The Summer of the Rising Tides, Day 25: Monumental Possibilities

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June 25, 2020-

I see that Arizona’s Confederate Memorial, ensconced on the State Capitol’s Wesley Bolin Plaza, is cleaned up and the focus of more civil protests than that of a lone vandal, who splashed red paint all over it. The namesake of the Plaza himself had a checkered record on Civil Rights, having grown up in a rural area of west central Missouri, and adopting a “live and let live” attitude towards the former Confederacy. He readily permitted the erection of this monument, in 1962, and spoke at its dedication. At the same time, he did not stand in the way of the advances made by nonwhite people in Arizona, after the passages of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Voting Rights Act of 1965.

Many argue that Confederate forces were fighting against the United States of America. The heart of the matter is a bit more disconcerting. They were fighting FOR a vision of the United States that was doomed to failure-secession or no secession; victory over the North, or not. Chattel slavery was either abolished, or on its way to abolition, in the countries which had fueled the Trans-Atlantic slave trade, in the first place-by the time Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, in 1863. This table gives a complete account of the installation and abolition of both slavery and serfdom, from ancient times: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Timeline_of_abolition_of_slavery_and_serfdom

It remains, though, that slavery is reprehensible, in all its forms. There is much to be done, in eliminating the chattel aspect of imprisonment, for example. Finally, there is enough civic awareness for people to recognize that the Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution contains a loophole:

“Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.” The involuntary servitude part has been used as justification for inmate labour, for nearly 140 years. More people than is often recognized have been incarcerated for relatively minor offenses, and the majority of these have been Black-or Native American.

Last July, I visited the South Carolina State Museum. It has, in aquiet corner of the first floor, a Cofederate Relic Room and Military Collection. There, and in small museums in Charleston and Greenville, is where the first state to secede from the Union, in 1861, has chosen to present its Confederate past. There are statues around the state, as there are across the South-and across the nation. These will continue to be problematic, as we move towards a true sense of unity in diversity.

My own thought is that, no matter where the statues, flags and memorabilia of the Confederate past are presently found, they are best placed in a current, or future, museum of history- or National Historical Monument. There is already a Museum of the Confederacy, that is nested under the National Museum of Civil Rights. No one is proposing razing Confederate cemeteries, or closing our National memorials to the event, anymore than we would want the institutions that commemorate the War for Independence, French & Indian War, the conflicts between First Nations and settlers, or the Holocaust of World War II, to be shuttered and forgotten. Conflict is a hard teacher, but it is a true one, and must remain so, if we are to avoid reverting to the very behaviours that brought on the conflicts of the past, in the first place.

We are already witnessing severe proposals, across the country-to remove memorials to just about every historical figure who had blind spots, when it came to some, or all, people who weren’t white. This has extended to other parts of the world, as well. Washington, Lincoln, and Theodore Roosevelt despised Native Americans; U.S. Grant was of two minds towards the original inhabitants of this country; Churchill despised anyone who wasn’t European; Gandhi had to overcome his bigotry towards Africans. When it comes down to it, most of us have had to go through personal growth, when understanding and fully accepting people who “don’t look like us”.

Nelson Mandela had it right: Reconciliation, not revenge, is the most promising path forward.

The Summer of the Rising Tides, Day 24: What Matters Most

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June 24, 2020-

This morning, I went to breakfast at one of my favourite counter spots. I had the counter to myself, as the rest of the regulars had shown up earlier than normal. Across the room, at a table, was a couple who were maybe fifteen years my senior. The wife got up to use a restroom, after their meal, but was about to try and walk without her assistive device. Husband quickly called her back and reminded her to use the walker. While she was away, he told me of her struggles. So much was familiar-he could no more leave her than I could have left Penny, during the eight-year joint grappling with PBD. Cognitive decline, in any form,does two things: It reduces a strong, intelligent, independent person to a largely dependent soul. It also shows the true character, and level of fortitude, of that person’s loved ones.

There was a lot that Penny didn’t understand, in her last year or so of this life. She did understand, though, that I was not going away-and that if I was not at the hospital, I was either working or tending to our son’s needs. I got the sense that this couple was operating on the same wavelength.

My closest friends now can expect the same loyalty, albeit without the romance and eternal vows that are particular to wedlock. I spent the afternoon helping one who is arguably my best friend, putting up a shelving unit-which, for reasons I will not belabour, took longer than it might have. We got it done, and it will help her nascent enterprise move to a more solid level.

This was another example of something my fifth grade teacher told us, way back in 1960: Men and women working as a team get more done than two men or two women. That may seem antiquated, but it has been true in my life, for several decades.

The Summer of the Rising Tides, Day 23: Calming the Conniptions

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June 23, 2020-

Taking part in a lively debate, in the Age of Hypersensitivity, is no small thing. Most of those who operate from a place of political correctness have at least recognized that I operate from a humble posture of learning, and if I can be proven wrong, by facts rather than well-presented emotion-based opinions, I will actually be grateful.

Any man who voices opposition to abortion is going to get pushback, unless that opposition acknowledges that the mother of the fetus and has the final say. Making that acknowledgement, and prefacing my own qualms about the matter with the sacredness of being, from the moment of conception, has been, for all but the most fervent abortion advocate, enough room to set common ground.

The same may be said about the dispostion of controversial historical monuments. I have reservations about the wisdom of wholesale destruction of statuary. Certainly, those figures whose presence causes extreme anxiety for African-Americans , First Nations people or anyone else who has faced systemic persecution, need to be removed from public view-not because there is a need to comfort the overly sensitive, but because there is a deeper genetic memory than is commonly accepted.

I will discuss this last, in another post, insofar as it pertains to my own being. For now, note that the practices adopted by enslaved people, over the period of chattelhood and right up to the end of the Jim Crow Era, in order to ensure the safety of both their children and of themselves, have found continuity, in the seemingly draconian disciplinary practices of a good many African-American families. Keeping the child safe, by limiting his/her freedom to explore, is one feature of this. It goes back to keeping the child safe from exploitation.

Thus, the strength of an emotional trigger is far different for a person whose forebears faced oppression, than it is for one whose hardships have been more in line with the struggles inherent in earthly life, in its generality. Life is complicated like that, and we do best to grow a thick hide of patience, along with a strong spine of fortitude.

The Summer of the Rising Tides, Day 22: Analogies and Other Tough Calls

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June 22, 2020-;Dad transitioned, 34 years ago, today, All of us, except Brian, who was 22, and in hospital at the time, were on our own and looked to our father mainly for guidance with adult issues. This memory enveloped my day.

I took part in an online discussion, of sorts, in which the moderator tried to conflate the deaths of African-American adults and teens with what he sees as an excessive number of Black fetuses being aborted. It was too large and broad a conflation, for most people, and seemed to have upset many.

One person analogized the abortions, though, with a person picking up coins from the street, which he characterized as a minor theft. (I’ve happened upon both coins and bills on pavement, and have either given them to destitute folks or used them for charitable causes.) I see it as more than a bit sad, though, that intellectuals, mostly men past the optimum age of child-rearing, view the life of an unborn child as no more than small change. It’s as if anyone with whom one can’t have a deep discussion is not worth one’s consideration.

The same blind spots occur in many situations- almost always among people who have a very narrow view of who is and isn’t as human as they are. Isn’t this the whole reason we are going through what we are enduring now? I’ve always been viewed as strange, for being holistic in my view of humanity. Somehow, though, we will need to broaden our collective view on this matter, if we are to know peace as a species.

The Summer of the Rising Tides, Day 21: Ever Strong

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June 21, 2020-

This was a Father’s Day of my own making. My Uncle Walter told us boys, for years on end, to learn to make our own fun. So it has been, for nearly seven decades.

After hosting a heartfelt and meaningful devotional on Zoom, I hopped over to Ms. Natural’s and had a quick and healthful lunch, on the downstairs patio. Then, it was off to Sedona, for a relatively short hike, along a trail called Big Park Loop. It was hot, so I walked fairly slowly and drank a good amount of water. The scenes were of Courthouse Butte and Bell Rock from a southern angle.

Bell Rock and Courthouse Butte, Sedona-seen from the south.
Cathedral Rock and Castle Butte, from the east.

The past two months have been very dry, as usual. The great rushing creeks and rivers of the “Monsoon” season are flowing only underground, right now, if they are flowing at all.

Large dry wash near Courthouse Butte, Sedona

I stopped in, after the hike, at a normally favourite and welcoming coffee house, but found the mood a bit tense- largely over who got to use a device which soothes muscle pain and can heal skin disorders. A friend who works at the cafe managed to get some use from it. The device, it turns out, belongs to the cafe owner, is quite expensive, and was not to be used by anyone but the employees. The owner was not amused, when friend offered it to me for a session. Fortuitously, it operates off cell phones, and mine was not co-operating. I quietly left, after enjoying a refreshing and healthful cool drink.

Father’s Day dinner was at a barbecue place, called Colt Cafe, in Old Town Cottonwood. The tried and true brisket sandwich and Triple Crown potato salad restored my physical balance. It was a fairly easy drive back, after dinner.

My father taught us He showed us that strength is not brutish, not overbearing and is never selfish. Strength shows respect where it is due, but is not fawning or sycophantic, as no human being is worthy of such adulation.

At the same time, strength avoids excessive fault-finding. If a person is praiseworthy, on balance, clebrate that which is good about the individual, neither dwelling on, nor ignoring, the person’s frailties. I wonder what Dad would think of the current campaign to denigrate most, if not all, of our nation’s, nay our planet’s, people of renown? In an age when everyone from George Washington to Mother Theresa has detractors who have managed to find a ready audience, can we truly approach anyone’s legacy objectively?

The Summer of the Rising Tides, Day 20: The Two Trees

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June 20, 2020-

Today, north and south reach their respective Mid-Year Solstices and either bask in the slowly fading long days or eagerly await the slowly approaching time of the Sun arcing towards its apogee. I will be among the former group.

In a gathering, this morning, it was noted that an old, and fading, tree is at the center of our world. It is the Tree of ‘Ism. Its branches include materialism, socialism, communism, nationalism, capitalism, racism-and the largest, but most decrepit of all, elitism. Each has had the twin effects of attracting human beings, with a once bright, shining allure and of dividing those same people from one another.

This tree has sustained humanity’s physical aspects, even while casting a shadow over another tree that has grown up alongside it. That is the Sacred Tree-the true Tree of Life, which has had its trials, facing down blights and molds, which have emanated from the Tree of ‘Ism. These blights and molds have included contentiousness, egoism, lust, greed, covetousness and recklessness. They have produced wars, genocide, economic depression, sectarian strife, divorce, rape, child abuse/neglect and human trafficking.its

The Sacred Tree, in its turn, has sent life-giving spores to its seemingly more powerful neighbour. These have included inspiration, scientific knowledge, faith, co-operation, diversity of life and awareness of natural resources. Those that the Sacred Tree have kept for itself have led mankind to a higher level, even if many have not recognized the Source. Those who haven’t, have instead been focused on the glitter and sparkle, of the Tree of ‘Ism-even when the Sacred Tree’s own Messengers have found Themselves attached, in one way or another, to a branch or even a cross, fashioned from the Tree of ‘Ism, as a means of punishment or sacrifice, devised by the beguiled, at the instigation of the elite.

This state of affairs is coming to an end, as the Tree of ‘Ism, rotted at its tap root, prepares to collapse. No one of its branches is any longer capable if sustaining the burdens placed upon them. Little shoots have migrated from that old tree, and are growing in the shade of the Tree of Life. These are the future Trees of Responsibility, and will for at least a Millennium offer prosperity and success, based in the solid ground of unity.

The planet is preparing itself, for their emergence.

The Summer of the Rising Tides, Day 19: Juneteenth

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June 19, 2020-

I relaxed, this evening, with a group of African-American entertainers and public figures, presenting a Facebook Live performance called Black Wave 2020. There were a wide variety of musical styles and civil presentations by competing office seekers. There was no vitriol, no cussing, and no displays of rage.

There was a very up front, definite commitment to acting towards justice, towards the systemic changes that need to be brought to bear. There was also the understanding that there will be resistance to such changes, and a few racists did show up in the comments section, to spew their nonsense. All in all, though, we who were watching were genuinely interested and appreciative of the show.

Change has to be made, and it has to be deliberate and transparent. We cannot have the history of THIS day and age presented to the people of the Twenty-second Century, in a sanitized form. That will take fortitude, and commitment. There are those who don’t understand the Oneness of the Human Race. I heard from one such individual today-with regard to the rights of unborn children, in his view, not mattering to anyone other than religious zealots. There are others who, don’t understand that People of Colour don’t want to be regarded with special treatment-just regarded with dignity and respect.

Growing up in a lily-white town, albeit in suburban Boston, I had to learn the reality of People of Colour, piecemeal: The African-Americans in my childhood and adolescence were authority figures: The cafeteria monitors in our Junior High and the first police officer to give me a speeding ticket. I’d have been punished, very swiftly, once I got home, if I ever gave them any lip. That told me that real African-Americans were not any different, to my parents, than anyone else.

Indeed, watching Saturday morning cartoons, one day, when I was about eight, a character who was supposed to be Stepin Fetchit came out with “Everything I do is always wrong.” That cut through me like a switchblade. I asked my father why anyone would say such a thing. He told me that Black folks were conditioned to act that way, having been enslaved for over 200 years. He also told me to show all people kindness and treat them fairly. I often thought that if I ever met the actor who played Stepin Fetchit, that I would shake his hand and tell him he was a wonderful person.

There were, though, some tough conversations, awkwardness and hard lessons, that came my way, in young adulthood particularly, in learning the nuances and basic decencies of overcoming some very deep-seated social beliefs. I am glad for all of them.

The Baha’i Faith lends spiritual weight to the notion that all people are created equal-All ethnicities, male & female, all age groups, both neurotypical and disabled, all points of view-so long as they don’t preach exclusion of others. We view all life as sacred,from conception to death. Independent investigation of truth is the bottom line.

Juneteenth, with all this being considered, merits being made a National Holiday- a paid National Holiday. Let it continue to spark thoughts, words and action, to advance the cause of justice- and the increased equality of all people.

The Summer of the Rising Tides, Day 18: Ring of Fire

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June 18, 2020-

Today was a low-key day, with no outside commitments, or Zoom calls. So, I checked over some work i was to do for a friend, and found-I’d already done it! I completed anothe rbit of study for a Red Cross credentials update, and spent a while at Planet Fitness.

Today was a suitably relaxing day, as the next three days: Juneteenth, Solstice and Father’s Day, have their expectations and the certitude of intensity. Topping it all off is the Ring of Fire Solar Eclipse, with a New Moon as the catalyst. It won’t be visible, in this neck of the woods, but I am sure we’ll feel its effects.

I am encouraged, even while posting on another medium as to what I would like to see gone, to post what I would like to see come to pass. Here is a short list:

“Physical Distancing”, as the term used for keeping people safe.

Adoption, instead of abortion.

Hands across the ideology divide, so people see clearly where their true friends are.

Universal free access to information.

A collaboration between naturopathic, homeopathic and allopathic medicine, with a de-emphasis on the profit motive.

A public safety system, in which there is transparency and consistency of communication as the baseline.

The Ring of Fire now being witnessed, across the globe, represents a cry of people who have been discounted and dismissed, for too long a time. I have learned that it is not entirely race-based. It is primarily rooted in economic eleitism and opportunism.

The Summer of the Rising Tides, Day 17: Dealing With Upside Down

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June 17, 2020-

So many people are finding that all to which they became accustomed, took for granted and lived by, during the Age of Business-as-Usual, has been upended.

The novel pandemic has “broken every rule”, which those who are used to crises of no more than a month’s duration have formulated. The explosion of pent-up rage has not followed the course of times past-and even the occupied zone of Capitol Hill, Seattle, and the fluid night sweats of New York City and Portland, may not play out, by the rules of the two-week news cycle. Wild fires are hitting the Southwest, may well spread to other parts of the West ahead of “schedule”, and no one can predict the course of cyclones, in any of the world’s ocean cover.

This has been a year, a summer/winter, fall/spring, like no other in memory. The winter/summer, and probably spring/fall that are on the horizon, will bring ever more in the way of challenge. It will neither be a return to business-as-usual, nor will it be the decade of gloom that a certain morose writer in “Medium Magazine” conjures, nearly every other day.

It is an upside down, that calls for each of us to carefully tread our way along the horizon, to the point where we are upright again. We each must carefully thread the needle of safe haven and tie that tether to the tethers of others, that none is left hanging in space.

Some laugh at the term “Aquarius Rising’. All I can say is, wait be astonished and stay safe, in the meantime. Ther eis so much more to come.

The Summer of the Rising Tides, Day 16: Truth, Be Known

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June 16, 2020-

One of the things that has gotten me into trouble, since I was small, is my not holding back when it comes time for the truth to be told-at least as I see it. Even when it has meant my losing something or having to take punishment, the truth comes out. Largely, this has been reinforced by the fact that, the few times I have been untruthful, in adolescence, it has also been a trainwreck. Fortunately, no one has been hurt.

Either way, I have taken the consequences and moved on. So, when I hear lies and obfuscation, by Alt-Right groups and some politicians on the Right-hand side; by the abortion lobby, and the architects of the Militarized Police, on the Left, my disgust is pretty much an equal opportunity emotion.

It’s actually quite simple: As I’ve said before, I value life-from conception, through childhood, adolescence and on into old age. I value humanness, across every conceivable ethnicity, sex (and sex construct),age, creed and line of work. Most of all, I value truth. Any person who comes from a place of the heart, has my ear. No one who shows that s(he) has a hidden agenda, will have have my support.

There is truth being told, all along the political spectrum and there is deceit, floating along beside it. I am not afraid to honour the one, or to call out the other.