Bite-size philosophy and me

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Today’s world and politics often inspire a fit of philosophy in me as I try to make sense of what is happening and how to deal with it. –photo by Michelle Garren Flye

I’m a closet philosopher. Seriously, I’ve been accused of thinking too much. The problem is, if I try to read an entire book—or even an entire essay—by a philosopher, I get bored. I find myself thinking about what’s for lunch or what my kids are doing or when I need to go grocery shopping again.

The Internet has solved that for me. When I find myself pondering a philosophical problem, I can look it up on the Internet and find bite-size nuggets of inspiration in philosophical quotes. And since I always like to check my sources, I end up reading at least a paragraph or two from the quoted philosopher. Until I started this up, I had no idea who Bertrand Russell was but now I’ve read several paragraphs from him!

Google this one if you’re likely to fall for internet hoaxes: “…it is undesirable to believe a proposition when there is no ground whatever for supposing it true.”

–Bertrand Russell

That’s how I found out Albert Camus agrees with me that today’s attitudes toward “West Coast elite” writers, actors, and artists is a bad thing. Camus would have been heartbroken by the fall of Hollywood in today’s world. Of course, Camus died in 1960, and I don’t even know if he ever saw a movie, but I found a quote that seems to support this idea of mine. Camus wrote: “Beauty, no doubt, does not make revolutions. But a day will come when revolutions will have need of beauty.”

What a wonderful thought. I pictured men on a bleak battlefield ceasing the fight while they looked for the beauty of what they were fighting for. How many wars might end if we stopped to think about what we fought for? I checked the source of the quote and found a longer section of Camus’s essay “The Rebel: An Essay on Man in Revolt.” In this section, Camus expounds on the necessity of art to make sense of history. Look, for instance, at this sentence:

“Every great reformer tries to create in history what Shakespeare, Cervantes, Moliere, and Tolstoy knew how to create: a world always ready to satisfy the hunger for freedom and dignity which every man carries in his heart.”

–Albert Camus

I dare to believe that Camus wrote, in 1951, how I’ve been feeling about the way many artists are treated today when they dare to make their feelings about the larger world known. Stephen King, Barbra Streisand, Colin Kaepernick (yes, sports can be art), J.K. Rowling—even Rob Thomas—all of these artists and many more have been slammed on Twitter and in conservative media for daring to make political opinions known in today’s highly divisive atmosphere.

To the artists I say, you have vision and you must keep seeing. Keep seeing and keep speaking out because though you are outnumbered by those who can’t see, your light shines brighter than theirs. And that’s your job.

In case you were wondering, Camus would have agreed with me about this. In that same essay, he said something which I can only take as a message to me and to all like me who see the world as oppressive and who want to make it freer and more beautiful and welcoming to all:

“The only way to deal with an unfree world is to become so absolutely free that your very existence is an act of rebellion.”

–Albert Camus

And that is how I will seek to live my life.

Poem: Alternative Anthem

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Photo by Gerritt Tisdale on Pexels.com

Alternative Anthem

By Michelle Garren Flye

 

Oh say, can’t you see

In the day’s last blue light

That our country has bailed

And the darkness is looming?

 

What good are stripes and little stars

When we don’t do what’s right?

And our laws are all botched,

By our government’s scheming?

 

And the lies that we’re told

Well, they’re really getting old!

And there’s proof of what’s right

But we must stand up bold.

 

Oh say, can’t you help me raise a flag we can praise—

O’er a land of truly free and a home to all the brave?

Why this election frightens me

Please read this.

I’m a freaking romance writer, why the hell am I getting involved in politics?

Because the prospect of President Donald Trump terrifies me on a personal level, and I’m going to try to explain that.

And it’s not the so-called “salty language”/”locker room talk”, although for the record that locker room talk described actions that NO ONE should be okay with. I fear a Donald Trump presidency because I don’t think he has the emotional maturity to be president, and he will end up being an authoritarian at best. A dictator, more likely.

Think about it. He’s displayed all the signs. He is vindictive. He has shown himself to possess bullying tendencies. He calls people names and threatens them if they don’t do what he wants. He’s publicly threatened Hillary Clinton at least three times that we know of. He bans media outlets that don’t say what he wants them to say, calling them “unfair”. He threatens lawsuits for almost anything. He’s shown a total disregard for and lack of knowledge of the Constitution and international laws on several occasions.

If Donald Trump is elected president, I won’t agree with him. He doesn’t believe in the equality of races and sexes. He doesn’t believe in climate change, and I am very sure that if we have a president who denies climate change in the face of all scientific proof for four years, we’ll do uncontrollable damage to the environment.

If he is elected president and follows through on the promise to force his Attorney General to appoint ANOTHER special prosecutor to investigate Hillary Clinton and spend billions more of our tax dollars on ANOTHER investigation of our tax dollars, I will have to protest that, because it will put our entire system in jeopardy.

I will write every word I can to protest what he does that I feel is wrong. I will watch every move he makes as president, and I will fight every way I know how to try to make our nation a decent place for my children to live.

And there’s the rub. I will fight using the only real weapon I have. The written word. And we well know that Donald Trump does not believe in Freedom of the Press. In other authoritarian regimes, writers who fight the government end up in jail or dead. Their families are threatened or just disappear. Sometimes they flee their country.

If Donald Trump is elected president, writers are going to have to be as brave as soldiers. Journalists are going to have to make a commitment to fighting, right here on our own home turf. We’ll have to fight for what we believe is right, no matter the consequences. Because our nation will be at stake.

Which is why I beg you, if you believe in truth and freedom and justice, don’t vote for Donald Trump. I’d rather you vote for Gary Johnson. Write in Mike Pence or Paul Ryan. Jeb Bush was my pick for Republican nominee, honestly. Vote for him. I don’t fear any of those politicians. I don’t respect or agree with many of them, either, but I don’t fear them. Because I believe I could disagree with them and still go home at night and feel safe.

#NeverTrump #ImWithHer

There’s something rotten in the marketplace of ideas

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By Downtowngal (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

I was trained as a journalist. I didn’t practice long (about a year and a half), but I remember some of what I learned in the journalism school I attended.

One of those things was the theory called “the marketplace of ideas”. It’s the cornerstone of freedom of information. It’s the idea that out of a vast mix of many ideas, the truth will emerge. In other words, truth is the idea that gains the most traction when all ideas are allowed to be expressed.

This is a great concept, and I thoroughly support it for the most part. But every now and then, in this huge marketplace, the smell of rotten fruit is overwhelming. I smell it most strongly on social media, where far left and far right media are quoted as facts.

I worry that the marketplace of ideas was not intended to be placed next to today’s information superhighway where people are too busy to pay attention to the fruit they pick up. Is that fruit actually something they want to consume? Or was its sweet smell concealing something much more rotten?

In today’s age of too much information presented too quickly, you need to be careful what you believe and what you pass along. Ask yourself: Is the information you pass along based on real fact? Where does it come from? What other ideas has that source put forward? Are you passing it along because it sounds like truth or because it sounds like the truth you want?

Treat the marketplace of ideas like you treat any roadside stand you may stop at to pick up fruit for your family. Look at each piece of fruit carefully. Examine it for rotten areas. Think about where it comes from. Because wormy ideas are causing a great deal of sickness in this world.