfect choices. Some would let a tribe make them for them. I chose another path.

Friday, November 17, 2017

no tribalism

After writing about issues of sexual misconduct, I thought I would be done with the subject.  To me, overlooking someone’s inappropriate, at the least, behavior is wrong because of how it reflects on the rest of the culture.  It should not matter what the abuser’s political persuasions might be.  Unfortunately, it totally matters in the world in which we live and that benefits misbehavior and hurts us all.  When those who abuse others know that being in a powerful position protects them, their behavior is free to grow worse. So, now to specifics for why I'd say that.

Recent accusations against Senator Al Franken reveal the partisan divide at its ugliest.  He is being defended by the same ones who defended Bill Clinton.  Ironically, this is happening even though Franken admitted at least some of the accusations.  What I saw this morning, with the attacks on the women who came forth, is very familiar and worked with Bill Clinton-- sad to say. They are lying, partisan tools, sluts, etc.  

One supposed news site, one which I stopped reading over a year ago for its biased reporting, decided that the fact that the Franken accuser had posed for Playboy justified their talking about her going around half naked all the time.  Others claimed she worked for Fox and that meant she was a liar.  There was more and from those who supposedly care about women's causes.   

The attacks are why women don’t come forward especially when it is powerful men who can harm their careers or ruin their reputations. We saw this with Bill O'Reilly, who apparently got away with abusive behavior for years. One who sued him got a $32 million settlement. Now, what do you pay that kind of money to cover up??? It seems likely it involved criminal charges and jail time if it had gone against him. And yet, he was defended by many-- still is.

While some of the feminists are willing to now, finally call out Bill Clinton for what he did that was not consensual, they are defending Franken because they see him as of future use.  There has been talk that he would run for the Presidency.  To many of his defenders, they are concerned for what they see as their future political advantage.

The other case being discussed at the same time is involving Judge Roy Moore, who is accused of soliciting young girls by trolling malls and attempting to date them when he was in his thirties.  The youngest of these was 14, and she claims he sexually touched her.  Another claimed when she was 16 he tried to rape her. These all involve he said/she said accusations.  Molesters do not do what they do when anyone else is around.

In the current political arena, besides these two and Clinton, there is what Trump is accused of also doing years ago.  He was caught on tape saying that because he was a powerful man, he could grope women and they would let him.  Basically, he was saying that what Weinstein was doing was common knowledge and he could do it too. Whether he did is still in a he said/she said arena.

What can we as a culture do about such things? Even for a woman of my age, this is a big deal as my grandkids are soon to enter the wide world. What will they face if they want to rise up the ladder of success? When we look the other way, we allow perverts to continue profiting from our need to protect our own interests. Say the right words politically and in some places, you get a pass (it is however, random and can turn on a dime).

At the least, we could make such acts a disgrace, a humiliation for those who are beyond the reach of legal charges.  We can bring charges when they are still possible, as has happened with Bill Cosby.  When someone like Bill Clinton is on a pension, there might be some legal possibilities as a punishment for misbehavior while he held the job that led to that pension.  It won’t much matter to him, since he has acquired a great deal of wealth due to using his past position of power.  If he is continuing to sexually harass women as he did in the past, maybe his new victims should consider bringing charges.  They will have to be prepared to be attacked.  That is how the game is played - -sad to say.

As for someone like Roy Moore or Al Franken, I think we can look at whether they were in private life or a public position of trust when they forced themselves on women.  Franken was in the entertainment business when he, at the least, pressured a woman.  I am not sure if a man thrusting his tongue down a woman’s throat qualifies as sexual abuse.  It is at the least, disgusting.  He was, however, operating in an entertainment field.  Should that have made it okay?  Not in my book, but it is less an issue for censorship or expulsion from the Senate.

Roy Moore was in a public position of trust and in a small town, he wielded power that could be intimidating when wrongly used by an assistant district attorney or a judge.  To me, this makes what he is accused of even more wrong as it involved minors. This not only impacts them at the time but could damage their whole, emotional future. Do perverts ever think of such? Not likely, since it's all about them and their needs.

The people of Alabama will have to decide if the Moore accusations ring true and if it matters that he would today lie about it.  If he wins the special election, the Senate will have to decide as they may have to regarding other members.

My suggestion is that Congress be required to reveal the names of all the members who were accused of sexual charges, with settlements paid out from Federal funds.  These members have been protected by a good old boy system.  If there are to be repercussions for what Al Franken did in 2000 and 2006, the country has a right to know if hypocrisy is in play today. Let's have those names from either party! And if Franken is among those who have continued being abusive, he should go.

The following was a good article on being equal when it comes to looking at how those in power treat those weaker than themselves and how too often, they have been protected by partisan interests.  We are fools if we think this is not part of corrupting our culture. 

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

What it means

Many topics of interest come to my attention, and I don't address them here. Sometimes it's because I am unsure what I think about it.  As a moderate politically speaking, I often see two sides of an issue or maybe three.  If I can narrow it down to one, and I feel it's important, it is more apt to find its way to this blog.

The Me Too movement falls under the latter category, but still, I wasn't sure I wanted to write about it but more kept happening.  If you have kept your head in the sand for the last month or two, this movement involves women coming forward and describing instances of sexual abuse and harassment.  It went beyond that to men also coming forward and describing what happened to them.

The accused men were in positions of power.  As we have seen earlier, famous men often believe they can do anything they want.  During the presidential campaign, one of the candidates was found on the tape claiming the very thing.  It did not end his campaign, and he is now president.  Some believe because he could have had such a tape shared with everyone and yet been victorious, it led to other men feeling entitled.  Mostly, the ones who feel that way already did not like the braggart.  I do not believe his words led to assaults, but they might have encouraged some to come forward where in the past, they had feared for their jobs if they did.  Once the first spoke out, it led to others feeling safer to tell their stories. There is a risk in making such accusations against powerful men.

The other thing, that has happened, is other people have spent time considering things that had happened in their own lives and coming to see that it had been abuse and hurtful, when at the time, they had laughed it off.  The willingness to speak out is more of a social and cultural shift, a zeitgeist whose time has come, than the possible punishments that might be meted out.  

That some have felt themselves entitled to abuse others is wrong on so many levels that it is amazing it has taken this long for some of the perpetrators to be called out for their evil deeds.  To allow famous people to mistreat others, encourages ordinary people to do likewise or worse.

One issue in all of this, that has enabled some of the abuse, is protecting our own side over such accusations.  While some do not speak out from fear, others are protecting their political interests.  This is seen on both sides of the partisan divide.  

When our rat is accused, we should not look at his or her political positions for deciding whether it matters.  Too often, that has been a deciding factor in how seriously we are willing to take a stand for what we have to know is right.  The fact that the perpetrator makes movies we like or fights for causes in which we believe does not make it okay for us to overlook how he uses people weaker than him or her.  I add the her because it can be a woman but most abusers are men.  Political correctness should not cause us to avoid truth.

I purposely have not used the names of those currently accused of sexual crimes and abuses because to me this is bigger than them. For some, this has led (or will lead) to trials. For others the charges are too old-- which is too bad, as charges would lead to more justice, if such can ever be had considering the damage sexual abuse does to the victim.  I don't use their names, but their names are out there and should at the least lead to disgrace.

In December, one state will be facing an election where one candidate has been accused of sexual abuses.  The voters will be forced to decide if the charges are serious enough to change their vote.  Some may decide that other things are more important than old accusations.  They may base their votes on those other things.

As a culture, I would make the case that, whether it is our rat and our causes, to vote for a person where we know that person abuses others, such leaders are not healthy for everyone else.  I don't think many of us had thought of this--that ignoring this kind of often criminal behavior, leads to it spreading throughout the culture.  When for our convenience or political benefit we accept a wrong behavior, a message is sent that demeans our whole system of morality. It is why strangers grope someone on the street or whenever they think they can get away with it.

Some still would argue that taxes, wars, immigration, etc., are all more important to our daily lives than old charges of harassment and abuse.  I believe nothing is more important than our ethical behavior.  It comes first and from it comes wiser decisions.

Most of us do not like hearing the details of sleazy behavior.  I think it is why we too often turn away only to find it is in our schools, entertainment, businesses, churches, and political systems. Turning away is making a choice. We are educating ourselves and the next generation that it is okay, when it is not. The depressing part of this, for me, is that it becomes acceptable to brag about something that ought to be a shame-- and it's justified by saying it's locker room talk. So, add sports to what is being corrupted by accepting immoral behavior for convenience or power. 

Admittedly, sometimes accusations are made that are not true.  It does require from us, the ordinary citizens, to pay attention to the details, the ones we didn't want to know, as we make our decisions for where we are willing to laugh it off, to pay for a ticket, buy a product, and most importantly to vote. Some times, we don't know the truth.  When we find out though, if we do nothing or take it as no big deal, don't we then become part of the problem?