Gated communities of the mind

Many years ago, I was walking through New London, Conn. late on a summer day and spotted a dog trotting along the sidewalk, obviously on some doggish errand, and paying no attention to anyone around. I remember him turning a corner very decisively & vanishing from sight.

The scene struck me as odd, but it took me a second to realize that I never thought of dogs as having self-motivation. I’d lived with dogs my whole life, but they were usually asleep or reacting to some human; going for a walk in the woods with me, eating their supper, chasing a car, or something similar.

I was recently thinking about my reaction to the dog, and what it said about my human chauvinism. I was 19 and had just realized that the world doesn’t revolve around humans. Thinking about that realization lead me to intuit that a lot of people probably see other humans through a similar filter. For instance, there are doubtlessly guys to whom it never occurs that women have any life outside of reacting to guys. (See: ‘Bechdel Test’ for more on this idea.)

It’s an interesting exercise to consider members of a range of other chauvinistic groups where the person barely ascribes personhood to people outside their group.

I’ve no idea if it’s possible to trigger a revelation in those people like mine on that long-ago summer day… but without that breakthrough of seeing others as free & self-motivated humans, not dependent on, nor even concerned with, the viewer, I’m not sure any real progress is possible for those shut in the gated communities of their minds.

No tin pot dictators, please.

If people want to honor military personnel, I’ve no issue with that. But if you start demanding that we honor the military itself, I do have a problem.

The military is just another extension of governmental might. Imagine if someone insisted that we adore the IRS or the CDC. Sounds a bit daft, doesn’t it?

Encouraging citizens to adore the military as an organization tends to push a country in a direction that rarely leads to more personal freedom or civil liberties.

I recently saw an article that discussed a rising trend in some countries where the citizens want a more-authoritarian and militaristic government. Polls show some people in those countries actually wanting the military to be the government.  Not I. I like having civilian control over our military.

…can essentially get away with anything…

People talk about breaking paradigms. I’m not sure anyone in modern times has shattered them, ground them to dust, then paved over them like Dear Leader.

It occurred to me that he’s essentially broken the underlying assumptions that form the fabric of public society.

He’s discovered that the only thing stopping a person from doing whatever the hell he wants is caring what others think of him. If you don’t care about being seen as honest, then why bother being honest? If you don’t care about being seen as kind, then why be kind? (I’m assuming the “you” here is a sociopathic narcissist, of course, not any sort of normal person).

Trump loves spectacle. If he lived in Oklahoma and earned $50k a year, he’d probably own a jacked pickup truck and go to monster truck rallies. He’d awe his buddies by pulling stunts like driving the wrong way on freeways or riding on the roof of his own truck.

But he’s a billionaire, so he builds gilt buildings and acquires women and runs for president. Three years ago he essentially said to someone “Hold my Perrier” and kicked off a presidential campaign. People kept expecting him to fall off the roof of the truck, but he somehow managed to keep the show going this long.

The hillbilly version of Trump would get arrested and thrown in the drunk tank, but Billionaire Trump can get away with things because rich people can do that.

When people around him try to exert control, they’re doing it like they would if he was Bill Clinton. Bill did crazy things, too, but he wanted to be liked by his peers, he wanted to at least be seen as trustworthy, so when people slammed him for sleeping around with interns he reacted, he tried to justify himself . . . or pretend it didn’t happen.

Trump doesn’t care about the fabric of trust and honesty and expectation that ties most of the society together. He reminds me of a nihilistic teenager who might get drunk and jump off a bridge for no reason other than that he can’t see why it matters.

We’re watching Trump prove that a rich person with no ties to society can essentially get away with anything. He’s the personification of every paranoid thought I’ve ever had about rich people not caring about anyone else.

People keep thinking if they just point out VERY CLEARLY that Trump just did or said something outrageous, he’ll come to his senses, but he literally doesn’t care; so long as the adrenaline rush keeps up, he just plows ahead.

Here’s my deeper fear. (By the way, I’m not by any means the first person to say this, I’m not claiming the slightest originality…)
My fear is that the Trump Show is being used as a distraction, a red cape waved in our faces while truly evil humans slide even further into power in our society.

Sleight of hand on an absolutely grand scale.