I’ll never take hugging, closeness or compassionate touching for granted again!… Part 5

Notes from In-house exile: Taking Notes on the Plagues Teachable Moments.

April 1, 2020

The plague is forcing us to listen to each other more…

“Who is wise? He who learns from every person.” —Rebbe M.M. Schneerson

A plague offers us the opportunity to learn better and more.
In the pre-plague era I was growing a serious dislike for communicating on the social media site Facebook. I tend to perceive the entire world as one big learning classroom. Meaning, I didn’t like the many anti-learning behaviors I saw on Facebook’s conversational platform. Often when people “responded” to a post, it seems that they didn’t even read the post or the article it was referencing, before they shifted fully into attack mode. I often ask after reading a ‘response-comment’: “Did this ‘responder’ and I read the same post; that’s not what the original posting person said!” Or, perhaps there is that irresistible ugly urge to negatively ‘troll’ or put down another human being, by writing something you would not dare say to their face; at least not without expecting a physical fight as their response!
The question is: “Why can’t we read, study and/or think about another person’s idea; even if we think we disagree with that idea?” But lately it seems that Covid-19, has taken the hostility edge off of a lot of keyboards. Are more Facebookers now listening and learning more? I sure hope so…

Fake praise won’t cure the ‘Mad King’, and it won’t save us; we need science.

I understand (and actually have some sympathy for) the “Jedi Mind Trick Thing” the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Director-General is trying to use on Donald Trump: Praise the ‘Mad King’ so as to limit the amount of damage he can inflict. Dr. Fauci and Gov. Cuomo continue trying to use this same technique daily; and for the most part they are unsuccessful; e.g. Trump keeps holding daily press conferences where he undermines them by providing dangerously bad, wrong and counter-scientific advice to the public.

But the problem with the ‘mad king’ praising and fawning approach, is that basically it does not work; (just ask Jeff Sessions) because (1) No amount of contrived complimenting will cure the king of his mental depravity affliction; that ‘cure’ will require the use of psychotherapy and the removal from a position where he can inflict his psychopathological urges on other people. (2) Faux effusive flattering for deeds not done or done badly, also won’t cure his loyal rabid followers and supporters, (and there are many of them in America; if we are to believe recent polls), of their fervent belief that he has, and is continuing to do a good leadership job in addressing the Covid-19 pandemic.

If Fox news and other right-wing talking/public communication sources can cite the WHO’s chief , Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus (who by the way is a brilliant scholar), as proof that Trump is “doing a good job”; then the majority of those 60% approving citizens who elected him primarily to fight to save white privilege and not a virus, are going to run with every anti-scientific idea he spews at his press conferences, thus making all of us less safe (e.g. like the ‘Easter opening date’ that he has ‘forced’ the Coronavirus to end its deadly work).

History (and the reason we study it in K-12 schools) is a great teacher here. And as many in the past have painfully learned; that living under a crazed and unethical leader like a Hitler, Stalin or Pol Pot, means that the ‘worshiping’ method, offered sincerely or insincerely, of a narcissistic lunatic, only buys you time, not a cure. The problem with the Covid-19 virus is that time is an important variable in its ability to do great harm and damage; or, hopefully in time through good scientific thinking and practices, be stopped from doing that damage.

Civil leadership in a great health crises requires both an ethical and wise human being to be ‘in-charge’. Someone who will manage both time, and the finding, by deferring to the expertise of others, the cure for the crisis. This must be done by taking (and sticking to) a path of morality, compassion, civility, comity, science and reason.

A ‘mad king personality’ does not have the emotional and intellectual capacity to engage in those essential good leadership thinking and applicative tooling skills. And so, no amount of strategically cute, undeserved and disingenuous exalting homage heaped on a mad king’s head, will ultimately stop him from doing great harm to large numbers of people; including his most ardent and delusional followers.

“Trump Wants U.S. ‘Opened Up’ by Easter, Despite Health Officials’ Warnings.” But what he meant to say…

Notes from In-house exile: Taking Notes on the Plagues Teachable Moments.
(8) March 25, 2020

“Be ashamed to die until you have won some victory for humanity.” ― Horace Mann

“Trump Wants U.S. ‘Opened Up’ by Easter, Despite Health Officials’ Warnings.” But what he meant to say was something else… Despite his support from the faux-christian right wing bigots; he does not seem to be a Bible reader; and his ugly behavior definitely does not reflect an understanding of the foundational tenets of Christianity. Perhaps he is confusing the “Resurrection” with the “Crucifixion”.

Being Black in the ‘stop-the-spread of Covid-19 virus’ isolation mode, feels a little like being Black in America isolation; only the pathogen in the later is racism. Just like U.S. racism will daily/hourly make you exhaustively aware of your traumatized ‘otherness’ and second-class citizenship; Covid-19 is making me daily and hourly aware of its ability to inflict pain, trauma and death on all of us. The Covid-19 virus is a racial sensitivity learning opportunity for our white brothers and sisters…

“I Don’t Feel No Ways Tired”: Being able to choose the very manageable slight discomfort of isolation, over catching and/or spreading the Covid-19 Virus. “I Won’t Complain”: Because there are so many wonderful and brave food service, maintenance, health care, pharmacy, TV, radio, website managers, journalist, educators, postal workers, sanitation, utility workers, fire & police, transportation, etc. people; who are risking their health and lives for all of us every day. The least those of us who can stay home can do to support them is to keep our behinds in the house! Blessing and protective mercies on all who are working in the midst of the plague!

Separate/Unequal and Economic Inequality, even during a plague. It seems that some folks get a sniffle and that same day they get a Covid-19 detection test; meanwhile…This White House has completely given leadership malpractice a work-in-practice example of how not to respond to a viral epidemic.

Genesis 2:18 “The Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone…” Got it, but right now I am going to go with the gospel according to the medical science professionals; stay home (alone if you must) if you can, this disease is not playing with you’ll!

Stupidity as an affirmative defense. A core Trump-MAGA club value is the craving and worshiping of ignorance: There is this powerful narrative march away from science, enlightenment, modernity and progress; powered by hatred, anger and a retreat into rabid nativism…

Something to cheer about in this Trumpian Plague season… (“Hell is empty, and all the devils are here.” ― William Shakespeare, The Tempest) In November ‘white independents’ (is that like being neutral on the topic of drunk driving), will be forced to show their true hands. Let’s see if white America has learned its lesson, or will the frogs and locust be sent next?

Notes from In-house exile: When Battles Are Lost…

Notes from In-house exile: When Battles Are Lost…

(3) March 20, 2020

I am reading Antony Beevor’s: The Battle of Arnhem; but reading these days is different. I can usually get immersed in a book and be totally lost to the world. This is a skill I first mastered back in my elementary school days when the Brooklyn Public Library (Grand Army Plaza branch) served as my unofficial after-school childcare provider until my mother came home from work. Reading was like dreaming, and every day I could experience a different dream: dinosaurs, WW-2 fighter planes, space travel, whales, science fiction…. I could escape and be anywhere and everywhere in time, place or space. My love of reading was so great that my mother ordered me (back then children actually obeyed their parents) to make sure I did my homework before I “started doing that reading!” I did my home work fast, because it was the only thing that stood between me and my reading for fun time. And so, every day as a member of the latchkey kid club, between milk and cookies, I would read until 5:PM and then dare the dangerous Brooklyn streets with arms full of books to take home to continue my dreaming.

But today reading Beevor’s book I find for the first time that it’s hard to keep my mind in the 1940’s. There is something about the existential urgency of the Covid-19 plague; and how we are all at some level participants in its story of isolation, illness and death. A plague is inescapable, even for those of us who could always find refuge from life’s storms in books. Covid-19 is a persistent uninvited guest in our minds; it won’t leave us alone even if we are, as I am at this moment, alone. Thinking as I am reading ‘Arnhem’ (I guess using that ELA reading skill of: “What does this passage remind you of?”) about how the strategic thinking ability and the leadership quality of Generalship so influences the outcome of a battle (again ELA referencing Carl von Clausewitz’s book: On War).

In all of Beevor’s books (e.g. Stalingrad), it does not matter how strategically smart the German command was (and they had an excellent class of highly studied and experienced military leaders, as well as a highly competent group of military scientist, engineers and technicians); their effectiveness would always be ultimately undermined by the immoral and deranged German nation’s leader, Adolph Hitler. Humanity is indeed fortunate that Hitler’s narcissistic and self-absorbed personality constantly got in the way of the decisions of his best military experts. But when a country is fighting a war against a virus pandemic, having an ethically challenge psycho-pathological leader, leads that nation to death and destruction; alas the delusional leader (whether they were only a corporal in the last war; or used faux ‘bone spurs’ to avoid going to war completely) always assumes that they are the best and most capable of experts; after all, did not the snarling and hateful frothing ‘wisdom’ of the masses place them in power?

One of the ideas that motivated my first book: Report to the Principal’s Office is this idea (something I learned as a superintendent) that there is no other more powerful singular force in a school building then it’s principal. An ineffective principal can cause even the potentially best school to under-perform; while a highly effective principal can efficaciously cause a school with the potential to terribly under-perform, to actually over-perform its potential! The quality of leadership matters so much.

And so, how on earth, in a time of great national suffering, collective fear and despondency, did we as a country fall so far down; so as to go from Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, to Trumps racist ‘Kung-Flu’ rants? Well, they can’t blame this one on Black folks!