Political Labels: How ya gonna live up to them?

Image result for left right politics

“Okay buster, I’m a ‘——–‘ and proud of it!

“Well, I’m really more a ‘——-‘ and I don’t agree with you and don’t really know what your label means but I know it must be wrong and dangerous to our Country.”

“Listen buster, we ‘——‘ stand for truth, justice and the American way and no amount of your ‘—–‘ crap is gonna change that.”

“Oh yeah? Well I’m just as strong in my knowing stuff as you are and we’d all be better off if you just shut the hell up!”

“You people seem to think ….. ”

“I stand with all those Americans who blah blah blah”

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Who you callin two-dimensional?

The glory in being able to discern what we see in a three-dimensional way is that we can not only perceive automatically the differences between “near” and “far,” but also perceive cubes and spheres quite differently from squares and circles. Obviously such is a consequence of our enjoyment of depth perception.

Were that such were so for mental  images, conceptualizations and imagined realities. Which brings me to our notions of left and right in political and philosophical terms. It seems that particularly in philosophical/political contexts we mostly attempt to apply two-dimensional labels to ourselves in terms of our own intellectual prowess in seeing the world as it really is. Hence, left/right stuff does not reflect intellectual depth perception, rather two-dimensional thinking lacks depth or breadth.

Two-dimensional thinking is nothing more than either/or thinking on any subject. Today the subject is political philosophy which, in this country is dominated by either/or mindsets with their pretend basis and standard of comparisons that break behavior into right or wrong choices.

Either/or uses extreme extensions to praise or vilify other folks. For example, “liberal” is implied to be firmly entrenched next to “communism” via the “socialist” tendency while “conservatism” lies dangerously next to “fascism” via the “authoritarian” route. Another way of expressing this is the label-mindedness that considers the left wing or right wing enemies of Democracy depending on how an individual is living up to his chosen label.

Don’t label yourself. You will have less to live up to that does not belong to you and more freedom to be who you are.

Don’t label yourself. Be genuinely surprised then when you react in a way that surprises who you thought you were …. or who you thought you were supposed to be.

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On negative socially redeeming values: NRA, open carry and the psychology of 2nd Amendment Exploitation

My thoughts today in reaction to the following articles

The Cowboy Fantasy of a ‘Good Guy With a Gun’ – John Pavlovitz – October 2017

Unfunny humor about gun control –     Brian Hines February, 2013

It seems that the slogan driving these folks with the big iron(s) on their hips is …

“If you block me from using my First Amendment Right I will exercise my Second Amendment Right and use my weapon on you!”

… or something like that.

As to who the traitorous un-American “YOU” bent on destroying our liberties is …  and the reasoning behind the extreme step of using a weapon against another citizen, well that’s up for interpretation.

Apparently whoever it is seems to be the evil spawn of the 1930’s and 1940’s Germanic and Italian terrorists who have somehow re-incarnated into the 21st century. But that’s confusing because aren’t them guys the historic heroic idols of extreme right wing American drugstore patriotism?

The “H” guy? Or better even, the Mussolini guy who was not ashamed of government corporatism while lying to and bleeding the common citizens in order to keep the rich in power?

It is called “Open Carry”, part of making what is considered a patriotic statement having to do with defending our liberties whenever and wherever those freedoms appear to be under attack.

What does “under attack” mean?

What is in the mind of someone who feels the need to publicly flaunt  personal ownership of a weapon because something frightens him that  is not frightening most people who are otherwise civically engaged and active.

“That’s the rub here: that every villain is a hero in his own head, and every small man wants to feel big—which is why the blood of thousands of Americans will continue to be spilled every year, and why the NRA and the GOP will joyfully swim around in it. – The Cowboy Fantasy of a ‘Good Guy With a Gun’ – John Pavlovitz

Is there a difference?

Well, although we all have that right some of us use common sense that dictates that one need not  “carry” unless a defense of rights is under literal and immediate physical attack, war or invasion of our country. Otherwise, “carrying” is just another word for “packing” (as in heat) which declares …

“I’m a macho guy who could accidentally shoot a kid, a little old lady or her pet if I was of a mind to. “

What gets me, every time I see black-clad guys and gals strutting around with their weapons, is how little they have to be proud about. It takes zero courage and zero skill to own a gun. All you need is a VISA card. Shooting defenseless animals from long range, or defenseless targets, earns zero “guts points.” – Brian Hines Unfunny Humor About Gun Control

A veteran myself, I know active duty military members as well as other veterans in my community who HAVE used a weapon in defense of our country.  They are genuine – the real thing – and would not hesitate to leave their homes, leave the churches before the sermon ends, leave the tavern with the last beer unfinished, drop what they’re doing, jump in their own transportation, get their weapons and make haste to the scene of threat or action.

They’d do it in a moment’s notice because they know where their weapons are – kept safe under lock and key until needed. Furthermore, for most of those I know it would not be any different if those attacking were government agents or military troops sent to forcibly take weapons away,  put folks in some kind of internment camp, force citzens to pay taxes or execute sinners for fornication.

… But  that is not what is happening. Nothing even close to that is happening.

Fantasy is not real, it’s merely fantasy.

Obsession with a fantasy that appears to summon heroes is the spin of political manipulation. Particularly it is an extreme so-called “patriotic” spin that seems to be endorsed by broadcast drugstore patriot networks and personalities.

So who is packing … er, I mean “carrying?”

All I can venture is a perceptual speculation based on behavior, verbiage and posturing.

Most carriers appear to be dying to be seen  publicly wearing symbols of patriotism on their sleeves.

Most carriers appear to be hoping someone will challenge them so they can then draw.

Most carriers seem to appear they will be disappointed if they don’t get to publicly use the weapon so as to be seen as heroic.

They are the producers of the grisly cowboy fantasy.
They compose the narrative, they profit from the plot—and the good guys with guns all dying to be cowboys will continue to gladly generate sequels for them.

I’ve had it with the myth of heroic men, saving women from the bad guy.

I prefer that we save humanity from the deadly cowboy fantasy—by not giving it ammunition of any kind.” – The Cowboy Fantasy of a ‘Good Guy With a Gun’ – John Pavlovitz

It seems to me that would-be Second Amendment heroes won’t hesitate to manufacture (imagine) enemies to the homeland in order to sustain a macho sense that hearkens back to every Wayne or Eastwood movie where the good guy gets to shoot somebody.
Or they are willing to suspend judgment and critical thinking by falling for any broadcast lie hook, line and sinker.

Like I said, this sort of ignorance would be comical if it wasn’t so unfunny. People who are clueless about the Constitution are pretending that they’re the only ones standing between us and tyranny. That’s hilarious.

Except, it isn’t funny. – Brian Hines Unfunny Humor About Gun Control

Consequently, when you see a carrier “packing” in public with a cold hard stare hidden by movie-hero sunglasses you can read in that stone cold facial expression and posturing this message:

“Please! 
Before it’s too late and I can no longer be and feel heroic! 
Please …. somebody make my day!”

Flash your weapons guys, get out those comic books and to hell with anyone else in the crowd, their children or their grandchildren.

Just like the Hannity acolyte in Tennessee who gunned down several human beings in a church because they were Hannity-defined  “liberals” …

Just like that … people are gunned down and it doesn’t matter which Wayne or Eastwood character did the shooting.

It won’t matter whether he believes that Limbaugh, Hannity or Fox News said it would be acceptable

… there will not be anything heroic about the perpetrator.
… only  a stick horse, plastic chaps and cheap sunglasses trying to cover cowardice, a junior high maturity and a lack of the greatest civic attribute a citizen can offer the country.

Common Sense …

One of the Founding Fathers beloved of gun-toting Constitutionalists was Thomas Paine, who said,  “give me liberty or give me death.

Paine did not declare that everybody needs to “carry” so shooters who are irresponsible can gun down a real or imagined “bad guy” regardless of collateral damage.

And woe unto those too afraid to speak up or disagree with the heat packers.

“Salesmanship the likes of which has rarely been seen in history, even in this nation of boiling commercialism.

It is no small accomplishment to convince millions of people that their safety and security – indeed, their very existence as a nation – absolutely depends upon the astonishing preponderance of devices that kill them on the hour, every hour, every day.

All the gun lobby does is bellow about freedom, about the Constitution, about preserving the ability to defend oneself against the onset of an intrusive, tyrannical government.

This is the song that has been sung for decades now, to the point that it is holy writ to those who think the ability to own an AR-15 with a magazine capacity large enough to take out half of Yankee Stadium, should the need somehow arise, is the apotheosis of American freedom.

Good luck with that; send me a note from the front, hero. I’m sure your Red Dawn fantasy will unspool itself any day now.

Convincing so many people that their freedom is inviolably attached to things that kill them in piles every single day is amazingly successful salesmanship…and as we embark upon this national debate over guns, we must encompass this essential truth: all the grandstanding over personal freedom, over the Constitution, over the ability to defend oneself against the government, is the end-product of perhaps the most magnificent sales job ever deployed against anyone, ever.” -William Rivers Pitt

 

 

triv·i·al·ize: (verb) to make (something) seem less important, significant, or complex than it really is.

figurehead
Whoever succeeds Mr. Trump and whenever that is, the first order of business will be to un-trivialize the office of President of the United States; to make it mean something other than what it stands for in this moment.

The article is honest, blunt and expresses my sense of what the most immature baby -boomer of them all has accomplished.

Donald Trump Is Just a Figurehead

 … he has the title and he has the bully pulpit—from which he’s bullying everyone from NBA players to people protesting white supremacists to DACA kids.

But he’s not actively governing the United States. That work is happening elsewhere—in Congress, the courts, the Fed, the career civil service, lobbyists, and in the states. Or it’s not happening at all.

It’s not just that Trump lost the epic battle to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. Trump never understood the Affordable Care Act to begin with, and played no part in developing Republican alternatives.

Bowling with the Masons: When yer former athleticism flees the scene.

Sort of looked like this

Last week I took Lietta to the local bowling alley at Hugo’s here on South Hill. As we drove to the site, we began talking about what we used to do, what we might still be able to do and whether or not we were kidding ourselves.

In retrospect, Lietta was not kidding herself and opted to sit behind us and be a cheerleader. I, on the other hand, being all macho and guy-like wanted to present as a still vigorous and athletic 71-year old to  my Masonic brothers. Luckily for me, there were only three to witness my “athleticism.”

My fellow bowlers, one in his 30’s and one closer to my age seemed to have not lost the majority of their touch and were easily headed for at least a score of 100. Me? I could not seem to recapture the rhythmic sense of step and motion that would allow me to stand serenely, a bowling ball in both hands with the thumb and fingers locked in place, take my usual routine of one slow step forward followed by a series of rapid smaller strides … right up to the line with my arm now in forward motion about to release my grip and send the ball streaking down the middle of the lane toward a possible strike.

Yeah, right!!

The dance steps no longer responded to my mind’s summons causing me to start and stop a couple of times and then go back to position one. Finally I just lumbered forward trying to time the forward movement of the ball with reaching the line. The result was a beginning of somehow sideways throwing the ball at the lane and two of the first three were gutter balls and the third knocked down a terrified ten-pin.

About half way through the line, I openly vowed to “break 50” before I was through. Shouldn’t have done that …. by the tenth frame me and 50 were neck and neck. So I carefully and tentatively attempted a somewhat nonchalant throw for my tenth frame.

Didn’t work. My stagger to the line was more pronounced, I began to lose balance and when my foot slid across the line, all hell broke loose. Across the line the lane is coated with slick stuff that turned my legs into runaway roller skates and I was not sliding, but careening down the slippery lane. Finally fell forward as my legs went further forward but then landed flat on my back. When my head banged on the lane almost gently, I started to rise but then told myself to hell with it and lay it back down while I collected by inner dignity.

Next thing I know I’m surrounded by three Masons all attending my possible woundedness. I got to my hands and knees and then managed a standing position, told my wife “I’m okay honey!” and staggered back to the couches trying to look as if I had done it all intentionally for entertainment purposes.

Nobody bought it … and I had to admit that the spirit was willing but the flesh was weak. I have a painful bruise on the right side of my hip to prove it. Over the years my arthritis thumbs have become painful in the same gripping place on both hands and the right thumb was mad at me for forcing it to hang on to a heavy marble sphere and throw it at a bowling lane.

Well … my dignity seems intact but the facade of athleticism ain’t. I’ll have to resort to saying “I wish I could still do that!” to folks with whom I am watching a flying dunk in an NBA game on television like I used to tell my kids when we watched Mike Jordan dunk from the foul line.

It was also helpful to take Lietta to Hogan’s Restaurant and eat a tuna melt with my co-masonic-bowlers.

And the jacuzzi at MUV the next day was good to my sore bones.

Arthur Fall Down Go Boom

This foto is ten years old, taken after I got dizzy at work and fell off my chair in my module. But it does reflect how I felt last week.

On knee-taking, drugstore patriotism and hurt feelings: It’s the lies that kill.

WWII Vet Kneels

‘Those Kids Have Every Right to Protest.’ 97-Year-Old WWII Vet Kneels to Support NFL Players” – John Middlemas

Real Courage: WWII Vet Kneels in Support

Who are those most offended by knee-taking as a genuine, civic and even patriotic expression of concern about what Americans are aware of or ignore?

Drugstore patriots.

Drugstore Patriotism: The wearing of one’s prideful ego, narcissistic posturing and nationalistic foolishness on one’s sleeve in order to be seen, in order to be heard and in order to grind a particularly mindless ax.

To those who are quagmired into a belief that taking a knee is only about a song and a flag: It’s the lies that kill.

The remembering will go on for lifetimes long after the acrimony and partisan politics have faded. The legacy of public drugstore patriotism will be an ongoing and painful confusion for many of the same reasons that caused a shift in American civic awarenes during the VietNam War.

Wannabe “peace celebrities” are on their soap boxes with “We-are-too-polarized-to-communicate-so-we’ve-got-to-stop-challenging” brand of pop-psycho-pretend-statesmanship blather. It’s still too early for that. That time is not here yet. For all sides – not just one – the time to start acting peaceful, regretful and anxious that we stop talking nasty is now.

I don’t know how many citizens slept thru civics class, let alone even included such a class in their maturation process. I do know that constant bellowing at the electorate on how they should vote is about as effective as bellowing at the store shoppers outside a box store the day after Thanksgiving. Aren’t we all bellowed out and tired of being bellowed at? Bellowing as a form of educating someone else on how they should vote is the tired and proven Democratic path to loss of elections. Democrats are still learning this lesson.

Genuinely pissing all voters off is where it’s at.

There is nothing more powerful in arousing a national sense of indignation than to have a bunch of mom and pop towns and villages start waking each other up with infectious resolutions. That will outdo political educating and bellowing every time. The answers to the questions of why are more transparent, obvious and politically rancid.

PBS has an awesome series by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick entitled The VietNam War. I don’t recommend you watch it. I demand that you do so. You’ll see and learn more truth about both sides of the conflict than you might think. You’ll also understand more about  governments that mostly tell you what it wants you to think – not know – in pursuit of an agenda. You may come to suspect that drugstore patriotism begins at the highest levels of government and is dispersed throughout the country by a media seeking profit, not wise civic awareness.

Who are our most precious citizens now when it comes to talking with experience about military service and what it means to be a genuine patriot? Real veterans, not the pretend kind. Among them let’s have more veterans who have banded together and taken a stand; who’ve spoken out and continue speaking – who in fact refuse to be silenced; and whose respect the current leadership in both parties has lost completely as they focus on the drugstore kind of audience.

When precious national blood is sacrificed and reason demands justification, shallow partisan politics seriously wound the fabric of all families in America. The time to speak out has never been more critical. Voices … it’s our time to tell the leadership, regardless of which party, that this drugstore tragedy must stop as soon as possible.

Not one more citizen need die to preserve the lies. It’s the lies that kill.
The lie that the correct side is only my side kills.
The lie that disagreement with me means you aren’t on the right side kills.

The notion that I’m right and you are wrong and nothing good will happen until you admit you’re wrong and I am right is a winning tactic for debates … I suppose … where a referee says, “Yup, that guy with that argument is the smartest.”  It’s also a lie that can kill.

Limiting yourself to the drugstore patriotism doesn’t go too far in any wider venue where your pretend posture has become the cheapest, most demeaning and diminishing turd regarding the value of every human life.

A presidency or a party with intellectually foppish projects and a parade of presidential wannabes who attempt to don some sort of wise-statesman cap and gown have worn this particular fabric so transparently thin as to offer the American electorate nothing but pure intellectual insult.

Drugstore patriotism says NFL rather human dignity and the national sorrow of racism. Drugstore patriotism says NFL rather than Puerto Rico.
Drugstore patriotism says tavern talk rather than sincere discourse.

“In a democracy dissent is an act of faith. To criticize one’s country is to do it a service … Criticism, in short, is more than a right; it is an act of patriotism – a higher form of patriotism, I believe, that the familiar rituals and national adulation … My question is whether America can overcome the fatal arrogance of power.” –
J. William Fulbright


 

“On this July 4, we would do well to renounce nationalism and all its symbols: its flags, its pledges of allegiance, its anthems, its insistence in song that God must single out America to be blessed.

Is not nationalism — that devotion to a flag, an anthem, a boundary so fierce it engenders mass murder — one of the great evils of our time, along with racism, along with religious hatred?

These ways of thinking — cultivated, nurtured, indoctrinated from childhood on — have been useful to those in power, and deadly for those out of power.” – Howard Zinn, July, 2007

Spirituality Past, Present and Future

grandad_and_child_2

Why are my thoughts drawn so much to the past
where pleasure and pain of remembering doth last?
How is it I struggle to ponder the Now
where life is most vivid but wrinkles my brow
 
in confusion and wondering just why there is haste
that moves days so swiftly — and they have no taste?
The future is also approaching with speed,
with oblivion’s grave and the thing I must heed.
 
So into the past I find anchor to slow
the pace of the march played by Now’s singing bow.
The music remembers the living while young
and vibrates the harp from which thinking hath sprung.
 
A time that was strengthened by youth in its age
of vigor and wishing outside of the cage
that aging doth bring with its ups and its downs,
its joys and its pleasures with smilings and frowns.
 
Experience teaches a spiritual tune
that prompts us to seek from the holiest rune
a whisper of God in our mid-life-tuned ear
that something else needed is coming quite near.

© 2000 Arthur Ruger

He maketh me to lie down in green pastures. He leadeth me beside still waters.

Image may contain: 5 people, people smiling, people sitting and text

In May, my mother-in-law, Joy Ellsworth, had had enough with a pain in her right side and finally agreed with our urging her to go to the hospital emergency room. Despite the fact that her primary care physician had been encouraging Joy for some time to do just that, Joy’s style was to call the provider’s office, schedule an appointment and make her complaints in person, apparently assuming that eventually blood and urine tests would sufficiently inform the doctor as to what might be source of her discomfort and pain.

Joy at age 81 was being treated for diabetes, was legally blind; possessed of vision only out of the corner of one eye and dealing with intestinal problems she might have assumed to be an irritable bowel syndrome or something else manageable with medication. An extremely stoic personality when it came to her health and privacy issues, Joy tended to long-suffering rather than open herself up to an assortment of medical tests and explorations. She seemed quite ready at the drop of a hat to pooh pooh the notion that she might be seriously in need of more dramatic medical attention and that her ability to endure discomfort had worked for her long enough to cause her to attempt to ignore her condition despite warning signs.

What the medical provider knew in terms of Joy’s complaints, was that appointments, blood and urine tests were not going to provide a solution so long as Joy could “manage” her discomfort and avoid learning anything catastrophic about her health.

We were in the hospital Emergency Room for more than 8 hours. During that time a sequence of medical tests and examinations were run including scans, an EKG and x-rays. None of the tests indicated a cause of the unremitting pain in her right side just below her rib cage  …. until the last exam, an ultrasound. The result of the ultra sound revealed a growth on her liver and a suspicion that required a biopsy.

Based on the tests, all signs pointed to liver cancer.

In June the results were in, the diagnosis was stage 4 cancer in the liver, bile ducts and lymph nodes. The only question was the origination point from which the cancer had metastasized. It had not begun in the liver and eventually the conclusion was reached that the start point was somewhere near the connection between the stomach and the large intestine.

Joy was referred to an oncologist. By this time, my wife’s siblings had been fully apprised of Joy’s condition and its implications.

My perception of Joy’s stoically heroic or heroically stoic (makes no difference) way of expressing herself about her life, her fears, her expectations, is that the stoicism was part of a larger self-presentation that tended in a narcissistic direction. For years Lietta and I had discussed the seemingly over-arching  concern Joy exhibited in terms of how she was perceived – by everyone – and not just immediate family. Particularly after she became a widow, her need to portray herself in a spot-lighted way became more pronounced.

Lietta and I had arguments about how we ought to manage our interactions with Joy in an open and honest manner, given Joy’s tendency to act as if she were constantly on stage and in front of an audience. On more than one occasion, I found myself caught in a three-way conversation with Lietta and Joy in which I was obviously the audience Joy was speaking to even though her interaction was with Lietta her daughter.

 

The rest of what I write is entirely my opinion and judgement based on my observance of events, behaviors and listening to dialogues between Joy and others.

Once having become aware of Joy’s “performance” and “audience-minded” way of speaking to individuals when other people were present, it became somewhat of a challenge to hold an honest conversation with a mother-in-law who treated everyone in the same self-interested way: she only told you what she wanted you to know … and nothing more.

Under the diagnosis of a terminal illness, Joy could no longer reveal to you only what she wanted you to know. We all knew what Joy knew and had confirmed with her medical providers: she was dying and her condition was not fixable.

Remaining heroically stoic, she rejected the idea of chemo or radiation therapy if such could not hold out a promise of more than six months assuming therapeutic success. Remarkably poised about not wanting unnecessary physical distress and adamant in seeking to preserve her dignity in dying, Joy signed documentation requesting non-heroic measures in treating her condition and agreed to accept hospice care when the time came.

She wanted to die at home, planned to do so and hoped to do it by falling asleep and not waking up.

At the outset, stunned family members flocked to her home almost en masse – which was great for raising her spirits but also harmful in draining her strength and energy.

Lietta and I – next door to Joy’s home – experienced a sense of being somewhat suddenly pushed aside as her children and grandchildren arrived to see mother and grandmother one more time; to “be there” for Mom or Grandmother, and what appeared to be an attempt to one more time act out a previous time when Joy had hosted and presided over a Thanksgiving or Christmas celebration.

Only this time, Joy was in a recliner, breathing through a tube connected to an oxygen machine via a 25 foot rubber tube and doing her best to be the hostess with the mostess.
The visits simultaneously raised her spirits and drained her strength, requiring that she frequently retire to her bed to sleep while the celebration continued. That’s the way she wanted it to be.

For Lietta and I, the two years of Joy’s life in Spokane, during which time we had witnessed the onset of her declining health which was kind of offset by a greater frequency of intimate interactions in private meals, movies, long drives, a seemingly endless array of rummage and craft sales during the autumn months of both years, shopping (including dropping her off at a store and leaving her to leisurely push a cart through an entire Fred Meyer’s, Target, Shopko, Burlington stores. There were church visits,  shared meals at home, Red Hats meetings and visits to several senior centers, church services at the Episcopal cathedral, the Methodist, Lutheran and U.U. churches.

All that came to an abrupt end as Joy became temporarily lost in all the family affection that surrounded her.

The decline in her health was surprisingly rapid. The arrival and departure of family members eventually trickled down to her four adult children. Then a time came when they needed to return home to take care of their own affairs – all the time promising and intending to return for the final scene.

On Sunday, August 13th, Lietta and I inherited the care and keeping of Joy who by that time was almost entirely sleeping her way through each day. On Monday we helped her walk to the living room to her chair after she awoke. After a few hours, she was ready to return to her bed, but her strength had failed her and she was unable to stand or walk. Lietta called hospice and ordered a wheel chair which was delivered that afternoon. We managed to return Joy to her bed. She did not leave that bed again.

By Wednesday, after emotional episodes with Joy who was in and out of coherency,  Lietta and I had concluded that Joy was more than likely not going to be able to pass in her home in her sleep. We contacted the hospice folks who were of the same mind.

She was taken to a hospice facility in North Spokane where adequate care was given and skilled nursing immediately available on a constant basis. Lietta’s brother flew in from Arizona to be with his mother at the end.

Friday morning, we gathered around Joy’s bed, Lietta tearful and bearing up with a courage I cannot measure. Joy was lying on her side, seemly asleep or unconscious, her death rattle already sounding. The hospice chaplain was miles away and not scheduled to visit until the afternoon.

Never taking her eyes off her mother, Lietta asked me to read scripture. I read The Lord’s Prayer verse by verse with Lietta repeating after me and speaking to Joy. When we were finished I started into the 23rd Psalm (the Lord is My Shepherd).

“He maketh me to lie down in green pastures. He leadeth me beside still waters.”

At some point, when Lietta was repeating a phrase I had just read, Joy opened her eyes, looked directly into Lietta’s face for a few last fleeting moments and then closed her eyes again.

I did not see her breathe again. Lietta called for the nurse who confirmed Joy’s passing.

The last mortal vision Joy saw was that of her oldest daughter attending her until the final moment.

 

I have no idea how long it will be until Lietta is fully at peace with her mother’s passing. She is tormented by a sense of regret at her perception of how hard and harshly she treated her mother in encouraging her to perform the necessary self-care, seek the necessary training and information regarding blindness, diabetes, pain management, not to mention the household chores Joy could manage in maintaining her domestic independence.

Lietta says she badly wants a do-over, believing that in encouraging her Mom to do as much self-care as possible, she (Lietta) gave up her desired role as a daughter and unwillingly became a care-giver in the absence of professionals to whom Joy would not give attention.

I’ve witnessed her sense of loss and the greater sense of alienation from some members of her own family who have misread and misunderstood the actions she took in asking her mother and the rest of her family to take the illnesses seriously; who expected them to be able and willing to prepare for that time when the finality of Joy’s mortality was  unavoidable.

I see her pain daily.

I weep for her weeping, and grieve for her grieving. She has become over the past month, a monument to personal courage, grace under fire and her own fierce and unyielding commitment to the honoring of a life and integrity of dying.

Mother! Hard to track at first … and then fascinating

mothermovie

 

I see where the media that caters to and to a certain extent is supported by an audience of devout and literal-minded Christian believers have stepped to the forefront waving a flag of religious offendedness at the message of this spectacularly intriguing, fascinating and thought-provoking film.

I went to see Mother! because my beautiful lady had read about it and wanted to see it. I knew nothing about the film, had never heard of it, and expected – oh, I don’t know, perhaps some sort of Mommy Dearest or Flowers in the Attic or some such melodrama.

It took about 20 minutes for me to involve myself in what I saw as slow-moving action and unfolding. Had I realized from the get-go that I was about to see a powerful metaphor of an assortment of moral ecological and religious themes defined by human behavior, I might have picked up on all the clues early on and found myself anticipating a predictable outcome.

It didn’t happen that way. After those 20 minutes or so I found myself intensely tracking every word of dialogue, camera angles, indoor and outdoor views while attempting to mentally cache each hint or clue and thereby foresee what would happen. Such a process led me to an intuited notion that the meaning and intent of the film was not hidden but layered.

Comparisons are being made to the public reaction to Martin Scorcese’s  The Last Temptation of Christ as a film to either love or hate. The mood engendered in me by Mother! reminded me of my mood when I watched The Witch (2015).

Love it or hate it as a film with a message rather than an endorsement of a cause or attack on a religion, if the film is so well done as to force you to actually WORK at picking up the metaphorical intent and message, it is a movie well made.

The “villains” in this film are none of the principal characters. The villains are in fact the almost mindless extras whose main function seems to be that of home invaders who show no respect for the protagonists or the home.

As we will probably see a furtherance of the amazing polarization between the religious,  the not-religious and the secular in the context of this film’s message, I point to the thin-skinned reaction to whoever challenges a cause or belief from both polarized points of view.

Remember the religious hysteria around the Da Vinci Code?

Remember the back and forth between the religious and nonreligious about the graphic violence of The Passion of the Christ, Mr. Gibson’s faith-driven homage to the Roman Catholic version of the crucifixion?

Those who want to offend will offend.

Those who look to be offended will be offended.

The media-who-sensationalize-for-money will eat it all up.

It’s probably an autumn preview of the War on Christmas.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Curmudgeon at Work

Windmill Tilting

A little more than  a year ago I finished my 7th decade and embarked on the first year of my eighth. I seem to have come to a greater intimate friendship with more folks ahead of me than behind me. In fact, most folks behind me with whom I share something of an intimate relationship are family members. Most of those ahead of me are social friends connected with the neighborhood, my lodge (which has more younger members than older), the Order of the Eastern Star chapters and of course the local senior centers (In 3 of which we maintain membership.)

It’s the older ones who concern me; not because they are older and more frail, but because for the most part they remain enthused and animated about many of their life activities. I admit, I don’t know what goes on when they are not on a public “stage” and act without a public script in the privacy of their homes or marriages.

I guess that is what I do too. I have a public persona with which I inform most people of what I want them to believe me to be. However, only my dear Lietta knows what I’m really like in the intimate privacy of our home and marriage. I suppose that for the most part such things will remain private through our coming end times.

We’ve had a major transition in process going back to the time of my retirement now six years back. She used to ask me what I saw myself doing after retirement and insisted that I get used to the new mode by being off the clock and off the agenda for at least six months.

How did that work out? pitchforks-mob

Depends on how it is defined. Not having to go to work every day was wonderful and my most initial reaction was that each day felt like Saturday did when I was working.

Coping with the reality of fixed income and uncertainties of our future health was meaner.  This proved to be more provocative and stressful than I anticipated. Almost immediately I commenced awakening in the middle of the night and became conscious of the fact that I seemed to be counting money in my head in anticipation of meeting bills and making all the ends meet. It would be almost four years before I achieved an internal state that allowed me to get away from my thoughts … and that not necessarily completely.

Then of course the curse of awakening out of habit at 4:30 or 5:00 am – something I began doing years before retirement because for me the most creative and alive time of my mind was early in the morning. I would leave for work at 7:30 but by 8:30 my mind had essentially gone to the dull side as I labored in the public assistance office, from which I’d arrive home grateful to be with my wife but mentally exhausted.

That was in 2011.

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Aging has its impacts

By the end of 2012 we had moved out of our 120-year-old home in Pacific County which had proven to be too much for us to repair and maintain on fixed income.  We were renting in Spokane.  We eventually moved into a condominium that has proven to be totally more enjoyable than we’d anticipated and in a small urban setting that totally elevated our community life as compared to retirement in a fishing village of 200 souls in Pacific County.

There have been ups and downs, wonderful experiences in the city and traveling about – especially camping and yurting during the summer months. We’ve driven back and forth to the West side of the state for family activities and to relatives in Idaho and Montana and have encountered interesting alternative locations that remain tempting and inviting.

However … back to a 70-year old body, mind and spirit. My health is quite good for my age. My dear one persuaded me to enter into what is called a paleo diet by which I have lost a lot of pounds, lowered my blood pressure significantly and have subsequently felt more “lubricated” as in a well-oiled functioning machine even if it is 7 decades old.

So why do I often awaken in the mornings with a sense of dread that seems to originate in the context of whatever I was doing in my dreams. It’s as if I woke up and suddenly remember that someone near and dear to me had passed on or that I would be going in that day for a root canal. Some sense of unease without having something specific about which to worry.

Actually, beyond a vague sense of dread or uneasiness, I’m more aware of losing interest in all the things I used to be driven about and planned on doing when my career wasn’t competing for my time and attention.

What’s with that? Good Bad Ugly and Doofus

Is this what aging is about?

I still love to read and write, blog on line, but other activities like sports don’t do for me what they once did. I used to gorge myself on fantasy baseball and basketball and in some years maintained upwards of 20 separate teams at sites like Yahoo Fantasy and ESPN Fantasy Sport. I’m down to 8 teams which is not something facetious for me and that’s enought to hold my interest.

The most consistent interest that seems self-sustaining in my love of music and enjoyment of playing the piano. Lietta gifted me with a second instrument, something I’ve wanted for a long time. It’s a recorder, made of wood, plays mostly like a clarinet and is best played gently. No hard blowing as in saxophone or clarinet both of which I played well in high school. With some motivation from my siblings (Randy and Adrian Ruger) last April, I’ve upgraded my piano-playing and find myself serenading my sweetheart with a bunch of new songs as well as all the old pieces I’ve played for her for years.

I composed a piece for her as part of our wedding gifts to each other in 1996 and am of a mind to compose more. As for the recorder, I want to learn to play it the way Native American musicians such as Coyote Oldman play it. With available electronics I can play along with any piece I can find and am looking forward to it.

17 years ago while on vacation, I began writing poetry using what for me was a mystical device combining two separate phrases from my collections of thoughts and quotes. My poetry is mostly lyrical and I’m drifting more to writing poetry as competition to my not-running-down desire to write.

I’ve authored a historical novel and an assortment of blog articles and that part of me has not faded much. I still want to write on spiritual matters and opine about what’s going on in the world.

I’ve come to think of aging as an awareness and experience of my body and mind getting older and possessing the right to slow down, get rusty, start aching and creaking along. Arthritis is my daily companion but it is not now and does not seem to be on a path to debilitating pain, discomfort and ability.

I thought I’d lost my hearing in one ear but a visit to the VA medical center corrected that with a cleaning of a large wax deposit that had accumulated with my constant abusive use of Q-tips. I had concluded that as I got older, my hearing was disappearing.

Not so. Silly Section captain-picard-facepalm

Energy and stamina aren’t what they used to be my wife and I know I will never single-handedly move us from one location to another again.

So I still get up early, sometimes in a bad or sad mood, warm up as soon as my sweetheart awakens smiles and me and rings the bell I gave her as a signal to bring coffee, come back to bed, and read our electronic devices like smart phones and kindle.

I’ll get chores done during the day, cook a meal or two, and fall asleep in the afternoon in my recliner and again in the evening while watching a TV program before bedtime.

Growing Old Ain’t What I Thought It Would Be.

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Now I’m waiting for a gaggle of acquaintances to sober up

 

When some among us seriously harm the rest of the world in our name.

Heckofajobrepubbies

To no one’s surprise, the response tends to be essentially “ho hum” and “yea so?” Yet we bloggers really are among the most civically active members of society and I wonder how it is that we got so sophisticatedly wise about political campaign strategy and remain so inept, ignorant and apathetic about genuine civic responsibility?

There are duties required by that  responsibility when things go wrong or when some among us seriously harm the rest of the world in our name.

There’s a notion that the most rapid path toward resolution of all America’s faults and mistakes –  not to mention restitution and repentance – lies merely in working to elect specific candidates. It is an empty and naive sentiment.

Civic responsibility is love of country and not about looking for or appreciating merely doing the least we must.

That’s like the Survivor nonsense. Some are voted out and some stay. The game will continue with a new slate of contestants next season.

It’s not unlike loving to shop for our favorite foods or things while having no idea about all the processes involved that brought our delectables to market.

We seem to consider the purchase itself a more significant and needful event than the actual creation – the bringing into being of that thing which we desire to possess.

Buyers may know how to cook, use or wear something they can easily obtain repeatedly and casually by mere purchase without any knowledge of the effort and circumstances that make such a purchase possible.

We may even consider ourselves knowledgeable afficionados about that which we glorify but in reality we have no idea.

We may even pooh pooh someone else’s concerns because  we can persuasively justify our investment of time, energy and emotional resources in our favorite things.

Such in fact is what I’m doing right now in grinding my ax about civics, national reputation, morality and conscience and not paying attention to getting a candidate elected or another defeated.

I admit it

So what’s your excuse?

How is it you can get excited or discouraged about the most recent polls, political stupidity, chicanery and  deception and how that might cost someone the election without making noise about REAL social global justice?

Will an election loss make for you a disaster that many seem to emotionally equate to your favorite teams’s having lost the Super Bowl?

Or perhaps your civic sense is a touch more intense than that. Perhaps losing the election will be result in a vague civic unease  that in actuality is mere intellectual awareness while we go about our post-election consumption?

How can we get so lost in the heat and competition of emotional politics but never arouse  a mature and wise emotion when we know we  ought to?

Are we genuinely moved to care about our future – a future that will be an undeniable consequence of failure to perceive past events honestly and accurately and failure to set them right?

Can Veterans of my generation still make a difference?

Hell, I don’t know.

I tell my own children and older grandchildren flat out that my generation has greatly and comprehensively screwed up their future; that they absolutely must take back their country in a way they themselves see fit.

How they do that is theirs to figure out. They should not believe that they can be told honestly and truthfully by any political party or church as to who they vote for without question.

They won’t take back their country by choosing more of the same thing that brought all this foolishiness to pass.

If we cannot and will not look at the future in that manner then those of us who don’t care; those of us who shrug it all off are THE citizens of an imperial nation that continues raping less able societies abroad.

We are the citizens who sustain the Imperial States of America and will make of the coming blowback events an ugly reality.

Authored by one’s self and none other

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A word spoken aloud, or an act performed a moment ago – or long ago – and heard or observed by someone else is not a thing that can be undone nor taken back.

A desire to retract, replace, or remove a word spoken aloud or an act observed involves personal integrity; or a continuation of one’s personal facade. In that regard one is found between the poles of cowardly courage or courageous cowardice.

Personal integrity is not the inherited dispensation of revered ancestors nor the flooded inundations of  cultural norm. It is authored by one’s self and none other.

One who understands that he knows nothing takes personal integrity to its normalcy. One who believes and supposes his own integrity to be subject to the common acceptance and approval of peers lives off someone else’s magic and will die mistaken.

Such is the formation of why morality – thinking that one must be right or wrong with a thing – is not a valid theory.

Arguments and Illness

Is what made me ill what afflicted you too?
Have you been where I’ve been, do you do what I do?
Is all illness a blight with but one common source
and the consequence meted to all in its course?
Does affliction with symptoms reflecting dis-ease
and the payment of pain and discomfort to tease

come upon us in ways quite the same unto all
with a sense that the sickness is blind in its fall?
Illness doth strike in dis-similar ways
tho the same by its label, it’s impact quite plays
different tunes in each person whose lives aren’t the same,
who’s choices are moves in life’s ongoing game.

Disagreement is sickness that’s blind in its prime
like disease, lack of harmony lives for a time
between souls in dispute who do struggle to win
what’s perceived as a victory though small as a pin.
We will learn by our feelings when we disagree
and find understanding to greater degree

in knowing our opposites, how we compare
when agreement is wanting or even quite rare.
If I know where you stand and the place is amiss
in my own set of values, your thoughts are not bliss.
They’re in contrast and emphasize clearly a split
in our thinking, reflecting that all does not fit

in a tidy container where values are set
in a limit of rightness or wrongness, but let
Mother Wisdom come forth in her powerful gown
of perception that differences don’t mean we drown
in a sea of our discord where winning is king
but where learning brings harmony, living and being.

© 2000 Arthur Ruger

Angry old white men … hey, where you guys going?

angry-white-men

Here come them dang bad-news polls again.

Trump’s Approval Rating Dips Again – His White Male Base Is Starting to Flee

Some key supporters have begun to migrate away from Trump, notably Republicans, independents and white men. Trump’s approval among Republicans dropped to just 74 percent, a 14-percentage-point tumble from last month, according to IBD/TIPP. His approval among independents fell 11 percentage points to 29 percent. Among white men, one of Trump’s strongest demographic bases, his approval rating fell from 58 percent to 49 percent.

But then what do you expect when Mr. President turns on his allies and un-protects the wrong things?

Trump Administration Removes Endangered Species Protection For Parrots

Trump Administration Removes Endangered Species Protection For Parrots

 

Or this angry old white man who got relieved of a certain duty:

Bannon Loses National Security Council Role in Trump Shakeup