Champion

Today we are Champions of children capriciously imprisoned

And parents whose hearts have been shattered.

We willingly stand in the gap, as Champions do,

Between those who lead and those who can’t speak

Demanding absolute justice and compassion from our elected.

It’s really not so much to ask.

Today we are Champions.

We acknowledge that this fight is not over

We understand that a Champion follows through

One action begets another, and then another

And we commit to the last motion and the final moment.

Tomorrow we’ll be Champions.

While marching in unison is right and resonates

It is only the pre-game show, it’s only the first step.

Now that we’re home, we’ve got to call our leaders,

Remind them that children need their parents.

We’ve got to sacrifice a latte once a week

For a candidate that will bring dignity back to the Democracy.

When it’s all said and done we’ll be Champions.

We’ll vote so hard that we’re exhausted, but that’s okay.

‘Cause Champions push through even when they’ve nothing left to give.

They know that others depend upon them,

And there’s only one possible outcome:  victory.

Bomb us with a twitter storm, pollute our air with lies.

Our resolve is only strengthened, our conviction just more clear.

We are Champions today and forever,

For families and democracy,

We will not be deterred.

#Resistance

 

 

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Insomniac Citizen

 

I CAN’T SLEEP

My arms ache in solidarity with those mother’s whose babies were snatched from them without mercy.

I CAN’T SLEEP

The evil that sponsored yellow armbands not long ago is resurrecting itself in the form of yellow wristbands.

I CAN’T SLEEP

Rules that keep greedy bastards from cannibalizing our economy have been erased. I dread another economic bubble burst and the damage it will bring.

I CAN’T SLEEP

We have a president who spits in the face of everything good and decent our forefathers fought fiercely to employ.

I CAN’T SLEEP

We are raising an entire generation of children who are afraid to go to school for fear of being shot by one of their own, and our leaders do nothing to change that.

I CAN’T SLEEP

One-third of our government is refusing to act as a check and balance to the blatant destruction of the Constitution it swore to uphold.

I CAN’T SLEEP

The right of my sisters and I to make our own choices about our bodies is more and more abusively restricted by hypocritical men.

I CAN’T SLEEP

I am unable to fathom how a patriotic stand for justice and right can be so vilified by my fellow citizens.

I CAN’T SLEEP

Some of my brothers are engaging in Gestapo practices while wearing an American flag on their arms and I C E on their backs.

I CAN’T SLEEP

All of these torture my instincts and rub raw at my humanity. My conscious moves me to action. I can’t sleep, neither can I sit still.


Learning Manners

In a compendium of essays entitled “Dismantling the Empire,” Chalmers Johnson makes a sobering statement:  “America must learn what it means to be a third world nation, and the manners that go with it.”

It’s disconcerting to think of the US as a third world nation, exceptionalism and all that being preached in school.  Yet, there’s plenty of evidence that we’re on the brink of sliding into that category.

Social examples:  Maternal death rates in the southern US are alarmingly high for a developed world, especially among women of color. The suffering of tax-paying citizens of Flint, Michigan and the entire island of Puerto Rico are being blatantly ignored.  More and more homeless occupy our streets. Severe civil unrest and tension is prevalent in our news cycles.

Economic examples: Taxes slashed for the 1% while also cutting social services for the middle class and increasing military spending.  Fewer and fewer protections for the ‘average’ worker.  Grifting tax payer money to a leader’s coffers via golf trips and business meetings held at president’s owned venues. An EPA chief traveling first class using federal dollars.

Political examples:  A president deriding the fourth estate. A third of government refusing to act as a check and balance to the executive branch. A daughter and son-in-law of president sent abroad to represent the nation.  The exclusion of a political party to meetings on the fear of being held accountable.

How are we behaving as citizens facing the prospect of becoming one of those nations we’ve always sort of pitied?  Are we demonstrating manners of a third world nation?

Actually, maybe. I suggest that are manners are much too polite and subservient for a nation watching its democracy being burned faster than a doused flag.

We let it slide when Congress refused to work with the past president and shut down the government instead of working towards a compromise.  We let it slide when a SCOTUS seat was left vacant because Congress refused to do its job.  We didn’t take to the streets when the Tax and Jobs bill was being voted upon. We haven’t collectively voiced our support and protection of the Mueller investigation, and we seem to be rolling over at the notion that Congress will not even bring to vote a bill that protects an independent investigation into a foreign government’s meddling of our election process.  We aren’t being noisy enough about the current administrations lack of action in keeping the approaching election free from tampering. We are merely complaining on Twitter about a journalist being forcibly removed from a government (people) sponsored meeting.

While we’ve been a bit vocal about Trump’s America with two Women’s Marches, these have been somewhat vague and ultimately futile judging by the fact that the administration just announced its intent to withhold Title X funding which gives women access to affordable, educational reproductive health care.

If our manners, so far, have been too nice, too rooted in confidence of the words written in our constitution, and focused on winning the mid-terms, what’s the alternative?

-We also should be ‘atting’ congressional leaders, encouraging them to make a strong stand against the dictator president and be consistent in their messaging:  We have a man in office who is an authoritarian, we are a democracy.  We have a man in office who has capitulated to a hostile foreign government who is selling out our democracy. We should be unashamedly noisy about this.

-When the president is called out, we should liberally and publicly thank them. Rep. Pelosi and Sen. Schumer sent a letter calling out the president over a closed door meeting without Democrat representation,. Many, many others have been vocal about the assault on democracy coming out of the White House, thank them whether or not they are your representative.  Right now, they represent the Democracy, not just a constituency.

-We need to hold the press accountable. Journalists need to start using the word ‘dictator’ when stories like NFL owners requiring players to stand for the anthem are written.  The word ‘jingoism’ needs to be introduced into our conversations and its meaning pointed out in the demonstrable ways it’s rearing its head in our nation. News writers should be pushing back against obvious attacks on the profession, and repeatedly point out the benefits of a healthy, critical fourth estate.

Finally, we must march, and do so strictly for our Democracy.  Several times a day the current administration ignores past precedents, breaks common protocols and blatantly ignores the Constitution.  We must let it know that we see these sins against our nation, and they will not go unaccounted.  We must demand with a loud, singular voice, that Congress vote to protect the Special Counsel investigation.  We absolutely must demand that our leaders take preventative actions to ensure a safe, valid election occurs this November. We need to let Donald Trump know that we know he’s an illegitimate president and his lies hold no meaning to us.

I’ve been writing to MoveOn.org, Women’s March, March for our Lives, and recently added Millennial Politics to my list, asking them to come together to organize such a march.  I invite you to join me!  It’d be great if something were to occur around Independence Day, in celebration of, and in effort to keep that which our forefathers revered enough to institute: A government of, for, and by the people.

Mr. Johnson was prescient in his work ‘Blowback’ in that he all but predicted the 9/11 attack on our nation.  Let’s work together to prove him wrong about needing to learn the manners of third world nations, and instead display the manners of a justifiably angry citizenship determined to keep its Democracy in tact and functioning.

Write, tweet, ‘at’. Let’s make a #MarchforDemocracy reality.  I look forward to joining you in the streets.

Frankie


Heroic Democracy

Joseph Campbell enlightens us on the cycle of the hero story in his work “The Hero with a Thousand Faces.”  He explains that most cultural heroes (even Jesus) share common themes and they definitely follow a pattern of rise-fall-rise again but stronger.

I suggest that US Democracy is in a moment of its own heroic cycle.

There are some commonalities between US Democracy and Campbell’s exemplary heroes: Born of a meager background, thirteen colonies with not much else but trendsetting ideas and a strong sense of independence, carved themselves into a nation unlike any other of its time. Then follows a slow rise to prominence in the international limelight where its tenants of equality have been accepted by some, rejected by some.

Ironically, it’s the hometown that usually brings down the hero, so it is with our Democracy.  Our own leaders have aided the crucifixion of Democracy through inaction. Where the legislative branch normally checks and balances the executive, Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell have refused to intercept the blatant degradation of ethics by our current president and appear to happily allow a hostile, foreign nation to implant its fear mongering talking points into our national narrative.  Similar to Pontius Pilate, they have washed their hands of the issue, enabling the mob to raise Democracy up for a brutal death.

We now live in a moment of uncertainty where our hero has disappeared and many of us feel lost, hopeless, and betrayed. We huddle together in supportive groups, planning what next steps should be taken, eager to carry on the timeless ideas of Democracy, even while it struggles to overcome.

According to Campbell, heroes typically languish for a time in some dark depths before they are able to rise to greater heights, usually with the aid of some helper or assistant. While two short years of destruction and mayhem without Democracy may seem brief to some, we should deem it enough – we really don’t have the luxury of floundering (See Timothy Snyder’s “On Tyranny”).

We really do have the luxury of hope, however. There are helpers arriving in droves to ensure a resurrection.  There are those running for office, local and nationally, who bring the ideals of Democracy with them. There are those who work tirelessly to knock on doors, make phone calls, write letters, or offer their voice in some manner.  There are special elections won by citizens who espouse Democracy and its inherent equality.  There are donations of five or ten or hundreds of dollars going to women and men unwilling to cede to the Oligarchy, willing to bring Democracy back from the grave.

But it’s not just that Democracy will be revived, but that it will be revived stronger, more resilient, more powerful. You see, in every story, resurrection empowers the hero to  greater strength than it had before. If we can get it right this fall, if the #Bluewave2018 becomes a reality, then Democracy will have returned with a vengeance, ready to stand up to those from the outside who would delight in our complete demise, ready to send them running.

Fellow citizens, I submit that we are poised to see our hero, Democracy, rise from the ashes and shine brighter than before.  It is important to understand, however, that each of us is a needed helper to the cause.  Encourage one another, elucidate the good and right, get out of comfort zones and talk with each other, and we can resurrect our Democracy from the depths of darkness to be stronger, more vibrant, and more effective.

Yours, in peace.

Frankie


“Lord of the Flies” Adapted by Paul Ryan

Stands on the corner,"homeless - please help" sign

cardboard sign in hand.

Dirty clothes, ragged shoes,

I bet you stink to high heaven

You worthless piece of shit.

Weak for falling so far,

Where’s your self-respect?

You’ll get nothing from me,

Not even a moment’s compassion.

You don’t deserve it

If you can’t help yourself.

Not my fault your boyfriend is an alcoholic,

and you’d rather be homeless.

Doesn’t matter that you’re mentally ill,

Don’t care that you got fucked up in the war.

I got problems too,

But you won’t catch me begging.

So move on bum, outta my town,

off my corner, away from my view.

Your presence disturbs,

Your reality pricks,

your desperation smells.

You are my intolerable spectre.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Gun Talk

I had a conversation with a colleague the other day and he gave me the old “Guns don’t kill people, people with guns kill people.  I could set a gun on my desk right there and it wouldn’t kill a single person.”

Maybe, but I am certain I could never ignore a benign gun on a desk like I could ignore the tape dispenser or the sticky note pad or even the dagger-shaped letter opener. If I spot a gun on his desk, you can bet that I am going to approach him from a different perspective. I’m not going to be able to respect him based upon his intelligence, his level of articulation, or his knowledge; all of that would be eclipsed by the respect I had for the gun. Maybe he and I are cool and wouldn’t get to a point where we would reach for the weapon.  But what if a third party came into the setting?  What if derelict student came in, was having a bad day, and went for the gun?

What if none of those things happened and our interaction was uneventful? There remains a difficulty:  My experience with him would be eternally tied to that singular impression, and it’d be difficult for him to earn my respect based solely on his character.

Representative Ralph Norman made this hypothetical scene a reality the other day when he placed his .38 on a diner table during a meeting with his constituents. ” ‘I merely proved a point that guns themselves are not the issue,’…Norman said that having a loaded gun in the room should, if anything, have made people feel more safe.”  The point he actually proved was that energy of human interaction changes the second a gun is introduced. Instead of meaningful debate and a news story about discussion points, the emphasis was wholly on the presence of a gun. Everytown, an advocacy group seeking to end gun-violence in the US, was represented by Lori Freemon: “I had looked forward to a respectful dialogue with my representative about common-sense gun violence prevention policies. Instead, I felt unsafe when he insisted on showing us his loaded gun and keeping it out on the table for much of our conversation.”  The presence of a gun inherently invites the potential for harm and we will intuitively react by shutting out every other detail. There was no way this group of people could have a diplomatic discussion about the issue.

Consider another angle. Let’s compare two people arrested on attempted robbery charges.  All things being equal, if one of those is found to have a gun in their possession during the attempt, whether it was revealed or not, the consequences will be much worse than the one who merely had a knife or axe or baseball bat.  If it were just that  “guns don’t kill people” then it seems logical that both imagined perpetrators would be treated the same in a court. That isn’t the way it works. Because the presence of a gun exponentially increases the possibility and probability that someone will be harmed, even our courts treat the presence of a gun with stricter sentencing.

I’m done hearing the argument that “guns don’t kill people, people kill people.”  When just the mere presence of a handgun changes the way people interact with one another, it’s time to start heeding the valid notion that guns do kill, even if it is the respect I could have garnered for you otherwise.

#Enough.

Frankie


Hey Dana!

What’s the deal with you and yours?  Why is it you despise liberals, democrats, and protesters?

Are we so threatening that degrading us becomes your only pastime?

Do you comprehend that when you condemn us for being paid protesters and crisis actors, you only disclose your lack of logic, empathy, and human decency?

Don’t you remember that democracy literally means equality, an idea which is a cornerstone of our nation?

Does that equality really constrict your rights and lifestyle, or is it that you prefer absolute superiority?

How is it that the fight for the poor, the immigrant, the homeless is deemed a  nauseous waste by you who stand for christian values?

Is your world view so narrow that you can make no room for these, even for a moment’s consideration?

Have your immigrant ancestors removed themselves so far from your memory that you’ve forgotten their struggles and faith in government for protection against the boss-man?

Were you absent from the history class that taught us that imperiousness only results in a spectacular downfall?

Answer these queries or not, here’s what we conclude:  We cannot believe your claim to be American when you despise those who choose to embrace democracy.

 


This Christian Nation

You claim this is a Christian nation,

Which means a practice of love and merciful consideration.

Yet I cannot see proof of this enacted creed,

but something opposite, derisive,wholly obscene:

Where Jesus fed thousands who failed to bring their lunch,

You would starve millions – children, elderly, those who do work but can’t claim much.

Where Jesus healed the infirm at the first asking,

You deny the same any kind of care or compassion.

Where Jesus refused to judge, and preached the same in scripture,

You complain, place blame, testify that some are simply lazy creatures.

Where Jesus displayed contempt for the corrupt and hatred for injustice,

You embrace these heartily while spewing lies that shift the focus.

Where Jesus overturned tables and openly abhorred greed,

You worship Mammon with gusto, keep your money in piles behind doors of steel.

Where Jesus exemplified love and unity,

You damage with pure divisiveness, then flit around deceitfully.

Where Jesus accepted without question the stranger and the prisoner,

You deny them with malicious prejudice and disdainful reasoning.

Where Jesus might have built a prosperous City on a Hill,

You destroy democracy, sell out lady justice like a two-bit shill.

So, spare us the self-righteous narrative,

Throw off the coat of pretending.

At least own who and what you are –

A faction full of forked tongues, willing to ignore Jesus’ mission

For the sake of self entitlement and blatant power grabbing ascension.

Relating to Empathy

As an HSP, one of the challenges we have is figuring out a way to ‘deal’ with our always-on empathy.  I believe the secret is to develop a relationship with the ability, rather than to try to shut it down or resist its pervasive presence in our lives.

The idea of  developing a relationship with the defining characteristic of HSP’s is a by-product of the lessons I’ve learned from Headspace meditation exercises (I strongly recommend the practice of meditation to everyone, especially HSP’s).  I was surprised as I worked through a thirty day session dealing with anxiety that the approach wasn’t about some magical way to rid my life of anxiety, it was rather a lesson on the relationship I had with the emotion.   Changing the relationship, the way I interact with anxiety, meant actually ending the enervating effect of anxiety.  The same applies to HSP’s and their relationship with empathy.

Without a way to positively relate to this essential, and beneficial, skill, HSP’s can find themselves in trouble.  I can look back on more than one instance when I had a difficult time ending a relationship.  I knew the ‘fit’ wasn’t right, but dealing with the hurt and anger and confusion I might be inflicting upon another by leaving sometimes seemed more exhausting than staying.  Sound familiar?  Or how about just saying ‘no’ to a request while at the same time actually feeling the other person’s rejection as our own?

It’s often as easy as just noting that I am being empathetic, thus providing a sense of awareness about where my head is at (usually in my heart, if ya know what I mean).  In other words, when we become anxious because we’re engaging with empathy, sometimes all we have to do is just realize that, and let it go. We don’t need to examine it, or mull it over, or act upon it.  We just have to say, “Oh, I’m feeling guilty for staying home tonight instead of joining my friends for a drink.  But that’s because I feel like I might be hurting someone’s feelings.  Okay.  This is the empathy part of being an HSP, I’ll just let it go.”

In a relationship with empathy, we’re not identifying with the guilt, hurt, shame  and taking them on as our own.  We’re simply observing that is how we feel, and letting it go.

There are times I can get pretty far down the ‘analyzing’ street with a situation and find five different layers for the empathy I am experiencing towards someone or something.  But the moment I realize that is what I am doing, I stop, notice it, acknowledge it, “I am really breaking this down.” and then I let it go.  It’s true that I’ll start to chase after the thought train even moments later, our minds are going to do what minds do.  But once I recognize what is going on, I can relate to the emotion differently.  “Oh, I am really thinking about this a lot, okay, letting it go now,” and like magic, it’s gone and I can turn my attention back to the task at hand.

Relating to empathy instead of just following it where ever it leads allows for a more workable dynamic.  If we can sort out the moments when we’re over indulging the strength from the moments when it actually brings clarity to a situation, then we are free to move through life without becoming bogged down in excessive guilt, shame, or hurt.

Here’s to a more productive relationship with empathy, and the subsequent ability to embracing its positive qualities.

Yours,

Frankie


Grieving Lessons

Grieving is hard work.  It’s exhausting, ugly, important work. I’ve learned a few lessons about it in five decades of life, I share them to encourage anyone experiencing their own loss, and the pain that accompanies it.

I became intimate with grief after the full-term stillbirth of my only daughter.  I learned that sorrow reaches unimaginable depths of the human soul.  I learned that it comes and goes in waves. I learned that giving in to those waves meant a debilitating keening that renders a body numb and spent. I learned that I could be a living contradiction:  whole in body, yet feeling as though my heart had been blown wide open with all the violence of a shotgun blast at close range.  I learned that the heart can physically ache and a mother’s empty arms can be painful beyond the help of any narcotic or anti-depressant.

It took two full years to work through that particular grief, but it prepared me for subsequent losses. A divorce that smashed relationships to pieces.  A brother whose time came too early and whose loss leaves the biggest of holes in family pictures.  A mother whose absence lends a permanent sense of nakedness to my life.  Sons that have grown and moved out, leaving deafening silence in their place.  Once, an election left me mourning.

The most recent loss is that of a treasured little sprite of a dog. She wasn’t even suppose to be mine, but she followed me around for a week until I gave in and hoisted her up on my lap where she loved to sit.  I’d always preferred big dogs, but this tiny creature

katiegirl

Katie

wedged her way into my heart and found a place to occupy that I didn’t even know existed.  At fifteen, she was cranky, blind, and in pain.  A solemn trip to the vet eased her suffering and she now sleeps under a favored tree in the back yard.

While she sleeps, my old friend grief follows me around. I recognized it immediately and where before I would be angry at having to go through it again, I realize that by now I’ve learned what’s in store for me and somehow that makes it easier.  My broken heart feels like it won’t ever be whole again but seasoned experience allows me to remind myself that this is temporary; time will see the pain subside, precious memories help to soothe and soften it. As familiar waves of sadness tumble over me, I can now see that they also consist of prior losses and like a valve, my sobs enable their release, bring healing. I now know without a doubt that those waves will become less forceful, less frequent.  I am numb, but in my intimacy with grief I realize this is normal, it will wear off. I remind myself that I have endured before, I will endure again.  Mostly, I am exhausted.  In my wisdom, I know that my energy will return, the future will bring happiness. A time will come when I will smile and mean it, and I’ll know that I am done grieving.  My friend will leave and wait patiently until the next time.

After 9/11 President Bush urged us to ‘get back to normal’ as soon as possible. Normalcy is quite relevant though; once a hole is blasted through the walls of a soul by a loss, a new normal must be sought.  Grief is the road we take to get there and there is no other route available.  It does not come easily. It does not come immediately.  It occurs gradually as the pain subsides and we adjust to an altered life.

Grieving and adjusting is hard work, however. May these lessons comfort, give strength, and help you discover that you can, and will, come out just fine on the other side.  Take it from me, I know.

With love,

Frankie