Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Those Who Do Not Learn from History

When I was young, I used to wonder why the people of Germany didn’t up and leave during the 1930s, when they saw how things were going in their country. Many of them did leave, but I understand now why many stayed. It was their home. They and their families had lived there for generations. They could not imagine how bad it would get. They assumed that somehow the country would right itself.
There were some who lacked the resources to leave.
There were those who stayed because they were all for the Nazi policies. Hey, let’s get rid of the Jews, the homosexuals, the crippled, the mentally deficient, everyone who is not part of the Aryan master race, and everyone who does not agree with us. Does any of that sound familiar?
My late husband, Rick, was an Army brat, and lived in Japan, Austria, and Germany as well as the United States when he was growing up. He and his family lived in Germany for two years, 1960-62, before they returned to the States and his father retired from the military.
I once asked him what the Germans had to say about World War II. He said they did not talk about it. He got the impression that children born after the war were not told what their country had been, and had done.
Last night I read this remark by Andrew Hummel-Schluger online, and asked if I could quote him, and he said yes, so here it is:
“In 1964, at the age of eight, I moved to Marburg, Germany. I lived there for most of a year. At eight, I didn't understand why, but I could feel an overwhelming sadness in the German people.
“It took a number of years before I realized that it was out of bewilderment and guilt. How could a country that they loved so much ... a country of such strong, positive people ... how could it have done such horrid things? How could it have turned away from every standard of decency in the world? How could the people of Germany allow that to happen?
“The United States is facing the same challenge. How can we, the people, allow our country to turn away from every standard of decency in the world? Will we, like the Germans of 20 years after WWII, wonder how we could allow our country to become a symbol of Evil across the world?”
Thanks, Andrew.
Last week high school, middle school, and college students all around Seattle walked out and demonstrated their rejection of Trump's election. It happened on Vashon, too. About 50 or 60 students went downtown and commandeered the four corners at the main intersection and held up their signs and chanted for over an hour.
Most of the people who drove by tooted their horns in support, did fist pumps, or thumbs up, or simply smiled and waved. A couple of adults who came to stand and watch had tears in their eyes and spoke of how seeing the kids gave them hope for the future.
Of course, a few people drove or walked by with their faces set and grim.
To the woman who was screaming at the kids, and others who flung insults and rude gestures at them: Your actions were a lesson to the kids on what happens when you stand up and speak your mind. I am grateful that the violence was only verbal. To the man in the camo jacket who tried to calm the screaming woman: thank you.
Fortunately, the first amendment is still in effect and the kids had a right to peaceably assemble. They gave some people a case of the gripes. One Washington state senator is going to attempt to make some protests a felony. Talk about sore winners.
A friend of mine told me recently that she knows some quite elderly Germans who did, in fact, get out of Germany in the 1930s, and thereby survived. They have told her that they recognized that the time to get out of this country was during the last Bush administration, but they were too old to go anywhere and start over again.
I am too old to go somewhere and start over. And where would I go? The tide of fascism is rising, here and in Europe. When Hitler and his cronies set up the Third Reich and his armies marched over Europe, millions perished, but the Allies opposed and defeated the Reich.
I can’t help but wonder who will oppose fascism this time.
I think it’s down to us.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Welcome to the Apocalypse. Please Be Seated.

When this is published, the election of 2016 will be history, or at least I hope it will be history. I can’t help but remember the 2000 election when we didn’t have a result for weeks after the election. Then we ended up with George W. Bush.
Al Gore later said, “America! Where any child can grow up to win the popular vote and still not be president!”
He had a right to be bitter.
So now I’m thinking about how to carry on, regardless of who has won, or not. If you are reading this, you are alive and functioning, and the world has not yet ended.
One of the advantages of getting old is being able to look back on all the crap you’ve survived. The Vietnam war, the Nixon presidency, the Reagan debacle and the steady downward plummet of the country and the middle class under other Republican administrations since, the realization that Bill Clinton was the best Republican president since Eisenhower, the terrorist attacks of 9/11, the ongoing, never ending wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and now the tragedy of hundreds of thousands of refugees fleeing wars and many thousands of them dying in the attempt.
In my personal world there have a been a few hard knocks as well, and I’m sure you have taken some hard knocks in your lifetime.
We’re still here.
Third party voters said they wanted to strike a blow for deconstructing the two-party system in this country. It used to be a joke: “If you vote, it just encourages them.”
I must say that Jill Stein (Green Party) seems a decent sort, and Gary Johnson (Libertarian) may not know what an Aleppo is, but he has a great sense of humor. I saw a clip of him on a talk show where the hostess was decrying the evils of marijuana, which Libertarians want to legalize.
There is a higher incidence of heart attacks, this lady said, in the first hour after someone has used marijuana. In the middle of her diatribe, Johnson grabbed his chest and fell out of his chair to the floor. The lady did not think it was funny, but I did.
Then there is Evan McMullin, a former CIA undercover operative and Republican, a current Independent, and a lifelong member of the LDS Church (Mormon). His plan was to pull enough electoral votes to come in third, so that neither Clinton nor Trump would have enough electoral votes to win. At that point the House of Representatives would choose a winner from among the top three. Maybe the House would choose him, and there he’d be, president of the USA.
Well, you never know. He is CIA.
What I was thinking is this, all you Trump and Hillary haters: if you’re serious about mounting a true third party that has some power in this country and can make a difference, now is the time to get fired up and get to work.
Oh, wait. The election’s over and all is lost and you’re going back to playing video games and following your social media, blaming everyone else for everything that goes wrong now because you didn’t vote for whoever will soon be president, so it’s not your fault.
Jeepers. And you wonder why bad things happen to good people.
There is life after elections, at least for now.
Now is the time to get organized and work for your goals.
Now is the time to work to make this country live up to your ideals. The passion of the election is history. Now it’s time to work on making your dreams happen, and do it with the faith that even if you don’t see the results you want in your own lifetime, you’ve done everything you could to push things in the right direction, and there will be others to take up where you leave off.
Now is the time to deal with the schism we have seen in this country. It’s an illusion, that schism – we are all Americans and we’re all in this together. Still, we disagree about basic premises so deeply that it has come to harsh words and hard blows. How violent must our disagreements become before we come to our senses and realize we need to pull together? I am afraid that we are going to find out.
Perhaps President Trump will shoot off his mouth and then shoot off a nuclear warhead and then we’ll all die and all our problems will be beside the point, but if that does not happen, we, and our children and grandchildren, must live on in this broken world, the only world we have.
Courage, my brothers and sisters. Have compassion for yourselves and one another. We are all in this together. Honest.

Monday, October 31, 2016

The End Is Near

The end is near, and never have so many people, believers and atheists alike, said, “Thank God.”
I have a couple of “whys” I want answered, though.
The first why is, “Why do people demonize Hillary?” I was startled by the vitriol directed at her when her husband was president. Why this blood in the eye, veins in the teeth, violent irrational behavior when it comes to Hillary? It is one thing to dislike and disagree with someone. It is something else again to completely lose your mind and your grip on reality.
The reality being that she is an old-school politician. Male politicians who have done things as bad or worse than the things of which Hillary has been accused are not despised or hounded as she has been. My goodness. Even people who believe that many of George W. Bush’s posse and W himself should be tried for war crimes don’t go shrieking berserk when they talk about it. When Hillary-haters talk about Hillary? Shrieking berserk.
I have a theory, of course. Hillary is an incredibly bright, competent woman. A lot of people hate that in a woman. Maybe such a woman makes people feel like little kids with a mother who knows and can do so much more than they can, and what will she do if she gets mad at them? That feeling of powerlessness and vulnerability at the prospect of angry mommy – maybe that’s why some people go ape poop haywire at the mention of Hillary.
It’s a theory. I don’t know.
I do know that when a Hillary-hater says, “I’m not a sexist,” I believe that about as much as when Obama-haters say, “I’m not a racist.”
The second “why” is, “Why in the world was Donald Trump ever taken seriously?” When I first heard he was running for president, I laughed. The man is a joke.
Well, the joke was on me. He has turned out to be exactly what I always thought he was, and worse, a guy who says something with one breath and denies he said it in the next, among other things. He’s the worst crazy-making boyfriend or girlfriend or roommate or parent you ever had.
I have a theory about his success, too.
Back during the W. Bush years, we all knew that W was a drinker. Then he became Christian, and God wanted him to be president. Well, that’s what he said.
It occurred to me that perhaps some people voted for W because they were trying to re-write their alcoholic childhood and have it come out right this time. That’s not uncommon behavior. The alcoholic says he’s changed, from now on he’s the good loving daddy you always wanted. Who doesn’t want to believe that? But it’s not a good reason to vote for someone.
So now comes the Donald - ignorant, arrogant, mean, dishonest, racist, snotty as a teenage bully, crooked as a dog’s hind leg (no disrespect intended toward dogs), willing to persecute groups of people, encouraging other people to be violent on his behalf - and some people love him. They do. They believe what he says because he says, “Believe me,” which for some of us is a tip off that we’ve heard a load of horse residue. His admirers don’t think he’ll ever turn all that craziness on them. He’ll make it okay to treat other people, especially female people, people of color, immigrants, Muslims, gay, lesbian, and transgender people, as less than human, again.
You know, like we’ve always done, to make ourselves feel okay because we cannot love ourselves as we are.
That’s why they love him.
Just my opinion.
If Hillary is elected, I know you will scoff at me, but try to work through the system as it is. Help Bernie Sanders and all your elected representatives to hold her to the Democratic platform. The kind of change you want does not happen overnight. Don’t be disappointed when it doesn’t. It took a long time to get where we are. It will take a long time to turn things around. You are fighting for yourself, yes, but you are fighting more for your children and grandchildren and their children, who will be dealing with the environmental changes that have been largely ignored during this election.
If Trump is elected, I would advise against fleeing to the Maldives. Most of that atoll nation will be sinking beneath the waves soon.
What some of us have learned is that evil is never finally defeated. It changes shape and keeps working. There are no happy endings, but there can be worthwhile and joyful and good lives.
I hope that when you wake up on November 9th, you will be inspired to work to improve our country and serve the greater good. We need that energy. We need that good intention.
We need each other.
Now, if you haven’t already, get out there and vote.