Monday, April 19, 2021

Banned Speech Here


This post was removed from Facebook on the grounds that it violated community standards and constituted "hate speech." Exactly how? You may not agree with my assessment that Afghan politics are lost in a kind of incorrigible malaise that no American aid can repair or reform.  That said, how is this hateful?  It's rough, I might have been less acerbic but this is somehow beyond the pale?  I think not.  Drop me an email if you disagree.



I wrote this:

"Tom Friedman often means well and so often gets it wrong. The reason I say that is that, like politicians like Obama or Biden or nearly anyone else, it is just too painful and perhaps even immoral to be honest.


Here is what is going to happen in Afghanistan after we leave: the Taliban will be in full control, they will execute and punish all American collaborators, they will mercilessly repress women and girls and undo every tiny bit of progress made, they will be vindictive, punitive, and barbaric. There is nothing we can do to stop them short of staying in an endless war of blood and treasure---that should never have been entered in the first place.

There is nothing we can do to reform or win over or convince the Afghans that Madisonian democracy is a better way to live or that modern values regarding opportunity, justice, and gender must be our future. Americans are liars and hypocrites and failures at all of these things so what right exactly we have to preach is another matter.


But that said, there is no stopping their barbarism and it will retake the country in less than a year. We stay, we prop up a regime that has not won hearts and minds. We leave, it is their problem but in defense of our stupidity I would say no worse off than they were before we got there---but for all the dead on both sides who didn't need to die. So if we leave them to barbarism is that our culpability?

This is where Obama and the rest come into the story. They want a better outcome and then there is the right who thinks that losing a war is the worst thing that can happen. Nota Bene: we lost the war to the Taliban because the majority of Afghans do not want to win what we hope or want for them. That might be the definition of an unwinnabe war or some small part of it.

But truth is, they died for for a good cause that wasn't good enough for those we died for, so it was a waste. Admitting that is not something Americans will tolerate politically because, as it is with so many things, we prefer fantasies to reality, hypocrisy to truth. I'm pasting in further here my reply to Friedman which is in the comments column.

 *** To Friedman: Are you prepared to admit that you were both dead wrong about hope for Afghanistan? For at least 17 centuries these folks have wanted nothing to do with the rest of the world and still don't. It's a shame, maybe even a crime when we think of how girls and women are treated---and what will happen when the Taliban take over again. But if you can't learn after 20 years and trillions of dollars that this is a hopeless place, you can't learn. You and Joe should have known better in the first place because some of us---professionals with degrees in history and language---would have told you as much.".
34m

Friday, April 9, 2021

What Happens If We Don't Care Enough, Because There's Nothing Normal Ahead



I think we might all be craving some normalcy while we know that the old normal is not only gone but needs to be gone. Truth is, we're not in either place yet, that is, we're not normal enough to pause in our big hunker down and we're not rid of the old normal nor have anything better having really taken its place.

The pandemic exacerbated what was already underway and the upheaval is real. Interestingly, a better future is being wrought rather quietly and competently by a near-octogenarian president who wants normalcy but knows the old sort has failed. He's making amends about his role in those failures and seems to express urgency for the Paradigm Change that we so desperately need.


The core of the past failure entails America's more recent history and our original sins. The combination of the two plus some puts us in a fragile, dangerous place as a society and as nation heading into this post-industrial age. To revert back or attempt to sustain the models of the past as advocated by Republicans (insofar as they advocate anything but culture wars) is to doom the planet, not just the nation. Our topdown industrial economy is now global and digital.

Part of what troubles us is where and how industrial needs are met that create a viable, sustainable earth. It seems to take years to make anything new that meets our needs---buildings, cars, trains, you name it, we seem incapable. The vaccines give us some signs of hope that goodness can happen when the best and brightest are fully engaged and the government is run by competent people. There is hope that the end of Reaganism is finally here, that government is not the problem or the enemy but rather reflects us. That is precisely the problem and the possibility.

When you look at the likes of DeSantis, Noem, any of the other hopelessly vile, incompetent regressive deniers, you see government being the problem. Others are vile, say, Cuomo but in different ways and some, particularly Joe, are selling decency, more openness, and honest effort to address and redress. Americans are sorely under prepared, under educated, and poorly informed. Remember that Trump sold coal to West Virginians and Rs have no plan but their mendacious slogan about making American great "again." For whom? That we shall take up with alacrity.

But even those who know the Trumpists are a scam, a grift, and a lie are not prepared for the work that lies ahead if we are to emerge the better. "Infrastructure" must now mean training and education, child- and senior care, and it must somehow raise the information level of a populous that has a short attention span, low capacities for comprehension, and seemingly little interest in the serious issues we face. When half the country watches Fox and the other half is either exhausted, disinterested, incurious, or somehow beleaguered, the really consequential changes we need to make are denied, sabotaged, or ignored.

We can be grateful that there is now someone in charge delegating to others committed to paying attention but for how long? Will this last past 2022 when the process of competence comes to a shrieking halt with Republicans taking Congress? We are closer to worsening entropy and collapse than anyone likes to imagine. Imagine it, if only because what's true is always the best place to start. If America does not build back better, as the slogan goes, we're screwed because "back" doesn't mean back then, it's got to mean what's next now.

Those old jobs either won't exist or they won't pay the bills. The bills are already outta' hand: kids, education, medicine, age, retirement, working to exhaustion, just getting to tomorrow. Our economic opportunities must be re-envisioned with a population prepared to do the work. We have no such population ready for these challenges or even seemingly committed to making these changes a part of their personal lives.

Everyone seems to want things to work out without having to do the work. We are too busy telling ourselves that we would rather be entertained, that our fantasies and grievances matter more than doing anything unpleasant, like re-imagining ourselves. Now onto the 21st century implications of our original sins. These are finally coming home because we are at last becoming by demographics a multiracial society.

In less than 20 years whites will comprise less than 50% of the population and, say what you will about the ignorance of Trumpers, this is fact is not lost on Republicans. The majority of whites still vote Republican even when it is against their economic interests and not merely out of force of habit. Rather, they vote because they know their dominance is being replaced and all of these bills in States aimed at restricting voting are the plain and simple evidence that white people are desperate, scared, angry, fearful, and armed.

January 6th was not the end or an aberration if you consider the fact that this hardened, bleached with Fox and worse crowd is saturated with conspiracies, lies, misinformation, and anger worthy of an id that knows it's losing. The majority of insurrectionists were middle class people and they came principally from towns and cities that are experiencing these demographic changes. In other words, the Trumpists aren't just rural people buying guns because they want to be ready when "they" come for them but your neighbors on the cul-de-sac whose deep structural relationship to racism is being reinforced everyday by their television and media choices.

The information war is real and sanity is losing. It's an easy sell because the truth is always more complicated, more difficult to fathom or accept, and because those selling them the lies stand to profit from their manipulations. Greed is an inexhaustible motive for those without conscience or care. The Murdochs know this the way Amazon apparently does too. If corporations can't be brought to sustain the calls for change because shareholder profits are their only purpose for existing, then we may not survive either economically or socially.

Mitch thinks Coke and MLB will cave before he does and that they will continue to give him and his cronies money because they deregulate and cut their taxes at any cost to any other real concern. Greed only fails when the greedy have to find another, a different way to profit.


So this transition to a digital economy and a multiracial society is contending with two principal forces: those who think things are changing too fast and those who know that they cannot change fast enough. Those who don't know they are one side or the other are merely blithely ignorant or indifferent or just being left behind with little hope for anything but more of what's really painful. There's the hope that Coke and Delta and professional sports and the like will choose the right side but do note they were late to the game in Georgia and will be bullied, cajoled, enticed, and even induced to return to their craven ways because capitalist profits must be made for shareholder gains to continue.

If Biden succeeds in raising corporate taxes to pay for goodness that may only continue to happen for two years (sure to be reversed at the first opportunity by the vile Republicans) then we may see the core inequities shift just a tiny bit. Where goes the money has always been the issue in America. That white people want it to go to themselves because they live in some kind of zero sum game racist delusion is nothing but familiar. That corporations have managed since Reagan to make their profits passed on to shareholders and used to bolster their own power is the real name of that tax game.

In an Eisenhower world, America's corporate money was spent on American needs and the middle class reaped much of the benefit, albeit without minorities gaining much in the process. Our new and shoulda' been old variable was not only class but race, because white grievance and corporate greed are now intractably linked and will bring us to the precipice of failure if we do not address inequality and inequity simultaneously.

The right and the Trumpists will use their culture wars to frame the issue. It won't matter if they are as stupid as Mr Potatohead or Dr. Seuss and they don't care if the Big Lie has always been a lie. What they care about is seeing their power diminish, their futures displaced, and their resentments left unfed. The Cold Civil War shows no sign of relenting and, in fact, we know it's getting worse. Just damage about to be done with voting laws and gerrymandering insures that the white minority has disproportionate power and that democracy is on the brink.

We are one election, just one election from autocracy. That autocracy not only means to set back further any strides towards equality, it means to deny and reject every plan for a viable future planet and a population equipped to deal with what is already here. I see no end to the partisanship nor any reason to hope or believe that those who resist, deny, or reject the change upon us will wake up, much less compromise. The opponents to change, the white supremacists, the authoritarians, the fearful, angry, misinformed Fox and worse viewers are likely to become more mired in conspiracy, denial, and rejection. 

Because there is no hope for their redemption or sanity our only hope forward to move faster than they can stop us. If we effect and sustain the changes we mean to make---so that we are a more just, equitable, and sustainable society---then the planet has a few more years before environmental collapse.

Earth will regenerate if we give her space and stop this race to the destruction of life as we know it. We cannot stop change but we can ruin what good is possible if we somehow don't rally our exhausted, indifferent, torpid society to understand the gravity of our situation and the need for collective response. If political outcomes lag behind these needs, we're doomed and I say that without hesitation or hyperbole. If we can marginalize and care for those whose poor judgments will ruin every worthwhile end then perhaps we stand a chance. Those of us who care had better care more.

Saturday, March 13, 2021

Addressing the Cold Civil War in Winning Terms

The Preamble to the American Constitution begins with the words "We the People..." and creates a possibility not imagined by the founders in their compromised document, which defines rather narrowly what "we" means.

Lincoln revisits the problem at Gettyburg when he declares us a government of, by, and for the people. But his transformational understanding was set back when Reconstruction performed its mighty work of oppression to reestablish and enforce a more familiar systemic racism. It would be another 100 years before civil rights would again be made a matter of the American conscience confronting itself.
It has been more than 50 years since voting rights were putatively extended so that all of "the people" might vote. And once again the forces of revanchism and repression are busy and committed to insuring white supremacy. There is no irony that the current party of Lincoln represents those determined efforts to keep power from the people, especially brown and black people and native peoples, is what surprises. What is noteworthy is how little those racist values have actually moved from their perch and how shamelessly Republicans stand up for racism implemented by the manipulation of the law.

John Kavanaugh chair of Kentucky's Government and Elections Committee explained that Republicans were happy to create measures that kept people from voting because “everybody shouldn’t be voting…. Quantity is important, but we have to look at the quality of votes, as well.” Could their position be clearer? 

There are concerted efforts in dozens of States, all run by Republicans, to use "fraud" and other dogwhistles for racism to be the reason to make it harder to vote. What they do no accomplish by creating the New Jim Crow, they may take by gerrymandering. In North Carolina, for example, in 12 of the state's 13 congressional districts Democratic candidates got well over half of the total votes, but Republicans won eight of the seats. In two-thirds of those races, the margin of victory was more than 20 percentage points. The effort to thwart democracy could not be more explicit.

Note President Biden's remarks in contrast, here pleading for a national response to the COVID pandemic, "“The government isn’t some foreign force in a distant capital,” Biden said. “It’s us. All of us. We the people.” Even on matters of public health, Republicans are determined to claim that their personal"liberty" gives them the right to decide for all of us power over life and death. Some 50% of white Republican men say they will not take the COVID vaccine. They are not only determined to rule over the majority but to infect us.  Sturgess anyone?

Given the demographics of the Senate and the prospect for losing Congressional power in the 2022 midterms, Democrats must understand that voting rights are as essential as, say, infrastructure, climate change, and justice reform. They must fathom the depths of our Cold Civil War and that H.R. 1, the voting rights act now conceived may not have the votes in Congress to pass.

There is little they can do to change Senators who will not end the filibuster, seeing it as the legacy of Jim Crow that it has always been. Still they must act to pass something like H.R. 1 or Republican state governments will instantiate once again their racist objectives, insuring that it is so hard to vote that their advantage means fewer and fewer people participate in democracy.

Could anything be less American? We might counter, could anything be more American than structural prejudice used to insure white power?

This is a harder issue to get people to understand with the same urgency as bread and butter issues. Hopefully President Biden will not only explain the American Rescue Act, which may in fact reverse the scourge that Reaganism set in motion 40 years ago, but use his competence and popularity to tell Americans that democracy is at stake, that the republic may yet fail, and that unfortunately one political party is determined to make sure that voting is not a right extended to all. 

Biden will not resort to the language that we propose here, that we are in the midst of a great Cold Civil War. And he should not. That would not win enough hearts and minds just as there is some light on the horizon.

But he has to make clear the urgency and fragility, and indeed the threat posed by the political party of racist authoritarianism. Just how to do that?

Tell people that it should be as easy, as normal to vote as it is to get a vaccine.

Saturday, February 20, 2021

Dancing with the Darkness

Frank Bruni Bruni doesn't want us to be them. We're supposed to be the decent people who seek to avoid the moral calumny, the furtherance of a self-debasement. When we speak ill of the dead, we break a rule of probity. But do tell me how we take history seriously if we don't tell the truth? Are these truths we should ignore? I too lament giving them too much oxygen but that is what the living breathe. And my point is actually about the living. So how shall we bury Limbaugh when what he helped create is now such an important feature of our current America?


Limbaugh defined the "conservative" message machine and its true purpose---to be as callow, cruel, relentless, boring, bigoted, and above all, utterly self-serving as is possible---and so to say the unsayable again and again, to normalize the hate, anger, and distrust of all who might have another point of view. Lie and repeat the lies until they are just another day on Fox News. Perhaps I should take the kids on vacation to Cancun and not indulge these truths? After all, like Cruz' apologists are saying, what could he have done anyway to make it better?
Oh, and let us not forget the special place for demeaning women, brown and Black people, and other "takers, not makers." Or was that the more dulcet toned Romney? Anyone seen the dog? Roof of the car? Perhaps I should be the snowflake? I am not comparing character, merely the message. Trump merely took that Republican Party to its logical Rush conclusion, not that Limbaugh had any kind of argument but for power, money, and hate. That is the point: there is no argument and never has been. It's about power at the expense of others because that is how power keeps power when it is the only point.
And so we must avoid hate speech and instead take note of the speech we hate? That is quite the dance we're invited to perform. That millions of Americans listened to this horror show day in and day out and then voted in record numbers for Trump should tell us all we really need to know about our fellow citizens' dance and their partners. Who could want to become like them? The irony of this comment isn't lost on me. It's just that truth often hurts. Everyone. But not all hurt is the same and neither is the dance.

Sunday, February 7, 2021

Common Ground or Else

 Common Ground or Else and Here's Why

Let's start by quoting none other than Mitch McConnell who said, “Winners make policy, and losers go home.” If the take away from this is that Democrats need to act like Republicans to get anything done, well, that would not be irrational. The bonus schadenfreude adds flavor too. But then what?
Our the situation demands we consider more than the need to wield power to reverse, correct, and progress---the damage done in four years has compounded the damage caused principally by Republican rule since Reagan. The take-away---to do to Republicans what they do so effectively when they are in power---has been mitigated by Biden's proposals for bipartisanship. Can this work? We should have our doubts. Such bipartisanship requires two things: 1. good faith efforts to compromise and serious counterproposals, real negotiations. Republicans have shown us that they have neither interest; the recent Republican Senate "moderates" counter offers may not have been wholly in bad faith but they were in effect disingenuous. That is a path to nowhere but more partisan decision making and that may be necessary. They did not make an honest counterproposal. So, what should the Democrats do? They have no choice but to go forward and to play by McConnell Rules, which means they simply use their power to do what they want until the power shifts and they simply can't. What this will do _for_ the country is different from what it will do _to_ the country. The country will begin a process of redressing inequalities and oppression, it will start to mitigate the spread of disease and so bring back some semblance of normalcy (my prediction: that will take a year or more, not by this fall); they will reclaim American roles in foreign policy with allies and begin to heal our fractured, implausible moral claims of democratic leadership. But what it will do to the country will not depend on these successes. Does anyone believe that because the lot of voters in Mississippi or South Carolina or Missouri improves significantly, measurably under a Biden Administration that these voters will recognize that these are the result of policies _forced over the objections of Republcians by Democrats? I think not. The likes of Hawley and Q. Greene will raise huge money and be reelected by landslides despite the fact that they will have done worse than nothing for their constituents. So the question I have is why are people so incorrigible? Why are they so unwilling to compromise or give credit where it is due? Why is this partisanship so utterly irrational? Ahh, the last question holds the key that opens the door. None of these failures to recognize the facts are rooted in evidence or reason. For that to happen Republicans would have to use reliable sources of information. And then they would have to be able to think rationally through the evidence. Misinformation serves emotional needs that are both personal and tribal. We're in for more of that because we don't know how to stop it. What makes that bipartisanship wholly impossible is that the propaganda networks have only incentive to further their disinformation. If Fox sounds like CNN or, god forbid, MSNBC then what makes them different? And wouldn't their viewers notice? Even the slightest deviation from The Crazy has caused ratings to drop and viewers to head to the Even Worse Sources of Disinformation, like NewsMax and OANN. Profit will continue to drive information: _not_ truth, not decency, not responsibility to maintaining democratic norms, nothing but money will matter. Only libel suits can slow them down---and thank goodness Dominion and Smartmatic have figured out how to hurt them. That said, we live in an unprecedented time when "opinion" means you can believe anything regardless of the facts or simply conjure your own "facts." The anti-vaxxers on the Left contribute to the madness but they strike me as outliers. Let us not make false equivalencies. We know where the problems of disinformation are rooted and where the infection is rampant. Americans are lazy to do the right things because that requires real effort. Further, the things they "want" mean they won't do the right things if it costs them---economically, emotionally, you name it. Apparently a significant portion of the already-vaccinated are failing to return for their second shots despite the fact that there have been next to zero reported side effects. How many of those are also in situations where they have no support systems to get them their second shots? In other words, a significant portion of the population is proving itself unfit for democracy. One way or another, under whatever circumstances, people need to be vaccinated. 

And worse, a significant portion does not _want_ democracy: they want their agendas or their ease or simply whatever they regard as familiar or preferred. A lot of people are too afraid, too disenfranchised, too oppressed by systems that leave them hurting and desperate---by the racism, sexism, and our failure to live our ideals. To participate in a functional democracy requires respect for the facts: America is showing itself illiterate _and_ disrespectful of science. You know, science? Where we try to sort out the facts from beliefs or feelings or delusions and desires? When you can't discern facts, you can't know _when_ you need to compromise, that is, when _after a reasonable assessment of the facts_ you make reasonable choices that meet conflicting interests. You have to be able to tell facts from falsities, assess their importance with respect to conflicting interests, and then come up with a plan that serves what Washington called "public administration..." with the aim of achieving “consistent and wholesome plans.” Yeah, good luck with that under the current terms of disinformation and a poorly educated, personally irresponsible, neglected, oppressed, frightened, angry, indifferent, and suspicious populace that has no incentive to change. If 460,000 PLUS dead can't convince the Republican Governor of Iowa to sustain important COVID restrictions, what we can expect from those of us who see this as madness is our continuing belief that more failure is more likely than real success. This is _not_ cynical. Cynicism is when you work to undermine decency or truth because you have an interest in doing so. Don't mistake sober pessimism for the cynical. Q-Tip Greene isn't smart enough to be cynical. Hawley and Cruz are. But the rest of us who are reasonable and who would actually WANT a more bipartisan approach to create healing and less deep distrust and disdain for our opponents cannot help but be more resigned and even fatalist. Why? Because there is zero effort on the part of our opponents to act in good faith or to want any of that healing. The idiots, conspirators, and bad faith cynics all _need_ our mutual disdain and foster our disunity in order to profit. Theirs is a grift, pure and simple---they stand to profit from more anger, fear, and failure. After all, everything Republicans are doing now is about regaining power in 2022, which requires Biden to fail. If Biden fails, of course, how many more will die of COVID? That's just sad truth. Should we give them our disdain and direct our anger towards them? I think not because what good would that do? It doesn't unite us any further in the effort to do good. The only question then remaining is if our fighting amongst ourselves---thank you, Senators Manchin and Sinema---will ruin us. Or if we argue against our own interests. But we must meet in the middle. Somewhere. We must or everything that I have said here will come true and for the worse. We must find a way with each other. The demons aren't going away but we need to see each other as human beings---and make sense of our conflicting interests. Ask the Boss. In America it can take a Jeep commercial to get any of this message through the noise. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D2XYH-IEvhI&feature=emb_logo

Monday, January 18, 2021

MLK Day 2021 and the Long Road Ahead

"We must use time creatively, in the knowledge that the time is always ripe to do right." ---Martin Luther King, Jr.

Our creative time is our life before us. Nurture healing and accountability, pursue with greater diligence and decency the knowledge we need; take up an even greater urgency and also greater resilience our heart's desires, make patience and exigency unlikely companions.

It's not over, rather it's only just begun. There's always time to do what is right and If there is to be justice and more honest conversation ahead, we're going to have illumine hearts and kindle minds. We're going to need each other, understand better who we are, who we can be, and imagine the more we could be.

We celebrate this day, look forward to the inauguration on Wednesday and, yes, hope for better in time as we ripen the fruits of our labor. Rage on, calmly.

Saturday, January 16, 2021

Vaccine Puja: A Brief Primer

Forgive my need to make this a teaching moment but it's my job. An article appeared this morning in The Washington Post that warrants a moment, particular for the unfamiliar. Start here: ahh, Hindus.
https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/asia_pacific/india-coronavirus-vaccinations/2021/01/15/342a7282-55c9-11eb-acc5-92d2819a1ccb_story.html


This post is for civilians, that is, for those who might need some Hinduism 101---and that is no crime. After all, not many have a chance for formal study, even introductions. So let me make just a few very superficial comments so that some less familiar can try to understand why it is obvious that these good folks are offer their ritual to the vaccine chest.

I will be brief, if you can believe that. But as we shall see, belief is not what is being shared so much as it is behavior that allows us to ponder and conside, even for a brief moment, including our beliefs.

This is a rather typical looking puja. Puja is "worship" but that is misleading so let's instead think of puja as recognition, offering, exchange, principally _seeing_, that is an opportunity for exchanging vision, for visualizing, for deeper "seeing" (darshan).
The moment of puja captured here is it's summation called the arhati, which involves the waving of fire after offerings of incense (dhupa), light (dipa), food (naivedya), and other substances of symbolic value (hence considered auspicious or sacred). It is literally creating a moment of value---the word "arhati" _literally_ means worthy, capable, and something like noble-lizing or valuable.


People come in their temple best to honor the light inside and out. That it is directed to the vaccine chest just shows you that nearly anything of individual and social value can be brought into a collective act of value recognition, of seeing.


If any of this strikes you as awkward or just unusual, we can easily dispel the latter. This is nothing unusual because any important object or event can be occasion for puja. We have no idea what people are thinking or believing here. No one will ask. There is no dogma or formulated pre-interpretation; there is no assumption that people share a particular faith or ideology. No dogma is in evidence but rather a simple orthopraxy.


Thus, we have a ritual that lets people feel and think in ways that give them purpose to live with the facts of their world and with the shadows of feelings that are better expressed than denied. You do puja to the vaccine chest because you want light in a world where so much that is dark is dismissed or uninvestigated, particularly in emotion and meaning.


The ritual itself is meaningful because it is principally an opportunity to mark significance, to reflect or consider even in a simple ceremony how to arrive at a more auspicious (affirming) sensibility of possibilities. We invite and dispel, we recognize and address: the "gods" and the "demons" are inside _and_ out. The power of recognition is an invitation to reflection and care. Will that do for starts?


If this still strikes you as unfamiliar or awkward we can then invite the idea that unfamiliar and awkward are invitations to allowing discomfort to be a reflection. Let me go further. Is something about this idolatry or seem...dare I say, silly? For Hindus this is not at all silly precisely because it is an individual and social opportunity to see, to try to recognize significance and value _as such_ and then to put those matters into a very everyday and practical situation.


This vaccine _is_ important and it does signify light (the gods) and our complex relationship to the demons (in this case, disease). We don't eradicate our demons but we can figure out how to keep them where they belong---because everything has to go somewhere.


As for the "idolatry" part, that's just your western customs steeped in iconoclastic religions. We may not know or recognize it but our awkwardness comes from a resistance that this is "golden calf" material. But alas, it is just another human way of saying how do we see what is important in ways that inspire us to do something of commensurate value.