For a very great number of good citizens it was the “worst of days;” having been “blind-sided “with an event of tectonic resonance, or of that of a South Seas tsunami or a domestic Pearl Harbor. The unexpected triumph of reductive ignorance and reality show superficiality, devastatingly triumphing over any possibility of securing for the next four years, a capable and rational national governance.
We have previously commented on the causes and empirical effects of this unprecedented event, and, in the face of the possible risk of being judged presumptuous, have responsibly chosen to offer certain suggestions and principles in aid of the promotion of successful, healthy coping and the survival of the perplexed.
We have, perhaps too frequently, referred to the admonition of Thomas Jefferson, to the effect that to be successful, a democracy requires an informed and literate citizenry. By contrast, the results of the recent presidential election appear to evidence a poorly informed population with substantial challenges to its literacy; nevertheless, with the proper strategic behavior, an ardent American citizen can successfully endure and possibly even, mitigate. the extent of the event’s impact.
Patient and optimistic endurance have always been a positive feature of our American nation’s traditional hallmark; literature, the arts, and sciences will assuredly endure and will always continue to provide the fuel for the development of good citizens and successful community.
On a positive note, it is historical fact that over the generations we have been progressing (steadily but slowly) along a dedicated route to the further improvement of our society; in achieving the experienced reality of justice for all, in continued advancements in medicine and science as well as the appreciation of the humanities and the arts and the general enhancement of life. Our progress is demonstrable, our institutions intact and, for most of us, our commendable aspirations conspicuously undeterred.
Because of the current disgraceful and nihilistic degradation of factual accuracy, in favor of populist rhetoric, and the recent unhealthy and dangerous birth of a Frankenstein of “false news,” which seem to accompany this newly elected leader, we would respectfully suggest the following principles with the awareness that they will entail, but be worthy of, some reasonable additional effort:
- Fact checking. This important responsibility has traditionally been entrusted to other people, employed in performing this essential task, and, above all, trustworthy and objective. In the new context, we need to perform this responsible task ourselves, by referring to other previously reliable sources of information, by discussions with knowledgeable others, and where needed, some personal research into authoritative sources. Important “facts” should always be sufficiently vetted and discussed with other enlightened citizens.
- After responsibly vetting the information, take the opportunity to confidently deliberate by yourself (and not rely on others) to reach a personal conclusion. In the changed atmosphere, one cannot responsibly solely rely upon the possibly erroneous or interested conclusion of others.
- Debate the important issues with fervor, but based only on vetted facts, and with responsible, enlightened associates, the emphasis to be the good of the nation and its citizens. Effort is to be expended to maintain cordial and amicable relations between all parties, regardless of divergent points of view. When a conclusion has been reached, it should be communicated to others, as relevant, from the level of local legislator or official and higher and energetically follow up.
- On a personal basis, be an energetic advocate for others, even when your own interests are not involved, when there appears to be unfair or illegal treatment by the authorities; we need to look out for each other now more than ever before.
- Keep the faith and retain your sense of humor; with positive hope and a little extra effort, we will survive the present situation, knowing that reason and right thinking will again prevail.