Warped Rationales

So I know that in my last post I preambled that I don’t intend to post too much political opinion on this blog, but seeing as this has to do with perspectives and changing your mindset and all that good stuff that this blog was supposed to be about… here goes nothing.

It continues to amaze me the warped rationales that people have in this country in regards to politics.  You could be talking to someone who seems completely rational, and as soon as something slightly political comes up, they turn into a ranting raving lunatic.  Why is it that we put so much energy into things so far beyond our control?  It’s one thing if you’re an activist and your passionate about your work, but if you’re not involved in politics at all and just enjoy having an opinion, why do you have to shout it at the top of your lungs?

I like to think of myself as pretty middle-of-the-road, but I’ll admit that my beliefs are more liberally-aligned than not.  I’m from a very conservative community in southern Louisiana, so I was pretty liberal there, but I live in Los Angeles now and I feel more conservative than ever when I’m here.  I don’t eat vegan or even vegetarian (the animals we eat only exist because we breed them for eating.  Ever seen a wild cow or chicken?  No?  That’s because they wouldn’t survive!  They’d be eaten.  By other animals.) , I think that labeling food “organic” or “all-natural” is just a way for businesses to jack up prices, and I was opposed to Prop 37, which would have required genetically modified food to be labelled as such, driving customers away from those products.  Personally, I think genetically modified food is a crowning human achievement, and we don’t use it to its full extent.  If someone could genetically modify pizza to have all the vitamins and nutrients to make me healthy, I would be in paradise!  Granted most producers use it to simply grow bigger, more abundant food, but if it helps out local farmers, I say go for it; we’re losing a food battle to China right now.  Also I believe its your own responsibility to research the food you buy if you’re that concerned about it.

Anyways, back to the point.  Generally I find extremism on either side of the political spectrum to be absurd, but somehow there’s something more endearing to me about a flag-burning revolutionary anarchist or a pot-smoking hippie than a racist homophobic redneck or an old white billionaire with a monocle puffing on a cigar (not to stereotype extremists, but… no you know what, fuck ’em).  I don’t think that bringing down corporations or redistributing wealth is a good solution; it’s true that we need multi-billion dollar businesses to drive our economy by making investments and so on.  But I also don’t think that completely cutting out any program that benefits the poor is practical at all.  So there’s warped rationales on either end of the spectrum, yet somehow it seems the the conservative extreme is more permeating and publicized than the liberal extreme.  Maybe it’s simply that conservatives are more vocal about their opinions than liberals, or maybe the liberal opinion lends itself towards bowing out of political discussions altogether, and so is rarely heard.  So I apologize if this post is aimed mostly toward dispelling extreme conservative ideals, but it’s what I find myself bombarded by the most so I have to say something about it.

The rationale that some people use to justify their political opinions flies in the face of logical thinking, and oftentimes the individual’s own personal beliefs.  It seems so backwards to me that people let political agendas guide their personal beliefs instead of the other way around.  One of these hypocricies that continues to baffle me is the gargantuan amounts of ‘Christian conservatives’ who argue against welfare and other benefits to the poor.  Maybe it’s just me, but doesn’t that contradict just about EVERYTHING that Jesus taught?  It seems so strange that a religion that’s based entirely on helping the poor has become associated with the political party that is so oppositely aligned.

Aside from contradicting personal beliefs, there are some ‘political’ opinions out there that contradict good solid facts.  The ever-popular conservative belief that the poor are poor and the rich are rich because the rich work hard and the poor are slackers, is just flat out absurd.  One look at a history book will tell you the exact opposite.  The Pharaoh didn’t build the pyramids, he ordered his subjects to build them while he sat on his throne and was fanned with palm leaves or whatever.  Now it is a blessing that we live in a time when you can rise on the socioeconomic ladder if you are determined enough, but on a large scale, the historical trend of the rich reaping the benefits of the poor still reigns true.  The entirety of history is a struggle for power.  Even before humans rose to be the dominant species, the whole of life was a struggle to get as much food as possible.  As soon as we invented money, it became an externalization of power amongst ourselves.  Now we’ve spent the last 500 years trying to decentralize power in our societies and make it easier for more people to live comfortably.  Yet there’s a ‘survival of the fittest’ mentality among conservatives that seems to me like back-pedaling.  If we let our societies be governed by those principles, we end up in the dark ages where people are murdering their brothers to become king, not to mention a stagnant socioeconomic scale with absolutely no upward mobility.  Survival of the fittest is the law of nature, and we as human beings have done nothing but try to separate ourselves from nature ever since we first started building houses to live in.  The point of any society, even among animals, is to protect the weaker individuals and provide for the well-being of all members of the group.  We didn’t become the dominant species on earth by letting our poor or our weak die in the street, we did it by helping each other out and knowing that every human has something to contribute to our society.

But if you don’t feel like talking in generalities, let’s get specific.  My father worked his ass off his entire life and started a chain of physical therapy and rehabilitation clinics in New Orleans.  I came to find out later that my father was on the verge of being able to sell his company for enough money for he and my mother to retire comfortably.  However, in 2005, Hurricane Katrina came along, knocking out two of his offices right away, and causing another two to shut down due to poor business in the aftermath.  As they started to lose income, my mother started working in real estate, taking advice from her friends who were all having great success.  Unfortunately, she decided to do this right before the housing market collapsed.  Compounding on all of that, my brother and my sister and I all started college within the next three years.  My father would be damned if he was going to let this setback prevent his kids from going to good colleges, so in order to help pay my tuition, he applied for a Pell Grant.  It was not long into Obama’s presidency, and not long into my tenure at college, that I heard conservatives bashing Pell Grants and other “entitlements” as being reserved for lazy slackers on welfare.  Now, anyone who knows my father would tell you he is the opposite of a slacker.  He’s a workaholic.  He worked his ass off his entire life and he continues to do so.  He applied for a government grant because he NEEDED to.  Like most people who acquire entitlements NEED them.  Sure, there were always be a percentage of people who are lazy and collect welfare in order to get by, but that doesn’t mean we should punish everyone else for it.  We don’t take away tax incentives because some millionaires choose to abuse them to launder their money, do we?

The most recent political atrocity is the renewed interest in gun control in the wake of the Sandy Hook shooting.  The tragedy was barely over before people started spouting their political agendas all over the media.  Can’t we have a second as a country to mourn the death of children before we’re at each other’s throats again?  It’s completely natural to want to find someone or something to blame for a tragedy of this magnitude, so it’s easy to understand why the victims’ families and community are calling for action on gun control policy.  But some of the backlash they received almost immediately from opponents to gun control was frankly disgusting.  These people are bereaved beyond anything most of us can imagine, yet some people didn’t so much as hesitate before calling them ‘unconstitutional’ or ‘un-American.’  If you’re friend’s dad died of lung cancer, you wouldn’t immediately pull out a cigarette and start puffing away, would you?  You’d probably stop smoking around him for a good while wouldn’t you?  So let these people have their say, for God’s sake.  Personally I think that the harder it is to get a gun, the better.  If you are an enthusiast or you are truly concerned for your own protection, there will always be proper avenues to go through to get firearms.  However, I don’t think any amount of gun control can stop a determined psychopath from committing tragedies like this.  It’s hard to hear, but sometimes there just isn’t an easy solution to problems like this.  We can’t keep tabs on everyone who seems a little depressed, and we can’t start arming teachers as some people have suggested.  (If any of the teachers I had growing up had a gun in class, I probably would have been shot by now.)  I’m not opposed to providing schools with trained law enforcement officials or even private security, but it’s a sad fact that some schools simply can’t afford to do that.  Like most other problems, the solution to this one lies within each of us.  If we can simply provide a more supportive and encouraging environment to young people, and people in general, than there wouldn’t be incidents like this.  Whatever government action is taken from here on out, just know that the only real way to stop people from hating is to love them.

So once again, I apologize if this post is a little biased, but it’s in response to numerous ridiculous ideologies I encounter on a regular basis.  Call me crazy, but I just like to organize my thoughts calmly rather than to shout them out at the top of my lungs.  Thanks for reading and please feel free to argue with me as much as you want. Peace!

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3 thoughts on “Warped Rationales

  1. And then there is the example of BP’s handling of costs incurred by coastline entrepreneurs (mom and pop self-made businesses now gone forever). I agree with you on the misapplication of certain libertarian views by the richest corporations which owe a great deal of their success to legal protections, not Darwinian ‘fitness’.

    • Wealthy individuals even have a skewed view of their own success. While it’s true that they wouldn’t be successful if they didn’t work hard, it’s naive of them to give themselves all of the credit. There was a great article about the difference in mindsets of the middle vs. upper classes, but whoever posted it must have deleted their blog. The other side of the coin is that middle-class individuals often think of their lives as being controlled by superior forces, and so they trap themselves in their current position. People from all classes need to realize that success is equal parts hard work and good fortune.

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