What will we do…or not do

I finally decided to suffer the violence and watch Squid Games, the show that everyone is talking about. It brings up so many questions about what we will do to stay alive, how connected or disconnected is trust and honesty, and what we did to get into positions where we have to make difficult choices.

Life always seems to give me several experiences that relate to the same question together. Here are the four confluences that happened last week.

I was listening to an NPR show Our Body Politic, Ep. 100, host Farai Chideya with Karen Attiah and Tiffany Jeffers (https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/our-body-politic/id1533069868). They were talking about black women’s responsibility to maintain liberties. One comment that bothered me was “The institutions will not save us. We have to save ourselves.” Yes, I know there is a completely different background, context and intent, but isn’t that statement similar to the rhetoric of the extreme right having to stand up for themselves against the government? One big difference is conversation verses violence. I believe January 6 was an insurrection, and can in no way condone it or feel it was justified. What bothers me is that they believed they were standing up for what they thought was the right thing to do to keep their freedom alive.

Then at the rap party for a reading I did at The Group Repertory Theater someone was talking about how the doctor (science) told her that her left arm was going to be totally crippled forever from a bad car accident she had. However, she healed it because she visualized the nerve growing back and believed that she would get her arm’s use back..

If she believed the scientific community, she would not have the use of her left arm today. And yet, I decry those who didn’t believe the science about getting a vaccine to help stop the spread of the Corona virus. When do we listen to science and when do we challenge it?

It is like a good music student. There has to be a balance between listening to the teacher and challenging it to develop a unique musical voice.

I heard about a movement in the UK to get people to not pay their utility bill. If one million did, then no one would get penalized. That reminds me of trying to get 2/3 of the students in ninth grade to skip class so that none of us would get in trouble. (I think we only got ten out of 300 to join us.) Isn’t grouping together what unions are about? Then again, isn’t it “group think” that make gangs so problematic, or cause teenagers to make less than appropriate decisions.

It reminds me of the prisoner’s dilemma game we had to play in college sociology class. (https://www.investopedia.com/terms/p/prisoners-dilemma.asp) We played it a little differently. We were told to discuss together what action we would take and then make our choice in private. My partner and I discussed working together to get the lesser sentence. When it was time to write down our decision, my intuition told me that my partner was going to rat me out, so that she would go free, but I would be imprisoned. I wouldn’t have been able to live with myself if she held to her ground, so I voted to stay together. Yes, she ratted me out. Should I have trusted my belief (intuition) or the “fact” that we had agreed to work together? The dilemma of honesty and trust—which comes first.

In my theater group, I asked how is the MAGA’s people believing the “big lie” and supporting Trump just because he says it’s true different than healing oneself because of belief? I asked another in the group and she said it was different because MAGA is about power. People are listening to the so-called self proclaimed Queen of Canada who is getting people to not pay utility bills or mortgage because she believes everyone has the right to live freely. Is that because of “power” or her desire to help all?

What troubles me so is how people can justify their behavior but decry the other’s exact same behavior because of “intent.” Who has the ultimate decision in what is the purest, most honorable, beneficial, necessary need?

How can we decide what to censor or not? I personally feel that non-truths, or disinformation should not be allowed to proliferate. However, is it the job of the person who is spouting those words to say if it’s truth, or is it the job of those who hear it to determine if it is opinion or fact? Whose job is it to fact check and can we trust the fact checkers?

I’m worried that if we censor right wing extremists, someone will get in power who decides to censor the opinions that I hold.

I was reading an article in Mother Jones magazine about how in 1917 socialist magazines and newsletters were abolished because “the Espionage Act was needed to prevent propaganda”. The postmaster general refused to give them second-class postage to be mailed. Since mail was the way to distribute information, the views of many publications were stifled. (Mother Jones, Sept./Oct. “The Censor” p. 56; https://www.scribd.com/article/588005739/The-Censor)

However the actions of these extremists (terrorists) causes harm to others. Can we prove that it is the words that instigate those intents? Interpretation of words is so malleable, especially if you try to translate one language into another.

I think ultimately if your decision doesn’t affect another that is the final litmus test if it is a viable choice. For example, if you don’t believe in abortion—don’t have one, but don’t prevent others from their choice. Even then, there are many instances when that won’t hold up.

If you want to own a gun—own one. Yet, isn’t it the proliferation of guns in hands of “unfit” people part of the problem of gun violence? Suicides make up 54% of gun deaths. (https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2022/02/03/what-the-data-says-about-gun-deaths-in-the-u-s/) Should we stop people from killing themselves? Is that really a victimless crime? What about the people left behind? Then there is euthanasia. Why spend so much money trying to keep someone alive who is brain dead or has a terminal illness and wants to pass over? (To me, that is an easy one: you are affecting someone’s decision by your choice to keep them alive.)

I was brought up to leave the world better than I found it. (See previous blog post.) I use that as my adage to support my choices. As I age, the world and decisions that I have to make become more grey. The individual threads that make up the fabric of society become clearer. I see my choices as the trees that make up the forest. I have less answers and more questions.