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Monday, November 30, 2015

Old white gloomy men

So why do I think that the postmodern insight is important? (See past 2 blogs.)

I just finished A Peace to End all Peace: The Fall of the Ottoman Empire and the Creation of the Modern Middle East by David Fromkins. I have also studied the "peace agreements" of World War Two, the Cold War that followed, and the role of the Dulles CIA. I studied and was very active in opposition to the War in Indochina.

I strongly opposed the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Afghanistan because it should have been merely a police action to bring the Al Qaida perpetrators of 9-11 to justice and Iraq because it was quite clear that it would cause tremendous blowback. Both I believe were stupid wars that brought more humiliation and cruelty on the globe. And I am now reading about the new War on ISIS that the Allies are about to wage.

All these positions make sense only in a worldview clinging to a worn-out paradigm.

I call it "the old white gloomy man paradigm"--even though there are some women and minorities who are caught in it as well. It is the mind-set of old gloomy white tough-guy males stuck in their principles and dogmas and fearing that the world is changing from how they remember the world back then when they made or hoped to make their fortunes.

My cousin Vinnie exemplifies this imagination (or really lack thereof) which dominates most of the candidates for president and certainly the fearful base that puts Donald Trump and Ben Carson on top in the polls. But I do not worry about him because he considers himself a victim and cannot act. The same for most of the gloomy white men pundits like Charles Krauthammer, George Will, and Sean Hannity. They are pitiful because they cannot even imagine that they are operating within a paradigm. They believe in some sort of objective truth out there--which they of course are privy to. While in fact they are choosing the world that they decry.

I am concerned more with opinion leaders with influential offices and big money. Though they may be cynics and skeptics, they control the true believers in the gloomy old white man realist paradigm that divides the world into us and them, insiders and outsiders, my side and your side. Cheney and Rumsfeld probably did believe in their own paradigm; but they could do real damage because they made a believer of George W. Bush, a man who had little capacity to think for himself, but had the office to foist a disastrous war on us and create the conditions for another.

This is the danger of those who believe they know the absolute truth. They speak with confidence. They are convinced in their righteousness. They extol the destiny and exceptionalism of the United States that we all want to hear. They think they are tough and confuse power with might. Yes, they admit that mistakes were made, but generally God is on their side and will lead to victory over the infidels and atheists.

I do not think that I am totally right in my assessment; but I also do not think that they are. The right has to be chosen and negotiated. I choose a world devoid of their paradigm. I choose a world in which America does not dominate and in which no nation, organization, or person dominates. I choose a world in which unnecessary suffering, humiliation, and cruelty do not exist. I choose a world that does not operate on fear and terror, one in which all persons, no matter what they believe or do, have dignity and the capacity for change and forgiveness. It is a world without insiders and outsiders, righteous and infidels, good guys and bad guys.

My choice is not the result of some theology or philosophy, some universal truth, some divine revelation, some structure of reality, some scientific law, some absolute value--though I don't mind if you think so. It is just the world I would like to build with others who share my choice for whatever reason or none at all except they want it.

I repudiate the gloomy white old man realist tough guy paradigm. Yes, I know that I am getting old in years, that I am of European heritage, and that I am male. But I refuse to be old if that means to stop learning and changing. I denounce whiteness as a false category created by racism. And I deny maleness in favor of the feminine principle of nurture over domination. And I choose to be an optimist, to bet on our ability to survive, transform, and progress. I will not be gloomy.

Moreover, I am hopeful because I know that the gloomy old white realistic man paradigm will eventually and happily pass on with Cousin Vinnie, George Will, and Donald Trump, making room for a less mean, less fearful generation. In the meantime, I will do all I can to encourage this new generation to realize that they really can reject the paradigm of domination (that all of us are caught in) and fashion another more inclusive, empathic, and hopeful one.

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