Tag Archives: fear

Two Cents on History

As everyone has already heard I’m sure, the next president of the United States is going to be Barack Obama.

Just let that sink in again.

Here are my thoughts about this historic accomplishment.

Symbols:

People are talking about Obama being a post-racial figure, but no matter what the race question was in play the entire time. Obama winning has marked a fundamental change in American society and an end to a long and dirty history. The American dream which was redefined by Martin Luther King Jr. has come to fruition. We can truly say that anyone can achieve any position in the U.S. regardless of the color of their skin now. As a domestic symbol, this will change the way we view our society. In addition, it has given the U.S. a reinvigorated standing in the world. After eight years of failed policies and unilateralism Obama marks a change in the way the world views the U.S. and if he conducts himself correctly, he will be able to rebuild America’s moral foundation.

Generations:

Obama’s victory is also significant to every generation that has participated in it. This has been a long time coming. Many from past generations and present ones have fought hard to allow something like this to happen. But it also signifies the rise of a new generation. I couldn’t be prouder to be part of that.

I was 15 years old when President Bush was first elected. Almost my entire adolescence has been a time where I have been ashamed of my federal government. One where I saw so many opportunities, and chances, but they all were squandered. My parents and my grandparents generations have always talked about what they’ve accomplished. From World War II to the Civil rights movement, there were things that these generations could say they contributed and accomplished. My generation had yet to do that; this was our opportunity and we succeeded.

Ignorance and Fear:

Another significant outcome of the election is that I think it marks a demarcation and failure of the politics of fear and ignorance. Campaigns have been sloshing and dividing the country with simple-minded attacks which have lacked substance. For example, the Dole’s campaign trying to paint her competitor as an Atheist, or the rumor mongering that Barack Obama was a Muslim. These tactics were used to poke fear and relied on the fact that people were ignorant. They assumed that people would care more about a persons religion, race, gender, friends, or anything else, than the actual issues facing the country.

They failed and this is truly a step forward for the country.

Republicans:

The Republican machine was completely overwhelmed. They had the most unpopular president in the history and had become disenfranchised.

Many are probably asking, “how did this happen?”

It was only a few years ago when the republicans were talking about having a majority for the next 20 years, but slowly they lost control of their power. Now their party is on the brink of implosion and really needs to redefine itself.

The Christian Right which propelled Bush into his reign has been surpassed. Part of that has to do with the failing of the fear culture Bush and Rove tried to promote.

The real losers are the moderate and traditional conservatives though. The Republican senators who still have their jobs are far more conservative than the one who lost their posts. The Christian Right has truly hijacked the party. If they don’t move away from fear and ignorance than I think the Republican party might be doomed. There needs to be more of a centrist movement. Here Obama is reaching out his hand and looking to work with, not against, the people who disagree with him.

I hope that many who have become disenfranchised with the Republicans looks to take his offer. It will mark a new chapter in American politics when, and if, this happens.

Hope:

Obama’s message is strong and one that appeals to the core of the American ideals. I’ve had the privilege to talk to a few Germans about the election. Many are still in disbelief that Obama is President, but the thing that has irked me is that most of them are still pessimistic about everything. They think someone is going to try and kill Obama, or that the politics of the U.S. are not going to really change. But being an American and knowing the significance of his victory I have to respectfully disagree with them. Obama has reinvigorated hope in America and his victory has marked a clear change in American politics.

Now his journey is not going to be easy, and he has a lot still to prove. But the opportunity he has created is remarkable and can’t be overlooked.

He has proven to America that something has changed, but he has yet to convince the rest of the world.

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Fight or Flight?

Today I was invited to go on a field trip at my school. I’m not sure about you, but when I was in grade school the field trips were the most placid places we could find. We’d either take a ten minute drive to a boyscout camp or go to Plymouth Plantation where we’d look at a rock and churn butter for four hours.

I was expecting the same. When they told me yesterday where we were going I heard “Grundschule” or the equivilant of elementary school. So, I was gearing up for a boring afternoon. Instead, to my surprise, we ended up going to a “Hund Schule”, or dog school. This is the place where they train police dogs to maim and scare the crap out of people.

Now, I’m one for adventure and pushing the limits a bit, but the kids we were with were about 10 or 11. I can only imagine what the over-protective soccer moms would say in the states.

“You want to take my kid where? Over my dead mini-van.”

I love dogs, and actually have experience with police trained dogs. When I was 16, I asked for a puppy and got a four year old german shepard with police training. She was a great dog, but not something everyone could get along with. My dog, Denny, thrived off of fear. One of my friends had the unfortunate quirk of being scared of dogs. Whenever he came over to my house he would eventually have to use the bathroom and wouldn’t come back for about an hour. When my friends and I eventually found him later Denny was happily sitting and staring at my friend who was being held in a corner. Needless to say, I sure as hell wouldn’t take thirty ten-year-old kids to a police dog training school. It’s asking for trouble.

We pulled up to this very discrete location where the teacher next to me informed me that this place “used to train the special police in the G.D.R. Now they only train dogs”

We then unloaded the bus of about 30 students to a welcome sound of pistol gun fire and the scariest women I’ve ever seen. Here she quickly informed us that,

“if a dog is running at you, stand still, and for the love of God, don’t look it in the eyes.”

I didn’t quite understand this. If a hundred pound attack dog runs at a human, than the natural reaction is to look at it, scream, run, and pee oneself – not necissarily in that order. The last thing a person would do is look up and stand in place while the dog runs at them.

The tour was really cool. We got to see the dogs run through their drills and attack some guys wearing some body armor glove. The only real moment of anxiety happened when they let all the students pat one of the dogs. The dog seemed pretty calm, but they were testing gun fire on some of the other dogs, to make sure they still obey orders with loud sounds. Well, the dog we were petting wasn’t quite used to this yet and quickly freaked out and almost took off about ten kids heads.

Overall, it was a fun trip, but I think the Germans have a different concept of field trips than we do in the States.

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