Thursday, February 2, 2017

How to avoid cruel and unusual punishment

It was bad enough getting my teeth cleaned by a less-than-gentle dental hygienist, ouch. What made it worse was the television on the ceiling of the room that was playing the U.S. President's press secretary speaking to the media while my teeth were scraped and scaled. When I told a friend about this morning's experience of being a captive audience in a dentist's chair, she laughed and said, "double cruel and unusual punishment, for sure!"

Like many people, I'm trying my best to find some good in Donald Trump -- or at least trying not to get into rants about him. I grew up hearing Thumper the Rabbit's voice (in Bambi) saying, "If you can't say somethin' nice, don't say nuthin' at all," though I now temper that phrase with Edmund Burke's "The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good [people] to do nothing." My best theory about this whole situation is that perhaps the Holy Spirit is allowing the present president to teach the world that we can't wait for presidents to make the world a better place; we also have to engage in improving ourselves and the situations where we can make a difference, and speak up for those without a voice.

So far I've managed to avoid signing the many on-line petitions of complaint against the man (what will they prove, really?) and I'm watching what I say about him because I believe that all the nasty badmouthing of both sides in the last year or so seems to be what got us here in the first place. But with all the negative and fear-based things happening in the first few weeks of this presidency, it's really difficult not to continually assume that the worst will happen, especially when so many lies are flying around (and so many refugees who have already gone through "extreme vetting" and have valid visas are waiting for the U.S. borders to reopen).

When I first saw the video below, I was put off by the negative and mocking tone of the speaker -- but a few days further on, I'm thinking he makes some valid points, especially after seeing this morning's press conference. If the President continues to use the media to market and push some of the lies he's using to support his agenda the way he has been, it's definitely within the media's rights to push back -- to "pause the tape" and do some fact-checking so that the truth may be heard (more than) twice as often as the lies. Some of the world's present problems lie in the fact that so many people accept whatever the loudest or most "official" voice says. We can't even hear the truth any more.

But truth, if it is true, doesn't have to be loud and pushy. It is clearly "official" because it manifests itself in beauty, goodness, generosity, kindness, and understanding. If we don't want to live with at least four more years of this "cruel and unusual punishment," of lies and the backlash they create, we need to move into a more positive place. So how do we convince each other of the truth? Not with the angry voices of the President or Keith Olberman in the video, but maybe with some honest facts coupled with a lot of compassion -- and plenty of action to reveal lies for what they are.

What do you think?

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