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.

First World Reflections

I was carrying a big sloppy bowl of compost out to the heap in the back yard this morning when I noticed that now that we eat a mostly vegetarian menu, the compost looks a lot like the food. It was one of those sobering moments when I paused to consider that what I throw out as waste here would in some places be considered a meal.
I have heard of people in other parts of the world who eat only every other day so they can pay for their schooling, or simply because they can only afford to eat every other day.
Which got me thinking about all the foods we eat or drink that are in some stage of decay. How do you suppose people got started looking at things that were rotting, tasting them, and saying, okay, I’m going to call that food? I’m going to go out on a limb and suggest that rotting things became classified as food because people were hungry.
It is not rotting anymore, but fermented, or aged, or cured. Thus we have sauerkraut, kim chi, kombucha, alcohol, and all the decaying milk products. Yum.
It came to my attention recently that there is a push to enlighten people on the beneficial effects of fermented foods. Yeah, okay, fine. I am old now, and cranky. All right, crankier. I have seen many food fads come and go. “You must eat this.” “You must not eat that.”
I have heard of the evils of trans-fats, nitrites, nitrates, sugar, soft drinks, diet soft drinks, dairy, meat, processed meat, processed anything, yeast, gluten, too many/not enough calories or carbs or fats, not enough water, and so on. If a human being has eaten or drunk it, some other human being has figured out why no one should eat or drink it.
These food rules and prohibitions seem like a first world problem to me. We have so much food we can turn up our first world noses at things we are told we should not ingest. Pretty nice for us, huh?
Presently I am stony broke, but I am stony broke on Vashon Island. I have a home. I have a car. The car has gas in the tank.
I have food in the cupboard. I throw rotting food into the compost. I go to the food bank up on the hill once a week and pick up a couple of bags of groceries. The people at the food bank are really nice.
I have clean safe water to drink, and I don’t have to walk anywhere with a bucket or barrel to get the water and carry it home. It comes right into my house in pipes, and I can have water any time, some of it hot, by turning on a faucet. Wow.
Granted, sometimes the water service is interrupted, and sometimes we get told not to drink the water without boiling it, and sometimes the hot water heater needs to be replaced. What a pain.
It’s first world pain, people. If a pipe breaks here and you lose your water, there are people working frantically day and night to fix the problem and get the water back on. Or maybe you are the one who has to do the frantic work on your little water system, so not so far from the third world, eh?
I have a dog and a cat. I keep animals for affection and companionship rather than for food.
While I do worry about money, it’s more gentle being poor in this time and place than it would be in a lot of other times and places. Plus, lots of things have happened in my lifetime which were worse than running out of money, which gives me some perspective.
When I was young I was often broke, and had to learn how to survive without a lot of money. I’m re-learning some of those old skills, and continuing some behaviors that have worked for me all the way along, like sitting on the kitchen porch, watching the birds, and listening to the breeze in the tall trees. The cat’s in my lap, kneading and drooling. The dog is out there lying in one of the year’s last warm patches of sunshine. She is feeling all the bliss of a short-haired dog in a cool climate.
We’re all feeling pretty good at home.
There is life after broke here in the first world. It’s good to remember that.

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The Lie That Drives Our Country Mad

We have become aware of how easy it is for a black person, especially a male black person, to be killed for no reason at all.
Along with that awareness comes the realization that the killing has been going on ever since there were white people on this continent, and black people whom white people thought they could kill with impunity.
I first became aware of the slaughter of black people in the 1960s. Along with the assassinations of figures like Jack Kennedy, his brother Bobby Kennedy, and Martin Luther King, Jr., there were other murders. Like today, many of the people who were killed were black. Black leaders, civil rights workers, or black people who were minding their own business were murdered in those years.
Who were they?
We’ll start with Emmett Till, a 14-year-old boy from Chicago who was visiting family in Mississippi in August, 1955. He was said to have flirted with a white woman. Three nights later he was taken from his relatives’ home by the woman’s husband and her brother, beaten, mutilated, shot, and thrown in the Tallahatchie River.
His murderers were captured and brought to trial. They were acquitted by a white jury. They then sold the story of how they killed Emmett Till to Look Magazine.
When Emmett’s mother, Mamie Till Bradley, received his body in Chicago and saw Emmett’s remains, she decided to have an open casket funeral. Because of her decision, tens of thousands of people attended his funeral and saw him in his casket. Pictures of him were published in newspapers and magazines, provoking outrage and sympathy among people who saw him. The lynching of Emmett Till gave impetus to the civil rights movement that would gain traction and momentum through the 50s and 60s. His murder was a lit match thrown into dry tinder.
But Emmett Till was only one.
There was James Earl Chaney, who, along with two white civil rights workers, was shot and buried in an earth work dam.
Medgar Evers, shot by a sniper in the driveway of his home.
Addie Mae Collins, Denise McNair, Carole Robertson, and Cynthia Wesley, four young black girls who died in the basement of their church when it was bombed one Sunday morning.
Jimmie Lee Jackson, beaten and shot by state troopers while trying to protect his grandfather and his mother. His death led to the Selma-Montgomery march.
Martin Luther King, Jr., shot by a sniper while standing on a balcony outside his motel room.*
Now defenseless black people are killed, some of them children, and we are told that the police thought they were dangerous. Thanks to cell phone videos and dashboard cams we can see with our own eyes the nonsense of the lies we are told.
Racism has been with us since before our country was a country. It is the huge fault in our bedrock. It remained somewhat covert, at least to white people, for a few decades, from the 1970s until 2008. With Obama’s election racists became too enraged to remain silent and hidden anymore, apparently.
Racists are open and loud with their racism these days. The rhetoric is violent. They are encouraged by their numbers, by each other. It is open season on black people, especially black men and boys, but women are being killed, too. It always has been open season on black people in this country, and black people have always known that. White people were able to ignore it.
Racism is an insidious lie. I was raised on it, and even though I thought I didn’t buy into it, even though I always thought it was wrong, it took me a long time to learn that some jokes weren’t funny, and that some of the language and ideas I took for granted were wrong and hurtful and part of a culture that condoned and carried on killing black people as if they were not really human beings.
I’m still learning. I still carry my racist upbringing with me, as we all do.
Racism is a lie, a psychotic lie, a mind and heart breaking lie that is a part of who we are in this country. It poisons the air we breathe. It pollutes the blood in our veins. It drives us mad.
Will there ever come an end to racism in America? Not in my lifetime. I can only hope and pray and work for racism to be no more. That’s all I can think to do, that, and always to call racism by its right name: a damned lie.

*This is an extremely small sample of people who were murdered in those days. If you want to see a more complete list, google “civil rights martyrs.”