It’s time to Roll up our Sleeves & make a Phonecall to the President – that is, if you care about Gun Control

First thing I did this morning after making myself an oatmeal and a cup of tea, was make a phonecall to the Presidential switchboard  201-456-1111, which is the Whitehouse comments line.  I urged President Obama to take Executive Action on gun control.  I was simply participating in an all-day call-in campaign initiated by Everytown for Gun Safety, which was founded by Sandy Clements in 2012.  Her mother, a teacher at Sandy Hook Elementary, was a witness to the bloodshed that occurred that day, where 6 of her colleagues and 20 first graders were gunned down in Newtown Connecticut.  And the Congress has repeatedly ignored the will of the people, because their pockets are lined with NRA $s.    So besides, chipping away at gun-control state by state, the only way Americans will get our way as a nation, concerning gun control, is by urging the President to take Executive Action, before we risk having a Trump in the Whitehouse promising to hand out guns to everyone who voted for him.

Lives lost since Sandyhook

Making this phone call is easier than calling in an order of Chinese food – and I will make it even simpler for you –

  1. Text OBAMA to 644-33  (If you call another day : just dial 201-456-1111
  2. Wait for a volunteer operator to answer – I waited about 2 minutes.
  3. Take a deep breath and speak calmly and slowly so they can type in the information-
    State your name, and which state you are registered to vote.
    EX: Hi , I am Bozo the Clown, and I am registered to vote in Florida. (Where else would he be registered? – FYI, if you aren’t registered to vote – get on that, will you.  Voting is the LEAST you can do as a democratic citizen)
  4. Then  – I am calling to urge President Obama to take Executive Action addressing gun control.
  5. Then state your reason for wanting gun control –  Sure this is a no-brainer, but unfortunately, no-brains are controlling our government these days, so we need to UP the intelligence ante in government.
  6. Then thank them, Say goodbye and get on with your life : )

If you can’t make the call today, do it tomorrow, or the next … just please do it.

Make a promise to the thousands of Americans that could be killed by guns in the wrong hands in the future, that you will do your very best to save their lives.  It is just 5 minutes out of your day.

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Guns and Racism and Madness – In White Folks’ Homes

I remember, when I was 15 my father handing me a semi-automatic.  We stood in the humid cool of his house’s basement  in Detroit, the only place to escape the stifling summer heat.  We both were and still are white.

My father had been promising me a surprise all afternoon, and when it happened to be my first shooting practice, I was less than enthused. In fact, I was annoyed with him and his glee. What sort of solution was this gun to any problem?  Why was destroying his basement with bullet fire any better than him punching holes into the walls upstairs?  His wife at the time would disguise the evidence of his drunk/drugged rages  by covering them with framed pictures.

At the point, that I held the heavy metal thing in my sweaty hands, it was already in the 80’s as the Crack-crime epidemic wore away at a city already violated by a decade of governmental corruption and mismanagement. Since the race riots in 1967, Detroit had hemorrhaged wealth and white people into the suburbs.   Detroit local news relentlessly lead with what bled, one murder, one rape, one assault, one violent mugging after another.  Gramma would moan,

Time Mag - Race Riot in Detroit

” Detroit used to be such a “lovely” city, and “they” have done nothing but ruin it!” I knew who “they” was. Even without the scrawled negroid features on the targets that my father had drawn on the wall in front of me, I knew who my father expected me to “have to” shoot some day.  Before handing me the gun, he talked me through the operations and warned me of the backfire.  I took hold of the pistol, and struck a triangular stance and fired at a human outline, unadorned by facial features, black or white.  What I remember most was this sense of brutality, the kickback jarring my hands and arms, the explosion still buzzing in my ears.  My father complimented my aim since I managed to shoot near the heart of the target.  He asked me if I wanted to give it another go.  I said  simply “No, I don’t like it” and climbed upstairs.

Breaking down the Barriers

My best friend at the time and since the age of 4 was Della*, her Mom was hillbilly white, and her father was a taciturn black man.  They lived two houses down from my grandparents on my father’s side. Della’s family treated me like family.  Every summer I returned to see them, their voices called out my name in a celebratory chorus. Their home was always open to me.  But my grandparents were squeamish about me having Della over for any extended amount of time, and wouldn’t even think of  letting me invite her little sisters over as well.  If something in the house had been misplaced, my Grandmother would grill me as to whether Della or her sisters had been in the house.  I remember the anxiety of both hiding and shielding Della from  discovering my families’ racisms.  I feared of losing her friendship, thinking she would lump me in with their hatred.  I didn’t realize yet, that Della and her sisters, being the first children of a mixed race couple in the neighborhood had been dealing with a racism from every angle since always.

It was understood that guns were a necessity in every Detroit household, whether it was black or white or mixed.  Guns came out for Halloween/hell night and New Year’s Eve.  Thousands of guns blasting skyward, never minding where the bullets fell.  The only thing that made sense to me was to hide under the bed.

I remember coming across my grandparents’ revolver in their bedroom dresser nestled in one of Gramma’s silk nightdresses. Della and I squealed with the discovery, but we left it alone.  Even though we were both tomboys, guns held no fascination for us.  We knew they were serious business and not toys.  Once a week, Della would relay to me in  thrilled-hushed tones how Burton*, the one-man security force of our neighborhood, had scared somebody or other away with his shotgun, sometimes shooting away in their direction.

Burton and his wife Felicia* were black.  And they supposedly were my grandparents’ best friends.  On sticky summer evenings, Grampa would sit on the front porch with Burton and smoke cigars and drink beers while Gramma would drink pop and chat with Felicia enjoying the chill of the Livingroom AC.

From a very young age, I learned that racism was never cut and dry.  The only person I personally ever knew to use the word “nigger” was Burton, directly and quoted by my Grandmother.  She would flash a devious smile and tell me – “Burton says, there are two kinds of blacks – the decent folks and the ones’ that are trashy niggers.”

The only black people that my father had any social relationship with was Burton.  He counted on him to watch my grandparents’ old house when he was out town.  This was the little white clapboard house that Burton had expected Gramma would leave him and Felicia, after 6 months of Felicia nursing her as pancreatic cancer rubbed away her life.

Unlike my grandparents, my father, who chose to live as a mathematical minority as a white man in Detroit, somehow managed to avoid forging friendships with anybody but whites.  But in spite of the fact that he and I would get into throat-scorching arguments about politics, economy, culture – I never let his beliefs interfere with my life choices.  After college, I went to live with him full time, and within a year I was dating Randy* a blues guitar player, whose mother was South Indian, and whose father, then deceased, was black.  His parents had both been professors at Wayne State University. He intentionally  struck a style somewhere between Jimi Hendrix and Prince.  My Gramma and I went to see him play in a Jazz club, and when he walked up to me like the gentleman he was, she gave me a wink of approval.  My Dad and he got along fine.  Every time I worried that my family would embarrass me or hurt my friends with some off-color remark or behavior, they surprised me by their civility.

Fuck Racism

The Many Shades of Racism in America

Since I was four, I spent all my days, except the summers in Detroit, and a handful of Christmas’s with my mother. Till grade five I was living in Virginia, then the San Francisco Bay Area, California.
She and I lived primarily in white majority middle-class enclaves.  I remember when  Alex Haley’s Roots came out on tv, that it was the talk of the schoolyard.  Inwardly I squirmed as white kids discussed the show revealing their racist preconceptions for the first time.  I realized then, t hat the silence about blacks as a source of corruption, crime, or target of hate, wasn’t a sign of being more tolerant or enlightened.  White people in middle-class California didn’t talk about black people in America because their (the blacks) existence in America didn’t matter to the whites.  It was the privileged ignorance ideology of – What I don’t see doesn’t hurt me, nor does it concern me.

And in adulthood, I always wondered at the conversations of the white middle class, when it came to crime.  And how they claimed a gun would give them a sense of ease and comfort, believing that its iconic presence in the home guaranteed safety for their home and family.  And generally, it was  always understood, that those who committed crimes were more often than not black. But this was only “hinted” at rather than stated outright.  What I never got, was – why were they so scared, these white people, living in a quiet and crime-free community, where people often neglected to lock their doors?  In a Northern Michigan kitchen, with the crickets creaking outside in the high grasses stretched out for miles, I asked one friend’s father  –

What  is the advantage to shooting someone dead over simply filing an insurance claim for stolen goods? 
Besides most break-ins happen when families aren’t home, anyway.

His eyes glassed over and he pinched his lips – silent.  My friend stifled a giggle, as we excused ourselves from the table to go to bed.

My oldest male cousin grew up in Grosse Ile, an upper middle class island of white privilege in the Detroit River, about 20 miles south of the urban border. And, I remember him at times  rant on race and crime and corruption in Detroit. Had they been in the same room, my father and he would be humming in agreement like a fine-tuned engine.  The family irony was, even though they despised each other, all the elders of the family thought Lewis’s personality was a mirror image of my father’s. Both were hotheads.  And both used drugs or alcohol for years to self-medicate their demons, what I later surmised to be undiagnosed mental imbalance.  And both were brilliant – with minds that could explain to you the intricacies of a combustion engine, and turn an everyday event into a riveting tale or sidesplitting comedic episode.

In both of these men was this strange concoction of daredevil dreams, intellectual (without the pretension) curiousity, sensitivity toward women and this bottled rage that came out in republican/racist soundbites.  My relationship with my cousin, once we emerged from the pre-adolescent years had never been antagonistic.  He was the closest thing I had to a big brother.  But as we got older our lives diverged.  I travelled the world, while he crossed the bridge with his first wife and her kids to live off the island.  He never was academic.  It wasn’t a matter of a lack of intelligence, but a matter of a hatred of authority.  He knew and he was often right that he was smarter than most of the bosses, and that he was damned if he would follow the rules of a fool.  I got it, because I was the same way, cause I took after my Dad. We were all rebels, who could be too smart and too smart-mouthed for our own good. We got it originally from Grampa, from whom we also inherited the curse and power of explosive rages.

Thing is – from what I could see, we weren’t so weird compared to other families I met.  Every family seems to have its secrets that it hides from society as a whole.  The last day I saw my cousin, a horror’s chest of secrets came pouring out. We hadn’t seen each other for most of our adulthood, (politics and lifestyle separated us.)   He told me of his unfortunate ability to remember way back into babyhood, and how he remembered his mentally ill mother trying to smother him as a baby.  His Aunt, her sister, told him that she told her that she had successfully smothered the baby sister before him.  I started to finally understood why he had turned into the type of man who would keep an arsenal in his house; who had dealt drugs for years; who never could pull it together,  2 time divorcee, while still being brilliant.  He told with eyes set straight on me, that if he was ever to get a “terminal diagnosis” of any kind, that he would take the opportunity to take some people out.  God knows he had the munitions to do so.

Ten days later, he was dead of a heart attack.

But I can’t help wondering after reading one massacre after another, carried out by some crazy white dude ….

There but for the Grace of God Goes my Family Member

I know about my family, and have been acquainted with many other white people’s families – and there are MANY troubled White men in our country.  It really isn’t that abnormal a thing. And I also have met many families of ALL colors who are comfortable spouting racist things, especially against Blacks … even Blacks against Blacks (which is a special topic that I am not really qualified to cover).  A discussion of this in an earlier blog – Silence is NOT Always Golden

Black and White Couch

It’s not that I am an apologist for anybody that kills innocent people.  I am not.  I am just saying, that it is RIDICULOUS for so many white people to keep pretending that the following have never been issues in their lives, or in the lives of other white people they know –

  1. Mental Imbalance/Illness in the Menfolk
  2. Racism
  3. Recklessness with Guns
  4. Substance Abuse

And that sometimes these issues are inextricably related.

It is time for us White folks to start pulling our heads out of the sand or our A**s and start addressing these issues at home and in society.  It doesn’t help anybody, let alone our aching hearts, by playing the game that Hollywood has taught us and “acting” as if everything is okay.

* Names were changed to protect the privacy of those referred to in this post.

Practicing “Safe Social Media” ? Or are you just an Attention Ho?

I am writing a brief entry here for you – dear reader to choose or not to visit my other blog:  https://survivaltipsfor21stcentury.wordpress.com/2015/02/23/little-lessons-learned-martyring-ourselves-for-the-love-of-social-media-vs-acknowledging-the-beauty-of-being-a-nobody/

It is a discussion on practicing “safe social media”  vs. being a virtual nobody … like I am : )

Twitter MOB

Screenshot of Graphic from – http://www.nytimes.com/2015/02/15/magazine/how-one-stupid-tweet-ruined-justine-saccos-life.html?_r=1

Divide U.S. or Conquer U.S. – It will all be Sorted out on the Internet, the forum of Forbidden Conversation – Part 1

Early Christmas morning, when I should have been asleep with sugar plums dancing in my head – I wrote the following on a spiritually oriented website called En*theos.  https://www.entheos.com/   I enjoy participating regularly on this site because I feel it time well spent, rather than a timesuck, which I find Facebook to be.  Facebook is everything, just like YouTube is everything, and you can encounter the good with the bad.  These days,  I spend so much time on my own, which is fine with me since this is what I have chosen to do.  With a dietary restrictions placed upon my social life, I figure if I am spending any sort of social time with people in real-time or virtual time – it has to be productive and/or positive.  So I consciously choose the company I keep in the virtual world … and I prefer the consistency of spiritual substance, not religion mind you, but conversations and explorations into “How to make the best of one’s life holistically.”  But I am not interested in being insulated from the world within a “good-vibe-bubble” … I know the world is a many-flavahed thing … both sweet and sour, sticky and smooth, stodgy and swift, spinetingling and serene. … And I can’t help but dive into the messiest of messes, just to truth test the spiritual wisdom I gather and the life perspective I have been cultivating more intensively in the past year.  The messiest of messes on the internet?  Political/cultural debates in YouTube comment threads are the ultimate free-for-all.  The last post I wrote here, was on Elizabeth Warren and her viability as a candidate for President.  Because I had invested a fair amount of time writing and editing the post which was  inspired by a particular YouTube video, I was, of course, curious about other people’s views as well.  And this is the context for the following –

A few days ago, I wrote a positive comment to a stranger on the greater internet. This guy was acting like a troll, and rather than take him to task, I encouraged this person to try to unite their perspective (which had some truth to it) with a more positive/productive approach. The response I got was a heartbreaking revelation of how hard his life  had been thus far and that the trolling activity was more an expression of his existential nihilism (my words – but you get the idea).

The message was shockingly authentic and vulnerable … and it was written several days ago, but I just got around to reading it tonight. I hope that the fact that I wrote my response on Christmas – early morning – makes up for the delay. Internet can be a place where people are their most false or true self … and in the span of a week … I saw these two sides of a stranger, who may become a friend. I have to say I am grateful, I got the opportunity to lighten the heart of a stranger today. We should never underestimate the power of good intentions bound with positive action : ) Merry Everything to Everybody today!  —- Christmas 2014

The highlights of the conversation which follow this main post are example of the social phenomena that is occurring across the internet: dangerous conversations transforming into a civilized accord.  Strangers battle with words at first, fiercely determined to proclaim one’s truth or  to discover that of another. We slice away at difficult issues until all that is left is a sincere connection of humanity.  Why would two strangers, who have already revealed their worst selves, have  actively misunderstood the other, insulted each other’s intelligence, or aggressively challenged each other’s identities, not hold onto hate with all their might against their internet adversary?  Connection … the foundation of internet is energetic connection.  And anyone that participates on the internet intuitively knows this. Even if one intends to make a nuisance of oneself … it is to connect to others in a way that makes one feel significant.  Man or woman doesn’t want to be an island unto themselves , they want to matter – even if that mattering means they are known as a pain in the ass on the internet.  But if one really wants to matter, one drops one’s shield and sword and offers an olive leaf. The enemy that becomes your friend will always matter, because the friendship was hard-won.


In spite of our cultural mythology about the excellence of the individual over the collective, since the internet has come into being, the generations that have grown up with the internet have created the virtual social revolution – there are more social media entities than you can point a mouse at.  Why?  Because of  the ever-present yearning longing for connection, and not just ONE type of connection to others, but a great cornucopia of connections – connections via words – WordPress, blogger; videos – YouTube, Vimeo; Pictures we take – Instagram; Things we like – Pinterest; Ideas – Reddit, StumbleUpon; to rattle through the tried-and-true methods of  virtual connection.  In the following video by UC Berkeley psychologist Dacher Keltner emphasizes how the majority of humanity is driven to share in community.

Humanity didn’t get this far on the evolutionary path as lone wolves, but as partners, families, tribes, states, nations, and continents, all different versions of the collective that challenge the primacy of the individual.  But if we look back to the origin of the “excellence” of the individual, of the renaissance – the men, or women, but mostly men — women were occupied with children more often than not —- who individually defied the collective religious oppression that stifled their artistic or scientific exploration and discoveries – this is not the individualism that is encouraged by our mainstream mythology.  Nor is it the individualism of the American or French Revolutions that encouraged free speech and political action by individuals as an essential component of the creation of new states.  These types of individuality where you harness your inner spirit with actions you make in the world outside yourself are unifying.  Your essential self drives you deeper into life, rather than separating you from it.'With all these arms and legs, I should be able to do something better with my life.'

What is the modern individualism?  It is the commercial manipulation of our most rudimentary instincts to consume as many products INDIVIDUALLY as possible.  This type of individualism where each ONE of us is encouraged to buy a car, a house, furnish that house, partner up but at the same time be so dissatisfied with your body, your life, that you always want more for yourself and your kids and your kids, kids … so existentially dissatisfied that you are driven to question, challenge, devalue or attack the one’s you are supposed to love and be loved by, including most importantly, yourself.

selfishness1

Due to the commercialization of individual impulse – where one’s identity is supposed to be expressed externally via your body shape, your clothes, your car, your possessions … modern capitalist men and women have become alienated from their essential selves and further have become socially alienated – not so much because they ARE weird, but each of us is MADE to feel weird, until of course we buy the right product or pursue the profitable path of buy-buy bliss.

selfish girl with dolls

And I believe that this flourishing of social websites is the natural outcome of a society of individuals who are trying to find their way back to community, after being lost in a wilderness of commercialization that drove them to hate their bodies for not being beautiful; hate their spouses for not being sexy or successful enough; hate their jobs for not being glamorous enough;hate their neighbors for having too much or fearing them because they might some of what they have; hate their towns for not being the hub-of-the-universe.  Sure we can want more as human beings, but at what cost?

Comedian Bill Hicks brilliantly points out this existential crisis in this bit – It’s All a Ride –

On the side of media nihilism is Fox News, Rush Limbaugh et. al –  that imply that Armageddon is following the next commercial break, on the other side of pure unadulterated media appreciation of life – there are millions of hits daily for quirky cat videos, inspirational quotes, national/international petitions advocating justice or decrying injustice on a whole slew of matters.  The future and our place in it, is an ever unfolding mystery. But because so many of us can’t stand the suspense, we play mind games imagining we can control it with our fantastical visions.cartoons_sockratic1-1

And in the sea of misinformation, world-citizens must struggle to find out what the “real” political truths.  We are the polis, after all.  In our confusion, we wander or seek debates in order to hash through the contradictions of the American political landscape – asking ourselves –  Shall we dare to hope or shall we succumb to doom?

To be Continued –

 

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Fearless Journal : Watching White America Wake-up to a Nightmare

black-lives-matter

After the first Grand Jury in Ferguson refused to indite Darren Wilson and the second Grand Jury in New York  refused to recognize Eric Garner’s death as a homicide, I wasn’t surprised.  I wasn’t surprised but I was and am disgusted, because I have been following these stories for years, where black lives are obliterated by cops or the legal system in the U.S. because according to the cops, or legal system – their lives didn’t matter.

Consider the case of Marissa Alexander in Florida – who was convicted in 2010 of aggravated assault for shooting a warning shot over her abusive husband’s head, moments after he threatened – “Bitch I will Kill you!”  On November 24, of this year, after serving nearly 3 years for the crime of protecting herself and harming no-one, she got off easy – she will serve 60 more days in prison and 2 years under house arrest.  Prosecutor Angela Corey was going for 3 consecutive 20-year terms. http://www.msnbc.com/msnbc/marissa-alexander-accepts-plea-deal

How is it that Marissa Alexander’s legitimate use of the “Stand Your Ground” in Florida was denied in spite of her harming no-one, and George Zimmerman’s murderous abuse of the same law to kill unarmed black teenager Trayvon Martin got him off scott-free? What was the difference between these cases?  Zimmerman was lucky to be half-white, and Alexander was unlucky enough to be black, in the eyes of the law.

And then we have the case of Tamir Rice murdered by police, literally a child playing with a toy gun. And this was barely a blip in the headlines between the two Grand Jury Hearings.  Can you even imagine how the media would have roared if it had been a little white boy playing in the park, and the police shot him after less than a minute?

appleseed_1623web

Only a white organization would have the temerity to put a child on a poster holding a gun!


The evidence is piling up so high – We “can’t breathe.”  NONE of us who aren’t card-carrying KKKers, can pretend that racism isn’t a chronic pathological condition in this country.  And the cure?  The cure in part is awareness – understanding ALL the ramifications and implications of  racism for all Americans – and specifically whites.

I can't breathe

On the subject of white privilege Two trending twitter hashtags #CrimingWhileWhite and #LivingWhileBlack clarifies the privilege whites have over blacks in committing petty crimes, getting away with it and living to tell the tale via twitter.

– http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/storyline/wp/2014/12/04/the-surprising-origins-of-the-crimingwhilewhite-movement/

Is it braggadacio, on the part of the white twitterer to reveal their crimes so casually?  Perhaps in part.  Is it the unleashing of white guilt? Perhaps in part.  And in the article mentioned, certain African American’s interviewed resented the fact that this twitter-trend seemed to throw salt into the wounds of those who have suffered dearly for similar, or even being suspected of lesser crimes due to their race.  Was this hashtag making light of situations that are “life and death” reality for the black community?  For some perhaps.  But what is happening, whatever the motivation, is an opening of the eyes of an ugly disparity of justice meted out in the country according to one’s skin color.


On the subject of racial bias – in August, Mother Jones wrote an in-depth article explaining why people can be racially prejudiced without realizing it.  http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2014/11/science-of-racism-prejudice.  Included in the article is a site where one can do self-testing for various implicit biases – from racism, to sexism, to ageism, etc.  Be prepared to be unnerved, because you may be surprised to find that you subconsciously associate particular moral or emotional values to particular groups of people.  For instance, you may not be so insensitive as to believe all elderly women are hags, but you might associate the qualities of stony, or distant, or mean to elderly women over younger women.  The same subtleties apply to darker vs. lighter skinned peoples.  Take a test or two, and see what is brewing under your hood. – https://implicit.harvard.edu/implicit/takeatest.html

We speak of institutionalized racism, and how our media, government, economy is based upon racist practices, but when are we, all of us, going to start taking personal responsibility for racism?

oppression

About a week back, I was reading a confession from one of my favorite bloggers, that in spite of her being liberal, maybe even  radical in some opinions, particularly her feminist ones, she admitted that she has very few friends who are anything but white.

http://iambeggingmymothernottoreadthisblog.com/2014/11/27/race-ya/

This admonition, by a fellow liberal white woman blogger made me think about my own social network.  But mine reads like the United Nations.  My first best childhood friend had a white Mom and Black Dad, and from that point on, I made friends with those whom I felt a resonance – the color or culture or religion was never a consideration.  And I became sickeningly aware of the racism in my own family since age 6.  A racism that seemed inexplicable when some of my family members’ “best friends” were black.

I never got how it was so easy for people to hate an amorphous group of people, people who had done them no specific harm.  Perhaps, it is only now that a greater amount of white youth are growing up into an America that doesn’t give a damn about their economic future or the health of their future environment – that whites are starting to identify with a sense of deep injustice that Black people have been enduring all along?

12-01-11 Liberation

This identification in pain can also lead to identification in harmony … in these protests we can learn to work together as a nation united rather than divided.  And in closing I leave you with a  funny video from Dave Chappelle from 2 years ago, who tells of Criming while with a White friend.  In my eyes, just two guys being young reckless dudes … and in the eyes of the law as well – because they were all to ready to give the white guy a pass.

 

 

Fearless Journal – When Freedom means Chaos – What to do?

I think I must be the prototypical ADHD adult – the Queen of Scattered attention.  It isn’t just that I have a multitude of interests (everything from world politics to tango to astrology to corporate culture to holistic medicine and Islāmic art and … and ) , and that my mind gets enthralled for hours in one diversion or another, but I have a low tolerance for boredom, and being forced to do one or another activity.  I am the child of the illusion of choice – that I don’t have to do a thing – unless I choose to do so … which is a bunch of malarkey, because there are plenty of things one has to do, without wanting to – It is part of growing up, or just living on the planet, if one never grows up, like yours truly.  But I still like the challenge of creating an existence that feels as “free” and as “committed to the moment” and as “intentional” as possible – all based on that American mythology of “choice” and “freedom”.  (The child who was nursed upon 60’s tv – when cigarettes were cool and alcohol was a beverage used in the office)

Marilyn and Rules

But the dark side of freedom, which the world has been witnessing for nearly a decade now – is that a companion of freedom to freely go against convention – whether they be cultural mores attached to sexual relations or social niceties attached to returning phone calls or correspondence or political participation or non-participation (Shall I attend the revolution this evening?) … the dark side is that we start to losing grasp of any sort of structure at all.

And let me tell you, as one who has had a phobia of structure, which to me signified a loss of my personal freedom and control of my own life, that it has taken me a LONG time to understand that a beautiful structure depends upon certain rules of construction.  I remember about 9 years ago, being ENTIRELY confounded in my first design school program – where I was introduced to the idea of RULES to be used in designing a solution to a thing.  I remember muttering to my classmates – RULES, the nerve of her … why do I need RULES to create something beautiful?  I mean I wasn’t totally ignorant of design principles which were, as I understood, guidelines one followed more often than not … but rules.  Let’s just say – I am not a big fan of “rules” unless I make them myself.  How very American of me … just a spoiled bratti-americana.


Anyway … I can go on about how I felt oppressed by having to force fit myself into one social culture after a next, just so that I wouldn’t be socially annihilated by my peers in one new school after the next; or how my mother taught me the conflicting values of independence and social-autonomy, while insisting that I not question or challenge the big decisions she made which often disrupted my life; or that my past years of dealing with years of chronic depressions which interfered with me following normal schedules … I could go on and on about this – but what it comes down to is … that I evolved into a creature of NON-Habit, and my biggest Habit to break is my phobia of Habits and routines.

I KNOW this is a problem … how does one build something lasting, like careers, relationships, etc.  if one doesn’t adopt regular habits, routines, schedules and so forth?  It isn’t that I am flakey, or irresponsible, but just that my life rhythm, rather than being a well-structured symphony, is more of a interpretive jazz session … So in my effort in creating a sense of order in my prismatic perspective …. I have started using TODOist … and making order and prioritize my many interests and activities.

Todoist – is basically a glorified Todo list which is succeeding in  harnessing my scattered attention, and prioritizing my day’s activities which are free-form unless I impose some sort of structure.  Check it out –

https://en.todoist.com/android

 https://en.todoist.com/mac

I wish I were getting a kickback for this promo, but I am not … take it from me … from a person who hates routines and rules, but appreciates the importance of a TO-do list.

 

 

Art Break – When the Beats keep coming on Down

For a few days now – Not really feeling it.  Feeling silent … and just sad.  I called up a friend and left a voice message saying –

“I don’t know if I have just been missing the sun. Or if it is just my sucky life.”

Each day, I have a different perspective on how lucky or unlucky I am.  And seeing that nothing major has changed from one day to the next – I have realized that how I am actually is nothing more than a matter of my opinion at the time. It is absolutely random and ridiculous.  Thing is, living isn’t meant to be all sunshine and daisies, and in the U.S. we shame ourselves for not having MILE WIDE smiles at all times, in spite of Everything.

My present gloom,  all started – a couple of days ago, when I started thinking deep about Ebola, not in a frantic sort of way – but morbidly curious about how it will all play out.  It is interesting how the media plays up the negative consequences of inter-connectivity on a global scale.

Plenty of people worry about global-warming, but I cynically think that Mother Nature in her brutal wisdom, may not give humanity the luxury of another 50 odd years to continue its destruction of the planet.  I have no doubt that the planet will ultimately be fine, but that humans will be the ones to regret their destructive habits and the ones to pay for their careless ways.

What can we do?  Especially when so many are in denial – Those that are too busy saving the world with war or  capitalism or a warped view of religion.  Maybe they have a new planet set up somewhere as a destination get away?  Oh, that’s right – that is what heaven is for.  The alternate reality with angels standing outside as bouncers behind velvet ropes.  And somehow only the people who trashed the planet are allowed inside?


What IS there to do?

First of all, we need to wake up!

Focus on the present moment.   And focus on the good and the great in us and each other, our creative abilities to transform the ugly, the desperate, the cruel, the brutal into  lessons, into awareness, into artful understanding.  To go from tears to laughter, like children.

And to Live out loud and proud!  Dig into your soul, pour it out.  Living your truth is a revolution.

(When I am really frustrated – dancing like a madwoman often helps)

If you want to take back your power – you can breathe and listen with eyes closed to the Godfathers of Rap – when rap was first  revolutionary.  (Warning – doesn’t mix well with Yoga)

Public Enemy circa 1988 –It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold us Back –  No Bling no, no Babes, no B.S. here!

spotify:album:03Mx6yaV7k4bsEmcTH8J49

And for an insightful – “don’t believe the hype” musical conversation on the War on Terror check this out –

UK Hip-Hop Online Show – Combining Crazy Beats with Controversial

 

In the midst of the doom … all I can say is – hold tight and fight the gloom.  As long as we are here, we still have some living and loving to do!

 

Fearless Journal – Silence is NOT always Golden- Or Why Being “nice” ALL the time ISN’T so NICE All the time!

As mentioned in my previous post,  I rarely encounter a situation that irks me or inspires me to rant in daily life, so I have to go “looking” for a fight sometimes in order to justify the existence of this blog.  And the internet ALWAYS delivers Rantable fare aplenty.  Actually my source, is from a delightful blog    I am begging my mother not to read this – The link is directly below.

 http://iambeggingmymothernottoreadthisblog.com/2014/09/28/a-fucked-up-thing-happened-on-the-way-to-the-dmv/

In her post she describes how a crazy event during a DMV visit where an employee was ranting hateful obscenities, inspired her to write a few letters to report this incident to government authorities.  And her story  got me to thinking about all the opportunities we have to stand up in our daily lives against all the UGLYisms we encounter today – Racism, Sexism, Ageism,  Classism as well as blanket bigotry against any other type of people who are generally condemned by society-at-large or within your community.

‘How?’ you may ask.

Ever been having a normal conversation with a friend, co-worker, neighbor, family member – and some stomach-curdling prejudiced/hateful statement spurts out of their mouth like a toad – and instead of you saying anything, you keep silent?  You do this to supposedly keep the peace, right?  But when you keep silent, you feel like a despicable and spineless turd for doing so?

Well here’s another option – challenge what they say with the intention to open up their minds.  Getting raw and wild and righteous in their face, may be what you want to do.  But never mind what you WANT – do what is MOST effective! The best way is to bring some humor to it, and treat the person with respect but show the falseness of their ideas.  It may feel uncomfortable, but if you do it in a way that encourages discussion rather than defensiveness on their part, then you will find it goes surprisingly well.  And this is how we lay the ground  for a more peaceful world, among people who are programmed by politicians and the media to hate and distrust each other.


My blog-length responding comment is as follows :

Really impressive on all levels – started out funny and then bam it catches your breath. It is important to write letters, especially when you have a specific incident to share with authorities. And especially when you have a strong writing voice. And I believe that all of us who care passionately about this ongoing heave-ho of changing the world, and have the capacity and time to write blogs or be involved in any media, shouldn’t fucking hold back.

I think we often feel it is better to be agreeable and quiet. For what? So the assholes will like us? Maybe we stop because we don’t think it will help, but MAYBE IT DOES. We don’t need to be super-heroes and try to change everything in one day. Who are we kidding?

Tao Te Ching – Lao Tzu – chapter 78

Under heaven nothing is more soft and yielding than water.
Yet for attacking the solid and strong, nothing is better;
It has no equal.
The weak can overcome the strong;
The supple can overcome the stiff.
Under heaven everyone knows this,
Yet no one puts it into practice.

We can’t all be sticks of dynamite. And for all of us, whether we are writers or activists or not, we often have opportunity to challenge the prejudices of our friends and family or acquaintances. This is where our REAL power lies – if we challenge the hateful/ignorant opinions of those who know us – we have more influence.

The other day, a Latino friend of mine ( I wouldn’t point out his ethnic “label” except it is actually key to the story) was saying some crap about black people.  Asking me why a friend of his, he was looking at Facebook, was dating a black guy.

I said – He’s probably a good guy, what other reason would she have?

He– But he’s black!

Me – So, what?

He – Well blacks are (something offensive – seriously I didn’t even want to register the slur in my brain).

Me– Well, you know, lots of people have the same feeling about Latino’s, do you feel that is fucking fair?

He– Well, many Latinos ARE (whatever the offensive word is) too.

Me– Listen, there are LOT of assholes in the world, and I can name a bunch of WHITE one’s – Can you top Hitler, or Dick Cheney, or Anne Coulter? Seriously – give it a rest, no race, religion, gender, sexual preference group, no color of the rainbow (and here I am just fluffing the story up it really was just color) – has a franchise on F’d up.

He– Yeah, I guess you are right.

So that was my small success of the evening – but I am seriously wondering about his internalized racism against his own ethnic group : (

I guess I did get a little RIGHTEOUS in his face, but hey we have a history of heated conversation – and we can dish it out to each other as well as take it.  For years he used to call me “B” – guess what that means?  And I would call him “A” – guess what that means?  Needless to say we have never had a cuddly sweet friendship.

Beyond this, we all should make extra efforts to get to know different types of people, especially people we have been “afraid” of … you don’t have to be all awkward weird and act like you are on a mission of discovery.  Just talk to people like people, IF you have a friendly chemistry – over time you can both share your truths naturally.  FOR goodness sake don’t ask stupid questions and treat people as if they are a lab rat, or some organism under a microscope to be experimented upon and studied or PATRONISED.  People are people and have every right to their privacy as you do.  Just be open to new people is all.  Baby steps would be to visit blogs that address groups of people whom you have never known socially.  And you can do your “research” there.  But if you want to reach out and be part of the particular blog’s community, it is best not to hide your identity.  Don’t pretend to be Eskimo, if you are black, or homosexual if you are straight or whatever weirdness so you can fit in … that is creepy …

If more of us really knew each other and had friends from all different kinds of backgrounds, all this prejudice would just disappear over time, because we would always have each other’s back.  And we  could tell the Politicians to

Bugger OFF and FIGHT your OWN wars!

We are busy making Peace over here!  When you get over your petty selves and your addiction to Power-Pushing the world around , you can join OUR PEACE Party – where we will PARTY till the dawn of the next millennium!

Fearless Journal – Too much Mis-information or Why the World thinks the Americans are A-Holes

I was pondering on Excess – today’s Daily Prompt  http://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_prompt/no-excess/ and thought of the usual – conspicuous consumption, violence, global warming … you know all the cheery topics came to mind, but none were inspiring my inner rant at that particular moment.

And  Paddastoel, a visitor to the blog post – 
“Fearless Journal – The Choice – Them or U.S. – How the Everyday Citizen is Manipulated into Supporting War.” href=”https://riproarinrants.wordpress.com/2014/09/23/fearless-journal-the-choice-them-or-u-s-how-the-everyday-citizen-is-manipulated-into-supporting-war/”> came to my rescue.

In HER comment, she was well-informed and respectful of my opinions, so I didn’t get all hot and bothered with her when she mentioned that the majority of Americans support the actions of the U.S. government. But a rant started to bubble forth as I thought about how not only does the mainstream media/government of THIS country misrepresents the reality of other nations, but it does the same dis-service to the US of U.S., and to further scramble everything into a mess – the mainstream media/government of OTHER countries misconstrues our reality, by relying upon the lies of OUR media, to their people, as well as feed lies to their own people about THEIR domestic situation … and then those same lies head back to the US of U.S. And  this sickening swirly soup of deception is created which is destroying lives, economies, the environment, and whatever else serves the cause of Evil. As bloggers, we are a micro-media, and we have the opportunity to share sincere truths with other people around the world.The global mainstream media is doing us a GREAT disservice by spreading too much MIS information.

Paddastoel’s comment reads –  It seems that only a few Americans are starting to see what the rest of the world has accepted as fact quite a while ago. The fairness of it is an entirely different issue – however, war is currently crucial to your economy. The U.S. is attacking a number of foreign countries in the name of “democracy”.  

You can read the rest in the thread.

https://riproarinrants.wordpress.com/2014/09/23/fearless-journal-the-choice-them-or-u-s-how-the-everyday-citizen-is-manipulated-into-supporting-war/#comments

 

My Response –

Yes, I am aware of the oil-trade currency most likely being one of, if not, THE main reason why the U.S. government invaded Iraq in the first place, and has been itchy to attack Iran as well, as well as re-engage in these never-ending hostilities. This article provided by project censored – http://www.projectcensored.org/9-irans-new-oil-trade-system-challenges-us-currency/ explains it in detail. And yes, the main domestic industry that seems to be booming in this country is our military. And why wouldn’t it? As unemployment continues to grow, fear grows and hostility becomes a norm in the popular psyche. See http://www.nationofchange.org/it-s-fake-fake-fake-fake-world-1410107002 which explains how the media/government misrepresents the status of the U.S. economy, putting a positive spin on shitty.

This is EXACTLY why I am making this humble effort via Fearless Journal to share knowledge that can be used to loosen the stranglehold that fear has upon our lives. Both the mainstream media and the U.S. government are capitalizing on working Americans into an irrational panic – so they can carry on with the status quo of serving the 1%.

At this time, the U.S. government, is officially the demon child of the wealthy élite and the corporations, It is NOT a government of the people, the 99 per cent. The majority of Americans, including Republicans were outraged by 2 decisions made by the Supreme court, all of whom have appointed life-time positions, which has put every political campaign of ANY kind, whether it is for gun-control, labeling for GMO foods, or the election of a representative up for sale to the highest bidder. You can review these articles on Supreme Court Rulings on campaign contributions –
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/04/02/mccutcheon-v-fec_n_5076518.html
http://www.demos.org/publication/10-ways-citizens-united-endangers-democracy
A couple of weeks ago, there was a vote in the Senate to create a constitutional amendment to undo the wrongs of the Supreme Court – it lost, with ALL Republicans voting against it, brazenly turning against the wishes of the MAJORITY of their constituency. Which is what they do best. They are the whores of the 1 per cent, or actually 1 per centers, themselves.

My friend, do not be under the illusion that ANY government actually serves the people, including yours, wherever you live. Governments are a necessary evil for modern civilization, and their morality is a reflection of who is pulling the strings. The American people, as a whole, are NOT pulling the strings. We vote, we sign petitions, we protest, we sue, we boycott, sometimes we riot, we educate ourselves and so on and so forth. The “majority” live in cities which are for the most part antagonistic to much of the evil in which the U.S. government is involved. The problem is that the less populated states, whose constituencies are more interested in promoting a particularly hateful and fear-based semblance of Christianity, and keeping their hunting rifles, than they are about ANY OTHER political issue – so unscrupulous politicians say the right things to them and then create havoc in Congress and the Senate.

I wish, I were far away. But there really is nowhere to go … you can be sure that US. Government has certain nefarious agreements with the majority of governments on the planet, and the corporations which are based in those countries. As long as we conflate the PEOPLE with their Government which more likely than not misrepresents them at best or abuses them at worst, we will NEVER escape the mindset that believes that military aggression is a viable solution for conflicting interests.

Thanks for your insightful comments, and perhaps you would like to guest post on a topic, as you definitely are very well-informed and have a lot to say. Feel free to contact me if this is of interest to you.

 

Fearless Journal – The Choice – Them or U.S. – How the Everyday Citizen is Manipulated into Supporting War.

First  –  Our eyes are forced to witness the atrocities of our potential enemy.  The forced “confessions”  and beheadings of the James Foley and Steven Sotloff,  U.S. Journalists sufficed.  Never mind that as foreign correspondents in a war-zone, who were educated and skilled enough to earn such a position, they knew very well the risks that they were taking.  These journalists may have been unarmed, but mentally and psychologically they must have come to some sort of peace with the idea that every day they were dancing with death, working in an area that is so volatile and anti-American.  I truly doubt they would have supported a full-scale assault on the same innocent friends and colleagues they had made while working in these regions.  And they would know better than anybody, how a bombing campaign or boots on the ground would INFLAME Anti-American sentiments even among moderate groups, rather than squelch extremist terrorist groups.

Second – Our Media is flooded with political muckraking, and information overload about terrorists, where our leaders are hysterically calling for America to stand strong and show these Muslim Maniacs a lesson.  And those who are ill-informed and/or don’t have the time to research the history of the area, to fact-check the political analysis, to reflect upon the pros and cons of war in this region … we start to get uneasy … and the fears stirred up around us start to bond with the fears within us.

Third – Once FEAR within us is ignited, we as citizens do not need a rational reason to kill, to destroy, to cause havoc in a nation thousands of miles away, that basically is no threat to the U.S.  But as we continue to bash away at one Hornet’s Nest after another overseas … consider how we are continually harvesting the seeds of discontent and hatred of the U.S.    So as we FEAR, so we REAP.  We are colluding into creating our worst nightmare.  I.S.I.S. will use these bombing campaigns as membership drives to support their mission.  We are giving Muslims, once on the edge, once moderate, all the inspiration in the world to hate us.  Because we are UNWILLING to accept their humanity,

I find it deeply disturbing and interesting that both Bush and Obama entered into war during extremely difficult times during their administrations.  Obama’s credibility as a leader has been severely challenged even by those who voted him in TWICE.  Prior to 9-11, the country was in an economic malaise, his approval rating in the toilet.

Then these atrocious terrorist acts – occur out of the blue – almost like Deus EX Machina – helpful demons to stir up the pot of WAR – the thing that unites us as a nation and divides us from other nations is FEAR – the two-fer emotion.  It organizes the enemies into camps.  AT home Fear allows a domestic Enemy of my foreign Enemy to become my friend. (Redneck and Ignorant Hipster go hand-in-hand) Overseas – the former friends/allies who happen to be friends with my current enemy are now NEW enemies.  (Syrian rebel groups unite against American military and imperialist actions)

Life becomes a little simpler for the politicians and pundits, when everyone is divided into manageable coalitions of hatred.  They orchestrate our fears for better ratings, and increased political power to ultimately do whatever they please, because when we as a nation are whipped up into a FEAR FRENZY … we can be manipulated into making horrific choices.

As an example of how one’s personal fears (but in this case they are not illusory) can be manipulated to support the worst of ideologies, watch or read Sophie’s Choice starring Meryl Streep.  Spoiler Alert – This is the last scene of the movie, so if you haven’t seen it, the dramatic overall effect of the film will be compromised.  It is a film worth seeing, especially when contemplating how war, fears, and guilt can devastate even the human beings who “escaped” .

Short Clip – Sophie’s Choice – http://youtu.be/DZ9bht5H2p4