Make America Great Again

It is utterly clear to me that the highest priority  need of world society at the present moment is a realistic economic accounting system which will rectify, for instance, such nonsense as the fact that a top toolmaker in India, the highest paid of all craftsman, gets only as much per month for his work in India as he could earn per day for the same work if he were employed in Detroit, Michigan.  – Page 112 Operating Manual For Spaceship Earth –  Buckminster Fuller

The problem with the phrase “Make America Great Again”, the campaign slogan being used by Donald Trump, is the fact that it supposes America is not currently great. In order to determine how something is you need to compare it to something. I wonder what Trump is comparing the USA to? What was greater about the USA in the past  than what we have going on right now? When was the last time Trump thinks America was great? What exactly does he think he will do to make it better than it is now? For who?

It is certainly difficult to determine exactly what Donald Trump’s plans are for if he became President. I have heard things from “Build a wall with Mexico” to “Make Ford bring jobs back to the USA from Mexico” and maybe other places (China)?

If America is so terrible why are so many immigrants willing to come here? It must be better than where they are coming from? Why do they think it’s better here? Most people don’t have very crazy aspirations. They want to live their lives. Provide for their families and maybe have a little extra for a rainy day or to have a little fun. If people think they will be able to achieve that better here than wherever they are coming from that seems to tell me it’s pretty great here.

If Trumps goal is to keep Mexicans in Mexico his goal should be to make Mexico a place people want to be. How do you make somewhere a place that people want to be? Make it safe. Make it stable. What is more stable than having a stable job? If Trump wants more Mexican’s to stay in Mexico he should be thinking about how he can get more jobs in Mexico, not less.

I don’t think Trump actually cares about Mexico or Mexicans. He cares about getting elected. To do that he is more than willing to play the fear card in the meantime and unfortunately many people respond to fear readily. These days people seem very afraid, of what I’m not sure. We, at least in the USA, have access to the best food, health care, military and technology of any group of people in history ever. If there is one group in the whole world who shouldn’t be afraid it’s Americans. So why are we afraid?

I think we are afraid because we are bored. We don’t seem to have much else to do. Life must be to easy. We don’t have to work that hard to make food or shelter for ourselves each day. We can go down the street and buy food. We are interested in entertaining ourselves, in eating ourselves to gluttonous sizes, but not in keeping ourselves healthy, not in striving to do great things. We should be afraid of never trying but instead we are afraid of failure.

I strongly believe in the fact that whatever we focus on can become a reality. If we spend all our time reading about terrorism, various viruses, ebola, zitka, asian bird flu, West Nile virus, SARS, Swine Flu (how many of those do you remember from the last 10 years that were going to “end the world”, GMO food, Trans-fats, drugs, alcohol,, Super-Predators, homosexuals, transexuals, metrosexuals (some people are probably scared of people who dress nice), Obama, Trump, Hillary, Bernie. Of all these things that people are afraid of how many actually caused real issues in most people’s lives? I would bet not many. Unfortunately most opinions are just that, opinions, not based on any facts. I will continue to advocate people looking more at the facts, and then relooking at them to see if you have the real facts before raising any alarm.

What I propose we all do is take a step back and read some positive literature. Two books I recommend are “Operating Manual for Spaceship Earth” by Buckminster Fuller and “Abundance: The Future Is Better Than You Think” by Peter H. Diamandis and Steven Kotler. The point is, the world is not actually going to hell, despite what your personally taylored news media is telling you. I also recommend that people start following a news site that specifically is saying things they are opposed to. Here is a short list of Facebook pages I follow (I get most of my news from places via Facebook)

Matt Walsh
The Friendly Atheist
Ken Hamm
Neil Degrasse Tyson
Lizzy The Lezzie (she’s a lesbian if you didn’t pick that up)
Time
New York Times
Forbes
National Public Radio (NPR)
Nation of Islam
Mormons
Jehovah’s Witnesses

Catholics
HuffPost Good News
Inverse
350.org
Jim Palmer
CCTV ((China Central Television) is constantly updated with top news from China and around the world.
Secret Entourage
David Ramsey
TED (TED talks, their website sucks, just watch it on YouTube)
Tim Ferriss
Zoltan Istvan – (Transhumanist (not transgender) advocate)
Nikola Danaylov
Col. Chris Hadfield (Canadian astronaut)

If you can tell I like to get a diverse perspective on things. It’s pretty interesting to see any news story develop from the perspective of the different sides. Usually one is sharing how great it is while the other is proclaiming the end of the world. I don’t get caught up in the fear either side is professing and neither should you.

America is great. The people are what make a place what it is. America is great because of it’s people and we will continue to be great regardless of, or perhaps in spite of, who is elected. But we shouldn’t get too full of ourselves. Most of the rest of the world is great also and it’s because, in general, people are great. If you don’t know someone or some type of people, consider getting to know them instead of being afraid of them. You just might find you have more in common than you thought.

Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes – Movie Review

I believe watching movies can help us reflect on current situations in our society. I recently watched the movie “Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes”.

The first thing I do when watching a movie is to identify the motivations of each character. It is also useful to identify what power each character or group has.

Malcolm is the main protagonist in the movie on the human side.His goal is to get the dam working again to provide power for the humans but also work with the apes for peace.

Dreyfus is the main antagonist on the side of the humans. He refuses to see the apes as intelligent or capable of reason. He is prejudiced against them as animals despite evidence showed to the contrary. His drive is to provide power to the city as they are running out of gasoline so their main goal is to restart the hydroelectric dam. He has power because he is ex-military and started the human city. He has provided protection for others so they trust him.

Caesar is the leader of the apes and the main protagonist of peace in the movie, even more so than Malcolm. He is constantly asked to trust the humans despite the continued disobedience of his conditions, by certain individuals, mainly Carver early in the movie.

Koba is the #2 ape, antagonist and main war monger. He refuses to listen to Cesar’s leadership and calls for peace. He is influenced by his past of being a lab animal and having humans do many painful experiments on him. His main flaw is looking at everything from a self-centered point of view and holding on to hatred from his past to a group of people (scientists) and applying that hate to the new group of people who had nothing to do with that. He eventually resorts to nefarious means to attain his agenda.

The humans main power comes from technology and knowledge.

The apes main power comes from being physically stronger than the humans. One of the characters also mentions that the apes are stronger because they “Don’t need electricity.” They are more resilient to nature.

The movie starts with a brief review of the history of how the humans were negatively affected by the testing that had been completed on the apes. Then it moves to the community in the woods that the apes have established. Caesar and Maurice (an orangutan and close friend of Caesar’s) are discussing the humans and how they have not seen or heard of them in 2 years.

Of course, the next thing that happens a few apes wandering around the woods stumble upon Carver, who’s with a party of humans looking to restart the hydroelectric dam to supply power to the city. Carver immediately feels threatened, because he is afraid of the apes and lacks knowledge about them. He ends up shooting Ash, one of the apes. The rest of the apes descended on Carver and the rest of the humans, Malcolm being part of that group. Caesar uses his wisdom to allow the humans to leave peacefully despite Koba’s insistence of punishing the humans. The apes retrieve Malcolm’s notebook and bookbag at the site of the attack.

Pondering what to do next the apes decide a show of force is necessary. They march down to the human’s city in a show of force. They return the bookbag to Malcolm and issue a warning for the humans not to return to the forest.

What follows from here is some trust building and breaking among the humans and apes as a small contingent, including Malcolm, return to the apes to ask them to be allowed to work on the dam. Cesar again complies in believing that working together is the only way to help both species.

It is around this point it becomes obvious that most of the characters on each side are quite trusting of the other side and willing to work together. It is also obvious that there are some characters on each side who are irrationally afraid of the other side. Carver being the human and Koba being the ape who are most guilty. This is an important point that should be considered and applied to the world at large. Most people are good decent people, but there are just a few violent or ignorant people who choose to make the world a bad place.

Koba eventually steals a gun and shoots Caesar. He makes it look like a human killed Caesar. With no investigation he works the apes up into a frenzy and they attack the city. This is another very important turning point of the story. There is absolutely no investigation by the apes to see if it was indeed a human who killed Caesar. They take Koba’s word because he was the 2nd in command, but he is a twisted individual and has chosen to use his power for evil. Can you think of any situations in the modern world where people jump to conclusions way before any evidence has been shown? Have you ever done this yourself?

Meanwhile, Malcolm has found Caesar and learned that Koba was the real killer. He starts nursing Caesar back to and brings him back to the city.

During his attack on the city Koba shows signs of a dictatorship. He imprisons any apes that are still loyal to Caesar and his ideals of peace. At one point during the attack one ape refuses to kill a human, saying that’s not what Caesar would have wanted. Koba responds by killing that ape.

Malcolm finds Caesar’s son, Blue Eyes, and brings him to see his father. Blue Eyes shares the information that “Fear makes the other apes follow Caesar”. Does Koba’s reign of terror remind you of any point in history? How about any current regimes? Nazis? North Korea? U.S.S.R?

The end of the movie includes the triumphant return of Caesar to power and his ousting of the evil that is Koba.

Overall I thought this was a great movie when thinking of how it applies to current situations such as when groups of people react irrationally and with a lack of information.

It also shows how a few bad people can really affect humanity negatively by using misinformation and hate to lead good people to do evil.

I encourage you to start thinking in these types of terms both when you are watching movies and in your own life. What power do you wield? How do you use it to affect those around you? When you learn of a situation, do you jump to conclusions quickly or do you take time to think through rationally and understand what is really happening?

Ross Elliott – cover photo, Flickr Creative Commons