Hindsight is great. But when you don’t have it, you have to make decisions based on imperfect knowledge and insufficient evidence. It’s so hard, and I’m afraid of getting it wrong. There’s been a lot on the interwebs recently suggesting that the time to stop a coming Holocaust is now, as for example in “How fascism accumulates power by testing people”. The melting-eyeballs dog in “This Is Fine” and “This Is Not Fine” currently haunts me, because I don’t know whether our democracy can survive a Trump presidency.
I know that confirmation bias is real, and I know that slippery slopes are not. So how does one decide? I read an article last year that analyzed Shakespeare’s A Winter’s Tale through the lens of the philosophy of ethics of Emmanuel Lévinas that made me realize how much a firmer grounding in ethical philosophy would help me. The author, Jeffrey Knapp, wrote about how the play provides multiple “reflection[s] on what we do when confronted with the unknown . . . : we determine, judge, conclude. Whatever path we choose, the choice is a matter of ethics” (259). The most important idea I took from the article is that if I insist on waiting for full knowledge, full information, before I will act, that is of itself a decision. If I wait until I am 100% sure about any decision, I will have missed the chance to act in many instances.
But how does this apply here? I do feel 100% sure that the Trump presidency will be a disaster for the nation and the world, but he also won by the rules of our system, and I want to maintain the system. I believe that the American democracy is stronger than the hatred and incompetence of Donald Trump, but I may be wrong (and I may be fooling myself because of how much I don’t want to block traffic and otherwise be a revolutionary). My getting up each day and going to work and thinking about how the Democrats can win and reverse the Trump damage in two years and four years may someday make me look back at myself at this time and see this nice, nice German family in in 1930s: