Dear God, III

Dear God, it is getting pretty awful down here and I think you might be ignoring us. Have you finally had enough of our pettiness? I know so many of us are acting like children with our favorite toy taken away. Unfortunately, our favorite toys can kill and I think we need more than a nudge in a better direction if we are going to save ourselves and the world. God, I just don’t see it getting better soon; do you?

Dear God, it doesn’t seem like we know how to talk to each other. I don’t know that we ever really knew how to talk to each other without the veneer of ‘polite’ society, but that veneer has cropped-1960-lindabeen ripped away. Now what we have is fury, hurt feelings and offended people everywhere. You can’t turn on the television or read the news without hearing about it, you know what ‘it’ is, right?

Dear God, I have to tell you right now I am gutted my heart stuttering, barely finding a rhythm each morning to lift me out of my bed. Though I try to find those moments to gladden me, to raise me up and thus offer up to you my gratitude, it becomes ever more difficult the longer this goes on. I think I and so many others have terrible sensory deprivation and we shrink ever inward. God, I think we need you to give us a path out of this, show us the way or we will lose ourselves. Truthfully, what we hear from these TV fakes, they are terrible and those of us with discerning hearts we know they are not speaking in your name yet so many are listening to them it is terrifying.

Dear God, I am afraid. I know many of us are scared right now. Certainly, you hear from people you haven’t heard from in decades beseeching you for help, money, jobs, maybe even salvation, and a host of other things right now. Likely you feel like Santa Clause at the mall with children lined up to sit on your lap and give you their wish list. I am sure the “Oh God” prayers sent your way every single day sounds like a cacophony rather than the pleasing sound of true worship.

You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions. James 4:3 ESV

Dear God, it is terrible and terrifying down here right now. I have watched friends turn into enemies at the drop of a misplaced word. I have watched fools say stupid things and bring low entire communities. I have watched children die for nothing and not a word be said, not a word. I have been crushed reading the words of those I thought I knew, sometimes even loved as they repeated the bigoted tropes from one side or the other, accused me of merely trying to ‘fit in’ angelweep2when I simply act on my conscience. God, I don’t think my moral philosophy has changed even in the midst of these trying times; how, though, do I remain detached and not take personally all these terrible over-simplifications and attacks coming from ‘friends?’

Dear God, it is growing more lonely by the day. People are becoming meaner without the ability to touch, I think we are learning physical touch is vital to our very humanity. People are losing their connection to one another, forgetting we are, in truth, part of one great, diverse and beautiful family. We may not always agree, hell we all too frequently do terrible things to each other for petty reasons. But, now God, we are so very disconnected from each other we are forgetting even those we claimed to love, nevermind the stranger on the street. I fear what and who we will be when this is over. So if you wouldn’t mind a nudge is all I am asking, just a reminder for those who can still hear your voice. I fear those who can’t hear you it will require something far more calamitous and I don’t think we could bear that right now.

Scheme of Things

In the grand scheme of things, nothing is right with the world today. Some of us know this, deep inside of ourselves, we know. Some of us guess it; something just doesn’t feel right. Some of us continue to believe everything will be alright, all we have to do is ignore the truth and believe in the fantasy, and the world will right itself without intervention. Those in the third group, they scare the hell out of me. They are conspiracy theorists, end-of-days evangelists, science deniers and other fringe hanger on’rs who will argue with the truth no matter how many facts are before them.

The world is tilted on its axis. White is Black with no shades of gray. Facts are Lies and not those little white lies we all tell sometimes, but boldfaced and easily fact-checked. Science is a conspiracy to lead fools astray, despite science once made this nation the greatest and most inspiring in the world. Nothing, not a single thing makes sense to those of us seeking something, anything to hang onto in a world seemingly out of control.

Our world is changing; it will affect how we exist going forward. None of us know what the change is only that it is coming. As we sit, isolated in our homes alone or with our family, we realize it will impact us, and it is at every single tier of our society. Most of us recognize finally that we have no control. We are all trying hard to wrap our arms and heads around what it all means, to our futures, our children’s future, and finally, our nation. If we are in the first two groups mentioned above, we know something is changing; nothing will be the same, we just don’t know what it means.

Oddly, we all keep asking when things will return to ‘normal’; I think the relevant question should be, what will our new normal be? Possibly even more importantly, who will determine what the new normal will be? Maybe we should also ask, what normal is it everyone is so eager to return to because I can think of several things right off the top of my head that was not so great. Then really, we should be asking, when the doors are finally flung open, and we return to whatever ‘normal’ is, will most of us actively participate or simply be shoved aside to survive as best we are able.

With millions of jobs lost, millions out of work, incomes lost and the potential of homes lost, savings and retirement lost, we are facing a depression far worse than the Great Depression of the 1930’s. The difference, this time the wealthy will keep their wealth and everyone else will fall further behind. This time the middle-class will entirely disappear and poverty will become a sliding scale of have not. This time, it will be bad, worse and terrifying. This time, instead of a nation coming together, standing together and trying together, we will be a nation split apart by distrust, partisan politics and pure unadulterated hate in some cases. Do not get me wrong, we certainly had some of that in the first Great Depression, but we also had pride and a common foe; we didn’t have the “wholehearted” look across the table at one another and see the enemy as we do today.

What will we do when the nation returns to ‘normal’?

Will we return to work as if nothing has happened to change the landscape of our nation? Will the thousands of small businesses shuttered through this pandemic suddenly reopen, rehire and begin working as if there was no break in their business operations? Will the restaurants and neighborhood bars, the lifeblood of many communities suddenly find the working capital to start up again? The barbershop or beauty shop on the corner unlock their doors to welcome their shaggy and disheveled customers back after weeks, if not months of self-service. We pay lip service, but do we truly understand all these business models and their operations? The truth is, most do not have deep pockets, most cannot wait it out and most will not reopen. The business landscape and that of our neighborhoods will be very different when finally we can go outside again. Our cities and small towns will look more like Detroit after the fall of the Auto Industry with shuttered windows and locked doors.

What will we do? With most families teetering on the edge of destitution, one paycheck away from complete forfeiture rather than the six months recommended with no real remedy on the horizon. In the near term, some people will receive help in the form of $1,200 from the government maybe a bit more if they had dependents on their taxes last year but there are loopholes. If you are furloughed you have access to unemployment, but as with the last recession, it will never be enough to keep you and your family afloat. In very real terms best case you live in a state that pays unemployment on a sliding scale that considers dependents, the most you can expect is:

  • Alaska – $442 w/dependents
  • Connecticut – $724 w/dependents
  • Illinois – $667 w/dependents
  • Iowa – $591 w/dependents
  • Maine – $667 w/dependents
  • Massachusetts – $1,234 w/dependents
  • Michigan – $362 w/dependents
  • Ohio – $647 w/dependents
  • Pennsylvania – $580 w/dependents
  • Rhode Island – $867 w/dependents

If you are furloughed, you have no access to vacation pay. You cannot cash out your diminished 401K, but you have those paltry unemployment funds to look forward to and foreclosure-1-1your employer can honestly say you are still an employee. You, on the other hand, will have to choose between food on the table, the roof over your head and maybe something else of equal importance. Maybe you can bargain with your bank, your creditors might make a deal with you, but you will have a steep hill to climb when you finally go back to work. Ruined credit, high-interest rates and big first payments to catch up.

What will we look like as a nation when this is over and we fling the doors wide and step outside? Will our nation be kinder? Will we be gentler as a people? I wishfully keep thinking maybe, but all indications say it is only going to get worse, crueler, more hyper-partisan.

The era of expertise is finally dying under the weight of Coronavirus. The age of intelligent and thoughtful debate has seen its last breath. Though long dead as a legal rule, the Fairness Doctrine is now finally and fully taken its last gasp as a philosophical standard in reporting, no longer can we trust any source of coverage.

I have only this when a man or woman tells you who they are; believe them. Believe what comes out of their mouth as the truth. No need for clean up or analysis. We are suffering the truth of who we have elected to every office across this land. It is not just the Presidency; it is every office Federal, State and Local. If this is the nation we want, we got it. Our incompetence, disinterest and failure to participate got us to this point. We own all of it. If we want something better than this, we the people of this nation best rise up and take part in the recovery.

Normal? What the hell is normal? Do any of us genuinely want to return to where we were? In the grand scheme of things, we don’t have much time to fix what we all had a part in breaking.

Now What

Soapbox LogoIn a word, what a world. Okay, that is three words. It is terrifying though, don’t you think? I wonder sometimes if we will survive the next eleven months to election day and then what will happen when the results are announced? Either way, what will happen whether the current occupant of the Oval Office wins or loses, what will happen? Already the fabric of our nation is being ripped apart, everything we stand for is being tested, everything that has ever been considered good is being proven to be rotten at its center. But what will happen if #3 loses the election on November 2? What will he do between November 3 and January 21? What hell will he unleash on the United States and every nation of this world in the eighty (80) days when he has nothing to lose and his battered ego is thrown into high gear?

To ‘wag the dog‘ means to purposely divert attention from what would otherwise be of greater importance, to something else of lesser significance. … The expression comes from the saying that ‘a dog is smarter than its tail’, but if the tail were smarter, then the tail would ‘wag the dog‘.

My fellow Americans, it seems we have an entire administration focused on wagging that dog, hard. A President, who has taught them all well and with limited effort on his part has turned an entire political party into slavering sycophants at the alter of his out blown ego.  If this were not so dire, if the consequences were not so calamitous, I would watch in fascination and giddy glee. Unfortunately, for all of us #3 and his band of minions have turned up the dial and put us all in even more danger simply to satisfy his baseless ego.

To ‘wag the dog‘ means to start a war or military operation to divert negative political attention away from yourself. Based on the movie of the same name, where the President fabricates a fake war to take political pressure away from a scandal.

What now? Where do we go from here? We have three hundred and one (301) days before the next election. Between now and then, how much more harm across the world can this President and his bootlickers do, to the nation and the world? His nature will not allow him to ignore a slight, he will go all in at the slightest hint of an insult to his manhood, his intellect or his competency; none of which exist in the real world only in 700-00153871his mind. He will spend the day excitedly tweeting plans to financially ruin allies who question him, commands to blow up nations, assassinate enemy heads of state and nasty childish insults at private and public citizens who disagree with him. He has most recently noted his tweets are on par with Presidential orders and Congressional Briefings.

Where do we go, as concerned citizens? What is our out from the downward spiral this president and his cult are taking us? How do take back the soul of a nation and restore order? Some would say and I do not entirely disagree, the past three years have only exposed us for what we were all along. This president and his allies did not introduced xenophobia, racism, sexism, classism, nationalism and all the other ‘isms’ to the United States, only pulled the Band-Aid off what has always been simmering under the surface. I don’t disagree, but we were making progress. We were taking small steps. We were slowly moving toward a better day, a better world and better understanding. We were making it intolerable for the ‘isms’ to exist. We were slowly but surely eradicating the acceptance of them in our schools and public spaces. We were expanding our understanding of one another, small steps I know but they were there and it was good. Our first Black President made some of us take notice, made many of us proud of the nation we were building, together. Of trump-pence-pompeo-impeachmentcourse, he also made many terrified, thus we have this deranged imbecile sitting behind the Resolute Desk.

Now what? This is what I always come back too. We have an impeached president, who is close to kicking off another war he cannot win. We have a Senate intent upon cheating, on giving him a pass not just to pacify his ego but to smooth his and their own way into re-election. We have Russia with a free hand to interfere in our elections and our national security. We have a government with zero checks and balances. We have a media entirely undermined by the current Administration. We have a White Supremacist writing speech’s and guiding the president in his immigration policy. We have children in cages dying and no one seems to care. We have Black and Brown people dying in the street, every single day and no one seems to care. We have Synagogue’s being defaced and their members being murdered and no one seems to care. We have Black churches being defaced and their members being murdered and no one seems to care. We have Neo-Nazi’s and White MillerPutinSupremacist marching in our streets and the best we get from the POTUS is they are very fine people, no one seems to care.

We have a family of criminals, given high-level security clearances, making millions if not billions from their positions close to the president. No one questions this, no one seems to care.

Worst of all, we don’t have a viable Democrat running for office capable of exciting enough of the fence sitters to vote. So Now What?  Just what in the hell do we do now?

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

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?

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.

Game Over

One hundred days, really it has only been just over one hundred days. I am not going to rail against the current President of the United States, it is not worth my time or the click-clack of my nails against the keyboard. There is too much to say, too much to rail against and many others have made it their lives work to pound their heads against that immovable object. Instead, I am going to take on the other side of the house, the other apparently immovable object….the DNC, the Progressives, the Liberals of this nation.

My first question, just what the hell is wrong with you people?

Do you think I am asking this question in a vacuum?  It is an honest question, what the hell is wrong with all of us? We are shrinking the tent, making ourselves smaller and less interesting to the common man and woman in the streets. We are in fact scaring the bejeezus out of many of the everyday people we say we represent. So I have to ask, just what the hell is wrong with all of us.

People who say they represent our interests, say they are Progressives / Liberals / Democrats are rioting in the streets of cities, tearing up businesses and personal property and we say nothing. We say not one single thing at all. Instead, we sit back and allow the Anarchists to run wild in the streets and we shrug our shoulders.

People who say they represent us, our interests are standing up in public making the most ridiculous statements, including the idea of ‘purity tests’ on seated Democratic Congress men and women and Senators in secure districts. Yes, that’s right purity tests. Let me help you on this one, we don’t all have to think exactly alike, we don’t all have to tow the line on every single issue, we are not the Tea Party or the Freedom Caucus. We are, I hope, the party that invites those who are from many walks of life and who seek to be represented by intelligent, thoughtful people who will vote their conscious and in most cases vote in support of a platform we can agree on, one that is representative of a wide range of people from many walks of life.

I need to point something out right here, we do not all vote for every Congressional Representative or Senator. The people of their district or state vote for them, in state elections. The duty of the Congressperson or Senator, even while voting on legislation that affects the entire nation is to also represent their own constituents in the best way possible. If they are doing a good job, they are representing all their constituents, not just the ones who voted for them, not just the ones who scream the loudest, but all of them!

So let’s have a conversation about why we find ourselves where we are. Maybe first we should define exactly where that is, before we move on to more esoteric discussions.

  • 33 States have Republican Governors, which amounts to 60% of the population
  • 25 States Republicans have a Trifecta, where they control both Legislative Houses plus the Governor’s Mansion

This brings us to Washington, that quagmire of corruption.

  • White House, Independent Donald Trump spent his entire life as a Democrat until he decided to run for president. He picked up on the worst of the rhetoric, appealed to the lowest common denominator and hijacked the Grand Old Party.
  • Far Right Wingnut Mike Pence is his loyal lap dog, went along with him. Colluded in every scheme and made excuses for his madness. All to be one step closer to the office chair he would never have gained on his own.
  • Congress and the Senate swept in on his coattails. Where usually we would have checks and balance instead we have nothing but more complicity, more turn the other way and hope like hell you aren’t caught in the coming storm. They are falling, slowly and one by one, they are falling.
  • Supreme Court, we lost it already. Be fully aware it is gone unless something dramatic happens to bring this entire administration down to its knees SCOTUS is gone for a generation. Shame on all of us.

So how did we get here? It wasn’t in a single election. It wasn’t because we blinked in 2016. It wasn’t because White Women voted for the wrong candidate (Trump). It wasn’t because not enough people got out to vote. Stop, stop here and now with the blame game and the finger pointing. Really? It makes you look unintelligent, every single time I read some post or blog blaming everyone but the true culprits, I cringe.

Trump is President of the United States because he won the election according to our laws, according to our rules. The fact of the matter is we, every single person who calls themselves a Progressive, a Liberal or a member of the corrupt Democratic National Party put him in that office just as surely as those who voted for him.

We blinked. We didn’t fight at the state and local level when the RNC was pouring money into those elections and gerrymandering those states to ensure the future. We didn’t pay attention as we slowly bled Governors and state legislatures; as cities flipped and one by one congressional seats flipped, we ignored the signs. We thought the only important thing was the office of President so that was all we paid attention to. We allowed the DNC to unwisely pick battles, withhold much-needed money from winnable battles, losing fights we could have won had we just had a little more help from a national party with more than enough money to spend.

We didn’t complain when the DNC put up a bad candidate. Yes, I said it Hilary Clinton was a bad candidate and she ran a bad campaign. She lost because she shouldn’t have run. She had too much baggage, she may be an accomplished woman but she should have bowed out, recognized it was not her time, would never be her time. She should have given this nation a fighting chance. She put herself ahead of us. That should have been our first clue she was a bad damned candidate. Then she had the audacity to ignore entire states, believing she could afford to not campaign, to not show up.  Now? Frankly, I wish she would sit down and shut the hell up for just a little while.

Purity tests? What do you, the DNC and others exactly want to test for? Oh, yeah I know what these tests are don’t get me wrong. You all want to be certain Senators and Congress people are Left enough for you. You want everyone to be exactly aligned with some mythical party line, voting records so pure as to require sunglass to be read. But that isn’t realistic, is it? We don’t all align on every single issue, we disagree on many issues truth be told. The reality is, what we should want is a loosely built coalition of like-minded individuals who will vote in the best interests of the nation, seeking common ground with the other side when possible and demanding the best solution for our national security, economic health and civil rights and freedoms at all times. The fact of the matter is, we need strong, independent men and women who will help us frame the future. We need those who are not afraid to take on party politics when those politics are not in our best interests. We need those who will speak from the floor of Congress for the people of their district and their nation, against injustice from wherever it comes.

Frankly, we need new blood. We need to flush the two houses of Congress of all those who have made of living off of swimming in the quagmire that is Washington politics. We need to demand term limits. We need to demand those term limits extend to the Courts, including the Supreme Court. The only way we quash corruption is to take the issue into our own hands. Purity tests? Really?

I am an Independent for a reason, I could not pass a Purity Test. This is what I look like:

60% Progressive

20% Liberal (yes there is a difference)

10% Conservative (did you guess that?)

10% Libertarian

Really think about your politics. Can you honestly say you are all one thing, entirely one thing? That you cannot find common ground with your opponents, ever on any issue. We have come to an impasse in this nation and it is frightening. We, on the Left though, we are hypocrites and we need to get our house in order before next year. We need to stop our hand-wringing and whining about the last election and start figuring out how we are going to take back at least one House in Washington and some of the States. How we are going to undo some of the damage done over the past twenty years that allowed this disaster to take place. If we don’t step up our game, it is over for a very long time to come.

Telling the Blues

Starting Here

You wouldn’t know it by my writings I am extraordinarily private about much of my life, especially if it is imperfect in my own eyes. I intimated I was struggling in my last somewhat personal writing, here Introversion and the Blues, still, it doesn’t tell the entire story. I find I haven’t had the words, my voice simply silenced by my internal war with depression. I could not find a way to tell the story of my own fear, melancholy and my failure to be compassionate toward myself.

The truth, while this isn’t the first time I have been laid low by depression it has been one of the worst. It was exacerbated by external influences, some over which I had control but chose to push to the limits and others over which my control was limited if not non-existent. I allowed others inside my world, wanting to believe they had my best interest at heart, even while knowing they did not. I dug my hole deeper, shook my soul harder turned myself inward, allowed myself to be hurt, time and again and ultimately doubting myself, questioning myself, my value and my worth.

There were days when the sun came up and I despaired that I had woken with the sun. There were nights, I lay down and prayed for that one last seizure that would stop my breath and heart.

Terrible, I know. Terrible to write the words. Terrible to admit that I felt this for so long. Terrible to acknowledge there are times I still feel this way some nights, some mornings.

The truth is, my blues had gripped me hard this time and initially I had not realized just how hard or for how long they have had me in their grasp. I kept thinking I am out of it, the fog is lifted I am moved beyond this thing but the truth is, I hadn’t. I keep looking for the starting point, that place in time I can put a stake in the ground, in my soul, in my psyche; when did it start where the Y in the road had appeared and I took that path that led here, to this place right now. Honestly? I don’t know. There are so many intersections over the past five years, so many points in time.

I am so grateful there are a few beloved friends and family members who saw my despair and continued to stand by me, shake me now and then, reach into my self-imposed bubble of silence and demand my participation. They did this even when I retreated further into my natural state of isolation. It would have been so easy to stand aside, let me draw my darkness closer and allow me to withdraw further knowing my introversion was simply part of my personality but that this was different. They saw me and saw this was more, this was dangerous and they sometimes kicked the shit out of me and other times just gently prodded me into the world, if even just for an hour or two.  These diehards, who dug in knowing I was closer to the edge than I would ever admit to withstood my rejections, my absolute and outright sometime lies of “I am fine, really”. They threw lifelines and drug me through and demanded I stay in the world, even when my one true desire was to give up when the world seem pitiless and I wanted nothing more than to get up and get off.

depression4

Am I beyond this funk, this fog, this blue? No, really I am not yet. But I know it has been clinging to me and I get that I have been reacting badly, letting too much of my life be taken over by this terrible. I know I have made some horrible choices because I was hurting. I know I allowed others to hurt me because I was hurting and thought they were the most I deserved. I know now I nearly broke myself because I didn’t heed the warning signs, I didn’t listen to my own heart and soul when I screamed. Thankfully, even during this time, I have made some great choices too. I have done some good things for .  myself though I nearly took myself to the brink of destruction and lost it all.

Is it over? No, not yet. I have recovery to do. I have to find those doors to walk through, those steps to take to recover what I have lost. I have to find ways to be healthy, to embrace what I know and allow others to take care of me when I need it. It is time for me to start the slow climb back, emotionally, financially, physically and elsewhere in my life so I can live with all the choices past, present and future. It is time to re-engage the world on my terms, without apology or recrimination. I have to recognize I am subject to the Blues, not let them overtake my world, destroy what I build and be proactive or one of these days I won’t have the opportunity to say no more.

For those who suffer from Depression, I get it. This is hard. It is always hard. We lose so much every single time. Do not do this alone, reach out if you can and if you can’t let others reach in grab the lifelines they throw.

Whether I Like it or Not

Soapbox LogoWith a flick of the wrist, a twist or a pull we have introduced into our nation the most openly corrupt, venal and hostile administration we have ever been witness too. On 9 November 2016 many woke thinking their worst nightmare had been realized, never thinking they hadn’t seen anything yet. It was only just beginning.

Some thought, I will just wait and see.

Some thought, hurray my side won now it is my turn.

Some thought, this is the end and all I have and all I am will be lost.

Me? I am in the middle of one and three. I am a pragmatic Progressive Independent who believes in America, Americans and the US Constitution. I long for this nation to be the best it can be and recognize there is a very long way to go. I also realize many of us, most of us will disagree as to what ‘best’ looks like and therein lies one of our most fundamental problems.

What is the best we can be? As that icon of Conservatives Ronald Reagan said in his farewell address;

 ‘I’ve spoken of the Shining City all my political life. …In my mind it was a tall, proud city built on rocks stronger than oceans, windswept, God-blessed, and teeming with people of rreaganfreeall kinds living in harmony and peace; a city with free ports that hummed with commerce and creativity. And if there had to be city walls, the walls had doors and the doors were open to anyone with the will and the heart to get here. That’s how I saw it, and see it still.’

What few mention, these words are lifted from John Winthrop, the first Governor of Massachusetts Bay Colony and despiser of all things Democratic or even having a whiff of religious tolerance. Yes, when our presidents and president’ wannabe from both sides reference that shining city, they show their ignorance of history, this is who they are quoting:

  • Massachusetts Body of Liberty, 1641, this is a special document and I urge you to pay special attention to Women’s and Children’s Liberties and Capital Laws. Scroll through all of them though since our friend Winthrop had a special love for torturing accused witches.
  • Governor John Winthrop, I urge you to read other letters and links. He was at best a piece of work.

I use this historical reference only to define a back-to-the-future moment. Our current President used the slogan “Make America Great Again” to stir a base that felt left behind. Donald J. Trump stepped into and took advantage of the maelstrom, he reaped what the DNC and the GOP had sown, and he did it gleefully. We shook our head and said, “He can’t win”, meanwhile he sucked up airtime and all the oxygen in the room, surrounding himself with sycophants and psychopaths willing to do his bidding.

MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN

Strip Civil Rights from those who don’t look like me, worship like me, love like me. Which includes anyone who doesn’t fall into all of the following:

guy-with-moneyCaucasian, Male, College Educated, Christian (at least in name), Heterosexual (at least publically), net worth at least +$500,000 (yes this is real, though you will be forgiven this one if you are working toward it and someone vouches for you)

Everyone else? Your value is limited too:

Labor, photo op, votes (while you still have voting rights)

President Donald J. Trump and his co-President Stephen K. Bannon are everything we should fear. Each in his own way are the antithesis of who we say we are as a nation and a people. They are the very worst of us, bundled together and running our nation by edict from the Oval Office. Surrounding them are those willing to turn a blind eye on their worst actions and blatant lies by calling it something else, Alternative Facts or someone else’s error.

MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN

By whose standard? Based on what criteria? When America is great again, where will you be in the pecking order?

Today, those of us on the Left are protesting everything and demanding of our representatives in Washington they should block everything. This demand is tantamount to shutting down how government functions. Do we really want to take a page from the GOP playbook? Are we really going to be guilty of the same bad behavior as our ideological opponents? What others see, ‘disrupters’, ‘anarchists’, ‘rioters’ and worse hypocrites. What they hear? “Do as I say, not as I do”. We are protesting Donald J. Trump instead of his policies, instead of his actions, instead of his corruption, instead of the specific issues though we react to the immediacy of the issue at hand we are not, in fact, doing anything more than reacting to Donald Trump. We have frankly, not moved off our disappointment at losing the election and continue to beat that drum; STOP IT!

political-spectrum

 

Am I suggesting we should not protest? Not at all. I am suggesting we should not protest every single thing, every single nominee, and every single uttered word. I am suggesting we should pick wisely our battles. I am suggesting we should stop blocking roads, blocking access to hearing out the other side, I am suggesting we should be speaking up when college students prevent free speech on campus. I am suggesting we come together, stop bitching about our majority win and use that to our advantage to win back state houses, governor mansions and Congress in the next two years. I suggest we start playing Checkers, the long game, the next census is in 2020, if we don’t have critical governor mansions in our hands by that time, we will never regain Congress, state legislatures or the Supreme Court before 2030.

The America of the future will be isolated, will be great no more, and will be dull and frightening. Stop playing Tit-for-Tat, this is not the way we win! Stop focusing on short gains and start looking toward the future we all want for our nation and the world. Sure this President is not who I would have picked, nevertheless, he won by our laws so he is who we have either for the next four years or until he does something so egregious even his own party can no longer turn a blind eye. I just remind you who is standing in the wings waiting to take the oath of office, be careful what you wish for.

inthewings

Make America Great Again? Start with our own behavior lead by example, stop following the example of the opposition.

Just for a quick giggle: By State Most Questions Asked Since Election

How Now

Soapbox LogoI am the enemy. Yes, I said it. I am the enemy. I don’t live my life with this intention. I don’t wake in the morning thinking, “what can I do today that will harm another person, create chaos or stranger danger”. Nevertheless, I am the enemy.

Why do I say I am the enemy? I will answer you in as succinct a way possible. I am the enemy because many have identified me as such. Not because I have done or said anything specifically, not because of my beliefs or my political ideology, which have not changed in 40 years. I am the enemy because of my demographics.

Appearance/Race: White

Gender: Female

Age: 59.5

Orientation: Straight

Economic Status: Middle Class (not really)

Ignorant? Yes. Foolish? Yes. Nonetheless, since waking up on 9-November-2016 many of my friends, some of my neighbors and many strangers have identified me as ENEMY.

The 2015-2016 election cycle has been harsh and ugly. It has brought out the worst in the American people. It has unleashed every single thing that is ugly in our psyche and without a backwards glance said, ‘there you go, have at it’.

In 1956 W.E.B. Dubois condemned both parties and made an argument for why he would not vote in the upcoming election between incumbent Dwight Eisenhower and Adlai Stevenson. This eloquent and damning indictment of American politics is as relevant today as it was then, it was published in The Nation, October 1956, read it here.

For me, the most significant statement of the entire essay is this;

I believe that democracy has so far disappeared in the United States that no “two evils” exist. There is but one evil party with two names, and it will be elected despite all I can do or web-duboissay.

We have drawn a line in the sand and erected walls to our absolutes. The very things we condemn in others we adopt for ourselves and call good. We do not see our own hypocrisy, we do not acknowledge our own terrible for what it is, both Terrible and Tragic.

The problem in how we are reacting to the election of Donald J. Trump? We are looking for excuses, seeking to lay blame anywhere we can, enemy and ally alike. In doing this we looked first to the easiest target, anyone ‘not exactly like us’ which included allies and with broad brush strokes, we named Enemies. We have refused to look in the mirror, at our candidates and the past eight years and accept we have significant work to do at the grassroots; if we ever wish to regain moral authority, political power or the ability to move this nation towards better days for all citizens, we must begin inside the party of supposed progressive thought and make real change.

Having the Presidency simply isn’t enough. The past eight years should have proven this, clearly though we didn’t learn a damn thing. We lost State House after State House, we lost Governorship after Governorship, we lost the House and the Senate and we lost our standing on the World Stage. We paralyzed a Democratic President through our failure to pay attention, through our focus on the specialty and special needs rather than looking at the overall needs of the nation, listening to the voice of the nation cry out. We failed the nation and the world, not just the few but the many. Donald J. Trump may be the culmination of years of GOP talking points, fear mongering and baiting of all kinds; but, we own him as much as the GOP owns him, we own him through our inattention to the bigger picture.

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There are several examples of our inattention, or better our attention to the specialty while ignoring the larger or overarching issues. We failed to look at what is critical:

  • The real economy
  • Real American jobs
  • Fear in Middle America

We failed to pay attention to word on the street about

  • Immigration, both legal and illegal and the cost of American jobs
  • Crime and Justice in America, the real cost to America
  • Rising cost of Healthcare

We failed to address the issues that mattered to Americans, such as:

  • Growing poverty across the American landscape
  • Ongoing War and our returning veterans
  • Our International reputation

We did not listen and speak to the heart of America, we did not address their fears of a failing American Dream.

When the only answer to a question that disagrees with your point of view is the following, “You are (Pick One and Insert: White, Heterosexual, Above the Poverty Line) you are not allowed an opinion regarding this subject”, you are over the line and you have turned an ally into at best a disinterested third party. At worst, you have turned an ally into the opposition. When the only answer to dissent or disagreement is name calling or labeling, you have turned a potential ally into an enemy.

When the voice of the minority becomes larger, louder and more important than the whole we lose. This is a simple fact proven with the election of Donald J. Trump.

When we demand strict adherence to ideology without question or dissent we lose, proven by the election of Donald J. Trump.

When we name enemy those who question or speak out, where they see potential danger or unrighteousness we lose; proven by the election of Donald J. Trump.

When we veer so far off course, forgetting all but those representing the special interests and demanding adherence to their interests alone we scare the rest of the nation. When we name any and all who question or disagree, “Bigots, Racists, Homophobes, Xenophobes, Sexists, Misogynists….”, we lose, proven by the election of Donald J. Trump.

So now we are two (2) days away from the inauguration of Donald J. Trump. Not my choice for President of the United States of America. I am greatly afraid for this nation. I pray we will find a way to manage this man who will be POTUS, who does not seem to understand the gravity of the office he will hold. Who has nominated to his Cabinet men and women who adhere to positions that are destructive and against every tenet this imperfect nation is built upon.

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If we are to answer this Presidency with real solutions and ensure the least harm we must begin to heal ourselves, we must see beyond the ‘not like me’ to the common ground. If we are to find solutions, we must start with the open hand rather than the closed fist. It must start with the reminder, we are Americans first, we have common goals and all the other labels do nothing but set us back, play into someone else’s desired outcome to keep us separated and screaming rather together and talking.

I am not the enemy, though some have labeled me as such even those who once proclaimed to love me.

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