Don’t Talk About It!


It is interesting to me that when I post articles here that are upbeat and positive, I get a lot of “likes” and comments. But when I post about subjects that are uncomfortable like gun control or politics I get very few comments and likes. I’m not pointing fingers of blame. I love my readers and always encourage people to be themselves, but it is a pattern I’ve noticed and the answer as to why delves into many areas. Plainly said, people don’t like to talk or think about uncomfortable subjects. As an unwritten rule many of us learned that you were never supposed to talk about religion and politics in public. Mostly I think, because people have strong opinions on those subjects and arguments are started by bringing them up. But if people do have strong opinions about subjects like that, why don’t they talk about them and voice those opinions? Because it’s uncomfortable.

And we don’t like to be uncomfortable. Because being uncomfortable is well, uncomfortable. We don’t like being seen as having any faults, or biases or prejudices. But the fact is, we do. We all do. This is not a popular thing to say and I’m probably not going to get many “likes” for this. My thought on this is, if we don’t talk about uncomfortable things, how do we ever get anything resolved? How do we solve our problems if we don’t talk about them. People spend millions every year telling their problems to therapists but not talking to their friends about them for free. Why do we do this? Maybe because we want to seem like we have it all together in front of our friends? We don’t want our faults and biases to show? We want to be cool and hip and yet we’re an emotional wreck behind the scenes. If we let our guard down, someone will get inside and see what we’re really like. And then what? People will really know us. That’s what.

We need to talk about uncomfortable things. Maybe not personal things but things like racism, bigotry, politics and religion. We need to talk about the pervasive gun culture. About brown people locked in cages. About Native American rights. About Palestine and Israel. About Fascism. We need to talk about these things because they are problems for us and the world, and they won’t resolve themselves. We have to somehow get over the uncomfortableness of talking about things by just doing it. Sticking your neck out, as is said, and talk. Get it out there how you feel. After the initial stickiness you may find others joining in. You may find a lot of people agree with you and then you have something important to talk about. Social media is a great platform that a lot of people use for superficial things. Not that that’s bad but it can be used for so much more. It’s actually easier to talk about uncomfortable subjects on line because you’re not face to face. But we need to do it. Now.

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Lets Win!!!


As a retired person, I have more time on my hands than the average American. I try to spend my time wisely, but I also want to enjoy the time I have. I never really saw any other purpose in working other than to enjoy my time away from work. Seriously, what other reason is there to go to a job, and work 40 or more hours every week if it doesn’t contribute to your life away from that job? So once I (luckily) reached the point in my life where I could get away with not working, I quit. Makes perfect sense to me. But that’s not the point of this article. With the current political situation Americans find themselves in, I started thinking back about things I learned about human nature while I was working. I’ve always been an amateur psychologist and sociologist. I find human nature and thought to be fascinating. So here are some random thoughts I have had on politics, and human nature.

First, I’ll tell you a story. I worked as a Medical Laboratory Technician. Which means I worked in a hospital or clinic lab doing, Immunohematology, microbiology, chemistry, hematology, immunology, urinalysis, and phlebotomy. I wore a long white lab coat, with pens in the pocket. At the clinic I worked at, there was a front desk area for the lab where patients would check in for their lab appointment. Occasionally there would be a disgruntled patient who would argue with the front desk women (the front desk always had women workers) about their bill or whatever it happened to be. The patient could be a man or a woman. I was the only man who worked in the lab at that time. While an argument was taking place with a patient, other lab workers (women) would come and go in the area and it did nothing to detract from the argument. If I, as a man in a white lab coat were to walk into the area, the patient would immediately calm down. I learned two things from that. Men and women both treat women worse than they treat men. A woman in a lab coat is not seen as an authority figure by men or women, but a man in a lab coat is.

Centuries of patriarchal society has done its job. Men and women both will see a man as an authority figure before they see that same thing in a woman. There were times when I sat at the front desk while the regular desk people took a break. I never once had an argument with a patient. Never. And yet people wouldn’t hesitate to start an argument with one of the women who worked the desk. How does this relate to the current political situation I eluded to? We have a lot of women who are running for the next presidency. And we have some men. The women running clearly outnumber the men and yet most of the news coverage is about the men.

Politics, is like sports. I also learned this while I was working. I talked to a lot of patients over the years and the one subject that most people had in common, was sports. And politics is a lot like sports. We want to win. We want our guy to be the best. The smartest, the strongest, the most admirable. I talked with a lot of people when Donald Trump was running for president. I brought up things like the fact that he had no political experience. Or his possible criminal activity. Or sexual assault allegations. Or multiple bankruptcies. None of that mattered to his supporters. Then I started looking at sports figures. Many men in sports have been convicted of crimes. Adultery, abuse, drug and alcohol charges, theft, etc. The list is long. The stories are in the paper and then they’re gone. Nobody cares. As long as they’re team is winning, no one cares about the crimes. As long as the politician promises winning, (who did that?) nobody cares about their behavior.

When I was in grade school, I was skinny and scrawny. No one wanted me on their team. I was the last one picked. And the teachers never saw that as a problem. The team captains were chosen by the teacher and they were always the most popular kids, the most athletic. And they of course always chose the most athletic kids first. All they wanted to do was win. That’s all that mattered. I was always such an outsider, because I didn’t give a damn about winning anything. I didn’t want the glory or the recognition. I just wanted to live, and enjoy life. I always felt sorry for the losers in any competition. Because the winners would run right over the losers and leave them behind. Always.

This is how I see politics today. It’s a competition. In a football game, you make the right plays, throw the ball the farthest, move it the most and win. In politics, you have the politician who is the most popular, (always a man) say the right things, be at the right places to get the most votes and win. A huge part of American culture is devoted to sports. Sports bars, sports channels, billion dollar stadiums, multi million dollar players. In order to make politics more popular, they have to make it like sports. Remember Trump teling you how much winning you were going to do if you voted for him? Americans want to win. At all costs.

Breaking Words Episode 3

Episode three has been released and you can find it here: The first piece is a prose commentary on the state of fear we find in the US today. The second is about war and death (happy subjects) and the final is about missing my wife, Ann. With so much garbage in the news today I felt I had to make some kind of response and that’s why I wrote “Fear” just a couple days ago. Here are the words to episode 3’s three pieces. I hope they help you to think hard about the state of our world.

Fear

Today’s political climate in the United States has me thinking about fear. There seems to be a lot of it these days. Fear of the “other.” Meaning, fear of others. Other people, to be exact. Fear of what we don’t understand. We seem to be in an iron fisted grip of fear. And if you look back in history, I’m sure you’ll find that every generation had their fears. Your parents, and their parents back to the beginning, had fears. Fears that drove them to survive, to protect what was theirs. Because they feared losing it. Whatever “it” was. Their lives, their property, their freedom. Fear drove them to survive. As it drives us. Science tells us that modern humans have existed on this planet for about 200,000 years. And yet with all our science and technological advancement, we still it seems, have not advanced very far. We are still basically fearful creatures hiding in our caves. Afraid that others will come and take what we have.

Early humans were afraid of natural phenomena. Earthquakes, lightening, wind and flood. They had no science or history to look back on to tell them what these things were. There was no known cause. And yet humans are driven to find reasons for everything. And so, Gods were invented. Roman Gods, Greek Gods, Norse Gods. Having angry Gods gave people answers to the questions of why things happened. When I was a kid I remember being told that thunder was the sound of God bowling in heaven. It made me less afraid. Now I had an answer for what this noise was that shook the house and scared me. And I knew that God had my best interest at heart, so I needn’t fear thunder. And now of course, I understand the science that explains thunder, so there’s no more fear associated with it. But what became of that fear? Did it just disappear? Or did I find something else to fear instead?

All throughout history, people have risen up and claimed that they were the answer to your fears. They were the ones who could save you from the things that go bump in the night. “Follow me” they say, And I’ll make things right. “Elect me” and I’ll save our country. I’ll chase away the “others.” Some of them were good leaders. Some of them were charlatans. But if you look back at all our past history you’ll find that no matter how many demons have been chased away, no matter how much science explains why natural things happen, we still find something to fear. Unfortunately, there have always been those who understand this and take full advantage of it. First, they manufacture something to fear. And then tell you that they are the only ones who can save you from it.

And fear, I don’t think, is our basic problem. Fear, keeps you from sticking a fork in a light socket. Fear, keeps you from putting your hand in a fire. The fear of dying or at least, great bodily harm, keeps you from stepping out into traffic. In those examples, fear is a good thing. Our primitive instinct tells us we need fear to survive. Without it, we wouldn’t be here. And yet we see fear working in many harmful ways. As I write this, there are thousands of people walking through Mexico, presumably heading to the United States. Our news agencies are ripe with stories as to why this is happening. Our government is telling us we need to fear these people. They are coming for our jobs. They are coming for free money. They are harboring terrorists. They are the “other.” And they blame those that they want us to fear. Democrats. Liberals. Migrants walking across Mexico. If you fear something long enough, you will begin to hate it. You hate it for making you afraid. This is the dark side of fear. What’s happening right now in the U S is a prime example of how people manipulate our fears and use them to control us. A good healthy fear of stepping into traffic, will keep us alive. A manufactured fear of others will destroy us.
Unfortunately, I don’t know if I have a good answer to the problem. I’m certainly not going to shout, “Follow Me,” and I’ll show you the way. One bit of advice I could give is a quote from the Dalai Lama: “Our prime purpose in this life is to help others. And if you can’t help them, at least don’t hurt them.” I think there are many people in the world who don’t have any interest in helping others. And too many times I have seen people deliberately hurt others to make themselves feel better. It seems it is it common for people to look for others that are worse off than themselves, thus boosting their own confidence And if they can’t find them, they’ll manufacture them by treating them badly to see them suffer. President Lyndon B. Johnson once said, “If you can convince the lowest white man he’s better than the best colored man, he won’t notice you’re picking his pocket. Hell, give him somebody to look down on, and he’ll empty his pockets for you.”

This, it seems to me, is what’s happening in the U S today. We are being fed fear. A steady diet of which will eventually cause us to hate. And hate always manifests itself in negative ways. Fear can be a good thing. Something to help us to survive and even thrive. But the fear that causes us to hate others is destructive will eventually tear us apart.

The Sword Of Freedom


As hands are brushed together, dead bodies fall like dust
and a girl in a dress called freedom whirls and twirls
but makes no sound but the sound of a mothers cry.

With the constitution in one hand and a bible in the other,
flames suddenly leap and turn them to ash and
they blow away on the wind called justice.

Crowds leave the synagogue, cathedral and mosque and file
into the furnace while factories make more furnaces
and governments send more children to burn.

The minds eye is blind and feeling it’s way to find
emptiness and sorrow where love once lived.
Time turns backward to other wars with the same stench.

Liberty’s crack grows wider and the clapper has
disappeared to be replaced by the
sword of freedom, and a mother cries again.

And do we watch with hands folded in laps and on
our knees pray to a god who doesn’t listen? And do
we tell our children that this is righteousness?

As our world disappears in flame and ash do
we wish we had done the right thing? Do we say the
words that will set all to right, or collect our pay?

As the wars rage on and refugees muliply we go to our
jobs with blinders in place and plugs in our ears and
pretend we do not see the girl dancing. And bleeding.

And as she falls to the ground her wounds ooze into
the sand and she reaches out to be picked up but
we turn away, not wanting to get our clothes dirty.

With clean hands and clothes some walk away, but
some stoop to carry away the hurt and their
voices are being heard. Quietly now, but getting louder.

Waking Dreams

Like a cricket I can’t find
in my bedroom at night,
your memory haunts me.
Insistent, yet melodic,
you are there,
robbing me of sleep.

Floating through
my waking dreams
you stand on the other
side of a darkened glass.
I reach out to you
but you do not reach back.

You watch me with
placid face as I move
about my day, I, always
reaching. I cannot see your
smile, from where you are,
from where I am.

I long to be released
from this dream of you,
this dream of not you,
and yet, it is the only
way I see you anymore,
except in pictures.

The Killing Machine

tanks, war

The killing machine eats the bodies of the young men
and women whose ideals brought them to the front lines.
Gnashing its teeth, it grinds flesh and bone into
meal to feed the dogs of war.

Bullets, bombs and chemicals, are its inner workings.
What better way for the machine to survive than to give
the enemy what it desires and then kill them for having it.
The headlines list the body count and the horrible ways they die.

To do good is its guise, support democracy, set people free.
But it cares for nothing but money and power
and strives only for its survival, wearing death like a
expensive suit and spreading its lies like the finest honey.

And the dogs of war howl for more, always hunting, always hungry,
waiting, to start the machine and send it to a new country where
people need to be free. And there, its democracy will spread,
and the men and women of the front lines will die once more.