Dear America

What we saw happen today is what we call a purge. It's what dictators do to consolidate power, punish disloyalty, and intimidate future opposition. The Republican party has been dismantled and rebuilt as a party of personal loyalty to Trump. A man who pardons war criminals and human-rights violators and fires anyone who speaks up.

We are in dangerous times. Even a cursory study of history makes that clear. If you like his politics that's one thing; but replacing everyone in the government with people who are personally loyal and obedient to a person rather than the principles of democracy can only end badly.

Please take a moment to reflect on how you would truly feel if you watched these events and the party labels attached to the participants were reversed.

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Crossposted from Facebook.

Dear Mitt Romney

Thank you.

I was very pleased to see that one Republican has the integrity to say "wrong is wrong". I was saddened to see that only one Republican has that integrity.

I'm sorry that you are already being, and will continue to be, attacked and insulted for standing for justice. I'm saddened that the people that rallied behind your candidacy in 2012 have now gone so far astray that they can no longer even see you as a member of the party.

Any political party that is loyal to a person instead of an ideology rooted in pluralism is a danger to this country.

Your vote, taken at an unpredictably high cost to yourself, will be remembered as a stand for justice, fairness, and democracy.

Stay strong. "Do what is right, let the consequence follow."

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Crossposted from Facebook.

The Show America Needed

This past week the TV show, "The Good Place" aired its series finale. It's not the kind of show that comes along very often and I think it was desperately needed.

It was a show that was unabashedly about ethics and moral philosophy. Actual, meaningful philosophical content presented in a format that was accessible to people that have never broached the subject before.

It wasn't another anti-hero, vigilantism, and vengeance story line. Those stories have been popular lately, and I've enjoyed watching them, but I think they are teaching audiences that you can do whatever you want so long as you say it's for the greater good (as defined by you). Their behavior is explicitly rationalized as the ends justifying any means. It can be satisfying to watch the Punisher ignore the laws in order to make the villains pay for their crimes. But it's not healthy for actual society to be filled with self-proclaimed vigilantes doing whatever they feel like and justifying it afterwards.

"The Good Place" was explicitly about coming to terms with what it means to act ethically. Considering the intent and outcome of our behavior in real terms and having at least an internal discussion about what is right; what is fair, what is just.

It was a comedy, so it was generally lighthearted and, at times, goofy. But it covered important ground in moral reasoning and I think it avoided coming across as preachy.

We should consider our actions and do our best. We will fail. And we can take time to reflect on our failures and shortcomings and then do better.

Spoilers in this paragraph! If there's some kind of existence beyond mortality, I'd like it to be something like the one exhibited at the show's end: An unbounded opportunity to learn, grow, and improve until we reach our full potential as moral beings; the ability to enjoy all that existence has to offer; and then, on our own terms, the chance to say, "I'm ready to move on."

If you didn't watch it, go and do so. I think seasons 1-3 are on Netflix currently. I don't know if Netflix will also get season 4 or if it will all move over to NBC's streaming service. The entire series will be available on blu-ray in May. Go find it and watch it. And consider what you can do that will make someone else feel that you've made their life better.