Line in the Sand

Friends, let’s talk about our freedom to seek the truth.
Trump is on Twitter this morning asking why possible Russian interference in the election wasn’t brought up before the election. Most of us can remember things that happened only two months ago, but either he can’t, or, more likely, he’s being purposely deceitful. But for anyone who needs a quick refresher course, here’s just one example of this being discussed before the election, by Trump himself.
Every time this man lies, we are left collectively dumbfounded for a brief second. There’s always the pause. “But, didn’t he say…?” or “I swear I remember him saying …” and we momentarily doubt our own memory. It feels almost Orwellian. But it’s not Orwellian. Which is deeply troubling in its own right. Let me explain.
If you haven’t read 1984, you should, but here’s a spoiler-free explanation of what I mean by Orwellian. In 1984, the main character Winston works for The Ministry of Truth, where he changes historical documents to fit the needs of the current ruling Party. For example, the people in 1984 are told that Oceania has always been at war with Eurasia, but some remember things differently. Here’s the difference between Orwell’s world and the situation we are in now: the people in 1984 had to rely on their own fuzzy memories, as all documents were altered and there was no proof of actual history that remained. Additionally, if they did mention or even think differently than what the Party allowed, they were threatened with torture or death. We, on the other hand, are still entirely free to call into question the truth. We can listen to statements from our President Elect and then find and share hard data (aka- videos of him talking) that completely negate what he just said. Not only is this information available to us all online, but for those who are worried about tampered digital documentation, we have archived newspapers and many people keep records in their own homes of history- because they have a love of history and because we are allowed to do this. We are a free people.
So, what’s troubling about the Orwellian comparisons is that despite us still living in a free society, so many of us are choosing to believe falsehoods of our own accord. We are willfully refusing to look at evidence contradicting our preconceived notions about this man we have elected president. It happened over and over and over during the campaign and is still happening now. Since Russia is in the news this week, I’ll share another example of this that relates to Trump’s lies about his correspondence with Putin. In a debate in October, Trump stated “I have nothing to do with Putin. I’ve never spoken to him.”and “I don’t know anything about him other than he will respect me.” And yet, in this video, he states, “When I went to Russia with the Miss Universe Pageant, he contacted me and was so nice.” (4:58 mark)
Friends, this stuff isn’t even hard to find. We aren’t living in Orwellian times. Not yet. We are still free to inform ourselves, question authority, and seek truth. But, in order for this freedom to continue, we must exercise it. When we hear the highest elected official in our country lying, we must collectively hold him accountable. This isn’t a partisan issue. This isn’t an issue of “Well, the other side lies, or what about Hillary?” The election is over. Trump is President Elect. It’s time to hold him accountable for his actions, based on the standards we hold for the highest office in our country, not based on some school playground defense (“She did it first!”). Come on now, we expect more from our young children than that.
My heart hurts from watching people I know personally go from vocally admonishing this man in the primaries to begrudgingly voting for him to publicly defending his every move. The allegiance to party is blinding.
My husband, who rarely comments online about these things but discusses them freely in our home, had an idea that struck a chord with me this weekend. It was more of a suggestion, and I want to share it with all of you. Democrat, Republican, Libertarian, Anarchist alike, this is for everyone.
Take out a piece of paper and put the date on it. Then, write down on the piece of paper what it would take for you to stand in opposition to your President, or elected officials. What is your line in the sand? Not your party’s line, but your own line based on your own moral understandings of humanity. Would you stand up to the President if he proposed internment camps? Religious registries? Would you stand up if there were new levels of surveillance? Try to ignore who the President is, and ask this question of yourself in a vacuum void of partisanship.
Write it down, sign it, and keep it. Hang onto this piece of paper. Because history shows us that when political upheavals occur, the best of men and women have abandoned their own principles in the face of fear. Keep this paper as a reminder of the things you stand for, and be ready to question even your own party if they ask you to go against your principles. And in the meantime, it is up to all of us to expect the truth. It may be naïve or foolish to expect this from politicians, but the quickest path to total corruption is the expectation and allowance of it. When our President Elect lies, call him out on it. If someone repeats those lies, correct them.
We are not a ruled people. This is not 1984. We are free. It’s time we acted like it.

Opinions. We All Have Them.

Good morning friends! It’s Wednesday! Halfway through the week!

Let’s chat for a moment about opinions. Everybody has them, right?

Here’s the thing about opinions. You have the right to an opinion. You have the right to share your opinion. But merely having an opinion does not make you right.

I’m seeing this more and more often, someone trying to shut down a conversation with the statement, “Well, that’s my opinion” when the subject at hand is, in fact, based on facts. As if the statement “Well, that’s my opinion” somehow inoculates one from being wrong. When we use that statement to stop a conversation in which we are being presented with actual information to consider, it doesn’t make us right, it makes us willfully ignorant.

Here’s a grossly exaggerated example of what this looks like:

Person A: 2+2 = 4

Person B: No. 2+2 = 3

Person A: No. When you add 2 to another group of 2, you end up with 4.

Person B: Well, in my opinion you end up with 3. That’s my opinion and I have the right to my opinion. You have your opinion and I have mine. Agree to disagree. End of discussion.

People who value reason and facts, we can not allow this to be the end of the discussion. The discussion has to continue and it could sound like this:

Person A: Your opinion is wrong. It’s not based on evidence or facts. I’m happy to share more information with you about basic mathematics but I’m not able to agree to disagree.

I know that can be uncomfortable. But not all opinions are valid and if we are living in a “post-truth” world (aka- lying world) we have to push back against this idea that all opinions are valid and deserving of equal consideration or that there is no such thing as an objective fact. We need to become more comfortable both saying and receiving the statement, “Your opinion is wrong.” There are plenty of conversations where all opinions are equally valid – conversations that revolve around personal taste or preference for example. We can argue all day long over things like “Tea or coffee?” or “Ukuleles vs. banjos” but let’s not conflate those with conversations involving facts.

Okay, back to my coffee. Which, in my opinion, is better than tea. 😉☕