I’m back and I’m political

It’s been awhile, months even, since I’ve posted. I’ve been doing a lot of thinking, a lot of writing, and a lot of talking (face-to-face) with people particularly skilled in the art of communication. I’ve come to terms with many things about myself, my life . . . . Introspection, I believe, is the term. It’s been rough. But it’s been real. In the 39 years I’ve been alive I’ve made some mistakes. I’ve done some things I regret. I’ve misunderstood the way the world works. I’ve always thought I was enlightened but I was wrong. And now I can no longer stay silent in my safe white male privilege about the situations arising everywhere. Better late than never, right?

Anyway.

Here’s what I got.

To those marching, I support you and though I was not able to make it out last weekend, I’m sure there will be more. When there are, I will go and be a white male shield if that’s what I need to be. To those protesting, I support you and will join you as well. Hell, to those rioting, I can find reasons to support you too, for it was Martin Luther King Jr. who said, “A riot is the language of the unheard.” Much like him, I don’t like violence. That said, much like him, I get it . . . and the future isn’t written so who knows . . . someday I may join you too. I may not have grown up a minority, but I spent the first 10 years of my life bouncing from trailer park to trailer park. My children both benefited from Iowa’s WIC program. I’ve been poor. Because of that, I’ve felt unheard. True, my white male privilege has prevented me from feeling it as keenly as minorities, immigrants, women, the LGBTQIA community, and many many others, but I’ve felt it.

Anyway.

While Trump and his cronies have duped many like me into believing someone with power is finally listening to the little people, they haven’t duped all of us. The size of the marches says this. The overwhelming anti-Trump content on social media says this. The underwhelming size of the crowds at the inaugural parade and festivities says this. The fact that many of us are noticing that Trump’s inaugural speech was (among other things we won’t speak of) about giving America back to the people, while his first official act made it slightly more difficult for the poor to get and maintain homes, says this. The fact that Trump’s press secretary’s first official press conference was a vitriolic lie parade says this. The fact that Trump’s advisor went on Meet the Press and used the phrase “alternative facts” to describe Spicer’s (the press secretary) lies and was summarily destroyed by Chuck Todd . . . and the internet says this.

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I don’t know who made this, but the person is a satirical genius.

Anyway.

It also says something else, something better.

It says that Trump’s presidency, Brexit, and the rest, are not symbolic of the end of an era of Change. Rather, they are the petulant and ignorant dying gasps of an outdated mode of thought. As I observe this moribund shift, I’m reminded of Denethor from JRR Tolkien‘s The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King. Denethor fears Change too. Denethor blames others for his woes. He cries foul at his friends and falls victim to the whims of his enemy. While outside his fortress, his people fight actual evil invaders, Denethor, because of his fear, succumbs to the Eye of Sauron. As he succumbs, he tries to murder his son and eventually kills himself on a brutal pyre. Trump, and those who follow/agree with him, are Denethor. If left unchecked, their fear will lead to policies that will destroy the world and the society we’ve built, and in that destruction, so too will they fall. But that is something they refuse to see, for they are blinded by fear. It is not so much that they are all racists or that they are all homophobes or bigots. Many of them are simply afraid of Change. They are afraid because their ideals have no place in our ever progressing world. They are fading fast. Unfortunately, much like a dying animal, that is when they are most dangerous.

We progressives, however, are not afraid of those afraid of Change. We are also not afraid of White Nationalists (Nazis). We are not afraid of racists, homophobes, and those who mock wisdom, intelligence, and education. We are not afraid of the climate change deniers and those who hide hate behind religious rhetoric. We are not afraid of the super rich and remarkably unqualified who will make up the next presidential cabinet. We are not afraid of the politicians (on both sides of the aisle) who have lied and lied and lied and hoarded wealth like hundreds of Scrooge McDucks. We are not afraid of their talking heads, any of them.

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Here is where Scrooge McDuck keeps his money… I wonder where your senator keeps his… probably right next to his all-inclusive healthcare.

Instead, we pity them and the impending end of their rule, of their ideals, and their selfishness. We pity them and their inability to Change.

Truth be told though, we probably shouldn’t. They have worn blinders and willfully ignored History which is all about Change. In case you’ve missed it, this fear of Change has been and always will be their downfall. I’ll admit, with Trump and Brexit, it looks like they’re going out with a bombastic bang. But Change, much like her brother Time, cannot be stopped. Virtually any history book not published by a massive Texas-based text-book company shows the truth of this statement.

As a middle-aged white man in middle America, I may look like many of those blinder wearing conservatives, but while they gaze longingly at an imagined past with nostalgic (hallucinogenic?) eyes, I, much like Peter Leyden, look to the future with hopeful ones.

 

 

The inevitable growth of hope in times of despair

After last week’s tragic shooting in Orlando, a certain ‘politician’s’ reaction to it, and today’s woefully expected senate decision, I was losing any semblance of hope for the future. In fact, my first go at this week’s post was titled “Donald Trump is the devil (and so is everyone else really).” I researched Trump, checked his background (son of an immigrant and married to immigrants BTW), and listened to several of his nonsensical speeches.

He actually used the phrase “proved out bigly” in a speech about how he is a friend to the LGBTQ+ community.

I picked up on the repetition in the way he talks, using so many words without saying anything at all. I noted his hyperbolic utterances and broad generalizations and felt fear as the crowds cheered. It was all so . . . depressing. I also went down racist/homophobic rabbit holes on Twitter. There’s more but I don’t care to share.

Anyway.

Somehow, thinking about these awful people and who I perceive to be the living embodiment of the worst Id that ever existed (Trump), got me to thinking about Mark Twain. I know, a strange jump. But not really. I mean, it makes sense to wonder how a man like Twain would have reacted to a man like Trump. What sardonic, witty series of one-liners would Twain have gifted us with, had he lived another 100-odd years to see this blowhard tip-toe toward the presidency?

Oh man, whatever they would have been, they would have been sweet.

Oddly, this got me feeling hopeful again. I admit it is genuinely strange how thinking of this led me back to hope. Maybe it’s just that the thought of Twain laying into Trump was so amusing it made me happy. I needed that. After all, I was genuinely sad. I mean, while mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, husbands, wives, children, cousins, aunts, uncles, grandparents, and friends mourn 49 different murders; pundits, politicians, preachers, and social media mavens argue gun control, terrorism, immigration rights, nationalism, racism, and homophobia. I think what disturbed me the most was that we have done this before.

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Battlestar Galactica for the win.

Look, America has a long and storied history of violence and hate. Say what you will about how great a country it is, this cannot be denied. And I don’t know the solution to the mess we’re currently in. I think stricter gun control laws would help. I think less xenophobia and racism would help. I think a better public education system that isn’t hindered by state testing and federal mandates would help. I think more funding for veteran aid, mental illness research/assistance, and social services would help. I think fewer loopholes in tax laws for corporations would help. I think less money in politics would help. I think vocal opposition to ignorance, nationalism, and racism would help . . . .

It’s a long list of what I think would help, mostly though, I think hope would help. When a guy like me, a guy who strives to find the bright side in everything, is having a difficult time of it, you know hope is in short supply.

But it isn’t gone. All I had to do was think of Mark Twain lambasting Donald Trump and I was back on top.

Couple it with action and the monsters can be stopped. What action though?

That’s easy. All you have to do is base all of what you do on one driving idea:

Be nice.

Hope comes naturally.

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