If You Can’t Say Anything Nice…

“If you can’t say anything nice about someone, say nothing at all.”

That’s a tough mother-ism to live by in today’s world.

monkeynospeak6I do think that silence is a blessing seldom appreciated. In fact, I could say nothing about many things and many people, and I would be the better for it.

But…. also in today’s world, saying nothing allows the more vocal hordes to flood the airwaves with venom and lies.

Democracies aren’t maintained by the silence of its members. It takes willing voices and willing voters to make serious changes in our world.

The next couple months will be a nasty time for impassioned outcries and claims, true or non.  I have my own opinions on much of what is occurring politically and in our government, as well as having my own thoughts on how best to change the current problems.

However, none of my opinions matter other than on Tuesday, November 6th, 2018 when we the people have the opportunity to express our beliefs on voting ballots across the nation. THAT is the day for expressing opinion. THAT is the day when what you think really matters.

So you can be as vocal as you wish—or as allowed by laws until that time—but the only time what you think really matters is on November 6th, 2018.

Vote!  It can be the single most important thing you can do for yourself, for your loved ones, and for the world in which we live.

VOTE  Tuesday, November 6th, 2018!votemontage

And if you are really impassioned with your candidates, then get involved in those campaigns and help others understand why those folks most appeal to you.

Those are things that you can do.

When it comes to the President of our country, I honestly can’t think of anything nice to say about him—NOTHING—NADA.   So I will actively promote positive changes for the people that I can easily speak well of.

Recognize that this is your chance to make a difference around you—get involved in positive change and work toward a better future for ALL of us—not just for the richest 1 percent, of which I will also say nothing good about, so they shall remain unmentioned.

Stand up—speak out—and organize your friends to make positive changes in our world. These are things that you CAN do.

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So just DO IT!

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The Quest for What We Lack: Part Two—Family Reunions

reunion-cartoon.jpgTis the season for family reunions and family gatherings in general, involving picnics and potlucks and people you seldom see all gathered together playing nice (sort of) for a few hours.

It’s a time to clamp your jaw shut and hold your clever comebacks at the rude, intrusive, in-your-face questions—a time to curb your overwhelming desire to tell off the perpetually-mouthy aunt or the ever-drunken uncle (or role-play vice-versa)—a time to not snap at the obnoxious kids in your face all vying for attention and exuding their excessive “look at me-ness”—a time for staring with slack-jawed disbelief at all those people gathered together in this park to whom you are supposedly related and your saying aloud to yourself, “Uh-uh….NOPE…..that’s not in my genes—NO way—NO how!”minioncircus.jpg

But you know that they really are.

And these are the better thoughts you’re having at that yearly, quality “family-gathering time.”

The worse thoughts throbbing at your temples during the group get-togethers are the “family secret” thoughts that make you watch Uncle Sonny or Uncle Dicky as closely as possible, especially when little ones are near him—watch for the tell-tale enticement tricks he may have once used on you or your siblings—the “Come over here, little Suzy. Come and sit on Uncle Sonny’s lap.”  Or the little tickle games, he used to play. Or the little grabs he made when others weren’t watching and you were too unclebadtouch.jpgshocked or scared to say “Don’t do that!”—the little secrets he told you to keep just between you and him—and “Oh, here’s a shiny, silver dollar just for you if you don’t say anything to your mommy about us.”

Oh yes.  I know about Uncle Sonny and Uncle Dicky, both personally and in the late-night tales from female-adolescent slumber parties—I’ve heard the warnings not to be alone with such-and-such—to ignore such-and-such’s enticements or “games”—to watch at the next gathering for how Uncle Dicky avoids certain older adolescent family members that he once used to excessively dote on.  Yes, Uncle Dicky is a family secret—except he’s not really a secret. Nor should his behavior ever be one.

Yes, these folks, no matter how questionable some might be, are all a part of our genetic pool. Perhaps some families have a few more perversion-inclined members than others, but all families have at least one or two of them, just as all families have members who are openly addicted to drugs, alcohol, and porn.  These aren’t things that you should ignore and pretend aren’t affecting others, because they definitely do affect them—especially the vulnerable, young ones.

I’ll honestly admit that I’ve always hated family mazine not coming.jpggatherings—both with my own family and my long-time friend’s family.  The ones I’ve personally participated in, especially from childhood, were cringe-worthy for me and felt downright alien. Not only did I NOT feel like a part of that group—I wasn’t sure I ever wanted to be considered a part of them.  So I have a hard time relating to the positive experience of family reunions that others crow about.

After seeing a few sets of my friends’ family-reunion photos on Facebook, I was thinking intensely about this family-gathering hostility that I still harbor; and the question arose in my mind wondering what about this family-reunion experience appeals to the folks who DO like to attend them?

I know old folks like to gather all the little chicks around and say “See what I did with my oldfolkreunionlife?!!!  Here they are—right here! You all came from ME! Aren’t I proud? Look what I did. I made ALL of YOU!”

I get that part. I’ve heard older folks say that very thing as justification for why we were all torturing ourselves playing nice for parents and grandparents during that required togetherness time.

And many folks feel that family reunions carry on traditions and ancestral heritage—long sheets of genealogical trees are spread out on picnic tables while gnarled fingers trace lineage from some distant relation in some far away land—an ancient relative who once traveled the greatest adventure of his and her life by coming to America to create this new life here for all of us—even for Uncle Sonny and Uncle Dicky, bless their pathetic, perverted hearts.

Once in awhile, the old folks exclaim with glee queentree.jpgpointing at the far-right tree branch, this part of the family tree produced some genuinely PERFECT fruits—real peaches who made the perfect peach marmalade or jam and produced the PERFECT offspring themselves who did likewise, etc..   “Look what this branch over here produced—all these great people—they are all relatives of ours! Look how successful or prominent they were/are.”

Implied, of course, is that that branch’s success meant that the entire tree trunk must have value. And likewise, so do we—even if we can’t see it materially at this time, but we know that one of our future direct ancestors might prove us worthy of having existed at this less-than-ideal time of us personally. It gives us hope for our future redemption.

I guess our weakness as human beings is that we long for connection to others—long for belonging to the greater tribe—long for some verification of our existential validity. Genealogical tracings seem to give some folks great comfort.  I can acknowledge this fact, but I’m also not maxinespeakstruthone of those folks.

“We carry their bloodline,” we say if they are positive role models for us; and if they aren’t we say, “Must have been some overnight fling with a fly-by-nighter that slipped into our lineage. They aren’t really OUR kin.  We sure don’t claim them.”  (Ever think that on someone else’s lineage tree, they don’t claim you either?)

So while I do understand that some folks really get into family reunions, to me it is another one of those quests to determine what it is that we lack in ourselves that we try to find in others and in their familial relationships to us.  What hollowness within us do we keep trying to fill in our search for definable connection to our heritage and bloodline?

disfunctionfamily56.pngAnd when we occasionally run across our own version of an Uncle Sonny or an Uncle Dicky, do we likewise just shake our heads and say “Nope!  Not in MY family tree!”

Or do we risk alienation from the family to do something about it, and make the family secrets stop?

I shouldn’t even have to ask that question.

The Quest for What We Lack

For some strange reason, the Tin Man from “The Wizard of Oz” kept coming intotinmanwizoz5.jpg my head this morning, saying, “If I only had a heart…”    And I of course assumed my subconscious was referring to the large “Orange One” on stage with all his daily ranting and conspiratorial lunacy. Yes, if HE only had a heart instead of that huge black hole swirling in his voluminous body.

But, he doesn’t.

So then my mind continued the “Wiz of OZ” analogy with the Cowardly Lion, who must be Congress, right?  If Congress only had the courage to stand up for our democracy’s constitution.  Yes, if only.

wizoz70thannOkay by now I’m paying attention and trying to determine who the other main players are in this mind-game parody.  Who is left: the Scarecrow, Dorothy and Toto, the Wiz himself, besides the witches good and bad, and Auntie Em.   Cheering Munchkins and Flying Monkeys must be all the rest of us, I assume, maybe representing our good and bad angels.

To me the main message of “The Wizard of Oz” depicts the search for self-awareness—where all characters set out to find the qualities that they think they lack in themselveslike the quest for self-knowledge and self-actualization.  And if we were to carry this into our present situation, I’d have to say that I think the large “Orange One” is too self-consumed to ever be self-aware, so I’ll make the analogous connections for him.

Back to matching characters to our current situation, I think Toto—the little dog—is Dorothy’s subconscious trying to guide her back to safety and sanity.

The Scarecrow was looking for a brain, right?  Or did he just represent innocence and ignorance? Who could that be, eh?  I know who I think it represents but I hate to say it here, so you’ll just have to guess.sepiadorothy6.png

But who is Dorothy?  Dorothy who searches to find who she really is and to make her way back “HOME” –who does Dorothy represent?  I think Dorothy represents the American ideal of who we are as a people trying to find our way back to being compassionate human beings who believed in fairness, equality, and the right to self-determination.

Then what does the Wizard lack and who does he represent?  Hmmm.  Well, in the show he’s a con-man.  He’s a fraud.  He pretends to know all the answers.  He tricks people.  He wizbehindcurtain67.jpgruns a phony operation to gain respect and demand adulation, but he is basically insecure and impotent.  Hmmmm. Who could that be??????

Perhaps the Prez can play two parts in this mind-parody: Tin Man and Oz Wiz.

So that leaves the good and bad witches and Auntie Em left to assess.

The witch dichotomy is dependent on your political affiliation, so I’ll leave that for personal consideration, but Auntie Em, … the maternal figure who is Dorothy’s stand-in auntieemsymbol45mother during these harsh-life conditions—who represents the safety and security of a stable, can’t–be-blown-away-by-a-tornado HOME.

She could be the symbol of Lady Liberty—the American ideological standard bearer, don’t you think?  Auntie Em as Lady Liberty.  “Bring me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free…”  Yes, I can see that.

So, let’s bring it home here ourselves:  What is it that we the citizens of this once great country lack here, that we keep searching for in all the wrong places, …with all the wrong characters?

That’s a really good question.

characterscartoonwizozWhat do we feel that we aren’twhat do we feel that we lack—that we are trying so hard to make up for by being so gullible and naïve to believe a guy who stands behind the curtain, pulling levers and pushing buttons to make as much chaos as possible for us in our world?

Maybe as a nation of people searching for true, wise leadership, we feel that we lack genuine moral character ourselves and keep trying to find it in others who only play facsimiles of those roles on television.

[Moral character: The concept of character can imply a variety of attributes including the existence or lack of virtues such as empathy, courage, fortitude, honesty, and loyalty, or of good behaviors or habits.” ]

Yes, I think we fear that as individuals we do lack moral character and instead we look for quality leadership in others to help us make it through more challenging times, rather than believing in ourselves to rise above whatever difficulties we might face.

The main problem for many of us in today’s world is that we have no idea where the attributes of moral character and quality leadership can be found, but I’m pretty sure that they aren’t behind that curtain with the Wiz. youhadthepowerallalong6.png

Let’s look in the mirror instead, because I think the entire point of “The Wizard of Oz” show was to say that’s where genuine moral character and self-determination were to be found all along.

On Being Positive

If folks think that maintaining a positive attitude in today’s world comes easily, I can posemotibunch.jpgassure them that it isn’t.

When we are enveloped in such blatant cruelty to other human beings—strafed daily with offensive, verbal assaults on our person and our differing ideas—staying positive through all of THAT is quite a trick.

Every morning we have to armor up and set our defense shields to “DEFLECT” just tosupersademotri.png make it through the day. That’s a little sad, don’t you think? (Insert SAD- face emoji here for emphasis.)

Yesterday I watched a lovely, gentle person I know try to defend her immigration/child separation Facebook posts against cruel, heartless comments that countered her message.  I offered my simple “HEART-LIKE” (insert HEART emoji here) to her just to let her know that I stand hearteoti9with her, if only from a distance; but at the same time I know that when we engage on social media with people who strongly disagree with us and disagree with who we are as loving individuals, then they are NOT really our friends, even though they might be on our FRIENDS list.

And if we can’t handle their unkind comments, then we must either remove them as our FRIENDS or stay off the PUBLIC airwaves—it’s that simple.  But then it isn’t really simple, is it?  In fact, it’s a large, complex issue that isn’t going away anytime soon.

Unfortunately the level of venom in today’s public discussion has reached such fever ick emoti8.pngpitch that it’s like watching a foot-long hotdog being torn apart by two ravenous dogs. Something’s gonna give there—and within seconds that once-whole hotdog will never be seen again—at least in the same form that it previously was. (Insert “ICK!” emoji here.)

How can we be positive about the present state of our declining human condition?

A couple days ago I heard someone on a news show discussing what was happening to our sense of civility in general; and this person said something that I agree with: We are in an unmasking period in human interaction where the “shadow-side” of human nature is dislikeemoti84.jpgrising to the surface for all to view and assess.  No more pretending to “tolerate” others. (Never did like that word “tolerate”)

I agree.  Clearly we don’t tolerate dissension now. We don’t tolerate views that differ from our own. We don’t tolerate people who do not look like us or act like us, or talk like us. We don’t rise above our prejudices or biases—we embrace them, right? We remove the mask and say “Hey those of YOU who do not look or think, or act like me, … I hate you! And I’m proud of hating you!  So there!  Deal with it!”

As we now look closely at that unmasking of our deepest and darkest human natures, we say, “Yes, bigotry and prejudice, and racism, and homophobia, and xenophobia, etc….YES, …these all exist in our present world society and in each of us to some degree; and we are not as culturally and consciously advanced as the civilized people that we once believed our nation and the people who compose it, were thought to be.  We are barbarians still—pure and simple—we are still immersed in our primal fears of scarcity and fears of personal annihilation, and we are incapable of rising above those fears!”

We fear “otherness” in general, and in today’s permissive environment we act out those fears in the most putrefying and nauseating ways imaginable.horrifying emoti5

And that’s not just emoji “SAD-face” folks—that is emoji horrifying!    (Insert that nasty thing here.)

 

But yet, ….the POSITIVE from this great unmasking is that people can no longer hide behind who they once pretended to be—because they have been unmasked–unmasked by themselves in all their acrimonious glory–they have all exposed themselves for their true feelings on just about every imaginable subject—whether you wanted to know them or not.

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(Insert big “SMILEY-face” here.) ……

 

No, …that’s the “GAG-me” emoji.

Such a Strange Time

Much of our lives we live in a state of relativity.  One moment often slips by unnoticed to the next moment until we start to gauge our happiness or unhappiness by how long that strangetime8.jpgfeeling lingers for us.  Our comfort or discomfort levels with life are often relative to how long the situation lasts and how prepared we are to endure it.

But this time in which we now live is actually quite strange in itself—it is the epitome of global uncertainty with an epicenter in total chaos served up for our breakfast, lunch and dinner.  Bon appetite!  But be prepared for gastronomic distress.

Even the energies in general of this time period are disruptive and pot-stirring.  Example bullshitcoin.jpgbeing: You can’t watch two world-class crazies who have been vehemently threatening to eliminate all of mankind with nuclear war for the past year, suddenly flip positions and now meet in a well-guarded luxury location for the main purpose of photo-ops and media coverage pretending that it is for “world peace,”… and not feel a bit surreal about the situation that you are witnessing.

Not to mention that their key negotiation point seems to be: Who is going to pay the hotel bill at the 5-star in Singapore?

Or watch the President of the United States give the finger to our strongest allies yesterday at the G7 while encouraging Russia to “come on back and make it the G8 again, merkeltrumparmscrossed.jpgbecause we miss you.”  Never mind that you invaded a neighboring country, seized their land and main sea port, and killed thousands of their people, not to mention you shot down a passenger jet over Ukraine, all the while tampering with the elections of the entire rest of the free world for the last three years. No problem, Vlad.  Donnie says come home—all is forgiven.

If novelists and playwrights wrote this stuff no one would read it or watch the show—it’s just too unhinged from reality.

Good guys and bad guys are all starting to blend together when you can’t tell where one begins and the other ends without a program; but the programs are provided by the good guys/bad guys themselves so you know that you can’t even trust their “prepared truth” to be actually truthful.

I mean even FOX NEWS viewers are purportedly getting media fatigue from all the blatant, never-ending lies and constant yammering about conspiracy theories and perpetual, presidential victimhood.

I know I’m getting a headache from shaking my head so frequently at what constitutes for NEWS in general these days. Seems the less I watch it the better mood I’m in. That’s simply ridiculous!newsin blue.jpg

What’s wrong with this picture???!!!

The NEWS itself has become nothing more than a propaganda factory of distortion and lies.  Even talking about the open-floodgate of lies penetrating the airwaves at present, only enhances them.

This isn’t just shaky ground we are trying to stand on my friends—this is murky, liquidy, never-setting JELLO we’ve found ourselves imbedded in like little pineapple chunks and cottage cheese in your grandmothers old lime-gelatin mold.

It’s not a good feeling nor will it be a palatable outcome no matter how long that mess refrigerates.

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The ‘Believability’ Factor

As an avid reader, I finished another book today. This one was fiction, and was a collection of one author’s nine short stories compiled into book form. She was a newer panashreal.jpgauthor with impressive academic credentials, not to mention a few awards under her looks-to-be-slim belt.

At times when reading I thought she was very skilled at the nuances of story-telling, and then there were other times when I thought, “Oops, … she just lost me there. Her inexperience is showing—her youthfulness has side-tracked a believable sequence of events, or disrupted a once-believable character study.”

She simply hadn’t lived enough of life to make those character interactions truly believable, nor had she been in enough difficult situations to portray what likely happens to those unfortunate people who do become involved in them. Even fantasy writing has to be “believable” to fully engage the reader.believ78.jpg

While she had mastered the word skills, she lacked believability in her accounting of the tales to make the book commercially viable and recommendable to others.

And other than as a book review, this matters here why?

In today’s world where ‘believability’ and ‘credibility’ are under constant assault by the supposed leaders of our nation, what was so offensive to me about a fiction/fantasy book that didn’t seem real enough?

Well as a writer, I know that the best quality fiction reads as though it were absolute believastory81.pngfact—like you could walk out your front door one morning and experience those very same strange interactions yourself and relate completely to what the book’s characters were feeling, saying, and stewing-about-doing in them.  Conspiracy theorists wouldn’t even have to stretch to claim that situations such as these had actually happened, because it simply seemed real enough to be a likely occurrence with believable character interactions given the entirety of the proposed situation. That’s good writing.

Whereas in this present reality-as-we-know-it, as an actual person living in this democratic country on the verge of major internal insurrection, I also know that we hold “facts” as being the basis for any federal investigation and that there are NO such things as “alternative facts” allowed in those, despite what the President’s “reality-show” counselor seems to imply.snlpresident show.jpg

It just doesn’t happen.  Laws are well-defined. The constitution is fairly specific on possible considerations and limitations. There are evidence-based criteria for a jury to consider. You can’t just spin a yarn and expect the people who actually have the facts at hand, to believe it.

So despite the fantasies portrayed by the President and his co-conspirators in this distraction of the Mueller probe and truth-dodge of what actually occurred prior and since his election to the office, the story line for this timeframe doesn’t have to just seem believable; it actually has to be the truth.

People may have read a fiction novel and engaged with it so completely that they claimed it was factual, even when it wasn’t.  That might be delusional on the reader’s part, but that is simply good writing by a skilled author.

But a President of the United States cannot spin one yarn after another nor hoist one surviverealitytv.jpgconspiracy theory after another up the flagpole to see who salutes it then expect the judicial branch of the government to not have (or use) corroborating or refuting evidence to substantiate or dismiss the claims made.

The actual Presidency of the United States of America is not a “Reality Show” where truth is what the main character claims it to be. That’s the fantasy Presidency—and that show is PURE FICTION.

The true Presidency is the top administrative office of the land meant to exemplify supreme integrity and purposeful leadership that holds democracy and the American values to the highest standards for all—both in our nation and throughout the world.

It is NOT one man’s sandbox for building fantasy scenarios to demolish our constitutional underpinnings.

It is NOT his propaganda factory for creating a personal, bullet-proof empire guarded by the Nation’s Secret Service with intelligence and law enforcement professionals at his disposal per his every whim.

It is NOT his latest lucrative business enterprise peddling influence and commemorative coins for selling our national defense down the sewer for higher media ratings.

This President’s believability factor has bottomed out to zero.   johntruthtrumEven FOX News is disputing his latest accounts.  There are many now who simply don’t buy his fictional plotlines.

Unfortunately, we’ll have to wait until the last page of this “book” to see how the story ends.

But I don’t think it will turn out well for any of us.

 

“Blowciferousnous”

There.  I’ve created the perfect descriptor for politicians who try to cash in on tragedies just to get their own mugs on the evening news and to hear themselves “blowfuscate” about flagrant injustices occurring near them while pushing their own tainted agendas that helped create the very situation they are now railing against.  Most politicians in today’s world are nothing more than “blowciferous.”3ofhtenotsamekind.jpg

Political blowhards like to hear themselves talk—a lot! And they really prefer a captive audience like they can garner at press briefings after the latest school shooting. Senators, governors, the president—they all line up to so sadly address the cameras with meaningless platitudes and empty promises for a better tomorrow than today had unfortunately turned out to be.

Vociferousness is what they offer—a vocal outcry for pseudo-reform that isn’t really reform at all—just meaningless noise from a propagator whose sole purpose was to appear at the news conference itself—not to help those in the aftermath who are genuinely scared or are grieving with deep loss—but to step in front of the gathered crowd and act like they are taking charge of the situation, when instead they are the very people who have helped to create it.

Blowhards obfuscate—they shout their indignation to obscure the situation’s genuine meaning and manipulate the truth of what has actually occurred.

Blowciferous politicians bewilder their listeners with coarse banality and unintelligible logic. They portray themselves as champions for social change, when of course, they are just the opposite.  Status quo serves them far too well to support meaningful change in our society and culture.

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Any tragedy deserves heartfelt sympathy, as do the people who are most affected by the loss of loved ones. To them there are no words that can ease the depth of their pain—no “our hearts and prayers go out to the families” bullshit spoken far too frequently and with less and less conviction each time repeated.

And absolutely NO ONE deserves self-serving politicians trying to cash in on the latest school shooting with no other remedy for protecting our kids than to “arm the teachers.”

In my humble opinion, NRA-loving politicians should be careful with those suggestions.

If you arm enough teachers as the primary solution to our most serious social problems, you might not be around long to witness the result of your actions because teachers are already pretty fed up putting their own lives on the line day after day—without receiving combat pay.  Even teachers have limited patience when their elected officials refuse to do their jobs.

The real solution:  Don’t add more guns to schools!

Make the change at the ballot box—change representatives.  Eliminate gun lobbies. Stop celebrating the gun culture.

It’s time for meaningful social change and time for a new breed of representatives of peace-loving people.

No more “blowciferous” politicians!  Tell them simply: “Do your job or be thrown out.”

And then actually DO IT.giffordsquote.jpg