Monthly Archives: November 2015

Thankful

The weather in Georgia this week has been perfect. There’s just enough clouds to give the sky character and enough chill in the air to hint winter is approaching. There are still a few orange and red leaves on the trees and covering the ground as autumn comes to a close. It’s gorgeous.

Late November in North Georgia

Late November in North Georgia

This morning I decided to do a hike at sunrise. The trails around here get so busy and I wanted some isolation. Some time to recharge and to work off two days of Thanksgiving meals. I think everyone needs that from time to time. Times like these are the good ones.

The Authoritarian Boogeyman

There has been a lot of drama in the news lately calling any group with authority a bully – sometimes legitimate and sometimes not. Each story appears to be related to “anti-authoritarianism” and what I’ll term “safe-space-ism”. Whether it is against police officers, school administration, white people, straight people, or any other group with real or perceived social status.

I wonder to myself why these messages have been so appealing?

For starters I think there is a healthy mix of real and made-up injustices. A police officer shoots a young and unarmed kid, bad. Poor black people discriminated against, bad. A school administrator speaks his mind on an unpopular topic that offends people, also bad. Right? Or wait…

The media loves it because it sells and the demo (18-30 year olds) love it. So they bombard people with thousands of such stories all reported the same way. It becomes almost impossible to digest them. Impossible to separate the stories we should be mad about and the stories we should dismiss.

We want binary so we create an authoritarian boogeyman. It’s okay to attack the boogy-man, his ideas, and anyone who defends him. We don’t have to think anymore. We stop dissecting individual pieces of information or news and file it away into the boogeyman file. Suddenly, free speech and legitimate justice is filed away with racism and bigotry.

I’m sure you’ve seen the video of the girl from Yale yelling the administrator. Or the videos of black lives matter disrupting Bernie Sanders’ speech. More locally, my college aged brother-in-law is all in on the anti-authoritarian complex too. So why is this thought process so popular?

I think there is a sub-group that is vulnerable to the messaging. They are:

  • Highly educated,
  • Mostly Millennial,
  • Minority (female, non-white, homosexual, etc.),
    • The more minority the more likely to buy-in to this messaging,
  • Surrounded by homogeneous group of friends, and
  • Difficult to criticize without being labelled a bigot or racist.

Why is this message so popular with this group?

The Land of China

Since visiting China last August I haven’t had much to say about it. I still don’t. I heard Anthony Bourdain describe it as a country you can never know. I think that’s true. It’s changing too fast, has too much history, and social context I’ll never have the privilege of understanding.

Shanghai, China - 38

China was both what I expected and nothing as expected. There were times I couldn’t access Google and pornography was blocked while prostitutes crowded the streets around Western hotels. In the land of Communism I’ve never seen a place where luxury and materialism thrived more. Skyscrapers are built by the dozen by rich and well connected contractors. A tailored suit cost $75 in the fabric markets. The super rich rein while booming population keeps labor cheap.

But these are just facts about China. Things anyone in Shanghai for a week would notice. Less noticeable are the undertones of change that separate new and older generations. The generation of Mao watching the new generation of techno-youth connect with the rest of the world like never before. Both connect and disconnected like never before in history.

I have the feeling China doesn’t know itself – but maybe that’s not exclusive to China. Where it’s headed is still a question mark. Meanwhile, individually, everyone fights to get their piece of the pie. Even the monasteries (around Shanghai) are a money grab – converted to tourist attractions as much as  places of worship. Their piece of the pie.

China is a reflection of my own ignorance. A place I can visit, but I’ll never know.