West Wing

There Are Two Kinds of People

Post 1,051

Comedians say that there are two kinds of people in the world. There are people who laugh and there are people who make people laugh.

I, too, say that there are two kinds of people in the world. There are people who see nuances, shades of gray as well as of color; and there are people who only see black-and-white.

The black-and-white vision people are most fond of absolutes. Something is either good or bad, black or white, up or down and there is only one way to see things – their way. There is something satisfying in such simplicity. It’s the absence of troublesome “yeah-buts” and a lack of discomfort from uncertainty. Plus, there is the ease of never having to expend the energy to understand others. These people haven’t the rods or cones or whatever it is that allows some to see complexities and other possibilities. For these folks, there is no need for others’ conflicting opinions because those opinions are wrong.

We have many people in positions of authority who are black and white absolutists, unable to see anything but their own certainties. We saw that in the in vitro fertilization decision from the Alabama Supreme Court recently. The judges’ decision was supported by absolutist biblical understandings and beliefs. They included biblical quotes and invoked God multiple times in their written opinion. Apparently, they believe that everyone should believe as they do. That’s the law. Just ask them.

The First Amendment begins, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion .  .  .  ” If that prohibition against establishment of religion is the real deal, then that Alabama Supreme Court just violated it with their religious justification for their decision.

The absolutist judge who wrote that opinion effectively mandates, “You have to follow my religion just as I see it.” He is both wrong and dangerous.

He’s a threat to our Constitution, our democracy, our freedoms and what the Revolution was all about. Whatever his personal feelings about in vitro fertilization or religion, none of that belongs in this legal issue.

This is compounded by a U.S. Supreme Court which likely will affirm that decision when a case is brought to it, because they seem to sing, “Gimme that old time religion.” Today’s Supreme Court seems to have difficulty understanding plain language and has made clear that settled law isn’t settled at all. Pay no attention to their having sworn fidelity to stare decisis (leaving settled law alone) in their confirmation hearings. Nothing to see here. Move along.

Which brings us to my favorite West Wing scene. Watch it here. But before watching it decide if you believe that learning stopped several millennia ago. Because if we are limited to what pre-science, largely ignorant people believed and the fanciful stories and rules they made up about their universe in a hopeful but vain effort to explain what they could not understand, you won’t like that clip. Otherwise, go ahead and enjoy a view of human foolishness.

You Need To

Last weekend the New York Times Opinion Today newsletter ran this headline:

Humanitarian aid should be a bipartisan issue. Congress needs to unlock the needed aid funds. There’s no time to lose.

It was linked to the author’s guest essay on famine.

We all should stand and applaud that, just as Mike Johnson and his fellow smug Republicans should have stood and applauded at the SOTU after Biden said there should be no violence in politics and that we should make sure every kid can read by the time they’re in the third grade. But, of course, they didn’t applaud or stand and the Republicans are proudly resisting aid to starving people.

Gotta hand it to Republicans for their consistency of doing anything and everything to ensure that no Democrat, especially one residing in the White House, is ever allowed to have even the smallest win. It doesn’t matter to Republicans who gets hurt by their intransigence.*

The Republicans cling to their small-mindedness and their lack of care for anyone other than themselves and their monomaniacal lust for power and money. With each mean spirited, foolishly proud event we learn more about their adherence to the Dark Side and these lemmings march ever closer to the cliff. One can hope.

Which brings me to the words above from the Times. The troublesome part is “Congress needs to.” Does that mean that all in Congress have that need? Because if the Times does mean that, I think they should double check their sources. I think rather that we’ve picked up the “need to” phrasing as a weenie, chickening out of what is really meant: “Millions of Suffering People Need Congress to Unlock the Relief Funds.

It’s much like the very popular phrase following a statement of opinion, “Just sayin’.” It’s a way of trying to avoid responsibility for taking a stand. Both phrases – “they need to” and “just sayin'” – chicken out of standing upright and making a clear declaration.

Here’s the thing: We don’t need any of that chickening out in Congress. Indeed, we need straight talk and sticking to what we know is right. Like ensuring that third graders can read.

So, in keeping with the theme, there are two kinds of people in the world: people who can think beyond themselves, who care about others and whose word means something. They say what they mean and they mean what they say. Then there are people who are weenies.

This is my shot across the bow of the USS Weenie. And no, I’m not just sayin’.

See Note #5 below

Today’s Quote

From Cassidy Hutchinson’s book Enough, page 354:

“I had seen how fragile democracy is, and my conscience recognized our duty as citizens to attend to it for its survival.”

There are two kinds of citizens in this country. There are people who believe in the Constitution, democracy and the rule of law. Then there are people who want to tear everything down and cause us to devolve into a brutal, feudal existence ruled by a despotic tyrant. On November 5 we get to vote on which we will be. Choose wisely.

Hint: You can do more than vote like a real American. You can encourage others to do the same. Click here.


* Read Thom Hartmann’s post, How Come Everything the Republican Party Stands for Involves Other People Dying? The horrible part is that Hartmann is right.

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Copyright 2024 by Jack Altschuler
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