Radical

Radicalize: “cause (someone) to adopt radical positions on political or social issues.” or “cause to change; make different; cause a transformation”

Radical: “(used of opinions and actions) far beyond the norm”

So, to be “radicalized” one would be changed far beyond the norm. I hear of people being radicalized in religious and political situations, mostly “right-wing” “conservative” or “Christian” and “Muslim” groups do it according to the news media, but I wonder if people realize that you can be “radicalized” to the left or right and in any or no religion.

If you only read and believe information from one type of news source, you may become radicalized to that position. I’m trying to put this into the right words and it’s so difficult. The problem is that I have friends on both ends of the political spectrum and they both seem radicalized these days. If I were to post an article praising one politician and his or her accomplishments or ideas, I’d get one side or the other saying that the politician was a monster and advocating some kind of violence to stop them and their plans. By violence, I mean any kind, not just the guns and fists kind. You also use violence against people when you tell them that you will put them in jail if they don’t do what you say to do. Even if we all voted and the majority approved of it, it’s still violence.

I think we are all being radicalized lately. We’ve all stopped looking at each other as fellow human beings and more like opponents in a violent game of life. We aren’t trying to learn more about each other and understand each other, we’re trying to stop one of side from winning against us. To most of my friends, each election and its aftermath is a matter of life and death and they feel they need to anything to stop the other side from getting their way.

I’ve read and retyped this at least five times. I have more in my head, but I just can’t seem to put it together right. I just wish more people would stop playing this game. Government is not a football game. These are your fellow human beings. They have just as much of a right to be here doing the things that make them happy as you do.

How about we try treating each other like brothers and sisters, instead of opponents? I don’t know what else to say.

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Ugg…my brain…

I keep thinking, “Oh! Wait! I’ll write about that today!” Then I open the word doc and lose the thought or think it’s just too negative to write about. It’s one of those days!

Here’s what I’m going with today. It’s a comment I made on Facebook to a friend. We were talking about the new bill in California to do away with bail.

I’m not sure about this. Bail is also set on your circumstances, higher bail for higher flight risk and financial ability. I don’t think this bill will really help anyone. All it does is put bail bonds people out of work. That’s a lot of money out of the economy, bail money doesn’t go to the court unless you skip it. But the bill does help poor people not have to pay a bail bondsman to be out of jail while waiting for trial.

My experience? I was accused of a violent crime and my bail was set at $50K. I had three choices: stay in jail until trial (which would have been one year away from my babies and without working my job), get the bail money and get it back when I get to court, or take a bail loan from a bondsman and lose 10% of that money when I go to court.

$5K is a lot of money to lose along with paying for a lawyer. We were lucky enough to have family that could loan us the bail and not charge interest.

So, I can see why eliminating monetary bail would be a positive…but…this bill is so vague about how they will keep people from skipping court instead of having to return for their money. Like I said, they already set a bail amount by judging your flight risk and the accusations against you, whether or not you might hurt someone else while waiting for trial or influence the case against you.

And then later on in the conversation, this thought came to me.

The easier you make it to for the police and courts to convict a criminal, the harder you make it for the innocent to acquit themselves of the accusations made against them. That’s when you have people with more money getting a better deal than the poor. AND the court only counts an arrest as good if someone is convicted, not if the crime stops or is solved. It doesn’t matter who goes to jail, just that someone does.

It’s not that police and the justice system are evil, it’s that we’ve lost sight of their purpose and that they are fallible. And we’ve lost sight of the reasons for our rights.

I’d rather see a criminal go free than an innocent in jail. It’s hard but it’s the way she goes.

A Quorum

In the wake of our recent “election” I had a thought. What if we had to have a quorum or eligible voters to make any decisions? On a Board of Directors, you generally must have a quorum to decide anything. If there are twelve members and only six members show up, those six can’t just make decisions and force the rest to go along. They would have to assume that the other half isn’t interested in the project and act accordingly, decisions would need to be made. Do we scrap the project? Do we change it somehow to get the attention of the whole group? Do we find new members and get rid of the old? We can’t just continue on as usual. What if our country voted that way? What if, when only 25% of the population showed up at the polling place, our government was compelled to drop the project all together or change the options and try again? It sounds interesting.

I didn’t vote this time. I looked at the candidates and none of them had my confidence, none seemed to represent my principles, not even close. It seemed I would be only choosing the lesser of two evils and that just doesn’t seem right. I mean, if you had the choice between Hitler and Satan as a leader you’d think, “Well, Satan condemns and tortures us all, but Hitler is only after the Jews and I’m not a Jew so that’s the lesser of two evils.” I’d rather abstain from voting all together. I won’t choose who is oppressed and who isn’t since there is no choice in our system not to oppress.

And as to the measures and such, the wording is so confusing that I can’t make a wise decision. How do I know what my yes or no vote means? I can’t just vote no on everything to make no changes. It doesn’t always work that way. All the measures were only a choice between who gets what from the government and who gets things taken away, so what’s the point there? There were no measures that said, “Leave everyone with what they have and allow them to make their own decisions.”

What if everyone stopped voting all together? Would the government just continue on doing whatever it likes? It seems they do that anyway regardless of how we vote.

Bringing About Peace

I’m reading “Crime & Punishment” and loving it! It’s been on my list for awhile and when I happened to see it on the shelf at the book store, translated by Pevear and Volokhonsky, I had to buy it and put it next on my list. I have not been disappointed. It’s like a really long Columbo!

“He knows something!”
“Oh, ok, that’s all you know.”
“He’s a fool.”
“Oh, wait, one more question.”

It’s so awesome. I wish I had more time to read it but this way at least I’m savoring it instead of binge reading.

Something interesting came up about socialism in it, of course. Here’s the line. “I’ll show you their books: with them one is always a ‘victim of the environment’ – nothing else! Their favorite phrase! Hence directly that if society itself is normally set up, all crimes will at once disappear, because there will be no reason for protesting and everyone will instantly become righteous.”

In some ways that is true. Some things happen in a society that create a criminal. I’m thinking of “Les Miserables” when Val Jean is so poor and hungry that he steals a loaf of bread to feed his sister’s child. He goes to jail and when he comes out, he cannot get work because he’s been in jail. I really wonder what the point of that is. Isn’t jail both a deterrent to crime and rehabilitation? Anyway, the point is that if society were not so cruel he would not have needed to steal to survive. Our survival instinct is very strong.

But that doesn’t mean that if everyone had equal things, everyone would stop stealing. Just like if we take away all the guns, no one would get killed anymore. Some would, but some would want more and steal and kill to get it. Some would steal for the thrill of it. And some would steal and kill because they have something wrong with them and cannot control themselves.

The paragraph made me think of my husband when he says sarcastically “Just one more law and everything will be perfect.” I can’t believe anyone actually believes that, but I know many people act in that way. If we just give the government a little more money and a little more power, they will fix everything. And that reminds me of an elementary student government election, “Vote for me and we’ll have chocolate milk at lunch every day and no homework ever!”

I Keep Working On It

I don’t have much to time to sit and write today. Someone needs me this week, so my personal time is limited. I do have one quote from a book I’m reading that I’d like to share though. It’s from “Civil Disobedience” by Henry David Thoreau. Hmmm…do all authors prior to 1900 have three names?

Government “does not keep the country free. It does not settle the West. It does not educate. The character inherent in the American people has done all that has been accomplished; and it would have done somewhat more if the government had not sometimes got in its way.”

And that’s what we lost since the early 1900’s, American character. We sit back and do as we please, and charge the government with doing what needs to be done. But what is government but other humans? Do we really believe that just because we put the title of “government” on any person they will act any better towards our fellow man than we would ourselves? Do we think when we create restrictive laws and higher taxes that those same laws will never influence our own lives?

I’m also reading “Quiet” by Susan Cain and she talks of the shift from an emphasis on “character” to an emphasis on “personality” that occurred around the turn of the century. Just another piece of the unending puzzle.

“Are There No Prisons?”

This scene came to mind this morning.

First Collector: At this festive time of year, Mr. Scrooge, it is more than usually desirable that we should make some slight provision for the poor and destitute.

Ebenezer: Are there no prisons?

First Collector: Plenty of prisons.

Ebenezer: And the union workhouses – are they still in operation?

First Collector: They are. I wish I could say they were not.

Ebenezer: Oh, from what you said at first I was afraid that something had happened to stop them in their useful course. I’m very glad to hear it.

First Collector: I don’t think you quite understand us, sir. A few of us are endeavoring to buy the poor some meat and drink, and means of warmth.

Ebenezer: Why?

First Collector: Because it is at Christmastime that want is most keenly felt, and abundance rejoices. Now what can I put you down for?

Ebenezer: Huh! Nothing!

Second Collector: You wish to be anonymous?

Ebenezer: [firmly, but calmly] I wish to be left alone. Since you ask me what I wish sir, that is my answer. I help to support the establishments I have named; those who are badly off must go there.

First Collector: Many can’t go there.

Second Collector: And some would rather die.

All of us condemn Scrooge’s remarks, without a doubt. But don’t we all do the exact same thing when we see a family struggling to survive and ask, “Why didn’t they apply for aid?” “Why didn’t they put their children in this or that program?”

I’ve come across the reality of poverty and homelessness in a real way for the first time in my life. I know. It’s hard to believe. But, just like when the reality of our (lack of) justice system hit me like a ton of bricks when I was accused, the same thing has happened to me about our social system when a friend of a friend is accused of abuse and neglect for simply being homeless and doing the best they can.

Did they know of government services that could help? Did they reach out to get aid? Maybe, maybe not. But should they be forced to under the threat of losing their children or freedom if they don’t? If I see a neighbor in dire need, do I reach out and offer to help in some small way, or do I assume that the government should be helping them? I mean, that’s what I pay taxes for, right? So that I don’t have to be directly involved with the people around me?

And if that family says to me, “I know we are poor and I’d rather continue to struggle on my own. My children are fed, and they are safe.”, shouldn’t they have the right to be independent? Poor is not a crime. It is not abuse. There are millions of happy and poor (by our American standards) people on this planet.

What can I do to help people who are down on their luck? That’s what’s on my mind right now. What can I do? Lobby for new laws, higher taxes, programs to feed and house the poor? That seems like voting to make someone else help instead of doing it myself. We could stop making laws that make being poor illegal. Yes, we all know living on land without running water and electricity is less than ideal. Life can be so much better and easier than that. But should it be illegal? I mean, it’s ok for people to pay money to live this way for a week or two. We call it camping. It’s ok for people to talk about living with a smaller “carbon footprint” and “living off the land” but not actually do it?

I don’t have an answer. I know there isn’t one that will stop bad things from happening. My step-mom used a phrase I’ve heard a lot in life, the old “forest for the trees” one. There’s a truism. It made me think though. Would it be better to look at and care for the trees right in front of me instead of trying to look around or over to see the forest as a whole? When I love and care for the people I see right in front of me, my family, my neighbor, my co-worker, the man asking for change, don’t I care for the forest itself? And what if everyone did that? What if everyone stopped trying to fix the whole forest and tended the trees right under their own noses?

Feeling Disgusted This Morning

Are we so rich that being poor is a disgrace and labeled a crime?

Are we so homogenized as a nation that being different is illegal?

Do we believe that those who would rather live poor and free from government “help” are criminally negligent?

Do we have such faith in the benevolence of our government masters that we give them complete control of our lives? And when someone balks at the treatment we look on them as if they are an ungrateful child?

Are we so childish that we will spend our whole lives sucking on the state’s teat and believe we are living as independent adults, then react in violent anger when that teat isn’t enough?

I’d rather live in a box and be hungry as an independent adult than to rely on the government to supply my needs. Apparently, that is a crime these days, punishable by jail. It used to be called dignity and pride.