The Radicalization Of America

Go get a drink, I’ll wait.

I have to start this post by adding to my disclaimer. This post is in no way an attack on America, the military, police, men, religion, race or politics. I am just trying to figure out something in my head and this exercise is always easier when I write. I put ideas in this blog so that others can expand upon them, I don’t try to put this out there to be a contrarian in any way. In fact what I want to do is be constructive.

All the talk of radicalization of Muslims has made me start thinking of something just a pervasive, the radicalization of America. While Donald Trump is doing a great job at exposing it, we cannot blame him for radicalizing the country. The first glimpses of it was when I watched the movie American Sniper. It simplified the world into sheep, wolves and sheep dogs. When you do dig deeper into the origin of the quote you find that it was a little more complex of an idea by a Lieutenant Colonel.

If you have no capacity for violence then you are a healthy productive citizen: a sheep. If you have a capacity for violence and no empathy for your fellow citizens, then you have defined an aggressive sociopath—a wolf. But what if you have a capacity for violence, and a deep love for your fellow citizens? Then you are a sheepdog, a warrior, someone who is walking the hero’s path.

David Grossman

I went to high school in the Chicago area, gangs were a reality there. Besides learning about colors and how I had to be careful what and who i said it to, the thing that stuck with me the most is why people joined gangs. The need to belong and be protected is natural in most people. A family provides that for most of us, but what happens when you don’t have a strong family structure. You fall prey to the mentality of I need someone to provide that sense of family. The same can be said about community.

We all marvel at what ISIL (who I like to call Daish since it suposedly pisses them off) has been able to do to recruit and radicalize people into horrible atrocities. Are we maybe missing the mark by not seeing what is being done with our own population?

A recent trend has the introduction and use of the term “soft target” aka sheep. If you associate the very negative connotation of children being murdered that should be enough to end the gun control talk with most, but that did not happen. I have a theory as to why it did not.

Guns in this country are part of the culture. One thing people don’t think about is that also part of the culture is the “hero” and “warrior” mentality. To a certain degree it is also something most people associate with manhood.

As a parent now I have become even more protective than I was before. I always though of myself as a guardian and martial arts always thought me about self defense. I never felt that the best defense is offense. Avoidance was always preferable to confrontation, specially if I had the upper hand. However, that is not what our military programs people to do. I don’t have statistics of how different the post deployment debriefing is compared to WWII, but the fact that there is a fast track between military service to police department and a mix of PTSD and you have in my opinion a recipe for disaster.

I have seen a trend this last year of using memes to hook people into ideologies, not from ISIS but from veteran groups. The first meme starts with a simple, take care of our troops before you take care of refuges. Not a position I would ever take but I can see how it rings true with some people. Then the next one from that same source is more radical, a veteran relaxed with the text; just let me know when I can start shooting people. Then the cherry on top is a block text proclamation of “We are full, F@ck off!”

I have seen this stuff re-shared by people I know. I’ve been wrecking my brain trying to figure out how xenophobia is spread so easily. Then it hit me, we are being pushed into a warrior class again rather than guardians. Yes I also loop cops into this conversation and here is why.

Warrior class is something that modern warfare had made something of the past. I’m not saying that every person that joins the military does so because he/she wants to become a warrior. Most of them do though, and some of them end up eventually being our police. Also, some of those police officers also have the warrior mentality in them. Not just protect and serve, which is supposed to be the motto.

I also take that one step further. Most people don’t want to be a sheep, and what makes you feel powerful and not vulnerable? A gun. The moment someone threatens to take that gun away, they are basically making you into sheep because you are not a wolf, you have to be a sheep.

America is being radicalized into thinking that guns are the only thing that is keeping you from being a victim. First it was just for home safety from robbers. Now it has grown up to terrorism. Next will be from your own government. This country is little by little being told a lie that in the end is just about someone making more money.

Logos

When people hear the term Philosophy they often think of either a course they didn’t ever want to take, or that blow-off subject about a bunch of old dudes. What most don’t realize is that they are being fed philosophy in many ways, even by pop culture.

I hope I can safely assume that everyone has heard the word Logic. That word comes from another one, Logos, which has many meanings through history but the one that I want to discuss today is the one that Aristotle gave it.

Before I lose you, did you know that the film The Matrix models Plato’s Allegory of the cave? Aristotle was Plato’s student, and The Republic has given a lot to pop culture, from dystopias to utopias. If you read The Hunger Games, the idea of a society divided by what their people produce or do for a living is right out of The Republic.

Rhetoric has become even a bad word in modern politics. I think a lot of the people that use the word don’t even understand where it came from.

Aristotle wrote the treatise on rhetoric. So before I am accused of using long words that I don’t understand, treatise is like an essay but more in depth; think of writing a thesis. So Aristotle is the dude who wrote the handbook on how to bullshit!

Rhetoric is the art of discourse, an art that aims to improve the facility of speakers or writers who attempt to inform, persuade, or motivate particular audiences in specific situations.

While all of this has in some ways been tainted by our negative connotation of politics, it is not just about that. You can pretty much argue about anything, and the ancient philosophers used to. We don’t do that enough. We almost sit complacent on the thought that everything has been figured out for us. But, logos is what puts humans above the other animals.

So what the heck is Logos?

Well, on his bullshit handbook, Aristotle talked about the modes of persuasion: Logos, pathos and ethos.

Every single time you are trying to convince someone of something using language you are using logos. When you tell your spouse that you should eat at closest and cheapest restaurant you are using speech laced with logic.

When you try to convince someone that you have high moral character (or know more than they do, LOL) you are using ethos. So this is kind of what preachers or a college professor. We listen to them because they should know better than us, that is how they persuade us.

Pathos is when you try to appeal to someone’s emotions. Trying to put someone in an specific state of mind. I think this one is the one that has given politics a bad name, because you can use fear to drive your point home. Any human emotion really, so even a comedian is using a form of persuasion.

I often use pathos and metaphors when talking about a subject. Being able to relate is something that makes others able to understand the message you are trying to convey. That said, nothing beats logic. I don’t think that until you have an argument and simmer it down to pure logic is it really resolved or put to rest.

A lot of my conversations with my friends lately have been all about the logos. And there is a post about faith and worship coming up thanks to one of those conversations. Hopefully this post can help frame some things to come. Maybe it just shows to my teacher that at least I was not sleeping during my entire philosophy class.

Why the American dream is a lie that only Americans believe

Before I get into the article, I find it very interesting that a corporate firewall would block a site like my friend’s Oso’s as political/activist but lets drudge go right through.

My relationship with America as a country is a complicated one. I am an American. I have the citizenship and passport to prove it. However, I am not happy with the status quo and even angry at times for what this country does, not so much to the world but to its own people. I also long ago stopped believe that this was the best country in the world because I found the view not just inaccurate but myopic and even at times absurd. How can the best country in the world let the aftermath of Katrina happen?

Today I want to talk about the American dream, and something that conversation with one of my best friends brought out this week. There is a huge disparity between what the American dream means to an immigrant and what it means to an American. While both of them are hard to achieve, one is not just unrealistic but a flat out lie.

The American dream to an immigrant is that they will be able to feed, cloth and educate their children. That they will have the opportunity to get a job and earn a good wage in an honest way. I don’t think many immigrants come to this country believing that it will require no work or that it will be astronomical.

Not everyone can be a winner. Not everyone can be Donal Trump. Not everyone can be a sports or TV start. Not everyone can be a celebrity.

I never considered this before, but it seems that a lot in America believe they can become Rockefeller. That his story is not only possible but almost guaranteed! and that could not be further from the truth. No wonder the sense of entitlement so many people feel. Even through hard work, astronomical rise to fame and fortune is not easy to attain or sustain.

If that is what American’s believe, that everyone can be in the 1%, then the American dream as presented to them is a lie.

Capitalism is very cruel because failure is very punishing. You invest, you fail, you lose. In order for there to be winners, there has to be losers.

What frightens me the most is that the middle class is being eroded, and nobody seems to be noticing the trend. You can look to your neighbors to the south, not just Mexico but all of Latin America and you can clearly see that when you do away with the middle class, the economic system breaks down. See the huge difference between Argentina and Brazil. I mean Brazil is now lending money to the IMF.

Wake up people. If you continue to think that the country is the best one in the world and don’t pay close attention to what has failed around you, this country will end up in the same situation. I guess as long as everyone is entertained and with a full belly, we will all be ok. Having celebrities is way more important than being sold a dream that is really not attainable by everyone.

Obama calls Nobel Peace Prize is ‘call to action’

As much as I don’t like talking about politics I and very excited that Obama won the Nobel Peace Prize.

While I know that the talking heads will cheapen the significance of an international body recognizing a person for their efforts in fomenting peace, it vindicated one of the main reasons for I voted for this man.

I believed from day one that his election as president would show the world community that WE as a nation of many backgrounds had a MAYORITY of people that believed in change, that believed that we were at war with TERRORISM and not with ISLAM.

I applaud Obama’s reaction as a call to action as he works hard to get our house in order still does not forget that a world not a piece will only bring more issues back to the US.

I am proud to have voted for Obama, and even more so that the world sees that change will bring peace.