A Few More Random Thoughts

2

February 24, 2021- Today was a day for accompanying a friend around Lynx Lake, which both of us found enjoyable. The lake’s water table is down, as we might expect-given our long dry spell of last year, but the water birds are already coming back- noisy ducks and showy cormorants.

I picked up two of Isabel Wilkerson’s books: “The Warmth of Other Suns”, about the African-American migration out of the South, starting in the 1930s and “Caste”, about the role of that system in the stratifcation of American society-and the true connection between that stratification and Nazism. These ought to be very insightful. I don’t see an immediate tie between “Trumpsim”, which is largely personality-based and Fascism, which has systemic goals-but there are people who subscribe to both-just as there are doctrinaire people, who also are personality-driven, on the other end of the political spectrum.

I have meditated on the mercurial nature of several people in my circle, at present. Having gotten past feeling a personal affront, when those who have been uniformly pleasant over the past several months, suddenly turn icy, I can sense that the sameness of the pandemic-driven regimen is getting to too many people, just a tad too soon. I can also sense that we are getting a handle on the disease- the “variants” aside.

Finally, just an observation: Those who act out of fear are less the problem than those who stoke that fear-and privately mimic their followers. Yes, there are people egging the masses on, who take Lenin’s view of “useful idiots.” They are the true problematics.

Yes, and No

2

February 20, 2021-

One of my co-workers, yesterday, made the curious remark that everyone, from the age of two onward, is responsible for their actions. Yes, and no. A child needs to be taught right from wrong, from the time that receptive language can be processed. It is well to teach the child to not make excuses for one’s actions, also from the time he or she can act independently. However, to the extent that a child is dependent on parents or other adults, he or she is not entirely responsible for what happens in his/her life. This same person made the statement that the recently-retired president, a poster child for plausible denial, was a great leader. I will leave that statement to bathe in its own irony.

It is said that large amounts of money are needed, in order to bring this nation to full recovery from the pandemic-induced economic doldrums. Yes, and no. There are several groups deserving of cash infusions-among them: Workers being, or so to be, displaced by downsizing in the fossil fuel industry; workers suffering workforce cutbacks in the restaurant, hospitality and transportation industries; landlords facing economic hardship, due to the inability of renters to pay their monthly due; renters unable to pay their monthly due, owing to having been out of work; any combination of the above. There are also those, presently due to receive another stimulus check, who are not in as dire straits as the people mentioned above. (Disclosure: I am one of those in the latter group.) While we all could find a ready use for a stimulus check, at some point- and sooner, rather than later, the needs of the nation as a whole have to come first.

One of the codiciles in the American Recovery Plan is a minimum wage of $15 per hour. Yes, and no. Those at the bottom rung of the economic ladder deserve a living wage. It should be enough to allow the worker to pay a reasonable monthly rent and have enough left over, after bills are paid, to set aside savings (in fact, to follow Dave Ramsey’s advice, and “pay self first”, by setting the savings aside before paying any bills.) and to enjoy a reasonable quality of life. Such a Federal minimum wage should not, however, be buried in a fiscal stimulus package, which is supposed to be a one-off. It is worthy of being legislated and signed into law, in its own right. That such an occurrence is at all in doubt is the fault, not of the progressives who advocate it, but of the obstructionists who see their own greed stampede being interrupted.

Finally, at least for this post, there are those who call for education to be privatized. Yes, but mostly no. As a matter of fact, fiscal accountability, discipline and transparency, as many agents of the Internal Revenue Service could attest, is in woefully short supply, across all walks of life. I had to build these skills the hard way; yet many, using sleight of hand and kicking their debt cans down the road, have yet to build them at all. This applies to virtually all school systems, where adminstrative costs (including money spent on the services of Big Testing) siphon a huge chunk of the children’s money. Taxpayers, who provide the lion’s share of the funds available, rightfully expect that their assessments go to the legitimate learning of their children, grandchildren and neighbours. To the extent that charter schools can be the impetus for system-wide transparency and rectitude, long may they be part of the education scene. There is, however, no reason, save territoriality and a laconic mentality, that a public school district cannot do as much, if not more, for the good of our children than a private, or semi-private, institution,

Most coins have two sides, and some are cubes- or polyhedrons.

A Natural Pace

2

February 15, 2021-

It took a while, and a few messages back and forth, before I connected with a friend who recently moved out here, from the East Coast. Once we did finally meet up, a delightful two hours of conversation and The Raven’s usual fine lunch ensued. Friend got an introduction to downtown Prescott, Courthouse Square and one of the town’s many antique shops.

It will be a process of acclimation to higher elevation for my friend, but it will be nice to have at least an occasional hiking buddy and someone to tag along for other outings, like Synergy Music Nights. The key to this is that my life is resuming a natural pace. Work will wind down, after this week, and after Spring Break, I will cut back to three days a week of availability. It is time to focus on the avocational.

There is much to be done for my Faith and so much of my stamina to be rebuilt, with more time on the trails and a greater devotion to overall exercise. I have come a long way, towards letting life unfold at a natural pace, not so much focused on making things happen according to my schedule. The organic unfoldment of this day taught me a lot, in that regard, and it felt refreshing.

(In)tractible-Part II

2

February 14, 2021-

The earnest young man got ahead of himself, demanding that his financial problems be addressed, immediately, by those whom he saw as being well-off and comfortable in thier own lives. This went on, for nearly two years, as one potential benefactor, after another, turned away.

The imbalance between one group of people and another, whether it be a matter of money, food, water or, in this present environment, medical supplies to defeat COVID-19 is the single overarching matter facing humanity-and has been for several centuries now. It is viewed by many as a nuisance, a bore, something intractible.

It is my position that things become viewed as intractible largely because of the human impulse to want a matter resolved immediately, if not sooner, that one may move on to the next matter. I get this, very clearly. We are hard-wired as a species to move along and accomplish new and better. We are also, however, hard-wired to notice when others are left behind. This awareness rankles one’s conscience.

There is, simply put, nothing that nettles most people more than being asked for money. We are raised to share food, drink and even clothing with our siblings and those in our neighbourhoods. Money is an entirely different matter- perhaps because of insecurity, as to its possibly running out. So, the homeless, the destitute, the demanding are are seen as impediments, rather than as fellows.

The second seemingly intractible issue, from which many wish to turn away, is the continual persecution and conflict in certain parts of the world, particularly in west Asia. Religion is often blamed for this, but religion is simply a codification of man’s belief in a Higher Power. It has given us a single thread of rules for proper conduct, with the changes in social practice evolving as Mankind itself has evolved. That certain groups have continued to fight and contend with one another, in some cases for millennia on end, is not the fault of the Higher Power, but of the leadership and members of those groups. They are not, inherently, any more or less capable of getting along than are any other groups of people.

These two seemingly intractible issues reflect two phenomena: A lack of systematic process for equitable distribution of goods (food, clothing, water, medicine-and money) and a paralysis of the will to do the hard work, over time, that is needed to resolve deep-seated conflict. Fortunately, there is a shift in the consciousness of many on the planet-and an increase in the number of people in the process of finding and implementing solutions.

Nothing put before us needs to be seen as intractible.

(In)tractible-Part I

5

February 12, 2021-

So much of what remains to be resolved, in our world, seems insoluble. People speak of being depressed, mired in anger or even bored by “same old” requests and demands from others, day-to-day. Many of the same headlines get pushed, in the news cycle.

Allow me to post an observation: In reading just two friends’ posts on another social media site, this afternoon, I saw people about whom I care deeply, with one foot in the a land of compassion and justice, and the other in a place of suspicion and the denial of humanity towards people of a different point of view.

It is, simply put, this dichotomy, this lack of inward and outward unity, that keeps the individual, and thus the community, from addressing what truly matters. Unless and until we can truly, of our own choosing, put our eggs in the basket of the Oneness of Mankind, the same problems WILL continue to pop up, and put a damper on our days.

I am keeping this post, and its companion post on Sunday, short and succinct. In that post, the focus will be on two continually vexing issues, of which some of my fellows in Faith are aware, but about which they choose to complain, wishing the matters would just disappear. As my late wife said, “Standing at the foot of the mountain doesn’t put you at the top.”

Styles

4

February 10, 2021-

Each of us has styles,in one or more areas of life, that are unique to us as individuals.

I spent some time, during the course of this truncated school day, quietly watching my young charge investigate his world, his way. He is a tactile learner, and so was occupied for a short while in distinguishing the difference in texture, pattern and hardness of various wood and metal surfaces. He tries out different intonations, to see how they feel in his throat and mouth. Although his language is limited, he knows that he can experiment, within bounds, and is in a place where people care.

I pondered some of my own styles- I also sometimes engage in tactile learning, but more often will act after observing my environment and considering what is best for those around me.

After finishing my dinner, at a local bakery-restaurant, I throw away my napkins and drink cup. The dishes remain on the table, so that the busser may know to sanitize it. I don’t, however, want to have the staff deal directly with anything that has touched my mouth and hands. It’s a residue of all the years of wanting to spare my young charges from unnecessary bother, while respecting their doing what is needed, in order to be successful.

In organizing my day, allowing extra time for showering, grooming and easing into my day-with the newspaper and a cup of coffee, breakfast and devotions- before setting out on the day’s events, whether work, community life or a day spent in nature, creates the air of assurance and calm that allows for dealing with even the most unanticipated of events.

Styles of learning, public communication and activity may be hard to synchronize, but there is nothing that says we cannot make the effort-which starts with observing the way others do things, and thinking of the ways in which they are similar to our own methods.

I am getting better at all of this, and of tying one day’s activities into an even flow with the next day.

Dereliction

0

February 6, 2021-

There are many people still in my life, and several causes that seek attention. I gather that this is true of just about everyone. The question then arises: Is there a point at which being oneself and prioritizing one cause, or group of people, over another constitutes dereliction of duty?

Being an empath, I feel other people’s energy very strongly. That doesn’t explain the underlying reasons for that energy. Only the person feeling it can divulge those. I feel it even more so, when the energy is collective. So, to all those who have expressed the view that a person ought commit to one organization, activity or community, I say godspeed. I will help each organization as alignment allows. My own energy focus allows for a modicum of time spent in virtual meetings- knowing that, as with any human endeavour, there are those who would be on Zoom, or Microsoft Teams, 24/7-and again, godspeed to them. My greater energy, though, is spent away from the computer.

For the time being, that is, for the next two weeks, my priority is helping a couple of schools in dealing with COVID-related staff shortages. Some time will be spent on Red Cross classes, and with a small, but spirited, group of college students who are earnestly planning sustainability activities. There is also the 50% chance that jury duty will transpire, towards the end of this month.

Dereliction of duty is clearly defined, when it comes to parenting, supervision of children in a school setting or service in the public realm. It is less clear, when it comes to the matters of those generally self-sustaining adults who are suffering emotionally or spiritually. This gray area is also on my mind and in my heart, and occupies some of my time, on a case by case basis. Thankfully, most such people are appreciative of any time and energy that others give, as it at least validates that their situation is important to someone.

Unprogrammed

2

February 3, 2021-

Stories are surfacing, of people wanting to “deprogram” others. The whole premise seems to be to bring the other people to their senses; in other words, to get them to drop what are seen as fanciful attitudes and opinions, which the “deprogrammer” wants to replace with attitudes and opinions that a) are not threatening to him/her and b) are more in tune with the mainstream.

There are several varieties of deprogramming. Perhaps the best known is “conversion therapy”, the aim of which is to convince a Gay or Lesbian person to change their orientation, to heterosexuality. There is considerable risk, in such an effort- as the primary mode seems to be psychological and fairly short tem in focus. The flip side of this is, of course, the relatively rare attempts by Gay or Lesbian people to introduce heterosexuals to a homosexual orientation. Neither is going to work, to any great degree, as there are aspects of sexual orientation that go far beyond physical attraction, or even psychological programming.

There is Stockholm Syndrome, in which the victim of a crime comes to identify with the perpetrator(s) and adopts their attitudes, behaviours and mindsets- often engaging in similar behaviour to an even greater degree than the original criminals. This phenomenon far predates the incident for which it was named-as witness the Roman slaves who, once freed, became masters of other slaves. Human nature does as it will.

Getting back to the present-the whole programming, deprogramming, reprogramming thing is, as far as I can see, more about the person trying to effect the change than about the person whom he/she is trying to change. It is, arguably, doomed to failure. The only path to disabusing a person of thoughts and behaviours which are clearly harmful is surrounding them with unconditional love, a course of action which takes considerable time, energy and patience-and which avoids guilt, shame and the projection that one is in any way superior to the other person.

The only real change is that which is effected from within.

Aiming Carefully

2

January 31, 2021-

There will always be those who look to find fault with anyone who doesn’t toe their idea of the Party Line. The problem I have with that mindset is that such a sense of purism, combined with ego, leads to corrupt behaviour, at some point. It starts off as a nickel here, a dime there, a rock in the shoe ignored, a come-on excused, or treated as an offer that just could not be refused. The appeal to power grows, and the ideal of service to the People shrinks.

This is where onlookers start to get the idea that the Dirty Dozen, Horrible Hundred or Tawdry Thousand, are really a cabal. Those who are never called to account for their deeds begin to seem invincible to their critics, so it stands to reason they must have a force of deep-pocketed, well-connected guardians behind them. This is especially so, when years go by and none of a person’s real or perceived wrongdoings are ever verified in a Court of Law.

From where I see things, though, there is an additional roadblock to justice: Too often, the lodging of complaints, against a political opponent or even a benign rival, is delivered in scattershot fashion. The notion of throwing something at the wall, and seeing what sticks, is its own, oblique reward.

There is a definite legal principle at work here: Be concise; be succinct; be on target. I want, as much as anyone, to see justice served. Especially with regard to crimes against humanity, crimes against children: Bring what evidence there is to be brought and be not careless with that evidence. These are the days when all that is hidden in darkness shall be brought to light. It is imperative, however, that there is no artifice involved.

Be not cowed by anyone’s present status or public record of achievement-and do be true to what is real.

One Spirit

2

January 30, 2021-

I have an independent mind, the expression of which has left several people around here, and elsewhere, who I fairly trusted, responding with “LOL”, or with sullen silence. The thing that I find funny is that several of them pride themselves on being people of faith. The belief that there is One God, Who created all life, is as central to their pronounced faith, as it is to mine.

So, it is incredulous to me that people can even distinguish between human beings, as to who deserves to live. It befuddles me, that there are at least two classes of people, and this distinction is a point of pride, a cornerstone of belief.

There is, by my reckoning, One Creator, One Spirit, One Universe, One Planet Earth and One Human Race. I have differences of opinion with many, AND that does not diminish their humanity-as far as I am concerned. For saying this, however, I have lost several friends, at least one extended family member and a few members of my own Faith, for not adhering to an orthodoxy that claims to be fighting for freedom-but is rooted in fear.

Let’s look at a few matters, more closely:

  1. Human Rights- I hear the First National Youth Poet Laureate say that the mind of a child is paramount. This same person also says that medical professionals should be allowed to put unborn children to death. What happens to the mind of a child who is not even allowed to be born? I hear some of the same people who espouse abortion, as a routine practice, voice opposition to the Death Penalty, even for the most heinous of murders.
  2. Nationalism- I see and hear people of various backgrounds, some with medical degrees and some with law degrees, saying that America should be a White, Christian nation-exclusively. What, exactly, is a White Nation? The continent of Europe, alone, is home to seventy different ethnicities. Jesus loved people of all the known nations of His time-and loves everyone, the world over, now. The first Christians, outside of a smattering of Jews in the Holy Land and a handful of Greeks, were Ethiopians, South Asians and Turkic people in Central Asia. The majority of Christians today are People of Colour.
  3. Wealth- Yesterday, a wealthy investor took to social media to furiously denounce those who have actively engaged in buying inexpensive stocks, offered by companies which produce goods and services in which they have a common interest. His basic point was that there was a move to destroy our economic system. That this participation will actually strengthen the nation’s economy, in the long run, is willfully ignored by those who favour keeping things as they historically have been. There is no club. There is no exclusive society that deserves preference over all other human beings. The very use of the prefix “non-“, with reference to people outside one’s own circle, is odious and needs to be discarded. The selectivity which is promoted by so many leaders of groups may be temporarily necessary, in terms of how each of us structures our time, our attention and our energy-but for it to be a permanent psychological, emotional and legal barrier to seeing the humanity in everyone and the sentience of all beings, is treacherous to those whose rights are debarred- and to one’s own humanity. The concept of any human being superior to the next, even by dint of the preponderance of one’s demonstrated character, is in the long run, an abomination. We are each here to grow, to learn and to become one. There is, in the entire Universe, one Creator and one Spirit animating all life. All distinction is a matter of mental construct. All prejudice and hatred are little more than byproducts of unfaced fear.