Sunday, December 31

On the cusp of the New Year

It's that time of year. Prognosticators try to tell us what to expect in 2018 based on what they think they know from 2017. Yea, well, not counting on their accuracy beyond maybe January 2. There are others reminding us of all the good, bad, horrible, and spectacularly wonderful things that occurred in 2017. Remembrances of those who passed away. Pictures of noteworthy moments. Reflections upon reflections.

It's a natural reflex, I think, to reflect on the past, to think about the future, to imagine something different and better and more vibrant and less painful and more interesting.


We all cling to some essence or element of hope. We all want to believe there is hope that tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow will be better.

For many of us, that Hope is assured even though we're not always very good at showing it or living it.

For me, this time of the year is marked by some mundane traditions. I update the 2018 calendar to show birthdays and anniversaries. I go through my online sticky notes and bookmarked articles to see what is still is relevant and try to organize them in a way that I can actually tackle them with some intent. I try to figure out what that intent might be.

Today I'll be drafting the New Year's letter I hope to get out before Epiphany because I am realistic about easily I can be distracted by all of the things I want to read and think about. I'll draft some plans for the first of my 2018 professional blog posts and decide if I want to try to create weekly podcasts, too.

But mostly I'll reflect, think, pray, and read. . .and, practically speaking, stay warm because it is freakin' cold outside (-8F "real feel"). And watch some football because it is New Year's Eve Day.

I'll reach out to some family members and friends. I'll try not to spend too much time thinking about my hip surgery and my frustration that all I'd hoped to get done over the winter break isn't getting done and won't get done trying to acknowledge in the grand scheme of things vacuuming really isn't that important. I will do my best to be grateful for this time for reflection and thinking and reading and writing. I will do my best to take advantage of this time as it will help me mark the start of 2018--no more than a whisper of the turn of a page and the tick of a clock--as something significant and valuable to me and this life I've been given.

I'm not one to ignore the past, but I also don't dwell on it, w
ell, not any more. It's taken me a while to learn how to let go of the past and use it as a stepping stone to growth and change. I'm still working on developing patience and finding balance.

I have no idea what to expect of this afternoon let alone 2018 so I'll let each day run its course. My hope--not, please note, my resolution, is that I will, like Benjamin Franklin, think each morning on what good I can do each day and, each evening, reflect on what good I have done. I shall have to be gentle with myself and non-judgmental, which is not my nature. I shall have to be patient with myself which is, again, not my nature. And I shall have to hope that each day I will remember and hold tight to the fact that God's mercies are new every single morning. If I do nothing else, 2018 will be an amazingly good year.






Monday, December 11

I'm not going to vote for a . . .

I've seen and heard this phrase a few times in articles online and elsewhere. Republicans stating they would never vote for a Democrat as though that was something evil or might cause unrelenting harm or some other unimaginable catastrophe. Ditto the other way: Democrats forswearing the possibility of ever voting for a Republican. Really? How ridiculous.

Granted, I held that point of view when I was younger. I'd vote straight down the party line. Then I got older and a little smarter and started examining what people actually stood for. I read about their messages and I checked on their past work. I realized their campaign promises are really PR statements to put themselves in the best possible light to get elected but that those promises can be hard to keep when faced with the reality of the structure of government and all those other people in government who may have other ideas. Yea, reality bites.

So I have voted for Democrats and I have voted Republicans. As a private citizen I don't have to defend my vote as I might if I represented the party, but I'd hope that ANYONE would vote for whoever is the best person for that constituency.

What I fear is that the challenge for voters remains the quality of the candidates. We saw that in the presidential election. I think many people voted purely along party lines. I think some Republicans who might not have wanted to vote for Trump simply could not vote for Clinton. I get that. Many of my friends and colleagues commented that would, in effect, "hold their noses and vote for one or the other." Not a great commentary of the quality of the candidates.

Alabama seems to face the same situation tomorrow. For Republicans, they can vote Republican and alleged sexual predator or vote for a Democrat, which probably makes them cringe as though it was some horrible disease. Sheesh. Grow up. Is Doug Jones the "better" candidate? The question is who will do the best job for Alabama. Does Moore's record indicate he will do the best job for all of Alabama? What about Jones? Is he interested in serving all of the constituencies in Alabama or he is more interested in his own agenda? My sense is that Moore is about himself and his own agenda.

This election has become about so much more than the Alabama senate slot. It's a referendum on candidate quality, on the way each party tries to manipulate and control the way can vote, and on the way states try to manage the way voters can vote. It is a referendum on how much voters really care and believe their votes matter. After all, Hillary Clinton won the popular vote but was slain in the Electoral College. Voters can have a reason to believe that party leadership doesn't care about what their constituents--their employers--think.

Republican or Democrat, in Alabama's senate election or any election, do the right thing and vote the person who will do the best work for all of you. Sure, you want someone who will protect your interests, but what if much of your interests depend on those of others? Think locally, but live globally, especially if that globe is your state.

Saturday, August 19

1 hr, 4 mins says YOU, GPS.

I'll admit it. When I see the amount of time GPS has calculated for a trip, I take it as a personal challenge. I think about the time of day, what kind of traffic I'm likely to encounter, if there might be any construction, what the typical rate of speed is at the time of day and I make a private bet with myself about how much I can shave off that GPS calculation.

I've mentally noted my personal best and each time I have to make a similar drive, I try to match my personal best at the very least.

I like to tell people I'm not competitive and I really mean that. Now, I can guess what you're thinking given the introduction. Obviously I'm competitive. But competing against myself and a digital device is different from competing against other human beings. And if I were really competitive, I'd be as fit in body as I am in my head. But that requires effort. Overrated.

Years and years ago I was on a couple of swim teams and I was a lackadaisical participant of my high school tennis team. All that competitive spirit was just so exhausting. I liked to play tennis. I liked to win games when I played tennis. I even liked to win whole matches. It was that pressure of playing a singles match that counted for a whole team that distressed me. Too much pressure. If someone beat me when it was just the two of us, they beat me. If someone beat me and my lack of points caused the whole team to lose, ugh. 

But here's the other weird thing and why I still think I'm (mostly) not competitive. I don't like it when the other person is hurt or crushed or upset because he or she lost. That hurts me. I don't like it when my opponent is struggling and I can see that frustration. I know how that feels. So I'd back off, let that person score a few more points or even win a game. I don't have that killer instinct to crush someone.

As I write that I'm remembering a racquetball match or two when I was throwing myself against the wall and scrambling all over the court to get to that wretched little ball. More often than not I was fairly evenly matched against an opponent and, for me, it was mostly competition with myself to get those tough shots. I'll admit I loved something of the violence of racquetball. There was something immensely satisfying about smacking that little blue ball against the wall and having to move fast enough to dodge it so I didn't wing myself. I also loved crashing into the wall and sometimes did it when I really didn't have to. Racquetball was one of the best ways to relieve stress!

I hate to try to play golf. I was okay at it on the driving range until someone started telling me what to do with my hands and shoulders and hips and then there was so much going on in my head about what I was and wasn't supposed to do I could no longer enjoy the feel of just swinging through the ball.

I enjoyed my recreational softball leagues. We usually had some really good players and those we had to let play because it was a corporate or recreational league. So it was as much to play softball and get some exercise as it was to socialize. I didn't like to lose, but I didn't cry in my beer when we lost.

I'm impressed by athletes who have that competitive spirit and drive. Who train hour after hour and day after day to get better at their sport. Who love their sport so much they want to be the very best. And I love to watch them do their thing because I have only the slightest idea of how much it takes to be and become the very best.

Now if there's ever a beat-the-GPS competition. . . . nah. That would take all the fun out of it, at least for me.

Wednesday, August 16

A Nation of Adult Toddlers: Can We Stop the Slide into Chaos?

Like many others of all color shades of skin, I am appalled by what happened in Charlottesville. I am revolted that it took so long for 45 to say anything in response and then he waffled, and then he spoke more forcefully (no doubt coached by others and saying words written by others with no actual emotion behind the words), and then he waffled again. I am not surprised that former President Barack Obama's tweet is one of the five most shared tweets of all times.

His words are true. We learn to hate a person's background or skin color or religion. We are taught that hate by our parents and our families, by our friends. Sometimes we are taught this hate by our church.

In Matthew 22:37-39, Scripture states: "Jesus replied, 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all of your soul and with all of your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself.'" (NIV)

I've said in other situations and places that I think these are two of the hardest verses in the Bible. God is talking about tolerance. God is talking about love. Hmm. What is love? You know, even if you're not a Christian you've been to plenty of weddings during which at least part of 1 Corinthians 13 is quoted or read.

Love is hard. This biblical love is hard because we want what we want when and how we want it, and regardless of anyone else. Our culture teaches us the strong survive, that we should not be milquetoasts or doormats. That we should fight for what we want. That we need to be brave. That we have to have the eye of the tiger. That we need to say what we want to say. And somehow, those of us who believe these words of Scripture strive to find balance so that we can be loving but not constantly relegated to the overlooked pile.

As a culture, Americans started on this slippery slope ages ago. If I were a social scientist, behaviorist, or investigative reporter, I'd do the research to see if I could try to figure out when it all began. But I think the kinds of behaviors we're seeing now have been simmering for a long time and we just haven't recognized how often those small explosions have occurred.

Last spring there was a little article about plans to remove Confederate monuments. I found the article in newsela, a resource used by thousands of teachers. One of the social studies I work with in upstate NY was getting ready to start her Civil War unit and I thought it might be a good way to talk about why that war remains a sensitive topic in this country. The kids were passingly interested. After all, they lived in the North and the Confederacy isn't an issue for them. This is an issue, though, that has been simmering for months in the South; this conversation about removing or moving Confederate monuments has been on-going.

According to a story in The New York Times, removal of that particular statue of Robert E. Lee was broached in 2012. Since then we have witnessed the shooting of Trayvon Martin and the acquittal of George Zimmerman. We have witnessed the rise and subsequent controversy of Black Lives Matter. We have witnessed Ferguson, MO after the shooting of Michael Brown. We have read and heard on-going stories and instances of profiling. We have read and heard on-going stories of treatment of people of any color other than white. We have read and heard stories of whites trying to support a White Lives Matter movement. We have read and heard about white nationalists, white supremacists, and others who believe they are fighting for a particular way of life. We have read and heard stories about immigrant rounds-ups, and I'd wager most if not all of those immigrants have a skin color that is not deemed white.

I'd suggested to that social studies teacher that it might be interesting for her students to debate if there might come a time that some monuments should be removed, and why they should be removed. I think it would be helpful for middle school students to think about why monuments are built and what they represent, and how they might have been viewed at the time of their building and how that might no longer be appropriate or true.

"Ozymandias"
And, because I'm an English teacher as well as a coding/tech geek, I am reminded of Percy Bysshe Shelley's poem, "Ozymadias." I'm also reminded of Chinua Achebe's brilliant book, Things Fall Apart, which has a link to W.B. Yeats's poem "The Second Coming." Both remind us that the tighter you try to hold on to something, the more you try to control something, the more you have to hold and try to control. Eventually, well, things fall apart.



from "The Second Coming"
A FB friend mused what I've see others muse: are we headed towards another Civil War? The rational part of me says that's not possible, but I thought it impossible the American people would elect Donald Trump so clearly I have to adjust my thinking about the American people.

There is something else compelling about these lines from Yeats's poem. "The ceremony of innocence is drowned." We can no longer pretend we do not and cannot know. Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, and Facebook as well as online media, radio, and TV make sure we can know and do know. I'm intrigued by his cynicism that "the best lack all conviction while the worst are full of passionate intensity," though that's how I read it and maybe because that's how I feel.

I want to stand up and be heard. I want to fight against the insanity of the Tweeter-in-Chief who responds with such a petty response when Ken Frazier resigned from that president's council, especially since there seemed to be tweet silence when others also resigned. But they weren't men of color or because you can post bully tweets about a topic so often?

This morning I read an op-ed in The New York Times about why confederate monuments must fall. I read about the Baltimore, MD mayor who had confederate statues removed overnight because it needed to be done and because she didn't want a similar violent response as occurred in Charlottesville. I read about a group of people who pulled down a statue in Durham, NC. I read that someone had scribbled on the remaining stand that it was a remembrance to the boys in gray who died fighting for what they believed in. How we can we honor those whose very beliefs we denigrate? How can we honor that they were willing to die for their beliefs? Should we honor those who were willing to die for their beliefs? That is the more provocative question.

I'd want to say that before anyone answered with a quick and heated, "No!" and with a stream of reasons about how their ideas, ideals, and beliefs were so wrong, I'd want to ask them to think also about what has happened in countries and cultures where there has been a dramatic swing by the people or by the government. That once was true and beloved by millions of people was suddenly no longer true and no longer beloved. "Ozymandias." Such a quiet little poem, and yet so profound.

I am reminded of a scene in Game of Thrones. The Mother of Dragons is about to have her dragon annihilate two men who will not bend the knee to her. As Tyrion pleads for them to reconsider, that their house will be effectively ended (he doesn't know one son of that house still lives, but that's not the point), it occurred to me that such is the case for the defeated, even those who fought honorably because of their beliefs and allegiances. They live on only through history and we depend on how well, or how badly history treats them, or how accurately history depicts them.

As I think about the Nazis and today's Neo-Nazis, I find nothing defensible. Their message is one of hate and a misguided belief that skin color indicates superiority when pretty much everything they do is demonstrably counter to their message only they are, apparently, too stubborn and too stupid to realize that.

As I sit quietly in my kitchen and ponder these things, I realize how hard it is to have a rational conversation about anything any more. The petulant tweets of 45 doesn't help; it makes his base, even if it is dwindling, even more defensive and more resolute. Like the alt-right that believes it is defending a righteous lifestyle even though it's clear they haven't been paying attention to worldwide demographics over the past decade, though they probably think all of that is "fake news."

Because we want what we want when we want it and we don't want to have a conversation about anything because someone might try to convince me to change my mind and I don't want to change my mind. Ugh.

So. What do we do? Especially about these huge problems that are often so far removed from us. We need to acknowledge that we are a nation of adult toddlers and we need to grow up. Now. Fast. And because of the leadership vacuum in the White House.

As a nation, pundits and anyone in the media has to STOP responding to 45 at his level. When he does something absurd, measure its consequence and, when appropriate, ignore it. So stop reporting on every little tweet. We are distracted by his tweets and our obsessions fuels our own toddlerism.

For me, speak up more and be more empathetic. Whether it's on Facebook or any other social network channel, or all of them, align my voice with those who protest appalling behavior. We ARE better than that and we should start to act like it.

For me, support my friends and colleagues, even if in small ways. The small acts of kindness and support I can perform any time can and will make a difference over time.

For me, when I encounter adult toddler behavior, I need to pause and thoughtful to see how I can moderate the situation. Perhaps an act of kindness and empathy will help defuse the situation, and maybe even changes the course of thought and action.

Tuesday, May 23

Unacceptable Behavior: We Should Be Better Than This

A leader of the California Democratic Party tried to lead a chant that verbally flips off the president of the United States. A man was removed from a United flight for reasons other than wearing a "Make America Great Again" hat but it's likely the response of "Lock him up!" was prompted by the hat. Students at Notre Dame walked out of the commencement speech by Vice President Pence apparently because they don't like his politics.

Let me start with that last one. There was a young woman interviewed about the walkout. She was articulate with great presence, but what she said was disingenuous, though I've no doubt she fervently believes in her words. Some of the students interviewed walked out because of what--and who--Mike Pence represents. They believed he would offer them nothing worthwhile in his commencement address. Of course, they didn't stay to hear it which makes it hard to have a conversation about it.

As for the young woman, she walked out--and I paraphrase what I heard of her interview--because Mike Pence doesn't represent all of Notre Dame and that whoever speaks at commencement should represent the Notre Dame community. Huh. Well, that will be tough. And I've a sneaking suspicion that she would be fuming and clearly articulating her outrage if a speaker with whom she agreed prompted the same walkout behavior by some of her classmates.

I'm a fan of supporting free speech, but I am NOT a fan of supporting speech and actions that seem to step perilously close to hate speech. A walkout is an expression and those students were welcome to walkout but I hope that some of the Notre Dame education helps them understand that such issues are complex and there are multiple perspectives, all of which cannot be honored at one time. Someone is going to be unhappy at a commencement speech. I appreciate wanting to make a stand, but make sure the stand is defensible.

As for the apparently always-contrary John Burton of the California Democratic Party, he seems to have a reputation for being foul-mouthed. Nice. I think it's so wonderful when a state government leader demonstrates such behavior and language, especially if there's a possibility that students are trying to learn more about local government by following such proceedings.

The folks on the plane seemed to have a legitimate reason for being torqued at the passenger who was so disruptive he delayed the flight for hours because he was angry he didn't get an upgrade. He didn't get an upgrade? What the heck? Pouting and being disruptive enough to force the crew to deplane other passengers so he could be removed is appalling behavior for an adult. I've seen tired and cranky toddlers behave better.

These are only a few recent incidents of appalling unacceptable behavior that has managed to make the news. I can only imagine how many have not been caught on a phone video and shared with the world. Let me rephrase: I shudder to imagine.

People. Get a grip. Yes, our world is in turmoil. Everyone seems to be belligerent about something, whether a Republican, Democrat, or Independent. Because 45 himself is often bellicose, contrary, and just downright difficult, far too many people seem to think that gives everyone permission to behave badly.

We wonder why everyone seems meaner, nastier, less kind, crankier, ruder, more disrespectful. Really? Take a look at the news and how we treat each other. Both sides, all sides. The liberal and conservative media and every outlet in between works too bloody hard to find some sort of gotcha for the day. Puts all on edge. Makes us all behave embarrassingly badly.

We need to rise above this.

We need to recover our civility.

We need to dig deep to hope that we can be better and that because we can be better, our world can be better.

We need to rise up above the political fray and learn to listen, but also learn to have a conversation rather than have rage-fueled, spittle-littered shouting matches.

We need to rise up.

Monday, May 8

Airline Rage: Probably Not a Passing Thing

United. American. Delta. Each airline has been in the news for the wrong reason. The New Age of Airline Rage asks if such incidents are actually more common. The answer appears to be "no."

In my frequent flying travels, I've never seen such an incident though I have seen lots and lots of unhappy passengers for a range of reasons. No, I can't quantify it more than that, but the weeks I'm on a plane three to five times in one week, I can assure that there is some incident with TSA, at the gate, or about the flight for most of the flights.

Let's set aside the anxiety just getting to the airport. So often that depends on time of day and the airport, but a stressful trip to the airport sets a tone.

TSA
The Transportation Security Administration is often a target for traveler angst and anger. Often with good reason. I was leaving a city with a TSA known for its inconsistency and we were told that we had to remove all food from our bags to go through security--"anything that can go in your mouth." One of the TSA agents apologized for the short notice and explained they had just received the bulletin the day before. Okay, I can live with that explanation but the requirement seemed odd. Just in case, however, I was prepared at my next airport to remove all of my snacks--apples, fig bars, grapes, and gum. Nothing. Not even a mention. Okay, that was a bigger airport and it was only the day after the prior airport so maybe all of the TSA agents hadn't been notified. That seemed unlikely, but hey, it could happen. My next airport the next day was also a bigger airport and no mention of food. Then I find myself back in the airport that required the food removal and, on departure, huh, no request to remove any food. Yea, that stuff makes us crazy.

I had gone through the security check at an medium-sized airport when the woman behind me asked if the TSA agent needed to wand the boot cast she was wearing on her left foot. "Oh. Yea. I guess I should do that," said the TSA agent. The woman sat in the chair and rolled her eyes. "I tell more TSA agents about this part of their jobs than I should, but I don't want to be the one to pay the price for an agent's ignorance and laziness."

Gate agents and the airlines
Spend more money, get more perks. Travel a lot on one airline, get more perks. Which may or may not matter.

People who don't travel often or who travel for leisure are often less concerned about some perks. Those who are boarding in groups 4 or higher tend to expect not to get to store their roll-aboards, though that doesn't prevent many from trying and clogging up the aisles and sometimes delaying departure.

As a business traveler, I want my luggage with me. I want to know it will be with me when I land and that I can go directly to get my rental car and be on my way. I don't want to wait at the baggage claim for the 10 to 20 to 30 minutes it may take for my suitcase to arrive. I check luggage if and only if I'm carrying too much and have no choice. As a leisure traveler, I try to get by with a carry-on, but will check my luggage if needed because I know I'll be in (slightly) less of a rush at my destination.

Luggage is a hot button issue but so are delays. Fortunately airlines pad their departure and arrival times as well as the actual travel times of any flight. They know there will be delays; they know early arrivals mean sitting on the tarmac in a holding area until a gate clears. Though experienced travelers get anxious about missing connections, they are less likely to panic because they know the drill. But it doesn't help if the gate agent and/or the pilot doesn't keep people informed as well as they possibly can.

Airfares can fluctuate like crazy. As a small business owner, I'm looking for the least expensive fare with the best possible connections. I try to fly one of two airlines all the time because, yes, I want the perks. I want to board earlier so I can stow my carry-on! I want to be able to pick my seat. I avoid the bulkhead (no under-seat storage because there is no seat in front) and try to get the exit row because of extra leg room, not that I really need it. But I do want to be comfortable if my flight is 2+ hours, and I do need a bit more room if I'm going to try to work on the flight.

Leg room is going to become an increasing rage-triggering issue. Airlines are doing their best to cram more people onto a plane. Which means there will be more people trying to hoist their carry-ons on the plane. And that also means that more leisure or infrequent travelers will try to cram stuff in the overhead bins that take up space for other travelers. There is very much a "look out for yourself" mentality on many flights, though I have noticed that people are helpful to transfer luggage like a mosh pit once we've landed.

Now the seating changes are mostly in economy class though why airlines believe people who pay less for a ticket or travel infrequently want to be uncomfortable. I can't help but wonder if there are health risks in being crammed into smaller and closer airlines seats. I also can't help but wonder about the additional discomfort if a traveler is sitting next to someone who challenges the boundaries of new, slimmer seats.

I recognize that the airlines are a business. I acknowledge that they have shareholders to appease. I fear that shareholders and avoiding going viral are much more important to airlines than the care and comfort of their paying customers.

Wednesday, February 22

Post-Election Malaise and Emotional Schizophrenia

My goal had been to write every week. But then life intervened as it so often does. Since January 20, I’ve found myself tottering between absolute despair and cautious optimism. A sort of emotional schizophrenia. Like many others, I find I cannot ignore the news but I also find I flip between media outlets in a quixotic attempt to find akin to objectivity. I’d get better results beating my head against the windmill.

And so some random thoughts as I, like many others, try to make sense of my shifted and canted (http://www.thefreedictionary.com/canted) world.

Toby Keith. He performed at 45s thing. Now he has become a pariah. Seriously? What is wrong with people? No one wants to listen to anyone. People just want to shout over each other. Toby Keith is allowed to perform wherever he wants but to make him into something he’s not just because you don’t agree with his politics is just wrong. Toby Keith wanted to play his music and was honored to be able to play for the inauguration of the president of the United States. Just because you don’t like this president isn’t a good reason to condemn the man’s music and talent. If his music and talent suck, that’s a different story.

Fascism. I’m not sure people really know what fascism is but it’s convenient to call 45 and some of the people in his inner circle fascists. Then others pick up the label and use it like a cudgel because it’s easier to pick up something from Twitter or Snapchat than actually use your brain and do some research. And we wonder why kids don’t want to read or learn how to do research? From whom do you think they’re learning such fabulous bad habits? Hello. Selfie time.

On the other hand, if you do a Google search on “fascism,” you encounter a whole bunch of dreck. That’s not Google’s fault, by the way. It’s the way people have learned how to maneuver search engine optimization. For those of you vaguely interested but too lazy to do your own research, here are some reasonably trustworthy resources that represent different perspectives:

According to Robert Paxton, professor emeritus at Columbia University and acclaimed as “the father of fascist studies,” fascism
requires some basic allegiances, such as to the nation, to national grandeur, and to a master race or group. The core principle — what Paxton defined as fascism's only definition of morality — is to make the nation stronger, more powerful, larger and more successful. Since fascists see national strength as the only thing that makes a nation "good," fascists will use any means necessary to achieve that goal. 
 But it’s easy to pick a term and use it like a weapon. This isn’t the first time we’ve seen this and it won’t be the last.

“The true values of the nation.” Wow. That’s quite a concept. What are the true values of the United States of America? The whole United States of America. In 2013, Colin Woodard published some work that introduced the idea of 11 American “nations” within the nation. Now this article has been republished and probably viewed as something new and electrifyingly eye-opening. But it was first published in 2013. When Obama was president. And it’s not as though these internal borders formed overnight so let’s be real about that.

It’s an interesting article and worth the read. What I found most striking is how hard it is to define “the true values of the nation” if we’re trying to refer to the whole of the United States. Based on Woodard’s work, what is valued in the Deep South has no place in New Netherland. Does that make the values of the Deep South “wrong”? To some, sure. To others, not so much. Does that make the values of the Far West unpalatable to Yankeedom, and vice versa? Probably.

Which is one of the reasons the framers of the Constitution were so keen on states’ rights.

But here’s the great thing about a democracy that actually works. You don’t have to agree with everyone.

As for me, I cannot keep up the outrage. Do I like or approve of 45? No. Do I like or approve of Bannon or Priebus or Conway or Spicer? No. Do I like or approve of some of his Cabinet choices? Absolutely not. But, by the same token, I do not like nor approve of the rabid fanaticism of the anti-Trump movement that seems to be against anything and everything just because it is Trump. It’s not healthy for the country. It’s not useful.

So what’s my point? I think we are approaching the bursting point of a great American bubble. We’re about to begin the deportation of millions of illegal immigrants. In some cases, let’s be honest, that’s not a bad thing but we also know that there will be those who will use their power and authority to go after some just because their skin isn’t white. That’s a horrible thing. And not new but now they have permission.

The giddy Republicans in Congress are so blinded by their absolute power they are going to do stupid things because they can and because it allows them to rip up what they think is the wrong-headedness of Obama and the Democrats. Dear God, please let them THINK before they shred. Please let them use some modicum of rational constructive criticism before they just overturn everything for the sake of overturning it.

Mexico is threatening to stop buying corn from the United States because of 45s policies. Sweden thinks 45 is a nut case because he gets unverified information from Fox News. Yea, that’s a great way to form national policy because Fox News is so unbiased and trustworthy. NATO isn’t sure what to think since Pence says one thing while 45 tweets something else.

I have to wonder if various security organizations are having conniption fits because 45 uses his Florida estate to conduct business, some of which is quite likely top secret. And then that makes me wonder if the American taxpayers are going to have to pay a small fortune so the billionaire’s private estate can become secure. (I’m starting to grind my teeth again.)

Media of all stripes cannot help but trip over themselves with generalizations about “liberals,” “conservatives,” “Republicans,” and “Democrats.” Whole classes and groups of people are dumped into soups of generalizations which is wrong and narrow-minded and stupid on so many levels.

And then I hear Christians lamenting the fact that we are no longer a Christian nation even though the United States of America has never been a “Christian” nation in the way they tend to mean it. But it’s so much more convenient to ignore historical facts.

Because of 45’s demonization of the media and accusations of “fake news,” people are willing to if not eager to ignore and denounce any form of history and facts as irrelevant in the face of what they want to believe.

God help us when the bubble bursts. When 45 cannot return jobs to the coal miners. When Mexico stops buying corn. When all of the illegal immigrants and a whole bunch of legal immigrants are rounded up and herded out of the country. When non-Americans stop wanting to come to the United States for fear of what they might encounter. When other countries don’t want to do business with us any more because of our policies and our politics, because of our narrow-minded attitudes. Because they won’t distinguish because the 45 supporters and the non-supporters. 45 has reminded us how easy it is to taint entire groups with slanderous hate (slander: http://dictionary.law.com/Default.aspx?selected=1969).

I think we are headed towards a civil war. (War is not “civil,” of course, but there are historical reasons for the reference: Civil wars have been waged across the world throughout human history.  The term “civil war” comes from the Latin phrase bellum civile, which translates to “war of or pertaining to civilians,” and was first used to describe the Roman civil wars of the 1st century BCE. http://www.civilwar.org/education/history/what-is-a-civil-war/what-is-a-civil-war.html) I’m not alone in thinking this but I haven’t the historical or political gravitas to support my thinking.

Matt Mayer writes in U.S. News & World Report that “our unraveling predates” the presidencies of George W. Bush and Barack Obama. He observes that we are both “a red America and a blue America.” There is truth in that and in the fact that some of us are purple. On some issues I’m more red than blue; on others I’m more blue than red. I know I’m not alone but we are not screeching hysterically at each other and others. We are listening, reading, thinking, watching, waiting. I’m not sure what I’m waiting for but it feels like I’m waiting for a social and political conflagration.


It feels like what needs to happen is something catastrophic, something cataclysmic that will either sunder the country entirely and smack it back to its senses. My fear is that too many will simply stand on their respective sides of abyss and continue their hysterical screeching, finger-pointing, and name-calling while we once knew as these great United States slides slowly and irrevocably into oblivion.