Hope Is Working Out

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DDSome mornings I think how different my routines are from many in America, wondering about the forces of waking up that set their day and influence their lives. I am especially wondering about a young 18 year old local male arrested locally for a gun shot murder committed during a robbery he carried out with a friend. During his arraignment, he cursed the grandmother of the young man he killed, interrupting her statement to the court to say “fuck you.”

His words broke me to pieces. No rage or sadness, no anger and despair, not any combination of emotions and feelings can tell you the empty, swirling dark pit his words created in the void of his own humanity. He is exactly one of the predators that the Black Lives Matter movement protested that Hillary stigmatized in her statement about predators during the height of the crack epidemic that left bodies littered on the streets and sidewalks in poor neighborhoods in America’s cities back in the 1990s. I remember those days; bodies turned up in front of a corner store I shopped in (the owners didn’t close), even doors away on the street where I lived.

History requires context. An understanding of the broad forces that shape thinking and actions, but murder is madness to the extreme; it defies context. Never is there call to threaten or take someone’s life. Death doesn’t come from seeds of poverty or anger, from family dysfunction, from gangs or a code of respect; murder is a evil willingness to waste someone’s divine gift, ending their life, taking away their laughter and smile, the rhythm of their walk, their morning transition to separate them from those who loved them and found joy in their attention and voices.

The poor and angry are often the victims of murder, but so are the innocent, young and old. No matter the outside forces, murder means something has snapped within. That criminal’s reported curse made me feel the same way as Zimmerman’s offer to sell the gun he used to kill Florida teenager Trayvon Martin. Zimmerman wants to auction online the revolver returned to him after he was found not guilty for the killing of Trayvon Martin, who was talking on his cell phone just minutes after Zimmerman disobeyed a police dispatcher’s order and shot Trayvon after he followed him and engaged Trayvon in a fight.

The violence of the profanity, its horror, made he think of another local crime. The slaughter of nine church members who attended a prayer meeting, deliberately killed in the church after praying by a young man who planned the murders to start a race war incited by the murderous injustice he had chosen as its trigger–by repeatedly pulling the trigger of a gun.

I hear the attitudes of the NRA in the curse of the grandmother, in the planned auction of a famous racial murder weapon, and in the premeditated action of a spree killer who left a digital manifesto drawn from white supremacist views. In all, I find a void that I can not describe. I see protesters promising to hurt others; I read internet threats of murder and death, of rape and violence over politics, without a discussion of issues or logic or process. I remember New York City cops, after Eric Gardner was choked to death on Long Island, his last words, repeated nine times, “I can’t breathe,” wearing t-shirts they printed saying, I Can Breathe. Their callousness took my breathe away.

I choked when recently Clarence Thomas, in a 7 – 1 decision, became the only dissenting Supreme Court justice to vote against overturning a conviction based on overwhelming evidence that Georgia prosecutors disqualified jurors based on race in the capital trial whose verdict was being appealed. Despite discussing cases collectively, Thomas could not be dissuaded by argument or fact. In the circle of injustice and death, a cursed grandma, an auctioned gun, mocking tee shirts, a justice ruling in favor of rigged justice–each out of place in the prism of truth that we seek to abide. Add Cleveland’s horrific 137 bullet execution of an unarmed couple during the end of 20 mile car chase, with an officer firing 49 times into the car and victims while standing on its hood.

I am losing strength and patience. A wall won’t restore it. Banning Muslims won’t reduce the burdens my heart feels. Deporting 12 million undocumented workers and separating families won’t help. Mocking our differences is not a restorative tonic. I do not want this to become a chronic condition.

My online I Ching casting was sympathetic. It asked, “What are you sure of in your heart when nothing else is sure? How can you flow on and through the dark?” (From “The Abysmal or Chasms.”) It changed into the assessment: “What limits apply here? What agreements are at work?” In times of pain, limits have to be set within and we make agreements with ourselves: “Thus the superior man walks in lasting virtue. And carries on the business of teaching.”

Barack–President Obama–my guy–is in Vietnam this week, speaking to the officials and youth leaders of the country, a country with which we had a long and bloody war. So have called his visit self-serving, saying it has no purpose except to pad his legacy. They see no role for or significance in the free world’s leader, its best example of democracy and merit, speaking to national officials about corruption and about education to youth who will be tomorrow’s global leaders.

In one town hall outing in Hanoi, he requested a young woman, a rap star in Vietnam, to free style and provided a beat; she asked if he wanted it in English or Vietnamese. Vietnamese,he said. Not knowing the words, her gestures, suggestive of thugs, associated with violent lyrics, of actions without a conscience made me shudder in reflex. When asked by the President what her words meant, I found myself crying. In this language I did not understand, she had given old gestures new meanings. She reminded me not to dwell, to leave what cannot be explained. She said she sung of material things and their contrast with hope.

Antonyms 2016

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Grumpy2Grumpy: Mouse, can I be serious for a change? Not grumpy, just serious? Totally out of character, I know!

I think Election 2016 is boiling down to one word, antonyms. I suppose all elections boil down to the differences between world views but somehow this cycle seems to be an exaggeration of that norm. Think about the following antonyms that can be applied to 2016:


In no particular order let’s look at those five.

We have certainly seen plenty of ego on display in the last year. Proclamations ranging from claiming to be God’s chosen to claiming righteousness derived from being able to deal and steal. Humility has been harder to spot although I think it has occasionally been demonstrated. The funny thing is that it seems the ones who have been most able to spot that humility are the ones displaying the most ego. Unfortunately while they recognize the humility they are convinced it is weakness and contrive to label it as such and use it to bolster their own ego.

Of course politics and ego must go hand in hand. To run for any office one must have enough ego to believe they can solve problems. But it is also important to have ones ego tempered by a humble realization that those solutions are not easy and that “it takes a village” to borrow a phrase. Some seem to understand that while others only seem to understand bluster and boast.

Acceptance is hard to come by for most people while denial is easy. As a Democrat I had to accept the outcome of the 2000 election. I had to accept the fact that Gore stopped fighting when I wanted to fight on. It was easy for me to deny my role in how we got to having to accept the fact of a George Bush presidency. I also readily accepted my view of the role that Nader and his supporters played while denying my own role. Could I have done more? Could I, or enough people like me, have convinced Al Gore to seek a recount of the entire state thereby taking away the excuse SCOTUS used to give the election to Bush? Could I have convinced enough Nader voters to vote for Gore if I had done more to reach out to them? On the other hand what role has this accept/deny quandary played in the minds of the Nader contingent of voters? Is it still playing out in this years Democratic primary process through the Sanders’ campaign. I think it is and accept that it is but I then must also accept that I have a role to play if I do not want to see a repeat of 2000 and be forced to accept a Trump presidency.

Turmoil has certainly been abundant in 2016. Violent clashes at campaign rallies have been more the norm than the exception, or so it seems anyway. We’ve seen sucker punches and chair throwing. We’ve seen booing drown out cheering and cheering drown out booing. Somehow I want to believe that it is only the immediacy of the moment that makes it seem so much worse now than in the past. Still I do not remember analogies to Nazis ever seeming more apt and less hyperbolic. We even seem to have the same clashing groups that marched and fought in the streets of Germany in the 1930’s the “Socialists” and “Fascists”. Are we truly doomed to repeat history because enough of us have not learned from history?

I used the label “conflict” above but could easily have used “war” in its place. For certain candidates war and the threat of war is defined as the only solution to a world filled with unrest. For other candidates only a peace can beget peace. It may seem like an esoteric thought experiment but can we define either term without reference to the other? We have conflict and war seemingly everywhere today. We also have those striving for peace wherever there is war but all too often the peacemakers fail to understand the warriors and simply condemn them. What we have too little of is talking between the warriors and the peacemakers and certainly even less between the competing warriors. In this election we have a choice between three sides; warriors, pacifists and diplomats. At least the diplomats are willing to try to bring the sides together. I think I will choose the diplomatic side.

Finally we come to active and passive. Passivity, for better or worse, has always been a part of my nature. I tend to try waiting things out, especially in tough situations. I see a passive approach as always being preferable to confrontation. To me confrontation always causes hurt. But confrontation is not the only antonym for passivity, there is also action. Can we take action without confrontation? I think we can and, in fact, we must because being passive in 2016 could very well mean a Trump presidency. That action will take on as many faces as there are people willing to be activists. Any action can result in a positive or negative outcome of course but we must have enough humility to accept that fact but also enough ego to keep on trying. We have to try to be peaceful in the face of conflict but diplomatic in trying to resolve the issues dividing us and causing the conflict. We cannot be in denial of our own roles in causing the conflict. Denial is self defeating.

We have only a few months to go in the 2016 election cycle. A very short time that will have a very long lasting impact on the future. Let’s get going, let’s take action.

Sunday Talks for 5/22/16

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