Insurrection Is Not The Way

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January 6, 2021- After getting a welcome adjustment from my chiropractor, this evening, I happened by downtown Prescott, where a small group of Trump supporters were standing on the northeast corner of Courthouse Square, as they have been doing, at least once a week, since 2015. Quite often, there will be a group of progressives standing either across the street or on the northwest corner, at the same time.

I have seen the two groups even mingle, at many public events on the Square, since I moved here, in 2011. The only times there has been tension have been when rumours, of mobs from out of town coming this way, have circulated. There are always a few disquiet individuals, usually driving by in their vehicles and shouting profanities at whoever is in view, or egging on those they sense might be easily drawn into a fight.

That is not the Prescott way. Many have growing up to do, with regard to getting along with people of colour or with those whose politics differ from their own. The larger community, though, has adopted a “Live and Let Live” ethic. That was how I was raised, in a hybrid Conservative/Liberal family, albeit in one of the most conservative communities in Massachusetts.

The main divide, as I see it, has two parts: 1. There is a sense, among those who get up early and turn in a full day’s work, rely on their own efforts and have a strong sense of tradition, that “Socialists” are aiming to take from them and give to others. In fairness, this comes from high rates of taxation and the extent to which the workings of government entail secrecy. If people don’t know the rhyme and reason of matters that affect them, it becomes easy for manipulators and grifters to move in and get them stirred into a frenzy.

On the other hand, are those whose forebears, or selves, have been shoved to the back of the line, repeatedly, by self-styled elites, in terms of full participation in civic and economic life. These elites have not been shy about simultaneously turning to the group that may be one rung higher than those on the lowest level, and cautioning that group against trusting those underneath. The argument has always been, “Look, those _______________ are coming for what’s rightfully yours”, whilst either the taxes go up or rights and privileges, for ALL those under the elite groups, are systematically snipped away.

It is human nature to let others handle certain aspects of life which are viewed as either boring or distasteful. When those chores have to do with rights and freedoms, such “delegation” can, and does, get rather dicey. It has, especially in modern times, become analogous to the shellfish in a pot of cold water, that is slowly heating up and which will turn the shellfish into a meal. There is always a quid pro quo, when someone comes to us and points out discrepancies, “which only they can fix.”

Those who are genuinely worried about losing rights and freedoms can’t afford to let clever or manipulative people of privilege, whether liberal or conservative, sweet-talk them into doing dirty work. This was done before, by the Planter Class of the antebellum South, who had little trouble recruiting lower-class white and First Nations people to do the dirty tasks associated with the system of enslavement and , later, to fight in the insurrection against a Federal government that was moving away from supporting that system. Conversely, a similarly cynical and rapacious Industrialist Class had little trouble engaging that same Federal government to recruit lower-class white and African-American people to try and subjugate First Nations people, both during and after the Civil War.

I saw today’s actions on Capitol Hill as reminiscent of the French Revolution, which, as we know, did not result in wholesale gains for the downtrodden masses. There are those who wanted only to take a deep dive into the electoral process of 2020. But for the lateness of the hour, and the fact that it has already been done, in several modes, that would have hurt nothing.

There were those who have long felt unheard and unloved by society, their only misfortune being that they have not been “in vogue” as a protected class. If each such group were to look carefully at history and look ahead to what is likely to transpire, long term, there would not be a rush to the feet of demogogues. There would be quite a bit of coalition-building, and it would very likely NOT involve the elites, at least for quite some time.

Insurrection, done in the heat of the moment, requires a different sort of power coalition. It involves making deals with those already holding certain levers of power. The original American Revolution succeeded partly because European enemies of Great Britain jumped into the fray. The aforementioned French Revolution is one example-it being whipsawed by the external enemies of the House of Bourbon. Sudan’s recent revolution was eased by manipulative elements in the country’s military, who now, wonder of wonders, are holding the balance of power. The same would happen here, and those fearful of socialism would find a different set of external totalitarians calling the shots, were today’s events escalate into full-blown rebellion.

There is always a quid pro quo, when one turns to power groups with their own agendas to do one’s baleful tasks. The only way forward is to adhere to the basics that were provided us, by the Framers, and later the Amenders, of the United States Constitution, a time-honoured, and much emulated, road map of governance. That, and the common people talking and listening to one another, across lines of ethnicity, class, religion and way of life.

Insurrection is not the way.

The Summer of the Rising Tides, Day 7: The Enemy Is The Mindset

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June 7, 2020-

I got back to Home Base at 10:30, this morning, after a restful night in Flagstaff (keeping obedient to our lingering statewide curfew) and a pleasant breakfast of smoked trout and gouda omelet, at a lovely little place called Downtown Diner. Never let it be said that our rising generations are without a work ethic. Every one of the teens and twenty-somethings who served us, this weekend, was working nonstop.

Now, to the title of today’s post. I read, this evening, of the murder of a Santa Cruz County sheriff’s deputy, in the line of duty. It had nothing to do with a protest, of any kind-and was apparently done by a mentally ill man, who had easy access to firearms. For sharing this news, I found myself painted as spreading “an Alt-Right trope”, as the phrase, “All Lives Matter” was part of the article (as was “Black Lives Matter”, in a sympathetic way).

There is a cost to denying others their humanity. For centuries, it has been the purview of an elite which has prided itself on the maintenance of power, wealth and “tradition”, to the detriment of those regarded as the “lower classes”. The deaths of peasants, and later, of slaves, were viewed by the high and mighty as mere trifles.

Those lower classes learned this lesson, all too well. The miasma of bloodletting, during the French and Russian Revolutions, was the natural consequence of those centuries of rule by feudal mindset. The rulers would point to St. Paul’s Letter to the Romans, and the peasantry were cowed, for a time. When things became too much to bear, the cherry-picked passages from the Bible no longer held currency. Unleashed, the long-suffering masses lashed out, in every direction.

The same is true today. Decades, if not centuries, of being told to find one’s place, and stay in it, have worn those who have heard such drivel, to a frazzle. There has been progress, and there will be more, in the area of building a just society. The trick, however, is to not, as Pete Townshend warned us, in his song, “Won’t Get Fooled Again”, let “the parting on the left” become “parting on the right”.

There is elitism among conservatives, and there is elitism among progressives. There are people living in deprivation, on both sides, as well. If there is to be genuine progress, the recognition of the enemy being our mindsets, our egos, has to be kept front and center. Otherwise, those at whom one looks down one’s nose will bring about changes that will serve to keep the cycle of disparity going.

We are all in this together.

The Javelins and the Olive Branches

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May 3, 2020-

I will say a few things, straight out:  I am a regular user of natural medicines, certified therapeutic grade essential oils and organic foods (80 % of my diet is GMO-free. I also will accept only those vaccinations that are “clean”.  I recognize we need to start somewhere, in building herd immunity to COVID19, and whatever other diseases may surface, over the next many years.  We do NOT, however, need to start with 76 different vaccines, nor do we need our serums laden with mercury, arsenic or formaldehyde.  The shots I’ve taken, willingly, throughout my life, and those that were administered to my child, on our watch, were not more than 19 in number.  To the best of my recollection, they did not contain heavy metals.  The only other issue I would have with Corporate Immunization is the notion , so far just speculation, that authorities could ban people from engaging in commerce or travel, should they fail to have current immunization records on file.  Such a law would not end well , for those who enact it.

I am staying neutral in the present election cycle.  This has not endeared me to some on the Left.  So be it.  These are people who know my heart, and know full well that I do not support the politics of fear or hate.  They  cussed, fussed, fumed and walked out the door, anyway.  That door remains open, to anyone who does not threaten me, or my loved ones.  I would also recommend, to both sides, that no harm be done to any of the candidates for office, or their families-but that is a concern for law enforcement.

Fact is, ladies and gentlemen, we need one another.  Left, right, up, down and sideways-and those of us in the center, all have ideas and personal qualities that benefit everyone else.  Without the ideas of the progressive wing, we would not have the inclusion of diverse groups that make our society all the richer.  Only the usual characters would continue to dominate government, commerce and academia.  Without the due consideration of conservative values, we would have no rudder to steer this ship through some rather treacherous straits, and would very well risk being at the mercy of demagogues, for whom ideas are more important than people.

For both sides, though, there is a danger of demagoguery- as the recent histories of several countries have shown us.  There is also the classic mirror:  The French Revolution, which started with the overthrow of an incompetent monarchy, proceeded through a Reign of Terror, in which a free for all resulted in the executions of the very people who led the overthrow of the monarchy-and paved the way for Napoleon Bonaparte, followed by Louis XVIII, then the Citizen King, then Napoleon III.  How that worked out for the benefit of the French people is highly debatable.

I love and cherish friends and family at all points on the political spectrum.  All I ask is that there be a conscious effort to stop demonizing those opposite oneself, as well as those of us in between.

 

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.

Keyholes

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November 26, 2016, Chula Vista-

We went to see the film “Doctor Strange”, this evening.  It’s a highly entertaining account of mystics being able to bend time, space and matter- for good or for ill.  One of the characters mentions to Dr. Strange that, in being concerned with his own ego, he is seeing the universe through a keyhole- and imagining his view to be all-encompassing.

So many of us seem to be seeing the world through keyholes of our own device.   The two extremes in out national politics have been doing so, for sometime. The keyholes seem to be also getting smaller and smaller.  It is also apparent that the backdrop, behind the door, is getting dimmer and dimmer.

Any time in history, when people feel totally disenfranchised, has been fraught with severe pendulum swings.  The decline and fall of Imperial Rome, the French Revolution and its aftermath, and the fall of the Soviet Union  are each an example of this, albeit differing in severity.  Jacobin France is one of the deadliest examples of people looking at the world through keyholes, and seeing nothing but enemies- even in the faces of those who were their allies, only a short time before.

It is no coincidence that the leader of a White Supremacist splinter group identified his personal role model as Napoleon Bonaparte.  This, to me, is a clear indication of the intentions of his particular entourage.  Sowing chaos, in this large and disparate society, may seem impossible- but look to Rome, and to Russia.  It only takes a relative few opportunists to bring it about- and with the advent of false news reporting, the mayhem can come about rather quickly.

Once again, to be safe, at any given time, is to be vigilant beforehand.  I do not see the answer to our nation’s current growing pains to be drawing our wagons into  tight circles, such as supremacist or nativist fantasies, or safe zones.  The real solution, in my humble view, is wider inclusion.  There will never be a time when I cut off my conservative friends to curry favour with people on the Left, or vice versa.  I will not shun my friends of colour or of sexual identities that aren’t my own, just so that my White and heterosexual friends are assuaged- or vice versa.

It’s time to open the door, for a broad view.

Fear Factors

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February 19, 2016, Prescott- This week has been a bit rough, although work resumed for two days and I did have a nice dinner with friends, last night.  The difficult part has come from the number of attacks, two of them pointedly personal, that have come my way this week.  Last night, I received a written death threat, which I take only mildly seriously.  The person in question has neither the physical or financial wherewithal to put an end to my life.  Today, someone on another medium said that, unless I supported building a wall on the Mexican border, I was not entitled to claim citizenship.

We have devolved into a “my way or no way” mentality.  It’s not just in the United States, that this is happening.  Europe is finding itself overwhelmed.  India and Indonesia are experiencing the resurgence of religious fundamentalism, to say nothing of what is going on in Africa and western Asia.  Mexico has been rigid, in not letting migrants come in from Central America, or from Cuba, for that matter.  Even a small nation like Nicaragua puts those seeking a better life, in detention camps.

Otherwise good people are turning on others, mostly out of fear- that their livelihoods will be lost, that their families’ safety will be at risk and, more existentially, that all they cherish and believe will be upended.

I have three thoughts on this whole phenomenon.

1.  Remember the French Revolution.  In a nutshell (no pun intended), the common people rid themselves of leaders who looked upon them as less than human.  After that, there was no game plan, except to continue the carnage, until the Revolutionaries had decimated their own ranks- and Napoleon stepped in, restored a monarchy and only slight improvements had been made in the public weal.

2.  “The Earth is but one country, and Mankind its citizens”- Baha’u’llah

We do best to see all other people and nations as our relatives, by extension.  There need to be rules, sane and intelligent boundaries, and no one should enter another’s home, without leave of the owner.  Each family, city or town, county, state/province, and nation is entitled to having its boundaries, and its laws, respected.  Nonetheless, there cannot be the sort of racism or ethnocentrism that only perpetuates misery.  There also cannot be the economic colonialism that demands people in one country suffer, so that people in other countries can indulge themselves with habit-forming drugs that foment death and destruction, both for the people around the producers and for the consumers.

3.  Everyone is entitled to seek the truth of spiritual, intellectual and metaphysical matters for themselves.

Groups have arisen, from ISIS to the American Tea Party, that rely on fear and loathing to keep their agendas moving forward.  Again, I refer you to the late, unlamented Jacobins.  The Ku Klux Klan, Khmer Rouge, National Socialists, the “Know Nothings”, and various tribal armies-of-slaughter, throughout history, have followed the same path- sometimes with deadly violence, other times with the violence of the mind.  In both cases that I mentioned at the beginning of this post, my response was immediate- I will think, and speak, for myself.  I have served the United States of America, and will not give up my citizenship; nor will I ask that of my critic, who was born here, also.  I will follow my own schedule, protocol and regimen, with regard to my daily life, and not give in to threats, of any kind.

The challenge, before us all, is to put fear in its place.