You Won’t Like This

Las Vegas.

It usually takes me several days to process dramatic and truly damaging events that permeate our shared public consciousness. Las Vegas is such an event. It has made such a deep impact on America that I cannot even speak of it in the past tense, as it will linger and fester in our souls for a long time. I don’t even have to qualify it. Simply the name of the city is enough. And this will probably be the case for a long time. Unless the arms race of massive death creates another tortured soul with a plan.

Heroes is not necessarily the only word I would use to describe the many whose acts of courage and compassion are rightfully honored and revered. So many, in all disasters are called heroes. But in this, as in those, heroes is an incomplete concept. For me, it is not enough to simply say they are heroes. I need to hear why they are heroes, either big or small, either saving lives or soothing scared children.

Heroes do what they do, they run towards not away, because they love their neighbor, out of compassion and empathy. Because they intuitively revere and love life and people, who all deserve to be saved. Tragedy destroys the boundaries between people and carries suffering down the path to hope. The clarity of our shared pain shows us we are one, individual yet part of something greater, something that lives deep inside us and manifests when we need it. This is the divinity and beauty of heroism, not merely a selfless deed.

Now the authorities are looking for motive. Desperately. The motive is simple, as it is for all mass killers. They are in pain and choose to assuage that pain through heinous murder. No matter their state of being they all make a choice. Whether suffering through political anger, mental disorder’s damaged thinking or aggrieved despair, the pain is the same and the choice to act with violence is the same, to make others suffer as they do. Having known severe pain I cannot hate them. But why do we make so many more of them than anywhere else?

These killers act out because American culture permits us to resolve conflict and pain with violence. Not only is it permitted it is the preferred means. Immorality as social norm. But one cannot legislate morality. Conservatives know this but are so heavy-handed and self-serving they cannot serve that truth in a way that serves society. Liberals want to help save people but sell themselves short out of fear. They cannot maintain outrage because more tragedy is always around the corner to overwhelm them. And the twain shall never meet.

Everybody knows subconsciously that the American culture’s affair with guns makes the gun violence dynamic here different than the rest of the world. We cannot be another Australia no matter how much we legislate gun sensible laws. Law can only scratch the surface. Sensible gun safety legislation will help, but not enough. There must be more.

Many say we can’t stop invisible lone wolves from acting, from committing mass murder. That it’s impossible to ferret them out. They use this as an excuse to never try stopping them. The gun makers tell us the solution is more guns. Plenty of us believe this to be true. And a majority of the country does not trust the law to solve anything. In this case, they may be quite right. But I see these people as cowards, throwing up their hands in insincere despair. Selling death for profit.

To my mind, there is a good solution here, perhaps the best solution. Instead of trying to stop these evil killers when they are fully grown and engaged, we should change the way we raise our children, especially boys and especially white boys. Call it sexism/genderism and racism but the statistics bear it out. White men make up a large majority of mass murderers.

The way to stop us from accepting gun violence as a solution to social problems is to stop teaching our children this myth, this soul-crushing lie that violence is the way to go, the way to make everything right. The circle of violence can only be broken by Americans acting in concert to stop telling our boys to “be a man” and then equating that manhood with violence. I feel strongly that this “be a man” syndrome is sinful. The Christ does not ask us to turn the other cheek for nothing.

The glorification of violence is outdated at best. The fight or flight autonomic reaction existed for a creature with few reasoning skills, creatures without language as a tool of peace. There is a reason it is buried deep in our brains. It is no longer a viable means of avoiding pain or resolving conflict. As thinking beings, we can overcome our instant calls to violence. This is not easy. But as humans, we can call on the power of mind over matter. It works.

We must begin the hard work of creating fewer and fewer men with unbearable pain, those who feel horribly wronged but who hide it well, those subjected to abuse who process violence as normal, and even those who are barely aware of what they are doing. Of course, there are anomalies. There are women who act out in this way but as much as prehistoric women were rarely called upon to fight for existence, modern women are rarely acculturated to violence. This, I feel, is part of why they make up a small percentage of mass murderers. Yet another anomaly, in the instance of the sins of psychopaths these souls may never be inclined to abandon violence.

As said, it is imperative that we contribute to the solution the right way, by telling our children that violence is never acceptable. We must still learn the ways of violence as a defense against an existential threat. Complete passivity is naive. But the best way is to show our sons and daughters that violence is not the way is by our actions, modeling peaceful negotiation and mediation as the preferred method of conflict resolution, that through human interaction we can ease our pain.

The best way is better than the right way. And the example we set is the best means of successfully moving our pain into hope, as befits sentient beings. The Sanskrit word for weapon is also the word for tool. We can, as the Christ intimated, beat our swords into plowshares. We can use our hearts, souls, and minds to change society, to join many of us together as one without needing a disaster to unite us. We would no longer need to battle in the halls of Congress. We wouldn’t have to fight so much at the taverns, cafes and dinner tables of America. We could change.

An addendum

You won’t like this.

This will be seen as and called racism and it probably is. But I must say my piece. The situation in the black and much of the Latino communities, as I observe it, is that the relative lack of mass murderers from these communities is due to the fact that their suffering involving gun violence is intimate, up close and personal. It is directed at the individual, the person right there in front of you. Violence here is not an anomaly, it is omnipresent. One need not meticulously plan a bloodbath of the anonymous. Here the pools of blood will be at their feet, and the plan was formed quickly, specific to the grievance. So when those in the public eye conflate murder in these POC communities with mass murder they are terribly wrong. Though the solutions to the violence are similar the essence of the problem is different.

Mea Culpa. Please forgive me if I am wrong about this. I cannot know for certain but I witness. I fully accept a charge of racism for these comments and the mantle of racist. I speak what I feel.

You won’t like this either.

A word about prayers, including candlelight vigils and moments of silence. Prayer is a good thing. Praying for the peaceful repose of the lost souls and healing grace for their friends and families is a good thing. Candlelight vigils and shrines and moments of silence are good things. But they are all also feel good actions. They allow us to feel as though we have acted, we have done something good, something to help. We can do this and then go home and not take any further action, thinking we have done our part. In this, I do not judge. I only bear witness. Think on it yourself.

As powerful as is prayer, for the departed, we must also pray for the strength to do the hard work of changing the nation’s zeitgeist. It will take several generations but we must change the way we do this business. Praising those we call heroes and changing our laws and offering prayers are all good things but they can only save a fraction of the lives we need to.

These things are right things to do but they are not the best things to do. It is not easy to find and choose the best thing over the right thing. Doing the right thing we are so tempted to be satisfied and go home. I am convinced that, for America, the best path to hope out of pain is accepting our own pain and finding our own hope. This will give us the confidence to teach our children well. I believe we all know in our hearts that this path is true.

Let us start on this path together in love.

 

To Bern or Not to Bern!

I am growing weary of the superfluous yet at the same time deeply important clash between the #neverhillary Bernie supporters and the #nevertrump Bernie supporters. I’m not certain the split aligns perfectly with a millennial demographic or not, but somebody is either being somewhat politically naive or is incredibly ideologically pure about something. One puddle of wisdom (from my small reservoir of wisdom) that I have imparted to my millennial daughter on occasion, is that one of the things about life that sucks the most is you will have to sometimes do things you really don’t want to do. I’m pretty sure this is one of those times.

Here’s the thing. There’s a big difference between issues politics and electoral politics. The difference is that in issues politics it is necessary to demand 100% of what you want because that is the only way to get any of what you want. It’s you and your issue versus everybody else and their issue. There are multiple contestants in multiple battles so where you win you stay and where you don’t you move on. In modern electoral politics there are only two contestants (as far as is today’s reality) and the point comes (and it always comes) where you need other people’s supporters on your side to win, because your goal and reward is not a small victory in isolation but a majority victory in a contest decided by everyone. It is not a contest of you versus everyone else but of your coalition versus their coalition.

Compromise of ideologies is necessary in the electoral world and an anathema in the issues world. Many Bernie supporters come from the world of issues politics. They did not previously involve in electoral politics because they had no use for elections unless it directly affected their funding. Other than that they would only pursue an electoral victory if they had a champion for their issue(s). There have been single issues champions throughout the but rarely have there been any special leaders who could coalesce the numerous issues silo activists into a cohesive power bloc.

Issues activists are used to either getting what they want or leaving defeat behind and moving on to the next battle. They make black and white decisions. The concept of joining together in a coalition with the people who just caused you lose, who made you not get what you want, is utterly alien to them and feels dirty and immoral. So it’s not difficult to understand why they have trouble putting together movements. It’s just sad.

This phenomenon works in reverse as well, although people involved in electoral politics usually only drop in to work on issues when they feel burned out and made filthy by the deceits of electoral politics, and want to recharge and cleanse. Someone coming to issues politics from electoral politics will seek coalitions with what they consider to be like minded issues advocates, with similar issues. They don’t quite understand why the other issues groups leave the coalition once they get what they want. Then they remember why they were frustrated with issues activism to begin with and go back to electoral politics. To work in both electoral politics and issues politics concurrently takes some highly skilled compartmentalising, of which not everyone is capable.

This whole broken process has been a bane of the progressive movement for years, because it hasn’t really been a movement at all. It has been a bunch of separate progressive issues oriented advocacy groups all in competition with each other for grants and status and recognition. There is always a lot of rhetoric about coming together as one coherent progressive movement but it always dissolves into jealousy and competition for scarce resources. The scarcity of resources is intentional and part of a greater strategic initiative by right wing tricksters, but that’s another story.

These progressives have only come together in agreement when they have had a messiah figure to rally them. Gene McCarthy, George Mc Govern, Howard Dean and Dennis Kucinich, all to widely varying degrees, were able to bring a number of progressives together into some semblance of a movement, enough to have some modest influence on the Democratic Party. Bernie has been the latest, most successful and probably least likely of these standard bearers. The rub is these movements died off with the relevance of their leaders. Without the focus of the strong leader the coalition descends once again into the relative chaos of egotism and economically manipulated competition.

Bernie is, and always has been, aware of this. Warnings about life after Bernie have been clear parts of his speeches from the get go. He has spent most of his time and energy since it became apparent he would not win the nomination imploring that his followers continue on and forge a game changing movement. This is true, and necessary. He has implored them to remember that this is not about him but about us. This is true, and necessary. He has implored us to defeat Donald Trump by any and all means. This is true, and necessary. He is showing and/or reminding us that 30% of 100% is much more than 100% of nothing. This is true, necessary and perhaps his greatest lesson taught.

What I don’t understand is why so many of Bernie’s followers, who have followed him through the crucible of mainstream efforts to get in his way, have now stopped listening to him. Actually I do understand. The messiah has betrayed them. He has not delivered on their issue(s) so they are expressing their rage. They will try another tack later after they get over feeling suckered by promises of glory in a progressive paradise. To be clear though, this type of betrayal is not an unusual occurrence. It is seen, commonly, in the affairs of both parties and is not fixable from the top down. Let me repeat, it is not fixable from the top down but only from the bottom up. This is why Bernie is so adamant that his supporters not run away licking their wounds but stay and fight and elect Clinton despite themselves.

In order to have a bottom up re-evolutionary movement that succeeds the Sanders coalition must stay together and organize. To accomplish this it is critical that the activated millennials not get jaded and cynical and go back to their X-boxes. Bernie is trying his damnedest to impart the knowledge that this whole thing is bigger than him and must survive his primary loss. And the first step towards that accomplishment is to prevent the uniquely American fascism of Trump and his minions from ever getting enough control to do irreparable harm to our nation and thus the globe. That would take generations to recover from.

So listen up kiddos and ex hippies. You think you need an unconditional Bernie electoral victory, when what you really need is for the many wonderful progressive issues activists out there to drop their ego facades, overcome their economic jealousies, and form the powerful progressive movement that has always been there, dormant, and ready to flip the entire political landscape. I can help, but I’m old, as are my beautiful tye dyed peers. The mantel is now being passed from Bernie’s hippie contemporaries to Bernie’s hipster acolytes. We’ll all help actually, if you let us, we’re experienced protesters. And we still know how to roll an English joint.

Here’s a parable for us to end todays sermon. When Mom broke out the Ben and Jerry’s  you told her you wanted 3 scoops of Cherry Garcia. She said no but you can each have a half scoop of chocolate chip cookie dough, because that’s all we have. Do you say no, I know you have some Cherry Garcia in there and it’s either the whole 3 scoops or nothing at all. Or, do you take the cookie dough and get at least a bit of a sweet taste in your mouth. If you all keep bugging mom maybe you’ll get some of that Cherry Garcia next time.

You weren’t that stuck up in school, were you?

The Bernie and Donald Hypotheses

A continuum is a line. A line extends infinitely through space, through the universe. The universe is curved. Therefore a line will eventually meet itself in space as in as circle. A circle with one point missing is considered a line. There can be an infinite number of points between any two points. Thus, speaking from the standpoint of nuclear physics we have established a paradox whereby a line can also be considered a circle based on the observers point of view.

Why am I starting off with all of this gobbledygook? Because it provides a mathematical basis for my hypothesis based in science. Using this information, continuums, which are nearly always portrayed as lines, are actually circles. Therefore the far ends of continuums, rather than being opposites, as is commonly perceived, are very nearly the same thing. Some examples include the fact that both extreme heat and extreme cold will burn the flesh. And obviously the continuum of the changing of the seasons does not have polar opposite ends but ends that run smooth;y into each other.

So to get to the point, (Thank God) it has always been my contention that radical right wingers and radical left wingers have more in common than they have in contention. It is our tendency as humans, these days strongly influenced by the media, to want to see dualities, black and white, in order to simplify life. This causes us to see the ends of a continuum as opposites and encourages us to see extreme liberals and extreme conservatives as complete opposites. This is just not true. This year’s presidential campaigns provide us with good evidence of that fact.

Conventional wisdom would consider Bernie Sanders and his followers to be polar opposites of Donald Trump and his followers. However while they disagree on a number of policies they share many of the more visceral and esoteric ideas about the issues and politics in general. I have experienced a large number of people who say they have been Democrats all their lives who will be voting for Trump as well as life long Republicans that will be voting for Sec. Clinton. Many of these folks go so far as to say they are changing parties permanently. Why is this?

Most of these switchers are Sanders supporters angry at the nomination process and appalled that the Democrats would nominate such a dangerous person who is not a real progressive. There are also traditional Republicans angry at the nomination process and appalled the the GOP would nominate such a dangerous person who is not a real conservative. What do these people have in common? A general mistrust of government and how it operates. Their main goal is to throw out all the mainstream politicians, who they feel are all corrupt sell outs, and replace them with outsiders who are not politicians but are ideologically pure. Most of them have never been involved in politics before, normally because of their strong mistrust of the process, and a belief there is no difference between the traditional parties. They want to throw away government as we know it and start over, based on their interpretation of the constitution and the idea of personal liberty.

But these two factions, as they are considered to be, are generally looked upon as opposites, especially by the press. Now this is true of of much of their overall reasoning, specific complaints, interpretations of the constitution,understanding of the intentions of the founding fathers, and most importantly who they blame for all of it. But the bottom line is they both believe America is going to hell in a hand basket and the only way to save it is to return to government of, by and for the people. And I believe that in essence they are right about a lot of this.

However, this is where I think things go off the rails. People want all of this change, right away,  but for a number of reasons they aren’t ready to do the work necessary to make it happen, especially in the way they imagine it will happen. There are a large number of folks, lovingly referred to as low information voters, who have little to no knowledge of how America works, what our major issues are, and what impact proposed policy will have on them,  the nation, and the world. These people are easily manipulated by appeals to strong emotions and will believe lies if they are told loudly and often enough.

Then there are voters who know a little civics and have opinions on things but who are just too busy to participate in the process. Some are simply disinterested in participating, for various reasons ranging from laziness to feeling that government never changes anything for anyone, ever. These citizens only care about elections the last two weeks before election day. Which is why most campaigns bombard the broadcast media with commercial after unfair commercial in those two weeks, virtually all of them about how awful the other candidate is. So right when they are finally looking for facts, after months of ignoring the campaigns, all they get is innuendo, half truths, and actual bald faced lies.

These two groupings are a very large segment of voters, likely  comprising a majority. And what they have in common is a need to hand over responsibility to those they elect and then forget about politics until the next election. The economy has forced them to be busier than ever before, in order to support their families. They might want to be aware but they can’t afford to be. So, many of us want and expect the president to solve every problem, and right away. They want a savior, a messiah to lead them figuratively out of Egypt, up to and including parting the Red Sea. This phenomenon is one factor that has made President of the United States the hardest job in the world.

The final demographic that needs a savior, and to me the most dangerous, is the radical activists. They are very aware of what is happening in politics and society, both domestic and international. They have a clear idea of what they think will save us and they know that to make it happen they need one strong leader who can get the job done in the face of adversity. It must be somebody who displays supreme confidence and the charisma to sell themself, even to the most opinionated of the activists, who will then follow them fervently and bring along their own followers.

There are many societies who have such a strongman at the top of their government, controlling virtually every aspect of society. Some of these leaders are benevolent but most are authoritarian and dictatorial. I believe the US has avoided such a regime primarily because it’s two party system keeps both parties from straying too far into uncharted authoritarian waters. They have never felt confident that taking such a dramatic stance could be successful, not with a majority of Americans having basically center left or center right views. But things have changed. I’m willing to guess that the change is, in large part, the responsibility of the rise of the political purist, brought on by frightened parties that felt they needed to pander to extremists to gain power. The extremists eventually gained enough power (This happened primarily in the GOP) to require an ideologic purity test for candidates. Which led to a bloc of legislators who refused to make compromises and thus ground the business of the legislative branch to a halt.

This paralysis has been the last straw for those of us who have been progressively more and more disillusioned with government and it’s failed ability to serve the people. They have come out of the woodwork to strongly influence the current presidential race. They were able to get Donald Trump nominated as a Republican, much to the chagrin of many prominent Republicans who know he is far from being one. And they nearly succeeded in nominating a Social Democrat, Bernie Sanders, as the Democratic nominee. What has transpired then is victory for the establishment in the Democratic Party, after a more heavily contested primary than they ever imagined. And their candidate, justifiably or not, has an extremely low likability rating. Lucky for them the GOP nominee, a loose cannon strongman, has an even lower rating.

This brings us to a place where we now have the most disconcerting race is recent US history. The hold your nose, lesser of two evils factor is off the charts. People are tired of having to elect this kind of President. They want someone they can admire. They want big change and they want it now. This frenetic anger has left us vulnerable to an authoritarian strongman being elected President. He will most likely break his promise to make the country a better place for the people, and will institute policies that oppress us even more than we already are. But in the event we can stop this very real danger, the alternative does not inspire much hope that she will ever institute many of the progressive policies this country needs.

This brings us round robin to the longtime democrats and republicans, plus the disillusioned radicals or traditionalists,who are abandoning their ostensible party’s nominee.Some of them are now voting for the other guy by write in , the other teams guy by write in. or a fringe party’s candidate. What affect will this have on the dynamic of the outcome of the election? I doubt any of the mainstream pundits know. This is out of their comfort zone.

We are entering a new era of American politics, one which may result in a system with multiple viable parties, and a more parliamentary method of creating government. The progressive revolutionary laundry list of changes is long. Right now the re-evolution is in it’s infancy and as in any revolution heads will fall. But should we call the executioner just yet? Who’s to say? I’m disqualifying myself.

It is a critical, crucial time to be an American, even more so an educated and aware American. This is the most important election in American history. I’ve said this every four years since Reagan’s second term. Perhaps prophetically that election was in 1984. At its core it was true every time. This time its true on steroids. It has existential implications for the planet. The arc of plant earth’s future will be forged this November, historic like never before.

Our Millennial generation are the only ones who can save us, in my estimation. But they are being systematically destroyed by overwhelming student debt. This is intentional. They are being squeezed by a shrinking job market and reduced public services across the board. They are being distracted by any number of petty playthings designed to numb them from their pain. We boomers, as our last redeeming gift, must protect them, we must run interference for them, we must exert ourselves to keep them from getting picked off one by one by despair. We must keep the light shining so they have something in the distance to aspire to.

A dictatorship will make that nearly impossible.

But we have defeated dictators before.

There is a reason both love and courage come from the heart.

Analogies Regarding Who Matters

Black Lives Matter is overreacting. Why are they protesting in such damaging ways.? It isn’t helping their cause at all. They haven’t even finished their investigation. Why can’t they wait for the facts before condemning the police? You can’t condemn all police for what  one or two do. 99% of all police do a wonderful job of protecting and serving their communities. All lives matter.

Those are among the more civilized responses to black protests of police brutality. There are other, much less civil responses that most of you know and I won’t go into them here. If you like, comment that you wish me to go there and I will. But for now let’s concentrate on why most white people don’t understand Black Lives matter protests. I myself don’t fully understand and as a white person can’t fully understand. I want to look at why.

If you have never removed a dead body from a crime scene you can speculate on what it feels like. You can empathize in the most humble and sensitive way. But you will still never know how it really feels. Only the medical examiner and their staff truly know. They are privileged. They have medical examiner privilege. They are able to cross the yellow tape of a crime scene and you aren’t. They are allowed to carry a dead body to the medical examiner’s van and you aren’t. They are allowed to carry the body into the morgue and you aren’t. Even if you are given permission to carry a dead body to the morgue or do it yourself unilaterally they are going to do everything in their power to prevent you from doing so because that is their job and always has been.

They have privilege but I’m sure they have never thought about it in that way. But if you make a good case for letting you transport, and reveal that it is privilege that is stopping you you are met with anger. How dare you call me privileged. I work hard being a public servant. You make a good case for your issue; you go to the media and ask why you can’t transport a corpse to the morgue when you are already at the crime scene with your van, and the forensics people are done, and the media decide it’s not a newsworthy event.

The people gathered ask why you want this particular body when what you told the media was that all bodies could be transported by concerned citizens. Even when you ask the police for permission to take the body they tell you you aren’t allowed to and besides, the medical examiner’s van and people are already here. They brusquely push you back behind the yellow tape.

People are outraged that you would even ask to do such a thing. Everybody knows that it is the medical examiner’s job. The next day you tell the media that your concerns haven’t been listened to and you surround the morgue with your supporters, arms locked together, and do not let any dead bodies in or out. People are outraged that dead bodies are going be left to fester out in the street and nobody will be able to walk to where they are going without either smelling death or going out of their way. What if someone from a rich family dies and they insist the police arrest the protesters because they want their relative embalmed immediately.

Aren’t the protesters going overboard? Aren’t they being idiots and hurting their cause by over reacting to one crime scene incident? Aren’t they being criminal in making innocent citizens late for work and appointments? Aren’t they threatening the vital needs of important people? Some would say so. Some would say they are ruining their chances to be heard.

What the protesters are doing is what they feel they must do to make society recognize that they are serious about this issue and want active and honest dialogue about the issue. They are tired of being subject to medical examiner privilege, even if everyone is unaware that it even exists. And no, the medical examine isn’t responsible for his privilege. He has just always had it. The mayor isn’t a bad person for not recognizing the privilege. The mayor is always looking for things that hurt the people but this one is invisible, and may not even be legal.

What the protesters want is for the people in power to simply understand their issue and support their right to petition to change policy, allowing anyone, under certain circumstances, to transport bodies to the morgue. Let the process work and bring applicable laws  before the courts. Don’t squash the issue simply because it might not be vitally important. Serve the people like your job description indicates

Now this is a ridiculous analogy but I think it gives us a vague approximation of the dynamic of my point. In this instance the protesters aren’t blaming the individual trained medical examiner employees, who are there to carry the body to the morgue, for having the privilege of transporting that body, even though the examiners enjoy that privilege. The employees in that van are only symptom of the problem. The real problem, to the protesters, is that the issue is systemic, institutional. The medical examiner has always been the only one allowed to transport dead bodies, and they have been supported by government and the people for years without ever giving regular citizens the chance to do so. The protesters  are serious about the issue, believe it is vital to the health of the city and want to make government and the people face it head on and do something about it.

I do apologize for this poor analogy. But it addresses, somewhat inadequately, the often complex relationship between the individual person or action and the group/society that I believe is germane to this issue. Most human issues, when boiled down to their essence, involve some aspect of the rights, duties, privileges and responsibilities of the individual and those of society, the two in conflict. What makes this issue so difficult is that there is confusion, sometimes on both sides, but more often on the side of privilege on who and what is involved in the essential issue at hand. Who is to blame, the system or the individual actor?

In this case of protest it is not the individual actor being blamed, even if he is a bad actor and is booed off the stage. It is the playwright (the system) and his work, the play, (the situation of privilege) that is the problem. The actor has been given all the good lines and almost all of the time on stage and the chorus (the oppressed) has been given hardly any lines. This ruins the play, but the audience (privileged society) doesn’t know better, because all plays are the same. The chorus knows the play would be better if they had more lines. The audience members are shocked and angered when the chorus asks for more lines. The chorus is determined and desperate, they threaten not to perform the play. The audience is enraged at the chorus and demands the play be the same as it ever was . They blame the chorus for the ruination of the play

And herein is the essential issue. The play has been ruined. But by whom. Is it the oppressed chorus, because of their radical threat. Or is it the playwright and their play (the system and it’s situations of privilege).

The truth is we need both the actor and the chorus. The actor will still be important with less lines and the play will be better with the chorus having more lines. The playwright  must be made to write more balanced plays and show both actor and the chorus that he has evolved. The audience will enjoy the new play better than ever and realize it’s because the playwright has evolved. And who makes the playwright evolve?

The critic (you and me)

 

 

It’s All Fine and Good…

I’m not fond of Donald Trump and I don’t support his candidacy. I suppose I’d go so far as to say his candidacy scares the living crap out of me. But I’m not about to tell you why. Why? Because everybody else does.

I’m glad that so many people have stepped forward to offer their take on why Mr. Trump should never, ever, be let anywhere near the White House, except for maybe a guided tour. They should. The people need and deserve to be told about how they are being hoodwinked by a snake oil salesman, which is one of the safer things I can say about the man.

But my issue is that among the many diatribes bashing the big basher himself, a large, even vast number of them involve some sort of analysis of why he has risen to the prominence of being the presumptive presidential nominee of a major political party. An even bigger topic for these frightened American souls is who are his followers and why do they follow him.

The speculation runs from the sublime to the ridiculous and it seems lately that virtually every pundit who is worth his ego must needs weigh in. It’s like the Olympics of opine. I may be wrong, after all, but it appears to me that there is an amazing race (homage to the reality TV world of today) to see who can most definitively and correctly determine the correct and definitive reason for the phenomenon that is Trump and his minions.

Enough already. Frankly, we really don’t need to figure out why he is a mere 270 electoral votes from being the most powerful man in the “free” world. At least until after he is given a sound beatdown (although many of us have a pretty good idea why). And this is where the pundit analysts and opinion talkers, in my opinion, are failing.

In reality, these journalists and political analysts and pundits and party personalities are singing loudly, even if mostly on key, to the choir. They are educated intellectuals writing and blogging and making videos for educated intellectuals in places where only educated intellectuals will read, hear and see them. In other words, while often brilliant in their insight, they will have little to no effect on the votes of a sizable (read huge) majority of those whose hearts and minds are what really need to be changed.

Our task is to fight as hard as we can to defeat this charlatan, this wolf in wolf’s clothing. What we really need is for us educated intellectuals (effete intellectual snobs as Spiro Agnew once called us) to get busy, down and dirty, and get everyone possible who knows the real dangers of a Trump presidency to go to the polls and vote against him, better yet for a candidate who is capable of defeating him. And convince those who doubt this is a very real danger, that it is very real and very dangerous, and get them to the polls to vote against Trump also.

Holding ones nose strikes me as a much better option than potentially having no hands to hold it with.

We don’t need to figure Trump and his followers out. We just desperately need to defeat him.

Had it up to HERE

I usually wait longer than a week to chime in on major events, so I can get a reading of how the wind is blowing and respond in that very arrogant all knowing way I am prone to. The event in Charleston SC, though, has blown me away, and all of my above it all superiority has melted away in the fire of anger and disgust. For me this is the last straw.

This is not about Christianity. This is not about gun control. This is not about mental illness. This is not about race. This is not about isolated “lone wolves” abandoned by their society. This is not about crime as anomaly. This is not about terrorism. This is not about meting out justice. This is not about the law or government. This is not about partisanship. This is not about the Confederate flag. This is not about the death penalty. It is all of these things and none of them.

This IS about systemic violence used as a bridge to cross the gulfs created by divisions in our society; divisions created through any number of social ills; social ills created by deeply ingrained ideas of privilege and class structure; social ills created by contending norms of race and wealth and status and political ideology.

This violence is not only that of the physical. It is that of the emotional. It is that of the mental. It is that of the spiritual. That said, it is physical violence, appearing as it does in the densest plane of existence, the physical plane, that is most apparent and observable to us. Therefore it is physical violence that we most relate to and respond to when grieving and mourning the descent of civility into the morass, into the pit, into disintegration. It is physical violence that shoves our weakness as a species into our collective face.

In this culture, the American culture, more than any other, violence is an accepted means of resolving conflict. In fact it is the primary means, the most revered the most glorified means. Let me say that again. Violence is the preferred means of resolving conflict in this our America. Daddies teach their boys that to “be a man” one must learn how to fight, that the best way to settle differences with the other boys is a hay maker to the jaw. Government is made up primarily of those very boys, not far removed from the grade school playgrounds where they learned and perfected using violence as a tool to get their way. They tell us the best defense is a good offense. They tell us might makes right. They are like the husband who thinks he is strong because he can beat up his wife.

We spend an ungodly amount of money on machines of violence, so much more than on assuaging social ills and solving the many other problems that afflict us. We can read the words alright, but cannot seem to actually beat our swords into plowshares. Most of our great spectacles, professional sports, reinforce the message of violence, either overtly or covertly. We continually endorse this ideal of violent conflict resolution through the glorification of violence in all media, and in our blatant acceptance of it’s value.

The constant assault on our civilized sensibilities, at the expense of our mortal souls, and the resulting continuous and senseless destruction of those we love, this is the visible result of consciously or unconsciously applied physical violence. It is the part of the iceberg we can see. But, for me, it is the other forms of violence, the hidden violence of emotion and mentality, that cut society the deepest. Families slice each other up with focused, hurtful words. This too is violence. Businessmen step all over each other in the vicious battle we know as climbing the corporate ladder, the race to the top, rung by bloody rung. Political rivals, sporting rivals, romantic rivals, are not to simply defeat their opponents but kick their asses, to destroy them. We compete not to win but to annihilate. We do not call our rivals opponents but insist they are enemies.

We most readily use violence on ourselves. The fuel that propagates violence is hate. Hate is not the opposite of love as many may say. Hate originates within. It is the self loathing all of us experience somehow, somewhere, sometime, in that place we won’t let anybody see, that gives birth to hatred. Hatred is learned and we can only first experience it through hating something we ourselves are or do, something about our own selves that disgusts and mortifies us, something that holds us back from shining the light of our true, loving selves out into the world. Only then will we see those things in the “others” and hate them too. We begin to see anything that frightens us, or threatens us, perceived or real, and hate the “others” for it.

We use this hate of self to perpetrate violence on ourselves in myriad ways, some of them so subtle as to be nearly invisible and unreachable. These internal wars are the basis for the psychological, spiritual and/or intellectual violence that is so deadly to us and our culture, because of its ability to hide in places we can’t reach, like a virus in our bodies, waiting for that moment of weakness when it can emerge and strike swiftly and with blinding force.

As it is in the microculture of our own consciousness so it is in the macroculture of our relationship to the world. We cannot possibly be the decrepit creatures we see when we look inside. There must be some reason we fail. It must be that other, whoever that other might be. What the world teaches us is disgusting is in the other. We will assign any disgusting failure we want to the other, as long as it makes us feel better, as long as it stops the pain for just a few moments. Hatred and violence is the morphine of painful and failing lives. If we cannot shine our light then nobody can, especially the other, in whom we see ourselves mirrored so clearly. But we mustn’t let anyone know how alike we are. We must destroy the other before anyone can find out.

We need to look deep inside ourselves to find the buried vault of our hatred. We have to remove the multiple locks that bind the vault, one by one, regardless how difficult and wrenching. We must then take what we find there and search deeper yet, to find where it came from, from what decrepit fountain it poured forth. We must dive into that fountain of filth, swimming through the putrid bile of our own, hidden self hate to the source, the pump that forces the hate into our hearts. It is primordial.

It may be true, as many say, we are violent by our nature, it will never change, it’s in our DNA, it’s useless to try. But is that any good reason to give up, to stop trying, to throw up our hands and say it’s bigger than us, we can’t win. When has anything ever been bigger than a human heart full of love. If we truly believe that love conquers all then this is the time to prove it. This is the time to break the chain of violence. But it will take men and women and children with profound love and of unyielding courage, in action, the action of both warming the feet of the frightened and holding to the fire the feet of those both self righteous and only selectively human.

I speak to myself when I say we need to DO more and TALK less.

Americans believe in faith, even if it is the faith that no faith exists.

I have faith we can bury hatred and it’s weapon, violence, under a mountain of love.

Join me.

Grouchy Rant But Sore

This is an email I wrote to a colleague that was inspired by a gradual, nagging essential injury, one that doesn’t keep you out of the starting lineup but progresses to limit one’s effectiveness. This morning was the bra that stroked the camel’s back and it just poured out of me like a beer chugged out of a pitcher at a fraternity party. That crappy analogy has been the extent of my typical sarca-cynicism on this topic. This is important and I’m angry.

I have copied the entire email here. There’s a bit of personal and a little profane, but I feel it’s germane.

Dear XXXXX,

Dad is hanging in there but shows negative change nearly every day. I am beginning to lose the spiritual strength to help him. I am quite sure the fact that he watches cable news 24/7 has fatally poisoned me.

My weariness also stems from the fact that I get about 75 emails a day asking for money. They explain, in many different carefully vetted and crafted ways, how that money will defeat the trolls and goblins of the “other” party. They tell us if we don’t give and give all we have our brains will explode and the moon will slam into Philadelphia. They call us out by name and ridicule and demean us for not giving. They never meet their quotas.

I told XXX X. and XXXXXX yesterday that we should stop having elections and have each candidate, on a specific date, just show an appointed panel of jurists their campaign bank accounts and then choose our elected officials that way, by who is richest. And we know it’s inhuman for nearly all candidates to be so intentionally cruel and duplicitous in their campaign ads. What have we become anyway? We prevaricate and slander each other without batting an eye.

I would prefer an open, honest and clear authoritarian government made up from the real oligocrats (my word) instead of the shadow, hidden government we now have. We should be fully aware of how f**ked we really are and how none of us will ever get anywhere without their approval. We should be made aware of our true state and true fate so we can work on accepting it.

The result of this ruse is that we spend obscene amounts of money getting these puppets elected then are unable to spend adequate money on the people’s welfare. We cut, cut, cut our bureaus’ budgets drastically and then scream bloody murder when we are incapable of doing our bureaucratic jobs, especially those that most affect our welfare, which are numerous. We politicize everything, especially things that should never ever be politicized, which are legion. We have no respect for nor confidence in any of the three branches of government. In our foreign policy our actions are damned when we do and damned when we don’t. A majority of our citizens have become sheeple, easily frightened and even easier to manipulate.

It is getting harder and harder for me to be active in electoral politics. I feel it may be more important to prepare young people to be able to attempt surviving the coming collapse of the economy and accompanying panic, chaos, and uncontrollable barbarism. I need to do this especially for my daughter, who deserves better and to whom I am ashamed to bequeath such a f^^ked up world.

People who think ISIS and Ebola are serious existential threats to our way of life are delusional. We actually have the resources and possibly the will to reduce their ability to harm us to an acceptable number of fatalities, similar to the Vietnam war. The coming crises will be much worse, so bad that the media will be unable to make them appear worse. They will be forced to actually report them honestly, for as long as they are able to report them. We will be so arrogant and ignorant and f##king stupid that we will have no chance to oppose the real “Outbreaks” and “Epidemics” and “Acts of God” and “Terrorism” and “Collapses” and “Perpetual War” and “Renegades” and “Slaughter” and “Hunger” and “Famine” etc. that will overwhelm the media and petrify the nation. The government will be sequestered in underground bunkers, neutered and emasculated, but modestly civilized. The people will not have that luxury.

I’d almost rather be in a real life Zombie film, where at least I would be able to have an impact on the world, even after I am dead. We are a strange species, so productive while at the same time so destructive. Frankly, we no longer deserve to be at the top of the food chain. We have both abdicated hope, abrogated our legislative responsibilities, arrogated our planet’s resources and the fruits of our labor and given over the legal structure that maintains civil society to partisanship. We worship and gather massive wealth yet are bankrupt in wisdom.

Can you tell I woke up in a bad mood?

Me