Fortnight of Transition, Day 11: Hacked

2

September 19, 2020, Sedona-

As I sat on a small couch, in Synergy Coffee and Tea House, on the west side of this fascinating, if rather insular, town, I learned that my Facebook account had been hacked. Someone whined, “This always happens to you!” (Actually, this it the first time it’s happened, since 2011.) Maybe the individual has me confused with someone else.

Hacking usually happens when someone who is bored or lonely gets a video on screen and “just has to share it with all their friends!” I found myself in an unguarded moment, not wanting to hurt Ms. Lonely Heart’s feelings, and clicked on something I normally would ignore. After changing my password, and answering about twenty-seven pings on Messenger, I have put the matter to rest-and will leave all the Lonely Hearts (male and female) to deal with their hackers in a similar manner.

Speaking of lonely hearts, I spent much of the late afternoon listening to a single mother unload her sorrow and anger at what she perceives as a community that dumps on single mothers-and parents of small children, in general. While she finds Flagstaff to be worse, in that regard, her disappointment in Sedona is palapable. When she left, I pondered this matter, whilst myself enjoying dinner at a Mexican restaurant, within walking distance of Synergy. I saw several families, out and about, along with a sizable crowd, of mostly people my age and older, conducting a vigil for the late Supreme Court Associate Justice, Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Moms and Dads were indulging their sons and daughters with cheeseburgers and fries, or with gelato treats. Families enjoying life together, as they do in any community.

The cry of the needy is very often not heard, in a society that styles itself “Busy, productive, acheivement-oriented”. I had a short, but spirited, conversation with a couple of 40-something developers, who were bemoaning how hard it was to make money building in this area. I pointed out that, without a guaranteed water supply, successful building is a chimera. They brushed that aside with the “Field of Dreams” mantra:
‘If we build it, they will come.’ Time will tell-though, as Groucho Marx once said, “You can get stucco! Oh, how you can get stuck-o.”

So, in the small hangout that features caffeinated drinks, hemp products and artisan chocolate/cacao treats, both sadness and testosterone-fueled hubris were in abundance, at different points during my visit. The overworked owner had broken free, for her own evening of relaxation, elsewhere. In her absence, a mostly male group of musicians gathered, and began playing around 10 p.m.

I’m all about balance, and peaceful energy, and so left the boisterous, insular group of men behind and prepared for a quiet, calm ride back to Prescott.

There was one other, curious aspect to this evening. An engaging forty-ish woman, in talking about circumstances, asked about my current status. I replied that I am old enough to be her father and that I am essentially just into establishing friendships with people. She honoured that, while saying that age means little-it’s the energy that matters.

I think that anyone can be as connected, or as lonely, as one chooses. It’s harder in some communities than in others, but time will tell.

Fortnight of Transition, Day 10: Ruth Bader Ginsburg

4

September 18, 2020-

A major voice in the cause of women making their own choices, right or wrong, was stilled today. It didn’t make any difference to her WHAT the choice was, necessarily, so long as the outcome was not dictated to the woman by a man.

We needed Ruth Bader Ginsburg, as long as we had her among us. Eventually, even those women who greeted news of her death with mockery and derision will recognize that their own reactions, strangely, are in a way reflective of the late Justice’s life’s work. They came up with their own ultraconservative tirades-rather than just parroting the men in their lives.

Getting back to her achievements- I am greatly in favour of the Equal Rights Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. I am not in favour of widespread promotion of abortion. The procedure should be safe, legal and very, very rare. Alternatives, though, need to be presented, clearly and consistently. I am most in favour of equal pay for equal work, and having worked alongside many women, over the years, I have seen plenty of equal work-and much that is superior.

Because of Justice Ginsburg’s early legal work, I, as a widower, have been able to receive Social Security Disablility Insurance Survivor’s Benefits, since my wife, Penny, passed in 2011. She stood squarely in favour of women being breadwinners. She stood squarely in favour of women being in the military-leading an effort that saw Virginia Military Institute, once a cornerstone of the Confederacy, agree to accept female cadets.

She stood up for a thirteen-year-old Arizona student, who had been forced to submit to a strip search (albeit only in the presence of female staff). Her male colleagues agreed that this was a miscarriage of justice. That act, alone, earned her my undying admiration.

She was a pioneer in the reference to international law, in some U.S. Court cases. She was also a true believer in the aisle as a mere passageway: Her best friend on the Court was Justice Antonin Scalia, with whom she shared a love of opera and of fine dining.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg, rest in power.

Fortnight of Transition, Day 9: Glow of a Super New Moon

2

September 17, 2020

If anyone had mentioned the above term to me, when I was a kid, I’d have rolled my eyes. Everyone knew that a New Moon was invisible to the naked eye, so how could it be “super”. The explanation turns out to be: If the new moon is at its closest approach to Earth, in a month, it is a Super New Moon. So it is with this New Moon, and will be with the next two.

Under this New Moon, lots of things are happening. The “pop-up” hurricane, Sally, dumped a lot of rain-several feet, on Mobile and Pensacola, and brought with it a storm surge that, among other things, washed away a replica of the Columbian ship, Pinta.

I have seen a disturbing video, purporting to show Mr. Biden inappropriately touching a little girl, while her family members were distracted. There is a voiceover, “narrating” the scene, and sounding remarkably like some of the Bots who “narrated” the stuff about Pizzagate. Uncle Joe may, or may not have, pinched the little girl, in a sensitive area. It’s hard to tell from the video, but she was uncomfortable and moved away, right after the contact. As with all such videos, while I take the comments with several grains of salt, (Any video can be doctored or altered.), I know that, with people of a certain age, patting, or slapping, a girl on the buttocks is seen as an act of endearment. I am disgusted by such behaviour, though. The whole culture of NOT seeing children, teenagers or even grown women, as full human beings is something that can’t fade away fast enough. This video was taken five years ago, but still- Mr. Biden needs to acknowledge the issue and make some serious changes to how he is perceived. At the same time, his misbehaviour can’t become a Right-Wing trope. His opponent, after all, is hardly a paragon of virtue.

The whole concept of good forest management is being raised-especially with regard to the Oregon fires. It is not enough to simply blame Climate Change-especially when arsonists are to blame, for at least three of the fires. If the First Nations could maintain good forest management practices, well before Europeans arrived on this continent, modern man can certainly do the same.

Around here, a house burned down in nearby Prescott Valley-the huge cloud of black smoke suggests that a vehicle was parked in the garage that burned.

COVID numbers are up, just a bit, in Arizona-attributable, it is suggested, to Labor Day weekend. I worked in two schools this week, and saw a good deal less than high attendance. Reportedly, a second wave of the virus has hit parts of Europe and, as expected, it’s worse than the first outbreak. August is vacation month on the Continent, so maybe that has a lot to do with this.

In the meantime, I am getting my rest while I can, and fully expect to be deployed, somewhere, with the Red Cross, either Tuesday or shortly thereafter.

Fortnight of Transition, Day 8: Remaining Worthy

2

September 16, 2020-

As the natural afflictions that are challenging us ramp up in both number and severity, my ties to the Red Cross are growing both in frequency of appeals and in complexity. A side effect of this is that I am likely to be out of town more often, after next Monday.

Only a dental appointment is keeping me here, as it is, but that’s one of those things that will keep me around, on this earthly plane, a bit longer. So, as Thomas Sowell says, “It’s a trade-off.” Check-ups head off trouble at the pass.

Coming and going from town, regardless of the reason, does rankle a few people. I see some of the places I frequent, during extended time at Home Base, becoming more frosty in their ambiance. It’s my opinion that “Green is green”, anyone’s cash will keep people afloat. I do understand the notion of being missed, yet for anyone to be hurt, because a community member has gone to help people elsewhere, seems a bit farfetched. I have to remind folks that, when we needed assistance from places far afield-during the Indian Fire (2002), the Doce and Yarnell Hill Fires (2013) and the Goodwin Fire (2017), people came from as far away as Alaska and Michigan.

We will, slowly, arrive at an understanding that love means both letting people follow their hearts, and realize their dreams-but also letting those we love extend that love to others, in other places.

Even if I go, next week or the week after, I will come back to what I expect to be a stable and welcoming community.

Fortnight of Transition, Day 7: Evolution

2

September 15, 2020-

Today marks the midpoint of September and the midpoint of this fortnight. My mood has been, variously, one of gratitude, at having been given another day’s work, which was not strenuous-just being present for three classes of college-level students and a forty-minute lunch monitoring; then, a bit of befuddlement, at reading an e-mail from someone who is of the opinion that the Baha’i Faith does not allow for human evolution.

In fact, human evolution is one of the cornerstones of our Faith. Without knowing what the individual’s definition of evolution is, I can’t rightly respond, but ‘Abdu’l-Baha points out: “Man is endowed with an outer or physical reality. It belongs to the material realm, the animal kingdom, because it has sprung from the material world. This animalistic reality of man he shares in common with the animals. The human body is like animals subject to nature’s laws. But man is endowed with a second reality, the rational or intellectual reality; and the intellectual reality of man predominates over nature. . . . Yet there is a third reality in man, the spiritual reality.” (`Abdu’l-Bahá, Foundations of World Unity, 51)

So, feeling better after a pleasant dinner and a bit of exercise, I leave the questioning soul to self and ask God to be their guide. I do feel that our third, spiritual, reality is coming that much more to the fore. Some call it the Fifth Dimension and I can sense a much stronger connection with people, in a purely “thought-wave” manner, these days.

May the second half of September, and this fortnight of transition, bring more of a modicum of peace to more people.

Fortnight of Transition, Day 6: Teaching in a Hybrid Manner

5

September 14, 2020-

I returned to substitute teaching today, for the first time since COVID burst through the door and took over. Being with eighth grade students has been fairly easy for me, over theyears,and today was no exception. One difference is, though, that Hybrid Scheduling has been adopted. This means, essentially, that students whose family names begin with A-K attend in person classes, on Monday and Wednesday; those whose family names begin with L-Z attend on Tuesday and Thursday. Thus, on any given day, the classroom is, essentially, half full.

Masks were no problem for any of us. I had plenty of training in wearing a mask for twelve hours at a stretch, during my Red Cross deployment for Hurricane Laura. The kids have, in most cases, chosen their own masks, and I wore my Planets and Stars pattern, which got a few compliments. One boy broke a strap on his, and I sent him to the School nurse, to get a replacement. He came back, wearing a rodeo pattern mask, which made his day.

It was also nice to be among a group of educators again. The bantering and discussion of a wide variety of topics, in the Teachers’ Lounge, is something I’ve missed, more than I thought.

Needless to say, this sort of day is likely to be rare, this coming Autumn, if the call to service comes as early as next Tuesday-and I go back out on deployment. That has its own rewards, though, as we’ve seen recently. In any case, even with all that is creating mayhem this year, I am glad to be in a position to help, in more than one way.

Fortnight of Transition, Day 5: Whose Children Matter?

2

September 13, 2020-

In some of my response to reports of abused and neglected children, it has come back at me that these particular campaigns are cherry-picked, Right-Wing trope activities. Maybe so, but I personally don’t cherry-pick, as to which children get attention and which go without.

Early in my counseling career, a severe sexual assault case was brought to me and the Response Team was in the midst of getting the victim to safety, when a call came about another child threatening suicide. I asked my senior partner to take that case and get back to me, once the child had been evaluated. This was unusual, for the particular community to have two victims at the same time, but there was no daylight, no distinction, between one child and the other.

One red flag, which discomfits many, is a child who gets too close, who hugs too tightly or even wants to sit on a non-related adult’s lap. I’ve dealt, gently, but firmly, with several such children, almost always girls-and who were either being totally ignored, shunned by their father or were being grommed by an adult either in, or known to, their immediate family. Getting the father to acknowledge, and spend quality time with, his daughter was relatively easy. The girls being taught sexual behaviours had, however, to be removed from the home and placed in group homes, where experienced professionals were able to give them the advanced therapy they needed.

I think of these children, a few of whom have kept in touch, as adults and are doing quite well, considering the ordeals that came their way. I think of them all the more, in light of the current Netflix film, “Cuties”, which uses exhibitionism as a vehicle to “combat sexual exploitation of children”. Counterintuitive, at best, and exploitative in itself, at worst, I see the showing of the film as a serious error in judgement. There was a period, from the mid-1990s to the late 2000s, when young European and South American girls were featured in some rather lurid websites-with the sites’ owners and photographers claiming their work was “art”. Fortunately, Interpol, the FBI, the government of Chancellor Angela Merkel, of Germany, and, wondrously, the Russian FSB, at the direction of Vladimir Putin, took these sites down and the long process of finding and rehabilitating the child victims was initiated. I would not want to see anything close to that horrific state of affairs be repeated.

That said, the vast majority of sexual and physical abuse of children takes place in situations familiar to them, at the hands of people whom they ought to be able to trust. This makes it both simple and complex, for the helping professional- Simple, in that the child is easy to locate and remove from the home; complex, in that there is often a culture of denial in place, largely based on fear of disruption and dislocation of the family unit.

Getting co-operation from the other family members is completely dependent on their degree of self-assurance and cohesiveness, independent of the perpetrator(s). In a close-knit community, even law enforcement officers. medical staff and social services workers, if they are related to the perpetrator, can be a hindrance to justice for the victim.

All these factors come into play with regard to obtaining justice, and if the matter involves a child, or multiple children, being groomed in sexual behaviour, there needs to be both a swift separation of perpetrator(s) and victim(s) and active therapeutic measures initiated as quickly as possible.

No child, anywhere, is less important than any other.

Fortnight of Transition, Day 4: Legalese

0

September 12, 2020-

Good things happened today. My middle brother turned 65, surrounded by the Georgia branch of his family. It was good to speak with him and to hear the vibrant voices of nephew, SIL and the little ones.

I am reaching an understanding with someone who thought I could be the brains behind his operation. There are legal points, like “Conflict of Interest” and Federal tax laws that would present problems for my being the Great White Hope. I think he gets it now.

“Cuties”, the well-intentioned, but misguided, film has run into a buzz-saw of valid criticism, for its reported perseverating on the physiques of pre-adolescent girls. I haven’t seen the film, nor will I-since Creeper Status is not something with which I identify, as well as the fact that my primary role with young people, male or female, is to encourage them to avoid being objectified and to follow dreams of their own choosing. Hopefully, there will arise a sense of propriety and like misguided projects before it, “Cuties” will disappear from the media.

Our Baha’i group had its tri-monthly consultative meeting and planned out the overall course of activities, over the next three months.

That brings me to the Red Cross-and that I was already asked when I could resume Disaster Response activities. A look at the map shows why-Fire to the left of us, Storms to the right-and I will be stuck in the middle, for at least another week, as I have personal business on the last day of summer and will focus on other matters here at Home Base, in the interim.

The Farmers Market is a bustling place, with a new venue. I was happy to visit there this morning, seeing some of my better friends, locally. Next weekend will bring me to Dharma Farm, in advance of Equinox, and the Weekend of Peace will see some events, both on Zoom and in the park across the street from me.

With that, let’s all take a deep breath, to the extent possible, in a climate of widespread smoke.

Fortnight of Transition, Day 3: Keeping the Door Ajar

4

September 11, 2020-

Much, rightfully, has been said today about the attacks of 19 years ago, and how eerily similar things feel-as cities are continuing to feel the effects of discord and an entire region of the country is reeling from fire.

We, in northern Arizona, are seeing climatic effects of the fires to the west, as smoky air has kept temperatures down and those with breathing issues indoors. Stories of people struggling, of those who have lost loved ones and of others who have lost everything, keep multiplying. COVID is practically an afterthought, though it could burst through and cause additional mayhem, as it did during the ship fire in San Diego, earlier this summer.

Now, the Pacific Coast is seeing something unprecedented-an early fire season, with no indication that it can be brought to heel. People in the large cities are even on a fair alert. Those of us to the east must get ready, then, for an influx of refugees-much as we would if the great faults were to buckle, or the Cascades erupt in fury.

It’s not quite that bad, yet, but mental preparedness is best begun, weeks ahead of a potential mass evacuation. In the meantime, let us also direct our positive energy towards an end to the firestorm and form a plan for bringing our western neighbours to a safe haven.

I say this, having seen a minor version of chaos, when people fled the Louisiana coast, during Hurricane Laura, and safe havens became overwhelmed, within a few hours.

Fortnight of Transition, Day 2: Personal Responsibility

2

September 10, 2020-

My mother turned 92 today. In our conversation this afternoon, she sounded well and had enjoyed a birthday lunch. She expressed pride in my having gone to help hurricane victims in Louisiana, a reflection of the stress she always placed on accepting responsibility and assisting the less fortunate.

I woke this morning, feeling a drag on my psyche. Knowing that one of the people, to whom I was alluding in the last post, would likely be the first to want my attention, I was slow to open my phone. Fortunately, I was able to hold the line on his accepting responsibility for his own success, while still offering help in a few areas that he could not have known how to handle . I must always try to be discerning.

Neither patronize, nor disparage. This is a tough row to hoe, as I’ve become quite used to doing things on my own and not wanting to have random people show up, wanting me to solve all their problems. At the same time, I have no problem pitching in to a group effort at dealing with social issues, dealing with an emergency that happens in my presence or doing a helpful activity that is scheduled. I guess it’s randomness that I find irritating.

This is also a heavy cosmic energy period. For the astrologically-inclined, seven planets are in retrograde, relative to Earth. This tends to throw us back, going over old ground. I have done well this year, at clearing out old, counterproductive habits and energies. There is still a bit left to tidy up, though, so maybe this retrograde season will help along those lines.