Looking The Other Way

We live in a time where we are called to embody the values by which we wish to live. Not just as an individual, but as a society. In every choice made, we assemble the parts list from which our coming human condition will be constructed. 

Today – this moment – this act or this inaction, is the choice we make for the ascended or descended world. We ARE the collective that those parables of our spirituality claim. It is however, much more physical, much more pedestrian and day-to-day than our interpretations of them proclaim. It does not hover in the ethers. It is not far away and attained only in meditation under a tree. It is exuded by the acts from our hearts, and the thoughts from our minds. It is now, in this moment, in this decision and in this choice, that we decide what we become. It is now, and pieces of what we are becoming are arriving fully, daily, and in full view. If you look you can see. But take off those insulating glasses that have you see the ‘other’ only. Look at yourself here too. We are here also, whomever we are.

We are not just living the expressions of free will, but the consequences of enacting it as well. When we choose to look the other way, while one is damaged by the lies or abuses of another – we are designing the landscape upon which our dreams and our lives will bear themselves out. Those are the conditions through which our hopes will be realized or denied. It is as bleak as it is brilliant – depending solely upon the makeup of our conscience – the soul of who we are.

When one person chooses deception as their advantage, they are building the channel their dreams will follow. The witness that joins in or looks the other way for their comfort, convenience or benefit, is building the structures under which their future, and their children’s future will rise. We build this thing together. Either by witness, or by effort – the outcome belongs equally to both just the same. 

There are no small secrets or small infractions one slips by. It is in fact these very things that are the bulk of our make-up. The hidden is the particle that builds the material world. And yet we still believe we can atone for one sin, while  suborning another and see the atonement as our trajectory, and the substance of who we are. It is our secret world that builds our outward reality. And we must come to terms with that if we are ever to rise to our greatest potential. 

When one looks the other way – they look into the eyes of the future of humankind. It is never small. It is never insignificant. It is in the smallest allowances by which a whole new politic and a whole new America has risen. When we think it was them and not us, while we also may sit idly by watching one damage another and say nothing, do nothing, even help them gain advantage. We cannot then point to the person in a MAGA hat and say it is them. We are the construct of the atmosphere in which the lies prevailed.

It is the acceptance of the lie, not the content of the lie that is our collective’s largest burden to bear. If you are supporting lies – especially those that harm another – you are equally responsible for all we face from lies. And as long as you abdicate your responsibility to truth – never pointing a finger at a lie no matter who it hurts or how severely – lies will remain this powerful.

It is all of us that permit lies to damage others. If you’ll take notice, it isn’t the liars who have built so much mass, but those who witness them and do nothing. Never before has it been illustrated more clearly or more broadly. Do you think the message is somehow not to you? Whatever lie you protect or allow to go uninterrupted – it is the very same thing, a contributor. Our culture and our collective has come to a place where lies don’t matter. Ask yourself what lies you know about that do not matter enough to you to do anything about – either because of alliance, gain or convenience. Correct those, and the world will change. And not until you do. It is always us – and rarely, almost never is it just them. 

Whether Soul Searching or Source Checking – Truth Is Always Sought Before It’s Revealed

What is soul searching if not source checking an idea, belief or self-image.  If we must source check ourselves to attain betterment, certainly everything else needs at least a look. 

I’m a research junkie. I research almost everything. I have always been that way. The first thing I ever researched online was Louis Farrakhan. I don’t remember the year, but it was of course after online search engines came along – Ask Jeeves, I think. It was so far back in the day, that I can still hear the dial up logging in through AOL. It may seem like an unlikely subject to be among the first things to research, but he had been with me for a long time. I still follow his life and his work. Do I agree with Minister Farrakhan on all matters? No, but I am not qualified to an agreement or disagreement with him on most matters that matter to him – or of those to whom he speaks.  I do not have his enormous obligations, his life experience, his memory and foresight of the futility faced by so many he was and is spiritually and politically committed to leading. That, in fact, is why I’ve studied him. He remains the most important subject I’ve ever researched because he and his life, private and public, taught me the critical importance of checking things for yourself from the outset of my search-engine baby years, and even before. Few have more erroneous information tossed about so freely other than Jesus, The Black Panthers, Black and Indigenous histories by omission in American textbooks, and anything to do with histories that would give America, or any other country a shiner. And that can be true of people as well. Nothing motivates the telling of lies, than face saving or not accepting who and where you are in life.

Negationism isn’t new. Revisionism isn’t either, but revisionism broadly describes the act of revising historical accounts – period. That includes things that are inaccurately redefined, as well as those that rightly correct prior inaccuracies. Negationism is just what it sounds like. Negating the truth. It’s a word coined by Henry Rousso in his 1987 book The Vichy Syndrome – a book I no longer have, never finished, but skimmed often before I moved to Mexico in 2014. The main value I gleaned from Rousso is how historical accounts depend on a lot of things. The book is about France 1940-1944 and the occupation of France by Nazi Germany. Too long to cover here but in a nutshell, France had both collaboration with the Nazi’s and a resistance. Corrections to, and accounting of, facts has changed over the years as to what France and its body politic have been willing to accept of themselves and of their country’s dualistic roles in the good and the bad as contrasted against contemporary moralities related to The Holocaust. Truth that has been hidden, is often popularly recognized not when it is happening – not even after- but when those closest to the hidden truth have passed, have sought redemption or when its victims and generational lines gain the voice to be fully heard. Richard Reeves said, “A lot of history is just dirty politics cleaned up for the consumption of children and other innocents.” It can be a lot worse than that, but let’s give it the benefit of the doubt for a moment, and just this once. 

I first saw Farrakhan on Tv in the early 1970’s. For this, I had to look up the terminology he used to describe himself then. I knew it was something other than Leader of Nation of Islam, and I remembered it was in reference to “The Honorable Elijah Muhammed” but I couldn’t remember exactly what. As soon as I saw it written – “that was it,” I said outloud. “As a representative of The Honorable Elijah Muhammed.” Oh the memories that Google first afforded me.  I was 13 when I first saw Mr. Farrakhan on TV. What I remember most was researching what I heard Farrakhan say. He spoke of Allah so passionately, so reverently, with such deep and palpable connection. I had to know who Allah was. No one I knew spoke of God with such power, so clearly, so directly or to such an elegant audience of people. It captivated me. Time to research the word “Allah.” At thirteen, that meant either a dictionary of which there were plenty in the house – or World Book Encyclopedia. I can’t remember which one – likely both. I also can’t remember exactly what it said.  It meant “god” in another language. I do remember that. It almost took the frosting off the cake. Surely it was much more, and why was it only for Black and Brown People – something he repeatedly qualified over the many times I watched him.  

My father passed through the room twice the first time he saw him on the Tv. The second time, when he became aware that I was actually watching Louis Farrakhan. Those of us of a certain age remember the days when you had to get up to change the channel. There was a dial that made sparks when you turned it, and between the clicks and sparks the cogs in the gearwork made – new channels would appear. Sometimes with snow, even if the imagery was Fort Lauderdale. But I digress. That’s precisely what my father did. Flipped the rotary knobl with a single high torque random rotation, and voila … nothing but snow. “Don’t watch that crap. Not on my TV” as he swept through commander in his inimitable  ‘kids these days’ style. Look, it’s understandable. He objected to some record albums also. He threw out anything not in its sleeve the day I played Country Joe McDonald’s The Fish Cheer. have to hand it to him. At 65, 100% disabled war veteran shot down over Germany and interred in a combination Nazi concentration camp – slash – POW camp – he made it across the room upstairs, down two flights of narrow right angle stairs, across a game room around a pool table before Country Joe made it all the way from F to C, and before I could leap to retrieve and salvage my Van Morrison and Doors albums. No Olympian, but not bad either. 

I was caught watching Farrakhan several times more that I recall. One time, my dad entered the room with his patience and some authentic curiosity. “Why do you watch that” he asked – and I told him I found him interesting. Farrakhan was still talking while my father inquired of me. It is indelible in my memory as one of the first times I ever challenged my father before I had chest hair. “Why do you object” I countered. “Listen to him” he huffed. “I have, I am. what is he saying that you think isn’t right or isn’t true?” This time he flipped the Tv off, and walked out with reciting a list of words that I am certain would expand the seven word inventory of George Carlin’s “can’t say on Tv collection. 

That confirmed my interest in looking things up for myself.  A light went on in the moment I saw a reason withheld, and it continues to go on today – every time I see a lie or an evasion for which the reason is not clear. Learning how to know the truth of what I say, in the event that I did speak of something important- that became as important as anything I could say.

That confirmed my interest in looking things up for myself. A light went on in the moment I saw a reason withheld, and it continues to go on today – every time I see a lie or an evasion for which the reason is not clear. Learning how to know the truth of what I say, in the event that I did speak of something important- that became as important as anything I could say. Learning to hear the truth, to check it and know its origin – that came much later. I have an automatic respect for those who have endured malicious or prejudicial mischaracterization. We all have an interest in the truth being told. The truth never has an agenda other than that of reconciliation to and of itself. Truth serves to preserves all, even those condemned by it. Lies serve to preserve only the liar and condemns all else that would reveal the lie and the liar. Politics and lies are not synonymous. Knowing how to get to the truth requires three things. 1) An interest.  2) Practice seeking it. 3) some skill.  Of these three, the rarest and the hardest to attain is number 1, interest. Interest when it does not directly impact one’s life or circumstance is the foundation of a just society. ‘A’ truth is not the same as ‘The Truth.’ An interest in the truth is an interest in all lives – all living things.  

White Evangelism Is White Supremacy – A Long Standing Plan That Finally Met Opportunity

There is a reason white evangelicals support Trump and hold all moral code shredded by him as forgiven.  It is for one reason only. The preservation of nationalism and supremacist hierarchical norms. This is not a theory. It is a culture and a structure – a mission and a mechanism – an organization and an agenda – an arrival in collaborative and strategic timing. Let’s start in the middle. It really is the only place one can start a synopsis of such a complex story. An in medias res story, Dean Koontz style. Putin doesn’t hate Hillary for calling out Russia. None of it had anything to do with Hillary. The global Grand Wizard of white supremacy, or more aptly; Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin, The Czar of Xenophobia. Actually, xenophobia is not a big enough word, or an appropriate word. Xenophobia is a disdain for “foreigners.” We’re dealing with a hatred of non-white, non-white-Christian, human rights, promoters or modern moralist government and its three sins- Justice, Freedom and Equality within a global vantage.

What is seldom articulated clearly, is the very long and inextricable relationship between racism, white supremacy and white evangelical culture. It cannot be revisited often enough that the merger of white evangelical and right-wing politics was not an organic process of community.  The Moral Majority movement was not an act of pursuit by believers. This was not a uniting by common beliefs, priorities and values, and was not arrived to by some epiphany or mutual recognition. It was not the spontaneous gravitational pull of kindreds drawing nigh, that the architects, custodians or apologists would have the world believe.

The diabolically masterful political pursuit was a social and religious hijacking that created the religious right we know today. It was a feat of social engineering, with a ready for abduction population.  Many Christians do not know why, how or even that this actually happened. That was the perfection of this. What better group to enlist or indoctrinate than one that commits to faith over critical thinking – relinquishment of individual discernment for gathering in single blind-faith accord. The use of sheep as a reference to people is usually meant as an insult. In this case it is a religious self-description that was seized upon as a strategy and ready-made, ready for indoctrination popoulation.. This is not in any way meant as an insult to remind us of the flock mindset that made this possible. The woman follows the man, the man follows the pastor and the pastor follows God.  

The Moral Majority did not become part of the evangelical or Christian lexicon ‘by’ Jerry Falwell as many accredit him. This term was coined, issued and popularized ‘through’ Falwell to become a political unifier for far-right ideologies by none other than Laszlo Pasztor and Paul Weyrich. Weyrich, one of the founders of the Heritage foundation and Pasztor a member of Hungarian Arrow Cross and Nazi youth recruiter. He recruited for and led Hungary’s Nazi youth organization ð 7 3 Šorganization. He was installed by Weyrich to a right-hand man position in the then new Heritage Foundation after completing his prison term for a Nazi-armed paramilitary unit coup which toppled the Hungarian government in October of 1944. The Heritage Foundation – ALEC (American Legislative Exchange Council). You know them. The group that models bills to divert taxpayer money from public to private religious or parochial schools through a variety of “voucher” and “tuition tax credit” programs. An agenda that broadens the divide between white and Black, rich and poor education and educational outcomes. Yes, them. Same group – samre origin – same founding agenda.

There is no such thing as a non-racist white evangelical or non-racist white evangelical group. It may sound like “How Great Thou Art” from the pews, but it’s for a constructed white Jesus that sings Dixie on a loop, straight from the heart. Should we consider the Leader of the supremacist white world? His name is Putin. Take some time with this. It isn’t a secret. In fact, it is a touted badge of honor. Farage, the leader of Brexit, a successful anti=immigrant, anti-people-of-color, anti-other-than-white campaign throughout white Europe. Andy Wigmore, the communications director for Leave EU, the Brexit group that fronted Farage ‘s Nazi modeled campaign of fear tactics about immigration. “Andy Wigmore stated said that he believes the propaganda techniques of the Nazi’s were ‘very clever, that exploiting voters’ concerns about immigration was central to their campaign during the Brexit referendum.”

Nigel Oakes, of Cambridge Analytica … you know the British Consulting Firm of  Facebook–Cambridge Analytica data scandal fame? That Chief Executive. In his words …

“Hitler “didn’t have a problem with the Jews at all, but the people didn’t like the Jews … So he just leveraged an artificial enemy”.

Oaks added: “Well that’s exactly what Trump did. He leveraged a Muslim … I mean, you know, it’s … it was a real enemy. Isis is real, but how big a threat is Isis really to America?”

And what of Julian Paul Assange, founder of Wikileaks. Anyone heard mention of his running for senate in Australia in 2013? Just in time for his early and influential emergence on the scene of Trumps 2016 campaign?  Australia’s Preferential system requires more than 50% of the vote. This is often not attained by the first round. It is somewhat bequeathed by the leader of each party to pass on to a selected preferential-vote winner.  Assange, leader of the Wikileaks Party distributed his preferences to the Australia First  Party. Australia First … sound familiar? A man named Jim Saleam is the chairman of Australia First. There is more in common among many here than the sound bites and the organizational names. Neo-Nazi leader James Saleam spent three-and-a-half years in prison for ordering the 1989 attempted murder of African National Congress representative Eddie Funde. Saleam is also well known in tight supremacist circles for his Masters Thesis,  American Nazism in the Context of the American Extreme Right

So what tactics seem to run so consistently through these organizations, these men, and the mechanisms of their pursuits? It is fear and distraction. It is designed to restore, maintain and elevate white supremacy throughout the world and is happening now. It is still happening.

Orwell has become an identifier of a form of governmental fear. That of being watched, comprehended, unveiled and all of our moral and ulterior instrumentation laid open, owning all, especially the freedom of thought and intention. Using media and technology to control us. It isn’t technology that will control us, or cameras to monitor, or media to propagandize. It is the fear of those things that ultimately can be used to control. The most important thing Orwell ever wrote was a paragraph on power. Power is the exploitation and mobilization of fear. I prefer to begin with the last line as the first on this particular quote. You can recognize its clarity and accuracy in our president and the Republican party. Everyone waits for the shock threshold to be met while watching Trump.  The certazin-to-come outrage over the audacity that is just about to rise once people have had enough or “seen.” But there won’t be such a moment. They are telling the truth of who they are – and they are telling it to us. We wait for those who will reject the affronts to who it is we believe we are. But there isn’t a we or an us. Not to them. There is only power. And they are seizing it relentlessly and without apology. 

Orwell was right. “Power is not a means, it is an end. One does not establish a dictatorship in order to safeguard a revolution; one makes the revolution in order to establish the dictatorship.

“The Party seeks power entirely for its own sake. We are not interested in the good of others; we are interested solely in power. Not wealth or luxury or long life or happiness: only power, pure power. What pure power means you will understand presently. We are different from all the oligarchies of the past in that we know what we are doing. All the others, even those who resembled ourselves, were- cowards and hypocrites. The German Nazis and the Russian Communists came very close to us in their methods, but they never had the courage to recognize their own motives. They pretended, perhaps they even believed, that they had seized power unwillingly and for a limited time, and that just around the corner there lay a paradise where human beings would be free and equal. We are not like that.We know that no one ever seizes power with the intention of relinquishing it.”

We can’t ever let this happen again – if we actually recover anything of a moral humanity from here. It is possible that it’s lost already. 

Yes,#BlackWomenAreDivine

This Weekend Is Very Special To Me. It is about very special people who have added extraordinary and lasting enrichment to my life. 

This weekend, #BlackWomenAreDivine, celebrates these remarkable people who have so enriched my life – so enriched this country – so enriched the world. The hardest thing about this is a love letter telling them so. That part is easy in one sense, because I have been writing those letters to them for as long as I can remember or as long as I have known each of them respectively. Possibly effusively, probably to a nuisance fault, and today I am still not done. I can’t be – no one should. The impossibility of this love letter resides in the very thing it always has. I have never been able to adequately convey the immeasurable joy, countless moments of profound respect and inspiration I have drawn from the Black Women in my life.

Are Black Women different from other people somehow? An easy question with a complex answer, aspects both easy and difficult to convey. Yes, Black Women have unique qualities exclusive to them. They do. They have different experience – the broadest parenthetic range of experience endowing them with immense range in perspective. Different challenges exist – usually imposed rather than situationally occurring as for the rest of us. Black Women have faced different demands, obstacles and instituted hurdles that are almost if not entirely exclusive to them. Some, unambiguously reserved for them. But more than anything, Black Women’s decisions, their attention, their vigilance, their action or inaction, many times carry outcomes or consequences more critical than those of anyone else. Especially of family and loved ones. Whether saving elections, preserving safety for their children, standing in the gap for targeted people in matters of the law, social injustice, theirs or someone else’s child and the burden of white people’s apathy associated with implicit and outward biases and racism – with all of this, they continue upward. Black women excel, achieve, love, lift up, tear down, endure and create with passion and brilliance – long demonstrating a deep and intelligent resilience and fairness to which I am uncertain whether I or many others could rise. After everything – still they rise. 

Racism in America is and was the most successful marketing campaign of evil and mendacity in the history of the world. It still is. An immoral campaign of falsehood and greed perpetuating unthinkable horror linked back through each Mother, each Black Woman uninterrupted through an ever-surviving, ever-overcoming, ever-resilient ancestral chain. Not just overcoming obstacles or the seeming insurmountable – but combating what for all intent was a design for perpetual futility. Black Women long stood at the lowest bar – the lowest rung on America’s and much of the world’s social, political and economic ladders, and for centuries passed. From then to yesterday – to today and forever forward – that chain has been thrown off – removed -rejected. No one in our county’s history, or in any history I know of has ever achieved such a milestone as the arc of achievement of Black Women – those I know and those I don’t know. The Revolutionary War lasted 7 years, roughly 6,800 were killed in action and 20,000 captured. Stack the roughly 6 million women, roughly 2.4 million dead forcibly crossing the Atlantic, and the countless dead through the ordeal and horrors of slavery. Our independence from British rule sort of pales, if one takes a moment with the numbers, the blood, the sweat and the tears. And of resilience, there is no attributable equal. Certainly the new America and its citizens also proved a resilience – yet even that was on the backs of Black Women. Their resilience came in spite of. It is more than a notable irony, it is a testament. 

There is a quality that is hard to describe of the Black Women I know, and those I don’t know but study or follow. I have always believed it has to do with the sacrifice, patience and status all women have dealt with through history and perhaps because of that history. I have too much respect and am far too humbled to present a theory on this attribute – and they certainly do not need for me to. Still, without question and in my own experience, when a Black Woman shows up for anything – there is an excellence, a grace, a mature wisdom that undergirds and animates their actions. That has been my experience. 

These are the amazing Black Women in my life. Some are very close – part of my chosen family – close friends. Three, I do not know at all and have not gained permission to claim them as inspiration or influence on my life. I hope it is okay that I show them also. I do not wish to be another appropriation of Black Women’s work or accomplishment as has for so long been an inequity and theft they have endured. Those photos are likely obvious and are added most humbly – most gratefully and with the utmost respect. To those directly in my life every day, it is with profound love and gratitude that I thank you for being in my life – for trusting me – for giving so much and for being my teachers, my family and my friends. You are truly … Divine.

Today & Every Day  #BlackWomenAreDivine

American Dissonance & White Cognition

10901752 - tarot card major arcana image of justiceI am occasionally asked by other white people where to get trustworthy information about racism in America. What is often omitted but implied, is validation for the Black experience as focused on claims of injustice. I have been asked where it is that I get my information about racism in America and why it is that I trust that information. The question itself tells us where we are in the process of hearing, listening and learning. This is the failing teachability aspect that is at the DNA level of white denial and its intricately infused bias of supremacy.

There is no shortage on Black Americans speaking out. There is no shortage of first hand information if we choose to avail ourselves of that information. The question here is; why is it that white people question the primary sources for direct information? The availability of information on racism in America is more abundant than probably any other subject of social and economic condition for any society ever existing in the history of the world. Hundreds of years of empirical expertise await anyone who wishes to access it. The options for both scholarly or popular sources on the subject are vastly experiential and authentic in ways few other subjects can offer to any level of inquiry, and are not even necessarily separate sources as would be the case with most any other subject of interest.

What’s even more, at the ease of simple and even passing desire we have generational, intergenerational and intragenerational record from the first twenty enslaved Africans in the British Colony of Virginia until today, if it is purely the the American adaptation that is sought. From then forward, the woven fabric of racism’s establishment in America as justification for abuses and exploitations few if any white people can fully comprehend are accessible, visible and entirely certain at each intentional and deliberate thread. These sources, individually or collectively, are recent and broad enough to be authenticated almost by mere publication, because no other social history has been more scrutinized, more challenged, more validated or proven, and yet consistently responded to with unapologetic reactionary white denial.

There is nothing more certain in America than the injustice to indigenous and enslaved populations, nor is there anything more vehemently obfuscated, avoided or even denied by white America. Whether intentional or unconscious, white America continues to face the most feared of all challenges to belief. The contradictions to the greatness of America, the goodness of its founders and its righteousness as the light upon the hill. If there is anything that ever fully proved Leon Festinger’s theory of cognitive dissonance, it is white America’s reconciliation with a very truthful and fully available Black and White American History. The only thing asked of white America, and more politely than any sets of atrocities may have ever been asked, is to listen, open your eyes and set aside the story of America that you believe you know. It has been brought to you by the very same sources, for the same brand of appeasement that brought you Santa Clause, the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy. It is time to look and to see. You will find that it isn’t so bad to live without this fantasy either. It is in fact the very means by which the greatnesses you feared might be lost, can fully and authentically, once and for all, arrive to all.

Moments With a Senior

d985f93d22de83265dd90148f1edc2f5I had a moment in a Walmart store two days ago. Having forgotten to pick up laundry detergent, the main thing I came for, and finding aisles for drinking water completely bare.  On advice, I headed over the next morning at the store’s opening hour. I didn’t realize items stocked in the morning became cleared shelves on a daily basis until I witnessed water and disinfectant products urgently disappear. Walking up the detergent aisle, the shelves were largely empty and in unsettling disarray. Two or three of the last jugs of off-brand chlorine bleach were strewn in a way that removed them from their respective price markers. At just 7:25 a.m., it was actually eerie to see.

She looked at me asking “how much are those?” An elderly woman seeming in her eighties pointed to the last two bottles of bleach as the third whisked away in front of us. “$3.99” I told her. There was a change purse in her hand with a few ones protruding out the top. Snapping it shut and pausing for a moment, she just sort of stood there gazing toward the floor.

I waited to see if she needed anything else. “Well, I’m not paying that for bleach!!” as she raised her head. “Thank you“ she said evasively, turning away and then stopping. Turning back around to me, I recognized a look of sincere disappointment on her face crowded by words of self-reassurance. The kind we’ve all heard one time or another when something important to us wasn’t panning out. “They said this whole thing was overblown anyway, didn’t they.” That’s all she said, then turned again pushing her cart off down the aisle. It struck me because it was obvious by her peering into her change purse that she couldn’t afford the bleach. It stuck with me because it was even more obvious she was uncertain and clearly becoming afraid.

Leaving the pasta aisle, it was a deciding moment when I saw her again standing at shelves the rummaged-through disinfectants once occupied. The rest of this story is the obvious stuff. Like most of you, I don’t make a habit of posting good deeds or mitzvahs. They are private and just something you do. In this case there’s a pattern however, one I think is worth talking about.

I grabbed disinfectant cleaner and paper towels off the shelf and hand sanitizer and a small bottle of chlorine bleach I already had in my cart. She was just finishing up at checkout, so I abandoned my cart and rung the four items through the self-checkout line. It’s a good thing too, because old ladies get rock star parking with handicapped placards and she was just getting in her car when I got to her.

I handed her the bag and told her the whole thing has not been overblown. That people like us, older or with compromised immune systems or predispositions to respiratory problems really need to pay special attention. We talked about hand washing and face touching and commonly exposed traffic areas like mailboxes, doorknobs, laundry room counters, delivered-item packaging and the like, that are now special risk for some of us. She asked questions and offered comments making it clear she only recently became aware this could be serious for her. I don’t think I remember in recent history doing something more appreciated by someone than this conversation we shared. But that isn’t why I am writing this today. I had another similar moment stopping at Dollar General on my way back home from Phoenix last night. An elderly customer having been told they were out of disinfectants of any kind, asking a stocker if it was necessary to sanitize hands. I was glad to see the stock clerk lean into the question with some answers longer than just a few words.

What this has me recognize are several important things. The first of course, when noticing a senior or anyone for that matter struggling to pay for small items – it’s a great place and a great time to be aware of opportunities to help – whether food or household items when we can. The cupboards might be a little barer, with visitors and helpful observers a bit more scarce than usual. Secondly but not secondarily, it’s very much worthwhile to show up if you hear questions from seniors about this pandemic. It occurred to me leaving the second store with a second occurrence  that there had been an even earlier conversation in the post office – an elderly man misinformed about the severity and the seriousness of this virus that brought on group conversation by those waiting in line. I live in a largely upper-senior neighborhood so this three-time occurrence inside a week may be more prevalent or opportune in my world. Still, what also appears largely in play is the right-wing media misinformation unchecked. Fox News median viewership is age 65. There is a lot of misinformation out there currently misdirecting a lot of vulnerable seniors.

Even though the president is now beginning his save-face efforts in an epidemiological turnabout – and Fox cancelling Trish Regan for ridiculous rants of conspiracy – Sean Hannity, Jeanine Pirro, Jesse Watters, Fox and Friends and Ed Henry responding to Fox’ top brass memos concerned with toning down the tone deafness probably for liability concerns- and of course the Juniors Trump & Falwell along with the ever right turning Dr. Drew pulling up the Trumpian rear by playing down reality.

Having a conversation with a senior who asks what may seem a minor question, might be all the difference in the world – in their world – a fact-free world fostered by the flagrantly fakest of news. 

A Dogs Last Day

It’s been an uphill battle for a long time now – hard to step through all the obstacles real or perceived. Sometimes I ask myself that question. Is what I see, think or feel real or perceived? And the answer always remains the same. Is there a difference?

Until this moment, I’ve been able to find a spark of hope. It’s so beautiful outside. I keep hoping to sit in the cool with the sun on my skin and just feel the life and the love and the peace of just being here. So many of those moments would come and pass in the years behind me. I never imagined they could end. I never realized just how valuable those moments were.

It’s hard to imagine that day won’t come again. There’s a feeling I get when I stand in a breeze. There’s a comfort that comes because I’m reminded of how beautiful it all is. But I don’t know how to touch the hope that used to wash over me. It’s not there anymore. Every day is a battle. Every morning I wake up in pain. I know it doesn’t look like I try but I’ve moved a mountain before I’ve even opened my eyes.

I burst to tears a thousand times, at the idea that I won’t ever have that sensation again. The chill of a warm breeze turning cold, at that perfect time of year that all it takes is the sun behind a cloud to swirl the cool – and the light on your face pouring honey thick warmth in a drenching stillness chasing a tide of shadow away. I feel like both the beach and the sea – the desert and the sky – the hummingbird and the flower – just me alone.

Have you ever lay by a tree and let it all wash over you? The sound, the scented confluence of competing and ever blending perfume – your senses trying to seize each one like biting off chocolates in search of just one … only to relent. You submit to the symphony, as the futility of
chasing a single note reminds.

Did you ever learn something from a dog in the grass and recognize in that moment how profound her wisdom and how foolish your own? Did it stop you for just a moment from looking back without seeing the future or looking ahead without seeing the past? Did you finally understand why she wouldn’t leave her spot in the grass on her very last day for that moment in the sun – to hurry back to the busy world where nothing is really ever done?

She told me to sit and I did. She said to me without a single word. Now is all you have. Now is all there is.

The 2nd Amendment & Preserving The Constitution

Defending The 2nd Amendment is not defending the US Constitution. That is a misuse of constitutionlanguage. Defending the US Constitution is to defend the right of the argument. The argument for and the argument against – yes, even the argument about what it is the 2nd Amendment means and is. But more than the 2nd Amendment alone, we must take into account where The US Constitution was then and where we are today. Our founding fathers would have far less of a conflict on their hands today, than do our Constitutional purists. They would above all understand, that to defend The constitution does not mean to interpret and defend every letter as written – but rather to defend its intent, its stated purpose, its mission statement, its Preamble. Everything else is amendable.

The most important aspect of The US Constitution is the allowance and the certainty of
“the argument.” Our justice system, the ratification of The US Constitution itself, our legislative process, The Bill of Rights, treaties – all depend upon the allowance and certainty of “the argument.” It took 10 months for 9 states to ratify The US Constitution. That achievement and those that followed all depended on the allowance and certainty of “the argument.”

Under each of these arguments were the intentions toward vs. the resistance against … change. Whatever the constitution says – and it says many things by many interpretations through many generations of a great many scholars – it does not anywhere intend or proclaim the rejection of change. That is the most important thing to recognize for any of us to even begin to understand The US Constitution. Its singular most astonishing brilliance is its profound capacity of accommodation for things unconsidered then, known by them then, yet to be unseen.

An argument suggesting that changing the constitution is wrong in an effort to validate the content of an amendment (a credentialed change) contained in The Constitution, is to say the very thing within the amendment being defended is invalid along with the amendment and The Constitution itself.

Until we comprehend the most important aspect of The US Constitution – enlightened men of their time, making allowance for enlightenment yet to come – this is what it means to preserve and defend our Constitution. It is not immutable or constant. It is evolutionary just as we are. The beauty in it, is the evolving beauty in us as we become a more enlightened society. “God said it that settles it” is a compelling argument with only the choir in attendance. It becomes dictatorial however among the broader and varied population that makes up The United States of America and its citizens short and tall.

We still have a white man’s Constitution in many ways.  Remember … the very first gun regulations were that Black People and Indians couldn’t have one. It’s tough to be a purist without exception on this topic – and not have a juggling act with Freedom and Justice for all.

 

Taking A Knee – What The Argument Alone Reveals.

One of the most important aspects of “taking a knee” is both the high profile visibility of a national stage, and the disagreement about “what’s appropriate where.” 

blm1

The argument that ensues on this subject takes place between people in a manner that reveals their values and their awareness. Values have a tendency to change based on awareness. Before abused children began coming forward as adults- there was very little awareness about child exploitation and sexual abuse. People kept it secret – refused to look at it – found it uncomfortable and kept it hidden. Today, because of expanded awareness – most children know they have rights and possess necessary tools to defend and prevent. Parents seldom any longer say “it’s a private matter” and sacrifice the victim to social vanity as many once did. 

Racism in America may seem like a long stretch for comparison, but really it is very similar – and this analogy has nothing to do with Black people, but everything to do with white objectors. The difference is-  it is white people who are the secret keepers – the shooshers – the crime enablers who find this uncomfortable to face and discuss. It is white people who believe that their “game night” should not be interfered with while many of the people providing their entertainment have family and community, even children murdered in the streets. If a protest takes place that does not keep the silence at the cost of the crime against others – they are miffed. It is because they either do not comprehend (awareness is shallow to the realities suffered daily by people of color – exacerbated by white silence) or their values are such that white comfort is more important than Black lives. (Refer to Black Lives Matters and seek a correlation with their message). 

The tragic irony is; It is the very fact that white people have the option to view this as a non-priority to their lives that necessitates continuing, strenuous, repeated high visibility. The reality is, white people should have the decency and the moral accountability to be ahead of this violation against humanity. But because of racism, privilege and implicit bias they do not grasp the magnitude that is lived and endured daily by people of color. The fact that a white person can permit atrocity without even investigating the stories they reject at presentation is the reason Black people die – and are forced to do all the heavy lifting for equal justice. The offense of “Take A Knee” is in direct proportion to the degree of white apathy in the heart of the offended. 

Privilege, Starbucks, Neighborhood Watch – and the pervasive crime of white apathy

Things White Folks Don’t Knowmsa q

The hardest thing for me to reconcile in my life today,  is that I have children I love and would give my life for whom I know hear about white people in ways that do not describe me. Yet still, they do describe white America. Words that are not false, are not overstated, but in fact are proven out over and over in the daily life of us all.   It brought me to my choice – my choice of voice or silence – marching or watching from the sidelines.

I am a family friend of a Black American family, and I get the perks of outings with the children. I am that uncle that loves to spoil them – loves to hear them – loves to be in touch with the amazing world of brilliant and aspiring children. Any adult in this role knows what I am talking about. We are reminded how smart they are – we are reminded how vital and essential their exposure to and experience of the world. And we know that the wonder we once had for the world and life – returns to us gazing through their eyes.

When one child gets up to go to the bathroom at a restaurant, I stand between the door and the ones remaining at the table – equal distance so I can see the bathroom door entered and those at the table undisturbed. I do this because they are children and because they are in my care.  But I do it more in ways that no one knows because they are children of color – Black children – that do not carry or share my privilege. No one will touch them, speak to them or reach them in any disparaging way – not when they are in my charge. The intolerable reality is, I do have to watch and I do have to be more vigilant. And that tells me things all of white America needs to know.

Leaving the theater as we approached the down elevator to parking,  a white man stepped away from a Black woman in a manner I have honed my sight to recognize. It isn’t difficult, and it isn’t a mistake when noticing the airs of a supremacist, a bigot or racist. One more Black person came toward the elevator and I saw him grappling with his position. I stepped back from the children and put my hand on his arm – leaned in and whispered “this car is not for you.” He knew and acknowledged what I was talking about. His disapproval now directed at me – he stepped back to wait for another car.  I will not allow him near them, or an utterance under his breath to reach their ears.

My rage was subdued by my insistence on normalcy for the children and disruption of our outing. This subject is above my pay grade and is to be reserved for parents and their children. They need no input from me. Though subdued on my face and in my demeanor, my rage was beyond anything I have ever felt. I wanted to hurt him but they were there. They were not subjected to a thread of it. It’s not the only time or only thing I’ve experienced while in the company of these three exquisite young girls.  I looked toward the man with a boundaried nod, shuffling this laughter-occupied group of girls into the elevator.  No one but me and the Black woman who arrived behind us knew a thing. She was the mass-tilting reason he paused about entry. She knew it. Black people know. They have had to be hyperaware for generations. She gazed into my eyes on the three floor trip down, in a way I have considered over and over as to all that her look had held. It was one of understanding and compassion – but also carried a glimpse of fear and admonishment that perhaps I might not be endowed with such clarity and vigilance in the future. I am white, and I have the privilege of forgetting what others endure.

Two Black men were put into handcuffs for sitting while black in a Starbucks. They refused to leave and were arrested. They were asked to leave because they are Black. This is confirmed by white customers who occupy tables with no purchase yet made – waiting for the rest of their party. The many tweets and comments by white people saying “there must be more to the story” are mistaken or racist bias or both. The police who arrested them are wrong. Everything is wrong with this event.

A dear friend of mine asks these questions that no white person can answer – not without  the glaring face of complicity or self-indulgent denial.

“How can I or my children tell the difference between a white person who will shoot us and a white person who won’t?
How do we ask the police for help when we don’t know what KIND of officer will show up—100% compliance will still get you killed, ask Mesa PD ‘bout that. Don’t tell me if I follow orders I’ll be safe, because I will NOT be safe. Miss me with all of THAT bullshit.
Which Starbucks can I wait in for my client, how do I know which door to knock on in my community when I need help?
Are we at the point where white folks have to put HUGE safety pins on their door posts? Businesses have to hang POC welcome signs in their windows?

Until we face ourselves if we are white – we have not faced the truth. The truth is, this is our responsibility – even if you believe it is a construct in which you had no participation. You are participating today – and in so doing you stand on one side or the other. silence is the selection of a position. It is the selection of truth or denial- and it is the selection for racism or equality. Which do you choose?