Power Through Hate?

Being a child of the 60s and a teen of the seventies, I grew up with domestic terrorism. The Weather UndergroundSLANew World Liberation FrontBlack Panthers and a host of others. While I didn’t sympathize with them, I understood them, understood what they were protesting against; inequality, Injustice, Imperialism, racism, war, all the social ills that have never changed. These new brand terrorist groups coincided with social movements such the student movements, movements for civil rights, women, gay rights, the environment and of course Viet Nam. Without doubt, one could argue that things changed due to the unrest, but how is it, nothing seems to have changed? Sure, we made some progress with civil rights, we became much more aware of our environment, women started being listened to, the war did end and public awareness of alternative sexual lifestyles entered the public American consciousness. All good things for most sensible people, but it seems that all the small steps of progress came to a screeching halt in the early eighties. Maybe we just grew tired, perhaps it was too much too soon, could be the wind just changed. I don’t know, I have my own opinion, and it’s politically based, having to do with Reagan and the rise of the moral majority, but I wouldn’t bet my life on my opinion.

While the turmoil of the time was based in far left ideologies, I’m worried that the next wave of domestic terrorism is going to be from far right ideologies. At some point in time, I believe it’s going to happen. I’m not ignorant of the fact that there already had been far right protests and killings, I’m just of the belief it’s going to get worse. A lot worse. Why? It would be easy to blame Trump, but Trump isn’t the cause, being just a symptom of the disease. The root cause is what lives in the hearts of the individual, in how they perceive the world around them. Who they blame for all the ills in their lives. In that fact, there’s a lot of similarities to those protesters and domestic terrorist of my youth. Everyone sees injustice through their own lens, and they personalize it, needing to blame someone, somebody, and usually the wrong somebody. There is, however, a concrete difference in perception between yesterday and today. Fifty years back, people wanted better, better for all Americans, not just a select group. Fairness and equality were a concept for all Americans, not a select group.

What I see today is a much different concept, based in hate, blame and fear. What the far right wants, and I’m not sure if it’s even a white america, as much as it is, a movement to secure power as theirs alone, at the expense of immigrants, people of color, people with alternative lifestyles, and anyone who isn’t Christian. It’s not a logical concept for a Democratic Republic, but that doesn’t mean it’s not doable. It is! And I think they’re dead set on getting it, any means possible.

Patriotism Gone Wrong

‘Love for, or devotion to one’s country’ is a fairly simple definition for Patriotism. Yet with in those seven meaningful words lies a universe of interpretation. Your idea of love and devotion, are there limitations to love and devotion? Is it without question? Undying? What is country? The Government, the land, history, the people? All of it? For most Americans, our love for our country is rooted in our Constitution, our history. However you define the word, it’s more than a word, being a belief system. ‘We the people’ defines a dream, a collective belief for every word and sentence that follows. While collective, dreams are also personal. And changing. It’s one of the reasons our Constitution is a living breathing document. So too is our Declaration of Independence, with the  preamble, ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.’  Words that speak to personal truths, equality, personal religious beliefs and our basic human rights as citizens, and as human beings. All men are equal. Life, liberty and pursuit of happiness are our rights, our legacy, given to us by whatever creator we believe in. Rights expressed as truth that is evident to all.

This is where my patriotism lies, in ‘We the people’ and the preamble of the Declaration. My patriotism is not toward political party, our military, our president, our culture, our society, our media, but to each other, to my fellow citizens. It is a belief that regardless of who you are, where you’re from, who you worship, you’re sexual beliefs, or the color of your skin, we are equals, standing before our makers at the end of the day, naked and responsible for our behaviors. That each of us are entitled to our lives, to be free, to be happy.

We live in interesting times, heartbreaking times. Where patriotism is defined as loyalty. Not to a belief, but to party, to religion, to race, to culture, to people who are like minded. So much so, that there are those who betray American ideals for petty dictators, expressing their belief that patriotism is rooted in strength and oppression. Gone is the belief of equality, the dream of a better world quashed under the hollow words of subservience to the cause.

We have never been a perfect nation, we will never be a perfect nation. There will always be injustice, and inequality, there will always be wrongs, but as Americans, our history has been to resolve those wrongs. Yes, it has taken time. Yes, we have failed at times, and we continue to take our time, and we continue to fail on issues that need to be resolved. Time and failures are not reasons to cast one’s loyalty toward a given person, a particular party, or a foreign government. Doing so, refutes all that we have achieved as Americans, denying our Constitution and our Declaration of Independence.

Truth of the Matter

Given the amount of information available on any given topic, one would think misinformation, myths and lies would be a thing of the past. One would think! Of course, we all know that’s not true, and in fact, we seem to be more confused to what the truth is on any given subject than ever. I’m not talking about flat earthers, or those claiming we never landed on the moon, there will always be a small segment of humans out on a weak limb. I’m thinking more along the lines of climate change, politics, and our media in general. For instance, News. I happen to believe what I read in the headlines of the major markets, but I understand, outlets need to frame their headlines in a certain way, and that all our media is profit based. I also understand that from time to time, they get something wrong. Generally, I believe our media is honest. I do want to draw a distinction here, I’m not including political pundits, on any network. Being somewhat of a science nerd, I also tend to trust science, and yet I know science is always evolving, new theories are always emerging. And then there’s politics, and you can’t talk about truth in politics unless you mention Trump. First a disclaimer, Trump ain’t the first politician to warp the truth. He just does it better than anyone else. Ever! I never believed he had a shot at winning the Presidency simply because I thought people would see through his bullshit. I was wrong. So how is it, people accept his word as truth, and how do you fight it? Well, you can’t fight his beliefs with truth, with facts, as others would suggest. Indeed, it’s claimed that re-framing lies with facts is the way to go. I don’t buy into that. So how do you change peoples beliefs, when their truths are wrong. There’s a lot to unpack in that question, and it offers up more questions than answers perhaps. It starts with an examination your own personal beliefs, your facts, and the reason for them. You simply can’t persuade a person to change their belief systems if you’re using bogus facts yourself, or repeating a viral Internet meme as a foundation for truth. Sorry, that’s laughable. It’s important to establish why you believe a fact is true, from an emotional standpoint. How a fact moves you to laugh, or cry. For example, I find it hard to give any credit to those claiming our moon landings were all a hoax, simply because of the pride I take in my nations, and humanities, accomplishments. They could be right, for all I know, but the evidence is moot because I don’t want to hear it simply because doing so would damage that pride. It’s no different with politics. The question isn’t replacing your opponents facts with your facts, facts can be found to support any position, true or not. The question is how do you get your opponents to start questioning their own beliefs, especially when their beliefs make them feel better. Part of that answer is in the ‘entertainment factor’, part of it is in ‘being special’ and another part of it is in ‘belonging’. Trumps a perfect example, he’s entertaining, people like that. They didn’t see his mockery of a disabled journalist as beyond pale, because he was entertaining, because no one else in the room thought it was disgusting, and it bought them all together as a group, making them all special, even while knowing the behavior was probably wrong. All on an emotional level. How do you think a trump support felt when he mocked the disabled, if that supporter had a disabled child at home? I’d guess they’d be somewhat bothered, but they very well might not be bothered to the point where they withdrew their support. Same thing with his pussy grabbing. It’s bothersome at an emotional, human level, but acceptable. Why? For several reasons. First, it wasn’t too long ago where we mocked the disabled, where the term ‘retarded’ was common place, and talk about grabbing pussy, well, that really was locker room talk, something men just did. While both might stir emotional issues with a person, the emotional issues were able to be swept aside due to a sense of justification at an emotional level. An emotional connection to the person standing next to you, that you’re both part of something special. That’s a strong bond, and the only way to break it is by establishing a stronger bond, from another emotional perspective, and that ain’t an easy thing to do


Disposable People

I suppose the Holiday season is a good time as any to highlight how we treat our elderly and disabled. NBC news does that pretty well with this bit about nursing homes kicking elderly patients who can’t pay, to the curb. Who would do such a thing? 

If I walked in my front door and my mother was setting there in her wheelchair because she couldn’t pay her 10,000 dollar monthly obligation, I’d be more than just ‘pissed’. Truthfully, I can imagine that happening. My mom needs 24/7 care, and doesn’t know her ass from page three, and I say that lovingly. The problem is the system, it’s all for profit, even when the nursing home is non profit. Christ, they stripped her of her life’s savings, her life insurance policies, her stocks, and everything she owned that was of value, and now she’s eligible for Medicare. That said, my mom has it pretty nice, her environment is pleasant, she eats well, and the staff are attentive. More than I could offer here at home. I’m thankful she’s where she is. Like I mentioned, unfortunately, I can imagine a scenario where she’s evicted and dumped off on my front porch. I have a son with severe schizophrenia who lives in a group home. A few years back, he was discharged from a previous group home to live independently, with a support plan in place. A support plan that was woefully inadequate, and lead to his eviction. A support plan that was so not fucking followed through, that he ended up living with us for a year. Either that, or the Salvation army! I love my son, but that was a year of hell, emotionally and financially. He’s in a good place now, and like my mother, gets decent care, and the staff are dedicated. That brings peace of mind that you can’t buy. So to answer the question of, ‘Who would do such a thing?’. People that don’t care, staff that are untrained, and over worked, or don’t care, and organizations motivated by profit. Sons and daughters, family members too, carry some burden. Trusting their loved ones advocacy to their social workers, not knowing the laws, not caring enough to pay attention, being too submissive in having a say, all contribute. All the conditions make for the perfect nightmare, and when I say nightmare, try cleaning up your own mother when she’s shit all over the place. Been there, done that once, and nightmare doesn’t come close to that horror.

The Rights a Bunch of Lazy Cocksuckers

Democracy is a work in progress, and the key word is work. Work through participation, and participation is more than voting every now and then. Participation is questioning our Government, speaking out when injustice is perceived, researching issues, listening to both sides of debate, in other words being active in our democracy, hence the word activism. I get I have friends that voted for Trump to shake things up, because Washington was a cesspool. It still is, and worse, with no signs of changing. It’s easy to cast a vote for a candidate, just because your dissatisfied, it’s a lot harder to cast an informed vote for a candidate you might not like, but might be a real agent of change. It takes a lot of soul searching as well, determining what’s not only best for you, but what you believe is best for the American people. That ain’t easy. The left is active in topics such as climate change, womens rights, gun control, pay and gender inequalities, our environment, and a lot more. The right, not so much, their activism is based on denial, and throwing shit and seeing what sticks, and gerrymandering, moral supremacy, and hypocrisy. The right was outraged, and rightly so, when Kathy Griffin posted a meme with a decapitated Trump, but remain largely silent with the recent horrific fake video of Trump taking out a church congregation. Why? It suits their purpose, a purpose of creating division, and hate among all of us. If you’re a Christian, and don’t speak out against wholesale murder happening in a church, or you’re a trump supporter and let the violence slide, and don’t speak out, you’re a lazy cocksucker, set in your ways. But let’s not stop with that, if you’re fine with betraying our allies, the Kurds, if you’re fine with Trumps attacks on minorities, with crippling our farmers, with the GOP redrawing voting districts to thwart the American vote, you’re a lazy cocksucker, refusing to research issues. Lazy cocksuckers believe reposting memes, sound-bites, propagating rumors and hearsay, and watching Hannity, is participating in our Democracy. No one likes a lazy cocksucker. Don’t be a lazy cocksucker.

The Palpitations of Hate

I live in a place where Somalians are hated. The hate is palpable, in your face, and everywhere. I’d like to justify that hate by thinking it’s confined to a small, but vocal group of people, but I’m not so sure. Funny thing is, if I talk to one of my friends who fall into this gathering storm of distrust, they don’t see it as hate. They just don’t want them around, unless they  talk

 like they do, dress like they do, act like they do. They rage on-line, and in person, against all the free help the Somalian population receives, how they get free living, free medical, all without contributing a damn thing back. I don’t know how much of that is true, and it doesn’t matter, because facts don’t change anyones beliefs. If truth was a factor in our lives, people would pay attention, they’d take time to think about things, do a little research, to converse with people of opposing views, but it’s easier to bitch and complain, then to question one’s own feelings. An interesting truth is that most of the people who find fault in these new American immigrants are not bad people. Most people here are honest, hard working folk, and regular church goers, made more intriguing because most Somalians are here because of our churches. Being honest, hard working, and church going isn’t an excuse, nor does doing so clarify the problem. In fact, it confuses the hate, making it hard to understand. From a personal perspective, and that’s a perspective of one who grew up as an entitled American in third world countries, I don’t get it. The only answer I can come up with is fear, fear of change, fear of loss, fear of anything that’s different, fear of anything that threatens a way of life. And hates a passionate way to express those fears. Wrong, but passionate. There’s a thought too, that the degradation of an entire culture also has it’s roots in larger fears, fear of political instability and division, fear of financial stress, and fear of the crushing weight of life that at every turn seems to be more complicated. We work harder for less, the rich get richer, and we parse our pennies for a loaf of bread, all while screaming at our politicians for relief, only to find out once elected, they don’t seem to give a damn. We surf the net, see IG posts of those living the good life, and are left wondering where’s my vacay in the sun bleached sand. All said and done, I don’t believe people are born with hate and distrust in their hearts, I don’t believe people, at least most people, live their lives looking for someone to vilify, but when I look around, and I extend that vilification to society in large, including everything from racial tensions, to social injustice, immigration, and the political divide, I can’t help but believe that my community is but a symptom of a larger problem. One that’s not going away, one that’s going to get worse, and one that there’s a thousand answers for, but not a single solution.

The Silence and the Wind

When I look around the complicated American landscape of news, politics, and social media, and I do so more than I will admit, I find it exhausting. Tiring in the sense of an addiction, where I need something more fulfilling, more ambitious, like God and Jesus showing up in tandem to set the world afire. Not being particularly religious, I’d probably not pay attention to their facebook posts, unless they posted some pics of heaven and hell. That might set my world ablaze, until I started reading the comments. But that’s people for ya! All in disagreement, with their own opinions, each a raindrop in a thunderstorm, contributing to a flood of confusion, sweeping truth away with the receding waters. And that’s OK, I have dreams. If the world was ordered, and nice, and perfectly symmetrical, I’d have no need for dreams.

Dreams are powerful game changers. MLK and Kennedy had dreams, one unfulfilled, but still in motion. The other touched, abandoned, and left to the ages as a singular achievement. Neither forgotten, still relevant, foundations for the following days. America was built on dreams, our declaration was one of freedom from tyranny, our constitution, a single dream, coagulated from many voices, out of many, we are one. Dreams are essential to progress, the bedrock upon which the next step is planted, individually or collectively. We take the next step in our journey, because we dream of seeing the undiscovered country. We’ll never step on that soil, because dreams are fluid, being indicative of who we are. A million voices all screaming their differing dreams at any given time.

I remember when the night was silent, the only voices in my head was Cronkite’s, and my local paper. That silence was peaceful, the quiet of the night, and there existed no harbinger of future dreams turned inside out, of a people embroiled in a living nightmare. There is imperfection in silence, in that you do not hear the coming winds of change, being blind to your neighbor crying out in pain, to changing ideas, differing thoughts, and when those winds rush across and fill the void of silence, we’re left battered, and bruised, and dreaming of the silence we once cherished. Given the choice, I would appreciate the solitude of existing in a vacuum, tending the gardens of my personal dreams, and while there are those who reside in that choice, I’m conscious of the illusion of independence it gives birth to. A lonely, unfulfilled state of happiness where one sets on the same barstool, in the same bar, with the same bartender over the course of their lifetime. A life comprised of nothing greater than their own personal agenda, with no dialogue other than their own, no sense of thought for others than their own, no dreams larger than their own.

Few of my dreams have came to fruition, I’m not a well respected writer, my kids don’t have college degrees, my retirements going to be tough, I’m not popular on youtube, there’s no moonbase, and as a society, we haven’t ushered in a era of equality, peace and prosperity. While all that is bothersome, it’s more normal, unaccomplished dreams, that is, than those realized. I’d like to think, due to the failure of my own dreams, I’ve learned to listen to the voices in the wind, as agonizing as that landscape can be. I’ve been moved to research topics, to dig deeper for truth, to appreciate the views and beliefs of others, and I’ve been astonished at scientific achievements. I am continually in awe of the world I live in, even when I find myself tired, and confused with that world. I’ll take it over the void.

The Diversity of Fear

I spent the first 20 years of my life in the company of people of various ethnicities and differing nationalities. One would think that if I found myself today, alone in a room full of people of color, I’d be comfortable. I wouldn’t! Yet, there’s a contradiction, when I was 19, I found myself in a small Liberian jail cell, chicken wire walls and a five gallon bucket to piss in, with about twenty other Liberians, and it didn’t bother me in the least. In fact, I struck up a conversation with a one eyed thief sprawled next to me. The contradiction is familiarity. I had spent most of my youth in Liberia, most of my friends were Liberians. I recently attended a birthday party for a Liberian friends daughter, and I found myself comfortable in a room full of Liberians. If I were to find myself this afternoon in a room full of American blacks who were strangers, I’d feel out of place, and very uncomfortable in a way that would be different then if I found myself in a room full of white Americans. I’d like to attribute the difference to shared experiences, but I don’t have a lot of shared experiences with white people either. The explanation might be as simple as being most comfortable with people who look, and act as I do, shared life experience be damned. Regardless of who I find myself in a room with, I realize my discomfort. It’s not the fault of the people in the room, it’s who I am, for whatever reason. I own it, I don’t like it, but I accept it and I move on, refusing to let my awkwardness ruin my experience.

And that’s the thing about racism, it’s multi layered. I don’t consider myself racist, but why would I be uncomfortable in a room full of people of color?

I believe we’re all racist at some level, based upon fear of the unknown, the unexpected, or some perceived threat. It seems it’s easier to project those fears onto somebody that’s different then what you look like, onto somebody you think you don’t havemuch in common with. In fact, humans have a history, across many cultures, of utilizing that fear, of blaming others for their misfortune, or justifying their behavior. It seems to be rather easy for someone to step up to a podium and inflame a crowd of people.

Logically, I understand racism. Emotionally, not so much. Do we lack the introspection to dive, and it’s a shallow dive, to question our own discomfort, our unease, or our outright hate of a person who is different? I understand the fear of change, of the unknown, of what is different then the norm, but for the life of me, I cannot understand letting that fear dictate who I am as a human being, to the point where I would dehumanize another person, much less an entire race or culture.

Political Garbarge

Abortion is a moral choice, and legislation of morals is political garbage, in that liberal and conservative leaders know it’s nothing more than a divisive issue, used to motivate or shame, supporters or opponents. Alabama, and other southern states, are passing arcane abortion laws in an attempt to have their voices heard in front of our supreme court, with the intent to overturn Roe Vs Wade. All will face lengthy, and expensive court battles on their way there. Even if these states were to prevail, they’ll lose, we’ll all lose. Women will still seek abortions, unsafe and alone, without support, without compassion. I’m also of the opinion, that of the 25 white males that voted for Alabama’s legislation, that not one of them would step forward to help support a child of an unwanted pregnancy. As a man, I’m not comfortable discussing what I believe is a womens personal choice, rooted in their beliefs. Personally, I’d like every child to be born, if we lived in a perfect world, but we do not. To legislate that a women impregnated by a viscous, brutal rape must carry the child through to birth, is beyond my comprehension. Indeed, it’s an embarrassment to our compassion for others. I do not know what the answer is, I don’t know if a six week old clump of cells is a living person or not, I don’t know when life begins, and neither does anyone else. You might believe human life begins at the moment of conception, but your belief doesn’t make it a valid fact. Yes, there’s an argument for potential. It’s a valid argument, that a group of cells, might one day be a  human being, but if that’s your argument, every sperm I have carries that capacity, and perhaps vasectomies should be deemed illegal.

TrumpCare, Ain’t Health Care

So Donald has reversed his previous thoughts on ObamaCare and now wants to abolish it, completely. Including the parts about not being penalized for having a preexisting condition, or keeping your kids on your plan until they’re 26. Just to backtrack for a minute, I never was in on mandating people to buy into health insurance, I never understood that. But overall, ObamaCare has been a good thing. The deciding factor in supporting the ACA, was simple. Politicians argued, and argued, all my life and never accomplished a damn thing to help people out when it came to healthcare. At least Obama did more than argue! Sure, the ACA’s not perfect, but it was a step in the right direction, something to build and refine on. And now, Donald just wants to wipe it away, like it never existed. I got
ta ask, where’s his healthcare plan? Are we going back to the stone age, where the healthcare industry fucked us every time we walked into our doctors office? My advice, Don, keep the good shit, and build on it, make it better, but you won’t take my advice, because your ego is in the way, and healthcare to you, isn’t about me, as much as it’s all about you.