Really America, WTF

Soapbox LogoI simply can’t imagine how we got to this place in time. I know, I have watched it all and often railed against it all; yet still I simply am unable to wrap my head or heart around why we are here, at this place as a nation, as a people. My only real and heartfelt reaction to it all is, REALLY JUST WHAT THE FUCK.

I am struggling to make sense of it all. Trying to understand the definitions and terminology. What we say and believe and just how quickly we erase history so we can pretend something new is the only thing that is true. My heart weeps for Orlando. There are no words to express the tragic and terrible of what has happened, for those gone and for those left behind who must now pick up the pieces of and move forward.

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CNN: Mourners at one of many makeshift memorials in Orlando

The human lives lost, the human lives changed forever these are what our focus should be. It didn’t take long though for our focus to change to labels and politics. It wasn’t but mere minutes before we discovered and begin to shift through the blood and anguish, searching for the agenda to latch onto; depending on our own deep-seated and personal design. Never mind, the humanity and need of those in the center of this terrible tragedy, those ‘who knew best’ saw the opportunity and like leeches they attached and attacked.

There are those who see this as an opportunity to raise the flag on gun control. Well yes, there is a need to have this discussion. Most reasonable, thinking people agree. But did you need to flood social media and my inbox with reminders within 3 hours, before bodies were removed from the streets? Before loved ones were informed of their loss? I am on your side, truly I am but I would prefer if you would show some empathy and compassion. I would also prefer it if you would stop using the same tactics as the opposition, stop using fear. Get your facts straight, start calling things what they are rather than what suits your agenda, stop using hyperbole, please. Don’t misinform, inform.

imagesThen there are those who want to raise the flag of Islamophobia (Donald). This really is a red herring and thinking people know it is. We know there is an element of violent and radical Muslims in the world, just as with any religion there is an extreme element and they commit terrible acts. We see their horror stories and hear their latest atrocities screamed at us, constantly. We need only turn on our television to hear about their latest acts of violence against those of their own faith (their primary victims) or be reminded how they hate us by the talking heads of the Right. We need only listen long enough to hear commentators tell us how they are representative of the entire Islamic faith, all 1.6 billion of them. In our minds, we know this is a lie. We know, yet we are afraid because we listen and we can’t help ourselves.

The reality is each and every single time another tragedy happens we look for a reason, beyond the obvious. Another asshole, another disenfranchised, miserable human being murdered innocent people. Maybe they were Christian (Dylan Roof, Timothy McVeigh) Extremist who wanted to strike a blow for their religion or race or gender or maybe all three or any combination. Maybe they were Radicalized Muslims (Tashfeen Malik and Syed Rizwan Farook) who wanted to show their loyalty to their religious ideology. It doesn’t really matter, does it? Terrorism is exactly what it is, no matter where it comes from. We shouldn’t apply a different standard when it is committed by Christians versus Muslims, it is one and the same thing ultimately; it is a violent act against Americans, against America. It is a tragedy costing life and freedom.

 

What I know is the person who shot up Pulse was sick, a lost soul and we as a nation shouldn’t focus on him, shouldn’t give him status in our dialog. He wasn’t a terrorist rather he was a single human being, he hated himself and sought to murder what he hated most in himself. He attacked those he feared and hated; murdering what he hated. He claimed allegiance to a terrorist group in his final hours, he self-radicalized over the months prior to his terrible and tragic act, yet in truth by all the accounts of those who knew him he wasn’t religious. He was, simply self-hating, racist, closeted and lost. He struck out and destroyed lives in his self-hatred. Remember though, he wasn’t an immigrant, he was an American he was one of us.

What I know, there are forty-nine innocent Americans dead. There are fifty-three innocent Americans wounded. There are one hundred and three families who will have to figure out how to put their lives back together, how to get up out of bed every day, make it through the day and live with the horror of lost lives, lost loved ones, lost futures and what ifs.

I weep for Orlando. One more community that must pick up the pieces. I weep for America, once again we must look at ourselves and it seems we will turn our backs on what is so obvious. Our refusal to fix what is so terribly broken. The great divide and our failure to act, to stem the tide of hate and fear and the violence it invokes.

We must ask ourselves, are we one people or many small communities?

Do we come together, working for common cause and finding compromise or do we continue to dig the trench wider and deeper?

Are we Americans or do we continue to place the hyphen in front to create the definition of who we are, separate and apart from each other; always. Do we stand up together and build one America for all of us, no matter our differences. Do we search for ways to come together or do we finally fail as a nation. Do we allow the hate-mongers, the monsters to win, to finally draw the lines of segregation back into place, build the walls so high we never see over them again or do we stand up, as a single people in solidarity and say no more, never again and stop what is causing us to fail.

I weep for America, I weep us all.

 

Our Lost Soul

OpEdHave you ever been struck through the heart by an image, something that simply stops you in your tracks or takes your breath away. An image of terrible beauty or terrible tragedy, something heart stopping. Humans are mostly visual by nature, they say men are more so than women, I think we all are though. Things aren’t real too us unless that thing of beauty or horror is directly before our eyes, even then there are times we can look away if we are able to say, “Not mine, not like me, not my neighborhood, not my country; or some other ignorant bullshit that allows us to disengage.”

Lately, I have been following the story of the Nigerian kidnapped girls, I know many of you have as well now that mainstream media has finally picked it up. There are people throughout the blogosphere who have done a far better job than I at compiling, tracking and presenting information, the links to their blogs are below. I am grateful for their diligence and their care. What they have done as part of a global effort, is I think miraculous; it is also heartbreaking. Heartbreaking to know the world stood by as nearly 300 young women at the beginning of their lives were whisked away from their schools and families and we not only didn’t know but in truth didn’t care until we were forced to pay attention.

I said to a friend I hold dear to my heart, “I remain helplessly hopeful”. I even sign my emails to him this way, as a reminder perhaps, he does not share my sentiments. The truth is, I know the world is terrible. I know through my own life and experience the world can be an abysmal and dark place inhabited by monsters. I do not remain helplessly hopeful out of naivety, I long since lost my innocence sacrificed on the altars of other men’s gods and desires. Yet, I believe in hope and redemption, individually and for humanity if we would only stop our selfish and purely personal pursuit of ‘me before you’, turning away from anything that makes us uncomfortable or doesn’t fit our worldview, like this.

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The Untouchables

Uncomfortable aren’t they? The first time I saw them I was frankly horrified, then I looked more closely. I understood them, instinctively I felt the message rather than saw the offensiveness of the image. Eric Ravelo, a Cuban born artist works in several different mediums; he is a sculptor, painter and multi-media artist. The images above are from his latest work titled The Untouchables for the UnHate Foundation.

Each image sends a different message, each crucifies a child on the back of a ‘known’ and unrepentant oppressor. Known to us, known to society at large and yet we uncomfortably turn away from the image, ‘not like us, not our problem, nothing we can do, not in my neighborhood, not my country’, or worse still, ‘not my religion’.

The first child sacrificed on the back of a Catholic priest, a pedophile the Vatican has covered for, for far too long.

The second child, victim of the sex tourism trade, sexual slavery primarily in Thailand but prevalent in also in Brazil, Vietnam, India and right here in the good old US of A.

The third child a victim of the terrible war in Syria, faceless and horrifying as they starve and choke on chemicals, as they are murdered in their homes. Children as refugees from war, they could be anywhere not just Syria.

The fourth child, perhaps the most frightening image is a child sacrificed for his internal organs on the black market, where most children come from poor countries and most purchases are the wealthiest nations and the wealthiest within those nations.

The fifth child, specific to our nation, the USA and its propensity for guns and their death dealing, particularly the killing of our children.

The final image, also pointed mostly at our nation is a condemnation of the terrible food industry that poisons our children, while pointing mostly to obesity and its relationship to the fast food industry I think we should see beyond this to the entire food industry including big agriculture, sugar and GMO / chemical poisons.

How does all this relate to the kidnapped girls of Nigeria? We turn away from them in the same way we turn away from the children these images represent. How does all this relate to the kidnapped girls of Nigeria? We turn away from them in the same way we turn away from the children these images represent. We ignore the approximately 20.9M adults trafficked every year into servitude, including the 2M children exploited in the worldwide sex trade.

We ignore children exploited everywhere, working in unsafe conditions, in garment factories in China, Mica mines in India; we don’t give a damn. We ignore children starving in our own streets. We turn a blind eye to children sold into sexual servitude everywhere in the world, unless they are blue-eyed and blond, look like us. We ignore nearly 300 young girls in Nigeria, until it is likely too late.

I try, I do try to maintain a hopeful heart. To not weep for our seemingly lost humanity. Sometimes though, it is hard. I find myself on my knees and my tears simply won’t seem to be stopped by my will alone, I weep for the loss of compassion and empathy, the loss of our shared humanity, our inability to reach out and offer simple kindness across borders because it is the right thing to do.

I have to ask, what happened to us as a people. What in the hell is wrong with all of us, have we simply given up hope and stopped believing in the usefulness of our own humanity?

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Links to better bloggers than I for #BringBackOurGirls

http://theobamacrat.com/2014/05/13/nigeria-refuses-to-swap-militant-prisoners-for-kidnapped-girls-new-video-bringbackourgirls/

http://hrexach.wordpress.com/2014/05/13/at-the-end-of-the-day-peace/

Other Links:

http://www.equalitynow.org/node/1010

Peeking Out of My Cave, P1

soapboxpileThis has been a bad week for humanity; let’s face it this has been a bad week no matter where on the political spectrum we fall. For some of us, for those of us who were hoping to see sanity in Washington it has been worse even than we expected. I will admit it, I have had a difficult time taking this week in, not just the national scene but some of the local sheer ugliness has caused me to rock back on my heels and question, what the hell really just what in the hell.

I spent part of the later of the week on Facebook, this time though I didn’t spend it doing one of my past favorite things; arguing with Azzhats. No this week I spent it simply deleting them, unless they were family members. I find I no longer have the energy or inclination to try to pull the curtain back on ignorance with pithy comments to Right Wing Meme’s on Guns, Immigration, Abortion or any combination of same, nope this week fly across my line of sight with some ignorant lack of compassion and I simply deleted you forever, bye-bye .

For the most part though, I have stayed silent allowing the horror of the week to sink in, allowing my heart and my mind to wrap itself around all of it and absorb it. So often we react, lash out in anger and pain, we fail to consider the consequences, on friends or ourselves. So, I sat and listened to others including the idiots in the media, everyone seemed to have an opinion or a source, most of them were bad or ugly or both. I did a great deal of reading, my apologies if I didn’t get to you this week, my energy seemed to be flagging, between all the horror in the broader world and what I simply couldn’t avoid closer to home, I thought it would be better for me and maybe for you if I just crawled into my cave with the lights out.

There are times when the world crashes in on us and it is impossible to escape, impossible not to react without fury, heartbreak, or both. This week the horror stories crashed like waves pounding a beach, one after another without it seemed a break. For every wave that crashed it seemed there was some pundit or politician with something to say, rarely anything positive, uplifting or in many cases true mind you just something to say. If it wasn’t the politicians capitalizing on tragedy or the media bloviating continuously and without purpose, it was the ignoramus Azzhats from both sides of the spectrum making pointless accusations, blowing up already terrible tragedies, pointing fingers or celebrating insanity.

I peeked out of my cave, I gnashed my teeth and frankly, I wept for us all before pulling my head back in and turning the lights off.

The week started for me watching the Dallas Police chase a murderous fool with a gun. Through city streets, he drove his car leading a chase, occasionally shooting at police. Why was this so interesting? This worthless piece of humanity had just shot his soon to give birth girlfriend, the result of his action – he was captured after crashing his car and running into an abandoned house. Unfortunately, both his girlfriend and her unborn child lost their lives, her because of the gunshot and the baby due to oxygen starvation before the doctors could intervene. I met a friend of this young woman’s the following day at a Starbucks I stop at coffee for each day, I listened to the horror of that day for her and the family who had waited at the hospital. The horror as they prayed for a different outcome. All I could do, as I cried with her is hand her my card, offer comfort and silently damn a nation that will not do more to protect us.

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Their story was overshadowed by the Boston Marathon, the lost lives, the horror of the runners who lost limbs. The fear and terror of random violence in what should have been a moment of great triumph for so many. I watched with great pride in my fellow men and women as they ran toward the terror to help others, there are still heroes in this world. I watched Boston respond I was lifted up.

Then came the shit storm, from all sides then came the speculation and the jumping to conclusions and stirring the pot to get a rise out of already highly charged emotions. Maybe I am just overly sensitive, maybe I have a high Bullshit meter, but really why do politicians, pundits and talking heads have to flap their lips when they truly have no information other than their own fears, prejudice and ignorance to guide them, I only want to know. Why is the best we can hope for from our fellow human beings is picture after picture of another human beings terrible injuries, horrific suffering? Why is this the first thing, sometimes the only thing shown along with the accusations of the perpetrators being “Dark Skinned Males“, long before anything was known.

Terrorist Attack – yes, because it created terror in the population

Is anyone aware of who else committed Terrorist Attacks on US Soil?

Timothy McVeigh – Oklahoma City Bomber, 168 people dead, 800 injured. Race: White, Religion: Roman Catholic

Terry Nicols –Oklahoma City Bomber, 168 people dead, 800 injured. Race: White, Religion: Christian

Ted Kaczynski – Unabomber, 3 dead, 11 injured in multiple attacks. Race: White, Religion: Agnostic

Want to know what all of the above have in common, other than being murderers on the Terrorist side of the house, Enemies of the State and if you believe in Hell either already there (Timothy McVeigh) or on their way. Well, let me tell you they were all Mirandized at their arrest, they were all given due process of the law based on our Constitution, they were all presumed “Innocent Until Proven Guilty”.

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev – Boston Marathon Bomber Suspect, 4 dead (includes officer at MIT), 140+ injured. Race: White, Religion: Islam, Citizenship: USA

What is the difference? Oh, yeah there it is, he is not a Christian! Certainly, his crime isn’t up there with Terrorist Duo Timothy and Terry. Do not misunderstand me, what Dzhokhar and his brother are suspected of is terrible, what they are accused of perpetuating against innocent people is an act of terror. I do not excuse this, not by any means. Nevertheless, since when do we suspend our Constitution, our fundamental rights simply as a convenience? Again and in stronger language, WTF! He is a nineteen-year-old kid, we don’t need to suspend his rights he is alone in the world, injured and scared. No matter the crime, no matter the heinous act this is still last, I checked the United States of America and we still are a nation of Laws, we are still all afforded the “innocent until proven guilty” rule, aren’t we?

I weep for all of us. I weep for our disintegration. I weep for our willingness to turn our backs when the suspect is not like us. I weep that we are willing to cheer this suspension of law.

I ask you all, what is next?Kickm

Stay tuned, I will take on the rest of the week in the news later.

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