Man’s malevolence

Mankind is a misnomer. 

For as long we’ve existed, man’s kindness has been matched by his cruelty. 

We’re a volatile and combustible mix of the easily misguided. Too often (under the influence of others), we drift towards our darker nature, nestle up to fear, hand reason over to blind faith, or swear a misguided allegiance to political tribes. In the past, this has led humankind down dark paths where we deny our fellow man freedom and dignity on a mass scale. 

That’s been our history.

We’ve seen how the fluidity by which we move from our better selves to our darker nature is influenced by the world around us. We’re not immune to the momentum of tumultuous events. And, because we’re more connected (technologically speaking) than ever before, we’re more susceptible to being collectively influenced, manipulated, and pushed towards our darker nature.

This is nothing new. We’ve teetered on the edge of darkness before. Manipulated by political and religious movements that feed on fear, hate, and irrationality. Unfortunately, I believe we’re teetering one of those precipices now, as world events push mankind towards our darker nature.

I still believe America can be a force for positive change. I’m not talking about nationalistic flag-waving “USA, USA, USA!!” patriotism, but rather all of us living by and promoting the ideals and ideas of Western Democracy. 

To make mankind kind again, we must consciously engage in acts of kindness, resist being influenced by fear and fear mongers, put reason above religion, and ditch political tribalism for critical and idea-based thinking. 

The uptick in political, social media posts about what’s going on in Afghanistan reveals just how shallow and vulnerable we’ve become. Sadly, the willingness to parlay human tragedy for political hay (I’ve done it myself) represents troubling fault lines for our country. 

Joe Biden did not blow up Americans and Afghanis at the Airport in Kabul – religious extremists did. Instead of focusing on the enemies of reason and rationality, many Americans devolve into sectarianism, focusing their contempt on the American President. 

I’m not suggesting Biden not be held accountable for missteps and intelligence failures that occur on his watch – he should be. But, instead, I’m suggesting that we remember Biden is not the enemy. Biden is not a religious extremist. He believes in American ideals. Our fight is not with him; it’s with ISIS, the Taliban, and any of the other man-made entities that are hellbent on pushing us to a darker existence.

I’m also suggesting that we differentiate malevolence from incompetence when critiquing our leaders. But, unfortunately, that requires nuanced and critical thinking – lost skills in America today.

Every President has moments of incompetence. Kennedy had his Bay of Pigs; Obama had his healthcare rollout. Bush fucked up majorly with his weapons of mass destruction debacle. Reagan screwed the pooch with Iran Contra, and Jimmy Carter botched a hostage rescue. 

Humans are at the helm of intelligence. They push the pen and ink onto intelligence reports, and leaders act on the assessments. And sometimes, they make mistakes. And when this happens, citizens should speak up and demand accountability. 

But Malevolence is a different kettle of fish. 

Malevolence is knowing a pandemic is deadly but telling others just the opposite for personal political gain.

Malevolence is proposing our military shoot protesters in the legs or that leakers of information be executed.

Malevolence is spreading lies about election security and promoting insurrectionist movements against America. 

Malevolence is courting and praising dictators for the control they have over their citizens.

That’s Malevolence. 

Let’s not confuse Incompetence with Malevolence. 

And malevolent leaders and wanna-be dictators thrive in periods of uncertainty. And sometimes, in a storm of uncertainty, citizens become blind to malevolent leaders. 

Let’s stay vigilant.

“You’re un-American!” “NO, YOU’RE UN-AMERICAN!!”

How is it in a country full of Americans, half of us consider the other half un-American, and vice versa?

To me, this seems like a fairly recent development.

Some people who know me today might categorize me as a “Godless libtard, who cares more about immigrants than real Americans.”

These same people probably didn’t categorize me at all 10 years ago — even though I was pretty much the same person then — a progressive liberal atheist.

On the flip-side, 10 years ago, I probably didn’t categorize some of the people I knew as “fascist-leaning individuals who’d rather wrap themselves in the American flag than care about their fellow human beings” — but that’s how I’d categorize them today.

So, what’s changed?

In terms of our politics, I don’t think we’ve changed all that much. The biggest difference is the manner and degree to which we broadcast our politics. That’s totally different than what it was 10 to 20 years ago.

Today, we have access to a social media soapbox, and many of us get up on that soapbox, and with a keyboard as our megaphone, we share our opinions (and other people’s opinions). We speak our values; we argue politics, and whether we realize it or not, we present our views on what it means to be American.

I used to think this was a good thing. Now, I’m not so sure.

Too often, our use of social media results in a singularly-focused and myopic view of one another, to the exclusion of the many things we likely have in common – a love of music, parenthood, art, literature, sports, science – the things that we could (and used to) connect over, but now, choose not to, because of political tribalism and a strange social media sectarianism.

Social media magnifies and intensifies our political differences, making it difficult to recognize or even care about things we have common. This unintended consequence benefits foreign enemies, who flood social media with content designed specifically to deepen the divide between Americans — and its working splendidly. Facebook has turned out to be the perfect crowbar to our Pandora’s box- dividing our American house and weakening our country from within.

How do we combat this?

The genie is out of the bottle in terms of social media. Its unrealistic to think people are just going to stop using it – and let’s face it, it’s a bit of an addiction.

Social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter rely on two very human traits; the desire to communicate with one another, and our desire to fight with one another.  Combine those two things with an insatiable need for affirmation, and you’ve got the perfect weapon for division and discontent.

The “thumbs up” or “heart” emojis are like herrings to a seal, as soon as we receive them, we instantly bark out more opinions on Trump, Biden, Guns, Abortion, Religion, and Immigration — widening the gap between one another, burning bridges, fueling hate.

Weirdly, social media is weakening the fabric of our country by allowing us to show others who we are, and what we believe in. We were a stronger / less vulnerable country when I didn’t know your politics and you didn’t know mine. If we both liked the Beatles, that was a good enough foundation to at least be kind and respectful to one another.

I looked back at some of my early social media posts, a lot of them had to do with my kids; a shared newspaper article, pictures from family gatherings, photos from sporting events or school dances. You know the schtick, obnoxiously proud mom or dad posting stuff about their son or daughter — often embarrassing them in the process.

“Ah, the early and innocuous days of social media.”

I looked at some of the respondents to those early posts. Interestingly, I’m pretty sure if I shared similar kinds of posts today, many of the same respondents would make a point of not responding.

No emoji herrings for me!

Many who responded fondly to my innocuous posts in the past, probably think I’m an asshole today. In their eyes, I’m a meme machine – a opinionated jerk – an atheist – an intolerant liberal fuck — and I totally get that.

When 9 out of 10 FB memories are rants about politics, you might have a problem (talking about myself here), and who can blame others for seeing you solely through a political lens, if that is all you show them?

It’s not easy to un-see what you see on social media, and some posts leave an indelible mark on our opinion of others and vice versa.

My High School has its 40th reunion this Summer. Our last reunion was in 2016, before Trump won election — before the war, so to speak. But even at that stage, you could see battle lines being drawn on social media. I even remember a plea from one of the organizers to refrain from talking politics.

A lot of shit has transpired since 2016. I know I’ve annoyed the fuck out of Trump supporters on a near daily basis (and vice-versa ). I wonder if we’ll be able to put our megaphones down for 5-to-6 hours and just pretend that we’re not offended by one another? I hope we can, though I expect some top gun-like maneuvers, as we buzz around the clambake tent, trying to avoid in-coming liberals or conservatives who might be looking to engage.

Social media has wrecked us. Its a shame, I wish it were different, and I don’t know how or even if we can fix it.

I think the best approach is to talk more about what we have in common — lead with those things, rather than politics – broadening the perspective might help lower our emotional temperature.

2020 Presidential Election Postmortem

Republicans gerrymandered districts, closed polling places, and appointed a crooked pro-Trump Postmaster General, who, in the middle of a pandemic, ripped sorting machines out of postal facilities and removed drop-boxes to hinder the ability to handle an increase in mail-in ballots. And after all of that politically-motivated and strategic malevolence, Trump still got his ass handed to him in a big blue box, beautifully adorned with 306 electoral bows, in what the Department of Homeland Security called the most secure Presidential election in history.

And ever since that stinging rebuke of America’s one-term orange menace, we’ve had to listen to republicans’ bitch and moan (without evidence) about voter fraud — 0 for 13 in lawsuits at the time of this writing – laughed out of courtrooms across battleground states.

We watched in bemusement at the more than eleven thousand pathetically lost souls at the “Million MAGA March” with their “Stop the Steal” signs, and thought to ourselves how easy it is in America to sway the masses. All you need is a website, a lie, and a human desire to be part of something “big and just” and its down the wallpapered-with-Q-conspiracy-theory-rabbit-hole they go, screaming and yelling like snowflakes on steroids, like zombies on crack, like lemmings on Led Zeppelin.

Shut the fuck up already. You lost. Despite all the slimy underhanded efforts to suppress the vote and misinform citizens, YOU STILL FUCKING LOST.

Instead of bitching and moaning without merit, start thinking about putting up a better candidate in 2024, and while your at it, you might want to consider the fact that America is changing. We’re becoming more diverse, less religious, and more concerned about our planet – deal with that by backing candidates who will hustle for new voters, who will reach out to the people who live and work in their state and look to genuinely understand their needs and concerns.

And for the love of Mike, don’t blindly back a shallow and vacuous megalomaniac like Trump, who for 4 years padded the wallets of rich people, lowered the tax burden for multi-billion dollar corporations, ratcheted up fear, racism, and xenophobia, tried really really hard to limit access to healthcare, rolled back environmental regulations, diminished the integrity of the Presidency by lying at an astronomical rate, withheld lifesaving information about the dangers of COVID-19, tongue-kissed authoritarians across the globe, and wrecked America’s reputation around the world.

If you can’t elect a candidate better than Trump next time around, you deserve to lose again. Biggly.

And quit being that single-issue-ban-the-fetal-tissue-voter, because all that does is make you a target for manipulative vote-grubbing slugs like Trump, who, let’s be honest, would mandate abortion if it meant overturning the 2020 election results. If you want to reduce the number of abortions in America, let’s start with improved health education, reinforced by frank and honest discussions with children about sex, sexuality, and the importance of acting responsibly, and combine that with easy access to birth control. Then, implement these measures nationally, so  everyone gets the same message at the same age, regardless of their background or where they live – that would do more to reduce abortions than 9 Amy Coney Barrets.

And finally, can we please get back to the core human values that actually have made America great – kindness, empathy, honesty, and integrity and get off the dangerous, religiously-fueled-patriarchal-cult-of-personality path we’ve been on for the last 4 years, because that shit is rotting this country from the inside out.

We got this!

Time to take our country back

Knock the Trump Train from the track

Wear a mask and get to work

Control the virus, end the jerk


Flick the fly from Pence’s head

Sweep them both into the shed

End the tweets and stop the lies

Clear the darkness from the skies


Let’s put an end to our disgrace

The divisive talk on god and race

Vote for competence, vote for peace

Fuck it, just vote for the guy

who lies the least


Create a wave that’s long and blue

Save democracy from you know who

Put an end to the Orange Schmoe

And pull that lever for BlueNami Joe!