Thoughts At Large

Passionate thoughts on random topics

Month: July, 2015

Stupidity Fatigue

Head in HandsThere is a saying in the lottery industry when the public will not purchase tickets for a seemingly high jackpot called “jackpot fatigue.” It is caused by the ever increasing and ever publicized jackpots always available to the public. The public has seen it all before and heard it all before and nothing new can be said about the jackpot total to get them to the convenience store to purchase a ticket. It’s all been done before.

I find myself suffering a similar kind of fate lately regarding the public at large. Events that used to anger me now no longer pique my interest or at least no longer send me to my computer and my Twitter feed where I would once fire off a pithy comment. Twitter especially has become the bastion of trolls ready to engage in bumper sticker based retorts and troglodyte tantrums rather than the necessary thought out debates. It is the AM radio of the internet.

I feel guilty for abandoning those things about which I am still passionately concerned: gun violence prevention, women’s rights, protecting my children from all manner of political stupidity, animal welfare, etc., etc, but I know that there are still those out there whom I trust to carry the ball downfield while I suffer this miasmatic ennui. I still read and I still write, just not at the same temperature as before.

Right now there are about 300 GOP candidates running for president, so there is still time for me to come out of this spin and focus the laser. Right now the moms and dads of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America are meeting in Minneapolis to discuss next steps. In another universe, a universe where I wasn’t working with hospice to care for my dying wife, I would have joined them to learn what I could do to better fight gun violence in blood soaked America. But that is not the universe in which I currently reside. I do not make excuses, but only present facts. I am tired, physically and mentally.

I am tired of the stupidity of the southern white male with his pickup truck emblazoned with hunting decals and NRA stickers, tired of the stupidity of religious hypocrites festooned with Christian stickers on their cars and quick to criticize anyone not their mirror image. I am tired of the stupidity of the 300 GOP candidates running for president who are fighting for air time by reaching for the lowest common denominator in their demographic and ultimately the shallowest of the public gene pool. I am tired of cancer and the stupidity of its suicidal march toward the murder of its host. I am tired of the stupidity. I am suffering from stupidity fatigue.

Fear

flag

My heart aches for my country. My heart aches for my world. Most importantly, my heart aches for my children. I fear, more than at any time in my lifetime that we are slipping ever closer to both civil war and world war.

As demographic changes overwhelm the status quo and economic “norms” succumb to new paradigms, the old majorities cling to their crumbling precipice and make preposterous threats to those “below” them until a boiling point is reached and the pressure cooker explodes. Every year we see dynamic shifts in socioeconomic or civil right standards that only a few short years before seemed impossible. Consider gay marriage or the removal of the confederate flag from the state house in South Carolina. Now consider a woman president or gun legislation. One seems a fait accompli while the other still engenders violent arguments on both sides of the struggle. And while the former still garners consternation from a small quarter of the public, it is the latter that causes me the most consternation. Because while the flag came down in South Carolina, and it seemed to be common sense, there is a deep seated racist backlash, coupled with a gun culture which has already lent itself to secession once, where I fear a second civil war may erupt. There has already been talk from politicians, politicians running for high national office (Rick Perry) regarding secession. This talk and the armament that these people hold is disturbing to say the least. And there is nothing well regulated about this militia.

Internationally, antisemitism, always the go-to for the disgruntled, has been resurrected in many parts of the world. And this at a time when more countries than ever have a nuclear capability. Greece’s insolvency threatens the Euro and the financial stability of the European community while Germany is left holding the financial burden. Japan has converted to an offensive capability for the first time since World War II and Russia is pushing everyone’s buttons to see just how far they can go before someone pushes back, going so far as to fly bombers off the coast of California. We’ve essentially already acted as a modern day Neville Chamberlain and conceded Crimea to Russia as a modern day Sudetenland minus the Munich Agreement by not challenging Putin. Of course, then some other country will “send troops into Russia forcing Putin to respond.” Or perhaps we’ll just skip the pretense and a President Cruz or Bush or Huckabee or some other hawk will preemptively bomb Russia leading to a retaliatory nuclear attack ending in our nuclear response and earth’s ultimate destruction. Boom boom, bang bang, lie down, you’re dead.

What ever happened to debate? To discussion? To negotiation? Why cannot today’s majority see the writing on the wall and accept that tomorrow will be different? Why cannot we accept that change is inevitable? That we must accept change or perish?  Of course, if we could do that, none of these issues would be issues. Climate change would be the fact that it is we would be well underway in dealing with it instead of holding snowballs in the well of the United States Senate as if weather and climate were interchangeable terms. Gun violence prevention would be common sense rather than code words for confiscation from the paranoid few who control the political elite, racism would be an anachronism left to the dustbin of history instead of the last vestige of dominance for whites watching their majority slip into fear of retribution.

I fear for my country. I fear for my world. I fear for my children. Tell me I’m wrong.

The Rose

DSC_0062_-_CopyOscar Wilde wrote, “A flower blossoms for its own joy,” and while he is one of my favorite authors, I disagree with this quote. Flowers can neither enjoy their own fragrance nor know their own beauty or the joy they bring to others.

As one last outing, Lisa wanted to go to the nursery to see the roses on Sunday. She had not been out of bed in almost two months, so the procedure we went through to get her there, with the wheelchair and oxygen tank stuffed into the car on a 90+ degree Texas summer day was daunting for me and the kids, it was punishing for Lisa. We had traveled no more than half a mile before she vomited all of the pain medication pills I had given her not ten minutes before. And yet she would not allow me to turn around. We were going to see the roses.

Of course, anyone who knows Lisa knows how much she loves her garden and her flowers, especially her roses. She researched and selected each one, labeled them with brass tags and spent countless hours pruning and tending to them. Like the rose in Antoine de Saint- Exupéry’s The Little Prince, she loved each of them because of their pure beauty and the work she had put in each of them.

As I pushed her wheelchair through the rough, rocky terrain (and pulled the oxygen tank behind me) she stopped me to read about the varieties of roses and admired their beauty (as if she was looking to fill a hole in the garden). It was then that it dawned on me that she is just like a rose. There is no better description or personification in nature than the rose. She is a rose.

She is brutally honest and unflaggingly faithful. She reminds me of the quote from Alphonse Karr, who wrote, “Some people grumble that roses have thorns; I am grateful that thorns have roses,” and the quote from Anne Brontë, who wrote, “He who dares not grasp the thorn should never crave the rose.” Having her in my life has brought me thorns and flowers, but I would never have traded the former for the latter because one without the other would destroy the rose that she is.

Even now, after being brutalized by cancer and chemo, she can be seen in the poem of Robert Frost

“The rain to the wind said,

‘You push and I’ll pelt.’

They so smote the garden bed.

That the flowers actually knelt,

And lay lodged — though not dead.

I know how the flowers felt.”

And yet, while the rose is fading, she does not know her own beauty or the joy she brings to others, she is loved. She is a rose. She is my rose.

American Exceptionalism

The World According to Americans

We’ve got guns, but no responsibility

We’ve got ammo, but no control of our passion

We’ve got guns, but lack basic civility

We’ve got ammo, but no room for compassion

We’ve got flags, but no discretion

We’ve got crosses, but no love

We’ve got flags, but talk of secession

We’ve got crosses, but demean from above

No chance of sovereignty

Just tragedy

No common sense

Just build a fence

No Atlas Shrugged

Just criminally drugged

No coverage for influenza

Just a pass for affluenza

We’ve got technology, but no one talks on the phone

We’ve got politics, but no debate

We’ve got technology, but kill with a drone

We’ve got politics, but filled with hate

We’ve got movies, but can’t sit still

We’ve got schools, but no teachers

We’ve got movies, but men come to kill

We’ve got schools, but arm the preachers

No chance of sovereignty

Just tragedy

No common sense

Just build a fence

No Atlas Shrugged

Just criminally drugged

No coverage for influenza

Just a pass for affluenza

We’ve got a choice, but no commitment

We’ve got a mirror, but no reflection

We’ve got a choice, but no development

We’ve got a mirror, but no direction

We’ve got Rush, but no hurry

We’ve got Trump, but immigrant spite

We’ve got Rush, but do not worry

We’ve got Trump, and we’re all white

We’ve got AM radio, but only racist static

We’ve got Fox News, but only destruction

We’ve got AM Radio, but only listened to by the fanatic

We’ve got Fox News, but only obstruction

No chance of sovereignty

Just tragedy

No common sense

Just build a fence

No Atlas Shrugged

Just criminally drugged

No coverage for influenza

Just a pass for affluenza

What have we done, St. Ronnie what have we done?

What are we doing, Huckabee what are we doing?

What will we do, Cruz when will we have fun?

Where is American exceptionalism going?