The Price of Cancellation

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August 17, 2019-

I read, this morning, about Sarah Silverman’s having had a role canceled, by a director who was furious that she had done a Blackface skit-sometime in the 1990’s.  It turns out that the skit was a parody of someone else doing Blackface, and that it was intended as a cautionary message to people, not to do likewise.  Undeterred, the Red Queen of a director maintained the ‘majesty’ of that decision.

We have run amok, with the notion that an offense, however real or imagined, is sufficient to remove a person from one’s social circle, employment or from society itself, for that matter.  Criticizing a move by the Israeli government, apparently makes one an anti-Semite (never mind that Arabs, who usually end up wearing that label, are themselves Semites, as are, of course, Jews).  Having a discourse with one’s political or philosophical opposites makes one “dangerous to society” (I’ve seen this behaviour from both the political Right and Left.)  Now, comes the film-making community, with the search, flashlight in hand, for ANYTHING in a performer’s past that violates a narrow code of acceptable conduct.

People, rightfully, note signs and behaviours of late, that remind them of pre-World War II Germany and Italy.  These do need to be called out.  Case in point: A person driving a truck into a crowd of protesters is NOT exercising his rights, under the law.  At the very least, he is acting as a vigilante,  At worst, he is committing an act of domestic terror.

Dismissing those, with whom we disagree, from the realm of existence, though. is a slippery slope.  We have a prime example of this:  The French Revolution.  It was a far more complicated mess, of course, but the dehumanization of those who are of opposite persuasions  almost always ends with the opposite of what was originally intended.

So, I think of my present life.  There are two people who have verbally threatened me, over the past three years.  I have taken steps to ensure they are of no further consequence in my life- but they are certainly free to live their own lives, without my hectoring or interference.  I disagree, strongly, with several people on certain issues.  To carry on and try to deprive them of  life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness would be ludicrous.

We go on, and hopefully will do two things:  1. Carefully review and verify any report of a public outrage (i.e. the false report of people dousing a reporter with quick-drying cement, in Portland, several weeks ago).  2. Remind self that, in a world created by a Higher Power, one’s own likes and dislikes do not necessarily need to be indulged by the Universe.

Cancellation is always an option, and it comes with a price.

Constant

7

August 14, 2019-

Today is the fourth, in as many as thirty consecutive days of dry heat.

I will not let myself burn, or sink in exhaustion.

Today is another day of hand-wringing and grasping at straws,

in the financial markets.

I will not cry poor mouth.

Today we hear what many of us have long intuited,

that there is a tie that binds those

who serially abuse teenagers.

I will always view youth as my friends,

as being just as worthy of following their dreams,

as anyone else on the planet.

Today, a wise person wrote:  “I whispered in the Devil’s ear,……….

I am the Storm!”

To all who seek to bring humanity down into the mud,

I, too, am the Storm.

Stay focused,

stay strong,

your lives matter.

These Changes Keep On

10

August 12, 2019-

I rose and shined, this morning, to crickets from the Sub Service (it’s only the second week of school) and a notion that it was time to simplify further.  After a laid back morning, I took more magazines and unsolicited 2020 calendars to the Veteran’s Hospital, got rid of some red t-shirts and parted with an old swivel office chair, two mismatched crutches-and my microwave oven.

It’s time for this supporter of Slow Food Prescott to put my money where my mouth is. Having heard every other naturopathic doc on the planet talk about the disruptive effects of this common feature of convenience and having used it less and less, I made the change.  The toaster oven, slow cooker and regular oven will work nicely.  I also have a solar oven, in the back, so there we are.

There may be other changes in the wind, but I can’t say for certain, as yet.  I just know they are at the door, when I feel their presence.  It’s supposed to be hotter than “double hockey stick”, from So Cal to Georgia, over the next two weeks.  We may get some rain, towards the end of August.  Until then:  Sun up, sun down.

Not A Day For Hate

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August 8, 2019-

A few days ago, in the wake of last weekend’s shootings, a  minor pundit posed the idea that the eighth day of August was being anticipated, by alt-right adherents, as a day to call attention to their views, it being 8/8, or “Double H”-the extended premise, in turn, being “Heil Hitler”.  I find that premise ludicrous, but worthy of being countered.

Thus far today, there has been a report of the stabbing of four people, in Santa Ana and an apparent gas leak-explosion in Tampa, neither of which is being in any way tied to right wing extremists.  Political radicals, with mad agendas are, however, an ongoing security threat-whether of the Right,or the Left.  In addition, COINTELPRO* (Counter Intelligence Program), a Federal government operation that operated, full tilt, from the late 1920’s until at least 1985, is still being linked to Antifa (“Anti-Fascism”) and to certain Alt-Right organizations that have caused widespread death and injury.

With all that, the vast majority of people in this country are “sick and tired of being sick and tired”.  We get up each day, dress up and show up, for what is, by and large, a day to day process of fulfilling our responsibilities to family, friends, employers and community.  Whether we work for wages or as volunteers, we go about our days with integrity and a modicum of self-discipline.  None of this makes us saints, but it does, on average, make society better, little by little.

Hate, for most of us, is something we need like another orifice.  No matter who the hatemonger is-and I have seen instigators both of  the Far Right and Far Left, he/she is doing little to bring about the world that is said to be desired.  While, again, I do not claim to sit on the moral High Horse, I have done far more that is positive by showing love and respect, even to my critics and opponents.  Mom said, throughout our childhoods, “You get more with honey than with salt.”

8/8 is not a day for hate-nor is any other day.

*https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/COINTELPRO

 

What About This?

6

August 7, 2019-

The pain and suffering experienced by anyone, who has lost one or more loved ones in an event of mass violence, has to be of seismic proportions.  I can’t imagine the horror they endure, though my family has had its share of loss and suffering.  Mass murder of strangers, once upon a time solely a result of warfare, has now become de rigeur.

So, too, has become the stridency of reaction.  Among political extremists on both ends of the spectrum, there is a knee-jerk tendency to deride any opposing points of view, almost as if the very existence of the reactor depends upon extinguishing “the other”.  It has long been thus.  The difference now is that, in order to score points with his perceived base, each of the last two presidents has seen fit to offer inflammatory comments about perceived enemies, within our nation’s borders.  The last president backed off, walked back his unfortunate “one size fits all” comments and made some overtures to his perceived betes-noires.  The current president seems to be taking initial steps in the same direction.

There is a long way to go.  We saw two political extremists, one Alt-Right, the other Far Left, engage in extreme acts of terror, at the end of a week that had already seen unstable people kill others, almost on whim.  It may be the end of the bloodshed, but that is unlikely.  It has not been the end of obfuscation, deflection and gaslighting, by a long shot.

One of the favourite mantras of the deflecting class is “What about Chicago?”  The tendency to conflate an ongoing series of neighbourhood turf wars, as horrific as these are, with the random slaughter of people by those with high-level mental health issues, which have given birth to wild agendas.  To be sure, one set of events is as mad as the others.  The specific cures, however, are different.

A thoughtful writer, yesterday, noted that ALL of the underlying causes of mass shootings are relevant, and all are solvable.  Yes, and yes.  There are several laws, Federal, state and local, already on the books, just about everywhere.  These need to be collated, publicized widely and consistently enforced.  Next, as my wise parents consistently told us, throughout our formative years- Recognize that everyone is a child of God.  We must defend ourselves from those who wish us harm, but to go further, and try to exterminate them, (either figuratively or literally), on an individual or collective basis, is ungodly.  Everyone, in the end, is part of the mix.

A white supremacist is living in a false reality.  I have never, once, been injured by a person of colour.  I have been physically attacked and injured, by other white people.  Does this, therefore, mean I should eschew all fellowship with those who look like me? Hardly; and likewise, those who are of different levels of melanin are inherently no more of a threat to white people than we, again inherently, are to one another.

There are a lot of social cues, which I am actively working to cast aside from my own being, which serve to separate.  The order of the day is to unite.  I see the various acts of violence as alarm bells, telling us that it’s time to unite.

In practical, day-to-day terms. I will not refuse to listen to Ben Shapiro or to Rachel Maddow,  If I go to San Antonio, I will not boycott Bill Miller BarBQ, as  along with Poblanos on Main, it is a favourite of mine.  I will not boycott Chik-Fil-A, until the day comes that its owner goes out and commits an act of violence against a gay  or bisexual person, which he is very unlikely to do.  Even then, he would not be acting on behalf of his company.

What about Chicago?  I was there, not long ago. It is a roiling, severely crowded city, with packed neighbourhoods, some narrow streets and air conditioning problems, putting it in company with New York, Boston, Philadelphia and over a thousand cities in countries with emerging economies.  It is also a majestic city, like New York, Boston, Philadelphia and over a thousand cities in all parts of the planet.  It is a city which can serve as a living laboratory for unity.  Simply put, because I’ve gone on for a bit and we’re all busy, I’d love to see a five part conference in Chicago:  1.Put a moratorium on killing, by any mean necessary, for five days;   2.  Identify, clearly, the roots of the violence and make them universally understandable, to one and all; 3.  Brainstorm, again, the solutions to the violence, and leave nothing out; 4.  Winnow these solutions to those which are of greatest benefit to the largest number of people, in all parts of the city; 5.  This is the hard part, IMPLEMENT the solutions, one at a time, and do not be deterred by those forces which are inconvenienced in the short or intermediate term.

Could this work?  It’s preferable to the ongoing heartache that is endemic in Chicago now.  Now that I think of it, could it work in other communities?  The deflectors may, unwittingly, unintentionally, be onto something.  # One America.

 

Reflections By A Small Pond

8

June 24, 2019, Crossville, TN-

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I have had a good long while, both in the company of my friends here and when alone, to ponder my relationships, my reactions to things that have come my way and my sense of how the course of civilization is moving.

I am in a steady state right mow, a bit tired, but still lucid.  I look at this pond, and see a solid ring of vegetation around it.  I see a goodly number of several species of birds.  That means the insects, seeds and nuts are prolific.  There was a Great Blue Heron that flew by the window, about an hour ago (It’s 8 a.m., CDT).  There don’t seem to be any deer around, this year, and only a few coyotes have been spotted.

These things tell me that the land is calling for quiet.  My friends can be quite vociferous, inside the house, but are calm and at one with the environment, when outside-other than running a lawnmower, once a week or so.  There are runoff issues that need to be addressed-by the wider community. Readers know my position on this:  I used no chemical sprays at my Phoenix and Prescott house and refrained from using them when I was maintaining the grounds at the apartment, as well.

I don’t throw noxious substances at my friendships, either. I feel it is best to go with the flow, almost as if I were water.  It is also a good idea to put oneself slightly behind others, in terms of meeting needs.  This has meant devoting more energy to friendships, which makes some people uncomfortable-“Why are you so concerned about ME?”  On the other hand, there are those whose interests in friendship are strictly financial assistance or 24/7 involvement. I feel for such people, but I haven’t that sort of energy, nor do I have unlimited resources.

I have said, recently, that I am single by choice, these past eight years.  That’s just where I am, emotionally, psychologically and aesthetically.  I won’t apologize for it. Just know that I am more able to do what my spirit guides tell me, in meditation and reflection, without taking on the day-to-day needs of one specific person, or another.

That said, this place could very easily, with the consent of the friends here, be my place of refuge.   I would do my share, and then some-but that’s all down the road a piece.  There is someone, not that far from here, who could easily be a person of interest to me, so to speak.  That would also be a few years hence.  My little family’s needs are also, as I keep saying, a major factor.

I have had some vivid and somewhat unsettling dreams of late, which I will describe in a few posts form now, as they have specific contexts.  Until then, the road will once again unfold, in a few hours.

NEXT:  Where Chattanooga’s Choo Choo Won’t Go

 

 

 

 

A Day for Setting Example

4

June 16, 2019, Grants, NM-

I told myself that this summer, I would not zip through the astonishing red rocks and juniper of northern AZ and New Mexico, so today, I set a limit of the 62.4 miles that lie between Gallup and this old mining town, which is struggling to redefine itself.

I began Father’s Day, last night actually, with a roughly forty-minute conversation with my son and daughter-in-law, reassuring me that all is well with them, and vice versa.  This morning, a light breakfast of yogurt, from the grocery store across from Lariat Lodge, seemed quite sufficient.  Afterward, the first order of business was a visit to the lobby and garden of El Rancho Hotel, Gallup’s premier historical property and a favourite of many of Old Hollywood’s great figures- from James Stewart to Claude Akins.  Several photos line the wall of the second floor of the lobby.  Here is an introduction to El Rancho:

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SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESGallup has made itself a haven for Dineh, Zuni, Acoma and Apache artists looking to sell their crafts.  Armando Ortega and his family were among the first to offer marketing services to First Nations artists in the area.  The Ortegas have sponsored this alcove display, in the center of the first floor lobby.

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Even the outdoor benches are adorned with intricate design.

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From here, it was time to head towards the rocks, specifically El Malpais National Monument, just south of Grants. In 1985, Penny and I took two sons of a then-recently departed friend to this area, camping overnight at the privately-owned Bandera Volcano (extinct), as a respite for his widow.  In the years since, the road has been a shortcut, when I have driven between Phoenix and Albuquerque.

Today, it was my Father’s Day present to myself, to explore the eastern portion of the Monument, some forty miles past the volcano.  The sandstone formations near Zuni-Acoma Trail are as majestic as any in the southwest. Whilst taking in these marvels, I fixed and ate a sandwich. This would prove to be of dire consequence.

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After visiting the Ranger Station, I doubled back to Sandstone Bluffs Overlook.

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Although the storm clouds looked threatening, the rain held off until I was back in Grants.

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The series of holes, that are visible in the center of this frame, were actually bored by molten lava, during the last eruption of McCartys Crater, some 3000 years ago.  They are known, collectively, as Chain of Craters.

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Of more ancient vintage is Mt. Taylor, seen to the north.  It is one of the Four Sacred Peaks which are revered by several First Nations in the area. Mt. Taylor has been inactive for millions of years.

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Lichen have absorbed into the sandstone, over the centuries, giving some parts of Sandstone Bluffs the appearance of having been painted.

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Whilst sandstone is not slippery, its delicate nature means it can be broken easily, especially close its seams.  All walking on rock surfaces requires close attention to what lies underfoot.

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While heading towards La Ventana Natural Arch, I spotted this remnant of an early rancher’s attempt at settlement.

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La Ventana is a continuation of Cebolita Mesa’s exquisite base, which we saw earlier, near Zuni-Acoma Trailhead.  This is older sandstone than that at the Bluffs.  There were several other people here, including a grandfather, his son and three grandchildren.  Grandpa was teasing the two younger kids about jumping off the rock on which they had climbed.  Of course, he and Dad each helped the kids get off, but it was amusing to watch the little ones’ initial reaction of “AWWW, GRANDPA!!”

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This balancing rock evokes a visitor from another world.

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Here are two views of La Ventana, itself.

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A close look at this wall of Cebollita Mesa seems to show two faces. I am curious as to what you, the reader, sees here.

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The area west of Cebollita Mesa is covered with lava beds.  These range from just north of I-40 to the Lava Falls Area, thirty-six miles southward.  They extend, east to west, for about twenty-five miles.

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Once back in Grants, I was starting to feel a drag on my system.  Nonetheless, being Father’s Day, I was determined to get one good meal.  There being no locally-owned cafe open,near the Sands Motel (another Route 66 establishment registered as a National Historic Site), I chose the reliability of Denny’s.  The salmon and vegetables were very nicely done, as was the cup of soup.  I hydrated plentifully, as well.

Back in the motel room, I will only say that I dealt with my ailment as I had always taught my son to do- in  mature and responsible manner. I felt much better afterwards and Father’s Day was only mildly interrupted.  I had maintained my example, though, even if no one was around to notice.  That is what the day really signifies.

NEXT:  A Return to the Duke City

 

Offense

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June 8, 2019,Bellemont- 

A young woman I’ve known since she was a child will be married, in a few hours.  It’s a beautiful day here and, though I will be here at camp, rather than at the wedding, I absolutely wish the new couple every good thing.

One of the key aspects of married life, as well as of any relationship, is not taking offense at one another. Whether mannerisms, tone of voice, inattention to another’s feelings, not doing one’s fair share, or a host of other personal shortcomings, every person has challenges.

We are advised to neither ignore, nor take offense at, another person’s actions, on  a personal level.  If someone causes harm to another, it is  the aggrieved’s right to seek redress, at an institutional level..  It is not, however, the right of anyone to hold grudges, and to carry forward a resolved issue into one’s future dealings with someone.

One surely must protect self from a person, or group of people, who ACTIVELY  seek to degrade her/him.  Just living differently than the person taking offense, or not doing what the aggrieved thinks is one’s proper course of living, is not, in itself, cause for their bearing a grudge.  “Live and let live” has its merits, as a mantra, so long as innocents aren’t made to suffer as a result.

I say this, with regard to those who have taken umbrage at some recent decisions I’ve made-and hold myself to the same standard.  I can’t justify a “reverse grudge” at them, either.  This is one of the many true aspects of St. Francis D’Assisi’s admonition: “Let there be peace on Earth and let it begin with me.”

Why We Fight

9

June 5, 2019-

I came back down to Prescott, to support a gathering of friends, being one of the few occasions I am allowing myself to be here, the next two months.  There is, simply put, much I feel I have to do elsewhere-starting with the Junior Youth (Middle-school age) gathering, this weekend, in which I will assist.  Understand that I am taking full ownership of my choices.

The title of the post came about largely in reaction to this week’s slow news item about an ongoing “high level” feud, which I will not dignify by mentioning its specifics.  I am not much of a fighter, for fighting’s sake.  Threats to children and other vulnerable beings are another matter.

I see, though, that there is fair amount of quarreling that takes place.  Fear seems to be the main driver- the old “fight or flight” choice is usually offered. Some fear not being taken seriously.  Others fear the loss of their position or dignity.  Still others fear even the loss of all they value.  I am not cowed by those who act out of fear; neither will I necessarily accede to their demands.  There are ways, through consultation, to remove fear-based decision making.

Ego is another impetus.  If one is given to think of self as some sort of master, then scolding, berating or being otherwise forceful with those around self is the order of the day.  I know of one person,no longer in my life, who has nonetheless recently tried to re-enter, with psychic threats of  otherwise making my life in Prescott so miserable, that I will flee.  None of it will work.  Baha’u’llah once is said to have written that, unless one is so firm in faith, that not even the presence of all one’s enemies, with drawn swords, would cause vacillation, then the soul can not truly call self a true believer.  I accept that, even without knowing the exact source.  Besides, Penny and the other angels in my life are around to see me safely along.

I also accept that my friends and family will only value me, as much as I value them.  The Universe operates on this principle.  Were it not so, the human race would be even more hamstrung by imbalance than we already are.

I want, by patience and remaining present, to eliminate as many of the conflicts in my life as is humanly possible.  Be back when I can, over the next few limited-Internet days.

 

Unlimited Doors

8

May 29, 2019-

On this day,

127 years ago, Baha’u’llah ascended to the next realm.  The door of His Teachings remains wide open, to all who seek.

102 years ago, John F. Kennedy was born, in Brookline, MA.  His work was unfinished and his potential far from realized, when the door to his life here was slammed shut, in 1963.

55 years ago, my youngest brother, Brian, was born, in Melrose, MA.  His purpose here was to train us all in unconditional love.  From the looks of how my family has lived, since his passing, in 1994, I’d say his work was successful.

This past April, a door to my working full-time closed.  Since then, other doors have remained ajar.  This is the truth behind- “When one door closes, another will open.”

Some doors can appear, from a distance, to be closed.  Sometimes, that is simply the result of skewed vision.

Other doors, which one tries to close, remain open because they have contents within that are needed for a healthy life.

Then, there are those others, which are better off shut, no matter how much one thinks that what’s inside is desirable.

May my ability to choose the right doors remain strong.