Two-Party Prisoner

https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/the-year-of-the-hated-clinton-and-trump-two-intensely-disliked-candidates-begin-their-face-off/2016/05/08/76a87ce2-13bd-11e6-8967-7ac733c56f12_story.html
If Trump and Clinton are so hated, why are we attempting to chose between them? Many of us are attempting to chose the lesser of two evils, to vote against one by voting for the other. This is the option our two-party system has given us. We are made to believe voting for someone not nominated by the Republican or Democratic parties is a vote waisted. And this is absolutely true as long as we believe it is. I’m reminded of the Prisoner’s Dilemma. It goes something like this: You and a friend are arrested and kept in separate rooms. The police have little evidence and you two will go free if neither of you confess. But, if one of you confesses and the other does not, the one who confesses will receive a shorter sentence, while the one who did not will receive a longer sentence. If you both confess, you will both receive a longer sentence. If we both vote for someone we can get behind as a presidential candidate, this person will win. But, if only one of us does, we will be stuck with one who views Muslims and Mexicans as threats or one who cheated the system to get what she wants. There is a better option, but only if we stick together. Immanuel Kant is probably best known for the Categorical Imperative, which states one should “Act only according to that maxim whereby you can at the same time will that it should become a universal law.” I believe, if every one of us, as Senator Ted Cruz suggested, votes our conscience, a better option can be a reality. If every one of us plays it safe and refuses to trust the others to do right by us all, we will be stuck with one of the two less than desirable options. So what’s it going to be?

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T-shirt and Thong

T-shirt and Thong (Sorry. This post isn’t as sexy as it sounds.)

A friend of mine recently relayed to me the fact that she witnessed a neighbor of mine walking to her car with nothing more covering her body than a T-shirt and a thong. She seemed to want me to join her in condemning the act. I told her, I don’t see a problem in it if there was no victim. She suggested that a man could see the barley clothed woman and take out his urges on a child. I insisted that, because I had no reason to believe there was a victim, I would not condemn the act. Today, this friend brought up the issue again. This time the question was would it be alright with me if my daughter went out dressed in such a way. I had to think about it for a second. At first the answer was “No!”. Then, as my daughter got older in my mind, I thought it depended on her motivation. I give to others in an effort to be the change I want to see in the world. I know I might be left with nothing if I continue to give freely, but this risk is worth the cause. If my daughter were walking to her car wearing nothing but a T-shirt and a thong in an effort to desensitize, in an effort to express the perspective that her body was not just a sexual thing, I would be proud. But how I feel about it is none of business if my daughter is a grown woman, as this woman was. It would be her body to do with what she wished. WE NEED TO STOP APPLYING OUR VALUES TO OTHERS! They are ours and we have a right to them, just as everyone else has a right to their own. We can encourage, but must not judge. Judgement causes pain.

A Bear Walks Into a Bar…

A Bear walks into a bar and says to the bartender “Give me a……….beer”. The bartender asks, “Why the big pause?” To which the bear replies, “I developed a stutter when I was young and I learned through speech therapy to stay quiet until I fully form the words in my head.” The bartender says with regret in his voice, “Oh, I’m sorry.” Just then a giraffe walks in and looks over the crowd of people. The bartender sees a chance to redeem himself: “Hey buddy, you want a longneck?” The giraffe, never looking down at the bartender says, “No. I’ve been sober for 5 years. I’m looking for my sister.” The bartender’s smile quickly fades. Then a horse walks in. He asks the giraffe, “Any sign of her?” The bartender feels the words coming out. He can’t control the impulse: “Hey buddy, why the long face?” The horse gazes across the bar, his cheeks stained with tears, “My fiancé is missing.” The bartender apologizes, “Let me buy you guys drinks. Beer for you, Bear. Giraffe, you drink soda?” The bartender quickly turns away from his patrons and starts pouring the bear’s beer. “Hey buddy, you alright?”, the bear asks. The bartender turns to find a rather hairy, heavyset man sitting in the bear’s seat. “What?”, the bartender replies quietly as he slowly pans up and over to see the face of a 7-foot something tall man looking down at him with concern. Continuing to pan across, he finds a smaller man with short dark hair wiping tears from his face. “Are you okay?”, the smaller man asks. The bartender feels faint. The room spins. The figures become blurry. “Hey, what’s your name, pal?”, the bear’s voice asks. The bartender looks for an answer to the question, but finds none. “I’ve only ever been referred to as ‘the bartender’…”, he says with puzzlement in his voice. The bartender scratches at the shell of his brain, looking for an explanation of all of this, as he slowly falls to the floor. The bar erupts with the laughter of animals.

Continents of Familial Origin

What’s the worst thing one can call a citizen of the United States of African descent?
“nigger
[nig-er]
The term nigger is now probably the most offensive word in English. Its degree of offensiveness has increased markedly in recent years, although it has been used in a derogatory manner since at least the Revolutionary War. The senses labeled Extremely Disparaging and Offensive represent meanings that are deeply insulting and are used when the speaker deliberately wishes to cause great offense. It is so profoundly offensive that a euphemism has developed for those occasions when the word itself must be discussed, as in court or in a newspaper editorial: “the n-word.”
Despite this, the sense referring to a “black person” is sometimes used self-referentially among African Americans in a neutral or familiar way. The sense referring to other victims of prejudice, especially when used descriptively, as to denounce that prejudice, is not normally considered disparaging—as in “The Irish are the niggers of Europe” from Roddy Doyle’s The Commitments —but the other uses are considered contemptuous and hostile.

noun
1.
Slang: Extremely Disparaging and Offensive.
a contemptuous term used to refer to a black person.
a contemptuous term used to refer to a member of any dark-skinned people.
2.
Slang: Extremely Disparaging and Offensive. a contemptuous term used to refer to a person of any racial or ethnic origin regarded as contemptible, inferior, ignorant, etc.
3.
a victim of prejudice similar to that suffered by black people; a person who is economically, politically, or socially disenfranchised.” (http://www.dictionary.com/browse/nigger)

“The history of the word nigger is often traced to the Latin word niger, meaning Black. This word became the noun, Negro (Black person) in English, and simply the color Black in Spanish and Portuguese. In early modern French, niger became negre and, later, negress (Black woman) was unmistakably a part of language history. One can compare to negre the derogatory nigger and earlier English substitutes such as negar, neegar, neger, and niggor that developed into its lexico-semantic true version in English. It is probable that nigger is a phonetic spelling of the White Southern mispronunciation of Negro….The word, nigger, carries with it much of the hatred and disgust directed toward Black Africans and African Americans. Historically, nigger defined, limited, made fun of, and ridiculed all Blacks. It was a term of exclusion, a verbal reason for discrimination.” (http://www.aaregistry.org/historic_events/view/nigger-word-brief-history)

First off, I don’t believe I’ve ever met a person of African descent with black skin. This is like calling one with European heritage “white”. It’s just not accurate. We have skin in varying shades of brown. And calling each other “black” and “white” tells us we are more different than we are. After all, can you name a color more opposite to white than black? But these labels do more than identify our skin color. We “are” black and we “are” white. This would seem to mean we are opposite. I don’t buy it. We are brothers and sisters. But even calling one of African descent my brother can be viewed as racist. I know our country has a horrible history when it comes to the issue of “race”. So much so that even our word for the issue, “race” would seem to divide us, implying we are different species. But dwelling on our negative history would seem to only give power to it.

What’s the worst thing one can call a citizen of the United States of European descent?
“racist
[rey-sist]
Spell Syllables
Word Origin
See more synonyms on Thesaurus.com
noun
1.
a person who believes in racism, the doctrine that one’s own racial group is superior or that a particular racial group is inferior to the others.
adjective
2.
of or like racists or racism:
racist policies; racist attitudes.”

The other day, at work, a man of Latino descent insisted I was being racist when I performed a security check with the man of African descent just in front of him. He said I had not checked the “white” man before the man of African descent in the same way. In spite the inaccuracy of the man of Latino descent’s claim, the accusation was still troubling. It wasn’t the first time I’ve been accused of being racist. I once greatly offended a man of African descent by calling him “brother”. I can still hear the words coming out of my mouth: “And how old would that make you, brother?” I understand such a word out of a “white” person’s mouth may be viewed as mocking or even racist. But that’s kind of the point. Why does the color of my skin determine what I can and can’t say to someone? Why is it the term “nigger” out of my mouth is considered racist while the same term out of the mouth of one with darker skin may be considered a term of familiarity? I, personally, did not enslave anyone. Why am I lumped in with my ancestors? I believe our continents of familial origin will only matter as long as we let it. Because, when we get down to it, we are all one big family.

“Race” – A Social Construct

race in Science

race (rās)  
“Any of several extensive human populations associated with broadly defined regions of the world and distinguished from one another on the basis of inheritable physical characteristics, traditionally conceived as including such traits as pigmentation, hair texture, and facial features. Because the number of genes responsible for such physical variations is tiny in comparison to the size of the human genome and because genetic variation among members of a traditionally recognized racial group is generally as great as between two such groups, most scientists now consider race to be primarily a social rather than a scientific concept.” (http://www.dictionary.com/browse/race)
But this social construct has had real-word effects. According to an article entitled “Understanding the Black-White Earnings Gap”, “Today, African American men working full time and year round have 72 percent of the average earnings of comparable white men. For African American and white women, the ratio is 85 percent. And during good times and bad, the black unemployment rate is typically stuck at about double the white rate.” (http://prospect.org/article/understanding-black-white-earnings-gap)
We are not innately different. We make ourselves different by believing we are. I wasn’t born “white”. I was taught I was. I believe the difference will disappear when we stop believing in it. It is created by our social division, our idea that it is us and them, our idea that we are innately different. When we come together as a people and say “Your problem is my problem, because we are the same”, we will no longer have the need for this idea of “race”.

An Agape Tipping Point

Love for another can inspire fear, fear for the other’s safety, fear of losing the love. Love inspires a closeness which enables the other to hurt us in a way others can’t. But love for all others, agape love, eclipses any fear. Agape love says we are all one, all a part of God. Agape love says what’s mine is yours. Agape love says open the borders and let the world’s problems be our problems. Fear says we must protect ourselves from those that wish to do us harm. But real love inspires us to love those who wish to do us harm. This life is temporary. Acting out of fear as means of extending it by a few decades does little on the global scale. But making the shift toward love, even at the cost of these temporary lives, could change the world immeasurably for the better. True love refuses to fear, even those who wish to act on our behalf out of fear. It is in this spirit that I will announce my love for the two remaining presidential candidates. Small love says they may hurt us by acting out of fear. But agape love recognizes pain is in the mind. Our interpretation of the world is what we make it. Even a thing like pain is relative. A shift toward love could bring peace to everyone. But this only works if everyone adheres. In spite the understanding that others will continue to allow fear to motivate them, I will go down with the ship, attempting to be the change I want to see in the world. Maybe, if enough of us make this shift, we will have a tipping point effect.