“my reality” – Gwendalyn Elizabeth Wisniewski, my daughter
It seems that the line between reality and perception is a blurry one and, despite modern science showing that there is one and only one tangible reality, there is a growing belief in perception being a measure of reality despite its frequent failures.
People want to believe that what they see or hear exists just as they perceive it. They know about illusionists, and understand why they’re no longer called magicians, yet they still claim personal realities, as if the Universe changes itself to suit the individual. Fantasy abounds in our culture and seems to be getting stronger as we are able to create more and more realistic-seeming fantastic places. Our video games, our movies, our churches, and our politicians all call on us to ignore what exists and believe in the unseen and un-experienced fantasies of others.
Which ever political party in the United States one listens to, there are a significant number of persons on the other side with a different set of “facts” or “fantasies” and a great debate seems to be raging in the media over which set is “reality” and which set is “fiction” or “lies.” I know that CNN presents a few facts and a lot of opinions, but so does the station dominated by Catholics, one devoted to its audience of evangelicals, and FOX news. My good friends on the other side of this barbed wire fence didn’t skip a beat when Mike Pence and FOX news switched sides during the insurrection in our nation’s capitol but merely changed channels.
This disbelief was earned by our news media going back to the start of this country. This discrediting of the news was created by wealthy individuals individually and collectively buying up whole sections of media and putting it on the market to the highest bidders and catering to their audience. As long as Howard Stern or Rush Limbaugh got a good share of the available audiences, they catered to a loyal, enthusiastic segment of our population and sensationalized and hyperbolized white privilege and the real, tangible, dedicated liberal threats that opposed it and called instead for inclusion and universal equality.
According to Democrats, we’re a nation of outcasts and immigrants, a pluralized, polyglot, egalitarian land extending a welcoming hand to people of all faiths, colors, genders and sexual orientations and they boldly champion a society dedicated to a win-win solution for all the world’s people. According to Democrats, we owe it to the world to share our wealth and our good fortune with the rest of humanity.
According to Republicans, we’re a nation of winners in a win-lose contest with other faiths, other cultures, and other, undesirable attitudes; we’re in a prolonged battle with those who seek to take what we have acquired away from us; we’re a Christian nation with solely Christian values facing ruin by people such as myself who are just as strongly opposed to Christianity’s longstanding prejudice against women in power, exclusive Christian values, a ban on abortions and who support the rights of gay couples to marry and file joint tax returns and be treated as equals. They see our society as undergoing massive change at alarming, bewildering rates and they long for the simple, the mythical, the ideal of the 1950s when cowboys were the good guys and wore white hats, when American Indians were stupid savages or at least portrayed that way, and where all visible couples of any import were white, heterosexual and male-dominated. They want the good old days when men were men and women were sycophants and the good guys were white men with white hats and guns that defended America as a Christian sanctuary against the godless mobs in the rest of the world.
But both of these visions are flawed. The Democrats think NATO is defending the free world when, until recent inclusions, it was composed of Colonizing nations on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean, nations such as Great Britain. Great Britain created two of the worst hotspots in the Middle East as our ally in the First World War, Palestine/Israel, and Kuwait. They have subjugated much of the Third World and used it for profit and white privileges and recently voted against the inclusive values of the more egalitarian European Union.
Democrats believe we’ve always been a nation sponsoring equality. However, aside from rhetoric, most of the Founding Fathers were slave owners and made laws to protect their “rights” to own people and their offspring. They made their slaves count as 3/5 of a person with no rights of their own. The Founding Fathers were an all-male group who were the wealthiest among us. George Washington earned his commission in the British army by genocidal attacks against Native Americans in order to push the British Empire westward. So preserving the values of the Constitutional Convention is itself ambiguous in that what they said and what they did are quite different. Democrats want to fully implement the ideal of a welcoming, immigrant, polyglot, diverse nation of promise and equality. They want to abandon the wealthy immigrant Cuban voters in Florida in favor of the majority of Cubans back home who have the rights to education, free quality health care, and a government that protects them against the white privilege granted to the offspring of their European conquerors.
Republicans cannot actually verbalize the disenfranchisement they feel deeply and profoundly because they have yet to come to grips with these underlying discrepancies between fact and fiction. They know deep in their subconscious that the truth is out there and that the platitudes they’ve been hearing all their lives sound hollow. They believe in guns and atomic weaponry to create the fear needed to protect our nation and its unique values and ascendant place in the world hierarchy. To Republicans, out “greatness” has always been tied to violence and acquisition, to our aggressiveness and acquisitiveness, to our Christianity, and to our Bibles that put us as allies with our Creator against the faithless mobs that constitute the rest of humanity.
Until we settle on which ideal we follow, we will inherit the schizophrenic divide that existed at our founding and has been our shadow, unrecognized reality ever since.
©David N. Dodson, April, 2016-March 2021, Phoenix, AZ