When Darkness Descends

4

May 31, 2020

I will say this, today was a balanced day, in terms of how I interacted with others. Breakfast was served by a nice young lady, and was well-prepared and delicious. I was taken aback, though, by the surliness of her boss-who took exception to the t-shirt I was wearing. Not sure whether the death stare was due to it being a t-shirt,or to the message it stated: “No Room in My Heart for Prejudice”. There is also the matter of my being a single man, sitting at a table meant for four, but I displaced no one. (Prescott restaurants, as I’ve mentioned before, are not always welcoming to parties of one.)

I went back to the house, and had a well-attended online devotional, though a couple of the participants got a bit testy, when I described my earlier experience. I am seen by some around here as being a bit too pushy, when it comes to talking about my beliefs. That is something I can abide, as I rarely even broach those beliefs, unless I sense a receptive audience.

I had good conversations with the others, though, thus balancing out the morning. In the afternoon, a very good friend and I discussed a couple of enterprises that she is considering. This is a most proactive response to the harrowing events that have hit our country, thus far this year.

The day came to a pleasant end, at least for me, with a two-hour instructional on bridging cultural differences. Lord knows, this applies as much to life within the United States, as it does further afield.

May has been a rough row to hoe, but we’re getting….somewhere.

Knowing Places

2

May 30, 2020

Today was the traditional Memorial Day, observed each year, until President Nixon set up a “streamlined” observance, for the fourth Monday in May, each year-beginning with 1971’s commemoration.

It struck me, today, that each of us conducts our affairs, our personal business, our honouring of others and even our leisure activities, largely based on what we perceive as our place in the world. That place, in times past, was determined, not so much by oneself, but by whosoever was deemed “in charge” of us- as in the Victorian Era and Twentieth Century dictum: “Children shall be seen and not heard.” or, even more rudely put-“A woman’s place is in the kitchen.”

I’ve been told, at least once, during this pandemic, “STAY HOME!”. The person making that demand has no say in my life, whatsoever, so I take the demand with several grains of salt. As long as I maintain distance from those who I know are at risk of infection, and practice recommended hygiene and PHYSICAL distancing, it’s no one’s business how much time I spend between these four walls.

My place is this world has always been fluid, and remains so. There is also a truism: “Those who stand for nothing, will fall for anything.” I will keep on with a full regimen of activities, both within my Home Base, in the community and, as life inches forward, go with the utmost safety to certain places which have re-opened, provided there is not an air of recklessness in said locales.

Anymore, children should be taught to speak thoughtfully and a woman’s place, a swell as a man’s, is wherever s(he) deems fit.

Holding One’s Temper

6

May 29,2020

As with every single thing that has come before the American public, the course of events, over the past few days, has had its share of back and forth. Thankfully, all comments that I have seen, so far, concur that Georg Floyd did not deserve to die the way he did.

I don’t like rioting and destruction. I don’t like toddlers throwing temper tamtrums, either. I understand both. A heavy hand resolves neither, but a firm, considerate tone of voice and clear statement of expectations go a long way towards stopping both.

I have seen, firsthand, when a weak leader took the word of someone who made up a story, out of whole cloth, and fired someone who had not done anything like that of which they were accused. I have also seen an out-of-control maniac grab a 16-year-old boy by the head and smash his head into a tree, three times- in the name of “school discipline”.

Both “styles of leadership” created for more problems than they were worth. Neither person deserved the position he occupied. Neither victim deserved the fate that was meted out.

George Floyd did not deserve to die aviolent death. His accused killer did not deserve pass after dreadful pass, for the previous harsh treatment he was found to have given to his “collars”/

Keeping Honour

7

May 28,2020

I have found that my throat chakra. It’s a feature that had been rather subject to timidity and over-circumspection, especially when it came time to face challenges from more strident individuals, over the years. I find myself talking back more-and with more confidence.

These are times when people are dealing with fear and pain, in some very unsettling ways. Then again, people have dealt with fear and pain in unsettling ways, forever. It just plays out more in real time.

Grand Canyon National Park has re-opened its North Rim to hiking, but not to lodging. I had a pre-COVID plan to hike a trail up there, in honour of my Uncle Jim, who passed away last year. June 3 would have been his 86th birthday. As it happens, I have an obligation here at Home Base, that evening, but June 2 is open. So, I have plans to take my hiking sticks, water, natural sanitizer, mask and gloves-and honour my uncle’s memory.

The reaction to my announcement of this has not been what I expected. I thought friends on the Left would come screaming about contagion. So far, only one mild protest has come from that direction. Most everyone, progressives and conservatives alike, have simply said “Be safe and enjoy!”

The only caveat that I have, for the driving portion of this trip, is to not stop along the way, in the Navajo Nation, unless absolutely necessary-to honour the Nation’s President’s request that outsiders drive through, without stopping.

For what it’s worth, this is the only long trip I have planned for the next several weeks, if not months, and out-of-state, for now, remains out of the question.

Pain Body

2

May 27, 2020-

There has been, in the time of pandemic, a particularly acute explosion of awareness, of various acts of violence against people of colour, by both those in authority and private individuals; against indigenous or pastoral groups, by those seeking to exploit mineral or plant resources, without having done the requisite research into archaeological and anthropological remnants at the resource site; by those who are ust lashing out at whoever disagrees with them, on a given issue.

The philosopher, Eckhart Tolle, refers to the existence of a pain body, which stores physical and emotional memories of unhealed pain. This concept explains everything from the phantom limb, felt by amputees to the acting out, by dementia patients, recalling an abuse from many decades earlier.

Many are acting out their pain body memories right now. I know what they are feeling is real-I went through the purging of much buried emotional pain, some of it from my formative years, during the period 2008-14. Part of it surfaced, as I was still caring for my dying wife. The rest came out while I was rebuilding my life. It had to all be handled as quietly as possible, so I thought. None of it was Penny’s fault, or our son’s. Most of it, in truth, came from bad decisions I made, or from things happening around me that, for the most part, were no one’s actual fault.

I have reached the point of stasis, so I know that it is possible to overcome one’s buried pain. It involves communication. It involves trust. It involves commitment to self. It involves resolution. It involves reconciliation and forgiveness-especially towards self.

Those who have committed, and are still committing, crimes against humanity are also committing crimes against themselves-whether they tell themselves it’s for the greater good, for the stockholders or for the survival of the community. It is still an injurious act-with no real winners.

Let us all give some thought to healing our pain bodies.

Ad Hoc Authority

2

May 26, 2020-

I began reading the National Geographic, for the month of June, whilst doing my laundry, this afternoon. One of the opinion pieces, about the effect of satire and humour, in getting people to understand science, contained the curious statement that “most scientists” agree the GMO-foods are safe to eat-and that Jimmy Kimmel says they’re safe to eat, as well.

I have never heard Mr. Kimmel speak, about anything. When people talk about dietary or nutritional matters, their main frames of reference are: Their dietary needs and preferences; their investments (GMO foods are lucrative) and their aversion to what they see as lapses in efficiency (Small farms and organic methods are often cited as being “inefficient.”)

I also have a problem with “most…….”. It reminds me of the phrase, “They’re all doing it”. Not being a lemming, or a sheep, I have to weigh trends in my mind, before followong along. Nebulous citations, or quoting lay people, who may or may not be authoritative, or articulate, are not altogether convincing.

Many of the problems into which we have fallen, today, are the results of having followed the words of the loudest voice in the room. Ad hoc authority figures have risen up, at various levels of national life-and in other countries, as well. They set policy by feeling their way. I have to caution my readers, to revert back to conducting scrutiny, to the best of your ability, and not taking anything at face value.

Things that may, or may not, be safe, are not ascertained by saying “The scientists say it’s so!” What scientists? Working for whom? Where are their studies, and the peer reviews, published?

The Silence

4

May 25, 2020-

The silence, today, was truly deafening.

There were few speeches,

anywhere in the nation.

There were no mass gatherings

of Scouts, Gold Star families,

Scottish Piper Regiments,

and surviving veterans.

all placing flags,

at gravesites.

There were several picnics

and barbecues,

people in boats,

people in swimsuits,

people wishing one another,

“Happy” Memorial Day.

It’s de rigeur, anymore.

I recall the Memorial Days

of my childhood,

watching a parade,

then going to place flowers

at the gravesites

of my grandfathers

and Grama.

There was a quiet,

the rest of the day,

and I recall reflecting,

sometimes worrying about

mortality.

I’m not sure when

things started to change.

Maybe it was the

unpopularity

of our involvements

in the wars that came

after Korea.

There will always be that debate,

but this remains:

Those who went,

and did not come back

alive,

did not make policy.

They deserve better,

than “Happy Memorial Day”.

All gave some;

some gave all.

InCel

2

May 24, 2020-

The relative calm, that has accompanied our state’s lifting of a stay-at-home order, was broken last Wednesday evening. In the Metro Phoenix city of Glendale, a disgruntled young man decided he’d “had enough of being bullied” and went to the large Westgate entertainment district, equipped with firepower. He used that firepower to disrupt the lives of 3 victims, all of whom have survived, and of countless other frightened diners and shoppers. He told police that he was InCel- an involuntary celibate.

In 2014, a similarly “aggrieved” individual went on an even deadlier rampage, in Isla Vista, CA, near Santa Barbara. That person’s plaint was the same-He felt he was forced to be celibate, because of snobby women. My own reaction to this, was that his complaint was balderdash-prompting one of his apologists to scold me and say that I should clean up my own backyard.

Life has shown that I did have some self-work to do, though not what the critic assumed. It has been nearly four decades, since I wallowed in self-pity, about my status in the dating field. Never once, though, did it occur to me that FORCE was the answer-to any social difficulty. Time brought Penny, along with my improved self-concept, greater respect for women as human beings and a realistic ethic , regarding friendships of all sorts. Our marriage lasted until her passing, and would still be extant, had she lived.

I happen to believe in celibacy, outside of marriage, so the concept that one is saddled with it, in an involuntary manner, does not wash, in my view. There will need, for a long time to come, be cause for parents to pay close attention to how their adolescent-and young adult-children are faring socially. There will need, for a long time to come, for society (police, social workers, teachers, weapons safety advocates and groups) to notice those who might be loners, misfits and mentally unstable. Those people do not need access to weapons, and to argue otherwise is a perversion of the right to bear arms.

People, both men and women, should retain the freedom of choice-in any relationship.

Nuance

2

May 23, 2020

One of the major pitfalls of viewing life strictly through a digital lens is that three of the five physical senses are left hanging-thus depriving the sixth sense, intuition, of what it needs to be validated. Lack of touch, taste and smell deprives the mind of nuance, which is intuition’s best friend.

So, we have the minor spectacles of the “Karens” and “Nervous Nellies”, on both Right and Left, making and passing judgments about events in places far from their abodes-even places to which they’ve never been, about people whom they’ve never met.

Of course, we’ve probably all done it, at one time or another. I have expressed loud disapproval of cruel acts committed against children and animals, or the depredations of sex traffickers and overzealous abortionists. My only defense is that I have spoken on behalf of innocents.

COVID-19 has brought this phenomenon to a boil. People in small towns and cities, relatively unaffected by the pandemic, in terms of actual infection rates, can make the case for THEIR communities to not adopt the same regimens as large cities-or close-knit rural areas, such as the Navajo Nation or the Amish communities, where large families share living space.

Likewise, those large urban areas and large family groups do well to take stringent measures, in combating infection. They do not need to take, to heart, the objections of people in less densely populated areas, to those measures.

In this time of trial, and of restricted travel, chances are that neither really, deep-down, comprehends what the other is enduring. Rural people feel the bite of a slowed down economy, in ways that that people in larger communities do not- and vice versa. We have each been hit by a different sack of bricks.

People like the Navajo, their neighbours-the Hopi, Zuni, Southern Paiute and Ute, as well as countless other First Nations tribes, the aformentioned Amish, Appalachian Whites and Blacks in the rural South tend to get the worst of both situations-geographic isolation AND no safe harbour from living in close-quarters.

Those in densely-populated cities in the East and Midwest, as well as the major urban areas of the West and South, are enduring real-time catastrophes, in ways that those in the rural Midwest and West can barely comprehend. The converse is also true. Those who feel the fright of dealing with a loss of income, due to a pandemic which has otherwise scarcely affected their communities, are right to voice that fright.

I feel it is time for one and all to take stock of the other’s situation, knowing that we can not have a full-on understanding of that experience. With that knowledge, let us set our emotional reactions to what we see and hear, about far-off events, aside. Take several deep breaths. How long, and to what measure, New York, Los Angeles and the Navajo Nation are in lockdown should not be the target of the objections of people in the Great Plains and non-Indian Mountain West. Neither should the reopening of Arizona, Montana and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan be grist for the anguish of those in communities that are still struggling with COVID-so long as people from reopened areas don’t descend on the war zones, or vice-versa.

Only grasping the nuance of the other person’s experience can bring understanding.

Discombobulation

14

May 22, 2020

Discombobulation was a term used by one of the more effective teachers, in my junior high days, to describe the constant shifting of one’s physical or social situation, without allowing for a reasonable explanation or period of adjustment.

The notion that change is a constant is widely understood. What does not seem to be as well understood are the notions that opinions can evolve and that people can’t be typecast by their ethnicities, genders, generations or even prior stances on issues.

Much is being made about the constantly changing positions of the president, some members of Congress, some state governors and some medical authorities, with respect to COVID19. I attribute most of that clamouring to fear of the unknown and a desire for some measure of consistency, that people may deal successfully with the disease, in their own spheres.

The public state of affairs caused by the pandemic, as well as the virus itself, are evolving, continuously. Thus, people, including those in positions of authority, need to be afforded some measure of flexibility, in their public pronouncements and in their assessments of the situation. This virus has variously presented us with a clearcut roadmap for flattening the curve of infections and hospitalizations, followed by what appears to be an insidious game of Whack-A-Mole.

There is, almost as a sideshow, the spectacle of the presumptive Democratic candidate for president making what he now says is an offhand remark, regarding the qualifications for being “black”. Whitesplaining is odious, in any context, and introducing a measure of cognitive dissonance, into the lives of African-Americans who have conservative political views, makes it even more so. I’ve pointed out, in a different context, that there are liberals, conservatives and all point in between, in every given community.

We each have our opinions, on just about everything. The fact that we have them, or that we feel strongly about them, doesn’t make them right. The fact that we are free to change these opinions, hopefully in light of new information, doesn’t mean that we are suddenly either in grievous error-or imbued with wisdome from on high.

Change is ever a constant.