What we perceive is what we believe. It’s a simple truth complicated by others who do not perceive people or events in the same way. To say this leads to conflict in our nation is an understatement, especially when you see the wide range in which people and events are covered by the media. It takes on an added importance when people and events are written into history books.
Rather than looking backward, I thought it would be a good idea to look at six current people and issues to see if indeed perception is reality.
Hillary Clinton: She has either deliberately tried to circumvent President Obama’s policy regarding the use of personal email for government work or she is being targeted by the media who would love nothing more than to destroy her bid to become the first female president in 2016. Either way, this will just further polarize America which is already deeply split over not just her, but her husband too. The longer Hillary remains silent or vague on this issue, the more we will hear about how the Clintons like to play by a different set of rules. And yet, the reality is, no other democrat wants to take her on in the primaries which should tell everyone just how much her party wants her to run in 2016.
Jeb Bush: If you love Hillary, chances are you hate Jeb Bush. The funny thing is, Jeb’s father, former president George H.W. Bush, has come to view Bill Clinton as another son and Bill feels just as strongly about the man he beat in 1992. It’s easy to say Jeb will be the same as his brother, George W. Bush when in fact they are very different people. Circumstances define a presidency as much as anything else. FDR does not get elected four times if it were not for the great depression and Pearl Harbor. To say Jeb, or Hillary for that matter, will be carbon copies of their sibling, father, or spouse who served before them is to assume they will have to deal with the same events as their predecessors. Does anyone really believe the world is the same today as it was twenty years ago? The voter would be wise to hear what both Jeb and Hillary have to offer before making any assumptions about them.
Racism: To say blacks face the same type and level of racism they faced fifty years ago is wrong. However, that does not mean they do not face racism in different forms and levels. That said, blacks now have much greater educational opportunities than they had in the 1960’s, which brings into question whether or not what they perceive as racism against them might not actually be the end result of poverty and not race. Racism in the form of black and white is easier to understand and to sell to those who feel left behind and is all too often used by the likes of Al Sharpton or more liberally leaning media groups. However, poverty is far more complex because, although it strikes blacks at a higher rate than people of other color, it also represents the end result of choices made by individuals.
Could it be blacks, because of past injustices, make choices that result in poverty on a more frequent basis than other races and as a result, end up on the receiving end of all the ills that come with those choices? The simple argument is easy to understand but the more complex argument is also worth studying, especially with the middle class continuing to shrink while poverty is on the rise.
Wealth: What happens when the middle class disappears? One thing is you get a greater number of people who view the wealthy in a negative light. There is good cause for this when you look at how Wall Street responded to being bailed out by the government. The greedy rewarded themselves with massive bonuses while hundreds of thousands of Americans lost their jobs, homes, and savings. It is one reason why more Americans want to see the wealthy pay more taxes.
However, it does not help the country as a whole to “punish” someone who is rich. A graduated tax system that takes more and more money from the wealthy drives them to rely on employees from foreign countries rather than reinvesting in ours. They claim when their money is simply handed over to the poor it encourages them to not be productive citizens and to live off of handouts. The wealthy claim they can create more jobs with a tax system that does not punish people for their wealth.
You either believe in trickle down or trickle up economics, usually based on the income you earn. As long as the wealthy, which also means the powerful, feel there is no incentive (tax breaks) to reinvest in our own people, we will continue to see the trend of middle class jobs being created by American companies in other nations while they remain hard to find in ours.
The Presidency: We are now at a point in history where our president has become irrelevant. Depending on one’s politics, our president is either great or terrible because we have allowed ourselves to be defined by color; red or blue. Worse, we have allowed ourselves to be overly influenced by the far left and far right, even thought they represent a minority within their own political parties. Consequently, the money these rich, powerful, and vocal extremists provide to political candidates has resulted in constant gridlock. If this were the case in 1965, President Johnson never would have been presented with a civil rights bill to sign into law. Until the American voter wakes up and understands that as long as we continue reelecting the same people to Congress, our president will be nothing more than a figure head.
Our Planet: Global warming is either the fault of man or Mother Nature doing her thing. The fact is, global warming is taking place so what are we going to do about it other than argue over its causes? While the East is buried in snow, mud is coming out of taps in the west due to the drought. Can we come up with systems that allow us to collect a greater amount of rain runoff and to store it for use rather than argue over why the planet is getting warmer? Can we put people to work building more reservoirs before we build high-speed trains?
As the sea level rises, should we at least consider building more desalinization plants as a viable way to increase our water supply? Is the water we use for fracking more important than the water needed to farm the Central Valley of California? And lets not forget, drought is not the only issue in regards to global warming.
Whether or not perception is reality, one thing I have come to realize is it sure leads to a lot of finger pointing. At least that is my perception.
Jim is a life long resident of California and retired school teacher with 30 years in public education. Jim earned his BA in History from CSU Chico in 1981 and his MA in Education from Azusa Pacific University in 1994. He is also the author of Teaching The Teacher: Lessons Learned From Teaching. Jim considers himself an equal opportunity pain in the ass to any political party, group, or individual who looks to profit off of hypocrisy. When he is not pointing out the conflicting words and actions of our leaders, the NFL commissioner, or humans in general, he can be found riding his bike for hours on end while pondering his next article. Jim recently moved to Camarillo, CA after being convinced to join the witness protection program.