Originally posted December 15, 2015 – with minor modifications to the original.
“There is always an easy solution to every human problem — neat, plausible, and wrong.”
— H.L. Mencken
These words have been in my head quite bit recently – in no small part because of the simplistic, alarmingly popular, near xenophobic rhetoric of US president-elect Donald Trump. Rhetoric that sadly seems to not be diminishing now that the election is over and the inauguration is a few short weeks away. And my concerns have only been amplified by some of his nominations to cabinet positions and administrative appointments. And the seemingly endless late-night rants on Twitter.
No, we cannot, and should not, attempt to deport millions of foreigners. No, we cannot build a massive wall spanning our entire souther boarder. No, we cannot marginalize the estimated 3 million Muslims in the US by threatening to inter them, take their passports or block them from returning if they travel outside of the US.
No, we cannot bully the rest of the world into doing what we want – we’ve tried that. It’s part of the reason we find ourselves where we are now.
It is simple to blame one group for all of our woes – the rich, the poor, the Mexicans, the atheists, the Christians, the Jews, the Muslims, liberals, conservatives – and then to announce some highly simplistic, and largely unworkable, plan to eliminate that problem/threat. But there are consequences to any action taken – most especially with rash, poorly thought out, actions.
We cannot cure our country’s ills, and bring about prosperity and jobs, by undermining the various governmental departments meant to manage certain functions. Clean them up, eliminate the waste, certainly. But appointing people with no understanding of what they are supposed to do to run them? That is likely to lead to a bigger mess.
Finding genuine solutions takes time, energy, and inclusion – no problem can be solved, or threat eliminated, by excluding those that disagree from the discussion. Yes, some divides may seem so intractable that they may seem unbridgeable, but people do open themselves up to other points of view, and possibly even to a change of opinion, when they are treated with respect, and they know that their concerns are also being heard.
There is no easy answer. There is never an easy answer. But that does not mean that you have to either give up, or resort to the “easy” answers – it just means that you have to be willing to expend the energy that it takes to find something that works.