On Kindness, Prez Libraries Warn Our Democracy Is in Danger, Ramaswamy Crazy for Guns
Palin Calls Insurrectionists "the Good Guys," Why the Church Hated the Fork, Review: "Bottoms," CSN&Y Sing
Kareem’s Quote of the Day
The highest form of wisdom is kindness.
Don Juan de Palafox y Mendoza, Spanish bishop and viceroy of New Spain in the 17th century.
Many attribute this quote to the Talmud, but research I’ve read indicates otherwise. What I like about this quote is the juxtaposition of wisdom and kindness. Some may argue that wisdom is about the accumulation of knowledge and kindness is merely an expression of emotion. But the beauty of the quote is that it suggests the culmination of great knowledge is the understanding that all that matters is kindness. For me, I’ve come to understand that political opinions (like fashion choices) may shift over time, but the ability to express genuine (not obligatory) kindness transcends most other learning. I’d rather be kind than to have read all of Shakespeare. On the other hand, having read Shakespeare has helped make me kind.
Related to Quote: Why Seniors Don’t Care About Technology
It’s a common joke in pop culture how inept seniors are when it comes to technology. They mispronounce GIF (it’s “jif,” according to GIF creator Steve Wilhite). They type their names at the end of text messages. They need help programming anything that needs programming. Ha ha. Silly old coots. (Remember, this is just a stereotype; many seniors are very capable when it comes to tech.)
Some defend seniors’ lack of tech-savvy as a result of how quickly technology changes. Today’s iPhone is tomorrow’s Blackberry. No sooner do you learn how to transfer data from your old computer to your new laptop then they change the ports and cables and you have to start all over again.
I have another explanation. Technology symbolizes optimism for the future. It exudes the promise, however hollow, of solving any and all our problems—eventually. Plus, using the latest tech is a kind of rite of passage into the generation on the fast track to the wondrous future. It is tribal fetishism. Like using slang that old folks don’t understand.
But oldsters like me aren’t interested in acquiring, we’re in the process of decluttering. Youth gathers mementos, gadgets, trendy clothes—the flotsam that both memorializes and invigorates their journey through life. We, on the frozen shores, waiting to step aboard our inevitable ice floe, wish to shed ourselves of the distractions and digressions. Sure, an app on my phone can make life easier, but will it be that much easier than the hassle of learning how to use it, update it, understand the new functions? Usually not.
This is not a screed against new-fangled technology. I actually enjoy the technological innovations. Any song, any time. Love it. Favorite movies in an instant. Wonderful. But, while I once was the first in line to purchase new tech products like the VCR, 8-track tape, flip phone, etc., I have seen them float by on the river of time like the conquered soldiers of a relentless army.
I am no longer delighted by new tech. It doesn’t make me hopeful for the future. It’s one more object that is born to be obsolete. Instead, like so many my age who are indifferent to technology, I focus on what does make me hopeful: kindness when someone doesn’t have to be and having no expectation of reciprocation. That is what 76 years of life, of reading, of studying, of thinking, of relationships has taught me. That is my simple wisdom.
And that’s why I like that quote so much.
Why Divisiveness Is Healthy to Democracy
Presidential centers from Hoover to Bush and Obama unite to warn of fragile state of US democracy (AP)
SUMMARY: Concern for U.S. democracy amid deep national polarization has prompted the entities supporting 13 presidential libraries dating back to Herbert Hoover to call for a recommitment to the country’s bedrock principles, including the rule of law and respecting a diversity of beliefs.
The statement released Thursday, the first time the libraries have joined to make such a public declaration, said Americans have a strong interest in supporting democratic movements and human rights around the world because “free societies elsewhere contribute to our own security and prosperity here at home.”
…The joint message from presidential centers, foundations and institutes emphasized the need for compassion, tolerance and pluralism while urging Americans to respect democratic institutions and uphold secure and accessible elections.
MY TAKE: You know the situation is bad when these partisan institutions join together to issue an unprecedented warning about the state of our democracy. Of course, in the spirit of compromise and working together, it’s tempting to say there’s blame on both sides. But that’s really not the case. And the stakes are way too high to pretend otherwise just for the sake of sensitive egos.
First, let’s understand that divisiveness is not the villain here. Some divisiveness is what keeps a democracy healthy. Disagreement causes us to reexamine our beliefs and seek research-backed evidence to better form rational opinions. That’s the theory anyway: an informed populace creates a strong government and stronger society.
So, every time a politician accuses opponents of “causing divisiveness,” they are saying that we shouldn’t have robust discussions but rather blindly fall in line behind them without question. Do not vote for that person. Ever.
The problem here is intractable people who refuse to look at facts because those facts contradict beliefs they would prefer to hold. That ends all debate. The division isn’t between factions hashing out reasonable positions with each other. It’s between those who embrace logic and those who don’t. For example, a recent SSRS poll found that 72% of Republicans think there’s strong evidence Biden didn’t win the election or suspect he didn’t win. For the past three years, this issue has been hashed out in the courts and studied by experts. There is no evidence that Biden didn’t win. None. However, there is significant verifiable evidence that Trump and his cronies tried to illegally overturn the election results.
This is not divisiveness. This is a horror movie in which the killer embodies what we as humans fear most: an entity that can’t be reasoned with. Roy Scheider didn’t debate with the shark in Jaws. The shark’s goal was to consume him—which is what the Republican Party has been doing with its opponents through voter suppression. No amount of logic or facts will deter them. Like Jason, Michael Myers, or the shark, they can’t be reasoned with or negotiated with.
The fragile state of democracy that these presidential centers warn against is because we have given credence to these cretins. Trump, Marjorie Taylor Greene, Matt Gaetz, Jim Jordan, Tommy Tuberville, Ron DeSantis, George Santos, Vivek Ramaswamy, and so on have Trojan Horsed us by hiding inside the Statue of Liberty, then sneaking out during the night to slaughter democracy while it slept.
People of reason, which includes millions of Republicans, must join together to send the mindless shark back to the silent depths where it belongs.