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Sunday, May 1, 2016

DISCONNECTED FOLLOWERS


We have to start talking about DISCONNECTs.  Most everyone who reads that will probably ask: what disconnects?   What is he talking about?  The answer should be obvious.  I'm talking about the disconnection from reality exhibited by the followers of Donald Trump and Ted Cruz.
Let’s begin our explanation with definitions that may help our basic understanding, although we must be careful to find a fairly modern definition because DISCONNECTION now means more than simple separation or severing of two entities.  And, it is more than disjointedness or incoherence.  It’s more like an inability to see connections between entities that coincide in their structure and their meanings or their consequences and their results.  It’s almost like a disassociation – an inability to recognize or even allow oneself to see connections that exist between ideas and concrete realities.  There is a strong element of denial involved in such disconnect from reality. 
One of the most obvious denials of reality that exists today in modern politics is the denial of climate change -- the denial of evidence, of examples, of scientific research, and of the effects of chemicals upon our own bodies extrapolated to the basic elements of this earth like oxygen, food, water and the dirt itself.  The disconnect for most people who are deniers of climate change is their acceptance of certain disastrous effects of chemicals on themselves, but a denial that those effects can also harm the earth, animals and the rest of our environment.   So let me list a few of those disconnects for you.
 
·        Smoking tobacco is now considered to be one of the worst things one can do to one’s body.  Every doctor asks that question of his or her patients: have you ever smoked?  Why? Because we now know more clearly than ever that nicotine and other chemicals in 'smokes' are harmful to the body.  We have simply come to the point where scientific experiments and research and testing have all shown the connections between smoking and poor results for human health.  Yet there are still those who -- in spite of all the horrific ads against smoking and the results thereof, in spite of all the evidence of what it does to shorten life and to bring dire consequences like cancer – take up smoking, go back to smoking or just plain can’t stop smoking.  That’s called a disconnect of denial. (it's also called "addiction.")
    • But there is a greater disconnect, and that is the one that cannot extrapolate the truth about smoking harming the human body to the larger truth that toxic chemical emissions from factories, and coal-burning plants, along with contaminated sludge and sewage dumped into human water sources has the same harmful effects upon the earth and its flora and fauna as smoking tobacco has upon our bodies.  The acceptance of smoking as harmful to lungs, heart, liver, skin and other aspects of bodily function, while denying that even more lethal forms of smoke and other chemical emissions negatively affect water, sky, rain, earth and other parts of our environment, is a DISCONNECT of the first order.  Perhaps we need greater contact with religions and cultures that teach the oneness and unity of all life in order to overcome the denials by conservative radicals who tend to use that kind of disconnect to their advantage and profit.  With much hype and duplicity,  many climate change deniers (like the Koch brothers) continue to destroy the environment while convincing many consumers to buy their products made with materials such as chemicals, gases and hormones that threaten our very existence.
·        Another disconnect suggested by that last paragraph is the DISCONNECT between our knowing that some products of certain industries are bad for humans and our environment and yet we continue to purchase those harmful substances and never think that we are thereby contributing to the obliteration of our planet and the unhealthiness of our families and of ourselves, let alone of others around us.  It may be a matter of convenience, or perhaps of laziness, or obsessive attraction to the product itself.  Who knows?  For instance, how many of us are seemingly quite content buying toys from China that are covered with lead-based paint?  Or how many of us continue to purchase and use chemical compounds for our lawns even though they contain hazardous chemicals that mix with the soil, but rarely lose their potency?  Remember Love Canal near Niagara Falls?  People had so disconnected from the reality of the chemicals spilled there and their toxic effects, that many continued to live in that 'killing field' environment until it was no longer allowed. 

How many of us still purchase beverages with enormous amounts of sugar (and sodium) added in to satisfy our taste buds but to also hook us on sugary drinks forever and ever.  The lethal effects of added sugar (and salt) on the average human being are not healthy, and more and more scientific study is indicating the dire consequences that await us in terms of strokes, heart disease, and even nerve damage.  Yet, we are all guilty of allowing disconnects to threaten our health and our environment by buying in to the brainwashing techniques of modern advertising and modern denial of facts.

·         But there are additional equally devastating disconnects running amok.  One that rankles is a general disconnect between the evils of bigoted discrimination, bias, prejudice, animosity; unequal treatment, and unequal justice that result in the separation and denigration of certain individuals and groups of people who are seen as “different" - inept, lazy or just not up-to-par for one reason or another.  Because of misguided definitions of what constitutes "normal” or “able” or “acceptable”, we end up with a hatred of certain groups who are profiled (defined) by certain individual characteristics imposed upon the whole group in a kind of profile that is used to brand the whole group as somehow inferior to the dominant majority.   Because we generally have difficulty seeing or believing in outside forces and institutions (like schools, police forces, unions and businesses, laws and customs) possessing certain built-in discriminatory practices, myths and tenets, a strong disconnect occurs between the reality of discrimination and denigration and the part each of us plays in that pattern. As a result, we fail to attack the roots of the problems found in our history, our systems of governing and in our everyday institutions that we so cherish.

·       There’s one more disconnect that I would like to mention, and it may be the most devastating of all, but then again, as we move ahead on this topic in later Blogs, we may find others of equal import.  I am speaking of the disconnect we are experiencing every day because we fail to understand the consequences of another kind of pollution and that is the devastating effects upon heart, mind and body for the victims of poverty, discrimination, separation, isolation, profiling and inequality.  That disconnect is made ever so vast by the refusal of politicians to act in a way that might help solve some of those practices and problems.  
 
The major disconnect is this:  every time Congress delays, obstructs, obfuscates or makes draconian cuts on necessities or critical needs, the people, the nation, our families – adults, children and seniors – suffer loss.  Every time Congress delays action on repairing roads, bridges, water systems, schools and other necessary infrastructure, our country suffers losses.  Every time Congress cuts programs like Head Start or various items of research, or fails to fund such common-sense and proven positives like universal pre-school and more effective day care, the country suffers losses.  When the Republicans, many in state legislatures - pass laws that deny voting privileges for certain groups or deny fundamental rights like right to effective legal representation, or right to be free from invasion of one’s home or the right not to be stopped and harassed for no reason other than skin color (and when police are not held accountable for unjust and lethal actions), we all suffer a great loss.    
It is a disconnect that radical RIGHT-WING conservatives have always chosen to ignore because they don’t believe that persons who are poor, or who have a disability, or who are people of color or have a foreign accent, or who look different in some way – they don’t believe that they deserve the same justice, opportunity or boost that the rest of us have come to expect as a matter of course.   They simply cannot see, perceive or fathom the losses that such attitudes bring upon our society.  They just don’t get it, and all of the Republican candidates for President have shown they don’t get it throughout this crazy few months of debates (?) and primary elections. 
And now, we have to face the fact that the followers of Donald Trump and Ted Cruz (and all the others) don’t get it either.   They simply are unable to connect the dots.  They cannot discern the devastating losses we are taking as we fight battles on all the wrong fronts and for all the wrong reasons (voter 'fraud', Planned Parenthood, the IRS, etc.).  When the Vietnam War became unbearable in terms of loss of life for no good reason, the People finally got it – they demanded an end to the carnage and they got it (especially after people were scrambling to leave the embassy in South Vietnam by helicopters as the enemy was closing in).  Is that what it will take to connect the people once again with reality?  Will it take catastrophes of several kinds to once again help us recognize the connections between policies and practices; between words and actions; between rights and stability and fairness; between equal justice and good citizenship; between top-notch infrastructure and the prosperity of the middle and poorer classes? 
Will it take more natural disasters – blizzards, tornados, floods, hailstorms, beach erosion, earthquakes; more people dying of diseases caused by our own neglect; more citizens being forcibly pushed into poverty; more children dying from gun violence - to finally realize the connections between all of that and the losses we suffer because of the ideology and obfuscation of hyper-conservative Representatives? [If you haven’t already heard, let me bring to you the latest from the Congress: they are refusing to act on an epidemic that could very well be headed our way, and that is the disease carried by certain mosquitos that could ignite world-wide loss of functioning in affected children and adults as well.  One elderly American has already died of the disease caused by the Zika virus, and as summer approaches it could get much worse.  The Radical Republican Congress has chosen to delay extra funds needed to combat this threat even though the Zika virus was declared a global public health emergency and it has been confirmed that the Zika virus does cause a rare birth defect called microcephaly – a neurological disorder that results in babies being born with abnormally small heads and developmental issues].
We are losing millions of good people through prejudice, neglect, discrimination, and an unjust justice system, as well as environmental pollution, and we are losing millions of young people through neglect of our public school system. For every negative and stupid concept-- like deporting millions of undocumented immigrants or incarcerating millions of persons many for minor non-violent transgressions like possession of marijuana -- we lose human potential.  Some of those victims might have produced a cure for a disease, or founded a new company that produced affordable energy with alternative fuels; or perhaps attained more mundane but worthwhile achievements like graduating from college, paying taxes, contributing to a community, raising a good family, and helping others achieve because they cared enough to do so.  Our losses are small, medium and large, but they are accumulating and the sum total of those losses of people and rights and jobs and community service are driving us in a direction from which we may not recover. 
We the People cannot go on believing in demagogues or bought politicians.  We cannot go on allowing disconnects to lead us toward oblivion.  We have to come back to the progressive realities of a Hillary Clinton and revolutionary fervor of leaders such as Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren.  We cannot build upon disconnects.  We have to see the consequences of what we are allowing to happen and allowing NOT to happen.
We cannot live disconnected from reality and from the consequences of our actions, our attitudes and our built-in institutional flaws and prejudices.  Every time we allow a disconnect to occur, we risk the loss to our society of lives full of potential.  If we were involved in a war – like the one in Iraq – and we saw that it was producing nothing but loss and devastation, we would as a People, want out (just as we have done).  We ARE IN A BATTLE right now against the extremist forces of the right-wing who see no connections between their policies and the losses we are experiencing.  In fact, they are more prone to the exploitation of those losses than to the reversal of them through investment in lives and people rather than in businesses, tax breaks and profit for themselves.
It is past time to take the steps necessary to prevent further loss of our planet, our children and our people and society as a whole.  We must connect the dots once again so that we can invest in every citizen rather than turn our backs to them and lose them to a lesser purpose.  We can begin by pledging to vote for progressive candidates for office who will invest in people once again.   
BUT, what if our brains are captive to something that prevents us from accepting new realities, global truths and concepts?  What if we are captive to certain biases that prevent us from seeing a way forward?  What if we suffer from a tendency that reality is equivalent to our own beliefs?   In our next post, we’ll take a deeper look at some of the causes of DISCONNECTS.