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  • Writer's pictureDeric Hollings

The Lowering Tide

An aphorism often misattributed to former President John F. Kennedy is, “A rising tide lifts all boats.” If true, simple deductive reasoning would suggest that a diminishing tide lowers all boats.

I’m reminded of a time during the late ‘90s, when I was stationed on Camp Kinser, Okinawa, and I observed the aftermath of a shipwreck that occurred in “1986 while heading into Okinawa during a typhoon evacuation.” Apparently, the wreckage has since been removed.

When I was there and the tide would lower enough, people could walk out to the ship. Though the vessel wrecked during a typhoon, it isn’t unheard of for low tides to cause collisions.

Thinking more about a metaphorical tide, representing a socioeconomic uplift of the masses, I reflect upon this morning’s workout routine. When lifting things and putting them back down, my shuffled music presented an Alfred Banks song entitled “The Waive.”

I found one verse particularly curious.

“I don’t rock with no chumps. I’ll rock a bright orange shirt but I don’t fuck with no Trump. If you do, you a lame. Just know it. I’m black and I’m proud, and I talk with wild slang just to show it. A nice economy is cool but equality is better, and until that’s reality we will not let up. Uhh, and that’s just for the better.”

Lines which cause me to think generally interrupt my workout flow. This is the reason I once told nitape’skw that I tend to prefer ignant rap when lifting. Yet, I digress.

When hearing Banks’ verse, my mind kicked into disputation mode. People may know this as the Socratic Method, critical thinking, epistemological conceptual analysis, or other forms of questioning to discover truth.

It may be worth stating that a number of people within society reject the notion that there is anything such as objective truth or that humans can ever know it if there is such a thing. I am not such a person.

While neglecting my fitness routine, I questioned Banks’ wholescale dismissal of anyone who supports former President Donald Trump. Banks’ sentiment isn’t unpopular among partisan groups.

Labeling an entire swath of people as “deplorables,” “racist,” “terrorists,” or using other ad hominem fallacies to deride them isn’t uncommon. Even relatively intelligent people sometimes spew stupid shit from their mouths.

I’m not particularly intelligent and I say dumb things all the time. Therefore, I can understand Banks’ declaration about Trump supporters even though I disagree.

His “lame” comment aside, I thought about Banks’ use of the no true Scotsman logical fallacy. This occurs when someone offhandedly dismisses a statement by declaring that no actual member of a particular group would support such a position.

As an example, I recently came across a news story in which a reportedly former United States (U.S.) Marine allegedly stated, “I emptied the clip,” when purportedly killing his dad. (I think I’ve covered my bases on the legalese weasel words to address that sentence.)

When reading the story, I immediately explored the comment section to confirm my bias of the no true Scotsman fallacy. One of the top comments at the time was, “If he was a [M]arine he would have said ‘I emptied the mag.”

Bingo! U.S. Marines are taught to use proper nomenclature when referring to weapons and ammunition. No true Marine would refer to a magazine as a “clip.” Right?

Wrong. As much as I may disagree with the actions and speech of others, not every U.S. Marine will meet my standard of what I think a Marine should be or how I think a Jarhead ought to behave.

Likewise, when Banks states, “I’m black and I’m proud, and I talk with wild slang just to show it,” I cannot demand that he must not maintain stereotypes. Not all Scotsmen are the same, nor are all of us black-identifying people. (I gleefully anticipate the person who uses the no true Scotsman fallacy to challenge my black identity.)

Setting aside Banks’ ad hominem and no true Scotsman fallacies, the portion of my workout that took longer to process related to the latter part of Banks’ verse. I disputed the assertion, “A nice economy is cool but equality is better, and until that’s reality we will not let up. Uhh, and that’s just for the better.”

Petty quibble with Banks redundantly using “better”—because I know my needlessly dumb-ass is unnecessarily redundant within my blog posts—I do wonder what Banks means when promoting the idea of “better.” What is better?

Use of “better” is subjective—meaning it exists in the mind of the person—as opposed to objective—not influenced by a person’s perspective. For example:

Subjective: “Living in a place that doesn’t have cold winters is better than living in a place that does.”

Objective: “Places that are close to the equator do not have cold winters.”

This is one of the reasons I dislike the shaming tactic of telling people to “do better,” often expressed by “sadity” individuals who perceivably know more than you about what is good, right, etc. How about they “do better” by not telling others how to do better?

In my practice of Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT), I promote helping clients “get better,” which is a subjective—individually-based—measure. What I don’t do is claim to know or promote what is “better” for others.

When Banks asserts, “A nice economy is cool but equality is better,” what does he mean? Better to whom? Better in comparison to what? By what means is something considered “better”?

Keeping in mind the focus on objective assessment, how does former President Trump’s economy stack up to that of President Joe Biden? It all depends on what source one reviews.

Even objective data may be skewed in one direction or another. For instance, one source reports, “President Biden’s lowest performance difference was on NASDAQ Index performing -51.42% worse than President Trump.”

A separate source states, “Economic growth slowed in the third quarter, but economists estimate the economy grew by about 5% in 2021 — the fastest in decades,” under President Biden. None of this means much to me, perhaps because I’m ignant.

Subjectively, it seems that Banks admits the economy was better under former President Trump. From an ignorance-informed perspective, I concur. Economics aside, Banks suggests that equality is better than a functional economy.

I can’t assess whether or not this is a true statement, because I may have different values than Banks. It very well may be that Banks would rather have less purchasing power as long as he perceives equality among people.

Suppose this is the case. Now, for the sake of discussion, consider the possibility that I disagree with Banks’ notion. Whose perspective is “better”?

Perhaps I maintain that while humans aren’t identical, it is said, “Equal Protection refers to the idea that a governmental body may not deny people equal protection of its governing laws,” and I perceivably advocate equality rather than equity.

Maybe Banks prefers equity, said to involve “distributing resources based on the needs of the recipients.” This socioeconomic argument seems to better align with Banks’ declarative statement, “A nice economy is cool but equality is better, and until that’s reality we will not let up.”

One who values diversity, equity, inclusivity, and accessibility (DEIA) actions may appreciate when the federal government assumes the role of a redistributing regulator. This may be accomplished through positive discrimination or positive action methods.

Some people consider such “positive” behavior to be burdensomely partial, unjust, and unconstitutional. Still, others may inflexibly demand that society should, must, or ought to be what they perceive as relating to equality, though which actually favors a DEIA approach.

Add to this an extreme attitude relating to the notion that people will remain unrelenting until they get what they demand, and one wonders whether or not redistributive means from a finite pool of resources will raise or lower the tide. After all, we aren’t sailing in an infinite ocean.

I try not to self-disturb with what Albert Ellis, creator of REBT, highlighted when he stated, “There are three musts that hold us back: I must do well. You must treat me well. And the world must be easy.”

Therefore, when I hear an opinion with which I disagree, such as that from Banks, I simply practice unconditional other-acceptance and go about my day. Or, in the case of this morning, I “push it, push it” to the left and keep it craccin’ with my workouts.

How about you, reader? How do you react when encountering ideas with which you disagree? Are you able to dispute the beliefs? Do the perspectives of others crash upon the waves of your mind and wind up slamming into the emotional coral or a metaphorical low tide?

If you’re struggling with such matters and looking for a provider who works to help you understand how thinking impacts physical, mental, emotional, and behavioral elements of your life, I invite you to reach out today by using the contact widget on my website.

As a psychotherapist, and hip hop head from the old school, I’m pleased to help people with an assortment of issues from anger (hostility, rage, and aggression) to relational issues, adjustment matters, trauma experience, justice involvement, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, anxiety and depression, and other mood or personality-related matters.

At Hollings Therapy, LLC, serving all of Texas, I aim to treat clients with dignity and respect while offering a multi-lensed approach to the practice of psychotherapy and life coaching. My mission includes: Prioritizing the cognitive and emotive needs of clients, an overall reduction in client suffering, and supporting sustainable growth for the clients I serve. Rather than simply helping you to feel better, I want to help you get better!

Deric Hollings, LPC, LCSW


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