Beyond Cacophony and Mud

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October 9, 2020-

In brief, I see a lot of mud being thrown at walls-some sticking, some falling to the ground. I hear a lot of noise, with the vibrations passing one another, on the way to deaf ears. Two very different visions of how this country should move forward, and how it should look ten or twenty years hence, have beeb part of the national fabric since at least 1800.

Back then, the First Nations people, who both dominant groups viewed as inconvenient obstacles, and the enslaved Africans, whose social position was seen, by both sides, as a collective means to a national economic end, watched the proceedings from the sidelines, with far more prescience and comprehension than either dominant group could imagine.

So it still is, with many of us, in various demographics, watching from the sidelines- seeing truth in aspects of both sides’ positions. Society needs to find a way to safeguard the health of the unborn-check. Society also needs to give women the prime responsibility for their own decision-making-also check. The nation does well to protect children, teenagers and vulnerable adults from human trafficking. The nation needs to value the lives of those who have historically been marginalized. It is an imperative to feed masses of people. It is also crucial to safeguard the cleanliness of our four elements-Air, water, soil and energy. We must protect our nation from mob rule by anarchists, from the neo-Maoists now ruling China-and from illiberal authoritarians, inspired by Russia-and by the Fascists of the past.

We have a tall order ahead, and both men garnering the lion’s share of public suppport have a far graver responsiblity than either of them seem to realize. One will, in fairly short order, be given a public mandate to govern, from January, 2021-January, 2025. The other will need to decide whether he can step aside and act as a loyal opponent, or continue to seed mayhem from behind the scenes.

There is no longer any room for shouting, name-calling, discounting, gaslighting and making false promises about prosecuting “those people”. The mud will stop sticking and the noise-makers will find Charley Brown and his classmates, hearing “Wa-wa-wa-wa”.

Fortnight of Transition, Day 10: Ruth Bader Ginsburg

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September 18, 2020-

A major voice in the cause of women making their own choices, right or wrong, was stilled today. It didn’t make any difference to her WHAT the choice was, necessarily, so long as the outcome was not dictated to the woman by a man.

We needed Ruth Bader Ginsburg, as long as we had her among us. Eventually, even those women who greeted news of her death with mockery and derision will recognize that their own reactions, strangely, are in a way reflective of the late Justice’s life’s work. They came up with their own ultraconservative tirades-rather than just parroting the men in their lives.

Getting back to her achievements- I am greatly in favour of the Equal Rights Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. I am not in favour of widespread promotion of abortion. The procedure should be safe, legal and very, very rare. Alternatives, though, need to be presented, clearly and consistently. I am most in favour of equal pay for equal work, and having worked alongside many women, over the years, I have seen plenty of equal work-and much that is superior.

Because of Justice Ginsburg’s early legal work, I, as a widower, have been able to receive Social Security Disablility Insurance Survivor’s Benefits, since my wife, Penny, passed in 2011. She stood squarely in favour of women being breadwinners. She stood squarely in favour of women being in the military-leading an effort that saw Virginia Military Institute, once a cornerstone of the Confederacy, agree to accept female cadets.

She stood up for a thirteen-year-old Arizona student, who had been forced to submit to a strip search (albeit only in the presence of female staff). Her male colleagues agreed that this was a miscarriage of justice. That act, alone, earned her my undying admiration.

She was a pioneer in the reference to international law, in some U.S. Court cases. She was also a true believer in the aisle as a mere passageway: Her best friend on the Court was Justice Antonin Scalia, with whom she shared a love of opera and of fine dining.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg, rest in power.

Another Distant Mirror

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May 9, 2019-

I have spent much of the past several days, sequestered in my house, waiting for the corporate entity which employs substitute teachers in our county to finish its processing of my papers.  I am sticking close to home, mainly to stretch my dollars as, while I have a sufficient income, it will still be an involved summer and economy is critical.  The activities that occupy me are sorting out unneeded possessions, exercising, reading- and Netflix.

I have taken to a series, called “The Last Kingdom”, an historical fiction loosely based on the life and times of Alfred the Great, who began the process of unifying the regions of what is now England, in the 9th Century.  It is similar to Barbara Tuchman’s  “A Distant Mirror”, in tone and scope.  Many of the themes with which we are familiar today, occurred in both long-ago times, and most likely have appeared in every era of human endeavour.

I focus here on two recurrent themes in human history:  The tendency to gloss over a person’s achievements, whilst calling excess attention to the same person’s failures; the dichotomy in the level of treatment of women and girls, between those interested in maintaining authority and those living a simpler life, closer to the soil.

In “Kingdom”, Alfred is depicted as one more concerned with maintaining the primacy of the rich and powerful, including himself, than with dispensing true justice.  It is noted, as we know about the Dark Ages, and on into the Renaissance/Reformation, that alliances rose and fell on a whim.  It is noted that manipulative figures operated with impunity, and those who challenged them were either killed or banished-as the central character in “Kingdom”, Uhtred Ragnarsson, experiences banishment and redemption, several times.  It is shown that women had to assert themselves, fiercely, if they were to avoid battering and a life of humiliation.

Of course, as in any depiction of events not occurring in real time, there is undoubtedly a fair amount of amplification and embellishment in the series, based in turn on Bernard Cornwell’s  “Saxon Tales”.    The human struggle will long be what it has been, as man deals with the issues of justice, equity and the balance of power in society.

I have my sense as to how the series will pan out.  I also have a sense as to how the human race will continue to evolve-and the ebb/flow inserted into both processes.