A Child’s Rain

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Soundtrack “Bird On A Wire” by Joe Bonamassa.

I run my hand along the rough red brick wall. If you could touch truth, this is what it would feel like, if you could wear yesterday, it would fit like this. Brick buildings never age, unlike most things, they never grow old, they are the silent sentinels keeping watch at eternities gate. Time is in the raindrop that erodes away the mightiest of mountains one patient drop at a time—-We never seem to notice the passage of time until one day the mountain is gone.

Brick and mortar merges man’s creative life-force with natures unfaltering power to endure. ——Such walls keep some things out and other things in——-it all depends on what side of the wall you find yourself falling or standing——

I envision all of those perfect rust colored bricks meticulously hand laid, so even, so artfully composed——-the craftsman’s sweat droplets mixed in the slurry and forever embedded within the cured cement—–blood, sweat and tears, like long lost fossils hidden between the layers of time.

Long after another generation’s life-story has been told and then consigned to oblivion, these edifices remain as statues to a forgotten past—— bricks like memories, one stacked upon the other—— one timeless moment entombed within a dying eternity.————-Tell me this?  Why the brevity of life, we’re here then gone, everything and everyone just passing through, my grip on the ephemeral is slipping, the impermanence of it all has me chasing tomorrows horizon on this lonely highway.

Skyscrapers are impressive because of their hight. But there is no romance in their architecture. Their birth pushed out into loveless cement forms and fitted together with the support of I-beams. The spaces we live in define our culture. Our cities are gray, cold and crowded with despair, boxes within boxes, where men while away their lives in cubicles, sucking recirculated air, no songbirds cooing outside the tinted windows, only the ever present monotonous hum of air conditioners—–there’s no place to hide from those harsh florissant lights, the computer screen is our window to the world, the feel of cool damp grass no longer beneath our feet——it’s a landscape of migraines, mind-games and lost virtues. All the symmetrical lines make the few remaining trees and plants seem out of place.

All the old buildings in my hometown are constructed of stubborn bricks. There is grandeur in those old buildings, the church with its pious stained-glass windows, the honorable courthouse and contemplative library. These buildings of stone reminds us of our need for safety, shelter and community.  I feel holy when standing in the ancient brick church with it’s towering steeple—-it pierces the heavens like a hypodermic needle, injecting god’s blue sky with silent prayers.

The first time I saw rain, I asked my mother what it was, this water falling from the sky. And she said it’s rain. I thought a child’s thought, how wondrous, this thing called rain, water falling from the sky cleansing the streets and sweetly scenting the world. Who’d of thought up such a phenomenal thing?

The rain made all the old red bricks appear new again. Everyone was in a hurry to escape the rain, but I stayed outside to enjoy this spectacle of water falling from the sky. I stood there with hands outstretched, head tilted back, mouth open, tasting rain, feeling rain.

I once asked my mother about the tiny specks of light twinkling in the night sky.  She said they are stars and that there are billions and billions of them—- they are like our sun, but millions of light years away.  She said some of these stars have already burned themselves out and we are looking at light from their past. I thought a child’s thought, these things called stars are even more mysterious than rain. I sat on the porch staring up at the Milky Way galaxy—–Rain and stars, how unbelievable yet beautiful.

Maybe this is what Buddha contemplated while meditating under his Bodie Tree. At peace with oneself and the universe, walking the middle path of love between the yen and the yang——intertwined with everything yet separate…….Insignificant and small, yet omnipotent and omniscient———wandering between the birth and death of each moment———Nirvana——-

Paint Me A Picture Green and Blue

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If love were a color, it would be green——like the traffic light that screams GO!—like the grass that’s always greener on the other-side, green like a twenty dollar bill earned the hard way—– leaving you one blistered heart, its in that sweet scent of sappy pine needles in early June, rare like a four leaf clover, it’s in her emerald flecked eyes, like the squirt from a lime after a shot of Cuervo——–but never the color of envy—–

My love is blue, like the deepest part of the ocean, like the sound of Muddy Water’s graveled voice singing “You Shook Me”, as wide open as a cloudless Summer sky, it’s the blue that flickers at the tip of a campfire flame, it’s in the bluish colored veins showing through her ivory skinned neck, a river of life rushing from her quaking heart, her body like a little factory producing beauty, it’s hiding within a cold azure tiki drink—-it’ll kick your ass like a stiff right hook to the soul.

Time is transparent, you can’t see it as it passes through you. I remember all the little things in my wake, the big things are chapters in a book I’ve reread a thousand times. I never tire of my memories, even though they can sometimes leave me sad and nostalgic, the fleetingness of time sifting though an hour glass, grains of sand like moments slipping by—-slipping away.

I once thought that if I talked faster, lived faster that I’d get more living out of life. But no, I got it all wrong, it’s exactly the opposite, the slower I live, the more of life I absorb. I also once thought that the harder I prayed, the more god would turn my wants and desires into reality. But, God doesn’t care about my hopes and dreams, what concerns him more, is how I walk through the fire, how I carry myself—–do I cower in fear? Do I hold another fire-walker’s sweaty palm? Do I piss on the coals?  Is the heat an oven to melt sandwiches of gram-cracker, marshmallow and chocolate into S’mores? How do you make your way across the coals—–doing your tip toed river dance while passing through….Cause were all just passing through…..Dancing on the sharp edged blade between chance and fate…..

Paint me a picture green and blue.

Warrior Poet

Soundtrack “It’s The Same” by JD Souther.

1773-4 Unknown

Warrior Poet

The world is overflowing with writers but it gives birth to few warrior poets. A writer will tell you the temperature of a room, the hues of a dying day, the silent movement of shadows on pavement, the changing phases of the moon or maybe describe the light cast during a particular time of day in autumn. A poet bypasses all this obvious crap, but instead shines a blinding light on the darkest corners of your soul—–cause deep down we’re all the same, we share a common misery, we suffer a shared sadness—–and once a poem takes you there, you’ll never come back the same.

You can fall out of love with someone and still get it back. But, once you fall “Out of like” with a person it’s gone forever———irretrievable——irreversible. We fall in love for crazy reasons. You may love someone for their hair, for the shape of their ass, or maybe its the car they drive. It may be the clothes they wear, or what they look like naked. Sometimes it’s the title attached to their name, their possessions, or the size of their bank account. Love’s a superficial and primal emotion that can lead to murder——-to madness—–to jealousy and pandemonium—–not to mention unintended pregnancies and failed marriages. Love makes fools of us all. The fruits of love is bedlam—–it decays ones ability to reason. You stumble around love drunk, saying and doing things you’ll regret in the morning.

Its possible to live with someone you no longer love, but living with someone you no longer like can drive you to homicidal fantasies.  If you no longer love someone, you can still exist as roommates.  You can divvy up expenses and household chores—–you can even share a pizza and a movie.  But once you no longer like someone it becomes extremely painful to be in the same room, breathing the same air.

To be “In like” with someone is to be enamored with the way they carry themselves. It’s who they reveal themselves to be in a dark musty hotel room at 3:12 am on a rainy Tuesday—-after the buzz has worn off——- and the loud music is replaced by dark confessions——modesty and clothes lay tangled on the floor———all the piddly ass small talk gives way to restive honesty.  There’s no place to hide once we’re stripped of our vanities.

Love is the illusion of what you hoped another person to be——a fleeting mirage composed of phony pleasantries, a facade concealing an alien beneath the mask. Authenticity is the rarest of human commodities.

Liking someone is how the other person makes you feel about yourself. I like how Maya Angelou put it “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”  A friend helps you untangle who you thought you were from who you no longer want to be.

You’ll know a true friend cause they give you energy when you feel like giving up. Their presence makes you smile. They make you laugh at yourself——at the world——-at the futility and absurdity of it all. They’ll open your eyes and mind to unforseen possibilities? Their sadness makes you sad. They’ll turn an ordinary day into something extraordinary. If stranded on a desert island this is the person you’d choose to have by your side. They’re the one you want to share your time with, because time is all life really is. They make you feel alive? When you’re “In like” with someone, you want nothing to be different then the way they are.

We’re living in sandcastles waiting and watching as high tide slowly creeps ever closer. The waves are unrepentant, they crumble the walls you’ve built brick by brick over a lifetime.

Vitamin L Is Newly Discovered Miracle Drug

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Soundtrack “Shower the People” by James Taylor.

I feel myself falling apart, cracking up, dissolving into mist. Age seems to have made me uncomfortable with all I once felt to be inevitable——I’ve come to believe anything is possible if I only open myself to it.

The things that once kept me in orbit around my identity have lost their gravity. My career, relationships, friendships, possessions and money have lost value. This isn’t a mid-life crisis, it’s more about wanting to see what’s behind the movie screen—-what’s real, what’s illusion, who really know’s me, who do I really know——-it’s not a depression—-it’s a compression. It’s life closing in on me———something is slipping away, time is running out——I’m teetering between shadow and substance. I’m calling this deaf-mute universe out. Is love a bluff? Is god a fairy-tale? Is truth attainable——-What becomes of us all?

Unimaginable things seep from beneath my consciousness. I drift through deserted cities. I float above dreamscapes of forgotten worlds. From the corner of my mind there arise the faces of lost lovers from past lives .  There’s a sweet sadness to it all—–not knowing what becomes of us all.

I’ve decided to let go of all meaning and purpose and simply accept that—“What is “is”, and what ain’t, “ain’t”—That’s my hillbilly Zen koan. It’s the letting go of all the things I’ve fought and struggled to hold onto in a desperate desire to give “me” a connection to this odyssey called life——-the harder I’ve tried to grasp friendship and love, the more they’ve slipped away. The things that once made sense have fallen by the wayside, what once mattered no longer matters. I feel myself moving past, through and beyond all physical trappings.

I need a best friend, a girl to love and a faithful dog——I suppose one out of three ain’t bad.. Don’t people realize that we all crave appreciation, complements and a feeling of being special to someone. We all need to be held, loved and told how valued we are. If those closest to us fail to do these things, then who will? Yet we seldom do.  It’s no wonder friends become estranged and lovers settle for tepid routine over burning passion.

I’m no longer gonna be the complementer, the conversation mover or the open ear to those that have nothing to offer me in return. Maybe that’s mean, vengeful and petty, but my time has grown to precious and my universe to small to make room for emotional hermits.

I once had a best friend who showed no interested in my writing or my music projects. It was a foreign land he choose not to visit. I’d wait for him to say something complementary or maybe offer an insightful comment about a line or two I’d written——- but he never did— How can you claim to be someones closest friend, and yet never book passage into their world.  Our relationship became one dimensional. I’d listen to his stories and encourage him when he was down. I was inquisitive and attentive to his travails.  I’d complement his victories, support his dreams and find ways to ease his worries. One day I stopped returning his phone calls. He left me several  messages asking why I never returned his calls——go figure?

My simple recipe for a lasting friendship is simple, show an interest in their soul-hood, be attentive to their heart-fullness (two simple steps)———Amongst all the meaningless bullshit you may share; compassion is the duct tape that will hold your relationships together. Through all of life’s peril, it’s the simple gestures of empathy and kindness that keep the paths of companionship parallel.

I once had a lover who grew loveless. We tolerated one another, we’d forgotten how to please one another.  If you truly love someone, you know the things that please them and conversely, you know the things that piss them off. My recipe for an enduring love affair is simple—— Do the things that please that person and don’t do the things that piss them off (two simple steps).

Deprived of vitamin L (love) all living things die.  Studies have shown that babies who’ve been neglected fail to thrive. Without love they curl up into a little ball and silently pass away.  Love is as essential to our survival as air and food.  Babies need to be rocked, caressed and softly spoken to. They need to know that when they cry out someone will come to comfort them.  It saddens me to know that there are adults who’ve given up on love.  They’ve given up on affection—-they no longer reach out for someone to hold—–they’ve stopped calling out to be comforted.  Inside they’re literally “dying” to be loved.

What are we waiting for? Life is brief and it’s later than we realize——Anything is possible if we only open ourselves to it——Kick down the door, dynamite the debris, let your light shine into someones lonely bubble———Love is the only passport needed to enter another’s world—-“Shower the people you love with love, show them the way that you feel.” James Taylor.

Fool On The Hill

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Soundtrack “Fool On The Hill” by the Beatles.

Me at the presidential inauguration.

“The problem with the world is that the intelligent people are full of doubts, while the stupid ones are full of confidence.” Charles Bukowski.

“You can fool all the people some of the time, and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time.” Abraham Lincoln

 

Throwing Blind Bricks At Jealous Gods

December 9th, 2009 @ 10:58:28

Soundtrack “A Different Corner” by George Michael.

I’d take raw emotion over a calm and collective indifference. Indifference is a wall built of blind bricks———nobody see’s their own loneliness from the outside in.  The opposite of love isn’t hate, but rather indifference. It’s that mute emotion of not giving a damn———-Nobody hears the screams of their own loneliness from the inside out. Love is the tiny kindnesses we toss like pennies into a beggars heart shaped cup. Why do we deny one another passage into each others world?

I knew a girl who was childlike; she protected her stained-glass heart. Like all things of beauty, it was fragile and transcendental. She walked on rainbows, she called to the thunder, ——-and she smiled with the eyes of a child, wide open with wonder. She was impetuous, headstrong, soul-strong. She was shy, mystical, complicated, sensual and not yet broken by the restraints of womanhood.

She found the door to my world carelessly unlocked. She strolled through all of my dusty rooms flooding her light on my dark empty spaces. Her eyes fractured the morning sunlight casting tiny prisms on the walls, ceiling and floor. Her breath billowed through my sheer drapes. She smelled of citrus, her skin was salty and savory like the sea. She let me move through her, we moved in unison, we swelled, we crested and then violently crashed in on ourselves.

Outside, their cites burned, their temples crumbled and the laws of the righteous went unheeded. We trespassed into the forbidden garden———and we defied the rule of jealous gods……………as we found eternal love in a mortal’s world.

The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb. Isaiah 11:6: A call for revolution

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Soundtrack, “Get Up Stand Up” by Bob Marley

“The answer my friend is blowing in the wind, the answer is blowing in the wind.” I could’ve sworn that I heard that wobbly melody playing in my head the other day. The original vagabond and singer of protest song is now the Noble Prize winner in literature. And it leaves me wondering, how much change has really taken place since 1962 when that song was first released. Even Dylan doesn’t sing protest songs any longer, instead he mumbles songs from the Great American Song Book. It was never his singing voice, guitar or harmonica playing that made him a legend; he once was angry and had something to say——-“Yes, and how many times can a man turn his head And pretend that he just doesn’t see?”

Where’s the rage and the contempt for the established authority? Where’s the cadre of enraged youth demanding that the old guard move aside so that they can fix the mess they’ve been left by their parents? There’s a pervasive complacency in the world today that frightens me. There’s nihilism where idealism once reinvented itself with each new generation. When did the power of music, investigative journalism and critical thinking fall out of vogue? When did taking to the streets in protest get replaced by insipid tweets, trendy FB posts, and lame blogs——-insert angry emoji here.

It’s not as if the world has evolved into a kinder and gentler place. To the contrary, if you take a good look around you’ll see that we’ve begun to de-evolve. We’ve elected a president who’s a racist, sexist and a xenophobe. For over a decade we’ve remained mired in wars in the middle east. A conflict that was initially predicated on a lie regarding WMD. We have the “one percenters” who’s resources and wealth continue to grow as the middle class evaporates. Earnings and benefits for workers continue to shrink as the rich blatantly pay no taxes. Mr Trump hasn’t paid federal income tax for twenty years. He proudly defended this conduct by stating “Because I’m smart. “Smart” should be replaced with “greedy”. Scientist warn that global warming is destroying our environment, while leaders of industry choose short term profit over the long term effects of climate change. We have a system of government that allows billionaires to buy the outcome of elections. We have a “democracy” where a candidate can be elected president even though the majority of voters voted for the challenger. There’s mass shootings occurring on a daily basis, yet NRA refuses to indorse a ban on AR-15 “assault-type weapon,” or support thorough background checks. Every day children unnecessarily die of starvation and preventable deseases. The cost of medical care and college education has spiraled out of control. Can someone please tell me where the answer is to these travesties. Oh yes, I forgot, “The answer is blowing in the wind”.

The twenty four hour, seven day a week news cycle has diminished our capacity to feel empathy or comprehend compassion. We’ve become passive observers watching the news as a form of entertainment. We’re a society of rubber necker’s gawking at the daily mayhem. It’s reminiscent of the spectacle of blood and guts that the masses once cheered for at the Roman Coliseum. We’ve become anesthetized, desensitized and numb to the suffering of others. As the masses are fed a daily diet of misery, they’ve become consumed by a feeling of hopelessness and helplessness. We’ve become a “fuck it” society. It’s a culture that’s lost faith in the system, in democracy—–in integrity. The greatest threat to our freedom and liberty isn’t the power vested in the elite but rather in the apathy of the masses.

Imagine a mythical island that’s comprised of 100 acres of land. The island has only coconuts, bananas and goats as its form of currency. There are 100 inhabitants living on this island. An individual who calls himself the Lord Of The Land has ownership of 99 of those 100 acres of land. He also has ownership of 99% of the coconuts, bananas and goats. All the inhabitance of this island depend on this man to secure their housing and food. He picks a man to be a candidate for the position of Island chief. He gives this candidate 2 coconuts, 2 bananas and some goat cheese. This island is a “democracy” so in order for this man to become the chief he must have the majority of the 100 islanders vote for him in order to become the island chief. He divides the gifts given to him by Lord Of The Land into smaller pieces. He offers these small gifts to islanders to entice them to vote for him (trickle down economics). He promises the islanders that he will represent their rights and liberties. These promises are in conflict with the Lord Of The Lands goal to maintain ownership of 99% of the land and its resources. The new chief is indebted to the Lord Of The Land because he provided him with the coconuts, bananas and goat cheese. Once he’s elected chief he is obliged to repay the Lord Of The Land by creating laws that protect his dominion over the islands resources. Can you imagine a land such as this? Can you extrapolate how this metaphor relates to our system of governance?

The word revolution hasn’t been uttered since the writing of The Declaration of Independence or the call for equality and change echoed in the 1960’s. The only way we will be able to restore equality, fairness and justice is by organizing and utilizing our power of civil disobedience and non violent resistance. It’s always been the kings and queens, the land barons, captains of industry and the ultra rich who’ve suppressed, manipulated and taken advantage of the masses. From the beginning of time, the redistribution of wealth, resources and power is something that the majority has had to rip from the greedy hands of the powerful minority. It’s through the union of the majority (Unions) that we’ve been able to demand our fair share of the pie. Leaders that preach divisiveness are manipulating the majority into splinter groups to fight amongst themselves.  It’s a diversionary tactic that’s used to keep the majority from unifying and challenging the elites control and hold on power.

Ironically it isn’t the youth of this nation that’s risen up and demanded freedom, liberty and justice for all. No, it’s a seventy five year old Jewish man who’s attempting to mobilize a revolution. His bold message is captured in the following quote “With your support and the support of millions of people throughout this country, we begin a political revolution to transform our country economically, politically, socially and environmentally.” ~ Sen. Bernie Sanders.

It will take a revolution to right this sinking ship. It will take people organizing and standing up for the rights of all citizens. We need a new Declaration of Independence. With that in mind I’ve drafted the following document. This is a working document open to input, additions and omissions. It’s an evolving document.

The goal of the following document isn’t to provide all of the answers to our political issues, but rather to start a dialogue that gets people to utilize their critical thinking skills rather than irrational emotional responses to issues. It’s a document that requires input and inclusion from all its citizens.  Please feel free to provide input and insights into the following document.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness——-regardless of sexual orientation, race, religion, gender, age, heritage, disability or any other individual differences.

Taxes shall be levied fairly and equitably. This entails implementing a flat tax that offers no deductions or write offs for individuals, cooperations or organizations. Those individuals possessing resources and earnings in the top one percent will be taxed at a flat rate of fifty percent of their earnings and resources. Those that are reaping excessive rewards must be held accountable for paying their fair share towards the good of the community.

A living wage will be paid to individuals. Any person working full time shall be able to afford their living expenses. This will negate the need to provide food stamps to individuals working for companies that do not adequately compensate their employee’s. This is a subsidy that tax payers are currently paying to support such profit rich companies as Walmart.

Each citizen of the United States of America will be limited to one vote.
Each citizen of the United States of America will be limited to no more than a $100.00 contribution per candidate. Companies, organizations, lobbyist and special interest groups are not allowed to contribute to a candidates election. This is to prevent undue influence of such entities over politicians with whom they have financially supported.

Gerrymandering will not be manipulated to provide a political party advantage over other such parties. The process is to support a system that determines a winner of political office by a majority vote, not by biased voting jurisdictions.  The Electoral College is to be abolished. 

As a citizen of the United States of America each tax paying citizen is entitled free access to medical care. Tax revenues are to be prioritize for this purpose.  Health Care is not a commodity that only the rich can afford and access. 

As a citizen of the United States of America each tax paying citizen is entitled free access to college or technological school. Tax revenues are to be prioritized for this purpose.  Education is not a commodity that only the rich can afford and access. Motivated students should not be saddled with huge college debt upon their graduation.  

Social Security and Medi Care are guaranteed to all tax paying citizens. These programs shall reflect the cost of living and not be privatized. Taxes are to be prioritized for this purpose. A nation is judged by how it respects and treats it most vulnerable individuals; the young, the old and those populations and individuals who possess limited resources and power.

Politicians will be limited to a maximum of two terms. This is to prevent politicians from using their power to stay in office rather than serve those who voted them into office.

Just like a vehicle, all guns must be registered and licensed. Automatic weapons are outlawed, thorough background checks are mandatory.

All vehicles, factories and related industries must meet strict environmental standards to counter the affects of global warming and pollution. Failure to comply will result in stiff penalties.

All candidates running for public office must disclose their tax returns. This is to prevent conflict of interests.

Freedom of speech and freedom of the press is protected and guaranteed.

Individuals or business that hire undocumented immigrants will suffer a stiff fine. The fine will progressively increase by the number of illegal employee’s and the frequency of infractions. The number of work visas will be increased in accordance with need and demand by employers.  These employees will be compensated at an equitable rate.  

Playing The Trump Card

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Soundtrack “An American Tune” by Paul Simon.

Does copper rust? I sure hope not, because the statue of liberty is crying. Democracy has taken a wrong turn, and all of the soldiers who fought and died for such ethereal things as justice, equality and freedom have been betrayed. Our democratic foundation was built on the belief that all men (and woman) are created equal, but the outcome of our recent election has revealed cracks in these tenets that we once held as self evident. We have been mislead into an “us against them” world, creating a myopic America where those with different cultural backgrounds, religious beliefs, sexual orientation and racial heritage are no longer welcomed or tolerated.  In fact, they’ve been singled out and blamed for our financial, social and national woes.

Our president elect has exploited these divisive beliefs in order to single himself out as the only person with the power and knowledge to solve our problems. He’s gained power by preying on our weakest of emotions—–fear! This is a primal emotion that causes us to dehumanize those that are different from us (please see Hitler and the Jews as an historical reference). This is the antithesis of what Hilary Clinton had proclaimed “We are stronger together.” Hate is the stepchild of fear and hate separates us and makes us politically weaker. Striking a single match of hate can ignite a firestorm capable of burning down the noblest of palaces.

I guess I thought we were better than this. Better than the hate spewed by an authoritarian fascist. It seems as though our blessed pledge of allegiance and our beloved “God Bless America” our merely flimsy words we’ve chanted until they’ve lost their meaning. And now, I sadly see the difference between pledges and actions, ideology and reality, democracy and rhetoric, integrity and malevolent tweets. Our covers have been pulled back to reveal something ugly and hate driven—–hypocrisy and bigotry.

Those that our weak and fearful give up their power to authoritarian leaders who will make decisions without their consent. After all, it’s easier to have someone give simplistic black and white answers in a kaleidoscope colored world. Those that want simple answers to complex social issues are willing to suspend their belief in decency, empathy and fairness in exchange for a catchy soundbites like “Make America Great Again”. Such slogans feel good to shout and fit neatly on bumper stickers.  They’re emotionally potent but anemic in details and substance. What has always made America great has been its ability to create opportunity for all of its citizens, not just the ones who fit into a narrow minded definition of “American”. The American melting pot has morphed into a sifter, allowing  only those of a certain pedigree to call themselves “American——enough”.

Donald’s “Trump card” has always been to delegitimize his opponents. Eight years ago he attempted to delegitimize President Obama by claiming that he was not born in America and therefor not eligible to be president. He tried to delegitimized Carly Fiorina by exclaiming “Look at that face. Would anyone vote for a face like that?” He tried to delegitimize Megyn Kelly by insinuating that she was asking tough questions because she was menstruating. He tried to delegitimize a reporter by mocking his disability. He tried to delegitimize Mexican immigrants by lumping them into a single group and claiming  “They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapist”.  He followed this up by stating “They’re some bad hombres”. He delegitimized females by objectifying them and claiming that because he’s rich and famous he can kiss whoever he wants and grab any woman by their privates. He tried to delegitimize a judge who was presiding over his case by claiming that because he was of Mexican decent that he would not be impartial in doing his professional duties. He attempted to delegitimized Hillary Clinton by repeatedly addressing her as “Crooked Clinton”.

I’m still trying to comprehend why folks would vote for someone as caustic as Trump. I’ve come to believe that his inflated charisma is due to what I call the “Kardashian Effect”. We live in a culture that’s hypnotized by celebrity worship. Individuals become celebrities simply from their incessant media exposure.  Their sole talent is in extending their fifteen minutes of fame by being a provocateur.  If you’re trending, you’re winning.  If it smells it sells. And, if it spins, repeat it again.  Being civil and polite is so pedestrian, while being inflammatory and irreverent is sexy——and more importantly, it entertains and it sells.

And with fame there comes many benefits.  Fame allows one to manufacture counterfeit truth.  It then offers a megaphone so that this truth can be broadcasted far and wide.  Fame provides celebrities with a teflon conscience and an alzheimer’s memory.  And finally, it comes with a get out of jail free card, “I’m rich and famous, so the rules and laws don’t apply to me……”

Trump once claimed, “I could stand in the middle of 5th Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose voters.” I can only imagine Trumps twitter feed after such an incident “Today I shot and killed an individual on 5th Avenue. I believe he may have been an illegal Mexican immigrant rapist who practices the Muslim faith and was most likely an operative for ISIS.”   His millions of twitter followers would read the tweet, nod their head and respond with “Good job”.  As the saying goes, the only bad press is no press and the only thing worse than being talked about, is not being talked about. The media is the message. It no longer matters what someone says or does, what matters is if they’re accruing media time by creating drama. The individuals who dominate the media landscape and exploit their notoriety, are the people who are mapping the future of our culture.

We’ve become victims of the Stockholm syndrome. We’re willing hostages to a 24/7 media obsession. We’ve been brainwashed into thinking that the media is are our caretaker, our savior, our guardian of truth.  If something is said long enough and loud enough it becomes reality. Perception isn’t reality, perception is propaganda. Truth and reality is no longer the message, entertainment and ratings are the message. We surf the internet or change channels until we find our preferred brand of reality.  Where do you acquire your version of truth? Fox News, CNN, MSNBC, Rush, Bill Maur?

The pundits and the professionals newscasters have become puppets to whatever or who ever gets the highest viewer ratings or the most clicks on social media. Being outrageous and offensive allows those who are skilled manipulators a platform to garner attention and followers. It makes them appear to be “The next big thing” If it bleeds it leads. If it smells it sells. If it spins, repeat it again. News and politics are no longer about facts or checks and balances, its about entertainment.  Trump is a showman, an entertainer, a master manipulator. He knows all the magic tricks, the art of distraction, deception and misdirection. When life becomes complicated, we may choose to suspend reality—-to believe in magical thinking.  It’s naive to believe that someone can snap their fingers and make a white dove appear——and it’s equally foolish to think that someone can  wave a magic wand and make eleven million immigrants disappear or sprinkle magic dust on the ground and suddenly have a 2,000 mile wall appear—-paid for by the Mexican government.  Some tricks are illusions, while others are outright lies…..I suppose “You can fool all the people some of the time, and some of the people all the time, but you can’t fool all the people  all the time”. Abraham Lincoln

As our democracy slips into a downward spiral we must be vigilant. Our leaders will be looking for scapegoats to blame for our countries financial, social and national woes. First they’ll marginalize those that they want to exclude. They’ll say things like “They’re American, but not as American as us”. The second step will be to delegitimize those that they want to sequester. They’ll say things like “They’re not Americans and they’re not like us”. The third step will be to dehumanize those that they want to eliminate. They’ll say things like “They’re not American, they’re not like us——they’re subhuman”. This is a predictable pattern that has been employed throughout history by fascist authoritarian leaders who are seeking to gain and sustain their power.

I’ll leave you with some suggestions to consider as we enter into this new area of designer realities and malleable truths……

  1. Don’t allow yourself to be hypnotized by celebrity. Fame does not equal integrity.
  2. Advocate for your own education. Just because someone or something is on the internet or TV does not make what’s being represented accurate or true.
  3. Be extremely suspicious of someone who is offering simple answers to complex issues. Slogans, soundbites and bumper stickers are tools to encourage magical thinking.
  4. Do not fall into the trap of generalizing, stereotyping or profiling one group of people as being the sole reason that a problem exists.  These prejudices need to be run through your bullshit detector.
  5. Never bargain away your freedom, liberty or justice as an end to justify the means.
  6. Don’t be manipulated by fear. The only remedy for fear is courage. Question authority, demand facts, stay on point, demand verifiable results not anecdotal statements. Repeat your question until you’re satisfied with the answer.
  7. If someone minimizes, delegitimizes or dehumanizes a person or group of people, tell them that this is America, a land where all men and women are created equal. Reiterate that our Declaration of independence guarantees all citizens life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.  Remind them that thousands of men and women have fought and died to preserve these inalienable rights and that they’re not negotiable and will never be compromised.
  8. Don’t be fooled by a herd mentality. Just because a lot of people are saying something or doing something does not make it right or ethical.
  9. Don’t become emotionally attached to your beliefs. Do your research, pay attention to details and facts. Look at issues with an open mind and test your outcomes by playing the devils advocate.
  10. Get out of your bubble.  Don’t rely on a specific news network, a celebrity or a group of like minded friends to be your only reference point when assessing ideas and information.

It’s impossible to legislate morality, but I pray for the day when we evolve to the point where compassion, empathy and acceptance are valued more than power, greed and intolerance.

Forgive

Soundtrack, “Old and Wise” by the Alan Parsons Project.

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I hate unsolicited advice. Most men know that it is not wise to give another man unsolicited advice. The most important thing to a man is respect and his pride. These things are earned and not idly parceled out like cans of beer—–although oftentimes such libations are swilled to make up for the lack of such noble qualities. On a rare occasion a man may give a fellow golfer advice about how to grip a club, how to adjust their swing or stance, but guys like that seldom get asked back for a future game. Guys have gotta figure shit out for themselves, it’s just he way it is.

Men like to give women advice. It makes them feel superior. It inflates their anemic ego’s. Most women will politely listen even though they know that men spend eighty percent of their time thinking about how to get pussy and what to eat next. The remaining twenty percent of their time is spent picking their nose at red lights or making fart jokes. Under the three piece suits, the impressive job titles and fancy cars, men are basic creatures bumbling their way through life. Women don’t give advice, they make sly suggestions. “Honey, maybe it would be better to use dental floss rather than a pocket knife to clean your teeth.” “Please don’t use gas to light the barbecue dear. Let me fry the burgers on the stove.” KABOOM!!!

But, in spite of my prior warnings regarding unsolicited advice, I have decided to dispense some brotherly advice. So please, “Forgive Me”.

Our time here is so short—–it doesn’t pay to deny ourselves and others forgiveness. Anger only cuts off circulation to the heart and puts a strangle hold on our ability to convey empathy. Forgive, because in the big scheme of things your petty grudges will emotionally bankrupt you. It’s like paying interest on a debt but never reaching the principle—-ya see, you can’t loan love or forgiveness, their value is only realized when given for free.

I wonder if we wear clothes out of shame, or is it a means to hide our insecurities. It’s tough to take another person seriously when they’re parading around bare ass naked. Nakedness is God’s way of showing us that in spite of Madison Avenue fashions and photoshopped vanities—–we’re all allot more alike than we are different.  Under skin and bone our fragil humanness flickers…..

Forgive——-because like a fart, the longer you hold it in, the more pressure it builds, hurting only you, and in time growing louder and smellier—- Forgive because sometimes you have to pull the bandaid off along with the scab in order for the wound to heal, Forgive because there is a child with a bald head dying in a hospital rather than playing on a jungle gym. Forgive because nothing seems that bad until it happens to you. Forgive because there but for fortune go you or I. Forgive because there is already enough darkness in this world—-enough sadness to superglue the softest of hearts eternally shut. Forgive because the shits already out of the pony. Forgive because with age the nights grow longer and peace more elusive. Forgive because winter need not be your favorite season. Forgive in spite of God and his promised heaven. Forgive because the shortest distance between point A and point B is love. Forgive because there’s a supernova a thousand times bigger than our puny sun imploding in on itself. Let go, let go, let go—–because as the old Zen proverb tells us “Let go or be dragged”.

Forgive, because one day you’ll realize that all the stuff you once thought so important were just things made up in your head. This clarity only comes after a major life event like getting fired, losing someone you love, going through a divorce, having a major health scare, facing your mortality or watching reruns of “Friends” (they all look so young). You’ll flop around like a trout out of water, realizing you’ve mistaken the barbed hook for the golden ring.

It all seems so absurd——all the girls you tried to impress with false bravado, the fake laughs given for free to please your dim witted boss, the loud arguments availing only hurt feelings——its all comes back to you like a strange dream, like staring up at the shimmering surface of the water while holding your breath at the bottom of the sea. Down there, there’s only shipwrecks, rusty anchors, the eight armed Kraken and the tiny fart bubbles you release as pieces of your forgiveness. Farting is God’s way of telling you to not take yourself to seriously.

We stubbornly withhold our forgiveness, we’d rather offer up snide remarks and sarcastic smiles. We expect others to rain apologies down upon us, but the sad truth is, some people don’t know how to be sorry. They only learn forgiveness by being forgiven—-and the bible along with all the other holy books speak of this irony. The currency of unspoken forgivenesses pays out in wasted time, it lengthens the bridge we’ve all come here to cross.

Get over your self——–Forgive