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Category: Life and Lessons

Maybe a Man-Eating Lion

Dennis Prager summed it up well in a recent interview with Dave Rubin on the Rubin Report podcast. The choice on November 8, 2016. was not between Trump and Clinton. Rather, it was between Trump and the Left. Prager likened the choice as having to choose between two doors. One had a sign over it that said, “Man-eating Lion”. The other (the Trump door), had a sign that said, “Maybe a Man-eating Lion”.

Like Prager, if I was American and had a right to vote, I would have voted for “Maybe a Man-eating Lion”. I would have voted for Trump.

Hope and Change

Why was I so against what the Left was offering America via Hillary Clinton? Because it was much more of the same, and really a further progression down the road towards a society that would be fundamentally broken.

Trump’s campaign themes were “hope and change”.
Trump offered real hope and real change to Americans, and throughout the country, people heard him and joined the movement. Obama also famously campaigned on hope and change, but then delivered neither. After eight years of Obama, Americans had far less hope for the future and nothing fundamentally changed. In fact, things got worse. Unemployment continues to be above 20% according to ShadowStats.com as people literally give up on trying to find a job and are simply not counted anymore in the official US Government employment numbers.

Obamacare increased health insurance costs for many and the mandate meant that those who couldn’t afford it were fined and had to pay to not have insurance. The much talked about economic recovery averaged 1.5% per year during the eight years of Obama’s presidency. That’s the weakest recovery performance of any president since World War II, and the fourth weakest in US history.

That doesn’t mean that I am a fan of Trump, or that I agree with everything he says. But that hasn’t stopped people from calling me a “Trump lover” or worse. In the months since the election, I’ve noticed a real interesting effect when I “come out” and make positive comments about Trump or negative comments about the Left. “Oh, you are one of them?” or “So you support Trump?” and then everything changes. People stop talking to me, or start throwing nasty comments my way. It’s quite amazing.

Even writing is a bit of a scary proposition for me. It’s okay though…I can take it. Unlike the Left, I’m open to the fact that people have different ideas and opinions from mine. I don’t shout people down or intimidate them. I don’t call people fascist, or a Nazi, or racist if they express a different point of view. In fact, others’ views don’t really affect how I think about them at all.

Classical liberalism

I am not a true conservative despite the fact that I now have a membership card for the Conservative Party of Canada in my wallet. I’m a classical liberal. I believe in free speech. I believe that you should be able to love whoever you want. I think all people deserve to get paid the same thing for contributing the same value to their employer. I think all people are the same, no matter where they come from, or what they look like. I think less regulation and less government interference is better than a lot of regulation and government telling me or anyone what to do or think.

Things I don’t believe in include shutting down free speech through violent protest. If you don’t like what someone is saying, either ignore them, or debate them. If you disagree with what an elected government is doing, make your voice heard. Protest and share your opinions and then vote.

Anti-free speech protestors at Berkeley promising war.
Sadly, the Left seems incapable of showing any sort of tolerance of late. Rather, they refuse to accept the outcome of a fair election in the United States of America. They shout down and shut down any events where the ideas being presented are different from theirs. They stir up hatred and try to incite race wars.

More to learn

I’ll continue to try to better understand the world we live in by listening to more voices that talk about the issues. That means exposing myself to debate and opinions on both sides. I’d never vote for her, but I’m happy to hear what someone like Kellie Leitch has to say, and I’m excited to see what Maxime Bernier brings to the table for the Conservative Party of Canada.

Looking south to the US, and east towards Europe, I’m very interested to see how things play out. I’m hopeful that the US will come out of the next four (or eight) years of President Trump in a far better place than the country is in today. I also fear for the future of Europe as they attempt to deal with the migrant crisis that very clearly has the potential to rip apart the EU and potentially destroy some great countries like France, Germany and the Netherlands.

There’s lots to learn which means I’ll be doing a lot of listening and reading of different opinions and views.

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Why I Left the Left

This pretty much explains the bizarro world in which I now find myself living. I literally have a Conservative Party of Canada membership card in my wallet with my name on it, but I consider myself a liberal. It didn’t make much sense to me when I sent my $15 and joined, but I felt that the Conservatives best represented how I saw things.

This video explains it very well.

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The End of Social Media

Crazy prediction time: I think 2017 will mark the year that social media began a significant decline.

I’m seeing many blog posts and stories on the mainstream media about people checking out of Twitter, Facebook and other services. Millennials already don’t use them in a lot of cases and Generation X is getting a clue as to why. It’s a waste of time, energy and it’s terrible for your mental health.

My own experience with quitting recently has been positive. I don’t miss Twitter, and I never really cared for Facebook anyways. Instagram is still enjoyable, but that’s a carefully curated stream of photos of things I want to see and nothing else.

Imagine if Twitter declined to the point that it was no longer relevant. Would you miss it? I think the only thing I thought I was giving up was the ability to get news updates and real-time information about services I use like the TTC and some web services.

It turns out that most of that was noise. It seemed useful, but in reality it was a stream that contained far too much useless and unimportant information to be really useful. I thought I needed to know, but the truth is, I didn’t.

Here’s a challenge for you: go a week without using Twitter and/or Facebook. After seven days, honestly assess whether you’ve gained or lost from the experience.

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I’m Out

I think I’m done with social media.

I don’t check Facebook anymore. The app is gone from my phone and the bookmark is gone from my browser favourites. Every one of my “friends” has been unfollowed. In Facebook parlance, that we are still “friends”, but I don’t see any of their posts, likes, and other Facebook activity like article shares.

I held onto the Facebook Messenger app since some friends use that to contact me now and then. I’ll check a lone Facebook group now and then for the Sunday running routes.

On Twitter, I’ve unfollowed pretty much everyone. My timeline consists of TTC notices, and tweets from a few select people and services whose tweets I find interesting. If the TTC provided those notices some other way, I’d probably kick Tweetbot to the curb as well. I’ll see if I still check those updates. I think I probably won’t.

What I used to see on Facebook years ago is vacation photos, some updates on friends lives, a birthday, some pics of a dog or cat, maybe a Dailymile run or two. You know, actual stuff that I’m interested in hearing about so I can get a glimpse into the lives of people I care about.

What I get now is endless shared articles, mostly political, hurled into a vast echo chamber. For years I’ve been carefully pruning my Facebook feed through the “hide all from website” feature. Hide all from BuzzFeed. Hide all from Huffington Post. Hide all from OMG Facts. You get the idea.

It’s become too much. Despite my constant pruning, Facebook insists on showing me article after article about how the world is ending, and how society is breaking down around me.

Do I blame Facebook? No. Because that is literally all it has to show me. That’s all people post these days. See an article, share on Facebook. Comment. Like. Shake head. Rant and rave. #whatever.

Twitter is the same thing.

OMG, this is INSANE! Retweet some celebrity going on about some cause. Someone died. RIP. So sad. Some company gave me bad service. Call them out with “Hey @starbucks…” so everybody knows that Starbucks messed up my latte in some awful way. RT to try to win some contest.

I’ve been guilty of some of this over the years. It’s too easy to just type out 140 characters and send it out into the world without thinking whether a) it needed to be said, or b) anyone either read it, or cared.

I write a blog post, link to it on Twitter, see a few likes, and when I check analytics, it turns out that nobody actually read the post. What’s the point? There isn’t one.

No time to actually read or learn or investigate or come to your own conclusions. Read clickbait headline, retweet and like. Repeat.

The value of these social networks to me has been diminishing and a tipping was reached where I don’t think the value I get out of being a part of it is greater than the cost I’m paying in time and mental health. Ironically it was #BellLetsTalk that really pushed me over the edge and got me thinking about quitting.

I’ll keep my accounts for now, but don’t expect any posts on Facebook or Twitter from me. If you need to reach me, Twitter direct messages aren’t a good way anymore. I’ll be on Signal, iMessage or Facebook Messenger (if you must).

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Stop Hating, Start Listening

My hope today is that everyone will drop the hate and anti-Trump or anti-Hillary rhetoric and talk to the other side instead of writing them off.

I believe in my heart that even the worst of Trump’s supporters have the ability to change. I’m talking about the ones that were attracted to him by the racism, sexism and all the other ‘isms. Dare I say it, even Trump himself has shown an ability to change over the course of the election campaign through dialog and through (he says) talking with his wife, and children. He has much work to do before I’d consider him a changed person, but that means only that we all have work to do to help him change too.

Attacking people for how they think and forcing change on them doesn’t accomplish anything. Working to learn about the roots of their hate and addressing the issues that brought us all where to we are at can lead to real change.

Consider where people grew up and the environmental factors that influenced them throughout their lives. Believe and offer the benefit of the doubt that they are fallible humans with the real potential to understand and change. Realize that they may be right and accept that you may be wrong.

Much to learn

As a Canadian and as a Torontonian looking south, this week has shown me that I have much to learn as well. I’m just as guilty of attacking those with other viewpoints as our American neighbours on both sides of the debate.

It’s been a real tough week of introspection for me and at the same time, it’s been very good for the soul for me to start questioning myself on things like how I reacted to the election of Rob Ford, and the problems we face in our city.

I’m one of the “fallible humans with the real potential to understand and change” that I talked about three paragraphs back. It’s been tough to admit that, but it’s also true. I’ve also realized that in some cases, I’ve been wrong and accepting that has also been difficult.

Sadness slowly turning to hope

Many tears have been shed since Tuesday in conversations with my wife, my friends and with myself. Mostly I’ve been terribly sad and upset by the hatred that I’ve heard around the office, out in public and also coming through in the posts on my Facebook and Twitter feeds.

At the same time I’m slowly feeling more encouraged by the number of great conversations that I’ve had over the last two days as the tone changes, and the rhetoric slowly fades from view in favour of exchanges of viewpoints and ideas. Minds are opening through real conversation and minds are being changed on both sides.

I’m finally hopeful. In a weirdly fucked up and backwards way, the election of Donald Trump has brought me the hope that we can figure this all out and make a better world for everyone.

Progress

We can’t all agree on everything and that’s fine.

Discord is good for our communities and our country; it is these differences of opinion which can lead to changes of opinion. With that comes real progress.

Discord is also dangerous. Screaming at, and writing off others because of their opinions, or shutting down in the face of disagreements, leads to both sides digging in and refusing to acknowledge the other. That, in turn, sows the seeds of division and perpetuates the cycle of hate.

Listen, learn and then maybe engage. Stop fighting. Rise above it and extend a hand or offer a hug.

At least in my social circles, we’re slowly starting to learn from each other and it’s so great to see. Spread it around.

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