I have a right to …

Fill in the blank.  I have a right to go to the beach, to get a haircut, to attend church … Well, I have a right to be sick of hearing about what you have a right to!  Yes, we all have rights and suddenly everyone seems to be an expert on yelling about their first amendment rights.  It’s true, and in a nutshell the first amendment does indeed guarantee freedom of religion, freedom of speech, freedom of the press, the right to assemble, and the right to petition the government.  Like Matthew 5:45 who wrote “The rain falls on the just and the unjust” … the first amendment falls on the intelligent and the ignorant.  Yes, you have a right to free speech but you do NOT have the right to yell fire in a theater.  You have the right to free speech, but you do not have the right to incite hatred and violence (racism, discrimination, etc).  They are called “hate crimes” not “free speech” crimes.  Freedom of speech does not mean you can say any old thing that comes into your head, and once upon a time, people knew the difference.

This nation has been permeated with this toxic “me first” mentality.  If the fish rots from the head down, then this nation has gone petulant from the president down.  He espouses true rights with false logic, and on the subject of religion, obviously knows not of what he speaks.  Another Matthew quote (18:20) “When two are three are gathered together in My name, I am there…”.  Church may technically be building, but spiritually, church is anywhere and everywhere.  I have felt closer to God, alone, kayaking, with only the sounds of the water and the birds.  Church can allow us to worship as a physical, tangible group … but restriction from being inside the physical structure does not prevent us from being with God and with modern technology, we can worship virtually.

Opening churches has become political.  Wearing a mask has become political.  Why?  It seems that in the advent of the “make me great again” mentality, it’s all about MY rights.  Keeping me from working, from going to the beach, from hitting the bar is somehow infringing on those rights.  Being unable to work is truly causing suffering for a great many people, and there doesn’t seem to be any way around it. It’s not fair and we, as a nation, as a government need to do all we can to help those affected.  Slowly some business are working out plans to use the social distancing guidelines to be able to reopen.  But, let me emphasis this … if you are sick or dead … whether or not you have a job is going to be a moot point.  You may be willing to risk your own life, but do you stop to consider the lives of those around you?  All those people that holler “Give me liberty or give me death” might just have to amend that placard to say “Give me liberty and give me death” and I really hope they don’t get their wish.  For all those people who claim this whole pandemic is some kind of liberal media hoax … visit 96,000 graves.  Talk to 96,000 families.  Tell the doctors and nurses it’s a hoax.  Go on, I dare you.  But know this, as much as you yell and scream about the health care system being part of some conspiracy theory … those same doctors and nurses will take care of you if you were to become ill.  Think about that for a minute.

It’s this simple.  Wearing a mask is protecting other people.  Social distancing is protecting other people.  Since when did looking out for other people become political?  Since when did denying yourself in protect others become political?  I don’t know, but I have a strong feeling it started on a Tuesday back in November, 2016.

When might makes wrong…

A disturbing wave of “protests” have reared their ugly and misguided heads as of late, and I find the “reasoning” behind these protests somewhat confusing.  I use the term “reasoning” with quite a bit of generosity in the direction of the people for whom it aimed.  These “liberate (insert name of state here)” cries from (often) MAGA hat wearing, flag waving, truly misguided people is worse that confusing, it is dangerous.

While their anger at the situation is understandable, to blame the government for “imprisoning” them at home is wrong.  Of course they feel helpless, desperate, confused and scared … those are very common emotions these days.  Everyone is likely one or more of the above.  Even if you are able to work from home, it’s still a stressful time.  You might have to juggle kids trying to do distance learning while you are trying to work. And if you are one of the essential workers, from garbage collectors to cashiers to a nurse or doctor (and bless you if you are), you’d likely rather stay home than go to work knowing the dangers and stress you will face.

And the president isn’t helping.  He will never admit to it, but statements like “they are very good people” is most certainly a spur to encourage their protests.  It is validation from the most powerful and important person, for many in the crowd at least.

To turn on the t.v. and see people, in crowds no less, demanding and chanting “open our state” must make your blood boil.  It sure sets me off.  Don’t these people understand this lock down is for their own good?  God, I feel like I am talking about a group of unruly kids “this is for your own good” instead of grown up, supposedly mature men and women.  What good is everyone going back to work when the virus is still out there, undetected in many people?  You are willing to risk your life for the freedom you imagine has been taken away from you?  You are willing to risk your life for a paycheck?

Well, risk your own life as much as you like, just don’t you dare risk mine.

 

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This young girl in Haiti lives very much without the basics that we take for granted.  And now, when we’re chaffing at the bit about having to stay inside and social distance from our routine, I wonder how she is doing.  While we’re hoarding toilet paper like it’s the zombie apocalypse, she still has to fetch water from a common tap.  We have the luxury of Grubhub and Doordash.  Of working indoor plumbing.  We worry about the coronavirus but don’t spend any time fearing an outbreak of cholera.  I don’t mean to minimize our fears, because they are very real with very real consequences.  I am still recovering from a serious lung infection and, while I feel 100%, my body is still healing.  This coronavirus could send me back into ICU, or worse – so yes, I am concerned.

This situation is a wake-up call for the world.  Of just how interconnected we are, and how no “big beautiful wall” can keep out danger, real or imagined.  It is also showing our penchant for prejudice.  Here, Chinese-Americans are being spit on, yelled at, or otherwise verbally attacked, according to an article in the New York Times.  It doesn’t help that our “leader” insists on calling it “the Chinese virus”.

This is the time to face facts, to react with calm deliberation, and to look out for our neighbors whether they be across the street or on the other side of the globe.  We can’t directly help China or Italy, but we can stop bigots from attacking people for simply being of a certain ethnic origin.

We can stop hoarding supplies and stop the self-fulfilling prophesy of shortages.  Buy what you need, realize the supply chain is still intact and that the coronavirus does not give you diarrhea so there’s no need to turn your bathroom cabinets into your own version of Sam’s Club.  We can, if financially viable, get a take-away from a local restaurant a little more often.  We can pray for those who cannot work from home and have lost their precious income, but as an old Russian proverb goes, “Pray to God, but row towards shore”.  In other words, keep giving to your house of worship, keep donating to food banks, keep giving blood, keep supporting international aide groups.  It is all needed now more than ever.

 

 

My year in review …

Writing is hard work … the muse doesn’t necessarily strike every day, and in my case, the muse has been missing since early November.  What to write about when nothing comes to mind?  Pros have discipline, and probably a few tricks to get them past the blank page.  I have ADD and too many TV channels.

So, going with the flow of “Looking back at 2018” as the media is wont to do this time of year … I thought I’d take a look back at how the year went for me, sort of do a little inventory of things.

January: Intermittent fasting … bust.  Partridge family obsession still going strong.  Crypto-currency experiment … expensive (and not in a good way).

February – March:  apparently nothing of note occurred.  Or nothing worth writing about.

April: Marched on Washington for sensible gun control.  Broke shoulder and tore rotator cuff falling off bike at speed.  Bike, however, not a scratch. 

May: Railed on cyclist who don’t obey the rules of the road.  Started rehab on broken shoulder.  Impatient for results.

June: Tried Grubhub … not an overwhelming success.  Burger never left the restaurant.  Ended up with cereal for dinner.  Again.  Pondered visit to Haiti vs being a blood donor.  

July:  Actually took a vacation.  Tried to get the most out of every moment while also relaxing and getting some rest.  It’s the windmill I tilt at.

August: Gave in to impulse and bought e-bike.  Joined the ranks of the cyclist commuter.  Realized how little cars pay attention to cyclist.

September: Accused of being a traitor by co-worker for daring to express a dissenting opinion of our idiot president.  All things being equal, I considered it a great compliment.

October:  Art projects took a decidedly abstract path.  Generally unsettled and unreasonably annoyed.  Pondered getting in touch with former brother-in-law as a means to spy on ex.  Wisely decided against it.

November: Chatted up on Instagram by what seemed like a very nice guy.  Flattered but wary.  Then he claimed to be a three star general.  Really?  A three star general hanging out on Instagram?  Alarm bells ring … pressed him for a video chat which he avoided.  Blocked the account.  

Which brings us to December.  So, what have I learned this year?  Ordering clothing on the internet is a tricky thing at best.  There are all kinds of fakers hanging out in e-space.  Broken bones take way too long to heal.  Electric bikes are way cool.  I’m happy being single.  The joy of cake-in-a-cup … desert in 90 seconds!  Discipline, like patience, is a virtue which I will always struggle with.  And, meal kits are great!  

2019 will start with rotator cuff surgery … but, hey, things are bound to improve from there!

Cheers from 2018, see you in the New Year!

Guilty as charged …

Because of a couple of bumper stickers on my car, a co-worker all but called me treasonous.  These are the times in which we live, that daring to voice an opinion contrary to the current administration is considered treasonous.  Sorry … but I thought we lived in a democracy … at least we were when I got up this morning.

Where I work, it’s mostly male, mostly white, mostly prior military, and decidedly republican.  Liberal democrats are tolerated as long as we keep our mouths shut and our opinions to ourselves.  It’s a quiet truce, but emotions simmer just under the surface.

So what happened this morning to elicit the accusation of “treason”?  A couple of the old guard came in, bemoaning the bumper stickers on my car.  A pink revolution bumper sticker from the woman’s march, and another bumper sticker suggesting the GOP ought to be replaced from their attempt to destroy the ACA.

Treasonous?  Seriously?  A land where dissenting opinions aren’t tolerated is a dictatorship … rather like the ones trump seems to be such a fan of judging by the admiration he lavishes on their leaders.  And as long as we do live in a democracy, it’s our right … no, our duty to speak up, to question, to challenge.  You want to call me treasonous for that?  Then I’m proudly guilty.

Enough is enough …

I can’t take it anymore.  The lies coming from the white house and the republican establishment are mind boggling in their sheer nerve and volume.  While trump continues to blindly maintain it’s not his fault, children and their parents are being forced apart, held separately, having no idea when they’ll be reunited.  There’s no such law, contrary to what trump seems to believe.  According to the Washington Post, it’s not so much a law as it is “a collection of policies and court rulings”.  Of which, trump summarily decided to lay down the no-exception edict … of of which trump can rescind anytime he wants to.

Where are the republicans?  What’s with the silent majority?  They appear to fuss and fidget and wring their hands with concern and dismay … but where is their action?  Where is their outrage?  Where are their balls? The republicans own the house, the senate, and the white house, for crying out loud … and they say the democrats are the holdup?!

Actions speak louder than words and their lack of action speaks volumes.  Come mid-term elections the actions of the voters may just leave them speechless, and they’ll only have themselves to blame.

Pardon me …

I’m getting ready to take a vacation … first one in … um … three years?  People have been coming to visit me the past few years.  One of the perks to living near the nations capital. Welcome your guest, hand them a metro map and see you later!  This time, however, I’ll be the one traveling.  And, to be honest, I’m a bit nervous.  No … not afraid of flying (just afraid of flying coach), it’s not one of your typical travel phobias.  I’m nervous because of the idiot trump.

Our global reputation is, well, kind of in the toilet.  We back out of the Paris climate accord, tear up the Iran nuclear deal, and piss off who knows how many foreign leaders.  We label every Mexican refugee as a murderer or rapist, automatically separate parents and children at the border … we pick a fight with Canada   Canada!  The worst thing about Canadians is … well, nothing.  Some mental dustball in the trump administration accuses Canada of “stabbing us in the back”, yet North Korea’s leader?  He is called honorable, and someone who loves his people.  Yeah, loves them to death – that kind of love they could live without.  Literally.

When did we start sucking up to ruthless dictators and shoving loyal friends to the side?  I’m just glad I’m not traveling to Canada.  As it is, I feel like wearing a t-shirt that reads, “I’m sorry, I didn’t vote for him”.  This man represents us!  For better or worse, our president is the face of our country and, in the case of the idiot trump, it’s definitely for worse.

When he’s not cozying up to Putin, he’s pardoning everyone in sight.  Now, Jack Johnson, that one I agree with.  And, the first time offender grandmother, a life sentence did seem a little harsh.  But the rest?  He couldn’t be sending a more obvious  message to his co-conspiritators.  “Don’t worry … hold tight and there’s a pardon coming your way”.  I wonder if justice will ever be served?  If it is, for how long?  Putin must surely be chuckling all the way to the bank.

And, now, I will travel abroad … to countries that trump, not so very long ago, just about spit in the eye of.  Sat with arms crossed like a petulant toddler in front of.  Refusing to sign the traditional G-7 summit. I know I don’t judge other people harshly because their particular government might say or do something stupid … I can only hope to get the same.

A new spin on delivery …

Grubhub.  Just placed my first order with this service … a sudden craving for a crispy chicken sandwich with a side of fries combined with the unwillingness to leave the house prodded me to order from Red Robin.  Yes, I could have saved the $6.99 delivery fee by getting in my car and driving less than five miles to the restaurant, but … I don’t feel like it.  I justify it by saying I’ll save gas and it looks like it’s going to rain.  But, mainly, I’m feeling lazy.  Such a first world problem, it’s almost embarrassing.

I’m watching CNN which is currently running a story on how about 10 – 11,000 people in Puerto Rico are still without power, 9 months after Hurricane Maria.  Nine months without power.  Imagine.  It’s hot, it’s humid, you can’t run fans let alone air conditioners.  You certainly can’t hop online and, with a few keystrokes, order a chicken sandwich with a side of fries.  And these people are as much American citizens as I am, sitting here in my comfortable townhouse in Northern Virginia.  Having grown up in Florida, I’m well acquainted with the heat and humidity of summer months … as well as being without power from a tropical storm or hurricane.  It’s miserable.  You can’t sleep for the want of a breath of fresh air, and – even if you had means of cooking – being around a hot stove or fire is the last thing you want.

We should have done better by Puerto Rico.  The idiot trump missed the boat as well as the point, throwing paper towels into the crowd and saying they only had a few reported casualties vs the hundreds lost in Katrina.  Bet the families of those “few” casualties have different feelings on the matter.

So, I sit here … waiting for my chicken sandwich with a side of fries … just a bit more aware and a bit more thankful.

 

Again.

I was all set to blog an update of my injured shoulder when the news broke, another school shooting.  Another lockdown, another scene of kids running for safety, another scene of police responding, another scene of frantic parents.

Where are you now, you second-amendment God given right to own a gun owners who value your rifles and pistols above common sense gun laws that might have saved 10 lives today?

Where are you now, you lip service to caring for the people politicians who value your re-election race above enacting laws that might have saved 10 lives today?

Don’t send prayers and thoughts, do something.  Take action.  Now.

Another march on Washington

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You may have seen it on the news … what am I saying, you couldn’t avoid it on the news.  The big march, the biggest march yet … the “March for our lives”.  Me, my neighbor’s son Tyler, and 800,000 others.  Led by children, by teenagers, by polished speakers not old enough to vote.  Yet.

They will be, and sooner than some people think.

It was an incredible experience.  I participated in the Women’s march on Washington back after the idiot-in-chief’s inauguration, and thought that march was mind blowing.  People in every directions, signs of all sizes and opinions, a feeling of camaraderie and hope that fighting back gives.

The March for our lives was all that and more.  So much energy and passion.  So many great speeches from young people – from survivors of the Parkland shooting to the grand-daughter of Martin Luther Kink, the oldest 17 – the youngest – 9.

Contrary to what some might think, the message isn’t “ban all guns” (although, if I could wish anything – it would be that), it’s ban some guns.  Guns that don’t belong in civilian hands, that have no place outside the military.  Guns who’s only purpose is massive carnage.  Our message is simple … we want sensible gun control.  You have to have a license to fish, for crying out loud, what’s wrong with having to have a license to own a gun?  To drive a car, you have to pass a test!  Why not have a gun safety test?  No one is taking away anyone’s right to bear arms … but let’s add some logic to the argument of “it’s my constitutional right”.  Let’s add something that is becoming rarer and rarer these days … Common Sense.