The Snails Keep On

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April 26, 2021- India, I hear, is bleeding. Brazil is getting restless, with its government’s perceived inaction. Canada is still locking many visitors out. Europe and east Asia seem to be making progress-and there is not much word from Africa-with regard to the pandemic. Many are more concerned with trying to get work and pay their way.

Here, we are making a fair amount of progress, and across the U.S., there is rising hope of getting back to some semblance of a post-pandemic life. COVID is a whipsnake, though, and its opponents, whether allopathic or naturopathic, are snails. Sooner or later, the snails will triumph-but they remain snails, and can’t help but be slow and meticulous. Even a whipsnake will get tripped up, sooner or later.

It seems that is the way with most issues of social import. Progressives act like one can just snap the fingers, and voila, the barriers to social justice will disappear. Reactionaries wish the progressives would just disappear. The rest of us will keep doing what we have always done-move forward, but in measured, sensible ways. Police will always be needed-just not in tyrannical form. Thugs will try to force their will upon the vulnerable, and will need to be opposed-thus, a firm, but fair, police force. (I read Mitch Albom’s account of life in lawless areas of Port au Prince, Haiti. That sort of thing could happen anywhere, if people adopt an attitude of self-centered insouciance.) An attitude, and practice, of listening to, and learning from, people with differing points of view will be needed-if our steps forward are not to be followed by a pell mell retreat backwards-as almost happened on January 6. A respect for people and, by extension, their property, will need to be re-instated. The stance that “They’re only THINGS” cannot be maintained in perpetuity. This is a material life, and even the monk needs assurance that his rice bowl will remain intact. What is wrecking a Boys and Girls Club, or a historical museum, going to do to advance social justice, anyway?

The snails move on, and will not be deterred.

These Are What Matter

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October 27, 2020-

A “new poll” chirpily predicted a “surprise Republican blowout”, next Tuesday.

I don’t care.

What matters is what happens afterward. Regardless of whether this poll is genuine, or just a fabrication, designed to “make the liberals cry again”, the fact remains that, on Wednesday, November 4, on December 9 and again on January 21, we are each going to be essentially the same people we were, before the voting took place.

The thing that matters most is that no one loses heart. There are universal truths, with which it seems all people of good will ought be comfortable:

All life is sacred;

Everyone bleeds the same;

Calling another person a derogatory name, does not make it so;

Everyone is worthy of being treated with respect;

No one person, or group, is entitled to lord themselves over others;

Children are worthy of being loved and nurtured by everyone in their community;

Elders are worthy of being treasured and safeguarded by everyone in their community;

Our planet, and its life forces, deserve good stewardship, not ravaging for the sake of making more money than the maker knows how to handle;

All knowledge comes from the same Source-and it is not a human one.

The Summer of the Rising Tides, Day 38: Things I Like

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July 8, 2020-

I had a good day today, visiting online with a small group of friends and in person with a hard-working friend, who is set to take her first real vacation in two years. I also made the requested headway in my adopted project and got new insights as to what else is needed on it. The surest way to be done with an unsolicited activity is to do it right, the first time.

I want to focus now on ten things I like-both phenomena, and traits of people.

  1. People who walk with their heads held high, and who own their lives.
  2. Happy dogs, cats and horses.
  3. Spirited and respectful discussion.
  4. Well-crafted chocolate and cacao.
  5. Brilliant sunrises and sets.
  6. Organic food products.
  7. Kindness towards people.
  8. Well-informed open-mindedness.
  9. Fresh flowers.
  10. A good, well-told story.

These are a few of the things that come to mind, “when the dog bites; when the bee stings..”

As Stupid Does

9

May 21, 2108, Prescott-

I woke this morning, to a message of excoriation, from someone who I deeply respect, but who can hardly be said to hold me in like regard.  It happens.

I’m no one’s slave, though I am gladly of service to many.  Don’t demand that I do your bidding or be at your beck and call.  I will serve a person’s needs because that’s what the Creator, through the Universe, has messaged me to do.

Slavery should never have happened, in the first place.  I hear, from minds more perceptive than mine, that extraterrestrials instituted the practice.  Whatever.  It should NEVER have been put into practice, period.

So now, as Dr. Joy DeGruy has so profoundly explained, in “Post-Traumatic Slave Syndrome”, people of colour get to deal with the emotional and social sludge of slavery’s legacy.  People of pallour get to face up, and ‘fess up, to all that our forebears ignored and many of our contemporaries wish to sweep under the carpet or kick down the road.  Frantz Fanon and James Baldwin warned us of this, all those lovely years back, and who listened, exactly?

My angry correspondent dismissed me as just another stupid individual, not worth his time.  At least he has not banned me from reading his incisive work-so no loss on my part.  I will keep reading, and listening, and learning, because true stupidity comes from indulging in backlash, from putting up barriers, from being, “all in all……just another brick in the wall.” (Thanks, Roger Waters).

Further Reflection

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December 13, 2017, Prescott-

Baha’u’llah tells us that each soul expresses a grain of truth.  In the past several days, there has been much discussion, largely initiated by single men, regarding the push for gender equality.

I have responded to some of the posts and been somewhat rebuffed by the authors.  My take, essentially, is that people should not be limited in their pursuits, their dreams, their achievements, by traditional gender roles.  My identity as a man does not stand or fall on whether a woman, friend or not, can change a tire, rebuild an engine or run a Fortune 500 corporation, as well, or better, than a man could.  My identity as a man does not depend on whether I have a lady on my arm, even as I find many women strikingly lovely.
I must, however, agree with some of the men who have posted.  A human being’s relationship with any other human being is based on trust.  Women and men are equally capable of maintaining trust, and are equally capable of violating trust.  I have been in a couple of situations where I was the breaker of trust.  That I was going through episodes of grief, in each case, does not excuse my behaviour and I have apologized, done as each person violated has asked, and moved on.  In my friendships, over the past three years, I have been far more discerning and attentive to trust issues.

No one is entitled to respect, based on gender alone.  Respect comes from maintaining good character, and that includes being trustworthy.  A man had girlfriend begged off of their scheduled date, saying she didn’t feel well. She was later found to be having dinner with another man, that same evening.  She said it was her prerogative, as a woman.  Well, balderdash!  She reaped the fruits of that choice, which was an end to her relationship with Man A.

There is an argument, making the rounds, that women prefer men who are coarse, who will rough them up if necessary, or at least be selfish and disgusting.  My take on that is:

Such a woman is fundamentally looking for someone who is hard enough to perhaps safeguard her from the coarseness and meanness of the wider world.  A nice guy makes a good friend, so the saying goes, but a mate must be willing to be a brute.   My attitude is that a nice guy must also be strong in the face of adversity. Brutishness is a perversion of strength.

I practice goodness towards people, in general, but my mother did not raise any wimps. I stood up for my wife, as she did for me, and we stood up TO one another.  I am loving, nurturing and supportive of my female friends, but the last time I checked, none of them needed a doormat.  I am in their lives on their terms, and they are in my life, on mine.

The bottom line, in all this discussion, is PEOPLE need to be humane and considerate to other PEOPLE.  PEOPLE should be strong and reliable, in the eyes of other PEOPLE.  If a woman doesn’t respect a man, and vice versa, then what’s the point of their relationship?  More basically, if one doesn’t think he/she deserves a strong, reliable, trustworthy mate, then he/she won’t find one.

En-titled

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December 9, 2017, Prescott-

I awoke this morning,

in a state of tension.

“Come off it, self!

This is Saturday,

and no one expects

anything of you,

except that you

take part in the

noon conference call.”

I got myself together,

drove to one friend’s house,

picked up a bin of cut juniper,

and delivered to another’s house.

Somehow, I will want to do better

than that.

The pieces of wood are small

in the second friend’s eyes.

Aren’t we a funny breed?

A person is entitled

to big, to fine, to proper,

to sufficient.

I thought of other friends,

in Ojai,

looking at the embers

and foundation, where

once, there was a

home similar to

the second friend’s

house, here.

Where is their piece

of entitlement, now?

Once upon a time,

an angry young woman

demanded of her mate,

that he throw me out

of the house

that five of us shared.

It was mid-February,

cold, snowy,

central Maine.

An older couple

took me in,

two days later.

Seems the Universe

decided that I

was entitled to

dignity, and

freedom from

pneumonia.

Here’s how I see it, now.

These are our entitlements:

Respect, with regard to

our persons,

our time,

our necessaries.

Love,

unconditional,

therefore, never forced.

Opportunity,

to make choices

and to follow through,

on those choices.

These three

are enough for me.

All else proceeds

from them.

 

 

Meaning Business

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January 12, 2017, Prescott-

The child claimed what’s his.

A grown man can’t hold what’s his.

I make little go far.

The above verse is in reference to one of our boys speaking out, about respect, across all lines. He is the smallest of our students, but is being raised by loving parents, to not give an inch, to anyone bigger and stronger, when it comes to holding onto what belongs to him.

A very troubled man, claiming to speak for his Lord, is finding that hubris is an empty vessel, and doesn’t take the place of living in the path of God’s Messengers.  He is leaving shattered pieces, for others to pick up and carry forward.

Much had to be done, financially, these past two weeks.  I made it, thanks to a short-term advance from my bank, which will be re-paid, in full, at midnight.  This is a small example of what gets achieved, time and again, with relatively little.  I will not let my responsibilities, to loved ones, or to those who meet my needs, ever go unmet.

Responsibility for self is always basic.

Who Wants What?

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January 4, 2017, San Diego- In the course of conversation today, a subject that always seems to come to the fore, when talking with unmarried young men,and sometimes with those who ARE wed, occupied a fair amount of time:  What do women actually WANT?

My answer to that has emerged over about three decades- Basically, people all want the same three things:  Respect, a sense of autonomy and a measure of security.   No one really wants to feel set up, used or unappreciated.  This seems to sometimes be falling on deaf ears, to a person who feels alone. Actually, though, the lonely man and the woman who falls into the waiting arms of a man who will disrespect her, or worse, are more alike than they each seem to think.

Sometimes, both are impatient, regarding life as something that is passing them by.  The lonely man, especially if he is kind, generous, hard-working and family-oriented, sees a relationship/marriage as the one thing he needs to complete his life.  The settling woman, especially if she has been sheltered, places autonomy, and an emotional challenge, over the fawning attention of one who is love-struck.  Yet, she, too, sees a relationship, however flawed, as the one thing she needs to complete her life.

Both seek validation of their view of self, as well.  The man who sees himself as virtuous and protective, can’t understand why women tell him that he isn’t their “type”.  The woman who sees herself as either unworthy of respect, or, conversely, as too sheltered, can’t understand why men don’t present a coarser, or at least less solicitous, demeanor.  These attitudes start way back in middle-childhood, sometimes earlier. They have something to do with parenting, as well as with broader socialization. (There are also exceptions to every rule.)

I learned, after so many years as a fulminating, unsettled young adult, in my late teens and twenties, that “You’re not my type” is as much of an excuse,as “Women are such jerks about relationships”.  In looking for answers to my own predicament, I met, and listened to, several downcast people, of both genders.  It became obvious that, if I wanted to meet one who would be my mate, for life, I would have to truly absorb her reality- past experiences, present circumstances, future dreams.  This happened to me, as so often happens, when I felt genuinely ready for a relationship, while having no idea with whom.  I met Penny two weeks later, we discussed all the above issues, and more, over 29 years, and I developed a real sense of what mattered to both of us.

Egos are fragile.  Life is fluid.  Everyone deserves respect, the right to pursue their dreams and a measure of security.  I wish all my  friends, especially my young friends, a wellspring of all three.

The Road to 65, Mile 230: Birthdays Matter

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July 16,2015, Prescott-  I treated a good friend, (one of my besties),  and her daughter to dinner this evening, since it was bestie’s birthday.  Back in New England, a birthday is ever the occasion for the honouree to be so treated, and to choose the venue, within reason.  So, I have continued this tradition, over the years, for Penny and for our son. Aram.

One’s entry point into this life establishes the chance to be of value, to an entity greater than oneself:  First the immediate family; then friends and neighbours, followed by ever-wider communities.  This, alone, is worthy of respect and nurturing.

In our culture of independence and relative anonymity, it’s easy for a person to feel like no one cares much.  Most of the time, this isn’t true.  We tend to have more friends, who care more about us than it seems outwardly.  There are all manner of distractions, and external pressures, both real and imagined.

My own answer to this has been to be more proactive about expressing my friendship.  Sometimes, because of the depth of my feelings, this has been misinterpreted and I’ve had to backpedal a bit, for the sake of the endurance of the friendship. It started to happen with the friend mentioned above, but with clear and gentle communication, things are where they need to be.

So, her birthday matters, as does her daughter’s, a few months down the road.  Their dreams and plans are more in focus, with the stock-taking that happens at the beginning of each year.  In my own case, this is one of the reasons I am doing this series of posts.  Some years seem to be clearer milestones than others, but each one is of value, and is crucial to one’s total life experience.

The Road to 65, Mile 220: Cross-Bullying

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July 6, 2015, Prescott- I read this morning about the “rising phenomenon” of children bullying their parents.  Then, a short time later, a friend wrote me a message that her parent was referring to her in the most vulgar of terms.

This goes back to how I was raised, and how we tried to raise our son.  No two people always get along, and the permutations of social discourse get more complicated with three, four, or ten, in the mix.  The bottom line, though, is respect, Golden Rule, “how does the shoe feel on your foot?”

It’s a given that children regard having limits set as part of their safety net. Limit-free kids are scared, more often than not, and fearful people strike out.  We raised our son with what common sense we could muster, encouraging his curiosity and exploration, and discouraging any tendency to view, and treat, us as eyeball-to-eyeball peers.

I would not have my wife be subjected to abuse, nor she, me.  Son is a fine human being, and I don’t think he would be comfortable with being able to give too free vent to negative attitudes.  In fact, he has said that, all in all, we set reasonable limits.  Likewise, we did not ridicule or catcall at him, something that I have seen far too many people my age do with their children, in the name of “honesty” or “free speech.”

Millennials speak of “adulting”.  I love that generation dearly, and certainly expect that acting one’s age will be de rigeur for them, as it should be for us, and for “Generation X”.  Perhaps the term is natural, though, as we witness so many, from ages 21- 90, indulging in unseemly public behaviour, again in the name of “self-expression” or “my rights”.  For the adult in the room to have plenty of company is a fine thing, and since it happens more often than the media would have us believe, it should be contagious.

My feeling is that, if children see adults being adults, consistently, and if they feel well- and fairly-attended, which means having limits set for them, then there will be less bullying, in either direction.