Generally speaking, Heaven and Earth endow the generality of men with the same mediocre qualities, so that one is hardly distinguishable from the other. Not so, however, in the rare instances of the Exceptionally Good and the Exceptionally Evil that flash through the pages of history. The first embodies the Perfect Norm of Heaven and Earth; the second, its Horrid Deviations. The first comes into the world when Harmony is to prevail; the second, when Catastrophe impends. The first ushers in peace and order; the second brings war and strife. Examples of the first are the Emperors Yao, Shun, Yu, and T’ang, the Kings Wen and Wu, the sages Confucius and Mencius, and such philosophers as the Ch’eng brothers and Chu Hsi; examples of the second are the tyrants Ch’ih Yu and Kung Kung, Chieh and Chou and the First Emperor, and such usurpers and traitors as Wang Mang, Huan Wen, and Ch’in K’uai.
Today, under our divine Sovereign, peace and prosperity reign…which manifest itself in the form of sweet dew and gentle breeze. …there is no place under the clear sky and the bright sun for the Deviations from the Norm; these had to hide their ugly heads in the abysmal chasms in the bowels of the earth, where they lie inert and powerless. But occasionally, pressed upon by the clouds or wafted by the winds, traces of these evil elements find their way into the upper air and clash with the traces of the Norm, causing violence storms and thunder and lighting. (Trans: Chi-Chun Wang: Tsao Huueh-Chin, Dream of the Red Chamber, pp. 22-23)
I began the day with the intention to nourish myself by avoiding the Twitter Wars by engaging in literature; that is, Dream of the Red Chamber which was written sometime around 1742. Yet, as my eyes fell upon page 22 I stumbled out of historical China and into the present time, this time of Horrid Deviations.
This passage and image are submitted in response to the”traces of the past” challenge posed by Lost in Translation.
Feeling a bit unsettled today since it feels as though my life is being pulled through an insanity that could only be a nightmare: an onslaught of Executive orders issued with pursed lips and fanfare and without a review of Constitutional Law…an executive agency defying the ruling of a federal judge…Bannon being appointed the head of the National Security Council while Trump limits the roles of the director of intelligence and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff…and this seemingly never-ending nightmare goes on and on.
This emotional reactivity that has exploded on Twitter only adds to this nightmare. We need to find a way to begin an effective dialogue between people of differing opinions. I fear we are too far down the road for this to even begin because elements that were put into place to ensure our freedoms are being threatened: false news that ensures division among the population; gag orders that seem to restrict freedom of speech; the statement that the media is an “opposition party” seems like an attempt to block the freedom of the press; a weakening of “checks and balances”; a trivial need to validate the presidency through images and imaginary numbers; and most unsetting, the removal of the bipartisan Broadcasting Board of Governors opening up the possibility of the Voice of America being used as a propaganda tool.
What power do I as a single person have to wake up from this insane dream? It is recommended that I contact those elected to represent me…senators and representatives…and I have done so, but I wonder why I don’t feel reassured that I will wake up any time soon.
…facts alone hardly put an end to [political] arguments. People embrace the facts they want to hear.
‘We don’t behave at all like the ideal picture of engaged citizens neutrally and dispassionately analyzing the evidence before casting their ballot…It’s not how people work.’
…the ‘backfire effect’ [is when] people with deeply held political beliefs double down on those beliefs when presented with facts that contradict them.
Human beings, it seems, have a tendency to engage in ‘directionally motivated reasoning’ – roughly, to draw conclusions based on the evidence that supports the conclusions they want to draw. And in politics those conclusions…seem to be rooted in allegiances as expressions of identity. Your desire to believe, despite the overwhelming evidence to the contracting…isn’t about what’s true. It’s about who you are.*
2016 Could Be Fact-Checking’s Finest Year – If Anyone Listens, 9/13/16