Politics 30 January 2017
History warns us that the media have been too late in the past to react to an autocratic movement or a despotic leadership. The press was censored with little to no resistance under Hitler, Stalin and Mussolini's movements and in astonishingly quick fashion. The press has crumbled under autocracy, overtaken by propaganda and become mouthpieces for leaders. It has failed in the past, absurdly, to do its job and serve its purpose - and we're painfully aware of the consequences of a biased, politically driven press.
President Trump's first week was not going to plan before it even started. The rumblings of potential headcounts for the women's marches overshadowed his seemingly puny inauguration. Mourning for the loss of Obama from the oval weighed heavy on social media, and that leering, ludicrous Moscow debacle still lingered around the edges of the media. There was no excitement, no international awe at the impending swearing in - just anger, fear, consternation and rebellion.
"When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world" -John Muir pic.twitter.com/AJYOGAVeu8
— JohnMuirNHS (@JohnMuirNPS) January 27, 2017
His reaction was, as predicted, immense. Bold, brash misogyny littered newsfeeds for the entire week - an outpouring of grief from the rest of the world. What have you done?
The marches did little to deter from his agenda; he didn't listen, see, nor did he care about anything emboldened on the hundreds of thousands of signs made to get his attention. And when one of his underling agencies inflamed him with rage on his favourite social platform for verbosity - gag orders were sent down from the oval.
The horrifying word that was rattled around in the wake of his election and his tirade against the media became a reality last week when he imposed a gag order on some of his governmental agencies, including the Environmental Protection Agency(EPA) among others, who have been sceptical of the new president since his appointment of Scott Pruit to leader of the agency.
The National Parks Service twitter was deactivated after they retweeted the picture that has gone viral indicating the major difference between Obama's inauguration and Trump's, a difference he vehemently denied in a cringey statement made at the C.I.A.
NPR suggest that these accounts could be a logical way to oppose media blackouts, and indeed they're right. Where history indicates people were too slow to react to a potential autocrat and report on their malice or wayward political approach - these rogue twitter accounts pre-empt what has the potential to become a very angry, insolent and ignorant presidency.
Instead of the media having to plunge itself into what during the wars became known as 'The Underground' press, the internet - social media and other outlets allow for a new type of freedom that cannot be reduced to a meagre newsletter handed out through rebel channels.
If this past week has proven anything it's that the president continues to align himself with those names we dare mention above, that have haunted history since the beginning of the last century, and does not look like stopping. His ascendancy to power bares a striking and unnerving resemblance to that of the Nazi party in the 1930's backed by racism, fear and a discontent with a 'weak' government(and some foreign governmental help). The anti-semitism that pervaded Adolf Hitler's campaign is near replicated in the beginning of his immigration policy implemented this past week. His next step would have been to censor the media and place a trusted adviser to take over and begin impugning the press with propaganda.
Therein lies the major difference between the 1930's and now.
You cannot shut down the New York Times or silence the Washington Post - you cannot close Twitter or Facebook, and you most certainly cannot eradicate internet sites like Buzzfeed or Mashable. They are too large, too prevalent, the presidency only gets you so far.
What you can do — and what is futile — creating an even bigger resistance, is shut down these minor accounts, only to serve the purpose of cutting the head off a monster similar to Fluffy from Harry Potter. Another will always come up in its place.
Nazi Propaganda Chief Goebbels.
Courtesy of New Statesman
4 min read
One of the few things I remember from grade school biology is the concept of tropism. In plain language, tropism is the reaction of a living thing, like a plant, towards a stimulus like sunlight or heat. You've likely seen this before but just didn't recognize it for what it was. If you've ever seen the leaves of a potted plant bending towards a windowpane, that's tropism in action. The plant is bending towards the sunlight.
If you've ever seen the leaves of a potted plant bending towards a windowpane, that's tropism in action.
In our everyday lives, we are all inundated with stimuli throughout the day. The driver in front of us that stalls at the yellow light and zooms through the red light, leaving us behind to wait. Or the customer service rep that leaves us on hold for an ungodly amount of time, only for the call to prematurely drop. There are so many examples both common and unique to our individual lives. The trouble begins when we form the habit of responding to everything — particularly negative stimuli. By doing this, our mental peace is disrupted and diverted making us slaves to whatever happens to happen. Much like the plant bending towards sunlight, we oftentimes react and lean into whatever is happening around us. Now take that concept and multiply it by the number of things that can happen in a day, week, or month. What happens to you mentally with so many emotional pivots?
For me, the result is: Restlessness. Anxiety. Sleepness. Mindless Eating. Everything besides peace of mind.
Much like the plant bending towards sunlight, we oftentimes react and lean into whatever is happening around us.
Earlier this year, something pretty trivial happened to me. I'm sure this has happened to you at some point in your life also. I was walking through a door and, as I always do, glanced back and held the door longer and wider than normal for the person coming behind me. My gracious gesture was met with silence — no thank you, no smile, not even a nod. I remember being so annoyed at this travesty of justice. How dare they not acknowledge me and thank me for holding the door? After all, I didn't have to do it. I know I spent the next few hours thinking about it and probably even texted a few friends so that they could join in on my rant and tell me how right I was to be upset. In hindsight, I should not have allowed this pretty petty thing to occupy my mind and heart, but I did. I let it shake my peace.
I've since taken some classes on mindfulness and what I've learned (and I'm still learning) is the art of being aware — being aware of the present and my feelings. Recognizing when I'm triggered towards annoyance or anger gives me the opportunity to take a step back to understand why and assess whether it deserves my attention and energy. We're all human and having emotions is part of the deal but as mindful adults, it's critically important to choose what you're going to care about and let everything else pass along. There are several tools on the market to help with this but the Headspace app has really helped me in my mindfulness journey. The lessons are guided and coupled with some pretty cute animations.
Recognizing when I'm triggered towards annoyance or anger gives me the opportunity to take a step back to understand why and assess whether it deserves my attention and energy.
Over the course of the next week, I'd like to challenge you to pay more attention to your reactions. How aware are you of how you allow your environment to affect you? Are you highly reactive? Do you ruminate for hours or even days on events that are insignificant in your life? If so, practicing a bit of mindfulness may be the way to go.