Does unrestrained capitalism restore feudalism?

This post is intriguing. I absolutely agree that unrestrained capitalism eventually leads to feudalism. I definitely want to read the book “Capital” now.

Citizens, not serfs

The novel “Capital” and the BBC dramatisation is a good portrait of modern London. A two class society consisting of an upper class and an insecure servant class recruited from the world’s desperate poor.  The haunting theme “We want what you have” says it all.  The old working class and middle class are going or gone.

I lived in the area where the dramatisation was filmed – Balham/Clapham/Tooting for 17 years before being priced out in 2011.  (The fictional “Pepys” road is actually Mayford Road, which I walked along every day going to work). In that time the area gentrified, the demographic changed from mixed class and mixed race to upper middle displaced from central London by foreign oligarchs to the pleasanter suburbs south of the river.  The local home owners profiting from rocketing house prices sold up and moved out, and those who rented, like myself, were forced out…

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Redefining freedom.

 

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Despots and dictators throughout history know how powerful language can be, and they know that by changing the definitions of words, without people realizing it, they can change the way people think and what they believe.   Without language and the words that comprise it, propaganda and revisionist history (changing commonly held historical beliefs in order to fit a desired political or religious narrative) would become impossible, or at least a lot more difficult.

George Orwell described the insidious process of changing the meanings of words in order to change public attitudes in his classic dystopian novel, “1984.”    He called this process “Newspeak.”   It is a form of mind control commonly used by cult leaders and dictators to get people to abandon their previous ways of thinking and accept a lie as the truth (repetition of the lie is another way they get people to accept it).    Sometimes the lie they push may be an actual reversal of a previously held truth.   We can see this phenomenon today in many of extremist evangelical and fundamentalist churches, who now say that ripping migrant children away from their parents or taking away people’s healthcare is “Christian” even though Jesus would be appalled by these things.

“Freedom” (and its synonym “liberty”) is probably the word that comes to my mind first when I think about the ways language is used as propaganda.    It appears in both religious and political rhetoric.  In right wing extremism, the definition of “freedom” or “liberty” has become almost the reverse of what its commonly-held definition is.  Here is the complete dictionary definition:

the power or right to act, speak, or think as one wants without hindrance or restraint.
“we do have some freedom of choice”
  • absence of subjection to foreign domination or despotic government.
    “he was a champion of Irish freedom”
    synonyms: independenceself-governmentself-determinationself-rulehome rulesovereignty, nonalignment, autonomy;

    democracy
    “revolution was the only path to freedom”
    antonyms: dependence
  • the state of not being imprisoned or enslaved.
    “the shark thrashed its way to freedom”
    synonyms: libertyliberationreleasedeliverancedeliverydischargeMore

    antonyms: captivity
  • the state of being physically unrestricted and able to move easily.
    “the shorts have a side split for freedom of movement”
  • the state of not being subject to or affected by (a particular undesirable thing).
    noun: freedom from; plural noun: freedom froms
    “government policies to achieve freedom from want”
    synonyms: exemptionimmunitydispensation;

    impunity
    “freedom from local political accountability”
    antonyms: liability
  • the power of self-determination attributed to the will; the quality of being independent of fate or necessity.
    synonyms: rightentitlementprivilegeprerogativeMore

    antonyms: restriction
  • unrestricted use of something.
    “the dog is happy having the freedom of the house when we are out”
  • archaic
    familiarity or openness in speech or behavior.

 

Most of us agree with this definition.  We think of freedom as a concept that allows all Americans individual liberty and the ability to make their own life choices.   It is the absence of oppression.   When we think of freedom, we aren’t worrying things that benefit everyone, such as healthcare or public education, might be potentially oppressive (because of higher taxes necessary to have those things).  I think most of us would say that a person who doesn’t need to worry about going bankrupt or dying should he become sick or injured is more free than someone who can’t afford necessary surgery and loses his home trying to pay for it, or even his life.  A person who can take time off from their job to recover from their illness is more free than someone who is forced to work even when they are ill because their wages are too low to allow them to take time off.

Back during the time of Lyndon Johnson and his “War on Poverty,” this was generally understood.  Empathy still existed within high levels of government and in both parties.  Measures were taken to alleviate poverty, one of the most oppressive and limiting things a human being can experience.   An impoverished person is not a free person. Poor people spend so much time just trying to survive they cannot reach their full potential.   Rich people and corporations paying more in taxes was seen as the right thing to do for society at large and for the greater good, not as a form of robbery or wealth redistribution (this phrase is a common dog whistle used by the right to manipulate attitudes to get people believing the wealthy are the real victims).   Eventually, the commonly perceived causes of poverty shifted from the society to the individual.  Personal responsibility became another dog whistle used by conservatives to influence public attitudes and make people begin to perceive poverty as a personal weakness rather than an affliction.

“I give out Atlas Shrugged as Christmas presents, and I make all my interns read it.” — Paul Ryan

 

Over the past few decades, especially since Reagan’s election in 1980, the definition of freedom has been co-opted by the right.  They whine that environmental regulations and higher taxes are a form of tyranny by the majority that limits the freedom of the wealthy and corporate elite to do exactly what they want and suffer no consequences.   To suggest they should contribute to the common good through a higher tax rate or not gut laws that protect human health and wellbeing is to restrict their freedom — which is really the freedom to exploit their workers, not pay them a fair wage, deny them a safety net, and destroy the planet.    In Trump’s America, freedom is no longer freedom of the people, it is freedom of the minority (the wealthy elite) to oppress the majority.

In redefining freedom, the word democracy itself underwent a transformation from government by the people for the people, to tyranny of the majority (where the wealthy and powerful are perceived as superior and therefore naturally entitled to take whatever they want with no accountability).  The term democracy, at least in the circles of greatest power and influence right now, has become a pejorative — something bad worthy of destruction.

Religious freedom.

Similarly, religious freedom or religious liberty has also been redefined.    Most people would agree that religious freedom in America means the right to worship the way you choose — or to not worship at all.  The separation of church and state was one of the key elements the Founding Fathers wrote into the Constitution, knowing that mixing religion and government not only doesn’t work, it’s extremely dangerous and has always led to wars, oppression, and violence.    We can see this today in Middle Eastern countries where Islam is the state religion and is written into their laws.  These countries are constantly at war, including civil war.   Violence and terrorism is rampant and women, children and minority groups are victimized every day by the harshness of Sharia law.

In the early days of America, before the Constitution was written,  there were pockets of religious intolerance, most infamously seen in the Salem Witch Trials.   Other groups of colonists came here as a way to escape religious persecution in their home countries.  They came here to be free to worship the way they chose.

The Founding Fathers, while they might have been religious personally, were influenced by the Enlightenment and the primacy of reason and openmindedness over medieval superstition and intolerance.  America was founded as a secular, not as a “Christian nation” or saddled by any other “state religion.”  While Christianity is the most common religion found in America, to declare it as a state religion would automatically make anyone who wasn’t Christian — or even not the right kind of Christian — a second class citizen.  The Founding Fathers knew this, and that’s why they rejected the idea of a state religion.

Far right extremist evangelicals have been busy writing revisionist history,  insisting that America was founded as a Christian nation, and that the Constitution was divinely  inspired and never meant to be secular.   Some go even further than that.  Dominionists and reconstructionists actually want the Constitution rewritten and replaced with Old Testament Law.   If that were to actually happen, living in America — especially for vulnerable groups such as women and gays — would be no different than living in Saudi Arabia or Afghanistan.

Yet Christian extremists say that imposing biblical law on everyone through the government is actually religious freedom!   By their logic,  if Christianity were enforced, you would become free of the temptation to sin.   Knowing that sinning might result in draconian punishment or even execution, you would not sin — and therefore be more pleasing to God.   Extremist Christians whine that they are persecuted not because they actually are, but because they are not allowed to discriminate (or oppress!) based on sexual orientation, gender, or religion.  In Trump’s America, the definition of religious freedom has transformed  from the right to worship as you choose to the right to inflict my religious beliefs on you.

I can’t think of anything more un-Christian or unloving.   If you believe in God, why wouldn’t he want you to have free will and choose to worship him?   Forced religion isn’t a sincere declaration of faith, it’s spiritual terrorism.   It’s a way to control and oppress people.  It uses fear of punishment rather than the promise of love as a motivator.   I doubt God wants his people to worship him or behave a certain way only because they’re afraid of the consequences if they don’t.    I believe we were given free will and that it ought to be respected.  That means leaving religion out of government and its laws.    Nothing good has ever or will ever come of it.   It is religious fascism.

There are other words and phrases that have been redefined by the far right, but freedom is one of the most pervasive and common.   We need to become aware of this and other words that are being redefined by extremists as a means of mind control and propaganda to change our thinking patterns.  Critical thinking is necessary to make the distinction, and this is why education (and science) is so maligned by political extremists and fascist groups (including extremist religious groups).

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The deconversion of a Trump troll.

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You may remember a few weeks ago I asked readers to let me know if they knew of anyone who had finally turned on Trump.   I wanted to write a blog post describing the journey of such a person.

I got no responses to my question, and personally, I don’t know anyone who supported Trump who has changed their mind.   I gave up finding such a person.

But they do exist!   Granted, they’re rare as snow in Mississippi, but they are out there.  Yesterday I came upon an article written for Forward (an online magazine focusing on issues related to Judaism and Jews) by a New Yorker named David Weissman.

He colorfully describes his days as a hardcore Trump supporter and Internet troll.  Everything you might expect, he did it or said it.  He was all-in on bullying liberals and  Democrats (and RINOs — “Republicans in Name Only”).   He mainlined on Fox News.   He went to Trump rallies and owned a MAGA hat.   He willingly soaked in Trump’s hateful rhetoric and dismissed anyone who was offended by it as “snowflakes.”

It took one woman to change his views.    One day the comic actress Sarah Silverman responded to one of his inflammatory comments on Twitter.  He describes the way she engaged him in conversation and debate without putting down his beliefs or attacking him.  She remained patient and doggedly kept replying to his tweets in a civil and engaging way, explaining why she felt the way she did about things like healthcare, immigration, racism, and many other topics — and why she believed Trump was wrong for America and the world.

I have also tried to engage Trump supporters with the truth, but eventually I give up, because most Trumpists I meet online waste my time with straw man arguments, what-aboutism, straight-up gaslighting, and even personal attacks.   If they realize they’re losing the argument, they always fall back on their old standby, “it’s fake news.”  Or, “well, Hillary would have been worse.”  I began to block them  because it was just easier than the frustrating and seemingly futile experience of trying to get them to think outside their comfort zone or handle the resulting cognitive dissonance.  Patience is not one of my greatest virtues.   Maybe if it were, I might be able to eventually get through to a few of them.  Maybe.

cognitive_dissonance

Mr. Weissman seems like a man who might have been receptive to a different viewpoint anyway.   One of the things that worries and saddens me is that many Trump supporters seem to show signs of sociopathy themselves — or are attracted to a “strongman” type of leader who tells them exactly what to think because they don’t want to or don’t know how to think for themselves.   Trumpism has been compared to a cult, and it really is one.   Its followers respond to Trump as they do to a cult leader, and like Jim Jones’ followers, they willingly, even eagerly, drink his poison Koolaid even though it might eventually harm or even kill them (Trump is doing nothing for the average working class white person and is fact is doing a lot of damage to his own supporters).

As with all cults, it’s almost impossible for someone on the outside to deprogram a believer; it really is a form of mind control.    Trump supporters are literally in thrall to their golden calf.  Reality and facts get trampled under the hooves.

Maybe Mr. Weissman was less brainwashed than most other Trump supporters, or had just enough insight or self-awareness for reason and facts to begin to sink in.   Maybe it’s because Ms. Silverman, a fellow Jew, was perceived as sympathetic.   But it doesn’t matter why Weissman could be redeemed from Trumpism, while so many others seem impermeable to the truth and facts.  What matters is that it’s possible.

It didn’t happen overnight.  His deconversion happened over a period of several weeks or months (he doesn’t give an exact timeframe of how long it took), mostly by continuing his online conversation with Ms. Silverman.   He decided to read the links to articles she gave him instead of attacking them as “fake news.”  By reading and educating himself about the facts, he began to question what he’d believed (or wanted to believe) about Trump.   He became willing to deal with the cognitive dissonance all the new information was causing him.  (Cognitive dissonance is extremely uncomfortable for most people, who will do almost anything to avoid experiencing it).  Weissman describes how welcoming the “liberals” were, and the way they did not judge him.   Some of his Trumpist buddies began to bully him and call him a traitor. They were incensed that he and Ms. Silverman — a liberal — appeared to be friends.  Weissman began to see his fellow Trump supporters in a new light –  as ignorant people embracing a narcissistic bully (or even being bullies themselves) and willfully shutting out the truth.

Here is his story (which also gives tips on how to engage with Trump supporters):

I Used to Be a Trump Troll 

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3 questions to ask yourself if you raised kids in a dysfunctional home.

I’m giving this post another day in the sun. This is for anyone with children at home who thinks their own issues might be negatively affecting the way they raise their kids. I hope this helps.

Lucky Otters Haven

Nobody’s perfect, and that goes for parents too.  There’s no such thing as a perfect parent. There’s something called a “good enough” parent though, which means that you are going to make mistakes raising your kids, no matter how much talent you have for the task or how well adjusted you are.  Children don’t come with instruction manuals, and some of the mistakes you make might even be pretty bad ones.    But overall, you’re “good enough” if your kids know you love them no matter what mistakes you made, and they turn out to be functioning, reasonably happy adults.

But for survivors of narcissistic abuse, things are a little more dire.   Because many of us suffer from mental disorders caused by abuse–C-PTSD, BPD, OCD, anxiety, depression, and a host of other mental maladies–we probably entered parenthood with less of a sense of ourselves and our place in the…

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The swamp again!

swamp5

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote a post about a surprising swamp here in the Blue Ridge Mountains.   At the time, I only had a couple of photos not taken by me.   I’ve been fascinated by the swamp ever since I discovered it.

Today, with nothing else to do, I took a drive back to the swamp to get some photos.  There wasn’t really anyplace to go down into the swamp and get closeups (not that I’d really want to do that anyway) so I took these from the highway that goes right past it.   The weeds along the side of the road were too tall to walk in.

I love the creepy beauty of these pictures.

The flowering plants growing on the water are water lilies and the blooms are a lovely bright pink, but it’s hard to make out the color from the photos.   It would have been worth getting closer in for that.

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The summer of the toads.

2girlsplaying

When I was 10 years old, my parents sent me to summer camp in upstate New York for a month.   I was a weird kid who loved books, was by turns standoffish or overly-friendly, and tended to be bullied at school.   At first, I wasn’t too happy about being sent to an unfamiliar environment without the comforts of home, where I’d have to share a cabin with 7 or 8 other girls I’d never met and who probably wouldn’t like me anyway.   To be completely honest,  being sent away for an entire month felt like a rejection, though I didn’t dare tell my parents that.

But the camping experience wasn’t anywhere near as awful as I expected.  It had its good points and its bad.  The good:  the hikes in the woods, the lake, the campfires, arts and crafts, nature walks, an hour of free time at the end of every day before dinner, the letters and gifts from home.  The bad: almost all the mess hall food, getting up early every day, the bugs, the lack of privacy, the uncomfortable cheap plastic covered mattress on my bed, no TV,  and the endless rules.   As for friends, well, I wasn’t exactly Miss Popularity, but I developed close friendships with a couple of other girls who were as quirky and weird as I was.

One of the girls was named Janie.   Janie was a year younger than me, but looked about three years younger.  She was like my adopted little sister.   She was angry a lot and used to yell at the other girls for silly reasons or for no reason at all, but she never yelled at me.  In fact, she seemed to look up to me, which was pretty flattering for someone who wasn’t used to ever being looked up to by anyone.   I think she was just homesick.  I liked her hair — it was short, thick, stick straight and a pretty bright golden brown — and at night before lights out I liked to comb it and play with it.  She wore thick glasses and liked to read as much as I did.  She was sort of a tomboy too, shunning girly things.  She was always dressed in striped polo tops and black or dark blue shorts and sneakers.  Like me, she loved nature and didn’t mind getting dirty.

The previous summer, a sort-of-friend (who only seemed to like me sometimes) who lived in a house behind the grove of thick spruce and maple trees that divided my backyard from hers,  had come over every day during one hot July week when we dug a huge hole in my backyard.   My mother wasn’t happy about the hole or the mess it caused, but she tried to ignore what we were doing and let us be kids, as long as we didn’t dig anywhere near the lawn.   We had chosen the far back of the yard, under some large old trees, where it was shady and no grass grew, for our hole.   We spend hours digging to see just how deep we could dig that hole.  Could we dig it as deep as the deep end of a swimming pool?  Maybe deeper than the earth’s mantle?  Could we dig to the center of the earth? Maybe even all the way to China?

Several times it rained and the hole filled with water, collapsing its walls and ruining much of our work, but once it dried up again, we’d be back out there digging.  After a few days, I’d brought out some plastic play plates, saucepans, and cups from a toy kitchen set, and we set up a sort of “kitchen” inside our hole, which was now large enough to hold both of us without our heads protruding above ground level (as long as we remained in a squatting position).    My friend brought over an old black umbrella that had belonged to her dad,  and we used that as a roof on our underground “house.”   We made makeshift “stairs” out of  large flat stones stuck in the mud walls on the side (the stairs didn’t really work but they looked nice).  At the end of every day, we’d both be filthy, sweaty, and covered head to toe with mud.   My mother, horrified at the sight of me, always sent me immediately to the bathroom to take a bath before I’d be allowed to go anywhere else in the house.

Finally,  when the hole was approximately the size and depth of a grave, my mother had enough and made us fill in the hole.   But by that point, the novelty had worn off and I was covered with mosquito bites from spending so much time wallowing in the stagnant water that was constantly filling the bottom of our hole.  So my friend and I didn’t mind spending a few hours shoveling the dirt back in the hole.  Away went the dollhouse plates and cups, and her dad’s big black umbrella.

digging

So getting dirty was never much of a problem for me, and when I met Janie at summer camp, we immediately hit it off.   At home and school, I tended to be too obedient and docile, not having the courage to speak up about anything, but for some reason summer camp was a different story.   Janie was freespirited and she hated following rules.   Although I was generally in the big-sister role, Janie’s willingness to break rules rubbed off on me and I found myself breaking rules too — and not really caring whether I got in trouble or not.   After all, what could the camp counselors do to us?

The way we broke the rules was to disappear during certain planned camp activities we disliked.  Every day there was a schedule of activities and except for an hour of free time at the end of the day,  our time wasn’t really our own.  Although I liked most of the camp activities, two I hated were Archery and Softball.   Janie didn’t like them either.  So those became the times we’d disappear and go off on our own to explore.

There was a stream that ran through our side of the camp (the boys had their own side) , and along its banks were wonderful areas with slippery clay-like gray mud.   We loved the look and feel and smell of this mud, which smelled sour-earthy and squished satisfyingly between our fingers, making squicky noises as it squeezed through.   We spent hours building little clay animals and people and whole towns out of this magical mud, then squishing them all into oblivion between our fingers again.  Overhead, the tall trees whispered softly in the warm summer breeze and dragonflies flitted about, their wings shimmering in the patchy sunlight that filtered through the green canopy overhead.

There were lots of small toads in the rocky stream and the clay-rich estuary-like area in which we spent so much time.  One day Janie climbed up from the banks of the stream,  cupping a minature toad in the palm of her small hand.  He was the cutest thing I ever saw, and she said she was going to keep him as a pet.    Of course, he escaped within minutes, but we kept finding more tiny toads.  They were everywhere!  I caught a larger toad, and soon toad-hunting became our obsession.   We imagined the toads had their own personalities and we gave them names.   They were our friends.

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We’d always forget the time, and arrive back at the cabin late, during the middle of Quiet Time.    The first couple of times that happened, our counselor punished us by telling us we had to read during Free Time.   But for us, that wasn’t a punishment at all, since we both loved reading and would have chosen to do it anyway.

So Janie and I continued to play in the stream during Archery or Softball, arriving back at the cabin late.   Finally, our counselor had enough and sent us to the Camp Director.   He threatened to expel us from camp early if we didnt start obeying the rules, so after that day, our frog-hunting adventures finally came to an end.

On the second to last day of camp, there was a special ceremony in which awards were given out to the campers.   I didn’t expect to receive anything, but I did receive an award for “Most Improved Swimmer.”    I was sure I’d be getting nothing else, but when the  ceremony was almost over, Janie and I were called up together to receive an award.   Smiling, the camp director handed us certificates.  I looked down at my certificate, and printed in pretty calligraphy was my name and under it, in smaller calligraphy, it said, “Best Frog Hunter.”   I looked over at Janie’s.  Hers said the same thing.  We gave each other knowing looks, and sheepishly sat down while the entire camp cheered and clapped for us.

That was a good summer.

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A swamp in the Blue Ridge Mountains? Who knew?

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The swamp covered in water lilies.  They don’t appear to be in full bloom.  Photo: John Boyle/jboyle@citizen-times.com)

 

Yesterday as I was driving east along US Highway 70 headed toward Black Mountain, I passed an unusual sight:  to the immediate left on the road was a flat expanse covered with what looked like bright pink water lilies.   On closer inspection, I realized I was looking at a swamp!   We don’t have swamps here in the Blue Ridge Mountains!  Or do we?

I’ve actually passed the swamp many times before without knowing it.   It never really stood out to me before, since this stretch of the highway isn’t especially scenic.   It’s filled with used car lots, run down buildings, and sad, outdated, nearly empty strip malls.    During the winter and early spring, I had seen the swamp, but because of the vast amounts of rain we’ve had this year, I assumed it was just a flooded area and would probably eventually be drained and something built there.

But the presence of the water lilies made me realize this wasn’t just a flooded area that would eventually dry up, but an actual, bona fide swamp!

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Photo: John Boyle/jboyle@citizen-times.com)

 

I was intrigued.  I wanted to find out more.   When I got home, I Googled “Swannanoa Swamp,” not expecting to find much, if any information.   But there were actually two articles written about it, one in the Asheville Citizen-Times and another on the River Link website.   There were also a few photos, which I have copied here.

Since both articles appeared to be written in the past year, I assumed the swamp was a new thing.  I had never noticed it at all until this year, when I assumed it was just a flooded area.  But it’s actually at least 60 years old!

Here is the quote from the “Answer Man” on the Asheville Citizen-Times article that explains the swamp’s (actually two connected swamps) unusual history:

…The KOA Campground in Swannanoa owns the swamp ponds on the north side of the road, which are actually strangely attractive with all the lily pads and bright pink lilies in bloom.

A co-owner of the KOA, who asked not to be identified, said a divider lies between the two ponds, and they do have a resident beaver. Campers aren’t allowed to fish in the swamps.

For their origin, she referred me to Swannanoa Valley historian Bill Alexander, whose family owned much of the property around there on the north side of U.S. 70.

“When Grovestone inquired about some property they would like to get rock out of, my father and my uncle gave them permission to dig some of that area out, just for the granite or whatever they could get out of there,” Alexander said. “They did that, and because they were getting something essentially for nothing, they said, ‘We’ll make you a lake.'”

This was in the early 1950s. The lake remains as the KOA Campground lake.

“There was a body of water that came from the original lake, and it didn’t have anywhere to go,” Alexander said. “The swamp was a run-over from the lake. That’s how that body of water, specifically, came to be.”

The article went on to explain that there have been no known health issues or problems because of the swamp’s presence, but that people exploring the area should take precautions and stay covered and use bug repellant to ward off mosquitoes, which breed there as they do in any wetland.

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Swamp in winter or early spring.  Credit: Riverlink.org

I didn’t get out of the car to explore the swamp myself, so I didn’t get a chance to take my own photos.   I think you probably have to go in via the campgrounds, which are behind it.   Maybe one day I will do that.    These photos don’t show the brilliant pink of the water lilies.  It’s not a large area.  I’d say it’s about the size of a fairly small, but long pond.

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This is fine.

It might be an old meme, but it’s just so perfect right now.

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Hoping this changes.

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I’m hoping and praying it’s only this year I feel this way.

I still believe in what America stood for (and still stands for for most people).   But today, I have to admit, I’m ashamed to be an American.   Not because I don’t love my country, but ironically, because I do.  I know we’re better than this.   I hope we can find our way out of the mess we’ve gotten ourselves into.

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Donald Trump, Psychopath

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Here’s an interesting, informative article from Patheos.com in which the author, Andrew Spitznas, makes an excellent case for Donald Trump being afflicted with Malignant Narcissism — Antisocial Personality Disorder, Narcissistic Personality Disorder, and traits of both Paranoia and Sadism.  Donald Trump displays all four elements, and the author gives examples of each.

Donald Trump, Psychopath

My only criticism is the author states that malignant narcissism is the same as psychopathy.  I disagree.  Psychopathy (as opposed to sociopathy, which it’s often confused with) is a congenital condition in which the brain is missing the structures responsible for the development of a conscience and empathy.   Thus, a person can be a psychopath even though there was no unusual trauma during childhood.  Psychopathy is not a personality disorder, but really a developmental disorder of the brain.  Psychopaths are often “bad seeds,” but not all psychopaths are criminals and some can even be trained to be prosocial (even though prosocial behavior will never come naturally to them).

Malignant narcissism is NPD plus ASPD (antisocial personality disorder), with traits of paranoia and sadism, and it is not a congenital condition.  Both NPD and ASPD are Cluster B personality disorders that develop due to early childhood trauma or neglect.  Children are not born with personality disorders; they are acquired.  While malignant narcissists are quite sociopathic and usually lack a conscience  (garden variety, non-malignant NPDs are not sociopathic, they usually have a conscience, and even sometimes have limited amounts of empathy), they are not psychopathic.    The sociopath’s — or malignant narcissist’s — emotional development was arrested so they never developed empathy or a conscience.   There is no evidence that anyone has ever been cured of malignant narcissism, though in rare circumstances, they may become self-aware.   Donald Trump is most certainly not self-aware, nor is he likely to ever become so.

While it’s entirely possible Donald Trump may be both a malignant narcissist and a psychopath, they are not the same thing.  It’s possible to be one without being the other.  I think the confusion arises because the behavior of a psychopath and a malignant narcissist (or a person with antisocial personality disorder/sociopathy) can be so similar.

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