November 10, 2016

Election Post Blues

It is Thursday, and I think I am suffering from post-election stress. Yes, I have been sick to my stomach the past couple days, plagued by headaches, and frankly, super sensitive to the question, "so who did you vote for in the election?" I am rankled by the suggestion that I either did the right thing (vote for Trump) or the wrong thing (vote for Hilary) or vice-versa, depending on your political leaning. Dare I say that I voted for neither candidate, and well, expect the vitriol to pour forth! No, I have hid my head, walked around campus avoiding line of sight, simply because I am tired, so very tired of all the hate, the name-calling, and the ideological backlash.

The funny thing is that both sides are guilty of engaging in an ideological war. In some ways, Americans are guilty of the very same practice as our evil neighbors in the middle east. Rather than fight a religious war on ideological grounds, we are fighting a political war on ideological grounds. It is very difficult to argue ideology with another person, especially if their political views are deeply held or entrenched (as in a cultural identification).

Cultural Theory in Practice

In sociological theory, ideology is defined as "a system of ideas and ideals, especially one that forms the basis of economic or political theory and policy" (Merriam Webster). Ideology or the understanding of it as a belief system comes chiefly through the work of Marx and Engels (German philosophers) who first put for the idea of a system of belief supported by and established through the ruling classes in Germany. Since the 19th century, we have seen a shift in the values, beliefs and assumptions of the western half of the world. Marxism, socialism, communism, etc., have infiltrated America, just as these ideological value systems have transformed most of modern Europe. Although we haven't seen the armed response to institutionalization that occurred in Germany, Russia and Asia, for example, we have seen the enculturation occur through media and education.

Currently, we are seeing masses of people accept the dominant theory of gender, race, ethnicity, and nationality as oppressive or marginalized power structures. In this way, mass media and our institutionalized education system have served to indoctrinate millions of people in order to persuade them to accept a false sense of reality. We see this all over social media today -- people claiming to be marginalized, victimized, and lashing out at anyone who might not believe that their reality is real. All black people are victims of police brutality. All LGBTQ are victims of social backlash. All whites are racists and bigots and homophobes. Of course, the "real" reality is that this "false consciousness" is made up. These statements are not true. There is no empirical evidence to suggest that all whites are racist for example or all blacks are the victims of hate crimes. Yes, some whites are racist. Some blacks, especially those in urban centers are victims of crime or police brutality. But not "all." Yet, the mainstream media has colored the consciousness of America by saying it is so and millions of people have believed the lie. They have come to accept forced enculturation and this ideological ramming of manufactured reality. It didn't happen over night, but it did happen over time. Turn on your TV or spend a few minutes on social media and you will see the rage, the crushing hatred of any threat to upset this false reality.

What is most interesting is the fact that in America, in particular, there are still competing ideologies at play. One is propagated by the left and the other by the right (politically speaking). According to Brooker (1999), combating the cultural transmission of such ideas depends on how well an individual can resist or refashion an ideology on their own. Thus, creating a new narrative to supplant the dominant one becomes increasingly difficult unless there are latent values and beliefs that can be roused and "common sense" reactivated. The problem is that in cultural theory replacing a dominant belief system requires major upheaval and this can only occur in one of two ways: either by direct force or by secondary means such as institutionalization through control of media, education, and religion. 

This is happening, by the way, right here in America. The vote on Tuesday was an effort by the moderate-right and conservative-right to say no to the liberal-left and their push to turn our nation from a representative republic with democratic processes to a socialist regime. The progressives in our country strongly want to cut ties to capitalism, one of the chief opponents of socialism and communism. They want to remove God and all reliance upon God from their public discourse. Furthermore, they want to make sure that anyone who doesn't buy their false reality, their false consciousness, to suffer horribly as a result. This is why the liberal left can only resort to name-calling and bashing of people whom them fear as a threat to their reality.

It took me a while to understand why I was reading posts from well-meaning people who said they spent all day on Wednesday in tears, weeping and gnashing their teeth, over the election results. I couldn't fathom how they believed that a Trump win would somehow turn back time, revert our nation to some former point whereby we all believed similarly, aka in Christian theism. These poor people are so clueless as to the possibility of this response. No matter how much the Christian right desires this to be so, the likelihood that it will occur is slim to nil. We cannot turn back time. We cannot restore culture to a previous state, no matter how much the thought would please us. We can reform culture through laws and practice, but we cannot restore it. We are stuck with our present culture because to restore culture would require one of two things: armed force or control of the media. Neither will happen at this time or juncture, but the ideological war is raging none the less, and there is always a possibility that one side will assert control and force everyone to believe a certain way. If you do not believe me, simply look to our European neighbors.

The left screams that our nation is filled with neo-Nazi's and that what they are seeing is a eery resemblance to Hitler's rise to power. Yet, they do not see the inner workings of their own fabrication of life as practiced in Russia. Hitler's nationalism spurred the Nazi's to take over Germany and thus engage in a world war bent on extermination of all non-Arian people. The Russian Bolshevik Revolution of 1917 was an attempt at class renegotiation and led to the institution of socialism and communism. The Cultural Revolution of 1939 in China hastened the demise of an empire to usher in communism as well. These movements, class-restricted and backed by armed force, were the response to competing ideologies. In the end, these countries slammed the door on freedom of speech, the free rights of citizens to believe as they would choose, in order to create a dominate belief system that would renegotiate an entire people's sense of reality.

Is America next on the socialist agenda? Yes. Though at least for the next four years, the battle has been won, thanks in part to half the population choosing to exert their right to say no to this new belief system, and to hold on to their own common sense. How long will this last? It is uncertain at this time, but the proponents of socialism will not go quietly into the night. No, they will regroup and they will try again. This is why it is vitally important to realize that arguing about ideology is useless. You cannot argue reality versus false reality with another person. They will simply assert that their "reality" is more right than yours. They will not be able to defend their reality without crushing blows, armed response, and acrimonious accusations because to do nothing would mean that they would be willing to accept a competing concept. They cannot do it. 

This is why, in my view, so many people were "shocked," "crushed," and "deeply disturbed" about the election outcome. I read about people who were weeping as if a loved one had just passed. These people, clearly are thought-possessed. I mean, we have four years of change. Four good or bad years. It is not the end of the world, but for these people, it is. It is the end of their world. Why? Because their reality, their belief in this reality has been shaken, and this means that at its core, their reality is not steady, solid, or stable. Think of it as a tower of blocks. One block is removed from the top, and the tower stands firm. One block is removed from the middle, and perhaps the tower begins to shift to the right or the left. But, remove one block from the bottom third, the foundational level, and the tower crumbles.

Donald Trump removed a block from the lower third of the majority who believed "Hilary" would win hands down. He knocked their foundation, and as of right now, many have lost hope, have lost all sense of balance. This is why there were responses on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter saying "I need time to process this result." For most Americans, well at least the 56 million who voted for Trump, this thought of "processing" seems unnecessary. I heard people say "why can't you just accept the outcome?" I mean, most conservatives see that life is not changing that much in reality, and they understand that perhaps the change will be for the better (as in the Repeal of Obama Care). Yet, millions of people are crushed that their candidate lost on Tuesday. Millions of people believed the rhetoric that said that Trump was a "hater" and that all people who support him are by extension "haters" too.

Push all reasoning and rationale aside, that argument fails on zero evidence. Yet, in an ideological war of words, of beliefs, and of positions, making sense, using rational evidence for support justification for a belief statement is not required. Just say it, and millions of people will believe it. We are seeing this now as it plays out across social media. People, mostly young institutionalized and uneducated people are taking to the streets to protest what they have been told about Trump supporters. They don't know anything. They don't know the truth. Their reality has been shaped and molded by the media, and this is all they know -- riot, revolt, and rip anyone who doesn't believe as you do. It is mobilization of the masses. It is the first step to anarchy. It is the first step to controlling the nation by force. We are one step away from becoming a socialist regime. Maybe not today, maybe not in a year, but soon (perhaps 10-20 or even 30 years) we will become a socialist nation just like the rest of the Europe. What is more, the people of America, those that stand for justice, freedom of speech and rights and liberty, will be subsumed by the dominant ideology that says the "state knows what is best for you." 

In response to the election outcome, I have made the conscious decision to leave Facebook for good. It is a difficult thing for me to do because I have many friends, family, coworkers on social media. I simply cannot read the negative and abusive posts of some of my friends and family who are lashing out right now. They are wounded, I am sure. They are confused, without a doubt. But they are ideologically lost, completely convinced that their reality is real and that anyone who attempts to suggest an alternative reality is an enemy to be destroyed. I cannot abide by it. I cannot agree with it.

I didn't just decide to stop viewing social media willy-nilly. I have been praying over it for the past 6-9 months. I felt the Lord was saying to me that I needed to stay off Facebook, in particular. I have tried to moderate my use, but frankly, I am addicted to it. I read my feeds daily, check Facebook throughout the day, and even make updates on behalf of my parents (who are elderly). So this is difficult for me. I struggled with the thought of it. But, yesterday and today, well, the rationale for it has come home, so to speak. I started slowly when I purposely chose to unfollow family members whose hate speech offended me. Then I unfollowed groups where the rhetoric of "all of you are X" was getting so loud that I couldn't take it anymore. My heart ached, my stomach was in knots, and my head simply was spinning. 

Today was the last straw for me. Another person posted about the trauma of Hilary's loss, and frankly, I had had enough. I read all day yesterday posts where the "sky was falling." I talked with my students about it, and even in class, I had to react to comments of "moving to New Zealand." I just boiled over, and I couldn't take it anymore. 

My spirit reacted strongly to what I saw around me. I know that the Holy Spirit is deeply grieved, and when He is grieved, I feel it inside of me. I came home from school feeling so poorly as if I had been beaten up. I slept fitfully, but awoke to fresh new day. I had already removed the Facebook app from my phone (reduce the temptation). But, I gave in when I logged onto my computer today. I clicked on the link, and well, there it was again. All over again. More raging, more words of angst and agony. 

My heart was brought low when I read this one post, this one particular post. Someone I care about deeply expressed their sorrow in such a horrifying way. I read it, thinking I could simply let it pass, but I couldn't do it. I couldn't do it. I sat there, with such ache in my heart because in that one moment I realized that this person was lost, hopelessly and forever lost. Spiritually dead. I felt it was so previously, but it was in their words, the words written eloquently and with such intention that I saw the depressing nature of a person who has no hope, no savior, no future. Reality was shaken at its core and for this particular person, their tower had toppled. This person had made "Hilary" god, and when this "false god" didn't do what she had promised, when this god didn't save the people, everything this person believed in crashed to the ground. The problem is that this person has no faith in Jehovah-God, the One True God. At one time, this was not so, but after turning back against religion, faith in Jesus Christ, and walking strongly into atheism, there was no one to hope for except a human being -- unfortunately a flawed, failed, and powerful figure -- who had promised the world, promised salvation.

Hilary didn't deliver. She couldn't, and that is the rub that the "Hilary-ites" cannot deal with today. Their savior didn't rise from the dead and restore their faith in humanity. She died in the flames of an election, lost to a majority who simply didn't buy the argument, the false reality she painted for them. Thank goodness there are still people in this country who have common sense. And, no, Trump is no savior either. He is a flawed and failed man and the jury is still out whether he will do what he has promised. But, at least for a time, there is some hope that the nation may recover from some of the more difficult Obama policies. Perhaps the next four years will be better. However, I am not holding out much hope. I am simply thinking there may be chance that my insurance premium could be manageable and the one remaining healthcare plan in my county -- might just provide something less than catastrophic care to me and my family. Perhaps.


In Closing

In closing, I made the decision today to leave Facebook and all my social friends there in order to regain my sanity, my sense of self. I have to pull back in order to stem the media's invasion and influence on my life. I am committed to following my Lord, and that means to forsake anything that I have placed on the altar of my heart. My prayer today is to regroup and to recover so that I can be the voice of reason, the voice of rationale thinking, and in this way, I can help my students focus on their studies and less on the rhetoric that is telling them to jump ship, to follow suit, and in some ways, to commit ideological suicide since their candidate didn't win this election.

Reference

Brooker, P. (1999). A concise glossary of cultural theory. London: Arnold.

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