The Summer of the Rising Tides, Day 79: That Which Hangs Heavy

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August 18, 2020-

The air before a thunderstorm tends to sit, held in place by an almost perverse high pressure system, of anti-gravity. Eventually, as the sun’s influence wanes and evening draws near, the barometric pressure often falls, and the moisture being artificially held in abeyance will be released.

The same is true in human affairs. Those who thrive on artifice, and control of the masses, have gone to great lengths to devise systems by which this control may be monitored, adjusted and synthesized, so as to fit the ever-changing state of affairs, which seems to elude their initial grasp.

There is an old joke about the Brass Ring, that it is thinly coated with brass and is in fact largely iron. It comes with a magnet, carefully placed above it, which unseen manipulators swiftly lower, grabbing the ring and raising it up, away from the longing hands of the underdog. It’s a variation of “You can’t beat the system”, “Murphy’s Law”, “Business as usual is the only business that counts”, “Corporations are people, too”, “You can’t always get what you want”-and so on.

There are a couple of other truisms at play here: First, patience is a virtue. The young, and those who have waited forever for their just desserts, are understandably short on patience. We see this in the outbursts that initially came after the deaths of George Floyd and Brianna Taylor. We see it in the outbursts that continue, seemingly without purpose or direction, in cities like Portland and Seattle. We see it in the outbursts that DO have purpose, in Beirut and Belarus. Patience is a virtue, but so is purposeful, constructive action. The trick is in knowing when to turn off the patience and turn up the heat-without unintentionally scalding or singeing innocent bystanders.

Secondly, those whose purpose lies in control of others are not going to lie down and play dead-ever. The Far Right has been masterful at playing Donald Trump’s ego, and his insecurity, like a fiddle. It has been ingenious at drawing in the fanciful minds of the New Age community, the orderly, obedient and heartfelt members of the Fundamentalist Christian and Orthodox (as well as Conservative) Jewish communities and the business-minded, obedience-oriented legal immigrants from Asia and Latin America. It has an End Game, summed up by “He who has the gold, makes the rules”. It foresees an America divided into palaces and favelas. It envisions a gradual elimination of those who deviate from what it defines as the norm. It will play the Master Race card.

The Far Left, no less authoritarian than its identified opposite number, has mastered the Game of Shrillness: It has capitalized on the lingering fears of Nazism and Fascism, which are ever-present among both those whose lives are well-ahead of them and those whose best years are behind them. It has owned the Megaphone, snatching that device away from White Supremacy, while being careful not to give it up, too much, to Black Lives Matter. It has dangled the nebulous term “Antifa”, in front of people whose own mantra is “Just let me go to work, come home and enjoy my family.” The idea is to cow people into submission, by shouting: “What are you, a bunch of Neanderthals?”, to anyone not toeing the line of its agenda. Its End Game is that-It has no End Game, except perhaps that same, pesky, Master Race card, which will be face up-should more people buy into the false dichotomy between the lives of children and the rights of women, the concept that ridding mankind of the congenitally-disabled is a key to a healthy community, or the equally false notion that religion cannot co-exist with free will.

Time hangs heavy-just like precipitation that is stuck inside a cloud.

The Summer of the Rising Tides, Day 42: Wirepullers

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July 12, 2020-

Jessica Whitaker never made it home, early in the morning of July 5, as she walked with her boyfriend and two other friends, in Indianapolis. She told a group of people, who were supporting Black Lives Matter, that she felt “All lives Matter”, leading to the sort of argument that has become all too common, these past several months. The argument ran its course, the two groups went their separate ways and then, someone gunned Jessica down. It is still unclear as to whether the shooting was directly related to the argument, or was committed by an opportunist, seeking to tie BLM to violent crime.

There are wirepullers, agitators, working both sides of the fear-ridden fence. Sloganeering draws such individuals, who have no strong commitment to the beliefs expressed by either side, but who like the mayhem- or the control over one group or the other- or over both groups. I saw this in the 1960’s, when right wing agitators infiltrated the Weather Underground, Students for A Democratic Society and even the Black Panther Party (Yes, there are a few right wing agitators who happen to be Black.) There were, conversely, left-wing agitators who followed Young Americans for Freedom around and behaved badly.

There are those who seek power and control, also with scant actual commitment to one cause or another. Their aim is to create disturbance and to set ordinary people against one another. Then, laws and ordinances can be established, curbing people’s freedom of expression.

I have no dog in the fight over “Masks vs. No Masks”. There is a time and place for wearing masks; a time and place for not wearing them. I will not argue with anyone on either side. It is a prime example of people letting someone manipulate their feelings.

I feel that all life is sacred and have lost friends for having said that adoption is preferable to abortion, while I still maintain that it is a decision best made by the person who is carrying the child. I also remember that, when I was a child, I was the oldest of five and there were times when one of my siblings had needs that eclipsed mine. It’s the same, in my view, with Black Lives Matter. Had more people conducted themselves as if that phrase were embedded in their consciousness, the slogan would not have been deemed necessary and would not have gained traction. Those who seem to need protection are those who deserve immediate attention.


The pendulum has swung back a bit, with the killing of Jessica Whitaker. I don’t hear any Black people saying that she does not deserve justice. Quite the contrary, BLM seems to realize that its credibility is on the line. Hopefully, the social justice movement will see the rights of a now motherless three-year-old and justice for his mother, as equal in value to the rights of those treated so egregiously in Black, First Nations and Latino communities.

I see this as yet another wake-up call, and it is for those who too readily follow one side or another, to re-assess any and all movements initiated too quickly by power brokers on both the Right and the Left.

We, the People, need to take back responsibility for our lives and not be so ready to follow the loudest, or wealthiest, voices in the room.

Unblocked

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April 8, 2018, Prescott-

I dreamed, last night, that two of my students were on a planet where people looked like us, but were not able to communicate verbally.  The boys watched people talking to them, and to one another, but noticed that there was no sound coming.   Photos were taken and sound waves were visible on the pictures,  looking almost like bubbles.

I wonder if this is how the students feel, sometimes, given their own speech difficulties.  We are usually able to determine what a student wants, based on body language, requests made in basic language or, in one case, apraxic compensation.

There is another takeaway from this dream.  People have been talking past one another, for nearly twenty years.  It’s almost as if they are afraid of “catching” a disease, just from hearing a contrary opinion, similar to the way some white folks would wash their hands after contact with a person of colour, or some Native Americans would shake their hands in the air, after a handshake with a white man.

Society is constipated, to put it indelicately.  How else can we be in a situation, where anyone can see racism as the reason behind  “Black Lives Matter” or fascism as the reason for expanded background checks for gun owners, or for denying a firearms purchase by someone who is known to be mentally ill?  How else can a woman be seen as the perpetrator of her own rape, or sexual abuse that stops short of rape?  How else can teenagers, on both sides of a debate, be viewed as mere pawns of the same adults who have punted the school safety can down the road, since 1990?

My students, in real life, are loved and well-understood, even with speech impediments or non-verbality.   Those around us, regardless of viewpoint, have the right to speak and be heard- as well as hopefully being understood.

Let’s start thinking outside the bubble.

It’s Time

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November 10, 2016, Prescott-

It has been two days, since this time of transition began.  People on the Left have vented their frustrations and spoken of their fears.  People on the Right have expressed their joy at being “vindicated” and spoken of their annoyance.

It’s time to start listening, hard, to one another.

It’s time to really take stock of how we’ve really been, towards one another.

It’s time to stop blaming one another.

Black Lives Matter did not create the recent round of violence against police.

The Tea Party did not create the outpouring of hate against transgender people.

It’s time for the common people, of all backgrounds, to recognize that we each achieve more, shoulder to shoulder, than we do nose to nose.

It’s time for those of us deemed “little”, by the media, to know wire-pulling and manipulation, when we see it.

It’s time for people of faith to expect elevated behaviour, from our leaders and from one another, rather than to overlook base actions and coarse speech.

Make no mistake: I love my friends in  Christianity,in the Baha’i Faith, those devoted to Judaism, Buddhism,Hinduism, Islam, Wicca, because their faith defines them;

I love my friends whose sexual orientation and gender identities differ from mine, because they are honest people, trying to make sense of  complexities that few of us in the “straight” world can really understand;

I love my friends who are young, gifted and from hundreds of ethnic backgrounds and dozens of religious traditions, because they will inherit the Earth, and need all the encouragement they can get;

I love my friends who live in small towns and crumbling cities, in the Northeast, Midwest and South, because they do not deserve to be cast-offs;

I love my friends who live on Reservations, in ghettos, in barrios and in ramshackle mountain hollows, because they do not deserve to be stepping-stones for the callous and the greedy;

I love my friends of colour, and of pallour, of youth and of age, because the blood that keeps each of us alive is the same, and too much of that blood has been shed, in the name of falsehood.

It’s time to share our Home, our America, our Earth.

 

You Matter, Too

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August 30-31, 2016, Prescott-  Tomorrow, my Facebook page will have “Blue Lives Matter”, in the profile pic. This does NOT mean that I have suddenly discarded my conviction that Black Lives Matter, Vivas Latinas Importan, or that the world needs Native Americans.

My life has always mattered- to me, to my family, to my core group of friends from adolescence and to countless others met along the way, ever since.  I can’t remember ever really feeling unloved, even in fleeting moments of self-pity.  Worshiping Boous Hoous wouldn’t have gotten me very far, anyway.  I also can’t remember a time when I was truly destitute, in terms of quality human friendships.

Too many, however, can’t say the same.  Too many parents and spouses place conditions on their love.  Too many children are taught that it is harshness and hardness which bring about success in life. Too many in positions of authority, from teachers to police officers, are taught that stridency is the way to bring about obedience, whilst humility is for wimps. Too many, in positions of trust, are deluded by programs and scripts that don’t serve anyone other than the executives of the corporations which dream up these programs and scripts.  Too many vacillate between “Less (staff) is more” and “More (clientele per worker) is optimal.”   Thus Child Protection Agencies, schools and counseling services are operating with insanely unwieldy worker/client ratios.  Too many civil servants and elected officials are encouraged to place themselves above the needs of the people whom they represent.

The truth is, each of us matters- as much as the next.  It has always been so, in the eyes of the Creator.  Black lives matter, too.  Vivas Latinas se importan, tambien.  White lives have never been seen as not mattering.  Native American lives deserve to be valued, a lot more than they seem to be, even today.  Asians, Pacific Islanders, Australian Aboriginals, “Mixed Races” of all kinds matter, also.

One does NOT matter, to the exclusion of others.  The misguided young man who told a Black girl in Buckeye, Arizona, two days ago, that her life and those of her fellows in BLM do not matter, is living in a deluded construct of the past, which can never be successfully revived.

The truth, inconvenient only to those whose own self-loathing  is couched in racism, is that the world is showing us its true nature: There is but one human race, and we all need to get along.  There is no going back, anymore than there is a successful outcome to driving in reverse on a freeway.

I support Blue Lives Matter, because too many decent, hard-working peace officers die on the job.  I support Black Lives Matter because too many decent people of colour are dying young, often at the hands of those who look like them.

My life matters, so does yours.