Political Correctness or What

Where does language and action intersect to create a society in which individuals are no longer seen or heard?

I can agree that some language has the power to cause harm, however this does not mean that it should be removed from our vocabulary.  In fact, it should not.  The ridiculous lengths that we go today too not offend stifles creativity, individuality, and in some cases reality.  The ability to express one’s self with language is one of the highest proofs of our humanity.  In the world today, we have many roads to political correctness (PC) each with their own shrill leaders.  The most frightening part of this race to PC is that if and when we achieve a sanitized society free from language and behavior that offends, what will we be left with?

I believe the answer to that question is we will be left without history or the language to express it.  That eventually we will be left frustrated with our inability to realize the richness of a truly diverse culture or the ability to express it fully.  That we will no longer be able to define the world around us in terms that are factual or reality based.  I believe that we will sanitize our language and our behavior to the extent that we will give up our personal freedoms in favor of not offending.  Oddly, we are so afraid of offending today we will not stand our ground and say that we also must be heard, we also are here, and we have value – whoever we might be.

We are so busy trying not to offend we accept offense for ourselves without so much as blinking our eyes.  We fear giving offense so we disregard the truth that is before us.  We accept lies as truth in the hope that by doing so we will be safer and others will accept us; this too is a lie.  Let’s face it some things are simply what they have always been changing what we call them doesn’t change their basic construct or make the thing different.  A juvenile delinquent is a criminal simple and straight forward; they are not socially maladjusted or socially challenged.  They a might be these things too, but they are first a criminal.  A rose by any other name is still a rose.

There is a bigger problem though than just the obvious offensive language of racism and sexism removed from our everyday lexicon.  It is the removal of normal language and normal conventions for fear of offending the hypersensitive among us.  Consider the following example[1]s:

  • Black Sheep: either the four-legged animal, considered rare for its production of black wool or the odd family member or group member considered different from the norm; rebel, outcast, renegade, maverick, prodigal, individualist, non-conformist[2].
    • Suggested change: Outcast.  Of course, this doesn’t address how to refer to the four-legged animal with the black wool production.
  • Manhole: you know the hole in the street covered by a large and heavy metal plate?  Yes the one that gives access to maintenance for sewers and other wonderful things below the surface.
    • Suggested change: Utility hole, Maintenance hole, Access Chamber.  In 1990 Sacramento, California renamed all their Manholes out of concern for equality of the genders.  They settled on the gender free Maintenance Hole in part to save money since the initials were the same and thus the city grid maps would not have to be changed.
  • Uneducated: the meaning here is clear to me and should be to most others.  The person being referred to is without education.  Why is this politically incorrect?  The lack of education is an easily corrected thing, something fully within the power of the individual.  It seems however, this is another word that I am to lose from my vocabulary.
    • Suggested change: Lacking a formal education.  Isn’t that what I just said?  Uneducated!  It isn’t as if I called them ignorant, right.
  • Flip Chart: Yes, that trivial chart used in presentations, workshops, and classrooms now has a more oppressive meaning; indeed, it has joined the “ism” ranks as a racism slander.  Because the word “Flip” can be a derogatory word for a person from the Philippines, no longer should we use it in any other logical or meaningful way.
    • Suggested change: Easel
    • Now am I going too far but how about these as well?
      • We won’t flip burgers anymore
      • We won’t flip our hair
      • Never again to flip a coin
      • Nope, no more flipping through a report or a picture book
      • Gymnasts will need new language as well, no more Flips for them
      • Politics and those who report the news will need to stop telling us about Flip Flops; course it would be nice if politicians would simply stop Flip Flopping but that is an entirely different issue.

Do you see the problem here, and I have only addressed the really silly word games not the more important ones.  Not the words that are ingrained in our language and have real meaning.

Political correctness is nothing less than tyranny.  Societies that embrace political correctness are in fact embracing fascism and thus their own loss of freedom.  The term, political correctness, itself comes from Marxist-Leninist vocabulary and was used to define the accepted party line[3].  Beginning in the 1970’s political correctness has infiltrated our society to the extent that in some cases we are afraid to order black coffee for fear of offending someone.  One linguistic concept in the use of “inclusive” or “neutral” language claims that we can change our thinking and even our actions based upon our use of grammatical categories’[4].  In its strong form, this hypothesis claims that thoughts and actions are formed by the use of language and thus limitations on language would in fact change behavior over time.  In a more moderated form, the hypothesis supports the idea that the way in which we view the world is influenced by language.

The ’inclusive’ versus ‘exclusive’ language we are faced with today is a learning experience and frankly I am to old to relearn the English language to satisfy others need to feel validated. Your need to be something other than what you are is likely not going to be met by me today. Your humanity I will gladly and happily acknowledge. Your ‘he’ or ‘she’, whether born or later defined, I will gladly embrace, but darlin’ beyond this I am likely not getting there in this lifetime. Some of my difficulty is purely a matter of what is before me that my eyes can see and some is simply good grammar.

Do I believe that by removing the use of offending words we remove thoughts?  No, I don’t believe this at all.  The truth is that no matter how we try to change the history of offenses, real or perceived of the past, they remain.  The offending words remain in our lexicon whether they are now proscribed or reclaimed, they linger.  As a society, we continue to move towards a model that gives less offense to the few while the many are left to wonder what happened to their standards and social values.  So as not to offend we celebrate the “Holidays” but not Christmas.  To not offend we can require Spanish speaking in our job advertisements but beware demanding English speakers.  To avoid offense we should avoid calling those who enter the country Illegal Aliens, rather we should call them Undocumented workers.  Yet in all this avoidance of offense, we are left with an aftertaste that something is terribly wrong; something is missing.

Should we condemn racism?  Should we condemn sexism?  Of course, we should condemn these antiques of the past.  Nevertheless, the “isms” of the past will continue to exist in one form or another with or without the language to express them.  Excluding the language of racism and sexism does not eliminate its existence within society.  Reclaiming the language of racism and sexism, changing it to the language of urban hip-hop does not remove its sting or truly change its meaning.  The language of exclusion and inclusion will continue to exist so long as humans form social groups.

The danger today is that we are attempting to remove freedom of expression and thought through political correctness.  Rather than allowing society to mature naturally we are stifling independent thinking in favor of acquiescence with social orthodoxy and the loss of personal sovereignty.  In the name of social acceptance, we are giving away our individuality.  Personally, I am saddened by this loss.


[1] http://www.sideroad.com/Business_Communication/politically-correct-language.html

[2] http://encyclopedia.thefreedictionary.com/manhole

[3] Ellis, Frank (2004).  Political correctness and the theoretical struggle. Auckland: Maxim Institute

[4] Sapir-Whorf hypothesis

http://politicallyincorrect.me.uk/banned.htm

Anything More or Less

I have pondered this question for weeks. Watching the public forums and media for soapboxpilecracks. I have asked questions of friends and foes alike. I have broken my determination not to enter into the ugly on-line battles this year simply to see for myself if there are further erosion in our ability to communicate, compromise and more importantly, treat each other with some modicum of dignity and respect.

While not surprised by what I found, I was nonetheless terribly disappointed.

Even those people who I thought might be somewhat sane, somewhat reasonable could not find it in themselves to think for two minutes of a single thing they could compromise with the other side on. Not one single solitary thing.

Here was one of the questions I randomly posed:

This is a test:

Okay all my friends Right, Left and somewhere in the middle. Name one thing you can meet in the middle on. Just one thing you can extend your hand to the other side on, just one where you can say…”I don’t hate that, I can live with it; or forfend I don’t disagree”. Just one.

Now of those that actually answered, they first identified where they stood on the political spectrum; Right, Left, Middle. Then, without hesitation they proceeded to identify their own pet issue. Not an issue from the other side they would consider the possibility of compromise being reached, not something there could be discussion on. Nope, instead they threw out there the issue they wanted the other side to come to the table on. Stunning really. I should say, one of my Right leaning friends followed the question, actually put on the table something he was willing to discuss, willing to compromise on. One, out of many.

I wasn’t surprised, I was dismayed.058a84ba7d1093b3672befaf9b66ca28

Was the question unclear? I didn’t think so. I read it again, no the question was clear as could be. The problem is, the chasm is wider today than it was even six years ago. We are further apart and our willingness to listen, to reason, to consider alternatives and ultimately to reach compromises that are good for the nation, good for the greatest number of Americans not just our own tribe, our own self-interest is further diminished.

It is disheartening.

We are tearing ourselves and each other apart. We are being torn apart. We are allowing ourselves to be divided further. We have coalesced around special interests and forgotten we are first Americans, first One Nation. For all our problems, for all our terribles and yes, we have many to account for we are one people, one Nation. There is no one of reasonably sound mind who does not recognize the need to make real and fundamental changes. There is not a single person with a reasonable sense of history who does not understand there is much to be accounted for in our current social structure built upon the wrongs of the past. There is not a single person today, with a modicum of emotional intelligence who doesn’t understand we have a history that is fraught with baggage. The real issue for many though, is how to unpack that baggage and create a more perfect union, a more equitable and balanced society for our future.

What do you do? What can you do? Where do you even start? The worst part of this is whatwehearyou cannot take reasonable stands, it is impossible to say no. If you do you are labeled by one side or the other, this is the age of immediate offensive. No matter the issue, no matter the stance someone will take offense and there will be outrage somewhere and it will explode. We seem incapable of listening to anyone make a statement or ask a question without taking offense these days. We seem incapable of demanding others think as we do, speak as we command and ultimately march in line with us.

This is the age of immediate outrage, we no longer seem to have the capacity or an interest in civil and reasoned debate.

The problem with this? We do not all think alike, we do not all see the world in the same way and certainly we do not all experience the world similarly. Perhaps we have empathy, compassion for others but with the way we are speaking to each other, we are killing both. With the way we are defining our tribes today, we are further dividing ourselves and further minimizing our ability to build bridges toward a collective future that benefits us all.

I watch and listen, constantly. I must admit I fear for us as a nation and a people, I fear for our democracy. As each group rises up demanding their own slice from an empty pie dish, I fear for us all. As each small political voice gains their place at the podium and is pandered too for their votes, I fear for us. As the middle becomes an echo chamber and the fringe becomes the common voice I fear for us. I fear because the voice of reason seems to be disappearing from our national debate and the cults seem to be rising up around those would be leaders of our nation who have no ability or room for compromise in their range, who stand against everything this nation has stood for and call it ‘right’.

We are becoming more rigorous in our demand that others follow the dictates of new rules, new standards of behavior, new definitions of ‘right’ thinking. Never questioning who created or agreed to these new rules. Both sides have built walls with no room for the centrist, only for the fundamentalist, for the extremist leaving the majority of Americans without standard bearers, without political homes and without a voice in this new and frightening world of changing norms.

I am sad as I watch this nation torn down and torn apart. I am sad as I watch hate rise up and take its place center stage. I am sad as watch our progress be ripped away and in its place a denial to need. I am sad as I watch us repeat history because we failed to learn history. Mostly, I am sad because in place of coming together, we are tearing each other apart, we are pointing fingers and laying blame.

There is a piece of me that continues to hope, continues to wear my rose colored glasses and think we will come together, fix this mess and find our soul. I only know we have to first remember who we are, as a people and stop being so damned ridged and inflexible. We have to start listening, reaching across to others and bringing them in to our circle even if they don’t look like, sound like, or entirely think like us.

Storms

From here I fly, soaring in the slipstream that is you

Energy left behind by the salvo of want and demands

Constantly in your time, forgetful I exist alongside

From here I fly, spiraling outwards touching fresh winds

Lifting me up toward new fashioned bursts of cool air

Clamoring to catch myself as I soar higher than before

That is until I hear you a whisper as loud as a shout

Just my name, calling me back to the inhabited world

Reaching up stretching, seeking just a reminder of freedom

Shattering the chains that keep me earthbound, with a sound

With a cry to the wind that lifted me in a dream

Begging to be thrown back into the maelstrom once more

Whispered words, come home come back stop me short

Bound with chains once of my choosing, tethered by a whisper

To stay,  hetaera to your whims, peace in the tempest of you

Signature

11 May 2019

The Truth About Primates

The Democrats are all in, or should I say the party is floating their balloons seeing how many will stay in the air. There are women, men, old and young. There are Black, Soapbox LogoHispanic, White, Gay and Straight. There are some from the House some from the Senate, there are Mayors, Governors and those with zero public service experience. So far, there are twenty-one people who have thrown their hats in the ring, I am betting before the end of June there will be at least three more making it an even bakers dozen. I find it fascinating, there is very nearly a rock concert excitement leading up to the first debates, which are June 26 and 27, 2019.

In the meantime, the House pursues an agenda of who can out crazy the crazy (i.e. the Republican pursuit of all things Obama and Clinton under the sun without a single result except conspiracy theory and innuendo). Knowing they will get nowhere with their demands they make public displays of ‘doing their job’ of policing the criminal enterprise led by the current President and his band of corrupt and easily corruptible merrymakers. I am uncertain which is worse, the constant barrage of lies and terror tactics by the Administration or the inane competitiveness of the House with their investigations to nowhere. We all know these are investigations to nowhere because the President and his band of sycophants are only trying to run the clock out, hoping like hell his base will be enough to carry him into another four years. Depending on who the Democratic nominee is, it just might be given the mood of the nation at the end of eighteen months of bickering, dog fighting and one-upmanship.

Something to consider when as we view the field, most of us do not use our heads when we vote we use our emotions, our hearts. Most of us, when it comes right down to it are not logical thinkers, we are primates, we are Cro-Magnon. Most of us are truly not using our brains when we go to the polls to mark our ballots, indeed we are reacting with our85254449 basic instincts and this is why we have Donald Trump today and why we may have Donald Trump for another term, don’t hate me for saying what is the truth of this nation today. Hate what we have become. Hate that Donald Trump found the secret sauce. Hate the GOP elected officials for lining up behind him and protecting him. But do not hate me for pointing out the obvious; we do not use our heads, we do not use our logic, we do not use our power.

For just a minute, before you go away mad please consider the following:

Statistics Donald Trump Joe Biden Bernie Sanders Average American
Political Affiliation GOP DNC Dem. Socialist 50% Lean DNC
Age 73 76 77 38.1
Race White White White White
Gender Male Male Male Women
Net Worth $2.8B $900,000 $2,000,000 $224,000

In age bracket

Marital Status 3X 2X 2X 2X
  Divorced 2X Widowed 1X Divorced 1X *
Children 5 4 4 1.9**
Military Service No No No 7.3%

* 10.4% of 38 year old people have been married two times and 20.8% of 75 year old people have been married two times. Most recent available statistics.

** Average number of children per family today is 1.9

There is more, much more regarding the issue of how the three main candidates for president in 2020 stack up to the nation at large. But first, do you know what a generation is and which you fall into? It is important information, because social generations or ‘cohorts’ are far different than archaeological generations and depending on how we view this phenomenon our cohorts are either shortening or lengthening. Since we truly begin measuring Social Generations, these are the cohorts and their oldest member:

Cohort Name Birth Years Cycle Oldest Member Youngest Member
Lost Generation 1803-1900 17 Deceased
Greatest Generation 1901-1927 26 Deceased 92
Silent Generation 1925-1942 17 94 77
Baby Boomers 1946-1964 18 73 55
Generation X 1961-1981 20 58 38
Millennial 1980-2000 20 39 19
Generation Z 2001-   18 -1

With this information in mind, we have as our top contenders for the next POTUS two (2) members of the Silent Generation and one member at the high-end of the Baby Boomers. elderly-gangWe look at these men and think yeah, they look like us and without thinking we say YES.  Yes, despite they have nothing in common with us, despite they don’t represent our best interest, despite they should have long ago retired to a park bench; we pull that lever and say YES. Time and again we say yes, because we are primates rather than logical thinking beings.

We have all the evidence we need to say no. We have all the evidence and the power we need to make real change. We have a Constitution that enumerates the Powers of each branch of our government in finite detail, yet most of us would rather watch talking heads on our favorite television shows lie to us about those powers and then repeat those lies as if they were gospel. We fail, time and again to hold our employees accountable and responsible for doing their jobs, instead rewarding them for their failure by sending them back to do more damage, yes every single member of Congress (House and Senate) are our employees, Hell every single member of Government is our employee.TImeClock

We are primates, ruled by emotions, ruled by fear. We have allowed fear to destabilize our nation. We have allowed fear to turn us against friends and family. We have allowed fear to place us in harms way, turn us ugly and turn back the clock decades. We have allowed fear to seep into every single crevice of our lives, where now innocent conversation can become full blown battles for primacy in a matter of seconds. We have failed as a nation and a people to stand up to violence, to dog whistles, to constant barrages of lies. We have failed to demand better and now, with this next election around the corner we are being driven over an edge we may not recover from.

I am not going to apologize for my disdain of offering up three old White Guys as the best we have to offer this nation in the way of potential Presidents, I believe we can do better. I am also not going to apologize for my issues with the ignorance of those whose only offering is ‘FREE’ stuff as if this will solve the problems of this nation, have they looked at the out of control debt? I want real policies, real solutions for today’s problems and it is not ‘Free’ stuff, it is how to lift us all up to succeed. I want the candidates to address the issues of today with thoughtful answers, not Socialism wrapped in ribbons, sorry boys and girls I am an American fully invested in the Free Market and Capitalism, so correct the current problems with our Markets. I want all of us to get a grip on the issues, grow the Hell up and start using the brains we have, demand real answers because the truth is, we are not Primates we only act like it and that is why Donald Trump is President today and will be elected again if we don’t pay attention.

Here We Are

soapboxpileI have been reminded lately that perhaps I am too old to have a legitimate opinion regarding the state of our nation. Well, I am fine with this perspective coming from young people. I once held the same opinion regarding my own parents, grandparents, teachers and anyone over the age of thirty (30). Then, as I approached the age of thirty (30) I realized I was very wrong headed, at that age I was still very naive about the world, about so many things despite my place in it and my life up to that point. So now at the ripe old age of 61.5, I am perfectly fine if some young thing wants to tell me I don’t know shit, it is all good. The funny thing about this assessment of my knowledge and experience is this (Y=Yes, N=No, M=Maybe):

Experience Me Them
Been hungry and homeless Y N
Put myself through school twice Y N
Supported myself for forty-seven years Y N
Raised Children Y N
Fostered abused children Y N
Been gainfully employed Y M
Been unemployed with no fall back Y M
Been broke and couldn’t pay my bills Y M
Made money and lost it Y N
Been discriminated against due to my (Gender, Race, Orientation) Y M
Voted in eleven Presidential elections Y N
Traveled the world Y N
Lived without instant gratification and social media Y N
Lived outside of the country Y M
Survived violence Y M
Volunteered my time to social causes Y M
Read books about the world Y M
Talked to people who are not like me Y N
Remember Vietnam Y N
Remember 9/11 Y M
Had living relatives who were victims of the Holocaust Y N
Was alive when miscegenation was still illegal in the United States Y N

I could actually go on and on with the list above. It is simply a way of showing how our experience matters. How the visceral parts of our brains absorb the world around us, what we see, hear and do becomes a part of who we are and how we interact with the world and those that inhabit it. Without experience, we tend to ignore its very real value and think only terms of self. Without experience we focus on our own narrow views, wants and desires, disregarding the rest of the world and what the rest of humanity might know and need. Thus, by the reasoning of the young those who reach the age of +50, do not have a legitimate right to a say in the political state, the world is moving on without them.

Now we do have some young firebrands today and they have some hefty ideas about where the nation should be going. Setting at their head is an old dog, leading with his brand of Social Democracy and his own ideas of what is going to lead this nation to ‘prosperity’ and a new better living for all. The problem with all these ‘new’ ideas is they are unsupportable in a nation of three hundred and twenty-seven million (327,200,000) with a current National Debt of $22,246,547,690,900 ($22 Trillion) and rising every minute (US Debt Clock). These young ones, with their ideas of what is ‘right’ and what is ‘good’ have zero sense of history and apparently zero understanding of the real economy. I don’t doubt their sincerity, only their ability to process information in a meaningful way that makes sense to and for all of us. Lets just take two of their favorites, Health Care and Climate.

Here is my first problem with the direction of these young and old firebrands:

  • What works in Sweden (Population 10.2 million) will not necessarily work here.
  • What works in Canada (Population 37.3 million) will not necessarily work here, though with their public / private solution it is a better option.

Why? There is an enormous difference in the size of our populations. Nevermind, the difference in the make-up of our citizens. Pick any of the other nations these young ones compare us to, the same will apply. The only countries with larger populations than ours, India and China face similar challenges to ours, how to provide accessible medical care to their massive populations without incurring even more debt. Each time someone says to me Healthcare is a right, I agree with the caveat; how do you intend to pay for this right? I only want to know the answer to this question, I want to know that this has been thoroughly considered.

Now let’s take on the issue of Climate, those of us who have been on this earth for more than a couple of short decades might remember the rivers burning, the beaches as unusable and more than a few truly catastrophic oil spills. Some of us might remember the creation of the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) by President Richard Nixon in December 1970 by Executive Order. These young firebrands might not know our

oilslicksurroundsthestatueoflibertyinnewyorkharborfromthesitesexhibitionforotherimagesinthis-nara-553862

New York Oil Slick, 1969

generation passed the Clean Water Act, the Toxic Substances Control Act, the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, the Safe Drinking Water Act and amended the Solid Waste Disposal Act. All of this and more was part of a much bigger push to make this nation safer and more environmentally aware. We were not unaware; we did not ignore the warning signs or the science even back then. It is only in recent years we have gone backwards in our acceptance of science in favor of dollars.

So yes, my old and unaware self might not know ‘shit’, but I know history and have a fair bit of experience and knowledge under my belt after all these many years. I know we have a true crisis on our hands with a President unfit to serve and a GOP enabling his every whim and lunacy. We have a Democratic Party who helped put him there once, not just at the polls but inside the black-and-white-trumpparty. I know if Democrats don’t stop with their purity tests, their inability to come together on key policy issues that fit the majority and the middle we will put this lunatic into the White House for another four years and if that happens this nation will be perhaps irretrievably lost. I know the firebrands are fun to watch, even have some interesting ideas but they are not the whole fabric rather they are the sparkly fringe around the edge and we need to calm them down and stop giving them so much of the attention they crave.

What else do I know? I know we currently have twenty (20) candidates running for the Democratic Nomination for President of the United States. Do you know who they are all are? What their platforms are? What differentiates them from each other? What qualifies them or for that matter disqualifies them? I know some people are already picking the horses they want to ride to the White House and tearing down the rest, not me. I want to hear them all in debates. I want to know who they are and listen to them talk about the issues. I want to investigate them. I don’t want to hear about their transgressions of thirty years ago, I do believe as humans we evolve. God knows I wouldn’t want anyone digging up my dirt from my thirties or worse, my twenties.

PHOTO ILLUSTRATION BY FIVETHIRTYEIGHT / GETTY IMAGES

The candidates – do you know their names

I know there a couple of the candidates I can drop from consideration without pause. They are entirely unqualified for the office and I have zero understanding of why they would throw their names in the ring except for personal ego.

Unlike 2016 I do not want the media picking my candidate and I don’t want super delegates telling me who the candidate is before I have an opportunity to cast my vote. Let me choose the one I believe has the best solutions, the best policies, the best opportunity to beat Donald Trump. I might not know shit but there is one thing I do know, we will not beat this President at the polls with purity tests and idiotic unsupported ‘ideals’ that appeal to a small but loud number of the electorate. If we don’t dv1954038get those who left the tent in 2016 to come home we are lost as a nation and we may never be found again.  So to all of us, we need to get a grip. We need to make certain we don’t toss out the old folks or the new ones. We need to make certain we grab the middle hard, we need to stop playing games with Race, Gender and all the other special cards we sometimes pander to. Let’s play hard and let’s play for keeps. This is our one and only chance to win the heart and soul of the real America, the one that counts, the one that includes every last one of us.

Hush

Quiet, slip inside the morning

Gently slide into the breaking dawn

Reaching for the newness of it

The sun sneaks through cracks

Warming cool skin on exposed limbs

Fans whirl above moving curtains

Shadows dance across the walls

Beckoning come join the day, play

The sun chases the moon

Dreams fade from memory

Just one more minute, one more

That dream wasn’t quite done

It was almost there in a minute

The day is here wake now

Hush, dreams can be chased later

Signature

28-April-2019

Deafening Silence

My silence is deafening, even to my own ears. It is not for lack of anything to say rather it is that there is far to much to say and the voices in my head keep whispering, arguing even that I should remain silent if I cannot find anything nice to say. I have nothing. This is the truth, I have a thousand voices in my head whispering, arguing, fussing and fighting and most of the time I sit on the sidelines listening. But me? I have nothing to say, or possibly it is I have so much to say it is impossible to place my thoughts into a cohesive, coherent and manageable context. But as the year meanders forward I am trying hard to write, just write outside of my journals.

What do I think? I think we, all of us in this nation are on the very brink of disaster. I think we are staring into the abyss I am afraid for us all. I wonder every single day if our systems will hold. Thus far, they have been falling apart without so much as a whimper from those we elect to act in our best interest and who take oaths to uphold the Constitution and our systems of government.

Speak truth to power is not new in our lexis, coined by the Quakers in the 1950’s, it is a commanding challenge, intended to be nonviolent, intended to codify our voices in our First Amendment and challenge injustice. Yet somehow this has become lost, somehow the courage to stand up, speak truth to power has been replaced with sniveling, groveling and speaking for power with no concern for truth. Somehow, somewhere in the past two years we the people have determined it is acceptable to set aside all moral reason and enable personal cowardice, political expediency and corruption as the new norm. Somehow, somewhere our new norm has become mean, no matter what side of the aisle you sit on mean is celebrated, activism encapsulated to mean agree with me or else and ugly is valued.

Oh, yes I am aware there are those who speak out, yet even they are speaking out for their own truth rather than a national truth, a national best interest despite the mantle they drape themselves in. Then there are those who question just where the national conscious disappeared to, yet they do so loudly and at every opportunity they seem to be part of the problem sometimes. So many of these new young guns are so far to the other side of the argument they are difficult to ‘hear’ without questioning their motives, their values and their ultimate goals. As these standard bearers of the ‘new’ age come into their own they are fascinating to watch, somewhat like a snake charmer is fascinating but one wonders always when that Cobra will strike, killing the Charmer and everyone else within range. With their sincerity and passion for breaking the middle and demanding their way or no way, they are the new Tea Party, ready to destroy everything in their path, throwing out everything and everyone they deem irrelevant or out of step.

Lately, my voice has been silenced by my utter dismay at the fervor some have shown to take on the any and all who are not aligned to them. What I mean by this is those who were once ‘normal’, once compassionate, once willing to listen, once willing to argue and debate even if passionately for their positions are no longer willing to do these things. Those who once cheered Michelle Obama saying, “when they go low, we go high”; now reach for the lowest point and swing with glee. The world is upside down, inside out and without boundaries. Those who once stood for something, even if I disagreed stand for nothing at all but the very ugliest of our nature and our common history. Those who once believed in something believe in nothing at all but are sheep following their ‘belief’ into disaster, willing to believe any lie so long at it is told by their side of the great divide.

I don’t just say this about one side or the other of the political spectrum, but about both sides. It seems we are at a breaking point, we have dumbed down the populace to such a degree it is better to believe a lie than to demand truth, better to inflate invention than hold not only our elected officials but ourselves to a higher standard. We willingly deliver into social media every single day memes that insult our friends and then ask, ‘what?’. We fail, miserably and frequently to understand what we say and do affects our relationships not just today but forever, or maybe we have sunk so low we don’t care. We willing defend the indefensible at the expense of life-long friendships and family rather than consider the consequence of our jumping into fray.

I must be honest, I do this myself. React to something I find offensive, then regret my actions and words immediately. Thus, my silence becomes deafening, even to my own ears. Afraid to speak, afraid to defend, afraid to react. Never have I found myself without words, never in my entire life have I found myself afraid to offend. Now though, today and in this toxic and terrible nation we have allowed to thrive around us all, now I am terrified.

Aren’t you?

Touch and Go

Dawn pushes through the slates ungently

Demanding tender attention

Rolling away from the day, captivated

Reveling in sparkling heat

Stroking skin with a lovers touch

Savoring the slow build

Basking in the languid stretch of time

Enchanted by silken movement

Relishing the lack of compelling necessity

Chasing fulfillment be met

Only over time and as rising need spreads

Creating soft sighs of desire

Dawn broken through sleep chased out

Dreams captured in memories

Damn, empty bed

14-April-2016

Not Social Media

Recently I have been watching social media and the disruption to our social fabric. This isn’t of course new, it is though greater, larger and more ugly. Once upon a time Facebook and others like it came along and invaded our consciousness, invaded our lives in ways no one then could have predicted back in 2004 when Facebook first hit the internet with its innocuous and simple strategy to connect us with family and friends. Today, we are not only connected, we are divided, fighting over politics and anything else. Families are falling apart, lifelong friends are participating in virtual battles reminiscent of WWF cage matches, friends and strangers alike joining in or sitting on the sidelines with popcorn to see who will be emotionally destroyed this time. There is no room for the moderate in this new virtual reality, it is all or nothing proposition in every discussion, every issue must be pro or con, no middle ground is accepted.

I find myself at odds with the world these days. I live in the grey, not black or white, not pro or con, not yeah or nay. I am not a willing participant in the battles any longer, valuing my relationships far more than the debate I once loved. The joy of the examination no longer exists as it is no longer a literate, civil or educated one. I am no longer willing to participate, not with family and friends who I have loved for most if not all of my life. Now and then something so offends me I will offer up a thought, an opinion and then almost immediately regret it. I nearly always  find myself dragged down in the muck, mired in name calling and character assignation (mine) until I bow out of the conversation, defeated by the sheer ugliness of the attacks. These always end with me wondering how my friend or family member could sit back and allow these strangers, these new friends of theirs to attack my character and intellect without mercy simply because of my disagreement with a position. I am stunned by the vitriol within the virtual world of social media. I am brought to my knees some days, but truthfully over the past ten years this has been escalating, the introduction of social media and our ability to sit behind a computer screen to communicate without repercussion has shattered previous norms. I am always hurt by the unwillingness of my friends and family to stop the attacks, I always assume it is fear that stops them. Fear of retribution or ridicule from these friends with very specific and often extreme views.

Are we all becoming more extreme?

I constantly ask myself this question. Is social media enabling extreme views to flourish?

Another thought is, are the extreme views we see today new or simply the manifestation of what has always been part of our social fabric given a new and more anonymous outlet?

If the second question is the more closely aligned with the truth and we as a nation, as a people, are showing our true and terrible colors to the world then our descent from the ‘greatest’ nation to something less than, is well deserved. If on the other hand, social media simply provides an outlet for all the worst and is not representative of us, as a people than still we fail but we have the opportunity to redeem ourselves.

Still it seems I am at odds. The problem is, I am uncertain who I am at odds with. Am I at odds with the majority, truly I hope this is not the case? Am I at odds with friends and family who I have known a significant part of my life, I don’t think this is true as most are like me reasonable, moderate and intellectually curious? Am I at odds with those who I have politically aligned with for a significant part of my life, for better than forty years in fact. Am I at odds with the majority of my gender? Who and what am I at odds with and how in the hell do I resolve these strange disparities in thinking after all these years.

Truthfully the gaps I have found between myself and those who I would normally consider my political allies have too often become great chasms as the current environment has demanded ever more worshipful adherence to a party line moving further and further toward extremes. There is no room any longer for moderation, freedom of thought or thoughtful thinking. Any challenge is considered traitorous and opens the challenger up to being pilloried in the public square. Nevertheless, I continue to challenge. I continue to ask questions. I continue to think freely rather than being led like a lemming to the edge of the cliff. I continue to seek the best answers, no matter where that answer comes from and look for how to fix problems in the best way possible for the nation, not just for those I consider allies and friends. I still believe we have a nation worth saving for all of us. Perhaps I am naïve, yet I believe all our citizens are worth saving and while some are certainly worthy of demonizing based on their horrendous behavior, they are nonetheless part of the fabric of this nation and we must find the means to deal with them within the bounds of our laws, our norms and our hopefulness in a better future.

Someone close to me is convinced this terrible we find ourselves in today began with Barrack Obama, he has his ‘facts’ to show how this is the truth, how the election of this ‘inexperienced’ Senator from Illinois was the source of all our problems.

Someone else close to me points to Donald Trump and says the terrible is laid directly at his feet and prior to him, the nation was not this bad. She can list all the points she has that makes this true and stands firmly by her ‘facts’.

Someone else I know says Bill Clinton’s presidency and the investigation into Whitewater and then later the Monica Lewinsky scandal are where the Terrible began, where the nation experienced the first great divide. Where the polarization of the body politic first happened and that we have never truly recovered.

presidentsI think we must go much further back to find the initial cracks. The first crack, when LBJ signed Civil Rights and the parties shifted. The next with Nixon and the Southern Strategy. The continuation with Reagan and Trickle Down Economics, shifting wealth from the middle to the top creating larger and larger gaps in income each decade since. Barack Obama’s election simple brought fear to the surface, fear of other and fear that what White Folks had been hearing for years was coming to fruition, they were no longer the dominate majority. With the election of Donald Trump, that fear showed its ugly underbelly, it is manifest across the nation and of course vibrant and quivering on Social Media.

So back to where I started, does social media provide or enable a disruption to our social fabric, to norms and values? Are we enabled by the anonymous nature of social media to act on our worst nature? Do we reveal in it or is it simply easier to allow are worst angels their flight wings.

If the above is true, do we have the ability to stuff the ugly and terrible back into the box or is this it, the electronic version of The Purge where friends, family and imperfect strangers attack driving those they disagree with off in virtual bloodletting frenzies.

Holy Hell and Despots

I read somewhere recently that hungry hearts willingly eat lies, or something to that effect. This simple statement stuck with me and I wondered how many different situations it might apply too.

Certainly in our personal relationships. All of us at one time or another have fooled ourselves or allowed ourselves to be fooled because of our own need for love, safety and security. Maybe we simply allowed our hungry heart to override our intellect diving into the shallow end head first even knowing it was ultimately going to hurt. We eat the lies fed to us, the lies we need to hear for our hearts survival.

Now I come to the real crux of my meandering thoughts on why this simple statement has stuck with me. The real question I have been asking for days, weeks, months even; can entire groups of people become ‘hungry’ and swallow lies? Swallow them whole and without question, without challenge. Is this how cults are born? Is this how the souls of nations are lost? Is this how despots are lifted up as saviors while heroes are cast down and spat on, kicked in the head and sullied for their contributions and sacrifices.

If this is true, what has caused this starvation at the heart of our nation? Truly, I ask this in all sincerity. What is the worm that has eaten away at our national pride? What has turned us from the beacon of hope and the shinning city to the era of Governing by Tweeter proclamation, personal animosity and Reality Show Carnage.

If this is how it happens, this hunger that will eat any lie no matter how outrageous, no matter how contrary to previous norms, ethics and values I fear for us all. I think of the cult following of Jim Jones that resulted in 918 people who willingly murdered their own children, loved ones and selves  while shouting Hallelujah. I compare them to all the many once respectable Republicans of Washington who willingly heap praise on the singularly most ignorant President in our history and his quest to ‘Make America Great Again’.

I consider friends, family and others who I know well and who willingly turn a blind eye to the corruption of this administration. I wonder what would cause them to do this, why would they support this tyrant despite all the evidence of who and what he is. None in my circle are racists, none are bigots, none have ever abused a child or a woman; these people love America just like I love America. Once upon a time they were true Conservatives, now I don’t recognize them or their politics. Now when we talk, the discourse turns ugly. Now when we disagree the rally cry is “I am for Trump” and “you can leave if you don’t like it”. Now when we talk, forbid there is anything at all that challenges this President’s competency, decisions, or his leadership on any scale, immediately the gloves come off and the name calling begins. This, from friends and family.

Civility has left the building. The shining city on the hill has turned the lights off and closed door. France has asked for the Statue back and Canada has  kidnapped the Bald Eagle to protect it from us.

We are not the laughing stock of the world, we are something far worse. We are a source of fear and anxiety. This president has aggressively pursued a systematic destruction of long-held alliances. He has insulted heads of states without consideration to how his personal perverse piss-off of the day affects world-wide relationships. We have, thanks to this president entered an era of isolationism and exited the world stage right leaving it in the hands of those who will run with it, economically and politically leaving us poor and strangled on our own miasma and a willful failure to engage. What does the world think of us?

We lose, if we don’t demand the two arms of government intended to provide checks and balance on the Administrative arm begin exercising their authority rather than cowering in fear, we lose. The GOP has shown they are willing to kowtow to the pressure of the Trump Cult rather than speak out, to stand up. They have shown they are afraid of the Cult of Trump, the ‘base’ of ginned up terrified White folk. Because of this fear we will lose this nation and our position in the world for generations to come.

Civility is gone. Common decency is gone. Alliances are going, maybe forever. Now, SCOTUS will be gone, by two seats and possibly by two more before the end of Trumps first term. While we look for the President to represent what is best in us on the world stage, this president is everything that is and has ever been what is the worst in us, he is the incarnation of our worst angels.

Donald J. Trump is the personification of 246 years of slavery

Donald J. Trump is the personification of 100 years of Jim Crow

Donald J. Trump is the personification of the Immigration Quota Act of 1924 establishing quotas based on national origin and limiting numbers specifically from Asian nations

Donald J. Trump is the personification of the turning away of Jewish refugees from Nazi Germany as a ‘danger’ to the security of the US, 1939 St Louis is the most prominent case

Donald J. Trump is the personification of the internment of 120,000 Japanese Americans beginning in 1946

This is just the short list. Donald J. Trump has a desire to ‘Make America Great Again’, what this means to him is an unknown but based on his history all of us can guess, can’t we? Worst than his daily horror show though, is his cult following, all too willing to repeat and even act on his lies.

Hungry hearts eat lies. A nation ate the lies of a con man and in so doing sent us down a slippery slope with an despotic leader at the helm and no one willing to hold him accountable. Donald J. Trump is the accumulation of all our worst inclinations, our worst actions and worst moments in history. He is the very personification of all that has ever been horrifying in our past embodied in a single person and he has a cult following willing to resurrect those times to ‘Make America Great Again’.

28-June-2018

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