He Just Needed Some Help

Jeb Simmons* wasn’t just having a dreadful day. A dreadful day would be something like running late for work and you miss your bus or spilling coffee all over your shirt just before you must give a big presentation. No, Jeb’s day was worse than that. It began with him waking up hoping to put the plan he had carefully thought out into action. He was going to kill himself. The reasons he had for killing himself were long past debatable. He had struggled with the darkness of his depression long enough and he was ready to be done with it. All of it. His first step was to wait for his foster parents to leave for work. He had already written out the note which detailed his reasons and all that was left to do was the hard part.

His foster parents had left for work earlier that morning, and Jeb was awake when he heard the front door shut and his stepfather giving the door a tug to make sure it was locked. He heard the engine start as he was getting out of bed, and as the car pulled out of the driveway, he was already filling the bathtub with water. Soon, he would get in the tub, cut his wrists, and wait for the sweet bliss of sleep. Jeb had just started to undress when, to his surprise, his foster mother knocked on the bathroom door. She had found the note in his room, called the police, and attempted to stop Jeb from carrying out his plan.

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Slow Burn to Fascism

This is a great interview with the great Noam Chomsky. In it he describes how the Republican Party has resigned itself to “proto-fascism” with the help of Trump. He goes on to explain how that same Proto Fascist Republican Party are more than willing to destroy the last vestiges of democracy if it means they regain power.

From the interview: “The commitment to the most brutal form of neoliberalism is apparent in the legislative record, crucially the subordination of the party to private capital, the inverse of classic fascism. But the fascist symptoms are there, including extreme racism, violence, worship of the leader (sent by God, according to former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo), immersion in a world of “alternative facts” and a frenzy of irrationality. Also in other ways, such as the extraordinary efforts in Republican-run states to suppress teaching in schools that doesn’t conform to their white supremacist doctrines.” Exactly. He draws a coherent line between today’s GOP and the likes of Hitler and Mussolini: “What’s missing from “proto-fascism” is the ideology: state control of the social order, including the business classes, and party control of the state with the maximal leader in charge. That could change.

He continues, “German industry and finance at first thought they could use the Nazis as their instrument in beating down labor and the left while remaining in charge. They learned otherwise. The current split between the more traditional corporate leadership and the Trump-led party is suggestive of something similar, but only remotely. We are far from the conditions that led to Mussolini, Hitler, and their cohorts.” Agreed.

We are currently circling around the time where the Corporate world believes they can have the most control if they put the GOP in charge. But by overlooking history, they might soon realize that will be a mistake in the same way Business thought Hitler would be easily controlled for their benefit.

The Psychology of Conspiracy

The science of understanding conspiracy theorists has never been more important than it is today, especially on the Facebook platform. In this article, we see some psychological reasons that people believe in these theories. Most notably in my mind, is number three: Ego boost and heroism. These are people who typically have low self-esteem and feel as if they have very little, to no control over their personal lives. They may be in an unsatisfying relationship, or yearn for a relationship but cannot find a mate. They are mostly likely male, though certain types of females are also prone to this behavior. They may also closely identify with Jordan Peterson’s ideas, and may even consider themselves as an, “incel,” or involuntarily celibate. Either way, holding a “truth” that they believe few others have, they feel a sense of importance. We’ve already seen where they grossly over-estimate their own intellectuality, so it makes sense to them that they would have figured the conspiracy out while others are simply too dumb to get it.

I agree with the article in that the attributes of those who espouse conspiracy theories doesn’t necessarily make the things they are saying false. But we can look at the patterns of their arguments, their sources or lack thereof, and the overall theme of their theories and figure out whether or not the conspiracy theorist is credible. Their themes usually fall into a political line, like Alex Jones.

Regardless of the source, their misinformation promotes dangerous behavior. We’re currently still battling a pandemic they themselves have actively made worse. Refusing to get vaccinated will only allow variants continue to propagate and spread. So with that, I agree with Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla who recently stated that those who spread misinformation are criminals. You can believe whatever goofy nonsense you want, but when you spread it to other people you put their lives in danger.

Buffered Secularism

James K.A. Smith defined secularism as such: “neutral, unbiased, objective, and capital R – rational, and because of that, areligious”. He went on to describe a secularist society, or culture, as having the basic same attributes. Neutral, unbiased, objective, Rational, and areligious. I personally believe that this doesn’t quite capture what the term secular is, and what a secular culture looks like. To me, a secular society is driven by science, focused on the happiness of those who live there, striving towards enlightenment and acceptance of ALL people and their individual beliefs. It does not exclude, or legislate religious beliefs, and does not suffer long those who seek to impose their views on others.

Tennessee is a good example of those living in a buffered world. It is perfectly acceptable to assume everyone you meet is a Christian. In fact, it’s almost expected that everyone you meet is a Christian. I admit that when I left the church, I was haunted by what I left behind. Although I knew I made the right decision, I felt a longing for…something. It was the ceremony of it all. The rituals, few though they may be in today’s churches, were something I had just come to love. The people, the fellowship, I missed it. Because I had a new outlook on life that didn’t include all of the things about Christianity that made me feel guilty all the time, I grew angry at my past life. I was liberated by my future, but angry that it took me so long to get there. I gave up so much happiness due to guilt by a God I no longer believed in. I set out to squirrel myself away from all Christians. Shockingly this was very hard to do while living in the heart of Tennessee with a Christian wife and children.

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It’s 2021 and I’m fairly certain it’s a bit late in the game to be starting a blog. I’m not new to the blogging world, but I admit it’s been a long time since I wrote publicly. I’ve been attempting to regain control of the domain name of ericragle.com and have only recently accomplished that. You’ll notice that when you type in ericragle.com it will redirect you to err-c42e.ingress-bonde.easywp.com. I assure you that is on purpose and is on the list of things to address in the first part of next year when my domain name is able to be transferred to where the site is hosted.

With those things out of the way, it’s time to explain why I’m choosing to re-enter the public sphere of writing. I think I can provide some valuable insight to certain topics that people need perspective on. Things like politics, religion, etc. Sure, these are probably topics that will draw the most heat and seem to cause the most divide, but maybe I can help bring some commonality to the discussion. I hope to provide some really good and in depth essays in the coming days and I hope you all enjoy reading them. Feel free to email me regarding any post or topic you’d like to discuss further ericragle@mac.com.