What Does IQ Measure and Why Does This Matter?

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There are many alt-right types who use IQ statistics to distinguish between groups of people, and yet they themselves do not seem to grasp statistics or even understand what IQ actually measures. They suggest their own lack of intelligence through this. And, given that their use of IQ is most often directed at those whom they deem to be inferior races and is what makes them feel superior, this is deliciously ironic.

Yes, certainly IQ does matter. But it matters in the same way that hitting a golf ball and bench pressing do as being a measure of overall athleticism. Sure, it does differentiate natural ability for those with equal training, and yet says very little about the inborn abilities of those coming from vastly different circumstances. In other words, I can out bench many bigger men who never saw a gym. But not because they couldn’t outperform me if they put the same time in. And, likewise, the kind of intelligence that IQ tests measure is built on practice.

So, basically, without a multi-variant analysis, the results of IQ tests tell us very little. A person can score high because they are genetically gifted. They could score high because they had a stable home, good nutrition, and high-quality education. And, like Koreans getting taller on average, lower average IQ today does not mean the same will be true tomorrow or if all circumstances were equal. In fact, IQ tests are increasing generation by generation, this is called the “Flynn Effect” and not necessarily a result of people actually getting smarter than their grandparents.

No, IQ tests tend to focus on a kind of abstract reasoning that has no practical application for prior generations or those who are raised outside of an advanced economic system. My ability to reason through engineering problems may unlock earning potential in a very controlled environment and yet doesn’t mean I would survive a day in the Amazon basin or on the streets of Rio. So this assumption that my test scores prove something about my superiority is basically nonsense.

Sure, not everyone has the mental capacity to solve differential equations. But that doesn’t mean everyone who couldn’t solve them prior to Isaac Newton and Gottfried Leibniz was an idiot.

The really crazy thing about racial supremacist mid-wits (or at least those who I know of European ancestry) is that they will so often make fun of the pointy-headed intellectuals (those who outscore them in IQ while lacking street smarts) only to turn around and use IQ statistics to create a racial pecking order. I mean, if IQ is a reason for some to rule, why do these same people turn to wild conspiracy theories to explain why many Ashkenazi Jews are disproportionately more successful (academically) and in positions of power or influence? Why not just assume they are the next stage of human evolution?

The truth is culture and environment have a large part to play in our development. What is prioritized in homes and communities can make a huge difference in outcomes. If my dad was an attorney and I was sent to a prep school, I would probably be more likely to score higher and go further in pursuit of a professional career. Alternatively, if I was raised in a place where everyone was obsessed with track speed and achieving celebrity status, I doubt I would’ve grown up playing with Legos or visiting various museums with my parents. My own 97th percentile IQ was likely built on experience as much as anything else.

Lastly, it is worth noting that outliers do not tell us a whole lot. Interestingly enough, men are both smarter and dumber than women and this has to do with standard distribution or how the bell curve works. What this means is that there can be more or less diversity within categories. Or, put otherwise, some Kenyans being excellent long-distance runners doesn’t mean all are and this superiority of some Kenyans will tell us even less about those on the other end of the African continent. Too often we look at the cream of the crop (or bad actors) as an indication of the whole and yet group statistics never tell us about individuals.

Lost in the Technicalities

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There are many things in life that depend on a smell test or an intuitive sense.  When the religious hypocrites brought a woman before Jesus the legal prescription was simple, she was caught in sexual sin and deserved death according to the law of Moses.  They knew of his compassion for sinners and had hoped to trap him.  If Jesus spared her he would break the law, but if he condemned then he would be just like her judgmental accusers.

What happened next in that narrative totally upended their simplistic conception of the law and application.  To them, it was all very black and white.  They were very thorough in defining the limits, of their legalism, and this adulterous woman fell well outside the bounds of any gray area.  But Jesus defied them.  We don’t know what he wrote in the dust at their feet, but we do know that Jesus, in response to their demands for an answer, told them “let he who is without sin cast the first stone,” and that after this they left one by one.

Growing up in a fundamentalist sect, in the shadow of purity culture teachings, it was always about meeting expectations.  If only you could follow the rules, then you might be accepted, then her dad (or your own) would be pleased and no longer harbor those often unspoken negative opinions.  Sure, maybe those in this culture knew better than to be as open about their disapproval, like the men accusing the woman, but they still miss the point and will attempt to explain away the full significance of what Jesus did.  To them, the goal is to be undefiled enough to cast the first stone.

Those blinded by a legalistic mindset only comprehend the letter of the law without ever understanding the spirit or true purpose behind it.  When they are not onerously enforcing the technicalities of their own  (often errant) interpretations of Scripture then they are carving out special exceptions for themselves and in all circumstances are missing the spirit or intent of the law. (Romans 2:29, 2 Corinthians 2:4-18) They see the law as a means to gain God’s favor or as means to gain rank on their more sinful neighbors rather than what it truly is.

First of all, the law was not established for Pharisees past or present to play morality police.  Yes, we’re told to work out our own salvation.  We need to confess our sins and admit our falling short as often as we do.  But it is the role of the collective body of the Church to apply the law to others and not our own.  In other words, we should stay in our lane, and use the law for introspection rather than as a hammer to beat over the head of our neighbors.  Our obligation to others is to do as Jesus said and learn the meaning of the phrase, “I desire mercy not sacrifice.”

Second, the law isn’t just an arbitrary set of rules to prove our worthiness to God.  No, it is rather something established for our good and as a protection from harm.  As Jesus said, the Sabbath was “made for man” and not the other way around, which is why he let his disciples violate the rules.  In other words, the law is very practical, for our good, and can be bent when need be.  Sure, we may not always understand the reasons and thus we should obey even when we do not, but there is always room for exception.  This is what freedom in Christ entails—the ability to live by the underlying intent rather than only by the technicalities of written codes.

Those in the construction industry know about building inspectors who are ‘by the book’ to the point of being ridiculous.  It isn’t actually making anyone safer.  These types often lack hands-on experience, seemingly even basic comprehension of what makes a structure work, and they just make life harder for everyone.   They can be technically correct, according to line three of page 395 of the code book, while still being clueless and unhelpful.  This kind of expert has the letter of the law and lacks the spirit. This is to say that they have useless knowledge that makes them feel qualified when, in reality, those in the field know better.

And religious fundamentalists all end up like these building inspectors, hung up on details and never adding any real value to the project. They condemn everyone around them, in violation of the commandment of Christ, while they themselves have a beam in their own eyes. They think they are moral people because they can follow a list of “do’s” and “don’ts” and yet fail to comprehend the meaning of “man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.”

Indeed, we may not allow our children to cross the street without permission, it may also be jaywalking to cross in certain areas, and yet would the legal statute matter if there was an urgent need to cross?

Politicians and lawyers can find ways to be technically ‘legal’ while also immoral or violating the principle of the law. They can also point out when others do what is right when it is technically illegal or when others fail to dot an ‘I’ or cross a ‘T’ as is required. But they fail to apply the law correctly because they miss the actual intention or purpose behind the law. They do not know the Jesus who makes even our righteousness seem like filthy rags and are trying to earn God’s favor instead.

This is to be lost, like the rich young ruler, who was still trying to save himself through his own works. You can do everything right according to the Scripture (or at least your own understanding of the writing) and still be lost. You can do everything wrong and still be saved. This is because we always depend on the mercy of God rather than our ability to be perfect.

The Cooperative Alternative

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There is an intermediate step between our own lonely individualism and some sort of wonky religious or hippie flower child 1960s-style communalism.  There is plenty of room in between the extremes.

My thoughts about this ideal were sparked again by my interactions with a young woman, on the anxious left-wing activist side of things, thinking to declare as a philosophy major, who wanted me to check out some websites about cooperatives.

While I do not embrace the full package of left-wing ideology, I do see the huge deficit of viable communities and the economic forces that are behind this erosion.  We have traded the mom-and-pop stores downtown for the corporately owned big box.

This is as unhealthy an arrangement as the mass-produced junk food many Americans choose.  And yet, if you question this regime of suburban sprawl and consumerism, you’ll get a response similar to the dialogue, in the movie Idiocracy, when Joe suggests using water rather than Brawndo, an energy drink, for irrigating the crops:

“Community, like a cult or Jonestown?”

If you bring up the word commune there will probably be a strong visceral reaction on the part of conservatives.  There is this delusion of independence, a crucial component of the American cultural mythos, which is what drives many to trade community (and potential for their greater success) for a payment plan.

Whereas a generation or two ago, there was the church and social clubs to provide some level of mutual support, now we have a class of some who make it and others who are an unforeseen circumstance and paycheck away from dependence on welfare programs.  We have traded flesh and blood relationship for faceless state or corporate bureaucracy and a truckload of paperwork.

The current system is so woefully inefficient that we’re probably working twice as hard for half the rewards.  Governments, banks, and big corporations are profiting massively by keeping us divided up and dependent on their systems.  Many believe that they are free because they can watch smut or own a deadly weapon, but they’re really slaves to debt and tossed about by entities that have no actual concern for their well-being or wellness.

But, despite their slavery to this system, the moment you suggest that they consider an alternative, working together with those of like-mind towards a common goal, there is strong resistance.  I mean, how dare you suggest that they give up their own property (that the bank owns anyway) or learn how to share anything?

Reducing the friction of commerce…

The reality is, unless you live alone on your Alaskan homestead, you are dependent on other people.  And my thought here is that we should be more intentional about this and choose what makes the most sense.  

The idea of a cooperative is basically to remove the dead weight of a business and distribute profits more evenly amongst the employed.  It means that all involved in the enterprise share in both the risks and the rewards.  Instead of paying interest to banks or making dozens of taxed transactions, all of this cost can be eliminated.  What it all means, in the end, is working less for more in return.

For example, instead of everyone buying their own lawn mower or hiring someone, why not have one person do this for the community and earn credits?  

My own vision is a mix of both cooperation and autonomy, which is negotiated between the members and the group.  There would not be everyone living in some kind of compound or anything like that, everyone could have their own residence.  There would simply be more shared space for all, fewer redundancies, and potentially more access to costly tools or equipment.

The economics of this kind of cooperative arrangement is so superior that once it was started it would vastly outpace those trying to do it on their own through the currently conventional means.  Ever wonder why so many motels and gas stations are owned by immigrants?  It is because they are financed through their ethnic communities and have eliminated the friction of interest.

Americans, by contrast, always seem to see everything as a competition.  They’ll buy the biggest most ridiculous SUV, they truly can’t afford, to keep up with the Joneses and the only real winner is the financer of this silly display of excess.  We would rather sacrifice our time so that the boss can get his hunting land or an executive makes their bonus than give up this faux image of self-reliance and work together.

Finding our commonality…

A successful cooperative arrangement does require some sort of connection or common purpose to unite the individuals.  In the early Church, their having “all things in common” was a byproduct of faith and a commitment to Christ.  The ideological left, on the other hand, begins with a different moral premise and that is the abolition of private property or Capital.  In both cases, there is a shared identity that is the glue.

That is the biggest roadblock in the rapidly atomizing West, where Protestantism has led to a proliferation of denominations with competing claims and now the dissolution of a shared or universal purpose.  Everything is about us now, about our own opinions and wants, to the point that many marriages end in a protest called divorce.  We can’t sacrifice anything in the present, even if our greater integration as a whole would be better for us in the end.

But there is a huge potential upside.  If we could find a way to look past ourselves for a moment and understand how cooperation is a means to reduce friction or cost.  However, the real need is for more people to let go of this delusion that they are better off on their own and that security comes only through money in their bank account.  The absurd part is that we already do lend our time to many people, for a wage,  their services, or whatever, and would do better to choose better partners.

If there was a way to make cooperative arrangements more palatable I would.  The real problem is that anytime we gain the slightest advantage over our neighbors we would rather keep it all for ourselves.  Many cannot see past this pointless competition and appreciate the great gain of voluntarily distributing costs or sharing responsibilities. Perhaps this is why we can’t have nice things?  I know it is why so many are lonely and discontent. They are looking in the wrong direction for fulfillment.

There are always tradeoffs for every arrangement. And yet there are also things that we are biologically wired for and denying them is to our detriment. We are social creatures. We have a neurological reward system built around having positive meaningful interactions with other people. The economic benefits of greater cooperation, at a local level, would be enormous and the social benefits even greater.

God, Suffering and Salvation

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I have complete sympathy for atheists and agnostics.  I’ve wrestled with questions my entire life and whether or not there is a God is always one of them.  But the one thing that I can’t understand is being angry about human suffering, from a rational basis, if God does not exist.  If there is no ultimate good, no greater purpose or meaning to life, on what basis do we make a moral judgment about suffering?

Okay, let’s back up a second.  I’m here at my local establishment drinking another Long Island, one of many since the death of Uriah, and it hasn’t given me an answer as to why he would die of cancer at twenty-four.  The medical diagnosis is simple enough.  He had cancer.  The aggressive kind.  It started with the lump on his ankle during boot camp.  I still have the picture on my phone taken out of morbid curiosity and never dreaming it was a death sentence.

Uriah and I, despite our difference in age, got along in a way that only cousins do.  He was like me.  We didn’t simply accept those easy cliché answers.  He was someone who was both determined and also full of doubts.  He was also the six-foot tall and better version of everything I ever was.  The best part was that I could claim some of his success for myself given that I had encouraged him to continue his college education, telling him that it was better to keep going than to live a life of regrets.

Watching Uriah sacrifice a leg only to have the cancer be found in his lungs a year later. It was a gut punch.  I think I stopped praying, at some point, because I just knew what the prognosis was.  

The hardest part, however, is that Uriah was not the first of his family that I had to carry out of the church on a cold winter day.  His parents had already lost one of their children to a seizure disorder.  His two other siblings are severely disabled and will need constant care.  Judy, his mom, is an incredible woman and has extraordinary faith.  Ed too has great strength of character.  And neither of them wastes any time feeling sorry for themselves despite losing the one healthy child they had to this terrible disease.

Where was God?

When my little Saniyah died, unexpectedly, it was a really big struggle for me.  It took me years to get my feet back under me again, spiritually and emotionally speaking, and I had both doubted my own faith along with the existence of a loving God.  The death of Uriah, along with my disappointments with those whom I put my trust in, and my long wait for Charlotte, have really tested me the past few years.  But, I have those who need me to be strong this time around and, for this reason, have had to push back against falling into despair again.

Nevertheless, I totally get why someone who has encountered suffering in a personal way is angry and denies the existence of God on this basis.  I mean why would this kind of pain and loss be allowed if there is an all-powerful good in the universe, right?  Why would God not intervene and stop this all rather than let us go through such terrible experiences?  It doesn’t make much sense, does it, that we should be left so lonely and struggling if God is good.

However, if we eliminate totally God from the equation, then we dismiss religious morality and must acknowledge that there is nothing written in the fabric of the universe that says our existence entitles us to good feelings.  I mean, as far as evolution goes, pain is more or less a survival tool, a feedback system to tell us what to avoid.  Feeling sad about the death of a friend or family member is, by this logic, a malfunction. 

In this harsh environment, where everything is out to kill us, why would we ever expect anything more than suffering?

The moral reasoning that makes this bad, if you are truly an atheist, is nothing other than a construct.  In terms of pure biology, it is good that fire hurts or we might burn our arms off.  That is pain for a very practical and utilitarian purpose.  Undeniably good if there is such a thing.  But what reasonable good is there in mourning those already dead?  No point in crying over spilled milk, right?  A totally rational being would simply move on to the next social resource and not be so attached or sentimental.

Being upset over suffering and death, if there is no God, is irrational.  And, if there is a God, like that of Christianity, then suffering and death are exactly what we’re promised in this life.  Sheesh.  Did you read the story of Jesus and how he was betrayed, beaten, and then unjustly killed in the most brutal fashion all as part of a redemptive plan?  If you actually believe in eternity then why be angry about a few years living out this rich narrative we call life? 

At the very least, how can we judge anything, especially a fictional character, on the basis of a moral standard that doesn’t exist? 

If there is no God, then there is no basis for morality either.  That too, including the idea that suffering is bad or pleasure is good, is entirely a construct.  Pain is good in some circumstances, it protects us from injury and causes us to change behavior in ways that are beneficial.  In other words, without the discomfort of hunger or thirst, we would not correctly prioritize our life.  Pleasure can be bad when it makes us eat too many donuts and become diabetic.  So how does one truly know that their own interpretation of these signals is the correct one?

From what I’ve observed in myself and in others, unbelief stems from disappointment when things do not go as expected.  It is about who is in control.  We can cling, in our own arrogance, to this notion that the universe should bend to our will.  Or realize that our own perceptions, based on senses which are not very reliable and a brain prone to making mistakes in judgment, are not infallible or ever actual truth.

The thing is we only ever know if suffering is good or bad if it is properly contextualized if we understand the end.  For example, feeling the burn of exercise is good pain because it is what accompanies muscle development and so we embrace this.  So what is the real context of our life?  To what end, or for what reason, did we become conscious?  What is behind this ‘accident’ if it is one? 

How do we contextualize our existence enough to judge what is good or bad?

If there is such a thing as an eternal reward, that would change the calculus, right?  It would mean that all pain can be gain, and all suffering can draw us closer as much as it drives us away because defining the moral character of any experience depends on the end.  I am willing to subject myself to many hardships if the reward is big enough.  No, this doesn’t take away the question of why we must go through here to get there.  But seeing past our immediate feelings is pretty much the only way to make progress.

Angry is a feeling, not a guide for life…

I was at this time living, like so many Atheists or Antitheists, in a whirl of contradictions. I maintained that God did not exist. I was also very angry with God for not existing. I was equally angry with Him for creating a world.

C.S. Lewis

People don’t walk away from Christianity for rational or scientific reasons.  Sure, they may guard their emotion-based unbelief behind a wall of post hoc justification.  But the reality is that they’re upset about something.  They had expectations and are now disappointed and acting as wounded people do.  It’s just strange that anyone at all Biblically literate would suddenly lose faith over our suffering when that’s literally the only we’re promised in this life.

What really doesn’t make any sense is why anyone would rather suffer with no hope at all of eternity.  If God is dead, then nihilism is the logical next stop and that life has no real meaning or purpose.  But the suffering does not go away simply because we’re angry at the giver of life.  No, it will only intensify and become a spiral of despair.  Our salvation is in our understanding that, smart as we may think we are, we’re truly quite ignorant and even our most ‘concrete’ reality is not real:

The first gulp from the glass of natural sciences will turn you into an atheist, but at the bottom of the glass God is waiting for you. 

Werner Heisenberg

For those who don’t know who that is, Mr. Heisenberg was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics, in 1932, for the creation of quantum mechanics.  Materialism, despite the zombie corpse of this thing staggering on, died with the discovery of things in defiance of this entirely too simplistic conception.  Sure, this kind of physics is well-beyond most, but it does support a notion of reality that requires a Universal Perceiver (as described in this article) and we could call that God.

So, if you’re actually serious about science, then the hard science of physics is the place to start and, with its mathematical origin and proofs, is much less likely to be clouded by emotion one way or another.  We can’t run from God.  But we may need to leave behind the baggage of our own misconceptions and learn the value of true repentance.  Maybe Uriah died, and went to his reward, so some of us would have our flawed thinking broken and seek our salvation in Him?

Maybe some of us are just too stubborn, or too needing of control being in our own hands, to admit we can’t save ourselves?

I’ll tell you this.  The universe, without God, is an infinitely dark and lonely place.  It is that starring abyss of which Friedrich Nietzsche warned, the existential horror H.P. Lovecraft describes.  Highly intelligent men, both of them, and understood the implications that come with true unbelief in God.  You will not escape your suffering simply by denying that the Divine all-powerful good exists.  No, rather you will just remain in that hell of your own creation.

Postscript: Questions Remain

I still grieve Uriah, as I do Saniyah, uncle Roland, and others that seem to have been taken before their time. I’ve long struggled against sources of trauma much more basic, the lack of unconditional love in the church that could make up for my shortcomings, and much of that is unresolved. At the time of my writing, the impossibility is something yet to be fulfilled. I do not have answers for any of this nor do I expect to. I’m not the arrogant kid who argued with his high school biology teacher, not a Bible-thumping fundamentalist at all, and yet must believe.

“All We’re Saying Is Give Peace A Chance”

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Elon Musk did what he does best and that is he disrupted the status quo.  This time he took on the conventional argument that the war over Donbas must be fought to the very last Ukrainian.  

His Tweets:

If you thought Trump was a mean Tweeter, you should see some of the nastiness in response to these polls.

Of course, social media midwits everywhere, full of sanctimony and rage, took to their usual easy explanation of any perspective that challenges their own: Musk is an idiot or Putin’s puppet and certainly doesn’t have the credentials to comment on geopolitics!  

And yet Musk’s own call for resolution very closely mirrors that of Henry Kissinger from months ago who called for the government of Ukraine to come to the negotiating table and be willing to cede territory for sake of peace.  

This is from an editorial written back in 2014:

The West must understand that, to Russia, Ukraine can never be just a foreign country. Russian history began in what was called Kievan-Rus. The Russian religion spread from there. Ukraine has been part of Russia for centuries, and their histories were intertwined before then. Some of the most important battles for Russian freedom, starting with the Battle of Poltava in 1709, were fought on Ukrainian soil.

(“Henry Kissinger: To settle the Ukraine crisis, start at the end,”Washington Post)

Kissinger, a diplomat of diplomats, former Secretary of State, and a renowned foreign policy expert, is no slouch when it comes to geopolitics, and that his sage advice was so quickly dismissed says more about the true lack of understanding and blind fanaticism of the hardliners.

It seems that some are plain vengeance driven and would rather punish Russia than find a way to peace that would end the destruction and save countless lives.  

They are either a) products of Western propaganda who knew next to nothing of the complex regional history and brutal shelling by Ukrainian partisans for eight years prior to the Russian intervention or b) Ukrainian nationalists who looked the other way when ethnic Russians were murdered in Odessa and then sought to impose their will on Donbas.

Musk and Kissinger, along with Emanuel Macron who warned not to humiliate Russia (as was done to Germany after WW1 and led to WW2), are only saying what an informed and responsible person should say when seeing an escalation that very well could lead to nuclear war.

The Boomer warmongers, the hawks like neocon Lindsey Graham or imperial-lib Joe Biden, are still very much stuck in the Cold War and would not think twice about sacrificing your sons or daughters for their latest power trip.  

They don’t tell you about how they personally profited from provoking a coup in 2014, like their predecessors did in pre-revolution Iran and all across South America.  

The United States has meddled in all parts of the world, both in form of covert CIA destabilization efforts to the too numerous to list overt brutal military invasions and occupations.  The political establishment and military leaders of the West have never thought twice about bombing those who do not submit back to the Stone Age:

The racial dehumanization of the Vietnamese found its classic expression in the words of General Curtis LeMay, head of the Strategic Air Command, who said that America’s aim must be to “bomb the Vietnamese back to the stone age.” And Washington tried to do just that: From 1965 to 1969, the U.S. military dropped 70 tons of bombs for every square mile of North and South Vietnam — or 500 pounds for each man, woman, and child.

(“Bomb them back to the stone age: Racism, genocide and denial at the heart of the American Way of War,” Milwaukee Independent)

Of course, this was done in the name of “democracy” and “freedom,” which justifies all violence, right?

Anything said about Putin is a projection. The war in Ukraine is not completely unprovoked, as our own propaganda says. No, it is the direct result of the US and NATO interfering in Ukrainian’s domestic politics. Back in 2014, the late Senator John “bomb bomb Iran” McCain, along with our current Under Secretary of State, Victoria Nuland, planned who would replace Ukraine’s President *before* he was overthrown in a coup.

The US only like democracy so much as the votes are counted our way and freedom so long as it benefits our current political establishment or their sponsoring banks and big corporations—that’s just the truth.

Like the jeering of our American hypocrisy by Serbian soccer fans—who saw their own country partitioned after NATO took the other side of the conflict, that of the separatists—holding a banner listing the dozens of places the US has attacked, invaded and occupied since the 1950s: All we’re saying is give peace a chance.

The world sees it, why don’t we?

A Rose By Any Other Name

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It is hard to feel unique in a world of 7.75 billion people.  Due to mass media we are also more aware of this and also now have all of the best in the world there to compare ourselves to.  We see the best athletes, the most beautiful bodies, those with wealth and power day in and day out.

I am insignificant

At the same time, many young people did not have siblings to share the attention of their parents, only were given affirmation in their formative years, a participation trophy for showing up and—special as they are—don’t need to follow rules or ever answer to anyone.  

In other words, we have a generation with deep insecurities, worried about their place in the vast sea of humanity, and then also raised to be self-absorbed narcissists.  

Unlike the past generations, where you could be a big fish in a small pond, yet also needed to learn respect for boundaries and how to share or negotiate with others. 

Unlike the meritocracy of the past, where you needed real accomplishments to earn privileges or praise, we have conditioned young people to believe that their satisfaction should come without sacrifice or effort.

It is very little wonder why so many of them are unfulfilled, dissatisfied with life, and out there seeking cheap distinction.

Distinction—Cheap or Valuable

We all know names like Elon Musk, Serena Williams, or Ron DeSantis.  They are leaders in their realms of popular culture and sport, business or politics.  And we can probably agree that some of their success is an inheritance of genetics, good fortune or the opportunities granted them.

However, what they are doing, like them or not, is producing results and with this are being rewarded for the things they do.  They have outcompeted many, they distinguished themselves by showing up for work and by putting the time in.  It is for that reason their recognition is earned.  They do the things we care about and we make them famous for this unique resume.

Earlier this week I saw a story about Rose Namajunas, a diminutive female UFC fighter with a very big attitude that earned her the nickname “Thug Rose” in school, and how she’s being featured in a Victoria’s Secret ad campaign.  The message “all expressions, no definitions,” with the word “undefinable,” do certainly fit her outsized personality and the mean head kicks she can deliver, all the while being very emotional.

The point a marketing strategy is cynical, it is to tickle ears and encourage more consumption of a particular good or service.  Those who produced this advertising campaign did it trying to target a certain demographic in the hope of profit.  And that target is probably not those who will ever have the same work ethic and skills as Rose, but is those who crave the same notoriety and ‘undefinable’ uniqueness.

We all wish to be significant, to distinguish ourselves from the pack, to be appreciated and loved.  There are many who are looking for a shortcut or feel entitled to these things, they want the same acceptance, recognition and rewards as those at the top.  They buy expensive clothes, the latest smart phones or cars beyond their budget, all trying to gain attention through their appearance rather than actual character.  

There is hard-earned distinction and there is the cheap kind.  There is the content creator who shares of their substance and then the one who destroys things for clicks.  There is the pleasing gift of Abel and that unworthy offering of Cain.  There is that real fulfillment which comes from making contribution and then the imitation that is outwardly prideful, expresses itself loudly, while truly being an envious, bitter and impoverished soul.

Personal Pronouns and No-name Jerseys

Penn State football has a long tradition of not putting the names of players on jerseys and this is to reinforce the notion of selfless team effort over a bunch of individuals only in it for themselves.  

No name, all game

Success on the field and in life depends on our plugging in and sometimes putting aside our own preferences for the good of others.  We can get more done by working together, respecting the established system, rather than demand that everyone makes special accomodations for us.

Yes, there is a time for grievances.  We also should be a reasonable give and take so far as how individuals and the members of the group interact with each other.

And yet this idea that we should rewrite cultural conventions, negotiated over many centuries, simply so some ‘woke’ Karens can have power over others, is not a grievance I can ever honor.  It is not reasonable for a person to decide the pronouns that apply to them or force us to go along with their newly invented categories.  

We don’t need to be Amish, severely limiting individual expression to maintain community cohesion, but we also don’t want to keep on this path of total atomization either.  There’s a reason why the barn raising religion is able to flourish while the rest of us are headed for Babal, confusion and collapse.

Rose By Any Other Name

This morning, pondering how the categories of mental illness are a bit arbitrary and how much I dislike how these labels pigeonhole  people, there was the thought that my given name was the best possible diagnosis of me.  I mean, I’m Joel.  I don’t need a personal pronoun when I already have my own name and identity completely my own.  

Ironically, the same people who want to have new pronouns for themselves also seem to revel in their mental illness as well.  Anything to be different.  It is a sort of humble-brag, a title of distinction of our era, to talk about your PTSD or bi-polar disorder.  If you are the right person, if you can make yourself a part of the right identity group, then your self-declared victimhood will be treated as a virtue.

It goes beyond moral inversion.  People think that you can slap the right label on a person and it will make up for their deficiencies.  If only they were described right, if we would see their pink hair as an accomplishment, then they would love themselves.  Of course, this is a lie, people so into themselves are always a black hole and no amount of love given will fill their deep void.

It is the spirit of those who are content to remain nameless, who get their numbers called for what they do for the whole, that actually matters.  People will know what is great and what is not no matter what label is applied.  I can never forget what W.E.B Du Bois wrote to a student:

Do not at the outset of your career make the all too common error of mistaking names for things. Names are only conventional signs for identifying things. Things are the reality that counts. If a thing is despised, either because of ignorance or because it is despicable, you will not alter matters by changing its name.

The Name “Negro”

We can manipulate and massage language all we want, give people all the fancy titles they wish for, but in the end none of this word play can take away or lend to their value. If you want recognition contribute to the whole and your name will be known. Not to the whole world, but to those helped by your deeds. A rose called by any other name is still a rose.

Believe It, Or Not?

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It’s been my thought for some time now and has become even more cemented in place over the past few years.  People will believe anything, especially if it fills their desire for meaning and purpose, even if it is ridiculous at face value.  But don’t mistake the for a shot at tradition.  Karl Marx said that religion is “the opiate of the masses” and yet his alternative drug produces delusion, rage and violence.  I’ll take Jesus and love over that any day of the week.

Sure, this quote could have some truth to it:

“Organized religion is a sham and a crutch for weak-minded people who need strength in numbers. It tells people to go out and stick their noses in other people’s business.”

E. J. Dionne Jr

But that same statement could be applied to almost every popular secular movement or established consensus.  Certainly not all, not even many, who believe in various narratives or theories are qualified experts.  Most have simply bought into a system and are riding the ideological bandwagon.  Good science is religious and organized, scientism is a cult and a way of silencing critical thinkers who are outside of the political mainstream.  I would certainly take Gospel tracts shoved in my face over social media censorship of my ‘wrongthink’ and higher taxes that won’t do anything to save the planet.

Call me a skeptic of everything, I just find it difficult subscribing to anything anymore, to me it is all easy-believism.  I mean, does it seriously change anything about my day-to-day life to believe in climate change or go to church?  Probably not.  People might make a symbolic sacrifice here and there.  However, for the most part the commitment doesn’t ever match the rhetoric.  The faithful aren’t walking on water nor are those who loudly proclaim their extreme consternation about the climate giving up their private jets or beach homes.

But it is much more basic than this, go ask people about who is the best president ever (or worst) and you’ll get completely opposite answers.  To some Trump was the guy who spoke to their own concerns and delivered, to others Biden is the guy who has restored the normalcy they craved.  Both sides can support their own perspective if given the chance.  Can they all be right?  Okay, so it is subjective, an opinion which man is better or worse, and yet we don’t agree on what is objective either.

I love talking to the most sincere people, the true believers, because they are so confident about what they say and it is enviable.  If you have had a bad experience with those who espouse their ideology, then that’s the rare exception, an anomaly, and is not the real version that is represented by them.  I’m just not like them.  I can’t help my skepticism of their beliefs.  I’m not very easily sold on their the basis of their sureness and claims alone, show me the undeniable evidence.  I do not fall for their conviction or consensus.

People do not seem to know where reality ends and their imagination begins.  Basically every narrative we create is a sort of fiction we create for ourselves.  We take the bits of data, very often distorted by our own flawed perception, and interpret it into a story that makes sense to us.  Systemic heightism, for example, describes something very real, is even quantifiable, and yet is also an overlay that doesn’t truly describe the truly complex picture.  What we accept or deny is often a product of our conditioning, social status and base desires.

The primitive communism that Marx used to fashion his ideas were as much a fabrication as any religious mythos.  Idealistic children likely subscribe to his theories for the same reason they love Disney fairy tales or Marvel comic book heroes.  Utopia ahead is a very strong motivator, in that we are very willing to make huge personal sacrifices when we believe that heaven awaits us.  And yet, as much as see the ‘faithful’ fall for obvious con-men, it makes every testimony questionable. 

The problem with my own unbelief is that I also believe this too.  I trust myself enough to mistrust.  Maybe my own ambivalence, and sometimes agnosticism, will make me miss the one truth in the sea of lies?  Still, I’m convinced my only ability to be sure of anything will have to be direct revelation from God, because I know too well that I’m a blind man in a world of full of blindness.  I’ll admit, this isn’t the most comforting or easy answer, but people believe many things that simply are not true.

What do I believe?

I believe what is most beneficial.  Maybe all of religious narrative is a fabrication and yet the real question is it useful, will it produce results that make the world better?  

The Christ I believe teaches me the value of delayed gratification.  In other words, when we invest in others, in faith, there is a chance that we make a friend and split the dividend of our peace.  In doing unto others, in love, there is a chance of solving our conflicts and ending hostilities.  Christianity, unlike various popular political systems, makes no utopian promise in this life, and yet it does help to push behavior in the right direction.

Going to the Well One Too Many Times

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We had one of the best running backs in the state and had successfully run many toss sweeps during the year—probably a dozen times every game. 

It was the first round of the playoffs, and up against a rival that we had beaten handily earlier in the season.  The O-line dropped into their stance, the quarterback took the snap as our star took his step right, and—oh no!  

A linebacker, who had timed the cadence, anticipated the toss, plucks the ball out of the air, and a few seconds later turned this defensive prowess into six points.  And we never recovered.  We lost.

This is where the expression, “going to the well one too many times,” comes from.  A play can work hundreds of times, it can be the go-to option—until that one time when it becomes too predictable and the other team takes advantage.

Click here for a very similar play, not my own team, but close enough to trigger the bad memories.

Yes, Poles Can Shift

One of the big misunderstandings of current trends there is that they will go on forever.  If one is part of the cult of progress, change is seen as a march forward.  To the traditional there are endless cycles and seasons, the sun goes up and down.  To the cynical, humanity is on a downward trajectory, this slippery slope of social decay and spiral to the collapse of civilization.

In almost every case people expect that the current rules (or roles) can’t be flipped.  The winners today will keep on winning or what worked yesterday will keep on working as it always did—ad infinitum.

But long-term trajectories do change, cycles can be broken, powerful empires faded away into nothing and there have also been those massive breakthrough-type events that have completely changed expectations.  North is North, the compass is true as it always has been, and yet there is evidence that even this magnetic reference can flip.  

Things can go one way for a long time and feel very predictable and unchangeable.  But in one moment some threshold is crossed that upends the well-worn expectations.  The end of the epoch.  A critical mass is reached, the dam is finally breached, and the established paradigm blows up, and is washed away, like the linebacker running with the ball after picking off the toss.

Of course, in retrospect, we all claim to have seen it coming, that the signs were there, but few actually do.  If we did we would have invested better, acted differently, and taken full advantage.

Please Capitulate, Charlie!

In the Peanuts cartoon, there is the infamous football gag.  Lucy tells Charlie that she’ll hold the ball for him to kick and, despite her having tricked him many times before—by pulling the ball away right as he is wound up to kick, he is always fooled again.

Retail investors capitulating to short sellers.

This is how institutions have treated retail investors in the stock market.  In the past, when the market would downturn, the ‘smart money’ would short popular stocks, then spread FUD through hired shills to scare their ignorant counterparts who would then sell at a loss and move on.  When this retail capitulation would finally happen the market would finally be ready for the next cycle.

But now, in the meme stock era, the ‘Apes’ or those who learned from the 2008 crash, now hold, buy the dip, and refuse to sell.  This is not what the hedge funds and big banks had planned when they started to short AMC and GameStop.  They had planned to drive these companies into bankruptcy, and collect on their bets.  Instead, after over a year and a half of price manipulation (FTDs, dark pool abuse, naked shorts) and bashing, the selling has not happened.  This means they need to continue to pay the interest to maintain their short positions.

He’s hoping to wish this into reality…

It is a battle of wills, one retail rallying call being “I can be retarded longer than they can remain solvent,” and retail does control all of the exits in some heavily shorted stocks.  If retail does not throw in the towel, eventually the institutions will run out of new ways to kick the can down the road, they will get margin called and will have to cover.

At this point, retail investors have figured out the game.  They know how bashers are paid to scare them, they know how the price is manipulated, and they’re angry and not going to do what they’re ‘supposed’ to do.  Apes are not leaving.  And, at this point, this is a movement to expose the corruption in the market rather than simply an investment in a company we like.

If you want to be part of this history AMC and the new preferred equity called APE are trading for mere dollars.  You can even get free stocks by opening an account following this link.  This blog is not financial advice and investment is a risk, but we would love to have you as part of the Ape fam.

Maybe the pole shift won’t happen. Maybe Lucy has another trick up her sleeve. The future can’t be predicted. But we can be certain that trends almost always come to an end. Retail investors are no longer as easily fooled. This time Charlie Brown isn’t playing the game as expected.

How to get paid to write?

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I’ve had so many people tell me that I’m a great writer and should be getting paid to do it.  But, thus far, I’ve had no real ideas how to monetize this talent and it can be frustrating at times.  Anyhow, right now, due to some medical bills, it would be nice to be able to earn some extra income and that’s why I’m making this request to share this post.  If enough people do, maybe the right person will find this blog and give me an idea of where to put my abilities to use.  Note, most of what I do here is completely unedited and written on my phone in my spare time.  If I was doing this as a professional I would do more to get the grammar right.  My interests are history, current events, politics, theology, psychology and any practical application of such things.  Maybe I could be someone’s speech writer or do a column? 

Your suggestions are welcomed!  I would really love to hear the personal experiences of writers who get paid.

And, of course, likes and reshares are certainly appreciated!

Real Compassion Vs. Fake Virtue

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It is very common for the the very wealthy and politicians to start foundations for a charity or cause.  This is both a publicity coup and also an opportunity to raise cash under the auspices of a greater good.  But very often it is more cynical than sincere and probably for the tax breaks or as a money laundering scheme more than anything else, in some cases these organizations spend all of their donations on administrative salaries and not the stated mission.

Virtue signaling is a social phenomenon where a person, with a very small actual personal investment or self-sacrifice, can gain a great benefit or standing amongst their peers.  This can include social media activism, yard signs declaring virtue, and any other low effort high reward way that people try to distinguish themselves as better than their neighbors.  It is more often token giving or symbolic compassion, lacking substance, and is something that Jesus encountered and condemned.

Good Samaritan and Poor Widow Versus the Rich Boastful Givers

Most of us are a mixed bag of motivation, we can intend good and yet too often our self-interests corrupt the effort.  The greater problem being that we’re not even ourselves fully aware of our hidden ambitions.  We can easily and do often delude ourselves about our own righteousness compared to others, especially our ideological enemies and truly be more exploitative than those who we would condemn.  The teachings of Jesus are an opportunity for self-reflection, a chance to grow in self-awareness and learn about how true compassion compares to the phony variety and counterfeit virtue.

First, consider the example of a boastful virtue signaler:

“Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven. “So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.

(Matthew 6:1‭-‬4 NIV)

It is fairly obvious, in this extreme to make the point, that this hypocritical giver is in it for themselves.  They want the attention and good publicity, they desire the honor of their peers, and it isn’t truly about the needy who are receiving the help.

Here’s the genuine article:

Jesus sat down opposite the place where the offerings were put and watched the crowd putting their money into the temple treasury. Many rich people threw in large amounts. But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a few cents. Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything—all she had to live on.”

(Mark 12:41‭-‬44 NIV)

It is nothing for a billionaire to write a million dollar check.  It is nothing for a politician to promise billions from the public treasury as a ‘sacrifice’ for a supposedly just cause.  But, in both cases there is often a big political or social reward for this ‘charitable’ act, it can mean reelection or personal access to even more resources.  But, in this example above, this poor widow put in 100% and got nothing in return—at least not in the short-term.  Her sacrifice is more condemnable and true than those dumping a fraction of their excess.

And then there is the classic case of the good Samaritan:

On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” “What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?” He answered, “ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” “You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.” But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. The next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’ “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?” The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.” Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”

(Luke 10:25‭-‬37 NIV)

Not only was this a great answer to a trap question, but the Samaritans were the low class and looked down ‘deplorables’ of their day who lacked the right pedigree to be the social elites.  The priest and Levite, on the other hand, were the important and looked up to.  They would be the religious bloggers of their day, preaching about the equivalent to social justice or other popular ‘righteous’ things, but made excuses for themselves and looked the other way when their love was tested.

The good Samaritan’s love was genuine.  It was not announced to the world.  It was not only a gesture or incomplete aid.  And, more importantly, he gave completely of his own resources.  There was no GoFundMe or calls for others to see the need and help him to distribute the cost.  Nope.  He saw the need, he dug into his own meager resources, and finished the job without any need of the help, attention or affirmation of others.  Only this poor beaten man knew of his goodness.

The teachings of Jesus are always always about changing us, as individuals, and not the systems of the world.  The priest and Levite, like the unnamed rich man of Luke 16 (who stepped over a poor very sick man on his doorstep, named Lazarus), all had their important things to do.  They were the social elites and responsible people.  In their own minds they had justified their response to the need directly in their paths.

Giving Self-sacrificially Is Christian Love, Forcing Others Give Is Not

Modern Western ‘democracy’ is full of virtue signaling and a favorite thing to do is decry the ‘racism’ of denying entry to the unvetted masses driven to our borders.  It is the one issue where those who call out the “Christian nationalism” of their neighbors suddenly will find Jesus—albeit only to distort and use His words to bludgeon others, like Judas.

Now, before I get too far in, I do believe there are many who do have genuine compassion and care for refugees.  Indeed, it is Christian duty to welcome the stranger and even invite them into our homes.  My grandma was one of these open-handed people.  No, they did not have that much themselves and yet her table was always open to those who needed a warm meal.  This is the charity Jesus was talking about, not a social program.

Politicians will routinely make a display of the vulnerable as a cynical ploy to promote agenda.  It is not out of love, it is simply a way to exploit our pity and silence objections to what is often a cover for a power grab.  It is always “think of the children” when they are the true beneficiaries.  They call for the “rich” to “pay their fair share” while having an abundance themselves.  They may want to change the world and yet should start by changing themselves.

Again, I’m not saying that social activists are not well-intentioned.  And yet I will say that they might not comprehend the costs that they incur on others (some who have less than them) nor fully consider the complexity and consequences.  It is one thing to want to fix climate change or have a world free of borders, but quite another to pay the price for these ambitions.  Many want to ride the compassion bandwagon, few want to be in the mud pushing this load of crocodile tear crying virtue signaling fools.

We have an inversion of Christian morality in the West where now the ‘first’ are demanding the ‘last’ pay for their virtuous acts.  It is our most powerful, wealthy and privileged, who hold the money bag like Judas, demanding that common folk sell all to give to the poor while they keep their private jets, mansions and lavish lifestyle.  The poor now subsidize the ‘compassion’ of the rich and many seem not to see how perverse this really is.

It is bad enough to give only for the attention of others.  But, to guilt, shame or force those with less to subsidize your own altruism and compassion?  That is a whole new level of self-serving, psychopathic and evil.  It was always those confronting Jesus, and His followers, tithing even their spices, going to these extremes impress and try to establish a themselves as better than.  Today it is the same, it is those who proudly preen their love and tolerance who are oftentimes most selfish and cruel under their costumes of righteous.

The Cruelty and Compassion of Martha’s Vineyard 

Border states are being overwhelmed by the flow of unvetted migrants.  But, for the most part, this growing humanitarian crisis has been ignored.  Out of sight is out of mind for most people and this has been the case on our Southern border.  I’m not a big fan of political stunts and yet sometimes to make others aware of an issue does require a little creativity or some coloring outside of the lines to illustrate the point to those in denial or oblivious.

And there was outrage, wild accusations of cruelty, even human trafficking, when Florida governor, Ron DeSantis, provided free airfare for fifty migrants from a nasty red state to a very blue  Martha’s Vineyard.  

For those who do not know, Martha’s Vineyard is a popular hangout for the very wealthy and most privileged—an exclusive enclave where these social elites have their summer homes.  And, yes, ironically, while most of us could only ever get on there real estate as the help, they do have those virtue screaming “all are welcomed” signs.  How this free ride to this liberal “sanctuary city” is cruelty, I’ll never know, but how quickly the new arrivals were deported tells a bit of the true depth of the compassion under their righteous bluster.

Interestingly, the Biden administration has also sent new arrivals to interior cities, less resource rich, and never had been accused of human trafficking or cruelty for this.  But apparently, when you send these people to one of the wealthiest and most privileged enclaves in America, that claims to be a sanctuary city and welcoming of all, it is a terrible crime.  Or, in the eloquent parlance of a “founding member” of an organization to help refugees, this is throwing your “trash” in someone else’s neighborhood:

Cognitive dissonance anyone?

I mean this blurb takes the cake.  The lack of self-awareness to say, let alone publish, such a statement is astounding.  The media has glowed at how these resource rich people fed these asylum seekers for a day, but has yet to speak of the cruelty of these new arrivals being deported from the exclusive island within 24-hours.  Apparently nobody had room in their mansion or second home to provide long-term shelter?

But the whole ordeal is a classic example of what virtue signaling is and how it is vastly different from true compassion.  A virtue signal is all about a person trying to glean the social benefits of holding the correct beliefs or the good deed and requires very little actual sacrifice.  While the cameras rolled, the hot food trays came out and the picture looked very virtuous.  And yet, rather than keep on caring, they literally called up the National Guard and almost immediately offloaded the expense to the taxpayers.  

The people who could afford to build brand new houses for all fifty sent, who could have easily created a place for them in their own community and made real on the “all are welcomed” sign, only had a minor day long inconvenience.  They’ll probably spend more on litigation, against the state of Florida, than they did on this fortunate handful of the thousands pouring into this country every day and overwhelming the resources of border states.  So the compassion is fake, they claim the moral high ground while others shoulder the costs.

Compassion Claimed, Costs Diffused 

Costs don’t matter to the privileged and social elites.  They have never had to pay for anything themselves.  As trust-fund babies or politically connected, they could always snap their fingers and someone else would clean up the mess behind them.  So, yes, of course they will support open borders for us, proclaiming the virtue, and the Levites (story of the good Samaritan) will simply follow their example.  Others bear the cost.

What are the costs?  

Wage suppression.  Old Socialists, in contrast to the wealthy factory owners and industrialists, always wanted strict border controls.  Why?  Well, because a never ending flow of low skill labor takes the feet out from under those trying to bargain for better compensation.  And this is a real problem in the South.  Why hire from the local population, with the legitimate process paperwork, when you could pay half the money to an illegal immigrant, under the table, and they dare not complain?

Another cost is to the local government resources.  A flow of unvetted immigrants, even if most are very good people, is a huge burden and much more than some catered trays brought out for the eyes of the media in New England.  There’s the need for ESL teachers and more classrooms, additional policing, the welfare benefits, and the tab for this is not distributed evenly despite some Federal aid.  And that’s not to even mention the quality of life issues.  No, immigrants aren’t trash and yet they do bring problems with them.  The states in the South are overwhelmed.

But the real cruelty and inhumanity of all this is how much work it is for some to enter this country while others can just jump line and be treated as victims.  While political elites talked about family separations, a necessary precaution to establish the identities of the adults and prevent human trafficking, I could not even travel to be with the child who calls me “daddy” and my love.  As one of those going through this expensive and completely frustrating process, with the trash websites, poor communication and the many tons of requirements, I know.

If you do not have equal love for the MAGA hat wearing ‘deplorable’ that American, living in the rust belt, having to bear the cost of your ideal, then maybe your love isn’t all that real.  True love shoulders the entire cost, it never tells others to make a sacrifice for sake of our own compassion.  We should welcome the stranger, yes, but we must also love our actual neighbors and give our all before asking anything of others.  It is not love to virtue signal, it is just another form of ignorance.