While highly distracted with love and hope (I fell for someone – on my face!), I managed to read three good but very different books…
Worry for the Worst; Quest for the Best
We worry for the worst. Wary gets scary. Relations grow reactionary. We’re susceptible to this, but built for better.
On the eve of the most important presidential election in American history, and in the spirit of a realistically scary 2020 Halloween, I slog through this dismal blog with a scary featured image, not to dishearten you, but rehearten you. We need to face realistic fears to move to practical hopes.
Just a year ago we hadn’t heard of Covid. Usual political and climactic worries were the norm.
The rhythms of abundance show grapes, free at the street.
The youth of my town rallied against Trump (as had the women earlier). For the first time since the 60s I saw the youth wizen up to the ugly and dangerous trends our alledged president was and is promoting.
But accidents portend a dangerous time in America.
My injured finger is nothing compared to the endemic threat and harm endured by people of color. Fortunately, I live in a town that objects to that. Our chief of police also took a knee for 8 minutes and 46 seconds.
Meanwhile, all the usual work must proceed.
Sometimes you have to rig a fix to bring things into square. We need to do this for America, because the powers that be (part of a fascist resurgence around the world: Putin of Russia, Erodowan of Turkey, Dutarte of the Philippines, and Bolsonaro of Brazil, who are controlling their journalism and media while imposing armed troops to quell any popular democratic movements) are blocking our access to voting while ignoring both climate change and the Covid 19 threat, while instead imposing yet another rabidly conservative Catholic on our Supreme Court.
“Nothin’ could be finer than to be in Carolina in the mor-ning,” I whistled, except for the AR-15 shots a few lots away. “Ka-pow, pow, pow, pow, pow. Po-po-po-pow. . .” A hundred dollars in ammunition shot out on a Sunday, warning all neighbors how angry and armed a Trump supporter is. Mostly, the decent folk of Madison County aren’t like this. But enough already, riled-up, self-righteous rage-aholoics try to bully their way to renewed and unleashed power. I cringe. I resent. I worry an internal infection sickens the American public.
We’re trying to repair and upgrade our democracy with injured hands. The murders of blacks by police grow normative, as if thats how police are supposed to act. (What ever became of Andy of Mayberry or Barney Miller?) We hear of mass murders in Mexico, “our” bombing poor people in Yemen on behalf of the Saudis, journalists killed in Turkey and Russia, and all this while ignoring the floods and fires of climate heating in the one country that could and should lead in fixing this huge predicament. In the U.S., our alleged president attacks our media and press, calling them the fakes, resenting them for reporting truths while lying in every speech he gives. We have to get our work done in spite of all this, not because our society is creatively cooperating.
Brain science has learned our emotional centers deep in our brains are prone to be worried and wary. Our amygdala and related areas are quick to doubt, to fear, to defend, to hate. This is easily played to in books, movies, and, by design, in political campaigns, rousing up emotionallized reactions.
Watching distopias for entertainment is one thing. Deliberately creating distopias for political and monitary power is far different. Tauting the kill-or-be-killed nature of a whole society is promoting a death-cult. Egged on by conniving rulers, cheered by mad-mob frenzy, worry worsens to ruin. It creates the condition it fears.
Rather than empathize with black lives mattering, protesting frequent examples of innocent black people being gunned down (by racist police who face little correction or restraint, sometimes shooting them 17 times on the ground; were the policemen still “worried for their lives” after the first dozen shots?) too many instead blame blacks and protesters for such upheaval as happened in Portland. This, even after it is known the initial person to have started breaking windows and getting the riots going was a white supremacist trying to rile up chaos that could ignite a civil war. Mike Pence knew this when he blandly flipped the Black Lives Matter mayhem onto the protesters, blaming them for the riot ignighted by a white supremacist and fueled by people stealing stuff. Then unbadged, unnamed men in official-looking military garb began rounding up protesters, not so much the rioters.
Add to this militarized racism the uncaring trans-national corporations that profit from us and our earth but lobby/pay the remnants of our government to not regulate the situation. We many grow hotter and poorer as a few get richer than rich. Con-men and psychopaths are duping us to death.
The innerly urged title for this blog was the deliberately provocative and descriptive, “America Can Go to Hell.” I don’t want that to happen, not in the imaginary hell they scare the kids with (brimming with sadism, shame, and hate) no, and especially not here in the real one our alledgely advanced world could create. I say “No” to hells imaginary and actual.
We’ve had enough world wars and holy wars for one civilization. We’ve had enough of slums, gulags, and epic tragedies. Enough of inquisitions and extinctions. We don’t need more of the hell we Europeans have tended to create.
I’m for the former western ideal where, for “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” (Even this can be dangerous, for the western King in heaven that many worship can be quite devilish indeed.)
This western vision and ethic is similar as in ancient Chinese teachings. For them, the ruler is endowed with the “Mandate of Heaven,” bringing a recriprocal heavenly ecological and social order to the willingly involved. But when upheavals, floods, fires, and chaos bring ruin, the people have the mandate to overthrow their failed, unwise leader, which is much as Thomas Paine and Jefferson similarly endorsed.
I think of this when I still see Trump regarded as some sort of religious king. He toys with declaring himself as second only to Jesus. He teargasses protesters in order to pose with a Bible (held upside down) outside a church ironically welcoming all to the church he desn’t attend when the “all” he welcomes are his white, rich freinds.
Instead of stumbling along with a false-god play-king who botches his lands, lets his people die, and has to be overthrown, we might better vote him out and remember the good stuff we freeborn earthlings are made of and start understanding and utilizing the magnificent discoveries of the last few hundred years (about geologic age, tectonic plates, undersea and overland bio-systems, the hugeness of the universe, the smallness of the stuff of the universe, the interactive chemistry and weather of our atmosphere, the workings of health and healing, the tendencies for various societies to live harshly or happily, the abilities of humans to live free and fulfilled lives rather than ordered and enslaved ones, the advisability of trusting our inherent human freedoms and abilities to craft economic, ecological, and technological bounty, the taking abundance from the soft, free forces of sunlight and wind cleanly giving us our ease rather than having to kill whales or each other for it, the realistic possibility of living long, happy, healthy lives in an ever-improving earthly garden of Eden, etc.) and put this good, natural bounty to the service of lifting us all more cooperatively and creatively.
Sure, that’s a long, bulky sentence and paragraph, but you see, I’m writing a few feet away from the charred waste of the recent Almeda Fire that burned down three thousand of my neighbors houses!
Just south of here, California is having yet another worse-than-ever firestorm during yet another hotter-than-ever summer. Wetter areas of our planet are drenched and drowning in worse-than-ever floods. Politically, rather than address this climactic predicament, or heal the animosity of a civil war-like divided society, we endure our system being gamed to install yet another political shill as life-long judge to keep the fossil fuels burning, to nudge gun-toting zealots to greater daring and (devil-cheered) glory, and to impose a shallow, punitive “morality” on us all, protecting unborn lives while tormenting born ones. The people languish for lack of vision.
We are in a hideous time of a hard year. All that exemplifies the crude and cruel worst of America is in full power. It is power over, not power with. It is win/lose, not win/win. It is us against them, and the them is now us. Trump claims we’re a “third-world nation” and he regards us with the same distain and disregard as he has for, in his words and mind, those “shithole” countries. We are under systematic attack, the same sort mindset and techniques that fueled Nazism and the Inquisition. It is utterly deplorable, but we’re not supposed to say so for fear of offending those deplorable people cheering on a psychopathic clown leading America to a hellish distopia.
Every dismal failure of our country is largely due to the fallen theology of western conservative religion. They base their worldview on our being born fallen, prone to sin, easily tricked by subtle deceivers. They trick us out of our inherent goods to pursue their fallen versions. They assume and impose selfishness, dog against dog (which mostly, dogs don’t do). Our prisons are stuffed with those thrown in because of a judgmental and punitive “zero tolerance” stance. Jobs are up for prison guards and ICE agents. Billionaires have made almost a trillion dollars recently while more and more people lost their houses and hopes. Journalists are tossed aside here and murdered in other fascist countries. The climate worsens as the fossil fuel companies continue to finance liars to mislead us. Covid spikes upward again.
There is some hope Americans will throw out, not only Donald Trump, but the demented, sleazy, hypocritical Republican Party that enables this madman. I say this from a prophetic religious tradition. They are utterly deluded and basically evil, imposing their ill-gotten power on us. If America can’t see and reject this, then indeed, America can go to hell.
Lest we think a rosy end to a dismal and sloppy blog post fixes things, here’s another close-up of a creature indicative of our president and the condition of our country.
Enough rant. My hand and head are healed. Perhaps by the time you read this my country will have chosen to heal up too.
Americans are worn, weary, and wary, but there is hope and wisdom alive in our women, youth, men, and some decent public servants. (Fortunately, I live in Oregon where good people represent me.) We’re challenged, but we can reclaim our government, society and environment.
The scared and hateful amygdala region of our brain has more neurons going out to pause the higher functions of our prefrontals (where rationality, creativity, and compassion reside), but by exercising our thinking ability, we empower our thinking to not be so reactive. We can move from fear to love.
Even with a sore hand, I got this built.
Then my hand healed up enough for me and my son to build a retaining wall.
And I got to spend a day with my other two sons in lovely Lithia Park.
My beard has grown longer (I hope to play Santa this year in Ashland) but not my height. My sons tower above me – not just in height, but in being high-quality guys.
Thanks for reading my hasty blog. I haven’t summed up the danger or the remedy, but I’m heartened by my sons, the women and youth of our time, by blacks realizing they’re worthy and they matter, and by all the decent men and women who, maligned and neglected, still help rescue and revive an America worthy of becoming a New World.
It’s a shame that it isn’t the best of us old white guys that are running for president currently — but it’s also too bad an earth-aware woman isn’t in the running. (Where’s Alice when we need her? Oh, yeah — she’s on Zoom.)
I’m happy to see that your beard is still growing ….
This was a potent blog, carrying the spirit of healing throughout. Thank you for that encouragement.
Thanks, Jim. I was not going to promote it (because it is harsh and sloppily-written) but Trumpist truck intimidation in Texas and KKK-connected sheriff okays of pepper spray in North Carolina prompt me to have my say.
Great blog brother❗️ Where is Alice when we need her? (I liked your friends comment) very fitting. It’s looking good for Biden, at this time in time.. Here’s to hoping for the good to out way the bad??
The young men look great! Say hi for me. It was good to see all of your faces! Much love?