If the world has got you a little freaked out right now, it may mean you are a sentient human being. Let's talk strategy.
- The Firegirl
1. Get Clear Where You Stand.
It seems ridiculous that any US citizen in 2017 has to establish where they stand on Fascism, but here we are. For the record, Nazis killed 6 million people including women, disabled people and babies during WWII. Sometimes using the butts of their rifles to save bullets. They did this deliberately, sadistically and efficiently.
If you bear that flag, that's what it means. In the wake of the Charlottesville protests, let's not prevaricate.
Secondly, I don't believe all Trump voters are Nazis or fascists, but it certainly appears most Nazis and fascists are ardent Trump supporters. Why? What does that mean?
Those questions should prompt us, as lowercase r republicans, to thumb through European history books, paying curious attention. Fascists can live, speak and demonstrate in a Republic, but republicans cannot live freely, speak and demonstrate in a Fascist state. Now is a good time for all of us to consider what we are supporting either consciously or by default.
2. Critical Thinking and Courtesy Are Assets.
I think Rob Schneider is right. Of course America is divided, but there is still a lot we agree on and can even celebrate - like the Blue Angels, watermelon in the summer, people who hold the door, baseball, fireflies, 200 year-old oak trees with moss in them, and dogs like Wally. The list is endless.
But remember, none of that sells. Hysteria sells. Hysteria keeps TV's on, and when the TV stays on, the networks make money. It's in the interest, and the business model, of the 24-hour news cycle to keep us freaked out and suspicious all the time.
"America is divided" is true on many levels, but it is also a handy red herring that power brokers throw out to keep us feeling confused and helpless. We don't have to succumb to it. We can learn to think critically, spot propaganda and articulately call it out. Here's a handy guide to fallacious arguments to help.
We don't need the media telling us what's true, we need the media telling us what happened.
We have also forgotten how to engage each other politely. Most of us are so afraid of being shouted down "we just don't go there." Remember, the American people "not going there" is also in the interest of certain corners. Plenty of elected officials prefer a mute electorate, ignorant and stupefied by the Kardashians. Don't you dare do it.
3. Appreciate the Media! Say Thank You!
Like the "America is divided" narrative, the #fakenews meme is an effective way of destabilizing the only industry charged with, and capable of, forcing accountability on corrupt politicians and systems. That is why it is protected by the First Amendment. Don't like what our #FreePress is saying about your favorite politician? Try living in a country without a #FreePress and see if you like that better. You won't.
Listen critically to what you hear and if it sounds like b.s., it probably is - even if you like and agree with it. Learn to spot it and reject it by turning it off. This little practice will make all of us smarter and the Republic healthier.
4. Respond to conflict Meaningfully. Here's How.
I have been on the verge of popping off on Facebook 100 times in the past week. But I don't, because that's the most self-defeating waste of time on earth. People don't change their minds on Facebook, in fact here's a study that shows people rarely change their minds at all.
Maybe you can't change someone's mind, but you can change your response. Marcus Aurelius, second century Roman Emperor, explains how. Funny, he talks a lot like this first century Jewish radical I know.
5. Lastly and Most Importantly: Pray.
Pray for your nation. Pray for other nations. Pray for your enemies, real and imagined. Pray for your leaders even if their behavior is astonishing and gross. Pray for yourself. Pray for the discipline to speak, act and behave with grace and truth.
Love your neighbors. Help them and as John Wesley said:
"Do all the good you can. By all the means you can. In all the ways you can. In all the places you can. At all the times you can. To all the people you can. As long as ever you can."