Dog Day

3

August 19, 2019-

The day started with two good turns- A young singer with a powerful voice invited me, through her father/webmaster, to like her Facebook page;  The National Weather Service now says we may get rain, over Labor Day weekend.

I “liked ” the page, as anything I can do, to encourage a fellow autistic to build on personal strengths, is going to happen.  I’ll take rain, whenever it comes.  Last year, it came during a huge Country Music festival-in early autumn.  The world is turning on its axis, it seems, so in addition to whatever atmospheric changes we are inculcating, Mother Nature is making some changes of her own.

I read a study that claims people who nap more in the afternoon, and wake up at night, are at risk of Alzheimer’s, down the road.  That would mean a lot of us who nod off, in the heat of the day, are bound to find themselves in a different state of mind, ten years hence.  To me, though, the crux is often hydration.  I nod off less, when my water intake is up.  Since the brain is largely water, that could have some bearing on dementia, as well.  Synapses fire better, when there is a proper level of saturation.

It was hot enough today, that I felt it prudent to give my laptop a three-hour break.  Reading and a Planet Fitness visit took the place of  correspondence and pontification.  Not to worry, the latter is about finished, for now.

Remember, the Dog Days rarely last beyond Labor Day, which is two weeks off.  Stay saturated, my friends.

This Is No Game

4

August 18, 2019-

Love is not a game.

Caring for someone is a 24/7 matter.

It is not a case of projecting one’s needs onto the beloved.

It never allows for ignoring or minimizing her/his needs,

and dreams, in favour of the all-important self.

 

Leadership is not a game.

Guiding a group, region or nation is the highest calling.

It is not a case of being in the limelight, 24/7.

It is not a matter of keeping people off track.

It is not sleight of hand, or

smoke and mirrors.

 

Faith is not a game.

It does not pick and choose

which Scripture fits one’s

own pre-conceived notions.

It does not hide from what is expected.

It does not bemoan challenges,

or misfortune.

 

Life is just not a game.

The Price of Cancellation

2

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.

The Lock Box

4

August 13, 2019-

The following occurred to me, after a healer visited, this morning.

To each soul is given

a gift,

a legacy,

a task.

It is up to

the recipient

to open hands

and take the gift,

honour the legacy,

accomplish the task.

I laid on my back,

breathing

and receiving

the strength

to open the lock box

in which my heart

has been kept,

for so many years.

My task now

is to put the lock box

away.

It has long since

served its purpose,

of guarding my heart,

from what it feared.

Breathing cleansed

the rust

from the lock.

The box is open now,

and my heart is

gladsome,

refreshed,

prepared for

the gift being offered.

 

 

Footsteps

4

August 9, 2019-

Footsteps moving forward,

attached to a body

carrying a glass half-full.

Footsteps moving backward,

in search of the Good Old Days

that never were.

Footsteps moving sideways,

trying to avoid taking a stand.

Footsteps jumping up and down,

feigning anger over things

which could be fixed,

if only the body

to which they are attached,

took action.

Feet standing still,

neither stepping,

nor shuffling,

just waiting for

the cavalry to arrive.

Not A Day For Hate

14

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.

 

The Cost of Anonymity

2

July 19-21-

I am back in my salubrious Home Base, for three days, give or take.  No one knew I was back, until I announced my presence- such is the anonymous state of being that proceeds from apartment living, in a community that relishes independence.

I went down to one of the local coffee houses, on Friday morning.  For most of the time, I was the only patron sitting inside. The barrista, a recent graduate of our community’s high school, was bored out of her skull.  Too shy to talk to this old guy, she busied herself with grinding coffee beans, swiping her phone and otherwise staring into space.  I’ve learned to respect personal space, and so focused on my simple oatmeal breakfast.

Towards lunch, a visit to Ms. Natural’s, one of my favourite hangouts, revealed a different atmosphere.  The proprietor, C, was delighted that I was back, even if only for a few days.  One of the waitresses, C2, engaged me in a lengthy comparison of summer adventures:  Mine, on the road and hers. locally-based, but no less interesting.  After C2’s boyfriend showed up, they left and I talked with C and another waitress for a few more minutes, feeling that I belonged here.

Much of the modern West thrives on anonymity.  People don’t monitor a person’s actions, all that much.  Some of my contemporaries make it look as if they are watching what’s going on, but an old white guy staring at others, and not saying much, isn’t doing anything to deter either loneliness or miscreance.  I have chosen involvement in community activities, as an antidote to both.  It’s a fine line that needs to be trod-one can not force oneself on others, nor can one just turn a blind eye to incidents, large and small, that impact a community.

So, I went to a couple of meetings, Friday evening and Saturday afternoon, and joined several comrades for breakfast at the Legion Post, Sunday morning. I was apprised of all that had gone on, drama and the rest, over the last six weeks.  There was a fair amount of planning and the scene for Autumn looks to be fulfilling.  The cost of anonymity can only be paid by breaking out of the chrysalis.

Now, I look forward to a week with my Carson City family.

Honour and Hubris at Sand Creek

0

July 17, 2019, Eads, CO-

The sign clearly stated “Walk in silence and respect”, as I approached the ridge, overlooking a valley of hallowed ground, where 230 Cheyenne and Arapaho people,  mostly women and children, were killed by a regiment of U.S. soldiers, on November 29, 1864.  John Chivington, a colonel in the U. S. Army, orchestrated and led the attacks, turning a blind eye to atrocities committed by many of the men under his command.  Some white settlers who had befriended the First Nations people were also beaten or killed, by garrison troops at Fort Lyon who were in league with Chivington’s forces.  Several men in the garrison refused to participate in the slaughter.  Two of them wrote to higher authorities about the incident.  One of these, Silas Soule, was assassinated by other soldiers, on the streets of Denver, after he testified to a Commission of Inquiry about the massacre.

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This campaign of  slaughter, of course rooted in ignorance and greed, would result in the resignation of Colonel Chivington from the U. S. Army, whilst he and many of his men were regarded as local heroes, by the more conservative settlers of Colorado Territory, particularly in Denver and Colorado City (now Colorado Springs).  To be fair, there were constant attacks and depredations by both Whites and First Nations people, prior to Sand Creek-and afterward, but none were carried out by women and children.  The matter of ownership of land has resulted in far too much death and destruction.  In the end, no one has ownership of land, in perpetuity.  Indeed, it’s a dark irony, and a fitting one, that Bill Dawson, who owned the land on which the masacre took place, returned it to the Cheyenne and Arapaho Nations, in 1999.  The National Park Service would compensate Mr. Dawson and his family for the land, but there was none of the acrimony among area residents that their predecessors had shown, throughout the remainder of the Nineteenth Century.  There was a consensus that this was hallowed, sacred ground, and that justice was finally being served, to the extent still possible.

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To me, there was no choice, but to sit in reverence and prayer, overlooking the massacre site.  As I was leaving, a pair of photojournalists arrived, preparing to make a brief video on the Massacre.  We were all startled when a car  pulled up, a door slammed and a perky Ranger loudly greeted the men and inquired about their prior visit to Bent’s Old Fort, another NPS Historic Site that is associated with Sand Creek.  It had been a still, solemn visit, and was now turning into business as usual.

I walked back to the Visitor’s Center, waited for the 1:00 presentation, and left at 1:30, when it was clear that I was the only lay visitor, and there would be no presentation.  I know the spirits were grateful for my visit.  A hawk feather had been laying on the ground, just off the first part of the trail between the Visitor’s Center and the massacre overlook.  The sight of  a circling eagle or hawk, or of a raptor feather on the ground is a sign, to many First Nations people, that one’s presence is acceptable to the Spirits. I circled the feather, clockwise, and silently prayed.

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Leaving the National Historic Site,  my route took me past the now-deserted railroad town of Chivington, its buildings mostly looking to fall over, with the next keening wind.  Eads, some twenty miles west, is a more thriving town, whose residents approve of the National Historic Site.

I will long be mindful of the continuing need to remember atrocities, such as Sand Creek, as examples of what happens when people fail to honour, respect and listen to one another, over a period of months, years, decades.

NEXT:  The Way Back to Home Base