Sunday, February 25, 2024

Rather That Fight Change, Guide It!

Change will happen in the world, whether you like it or not.  We can't "go back" to simpler times.  The best you can do is to guide change, not fight it.

I saw a posting online that was humorous.  "Conservatives are always wrong!" they said, and pointed out how, over the years, Conservatives have been on the wrong side of nearly every issue.  I suppose it started in 1776 with the Loyalists.  We don't talk about them much, but they thought things were OK the way they were and saw no reason to change by fomenting revolution.  They were on the wrong side of history.  Like I said, we don't talk about it much, but we put them in internment camps after the war and then shipped them out of the country.  Today, we call them Canadians.

Oddly enough, conservatives today fashion themselves as "revolutionaries" like back in 1776, claiming that only 3% of the population actually fought in or supported the revolutionary war.  But of course, they have it backwards - if anything, Conservatives today are more akin to the Loyalists of 1776, wanting to "go back" to the "good old days" of King and Country.

The Civil War was the same deal.  Conservatives fought to protect the status quo - slavery.  And they lost because they were wrong.  Even the revolutionary "forefathers" of our country foresaw that slavery would eventually have to go away - the only question to them was when and how, and in American tradition, merely kicked the can down the road nearly a century to 1865.

Conservatives today try to glorify the Confederacy and "The Lost Cause" - forgetting that the cause was lost.  Progressives won, because they were right and slavery was wrong.  And no, this is not up for discussion.

Since those days, other issues have come and gone, and in every case, Conservatives have been wrong and always lost.  The suffragette movement - getting the right for women to vote - was opposed by Conservatives, but they were wrong and they lost.  Jim Crow, Segregation, the KKK - all wrong and the lost (and continue to lose) on all fronts.  Conservatives fought the US's entry into both World Wars.  They were wrong and lost.

The few wars that Conservatives promoted ended up being disasters. Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan - we lost in all three cases, even as Conservatives fought to spend yet more money and send more "suckers" (as Trump calls them) to die.  And yes, I think we can now safely call Iraq and Afghanistan losses.  Iran won in Iraq, and the Taliban won in Afghanistan.  And no, it was not Obama's fault, but Bush's.

In the few instances where Conservatives have "won" their victory was short-lived.  Prohibition, for example, was a victory for the far-Christian right, but ended up as a disaster and was quickly overturned.  But hey, Conservatives, thanks for creating the Mafia as a result.  You guys really have your heads up your asses.

Desperately fighting change is just stupid, because change always occurs - it is like trying to fight the tides or the winds.  We can't "go back" to the "good old days" because it is physically impossible and the "good old days" sucked, frankly, compared to today.  Yet today, Conservatives are pining for the days of slavery and 40-year lifespans.  Not only are they against equal rights for minorities and women, they are actively campaigning against basic healthcare!  Measles?  It doesn't exist, right?  Just part of a scam perpetrated by the government!

Thank you, but I enjoy not having polio.  And will continue to do so.

Conservatives were not always so consistently wrong, however.  There was a time when being Conservative didn't mean shouting down change entirely, but embracing it, managing it, and guiding it.  And in that last regard, this is where Conservatives really fail. By refusing to embrace and guide change, they let it happen willy-nilly with disastrous results.

In the last two decades, we have seen the rise of social media and the smart phone - things that have had little positive impact on our society and much negative impact.  Yet no one took the helm to manage these things and guide them to a better future.  Any attempts at managing these things was met with cries of "government over-reach" and "first amendment rights!"   Too late, the GOP is realizing that social media is harmful to children, but their only solution is to ban it outright.

Allowing social media sites to ban hate speech and neo-nazis?  Can't have that - that's our voting base!  They really have backed themselves into a corner.

Time was, there was a "Liberal" wing of the Republican Party - a philosophy that government did have legitimate functions and that a properly managed government could be efficient and useful to all of the people.  Believe it or not, New York State had a Republican governor - Nelson Rockefeller - when I was growing up.  Today, the GOP has thrown those sort of folks out of the party in favor of religious "Let's go back to the good old days of stoning" fundamentalists, leaving the Liberal Republicans as stateless individuals.

And no, Nikki Haley isn't really a moderate or liberal Republican.  She is just hoping Trump has a massive coronary and she becomes the nominee by default.  It is a pretty even-odds bet.

We see change all around us.  On our little island, things have changed dramatically in the last few years, as we are no longer "Georgia's Abandoned Island" but instead morphing into an upscale vacation resort.  From sleepy retirement community for displaced Yankees, to weekend retreat for wealthy Atlantans, it has changed.  Dramatically.

A small group of people, who I call the Coalition to Hate Jekyll Island tried to stop this change, and they failed miserably at it, like most Conservatives do.  And by the way, people who fight change often consider themselves "Liberal" or even "Progressive" but the reality is, if you are fighting change, you are, by definition, Conservative, no matter how many "Free Palestine" bumper stickers you have on you Subaru.

Change was going to happen here.  We are a State Park and live under the benevolent dictatorship of the "Jekyll Island Authority" who, in real terms, has been quite generous to residents - so far.  But the reality is, they own the island, not us, and they can pretty much do at they please with it, and we could not expect the taxpayers of the State of Georgia to subsidize our private retreat (for Yankees, no less!) forever and ever.  Something had to give.

So they invested millions - tens of millions - on island improvements, on the premise that more people would come (and they did) and they could at least break even on the deal.  I am not sure that has happened just yet, but it is turning around slowly.

Change was inevitable, but the only option presented by the opponents was "no change at all."  And when the original company slated to do most of this development went bankrupt in 2008 due to the recession, the anti-change people claimed victory - as if they somehow caused the worldwide recession of that era, just to thwart the redevelopment plans.

But then again, delusional thinking is the hallmark of Conservatives.

It is like a guy I know who refuses to use the bike path - not because he is one of these Lance Armstrong wanna-bes who rides his $5000 bicycle in the road, but because he says - and I am not kidding about this - that the bicycle path is destroying the environment and by not riding on it as a protest, eventually it will force the Island authorities to tear up the bike path.

Dementia's a bitch, ain't it?

But that brings up another point.  A lot of old people get more and more Conservative as they get older, which is a natural thing.  You set up your life a certain way and change can ruin your plans.  You retire on a fixed income and see it wiped out by inflation.  You have a computer you like to use and one day you are told none of your programs will work anymore because you machine is "obsolete" and you need to fork over money to "upgrade."  No one likes change, it seems, particularly as you get older.

But young people - what's up with that?  Well, that is where it gets interesting, as many young people agitate for change, even so-called "Conservatives."  A new generation of young Conservatives, mostly male, are pining for the days when "traditional wives" stayed at home, because then women were much easier to control - and their dating prospects seemed greater (or so they thought).  They want change - to "go back" to a mythical era that may never have existed.  The problem is, once you give people freedom, they tend not to want to give it up.  There isn't a lot of support to repeal the 19th Amendment.

Sadly, there are a plethora of equally delusional young people who want to "go back" to the "good old days" of Soviet Russia, thinking they will get "guaranteed annual income" and a free rent in a brutalist concrete apartment block.  That isn't going to happen, either and those "good old days" were horrific in reality.

A better approach, I think, is to realize that change is inevitable and rather than blindly fight it or pine for non-existent earlier eras, to be part of the force of change and help guide that change, realizing that you are not going to get exactly what you want, every time, but getting something is far better that getting nothing (and pouting about it like a small child).

So how do you go about directing change?  Well, you can vote, or better yet, send money to the political candidate of your choice.  Choose the candidate who is proposing the most rational form of change, whether or not it ticks off all the items on your list of demands.  But part of this also is realizing that change is inevitable and in some instances, merely railing against it is not only futile, but a waste of your own energy and time and makes you look ridiculous.

Choose your battles wisely.  Spend that energy where you can actually help direct change.  Don't bother trying to fight things that are inevitable, or worse yet, trying to deny change entirely.

When you look at the world's economic winners and losers, the losers are usually the ones who spend all their energy on "causes" that they never win at - while at the same time, neglecting causes (like their own personal finances) they could easily win at.