“People should not expect the state to protect them from fraudsters. If we do, we get into the habit of neglecting our own powers of intellectual discernment.”
– Julian Baggini, British Philosopher
Using Discernment to Right a Wrong
Who put me in charge of ensuring justice prevails? The perpetrators who involved me either directly or indirectly through assaulting the rights – constitutionally guaranteed and overall human rights – and values of those I care about the most. How do I arrive at the decision to right a wrong? I exercise discernment – an ability many people do not have and one I wholeheartedly embrace. It makes me happy that I understand the meaning of discernment and have reached a point in my life where I exercise it with the responsibility it commands. In doing so, I assess situations for what they are, not what they should be, or I wish they were.
Tangential Note: Being proud of my ability to exercise discernment and casting it as something that makes me happy does not mean I am perfect. It is obvious I am imperfect. Also, having pride in being discerning does not mean I am mistakes free. There are times I make decisions that do not pan out the way I envision – the choice itself was ground in discernment not by winging it or blindly following another’s perspective.
Present Day Example
For instance, a Gwinnett County (map) woman was questioned – which she voluntarily responded – on AM Joy the morning of Saturday, November 2, 2018 about the obvious and overt voter suppression schemes led by Georgia’s current Secretary of State Brian Kemp. She supports Kemp’s candidacy – the Republican who vies for the governorship of the Peach State as does Stacy Abrams, the Democrat. The Gwinnett County woman made the choice on national television to delegitimize ongoing public outcry around Kemp’s unconstitutional actions to purge voter rolls and freeze the right to vote of other eligible Georgia voters by stating “perception is reality.” She implied voter suppression is not real – yet if people insist on complaining about it then maybe she will share her thoughts on the matter. Her tone and body language exuded scornful vibes toward the deserving coastal elites Katy Tur and Joy Ann Reid – those who are quintessential to upholding mainstream media’s liberal bias that set her up to look bad on camera.
The Gwinnett County woman was smug in her answers. For sure a helpless victim of the underserving Georgians of color invading her birthright to all things American. Self-righteous in her indifference toward and lazy explanations of Kemp lawlessness. This woman checked all the boxes of an individual who is benefitting from and complicit in white supremacy. This willfully ignorant woman went on to say additional asinine things in response to Katy Tur’s questions.
To no surprise the woman residing in Georgia’s second most populous county implied it is former President Barack Obama’s fault 53,000 eligible Georgia voters’ right to cast ballots was put on hold. Never mind voting is controlled at the state level. Mind you, a federal judge overturn Kemp’s hold given its clear illegality. But sure, the black guy with the big ears and funny name who won the electoral college and popular vote twice without the help of America’s mortal enemy is to blame.
I shared the stupidity of the Gwinnet County woman – who is surely not alone in her indifference to Georgians of color obscene rights’ violations – because many of us want to believe someone so inane does not exist. If such a person does exist, we want to believe they are not as dangerous as she clearly is. If she is dangerous, enough of us accept the unfounded notion her danger can be mitigated because she allegedly represents a minority of America’s citizenry.
Even if that were the case from a numerical standpoint – that narrative does not hold from a political might perspective. She admitted to working on the election board in Gwinnett County! There is no telling how many people with whom she has shared her misinformation. There is no telling how many people in positions of power constantly seek refuge from facts they do not like in echo chambers. There is no way of knowing if she has compromised any ballots in any way that she and others who share her distorted beliefs have erroneously convinced themselves as not being illegal.
Thinking for Yourself ≠ Self Righteousness
Being an advocate of discernment makes me happy because I am fortunate enough to not accept any and everything someone tells me as indisputable gospel. This holds for sources of information I generally like and those I immediately find abhorrent. Nothing about the Gwinnett County Kemp supporter’s assertions passed the smell test. Why am I so sure? She stated African Americans “cannot follow directions” – her explanation to the statistic that 70% of the 53,000 eligible Georgia voters’ right to vote was placed on hold by Brian Kemp. Seriously? So, all white Georgians followed directions to the letter? You are telling me individuals mostly comprising frequent flyers who have made it necessary to post signage in many an airport baggage claim area reading “grab your own luggage” can clearly follow directions? Mind you, the United States Judicial Branch found the act of putting those eligible voters’ rights on hold problematic in the eye of the law and ruled Kemp should reverse this antic and provide explicit instructions on what affected Georgians should do to move forward.
Any reasonable person would not believe 37,100 people of the 53,000 were unclear on how to follow the directions? Mind you the remaining 30% of those placed on hold were mostly Latinx and Asian Americans. So, Asian Americans – the group of minorities white people love to tout as the model minority group yet oppress all the same – cannot follow directions either? The model minorities white people love to selectively celebrate due to incomplete contextualization (excessive focus on east Asians from China and Japan of financial means and political connections and not the less financially strong south or southeast Asians) as super smart, diligent, and non-combative; they could not understand the directions?
Also, affected Georgians voting rights were placed on hold because of rules that were changed without their knowledge. Kemp’s office made the changes without notifying the public – arbitrarily enforcing the rules in a way that mostly affected Georgians who would vote Democratic down the ballot.
It makes me happy I have the intellectual capacity to see the Gwinnett County woman for who she is, the Republican party for what it has become, and the chicanery of their words and behaviors for what they manifest. It makes me happy I have a conscience to understand the naked anti-intellectualism, hate, lies, and utter disdain the Gwinnett County woman and the Republican Party she reveres have for the law. For a group of people hellbent of advancing a law and order society, this represents crushing hypocrisy. It makes me happy that I understand righting this wrong must be done via social change. By no means am I implying physical violence or use of force beyond that waged by casting a vote – for any literal minded unimaginative readers who intentionally misconstrues my use of “social change” as code language for a revolution or other violent actions.
Harnessing Agency to Effect Change
I have a desire to figure out things for myself, to corroborate notions I learn from trusted and unfamiliar sources alike. It makes me happy I finally understand in my mid-thirties that it is okay to admit what I do not know and articulate ideas and probabilities I find fearful. I understand seeking guidance around how to overcome these situations does not mean I am completely surrendering my agency to make sound decisions. Also, I understand and wholeheartedly accept that seeking the input of others is not synonymous to blindly hanging on their every word. This is not as obvious as some people may believe.
Once I have irrefutable evidence my rights are being challenged or other misdeeds that affect me (in)directly are underway – as is the case of those eligible Georgia voters by Brian Kemp’s shenanigans – I do not stop until accountability prevails. How? Larry and I donate to campaigns. I blog. I tweet. Larry and I make decisions in our personal and professional lives to wield the amount of influence we have in a way that upholds just laws, the Golden Rule and Harm Principle among other ethos we hold dear.
Tangential Note: I am not using wordsmithery here as a roundabout way of saying Larry and I excuse those who commit crimes to facilitate accountability. I know this is obvious for most yet not saying this specific thing aloud offers a mental exit ramp for others to delegitimize the points I have made thus far. Why would I think some people would seek mental exit ramps? Because hit dogs holler.
It makes me happy to know being discerning is something I can lead and/or support as well as understand and accept the vast power of doing has. Wishing and hoping the Gwinnett County woman and the Grand Old Party that enables her in the instance of this blog’s prime example are not strategies. Now, the voting rights example I shared here can be replaced by any other phenomenon that leads to unjust results. Putting unfavorable matters in the hands of the Lord with no additional actions on our parts does not a solution make. Taking methodical steps as corrective actions in addressing affronts to my values, my well-being, and that of those I love is a step in the right direction.
We have the power to give the mantra one person one vote the meaning it deserves.