Caught up in the Outer Appearances and Personalities of Politicians

man with horeshoe magnet

I decided before I go off with my family on a fun-filled, scenic-enticing, relaxing vacation, I’d throw out a political blog post that may or may not cause some friction with friends and never-before-readers to my blog.

What a way to embrace more followers, right?

Well, no.

I know this, but after reading so much of what’s going on in the political arena and the world, I’m feeling the need to get some things off my chest. And this is the place for a blogger to share her opinions, thoughts, and heart, so here I go.

Where to start…

Okay, first I’ll start with where I stand on world issues, domestically and globally. I look at the world through a pro-life lens. This means, everything involving Life and the importance of it is how I gauge who I select to vote for.

Having this Life worldview is very difficult because no politician running now or in the past has ever checked off all of the pro-life issues that are vital to me, which are:

  • Anti-abortion — with the exception of danger to the mother’s life being lost  (This subject is too vast and involved to get into in this bullet list)
  • Anti-war – war is a very last resort and only through defending our country, which none of the wars in this century or since WWII have been about this.
  • Anti-death penalty/capital punishment — there’s always a chance to change and transform as a human being. Killing the person takes that chance away. There are also false convictions of innocent people who end up executed.
  • Pro-environmental concerns/helping to clean up the environment and save lives–human, animal, and plant/forest–God’s creation
  • Pro-criminal justice reform – treat people in prison as human beings because they are human beings, and adopt the German’s reconciliation prison system (if you’re not sure what that is, check out an excellent TED Talk video on it here)
  • Pro-immigration reform with humane treatment of people coming through our borders
  • Anti-euthanasia for humans. Medications to help ease their pain is okay. I’m not for the Jack Kevorkian-style euthanasia. (This issue is much grayer than a simple bullet point, for which I won’t be getting into in this particular post)

There are no candidates who are all pro-life in the way I understand the meaning of the word. So, I look to candidates who embrace the most Life issues out of my list. Otherwise, I’d never vote.

Okay. I hope you now have at least a glimmer of understanding where I’m coming from.

Onto people voting for politicians who are likable and seem like good men and women. They are approachable, seem to know what they’re talking about, and they smile a lot.

Sometimes those candidates are the most dangerous.

Why?

Well, because we get caught up in their appearances, what they say on the campaign trail or townhall, but tend to forget to dig deeper and look at what they’ve truly done via policies, via their voting record, and where and with whom they’ve drunk cocktails while fundraising or giving speeches while on the campaign trail.

Taking a step back in reviewing my bullet points…unfortunately, there are no Republicans I could ever vote for because they do not check off many of my Life issues in their political resumes. So, I’ve had to look at the Democratic politicians.

Just an FYI. From age 18-40, I was a staunch conservative Republican and voted only Republican every election.

Since 2009, I’ve been an independent (unaffiliated voter is what it actually says on my voting card).

I’ve now held both conservative and liberal mindsets throughout my life. I’ve seen things from both points of view from my own personal upbringing, social class, etc.

With that info shared, I think both the Republican and Democratic Parties are bought off by wealthy donors.  There are a few exceptions within those parties that are not bought off, and I respect them for that. They actually choose to advocate and be the voice for their constituents in their districts/areas. In this day and age, I have to say, how refreshing. But really…that’s how it should be, how it used to be decades before…before the passing of Citizen’s United, for one thing.

Now, I’m going to give an example of two politicians whose appearance and likable personalities have overshadowed the negative and horrible policies they’ve enacted or supported.

Mind you, I think these guys seem like decent men, but some of their policies or the policies they supported through voting for them, take away massive points on their “likability” for me. Because policies and principles are more important than appearances and “charisma”.

Actually, I’m going to give three examples so that I throw in a Republican as well to make my examples more egalitarian in nature.

Although I could go on and on about the corruption of the Clintons, they ARE NOT the examples I’m using in this post.

Here are the three men I am going to discuss rather briefly:

Marco Rubio

Barack Obama

Joe Biden

I’m starting with Marco Rubio because 1) He’s the easiest to rattle off first, and 2) I liked his personality and appearance in the 2016 Republican primary debates. He’s clean cut, good looking, smart, has the statesman look…

Then I looked into his foreign policy. He tends to congregate with warmongers and should clip “WARMONGER” on his name tag at political functions.

The last news piece I saw on Rubio was several months ago, and it was appalling. He was threatening the Venezuelan leader using the heinous rape-and-murder-of-Qaddafi-style regime change (picture included) in one of his tweets. No matter what we think of Qaddafi, what was done to him was horrible.

To check up on him, I went to his Twitter page a few minutes ago and read through his most recent tweets in the past few weeks. His tweets parrot the Military/Intelligence/National Security Industrial Complex/War Profiteers, Wall Street, and Big Oil–the majority of the wealthy donors that have bought off our politicians.

To my beliefs and sensibilities, Rubio has little to show for the list of Life issues in my bullet list.

If he cared about Life, Rubio would be on board for clean, healthy green energy.

If he cared about Life, Rubio would be diplomatic and strive for peace with other countries in the world whether they are adversaries or allies.

If he cared about Life, Rubio would have a more humane approach toward people languishing and forgotten in our for-profit prisons, people addicted to drugs, and people desperately looking for a better life in America.

Let’s move on to Barack Obama.

Great guy, Obama, right? As president, he presented himself with dignity and class. He appears to be a loving husband and doting and good father.

Some things Obama did were good, like including the US in the Paris Climate Agreement. Like joining in the Iran Nuclear Deal.

And then there were really, really BAD things Obama signed off on or wrote an executive order for, such as:

–Bailing out the bankers and allowing the average citizens to suffer, losing a lot of their savings, and for many, their homes. Predatory lenders and fraudulent people in the banking industry didn’t spend a day in jail. In fact, many CEOs of these big banks, when they left their positions received huge bonuses. NOT GOOD. Bad, criminal behavior should never be rewarded.

–Going after whistleblowers, such as Edward Snowden, Bradley Manning (aka Chelsea), Tom Drake, John Kiriakou, and others, with a vengeance.

–Signing into law the National Defense Authorization Act in 2012. Here’s an excerpt from the Huffington Post to give you an idea why this was dangerous and shouldn’t have passed as it was:

In 2012, the U.S. Congress passed the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) with relatively little attention from the media―despite the freedoms it obliterated. The NDAA was enacted to empower the U.S. military to fight the war on terror. But buried in this law are two provisions (Sections 1021 and 1022) that authorize the indefinite military detention, without charge or trial, of any person labeled a “belligerent”―including an American citizen.

These NDAA provisions (which have been re-approved by Congress and signed by President Obama every year since 2012) override habeas corpus―the essence of our justice system. Habeas corpus is the vital legal procedure that prevents the government from detaining you indefinitely without showing just cause. When you challenge your detention by filing a writ of habeas corpus, you must be promptly brought before a judge or into court, where lawful grounds must be shown for your detention or you must be released.

Under Section 1021, however, anyone who has committed a “belligerent act,” can be detained indefinitely, without charges or trial, as a “suspected terrorist.” This is a direct violation of the U.S. Constitution and our Bill or Rights. In The Federalist No. 84, Alexander Hamilton stressed the importance of the writ of habeas corpus to protect against “the favorite and most formidable instruments of tyranny.”

 

–NSA surveillance of the public’s private phone calls and the like was another thing that was continued full force under Obama. We wouldn’t have known about this without Snowden’s revealing these classified documents for the public. It was both a courageous and selfless act because he had to make the right, ethnical decision to expose this abuse (that’s what whistleblowers do–report waste, fraud, or abuse by our government) by our government’s agency knowing he’d lose his good-paying job, risk perilous government backlash, and probably never see his family and friends again on American soil. Fearing for your life because of giving the public the dark, underhanded actions of an agency of your government isn’t for a person’s fifteen minutes of fame. It takes integrity and honesty to do such a thing.

–Social moral issues regarding the safety of women and girls in bathrooms and locker rooms.

-Although he signed DACA that allowed for immigrant children born in the US. to stay in the country, he also deported more than 2.8 million illegal immigrants in his time in office. This is more than any other president before him.

–He oversaw our arming terrorists in Syria and selling arms to Saudi Arabia to bomb Yemen. Yes, this started under Obama’s presidency.

–The complete destruction of Libya and nearly Syria. The toppling of the democratically-elected leader in Honduras that caused horrible violence there.

–He didn’t close Guantanamo or bring all our troops home from Afghanistan like he said he would when running for president.

With these blotches on Obama’s eight years as president, I find it very hard to look at him and just see a nice family man and good president.

But I also realize the position of the president is tough.

Nevertheless, Obama carried on the foreign policy of Bush (another man who appeared nice, especially his wife) almost completely, and he also extended Bush’s tax cuts.

Obama was right in an interview years ago before he was president when he said if he were running in the 1980s, he’d be considered a moderate republican. I can certainly see that.

Then again, those behind the scenes–the Deep State–Military/Intel/National Security Industrial Complex, Big Banks, Wall Street, Big Oil, Big Pharma, etc.–own our officials, whether in the White House or Congress. You’ll notice this most overtly in our foreign policy that has continued its same destructive actions for decades and through different presidencies.

You will get nothing different with Biden. What makes him not a good choice for president is that he voted for the TPP, drafted the 1994 crime bill, voted for the Iraq War, drafted the foundation of the Patriot Act in 1995, and voted for the bank bailouts.

What we need is money out of politics first and foremost so our voices are heard and our elected officials do the wishes of the working people, those in need and the vast majority of our society.

And we must bring back the pendulum that has swung so far right, the Republicans have dropped off the cliff and the Democratic Party has taken the place of the moderate Republicans–by bringing back regulations on the banking and business industries, overturning Citizens United, reinstating Glass-Steagall, and bringing back solid social safety nets.

We deserve better people representing us than any of the people we’ve had this century.

We need REAL CHANGE.

This isn’t the 1960s anymore. The days of making it on your own, pulling yourself up by your boot straps has passed.

We’re heading toward an automated society, as well as AI (artificial intelligence), where many other jobs will be lost.

We’re behind on the minimum wage. It hasn’t risen in ten years.

With the loss of jobs, skyrocketing prices for food, housing, medical insurance, and prescription drugs, it’s the late 1920s again, and we need someone like FDR to bring about the new social programs for this time and era:

  • Medicare for all single-payer healthcare
  • Free pubic college
  • Green energy replacing fossil fuel
  • A raise in the minimum wage to a living wage
  • Wealthy corporations and people paying what they owe in taxes, instead of getting tax breaks where people like Jeff Bezos pay $0.00 in Federal income tax. This is criminal and immoral. Socialism for the rich and rugged individualism (aka, survival of the fittest) for everyone else isn’t a society in which people can thrive.
  • Cut the Defense budget by at least 40%

 

**Just to name a few

 

Maybe I’ll write on the healthcare issue in a future blog post if I don’t get skewered for my thoughts shared in this post. But honestly sharing one’s thoughts in a respectful manner should always be respected and appreciated, no matter if one agrees with the person or not. And you’re definitely free to disagree with what I said. Each person lives by the light and path in which he/she is given.

 

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Culture of Death

gun violence in movies

If we Americans are completely honest with ourselves, we’d know and admit without relish or doubt that our culture is a culture of death.

Why do I call American culture a culture of death?  Well, it’s what I’ve observed in many venues:  news media, movies, video games, mass shootings, school shootings, disregard of the unborn and elderly, lack of healthcare for everyone, our foreign policy, and profits before people.  This is a huge issue, but I’d like to touch on a few of these as best as I can.

But first, I want to share the bumper sticker on a car my husband and I saw on the way to the grocery store.  It read:  Fight Crime.  Shoot Back.  <– This is a perfect example to show it is the epitome of the mindset, generally viewed by those able to look outside the “American lens,” and see objectively, I believe, the American culture.

School Shootings/Mass Shootings

We all know school shootings have increased over the past fifty years. I, like all my fellow American citizens, struggle to understand why this is happening so much, and what can be done about it.  Something has changed to cause these mass killings to have multiplied greatly in the past several decades.  A few elements people have discussed and that I think contribute to this and make up our culture of death follow.

Mental Illness

Some people have said it’s mental illness of shooters that are the root cause of the mass shootings in our society.  Of course, it’s logical to come to the conclusion that if a person decides to spray hundreds of bullets through the halls and classrooms of schools or other public buildings that there are probably psychological problems going on with the child/person.  But were there no people with mental health problems one hundred years ago?  A couple of centuries ago?  Did mental health disorders pop up one century and grow from there?  I don’t think so.  There have always been humans that have suffered debilitating mental illnesses.

In the past decade or two, our younger generation has been suffering specifically from anxiety and depression, and rises in autism and other related illnesses are a tragic fact.  Why are these mental illnesses growing?

There are some factors such as heavy involvement in social media and family issues with regards to anxiety and depression in our young adults.  But how are these illnesses linked to violent behavior and actions of school/mass shooters?

I think what’s important to point out is that in the article, “The Myth That Mental Illness Causes Mass Shootings,” it says “research over the last 30 years has consistently shown that diagnosable mental illnesses does not underlie most gun violence,” and “only one percent of the population is psychopathic.” Of course, what about those not diagnosed?  I don’t know, but according to this article, mental health problems are a very small contributing factor in mass shootings.  So, what else is going on here?

Gun Problems

Is it access to guns?  The parents of the teen/child who shoots up a school were lax in locking their gun cabinet?  Failed to teach their children gun safety?  Perhaps it’s the issue of the types of guns being used…those that shoot out hundreds of ammunition in a few seconds time.  Yes, I agree that’s a problem.  The subject of bump stocks that can be attached to a gun and turn it into an alternate automatic weapon has been brought up by the public as a real concern.  Certainly, I agree with banning these types of accessories to guns and assault weapons.  They don’t belong in civilian homes and are absolutely inhumane for hunting purposes.  But aside from these types of semi-automatic, or the ones that nearly become or do become automatic weapons with some tweaking and adding to these guns, guns have been around since the pilgrims stepped onto American soil several centuries ago.  Sure, they were single-shot rifles/muskets and such, but I don’t recall reading in our early history of people randomly shooting up a theater, school, or any other public building in nearly epidemic proportions in the first few centuries of our American existence.

Capital Punishment

How about the message of terminating a person’s life if he/she committed a murder or murders?  I’ve touched on this in a previous blog post, but it is relevant to this subject.  This, too, shows the element of death as a way to punish people who have committed horrible crimes.  The death penalty has existed since America’s inception.  For all the proud claims made by some Americans about this country being founded on Judeo-Christian beliefs and values, an eye for an eye ideology is not a Christian tenet.

My dad was an Air Force lawyer and judge for thirty years.  When I was a teen, out of curiosity without any real solid opinion on this issue, I asked my dad if the death penalty deters people from wanting to commit a murder.  I will tell you that my dad always supported the death penalty, and still in his honest response (he’s always been an honest man with great integrity) was “No, it doesn’t.”  I’ve never forgotten that.

Where’s the Mercy?

There’s an element of mercy missing in many corners of our society, whether it be the death penalty, abortion, caring for the elderly, healthcare, poverty, treating people with mental illness, or helping those with drug addictions.  Mercy is absent, generally speaking in the culture as a collective whole.  Of course, you can find mercy and goodness in individual Americans, but that information seems to not be the one that permeates the air waves or reaches globally, or is shown in the graphically-violent movies in the United States.  There are many reasons why I don’t agree with capital punishment–the wrong person is put to death; killing someone who’s murdered someone doesn’t bring back the person who was murdered, and it cuts the criminal’s chance for repentance. Incarceration is sufficient (although, we need to abolish private prisons for profit).

Entertainment Industry

So, now we segue into the entertainment industry’s production of graphic, violent movies and video games.  Are these to blame for the increase in school shootings (and mass shootings?)  There has been mixed data on how violent video games and films affect kids and teens, but a majority of the studies thus far in this infant research do show that graphic violence in video games affect children and some teens that may cause them to act aggressive to others, and they become desensitized to the pain of others.  A University of Alabama study on the effects of violent video games and film said that the violent behavior of the persons after watching these violent films/video games stayed with them for some time, and didn’t just disappear after seeing the movie/video game.  The comments from this study conclude with cautioning parents “that immature and/or aggressive children should not have access to violent films.” That statement is one that all psychologists agree with (according to my son who did his research paper on this subject matter last semester).

Continuing on this subject matter, the American Psychological Association’s earlier studies (2003) match the above findings, in the increased aggressive behavior from playing violent video games. It stated, “Myth: There are no studies linking violent video game play to serious aggression. Facts: High levels of violent video game exposure have been linked to delinquency, fighting at school and during free play periods, and violent criminal behavior (e.g., self-reported assault, robbery).”

Of course, people will report that there are other scientific studies that don’t show concrete facts on the overall effects of violent film and video games on people, but it is incontrovertible that children and teens are affected by these.

From a personal point of view, I do not see the purpose of these violent, gory video games (or movies).  They contribute nothing positive or healthy to our society.  Of course, I know I’ll get pushback on that, and I expect it.  But it’s just how I see this.  I did not allow my sons to play or watch violent games or movies throughout their childhood and early teens.  Even in their teens, they don’t play “M” games or watch R-rated movies, unless the movie isn’t centered on gratuitous violence, but there is a valid, non-gory reason for it, and there is mercy and redemption involved in the storyline. To speak frankly, our movies and video games are both a promoter and reflection of our death-centered culture.

From a Christian spiritual point of view, what our eyes take in affects our souls.  If we take in good things, it brings joy and light to our souls.  If we take in violent things (since this is the subject matter of this blog post), it darkens our souls.  If we continue to pile on the viewing of such matter, along with other dark things, the darkness can overcome us, where the Light is not able to flicker, and then we are in bondage to the darkness, and it’s not a good place to be.

Foreign Policy

A little bit more on the gun issue because it ties into our foreign policy.  There are many Americans on one side of the gun debate that would like a ban on assault rifles/weapons and stricter gun laws, and then there is a small group of citizens who want all guns banned.  As I said, this is a very small number.  You would think it was a large number or majority the way people’s views are twisted all across social media.  In any case, I’ve thought about this issue. I fall in between.  I agree with banning bump stocks and having stricter gun laws but believe people should be able to have guns to protect themselves in case of home break ins and such.

So, I imagined the scenario of all guns being banned from the public.  Now, of course, I know that criminals will always get them through the black market, etc., but not even going down that path, let’s just say, the guns are removed, and they aren’t present in the society.  Wouldn’t it be extremely HYPOCRITICAL of the United States?

I mean, think about it.  Here’s a country’s entertainment industry laden with shoot ’em up movies, and in many cases in today’s movies, the lines of who’s the good guy and who’s the bad guy are blurred. There’s no shortage of bloody video games. Our government’s leaders and intelligence community with the help of our military topple other countries’ elected leaders and replace them with horrid dictators, turning the countries into chaotic, desolate death pools, with millions of people killed and injured and their towns leveled. And then the most glaring component–America’s top, number one position in guns manufacturing and selling to other countries so we can help them obliterate vast amounts of people (have you been following the heartbreaking devastation in Yemen?).  That is the epitome of hypocrisy in my book.

Does that mean I don’t think something should be done about the guns?  Of course not.  But what can we do that would make sense and not be hypocritical?

The Solution?

Well, it seems the answer is that we’d have to have a total overhaul of our culture’s death mindset and transform it to a life one. I do find it quite ironic that our culture of death that is seen throughout the electronic venues at the same time is afraid of death and does everything it can to avoid it through changes in how we bury our loved ones and finding ways to constantly increase our life expectancy so we don’t meet death too soon, but that’s a subject for another post.

Therefore, in order to change our mindset from death/darkness to life/light, it would entail:

In the foreign policy area:  putting an immediate end to committing regime change in other countries (which I’d think would be illegal acts) and stopping the selling of arms to other countries, especially ones that aren’t friendly.  We need to stop the wars for profit, the prisons for profit.  Basically stop worshiping money and the never-ending desire for perpetual profits above the welfare of our own people.

On the entertainment front:  scaling back graphic violence in video games and movies. The classic movies were able to show war scenes (The Great Escape is an excellent example) and Hitchcock did well in his thrillers without explicit gore and mayhem.

Guns:  ban bump stocks and remove loop holes in gun laws (among other things).

Incorporating mercy and respect for life:  possess true and honest and respectful discourse and reconciliation tools in conflicts.

More access and treatment for people with mental health problems.  Mental health facilities for convicts diagnosed with a mental illness instead of prison.  Drug treatment programs for addicts that have been arrested for possessing drugs, instead of prison.

And since these are all my personal opinions, God is much better to worship than money, greed, lust, envy, pride, anger, etc. In order for us to be healthy all around, it requires an attentiveness to not only our mental and physical state, but also our spiritual state.  All must be worked on to find harmony, growth, and peace.

Looking Ahead

At this point, I’m not feeling too optimistic in seeing our culture changing. But the younger generation does show some spark of interest in wanting to uproot a portion of this sick culture of death.  Will they succeed?  I hope and pray so for our children and the generations after.

 

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The More We Know, the Smarter We Become?

library from 1800s

 

It seems only natural that the more information we read and learn about, the more knowledge and intelligence we should obtain. The various new inventions by people with entrepreneurial spirits display the amazing abilities possible through the faculties of our minds. Fresh scientific discoveries open up a wide range of advancements in the medical fields and astronomy. We can look at historical records and documents over the centuries and see human progress. Through literature, the bountiful volumes of different styles, literary theories, and genres shine a light through the window of our past societies. Unending news articles that blanket our newsfeeds in social media and on our televisions increasingly expose all the global events that provide us with understanding certain regions of the world and their cultures.

Indeed, there is the thread of progress woven throughout our historical existence, but there is also a regression. A regression in the way we write, speak, and how we interpret historical texts once we have ascertained the knowledge of whatever era we are studying, as well as what classic literature we are reading. I admit that I am a bit of a grammar and literary snob. When reading online news articles, the typos and incorrect grammar usages irritate me because it distracts me from what the article is trying to address. The errors in news articles online nowadays are astounding. I don’t recall encountering this many twenty or thirty years ago.

grammar nazi magnifying glass over book

Perhaps I’m a privileged fussbudget, but I think it has to do with my upbringing and the several English classes I took while attending business college in my early twenties.  It transformed me into what I am today.  I’m no expert or perfect, but I try very hard to proofread and edit my writings thoroughly before submitting them for school papers, or here on my blog.  It’s possible grammar and English skills aren’t as important anymore. Unfortunately, I have read some articles that say just that. But having read over comments on websites on this subject matter, I am both relieved and saddened.  In the quora.com website, a photographer and comic book writer explained how the editing process has changed over time.  In the earlier years of newspaper publications, the reporter’s story would be reviewed by the reporter himself/herself and edited by three other people:  the desk editor, copy desk, and head editor.  Because of financial issues, this method has been scaled down, and it leaves the reporter to do his or her own editing, which obviously has led to errors.  I was encouraged to see that he and another writer echo my sentiments.  On the same website, a journalist of thirty years said, “It isn’t just online. Print newspapers are getting worse too. Just this afternoon I cringed yet again at the use of ‘principle’ where ‘principal’ was correct. That’s one I see constantly – nobody seems to know the difference any more. And this was in The Globe and Mail, the best newspaper in Canada” (quora.com).

Author, Merrill Perlman, from cnn.com supports these men’s comments, saying, “People reading newspapers and news sites can empathize. They’re seeing lots of typos, as well as errors of grammar, fact, and logic — many more than they would have seen before news organizations decided that they did not need so many copy editors. No other job classification has suffered so many losses as the news business downsizes (except, perhaps, for classified ad takers, who have been craigsdelisted).”

Could this problem in any way be resolved in the future?  Honestly, it looks rather bleak, but I hope my pessimism is proven wrong.

You’ve probably noticed the assortment of rich vocabulary and detail in the classic novels of past centuries, as well as personal letters from known authors and historical figures, dwarf most modern works today. Why is that? Have we become too simplistic? Is it the fault of the computer and cell phone age? Has texting shortened our attention span for complete, fuller text and longer sentences? Incidentally, I learned in my linguistic language class that the current vernacular and texting is just the newest way of speaking and communicating. I’m sure we all can see that and know language changes slowly over time, but is it truly for the better? I wonder.

texting slang

With respect to historical documents, sources, etc., I’ve discovered there is a tendency for many people, especially younger people of college age, to analyze historical people and events through their twenty-first century perspectives, which is called presentism. I mentioned this in a previous blog post. Instead of viewing the persons in their era, in the culture of their time, and their overall writings, sayings, and actions, some people perceive them from a modern viewpoint, and in doing so, judge these historical figures unfairly, and at times, inaccurately. I feel this application has become more intense and common in the past several years. As of late, our Founding Fathers and now Civil War figures have been placed under the analytical lens of the modern mindset. A black and white view rarely works in understanding people before our era.

founding fathers

Because I am a university student, I see this fairly often and can understand it to a certain degree. We know history is written and dominated by the victors and can gloss over past atrocities or negative portions of history to shed the best light possible on the winners. But, of course, the people that came to America in the first century or two (and the centuries since then!) were human beings — which means, in my Orthodox Christian beliefs, imperfect, broken human beings, due to the Fall.  Therefore, in judging people’s actions from eras before ours, I believe we should look at the whole of the person. What did he/she say, what did he/she do in history, how did he/she treat others – family, friends, enemies? If they showed mercy, respect, and integrity overall in their lives, then perhaps it would be decent of us to consider them to have been good people who did the best with what they knew and had in the culture in which they lived.  Aside from true dictators and murderers that have speckled the map of human existence since the beginning of time that obviously should be judged more harshly, I don’t believe my method is something bizarre or outrageous.

Interpreting literature naturally has a plethora of viewpoints. I wouldn’t expect otherwise. Multiple perspectives on a piece of literature are amazing! But there is a problem if the reader dismisses or ignores the cultural and historical period in which an author lives and writes his/her story. In addition, if the reader ignores or overlooks the intentions or reasons why the author wrote the story at that particular time, a problem can arise.  An example of this is what I witnessed in my Shakespeare class. In Shakespeare’s time, only men were allowed to perform on stage, and the relationships between an artist/writer/poet and his patron was special. William Shakespeare wrote Twelfth Night for the festival of Epiphany – the twelfth and last night of the Christmas holiday celebrations. In this festival in England at the time, a person is chosen to be the Lord of Misrule for this period of the festival, in which the traditional roles of the people are relaxed, and the world is turned upside down, as it is often described.  For example, the royalty dress as peasants while the peasants dress as royalty, and the men dress as women while women dress as men.

lord of misrule epiphany

In the play, Twelfth Night, the main character, Viola, with her twin brother and the captain of the ship are shipwrecked. Viola believes her brother, Sebastian, has drowned. Without a father or brother to care for her, which was the custom in England at the time – the females were cared for by their fathers, brothers, or husbands – Viola dresses up in her brother’s clothes, calls herself Cesario, and obtains a job as a page boy for the Duke Orsino. The duke is in love with Olivia, a noblewoman. Viola falls in love with the duke, and Olivia falls in love with Viola/Cesario. Amidst this is Malvolio, Olivia’s servant, who is in love with her and believes he is socially higher than his current station in life.  A nasty forged letter written by the maid in cahoots with Sir Toby, Olivia’s drunken, rowdy uncle, encourages Malvolio’s delusions.  The maid writes the letter pretending it to be from Olivia, surreptitiously saying she is in love with Malvolio.  Eventually, he becomes more bold by acting as if he is of higher class than a simple servant, and in confronting Olivia with the letter, finds out from her that she did not write it.  Malvolio is made a fool and at the end of the play, leaves in despair.

A few students in class saw the relationships of Olivia and Cesario/Viola and Duke Orsino as transgender or homosexual.  If one is following the history of the era, the play written for the Epiphany festival, and the outcome of the play, it seems that all of that would have to be ignored and one would have to put on the lens of our modern era – twenty-first century – to come to that conclusion. Viola knew how to entice Olivia into considering the Duke because Viola, being a woman herself, knew what flowery sayings  work in attracting a woman’s interest. The duke fell in love with Viola because of her soft, kind, feminine side. The duke was confused, yes, but the natural attraction of male to female was felt, I believe, between the duke and Viola. Sebastian, Viola’s brother, comes back from the dead, and because they look so much alike, Olivia thinks Sebastian is Cesario. In the end, Viola reveals who she is, and Sebastian explains who he is, which opens the door for the love to flourish between the two couples: Viola and Duke Orsino and Sebastian and Olivia. Hence, at the end of the play, just like at midnight on the twelfth night (Epiphany) of the twelve days of Christmas, people remove their costumes and go back to their regular lives.  Shakespeare’s play teaches us that relationships are strengthened through clarity and honesty and not through disguise or delusion.

I think it’s paramount to consider the historical period and culture of the people we study before passing judgments on their actions and written words. In addition, writing novels, plays, short stories, poems, et. al. are considered part of the arts — it is art!  Let us strive to make our art as grammatically correct, profound, and beautiful as possible!

girl writing painting

 

 

Works Cited

“Why are so many online articles laced with typos and poor grammar?”  Quora.com.  https://www.quora.com/Why-are-so-many-online-articles-laced-with-typos-and-poor-grammar

Perlman, Merrill.  “Why ‘Amercia’ needs copy editors.”  cnn.com, 1 June 2012.   http://www.cnn.com/2012/06/01/opinion/perlman-romney-needs-editor/index.html.

“Twelfth Night.”  Religiousfacts.com.   http://www.religionfacts.com/twelfth-night