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How Not to Be Smug

Posted by on June 4, 2017

In an effort to reach across the aisle, I’m working on my smugness. But it’s hard. I read a lot and from a wide variety. Not just to be a know-it-all, but because I’m a writer. I like researching to broaden my understanding of things, even to the point of watching The Hannity Show after watching The Rachel Maddow Show. I progress through my ever-growing booklist, especially for materials that concern the third book I’m writing.

I’ve always loved learning, which is why being a teacher was such a logical choice for me. Although I’m no longer in the classroom, I still have a need to educate people and love that I can now do it through narrative and spoken word. Yet, I must work harder at not sounding so preachy or condescending toward those who initially seem allergic to facts or receptive to alternative facts.

The most empathetic way to interpret this phenomenon is, when people are desperate, they are more susceptible to fall for the machinations of con artists. Once they go down that path, they’re committed to the journey because they want the promised result come true. And the more religious the person, the more that person is prone to put their faith in the con artist or toxic leader. That’s what my research has told me so far. For those who’d care to fact check, please read The Allure of Toxic Leaders: Why We Follow Destructive Bosses and Corrupt Politicians–and How We Can Survive Them by Jean Lipman-Blumen and The Confidence Game: Why We Fall for It…Every Time by Maria Konnikova.

I read those two books over two years ago, long before Trump rode the escalator down into the Republican presidential candidacy. (How prophetic it was the DOWN escalator!) I’d taken notes on these books because one of the characters in my upcoming novel is a charismatic, power-hungry con artist or psychopath who uses people by charming them and saying what they want to hear, but only serving himself in the end.

To be clear, I write fiction. However, living through this election cycle and new presidency has given me the best examples of how to write the fictional character I have in mind. I have learned that no dialogue or action is too outrageous for my character to say or do as long as the other characters, who are his followers, believe.

No matter whether you’re a firm believer in real facts or alternative facts, everyone loves a good story. Here’s one I’d like to call my prediction of what will happen in the near future if the One Percenters get their way.

In the near future, the only people who’ll have the freedom to choose their own doctors are the rich since other people who cannot afford insurance, won’t have any. Instead of society paying for poor people to have health, including mental health and chemical dependency coverage, we’ll pay for the penal system to incarcerate them instead. There will be a rise in suicides, including death by police.

The One Percenters will continue to hoard both the wealth and natural resources to purchase politicians who will pass legislation to accelerate the concentration of both wealth and natural resources to the small number of superpredatory rich families who control the planet.

Simultaneously, technology will advance to make the colonization of other planets possible. At the same time, technology will continue replacing unskilled labor with machines, requiring fewer people to run society, especially to serve the needs of the superpredatory families. When those families leave planet Earth, they will only take the educated civil servants necessary to maintain their own status and comfort. Whatever life left on this mostly barren planet will give rise to the hardiest species since the toxicity of the atmosphere, water and soil will have reached levels not seen since the planet’s creation.

Over thousands of years, the Earth recovers. Doomsday religious texts will have been rewritten. Instead of fearing the second coming of a messiah to end the world, they predict the return of the One Percenters. The revelation is: humans never needed god or the devil. We had both inside us the entire time.


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