Saturday, March 11, 2017

From TRANSITIONS a journey in words


NOW



I have been standing – waiting – waiting

Waiting to move closer to the edge

Slowly – imperceptibly – moving toward the brink

Slowly – imperceptibly – removing myself from those around me

The path wanders, my journey falters, appearing to cease

But always – always moving closer to the edge

Where I must step up to the brink and declare my faith

And the willingness to stand alone – and face the darkness

1/19/78

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

From my book - TRANSITIONS


I AM NO ONE HERE



I call my name
And no one hears

The song began so long ago
I heard it once
And did not know

How clear the clouded dreams
Seen only by the blinded heart
Or so it seems

Soft and gently across my soul
Outrageous winds
Continually roll

We claim the mystery that is ours
As despair retreats
Before silent tears of joyous hours

1984

Sunday, February 12, 2017

WHAT ARE YOU AFRAID OF?



I’m trying to understand the exteme conservative mind, and after considerable reflection the conclusion I reach is that it is driven by a combination of fear and insecurity.  Almost all popular conservative policies and ideas have a negative connotation.  They aspire to deny or take something away from others.  They do not want women to have the right to choose in regards to abortion.  They do not want to allow gay men and women the right to marry.  They not only want to restrict welfare and food stamps, but they want to demonize and punish the recipients.  They are against the science of global warming, and they dislike unions.  They refuse to allow Muslims into our country. They are afraid, almost obsessed, of people getting something they don’t deserve.  They would rather deny help to many, so the few do not get undeserved help.  This fear renders them incapable of offering forgiveness, i.e. amnesty, so they support policies that would tear apart families and punish children, policies devoid of any compassion or caring for fellow human beings.   They are willing break up families in their eagerness to deport illegal immigrants.  One cannot avoid hearing the harshness in the voices offering policies that demean so many citizens of this country, while they benefit the wealthy and the powerful.  There is meanness to their tone and name calling, blaming the poor for being poor, and the needy for being needy. In their minds, people are poor because they are lazy, and if everyone adopted Ayn Rand’s attitude there would be no poor people.

 They not only strive to cut funding to education, but they ridicule the educated, and mock science.  Their America seems to consist only of their “base”, and their extremism eclipses any meaningful presentation or discussion of the full compliment of conservative ideas and policies.  

Together, these positions suggest a very narrow worldview that readily embraces a rigid, fundamental and authoritarian type of faith.  “Fiscal responsibility” trumps compassion.  Extreme conservatives appear to be fearful of losing something they value; wealth, position, or prestige.  At the same time, they are fearful that others may get something they do not deserve (think welfare recipients).

Liberalism’s openness to change frightens conservatives who cling to the comfort and security of the familiar.  I believe they are afraid of a new world and new ideas that takes them out of their comfort zone.  They need the security of the past, a past that has been kind to them, if not the rest of the citizenry.  And they hide their fear and insecurity behind the giant screens of, Christian fundamentalism, the evils of “big government”, and the myth of the self-made man.

Taxes have been demonized, stripped of all the civic services they allow our government to provide, because government itself is evil.  This promotes their real agenda, enhancement of the establishment and the moneyed corporations, by preventing much needed government regulations to protect us from the unscrupulous actions of too big to fail banks and industries.  (Unfortunately their “liberal” colleagues often join them, as they kiss the asses of their cash-giving supporters.)  They want a 19th century government to serve us in the 21st century.


This extreme thinking not only goes far beyond classic conservative thinking, it threatens our country with its “my way or no way” attitude.  Valuable conservative policies and ideas are lost amidst all the inflammatory rhetoric.  We are not a country of conservatives, or liberals.  We are a country of conservatives and liberals, and to succeed we must find a way to respectfully serve both.

Extremism, conservative or progressive is understandable, and even healthy, but only when accompanied by a willingness to compromise.



Tuesday, February 7, 2017

My political rant regarding Donald Trump



Let’s be clear about something.  My opposition to Trump is not the ranting of a disappointed Democrat who is upset over some conservative policies (although I am that.).  I have lived quite well through many Republican administrations. No.  Mine are the rants of an American who is frightened by the policies of an inept, vengeful, megalomaniac, who is threatening the very basic tenets of America’s character.

I am appalled over comments and actions that threaten freedom of the press.  This president cannot accept the criticism that every politician has to endure.

This president cannot accept judicial decisions that oppose him, so he denigrates the courts and the judges.

This president wants to establish religions standards to our immigration policies.

This president repeatedly lies to the American people to instill fear and present himself as the savior who is the only one who can fix things.

This president has most members of his party cowering in fear, and unwilling to oppose him, embracing policies that only a short time ago they rejected. 

This president is only concerned about one thing – himself, and has conned enough voters and a political party to serve his own egotistical needs.

Donald Trump represents everything I despise in a person.  I find nothing in his character than inspires trust, confidence and respect.

I do not like people who constantly boast about themselves, about how smart they are, and especially about how much money they have.

I have no respect for someone who uses his or her “weight” to bully, denigrate, and belittle others, or uses their position to take advantage of those who do not have the ways and means to defend themselves.  To me that it is sign of extreme insecurity, as is the need to strike back at every perceived slight.

I have no respect for men who abuse women, mentally and physically.

I do not like people who lie blatantly and repeatedly, and dodge all responsibility for what they have said or done. 

I dislike ostentatious behavior and posturing.

I despise name callers.

I have little use for someone whose entire worldview evolves around himself, and how much better he is than everyone else.



Thursday, February 2, 2017

RED V. BLUE AS I SEE IT



I think this; you think that.  She sees this; he sees that.  They believe this; but you believe that.  We think, see, and believe in such contradictory manners that our country seems to be severely fractured along cultural, political, and religious lines.  What accounts for such conflicting opinions among people with seemingly similar backgrounds and educational levels?  Nature, nurturing, and experience seem to share a role in how we establish our opinions as adults. 

Someone raised in a family with strongly held beliefs, liberal or conservative, is more likely than not to share those beliefs as an adult.

Then there is our DNA.  We are born with certain basic “mind sets” or psychological profiles that play a role in determining our worldview.  Introversion and extroversion are probably the most well known examples of this.  (And there are many more?)  I would like to propose two polar mindsets that are at work here: fear and insecurity opposed by hope and trust.

These are traits buried deep within our psyche where they quietly exert their influence on us.  They are not feelings or concerns that we are consciously aware of in our daily lives, yet they determine many of our life choices.  I find it helpful to look at many of our contemporary social and political conflicts within this framework.  I have listed in separate categories, but they all share these fundamental differences.

Absolute v Contradiction & Relativity

Fear and insecurity can be relieved by beliefs in absolute, infallible truths that cannot and should not be questioned.  They provide the comfort and security of a foundation that erases conflict, doubt, and contradiction.  The appropriate authority provides the answers to any question.  The authority can be a father, a man of the cloth, a sacred text, or a political prescription that points the way.

This is in contrast to those who are suspicious of authority and continually question it’s edicts.  They prefer to explore endless options in an attempt to gain insight and understanding.  They see gray instead of black and white, and are more likely to recognize nuances that preclude simple answers.

Simplicity v complexity

Some see the answer to current social and economic problems in very simple terms, and have no need to get involved in issues and notions that only complicate matters. 
Opposing them are those that want to expand the search for answers to questions they believe demand more than a simplistic response.  As is so often the case, each extreme shares part of the truth, but sadly they cannot see it, or they refuse to see it. 

The individual v Community

Here the virtues and desires of the rugged individual come face to face with the need to coexist with a growing and diverse community.  Our liberties as individuals, more than ever before, have to be weighed against our responsibilities to the community and the common good.  The 21st century bears little resemblance to its predecessors, and some of the liberties of the frontiersman are no longer practical today.  This polarization can be seen in conflicting views of the roles of government and major corporations, states rights, and how the Supreme Court interprets the constitution.

The Past v the Future

History offers us facts, describing events, recording dates, and documenting people and cultures.  It also provides us with fodder for myths, and the opportunity to remember times that were never quite like we remember them.  The “good old days” were not so good for some, and outright bad of others.  Whatever was in the past was in a country and society that no longer exists.  There are valuable lessons to be learned from history, but some feel more attention should focused on what lies ahead.  The world is rapidly changing; bringing us problems we have never faced before, problems that past experience alone cannot resolve.  America in the 21st century bears little resemblance to 18th century America. Change can be frightening.  There is comfort and security in the familiar, even if the familiar is associated with some unpleasantness.   For some, it is easier to deal with the known than face the unknown.  To be open to change, and to embrace new ideas and new ways of interpreting the world, requires trust and confidence, and a willingness to take risks.  It leans heavily on a strong sense of hope and optimism.

I have described these traits in a broad and general manner to make a point.  In fact they are not so clearly defined, and many individuals share some from both ends of the pole.  And I make no judgment regarding them.  My point, no, my passion, is the need for us to see the middle and to be willing to listen to one another and be willing to compromise.  We cannot succeed as a democracy without it.








Sunday, January 29, 2017

LIFE IS SACRED??



 Once again the sounds of pro-life/anti-abortion forces are gaining voice in the current political climate.  We read and hear a great deal about the sanctity of life, and are admonished that life is sacred, a very appropriate sounding concept.  Unfortunately it is either not true, or if it is true our society pays no attention to it, except when it serves our cause.  Let me elaborate,

If life is indeed sacred, then we should, under NO circumstances, without exceptions, willfully destroy a life.

But few of us would accept that position.  If we, or our loved ones, were threatened, most of us believe it would be appropriate to defend ourselves, even if it meant taking a life.  But as soon as we accept that premise, we are saying…Life is sacred, EXCEPT if we are protecting ourselves from a predator.

But what about war, and that thing we call collateral damage, where innocent people, not predators, are being killed.  That becomes acceptable because those lives are sacrificed for the common good, saving more lives in long run.  After all, war is war, and so we now have another exception to the sanctity of life.     

And then there is the death penalty, where we routinely kill people because of what they have done, or tragically, what they have not done.

Now we have three exceptions, and I’m sure with a little more effort we could find several more.  

So when someone claims they are “pro-life”, and that they believe in the sanctity of life, what they are really saying is this; they believe life is sacred, but with several exceptions with which they agree.  And I believe that once you begin making any exceptions, then the sanctity of life becomes a hollow refrain.  So let’s drop the sanctimonious banner about life being sacred. The real argument is about the exceptions, and how we, as a civil society decide what they should be.  Since the issue regarding abortion is so divisive, why don’t we let individuals make their own choice rather than force one them?

Saturday, January 28, 2017

IS CONSERVATISM DRIVEN BY FEAR & INSECURITY?


I’m trying to understand the conservative mind, and after considerable reflection the conclusion I reach is that it is driven by a combination of fear and insecurity.  Almost all popular conservative policies and ideas have a negative connotation.  They aspire to deny or take something away from others.  They do not want women to have the right to choose in regards to abortion.  They do not want to allow gay men and women the right to marry.  They not only want to restrict welfare and food stamps, but they want to demonize and punish the recipients.  They are against the science of global warming, and they dislike unions.  They refuse to allow Muslims into our country. They are afraid, almost obsessed, of people getting something they don’t deserve.  They would rather deny help to many, so the few do not get undeserved help.  This fear renders them incapable of offering forgiveness, i.e. amnesty, so they support policies that would tear apart families and punish children, policies devoid of any compassion or caring for fellow human beings.   They are willing break up families in their eagerness to deport illegal immigrants.  One cannot avoid hearing the harshness in the voices offering policies that demean so many citizens of this country, while they benefit the wealthy and the powerful.  There is meanness to their tone and name calling, blaming the poor for being poor, and the needy for being needy. In their minds, people are poor because they are lazy, and if everyone adopted Ayn Rand’s attitude there would be no poor people.

 They not only strive to cut funding to education, but they ridicule the educated, and mock science.  Their America seems to consist only of their “base”, and their extremism eclipses any meaningful presentation or discussion of the full compliment of conservative ideas and policies. 

Together, these positions suggest a very narrow worldview that readily embraces a rigid, fundamental and authoritarian type of faith.  “Fiscal responsibility” trumps compassion.  Conservatives appear to be fearful of losing something they value; wealth, position, or prestige.  At the same time, they are fearful that others may get something they do not deserve (think welfare recipients).

Liberalism’s openness to change frightens conservatives who cling to the comfort and security of the familiar.  I believe they are afraid of a new world and new ideas that takes them out of their comfort zone.  They need the security of the past, a past that has been kind to them, if not the rest of the citizenry.  And they hide their fear and insecurity behind the giant screens of, Christian fundamentalism, the evils of “big government”, and the myth of the self-made man.

Taxes have been demonized, stripped of all the civic services they allow our government to provide, because government itself is evil.  This promotes their real agenda, enhancement of the establishment and the moneyed corporations, by preventing much needed government regulations to protect us from the unscrupulous actions of too big to fail banks and industries.  (Unfortunately their “liberal” colleagues often join them, as they kiss the Asses of their cash-giving supporters.)  They want a 19th century government to serve us in the 21st century.


This extreme thinking not only goes far beyond classic conservative thinking, it threatens our country with its “my way or no way” attitude.  Valuable conservative policies and ideas are lost amidst all the inflammatory rhetoric.  We are not a country of conservatives, or liberals.  We are a country of conservatives and liberals, and to succeed we must find a way to respectfully serve both.

Extremism, conservative or progressive is understandable, and even healthy, but only when accompanied by a willingness to compromise.