Grassroots

4

June 11, 2021, Bellemont, AZ- Today is the last full day of the camp which I have been supervising. A few people left for home, due to work and family obligations. The teens who are left have busied themselves with clean-up projects, both on campus and across the road, where an illegal dumping site has collected detritus, probably for several decades.

These efforts have brought to mind the fact that grassroots actions can begin to correct even the most longstanding of offenses or errors in judgment. It will take a great deal of such work, to counteract the mistakes made as result of top-down decision-making. The latter is closely tied with “efficiency”, but that is so only in the sense that things can be done more quickly, when the elite is making snap decisions. True efficiency involves BOTH grassroots AND the decision-makers at the top. So, there needs to be a clear-cut system of transparency-which only the slow-moving engine of trust can provide.

As always, my charges have taught me as much, if not more, than was imparted to them. It is this that has kept me in the youth work game, a lot longer than I might have stayed. There is no end to what we can achieve, if we draw lessons from everyone we meet-of all ages and backgrounds.

Ludicrous

2

June 9, 2021, Bellemont, AZ- Arguments and fighting can sometimes clear the air, in which case they serve a purpose-and need not be repeated. Most of us have experienced this sort of thing, at one point or another, in our lives. Often, fatigue, depression, and feelings of abandonment can trigger a quarrel, which forbearing people de-escalate. The underlying love that the parties have for one another will win out, in such cases.

The most intractable quarrels, though, find their roots in ego, insecurity and not a small amount of malice. These tend to be found within the larger issues facing our species, our nation-and a good many communities. Egotistical actions themselves are mainly rooted in insecurity-the parent of narcissism, which, to me, is a misplaced attempt to cover for feelings of inadequacy. One public figure, known for expressions of narcissism, experienced a childhood in which he was routinely berated and belittled by his own parents.

Where we, as a society, or as a planet, suffer from acts of egotism or insecurity comes in cases of reckless prejudice, greed or lust. We see these in the behaviours of some in government, in business and even in public service. A senior figure in our Federal government recently asked people working under him to act against certain legislation- “as a favour to him”. Some on both sides of a conflict, in another part of the world, continually focus on what they see as the “transgressions of the other side”. A military leader in a developing nation seized power in his country, claiming that only he can save the country from “the forces of corruption”.

I go back to problem-solving processes based on transparency, unconditional positive self-regard, and respect for other people in general. There is also a degree of letting go of past hurts, which proceeds from the aforementioned qualities. There can be little doubt that the paths which perpetuate turmoil and division between people, at all levels, are ludicrous.

Clarity Makes The Difference

2

June 4, 2021- The photo appeared in my Messenger feed, this morning, showing exactly what was needed to realize a dream that its recipient had been struggling to express, for three years. I have said, and meant, for many decades now, that anyone asking for assistance, especially for financial help, must have a plan as to how that assistance will bear fruit.

The project outline, and the accompanying photo, show that my exhortations, and probably those of others in the young man’s life, have begun to sink in and he will have a genuine chance of success-much in the way that a friend of mine, much closer to Home Base, has succeeded, in her two years of agricultural entrepreneurship.

On the other hand, much of the current unrest in the country stems from either sensing that one is being deceived, or believing the deceptions that one is being fed. This goes for extremists on both ends of the spectrum-and for many who are somewhere between the fringes and the center. I notice that a few of the ringleaders of the deception are using pseudonyms. Others are just using bullhorns. Still others smile, say nice words and do the opposite of what they are telling us.

There is no substitute for clarity, in actually getting things done.

The Summer of the Rising Tides, Day 19: Juneteenth

5

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.

Credibility

4

May 5, 2020-

Fifty years ago, yesterday, four students were slain, at Kent State University, Ohio,  in the midst of a “tough” government reaction to protests against the VietNam War.  At that time, as now, there was a stark division between those who wanted peace and those who favoured a hard response to an identified enemy.  I was little more than a child, then, and even though I was on active duty with the United States Army, I felt strongly that there had been an overreaction.

Coming from this incident, there was a very intense backlash among people of my generation-especially among those in college.  Hippiedom was still much in vogue, as less than a year had passed, since the Woodstock Festival.  A cliche arose, as well:  “Just because you’re paranoid, doesn’t mean that we’re not out to get you.”   There were also working class youth, like me, who were not exactly over the top for the Hippie culture, but still had our reservations about the Military-Industrial Complex.

Fast forward to the current crisis.  Many of the same people who had doubts about our government then, have the same reservations now.  The difference is in the target of those qualms.  Now, it’s the Scientific-Medical Complex, from Monsanto to “Big Pharma”, and anyone who stands to make a bundle off disease cure and prevention.

I will say this, having posted arguments from both sides on another social media platform:  At least half of the predicament in which large companies find themselves is a hoist of their own petard.  Lack of transparency always sticks in the craw of an educated populace.  Numbers have been fudged, quite frequently- and by those on both sides of an issue.  There has been fakery, to the point that one must even scrutinize the claims of fact checkers.

It all can be avoided by just telling the truth-but that may cost people money.  There is a hard choice to be made by many.

Truth Be Told

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April 25, 2020- 

Much in this world is discovered, up front, on a “need to know” basis.  We are both privacy-seeking and hierarchical creatures, by and large.  As a result, one, or more, of three things could happen:  1.  There is a small clique of people who know everything and dole out the facts of a matter, in dribs and drabs, if at all;  2.  A spokesperson, usually given a script, faces the public and either gives out facts in stages, or gives an opaque scenario-which may or may not even contain facts relevant to the case; 3.  A high-ranking member of an administrative team broadcasts both a large volume of information and goes off on tangents, designed to get the public to both blame the team’s perceived opponents and to go down one or more blind alleys and/or rabbit holes.

I’ve seen all three scenarios play out, over the past sixty years- at all levels of government, within families and civic organizations, and in corporations, both profit and non-profit.  I have been the recipient of untruths and have been asked to state untruths-for the “good of the order.”   I have had supervisors try to cover up wrongdoing, and have been dismissed from a post, for being too transparent.  The few times I was tempted to be dishonest myself, I proved unable to carry out the deception.  I have had someone try to throw up smoke and mirrors.  I outlasted the individual by a year, before voluntarily moving to another position.

People deserve to hear the truth, to the extent they can handle it.  They never deserve to hear a lie.  If there is information someone can’t handle, at a certain time, it is best held for a time when he or she CAN handle it.  Lying or deflecting is the stuff of a benign tyranny.  I see this being done by people all along the political spectrum, showing that people in power frequently have a very hard time trusting those who put them in power, in the first place.

There will be many changes coming out of this pandemic.  I hold out hope that a healing environment of truth and personal responsibility will be chief among them.

After the Fire

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February 27, 2020-

As the back and forth, about who is responsible

for the current rapid meltdown,

drones on,

it is as good a time as any,

to think of ways

that such a collapse

doesn’t happen again.

When it’s run its course,

there will be people,

most of us, actually,

who will have roles to play

and communities to rebuild.

Europe and northeast Asia have done this,

and America has provided the game plan,

so we know what to do.

There are also three things

that ought to be added

to the next recovery plan.

1. Science needs to be de-politicized

and de-monetized.

Yes, research needs financial support,

but with no strings other than

what is inherent to conduct it ,

to completion.

2.  A universal currency,

not as subject to the buffeting

of fear and whimsy,

as the current chockablock arrangement

of so many national currencies,

needs to be established. (Baha’u’llah prescribes this.)

3.  Transparency, borne of confidence,

must replace the secrecy that is the child of fear.

Treat people as if they are capable

of handling the truth,

and they will rise to that level,

even if haltingly at first.

I see a glorious day.