By Andrea Lawful Sanders
In March 2016, after sitting through months of discussions in living rooms and planning meetings with large swaths of mostly women, I turned to my husband and told him that Donald Trump would be the next president of the United States.
He looked at me in horror, told me I was crazy and said, “America is smarter than that.”
I told him — and he agreed after some thought — that people were being targeted through their fears, whatever they were, to rile them up and get them to make decisions that would swing the election, all while splitting the country in dark and divisive ways.
Otherwise sensible and clear thinking adults became angry, unfriended each other on social media, dinner tables became tense, and folks became suspicious of co-workers they once liked and worked amicably with.
We all know how the election turned out, despite Hillary Clinton winning the popular vote.
So now we are a country and a world in turmoil, as the minds of many continue to be steeped in propaganda based on their historical beliefs.
How did that happen, you ask? Their buying patterns, social media posts, links they clicked on in Google — all were mined by large data collection companies and sold to interested parties, who would then target those people even further, through key advertising of things and people that would exacerbate the feelings of distrust towards certain groups and cultures. Fun surveys disguised as “personality” tests learned about our psychology, and through those surveys, the data collection mining began to identify those who were easily persuaded to believe whatever they heard and saw.
If these data mining companies stopped there, it would have not been so bad; but they went on further to use the mined data to decide elections in dark and foreboding ways.
In the United States, hate is being used to propel an agenda of White supremacy that would keep power in the hands of those who are afraid that people of color are growing in numbers, and are therefore gaining that power themselves, taking it from those who would much rather retain it.
Recently, several people have been triggered to go on shooting rampages across the country, and while we weep in disbelief and anguish over the shedding of innocent lives, how do we get back to center?
When do we realize that this is a distraction designed to move a more nefarious agenda forward?
When do we stop ignoring as “harmless” those who are deliberately trying to separate us with the spewing of “beliefs” that can, and have, harmed so many?
When do we stop feeling so cocooned in our own cultures, that we refuse to help the marginalized among us?
How many have to die, before we realize this thing is propelling down a pathway that will affect us all negatively?
Greed and power are at the nexus of it all — but how much is too much?
When the dust finally settles, and this will take years, many will pay dearly, but not before they’ve gained enough to make their family coffers rich for generations to come without caring an ounce for the bloodstains left for their children’s children, who will most assuredly reap the karma of their forefathers.
Where will you land in history? How will you help or continue to harm through cognitive dissonance and ignorance?
When will you choose to learn about your neighbors instead of fearing them?
If only we could love each other, the way we love our pets, the world would be a better place.
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