Tag Archives: current events america

Shock and Awe

It’s a shock to see young white American men giving the Nazi salute and holding up swastika flags after having fought against fascist hate. It’s a shock to see them turning on our fellow citizens, physically harming their human brothers and sisters who live and breath alongside them.  The problem is, we don’t really have time to be shocked at this particular moment.

How do we navigate the all normal human response of shock in this critical time?  We have to admit it first, just notice it. Denying it will only lead to a festering anger, but we don’t have to pick it up and hold on to it either.  If you’re an empath, or possess the trait of being Highly Sensitive, then this is a particularly difficult challenge.  It can be accomplished however.   Acknowledge the feeling, that’s it, then move on to action.

Action is where we can awe ourselves and each other.  There’s plenty around to inspire us.  Twitter is busy with people helping to identify the perpetrators of Nazi hate in Charlottesville. And while it’s disappointing that our President refuses to condemn white supremacy, there are plenty of other politicians taking up the sword of justice for him.   Many gathered together yesterday to show support for those killed and injured.

Across the nation, today, we have the opportunity to show the same support, demonstrate love and acceptance, sow the seeds of kindness and peace.   It’s up to each one of us, shocked as we are, to awe our neighbors and friends with positive action.  And in the doing, we find that shock doesn’t have to render us paralyzed, and love can lead us to unity.

Peace,

Frankie


My Cold War Teen-age Years Come Crashing Down

I vividly remember one dark Idaho winter’s night as my teenage self  was writing in my diary, I thought, “What’s the point of even thinking about what I want to do for a future when we’re just gonna blow ourselves up anyway?”

I took some comfort in Billy Graham when he came through my hometown area of Boise, Idaho and said ‘Nuclear war won’t be the end of mankind, there’s the rapture instead.’ or some platitude thereof, forcefully spoke, affirming the cyclical prophecy of “Our national leaders are provoking a war but the bible says there’ll be wars and rumors of wars and great destruction like Armageddon so it’s all good.”  I mean, I can see now the pseudo-peace religion brings , back then the words sort-of helped.

Back then there were cancellations of Olympic games and Gorbachev and Reagan enjoying some dance of power vis a vis ‘strong language’ and ‘diplomatic warnings’. No one really wants to blow up half the planet, so there was a lot of bark, but not so much bite; until this President.

I know he’s unhinged, one need only look at his twitter rages to figure that out.  I know he’s full of hyperbole and as Scott Adams vociferously posits, Trump always opens with the most insane highest bid, and negotiates down from there.  Problem is, international diplomacy is an entirely different board game than monopoly.  At the moment my only confidence in anything is maybe a cautious Congress and General Kelly as Chief of Staff who probably understands more than anyone else in the WH the actual logistics of war.

None of that mattered when the old fear of nuclear war came crashing down after Trump made his “fire and fury” announcement toward North Korea.  “Breathe” I told myself.  “Cooler heads and minds will prevail,” I thought, with some confidence.  Then I realized that my fifty-something self doesn’t have to be frozen with fear like my teenage self was.

I have the power and knowledge to deal with this fear.  I understand that humanity probably learned a lesson after Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and most of us (including our leaders) are reticent to re-live something similar.  Where there was some international support for a nuclear attack on Japan, thankfully, today there’s international opposition to nuclear options, and some of our leaders still care about optics.  I have the ability to call my congresspersons and hold them accountable, they are my employees after all.  I have power in the freedom to write and encourage others to understand that fear need not be picked up and carried around.  It can stay swimming in the stream of consciousness without being caught, taken home, and devoured. I am now aware that action deters fear more than any other recourse, I will act with my keyboard, with bridge-building discussions, with the knowledge that others are doing the same.  Solace is acquired with action.

So while this nation once again visits the specter of nuclear war, and for a moment that fear of no future came crashing down upon me, my adult self is confident in action instead.  I wish the same for you.

Peace.

Frankie


My Two Americas

It was there in the beginning, the difference was as apparent then as the hope surrounding the birth of a new nation, it simply wasn’t as pronounced.

Reason, enlightenment, and fraternity molded a set of ideals that we held up as trophies to be cherished.  Equality mattered and burdens would not be born alone. Progressive and liberal, these ideals ushered in a democracy that others would strive to emulate.

Juxtaposed against –

A rugged individualism founded upon Exceptionalistic worldviews that could easily become extreme. A conservative aspect, encouraged by the White Man’s Burden and it’s notion that might makes right, God blesses the subordinates, equality is secondary to desire.

Over time, the difference grew more obvious, more acute.

Civil War laid bare the disparity between Liberal and Conservative, opened the chasm, leaving a scar that still bleeds, still pulls at the slightest movement forward.

Great Depression drew stark boundaries between rich and poor, business and government, religion and democracy.

Civil Rights movements shattered any facade of achieved unity and drew lines in the social sand that a tidal wave of human compassion can not seem to erase.

Great Recession exasperated the breech between the haves and have nots.  Liberal notions of regulation and accountability conflicted with Conservative strains of government interference and free market religions.

Twin Tower catastrophe and solitary terror incidents test our resiliency. Democratic liberal trust sprinkled with caution is at odds with the Conservative instinct towards closure,  induced and fed by fear.

Today’s instant news, not always dressed in truth, allows identities to manifest reflexively, extinguishing the muse of compromise and equality so that Liberals are become heathens while Conservatives claim the only corner of righteousness.

Progress is deemed evil when static policy would rather prevail.

American dream, invented upon the foundation of unbridled  brotherhood, rendered a chimera under the influence of reactionary poses.

Liberal and Conservative.  My two Americas.

 

 

 

 

 

 


Deathbed

There’s not much we can do.

You and I can only wait at this point.

All chances of a healthy outcome have passed,

This is the end, this is the time to begin mourning.

We try and prepare, make certain that our

own houses are in order.

It is difficult, we don’t know what awaits us

when She’s gone.

There are the quiet whisperings of

those gathered round the bed:

“Wasn’t she beautiful in her prime?”

“Remember that time when…..”

“She was the top of her class.”

Respectful admirations morph into

consoling observations as we struggle

to find a way to justify Her fall.

“She was bewitched by all that money,”

Someone said.

“It’s true,” agreed another and then,

“But there were those who were out to

get Her deliberately, She didn’t have a chance.”

This statement weighed heavy in the room,

we all knew it was precise.

With nothing left to say, we watched Her breathe

and knew that as Her death approached, so did the

death of life as we knew it.

We reflected, each to our own, about how we could have

changed things, what we would have done differently,

where we were lazy.

And each to our own, took a portion of responsibility

for the ending Her life.

Outside, the dogs of greed bark and yip

excitedly at the smell of Her imminent death.

They too, have been waiting but with

a different aspect.

Knowing Her power is nearly snuffed out,

They are anxious to overrun our towns

and de-civilize our streets.

Their increased energy is felt inside

the room of Her deathbed.

A quiet sob breaks from among one of the visitors,

As it’s noticed that Her breathing has become labored,

Not much longer.

If we say goodbye now, can She hear it?

If we tell Her we love Her, will She sense it?

If we say we’re sorry, so very sorry for Her demise,

will She forgive us?

We do it anyway, mostly to succor ourselves.

Because watching Democracy die is deeply painful,

and the grief that awaits when She does, even more so.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Public Work

Many of us are getting out of our comfort zone and becoming involved in public discourse like never before and the Science March this past weekend provided proof of this.  I was grateful for those across the world that set aside time on their Saturday to ‘show up’ and let our leaders know that facts matter, we don’t buy the propaganda, and we care about democracy and a healthy earth.

But there’s more ‘showing up’ than just marching for science these days.

My local ACLU chapter has recorded an uptick in people showing up for their monthly meetings.   I live in a conservative area of northern California and have noticed a definitive increase in progressive activism taking place.  Many of us have realized that being a citizen is more than just showing up at a voting booth every election and sending money to our favorite social endeavor.

It’s work though. I don’t know about you but I’ve taken on a new respect for all our public elected officials because it takes time and dedication to ‘show up’ at meeting after meeting, event after event, and like many of us, did so while working a regular job. I have learned to greatly respect those men and women in my new friends circle who have devoted years worth of Saturday’s or work week evenings to meet, discuss, plan, advance, and advocate for healthy democratic ideals in our communities.

I am, thankfully, in a place where my children are raised and I have more time to devote to public service.   But I realized that even that is an excuse as I sat one recent Saturday afternoon and listened to a mother of two daughters contend for the position of California Democratic Chair.  I thought to myself “If she’s willing to give up time with her family and speak with me to earn her vote, I have had no reason not to at least show up to a monthly ACLU meeting.”

We live in a historical time with an unpredictable president and a federal government shorn of much of it’s power to be a balancing element to Wall Street.  Many of us are realizing that democracy isn’t just about voting, its also about meetings after a work-day full of meetings, its about giving up time with family on the weekends, its about more bodies ‘showing up’ at local community halls.

So thanks!  Thanks to those who went out of their comfort zone yesterday and marched for reason.  Thanks to those elected servants, whether on the same side of the aisle as me or not, because I understand a little more now the sacrifice given to serve. Thanks to those ‘showing up’ more and more at local meetings and events, investing your time to ensure that democracy prevails at this moment in history.  Mostly, thanks for all those who, over decades of dedication, have consistently shown up, even when the socio-political weather was fair.   You are exemplary and encouraging.

Yours,

Frankie


Keep on Keepin’ On

This was one of my mother’s favorite phrases, she would say it to me at the end of almost every  phone conversation.

The words are never so imperative as they are now.  There are many of us who are still trying to make sense of our new political climate, trying to find where our creativity fits in among the dark cloud hanging over our nation.

As for me, I’ve decided not to write about today.  In my work with economics, I am certain that  at this point we are unable to pull out of the tailspin in which we find ourselves. Instead, my work is written for the future, for tomorrow, for the young men and women who will have to reckon with the consequences of this administration in the next decade.  They will get my energy and time.  They will get my wisdom and compassion.  They are the muse for my writing.

To accomplish that goal, I am currently working on a short story to submit to the Pearl S. Buck writing contest.    I enjoy working on a small project like this, it challenges my editorial eye and allows me to break out of the tediousness of working on a longer manuscript.   Writer’s Digest recently posted some good reasons for short story writing as well.

We are not the same nation we were a few months ago.   Nor will we be when all is said and done by this current president.   But our voices are still important, and will be more so for the generation that follows us.   “Keep on keepin’ on,”  write a story for them, submit it to a contest, get those creative waters flowing,  it is the only thing we can do.  But it is empowering.

Yours,

Frankie

 

 


Dark Age II

Shut Out the World, Turn Inward on Ourselves

Usher in the Dark Age.

Forego Checks and Balances, Leave all Rules Behind

Usher in the Dark Age.

Fire without Warning, Reality TV Politics

Usher in the Dark Age.

Condemn Free Speech, Despise the Fourth Estate

Usher in the Dark Age.

Mute the Scientists, Deafen the Populace

Usher in the Dark Age.

Revoke Dissenting Opinion, Claim it’s for ‘Your Good’

Usher in the Dark Age.

Truth becomes Irrelevant, Alternative Facts Laid Bare

Usher in the Dark Age.

Privatize the Public, Deregulate what is Healthy

Usher in the Dark Age.

Ignore the Constitution, Fleece Your Own Nation…

Disheveled White Men

Usher in the American Dark Age.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


New Year, New Ideas: Employ Compassion, Not Empathy

Wanna know the next big thing for the new year?  Understanding the difference between empathy (and its apparent detriment to our decision making) and compassion.

I first heard about the notion via a podcast of Sam Harris’ in which he interviews Paul Bloom concerning the newly released book, the idea as a whole, and the distinction between the two terms:  their essence and their impact on social behavior.  It is an enlightening listen (By the way, I highly recommend Sam Harris “Waking Up” weekly podcast as some of the most excellent mind food a person can consume on a regular basis.  Warning: not for the fainthearted).    I offer these two references as further reading/review of the book: Why Empathy is Bad and Against Empathy .   I especially appreciated the social worker’s perception on ‘real life-applicable-pragmatic’ lessons in dichotomizing the two characteristics within the profession.

It will be imperative for us all, moving forward in the next few months, to understand the difference between these two elements as we attempt to cross the social divides that are becoming more obvious post-election.  We will each need to reach out compassionately to the neighbor whom we feel betrayed us in the voting booth, whichever way that went. We will need to employ a great deal of understanding and rational decision making while we try to unify some semblance of a majority against corporate plans to amend our constitution.

We have some serious work for ourselves, individually, in order to maintain a civil society – especially considering the unstable, insecure reality in which we live. It behooves us to investigate the difference between empathy and compassion so that we might employ the right tools when appropriate.   I can think of no better way to begin a new year, than with this new perspective and its useful applications.

Here’s to new information.

Yours,

Frankie

 

 


Looking Back, Looking Ahead

This past week I went back to find a piece I had written as a farce, really.   I didn’t realize it’s been a year since I published it, somehow I was thinking I wrote it during the primaries.    Now that we are living this reality, the writ is even more poignant.

“Choosing a President:  A Thought Experiment”

I honestly don’t know whether to laugh at the absurdity or cry over the threat to our democracy.

Maybe, both.

Yours,

Frankie


“Make it So”

I wrote a while back about the way that science fiction provides examples to us of what a world without religion looks like.   It’s an important point to think on since there’s quite a lot of hullaballoo surrounding the thought that atheists or agnostics can’t be nice or get along and are particularly evil so a future filled with such people is certainly vile, discordant, and unlivable.

Not so.  Many science fiction movies and television shows exemplify that humankind can actually thrive where religion is absent and reason prevails in it’s stead.  Is there evil?  Yep.  We can’t escape it because it is part of ourselves, but we do see in each instance that love or relationships or family overcome and save the day, and tellingly, no supreme being is needed.  (By the way, we really don’t know how else to write the story except that good always defeats evil – such an optimistic species).

With the release of the newest Star Trek movie, a fellow writer picked up on this theme and discusses it in this Atlantic article.   It is hopeful in this time of turbulence – especially as an American watching the current election cycle – to see a standard held for us all to claim:  we can rely on each other, as well as our own reasoning, to create a decent society.

May we ‘make it so.’

Yours,

Frankie