Social Media and the Divide of America

War is a interesting phenomenon that has been inescapable since the beginning of time. Today we live in an American society that is increasingly at war with itself. On the other hand, the military is different. In combat, soldiers ignore differences of race, religion and politics within their platoon. They realize that in order to have the greatest chance of survival during war they need to do life together in cohesive unity. Throughout history the military has learned to focus on the things that unite themselves to one another rather than focusing on the differences.

In his book “Tribe”, Sebastian Junger says,

“The United States is so powerful that the only country capable of destroying Her might be the United States Herself. Which means that the ultimate terrorist strategy may be to just leave the country alone. That way America’s ugliest partisan tendencies could emerge unimpeded by the unifying effects of war. The ultimate betrayal of tribe isn’t acting competitively – that should be encouraged – but predicating your power on the excommunication of others from the group. That is exactly what politicians of both parties try to do when they spew venomous rhetoric against their rivals. This is what media figures do when they go beyond criticisms of their fellow citizens and openly revile them.”

With that in mind, something idiotically destructive that a military platoon can do during wartime is to openly revile one another. We must realize that we Americans are a single platoon ourselves rather we like it or not.  But if it is currently hard to imagine us as one unified nation, then that may be because, in actuality, we are at a great divide in our country. Moreover, we play our part in this divisive war on social media. Every day we see people speaking with contempt about the rich, the poor, blacks, whites, republicans, democrats, conservatives, liberals, the President, the government, the religious, the irreligious, etc.  

Do we really understand how this contempt is affecting us?  Humanity is still learning the science of how people communicate. One thing we have found is that the less distance between people (ex. two people face to face) then the less likely either person will act in a hostile manner toward the other. When people are face to face there is innate sympathy that toward the other person that regulates one’s behavior. This pleasant orientation has played out during most of human history.  Social media eliminates this pleasantry to a degree that we have never experienced and has done so in a short amount of time. This elimination occurred so quickly that we haven’t learned how to properly account for it in order to function correctly in our relationships nor can we comprehend its impact on our individual psyche/souls. We do, however, see it being played out in America in a negative manner. The constant criticism online that we have seen for years has now evolved into contempt of others.

Criticism and contempt are different.  Criticism is a fundamental aspect of daily life for the flourishing of society as it brings out the merits and faults of something or someone. We criticize anything from food, to music, and parenting styles. For years I have gladly criticized Lebron James’ basketball skills in order to further my support for Kobe Brant.  Unlike criticism, contempt is toxic because it puts someone morally beneath the speaker. Contempt is reserved for a wartime enemy or someone committing a great evil, but now it is regularly applied to our fellow citizens.

In marriage, contempt is one of four main behavioral predictors for divorce.  Let’s say a married couple has been going to counseling and the counselor is able to find the source of where most of their verbal contempt for one another happens – in the car. Most likely the counselor will recommend the couple to realize that there may be something unique about the dynamics of the car that brings about the disunity…not necessarily something within the husband and wife themselves. The couple would be foolish not to change something with the car in order to save their marriage. Matthew 5:30 would recommend us to cut off any tumbling block.

People who show contempt for one another are unlikely to remain united for long. This is the danger we see our country in now. Conservatives and liberals have a hard time having any dialogue or finding middle ground. This doesn’t just remain in the political lens but it also spills over to social issues, religion, economics, culture, and other arenas. I have noticed churches having the same struggle of believers from the same church arguing online. By now we have all seen people who love the Lord forsake one another online. There have been multi-year friends collapse due to differing opinions on social matters.

It is evident that the way we show our ideological allegiance is not by complementing our own side but by displaying our hate for the other side. This online contempt cripples relational growth. Typically, intimacy grows as people take turns speaking, laugh at each other’s jokes, and share surprising similarities (think of the famous Step Brothers movie quote – “Did we just become best friends?!). What happens on Facebook, though, when grandstands are erected along both sides and then filled with friends, acquaintances, rivals, and strangers, all passing judgment and offering commentary?

I have seen the same viral videos get shared by people on “differing sides” and each have a completely different take on the story but still yield the same amount of emotional outrage. Not too long ago we would look at two different video clips (of the same video) in order to get different reactions. Not anymore. We can just look at the exact same video and have completely opposite emotional responses. Part of the reason this is occurring is because our brains are becoming wired not to interpret truth but rather interpret information and uttering it in a manner that keeps our friends liking us, protects our reputations, and keeps our jobs. Sadly, this perpetuation further deceives ourselves and others.

How did social media get to this point? Social psychologist Jonathan Haidt summarizes an answer quite well. He relates the shift in social media confusion of the American public to the Tower of Babel story in Genesis 11. In this story, the people of the world grew prideful. In their pride they attempted to build a gigantically tall tower in order to reach Heaven. The Lord, upset at their pride, punished them by scattering the people around the earth and confusing their language so that they may not understand one another. Dr. Haidt then relates this shift in Genesis to the shift in social media around 2015. From the time I joined Facebook to today Facebook has changed several times. Social media changed fundamentally between 2009 and 2012. Before 2009, Facebook was simply about posting your random thoughts. In 2009, Facebook and Twitter added the “Like” button. Later, both companies brought in algorithms (and advertisements) in order to optimize content to emotionally appeal to users in order to get them to react and therefore become addicted for even more engagement. Social Media today has become an outrage machine that changed the moral, political and social climate of the Western World.

Now…let us follow the bread crumbs to see how we are being affected. There are studies showing that the more time you spend on Facebook the more depressed you become. There are also studies that show that tribalism increases in times of stress (or perceived threat) and it decreases in times of peace and prosperity. With Covid-19, outrage over the George Floyd killing, quarantine and mass unemployment people are on social media drastically more than ever before. Could it be that this rise in social media usage is leading us more towards a subconsciously depressed mindset? This consequently increases stress and causes individuals to be drawn further into tribalism. The next sequential step is a negative mindset leading to hostility and contempt toward anyone outside your identified tribe.

Of course, social media has its merits. But at this point is it a zero-sum game or a negative-sum game? How can we turn the tables and come together as one unified platoon? Satan is busy and if we do not push back then our country will see much worse division than we see today. Thank God for the common grace He gives us in order for us to have psychological and sociological studies to guide us during this time.

Wokeness, Coronavirus and The Armor of God

One of the biggest stories during the first half of 2019 was that of Jussie Smollett. The gay, black actor who claimed that he was physically beaten in Chicago at 2:00am by two white, MAGA men in subzero degree temperatures. Before his claim was proven false Jussie made country-wide headlines of immediate support and outcry by the media and Hollywood. People who had doubts or wanted evidence were vilified. There was no time to even think about questioning Jussie. As time unfolded, we eventually found that not only was Jussie lying but it was orchestrated by Jussie and two non-white friends.

At the beginning of 2019 Jussie Smollett was the trending topic. In a similar vein, the first two months of 2020 gave us numerous stories of retired NBA player, Dwayne Wade’s 12 year old son now identifying as female. That was a priority of our news outlets, articles, and talk shows.

What would happen if Jussie’s story (before it was proven false) came out today in 2020 instead? In the midst of Coronavirus, how would our country react to such a polarizing story? Would we be so apt to believe it, in its happenstance? Would we be as quick to jump to conclusions of guilt? How much attention would the general public give to the media and celebrities’ outrage while we are all in quarantine? Would we care to be “woke” enough to care?

My case, in the midst of Coronavirus, is that the answer to each of those questions is “No”.  Covid-19 has awoken truth in us that has inadvertently suppressed the Wokeness worldview that our politically correct, secular culture has created.

o-racism-intelligence-facebook

Now think about the past few months of Coronavirus. Have you noticed it? Whether in the controlled corporate media or on social media, the woke subversion of Western discourse has practically disappeared. Stories on intersectionality, cultural appropriation, inclusivity, cancel culture, gender pronouns, microaggressions, toxic masculinity, nonbinary, cis-deadnaming, mansplaining, gender fluidity, and other politically correct buzz terms have pretty much been muted in the face of a real crisis. What happened? Or as the great philosopher, The Joker, once said …“Why so serious?”

The health, sociological, and economic effects of Coronavirus have re-revealed something that the Apostle Paul spoke on in the Bible when advising people to put on the armor of God. In Ephesians 6:11-12, Paul writes, Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.”  Additionally, Coronavirus has re-revealed to us that death is the great equalizer of life – Ecclesiastes 9.

Covid-19 has reminded us that the true enemy is Death and the truest enemy is a foreign, spiritual enemy that is not of this world (Hebrews 2:14). Covid-19 has prioritized our battle against true evil – not against people. 

Conversely, the Wokeness worldview teaches us that our enemies ARE indeed flesh and blood. It claims that the enemy is the patriarchy. The enemy is bigotry. The enemies are white men. The enemies are people who believe gender is binary. The enemy are Christians who believe what the Bible teaches about sin. 

How did we get here?

People are always in search of meaning in their life. We desire a sense of purpose in order to feel as if we belong. We can find this purpose in being a mother, engineer, preacher, artist, dancer, chef, athlete, or in simply being a good friend.  With that being said, we should raise a question – How do we find our purpose in a western world where so much is given to us from the day we are born? Well, naturally, we seek out miniature purposes. What do I mean by a “miniature purpose”?

The ultimate purpose in life is to glorify Jesus Christ (1 John 5:11-12; 1 Corinthians 10:31). Anything besides that, whether with good intention or bad intention, is a miniature purpose. Being a mother is great but those kids will grow up and move away. Being an athlete or dancer is good, but your body will eventually grow old. Being an engineer is good, but eventually your designed buildings and roads will become outdated. Miniature purposes can be good but they can never sustain us. This is a problem and we all know this.  To fix that problem we keep seeking out more compounding instances of purpose in order to fill a gap that only Jesus can fill. So, for example, my identity and hope may now be found in becoming a good husband, father, athlete, cook, best friend, mentor, traveler, sports fan, and social justice advocate all in one. This search for self-purpose leads people in the western world toward the inclination of Wokeness – sometimes with genuinely, heartfelt intentions by the people.

Have you ever asked yourself, ‘Why is it that most of the world does not care about the ideas of Wokeness?’ For example, people in Japan and Africa do not scream out much against cultural appropriation. The primary answer is because the Wokeness worldview is only able to flourish in societies of prosperity and overabundance. Wokeness calls out several types of evils committed by people and systems of peoples that we need to fight against. This worldview is currently on mute because prosperity is now at a halt due to the Coronavirus. “If we are able to put something “evil” on mute, then how great of an evil was it in the first place? Because, Coronavirus or not, if my nephew is getting bullied in school I WILL never be mute about it.

woke 2

People derive meaning by manufacturing evils to combat. It is understandable because I would find meaning in stopping a bully from bullying my nephew. That bully is real. It is true that there are bad things that happen in the country. There are some bad men. There are gay people who wrongly get fired. Some of those claims of racism are real.  However, if I am proactively seeking out kids who may bully my nephew one day, in order to get them expelled, then that is a different story. Also, what is my definition of bullying? Is it fighting, name-calling, a particular look, misinterpreted playing around, does age matter, or does size matter? It gets very complicated real fast. That said, I hate evil. BUT who is defining evil? By what standard are we doing so? Who/what dictates who is right and who is wrong? Some Americans consider America evil. The same thing happens in the United Kingdom. Some people consider the teachings of Christianity evil. Again, I ask, by what standard are these claims being made? 

Woke culture brings people meaning by fighting these evils. Many people are drawn to woke advocacy because it brings [added] meaning to their life. This tendency has hit its head at the onset of Covid-19 as this virus has brought about more pressing problems than the quasi-changing gender of Dwayne Wade’s son. When people do not have real problems to occupy themselves, they will create (or exaggerate) them.

Our varying views on the legitimacy of Wokeness is not the topic of concern here. If the Covid-19 crisis continues much longer it will  not only cripple families who suffered from deaths, it will also hurt exponentially more families who suffer from the crippling economic results for years to come. This will cause the public to continue to care less about the woke worldview of the 2010s as they have to focus more on their own well-being. As life and quality of life is more at stake, people will naturally see more clearly who the true Enemy is and how only Jesus can fill our gap of life purpose and sustain us through all of life’s circumstances.

woke 3

Men vs Women: Which are Easier to Befriend?

A dear friend recently asked me a question: Which gender do I befriend easier, men or women?”

Now my weird brain generally works in a way for me to generally answer questions quite quickly. This time, however, before I uttered the answer that first came to mind, for some peculiar reason I stopped myself in my tracks. This particular question brought about a state of cognitive dissonance in me. I was going to answer “men” due what I believe to be true in my own life, but I simultaneously realized a disharmony in my thoughts because the more I pondered the more the answer gradually became “women”.

I have been known to be a social butterfly. During and after college I attained a large number of both female and male friends. Nowadays, I likely have more male friends than a majority of what other males have obtained. The conundrum in my friend’s question is this: The pool of men to befriend AND [even worse] the quality of the pool of men to befriend pale in comparison to that of potential women friendships.

This feeling of disharmony caused to me realize the subtle, potentially rigged system around me when it comes to friendships. For years I have talked and written on the decline of men and how that affects women, children, and the church. What I have failed to realize is how that also affects me. The pool of men willing to discuss religion, politics, history, the sciences, the arts, and deep opinions on social issues in a purely conversational manner is dwindling. If I go into the city in search of conversationalists I predict to find at least 5 times more women with familiarity on those topics than men. So which gender would be easier to befriend?

There are a variety of reasons this has occurred: from the expression of masculinity being suppressed, to male behavior traits being classified as attention deficit disorder, the removal of competition in childhood sports, a feminized Christianity, weak male role models in entertainment, fatherlessness, and many more.

In short, without diving into the hierarchical validity of those reasons, let’s agree that something bad is happening to our men. We can walk into most churches and see the male to female attendance ratio is very skewed in favor of women. There is a decrease in male leadership inside and outside the church. This spreads to other domains where we see a [quantitative/qualitative] decrease of men in the dating scene, the workplace, and in the classrooms. The young adults still living with their parents are mostly men. Women are now more likely to go to college than men. We all know more stable, single women looking for a mate than stable, single men looking for one.

Tim Keller says “the most important relationships for the traditional person are their family, for the modern person it is their lover, and for the postmodern person it is their friends – because their families and lovers have let them down!” We can go a step further for men today by removing the friendship layer (due to their lack of ability to attain them) which leaves them all alone; without family, lover, or friend. Maybe this is one of the explanations for the increased state of despair, depression, opioid use and suicide among men in the world.

I was recently speaking with a Thai woman who expressed that many Thai women avoid dating Thai men because the men are no longer future minded and are prone to leave their women after pregnancy. I recently heard something similar of the Haitian culture. A study came out last month in the UK stating an 11.8% rise in suicide rate of young men since last year.

What is missing in the purpose of men today? One of the answers to that question lies Image result for men defeating dragonsin the awareness of what fills and drives our deepest desires. Men are wired for challenge and to cultivate the world. Since the beginning of time we’ve heard fantastical stories about men seeking the unknown and slaying the dragon. We men hear those stories and it triggers hidden desires within us. We want it. We yearn for it. The story of the archetypal hero fills our soul with meaning because those stories are symbols that remind us of the true purpose of our lives. This meaning is like a reward for our soul because the risk of going into the unknown is Death, but the reward is Life. Hence the adage, “the greater the risk the greater the reward.”

Men can feel the story of Frodo, Harry Potter, Iron Man, Simba, Maximus, Muhammad Ali, Jackie Robinson, Hercules, and many others in their bones. These are male characters who faced hurdles and slayed their dragon. Their dragon represented chaos. The ultimate dragon is salvation (of which Jesus has given to us if we seek it). Other dragons for us can be marriage, family, success, stability, or vitality. All of which have merit. Not only is there a final reward at the end of the search through the unknown, there are also smaller rewards along the journey of seeking the dragon itself. These smaller rewards are not merely arbitrary. We may gain financial success along the way, be selected by women, be admirable and gain value before we even slay the dragon. Are men engaged in this purpose anymore? I believe the answer is no. Not only that, but symbolical stories like these are discouraged as too violent, anti-woman, or outdated.

muhammad-ali-pardon.jpg

Why are men not as future-minded these days? The answer to the lack of future-mindedness lies in self-consciousness. Who are more self-conscious, men or women? Women, and increasingly so. As one popular psychologist says, “True self consciousness is not just seeing, it is meta-seeing. That is, seeing not just with the eyes but also with imagination.”

Imagination is needed for us to be able to see and project into the future that which we do not physically see today. This trait in men in dying out as we are focusing more on the present than on the future [for several reasons]. For all people, but especially for men, conceptualizing the future is important because there we remember that our life’s purpose is not only about today and not only about ourselves. You see, I must be aware that I need to worry about whether I will be hungry today, tomorrow, next week and twenty years from now; additionally, this worry is so not just for myself but also for my wife, children, and my community at large. (To be clear, I am not talking about hunger. I am talking about well-being). There is a mature weight and healthy burden with that awareness. To mature as a man is to take on responsibility. This sense of meaning drives and cultivates the world into flourishing if men step up to the plate.

Now here is the kicker: We see the societal structure today is slowly [consciously/subconsciously] rigging men toward a decline and a self-inflicted absence. Therefore, as men are decreasing toward the bottom of the hierarchy in the world, that same weight/burden – which our fathers and father’s fathers also carried – is now much heavier and overwhelming than our male predecessors carried. It feels heavier because while the man today is deeper toward the bottom there is already a subconscious feeling of being defeated or dead. Try having desire to carry the weight of life when you already feel dead.

Think about it practically – in many recent statistical measures men are on the low end of the totem pole of education, family, dating, and the workplace. On top of that they are told that their inner being is toxic and are indoctrinated by universities, entertainment and the media that the patriarchy is bad. That masculinity is bad. After all that do we still expect men to carry the load of responsibility as if everything is fine and dandy? Men will and have been tapping out of this system. Many of us have given up our journey to slay the dragon because we subconsciously feel dead in a system designed to strip us of whatever purpose we have left.

Now I see how this affects my life when it comes to befriending other men. Satan is quite darn crafty.

I ask you  – So who is it easier for you to befriend, women or men? What are we going to do about the decline of men happening before our very eyes?

Image result for gk chesterton on men

Artificial Intelligence is Coming. How Do We Prepare?

A very long time ago, in 1997, there was an excellent Disney TV show called Smart Guy. In the show a genius little boy, 10 year old T.J. Henderson, transfers from 4th grade up to high school. In one of the episodes T.J. faces off against an undefeated computer in a chess tournament for the honor of his school. Being a kid at the time, it inspired me to see a kid prevail over a computer.

Smart GuyThat episode captured much of what our society views as true happiness. It captured the social connections we create with one another being necessary, our own sense of importance within a community, and a sense of purpose in a time of change. “Change”, in this case, being a world approaching artificial intelligence (i.e. AI) and automation. Today we see the rate of this “change” is accelerating.

It is hard to imagine a future world where humans are not the smartest beings. The question for our society becomes whether the pros of artificial intelligence outweigh the cons. Even though we cannot predict the true future extents of AI we do know the world is changing at a rapid pace, so thinking critically about these changes is crucial if we want to continue thriving in the future.

It is important to note that this post is not advocating against furthering AI. The improvement of AI is coming whether we like it or not. The purpose is to prepare us for the inevitable possibilities AI will bring us. 

 

Artificial intelligence (AI) is an area of computer science that creates intelligent machines able to complete a task, problem solve, learn from experience, adjust to new inputs, and/or perform human-like tasks.

There are three primary types of AI:

  1. Artificial Narrow Intelligence: This type of AI exists in our world today. Narrow AI is predetermined/programmed to perform a single task — whether it’s checking the weather, playing chess, or analyzing raw data to write journalistic reports. Narrow AI is not conscious, sentient, or driven by emotion. Siri is a solid example. The automation of jobs that we see replacing people is done by this AI.
  2. Artificial General Intelligence: This type of AI does not exist yet. It would be able to perform any intellectual task that a human can. AGI is expected to be able to reason, make judgments under uncertainty, plan, learn, and integrate prior knowledge into decision-making. These machines would have such traits as imagination and autonomy.
  3. Artificial Super Intelligence: This type of AI also has not arrived and may never arrive. However, researchers believe that when [the previously stated] AGI is developed, these same machines may eventually be able to enter never-ending self-improvement loops that would lead them to a greater cognitive performance than humans in all domains of interest – possibly becoming too powerful to stop.

That said, there will be a spectrum usage of AI. There are computers, robots, genetic engineering, and then a merging of individual human brain/computer interfaces (i.e. a blend of humans with AI capabilities added to them similar to a performance enhancement drug).

The prediction of when science will achieve these various levels of artificial intelligence varies. In their last few active months of the Obama Administration warned us that 60% of our jobs will be automated by 2030. A bipartisan-style warning telling us that this isn’t a political matter but a human matter. Sam Harris, the popular philosopher, neuroscientist and public intellectual fearfully said on the matter, “We are in the process of building some sort of god.” [A statement analogous to the biblical Tower of Babel story, but I digress.]

ct-white-house-artificial-intelligence-jobs-report-20161221
Workers exchange spools of thread as a robot picks up thread made from recycled plastic bottles at the Repreve Bottle Processing Center. Source: Chicago Tribune

To display the positive side – some of the benefits to AI and automation include:

  • It will aide in the daily productivity of businesses.
  • It will add new, ancillary jobs that we’ve never had before.
  • It will be able to spot and detect people’s diseases and health defects better than any human doctor can detect.
  • It will drive down consumer costs, making many of our products and services more affordable than ever before.

These are beautiful benefits that people have to agree are good.  Since we have problems that we need solved – e.x. Alzheimer’s, cancer, climate science, etc. – we WILL continue to innovate our technological intelligence to try to fix them. However, every beneficial thing on this earth has a dark side. Just as the advantageous social media has a dark side….the dark side of AI and automation is arguably worse.

Here are five points that we need to begin to take serious for the near future:

1) How will AI affect the workplace?  AI automation will affect jobs. We’ve all seen employees replaced at our local grocery and retail stores by machines. For another example, a large number of truck and taxi drivers are predicted to go away within the next 10 years. That’s a ton of middle-aged adults left without a job and likely do not have the scholastic means to find another profession they’re qualified to perform. Companies like Amazon, Uber and Google have already stated how they want to increasingly automate their jobs that are currently held by people. Subsequently, millions of jobs are likely to be displaced.

Why are companies seeking workforce automation? The primary goal of any company is to increase revenue. With AI automation usage a company saves money by (1) not having to pay their machines a salary and (2) not having to pay healthcare for human employees. And, to add, these machines are not limited to 8 hours work days and vacation time – they can work 24/7. This drastically decreases company costs thus increasing revenue.

20180428_woc318_0
Prediction of how Automation Affects the Human Workforce. The Economist

2) How will AI affect unemployment?  As jobs are displaced due to AI automation, there will be new jobs created [as previously stated]. Unfortunately it is hard to predict how many new jobs and what they will look like. Additionally, today we already have many jobs waiting to be occupied. What we do know about these jobs is that many of them require a high level intelligence. Not everyone has the cognitive gifting to be a lawyer, dentist, or computer scientist. This trend will lead to an even wider income gap in our country and an increased rate of poverty. With the way our youth educational system is currently setup children are not properly equipped for the new sector(s) of jobs that will be in demand.

3) How will this affect the family?  With research we are beginning to learn the psychological and sociological effects of unemployment. People are meant to how-men-can-confront-toxic-masculinity-sad-man-feature_1320W_CL-1work. We are hardwired for it. When people lose their jobs they feel they lose their purpose. Studies have shown that men and women tend to respond differently to job loss. In men, there is increased escapism. We have seen the rates of depression, opioid overdose, fatherless households, and suicide increase in some correlation to the increase in male unemployment. Conversely, women show no statistically significant emotional effects correlated with their unemployment status.

This effect is coupled with society still grappling/learning the effects of women increasingly entering the workforce. Before the introduction of women into the workforce men only competed with other men – now they compete with both men and women. We also know that today women are generally better educated than men; so these men are now at the increasing disadvantage of both women and AI machines in the workplace. That is not a reason to oppose women [or AI] being in the workforce but rather an objective analysis of the unprecedented, complex outcome of it. Where men are walking in their purpose of design, the home and society at large flourish. With AI, men will take a more direct blow. Because, you see, people don’t need money, they need function. Where that doesn’t happen, there is a backslide of society.

4) How will this affect the cohesion of our society?  The historical cause and effect from the rise in poverty is an increase in crime. The empirical evidence is indisputable that inequality drives crime. Sometimes we can see an increase in uprisings from the lower income class when there is massive inequality. During the Industrial Revolution of the 1800’s England and America saw numerous revolts from the labor force due to the sudden replacement of jobs by machines.

We have to be careful here because if the amount of inequality ramps up enough then our social system will destabilize. The likelihood of an uprising from the lower class increases when they believe their economic opportunity (and the opportunity of their offspring) is fixed/rigged to stay below a reasonable level. The economic game being fair is the American Dream. AI automation can bring down cohesion within society as it takes away the opportunity of masses of people and as it increases poverty.

The estimated job replacement of AI automation is at a much higher scale than that of the Industrial Revolution. If we do not expect the possibility of some form of revolts, then we’re being quite optimistic. We also need to look at the impact of AI on our individual, everyday lives. Will automation cause a decrease in our patience, empathy, care, and investment in others? If a student can supplement their brain with some level of AI will their cognitive advantage over regular students be taken into account or not? Think about how smarter we are right now with the ability to look up anything on our iPhone. Imagine having that ability installed in  your head.

human-brain-on-white-background

5) Miscellaneous: How will this affect international relations? How will it change social media? How will AI weaponry change how we view the morality of war? How will AI sex robots change the world?

 

Throughout history the rate of growth of society has been an intuitive, linear slope. With linear progression humankind is better able to adjust. The past half century has shown that technological growth is an exponential progression. So as we get closer to AI capabilities, we won’t experience 100 years of growth within a century, it will actually be more like thousands of years of progress within a single century. This is extremely difficult for humankind to adjust to.

Google futurist, Ray Kurzweil’s, graph to illustrate his beliefs concerning exponential technological growth.

Historically, the Church has had a tendency to be late on discussions of technological advancements. We are typically late to the game and reactive. It seems to be the contrary this time around. Recently (April 11, 2019) over 60 well-known evangelical leader created and signed a new statement centered on the principles of AI.

“We recognize that AI will allow us to achieve unprecedented possibilities, while acknowledging the potential risks posed by AI if used without wisdom and care,” stated the authors of the new statement unveiled to The White House.

This is a key step in approaching the global discussion of AI. It marks a claim for a seat at the AI ethics table for Christians as world governments try to prepare for the future change rapidly occurring in our world. Still, it isn’t solely up to our evangelical leaders; the rest of us also have a duty to uphold. Our awareness on the topic is paramount. AI tools and their limitless potential can be at odds with a belief in human dignity and morality based on the image of God.

There are warning signs around us if we simply open our ears to hear. The economic growth of our society is not what sustains us. The world, the family, and the individual were each designed with a particular hierarchical purpose in mind. What we will need to focus on is the preservation of our communities as one of our greatest challenges today and in the near future.

there-are-far-far-better-things-ahead-than-those-we-have-left-behing-cs-lewis

Do Group Identity Politics HELP or HARM Minorities?

Group identity politics is an idea used over the past 30 years to try to defeat social injustice. In this post I will attempt to test rather it is specifically effective for minorities. Before doing so, the concept must be properly defined:

Group identity politics is based on political positions focusing to divide people in society into different groups of shared interest and perspectives. Instead of society being based on the individual, the individual is identified within a particular exclusive group. It makes ethnicity, race, gender, sexual orientation, age, political party or social class the primary element of our being.

When we look outside at the world, we see an increasingly depraved, polarizing, impatient world that is complex beyond measure. In this broken system, people have been trying to fix the world since the beginning of time. In particular, with the current social issues that have plagued us we are still searching for solutions. Identity politics is the current “potential solution”.

The thought is that by putting people into groups it will empower the people within them and raise awareness against things like racism, sexism, homophobia, xenophobia, etc. That this will help people who have been victimized also come together as victims and rise above the oppressors. Sounds like a plausible solution.

However…the primary question is…..:

Do Identity Politics work?

My 12th grade AP Economics Teacher taught our class a key principle in consumerism – “There is no such thing as a free lunch.”  That is, every choice/solution in life has a cost. That cost may be our finances, time, energy, a human right, a relationship, 431265-Thomas-Sowell-Quote-There-are-no-solutions-there-are-only-trade.jpgquality of relationship, or a life itself. Today we hear chants for social justice. We want things fixed and we want them fixed “immediately”.

A wise approach when considering a new policy, system, or ideology is to consider as many outcomes as humanly possible if it is implemented. The most important outcome to consider above the others is the worst possible outcome.

Before making a decision, asking a question such as: What are the ways in which we might accidentally make things worse with this? Or, if we open this door to make something better, are there other ideas (or consequences) that will walk through that same door now that we’ve opened it?

We use a similar thought process in the engineering world when we conservatively design buildings. We do this in the sports arena when setting up rules to protect players from injury. We even do this when choosing which car to buy or where to eat for dinner. In the fields of mathematics and the social sciences, this process is called game theory.

Sometimes the costs are worth paying but, historically, many of times they are not. Besides Christ, there is especially no solution to any social issue that, if implemented, would not then be taken/used/twisted by the enemies of God several years down the line.

How does group identity politics affect the world?

The world is too complex and “endlessly” diverse for identity politics to function with consistency. It cannot be measured and quantified. It cannot be used as a tool for success on either political spectrum.

Within the Social Justice Movement and group identity politics there is no hint of consistency due to the absence of objective truth. This movement wants to remove any given number of contradictory rules and then tell us all which rules apply at any given moment. Our country cannot reasonably function with these rules.

maxresdefaultIn the same sentence they say, “You cannot understand me because my experience is too different. But wait, you also must understand me because my experience is too different.”

A person’s opinion matters not on the individual level but relative to their identity group. So a gay white woman’s opinion matters less than a gay black woman – both are oppressed by the man-dominated world, both are oppressed by the heterosexual majority, but the black woman has the added victim-hood of racism. The more memberships in oppressed groups you have, the higher you rank on the hierarchy. It plays out everyday.

  • We attack Kevin Hart for homophobic tweets in 2010 but we let white female comedians slide when they’ve used similar homophobic tweets. On the intersectional scale, Amy Schumer, a liberal white woman, gets a pass over Kevin Hart, an apolitical straight black man, because her combined political and gender oppression outweigh Kevin Hart’s single racial oppression.
  • For myself, being a black male I have noticed that I get away with speaking more freely on social issues (race, gender, class, homosexuality) than my white male counterparts.

You see, without objectivity we rely on subjectivity. In a subjective world view, anything goes at any given time. Conversely, anything can be taken away at any given time. Group identity politics is insufficient in covering the marginalized because all people are marginalized in some ways. Everyone is oppressed. In a subjective world, how are we going to say one person’s marginalization trumps another person’s marginalization? Who dictates the hierarchy and the extent of oppression? How far back in time do we account for the oppression of our ancestors? It is not simply black and white or men and women.

  • The LGBTQ community is oppressed too right?
  • Asians, Hispanics, and Native Americans are marginalized.
  • Jews and Muslims are discriminated against as well. Look at the complexity of the Crusades, the Israeli-Palestistian conflict, the Holocaust.
  • What about the deeply tense tribal differences between the several Asian communities with all their wars over the past hundreds of years?
  • For the gender fluid white women who will identify as white men tomorrow, will they simultaneously then be classified as privileged oppressors and hierarchically dominant white men?
  • Are white people who grew up poor less marginalized than black people who grew up in middle class families?
  • Do black women and Hispanic women deserve more than white women in the workforce?
  • What about job positions in society that Asians preferentially occupy? Are there too many Asians in the STEM fields? Are we going to put a quota on them?
  • Should oppression of black Africans equal that of black Americans?
  • And what about attractive people who have walked through life more privileged than less attractive people?
  • What about shorter men? Should they get privilege over taller men?
  • What about intelligence versus a lack of intelligence?

This goes on and on until we get to the level of individual people which is exactly where we should be in the first place. The victim system will never be equal. The irony is that it is our SHARED sense of oppression and pain that unifies us, not what separates us. We have each felt pain and caused pain. No one is innocent. Separating off into different groups does more harm than good. The benefit may be a short-termed warm feeling of camaraderie.  However, this does nothing long term for reconciliation and fixing the actual problem.

What do we risk when grouping with identity politics?

  1. We run the risk of being ignored because we have all these other accompanying social ideas and accompanying proposals that are not the same. For example, fighting for racial reconciliation tends to be accompanied by the acceptance of homosexuality. They may be similar looking by the standard of oppression but there are massive distinctions theologically, sociologically, and politically. Some of those distinctions may reduce our own quality of life. Having those accompanying ideas hardens the hearts of people who argue for the fact that there are distinctions.
  2. Some of the ideas associated within identity politics will, in turn, hinder our relationships. It will further polarize people. It will cause further tension between people who identify in seemingly opposing groups rather than unite them as humans.
  3. It will open the door to radical Right wing racists who would also like to play identity politics.
  4. It runs the risk of demonizing people who do not deserve to be demonized. For example, it puts Louis CK at the same evil level as Harvey Weinstein and Bill Cosby. It puts a white Chipotle manager, who did her job in refusing to serve two black men who Dine & Dash, at the same evil level as white supremacists. Or it simply names anyone transphobic who believes gender dysphoria to be a mental disorder.

(I will stay on that black-white racial tension train for the remainder of this post). Black Americans are being duped by identity politics to carry a weight they are not meant to bear. Black minorities are being pushed to the front of the line [by other identity groups] as a plea for diversity & inclusion when ultimately much of what those groups truly care about are their own agendas. Racial diversity is just the ticket inside the door that, if left unmonitored, allows in other ideologies. People are prone to give in to accompanying ideologies that they cannot defend against for the sake of the continued validity of our own hopes.

What actually works as a solution?

Image: Chris RockWhite privilege is real. We may not agree on the definition – CNN, NAACP, and other sources may have different versions of the definition. It may not be quantifiable. However, it is undeniable that, historically and today, there exists some form(s) of white privilege. This does not mean white people are criminals. There are other forms of privilege that people of color have that white people do not. Our society doesn’t have  a white problem it has a heart problem. As Chris Rock said at the Oscars, “Everything isn’t racist, everything isn’t sexist.”

A true “solution” for racial reconciliation would be to aim for incremental [compounding] improvement. By approaching it incrementally we can more effectively defend away chaotic and unnecessary accompanying ideas that are not needed for the overall goal of racial reconciliation. Let me explain: There is a difference between a person who is a reformer and person who is a revolutionary.

A revolutionary person attempts change in an immediate time frame with little foresight and, in turn, risks damaging the world. A reformer sees a social problem and understands the complexity that fixing it will possibly take hundreds of years. The reformer understands the wise, loving, beneficial patience in an incremental approach. MLK was a reformer. In an increasingly impatient world, we do not do too well with reformers – their ideas take too long. Jesus and the Apostles were also reformers. The world did not treat them too well either.

The solution is a sacrificial approach. Jesus died on the cross for something He did not do. He died for us. For racial reconciliation we all need to be willing to sacrifice for one another regardless of who it is. We must see people as souls, not as a particular social group.

The solution is grace. Jesus died on the cross for the forgiveness of our sins. For racial reconciliation we all need to forgive one another. It is wise to learn from history but we should not let history dictate our current emotions. All people should recognize the effects of history on people today and work through it for the sake of equality.

I recently heard someone say it like this when speaking on corporate repentance in the Book of Ezra, “Sometimes repentance is taking responsibility of sins past and present that are not your own.”

Jesus’ prayer is that we will be one. ONE. He said this because there is a spiritual war that is much more important than any societal or cultural war. It is by fighting the spiritual war together that we also have success in the societal and cultural wars.

The answer is simple in deed, yet complex to carry out. But the answer is good and worth the attempt.

 

The Answer: Why do Black People Tend to Think Whites Are Racist Or Hateful Toward Blacks?

Image result for racism
First things first, the goal in answering is NOT to bring about anyone’s emotion. This isn’t about morality therefore in this discussion it doesn’t matter if anyone thinks a particular treatment is tragic or justified. A psychologist or economist limits their emotion and opinion in their analyses. Yes, they consider it in their notes. But in order for them to see more clearly and objectively they leave as much out as possible. Too much emotion may cloud and control our reasoning, as C.S. Lewis once framed it. So this “answer” is not about justification of riots, protests, cop killing, slavery, buying candy, or talking back to parents.

How am I somewhat objective and qualified?

If you follow me on social media you may notice that I have never talked about race issues. This is because (1) I’d rather write about Jesus; (2) honestly, I’ve grown to feel ashamed and embarrassed that I am black (something that applies to this topic but may be elaborated on in a future post) and (3) it always seemed pointless coming from me. That is, people would think I’m biased because I am black. I would NOT get upset at that either. I can’t really blame others for that natural reaction. If a Boston resident tries to tell me how great Tom Brady is…I’m naturally going to be skeptical because of course that guy loves Brady and The Patriots. However, I am opening up now because I realize much of the stuff I know isn’t known by many whites and what I can say isn’t being articulated by many blacks.

In today’s world, many people on both sides are not good with listening and being OBJECTIVE. In my experience black people get too emotional inside their bubble that they can’t have an objective discussion with white people. There has grown an innate level of distrust. Many whites, whether they care or not, have a hard time as well because they have natural blinders and historical privileges that prevent them from seeing objective as well. There is nothing inherently wrong with either side in their reasons because it’s not really a conscious effort. It’s naturally subconscious. For the past 50 years, most of this is due to the economic and sociological effects of our society.

What do I mean by sociological and economic effects? I’ll explain. This answer will be in 5 different phases: Micro, Macro, Familiarity of Stereotypes, Indifference, and Dr. King’s Frustration.

We’ve got to do a little ground work before we start though:

My professional career is in community and economic development. This is the process and policies by which a nation, state, county or city improves the economic, political, and social well-being of its people. So what my company does is try to bring companies, large and small, to our state. Jobs, capital investment, and revenue are the goal. And darnit we will sell this state the best we can. With statistics, innovation, and persuasion, and more.

Various KEY factors come into play, such as transportation, quality of life, location, money, branding, etc. If you look it up, you’ll see that your own city and county has its own economic development department, chamber of commerce, and other affiliates that are focused on this initiative together. Economic development directly affects the current generation AND the generations long after it. 

Ok now, do we understand that? If so, we can move on.

1. The Micro

Now let’s begin to answer the question of why many black people see whites as responsible AND what is the reason of how much of the black community is where it is today.

We’ve got to go to history of course.

Set race aside and just view it in an Economic development lens. Let’s go back to Tulsa – however, not 2016, but 1921. There was an area in Tulsa that was booming! It was a black community. It was rare because of course the odds weren’t in their favor but they just luckily rolled a 7 with the dice multiple times. As one of the most successful and wealthiest black communities in the United States during the early 20th Century, it was popularly known as America’s “Black Wall Street” until the Tulsa race riot of 1921. They had black lawyers, doctors, teachers, black-owners, entertainment, oil, etc. (Now again, ignore the race factor for now…it doesn’t matter for this analysis piece). Then one night the outside white people grew too jealous, came in and killed many of the successful people and burned down their businesses and streets. It was horrific. They even punished the few white people around for not doing it sooner.

Then the white political and business leaders proactively prevented that community from reconstruction or picking themselves up. This wasn’t hard because due to rights back then black people didn’t have much of that ability anyways.

So think economic development: They are SCREWED for about the next 100 YEARS. For the next 60 years those blacks won’t know about diving into the community and economic development process. How could they? Their schools are IMMEDIATELY affected. Their job structure is shattered. Their families destroyed. They are currently crippled as a society. Not only that but also their kids’, kids’, kids’ are also now crippled. It becomes a generational snowball effect due to that initial occurrence and the laws established for years to come. There was no hope for them and it becomes too hard to thrive. Therefore, poverty in Tulsa. Therefore, violence because that’s all you have and know due to having to survive from being poor and having no good education or possibly/knowledge of escaping. (Although, poverty doesn’t correlate to violence). What happened doesn’t just end in a year…..it resonates within the fabric of a society for years to come in the form of both emotional distress AND economic instability (incorporating education, companies, businesses, families, crime, etc).

In my job, bringing in 1 company positively affects that entire community – their family benefit, the nearby retail and restaurants benefits, the schools benefit, tourism boosts, more companies follow suit, and more. This occurs positively for the next generations in that area as well. Black Wall Street had the opposite case. And it was not a single company. It was ALL of it.

That is  an objective analysis of cause and effect. Again, it doesn’t matter if what happened was bad or good in this analysis. FYI, this happened in other places as well. We must understand this “momentum effect” in this micro example in order to understand the answer in its fullness.

2. The Macro

To keep low with word-count I’m going to bypass the macro. It has similar cadence to the micro piece but without the violence and is, of course, on a larger scale. Please ask me in person or on Facebook if you want that piece as well.

3. Familiarity Of Stereotypes

I grew up around Blacks and Hispanics, but over the past 10 years of my life at least 95% of my friends and acquaintances are white. So it is extremely hard for me to stereotype people in either group because I have lived life with so many different types and I know their souls and hearts. The way society is laid out (because of white flight, economic structure, convenience, and family history) black people have been left to live amongst one another. So those black people naturally HAVE to CATEGORIZE all whites into the same group. That is how a human brain works.  This doesn’t happen to me because I have lived among others.

White people can easily get categorized by what is seen on television, social media, oImage result for racismr in stories told by the older generations. For example, I’m sure none of us know any native Cambodians personally because we don’t live around them. So we naturally group Cambodians into one category of people. Now we know people in Cambodia are all different with various opinions, personalities, languages, and subcultures. However, in our minds we have tendencies to group them together don’t we?

4. Indifference

The disbelief from much of the black community that a shooting or possible wrong-doing will gather positive help from the white community is from past years of “neglect” from that side and their current state of “emotionlessness”. That continual reaction from many white people makes it hard for many black people to listen/trust simply one white person with good intentions, when numerous other whites have failed that quota.
Let me explain.

If my mom had cancer and a stranger had cancer I’d show much more sympathy for my mother than the stranger. I naturally have a different level of connectivity and value for my mom.

One group continues to uniformly state “we should wait for the facts after these shootings before doing anything”. I agree, in theory. In a perfect world we should always wait and diagnose a situation. However, this isn’t a perfect world. Those same people flip-flop depending on what the crime is and who did the crime.

There is no objectivity in our reactions. We all react different and with different poise depending on what it is. The less subjective empathy I have, the more ability I have to refrain and diagnose the situation and wait for the facts. But when it’s my mom or a friend it becomes tough to control.

For the bomber “suspect” at the Boston Marathon – we wanted his head immediately. With a man “accused” of child molestation we want to give him the death penalty once he’s caught. When a college athlete is “accused” of rape we want him immediately kicked off the team before the trial begins. All the while, many in the black people continually watch a black person killed (justifiably or not) and those same people show unwavering objectivity and poise the entire time. That shows a different level of respect and love.

Black people see the immediate reaction of emotionlessness and interpret it as white people not caring.

In Romans 1 we see that God’s indifference is a very scary form of wrath; different from violence. Hate is NOT just someone spitting on another person. Hate isn’t only the KKK hanging someone. Hate can also be passive. Even Satan knows that. Indifference OVER TIME can be interpreted as unloving and hatred. That’s what happens psychologically in the minds of a people. So we can’t blame them that much, can we?

5. When Dr. King was Frustrated

MLK Jr. led protests in a manner that would “shame” those who were discriminating. People like to say his method was non-violence. Not really –  his method was shame and he used nonviolence to achieve it. His tactic was that if he could have people feel ashamed for how they thought and acted, it’ll force them to change. Read his writings.

What’s interesting is that in his later years when King went to Chicago, he tried his same tactics but the white people beating them didn’t feel ashamed at all. It was different from the South. And it scared MLK. When a people aren’t aware enough to have the ability or respect to feel shame toward the treatment of someone else, then that is when something is off. Which begs the question of what the next step would be.

One friend I debated correctly claimed that ‘King’s tactic did work in the South though, because it was more saturated with Christians’. If that is true then it still proves my point: We, as a nation, are less Christian today. Therefore, King’s tactics of shame won’t work as effectively here anymore. That said, our nation is more like Chicago in that King was scared because it was seemingly and hopelessly in a state of chaotic reasoning that shocked him. It left Martin Luther King afraid and scrabbling for a new tactic. That’s where many in the black society would say we have been growing in subconsciously [through the eyes of blacks and whites]. Even in the past 50 years, before social media.

As scripture says, in the last days nations will turn their backs from Christ. America is doing that. Hence my friend’s point flows into this – shame isn’t working here anymore. hat’s why there are frustrated protests (good or bad) and riots (good or bad). That’s the only next step people can think of on the fly. We all have the same natural tendencies when trapped into a corner for so long.

In conclusion, we cannot just look at “today’s” knee jerk reaction of the black community. We must look holistically. This is similar to chaos theory. It’s ALL connected. This isn’t about black on black crime BUT black on black crime is a subset of the results of history. It’s not about Charlotte. Charlotte can be 99% wrong…but it doesn’t matter. The deep damage was already done.

This isn’t out of the blue. It’s a past 300-400 years thing. It’s a 1920s and 1980s thing. Look at old Richard Pryor or Dave Chappelle stand-up and old low budget black films from the 1970s-1990s. They are screaming and crying about the same killings. And no one cared. Listen to R&B songs from that time period. They were constantly crying about it and asking for help and America turned it’s head. They didn’t have Facebook Live to make it public. I’m not making this stuff up. So little by little day by day that people group grew to a particular view of white people. Skepticism. Distrust.

The solution is another story, but when a black person tells a white person they don’t understand or aren’t qualified – They are really saying that you don’t know how they got there and why. Therefore they are not truly known and loved. But if the black person knows that the white person objectively knows this stuff and still wants to love on them…..goodness gracious the effect that will have.

Image result for racism