Awareness

Responding to Hate

beyond hate

The tragic events last week in Charlottesville, Virginia stand as a reminder that the actions of some of us express staunch opposition to what we might call Good.   Steve Tanner, writing under the umbrella of 500 Pens: an anti-hate news project, offers an annotated list of thoughtful actions we might take when confronting hate in EveryDayLife.  In Mr. Tanner’s own words:

By arming ourselves with a solid understanding of best practices, we can all be ready to respond properly — and safely — when acts of hate unfold before our eyes. Every situation is unique, but the following list is meant to serve as a guide for how to best respond to acts of hatred and bigotry.  ~Steve Tanner 

His brief list of suggestions includes the following.

  • Draw Attention Away From Hateful Protests and Demonstrations
  • Do Not Engage with the Attackers
  • Focus on Protecting the Attacked Person
  • Alert the Police and Other Authorities When Appropriate
  • Prepare in Advance

Food for thought:  Consider the principle of the “golden rule” which appears in some form in almost all major religions and which forms the basis of Good to which this blog often refers.  Does a “hate stance” espoused by a group seeking to exclude others fall within the definition of a golden rule-type Good?  (Do not answer too quickly.  This so-called golden rule is not the same as “live and let live”.)

For example, a white supremacist might be perfectly willing to live in peace as long as non-white folks (and in some cases Jews) live elsewhere.  While some hate groups essentially preach genocide, others simply do not want to have to deal with others they do not considers to be “us”.  Is this a non-Good stance?  What are the criteria for Good?  How can we effectively express Good—treating others as we wish to be treated—in a pluralistic society? Perhaps the deeper question is this: What are the requirements for a pluralistic society sustaining itself within the idea of Good? What does freedom look like in such a context?


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Metaphor as Identity as Metaphor…

We know from neuroscience that most thought is unconscious, carried out by neural circuitry. In Metaphors We Live By, Mark Johnson and I showed that much of that unconscious thought is metaphorical, and further, that we often live our lives according to those metaphors.

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So says George Lakoff, neuroscientist and linguist.  Mr. Lakoff recently posted an article in which he presents his take on the nature and implications of a primary metaphor driving the person currently occupying the oval office.  Mr. Lakoff’s central premise is that POTUS 2017 operates according to the assumption “the president is the nation”.   The “meaning” of the phrase itself, out of context, presents very little significance.   However, the true meaning of such a metaphor only appears in the expressed attitudes and behaviors that ensue from it.  Assuming the Lakoff depiction is accurate, an important question arises:  how might a person who suddenly finds himself in the most power office in the world behave as a result of the validation offered by the new found title “President of the United States”?

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The article describes an interesting psychological configuration as it plays out in specific desires, decisions, and communications delivered through the current White House occupant’s tweets.  Perhaps what is most interesting is not what Mr. Lakoff has to say about POTUS 2017, but how the psychological structure of what he is proposing might (and probably is) operative in ourselves.   How much does self-identification by this person in the chief executive’s seat parallel our own understanding of ourselves?   On a deeper level, to what degree does our reaction to the current person posing as the 45th president reflect our own attitudes toward the world in general rather than toward any specific person? Similarly, what might be the metaphor operating in each of us as we assess the various reported events presented by the news media?  When we react in defense of the office of this loser president, for instance, to what degree are we actually reacting to feelings about ourselves, our own fears and our own need for self-protection?  Similarly, when we reject actions and statements relative to the current regime, to what degree are we not reacting to any particular person, but rather, to our own sense of indignation and sense of violation regarding the general state of affairs in the United States?

When Mr. Lakoff says something like “We need to reveal the existence of the metaphor”, we should hear the statement not so much as a discovery of something unknown to us, but as a paradigmatic manner in which we all encode and perpetuate what we believe to be real. We need to identify our own metaphors. What do you believe to be the central metaphor driving your life?  When you say “I am a <fill in the blank>, what are you actually attempting to communicate to the world, and, more importantly, to yourself?  If your description of <fill in the blank> is accurate, what assumptions do you habitually make because of this, your, particular metaphor? Are you a beacon of what a person should be (by your own standards)?  How do you know your guiding metaphor actually is what you think it is?

Suggestion: Read through the Lakoff article focusing on your life situation and the ways in which your behavior and attitudes “play out”.  We too often relate to depictions of people and current events as if we are watching a movie, as if the world comes to us as entertainment.  Most important, we too often allow these depictions to remain in the realm of “other”, as if they are not about us.  We allow the stories to be about them, written by them, presented by someone else.  Doing so, we can easily judge—either the person or situation that forms the focus of the presentation or the author or medium presenting the ideas.  In this case, forget POTUS 2017.  Reality–for each of us individually and collectively–is so much larger than such a person.  Forget George Lakoff.  You might accept or reject his ideas.  But what about you? What about us?


George P. Lakoff is an American cognitive linguist and philosopher, best known for his thesis that lives of individuals are significantly influenced by the central metaphors they use to explain complex phenomena. (Wikipedia)

Update: WikiTribune – On its way!

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Remember the seekingGood teaser about the crowdfunding endeavor for WikiTribune, a new evidence-based journalistic initiative launched by Jimmy Wales (one of the founders of wikipedia)?  The group behind WikiTribune reached their funding goal and has entered the next phase of the project.  Take a peek here if you would like a more general update on what is going on with WikiTribune.

More specifically, as of August 3rd, 2017, WikiTribune has hired three journalists and an editor, all of whom you might like to know more about.

Journalists: Holly, Harry & Linh

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Holly Brockwell: Former freelance journalist and tech writer from Nottingham, England. She is apparently fairly smart, having joined MENSA at age 12.  When she heard about the WikiTribune endeavor, Holly jumped at the chance to approach journalism in a wholly new way, to transcend its current limitations.

You can read more about Holly on her website.


Harry Ridgewell: Harry will be working on stories related to science and politics. Harry would like the practice of journalists referencing their presented facts (that is, posting their sources) to become an industry standard. Everybody tell the truth—a refreshing, albeit utopian idea. Perhaps it is just what we need in these dystopian times.

You can follow Harry on Twitter.


Linh Nguyen: An observer of trends, during her tenure at WIkiTribune, Linh hopes to cover “economic policy, human rights, mental health, foreign affairs, politics and the social side of tech”.

A free media is one of the pillars of democracy, and we must fight to sustain it
~ Linh Nguyen

You can follow Linh on her website.


Editor: Peter Bale

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A former editor for Reuters, Peter is an international journalist and a former CEO of Center for Public Integrity.  He is currently the President of Global Editors’ Network.   “Jimmy Wales has a history of creating web products with immense social value built on a commitment to engaging a global community of contributors. He understands the value of journalism to society and at the same time wants to revolutionize the approach to reporting on and explaining the big issues of our time. … It’s a privilege to work with him and a team of innovative journalists, developers and communicators to launch WikiTribune.”

You can follow Peter on Twitter.


WikiTribune plans to launch in September of this year.

 

Consider a Think Tank

The seekingGood.blog has endeavored to provide useful information such that readers might expand their understanding of themselves and their overall knowledge as well as to subsequently act in accordance with the “Good” they individually manage to determine. This blog has offered repeated admonishments to “find out for yourself”, to do your own investigations.  Furthermore, while this is a decidedly left-leaning blog, we have also endeavored to encourage open-mindedness, exploration of competing ideas and transcendence of the comforting limits of habitual ways of thinking.  In this light, consider the following.

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[IMAGE from ClipartFest]

Introduction

Governments do not think.  People think.  Think tanks represent people thinking collectively.  Governments implement and enforce policies.  Regardless how much thinking individuals do, most will have little direct impact on public policy issues.  Think tanks—collections of thinking people–often help to develop or influence public policies. (more…)

Are We Prepared?

Make no mistake about it – enlightenment is a destructive process. It has nothing to do with becoming better or being happier. Enlightenment is the crumbling away of untruth. It’s seeing through the facade of pretense. It’s the complete eradication of everything we imagined to be true.      ~ Adyashanti


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Naomi Klein: “The worst is yet to come!”

What happens when disaster strikes?  What do we do when all normalcy ceases?  To whom do we turn when events like the recent Manchester bombing, the Paris attack or events like those on the morning of September 11th, 2001 in New York occur?  In her new book, No is Not Enough, activist and author Naomi Klein encourages us to be prepared for such disasters—which she calls “shock” events—not so much for the event itself but for likely actions by the U.S. government in the wake of these occurrences.

In the video below, Amy Goodman of DemocracyNow! interviews Naomi Klein about her book Naomi Klein Interview.PNGand the general proposal that in the wake of a cataclysmic event, the U.S. government is likely to invoke a series of actions designed to tighten control of the general public.  Under the guise of national security relative to a shock event, the government is likely to suspending civil liberties, human rights and the right to privacy.  (Part 2 of the interview begins at approximately the 2:20 minute mark and lasts about 15 minutes).  In addition to the usual question and answer format, the interview presents a video within the video.  In the internal video, produced by the Intercept, Naomi describes a five step preparedness toolkit. She urges us to anticipate an inevitable crises, at which time we need to be prepared to mobilize rather than comply with the government’s attempts to  contain us—the keep us in our homes, for instance, “for our own safety”.  We need to be mindful of the history of the previous U.S. government’s uncharacteristically freedom-destroying responses such as internment of Japanese-Americans during WWI, deportation of Mexicans and Mexican-Americans in the early 1930’s and abandonment of freed slaves in the wake of the Civil War. (more…)

July 12, 2017

This date – Wednesday, July 12, 2017 – has been designated by several organizations as aNational Day of Action” regarding the future of the Internet.  A large number of websites and companies have planned a protest against the attempts by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to undercut the current Internet freedom we enjoy.   The issue is what most of us know as “net neutrality”.

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In a previous post on the seekingGood.blog (May 11th, 2017), we described a proposal engineered by current FCC chair Ajit Pai in which he is seeking to reclassify telecommunication companies. Of course, such changes do nothing in themselves. However, Pai’s proposal, once implemented, releases telecom companies from their obligation to refrain from restricting access to any Internet site–either through denial of service, slowing down that service, or by instituting pay walls to access content.

Whose Freedom?

Remember when many of us went through a “cable cutting” phase?  The proposed rule changes will essentially give telecommunications companies the ability to turn the Internet into a collection of Internet companies–structured like cable companies–leaving us with no escape.  Even with regulations, several of these companies have unlawfully attempted content manipulation.  With no restrictions, telecoms can essentiallynet neutrality outquote.png own the Internet, behaving as they choose, forcing us to pay for what we now access freely.  Additionally, consider the manner in which we have come to voice our opinions.  We do not post notes on a message board in the public square.  We seldom write letters to elected officials to be delivered days later through snail mail.  And most of us do not take to the streets in protest of current governmental decisions.  For most of us, speaking against what we do not like or do not accept has become a matter of expressing ourselves electronically.  The demise of net neutrality also means the death of free electronic speech.

Thankfully, there is already bipartisan support for preserving net neutrality.  Still, nothing is guaranteed.  The more We, the People express our ideas to the government, the more that government is likely to ponder its actions as our representatives.  Wouldn’t it be a shame if our silence tacitly validated some last minute, backdoor deal to allow telecom companies to steal the Internet?

Think this will all just go away? Or do you need more convincing?   Take a look at this video for a general idea of what could happen to your Internet access.
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… or how about this one.

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Finally, look at this one (perhaps the simplest and the best).

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Defend net neutrality!


On July 12th, companies and organizations like Reddit, Netflix, Kickstarter, Vimeo, Amazon, The Nation and the ACLU among many others will participate in an online protest.  To find out more details, sign up here.

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Speak Out!

To let the FCC know your thoughts about potentially losing Internet freedom, follow the specific instructions, (originally posted by the Popular Resistance website) listed below:

Here are step-by-step instructions to help you submit a comment to the FCC.

  1. Click here to go to the page for Express Filings of comments. This is the simplest format to use.
  2. Type 17-108 into the top box called “Proceeding(s)”. Yes, in this Orweillian world Pai did title the proposal to end Internet freedom “Restoring Internet Freedom”. It should be called “Promoting Telecom Thievery”.
  3. Fill out the rest of the form. Yes, you do have to provide your address in order to be counted.
  4. Type your comment into the box at the bottom. See the advice [below] from Tech Crunch (midway down the page at this link).
  5. Review your submission and once you are satisfied, click on the ”submit” button at the bottom of the screen.

The window for your comments closes on July 17th – just a few weeks from now.  Voice your ideas!


Amy Kroin, Editor, edits all Free Press and Free Press Action Fund communications. She also edits and monitors the Free Press website and creates campaign, educational and outreach materials. Before joining Free Press, Amy served as a writer and editor for a division of Pearson, the media and education company, and earlier served as the arts editor of the Valley Advocate.

 

 

…Say Something

We expect the ordinary.  As much as we crave excitement and thrills, as much as we would love to live on a steady diet of novelty, we usually assume nothing special will happen in our lives.  All those controversies we read about happen to other people—until they happen to us.  Those of us in lower Manhattan on the morning of September 11th, 2001 certainly have had a change of heart on this matter.  Some of us—including some of us in the seekingGood collective—hold positions “inside” various government, educational and financial organizations in which all kinds of things could occur.  These potential events include a variety of nefarious machinations that should be brought to the light of public scrutiny.

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ProPublica, one of the best, most respected investigative journalism organizations, has done much to shine a light on shady dealings in various corners of society.  They have provided specific methods so we can  anonymously submit to them anything we might uncover.

So if you see something…