Saturday, May 19, 2018

"Give and Take" for the "average American"

I took the opportunity awhile ago to post a reply on The Daily Kos and received some interesting feedback to which I also responded.

It's all copied below, but my question is ‐ Would an average American understand the “give and take”?

Please feel free to comment . . . .

As we continue our journey on the way to peace, we place ourselves at a psychological disadvantage with the use of the word “protest” because it has been tainted by what President Eisenhower called the military-industrial complex.

More simple, and to the point, is the meaning of the word “protest”:  “to testify for” (infinitive) “testifying for” (gerund).  Simply ‐ the white supremacists are testifying for the supremacy of the white race (a position which was previously tested and found wanting during World War II) and in the United States such advocates will constantly be up against those continuing the “experiment” by testifying for the equality of all persons as specified in the Fourteenth Amendment to the U S Constitution.

We face a similar situation in the United States with the continued use of the word “first-strike” (in conjunction with nuclear weaponry).  There's only one nation on earth that has gone insane and actually used a nuclear weapon ‐ twice, in fact.  And, in this day and age, it looks as though a “third-strike” from the United States means that we are all out . . . .

Today while the entire U. S. society is crumbling around an archaic CIA-congressional-corporate-educational-FBI-financial-industrial-presstitute-media-medical-military-NSA-police-political-prison-Secret-Service-terrorism-expert complex (or “hero-system”), unrelated to the needs and challenges of contemporary life, we see an apparent incapability and / or lack of imagination in our people to reconstruct the society around goals of peace and social justice.  More importantly, the margin that nature has been giving to our cultural fantasy is suddenly being narrowed down drastically with the consequences that for the first time in history we, if we are to survive, have to bring down to zero the large fictional element in our hero-systems.

As Sam Keen wrote in his instructive introduction to the most recent edition of Ernest Becker's The Denial of Death:  Human Character as the Vital Lie (1997):  “[S]ome individuals are awakening from the long, dark night of tribalism, and nationalism and developing what Tillich called a transmoral conscience, an ethic that is universal rather than ethnic.  Our task for the future is exploring what it means for each individual to be a member of earth's household, a commonwealth of kindred beings.  Whether we will use our freedom to encapsulate ourselves in narrow, tribal, paranoid personalities and create more bloody Utopias or to form compassionate communities of the abandoned (cf. Bonhoeffer's Letters and Papers from Prison) is still to be decided.  So long as human beings possess a measure of freedom, all hopes for the future must be stated in the subjunctive ‐ we may, we might, we could.  No prediction by any expert can tell us whether we will prosper or perish.  We may choose to increase or decrease the dominion of evil.  The script for tomorrow is not yet written.”

So, we are faced with “good” and “evil.”  And, I would suggest that we testify for “good,” so that we and our children may live.

Here is Tess' response:

What??????  What are you talking about????  I don't think the average American would think that what you've said here should prevent them from protesting - yes, protesting - when their democracy fails them.  I am proud to protest things that are patently unfair and harm others.

To which I responded:

Almost 50% of average Americans get livid at the words “protest,” and “protesters” because of its long history of negative connotation.

All I'm saying is change the word to a positive connotation that will carry that 50% away from the dark side feelings and ideas associated with that long history of negative connotation.

For example, when interviewed, and the interviewer attempts to put you in their frame of reference utilizing the word “protest” or words associated with “protest” ‐ “protesting,” “protester,” etc., say something to the effect of “This is not a ‘protest,’ we are testifying for . . . .” “I'm not protesting, I'm testifying for . . . .”

The “white supremacist” example is really a good one in that the people testifying for “white supremacy” are placed in a less powerful position (being associated, after all, with the National Socialist German Worker's Party [Nationalsozialismus] of the 1920s ‐ 1940s) and the feelings and ideas associated with the long history of negative connotation to the word “Nazi”!

Meanwhile, the people continuing the “Great American Experiment” (see, Alexis de Tocqueville’s, Democracy in America [two volumes — 1862 CE]) by testifying for the equality of all persons included in “We, the people . . .” (Declaration of Independence) and the U. S. Constitution (especially Article XIV) can bask in the long history of the positive connotations of those documents (and their impact on governments around the world).

A more recent example, when speaking to a representative of the CIA, would be the dialogue between Donovan and Hoffman around the “rule book” meme in the movie “Bridge of Spies:”


Ok, well listen, I understand attorney-client privilege.  I understand all the legal gamesmanship and I understand that that's how you make a living.  But I'm talking to you about something else ‐ the security of your country.  I'm sorry if the way I put it offends you, but we need to know what Abel is telling you.  You understand me, Donovan?  We need to know.  Don't go Boy Scout on me ‐ we don't have a rule book here.

Donovan takes a beat, sizing the man up.


You’re agent Hoffman, yeah?




German extraction?


Yeah, so?


My name is Donovan, Irish.  Both sides, mother and father . . . .  I'm Irish, you're German, but what makes us both Americans?  Just one thing, one one one.  The rule book.  We call it the Constitution.  We agree to the rules, and that's what makes us Americans, it's all that makes us Americans.  So don't tell me there's no rule book and don't nod at me like that you sonofabitch.

The man stops nodding and just looks at Donovan appraising him.

Donovan smiles and gets up from the table, gathers his things.


Do we need to worry about you?


Not if I’m left alone to do my job.

Of course, in our (more modern?) era, one must take into account recent President's estimations that the Constitution is “just a god-damned piece of paper” (to quote, President George W. Bush [though also keep in mind President Obama's executive orders, e. g., suspending habeas corpus for American citizens]) and the neo-conservative “Unitary Executive” theory (see, John Yoo) underlying the destruction of the traditional governmental “checks and balances.”

The “battle” is, indeed, for public opinion.  Begin to phrase the arguments in a way that sways public opinion to the positive side of the “city upon a hill” (if it would be considered “fair” to reference John Winthrop’s sermon [1630 CE]) . . . .

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