Tuesday, September 20, 2016

A "needed" break in takling about the election.

Here is a question and my answer to a question posed me two months ago on my Ask Me Anything (AMA) Reddit dialogue system.  I thought it was time to take a break in looking at the election - (I get more and more depressed as I see Trump's numbers rising!)

I've truly been impressed by the thoughtful questions posed me.  I just wish I had more time to answer them more quickly and give more time to giving thoughtful answers - I merely dictate thoughts that come into my head.  

Here's a question that came to me and the answer I gave. I thought others might be interested.

The question: 

Honestly, I've got a thousand questions I'd love to ask you. But, since I'm sure you've got a flood, I'll pick the three I'd love for you to answer. I'm a biology major intending to go into aging research to discover why we age, how we age, and ultimately how we can control the aging process. So, my first question is fairly predictable. If you could live another 90 years (in, say, the health of a 50-year-old), would you? Another 900?
Second, you were an adult in a time when prejudice regarding race, sexuality, and religion were incredibly blatant and really were systemic oppression, fully encoded into US law. A great many older folks (I live in the American South, so my sample size may be skewed) still hold ideologies of decades gone by. Would you say your perceptions of race, sexuality, and religion have changed over the years? You seem very progressive in such areas, so I'd love to hear about how you were back when you were 20-30.
Third, what do you most want to live long enough to see? If there was anything you wanted to happen in your lifetime that you would die happy if you could see, what would it be? Has it already happened, or is it yet to come?

And so my answer:

[–]dcretiree [S1 point just now 
First of all I must say that it's the opportunity to relate to young people that is one of the major factors in my allegedly youthful demeanor and condition. Your questions are quite fascinating and so I'll just ruminate – and probably make mistakes – on my Dragon dictation machine.
  1. Live another 90 years? Not if Trump is elected! I do have trouble with hypotheticals, but I almost feel that nature – plus reasonable medical assistance – has provided an ideal life span – for me at least. Human intelligence has not created proper vehicles – yet at least – for meaningful existence of so many more people to live on this planet.
  2. I to was brought up in the South until I went into the military at age 17 for three years. And while I did not participate in furthering civil rights, "something innate within me" kept me from the blatant racism that was present in San Antonio in the 30s and 40s. I attributed to two things – a. Parents, although they only had a fifth and an eighth grade education, never showed any racial hostility, and b. A liberal mainline church that gave emphasis to the TEACHINGS of Jesus. The one area in which I have changed the most is in the field of gay and lesbian acceptance. As a child my only concept of gay men was that they were predators of boys – and with three aunts who never married but had scores of female friends, I never even knew the term lesbian. Fortunately my life experiences have  changed my attitude completely.
  3. I would die tomorrow with a smile on my face if the nations of the world would support a United Nations organization that would be strong enough to stop war and solve all disputes through arbitration.
Thanks for asking.

PS – for this rant: In rereading this I note that I give short shrift to religion other than emphasizing the importance of the teachings of Jesus. I do not want to minimize how dramatically my perception of religion has changed. While religion is still central in my life, I approach it as an agnostic atheist. I do not believe in the God that was projected to me throughout my formative years, but feel there is some mysterious "force" that attracts ALL peoples to the good. Personally I appreciate and support the good work of "all enlightened religious institutions" but feel that all religions – at least those based on love and peace – have much to offer in the way of instilling constructive life values.

Thus you see the enjoyment I have in sharing thoughts with the thousand or so young people through Reddit.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Lessons from the conservative side of Bobby Kennedy!

Some hurried thoughts from a new biography of the life of Robert F. Kennedy

One of the most thrilling things about hearing authors talk about their books is the great insight, knowledge and above all, enthusiasm they bring to their topic. Larry Tye more than exceeded that as he spoke about his book, "Bobby Kennedy: The Making of a Liberal Icon".   The elderly audience was, of course, aware of Bobby's enthusiastic support for Joseph McCarthy, one of the all-time most sinister and reviled figures by liberals,  Bobby was not only on his staff in his "shameless " hearings, but he went against his older brother's wishes and attended McCarthy's funeral in 1957 as the only Democrat in attendance.

I was mesmerized by the talk and found some interesting parallels with our present election and the one that Bobby was prevented from entering because of his assassination by Sirhan Sirhan. And while I'm working to soon share my deeply held feelings about the election, I felt a compunction to immediately share some thoughts.
  1. Both the present election and that of 1968 were noteworthy for charismatic figures attractive to varied segments of the population: Eugene McCarthy and Bobby and Donald Trump and Bernie.  
  2. The country was extremely divided and young people were aroused as never before by causes they firmly believed. Certainly this is true again for two groups of the population, the "underclass" that Trump is appealing to and youthful voters who rally to the many causes that are espoused by Bernie.
  3. Humphrey's defeat of McCarthy and the death of Bobby Kennedy silenced many young voters and caused them to be disenchanted with the system.  While protests continued, there was no effort to join with the establishment to counter the reactionary forces that maintained control.
  4. How dramatically Bobby changed from the searing lessons that life thrust upon him. From a father who supported right wing causes and bigotry and McCarthy supporter, he became a champion for racial justice and all important liberal causes. In my personal experience in responding to youth in a series of AMAs, I was appalled more than once to see that my present views were unacceptable because I had once voted (in my innocence) for Richard Nixon. How important it is in looking at candidates or anyone, that we understand the full scope of their life, not just single events or skills.
In many ways I see the election of 1968 as one of the three previous critical elections of my lifetime.  TO ME, HOWEVER, NONE OF THEM EQUALS OUR PRESENT DIVISIVE CONTEST!

As a former history teacher, I truly believe,that we MUST learn from the past.  Tye's book  provides us with that opportunity.
  1.  I sincerely hope that young people will continue their activism and become involved in ALL aspects of the political system and not give up on the democratic system, and
  2. that voters will look beyond flamboyance, fascist calls for law and order and divisive appeals and look at the total trajectory of candidates lives.    I trust they will see the many difficulties Mrs. Clinton has faced (and overcome) in working to make an inclusive village out of our richly diverse American society.
Next week I'll truly try to express my strongest feelings. That one of the most vitriolic undercurrent themes of the Trump campaign is SEXISM!

But recalling Bobby Kennedy and the McCarthy hearings I remembered one of  the most searing statements I have ever heard, the turning point in a divided countries response to McCarthyism, when Army legal counsel, Joe Welch asked of the Senator, "At long last,have you left no sense of decency?"

After some of the statements and position of Donald Trump, I felt like asking the same question.