An Unspeakable Secret

I spent twenty years with our local school district, and I’ll vouch for the veracity of this report. Kitchen staff, Secretaries, Paras, Janitors are all paid substandard wages. Their union contracts, if they have one, are weak, and generally ignored due to inherent managerial rights. Most kitchen staff are not full time, and receive partial benefits, Paras often replace teachers in the classroom, and are tasked, with minimal training, to provide services they’re not prepared for. Custodians are often exposed to Blood born pathogens on a daily basis as an expectation of their daily routine, without financial acknowledgment. But the two things that really ticked me off in my twenty years with my district is first, administrators had their health care paid for, while my cost was absolutely ridiculous, and second, when it came to raises, admin would claim that they were being fair in that everyone received a 2 percent raise. Two percent of a 130,000 is a hell of a lot more than 2 Percent of 15,000.

So yeah, there’s a problem.

Is What it is, I Think

I’m not a Trump fan, never have been. I’ve voiced my displeasure more than once. So why have I been bothered by a lot of Comey’s personal comments about Donald Trump? At first, I thought such comments were beyond his dignity, and lowered him to Trumps acidic level of toxicity. That’s probably a part of it, but not the whole reason. I think James Comey understands, unlike many, that to battle a monster, you often have to take the war to the monster, on his own playing field. Calling our President morally unfit to be president is a hard truth that many believe, and resonates to those setting on the fence. No American wants to hear that about our President, but it needed to be said in the venue it was said. I don’t like Trump as a man, I’ve always known that. His morals and ideals don’t even come close to aligning with what I believe, and I’m far from perfect. The thing is, you cannot separate a mans morals from his behavior, they go hand in hand, Trump has proven that. James Comey is simply reiterating that.

Deep State

Americans are embedded with a suspicion of government. It’s who we are, it’s how we’re raised, that suspicious eye being derived from our history, and weaved into our constitution. On one hand we trust our Government, and on the other, we’re deeply aware of how government can fail it’s people, and work to it’s own, ugly agenda. There is no surprise that 75% of Americans believe in a deep state, a cabal of the powerful running the show, behind the scenes.

If you define deep state in the above manner, look around. It’s not so deep, not so secretive, and in fact it’s quite evident. The rich and powerful, be they major corporations or individuals, spend billions of dollars to exert their will, to push their agenda, agendas that often betray the American experience.

If you define deep state as Trump does, as a cabal of Obama, left leaning democrats embedded in key government positions for the sole purpose of dictating policies, and working against his administration, I’d ask to see the evidence. I’d want to know how that works, especially in light of how each incoming president appoints their own cabinet officials to voice their political ideologies and agendas. A newly elected democrat could easily claim the same of the right. He could fire the Director of the FBI, claiming the director was out to get him, wasn’t following his new policies. That’s not evidence of a secretive cabal, that’s a disagreement between a man and his new boss.

I’ve never trusted our government to do the right thing, but not because of secret cabals of men working to their own ends, hidden deep in the offices of Washington, but rather because of money, and power. Of the two, money and power wins every time.

Our Skies are Alive

With the chatter of airline pilots, and when it comes to strange objects whizzing past them, they ain’t settling on ‘it’s just a weather balloon’. Give a listen to this recent encounter.

Considering the UFO phenomenon was started by a pilot, Kenneth Arnold, back in ’47, it shouldn’t be a surprise that pilots and UFO sightings are synonymous. One of the most interesting is JAL flight 1628.

So who you going to trust, a well trained pilot, or a government that’s either in denial, or hiding something not of this earth.

It Ain’t Just Facebook

that’s collecting, correlating and violating your privacy. There’s something like 3,000 data brokers here at home who do nothing but buy and sell your personal data. They know more about you, than your momma! Ever send a naughty text, they know about it. Cheating on your significant other, they know about it? Favorite flavor of ice cream, they know! They not only know where you’ve been, they know where you’re going. Changing all your privacy settings ain’t going to change what’s known as Surveillance Capitalism. They got us nailed, so just do what I do, flip ’em off in my webcam when I think they’re snooping.

Into the Abyss

of madness we go.

Xi, Erdogan, Un, Putin, all now masters of their universe for life. How? Why?Simple!Because they remove any personal responsibility in your life by creating scapegoats for you to blame for all your misfortunes. The subjects are fine with going to war, corruption, and scandal, as long as they have someone to blame, and the tyrants always offer up someone. Jews, Muslims, anyone that looks different, believes different. I’ve always believed that if a person has steak for dinner and apple pie for desert, the only other thing people need is someone to blame for their personal problems. They ain’t going to be worried about their government. Even if that government is systematically destroying their democracy while they’re feasting.

Honor and Respect

A co-worker asked me last night how long I had been married.

’30 some years.’

‘Quite an accomplishment’ he stated, ‘How’d ya manage?’.

I really don’t have an answer, but I like to think it has something to do with the truth that I married my best friend, and that friendship has endured. Friendships are built on trust, mutual respect, understanding and compassion.

Given that it’s International Women’s day, I think it’s appropriate I be reflective of the women in my life. When I think about it, it’s been the women in my life who have shaped who I am today. Sure, my dad was a huge influence, but in my house, growing up, the dominate influence and lawgiver was my mother. My father and mother had a working relationship, an equal foundation to raise their children, but my father was gone a lot. I didn’t always get along with my mother, and I find that my role today as a primary caretaker for her, is one that I cherish. In a lot of ways, I’m closer to her now then when I was growing up, raising my own family.  I have an older sister who I love, but don’t talk with much, and I suppose that’s on me. Barb has a good heart, has always been socially aware, and a lot of my social beliefs, to strive for social justice, derive from her, and I’ll always be thankful for that. Her daughter, Shelby, an army vet, now grown with a family of her own, is a lot like her mom, and that inspires me. I’m simply impressed with how Shelb manages such a full and rewarding life. I remember my grandmother, a farmers wife, who put up with a ton of emotional abuse from my grandfather in the early years. Things I didn’t know about till I was much older, and things I didn’t want to believe. Then there’s my Aunt Lil, who always had a brewing pot of coffee, and a kitchen table ready for me when I wanted to talk. Lil was my go to person, and when I think of compassion and understanding, my Aunt comes to mind. Her passing was my first real sense of grief and sorrow.

And then there’s my wife, Theresa. I’m a good ten years older than Teri and I met her when she was babysitting for my sister. She was only 17, and I was 26. Her mother, Jeanette, had me over for a roast beef dinner, and asked me bluntly what my intentions were, with her daughter. Teri didn’t fall far from that tree. Deeply religious, steadfast in her convictions, Jeannette was shocked when she found out Rock Hudson was gay, but she simply refused to be judgmental. She loved Rock Hudson. I remember that conversation over dinner, I’ll always remember her love and faith in me, to treat her daughter with respect.

My wife isn’t perfect, I’m not either, we both realize that, admit it, talk about our mistakes, then move on. Together. If you were to ask me what love is, I couldn’t put it in words, but I would hope her mother is smiling down upon us, knowing that I’ve honored her simple request to treat Teri with honor and respect.

I owe all the women in my life that.

Cafe Conversations at the End of the Universe

I watched the dying embers of the universe, lost in a millennium of thoughts. Time had been lost, I reached for my coffee, felt the coldness of the ceramic, and left it.

“So you’re not happy with how it turned out?”

I turned to God, who shared the cheap Formica café booth, and just took his presence in. There was nothing left to say, it was all gone.

“It was meant, by design to end like this.” God was saying as I lifted my coffee cup to the thick, tank like woman who was our sole waitress among empty booths, “There was a thought, to let it continue, but there was no purpose in doing so.”

I met the woman’s eyes as she filed my cup, and gave a slight nod, then turned to God. “But what was the purpose to begin?”

“Loneliness.”

I saw a shifting pattern of stars in the eyes of God, and noted the sorrow.

God tapped out a quick forefingered rap on the chipped Formica, and raised his white mug, didn’t drink, and then sat it down.

“Have you ever wondered why you’re setting here with me?” he asked.

I had, but never asked.

“Because you’re lonely?”

The corner of my eye caught a galaxy dwindle to dust, scattered by the remaining cosmic winds.

“Not in the sense, of being alone, of being without companion. More in the sense of purpose.” God replied turning his head toward the great window we were seated at. “Existence is futile without purpose.”

I furrowed my brow, wrapped my palms around my cup, not wanting to look God in the large void of now starless eyes.

“You created existence to give meaning to your own? You didn’t find it, and now it all ends?”

“Or perhaps I found purpose, and I no longer have the need I once had?”

God smiled.

I frowned.

God noticed.

“You had a good life, why the frown?” A star exploded, and died in his pupil.

“Because apparently I had no purpose of my own.” I answered as the last light of the star dwindled into darkness.

“Purpose is not given. Purpose must be found, my old friend.”

My sight crossed over to the waitress, who stood behind the counter wrapping silverware in pleated napkins, laying each bundle neatly in a row.

I wondered who she was expecting?

Rob Paxton

Are We Stupid, Or What?

I was twenty years old walking through an airport in Germany, and I remember thinking how grateful I was that I lived in a country where there weren’t armed police officers every thousand feet. I couldn’t imagine living under such a presence, of threat and security. Forty years later, here we are, wanting to turn our schools into armed camps.

Is this who we are? Is this the best answer? Where will we be ten years down the road? I don’t have the answers, but I’ve got a few thoughts.

Based upon personal experience, a person suffering from a mental health issue isn’t going to be deterred by the fact that there is, or might be, an armed teacher or officer on site. Jared Loughner wasn’t worried about secret service protection when he shot Gabby Giffords, neither was John Hinckley when he shot Reagan.

Most schools host a wide variety of events after the school day, from basketball games to dance shows to community classes. That means a lot more doors are open to the public. Imagine a thousand people arriving for an event, having to go through security. Who’s going to pay for that? Who would want to attend a basketball game thinking they’d have to go through that? And if there’s no security after school, whats stopping someone from hiding a gun till the next day?

As far as arming certain teachers, is that the best we can come up with? Really? What’s going to happen when a teacher kills an unruly kid because they feel their life is threatened? Or two teachers get in an argument and pull their guns? Teachers are already stressed with large class sizes, insufficient wages, lack of supplies, and behavioral challenges from their students. What right minded person would take a job like that, and be told they now have to carry a weapon?

We’re asking our local schools to carry a financial, ethical and logistical burden that they simply cannot handle, yet they will be held accountable for.

And where will it stop, armed guards at the movie theaters, in our churches, our places of business? Imagine the scene of walking through your local mall, Christmas shopping and there are armed guards with machine guns every thousand feet. That’s where we’ll be in a decade after deciding to arm teachers and having armed guards roaming the halls of our schools. Is that what we want? Is that our future?

One last thing, I don’t believe God woke up one morning and said, ‘Hmmm, people have a right to own guns, and so they shall.’ If you’re thinking God gave you that inalienable right, you might want to try looking for a more peace loving God.

Rob Paxton

It’s an Old Battle

that’s getting old, and worn. Are we a Nation with inalienable rights granted by God? Or are we a Nation of Government, those rights granted by man? One would think the separation of Church and State as a founding ideal answers that question. It does for some, and for others it leads to a quagmire, a moral quest to define the world they live in, where their lives, and ours, are defined by God.

I prefer a Government of men, men you can hold accountable. Men who should hold other men accountable.

The Conservative view that we are a nation under God serves their business practices. That they alone are answerable to God, and not Government. That a Government of men have no right to regulate their business practices, to hold them accountable for fair pay, decent work hours, and safe working conditions.

I don’t necessarily trust in God, that’s not to say I don’t pray, but I’ve learned that answers and action are few and far between, if ever.  Not to mention, individual belief in God differs from person to person, just as it does from religion to religion.

Rob Paxton