Maybe if you were a worm you’d be safe
You could down burrow deep where no one would see you
Hiding away where you cannot be found
You could live your life the way that you want to
Not like the Rhino who’s too big to hide
Not like the Rhino who dies for your pride
To grin and show off an erection gigantic
To impress only you and your ego fantastic
Not like the fox or the seal, or the beaver
Who die for your coats that you show off in winter?
Not like the turtle who dies for its shell
So you can have bracelets or earrings to sell
Tuna and swordfish are gourmet delights.
We gobble them up with no thought of their rights (more…)
Let’s pan the camera back a few years. Young Donald age 8 and his parents are having dinner. Young Donald insists he can make run the family better than his Parents can.
Father Triumph to young Donald, “You have no experience running a home why should we trust you?”
Young Donald to Father, “You are a Dummyhead, I tell it like it is! I know how to do things.”
“What proof do you have that you know how to run a family?”
“I won a kickball game. I won at marbles. Pretty girls like me. I’m a winner.”
Mother Triumph, “Yes it’s true dear that you are good at many things, but running a family is different from marbles.”
“Mommy, you are a dummyhead. You are just like Rosie O’Donnell, a big fat slob inside and out. No wonder you married Daddy dummyhead, with a face like yours who else was going to have you?”
Let’s get clear about something: Some things can be learned, taught and studied. They are a matter of information, memory and ideas, a matter of intelligence. Other things, not so much. They are more a matter of ‘who you are’ as a person things like personality, empathy, intuition, flexibility, patience and self-control have less to do education and more to do with innate qualities. When you think about a presidential candidate, a world leader who has to lead this country and be respected across the globe, you have to think beyond the kind of ‘issues’ that candidates debate. Those things, while important at the moment, vary from generation to generation and from country to country.
As thoughtful voters we can not afford to get stuck on single, emotional, social, political or financial issues no matter how important they may be. Because those issues change with the social and political climate. What is more imporant and what is universally ignored, what goes beyond opinion and proposals is the nature of the person’s character, morality and personality. It’s not about how smart or well informed they are – yes it’s impressive when candidates can rattle off facts and figures and pronounce the name of every leader, country and capital with searing linguistic accuracy, what’s most important has not been addressed except in passing, slurs or inferences delivered in mini-soundbites.
Here’s the thing.
In addition to intelligent, our president needs to be:
As a world community, are experiencing increasing violations to our collective belief systems. The iconoclasts are running rampant. Violations of long respected social codes, values, mores are everyday occurances. Nothing is sacred, Nothing and no one is above derision. Hatred, extremes of verbal abuse, hideous senseless acts of violence abound. Indeed they are often applauded or subtly sanctioned. These acts are becoming so commonplace, we stopped defining these behavioral extremes as aberrant outliers. They happen every day. We’re getting immune to them. People who just a few years ago defined themselves as mainstream Americans have gone off the deep end. They put up with things they would never have put up with before. They tolerate even encourage abusive obnoxious language and laugh or clap, or stand up and cheer for it. Corrosive, toxic words and ideas are spewed, hateful, crazy actions occur and instead of people being appalled they applaud.
Through war after war, treaty after treaty, court ruling after court ruling, we as a global collective have worked incrementally to amass a broadly accepted set of social standards. Society has strived to achieve as ordinary, a reasonable standard of conduct, fair rules of social engagement, political correctness, respectful problem solving, restrained discourse, humanitarianism, cohesive cooperative government, environmental responsibility. In this country we’ve strived to achieve Equality under the Law, a Fair and Just Court System, Civil Rights for all Citizens…we’re not there yet but we have improved. We keep trying. Through generations civilization has assembled generally accepted social guidelines that strive to provide safety, maintain order and regulate themselves in accordance with some semblance of reasonableness.
We teach our toddlers to ‘use their words’ rather than hitting or spitting. We try to socialize, raise and train our children to be responsible and respectful, to be polite and considerate even if they disagree or play on opposite teams. Now, it seems without our knowledge, agreement or approval those social guidelines we struggled and died to achieve are being trampled.
Syrian and Iraqi refugees abandoned their homes and everything familiar in a desperate search for safety. Carrying their babies and scant worldly possessions they trudge across the burning sand, pile into battered boats, face a hazardous Mediterranean only to land on strange lands seeking shelter. They want be safe. They are not going through all this because they’re bored or greedy. They aren’t seeking better paying jobs, nicer clothes or bigger cars. They simply want to avoid being slaughtered by the same maniacs who are threatening the rest of the world. We’re on the same side of this war, folks. It’s not like they’re friends with the terrorists. Even if a bad guy sneaks across with them, it doesn’t mean they invited him. However, several Republican presidential candidates have lost their program guides. Instead of standing by the words inscribed on our Statue of Liberty:
“Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”
These pompous candidates are determined to slam that golden door in their faces. And why? Because immigration and terrorism are hot button topics and they want votes. So before you jump on the closest political band-wagon think about this:
- Terrorists can go wherever they want to go – Syrian immigrants or no Syrian immigrants.
- They are well funded. Their groups have money and means, passports and bombs. Islamist extremists have been getting into the USA for years. On student visas, work visas, in freighter cargo holds or as stowaways on Boeing 747’s.
- Not all terrorists are imports from the Middle East. Some of them already live here. Some were born here. Many are not and have never been Sunnis, Shiites, Kurds, Druze, Yazidis, or any other ethnic minority who call the middle east their home
- Groups like al Qaeda are transnational groups made up of many nationalities and based in many countries, so let’s not discriminate against one terrorized nationality.
It’s abhorrent that these political wanna-be’s spout simplistic, reductionist ideas and pretend that they are solutions. It’s even more abhorrent that so many potential voters swallow this crap as if it were the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.
January 12, 2016 should have been a proud night for Americans. In presenting his final State of the Union address, President Obama was everything we could hope for in an American president. He was dignified, articulate, gracious, capable, well-prepared, intelligent, thoughtful, emotionally well-regulated, rational, wise and grounded. Additionally, he was socially appropriate, (and looked great, too), plus, he was linguistically elegant, poised, mature, reasonable and remarkably restrained when speaking of Congressional Republicans and current Presidential candidates. He said having different views should not, by definition, make us enemies, rather, in a free society, one expects and welcomes diversity of opinion, culture and background. His views for our country, and ultimately for the world, were optimistic and balanced. And he put his finger precisely on the problem we face as a nation: our political process or rather those who currently dominate it, is a mess. The Almighty Dollar and cultural elitism have inflated and leveraged hot button topics, and infused the rancorous political process with hate, increasing our dividedness.
This current batch of political combatants exhibit a zealous, unrestrained contempt for each other that barley stops short of snarling. It reminds me of National Geographic videos of marauding chimpanzees slaughtering rival troops. The battles on Capital Hill with their screeching and thumping, has descended to the level of primates in the wilds of Tanzania. If any of us think our American political campaign process is more erudite and sophisticated than that of many third world countries, take another look. Their hateful witches’ brew accompanied by its twin assumption — God-given ‘rightness’ have driven us to a precipice. Across the globe there are regressive, primeval, archaic belief systems competing for power on the world stage and the last thing we need is for our own politicians to regress to a matching level of un-socialized, uncivilized sloppy discourse.
This blog title, extrapolated from quotes by Rabbi Hillel, (110 BCE – 10 CE) a famous Jewish religious leader, serves as the foundation of the Judeo-Christian belief in ethical reciprocity, or the “Golden Rule.” (You remember “Do unto others as you would have others do unto you.” Or some such…) Those words challenge us today to think about the cascading atrocities erupting across the globe and remind us that individually and collectively, we have a moral, ethical, human responsibility to one another. From the comfort of our homes, with the distance of miles and oceans, it’s all too easy to leave ‘it’ to the next guy. It is all too easy to relax in our easy chairs, sip coffee or wine, shake our heads and point our fingers and not think about the millions of refugees stumbling across countries looking for somewhere safe to live.
We grumble aloud, jump on our soap boxes, shout out easy, one-dimentional solutions and over-simplify enormously complex problems, boiling them down to a simple matter of right or wrong, do or don’t. After all, it’s way easier to over-simplify huge, big problems, like crime, violence, drugs, poverty, immigration or the Middle East than it is to take the time and energy to learn about and try to grasp the complexities. It takes years of study to appreciate the centuries-long history of oppression and conflict; to understand what motivates these fights over water and land, oil and power, freedom and slavery, tyranny and justice.
This year’s Republican Presidential Candidates are, to put it mildly, distasteful. As if ‘traditional’ conservative values isn’t off-putting enough, these folks have scooped up the most alienated, marginalized and narrow-minded citizens on our social continuum.
Pandering to these extremists has candidates clustering on the brink of disaster by preaching blatant racism, divisive regionalism, isolationism, and generalized war mongering. All this makes me long for the days of George H whose big campaign slogan was “watch my lips, no new taxes” or the days of George W who garbled the English language (“We cannot let terrorists hold this nation hostile or hold our allies hostile”) and could never seem to get ‘nuclear’ right.
For the first time, in my admittedly long life, the campaign trail is crowded with people competing for the title of: most outrageous, most offensive, most morally repugnant, most immature, most regressive, most extreme, most insulting and most uninformed. Although each candidate is unique, their collective rhetoric is stuffed with hatred disguised as religious fervor, generalized rejection of anyone who’s different and astounding illogicality. These candidates jump to conclusions, render pronouncements unsupported by rational thought, confuse feelings for facts and lack anything resembling a moral compass.
Have you heard about the coffee cup debacle? Apparently, there are some Christian devotees who are so delighted about their up and coming celebrations that they insist on having their holiday symbols plastered on every conceivable surface. Starbucks, I guess in an effort to be diverse, politically correct and avoid offending millions of non-Christian customers, decided to decorate their coffee cups this year simply with the color red. Sounds like a reasonable compromise, right? Wrong! It seems certain Christian leaders were offended because they wanted more than a plain red cup. More symbols, more decorations, more special recognition, more attention, more, more, more…
Perhaps they are so used to being the majority religion, they never stop to consider that other people have different religious practices and they may not relish Reindeer dancing across their coffee cups. It might interest them to know that there are some 4,200 religions in the world, that’s right folks not one, or five, but 4,200 and I’m sure a few little ones fell through the cracks on that last count. There are over fourteen classical world religions—those religions most often included in history of world religion surveys and studied in world religions classes are: Baha’i, Buddhism, Christianity, Confucianism, Hinduism, Islam, Jainism, Judaism, Shinto, Sikhism, Taoism, and Zoroastrianism, Druidism, Wicca and some other Neo-pagan religions. Each of these religions has a different spiritual view, philosophy and flock of followers devoted to it.
Writing Seeing Double has been an adventure. Replete with double entendres, the novel explores the Middle East while pondering the realities and irrationalities of ‘Truth,’ as it is seen, defined and acted upon from various perspectives. From the moment Ari enters Elisabeth’s office, the parameters of the plot are anchored. As each character unfolds, additional layers of communal ‘Truth’ emerge. These ‘Truths’ weave their way through families, countries and terrorist groups, crossing borders, creating boundaries and declaring themselves ‘The Absolute’; the One and Only, Single, Solitary, Absolutely Perfect, Unquestionable ‘Truth.’ These ‘Truths’ stake out their turf, take over lands and demand total unwavering loyalty from their followers. Disloyalty is treason, and we all know what happens to traitors.
The problem with these unquestionable, demanding ‘Truths’ is that there are a lot of them and while in some ways they are unalterably contradictory, in other ways they are identical. Certain common themes apply to all of these ‘Truths,’ but because the theological power is attained through isolation, discrimination and elevation, their commonalities are distorted, rejected and denied. These ‘Truths,’ like the religions to which they are inextricably linked, are trans-generational, connected to the soil, traditions and embedded lifestyles. These ‘Truths’ are as simple and as complex as the religious beliefs from which they evolved.