Sunday, July 5, 2020

High Stakes Gambling

In America one has a right to believe, and to proclaim, and to live by the belief that Dr. Anthony Fauci, Johns Hopkins Medical Center, Mayo Clinic, The American Medical Association, the Center for Disease Control, and the World Health Organization (and others) are engaged in a national, or maybe even a global liberal conspiracy to control the world. One has a right, in America, to believe that the COVID-19 pandemic is a ruse—a tool being used by said liberal conspiracy to take away our freedoms and liberties and rights, and that it is no more threatening than last year’s influenza season.

One has that right.

But, what if there is a slight chance—an ever-so-slight chance—even just a 10% chance—that one would be wrong in that belief? What if the coronavirus is as deadly as the evil, liberal conspiracy claims?

What if wearing a mask and social distancing really do reduce the risk [nobody ever claimed those actions would totally eliminate the risk] of contracting—or of transmitting—the disease? It’s one thing to say, “I’ll take my chances.” “I’m willing to gamble with my health, and maybe my life, on the belief that I’m right.”

One has that right.

Until…

…until that right violates my right(s). As the cliché goes, “Your rights stop where my nose begins.”

At some point it ceases to be a matter of one’s personal liberties and rights, and becomes a matter of cooperation, compassion, and common decency and respect.

So, while one can say, “I’ll take my chances; I’m willing to gamble with my health, and even my life, on my belief,” it’s NOT OK to gamble with my health and my family’s health on the basis of your obstinacy. And it’s not OK to dismiss my concerns as the incoherent mutterings of a university-brainwashed libtard.

What if you’re wrong? The stakes are terribly high.

That’s the way it looks through the Flawed Glass that is my world view.

Together in the Walk,

Jim


Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Musings of an Anxious Patriot

This weekend is the annual celebration of the day the American colonists' Second Continental Congress adopted the Declaration of Independence—July 4, 1776.

We’ll fly our flag proudly at home. Actually, we’ll fly three flags: one will fly on a staff over our curbside mailbox, and two smaller ones will be on display in the flower beds. We’ll grill hot dogs and possibly watch the movie version of the Broadway show, “1776.” We missed the show last year, but it’s become something of a 4th of July tradition at our house since we first watched it with part of our extended family when we were vacationing in Fairbanks, Alaska eight years ago.

I am a veteran. I’m no hero. I was in the Marine Band at Quantico, Virginia until August, 1967, when I left for Vietnam. Before the Tet Operation in early 1968 I was primarily a trombone player in the 3rd Marine Division Band in Phu Bai (about 14 miles south of the ancient citadel of Hue). When the Tet Operation erupted, the division moved to Quang Tri (just south of the DMZ), where we put our instruments away and served in various combat operations until I rotated out and came home. We rarely engaged the enemy.

I stand for the National Anthem. I place my right hand over my heart and frequently get misty; although, I bear no disrespect or ill will toward those who exercise their first amendment rights to kneel in protest of injustices that scarcely can be denied.

Occasionally I go online and watch a video of some Marine band on parade, and I get teary-eyed and experience a thrill when they hit those opening notes of the Marine Hymn.

I vote in every election, and frequently contact the legislators who represent my area. And I have served in public office.

So, I consider myself a patriot, and will celebrate the birth of our nation on Saturday.

But on Sunday, I will be in church to worship God and to give thanks for God’s grace. And in God’s sanctuary my patriotism will not express itself in celebration, but in repentance and prayers for forgiveness and healing. As the hymn says, “America! America! God mend thine every flaw.” And flaws abound. Nothing positive or constructive ever has emerged in the history of humanity from any mixture of patriotism and religion.

On Sunday I will pray that God will forgive the divisive, intolerant hatred that has infected the country I am proud to have served, and I will pray that God will heal our land. And no matter how passionately it is denied, hatred—some directed at specific people and some just ambiguous and generalized—is the root sin of our nation. It manifests itself most destructively in what has been called religious nationalism.

So, I’ll fly the flag on Saturday, and celebrate the nation that was “…conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.”[1] I’ll celebrate the great vision that propelled our forebears: the vision articulated on our Statue of Liberty: "Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore, Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"

But on Sunday I’ll pray for forgiveness for what America instead has become and for the people destroyed in process of becoming what we are. And I will pray for reconciliation among the diverse peoples still at enmity within our borders, so that the vision in which America was conceived actually might be realized someday.

If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, pray, seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.” (2 Chronicles 7:14 NRSV)

That’s the way it looks through the Flawed Glass that is my world view.

Together in the Walk,

Jim



[1] From Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address.


Sunday, June 21, 2020

"Let The Words of My Mouth..."

“…and the meditation of my heart be acceptable to you, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.” (Psalm 19:14 NRSV)

Words. Vocabulary.

“Sticks and stones may break my bones; but words will never hurt me.” Really? Ask that 14-year-old girl at the junior high camp I directed—the one who clawed her face until it bled because she was teased about her freckles. Ask me about how I felt when I was called a queer (1957-58--before enlightenment) because I was smaller and less athletic than most of the boys in my class—and because I was a musician.

In my preaching professor’s office were two shelves of books about words. One reason his preaching was so effective was that he carefully chose each word, crafting each sentence and transition. He taught that words have gender, and texture, and color, and temperature.

Effective public speakers know how to choose specific words to encourage, to challenge, to inspire, and unfortunately, even to incite to violence. Words carelessly tossed into the wind can do more harm than ever intended.

The problem is that in today's house-divided-America some people (too many), either by intention, or by denial, or simply out of oblivion, are choosing words precisely that divide and trigger anger, and in this house divided, in which tensions and anger and partisan animosity already are overpowering, anger all too quickly erupts into verbal, and/or physical violence.

Words can be correct and still be manipulated to mislead and to distort the truth. Some media analysts and wannabe pundits on social media have become specialists at such strategies of misdirection, denial, and the exploitation of ignorance. And the further one moves toward the extremes, left or right, of the political and ideological spectrum, the more intense is the application of those strategies.

Words can heal. Words can reconcile. Words can unite. Words can be essential parts of a solution to most human problems. Words also can be—and too often intentionally are—weaponized and therefore are precisely a part of any problem of human relationships and interaction.

The words are not the problem. They simply are tools. The problem is a spiritual one. And at this point, I specifically will be addressing Christians; although, if any others find my remarks helpful, I am grateful. Here is the spiritual problem for the Christian: There cannot be found anywhere in Judeo/Christian Scripture any justification for any behavior—ANY BEHAVIOR—that results in division and alienation.

Every word of Christian Scripture is focused upon God’s saving action in Jesus Christ, whose purpose, in his own words, was, “I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” (John 10:10 NRSV) How is dropping the “F” bomb on everyone who holds a different perspective even remotely consistent with that purpose?

“…in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting the message of reconciliation to us.” (2 Corinthians 5:19 NRSV) How does calling liberals “snowflakes” or “libtards”, or calling conservatives “idiots” or “wackos” promote reconciliation?

 “…he has made known to us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure that he set forth in Christ, as a plan for the fullness of time, to gather up all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth. (Ephesians 1:9-10 NRSV) The intention is clear[1]: God’s will, God’s plan for all creation, is unity, harmony, reconciliation. How does the use of derogatory labels promote God’s will, God’s plan for people who are different in any way from each other?

Words. Vocabulary. Labels. Stereotypes. Choose yours carefully, because “I tell you, on the day of judgment you will have to give an account for every careless word you utter; for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.” ~ Jesus (Matthew 12:36-37 NRSV).

That’s the way it looks through the Flawed Glass that is my world view.

Together in the Walk,

Jim



[1] In the original language, the underlined words are one word, ανακεφαλαιωσασθαι (which is a tongue-twister pronounced “ah-nah-keh-fah-lie-oh-sas-thigh”) which means to recapitulate or to sum up, as in a column of numbers. It also refers to justifying or reconciling two sets of numbers, as in reconciling one’s checkbook with the bank statement. I found one secular application to music, when two or more performers are singing and/or playing different notes or melodies at the same time—what we would call today, “harmony.” The King James Version says, “gather together in one,” the RSV says, “to unite all things,” the NIV says, “to bring unity to all things,” The ERV says, “be joined together…” The intent becomes clear: unity, reconciliation, harmony describe God’s will and God’s plan.


Sunday, May 31, 2020

Come, Holy Spirit!

This may not be the best time for me to write. My heart is heavy—grieving. I’m not angry; although, anger surrounds us and increasingly becomes the norm among some parts of our American population. I’m sure I’ll be angry at some point. Anger is a normal part of grief.

I find myself on the verge—and sometimes into the abyss—of tears more and more frequently. I recall that dreadful news clip of the fiery crash of the Hindenburg, and the sobbing voice of the reporter, “Oh! The humanity! The humanity!”

How calloused have we become when we so rarely are moved to tears at the sight of human suffering? What hideous kind of demon possesses one human to kneel on the neck of another human—a human who is face-down on the ground, handcuffed, with two other humans kneeling on his back—a human who is crying, “I can’t breathe! Please!”? And what kind of inhuman creature looks on, apparently more concerned about the camera that is recording it all than about the human who is gasping for his dying breath?

“Kneeling on a man’s neck is an extreme and dangerous step, well out of bounds for ordinary police procedures. The kneeling officer appears to have a long track record of complaints.”[1] I’ve seen three videos, each from a different perspective. In none of them did it appear that Floyd was resisting or uncooperative.

I know: there is a report that George Floyd had preconditions “including coronary artery disease and hypertensive heart disease”; and the preliminary autopsy showed, “no physical findings that support a diagnosis of traumatic asphyxia or strangulation.” The report said death likely was caused by the "combined effect of Floyd being restrained by the police, his underlying health conditions, and any potential intoxicants in his system.”[2]

Does such an analysis diminish the inhumanity of three humans sworn “to serve and protect?” As a medical layman I have to ask, “Would such unnecessary use of force exacerbate the preexisting factors, thereby possibly—even probably—contributing to Floyd’s death?”

But, I linger too long on one specific instance, when my grief is over the increasing commonness of justifying inhuman behavior on the basis of ideological absolutism. The controversy over where to stand in relation to George Floyd’s death appears to line up consistently with every other controversy in America: conservatives line up against liberals.

There seems little possibility that there ever will be an issue in which both liberals and conservatives agree. And there seems little possibility ever again that those disagreements will be pursued with respect and integrity. I see very little indication that anyone on either side wants to resolve any of the issues that divide them. Most just want to win the fight.

And so, I grieve. And the tears come more frequently.

We are watching something cancerous grow faster and faster each cay. It is, in my estimation, the satanic spawn of absolutized individualism run amok. Don’t misunderstand. I serve a master whose sacrificial love for individuals is unsurpassed in human history. But, Ayn Rand notwithstanding, the master I serve also called his followers to love one another sacrificially, to serve one another in humility, even to the point of washing one another’s feet, and to love one’s neighbor as oneself. And he defined one’s neighbor in his Parable of the Good Samaritan—a parable, incidentally, about reaching across lines of ethnicity to serve anyone who is in need.

The individual is important, and the individual’s importance is embellished in service to other individuals. Our individual importance reaches its highest potential when we “lose ourselves”. All four gospels report Jesus saying, “Those who find their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it. (Matthew 10:39 NRSV). I like the way the Message Paraphrase puts it: “If your first concern is to look after yourself, you’ll never find yourself. But if you forget about yourself and look to me, you’ll find both yourself and me.

I write as a Christian Pastor to Christians; however, Christians are as divided and as hostile as the rest of the culture (which is a primary reason the church has been in decline for a half-century), and I struggle to find hope that peace and reconciliation can come from Christianity so divided. Therefore, my appeal is to all who are of a similar mindset, regardless of your spiritual base. I believe respect, integrity and compassion have no ideological or credal boundaries, and that people of all spiritualities can unite in the effort to be agents of healing and reconciliation.

Today is Pentecost. Christians celebrate it as the birthday of the church and recite the biblical story of the Holy Spirit of God descending upon a broken, frightened little band of Jesus’ disciples. The Spirit filled them, and they turned the world upside down. I suspect that our nation will not be healed by human effort apart from that same Spirit.

So, come Holy Spirit. Come as wind and breathe into us a passion for the humility of Jesus, who washed his disciples’ feet.

Come Holy Spirit. Come as fire and burn away all the divisive arrogance that solidifies our human understandings of your purpose.

Come Holy Spirit. Come as a dove and bring us peace.

That’s the way it looks through the Flawed Glass that is my world view.

Together in the Walk,

Jim


[1] https://www.nationalreview.com/2020/05/george-floyd-death-minneapolis-riots-justice-requires-order/. I point out that the “National Review” is a conservative source. The inherent danger of such restraint was reported in several additional sources.


Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Crybaby


Maybe it’s my reaction to being self-quarantined, but I’ve gone beyond anger to grief. I’ve stopped responding to most Facebook posts (who knows how long that will last?), and often find myself weeping at what I’m reading. I guess I’m a crybaby.

Beyond my relatively narrow sampling on Facebook, the news on all media (and I do watch all media) extends my impression that our American culture is growing more and more angry and hostile—more filled with hatred and rage—by the day.

There has long been a tendency among some Americans to prioritize political ideology over human need and to focus on the miniscule percentage of fraud to justify not working toward meeting the multitude of need. Today on Facebook there was a photo of a couple carrying a banner that read, “I won’t sacrifice my rights for your safety.” What a rotten attitude! And there was that 2017 quote from a voter who said, “I trust Trump more than Jesus.” And it’s well established by now that at least part of one political party has declared publicly that the economy is more important than human life. Pro-life? Indeed.

Last week someone posted, “I’ll take my chances.” That’s fine if your chances are all that’s at stake. When you take your chances you also are gambling with someone else’s chances—including mine and my family’s; so, I tend to take it personally.

How is love demonstrated in any of the above? Or has the message of Jesus also become a hoax in this “Christian” nation? A conspiracy inflicted upon us by “liberal theology?”

And I grieve over the growing anti-empiricist mentality among a significant subset of a whole generation. Expertise of any kind is equated with idiocy and stupidity. Empirical evidence that can be seen and measured and graphed is denied as manufactured. It’s easier and more convenient to believe that the scientific and medical communities are lying—they’re involved in a conspiracy to take away our freedoms. One always can find somebody with a degree or a title to support one’s previous presuppositions; therefore, the information bubble is preferred over empirical evidence.

The upshot is that a large portion of the American public just refuses to believe that the CoVID-19 pandemic is real. It’s a hoax. It’s no more dangerous than the annual round of flu. I hope they’re right. I truly hope I’m wrong—that medical science is wrong. Maybe medical science was wrong about smallpox, too. And polio. And the Spanish flu in 1918. Maybe those killers would simply have run their course and life would have gone on, even without medical intervention. Maybe medical science didn’t shorten the duration of those pandemics. No big deal.

Maybe the bubonic plague would have simply run its course without a massive clean-up of heaps of rat-infested garbage in the streets. No big deal.

The really big deal that makes me weep is the number of deaths that could have been—that still could be—prevented. If the risk can be reduced by temporary inconvenience and discomfort, why would anyone refuse to accept those inconveniences? It’s not as if it’s forever.

What wrenches my gut is the haunting, tragic image of that photo I saw this morning—that banner that said, “I won’t sacrifice my freedom for your safety.” Is that really—REALLY—where we are? I wonder what would have happened if the government (whoever that is) had issued a proclamation demanding that everyone disregard the pandemic and carry on as usual. My suspicion is that those who flaunt their freedom today would have burrowed in while whining, “The government isn’t going to tell me what to do! I’m not going to risk my safety for your freedom!”

Maybe that’s really what it’s all about: “Nobody’s going to tell me what to do.”

When Jesus’ disciples were arguing over which of them would be the greatest, he got up and washed their feet. And then he said, I have set you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you.” John 13:15 (NRSV)


But, yeah, don’t sacrifice your freedom for anybody else’s safety.

That’s the way it looks through the Flawed Glass that is my world view.

Together in the Walk,
Jim

Tuesday, May 5, 2020

Your Rights and My Nose


Rights. As a colleague said quite often, "Your rights stop where my nose begins."
My unalienable rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness do not take precedent over your rights, nor yours over mine.

Each citizen has the right to choose the sources and data upon which he or she bases his or her understanding of truth, whether it be scientific or medical, or supermarket tabloid, or something in between.

All citizens, in theory, have the right; indeed, the responsibility to vote in public elections, thereby giving voice and support to their respective positions.

Every citizen enjoys the right to assent or dissent in response to governmental action. Some do so based on socio/political ideology, while others stand on ethical principles. The former often place their ideology above human needs, while the latter stump for more humanitarian, idealistic results. The former see idealism as impractical and useless.

These are not hard dichotomies, but rather a continuum whose statistical curve peaks somewhere near the middle. As one moves toward either extreme the protagonists become more rigid and intractable, their intolerance of differences more belligerent.

The foregoing is neither new nor particularly keen insight. It’s sociology or political science 101.

Neil deGrasse Tyson is an American sceintist. Since 1996, he has been the Frederick P. Rose Director of the Hayden Planetarium at the Rose Center for Earth and Space in New York. He says there are three levels of truth:

(1) scientific truths or “objective truths” or beliefs that one can substantiate through objectivity, impartial science, facts, and reasoning.  

(2) political truths are inaccuracies repeated so often they become recognized and accepted as true. Examples of political truths include the belief that Thomas Edison invented the lightbulb, or that Christopher Columbus discovered America.  

(3) personal truths are perspectives that fail the test of scientific reasoning. He argues that individuals cling to these beliefs, even when presented with overwhelming evidence to the contrary.  One example of a personal truth is the belief that the earth is flat.

I do not present Tyson’s categories as in any sense final; indeed, I take issue at more than one point. I present them here as representations of a new relativism related to truth. I respect his categories as perceptions and/or applications of truth; but not of truth, itself. If one believes, as I do, in absolute truth, there are no relative truths or levels of truth.

As I have said and written many times (and am far from unique in this perspective), while I believe in absolute truth, I do not believe in the human capacity to comprehend truth absolutely. The best we can do is point to a “preponderance of evidence.” And always—ALWAYS—we are compelled by the limitations of the clay of which we are made to acknowledge our perception of truth as partial.

As a theologian, in making this point I almost always quote St. Paul’s dictum in I Corinthians 13:12 “For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then we will see face to face. Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known.” (NRSV) As you may have noticed, it is adapted into my blogsite name, “Flawed Glass.”

Given, then, that human perception of truth at best is vulnerable to distortion, I return to my opening focus, which is the perceptions and applications related to our rights as American citizens. The two topics, though divergent, are related, and the issue at hand is where we get the data upon which we base our respective positions.

Never in human history has more data be more readily available to more people. This presents us with a humongous dilemma because the data closely parallels the aforementioned ideological continuum. Compounding the dilemma is a growing tendency toward confirmation bias in far too many efforts to research available data.

If one looks long enough, and knows the ideological biases of enough sources, one eventually can find someone with a degree or a title who will validate virtually any thought or idea one has. I'm not a conspiracy theorist, and I am grounded in the scientific method, and I accept the findings of those who apply the scientific method.

For my entire life up to now I have accepted mainstream medical community's counsel (including the value of vaccinations—think "smallpox" and "polio"), and I have enjoyed good health and excellent health care. I especially give credence to their informed findings in contrast to sources outside the medical mainstream or the biased opinions of non-medical sources; therefore, I am concerned about the risks of opening up our culture too soon vis-à-vis the COVID-19 pandemic.

I have the right to determine my own risks and to gamble with my own health and safety, and maybe even with that of my household. But my rights stop where your nose begins, and neither I nor you have the reciprocal right to gamble with each other’s health and safety.

I hope I'm proven wrong, and that the COVID-19 pandemic is a tempest in a teacup and hasn't been much of a real threat to anything except to our economy. The preponderance of evidence from mainstream medical and scientific community doesn’t support that hope; therefore, until proven otherwise I choose to stay in my home, and to wear a mask when I venture out; and I will have difficulty not resenting those who discount the seriousness of the virus and are willing to trust their biased opinions and gamble with their own safety and the safety of others (including me and my family).

And, BTW, I also don't have a problem with the government stepping in and setting boundaries when the preponderance of observable evidence suggests too many people are not smart enough to be trusted to protect themselves or to not gamble with others' safety.

That’s the way it looks through the “Flawed Glass” that is my world view.

Together in the Walk,
Jim

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

A Book Review: A Generation of Sociopaths


Like many other behavioral theories, (e.g., motivational theory: Abraham Maslow, Hertzberg, McClelland, et. al.) generational theory has proven useful in understanding human behavior.
On the other hand, the original theory advanced by Strauss and Howe has been reworked into myriad spin-offs and variations which lead to stereotypes that dilute and corrupt the original.
Stereotypes generally are based on sub-sets of groups or categories, and thus tend to skew the overall perception of the group being stereotyped; for example, racial and ethnic stereotypes.
A case in point is a 2017 book by Bruce Cannon Gibney[1] entitled A Generation of Sociopaths: How the Baby Boomers Betrayed America (New York: Hachette Books).  His case is persuasive; indeed, long before Gibney came of age, the Boomer generation was being called the “Me” generation.
To his credit, Gibney writes an early disclaimer, viz., “For those readers who are Boomers, or have parents or grandparents who are Boomers, it may be of small comfort that this book does not argue that all Baby Boomers are sociopaths.” (p. xii) Nevertheless, he shows little sympathy in his  characterization of the generation: “For the past several decades, the nation has been run by people who present, personally and politically, the full sociopathic pathology: deceit, selfishness, imprudence, remorselessness, hostility, the works. Those people are the Baby Boomers, that vast and strange generation born between 1940 and 1964, and the society they created does not work very well.” (p. x-xi)
Again, Gibney’s thesis is compelling, and to the extent that it is valid, what it compels is a reordering of our understanding regarding American (and by extension, global) politics and economics.
Prior to Gibney, the demons and dragons of socio/political and economic dysfunction have been perceived as corrupt parties and ideologies: Democrats, Republicans, Libertarians, etc. (and always the “other” party!) Gibney pushes us to see that the boogeyman transcends traditional partisanship; indeed, the entire spectrum is infected!
For years I have argued that there are rogues in every current manifestation of our partisan system. In doing so, I have alienated friends and strangers who want to deny, overlook or rationalize the proverbial log in their party’s eye, while demonizing the speck in the “other” party’s eye. Moreover, by pointing out the warts on all parties’ faces, I draw criticism for “playing both sides,” “riding the fence,” etc.
To the extent that Gibney is accurate, and I am hard pressed to deny his premise, the elephant in the room is not the Democrats, or the GOP, or the Libertarians, or the Democratic Socialist, or the Gipper, or the Orange Man. The one with peanuts on his breath is a subset of the generation born between 1940 and 1964; and that subset has metastasized into every party and ideology.
Two topics serve to illustrate: (1) laws regarding bankruptcy, and (2) laws regarding student loans. “In 1978, when the median Boomer was twenty-six, Congress loosened the (bankruptcy) law… and has since adjusted the law first to make it easier (when Boomers were primarily debtors and thus beneficiaries of relief) … More recently, debt has become harder to discharge (now that wealthier Boomers have become net creditors).” (p. 172)
Gibney makes virtually the same case regarding student loan debt. A 2005 change in the law “made discharging student debt exceedingly difficult. The Boomers did not have to worry, as formerly generous subsidies meant they carried relatively little of such debt. Their children, however, carried quite a bit, with interest remitted to companies in which Boomers held shares.” (p. 174)
Gibney describes how that same pattern of Boomer indifference to all but their own immediate gratification is corrupting virtually every manifestation of life in these United States. I still have cold chills when I recall our current Boomer President’s response to a question about climate change, “So what? I’ll be dead by then.”[2]
Pew research (2017) indicates 37% of registered voters identified as independents, 33% as Democrats and 26% as Republicans. When partisan leanings of independents are taken into account, 50% identify as Democrats or lean Democratic;42% identify as Republicans or lean Republican. Since 1994, women consistently have identified more as Democrat than Republican, and the gap between levels of education has widened dramatically since ’94, with higher levels being more likely to identify as Democrat. But watch this: prior to 2010, the majority of Baby Boomers had identified as Democrat. Since 2010, the majority has identified as Republican or Libertarian![3]
So, I’m rethinking my whole understanding of “What’s wrong with America?” (You know, the game the whole family can play?) It’s not Republicans or Democrats who are wreaking havoc with our way of life. According to Gibney, it’s a subset of the Baby Boomer Generation, and that subset is bipartisan!
There is, indeed, an elephant in the room; but, I’m remembering the fable about the three blind mice who encounter a sleeping elephant: the first mouse touches the elephant’s tail and says, “Aha! An elephant is like a rope!” The second mouse feels the elephant’s trunk and says, “Oh, no! An elephant is like a fire hose!” The third rodent bumps into the elephant’s torso, and proclaims, “You’re both wrong! An elephant is like a wall!”
More than rethinking my understanding, I’m finding in Gibney’s work a validation of what I’ve sensed for years: we see what we see—too often what we want to see—and then generalize universal truth from our limited vision. And then we refuse to acknowledge any limits to our own vision or any possibility that a different perspective may have some merit. And that describes any “Me” populace.
It’s just a scratch on the surface; but for now, that’s how it looks through the flawed glass that is my world view.
Together in the Walk,
Jim

[1] Gibney is a writer and venture capitalist: an early investor at PayPal, and subsequently went to work PayPal founder Peter Thiel’s hedge fund Clarium and his venture capital company Founders Fund.
[2] Climate expert, Joe Romm (a much younger Boomer) made a similar statement, but with the opposite intent. After pointing out that at current rates the sea level will rise one foot by 2050, and storm damage will thus increase profoundly, he said, “I’ll be dead by then; but the rest of you have been warned.” (from a Mother Jones Podcast, March 10, 2011)