Archives for category: War and News of War

Too many holiday reports of violence against family members, loved ones, children, partners… fucking hell, where did people ever get the notion that it is acceptable to act with violence upon those that are dear to them?? It sickens me.

…I’ve been angry, even enraged, even felt “righteously” so, such that my own actions seemed to me to be both inevitable & necessary, and also wholly justified (which did not and does not make it true, ever). I also managed not to kill anyone. Just saying. Don’t kill people. Don’t even raise your hand against them in anger.

Notice I haven’t said anything about men killing women, women killing men, etc; violence is not a gendered issue. You can say what you’d like about who kills more of whom, but the simplest of truths is that the life of another human being is not yours to take. Doesn’t matter what your gender is. I don’t seem room to argue with that axiom, myself, and I embrace it. (Don’t talk to me about war, or military force, or the justification for violence under some conditions – unless you, yourself, have been both soldier delivering that military force, and also a civilian experiencing having that force delivered upon you, please; without both perspectives what do you even “know”?)

I’m fairly over violence, generally. I respond poorly even to milder forms of emotional violence (raised voices, a nasty tone, guilt trips, manipulation), particularly after living without it for a while. I don’t mean to say I “never” raise my voice – I sincerely attempt to avoid doing so, and feel incredibly disappointed in myself when I fail to control my volume and my tone adequately well. There’s work involved. It’s work I find worth doing, so I keep at it.

…Then I read another news story that fills me with real horror; an angry parent kills their kids, takes their own life, in the midst of a messy angry divorce, or a partner slays their mate, or someone kills a parent… horrifying. What gave any of them the sense that this was an acceptable choice? How was this okay to do? Why haven’t we “made it stop”?

I sigh. Sip my coffee with a feeling of sadness for a moment. A pause to honor lives lost to the shittiest of excuses; anger. So not okay. There have already been dozens of lives lost in 2021, to familial violence, partner violence, and hate crimes. It’s the fucking 3rd of January. Maybe 2021 can be a year we finally get a grip on our anger and do better – as a species? As a planet? As a global community? Yes, I’d love to see humanity put the brakes on warfare, but more than that? I’d very much love to see humanity stop killing those most dear. I mean, seriously? It seems like a pretty obvious improvement, generally.

We’ll need to begin again, particularly if we hope to change the world…

Sipping coffee between housework tasks. It’s a rather ordinary sunny, chilly, autumn Sunday. I hear my Traveling Partner working on a project in his woodshop. Lovely day. I mean… lovely day right here. Your results, based on a quick look at this morning’s news headlines, may vary.

It’s a beautiful day to make good choices, and to be that person we most want to be.

…What a mess we’ve made… I mean… as a nation, a society… a species. Just saying. We could do better.

So… the U.S. election is in progress. “Election Day” is just a couple days away. I hope you are not imagining any great ease in national tension based on some particular outcome…? It’s unfortunate that we’ve allowed our political discourse to degrade to false dichotomies and ad hominem attacks. Growing and maintaining a society built on equality, rights, and freedoms shared by all requires a more subtle understanding than that, it would seem. We have, by that measure, failed entirely. It’s sad to observe the increasing racial tensions in so many cities, and hate-filled rhetoric becoming so commonplace, everywhere.

Full disclosure? I’m neither a republican nor a democrat. Nope, not “green party” or libertarian, either. (Nor communist, socialist, fascist, or other organized party affiliation of any brand.) I’ve still got a stake in how things turn out; I’m American. I live here. I shop here. I work here. I earn here. I invest here. I hike and camp here. I enjoy the local roads and infrastructure here. I vote here. This particular election season I voted as early as I could. I think our method of voting is fairly horrible, and doesn’t have much potential for any outcome other than degrading into a two-party system (or system in which only two parties have a legitimate chance at a win). Our government is implicitly institutionally racist – it’s also implicitly and institutionally sexist, and extremely so. I dislike both those things. I vote specifically against those conditions, and I look for opportunities to do so.

Feeling down about the election this year? I encourage you to (re)watch South Park season 8, episode 8, “Douche and Turd”. Definitely. If you’re looking for something more… hopeful… I recommend CGP Gray (on YouTude) episodes from his Politics in the Animal Kingdom work. There are better ways available to us. We’d only have to decide to do differently.

…Honestly, I don’t understand why we have not yet embraced – fully embraced, for real – direct democracy. Legitimate actual democracy. We certainly have the technology to build a secure system for online voting, already. (Do you doubt that is true? I direct your attention to the various online banks and similar systems, as well as your basic banking ATM. Also… the NSA. We don’t lack adequate encryption methods for secure online voting. That’s one challenge we don’t face at this point in time.) We already know the electoral college has nothing whatsoever to do with a democratic election, and is an artifact of another time. (I sound like I am on the edge of ranting. My apologies. You don’t need that from me, of all people. I’m simply continue to be astonished at the lengths parties will seem to go to, in order to restrict people from being able to vote at all. It rather undermines the very concept of democracy.) That’s what sours me most on “this great nation”, I think, we call ourselves a democracy, but we don’t actually mean it “for real”. We very much prefer that our democracy return only results that we personally favor, however harmful or distasteful to the majority. 😦

Please at least just fucking vote, okay? Not a joke vote. Not a “protest vote”. Really vote. Maybe it “doesn’t matter” to you in any way you acknowledge – but it matters to the lives, the literal lives, of so many other people… please? Vote. And… just saying… if you’re going to vote at all, why not also make your choices based on outcomes that will truly serve the largest number of Americans in the best possible ways? All Americans. Even the ones you don’t like, personally. 🙂 Instead of focusing on an assortment of party platforms that were chosen to serve those in power (or the special interests they have obligated themselves to), just put your vote on what will serve Americans – all Americans – the best possible way, resulting in the best possible quality of life for every one of us – and not at the expense of other Americans, or even other nations. It’s not a zero sum game. It’s not a fucking pie. It’s time we all changed our thinking to get better results for the survival of humankind. It’s not about the money.

It’s time to begin again. Let’s start with what we’re voting for.

I’m sipping my coffee, quietly reading some news. I give up on it quickly; most of the news is at best a bit of a downer, and at worst holds some amount of potential to be a significant mood-wrecker. I stifle a sneeze, and wonder why I haven’t put a box of tissues in my studio, yet? No, I’m not ill. It’s just a stray sneeze. Dust? Or allergens of some sort. I return to my coffee and my thoughts.

Where does this path lead?

I took my first walk in the countryside since the move, on Saturday. It was a lovely day for it. The entire weekend was sunny. Saturday was pleasantly warm and somewhat mild. Sunday was ferociously hot for the area. I enjoyed both days quite a lot. The walk was lovely, and I am glad I got out on the trail, although most of the walk was simply around and about the new neighborhood. 🙂 Plenty to see, all of it new, most of it entirely ordinary. 🙂 Small pleasures still count as pleasant.

There is the usual assortment of roadside flowers in bloom to be seen along the way.

I walked a bit more than a mile. Far enough to walk a new path, to see some new points of view, and to wave at new neighbors.

I crossed a small foot bridge passing over a small branch of the creek that flows past our house.

The walk was enough to make my ankle ache, by the time I had returned home. Still, I wasn’t in much pain this weekend, and as improvements in quality of life go, a reduction in pain is a good one to enjoy. So, I spent the weekend enjoying that. 🙂

I sip my coffee, now, enjoying my recollections of the weekend just past, and thinking about the day ahead. Later on, I’ll drive “into the city”, which I’m not looking forward to at all. It’s just a necessary errand. Portland is seriously “stirred up” right now, and I’ve no interest in becoming mixed up in that chaos. I looked over my route, yesterday evening, and verified it does not need to take me through the heart of things, down near the courthouse, before confirming my plans. Portland, Oregon, has a lively protest culture, and I have long respected and valued the willingness of Portland’s citizens to take a stand against injustice. That feeling does not diminish the experiences of profound inconvenience and considerable risk that go along with attempting to pass through an area filled with protesters, counter-protesters, and aggressive law enforcement. I make a point of keeping my distance, unless I am intending to be an active participant. Safer.

I notice that thoughts of protests, protesters, and conflict, have caused my heart to pound and my breathing to become shallow. I take a deep breath, exhale slowly, and relax. There is no threat here, just me and this cup of coffee, which I am enjoying very much. I think about my Saturday morning walk, instead, and feel my shoulders relax, and my heartbeat slow down. I sip my coffee and begin to plan my day.

…Pretty routine stuff, but I’ll point out that generally speaking, on the average, things tend to be pretty routine, day-to-day, most particularly if I allow them to be so. I could keep myself constantly in a state of tension, ready for a fight, poised on the edge of drama, constantly examining my experience for threat of danger, or revisiting past conversations looking for an enemy to confront… I know people who do. I once did, myself. It’s not actually a pleasant or comfortable way to live, and it didn’t seem to enhance my quality of life at all – and it didn’t reduce the danger or drama in my life, or do much to actually prepare me to deal with those sorts of things, in fact. It was just uncomfortable and emotionally messy. I’m glad I gave up those practices (and they are experiences that do require practice) in favor of practices that tend to tilt life more in the direction of contentment, joy, ease, and satisfaction in life. Turned out that life itself did not need to change much – it was more about my perspective on life needing a change (and how I treated myself in the context of the events of my life). 🙂

I finish this cup of coffee, on an ordinary enough Monday, beginning a routine sort of day. It’s enough. I begin again. 🙂

I may not write for a few days. There’s a lot going on in our flailing culture, right now, and I’d rather not provide a distraction. We all need to face this. We need to look America’s “original sin” of racism in the face and clean up the mess we’ve made.

I’ll resume writing, but for now, I am doing other things, and making room for long-silenced voices to be heard. Thank you for understanding. Please, definitely vote every time you get a chance, and definitely do your part to put decent human beings who value humanity and human life into office, instead of self-important already-wealthy liars and cheats whose sole intention is to enrich themselves at the expense of the nation. We can do better than we have, and we owe it to ourselves, our communities, and our future, to do so.

Short one this morning. One white voice taking notice of more black lives lost. It’s not okay, it’s not acceptable, and we can, as a nation and as a species, do better. Being white should not be an advantage in the 21st century, that it so obviously is, is something worth being aware of – and ashamed of. Certainly, it is something worth fixing. Black lives matter. They do. Lives of all colors “matter”,  but – the lives we need to be talking about right now are black lives. Brown lives. Lives of people of color. Because for some reason, we continue to tolerate a lesser standard of treatment for those lives. Less regard for their value. Less money in their paychecks. Less liberty under the same constitution that values constitutional freedoms so highly for white lives. It’s a bitter bill to swallow. Take your medicine anyway, white America. Heal this massive wound. (We can’t heal something we refuse to see…)

Racism is not a problem that needs to be corrected by people of color. It’s a problem white people need to fix. Go ahead, tell me you are not racist. Worse still, tell me there’s no problem. If that’s your position, please take time to educate yourself – there is a lot of evidence that tends to disagree with that position. White people need to be speaking out and taking a stand on this. We need to object when we see it. We need to correct the bullshit racism of our elders, of our family members, of (perhaps) even our friends. We need to raise our white voices, and carry them to the highest offices in the land, and demand reform. Real reform. Real change.

Be part of making the world truly a better place. “All lives” won’t matter, not really, until black lives really do matter – to white people.

I don’t really think I should have to say any of this. It’s too obvious, and change is too long overdue. I can’t believe we’re still having this conversation after so many years. Be part of making real change. Be the person you most want to be. Make room for your fellows, and for strangers, and yes also for people of color,  to also be the people they most want to be, under a flag that truly represents “liberty and justice for all”. We’re going to need some verbs, and a lot of new beginnings, and our results may vary as we learn new ways – but it does need to happen, and let’s be real, it’s white people that need to make that change. Yes, all white people. Use your voice, use your vote, use the power of your “all mighty dollar” – your choices are involved. Mine, too.  (How will you object, without becoming proof of the problem?)

It will take white choices and white voices to address the American sin of racism; we made this mess, and we need to clean it up.

Are you ready to change the world?