Politics

I have friends and family on both sides of the political spectrum. Those relationships don’t rely on agreement. No one agrees with someone 100%. Relationships with family and friends are deeper than that. When you love and care about a person it’s all about who they are and what they mean to you. You love them. Period. Everything else is just details.

My conservative friends tell me for them and their political leanings there is no other choice for them. They’ll vote for Trump and hate doing it, but there’s no way they can support any of the Democrat candidates.

This says two things to me:

1. The Republicans are in a bind. Their candidate is who he is right now whether they like him or not.

2. Democrats are missing an opportunity. They need to put up a candidate that’s acceptable to their voters, but also gives conservatives an option that won’t make them scream when they pull the lever.

Trust me, the threshold isn’t that high for Independents and Republicans right now. All they need is a good option. Democrats need to nominate a viable moderate candidate if they want to save the country from four more years of systematic dismantling, continued hateful Tweets, and possible war.

We need to stop being baited by ignorant Tweets and biased news. Now is not the time to be more polarized and accusatory. Now is the time to “put food on the table everyone is willing eat”. That means everyone. Otherwise we’ll all lose.

It really is as simple as that.

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Start Packing, Mr President

​When hate is so prevalent it makes my chest ache. Like something has been broken that only a miracle can repair. These are difficult times for those of us who believe peace, harmony, and justice are not just platitudes, but attainable.

An insidious malignancy has infiltrated our society and corrupted our public discourse. It feeds on hatred without engagement, maliciousness without understanding, and disrespect without concern. This cancerous growth, this hatred and bigotry, this contempt of anyone “other” needs to be excised.

Now our President says if we don’t like it we’re free to leave. This shows a fundamental misunderstanding of Democracy. It also shows his complete disregard of our democratic process in which a free press and freedom of speech in the form of demonstrations, protests, and general civil disobedience has always been an integral part.

We are not leaving, Mr President. That’s not how it works. We won’t be bullied. We demand responsive representaion that is reflective of our will. We want a society where all Citizens have equal protection under the law. Where all Citizens can pursue life, liberty, and happiness. And all people are treated with dignity and fairness regardless of the color of their skin, gender, sexual orientation, national origin, or religion.

Come the next election there’s going to be a reckoning, Mr President. I advise you to prepare and pack ahead of time.

The Story of Time

When hate is so prevalent it makes my chest ache. Like something has been broken that only a miracle can repair. These are difficult times for those of us who believe peace, harmony, and justice are not just platitudes, but attainable.

An insidious malignancy has infiltrated our society and corrupted our public discourse. It feeds on hatred without engagement, maliciousness without understanding, and disrespect without concern. This cancerous growth, this hatred and bigotry, this contempt of anyone “other” needs to be excised.

Now our President says if we don’t like it we’re free to leave. This shows a fundamental misunderstanding of Democracy. It also shows his complete disregard of our democratic process in which a free press and freedom of speech in the form of demonstrations, protests, and general civil disobedience has always been an integral part.

We are not leaving, Mr President. That’s not how it works. We won’t be bullied. We demand responsive representaion that is reflective of our will. We want a society where all Citizens have equal protection under the law. Where all Citizens can pursue life, liberty, and happiness. And where all people are treated with dignity and fairness regardless of the color of their skin, gender, sexual orientation, national origin, or religion.

Come the next election there’s going to be a reckoning, Mr President. I advise you to prepare and pack ahead of time.

Rites of Passage

I’ve heard that because Americans no longer celebrate traditional social or religious rights of passage anymore we are left to our own devices to create indicators that reference important times in our lives. That certainly explains the increase in the number of people with tattoos and the rise of full blown kindergarten graduation ceremonies that used to be reserved for high school and college.

But when things are celebrated willy-nilly and every participant, regardless of performance, gets a trophy or a medal or a certificate just for participating the value gets cheapened.

Turning points that relate to a person’s age are probably the exception. 16, 18, 21, and any that end in 0 are the main ones that come to mind. This month I’m coming up on an age related landmark that also contains special recognition by the U.S. Government . . . eligibility for Medicare.

Never thought I’d be here. But here I am.

I’ve had to work for every dime I’ve ever had and during that time the Federal Government has deducted taxes from every single paycheck for Social Security and Medicare (among other things). And although I’ve been collecting Social Security for a year and a half now, today I feel like I’ve finally made it to “fully qualified retirement day”.

Yep, it’s a big deal. It’s been a long time coming. I’ve worked hard for it. I’ll tell you this . . . it’s a very significant rite of passage for me.

Thoughts on a Full Moon

A Science teacher told me once the moon is always the same size regardless of what you think you see. It only looks bigger in relation to familiar objects such as trees, houses, and skylines. He proved this by having me extend my arm as far as I could using the size of my thumbnail as a reference point for the moon. Whether on the horizon or high in the sky the moon stayed exactly the same compared to my thumbnail. It was a simple lesson in optics, but now that I think about it there was a lot more to that lesson than met the eye.

Restfulness

Watching Winnie sleep, as she literally hangs out of her open dog carrier with her tiny button nose pressed between her front legs, is a lesson in restfulness. There are no worries. There is no need for protective positioning. There is no clock or activity to be concerned about. No right or wrong way to be. Just uninhibited peaceful rest.

I must admit, I’m a bit jealous. It’s hard to imagine allowing myself to fall so completely into such a state. My mind is a boisterous board meeting where everyone disagrees, my thoughts jump from one thing to another, there is no end to the list of what needs to be done. If I’m not careful to unwind properly at the end of the day there is more shuffling of proverbially paper in my brain before I fall sleep.

I’m told meditation is a wonderful practice. I haven’t actually attempted it, but I’m sure it would do me wonders. I just never seem to find the time. The closest I come is an occasional contemplative unprogrammed Quaker meeting, and I could certainly use a lot more of that!

So apparently my 13 week old puppy is more comfortable in her environment than I am, and perhaps that should come as no surprise. After all she relies on me for food, vet visits, setting a schedule, keeping her safely away from hazards, proper behavior training, and toys. What’s to worry about?

Then again, maybe I should ask myself the same thing. Oh, sure, when I was a “puppy” there were many times I lived on beanie-weanies and Mac and cheese. (Who hasn’t?) Sometimes I had to make choices between which bills to pay or when to have the car fixed. But I always got by. Things worked out. Jobs came through, I was promoted, my career advanced and eventually I was able to set some money aside and still make ends meet.

Before long Winnie will become more independent. She’ll learn proper bite pressure and acceptable play behavior (looking forward to that!). I’ll be able to trust her enough to let her have free rein in the house. My two shoes won’t end up on opposite ends of the hallway with the laces pulled out. And best of all, she’ll figure out how to go in and out the dog door when she needs to.

But for now, I parent her much like I imagine G-d does me. There’s a level of trust between us. She knows I’ll feed her and take her out. That I’ll grab her in the nick of time if danger is near. That her big sister, Zoey, who is the coolest adult dog on the face of the earth, is teaching her how to be a dog. And that when she sleeps there’s nothing, not a single thing in the whole wide world, to be concerned about. That’s definitely something I could stand to learn.

The Purpose of Life

This popped up as my Facebook Memory from 8 years ago:

“There are two great days in a person’s life – the day we are born and the day we discover why.” ~ William Barclay

Such a simple yet powerful quote.

Apart from the being born in the first place finding the “why” seems almost as important. To be sure, as soon as we are old enough to be self aware we begin to pursuit that question in earnest.

Where does this idea come from? Is it really innate or is it learned through social conditioning? Maybe because as children we’re always being asked what we want to be when we grow up? Or maybe it’s from being told G-d has a special plan for our lives? Who knows.

We begin our journey by focusing on the things we like. Things that interest us. Things we’re naturally good at. I was good at Art. Math? Not so much. So I ruled out anything with numbers, but imagine what a brilliant mathematician or astronaut I might have been had I not been dyslexic.

When I played I created the most elaborate story lines that went on for days and days. It never occurred to me to become a writer, because I was such a poor reader. My eyes didn’t track printed lines very well. So my mind drifted in-between those lines and I filled in the story with my own imaginings. The upshot was lower comprehension scores.

I really couldn’t blame teachers for thinking I might not be the brightest student they had. I probably would have thought the same.

I picked up the guitar at 13 and I quickly became good at it. But the math of scales and complication of notes intimidated me and pretty much kept me playing by ear. Of course, I had reason to hope. My father paid for lessons, which I told him to cancel after the Instructor asked me how I was doing certain fingerings. It never occurred to me that might be a good sign.

Then came Sports. What a godsend! I loved sports and I was pretty good at them as well. Perhaps I had a future in Physical Education? So I focused on Sports all the way through High School. Until I realized a P.E. career would require college.

I hadn’t intended to go to college. Not many kids at my level did. But my Mom had other ideas and much to my surprise I was accepted by the small College that belonged to our Church demomination.

Suddenly I had to choose a Major. I went over the P.E. classes and saw some things I wasn’t sure I could pass so I went with my solid standby . . . Art. Even then self-doubt still lingered. Especially after the Head of Art Department flat out told me he’d never give me an A because he thought I might become complacent. That didn’t make me complacent. It made me mad!

I went looking for a different Major and realized I loved Religious studies. So halfway through my four years I switched to Christian Education. These studies were extremely easy for me. Almost too easy. It made me wonder if it was actually a real thing.

So I switched back to Art. At that point it didn’t matter whether I ever got an A or not. I was going to do my own thing and screw the rest.

As you can see I never had a any concern for what I was going to do once I got out of college. Truth us, I never had any idea what I was supposed to do with my life in the first place, but once I started my work “career” life just unfolded on its own.

Basically it worked out like this . . . I had some pretty good “tools in my tool box” and I was really good with people. I wasn’t afraid to work hard or long hours. I applied myself so that I earned my wages and the respect of my peers and managers. I had people who recognized my talents and gave me opportunities to advance and eventually to manage staff and lead projects.

Oh, I had setbacks and failures, both work related and financially, but that’s how it goes. No one ever promised things would go smoothly in life.

What I’m saying is life is an ever changing moving target. People might spend years getting a degree they may never use. A degree in something they may never have liked it in the first place. Mostly we just do what we think we’re supposed to do.

In the meantime life unfolds, and then one day we realize the true Purpose of life is being the best person we can be while being kind to each other. Everything else? Well, that’s just what we do to pass the time.