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“They are all in the same category, both those who are afflicted with fickleness, boredom and a ceaseless change of purpose, and who always yearn for what they left behind, and those who just yawn from apathy. There are those too who toss around like insomniacs, and keep changing their position until they find rest through sheer weariness. They keep altering the condition of their lives, and eventually stick to that one in which they are trapped not by weariness with further change but by old age which is too sluggish for novelty. There are those too who suffer not from moral steadfastness but from inertia, and so lack the fickleness to live as they wish, and just live as they have begun. In fact there are innumerable characteristics of the malady, but one effect – dissatisfaction with oneself. This arises from mental instability and from fearful and unfulfilled desires, when men do not dare or do not achieve all they long for, and all they grasp at is hope: they are always unbalanced and fickle, an inevitable consequence of living in suspense. They struggle to gain their prayers by every path, and they teach and force themselves to do dishonourable and difficult things; and when their efforts are unrewarded the fruitless disgrace tortures them, and they regret not the wickedness but the frustration of their desires. Then they are gripped by repentance for their attempt and fear of trying again, and they are undermined by the restlessness of a mind that can discover no outlet, because they can neither control nor obey their desires, by the dithering of life that cannot see its way ahead, and by the lethargy of a soul stagnating amid its abandoned hopes.”

― Seneca, On the Shortness of Life



I was reading an article that referenced the essay De Brevitate Vitae ( On the Shortness of Life) from the Stoic philosopher Seneca that written sometime around 49 AD. The passage above really struck me because it seemed to describe the dissatisfaction so many people have with their lives and the actions that result from this.

I can’t quite put my finger on it but it feels like the underlying current of what we’re seeing take place these days in this country. I have tried to discern what the desired outcome for the insurrectionists is or what drove them to act as a violent mob and I keep coming up with blanks.

What do they want?

They are not the downtrodden nor poor. They are not voiceless or without political power. There’s a high probability that most of them have livelihoods and assets that place them well above that of the average American. They are not trying to gain rights for themselves or others that have been denied. They are not fighting injustice.

And if they succeed, they have no plans for a future. Certainly not a future that will be in any way better.

All they have is anger and dissatisfaction with their lot in life. As entitled and privileged as they are, their lives lack purpose, lack meaning. It is a spoiled and bored existence, devoid of real consequences for bad behavior and fortified by the highs and unreality of video games and action flicks combined with conspiratorial bravado and cosplay costuming.

And that’s a recipe for disaster. 

This is just an observation this morning. Like I said, I am not sure I have a finger on what really is behind it. I am just trying to understand it so that I can begin to make sense of what I am seeing.

Still not there.

Here’s a topical song, Unsatisfied, a favorite of mine from The Replacements and their great 1984 album Let It Be.

Be careful out there and have a good day.



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We are living through a revolt against the future. The future will prevail.

–Anand Giridharadas, The Ink, January 15, 2021



The words above are the final line in a what I believe to be a brilliant essay from writer Anand Giridharadas that was posted a couple of days ago on his blog, The.Ink that bears the heading We are falling on our face because we are jumping high. I hope you’ll click on the link and read this short essay.

In it, he observes that the chaos that we are experiencing is not the chaos that often comes with the beginning of something but is actually the sort that comes with an ending. I have also felt for years that we were watching of the death throes of a certain type of power and control, that those who were predominantly white and male felt they were entitled.

We are falling on our face because we are jumping very high right now. We are trying to do something that does not work in theory.

To be a country of all the world, a country made up of all the countries, a country without a center of identity, without a default idea of what a human being is or looks like, without a shared religious belief, without a shared language that is people’s first language at home. And what we’re trying to do is awesome. It is literally awesome in the correct sense of that word.

This is one of my favorite passages from this essay. To be the country we desire it to be, one that offers equal hope for each of its citizens, is enormously difficult and unlike anything ever done. No nation has ever aspired to so diversely share its rights and governance among all the groups that make up its citizenry.

There are massive challenges and it will not be easy. And in a nation whose default setting is easy, that means we will have to do much more than than that which we normally are accustomed to doing. We will have to work and scrap, to strain far beyond what we believe our limits to be. 

But if it succeeds, we all benefit, all boats are lifted and we all become part and parcel of something great, something unique in human history.

Something of which we can all truly be proud.

Please give Mr. Giridharadas’ essay a read. It is short but potently hopeful. Definitely worth a few minutes.

For this week’s Sunday Morning Music, I am going with a recent tune, Tough to Let Go, from the Drive-By Truckers, whose last couple of albums have been dark and timely.  I think it says a lot about what we are seeing in the chaos of this struggle between those who look to the future and those who want to hold onto an imagined past. Our beliefs, even when we can see that they defy logic and fact, are sometimes tough to leave behind. They continue to haunt us and dictate our actions until we can fully separate ourselves from them.

It’s tough to let go. But it has to happen.

Do something good today.



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Well, we’re still standing.

It was a historic day that gave us examples of those who see themselves as being part of something bigger and doing what is necessary even though it may not be expedient. It also gave us a view of those who represent us in the worst light– narcissistic and self-serving– letting us know that there are still difficult days and more repercussions ahead of us.

But, all in all, it was a good day for democracy. 

Amidst the hoopla of the impeachment hearing and vote there were images that really brought the gravity of the moment home for me. They were mainly of the National Guard troops who were summoned to the nation’s Capitol to defend it against the insurrectionists and seditionists that  stormed it last week and threaten to do it once more.

Troops were bivouacked there for the first time since the Civil War. There were hundreds, maybe thousands, scattered through the Capitol hallways and public spaces as they tried to find space to sleep on the marble floors there. Their presence stood in stark contrast to the desecration of the building perpetrated last week by the rioters. There were numerous shots of the troops taking in the statues and artifacts displayed, many with deep reverence as they looked.

I thought the shot below of black troops posing respectfully with the statue of Rosa Parks created the greatest amount of contrast to the violent and destructive images from last week.

These troops were there for the right reason, out of duty to country. The insurrectionists of last week were there for the wrong reasons, that their prejudices and beliefs in unfounded and illogical conspiracy theories somehow entitled them to attack and destroy the very foundations  of our democracy. 

There is a reckoning ahead in this country. We must rid ourselves of the toxic stench of white supremacy that has long plagued this nation. There can be no unity so long as those who preach hatred and intolerance of others are allowed to roam the halls of our nation’s capitol. There must be a stand made against the bigotry and intolerance so openly on display.

There can be no tolerance of the intolerant.

I refer you to a blogpost from a few years back that I wrote on Karl Popper and his theory of the Paradox of Tolerance. It basically says that, even in an open society where free speech and belief is the rule, if you don’t stand up to those who champion intolerance at some point, if you tolerate those who would harm or take away the liberties and rights of other citizens, then you risk being destroyed by your tolerance by the intolerant.

That might be where we are right now, where are tolerance of the intolerant is at an end, that they have went beyond what we, as a free and tolerant society, can accept.

We shall see in the days ahead.

Stay safe and have a good day.



National Guard Troops Posing with Rosa Parks Statue

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Good and evil both increase at compound interest. That is why the little decisions you and I make every day are of such infinite importance. The smallest good act today is the capture of a strategic point from which, a few months later, you may be able to go on to victories you never dreamed of. An apparently trivial indulgence in lust or anger today is the loss of a ridge or railway line or bridgehead from which the enemy may launch an attack otherwise impossible.

― C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity



Good and evil both increase at compound interest.

Think about that for a minute.

Think about examples from your own life that you may recognize.

Speaking for myself, I will admit to having made both good and bad decisions in my life. The good ones lifted me higher and allowed me to experience the better things in my life– the victories as Lewis puts it. The good decisions generally came from looking outward, from considering someone other than myself. The good decisions began an upward spiral.

On the other hand, the bad decisions almost always resulted from selfishness ego, and anger.

I spent much of the first half my life making bad decisions. And it did indeed compound. The plummet on the downward spiral quickened and each level lower was worse than the one above it. It seemed as though there was no way to stop it. It was dark and awful in those times and places.

Without going further into my personal experience, I believe we are seeing a group of politicians and their followers who make up a substantial portion of the public who are in the midst of a downward spiral, one that is increasing at compound interest. 

I watched the newly released video yesterday showing the crowd on the steps pulling a DC Metro Police Officer from the doorway and dragging him down the stairs by the back of his helmet. A photo from the attack is above. He was tasered and beaten, one attacker pounding on him with the flag pole holding an American flag. Fortunately, that officer survived the attack.

I don’t know how anyone could watch that video and not be shocked or infuriated. It shook my day.

It was evil at compound interest– naked and pure.

It was based on absolute lies and bad decisions, from the very highest levels to those at the bottom with blood on their hands. 

And unfortunately, we are all– ALL— still trapped in this dark downward spiral because there are politicians and their followers still unable to recognize that they are making one bad and evil decision after another. And like my personal bad decisions, theirs are also based in selfishness, ego, and anger, with little thought as to where their actions might ultimately take them. 

They don’t see that they are the very antithesis of patriots. They don’t understand that they are the spearpoint of a movement that would result in a fascist dictatorship that would ultimately eat them as well. A fascist dictatorship that will ultimately fail and fall as they always do, often in a bloody purge brought on by disillusioned adherents of the movement. 

That misguided yet evil spearpoint is still there. They are still plotting, making evil decisions as they are shielded and egged on by their cohorts in power who still believe they can somehow ride and selfishly profit from the wave their riotous followers are creating.

That is yet another bad and evil decision by the power hungry.

Our peril as democratic nation compounds so long as there are no consequences, no accountability, for these people. There can be no unity or move forward until this happens. Those who incited and enabled this must be removed from their positions of power now. There is no shrugging this off and just moving on as though this were a mere aberration, a blip on the screen.

No, there must be accountability and action now to stop further compounding of this evil.

Now.

They hide behind the shield of politics but this is not political. This is life and death, right and wrong.

Good and evil.

I have intimately known good and evil. I choose good but know that we must first rid ourselves of this evil before we can move upward again.

Be careful out there and think about your decisions. Do some good in your own lives, please.

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“A Time For Reckoning”– Currently At the West End Gallery



We’re barely ten days into the new year and it’s already fed us a heaping helping of the darkly dramatic.

We’ve had elections with enormous ramifications, a seditious president*** booted from nearly all social media, a coup d’etat in our National Capitol that left five dead, and, to top it off, an out of control pandemic that is crushing our health system in some parts of the country. Hard to believe something that is killing 4,000 US citizens a day– and will most likely hit 5,000 in the coming weeks– has been under our radar in recent days.

Such is 2021 this far.

There are ten days until the Biden inauguration.

Ten days. Ten days that may test this nation in a way it has not been tested in anyone’s living memory. 

I do believe we’ll make it through. It won’t be pretty and we won’t come out the side with all 340 million of us holding hands and singing Kumbaya. But we will persevere.

There have been calls for unity from some of the very people who fed into– and profited from– the madness of the insurrection effort that took place this week and still still remains a threat in the coming days. They are somehow demanding from one side of their mouth that it is incumbent on the incoming President to unite us while still trying to push their lies and conspiracies with the other. 

It can’t work that way. You can’t have two contrasting sets of perceived facts, especially when one is grounded on baseless, wild conspiracies and outright lies.

Plus, even if you wanted to appease these insurrectionists, what could you give them that make them willing to unite?

I have absolutely no idea what they want, other than the overturning the results of an election that has been deemed by state and local leaders of both parties across the land as being as fair and transparent an election as we have ever conducted. But other than that, what do they want? They have no discernible ideology. It’s not about gaining rights or righting real wrongs or grievances. 

Their only grievance, the only way they seem to have been wronged, seems to be that they didn’t get what they wanted and won’t accept the fact that there are many more people who don’t hold their opinions.

Honestly, I don’t think they could tell you what it would take to make them happy. I don’t think they know. They just have a blind anger and a sense of grievance that is constantly being fed by leaders who profit from it, both financially and politically.

Look at the people who have fed these conspiracies. They have no ideas, no plans, nor cares for the betterment of all the people of this land. They have blind ambition and a craving for money and pure power. They will say anything, they will outright lie, they will spread any falsehood and conspiracy in an effort to gain and maintain power. No act of blatant hypocrisy is beyond these people.

Unity requires honest discussion based on common sets of facts. You cannot have unity with these kind of leaders* on the other side of the table. Disagreement with one another is acceptable when you can trust that both sides are being genuine in their arguments. But when one side is disingenuous and still spouts lies to incite their followers, unity is impossible.

And that’s a sad and dangerous thing. For all of us.

Sorry. I had no plans to write this this morning. I was simply going to play my normal Sunday Morning Music selection but this just fell out.

Getting back to regular business, here’s a new song from John Fogerty that speaks to the sadness of the moment. It’s titled Weeping in the Promised Land. It’s a pretty powerful song and video.

Pharoah keep a-preachin’ but he never had a plan…

Be careful out there.



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“Culmination”- Now at the West End Gallery



Each man is always in the middle of the surface of the earth and under the zenith of his own hemisphere, and over the centre of the earth.

-Leonardo da Vinci



As we count down the last four days of this excruciatingly long year of 2020, I was looking for a a painting that had to do with the endpoint of things. I immediately thought of the piece shown here, Culmination, that is currently at the West End Gallery.

Its title came about because I saw the path in it as being the trunk of a tree with the paths going off each side as its limbs. The Red Tree at the top was the endpoint of this tree much like each of us are in our own genealogies.

Genealogically, each of us sits at the very top of a pyramid where everyone below us in that pyramid has endured wars, illnesses, pandemic and plague, persecution and imprisonment, and even slavery and holocaust just to get us to this place and time. We are the culmination, the very pinnacle of our family tree. 

For now.

Eventually, we are just part of the trunk with a branch that goes on and on. Or one that breaks off and abruptly ends.

I thought this piece would fit well with the end of this year. So many of the things that came to bear in this strange and awful 2020 were the culmination of events, lives, and organisms that developed and grew– and often worsened– in the years and decades before.

They all seemed to converge to make this year feel like an endpoint, a culmination of some sort.

For some, it was the ultimate endpoint, maybe the end of days as the evangelicals call them. For some, it felt like the end of democracy was all too close to its end here. And this year certainly felt like it marked the end of civil discourse and civility in general.

And of course, for hundreds of thousands of families, the pandemic brought an end to the lives of all too many loved ones. 

2020 was a year that sits atop a pyramid of horrors and atrocities. Hopefully, as it draws to a close later this week, it’s a position it maintains for a long time to come. The year that pushes it further down this monstrous pyramid is not one I wish to endure.

Have a good day, okay?

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Interviewer: My feeling from talking to readers and friends is that many people are beginning to despair. Do you think that we’ve lost reason to hope?

Kurt Vonnegut: I myself feel that our country, for whose Constitution I fought in a just war, might as well have been invaded by Martians and body snatchers. Sometimes I wish it had been. What has happened, though, is that it has been taken over by means of the sleaziest, low-comedy, Keystone Cops-style coup d’etat imaginable. And those now in charge of the federal government are upper-crust C-students who know no history or geography, plus not-so-closeted white supremacists, aka “Christians,” and plus, most frighteningly, psychopathic personalities, or “PPs.”

To say somebody is a PP is to make a perfectly respectable medical diagnosis, like saying he or she has appendicitis or athlete’s foot. The classic medical text on PPs is “The Mask of Sanity” by Dr. Hervey Cleckley. Read it! PPs are presentable, they know full well the suffering their actions may cause others, but they do not care. They cannot care because they are nuts. They have a screw loose!

And what syndrome better describes so many executives at Enron and WorldCom and on and on, who have enriched themselves while ruining their employees and investors and country, and who still feel as pure as the driven snow, no matter what anybody may say to or about them? And so many of these heartless PPs now hold big jobs in our federal government, as though they were leaders instead of sick.

What has allowed so many PPs to rise so high in corporations, and now in government, is that they are so decisive. Unlike normal people, they are never filled with doubts, for the simple reason that they cannot care what happens next. Simply can’t. Do this! Do that! Mobilize the reserves! Privatize the public schools! Attack Iraq! Cut health care! Tap everybody’s telephone! Cut taxes on the rich! Build a trillion-dollar missile shield! Fuck habeas corpus and the Sierra Club and In These Times, and kiss my ass!

— Interview with Kurt Vonnegut , In These Times Magazine, February 2003



I recently came across this short interview with the late Kurt Vonnegut from early 2003. He was describing a different set of people in a different circumstance and time but the underlying motivation and methodology of those people in charge remains the same. There is a direct line from those people to the current group of people in power– actually, some are the same folks– who are staging, as Vonnegut puts it, a Keystone Cops-style coup d’etat

We saw that yesterday in perhaps the most insane press conference since, well, the Four Season Total Landscaping affair. The time gap between displays of sheer insanity is getting shorter and shorter. But yesterday was as nuts as it gets with Rudy Giuliani, with his clown makeup running in streams down either side of his face, spewing incoherent nonsense that sought to subvert the will of the American electorate. Talking about Hugo Chavez, who died in 2013, interfering in our election among a litany of other absurdities.

I’m no doctor but I believe Giuliani would no doubt fall into the “PP” category referenced above.

The whole thing was comical in its absurdity and ineptness.

For right now. For the moment.

But it sets a dangerous precedent that will linger and no doubt come back to bite us at a point further down the road. It lowers the bar for the next “PP” who is most certainly biding their time in the wings. They will come along with their air of certainty and self-assuredness that appeals to our peasant nature, that part that resides in many of us that deeply desires that someone tell us what to do and what to think. We want to be led and will willingly follow most anyone who confidently moves to the head of the pack.

And sometimes those confident folks turn out to be psychopaths.

What is happening, this Keystone Cops-style coup d’etat, is not an anomaly, not something that we simply get past. We think its just about this one man, Donald Trump. Yeah, I wrote it. But this is about an arc of action that has been forty years or more in the making. And its arc is far from complete, may not have even reached its apex. In fact, we may only be witnessing a preview of what could be on our doorsteps at some point in the near future. 

We now have a large group of folks in our society who have a massive distrust of experts, scientists, and the media and are prone to avidly listening to and following any sure-speaking conman spouting conspiracies and accusations that prop up their own prejudices and worldview. They will create strawmen to sell to their eager followers, foils to blame and knock down even as the facts don’t add up in any way.

There is a whole class of folks like that now. Some of them might have seen the Giuliani dog and pony show yesterday as a prime example of pure truth-telling. Sure, it’s crazy and doesn’t really make any sense at all, falling apart under close examination. But these folks aren’t looking to dispel falsehoods. They aren’t willing to look closer and will take it at face value. After all, it was said with such confidence that it must be true.

That is going to be a problem for a long time to come and how it manifests itself should be of concern to us all. I’ve been worried about this time for decades now. The arc was evident even back in the late 70’s and early 80’s and has been accelerating more visibly for the past 25 years.

Vonnegut could see it as could many others. It’s easy to see but hard to avert or combat. The damage is done to our foundations now and there will be more if we fail to shore them up. Whether we can repair our foundation is in question.

Answers?

You got me there. Just keep grinding, I guess. Keep slogging forward and try to do good things and set good examples. Try not to hate.

It’s all I know to do. 

Have a good day and do something good.

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“Human beings, whatever their backgrounds, are more open than we think, that their behavior cannot be confidently predicted from their past, that we are all creatures vulnerable to new thoughts, new attitudes.

And while such vulnerability creates all sorts of possibilities, both good and bad, its very existence is exciting. It means that no human being should be written off, no change in thinking deemed impossible.”

― Howard Zinn, You Can’t Be Neutral on a Moving Train: A Personal History of Our Times


“It is a happy faculty of the mind to slough that which conscience refuses to assimilate.”

― William Faulkner, Light in August


Yesterday was an interesting day. A good day.

A good and decent man and a strong and smart woman of mixed race and immigrant parents were declared the victors in our presidential election. Throughout the country and around the world spontaneous celebrations took place with throngs of people ( almost all masked, by the way) taking to the streets. A total release of emotion. Dancing. Singing. Banging drums and honking car horns. 

A cacophony of  joy. 

In Paris and other cities around the world the church bells tolled. 

I would like to think that witnessing this explosion of celebration might cause those who have steadily supported the divisive rhetoric and vindictiveness of the current president*** watched this and wondered how his loss could have possibly triggered such elation and joy. I would like to think that it made them feel cracks taking place in the shield of the cognitive dissonance they have maintained for the past four years, being fed as they have been a steady diet of pure falsehoods and subsisting on beliefs and .conspiracies that do not align with any sort of reality.

Living in their self-contained bubbles doesn’t allow them to even consider the possibility that their reality is not everybody’s reality.

I have to admit this applies to both sides to some extent. But the blind allegiance to the lies, vitriol and cruelty of this president*** is beyond anything seen on the other side. It is complete acceptance of every lie as truth even when their own eyes tell them it is not so. Their support for him even when confronted with facts is an amazing bit of pretzel logic that rationalizes his every action. In the four years since his election I have yet to hear anyone speak of their support for him in anything but broad generalizations and mischaracterizations of events.

They want to believe so hard that their kind rejects the reality that is before them.

I think yesterday went a long way toward bursting that bubble for some of those folks. Not all, of course. There were counter-demonstrations, though much smaller and less ebullient. And largely unmasked. Even when it comes to their health and a raging deadly pandemic, many still refuse to accept the reality that is so apparent to all others.

But for many, it had to be illuminating to see how country and the world reacted. It wasn’t a reaction to a political victory. People celebrated when Obama was elected but even that was dwarfed by yesterday’s outpouring.

This was a reaction similar to the winning of a world war or the toppling of a tyrant. It looked like something from a movie where the citizens of Earth have turned away an alien invasion.

To witness that from the other side had to be a mix of bitterness and bewilderment, probably wondering how so many people could be so wrong. And probably even more so, if they watched President-elect Biden’s speech last night, heard him speak in positive terms about unity and moving ahead together. Where was the anger? There was no promise of American carnage, no threat of retribution or revenge. Not raging with grievances. No us and them.

It was an extended hand and a promise to speak to and for all Americans. It was sane and calm and delivered in terms of unity and future built on hope, not fear. 

It most likely didn’t resemble in any way the strawman that they come to fear and hate. The future he spoke of includes them, doesn’t push them to the side or minimize their concerns. 

Like I said, yesterday was probably a day of illumination for some. The future doesn’t have to be dark, doesn’t have to be built on demonizing or blaming others. It can be okay, maybe even better than okay.

All they have to do is allow the possibility that there is sometimes another way of thinking about things.

Hopefully, yesterday cracked some bubbles and some new light was shed on their minds. Like Howard Zinn, whose words are at the top of the page, I believe in the potential for people to change their way of thinking.

Okay, enough. I am writing this off the top of my head so I apologize if this is not as concise or focused as I would like.

For this Sunday morning music let’s go with a song, Anthem, from Leonard Cohen whose message is most fitting today for this post: 

Ring the bells (ring the bells) that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack in everything (there is a crack in everything)
That’s how the light gets in

Have a good day. There will be tough days ahead, but let’s hope there are many more good ones to come.


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Betrayed and wronged in everything,
I’ll flee this bitter world where vice is king,
And seek some spot unpeopled and apart
Where I’ll be free to have an honest heart.

― Molière, The Misanthrope


Sorry I’ve been away for a couple of days but it was unavoidable as I had fallen into a small Black Hole that formed in a closet in the studio, just behind a stack of records. I was transported by it to the 7th Dimension of the Time-Space Continuum and was stranded there. I had to wait for the bus that brought me back here just minutes ago.

What have I missed? Anything important?

Actually, I just didn’t want to record any reaction to what was happening. Early Wednesday morning, I knew my emotions were too raw and that the process was not far enough along to make any real assumptions. If I had written it would have been too angry, disappointed and disillusioned.

It would have been something in the vein of the lines from Moliere’s The Misanthrope, shown above. 

It looks like this phase of the process is coming to an end and the reign of our wannabe dictator will come to an end. I thought this would make me want rejoice and yell out “Hallelujah” to the heavens. But it doesn’t. My happiness is dampened because, of course, of the weariness of the battle and the fact that there is much more danger and division ahead in the phases to come. Hopefully, we endure the rough ride and come out on the other side, where we can try to patch things back together, try to somehow repair the extensive damage this abomination has inflicted on this country.

But can we? Has he done irreparable harm?

I certainly don’t know. I can only speak to how he has affected my small world. 

And I worry that the damage he has done to my own view of my country and my fellow citizens is permanent.

And therein resides the greatest part of my immense loathing for this creature.

I have survived this world thus far by clinging to small bits of hope, to pursuing ideals that were based on some sort of goodness. Honesty. Empathy. Generosity. I have tried to find the better part of those folks I come across.

I have believed that this country did indeed have greatness but that it was never in our past. We were only on our way to greatness at any point in our 250+ years of history as a nation. I believed that our greatness was in the future and that we would slowly approach it so long as we pursued the great ideals of equality and justice for all. 

And even then, we might never reach it. But so long as we kept moving forward, that it would be okay.

But this creature has made me doubt my beliefs, made me question even the possibility of future greatness. How can any nation survive and progress towards any sort of, to use the words of the Constitution, a more perfect union when it is broken into two halves that seem to share few beliefs and values? How can it go on when  half wants to move forward and half wants to return to some imaginary point in our past? 

Because of this creature I find myself becoming more and more like a misanthrope. He has me feel judgmental and bitter towards people I don’t even know. I find myself asking how anyone could embrace his brand name hatred and vitriol, how they could blindly accept his ludicrous accusations and lies. How could they turn a blind eye to his barely veiled racism and open corruption? How could they think that the road to any sort of greatness ran through this soulless, selfish creature? 

Is this how I will forever be– angry and distrustful? Will I ever be able to restore the belief in the ideals and virtues that have sustained me for the many years of my life? Can I ever believe that these values are still shared with the vast majority, that we are willing to work as one to move forward toward that more perfect union?

I truly don’t know.

There are too many balls still in the air, too many potentials still out there for both disaster and redemption, to make any sort of determination. I doubt that I will ever be the same as I was before this creature slimed his way into our lives. I will always have doubts now, even greater uncertainty in who and what we are as a nation and what we might one day be.

In the words of the always wise Jiddu Krishnamurti:

When you once see something as false which you have accepted as true, as natural, as human, then you can never go back to it.

I am certainly going to try to maintain my optimism, try to regain my starry-eyed idealism. But I do not know if I will ever fully be the same. His words, his actions and his effect on the people of this nation have changed me.

And among his many crimes, that is one I will never be able to forgive.

But now, I am off to try to recoup some of that which was lost. Off to the easel where, as Moliere wrote:

I’ll flee this bitter world where vice is king,
And seek some spot unpeopled and apart
Where I’ll be free to have an honest heart.

Be careful out there and have a good day. Now get off my lawn!

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“To those human beings who are of any concern to me I wish suffering, desolation, sickness, ill-treatment, indignities—I wish that they should not remain unfamiliar with profound self-contempt, the torture of self-mistrust, the wretchedness of the vanquished: I have no pity for them, because I wish them the only thing that can prove today whether one is worth anything or not—that one endures.”

Friedrich Nietzsche, The Will to Power


I paused a little bit before using this quote from Nietzsche this morning. The use of anything from a philosopher whose work, and the book from which this excerpt has been taken, had been appropriated and distorted to justify their own ends , by the Nazis is a little risky, especially in this time of rising authoritarianism here and around the world. For many of us, just the title, The Will to Power, immediately conjures up imagery of invading Nazis goose-stepping through conquered cities in their quest for more and more power.

People naturally assume that that the power to which he is referring is ultimate power, ruling power to be  exercised over others. That is how the Hitler and his ilk interpreted it. But Nietzsche was talking about two separate forms of power which are expressed in German as the words Kraft and Macht. Kraft refers to brute force, both physical and mental, while Macht refers to true power. Kraft is the animal force, that primal element that is possessed in all of us. Macht, on the other hand, is the power to control one’s own kraft and use it in positive ways.

Macht is the overcoming and controlling of the kraft within us.

And that’s where we are now. We have two elements within this nation, one who see the power of this nation as pure animal power, and another who recognizes our power– our kraft— but understands that it cannot solely guide our actions and future. It is unsustainable. History shows that clearly. 

So, the question is how do we emerge from this? Do we have the fortitude to endure this tug of war between these two concepts?

Though I have my doubts on some days, in the long run I think we do have the ability to endure, actually.

And as Nietzsche expresses above, perhaps this struggle is just what we need to really move forward. Maybe we need some real hardship and suffering to understand the responsibility of our power. Maybe we need it to finally recognize that we must at some point sacrifice something of ourselves to a greater good, that our bounty does not come without a price.

Many of us have never had real hardship. I am not talking about normal loss and suffering that comes with being a human being. I am talking about widespread hurt that runs through the nation and touches most every citizen. Most of us have never had to sacrifice much for anyone.

Maybe we need the hurt and the humbling. While nobody wants to willingly take on great suffering, there are lessons to be learned from it. Perhaps that one can overcome and endure great hardship is the greatest of these. That and allowing more of us to develop a greater sense of empathy with those who continue to suffer around us.

Maybe we need to simply learn that we can endure.

Maybe then we can cross the divide between us and work together for some greater good.

Let’s hope, okay? 

Hey, here’s some old Canned Heat from about 50 years back with a fitting message for any time. It’s Let’s Work Together. Now, have a good day.


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