Liberty, Politics, Uncategorized

Hope for the Future

Hope speech

 

Comic books have always been a way to tackle social issues in an entertaining way. One of the most famous versions of this is the X-Men. While the struggle from the comics is one between mutants and humans, it is easy to see the connection between the mutant struggle and prejudices in the real world. As with most movements, there are different sects within the larger group. In the Marvel Universe, those sects historically were the violent Brotherhood led by Magneto and the more peaceful mutants the X-Men led by Professor Xavier.

 

In this excerpt, the new mutant, Hope Summers, is meeting Magneto and Professor Xavier for the first time and she isn’t happy to hear how they are discussing the state of the mutant struggle. The conversation takes on a competitive connotation that creates a barrier between the two sides. Hope recognizes that this type of language will only ensure that the humans and the mutants remain at odds even when they say their purpose is equality.

 

The same is often the case in today’s political dialogue. People have chosen their side and instead of talking about solutions and goals, we discuss beating the opposition. We round up people in our minds into certain groups and brand them with the assumptions we have about that group. At that point, what is the point of talking to each other? We already think we know everything about what that person thinks because we have them lumped into their group.

 

This is a problem with three roots. The first is our natural tendencies. Our brains take shortcuts often without our realizing it. To demonstrate this, often times people will overlook misspelled words or think something was in its rightful place when it wasn’t because our brain filled it in. This can happen in our interactions with each other as well. We meet someone and immediately make assumption about them based on any number of criteria (1). The second root is our culture and experiences. This is closely related to the first root, but can often compound the problem. The third root is propaganda. In today’s political climate I believe this is one of the biggest problems we have to overcome. When people consume massive amounts of hateful and divisive content it just piles on the walls separating us from each other. That divide is by design of those spreading the content. It is how they make a profit.

 

Now the danger in realizing this is to swing too far in the opposite direction and not stand for anything. Apathy is a whole problem within itself, but it is not a solution to prejudice.

 

What we can do instead is train ourselves to recognize our prejudices and try to focus on the conversation at hand. If you are talking to a Trump supporter and categorize that person as an alt-right neo-nazi you may miss what that person is actually saying. Listen to the concerns of others and then seek solutions together. This is not to say that we will always get along or agree, but for the most part we all want to see the United States of America and it’s people succeed. We can also make a conscious effort to not partake in inflammatory rhetoric. Maybe don’t click that link with the headline talking about “Crushing” the opposition or maybe don’t share or even “like” that meme that exposes the “stupidity” of someone who believes different than you.  It is up to us to change the political climate to one of working together rather than tearing each other apart.

  1. http://www.psychologicalscience.org/news/releases/research-states-that-prejudice-comes-from-a-basic-human-need-and-way-of-thinking.html#.WFDetX0VJUc
Uncategorized

Don’t be what they made you.

There are different levels of influences in our lives. Government controls what we can and can’t do. Media and the education systems control what information we have to work with. There are many more, but these are some of the most powerful when it comes to a nation as a whole. These influences are very good at what they do. They understand what motivates people and how to deliver information in a way that creates the “proper” response. They tug at the puppet strings through headlines and buzzwords. They present false dichotomies to issues and demand we choose sides. It is a relentless battle to control us. Does that mean we have to play along?

Both in the movie “Logan” and the X-Men comics Laura Kinney (a.k.a X-23) is a clone of Logan (a.k.a. James Howlett/Wolverine). She was created to be a weapon. Created in a test tube. Born in a lab. Raised in a cell. Trained as an assassin. In the movie, Laura escapes the lab and ends up in the care of Logan. In one of the final scenes of the movie, Logan tells Laura, “Don’t be what they made you.” With this simple yet powerful charge, Logan revealed the beauty that is independence. This statement doesn’t magically make her enemies disappear or want to control her less. What it does do is reveal the opportunity for her to control her own life despite their desire to control her.



Just like Laura is given a choice to be something more than what those in charge of her want her to be, so do we have a choice. We can throw off the chains of a 2 party system. We can look beyond the headlines and ask “What is the angle?” We can use reason and logic to evaluate a situation and develop a solution. It isn’t going to be easy. Those who wish to control us are powerful, but simply by asking “Why?” you can be freed from the puppet strings. With every person freed, it is a little bit easier for the next person as the enemy loses strength.



We are blessed to live in a country where we can question openly. That freedom is one of the targets of the opposition and we must stand strong against them. There are those who want to silence unpopular opinions. In doing so they hope to strengthen their hold on us. We need to continue to fight, not only for our own free speech, but for the free speech of those we don’t agree with. When we have that ability, we have the ability to look beyond what “they” have made us. We can question and reason together. Find answers outside of what options “they” give us.



“Don’t be what they made you.” Be an individual. Think for yourself. Do your own research. Discuss with others, but reach your own conclusions. If we all submit to those holding the puppet strings, then we only have a few solutions to the world’s problems. But if we all take charge of our own lives, then in the United States alone, we could have 200 million people approaching the world’s problems from different angles.