Be(k)nighted

4

September 27, 2019-

Reflecting on the tendency of many, to place blind trust in a celebrity, or other person of renown:

You, so blameless, in the eyes of the like-minded,

cast aspersions on the character of others,

at odds with yourself,

who, themselves are viewed as blameless,

in the eyes of those of similar mindset.

They, in turn, cast aspersions on you,

and the cats chase each others’ tails.

The resulting hole,

hole in the ground,

rabbit hole,

gets deeper,

murkier,

until none

but those with

the keenest of vision,

can see any glimmer

of light.

Meanwhile,

you gaslight,

obfuscate,

blame cast

and enlist

legions of  legalists,

talking heads

and eager apologists.

You are on the Right,

or on the Left.

It makes no difference

since you see yourself

as above it all.

How far you have,

to fall.

 

 

Better

2

August 24, 2019-

The father of one of the 19 Wildland Firefighters who died in the 2013 Yarnell Hill fire, gave me a wristband that his son had devised, shortly before his death, that said, simply, “Be Better”.  Andrew used this to remind himself, and his loved ones, to strive daily for self-improvement.  So, I am deeply honoured that I should have this wristband to wear.

I have also had this as my motivating force, climbing out of various ruts and working to treat those around me with ever more consideration and equanimity, especially over the past eight years.  Every so often, I slip.  We all do.  The wristband will help remind me to not let any provocation set me on a downward path.

This brings me to the natural inclination that we have, to attack what we don’t understand, perhaps thinking that, if there is enough vehemence in one’s voice, the “bad guy” will go away.  This is a much more tightly-connected world than in the days of White and Black Hats.  Those we fear and loathe tend to hang out on the fringes, rather than just disappearing.

So, improving oneself  not only takes on an increased urgency, it also serves as a beacon for even those who regard us with loathing.  “Be Better” does not draw a concrete trench  between us; it beckons us to resolve that which stands between us.

It is no secret that I have friends across the political spectrum, standing only against bullying and violent, excluding behaviour.  A person’s viewpoint is always subject to being challenged; but it is theirs to explain, and to hold, and hopefully to expose to new information.

I learned that one of my more politically conservative friends passed away, at a very young age, a few days ago.  I will miss our sharing of visits to Indiana Dunes and her accounts of the beauty of Brown County, in the south central part of Indiana,  and I will miss her keen mind, while remembering that my more moderate views on things Federal did not always sit well with her.  Being better, though, always resonated with A, even as it does with several of  her fellow conservatives and many of my more liberal and progressive friends.

One needs no one’s agreement, or permission, to work on oneself, after all.

Staying Independent

5

July 4, 2019, Saugus-

I will continue (go back to) my photo blogs, in the next few posts.  Jumping ahead to the Fourth of July just seems best, though.

I had a conversation with someone very close to me, during the family gathering at a niece’s home, this afternoon.  One thing rings very loud and clear, from this discourse and from other conversations I’ve had, these past few months:  Many people are feeling put upon by aggressive individuals and groups, who take a point of view opposite that which they happen to hold.  Many individuals and groups ARE resorting to the use of force, when confronted with those taking such opposite viewpoints.

I was raised to hear other people out.  My parents, social conservatives, made a great effort to understand even the most seemingly ludicrous viewpoints.  I have maintained an open mind, as a result, throughout fifty-six years of adolescence and adulthood.  Civil Rights have long been a matter of supreme importance in my life, and that cuts both ways.  The Right cannot bully people of colour, of Faiths other than that of the majority in a community, or those living a lifestyle different from that which is conventional. The Left, likewise, cannot deprive people of more traditional bearing, of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.  Violent behaviour, on either side, is the stuff of fascism (even when the bully calls self “Antifa”)

I am, as it happens, an obstinate soul, when people without authority try to force me to do their bidding.  Additionally, I question those who DO exercise authority, as to the ethical basis for their actions.  That is what I get from both the Declaration of Independence and the United States Constitution.    That is what I get from my Faith.

So, to my family-my elders, siblings and cousins:  You all matter, greatly.  Your point of view has at least some validity and is worth hearing, and pondering.  Our family is large, so there are all points covered, on the political spectrum. I will not plug my ears to any of it, so long as you do not ascribe to a coda of violence or or a policy of defamation against your opposite numbers.

To my children, nieces/nephews, and “grands”- You are, one and all, a great hope; you are people of immense promise and, especially if you are feeling vulnerable,  are worthy of all the support and love that we, your elders, can muster.  We cannot spare you from life’s ups and downs, but we can point towards the light. This is the very least we can do, in building and safeguarding your own sense of well-being and independence.

Most of the problems we face, when it comes to intolerance and reactive violence, seem to stem from the violent ones acting out of insecurity.  In truth, though, i have to ask, “How does a person expressing an alternative point of view, in and of itself, constitute a threat to my well-being?”  It may be annoying, but it is not a threat-unless accompanied by force-which then makes it an entirely different matter.

Staying independent means, to me, that one takes the time to carefully examine issues and evaluating a variety of points of view.  It also means extending that right to independence to every one else.  These are my thoughts as the Sun goes down on another July 4.

Fear Itself

7

October 9, 2016, Chula Vista-

I did a few errands and cleared out the trash and recyclables, this morning.  The rest of the day revolved around binge-watching of the TV show, “Supernatural”, a throwback to the mid- 2000’s and some reading, of some Baha’i documents and a couple more chapters of “To Kill A Mockingbird”, my early Fall re-read.

I am not watching this evening’s debate.  The guys are both on a group video game, and that makes for enough noise.  I am fully aware, courtesy of Sirius XM, of the controversy about  DJT’s vulgarities- which makes him about 1 1/2 degrees lower than a certain former President of recent vintage.  I am also aware that there are all kinds of accusations about how American women love to read about crassness and sexual proclivities- “except when it involves political conservatives.”

There is way too much fear going around, and it will likely lead people, on both ends of the political spectrum, to make bad choices. The fact is, no one person is going to do much of anything to derail our Constitutional way of governance.  If Congress is hog-tied, even a short-handed Supreme Court is going to step up- and we, the people, have ways- peaceful ways, mind you- of curbing executive excess.  Lyndon Johnson knew this, and pulled out of a re-election battle, in January, 1968.  Richard Nixon grudgingly accepted it, in August, 1974.

Fear is a healthy emotion, when it causes a person to pause, and take the measure of a situation, rather than engage in mindless cliff-jumping.  It is unhealthy, when it leads to paralysis and circular firing squads, such as we are seeing on one side of the political divide, and may see across the board, yet.

I have only one thing to say, regarding vulgar treatment of others:  Two wrongs, or twenty, do not make a right.