Welcome to the U.S.(S.R.)

soviet flag

I remember watching movies as a kid about American spies in the Soviet Union. To travel the country they needed “papers”, documents to prove they were citizens. As freedom loving Americans we traveled our country at will; no “papers” required. The use of “papers” in these movies was one of the best creative devices / tools for showing the distinction between the U.S.A. and the U.S.S.R. . It struck home with everyone in the theater. We’re free. They’re not.

If you don’t remember those days, then the story of U.S. government agents checking “papers” for people on a San Francisco flight to JFK probably doesn’t chill you. But it should.

We forget that there used to be a time when all you needed to get on (and off) a domestic flight was a ticket. That’s it.

Then terrorist struck. To protect us, we gave up a bit of our freedom. We agreed to have our identity checked before we got on the flight. You may remember that some people railed against that, but ultimately lost.

Now, to get off the plane the passengers had to prove (again) that they belonged.

This isn’t to protect us. The plane landed safely.

This is the FEDERAL government forcing (yes forcing) people to prove they are allowed to be in the U.S. before and after the flight, detaining them if they can’t.

Are we really so afraid of illegal immigrants that we are willing to cede even more freedom to the Feds?


Having a positive impact on each other


When was the last time you changed someone’s mind by calling them names? Which name was most effective? Idiot? Dummy? Racist?

(in case it was last in poor writing skills, that was sarcasm.)

We need to decide why we are engaging each other. If it is simply to vent and to insult, then by all means, throwing out some nasty names may make you feel better… for a while.

If you want to have an impact, get people to think about something, perhaps think about things in a new way yourself, leave out the insults.

The past couple of months have been confounding for liberals, and even many centrists. They have a hard time understanding how others could vote for Donald Trump.

One reason: Elections are binary, life is not.

When you vote for a person it is a task of weighing many different aspects, balancing those things on which you agree and those on which you don’t, and then throwing the qualitative “how do I feel about life at this moment” thing that really messes us up. You have one vote that has to accept the good and the bad.

If you voted for someone with whom you agreed on all points without reservation, congratulations. I envy you your certainty. I’ve never had it and would be startled if I ever did.

Nearly half the people who cast a vote did so for Trump. I know a lot of people. I don’t always agree with them and some voted for Trump. They are not idiots, dummies or racists. We can have some very good conversations, some are even about politics.

But, I guarantee that if I started the conversation with “you’re a racist”, or they began with “you libtard”, it would be a one sentence exchange. We would have no chance to find out that there are actually a lot of points are which we agree. That we both want to help others, but have different approaches. That neither likes how the crackdown on immigration affects families, but one is sincerely afraid of potential terrorist attacks. We would not have an opportunity to talk through these things and see if we can agree and perhaps support a common position.

If all you want to do is cast insult, that’s your right. But no good will come of it.

If you really want to see a better place, work to bridge the gulf the election created. Once you start trying you may find that the bridge doesn’t have to be as long as your thought.