Memorial Day 2020

CAVEAT (A fancy Latin word for WARNING): Any topic that qualifies as a complicated conversation generally contains a lot of heated passion from every side, regardless of the topic being explored. I will of course be talking from my own point of view, so go with the assumption that it’s my opinion. When I give facts, I will also provide the appropriate links so that you know it’s NOT my opinion.
So before I wade into the fray, I remind my gentle readers that regardless of how much of a twist your knickers get into, this is still a POLITE conversation. Anything less than polite (flaming, obscenity directed at the author or the other comments, hate speech, derogatory remarks without real substance for an alternate view, or sheer stupidity) will be deleted and the user will be blocked.
“Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more…” (Shakespeare, Henry V, Act iii, scene i)
CAVEAT, Part Two: some of the photographs in this essay are not pretty. Most of them, in fact. They are meant to disturb you and to educate you. If they offend you, just don’t look at them. And don’t bother commenting on how upset they made you, because as I just told you, they should make you upset.


Once a year, this nation honors our military; those currently serving, those who served and survived, and the many, many war dead. You should recognize this particular memorial as the raising of the flag on the small island of Iwo Jima during WWII. I will continue to add pictures of war in this essay. Some will be the sanitized, socially acceptable memorials and carefully arranged photos of our soldiers. Others will not be. Be prepared. If they bother you, well, they are supposed to–and if you are offended, be offended on your own time and not in my writing space. Stop reading if you end up *that* offended. (Refer to the header above when in doubt as to what to do.)

It is my intention, the writing of this, to honor all of our veterans, throughout most of this past century. I’m not going to talk about the (un)Civil War, or the war against the British when we fought to become a nation unto ourselves. No, I want to look at what is, in the steady stream of time passing, the “recent” past, starting at about World War II. I also will generally use male pronouns, as until fairly recently, only men went to fight. Of course we all know better. Women have been as knee-deep in battle as any man, even back in the Revolutionary and Civil wars.

Men could not have fought successfully as they did (either side of the conflict) if it weren’t for the unspoken, unacknowledged but very active support given by the females of the our species. Cooks, laundresses, nurses, doctors when needs must, providing not only the physical relief for mundane physical needs–but also providing more intangible things such as a listening ear, a shoulder to cry on (because Big Boys DO cry), and yes, even sex and not always for money. Don’t mock or denigrate those women who shared their bodies with lonely, frightened young men.

And don’t kid yourself that all those soldiers were Real Men, impervious to fear and willing, even eager, to go out and kill–or be killed. No one in their right mind actively courts death, seriously pursues activities that will almost assuredly lead to their own personal end of life. The concept of dying for their country is a vague and nebulous thing, something that might happen, but never really to them. And that idea lasts until their first fire fight, the first bomb that lands near their platoon and they watch their comrades die right before their eyes. And then, THEN, they are slapped in the face with the cold, hard fact that Death doesn’t care who it takes. When your time is up, Death has no problem collecting souls.

Don’t fall for the myth of the war movies, where the hero always survives, where the big name star is still standing at the end, waving the flag and serving as propaganda to con other young men into signing up for battle. War is NOT glorious. War is bloody, messy, degrading, demoralizing, and there is no way to push a button and try to play out the battle again to a successful end this time. It’s not a game. There are no series of bosses, easy to hard levels, a chance to build up extra hit points before facing the Final Boss. Every encounter with the enemy can be anyone’s last battle–even if it’s their first one at the same time. War is de-humanizing; it’s literally a case of “kill or be killed” and there’s no chance to determine if there is any other way to solve this puzzle.

There is only one rule in war, in any war–survive at all costs. And it will cost. A lot. Far too many soldiers have lost their humanity in the fight to stay alive, and so we have become witnesses to atrocities that are unbelievable to those who were not there at that time. Photos were taken–and not always by news reporters but by those who had committed these acts and were getting souvenirs of it. And those things that occurred but have no photographic evidence…the whispered conversations, the “I heard (such and such)” comes out to shock and dismay the civilians who have no personal knowledge. And some of those horrors are dismissed as being too much, too dreadful to be believed. Until somehow they are proven and we are aghast at the loss of humanity inherent to the actions.

Disturbing photo here:
I do not know if these soldiers are American or not. It doesn’t matter. All that matters is that some men hold the power and are abusing it over the naked man who is about to be smashed with a boot. This is what war is about, this is one look at what war does to otherwise “nice” men.

The litany of wars is long, to the point where it seems as if there’s always a war going on, somewhere in the world. And there is, oh how there is. I mean, really! When you have a conflict go on long enough that it’s actually called “The Hundred Years’ War”? But I am trying to limit myself to the 20th century, from World War II to modern day. And that in itself is a long list. The USA didn’t even enter the world’s war until the date of “infamy”, December 7, 1941, with the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.

 
USS Arizona Memorial, Honolulu, Hawaii

It was August in 1945 when the USA ended the war by using atomic weapons for the first time in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. That included another famous ship, the USS Indianapolis–but no one knew that until after the war because it was sent by secret mission to take The Bomb to the airfield that would be used to actually deliver the bomb from a B-52. The Indianapolis made its delivery at Tinian, but was sunk by Japanese submarines on its way to the Philippines. It went down with 300 dying on board and then the remaining 900 sailors went in the water–and no one knew where they were because most of the military had no idea of their mission. Those men were in the water for 3 days before rescue eventually came to them–and there was only 317 of the crew of 1,196 aboard still alive. The men in the water had to fight off sharks for those 3 days. Two-thirds of them died by exposure and/or those sharks.

                            USS Indianapolis Memorial

I have had the incredible experience of meeting a survivor from each of those two famous ships–not both at the same time, of course, but over the years I have traveled and seen the world. In fact, I was actually living in Saigon, Vietnam, for the Tet Offensive of 1968. I can remember going up onto the roof of our apartment and seeing the “fireworks” (all red, because they were actually tracer rounds). My father was working for Air America at the time, having gotten out of the Army as a pilot for cargo planes. He was flying for AA at that time and he always carried a pistol. We lived in a dead-end alley, along with several other American families. The men took turns, keeping guard from the rooftop at the open end of the alley–and one man actually did kill two Viet Cong who were coming into the area. I didn’t know that then; after all, I was just 6 years old. I didn’t understand about the war.

My father is now a fully disabled “Agent Orange” veteran. My mother told me that they would used tanker trucks to spray the Agent Orange (exfoliant) and then “wash” the trucks out in the river. They would fill up the tank with water and the men would use that to shower themselves. In Agent Orange residue. This is also what war is like, when your military uses things, not even really considered weapons, to facilitate their battle efforts–and end up hurting their own soldiers.

It’s generally accepted today that the Vietnam war was a huge failure. So many young men (and women) killed, so much money spent on the equipment used, that often failed in the wet heat of the jungle, trying to fight an enemy that could disappear like mist into that same jungle. That was the last war that used conscripted (“called up”) soldiers, with the draft taking the young men indiscriminately, killing potential doctors, teachers, firemen, fathers, scholars; men who might have changed the world but never lived to show any sort of meaningful contributing factor to our world. This is just as true for the women who also died in that conflict. Keep in mind that they were not drafted. They volunteered to go, knowing that they might not return. Does that make their deaths somehow more significant? I don’t know. I consider all the deaths, male or female, drafted or not–all of them as an enormous waste of potential that will never be realized.

Vietnam Memorial Wall, Washington DC

The Vietnam war was the first one that was essentially fought in “real time”. We now had had the technology to show the war on the home television sets. We had reporters in uniform, with helmets, standing alongside of the soldiers, telling the civilians just what was going on. We SAW, for the first time, war live and happening NOW. Not a bland newspaper article, carefully written to only present the best view. No, we saw the Real Thing, up close and personal. Many of our citizens vilified the soldiers, spitting on them as they returned, wounded in body and soul. Many who would have died in earlier wars from the terrible wounds now lived, sort of. Missing limbs, missing eyes, head shots that somehow healed physically but the mind…was never the same. We had to learn the terms of “Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder” and “flashbacks”. Society suddenly had a group of very, very angry men; men who knew that the entire thing had been a lie, had been hopeless and the upper ranks who had known that but had thrown their enlisted bodies at the enemy as if they were nothing more than a human bomb.

An addition to the Vietnam Memorial, called “Walking Into the Wall”

This was a war where the lieutenants learned not to turn their backs on their own men because they might be killed by “friendly fire”. Keep in mind–lieutenants are the lowest of the officers. They were fresh out of college, with the ink on their commission (that piece of paper making them an officer) still wet, with no more battle experience than a child. And they were put in charge of men who had been fighting together long enough to have steel bonds holding them in place–and frequently, the lieutenant would give orders without any knowledge behind them, never understanding just what it was he was directing them to do–but they knew. They understand that if they followed those orders, they would almost assuredly die, to a man. It took a smart lieutenant to let his most senior sergeant make the orders because that was what would keep all of them alive the longest.

This was the war that we never won, would never win. We just gave up and what was left of our military slunk back home to derision and ridicule. No hero’s welcome for them. And no treatment for the host of mental disorders that accompanied them back to their native land. It has taken YEARS for the government to finally address that and begin the process of helping them adjust and re-acclimatize to being in a non-war environment. Thank all the gods for the dog, who has stepped up and into his working vest, to help these men remember what being human should feel like, to help the man at his side live a meaningful life again, without needing a gun to feel safe.

The Vietnam war also taught another lesson that is more sinister and causes more problems now than it could ever hope to solve: the birth of the Military Industrial Complex. Sadly, our economy is based on waging war. We have several corporations who end product is not a tangible product, but the ephemeral one of a continual ongoing war. It doesn’t really matter against who, or the apparent reason (always a great sounding one) for fighting, just as long as there is a war going on somewhere, using up planes and jeeps and … soldiers. Women are now included in that group. I suggest because we are running out of males who are willing to sign up for a quick trip overseas and the eternal chance of dying wherever the war is being run.

The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

Old men send young men into battle without blinking their eyes at the number that goes. Without a thought for the home front, for the family left behind each of those soldiers, for the mothers and fathers, the daughters and sons, the lovers, the husbands’ wives they will never have, the children who will not be born, the lives that will not be lived. All sacrificed to the Military Industrial Complex, the “too big to fail” corporations that makes their millions and billions through the deaths of others, never their own CEOs or shareholders.

We talk about the Middle East as if it were one place. It’s not, it never has been. It has been a warzone since before the USA was even born. It has ALWAYS had strife and battle for water, for land, for oil. Each tribe considers every other tribe to be the interloper on *their* patch of sand, ever since the first time two different men spotted each other in the distance, back when horses were barely known and camels were the way to get around. A nomadic life was the only one that was sustainable–so oases and waterholes became the goldmines of life, worth killing for, worth dying for. Over the millennia, these tribes have only become more insular, more wary of “the stranger”. “If you eat at my table, I cannot kill you.” the saying goes. Actually, it ends like this: “I cannot kill you for three days.” That means you have exactly 3 days to get beyond my reach.

Life in a desert is harsh beyond our plush American way so understanding it, truly comprehending it in our heart and bones, is impossible. Even the worst American household is like Paradise compared to the harshness and unforgiving nature of the desert. So when you’re talking about a desert dweller, they are, by necessity and by Nature, also going to be harsh and unforgiving. They must, or they will not survive. And over the years, this means that only the harshest survive to breed. They teach their children to be harsh as well, because of course they want their children to live. As Americans, we simply cannot understand that in a truly visceral way–and “knowing” it in a purely theoretical and hypothetical way is insufficient to be able to meet them on common ground. No wonder we label them as ignorant savages. They aren’t; remember out of these tribes we have received Arabic numerals, the very ones we use to write our accounting books. We have geometry, astronomy and other learning that came from these dwellers in the sand.

As in many other groups, religion  entered their way of life and just like Christianity, ended up leading to more wars than any peaceful acceptance of their fellow humans. (Fellow and gals? Whatever the word is, I mean all others, not just males.) Muslims, again just like Christians, argue amongst themselves as to their common book and what each part means, splitting into sects that have to argue (and make war) against those who don’t believe in their interpretation.

Americans can’t even get their own nation to agree on one religion–which is not necessarily a bad thing. We are a wildly diverse nation to begin with; how could we all agree on just one of any subject, including and almost especially, religion? And we think we can use to force to make other nations agree and stop fighting? That’s a major show of irony right there: waging war to … stop war?

In other writings I have done, I have made the point that the human mind can really only hold about 150 people in itself. Our brains cannot truly comprehend thousands of people, let alone millions. Our tribe, our group of no more than about 150 discrete individuals, that’s it. I firmly believe that’s why we are so insular, so damned…tribal. Because we can identify it, name it, and name the parts of it. That is why the concept of one child dying in a car crash makes us more emotional, we feel it more, than the concept of thousands dying in a tsunami or earthquake–even if they take place within the boundaries of our own country.

Even a small number of people involved in a bad thing can be glossed over, not really sympathized about, if it happens “somewhere else, over *there*”. It’s not real to us. But it should be, when it involves our people in uniform. They are first and foremost, people. Men and women who have the same type of dreams and hopes as the rest of us–to have a good life, to live to be an old person, to perhaps have children, a career that doesn’t involve a gun (or having to kill someone else every day), a chance to live their life without war. Many of them, far too many of them, never get that. Take a look at the units that are being put together to go “over there” to fight people they’ve never even seen. Yet. They’ve been taught to hate those people, to fear them and to kill them without mercy–because those people will sure as hell try to kill them.

A war photographer meets some soldiers, Vietnam War

Look at them, there in the photograph. All of them young, fit and ready for action. How many of them died that day? The next day? The next week? All right, how many of them lived to make it back to their homes?

General William Tecumseh Sherman, a Northern soldier during the Civil War, said words that are famous: “War is Hell”. He was the general who ordered the evacuation and subsequent burning of the city of Atlanta. He knew, intimately and deeply, the truth of that simple, three word sentence. War IS Hell. Ask any veteran who has “seen action”. It’s a euphemism, an oh-so-polite way of saying, “everybody was shooting at everybody else and I managed to survive”.

With a drafted army, you get a complete cross section of every type of human being. Not everyone is cut out to be a soldier, not everyone has what it takes to look through the scope of a rifle, see the face of the person you’re trying to kill–and pull that trigger. I would suggest that there is a problem with an all volunteer army because you are attracting the people who want to be soldiers, who want to go and kill other human beings for the glory of war and for their “patriotic duty”–which in modern times is not what makes a nation great.

Korean War Memorial, Washington DC

Our killing machines are scientifically designed to be efficient and rapid. There is no time to think over what you’re actually doing. No waiting for the fuse to hit the powder, as there was in the Revolutionary and Civil wars. No having only one shot in the gun; now we have multi-shot cartridges that can be changed out faster than those single shot rifles could be reloaded. We have also employed other types of attacks: gas, anti-personnel bombs, long distance, directed bombs, airplanes than can actually carpet the ground with hundreds of bombs at once. And of course, there’s always the one Big Deterrent, the atomic bomb. Or perhaps just a smaller, baby version to remind people that “We Will Use It If You Make Us”.

That Military Industrial Complex (MIC) keeps coming up with newer, faster, deadlier tanks and airplanes. They make bigger vehicles to take more men and equipment faster up to the front lines. The MIC is as bad as any dress designer, having to come up with new designs every season, in order to at least match last year’s earnings and to hopefully exceed them. Their stockholders demand a large return on their money! And we’re back to the money that drives the war economy, which is our nation’s economy now. If we stop all our wars, if we bring back to our own native land (so to speak, whose land it really is belongs in another essay)–if we bring back all the young men and women we sent out, our war-driven economy would crash and die.

I think we should let it. I think it’s time to create a productive economy, driven by innovation and invention of things that have nothing to do with war, but everything to do with living a better life. And I do mean better in pretty much every sense of that word. Better for the people living it, better for the planet we’re living on, better for world relations, better for our own states’ relations with each other–a truly UNITED country for once.

War is Hell. And we need to stop sacrificing the brightest, shiniest young people to it. We need to find other ways to settle conflict, ways that truly end the killing and stay fixed on mutual respect and satisfactory conditions for all to live by. I don’t care what the question is–the answer should never first nor foremost, should never ever even be, “War”. War has never permanently solved any problem. The use of force has no “sticking” power–the “other” side just looks for a bigger gun, a faster rocket, another group of young people to sacrifice to the cause.

“Taps” being played at Arlington National Cemetery

We’ve had TWO worldwide wars. We’ve had police actions that were just unnamed wars. We’ve had “neutralizing” presence in places that were just none of our business, all to protect a fossil fuel that is rapidly being depleted. Some day, when it’s all gone, maybe that generation will look back through time at us and laugh at our pathetic attempts to maintain control of that smelly, messy liquid.

Veterans know better. They have seen things that no human being should be asked to witness. They have done things that they are ashamed of, things that they are proud of, the things they were asked or ordered to do because they are American soldiers. And many, many of them died in a foreign country, giving the ultimate gift of their very life to war. What a waste, what a heroic act–and never done for any ideal, but to protect their brothers in arms, to make sure each man gets out of this hell they have been sent to. War is Hell. Never forget that. Never forget the sacrifices made. Honor the dead, keep their memory alive, as they were once alive. Respect their death, coming long before their number of years had been used up. Because war is Hell and not everyone can serve–and not everyone will serve. Maybe someday, we’ll be able to say that “no one must, no one needs to serve”.

A deeply sincere and humble “Thank you” to those who live with the memory of the Hellish war. A silent but sincere intention of thanks to those who died in Hell. It is Memorial Day, a day to remember, to never forget, to live with the hope that we can make it end before too many more of our young people are squandered on a battlefield.

(From World War One, “In Flanders Fields”)

 

The Challenge of the Complicated Conversation: Just One Vote

A few years ago, I wrote an impassioned piece about why voting the 3rd party option—or not voting at all, or leaving the Presidential box unticked for either color—was not actually a feasible choice in elections like the one we had in 2016. The outcome was the usual result: the candidate that won, most people did not choose.

It looks like that’s exactly what’s going to happen AGAIN. Because once again we have an extremely privileged portion of our voting population who refuse to hold their nose and vote for the blue candidate. They might as well check the red box because it will end up giving us all exactly the same result as last time. And down to every last one of them, their song is “it’s just one vote, it won’t matter”—and all together, it adds up to a win for That Man in the White House.

Now I’m not saying that EVERY person who considers themselves to be a liberal, 3rd party adherent says this. That is true in every single demographic you can use. The 2016 election proved that there were indeed enough who believe and said this then. That means that there is enough to make a serious impact on this upcoming election. Those of us who are not happy with the current administration realize this and do not want a repeat. No more “four more years”. Frankly, I also believe that if he wins, this will be the last election we ever have. We’ll end up with “President for Life” Trump, something he dearly wants. He also has the ass-kissers around who will continue to support him as they profit—sometimes literally—from his behavior and actions.

I would suggest to you, dear reader, that any one of these people who say this (and emphatically believe it, unfortunately) have to be incredibly privileged to be able to make that statement. They honestly have convinced themselves that their personal “one vote” is not worth the effort of making any choice at all. They have either no knowledge of all the “isms” that cause inequality and being “less than”—or what is worse, they know but don’t care.

Without making sweeping assumptions about this particular group, I would point out that a lot of them also say that they support Social Justice. They don’t “hate black people” or women, or Latinos, or, or, or. They think the system should support those in need—but it seems to be fairly obvious that they themselves are not black, women or Latino—or any other group that is marginalized, ignored and/or “downtrodden”. I do realize that yes, some of the people who vote this way (by not voting) are of course female. But again, they feel supremely entitled/privileged and have no need to change anything in their own (personal) lives. For whatever reason, apparently they do not understand or are not concerned about those whose lives are not happy for external reasons (like jobs, public treatment, human rights).

If you Google “things decided by one vote” or “importance of one vote”, a long list of results appears. The one result that has always stuck in my mind is that the decision of our national language was decided by that one vote—and so we speak English instead of German. That’s a HUGE difference, right?

The idea that “my vote won’t matter, I won’t choose anyone” is because you only see it as Just One Vote. Each person who believes this, who makes their voting choices based on that premise—each one needs to understand Just One Thing. It’s one vote, yes. But it’s one of MANY that CAN make a HUGE difference. Add up all those “Just One Vote” people and you are quickly talking about enough votes to make historic changes in the results.

And yes, it is historic. The Presidential office has been decided by winning the electoral college over the popular count only 5 times. In 1824 (John Quincy Adams), in 1876 (Rutherford Hayes), and in 1888 (Benjamin Harrison) all won by electoral college. Then we have a gap of more than one hundred years, until George W. Bush President in 2000 (the infamous “hanging chad” count) and then in the last election (2016), we got the current Man In the White House—even though Hillary Clinton won the popular vote. So that’s just 5 in over 240 years, or 60 possible elections.1

By that example, it’s clear that Just One Vote matters every election, but perhaps more in those elections with a popular candidate (more individual votes by the people) can be lost to someone who gains more electoral college votes—but is obviously not the voting population’s choice.

We have been taught that it’s “one man, one vote”—okay, “one person of legal voting age, one vote” (never mind all the added stuff about crimes and etc). The electoral college sort of shoots that in the foot with the way it is currently set up, which is not truly representative of our nation. We can do this by selecting these electors based on population numbers instead of using the number in each state’s associated congressional delegates. (One for each House representative they have, based on their population, and one for each Senator, of which every state has only two). The alternative is not having any electors at all—just abolish the electoral college completely.2

Electoral colleges are used in other countries. The main 3 would be America, France and the Holy See (the Catholic Church in Rome). India, Germany and Italy also have some form; there are about another dozen who have electoral colleges with similar rules to ours. It seems that more than one country (other than these) might have had an electoral college at one time, but abolished it before current times. So we’re talking about 15 or so countries that use this process, out a total of 195 countries in the world.3

 So knowing that, is it truly necessary in our own country? I don’t think so, if only because it can (and obviously has) negate(d) the popular vote and the whole idea of “one person, one vote” upon which we base a lot of our freedoms, relative to other countries that have no elections at all. We have never had an autocratic leader. Before this one. He’ll accept “President for Life” but he’d much rather be “King”. Or “Emperor” even. He continually says that “he has the ultimate (last, final) authority to do such-and-such”—and that he cannot be tried for any crimes he is committing (or has committed) while he is president.

Excuse me! What did the Republicans do to William Clinton while HE was President? Tried to oust him of office on the charge of getting a blowjob, that’s all. In 3 years, That Man in the White House has managed to replace anyone with integrity with people that line up to kiss his ass, people who have been in jail—and have not served their much decreased sentence. He’s consistently chosen inept, uneducated people to take jobs that require specific knowledge, such as the EPA, the coronavirus response team, the head of the DOJ—and they have not disappointed him in dismantling our democratic republic’s government.

He has known Russian connections—they interfered in the 2016 election and are doing the exact same thing to the 2020 election. Putin must bust his gut laughing at us, floundering in the wake of the walking disaster we elected to the highest office in the land. But “we” didn’t elect him. He BOUGHT just enough votes to get the electoral college win. For what it’s worth, I believe that we got the President we deserved. We deserved to become the laughing stock of the world, to fail at every attempt to be noble and good, to live up to the American standards of being “great” because we used to be. We sat back on our laurels and thought we didn’t have to maintain it.

We’ve reached the point where just saying the words “I’m an American” should be enough to give us everything we wanted. Problem with that is, we’re not DOING the things that made us American, that made us great. We have no citizenship, no sense of national pride in anything that WE have done. We’ve been coasting along on the efforts and work of 2, 3 even 4 generations behind us—the ones who were in WWII, who fought and bled and died for a reason.

Our soldiers in the Middle East don’t have that chance. There is no honor, no pride in occupying some place for YEARS, shooting all the people and bombing their infrastructure to bits. It’s all just destruction. It serves no purpose except to keep the American soldier icon going. We walked out of Turkey and left the Kurds, our allies, high and dry with nothing but enemies around them. We left behind the leaders and eager new recruits for ISIS, the group responsible for the 9/11 attack.

Oh, we did some “humanitarian” work, rebuilding some of Afghanistan, that sort of thing. But we’re tossing gasoline-soaked firewood on a flame that’s been burning in that sandbox since the tribes first caught sight of each other. There is NO unification possible in the Middle East. Anyone who denies that is denying the stark religious differences that cause zealotry and wars against all who are “not us”. If they cannot worship what is frequently the very same god together, they cannot live together in peace. Each group believes that only they have the Real Truth and it is their sacred duty to remove anyone who does not agree with them.

Unfortunately, America has developed that same mentality. Supposedly Christian people want to see others “not like us” die or be locked up. They want a return to a “simpler, more Godly time”—that realistically, never existed. If it did, it’s been lost in the modern sandbox of our country—the deification of the corporate entity, recognized by the law as a person with rights comparable to a human being. It has been eradicated by the turn from God and Christianity (or any other traditional religion) to the worship of the Eternal Dollar. Profit at any cost, especially if that cost is “only people”.

Consumerism is the new form of worship and Money, well, Money is a VERY jealous God. It’s created a feeling of “NEED” that supersedes the more common sense approach of want or desire that can be controlled and directed, or even ignored in the times of money scarcity in YOUR pocket. We are trained, like a dog, to buy, buy, buy—even if we have to have 3 mortgages and a maxed-out credit card. Or two, or three…whatever. When you get married, you MUST buy a house, right? That was affordable in 1950. Not so much now. We’ve reached the point where a large measure of our population can’t even afford to buy a car—but we live in a world where you must have one to get a job, and incidentally, to go shopping.

The whole thing was already headed downhill, or we never would have gotten That Man (in the White House). As I said, we deserved it. However I do hold the 3rd party adherents to have some small responsibility for him as well—by not voting, not casting their individual Just One Vote, they helped pave the way for his rise to the Oval Office. I shudder to think what he’ll do with four more years and what, if anything, will be left of the United States of America when he does eventually go, kicking and screaming and trying to hang onto the White House doorways with his fingernails.

I implore, I beg, I entreat these people with Just One Vote: Get out there and vote for whoever the Blue candidate is. I don’t care if it’s Joe Biden, Mr. Clean or Elmo. I don’t care if it’s someone you can “get behind” or not. Once you’ve cast your vote, you can go back to your halcyon bubble of privilege and ignore the whole thing for another 4 years. Stop voting for Jill Stein, who never campaigns, never makes a speech—she just shows up in time to get her name on the ballot and hopes through some liberal application of political magic to get enough votes to get a job she has absolutely no clue about. I’m not even sure she has a background that would let her fake it. All she does is distract from the terrible choice being presented.

We must choose between two old white men. I would LOVE to see a woman running the White House. I would LOVE to see a “First Gentleman”. Or whatever her companion might be. I would love to have a visible change of command, instead of this parade of old white men, Barack Obama being the only exception – and I wish he could have stayed longer. He doesn’t wish that, it’s obvious. Like so many of the predecessors, he came in a young, vigorous man and left with grey hair and lines on his face. He did his duty for 8 years and stepped down. I could only wish That Man would be as gracious. But he’s not known for his graciousness…

Just One Vote is all it takes to remove him now. Just One Vote can be, might be the deciding factor for the whole enchilada. Whose to say that specific Just One Vote isn’t yours?

 

Information from:
1https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_presidential_elections_in_which_the_winner_lost_the_popular_vote

2https://ballotpedia.org/Electoral_College

3https://www.worldometers.info/geography/how-many-countries-are-there-in-the-world/

You Wish You Had a Doctor Like Mine

Log entry, star date 2020.5.8: The crew continues to be lethargic, even careless in completion of their duties. My science officer has immersed himself in some experiment with magnets, glue and skulls. I’m hoping it’s just some requirement for ponfar, sometime soon. My medical officer keeps telling us that he’s a doctor and I fear for his mental health since we all HOPE that he’s the doctor, what with all the random anal-probes he is doing. I am pleased to report that he hasn’t found any Klingons during his exams. Our TP shields are proving reliable, even in this time of shortage of dilithium rolls from the stores. Our chief engineer is having flashbacks to his racing days and calls the bridge several time a day to inform us that he canna go no faster. No one has asked him to. Once Bones settles down, he’ll do a complete exam to settle that problem.
Computer, remind me to tell the doctor I need a refill on my performance-enhancement medication. What had promised to be a very nice and unnecessary to the plot line interlude with Yeoman Rand ended as a real downer, if you know what I mean.
End of log entry.

I hope you haven’t *just* discovered I am a geek. <Grin> I am and I wear it proudly! To switch genres, it’s been a relatively quiet week in Lake Woebegone.

As I tell folks, our routine hasn’t changed that much with the onset of the virus and the quarantine. All of our doctor appointments are either cancelled or moved onto the telephone or video conferencing. The biggest change is the way we game–we’ve gone “high tech” and are also doing that online. For Chewie’s games, his DM(s) use an online application called “Roll20” and recreate their maps digitally. For Chewie’s own game, he has a camera, attached to a scissor arm (think a lamp that can be moved around, but instead of a light bulb shining, it’s a camera, spying) which in turn is attached to a tripod. And that hangs over his battle map, transmitting a video of game play to all the players. The players are all signed in to “Discord”, a free video/voice/text chat application that runs either in a browser or as a discrete program on your desktop (once installed, of course).

His players can see their own tokens and with the grids of the map also visible, can direct their movement. He pushes us around–I mean, he moves the tokens and we play out the game quite well in that fashion. We’ve been playing with this token system for…years and so it’s very easy to shift to a more “virtual” look to it. I have tried the “Roll20” program and find it confusing, stupid complex and difficult to identify discrete items or players. And I don’t find it worth the effort to learn, although I’m sure with a little more effort–and a lot less familiarity with Chewie’s tokens–I could eventually figure it out enough to play.

I’m still using my wonderful Instant Pot nearly every day. I actually made fried rice in it the other day. Keep in mind, I’ve been making fried rice since forever. I have FINALLY figured out two important steps that have made it even more tasty. First, don’t brown off the ground meat and then add spices. Make your sauce: spices, soy sauce, mirin (Japanese sweet cooking wine), rice wine vinegar, fish sauce (nam pla–smells disgusting buts adds lots of savory tasty-ness and you only need a little, like 1 tsp to an entire pot of fried rice although it’s definitely to your taste), mixed together in a bowl and then put into the pan before the meat. Heat it up to a boil AND then cook your meat in that, breaking it apart as the outside is done THEN the meat absorbs the flavors and that increases the “umami” (tastefulness) of the dish.
Second, if you’re not using leftover rice (who has leftover rice?), make that first, before starting the meat/veggies. When it’s finished cooking, turn the rice out on a cookie sheet (I use a silicon pan liner to hold all of the rice and save scrubbing the pan) and spread it out thin. Then, ever so often, as you’re working with the meat, use a spatula and turn the rice over and move it around. The idea is to get it to cool quickly and separate the grains, so that you don’t end up with fried mush.
Add your vegetables: root and thick veggies first, then the thinner and more delicate ones. So: onions, broccoli, carrots first; then baby corn, water chestnuts, bamboo shoots, green beans; then peas, corn kernels (if that’s the format your corn is taking), the white part of spring onions. Save the green parts of the spring onions to slice thinly and then use as garnish.
Now, for the Instant Pot, the recipe changes only slightly. Using the saute function, make that same sauce and brown up the meat. You need at least 1 cup of liquid for pressure cooking. Gather the ingredients in a measuring cup rather than a bowl to make sure you’ve got it. If you don’t want to make that much sauce, then add stock/broth or water. Scrape the brown bits very carefully off of the bottom. (That’s what causes the “burn” error for the pot.)
Cancel saute and close up the pot. Pressure cook on High for 3 minutes. This of course further pushes the sauce into the meat, imparting both depth of flavor and tenderness. Quick release. Open pot, add your various vegetables, all a maximum of “bite-sized” pieces. Just spread them out in an even layer on top. Close the pot again. Pressure cook on High for 1 minute and then quick release again. Stir the rice in, mixing it all very well. If the mixture cools down too much, you can Pressure it on High for 1 more minute with a final quick release and voila! You have fried rice. I wouldn’t do this with less than a pound of meat and 2-3 cups of rice (depending on your rice to everything else ration preference).
You’re welcome.

So let’s do a medical update:
Medications: I am still taking Vicodin. I also take amlodipine and hydrochloride thiazide for high blood pressure; omemprazole (Prilosec) for acid reflux, duloxetine for fibromyalgia; I take gabapentin for neuropathy from the fibro. I take oxcarbazipine (an anti-seizure medication) for bipolar disorder and I inhale fluticasone for asthma.
I have a back brace that tightens like a corset, literally across the spine, which is helping me a lot. It does increase the amount of time I can spend standing and doing things. I did discover that I cannot really put it on in the morning and wear it all day. It shifts when I sit. But since I have figured out how to put it on and take it off, I can do so easily whenever I need to have it on.
I had a telephonic doctor’s visit this week. I had asked for an appointment last week because I was terribly, horribly nauseous. Like, I would have preferred to have thrown up than not, it was that bad. And I didn’t throw up. I was also having vague cramping in the lower intestinal area–not in my stomach, and not stabbing, bend over and cry cramps; just owies that were noticed. I did some research and decided that it was probably withdrawal from my clonazepam (one of my head medications for anxiety). I had been taking it every day and it’s not really a daily type of pill. Beloved suggested that it might have been all the anxiety rushing in, that the clonazepam had been holding back. Either way, it was not fun.
So when I talked with Lori (my doctor), I was able to report that it had subsided but that since we had the time, I did want to talk about something else. So I told her, “I’m not eating. I fix food, it smells great, I eat 5 or 6 bites and I’m done. And mostly, I’m just not eating.” And here is how she replied: “GREAT!”.
Wait, what?
Apparently, it’s great because it means that my body is getting all the nourishment it needs from the stored fat. Lots of stored fat. She asked me how much I weighed; we don’t have a scale, I have no idea. So the last weight she has for me in my records is probably about 3 months ago and it was 203 lbs. The last time I could measure my own weight was at the clinic about 6 weeks ago. There is a scale in the lobby for the vets to use, and I stepped on it on my way out from my therapy appointment and weighed 196 lbs.
Between having no teeth and now, having no real appetite, I have lost a LOT of weight. I have cheek bones and a jaw line again. My double chin is nearly gone.
So once we talked about this and she explained the “GREAT!”, I realize that this is the easiest diet I have ever been on. I just have to remember to stay well-hydrated. My clothes are beginning to NOT fit. I think I even need suspenders for my tights, since I spend all day pulling them back up.
But I never expected to hear a doctor, let alone MY doctor, say “GREAT!” when I said I wasn’t eating. Not the response I had anticipated at all. She’s not Marjorie, who was my doctor for about 4 years, but she’s good and I feel very comfortable with her taking care of me.

So. COVID-19. I am appalled by the lack of timely and adequate response here in the US, thanks to our Greatest Genius, That Man in the White House. I am horrified that the economy is taking precedence over people’s lives, but what did we expect with a failed businessman running our country? I am disgusted by the people who want to end the quarantine–especially those who want to end it so that they can get their roots dyed and nails done. WTF? I am beyond embarrassed to be an American–especially since so many of our citizens seem to be stupid and selfish. Too stupid to be allowed to breed and too selfish to be allowed out without a keeper.
“It’s just the ‘flu.” Which annually kills some percentage of the people who get it that year. And yet, it’s more like a Super’Flu, which has already killed over 60,000 Americans in the past 3 months alone. Bodies are being stacked like cord wood in refrigerator trailers because there’s no way to get them in the ground fast enough. Not enough medical equipment, not enough medical staffing–and the ones that are working are worn out, exhausted and still being heroes every day.
This is serious shit, Karen. Stop bitching about your nails. And if your boyfriend didn’t know that you’re not a natural blond, that’s on you for lying to him in the first place. He shouldn’t be coming over to “hook up” anyway–remember quarantine?
This crisis has certainly shown us what America really is ALL about, at this point. And I don’t like it. Money is God, people are expendable, healthcare is non-existent except in emergency conditions and everyone in the hospital is an emergency because they have no other healthcare. Hoarding is a way of life, even things that will be restocked in 2 days. TP, I’m looking at you. There are some hoarders that will never have to buy TP again, once this is over. They can’t move around in the basement or extra bedroom for all the supply stored there, but hey!–they have stuff to wipe their ass with. No food to eat, but who needs food when you have toilet paper?
Let’s just say that as a people, the Americans are NOT a shining example of cooperation and self-control. What a bunch of spoiled brats we are and how did that really happen?

Don’t get me wrong. There ARE some amazing people out there–common, everyday people, doing their everyday thing without all the drama that we see on TV. And OH! the irony of the right-to-life people appropriating “My body, my choice” so they can get their hair done. And maybe the screaming, pearl-clutching, dark-rooted people are actually the minority–and just the loudest.
I have to admit, we have VERY little of that kind of drama here in Eureka. Of course, our town motto is, “It’s Eureka. Nobody cares.” (What you do.) Everyone goes about their day, making the necessary adjustments for a day with COVID-19 hanging over us–queuing up 6 feet apart at the bank and grocery store, wearing a mask and gloves (and mostly correctly), staying home as much as possible. Lots of the Mom and Pop restaurants are doing pick-up; some are even managing delivery without Doordash, others let DD do the delivering. Our local hardware store is offering curbside pick-up of your order, so you don’t even have to go into the store to buy a new hammer.
I travel in a wheelchair and sometimes I’m in the bike lane, other times I’m on the sidewalk. Either way, if I meet someone coming towards me, they move FOR ME. And of course I always thank them. But I never expect it. Nothing essential has changed here: people are still kind and patient (99% of them); life goes on with daily runs and walking the dog; being helpful to those who may need it (that means me sometimes).

Life goes on. We just take each day as it comes, same as we always have. I hope you and yours are doing well. Be smart, stay healthy!

Talk to you later!

 

 

The Religion of Sports

(Alternate title: The Sport of Religion)


My dearly beloved husband started a conversation with me this morning on this topic—and it has inspired me to take what we talked about and create this blog. He is brilliant and insightful and I appreciate the inspiration of this writing I now offer to you for your consideration.


Please stand for our opening hymn:

(to the tune of “We Gather Together to Ask the Lord’s Blessing”)

“We gather together to watch our sport team play, we’re glad it’s not raining or snowing today;
We’re dressed in our best clothes, our team’s own bright colors
We’ll cheer them on to vict’ry, none can stand in our way.”

[Author’s note: in the following paragraphs, I will use the “[italicized]” brackets to use baseball terminology, rather than writing the entire thing over, substituting baseball analogies for the football ones used here.]

Greeting and Blessing:
Announcer: “Well folks, we’ve got a great day for football [a baseball game]. The crowds are already starting to cheer as the line up is announced. Our star quarterback [pitcher] is back in the game today after 6 weeks’ of rehab for a torn something-or-another and his latest practices have shown that he’s hot and ready to go. Oops, one of the front linebackers [outfielders] tripped over a cheerleader, lucky guy! She’s fine folks, just a little bump, she’s getting up and is still waving those pom-poms.”
(Continued patter until both teams are on the field, with various responses from the crowd, depending on which team they are rooting for.)

“Ladies and gentlemen, please rise and for the National Anthem.”
The Chosen One begins to sing and the assembled peoples join in.
“Oh say can you see…” (continued singing, with some people giving up on the higher notes at the end.) [The crowd screams “Play ball!”]

{Side Note: Any player seen “taking a knee” is booed, stoned (stones available at the fan concessions for just $10 each) and removed from the field, never to be heard from again.}

The crowd is seated and the captain from each team comes forward for the coin toss. [The home team takes the field.]

The rest of the team lines up in their appointed positions. The center passes the ball off to the quarterback. [The pitcher winds up and throws the first ball.]

And so the game goes—doesn’t matter whether it’s football or baseball, or in areas outside of the US, football meaning soccer, rugby, croquet or the myriad of other games which humans have created.

Every human who has ever seen a professional or semi-professional (or Triple A) sports game knows what I’m talking about. The rivalries, the amassing of team items, from hats to jackets to replica Superbowl rings to cars painted in team colors to painting their own bodies in team colors; whatever form a fan’s allegiance can imagine.

The birth-to-death allegiance, the inherited alliance to a particular team as the whole family supports a specific team—perhaps by where they live, perhaps because of Grandpaw following “that team”, perhaps scientifically choosing the “winningest” team. Whatever. It is a religion by almost anyone’s definition of the term. (Religion, from the Internet dictionary, defined as: “the belief in and worship of a superhuman controlling power, especially a personal God or gods.”)

And there are many other similarities. There is the Holy Sacrament; at football games, it’s nachos and beer; at baseball games, it’s beer and hot dogs (that have been boiling in the sacred waters for a LONG time; you don’t want to know). There is a mid-“service” break (the halftime show [or the 7th inning stretch]) which requires audience participation, not unlike singing the “Doxology” at Protestant services after taking in the offering. Oh, by the way, the offering was made earlier, when tickets were bought to be able to attend the service. I mean, the game. The part that could be considered as the sermon is the commentary and summary by the sportscasters.

And like religion, there are great schisms between not only various sports, but between teams within the same sport. There are nasty names to call each of the others—and some of those have been turned into a badge of honor (“Cheeseheads” comes to mind for the Green Bay Packers). Of course, animosity doesn’t stop at name-calling. There is actual violence, even death, caused by the blind adherence to one team over another.

I actually had a “mixed” marriage, sports-wise. I grew up with the Baltimore Orioles and the Baltimore Colts (who ceased to exist as far as I was concerned when Ted Marchibroda stole them out of Baltimore and moved them to Indianapolis). My (ex) husband was a New York Giants fan and a New York Yankees fan. Incidentally, I was also a Protestant and he was Catholic. I suppose one could say we were doomed from the start to not stay married.

Now that I have shown the similarities between sports and religion, let’s turn that upside down and take a look at how religion shows the exact same similarities to sports.

Every religious person has their “favorite team”: Catholic, Jewish, Muslim, Baptist, Lutheran, Presbyterian, Methodist, Shaker, Quaker, 7th  Day Adventist, and so on and on. And they wear those special signs of which “team” they belong to: Star of David, crucifix, cross, the crescent moon of Muslim, the flame and cross, and so on and on.

Once a week, they put on their “team” clothes and go to a special, central stadium building, whether they call it church, temple, mosque, meeting house, fellowship and et cetera. The Announcer pastor, preacher, rabbi, imam, brother, priest, and et cetera leads the game with commentary, in a specific and ritualized pattern. The Welcome, Greeting, Call to Order, “let’s get started” cue occurs. There is discussion of something pertinent to the religion, there are usually hymns, and an offering is taken up (aka, the price of the tickets). A lesson or an admonition or a call to action may be given by the leader. There is a halftime show [7th inning stretch] the choir singing at least one song by themselves.

There is some sort of Holy Meal (not usually hot dogs), with Communion served either weekly or upon special occasions or just whenever it’s traditional to have Blood and Bread. And this is meant only for those who are the faithful, those who belong to the tradition and have proven themselves worthy through public affirmations of their belief in this particular form of religion. One more outward sign of a professed affiliation with this team religion.

After the service, there is mutual admiration of the sanctity of this team’s fanbase congregation and its “winning streak” of attendance and participation. Much shaking of hands, even hugs, to congratulate themselves and each other about how religious they are. How they are the “chosen” ones. And again, no irony that this is the same ritual being observed across the world, across political, religious, and professional sports lines.

And then, again without any sense of irony, most of the congregation goes home to watch Sunday football with the same fervor and zealotry they have shown all morning.

Sports have become religions; religions have become sports and sometimes it’s very hard to separate the two appropriately. I believe in a HUGE difference between “religion” and “spirituality”. I define religion as the “man-made hierarchy created to control and manipulate various spiritual beliefs to their own benefit by the use of other people’s efforts and good intentions—that have nothing to do with the actual religion.” “Spirituality” on the other hand, is the ethereal, uncontrollable urge or desire to actually love their fellow human beings, to work for and to work with others to create a better world through love and acceptance, through the concepts of lovingkindness towards all, without hierarchy or the need for a ladder of importance for its adherents. If there’s a job to be done, someone does it—and it doesn’t matter if they are the oldest, most wisest, most learned person in the room or a child, acting from their emotional tenderness and concern. In the most basic terms, spirituality (or Godliness, or being like Jesus, whatever phrasing makes sense to you) is never about “getting ahead” or “winning the game” or “being in charge” or “calling the shots”—or getting all of the money.

Even the religious “teams” that should be able to worship together (I’m look at you, Protestants) are not above squabbling about what is true, what is the “right way” to do things. And the differences between Catholics and Protestants, then throw in the Jews, the Muslims, the Sikh, the myriads of other named religions and we’ve got the Battle Royale, the Superbowl or World Series or World Cup of who is the Supreme Team. It’s such a HUMAN thing to do. Some people might call it “tribalism”, but this goes beyond a locality or skin color or language spoken.

And like a lot of Sunday armchair quarterbacks, a lot of so-called “religious people” don’t live the life their own holy books tell them to. They only allot one day per week to being a team player, being involved in the team’s specific activities. The rest of the week, you can’t tell the difference between them and those who hold atheist views, or who are seeking something more and not finding it anywhere because they’re not looking for a sport, they are looking for a lifestyle, a way of living a better and more loving life. They want a life that is in harmony not just with their fellow human beings, but with the entire world that we currently inhabit—without pillaging its resources, without destroying entire ecosystems for our own useless gains.

They are looking for a team/religion/spirituality that doesn’t divide, that doesn’t require violence to assert power over others. They are looking for NO violence—they want the very opposite of that, which is universal cooperation and consideration for each living being as a sacred and worthy being merely by its existence. (And I’m not just talking humans here. We do not exist in a void of other living beings, in case you hadn’t noticed.)

We are supposedly the apex of Creation, the “best of the best of the best” and yet there are many animals that put us to shame in their own interactions. And who are we to judge them? We create these artificial divisions, these violent sports, these violent religions because we think we need to prove that some of us are better than others. That is not our call, that has never been our decision.

The current pandemic is proving who is smart and who is an idiot in the simplest way—by killing those who will not protect themselves. Unfortunately, there are deaths because of other people’s stupidity, flagrant disregard for anyone who is not them or theirs. Tired of being isolated in your house? What does that say about the family you have around you? Are these people you would want to die with? Are these really the people you want to live with? Why not?

Think you need to leave the house to get your roots dyed back to suicide blonde? Or go to a restaurant to eat a hamburger? It is not your right to swing your fist where my nose exists. This disease is an excellent way of teaching—teaching stupid people that they are stupid and need to get smarter—or die; teaching those willing to learn that what we have treasured and thought was so damned important is just bullshit, worth nothing at all. It’s teaching us that there is greatness in even the most minor, most underestimated things—medical personnel risking their lives over and over again to help those who are sick. Neighbors who are making sure that their local housebound neighbors have the basic necessities for life: food and toilet paper. (Not hair dye, not a damned hamburger at a restaurant.)

The only thing that will truly defeat the COVID-19, after all the medicines, ventilators, masks and quarantines are over is a complete overhaul of how humans view the world and each other. This will be a VERY different world once we have this under control and the curve is flattened and then deleted. The greatest beings on this planet (as we think we are) are being defeated by something so small it takes a microscope to see it. And we mistake its smallness for being  unimportant, for something not worth our attention.

It is an important lesson to learn that the size of something is not relative to its impact—and that just because something is bigger, it is (naturally) better. The truth of a good life, a spiritual life, that lets you look at your face in the mirror and not be ashamed? Is the truth that life is made up of a myriad of little things. Sometimes, they all add up to A Big Thing, but mostly…it’s just a series of little things that can make or break the whole enchilada.

As human beings, we have gotten caught up in the so-called “big things”—having the right car, wearing the right clothes, consuming consuming consuming all these things we don’t really need; eating super-duper sized meals that don’t taste like food, keeping up with the Joneses and the Smiths and all those other people we don’t really know but are told to emulate. We have lost the little but so terribly important little things: lovingkindness towards all, being gentle to each other, helping others not to gain points for getting into Heaven but just because it’s the right thing to do. We’ve taken the false values of professional sports and incorporated them into our religions and thereby into our spiritual practices, which have ceased to be actually spiritual.

Remember: professional sports are manipulated, racist, violent, divisive, truly benefitting only the franchise—or the owners. The players are used until they are too injured or too old, then they are tossed aside like used toilet paper. The fans are manipulated into buying overpriced team items, usually made in slave factories—and you need new stuff every year, especially if your team has won the ultimate trophy. It’s expensive to be a hardcore sports fan—and it’s become a sign of wealth to be able to sit in a box or in the sideline seats, ignoring the game while you peruse Twitter or your stock portfolio. Professional sports are not for the common man any more, since most people cannot afford to buy tickets for their family, buy food at the game, and pay for parking on anything resembling a regular basis. It’s almost a trip to Disneyland for a lot of folks—that special, once in a lifetime game.

And religion? Isn’t faring any better these days. It’s manipulated, with bully pulpits exhorting their congregations to vote for some particular politician (definitely breaking down the separation of Church and State); it’s racist, violent, divisive and truly benefitting only the franchise—I mean, the pastors themselves. No man of God should own Armani suits—not even one. Nor drive a car that costs thousands of dollars, or a multimillion dollar home. And hiding behind the LIE that “oh I don’t OWN this, it all belongs to the Church” is a scam.

As I often do when talking about this sort of thing, I return to Matthew 25: 36-41:

“31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.
34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’
41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’
4 “They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’
45 “He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’
46 “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”

Two commandments: Love your God, Love your neighbor. Just two. Forget the Old Testament. And then 6 tasks; the first three are basic human needs that everyone deserves to have met. The second three are about social justice (and the acceptance of the stranger, the criminal and the ill—in other words, the people in our societies that are frequently ignored, or worse, despised.) These are not hard things to do—or perhaps, given how we behave, they are the most impossible things to imagine trying to do.

But do them we must, if we expect to live a spiritual life. I’m not even concerned with getting to Heaven at this point. I’m just talking about a world that is kind and caring, where basic human needs can be met so that people have the time to work on something besides basic subsistence—like finding their own abilities and strengths, feeling secure in their lives and not having to worry about food or housing or healthcare. Where they have the time to think, to ponder, to wonder about anything and everything—to be creative, to find out who they really are and to end up being the very best version of themselves.

Even those multibillionaires don’t have this in their lives—because they worship money, and it is a jealous and demanding god, leaving no time to attend to the spiritual work that is the most important thing anyone can do. No matter what form it takes for an individual, living a spiritual life has profound impact on that individual and every other being they come in contact with. And it can be an ever-widening ripple, if we are all trying to live that life.

We don’t need religion; we don’t need a manmade hierarchy of rules and prohibitions and prejudices to tell us how to live a spiritual life. We especially do not need it if our religious worship is not recognizably different than our worship of professional sports.

 

© April 2020, Kathleen G Chmielewski
No reproduction without permission

The Third Party Solution

From: “De-fund the Komen Foundation”

September 16 at 8:09am ·

I think our piece about third parties should have included the mention of a presumption of progressive desires. If you are a true progressive and you do anything that assists Donald Trump in going to the White House, you are really not a true progressive.

Yes, that means if you do not vote for Hillary Clinton.

Actually, it did say that. It mentioned the Supreme Court. And still there are those who will dig their heels in the sand and insist that they have the best interests of the country at heart, but are too stubborn to vote for one of the two people who have a mathematical chance of winning.

Neither Jill Stein nor Gary Johnson has a mathematical chance of winning.

So pardon us if we don’t believe that you are true progressives. Electing leaders can be a strategic practice at times. A Clinton administration will not kill the country. That’s four years. Eight if she does OK. The 49ers’ losing streak is longer than that.

A Trump administration could be the most devastating event the United States of America has ever faced. Well beyond its time, it could seat three or four hostile Supreme Court justices and lead to a slew of catastrophic rulings that set events in horrible motion for three decades.

Donald Trump is not your Joe Average Republican. He is not just objectionable with respect to policies. He is a monstrous human being with virtually no knowledge of how government systems work. He has zero boundaries. His potential for damaging international relationships is frightening. His idea of resolving personal issues is staying up all night and drunk-tweeting female reporters. He is wholly unfit.

This is not a difficult choice. And your “ethics” are a personal luxury for you that could be life-changing in a very negative way for others.

So again, please vote as you wish. But don’t expect anyone to believe that you are voting with a sound progressive conscience. Part of being an adult is understanding that your options may be unfavorable and distasteful to you, but because your actions have consequences for others, you choose the option with the lowest potential for disaster.

If you have followed our page for the nearly five years we’ve been operating, you will know that our main focus is women’s reproductive justice. Abortion rights are hanging by a thread in 2016. The thought of anyone who claims to share our values actually refusing to vote for the Democratic nominee is infuriating and unfathomable.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

My response:

Another look at the 3rd party option and why, even though it is a noble cause, it is a pipe dream that can end our government by splitting the vote and DTNS wins. I understand the reasons why the 3rd party option people are so set on their candidate. Hell, I even agree with some of it. BUT we’re not talking about an ideal situation where someone not in either major political party could end up leading the country.

Let me speak to the 3rd party option folks directly: I completely respect your right to vote for whomever you choose. However. It seems like a lot of you are living in some other country than I am, some place where the not known, not campaigned, not in the public eye person truly stands a chance to become President. I’ll be honest: I’m not sure I want the current choice of 3rd (through 14th, or however many “other” parties there are) candidate simply because I know NOTHING about them. I have no idea where they truly stand on the nitty gritty details of running a government. Wanting a cleaner, safer world? We all want that. Wanting a change in how our government works? We get that about every 4 years, maybe 8. Not all of your candidates have any political experience. Showing up at the polls every 4 years thinking you have a chance to be President is naive, at best.

If the 3rd party folks are so enthused about their candidate/s, why aren’t they out there, raising money, putting out information, having their guy/s on national news shows, giving interviews, and all the other circus acts that go into the elections, at least 2 YEARS before the election they want to run in?

It’s a given that if you want to be elected to the highest office in our land, the people need to know your name and what you’re about. It feels to me like the 3rd party option is a secret club, where they know what will fix the country…but no one else knows about it. And then the candidate/s are popped out of a box just a couple of months before the polling date and we’re expected to consider them viable alternatives.

To be very clear on this: I personally HAVE voted for the 3rd party option, not once but twice in the past 20 years. I voted for Perot and we got Clinton. I voted for Nader and we got Bush43. I have seen the historical results played out. Remember, Lincoln was the last President to run as a 3rd party–and his party was the Republicans.

We are not at a time where voting “our conscience” for the 3rd party is going to do a damned thing–the 3rd party candidate/s will lose and the votes that could have gone to sanity and competence will be lost to the walking joke of Cheetoh yam.

Please don’t argue with me about the “will lose”–history has proven, time and again, that the 3rd party option is a fallacy. And it will be a fallacy until the parties beyond Democrat and Republican actually get out there, get on the down ticket elections, gain some obvious political experience and then actively campaign AGAINST the Dems and Reps during the campaign season. They need to establish themselves as well-known as any other candidate, and do so long before voting day.

http://www.slate.com/articles/health_and_science/climate_desk/2016/09/gary_johnson_thinks_climate_change_doesn_t_matter_because_the_sun_will_eventually.html

https://medium.com/@aaronloeb/on-your-way-to-the-camps-i-just-want-you-to-know-92a6dbf7c0ac#.m8ebyrc55

THIS is the reason the 3rd party option crowd needs to stop and really, really think about what voting for Jill Stein means. I hate to burst your bubble, but a snowball stands a better chance in Hell than your candidate stands to win. Why? Nobody’s heard of her; she has no political experience; there is no media coverage nor a long-term campaign process for the Green Party–except showing up to vote every 4 years and often changing the government without getting their candidate in office.

We’re not going to talk about “two evils”, “there are actually 3 or 4 parties” or any other pat and rote Green Party platitude. Instead, let me explain this flat out:

IF you vote for Donald Trump, he will become President and that will be the end of the world. Really. In his first national security briefing, DTNS asked THREE times why he couldn’t use the nukes. He is already recognized as world class for being a racist, misogynist, liar, arrogant, out of control so bad his own party is trying to figure out how to get him out of the race. He SAYS that he’s a billionaire. I say that’s a lie, considering that he has 5500 lawsuits pending against him as well as being $630 million in debt. To the Russians. (There’s no conflict of interest there. <sarcasm font>)

IF you vote for Hillary Clinton, she will become Madame President and that will mean the world will keep on spinning. I understand that she has a bad reputation–most of it manufactured by the multi-million industry of making her look bad. She has served our government faithfully and to her best ability for 25 years. She has consistently worked for the rights of women and children. Does she have her faults? Don’t you? Most importantly, she doesn’t consider the nuclear option to be the starting point of foreign relations.

IF you vote for Jill Stein, you WILL split the votes and Donald Trump will win. If that concept doesn’t bother you, enjoy your privileged status as women, the elderly, people of color, the poor, the disabled all lose the rights and protective laws we have worked for the past 60+ years to protect us are taken away, nearly overnight. Enjoy living in a country where the worst of mankind is the highest level of achievement. Enjoy living in a country where there are currently 47% of all our families living on the brink of poverty–that number will only increase. Not slightly in debt, but in POVERTY: no home, no surety for food or safety. Once you don’t have an address, it gets hard to get a job that actually pays a LIVING wage. Oh, and that LIVING wage will never be made as the MINIMUM wage will be gone and you’ll be glad to have a job making $3 an hour. If they aren’t all outsourced…or have foreign workers brought into the country, which is the same thing. Wave good-bye to the EPA, FDA, OSHA and all other protective governmental departments. Good bye to National Parks. Wave good bye to a safe and assured infrastructure. Good bye not only to the minimum wage, but to “right to work” and no benefits. Good bye to the ACA, the best healthcare provision the Congress would allow and could be (have been) the first step towards truly universal healthcare, where each citizen would receive the medical treatment(s) they need to be healthy.

You’d better be a part of the 1% to avoid all of that–or you’re going to be part of the rest of us and have to reap what you are trying to sow.

Everything that you believe in, that is a part of your own party’s platform will be gone, shattered into dust, never to return, if DTNS wins the highest office in this land.

There may not be any more elections after him…he’s just that crazy.

 

Ok, 3rd Party option voters, let me mansplain something to you. (“Mansplain” holds more power than “explain”, it seems.)

THIS is how your voting for the 3rd party candidate can cause the loss for Hillary and ENSURE that DTNS (Donald Trump, Narcissistic Sociopath) will be our next President.

And then there’s this idea that swirling around on the ‘webs: (From an essay by Caroline McCain, John McCain’s granddaughter) “And I started to realize that for some, “voting your conscience” has become a euphemism for protecting your own self-interest. An exercise in privilege.

If I’ve heard anything from my friends who are gay, my friends who are black, my friends whose rights have been pushed against and infringed upon while mine have been neatly protected, it is this: there is a real fear that a “vote your conscience” movement could siphon #NeverTrump votes away from Hillary, and in a cruel turn of events, a nation’s conscience is sacrificed to elect a clown.”

“An exercise in privilege” that many, many people do not have–and those people are the very ones who will be discriminated against, vilified, pushed into second class citizenship. Please, please reconsider voting “for her” not as a “hold my nose” vote, but as an honest move to help protect those people YOU KNOW; your gay friends, your black friends, your immigrant friends, your disabled friends, your female friends: wife, mother, daughter, granddaughter, aunt, grandmother…

From the Green Party platform: “Committed to environmentalism, non-violence, social justice and grassroots organizing, Greens are renewing democracy without the support of corporate donors.” You do realize, don’t you, that DTNS doesn’t believe in climate change (he thinks it’s something China is doing to us); he has not only proven he believes in the violent means of retaliation for just about anything, he has actively encouraged his followers to violence against those who speak out against him. He has ZERO concept of social justice (so fuck everyone who is not a corporate white male). He is a Narcissistic Sociopath, which means that he is the center of his Universe and no one, NO ONE, can criticize or challenge him without immediate and extreme, often verbally abusive, reaction. His response to the DNC? “I wanted to hit them”, repeated in several different ways. Violence is his answer to anything he doesn’t like. And if he doesn’t like it, it needs to go away. Like immigrants, foreign allies, Democrats, uppity women and anyone else who won’t bow down to him. Add to that his choice of VP, who, as DTNS says, will be responsible for the day-to-day running of the Presidency as well as our foreign policy. Google Mike Pence and see what he has voted for, what he has voted against, and what kind of influence he has had over Indiana and their laws. Now imagine that on a national level. Makes me shudder.

If DTNS wins, everything you stand for will be shat upon and trampled by his “Brown Shirts”, aka his campaign team and Brute Squad–and his followers. Is THIS worth risking to “vote your conscience”? Can you afford to risk splitting the vote sufficiently to lead directly to his Presidency? What will your conscience say then? And how will you face those you know who are going to be devastated (financially, emotionally, perhaps even fearing for their lives) by the Presidency That Man would have? Are you prepared for a country that will become everything we have tried to eradicate? I’m not fear-mongering, I’m telling you this based on everything we’ve heard out of DTNS’ pie hole.

And as I’ve said before: on November 9, start the campaigning and organizing the 3rd party option, from the town dogcatcher all the way up to the White House.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Mark Amore

September 28 at 4:56pm ·

Listen, I’m not going to change your mind and you’re not going to change mine.

If Hillary’s emails bother you but the 22 million deleted emails during the Bush/Cheney administration – also on a private server – don’t, I can’t argue with that.

http://www.pbs.org/…/w…/web-video/missing-white-house-emails

If Benghazi bothers you, and the 13 embassy attacks during Bush (where 60 people were killed) doesn’t bother you, I have no argument for that.

http://www.politifact.com/…/prior-benghazi-were-there-13-a…/

If you think the Clinton’s running their charity (a charity with an “A” rating with CharityWatch.org, that has 88% of its contributions going out to charity and not overhead and has a higher rating than the Red Cross and United Way) is a conflict of interest, while having no desire to know where Trump’s money comes from – which is now from all foreign sources, because no US bank will loan him money anymore – AND if you had no problem with the conflict of interest with Dick Cheney running Halliburton and making BILLIONS during the war in Iraq, then I have no argument for that.

http://www.factcheck.org/…/where-does-clinton-foundation-m…/

https://www.charitywatch.org/…/bill-hillary-chelsea-cli…/478

If you have women and girls in your life who you want treated with respect and don’t have a problem with Trump’s rampant misogyny, I have no argument for that.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/…/18-real-things-donald-trump…

If you don’t find Trump’s praising of Putin and Kim Jong-un alarming, I have no argument for that.

http://abcnews.go.com/…/controversial-dictators-lead…/story…

If you’re OK with voting for someone who is against LGBT rights and has stated that his supreme court pick(s) could overturn marriage equality, I have no argument for that.

http://www.hrc.org/…/donald-trump-opposes-nationwide-marria…

If you have no problem with someone who has gone on and on and on about Bill Clinton’s infidelity while he has cheated on his first wife with his second and his second wife with his third, then I have no argument for that. ALSO, BILL CLINTON ISN’T RUNNING FOR OFFICE, HIS WIFE IS.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/…/8e31fe68-834a-11e6-a3ef-f3…

If the list of proposed Supreme Court nominees that Trump put forth doesn’t scare you enough to crap your pants, I have no argument for that.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/…/new-trump-supreme-court-l_b…

If Trumps history of racial inequality doesn’t bother you. I have no argument for that.

http://fortune.com/2016/06/07/donald-trump-racism-quotes/

If you have no problem when you hear Trump go on about how companies are shipping their jobs overseas and how he will stop this, while his suits are made in Mexico and his ties in China, I have no argument for that.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/…/how-many-trump-products-w…/

If Trump’s use of his charity’s funds to pay personal debts and buy paintings of himself don’t give you pause, then I have no argument for that.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/…/adc88f9c-7d11-11e6-ac8e-cf…

I you think that Trump’s a good businessman and will be good for our county’s economics, when knowing about how many of his companies failed, I have no argument for that.

http://www.rollingstone.com/…/donald-trumps-13-biggest-busi…

If the charges of fraud on Trump University and the scandal of his “donation” of $25,000 to Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi, after which she stopped her investigation into Trump University don’t bother you, then I have no argument for that.

http://www.newyorker.com/…/trump-university-its-worse-than-…

https://www.washingtonpost.com/…/trump-pays-irs-a-penalty-…/

If you buy into the smear campaign against Hillary and don’t get that so many on the right have – and have HAD – a hardon to get Clinton for what… 30 years now? And have spent MILLIONS of tax dollars to get her on something and have gotten NOTHING, NADA, ZILCH, ZERO. 30 years of half truths, lies and some bat shit crazy lies (my favorite being the one where she has killed so many people that it would make Hannibal Lector seem lazy!) repeated incessantly until the gullible and uneducated take it as truth, then I have no argument for that.

http://www.dailykos.com/…/6/…/1541728/-The-Thirty-Year-Smear

And if you think Trump is the better candidate, I have no argument for that either.

And the reason I have no argument with that? Because as I wrote earlier… I’m not going to change your mind, and you’re not going to change mine.

SO IF YOU HAVE A CONTRARY OPINION TO ANYTHING THAT I’VE WRITTEN HERE… POST IT ON YOUR OWN DAMN WALL!

We’ll have to agree to disagree.

From <https://www.facebook.com/?sk=h_chr>

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Jim Wright

4 hrs · Milton, FL ·

Folks, I’ve gone out of my way to be respectful of your views.

But if you are now sending me angry messages about Jill Stein and Gary Johnson, then I must speak bluntly to you.

Neither Johnson nor Stein are going to be president. Ever. Never ever. Get used to that idea.

Neither should be president.

Neither Stein nor Johnson is in any way qualified, both are less qualified than Trump, and their party platforms are goddamned ridiculous fantasies. Dangerous fantasies in some cases that are fantastically ignorant of how the world actually works.

Now look, I’m NOT saying that the idealism of the Libertarian or Green Party platforms is not in some cases admirable. Nor am I saying that those ideas aren’t something we should work towards, some of them anyway.

But we are now out of time.

Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump, one of them, is going to be the next president. This is simple fact and if you can’t wrap your head around that, distasteful as that may be for you, then you’re in the wrong place.

We are out of time and you must now face it.

You want to call it voting for the lesser of evils? Fine. I think that colors your thinking, but if that’s what you want to call the situation then fine by me. Here’s the thing about evil: if you have the opportunity to make the world less evil and you don’t take it because you just can’t get your hands dirty, because for you it’s all or nothing, then you’re the problem. Society, humanity, civilization, doesn’t work that way and never has.

Now, if you write to tell me it doesn’t matter, that your state is all tied up one way or the other and so YOU can vote however you like and it doesn’t matter, but swing state voters of course must vote for Clinton so YOU don’t end up with Trump and you can’t see what a fucking selfish asshole you’re being, then I am very likely to speak rudely to you as I have now reached the limit of my patience with this nonsense.

Yes, I am very much aware that I will right now lose readers over this post. So be it. I’ve pulled my punches on this subject long enough and we are now out of time.

We are out of time.

Clinton or Trump. These are the choices.

Face it.

From <https://www.facebook.com/?sk=h_chr>

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
http://pleasecutthecrap.com/the-myth-of-third-party-viability/
(from: http://bluevirginia.us/2016/09/handy-positions-table-progressive-environmentalist-millennial-etc-even-thinking-voting-gary-johnson )

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Bruce Tenenbaum

September 29 at 10:04am ·

I keep hearing that this election is about choosing the lesser of two evils. Not to me it isn’t. To me this election is about this – there is only one candidate qualified to be the president of the United States, one candidate with the experience, skills and policies to lead this nation. The rest are freaking clowns.

Now, before we look at the clowns, let’s look at the one candidate who has actually made a positive difference in the lives of Americans. As First Lady, Hillary Clinton helped the State Children’s Health Insurance Program, the largest expansion of taxpayer-funded health insurance in three decades, become law. As a Senator, she was a key architect of the $21 billion federal aid bill that helped rebuild New York after 9/11. And she is well remembered for the health bill that served first responders in the first 48 hours after the attack, fighting the EPA to admit the air wasn’t safe to breathe. She also helped put the Lilly Ledbetter Pay Equity Act into law and authored the Pediatric Research Equity Act,

As Secretary of State she negotiated ceasefires in Israel, set a record by traveling to 112 nations, advocating for human rights, development, and equality, helped bring down Osama Bin Laden, got the EU, Russia, China and other world powers to participate in the crippling sanctions on Iran that forced the country to negotiate its nuclear plan out of existence and became a symbol of women’s rights and women’s progress everywhere.

What’s her competition? Clown #1, Donald Trump, is a racist, sexist, xenophobic, know nothing, loudmouth with no experience, who lies 75% of the time, can’t talk in depth on any issue, says creepy sexual things about his own daughter and has never done anything to help anyone but himself. After 9/11 he bragged that his building was now the tallest in New York and he bragged about how the housing collapse in 2008, that destroyed American lives, was an opportunity for him to make money.

If you call yourself a liberal or a progressive and you think voting for clown #2, Gary Johnson, is a viable choice, you haven’t looked at the issues. Look at them, there they are below. Besides being wrong on almost everything, in recent interviews, Johnson had no idea where the center of the Syrian civil war was and could not name a single foreign leader. Previously, he justified not spending much money on fighting climate change because “in billions of years, the sun is going to actually grow and encompass the Earth…So global warming is in our future.”

Lastly, there’s Clown #3, Jill Stein, the perennial candidate who is always running but never getting elected to public office, would have no idea how to get anything done once in office and would have no help in Congress to get any of her policies made into law. She has no chance of doing anything but siphoning votes from the one liberal who CAN make a difference, Hillary Clinton. A vote for Jill Stein can only help Donald Trump get elected. Unless you’re a right wing racist, sexist, xenophobic, climate change denier who is opposed to lessening the burden on students, providing health care to all and raising minimum wage, a vote for Jill Stein is a vote against everything you believe in.

I am posting this on Throw Back Thursday because it is my firm conviction, that a vote for anyone other than Hillary Clinton will throw back the clock more than three decades, to the Nixon-Reagan era when appointments by those men began to push the Supreme Court conservative, leaving the era of Miranda Rights, Voting Rights and Women’s Reproductive Rights and taking us into an era where the Court blocked gun control, stripped Civil Rights legislation and told us corporations have the right to influence our elections.

So, look at the positions of all the candidates below and make a sensible choice this November. Only one candidate can make a positive difference in our lives. Only one can push the Supreme Court in the right direction, reverse some of the terrible decisions of the last 30 years and protect the good decisions like Roe V. Wade from a conservative assault that would almost definitely happen under Donald Trump.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
See this chart here:  http://bluevirginia.us/2016/09/handy-positions-table-progressive-environmentalist-millennial-etc-even-thinking-voting-gary-johnson

Folks, we agree that every candidate creates issues of various natures for us. But there’s the side-by-side view of the top three (based on polling). Jill Stein doesn’t have enough support to be a viable candidate. And for those of you who think that Gary Johnson is the best candidate, please, please read this carefully. Once you get past “pot for everyone, let the gays marry and abortions okay”, you’re looking at a platform that very closely mirrors David Koch’s 1980 platform when he ran for VP. And note where Gary Johnson thinks that Citizens United should stay active–he is being funded by the Koch Brothers and their ilk. Remember, he was a Republican governor. I’m not saying that he’s some sort of election counter-agent. It just seems a little too much of a coincidence that the majority of his platform is the Republican line, opposing anything that helps the people and lowering tax rates for the rich, to include getting corporation taxes down to zero. Most of the corporations are already getting tax credits back. Imagine what would happen if they were having to pay no tax at all–that extra money would NOT be shared beyond the boardroom, trust me.

It’s time to set aside “conscience”, which at this point has really come to mean “privilege”. If your life isn’t going to change regardless of which candidate becomes president, good for you. But there are millions of Americans, predominately those who do not have a fleet of lawyers or a gold toilet, who will suffer greatly–and not just in a sad moaning that their guy didn’t win. We’re talking those who are the least able to take care of themselves, who need the help from social services, from fair labor policies, not “Right to Work”. These are people who count on public education, having a good infrastructure–roads, mass transit, etc. These are people who need to have healthcare that will not pauperize them.

This election has reached the point where instead of just blindly screaming your candidate’s name, you need to look at the CONSEQUENCES of their election and look at it closely. Who truly has the best possible outcome for all of our citizens if elected? And remember, while the media continues to holler about “Clinton Scandals”, there truly is a right-wing industry to smear her name with lies if they can’t find true wrong-doing. They have been regurgitating the same lies and half-lies for 30 years now. Don’t think of all the scandal associated with any candidate. Just look at this list and decide what will be the best thing for our country. Not just for you!

Mother Nature is Balancing Her Books

     I firmly believe that Mother Nature (or as I like to call Her, “Nature”) will ALWAYS strive to keep a balance on our planet. I do mean the entire planet: every plant, rock, living creature, weather systems, mountains, beaches–and oh yes, human beings. Every single thing that is a part of the world, whether we acknowledge our part in it or not. This may come as a shock to some of you, but Nature is not giving any priority to humans. We are no more important to Nature than any other piece or part of the world. And in fact, given our behavior, we may actually count less than most other living beings.
     Climate change, severe weather, volcanoes, earthquakes, mudslides, hurricanes and typhoons–all of these are ways to change ecosystems and keep the overall balance.* Extinction of various species also figures into this keeping balance–after all, Nature’s first and most important rule is “Adapt or die.”. Humans ignore this, because in our greater “intelligence” (ignorance of the basics of life is more like it), we seek to subdue Nature, to overrun Her, to “put Her in Her place”–which is usually never within our daily lives.
(*Note: climate change has always existed; ask the dinosaurs. Human beings have only accelerated it, modified its cycles, messed around with the timing by our intrusion into things like burning fossil fuels and industrialization.)
     I’ll take a moment here to point out that Toxic Masculinity extends to the very Mother that gave us life and sustains us as an entire species. We treat Mother Nature about as well as any other woman is treated in today’s society, which is to say as a second-class citizen, only important for what she can do for men (be an incubator) and not worthy of equal rights and opportunities.
     Pandemics are just one more tool in Mother Nature’s toolbox. It is one of the ultimate tests of “Adapt or die” and has been, since the beginning of time. Our lives are actually a constant war to develop immunity to each new disease as it comes along. And the diseases are also developing, mutating to attack in new and different ways to succeed in their quest for life. These epidemics/pandemics also occur among animals and plants, since Nature doesn’t single out any particular life-form for culling back the numbers.
     Let’s face it, human beings have well exceeded the ability of the Earth to care for us. Our population numbers are comparable only to viruses for sheer amount. Our ravaging of the very places we live is a behavior not seen among the “lesser” animals because they never get the chance to overgraze every pasture or kill off every single prey animal. The balance is maintained by supply and demand, based on Nature’s generosity. When there is a glut of baby rabbits, the wolves then have more pups to take care of them. When the rabbits are gone, so are the wolves. Elephants are nomadic, because the amount they eat in a day would rapidly denude an area if they didn’t move around the distances that they do. Predators follow the herds or schools of various prey animals, never eating all of one kind, leaving only the strongest and most determined prey creatures to reproduce. It’s an eternal contest, to see if the predators can be smart enough to catch food and if the food can be smart enough to avoid being eaten.
     Cheetahs are actually beginning to go extinct on their own, with no blame to be laid at man’s feet (this time). They are not changing enough, evolving fast enough, to keep up with their prey that is adapting and getting faster. And it’s not just speed; the prey use calls to warn each other when a predator is sighted. Some herds have look-outs as birds who eat the bugs on them find it advantageous to alert the herd to predators rather than missing out on their own dinner.
     So…returning to Homo Sapiens as a collective species on this planet. Keep in mind that when we refer to human beings, we do INDEED mean every single human being. No excluding anyone. No bias against gender, color, race, national origin, religion, political standing, level of education or how much money they have–or don’t have. We are talking about every wee babe, from moments old, to the most aged centenarian. We are talking about the peoples of every nation, on every continent. And this is such a massive number that mere humans cannot actually conceive of that number.
     We can only really contemplate about 150 distinct people in our heads, which is why a car crash that kills 6 teenagers is more horrifying to us on a visceral level than the deaths of ten thousand in a tsunami. While they’re both sad to us, one hits us on the gut level (the teenagers) and the other is a mental exercise in “well that was a LOT of people”. Part of that gut response is the cliched comment that “it could have been me” or “it could have been someone I know”. The tsunami? Is just some vague concept of a lot of people and we can’t personalize it down to being “me or mine”.
     This difference in how we perceive tragedies also extends to our prejudices against other groups of people “who aren’t our tribe” and is the basis for every bit of hatred and disenfranchisement that exists. If you’re not gay and don’t (think you) know anyone who is gay, you have no interest in giving basic human rights to “that kind of person”. Substitute any other word that is used to divide: black, Muslim, immigrant, “person of color” (if you are white) and so on. If they aren’t “like” you or the people you know (that tribe of 150 in your head), then you honestly don’t perceive them as being equal human beings. Maybe not even human beings at all.
     By technology, industry and brute force, we humans have been forcing our agenda onto the Earth. We ignore ecosystems and the interconnection between all of them in our attempt to gain more of everything and anything that we want. Land and water are eternal sources of food and comfort for us; we never stop to count the damage we are doing–or the depletion we are causing. Our industries strip the land of its native/natural protections. We dig enormous hole without any thought as to what happens to the exposed substrata. We push water between rock layers, deep in the ground, to extract those precious fossil fuels–and leave poison and gaps, causing earthquakes in areas that had never felt even a mild tremor before and seeping oil into drinking water supplies.
     We pave Paradise and put up our parking lots, our apartment complexes, our vast and wasteful cities–all without any concern, not even one thought, about all the life that is now gone from that place. Killed or displaced without even an acknowledgement that we’re doing it. We build steel and concrete jungles where real jungles used to be–and then wonder why the temperature goes up and the weather changes.
     We move across this planet as if we are somehow not an intimate part of the intricacy of this incredible and very much alive global system. We act as if nothing we do has any cost or effect on the natural world because we fail to identify ourselves as an inherent part of that very same, very natural world.
     And I believe the bill for our lackadaisical destruction is coming due for our time. It’s come due before; the Black Plague, the Spanish Influenza, Pompeii, Atlantis, Krakatoa, the 1906 San Francisco earthquake, any tsunami that killed more than 100 people and all the other world-affecting disasters. I’m not counting the things we’ve done to ourselves, like any of the major fires in metropolitan areas or Legionnaire’s disease or terrorism.
     This world, our human world, is faced with a pandemic of a new virus that no one has seen before. It is related to both the common cold and influenza. Yes, people can–and are–dying from it but like its cousin, “the ‘flu”, it will be deadly to those people who are already in a compromised health situation, like the old, the very young or those having diseases that are complicated by other illnesses.
catstoiletpaper
     Panic has apparently become the “go-to” response, like no one’s ever seen any illness before. Washing our hands should should have already been a part of our normal routine, because there’s ALWAYS some sort of virus or bacteria that’s trying to get us. (That’s their job; what doesn’t kill us, makes us stronger.) And using antibacterials (like Purell) to kill off everything is just setting us up for super germs that we won’t be able to fight because we haven’t practiced on the weaker germs first. Soap and water works just fine. In fact, water by itself can do it–if you wash LONG enough.
     No kissing? No shaking hands? No hugs? NO CONTACT?? The obvious result of eliminating all contact with each other is that the first germ to come along would be able to kill us because we’d never build up any immunity at all.
     While most of the world seems focused on the whole germs and sickness aspect of this, there’s a lot more consequences to this pandemic than just dying. First and foremost, what if you don’t have paid time off? How do you “self isolate” if you MUST go to work? What if you are forced to stay home anyway, because your place of employment has closed? What money will you have in a week, two weeks or a month to pay all of life’s little costs. You know, rent, food, heat, Internet connection. What if your place of employment stays open, but your childcare center closes? Just carry that line of thought out to its logical conclusion.
     Let’s say that you do have some savings. Are they enough to tide you over some undetermined time of isolation? What if your “savings” are actually in stocks? You are aware that the market is crashing, spectacularly.
     In fact, here is an article which explains what’s going to happen: Coronavirus will bankrupt more people than it kills–and that’s the real global emergency.
     And all the gain that had come since Trump’s win? Is gone, gone, gone.
     The newspapers are generating updates:
     The Republican Senate is up to its usual shenanigans: Senate GOP blocks emergency paid sick leave from moving forward
virusonmcconneldesk
     (Fuck the rest of the world, am I right?)
     And while Trump was willing to go right ahead and reduce food stamps, one judge was having none of that: Judge Blocks Rule That Would Have Kicked 700,000 People Off SNAP
TrumpMessiahGodPlague
     Frankly, those headlines make me more worried about the state of our government than the state of my health in response to this whole coronavirus issue.
     I think that the panic is a completely fabricated sideshow, to keep us from paying attention to what is really going on in Washington D.C. Oh, the disease is real, the calamity of it is certainly real–and it is global in effect. We are not the only nation being faced with the realities of a communicable disease loose in the population, particularly a disease that can kill us. But stockpiling toilet paper and Purell is not the answer. Hunkering down in our homes is not the answer either. Like the common cold, you’re not going to know until you have it that you got it.
Cleanassholes
     I refuse to live in fear. I acknowledge my compromised immune system. I’ll either get the COVID-19. Or I won’t. I’ll be sick. Or I’ll die. Or I won’t. Life is all about balance and so I will find the new balance to adjust for this pandemic. I’ll make a point of washing my hands more often. I won’t kiss strangers and I won’t do any deep kissing even with good friends. I’m not going to stop hugging people–but I won’t hug people who don’t want to be hugged. I’ve never done that anyways. I always ask first: “May I hug you?” and then go from there.
Exiledforthegoodofthekingdom
     If I begin to have symptoms of a flu-like nature, I’ll stay home (“Exiled for the good of the realm”, that’s me!) and only infect my husband, who probably gave it to me in the first place. There’s no telling. If I get very sick, I will seek out medical help, either at my VA clinic, which is the first place to go–or to the ER. I hope to be able to get tested, but if there are no tests available, then I come home and be as comfortable as I can while fighting the symptoms. Maybe I’ll get better, maybe I won’t. I can’t control that outcome, so I accept whatever happens.
     And if I leave this mortal coil, know this: I lived my life in balance as best as I could, for as long as I could. I lived a full and joyous life, I have loved and was loved, and I have never, ever lived in fear. And I do not fear Death, whenever it shows up.
     I hope that keeps me in good standing with Mother Nature and helps maintain the balance for all of this world I call Home.
Namaste and Peace!

 

It’s Time for Stone Soup

Coronavirus. No worse than the ‘flu. Wuhan. Don’t touch your face. SARS. Hand sanitizer. Symptoms. Travel ban. Trump rallies. CDC. CORVID-19. Testing kits. Cruise ships. Toilet paper. Common cold. Bump elbows. Self quarantine. Stockpiling. NBA season suspended. Disneyland closed. Pandemic. Thousands of deaths.

If you haven’t heard about the coronavirus, you must be new around here. CORVID-19 is the most current and most talked about version of a coronavirus. There are other types, such as the common cold and SARS. The entire family of germs gets its name because of its common shape, with an edge that has a “crown” (“corona”). Parts that stick out, if you will.

solar corona
The Sun
coronavirus-photo-1
Coronavirus

So that’s enough science for the moment. You can see the similarity.

I have a real problem with the fact that the USA, as a so-called “First World” country, is one of the countries that is failing the worst at handling a disease epidemic. Not enough testing kits, people being refused the testing that is available “because they don’t meet the criteria” (whatever that may mean), and general panic in the streets because no one really knows what the effect of this virus going through our population will actually mean.

It’s almost amusing, the insane panic over toilet paper. So you’ve got literally cases of TP at your house. Swell. What are you going to eat? Do you have basic over the counter medications to handle things like fever, aches and pains, a cough? And the usefulness of hand sanitizer has been debunked before. Killing ALL of the germs means your body never gets a chance to “practice” being sick with diseases that won’t kill it. What happens when it meets something that will? As the old adage goes, “the farmer’s children are the healthiest kids–because they play in manure and among “dirty” animals all day long”.

I suggest that the actual cause of death for however many people end up dead at the end of all this furor will be the ones who were ignorant. You know, those who did not understand basic science, who didn’t grasp “cause and effect”, who believed our Glorious Leader when he said, “Just be calm, it will go away, it’s not that big a deal”. You know, that same Glorious Leader who is continuing to meet with people who have been exposed to the virus, shaking hands, and having rallies with lots of people in attendance.

That’s an epidemic waiting to happen.

BUT. Fear is not the answer. It never is. Being afraid of contact with others, being afraid to go out, being afraid you’ll run out of toilet paper…these are technically all forms of mental illness. And let’s face it, not a single one of these things will either prevent catching CORVID-19 OR helping to treat it if you do. Isolation, because that’s what we’re actually talking about here, is not the answer. Humans do not do well in isolation. We are not meant to be alone, just by ourselves, without contact and interaction with others.

So yes, the world has a problem with a disease that can be deadly. “No worse than the flu” is probably the most accurate description–mostly because people often fail to realize that each season, there is a certain percentage of those affected who do, in fact, die from the flu. Even with flu shots. Look up the term “Spanish Flu“. That was the last worldwide pandemic, caused by what most people casually refer to as “the flu” and don’t think anything more about it. “Flu” is actually a shortened term for “influenza” and it is always mutating and changing–which is why the CDC comes up with its recommendation for what specific strains should be used to make this year’s flu shot. It’s generally NOT deadly, except to a small and specific part of our population–the elderly, the already ill, and children–all of whom have fragile (or “broken”) immune systems.

I have often wondered if our modern cleaning methods are more responsible for the increase in illness than an actual increase. We strip mine all the germs out of our households and no one has any chance to encounter a microbe that might make us a little ill, giving our immune systems a chance to learn how to fight disease when faced with a greater illness. Are we cleaning ourselves to death? Remember the farmer’s children. Let your kids play in the dirt–and even eat it. Don’t over-sanitize because like every other part of our bodies, our immune systems need a regular workout to function.

So I personally am not going to freak out about CORVID-19. I’ll either get it, or I won’t. I’ll either get sick, or I won’t. And it will either kill me–or it won’t. And I say this knowing that I have a compromised (“fragile” or impaired) immune system. I’m not going to stop hugging people, I’m not going to Purell my house, I’m not all that concerned about running out of toilet paper. I can always use washcloths or shower to clean up after doing my dooty.

Basically, I’m not going to panic. I don’t have the energy for that shit anyway. And a life lived in fear? Is a life half-lived. I refuse to live in fear. So even trying to anticipate the very worst scenario that this illness can bring just means that I think it’s time…to make Stone Soup.

“Stone Soup” is an old, old story, with local variations but always the same basic idea. There is a village (town, hamlet) that is poor and everyone keeps to themselves because they have so little they are afraid to share. A traveler comes to this place and knocks on the first door, asking for some food. He/she/they are refused. So the traveler pulls a magic rock out of his pocket/picks up a rock off the street/goes back down the road aways and finds a rock to bring back and somehow, also has a large pot. He returns to the same house and knocks again, this time asking if he can use their stove to make “Stone Soup”.

The villagers let him in and he puts water in the pot, then adds the rock. It boils for a while and the traveler tastes it. “Is it ready?” asks the villagers. “It is almost ready, but if you had some salt and maybe a carrot, it would be even better.” Well, they do have salt and a carrot, and they add it and it cooks some more. Gradually, each villager comes to see what the cooking is about and is asked if they have some single item to put into the pot to “make it better” and of course, at the end, they have a pot of soup with enough for the entire village and everyone has a good meal.

It is a story about learning to share the little you have with everyone else’s “little”, enough to make a feast for all.

So many people in our own country have only the barest of necessities most of the time. But instead of hoarding or stockpiling the things we *think* we’re going to need, we need to share all that we have with each other. The government cannot bail us all out–and won’t, as long as we are perceived as “less than” because we are not rich. Social services (food stamps, school lunches, welfare) are being cut, not enlarged. The elderly, disabled and disadvantaged are the specific targets for reduction/removal from the government budget because they are perceived as “not worth the effort”–the exact opposite of those tax cuts for the very rich, which are considered pretty much “mandatory”.

It’s up to us, those same elderly, disabled and disadvantaged people to cling to each other and support each other because we can no longer count on help from anyone else. Our entire economic system is designed to give money to those who already have more money than they can spend in their lifetime–or their children can, in their own lifetimes. The government actively aids and abets this “upwards” flow of wealth, ensuring their own share of it by passing laws that essentially punish anyone for the crime of being poor.

The nation’s economic status is determined by Wall Street, by imaginary numbers of transactions that are nothing more than shuffling paper around, by the chances that some commodity will sell at some unknown, only guessed at, price at some vague point in the future. This growing pandemic is proving that and with a vengeance–as the “market” crashes more and more each day, stopping trading and causing a great panic of its own. (At least amongst CEOs, shareholders and day traders. Don’t even talk to me about “hedge managers”. That has nothing to do with shrubberies and much more to do with fixing horse races, in a manner of speaking.)

So…back to Stone Soup. And how can we incorporate its lessons into the current maelstrom of disease, government lies, quarantines, and pandemic? What can we do, those of us who are not rich, who don’t have the resources to buy up all the toilet paper, who must work or starve–so quarantine for 2 weeks is so out of the question, we can’t even think about it. What do we do?

Common sense. (So rare as to be a superpower.) Stay as healthy as you can. Eat well, get enough sleep, see your doctor if you feel ill. REAL LIFE: Eat the best that you can, even if that means fast food. Sleep as much as you are able; rest whenever possible. If you don’t have a doctor, find out what kind of healthcare you can get–open door clinics, Medicaid, whatever it takes. Now is not the time to be proud…and sick. Be aware of how your body is doing, and if you suspect that you have a new feeling of sickness, especially if it’s a “flu-like” feeling, treat it immediately, to the best of your ability.

At some point, you may have to decide which is worth more: your job or your life. Act accordingly. Be humble enough to ask for help, anywhere you can find it. Be generous enough to offer help if you can, as much as you are able to do.

I have a pot, a large pot, filled with water. And I’ve put a stone in it. I’m making Stone Soup.

For me, that means that I am still going out of the house. I still do my shopping, I am still going to my social engagements (which is small groups, not rallies or rock concerts). If I need to cough, I cough into my elbow. I keep my hands washed (with soap and water) but I don’t use hand sanitizer unless I am out somewhere without a sink. (For example, I have to use it when I enter the VA clinic, as part of their new protocol for limiting the spread of the virus.)

I don’t go out when I feel bad–because if I feel bad enough that bed is where I want to be, then bed is where I NEED to be. It keeps me safe from everyone else’s germs and it keeps everyone else safe from mine.

I still give hugs, but no more French kissing strangers. Just kidding, I never did that. I don’t even do the “air kiss” thing. I still shake hands. Physical contact is a vital part of our humanity. It reminds us that we are all interconnected, whether we acknowledge it any other way or not. I still talk to strangers, with or without masks. And I don’t wear a mask because they don’t actually stop germs from getting in. Unless the mask seals around the nose and mouth…and eyes…you still have nice moist and welcoming landing pads for whatever is floating in the air.

So what can you bring to my Stone Soup? It doesn’t have to be huge, it doesn’t have to be a lot. It could as simple as an extra cheap hamburger, handed off to that homeless person. It could be a casserole, dropped off at the door of your neighbor’s house to minimize exposure but still allow them a hot meal. It could be a gift of toilet paper to someone who has run out–and can’t buy any because the stores were glutted. The possibilities are as endless as your own imagination. It need not be anything grandiose or expensive–it might even be something that had no cost to you–just something that you can share with your companion humans, as we circle this bright yellow ball in the blue room.

Smile at a stranger. Don’t worry if they don’t smile back. Allow someone to go ahead of you in a line. Take a moment to look, really look, at the flowers and trees around you–or whatever glimpse of Nature where you are. Pet a dog. Or a cat. Wave at a baby. Listen to someone who needs to talk.

You get the idea. Don’t let the fear of “pandemic” block your ability to be human, to interact with other humans. Be sensible about disease, of course–but don’t let it dictate how to live. Remember to live, now, in this moment. You can’t be sure of the future, virus or no virus. And even if you don’t have a lot to give, give something. There’s always someone else who has less than you and would appreciate your sharing.

stone_soup_700x300-2