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A Tale of Two Philosophies
In the Age of Trump, Me Too,
and Black Lives Matter

By T.Collins Logan

From Charles Dickens’ opening to
A Tale of Two Cities:

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way….”

In navigating the dilemmas of our time, we are presented with two competing philosophies, deeply rooted in opposing worldviews about the nature of society, governance, and human nature. These philosophies have endured for centuries, nearly always in tension with each other, with one emerging to dominate for a time, then ceding influence, power, and convention to its opposite. The Zeitgeist of each successive age has usually insisted on the primacy of one of these philosophies — and all of history has likewise repeatedly been revised to secure proof that supports one belief while negating its rival. Rarely, a new synthesis has occurred, sometimes a creative variation, sometimes a sort of temporary dialectic stalemate. . .but always these two philosophies have endured to wrestle mightily again. As shorthand, we’ll call these opposing views The Philosophy of Might & Fear, and The Philosophy of Love & Hope. Their basic tenets and tacit assumptions are captured in Table #1 below.

What follow are some images, questions, data, and thoughts that aim to illustrate these juxtaposing philosophies — all inspired by recent demonstrations in La Mesa, California.

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The photos were taken a week or so after May 30th, 2020 demonstrations against police brutality in La Mesa, California — a town just a few minutes’ drive from my home. As with many other recent demonstrations, the protest began peacefully, but violence gradually escalated. Also like many other initially peaceful protests, the violence may have been instigated by various extremists to invite confrontations between demonstrators and police. If so, it worked: In La Mesa, just as other parts of the country, police responded to the increasingly unruly protest with tear gas and non-lethal projectiles, injuring protestors — one 59-year-old woman seriously. Many longstanding local business were damaged, and the posters and murals depicted here are the community’s response to that violence and destruction. Although several extremist groups have been blamed for sabotaging peaceful protests around the U.S., increasing evidence including recent arrests point to right-wing anti-government groups like the boogaloo bois being prominent instigators at primarily peaceful protests.

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According to, blacks are three times more likely to be killed by police than whites, eight of the 100 largest city police departments kill black men at higher rates than the U.S. murder rate, levels of police violence have zero correlation with local violent crime rates, and 99% of killings by police between 2013 and 2019 did not result in officers being charged with a crime.

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According to a June 9-10, 2020 national Reuters poll, 82% of Americans want a ban on police chokeholds, 83% want to ban racial profiling, 91% support independent investigations of police misconduct, and 89% want police to be required to offer their name, badge number, and justification for a traffic stop.

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Donald Trump has become an avatar for the Might & Fear philosophy. He is obsessed with personal power, terrified of any truth that reveals him as incompetent or weak, certain that intimidating and deceiving others is the only means available to rule, constantly perpetuating divisions and tensions in order to win loyalty via Us vs. Them polemics, and intent on destroying civic institutions that counter or interfere with his whims and wishes. So Trump uses force and threats for his own opportunism, perpetuates lies that divide and distract, and dog whistles white supremacists to escalate civil unrest. And those who wish to perpetuate this mode of being — who see themselves in him: their own status and prejudices, their own fears and lust for control — can’t help but be drawn into his deluding influence.

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In countless ways, the tensions between black and white America are reflections of the larger battle between The Philosophy of Might & Fear and The Philosophy of Love & Hope. Those who wish to dominate, segregate, and oppress people of color are steadfast in their exclusion of equality across race, gender, economic status, immigration status, sexual orientation, and so on. In voting, access to education, access to loans, worker protections, and equal treatment by the police, there are the privileged, who must be treated fairly and afforded every opportunity, and everyone else, who must be dismissed, held back, or ignored. And, on the other side of the scales, there are those who believe in an inclusive, integrated, egalitarian society that shares power and wealth. And these folks have increasingly embraced all genders, ethnicities, immigrants, orientations, and economic statuses as deserving of equal rights and privileges in society.

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Sometimes, the tensions between these worldviews can be subtle, so that cause and effect become obscured. Take, for example, Lisa Cook’s research into patent filings throughout U.S. history, which identified a striking pattern: Initially, after emancipation, patents filed by black Americans grew proportionately to those filed by whites. However, after events occurred that overtly oppressed blacks in some way — even if it was concentrated in one region of the U.S. — patent applications from blacks began to fall across the country. For example, this happened both after segregation and disenfranchisement laws began in 1900, and after the Tulsa riots of 1921. And such correlations persist, in that when dominant white culture signals that The Philosophy of Might & Fear is in control, people of color are discouraged from full participation in society, and from enjoying all of its benefits.

You can read about notable black inventors here:
Black Inventors — The Complete List

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Once again, these tensions must be resolved, and one of these two philosophies will inevitably take the lead. Hopefully, now is the time for The Philosophy of Love and Hope to ascend to its rightful and necessary place, offering us healing and wholeness after so much discord. The challenge, as always in such trying moments, will be to create something better without burning the house down — and to vanquish oppression without becoming the oppressor.

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