Monday, June 25, 2018

We Go High

There's been so much I've debated writing about over the past few weeks. I've gone back and forth on whether or not I should even address what's been splattered across the news. There's certainly no shortage of issues to be outraged about. That seems to be one of the key pillars of the Trump Administration; bombard the public with so many news items that it's imporssible to devote an adequate amount of time to look into any one of them (let alone all of them).

It's classic misdirection. Get the public fired up about misspelled, moronic tweets and the peaceful, lawful protests of professional athletes and maybe the public will forget that a large portion of Puerto Rico is still without power. If everyone is busy talking about some ugly, cheap-ass jacket Melania was wearing (despite the sweltering Texas heat), or the restaurant that wouldn't serve a member of Trump's staff, maybe they won't notice when Trump mentions how he'd like to violate the Constitution and eliminate due process.

Of course it doesn't help that the majority of the population is only interested in the headline or the soundbyte. Instead of reading the entire story and consulting multiple sources to ensure we get all the facts, many people believe whatever they see. And I'm not solely referring to Trump supporters when I say this. People from all walks of life, all political viewpoints (myself included), are guilty of reacting before getting all the facts. We're also guilty of not checking our sources. It's all too easy to click on a story without realizing it's not from a reputable, neutral source. Garbage sites spewing so-called "news" exist on both sides of the aisle. If you haven't consulted a Media Bias Chart and see where your preferred news source falls. I've grown increasingly fond of The Washington Post and NPR over the past few years and definitely recommend both as credible news sources.

At first I considered not blogging about any of this. It's exhausting. Social media feeds are full of a combination of troubling stories by the dozen and people expressing that they "don't get on Facebook to see politics." It's much easier to ignore. The temptation to take a page from this man's playbook and isolate yourself from everything.

But isn't that its own brand of privilege? The more I thought about it, the more I considered how much the African American community would rather opt out of reading articles about black men being mistreated, injured, and killed by the authorities. And any immigrant, legal or otherwise, would rather not listen to the cries of children who have been separated from their parents at the border. But they can't ignore those stories, because they have a direct impact on their lives. As a responsible citizen, a Christian, and (I'd like to think) decent human being, I can't ignore it either. I have to stay informed and make my voice heard.

I encourage you to resist that temptation to just give up. When I feel overwhelmed by it all and consider just staying quiet, I remember one of my favorite quotes: All it takes for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing. While painting my bathroom this weekend, a line from the Hamilton soundtrack rang true: History has its eyes on you. I may not be as important as George Washington, Alexander Hamilton, or Lin Manuel Miranda, but when this is all over and we look back on what is shaping up to be one of the darker periods in our recent history, I want to know that I was on the right side of things. We need to keep speaking out and focusing on the important issues.

The phrase important issues leads me to my second point. Focus on what truly matters and learn to identify the stories this administration loves to use as bait. Kanye West suddenly being pro-Trump. Melania's jacket. Sarah Huckabee Sanders being asked to leave The Red Hen. Don't get hooked. In the grand scheme of things, those items are barely even blips on the radar. They are of no real consequence when you compare them to the actual policies being used (or eliminated) by the current powers that be. I'll be the first to admit, that's a tall order to fill. The desire to voice our opinion over everything that crosses our path is almost in our nature. But before we do, we have to ask ourselves: Is this the most important issue on the table? Do I have all the facts? Did I get this from a credible source? Don't miss the forest for the trees.

I've been mulling over this post for a few days, and my final thought came when I read about Sarah Huckabee-Sanders being asked to leave The Red Hen. As a self-professed bleeding-heart Liberal, my first thought was, "Good. I wouldn't want her in my restaurant either." The whole refusal of service issue door flew wide open when the Supreme Court upheld an Indiana bakery's right to refuse to bake a cake for a gay couple's wedding. And it is, after all, a two-way street. So it serves them right. But then I thought about it some more.

The more I thought about it, the more I wished they'd just left her alone. And it's not because I have any sympathy for a woman I feel is paid to lie to the American people on a daily basis. And it's not because of the backlash the restaurant is now receiving from the pro-Trump community. It's because fighting fire with fire is not always the answer. As Gandhi once said, An eye for an eye leaves the whole world blind. I believe that in order to accurately highlight the ridiculousness of this administration and all it stands for, we (those who oppose it) must behave above reproach. Let's not give them any ammunition to say we're just as bad as they are, we started it, or any other schoolyard accusation. If that's what it takes, let's turn the proverbial cheek until we're so dizzy we have to pop a Dramamine. That's the only way we'll come out on top.

As Michelle Obama said at the 2016 Democratic National Convention, "When they go low, we go high." Let's go high.

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