Mourning the loss

“It’s the end of the world as we know it
And I feel fine, I feel fine.” — Michael Stipe

Author’s note: The blog will be going on hiatus for a week. It is finally time to get some rest and relaxation. I’m not even sure if I will be following current events during the week, but we will be back a week from Monday either way.

It’s hard to get away from grief. I’ve seen and heard it everywhere. I am involved in a makeshift Zoom support group that covers topics on mental health. Our next assigned topic is grief. Then, I read John Pavlovitz’s last piece on grief and of course you get inundated every day with others’ grief on social media. It’s not a bad thing necessarily. People feel better when they share. It just forces us to deal with our own stuff.

I think what hits me more than anything is the grief over what has happened to us as a country. If one were to define grief, they would define it as something we’ve lost. Most of the time that is a person in our life. It is a family member, a friend, or someone we work with. A lot of the time it is death, but it could simply be the end of a relationship.

We grieve other things as well. We grieve the end of a chapter of our lives. That could be childhood in general. It could be the end of a career or a particular job. It could be watching the end of a particular stage in our children’s lives. With loss comes change and change can be a scary thing. Sometimes it is for the better, but it often brings unique challenges we might not be prepared to face.

Today, I find myself grieving the loss of a nation. No, the United States hasn’t gone anywhere technically. Yet, many have called it the greatest country in the world. No, I’m not going to launch into a “we used to be the greatest country in the world” tirade like on HBO. After all, what we rank in math, science, literacy, or anything else has little to do with why we were the greatest country in the world.

We were the greatest country because we had some of the greatest problems in the world. We had the greatest problems and we were always willing to tackle them. Sometimes we won and sometimes we lost, but we never backed down from a fight. Moreover, we usually found the better angels of our nature. Goodness knows it was never easy, but we found it within ourselves to fight.

Whether it was the battle over all types of equality, suffrage, or simply getting a handle on our own limitations and prejudices we managed to overcome for the most part. Unlike most wars, these battles are never over and the job is never complete. Yet, some people want to declare victory and move on.

We used to be the greatest country in the world. We aren’t the greatest country anymore. We aren’t because we are no longer willing to even try to tackle the problems before us. It isn’t even so much whether we solve those problems necessarily. We aren’t even willing to try. We deny they exist. Out of sight and out of mind.

Grief is a deeply personal thing. When one grieves a loss that is not tangible it becomes especially difficult. Do we hang on with quiet desperation? Do we find ourselves living in the past and reminiscing on better times? In the case of grieving the loss of a nation we can choose to bail or we can refuse to admit defeat. We can shout from the rooftops that the job is not yet done. We can vote out those that refuse to even address the real problems we have. That will be my choice. The rest is up to you.

The Politics of Symbolism

“I said, watch what you say or they’ll be calling you a radical
Liberal, oh fanatical, criminal
Won’t you sign up your name, we’d like to feel you’re acceptable
Respectable, oh presentable, a vegetabl
e.” — Roger Hodgson

Yesterday’s piece generated a lot of interest on another site that I write for. I usually take the piece here and post it over there if the topic is interesting enough. They typically don’t want me responding to critics with an entire post over there, but since I pay the freight here I can write about whatever I really want to.

To illustrate the overall point I will offer a story. See, I’m really a frustrated history teacher at heart. We love to tell stories. Earlier in my career I served as an elementary school counselor for a few years. I was a round peg in a square hole, so that didn’t last, but I picked up a few tricks I was able to use later as a facilitator and a parent.

The big deal back in those days was bullying. There were always books on how to overcome bullying, how to spot bullying, and what to do with bullying. Ironically, there was very little help for the bully themselves. So, students would frequently come to my office and tell me they were being bullied. It got to the point where these declarations had very little meaning. So, I quickly learned to cut to the chase and get the student to tell me exactly what happened.

I ended up doing the same thing with my daughter. She would make those same declarations. Nine times out of ten the issue didn’t come anywhere near bullying. It was simply a buzzword that had been used so often that it really didn’t have meaning anymore.

By now, you’ve hopefully caught on to the gist of our conversation. People in politics call others names that have meaning to them and have meaning to their followers, but have little basis in reality. One of those labels I have to own up to. Yesterday, I used the term “School board Karen”. The term Karen is one of those terms. Everyone has a vision of “Karen” in their head and everyone’s vision is slightly different. That’s the power of the symbol.

I don’t have to define my symbol and it’s actually better if I don’t. Therefore, I can call someone a socialist. I can disparage Antifa. I can disparage Black Lives Matter. I can use buzzwords like cancel culture, critical race theory, defund the police, and virtue signaling. When you attempt to define these terms you are essentially giving into the premise.

So, the woman in question yesterday tipped her hand when she tried to come up with concrete examples of the curriculum she was objecting to. She tied critical race theory to the concept of hating the police and even shooting the police. There isn’t a single teacher teaching anything remotely close to that. If I seriously suggested students shoot the police I would be out of a job by the next day.

The commenter certainly didn’t go there, but they suggested that critical race theory somehow made their children feel responsible for racism. The term used was that racism was our (white people) original sin. A good history teacher teaches students as much accurate history as possible. A great history teacher puts that history in context.

I honestly couldn’t tell you whether I was a good history teacher or a great history teacher. That’s not for me to say. What I will say is that the complaints about critical race theory are largely a complaint about context. Context is important. However, you cannot get to a good context by limiting what topics in history are taught. We cannot reach an understanding by avoiding topics that might make people feel bad. Certainly, you can improve how you put that in context.

The use of labels actively restricts understanding. Whether we are mischaracterizing what we are teaching in the classroom or what someone believes in, the goal is the same. We want people to be afraid of it or scorn it without understanding it. I’m not a socialist. I’m not a liberal. I’m a person that has views on any number of topics. The labels don’t help with debate. It shuts it down.

Separate Worlds

My uncle passed one onto me in an email. He is involved in one of those email chains that usually involves swapping humorous stories and jokes. Occasionally, it dives into the political. This time he wanted my help. He wanted me to join the fray.

See, this particular uncle is the only other progressive in our family. Most of my other family are conservatives. Mind you, they aren’t bad people. They work hard and generally don’t wish any ill will on anyone. Yet, they are the type of people that peddle this kind of stuff. I absolutely detest labels, but for our purposes here we will call this woman “School Board Karen“.

For those that don’t want to go down the rabbit hole, this is one of many men and women that go to school board meetings and rant about critical race theory or some other such nonsense that is supposedly being taught to our kids. Since I’ve been in the classroom for 24 years, my uncle wanted me to chime in. See, his friends were cheering this woman on.

He wanted me to respond. I could have picked over a dozen videos, but I think this is the one he sent me. I honestly couldn’t know for sure. I call it nonsense not because critical race theory is nonsense, but because this woman exists in a bizarro world that I don’t know. I’ve only done this for 24 years and the first half in a history classroom. I really don’t know what she’s talking about.

I never taught critical race theory or white supremacist theory or anything that could be labeled Antifa, Black Lives Matter, the Aryan brotherhood or any such nonsense. I taught history. In most years I taught World History, but I dabbed my toe in U.S. History once or twice. We did our best to teach the curriculum in front of us and augment it with other authentic history that the textbook skipped over.

I’ve taught in five different school districts and a private school. So, some might be tempted to say that maybe she is describing something that happens in schools you’ve never taught in. Sure. I guess anything is possible. After all, this is happening in another state. Yet, we have to ask ourselves what is more likely. Is it more likely that some rogue teacher or school somewhere is indoctrinating children with crap or is it more likely that Karen needs to take her meds?

I’ll have to admit that my response to the email was short and terse. I honestly don’t have much of a response to what this woman is saying. It’s just so ludicrous that you almost don’t want to interrupt her. You quietly make a distress call to the local mental hospital and wait for her to run out of gas. The problem isn’t this woman. The problem is that many feel the need to respond to it with anything other than laughter or scorn.

Somewhere along the way we have lost sight of something. Just because a number of people believe something, that doesn’t make it true. Not every opinion has value just because a certain number of people have it. Yet, people like our governor respond to it. They respond by creating a patriotic curriculum that does exactly what this woman is suggesting. Except, it does it to reinforce this woman’s point of view.

‘Murica is the greatest country there ever was and the greatest country there ever will be. Racism and bigotry only exist in the mind of the liberal. Events like the civil war weren’t about slavery and events like the Tulsa massacre didn’t happen. Lynching and riots weren’t about racism or even if they were that racism is long gone now.

That’s what they want us to teach. This is all in the guise of teaching students the “real” history about America. So, they want to guard against stuff we don’t teach by teaching stuff that didn’t happen. My wife is fond of saying that science doesn’t care about your feelings. Neither does history. I have no doubt there are rogue history teachers out there that try to indoctrinate their students with a political ideology. I’ve never met one and I’ve worked with a lot of them. I certainly don’t think there are enough to make a huge stink about a non-existent socialist plot to indoctrinate our children. God forbid we take the mic away from Karen, it’s ‘Murica after all.

Parental Politics

“Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering.”–Yoda

Quoting fiction and popular fiction at that is not necessarily the most high brow way to diagnose a problem, but occasionally it fits. I have been interested in the concept of issue framing ever since I read a book by Thom Hartmann called Cracking the Code. Admittedly, his book didn’t address this absolutely on the nose, but he danced around it plenty.

Parental politics is simply the name I’ve given it, but the concept is clearly not mine and unlike certain ex presidents, I refuse to take credit for things that came decades before me. Parental politics refers to which stereotypical parent dominates our political point of view. Daddies tend to worry about certain issues and mommies tend to worry about certain issues. If you can cause people to worry about the daddy issues you get them to vote conservative. If you can get them to worry more about the mommy issues then they tend to vote more liberal.

Obviously, this assumes certain gender roles and it assumes personality archetypes that are likely outdated. Of course, that by itself is a hot button issue. So, I will simply highlight the subtle difference between the word fear and the word worry. They sound the same, but they are just different enough to make all the difference.

I worry about having a roof over my head. I worry about whether I can feed my family. I worry about what might happen if I lose my job or suddenly get sick again. If I don’t worry about those things then I worry about those around me. What happens to people that don’t have a warm bed at night or a hot meal at the end of the day. Worrying and being afraid can sound similar, but they aren’t the same.

People who fear, fear the other. They fear black people coming into their neighborhood and ruining their way of life. They fear people south of the border from coming up and stealing their job. They fear those same people bringing drugs that will enslave their children. They fear terrorists that don’t look like them bombing their kids schools, a shopping mall, or some other public building.

They fear transgender kids coming into their bathroom or putting on a dress and joining their daughter’s basketball team. They fear teachers indoctrinating their children with silly notions about racism or inclusion. They may even fear that all of this will spread to their children and they may be turned gay. As Yoda said, fear leads to hate. Everyone worries. It’s what makes us human. Some of us hate and that is much worse.

Daddy is the protector. At least that’s the moving stereotype. He protects us from intruders. He protects us from those that would do us harm. He protects us from those we would hate. So, if you can get people to fear and you can get them to hate then you can get them to vote conservative. So, the active game for conservatives is two-fold. First, you convince people that there is something to fear. Then, you convince them that you alone can protect them from it.

That’s why we promise to build walls. That’s why we promise to protect our children from predators in the bathroom. That’s why we blow up the issue of human trafficking. That’s why we demagogue immigrants, people of color, and members of the LGTBQ+ community. If there were nothing to fear then there would be nothing to hate. If there was nothing to fear or hate then we wouldn’t need excessive protection.

Moms care. Obviously not all moms care, but if we are to giving into stereotypes then they do. Moms worry. Moms nurture us. Moms take care of us. So, therefore moms care about the government programs that do those things. They care about how we do in school. They care about our health. They care that we are eating right and taking good care of ourselves. If we give into the stereotypes than they also care more about the people around us. They realize that we are only as good and as safe as the people around us allow us to be.

If the whole idea of the moms and dads alludes you then simply think of the difference between worrying and being fearful. What are we worried about? What are we afraid of? If we focus on our worries we tend to be more progressive. If we focus on what we are afraid of we tend to be more conservative. Remember, fear leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering. Yoda taught us that one.

Caught in a loop

“Did you know when you go it’s the perfect ending, To the bad day I’d gotten used to spending. When you go, all I know is you’re my favorite mistake.” — Sheryl Crow

It’s almost as if I predicted it. I wish I I could say I was clairvoyant. I wish I could say I have massive powers of deduction. I suppose I could say that, but no one would take me seriously. It would be like predicting the Texans finish in last place in the division next year. It’s hardly a brilliant prediction and this situation could be seen coming a mile away.

Greg Abbott has suggested building a wall on the southern border. I wonder where he got that idea from. Moreover, one of his would be opponents Allen West suggested it as well. Furthermore, Abbott wants to round up migrants and send them back where they came from. He is even planning a joint task force with Arizona to do the trick across state lines.

It doesn’t take a genius to figure out why he is doing this. It’s a combination of things. First, when someone has done something wrong the best thing to do is make sure no one pays attention. Magicians do it all the time. They focus your attention at one spot so you’re not paying attention to the other hand. Look at the shiny object in this hand and ignore what the other hand is doing.

The second point is that someone still casts a long shadow over the party and those that remain have to make a choice. Either they stand their ground and become a part of the opposition or they keep diving to the right in hopes that he gives them his approval. The more who enter the fray the worse it’s going to get.

Like I said, I predicted this along with thousands of others. Abbott has a long history of doing this. He isn’t a bad guy necessarily. He’s certainly not a crazy one. He’s just a weak one. Every time he has had to make a choice between the base and reality he chooses the base. Of course, whether that makes him bad is in the eye of the beholder.

First there was Jade Helm. If you don’t remember you can be forgiven. The military were doing training exercises in the hill country and suddenly kooks and jackasses came out in force saying that it was going to be a federal takeover. He could have ignored it. He could have made a statement that there was no reason for alarm because they do this stuff all the time. He could have called them out as idiots and kooks. He did none of those things. Instead he said he was sending a letter to make sure they didn’t do anything untoward.

It was classic Abbott. He didn’t really do anything but it was a gentle nod in their direction. It was a gentle nod to the conservative crazies that he was one of them. Those same folks that could have predicted this latest capitulation also predict not a single brick will be added to a wall. That was never the point of the wall anyway. It’s the gift that keeps on giving. You make a lot more by saying you will build it then by actually doing it.

So, no pats on the back here. We all know the score and we all know what’s going on. The next year will be a fun year for those of us that aren’t crazy. We have multiple crazies competing for the chance to be governor and the guy sitting in the chair that must act like he is in order to get their support. Buckle up. It’s going to be a lovely ride.

Mind the Gap

” found a love that I had lost
It was gone for too long
Hear no evil in all directions
Execution of bitterness
Message received loud and clear.” — Michael Hutchence

I hate to bring back painful memories, but progressives, liberals, and moderates felt betrayed by Mitt Romney when he changed his mind and chose to cast a vote for Amy Coney Barrett to be placed on the Supreme Court. His reasoning made some sense if you didn’t stop to think about it.

My liberal friends have over many decades gotten very used to the idea of having a liberal court, and that’s not written in the stars. It’s also appropriate for a nation, which is, if you will, center-right to have a court which reflects a center-right point of view— Mitt Romney

The second portion of that quote was the money line. He said it was appropriate for a country that is center-right. That statement has a number of problems all wrapped into one. As we limp our way to the 2022 election cycle it would be instructive to look at those problems.

The first problem is sheer numbers and history. The only national election not impacted by gerrymandering is the presidency. The GOP has won a majority exactly once since 1992. That’s 28 years. That’s eight elections. Seven for eight is quite a batting average. Yet, in seven full four year terms, the GOP has held control for three of them. That’s one sign.

The second problem is party identification. Since Gallop has been measuring party identification in 1991, more people have been identifying as Democrats than Republicans. According to the current data, the gap is now more than ten points. That is the largest such gap since data has been collected.

The third problem is the designation of the word center. Fewer people identify as being in the center these days. When you look at attitudes towards specific issues you can see that quite plainly. What’s funny is that people on both sides manage to misread the current landscape. Ask a typical conservative about their own party and they will tell you that they aren’t more conservative than they used to be. It’s quite maddening.

I’m sure they would say the same about Democrats. It’s hard to deny that Democrats have shifted further left. The only question is which party has shifted further away from center. If we suspect it is the GOP then the whole center-right argument makes sense in a vacuum. If you imagine politics as a game of tug of war then you would have ten guys on the left hand side and five on the right. The trouble is the guys on the right weigh 400 pounds each. If you measure influence in volume that is certainly true.

There is a gap between what really is and what people say that they are. That same Gallop data says that more people identify as moderate or conservative than liberal/progressive. Yet, when you look at all of the individual planks of the progressive platform you’ll find a majority approve of those planks. The least popular issue sees 54 percent of the population agree. Most have 60 percent or more that agree. If the country were truly center-right then a majority of citizens would not support progressive planks.

Therein lies the problem. While Gallop might deal in wholes, the country does not exist that way. Individual states and counties within those states have their own individual realities. The rural ones tend to be more conservative and the urban ones tend to be more progressive. Sure, gerrymandering has skewed those results in terms of government representation, but that’s not the issue here.

Volume and old-fashioned bullying have taken their toll. Good and decent people have called themselves conservative even though they support progressive causes. You can call yourself whatever you want, but if you vote what you actually support then we would get the government we deserve. Part of that involves paying attention and realizing exactly who is responsible for not giving those things which a majority supports. They will be loud. They will be obnoxious and they will call themselves the victim. They will do all this to distract us from what is true. This country hasn’t been center-right for decades and probably never was.

Slow on the Uptake

You’ll have to forgive me. I’m slow on the uptake. Occasionally I write more than one of these a day, but I haven’t done that for quite some time. The goal is to write one a day during the week and then take the weekend off to rest my fingers. So, 99 percent of the news items I pontificate on have already been widely reported and commented on elsewhere. I will never promise to be first here.

What I will do is promise to put my stamp on everything I write about. After all, what’s the use of having an opinion if it won’t be your own? With that I give you Louie Gohmert as only he can do. The link is a YouTube video where he asks a scientist if the national parks service or BLM can somehow alter the orbit of the Earth or the moon.

The scientist in question has her own kind of Dr. Birks moment where she fumbles for what to say and does her best to keep a poker face without laughing hysterically or simply popping off about what a dumbass Gohmert must be. Of course, we are assuming he is referring to the Bureau of Land Management with BLM and not Black Lives Matter. With Gohmert there are no safe assumptions. You will be forgiven if you have sudden images of “Dolemite in Space”.

Anyone familiar with Gohmert’s work is not the least bit surprised by this. He already had the reputation as the dumbest member of Congress before all this happened. In his defense, he seems to have a lot of competition for that title these days. Maybe he felt he needed to up his game. The citizens of Longview must be proud.

When Gohmert bragged about his high SAT score I was reminded of the time I taught in a private school. One of my students proudly announced the reason why we had day and night. It was because the sun was half fire and half rock. When we were on the fire side of the sun it was day. When we were on the rock side it was night. This was an A student.

I immediately went home and asked my wife (the NASA engineer) why we didn’t plan manned exploration of the sun. She said it would be too hot. I corrected her and told her we would simply go at night. Obviously, the second part was a joke at my wife’s expense, but the student was earnest when offering this and she was one of my better students. Thus, proving that academic performance and intelligence are not necessarily the same thing.

I’m obviously doubly sensitive to stupidity as it pertains to space (I didn’t even mention the solar flares). I’ve lived in the shadow of NASA virtually my whole life and it has been a huge part of my adult life for more than 20 years now. I readily admit I don’t know as much as some people and there are areas of science where I’m a drooling idiot. Yet, I get the idea that admitting as much and allowing yourself to feel ashamed for that lack of knowledge is more than half the battle.

I don’t think it is any coincidence that the folks on the list that might battle Gohmert for his position are virtually all Republicans. Sure, that might just be my bias coming through. I readily admit that. I also can’t help but think this is a feature and not a bug. One of the common markers people look for when they vote is someone they feel comfortable with that they feel like they “could drink a beer with.”

When you follow that thought to its logical conclusion you reach two very disturbing realizations. First, if people elect leaders that reflect their values and intellectual curiosity then the Louie Gohmert’s and Marjorie Taylor Greene’s of the world reflect the majority of people in their home district. Secondly, as one comedian put it, go down to your local bar. Look to your left and to your right. See any leaders there?

I can’t help but think this is how we’ve gotten it wrong all this time. I don’t want someone like me in Washington that I could share a beer with. I want someone better than me. I want someone smarter than me. I want someone wiser than me. I want someone with more courage. I want someone with a stronger moral conviction. That’s what representative government is all about. After all, if people were just as good as me (or worse than me) than why wouldn’t I be there?

Caught in the Crossfire

“Save the strong lose the weak
Never turning the other cheek
Trust nobody don’t be no fool
Whatever happened to the golden rule? We got stranded
Caught in the crossfire.”– Stevie Ray Vaughn

My friend at the Beauty Salon laid it out pretty well. The GOP field for governor is becoming pretty crowded as former GOP party chair Allen West may have thrown his hat into the ring. He won’t be the only one. There are persistent rumors about Matthew McConaughey running for governor. Nobody is quite sure which party he will call his own.

For those that can get behind the firewall, the Chronicle has listed all of the possible opponents for Abbott. If they have anything in common it is that they are all legitimately nuts. The problem is that Abbott isn’t really nuts. He just plays one for the folks when he needs to convince them he is. Now, he’s going to have to do a whole lot of convincing.

Abbott’s long career is fairly distinguished and used to be marked by mainstream conservatism. That changed when he was flanked by the right. West is a carpetbagger and the worst kind. He hails from Florida where they breed their own kind of crazy. He doesn’t even live in Texas full time yet feels he can use the governor chair to spring board to bigger and better things.

As the Houston Chronicle suggests, he is only one a few possible challengers. If the current actor gets in he will have the star power to compete. So, Abbott will have to continue to peddle fresh meat to the base. He certainly can’t compete on his record. There’s a reason why so many challengers are willing to take him on. He’s a garden variety incompetent politician.

This is where Texas politics and conventional politics collide. Conventional politics say a divided party is a great thing for the opposition. In this case, a number of Democrats are excited about Abbott being bloodied up in a primary. That’s especially true if Beto O’Rourke can bring his statewide cache and fundraising ability into the fray.

I would remind the folks of the 2006 governor’s race. Rick Perry was similarly unpopular and drew a merry band of opponents that included Democrat Chris Bell. Bell had held office previously and was well-known. He wasn’t as popular as O’Rourke, but they had a similar profile otherwise. Texas legend Kinky Friedman and Carole Keeton Strayhorn also drew a lot of votes.

Texas doesn’t use runoff elections and this was one glaring case where we needed one. Only 39.4 percent of the population voted for Perry. The other 60+ percent clearly were voting for not Rick Perry. Yet, even though a majority wanted anyone else he continued to be governor anyway. 2022 could see a repeat of that history if the actor throws in as an independent.

Abbott has been doing his own acting since the former president came on the scene. He has been alternating photo ops and harsh statements designed to convince the masses he has the crazy bonafides. I’m not sure what’s worse, being crazy or just acting crazy. One thing is for certain, there will be plenty of crazy between now and 2022 and it will be us caught in the crossfire.

Conservative Principles?

“Meet the new boss. Same as the old boss.” — Pete Townsend

Life used to be really simple. Liberals believed in using government to make the lives of its citizens better. Conservatives believed people could better make their own lives better and government intervention only gets in the way. Somewhere along the way, conservatives abandoned that philosophy and adopted none at all.

We seem to be doing this a lot lately, so I thought I would try this from another angle. It seems the governor and others are determined to shove character education down our throats. Character education is only one way to put it. Another way to put it is white washing. Another way to put it is indoctrination. However, the most accurate way to put it is to call it what it really is: an empty gesture.

Of course, the governor couldn’t resist the urge to pump himself

So, we could take this from a few angles, but I decided to take a look at the source. If you take a look at the list of priorities you’ll see that we are currently teaching those things. Sure, you’ve added a few awards and what not, but I’m struggling to figure out what the point is. I’m sure the governor is already aware, but maybe he’s not. We teach Texas history to 7th graders. Maybe he’s suggesting we do more, but it doesn’t seem clear by the verbiage of the bill.

Like I said before, we could conceivably approach this from numerous angles. Sure, we could look at the likely desire to remove unsavory facts from the historical account. However, let’s assume the very best and only look at the letter of the law. They want to assure that we are doing something we’re already doing. What’s the purpose of that exactly?

When you abandon your ideology I’m not sure what you have left. Some people are dedicated to the idea of limited government. They don’t want the government involved unless absolutely necessary. It is a philosophy I’ve always respected. I’ve always disagreed but I’ve always respected it. When you abandon that philosophy and fill it with empty gestures you’ve abandoned that philosophy for good public relations. Congratulations.

Judas sold his soul for some pieces of silver. The governor appears to be selling his for a simple photo opp. He can’t even come up with an original name for this fiasco. His hero dubbed character education as the 1776 project. Just adopt the year we gained our independence and pass a quick law. Throw in a black guy into the picture to make it look good. The law really won’t change anything. It’s a great use of our time and money.

The questions kids ask…

“Every year is getting shorter, never seem to find the time. Plans that either come to naught or half a page of scribbled lines.” — Roger Waters

Children ask the most fascinating questions. Our daughter is now entering high school, so her questions are more complex than they used to be. She asked a doozy the other day. She asked what we would tell our children and grandchildren about the pandemic. Every once in awhile I allow myself to go down that rabbit hole and this was one of those times.

It hit me like a ton of bricks when I was perusing my Facebook feed the other day. You get the unholy mixture of childhood friends reminiscing about childhood memories with a sudden heavy dose of Anthony Fauci. I’m not exactly sure why Fauci was on so many people’s minds, but the Facebook wall is a veritable Rorschach test of people’s thoughts and feelings.

In the span of just a few minutes of scrolling I found numerous posts that chastised people for doubting Fauci while others were poking fun at him. Strictly speaking, the future is yet unwritten and while we seem to be closer to the end than to the beginning of the pandemic we don’t know for sure how this will end. More than anything else, we don’t know if there will ever be a return to “normal”. They did following the 1918 flu epidemic (it is in fact 1918 despite what our former president said). It just took awhile.

We will be traveling and others will as well, but things are not back to normal. That might never return to normal. We might be looking at the new normal. Obviously, that will be a large part of the story we tell. It could be something as innocuous as telling them what we did during the two or three years of the pandemic or as earth shattering as telling them how we did things before all of the changes.

However, I think Fauci is the key to it all. How people view someone that has spent over 50 years studying infectious diseases is fascinating. We have a very clear divide in the population. Some exist in the current century as they trust subject experts to bring the most up to date information. Some exist in the dark ages where scientific information is met with distrust and disbelief. That information becomes replaced by rumor, innuendo, and “alternative facts”. The vast difference is that the internet seems to be the vector for both.

Specialization is almost as old as time itself. One could argue that job specialization could be the most significant advancement in society itself. Others will argue the invention of the wheel or the discovery of fire. Some might argue for the domestication of animals or farming techniques. We each become subject experts in something and society gets by because we have everything covered. Apparently, that’s not good enough anymore.

At least, it’s not good enough for some people. It’s also not good enough for only some specialties. The ones that require more education and training are disdained. Instead some trust their gut. Some trust the random YouTube video from the neighborhood yahoo. They trust anyone but the people trained in this very thing. How our children explain that to their children and grandchildren will be fascinating from a historical perspective. In the here and now it’s just plain sad.