Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Who's Got Your Back? Day 7- Not our Family, Friends, or Neighbors

Humans are social animals.  We need each other to thrive and in most cases to survive.  We even need to need others.  So what does it mean when members of a society cannot truthfully say that someone else has their back?  Yet this is true in American culture for many people today.  Many of us have nobody whom we can call in the middle of the night, or in broad daylight for that matter.  Some of us might call but not find a warm reception on the other end of the phone. Others have a spouse that they can't count on or have lost hope that anybody cares for them.

Trump's politics are happening in the context of a society where the operating assumption is that we can't expect anybody to be there for us.  More people don't have children or a family to care for them. But even when people have others they can count on, they anticipate a day they won't be there.  In other words, living as if nobody has their back to some extent, they aren't surprised when they lose government assistance.  

In such a context, it is possible for Trump to make one of those famous Manhattan deals with us where he offers us trinkets like a few low wage manufacturing or mining jobs or a couple hundred dollar tax break in exchange for our land (our common resources), our time, our money, and our lives (in war, lack of regulations).  Trump hasn't told us what we need to know to make this deal with him with free informed consent.  He hasn't disclosed his tax returns and he has impeded investigations concerning his involvement with Russia, for example. By denying us this knowledge, he manipulated us into empowering him with our vote.  He is now using this power for himself, the powerful, and the wealthy. 

Initially we don't have a problem with that because we see ourselves as hard working, capable, and not needing any of those resources that we are giving away politically.  But in the second half of our lives (>45), life has a way of teaching us to be downwardly mobile and we must depend on and share our lives more and more with others. T
hat's still not an issue until we discover that others aren't there for us when we need them, or perhaps we didn't learn how to reach out to them.  

Maybe there is something unattractive about us such as appearance, older age, low self-esteem, or a mental problem.  It isn't hard to imagine a situation where we wouldn't be able to work sufficiently to keep a roof over our heads (this is part of the downward mobility people >45 experience).  When this happens in our rugged individualist culture, many people can't count on having family, friends, or neighbors with the resources and close-enough connection to give us the help we need.

Where Trump is taking us now is to allow Darwinian survival of the fittest take over and let us die when we get to this place.  We become part of the undesirable population that he wants to keep out by either letting us die slowly or more mercifully putting us out of our misery.  We do have one other option.  We could decide today to enshrine in our laws and in our culture the value that we are not here on earth as individuals to fend for ourselves like animals, but that we have the support of a community and that together we will work for the good of all.  Without this continental shift in worldviews, we can't count on our family, friends, and neighbors to have our back. 

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