Only Light Can Do That

sometimes, looking back through history puts me in an odd frame of mind. Violence begets violence, but love only does so much to keep the peace. While I do not contradict Dr. King when he said that “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”, one has to look forward and wonder how much good that has done. Love didn’t drive out the darkness; it only made it hide for a while. It never left – hatred goes hand in hand with cowardice, so haters have no qualms with smiling, shaking hands, and pretending, while their hate festers, and quietly spreads to others.
One thing is for certain. This idiotic fight is something that humanity has struggled with for the whole of our known history. The targets for our hate (black, white, red, yellow, secular, religious, not religious, or just plain ‘different’) have always been made scapegoats for whatever problems we have as a people. And while LOVE does a world of good, only education, free speech, tolerance, and active understanding will drive out the ghosts who hide in the shadows we leave behind.

Yes, always love; but MORE is needed. Reach out; educate. Live the tolerance and understanding you want to see in the world. Otherwise, you are just going through the motions. And that’s not really love, is it?

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Valentine’s Day

Well, another Valentine’s Day has rolled around. I imagine that some of you would expect one of two things from me: a cynical, snide remark (like -‘Oh, Valentines day, A.K.A. Thursday’), or something full of sad and lonely feels. (No quote to go with this one; ’cause I’m not going there).

Instead, I offer this thought.

Today, many people will ‘celebrate their love’, which is always a good thing. Some will do it simply by dedicating time to spend with their Significant Other, while people who can will slather gifts of chocolate, cards, flowers, and jewelry upon each other, in an effort to show through objects just how much they care. And while we should be celebrating the love between us each and every day, life gets busy, and difficult, so it’s not a bad thing to have a reminder to make us take stock, slow down, and say ‘I Love You’ with more emotion than the passing comment one makes on the way to work each day. It’s also important to remember that flowers and gifts of chocolate today do not make up for being an asshole tomorrow, so slow down, and really take the time to love one another.

Also, if – like me – you are one of the millions of singles today, don’t despair. Try taking some of that love you so deeply want to give to someone, and realize that you too deserve the same. No need to be hateful, hurt, or cynical about Valentine’s Day; stop for a minute or ten, and realize that you can, and should, love yourself as well as others. Take today to do something you never do; celebrate yourself, and the love you give to so many others. Loneliness is a terrible feeling – but you don’t have to be alone, even if you are not in love. Make the best of what you have, plan and hope for better, and lift your head toward the sun, instead of the ground.

Who knows, you may just trip and fall right onto the love of your life. You have nothing to lose, and the world to gain.

Happy Valentine’s Day, to one and all.

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Generations in America

Something to consider:
I see a lot of jokes online about Millennials, and how inept/weak/inferior/stupid they are. While few posts or articles actually use these words, let’s face it – this is exactly what they are saying, and you know it. Of course, this got me to thinking. Millennials didn’t create the world they’ve grown up in; that honor belongs to the Baby boomers and the Gen-x’ers. The boomers, children of the self-proclaimed ‘Greatest Generation’, were the offspring of men and women who’d seen previously unknown horrors. Having grown up moving from the simple farm life to the mechanized existence of the city. the ‘greatest’ ended up fighting in the first of the Modern wars, and saw men both ripped apart in ways never before dreamed of, blown apart in pieces just large enough to still be ‘alive’, or gassed like insects. The sheer scale of human suffering left life-long scars on the ‘Greatest’ generation, so it is no wonder that when they started having kids – when the Baby Boomers were born, their parents, though courageous and strong, often over compensated. They lived in constant fear of the Atom Bomb, and yearned for a life that was modern, yet held the simplicity of the farms from their youth. They raised the boomers with fear, and often with a dumbing down of ideas, in an effort to make the world more bearable. The boomers themselves, many having parents that turned to the ultimate simplicity of ‘Hippie’ culture, are a mix of those who see only black and white (and the fear that can bring) and those who see all the shades in between (and the fear that can bring). I personally know very few boomers who have a healthy, positive outlook on life, and the world – but I also know very few who see they role their generation has played as being somewhat responsible for the life we have today.

As for the Gen-X’ers – my generation – consider this. Our grandparents (the ‘Greatest’ generation) were a mix of strong willed fighters who’d seen the horrors of the world, and either worked to make things better, or broke mentally and physically, in ways we are still trying to understand. These folks see the younger generations as weak, or lazy, even though it was their work, their politics, their decisions, that shaped their own children – the Boomers.

The boomers grew up in a time of unabashed exuberance in some ways. We’d won the war. The economy was good. Many people had (on the surface) a picture perfect, ideal life. But under the surface, mommy drank or took pills to deal with daddy’s abuse. Daddy may have had a mistress. The kids would have to pretend to not have heard their parents fighting, even if they were in the room when the bruises were planted, or had themselves been a direct victim of all that pent up violence and anger. It was ‘inappropriate’ to talk even inside the home about the problems you had, and to talk to others was looked upon as the ultimate betrayal.

In many ways, once the ‘Greatest’ had lived through the Wars, the conflict didn’t end. It just moved inside these people. There was no armistice within. If anything, the dichotomy of coming home, and having a life that was on the surface supposed to be perfect, while – in the mind, all the monsters created by the horrors and fears of war still stalk you though the trenches – the fear and anger felt by the ‘Greatest’ for decades after the war shaped their lives, and the lives of their children, in ways we are still dealing with as a society today. They passed along that fear and pain to their Children, who made it their own. No longer shell shocked from actual war, the Boomers were often shell shocked by violence from other sources; sources they should have been able to trust – their own mothers and fathers, who were not equipped to handle the beasts that had sprung up within.

By the time that faceless anger and pain reached another generation, it had added apathy to it’s stock of weapons. The children of the Boomers grew up hearing the stories of grandpa beating grandma, of the girls being thrown out of the house in the middle of the night just because mommy was angry, etc… The list is almost endless. So the Generation X kids looked at the world and saw brightness and joy, poorly masking pain and anger, and decided that if they cared too much, it would destroy them as well. So Apathy and Disdain moved in as roommates to anger and fear, and the whole lot was passed along to the Millennials.

My God – the poor Millennials, who grew up with not only the political stalemates, drug wars, real wars, global expansion, economic collapse, the withering of the middle class, back-steps in social justice, and more, also had to deal with the Y2K crap, and all those who preached that the world was ending. I grew up in such a house, and though I loathe to admit it, there were many years in my life where, somewhere in the back of my head, I didn’t expect to live past twenty-seven. So add in the religious quackery that has become even more pervasive in this country, and it does not surprise me that, out of all the generations in the last century in America, they are not only looked down on by many older people, but see their lives as a fight that was lost before they were even born. Throw ‘Generation Z’ (or, the ‘iGeneration’) into the mix, and it’s no wonder that you have kids doing the Cinnamon Challenge, eating Tide pods, or trying other dangerous tricks online, just to get their fifteen minutes. Sad thing is, most of these behaviors are attributed to the Millennials, who are too damned tired to eat the Tide Pods after doing the laundry for their kids, their parents, and possibly the grandparents they are often caring for. If anything, the Millennials have more on their shoulders, more basic responsibility in caring for their families, their parents, their grandparents, but have been allowed fewer tools to do the job, than any generation before them. Millennials and Gen-X deserve our respect, and our support. Not our ridicule.

Get your facts straight, people. And worry about your own house, before pointing out problems in others.

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Into the Unknown

 I read a quote tonight from Bram Stoker (author of DRACULA). It said, “I will not let you go into the unknown alone”. 
I realized that since this was said in the late 1800’s, when so much was either unknown, or misunderstood, that the world *should* have become a less frightening place. Because of science and technology, we now understand more about things than ever before.

But the world is not a safer place. We may have less fear of what lurks in the shadows now, but any learned person will understand that it was never the shadows that brought us fear. If anything, there is a certain calm to be found in the cool darkness of night. No, the real thing to fear, the real ‘unknown’, lies in the hearts and minds of mankind. Within those walls, you will find greater selfishness, anger, violence, and outright hatred than you will ever see in the natural world. Even the most vicious animal kills only for food. Man kills for fun. There is no need to look to supernatural horrors, when the black heart of Man fulfills the bill on your greatest fears.

Although the offer falls too often on deaf ears, I’ll not abandon those I care for to face that darkness on their own. So no – I will not let you go into the unknown alone. But I will make the leap with you, if you are bold enough to try.

So far, I’ve found no takers.

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On the whole ‘Boys will be boys’ thing

No crap – of course boys (and many girls) will be ‘rough and tumble’, which is what many folks say they mean with this expression. What people forget is that these ‘boys’ will also be little jackasses if we let them. And that’s the whole point. Sure, people make mistakes. Sure, ‘Boys will be Boys’, but if you don’t correct the behavior, if you don’t tell them and show them that there are better ways to live and behave, you just end up with a generation or ten of grown men who act like spoiled children, excusing their poor behavior, their bullying, their sexual attitudes, because they think that its alright. So here we are, stuck as a society trying to ‘raise’ grown boys into Men –

because, while ‘boys will indeed be boys’, MEN will behave better.

Time to grow up, children.

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You can sit on the shore

You can sit on the shore, feeling the setting rays of the day’s sun cast their healing warmth upon you, listening to the waves gently lap forth and back across the sand, and feel a peace around you that almost makes you wonder about any moment where such contentment cannot be found.

But as you sit on that shore, feeling almost god-like in your joy and heartfulness, watching the sun disappear into the red-blue waves of the sea, the inevitable darkness walks up behind you, its chill, skeletal fingers lightly touching the back of your neck, drawing away the warmth left by the setting star. The sea before you churns as the rising moon wrecks her havoc on the waves, and beneath your feet, in the growing darkness (and only if you stop to listen), you can feel the world turning, spinning ever-onward, past the day before and the into next night, beyond the ‘not-yets’ and the ‘neverminds’, over mountains of excuses and seas of troubles, on well ahead of your journey’s end, into anothers’ time. In unending darkness you lay, the bony hand of Death teasing you with its touch, bringing past and present together in one fleeting moment where all is lost, and all can be found.

Beware the things that make you spiral away from the glowing star, and into the darkness. Only the grave awaits you there.

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Something to ponder…

ALL people have lived in troubled times. All of our ancestors who lived through oppression, hunger, poverty, and plague have seen not only the horrors of the world, but the evil that men visit upon each other.

This is nothing new; just another cycle, another turn of the wheel. And while things have improved for some, others still suffer in sickness, struggle to find food, clean water… struggle just to survive.

Many of the problems we have now have their roots in people simply not getting their way. Whether it’s a religious viewpoint that some feel should be a law, or a freedom that is not extended openly to all, our arguments too often boil down to thinking that freedom is a made of pie, so a larger slice for some takes away from others. That’s not how it really is, but lack of education has many people believing that lie.

For me, I do want to see a more kind and compassionate world, so I am personally taking steps to do whatever I can, where I see the opportunity. And I will continue to work to bring people together as best as I can. For, even though we may live in troubled times, you can still do something everyday to make a difference to someone.

I encourage you to do just that. Not politically, not religiously, not with any agenda; just go do something kind. Don’t do it for praise, or to win over someone to your way of thinking – just do something kind because it is the right thing to do.

You’ll be glad you did.

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Fear and War

Fear leads to anger.

Anger leads to Hate.

Hate leads to suffering.

Even if you are not a fan of the diminutive Jedi Master who spoke those words, the message is as true in our day to day lives as it was on screen. Most suffering in the world could be solved quickly with the resources and technology we have at our disposal; yet innocent children still suffer and die from illnesses we can cure, veterans still live on the streets, unable to afford the price of the very society they gave their health and sanity to defend, and more people across the world are willing to ‘close the doors of their vaults’ and shelter from the world around them, rather than help their fellow human. We’ve seen this theme played out in Art and Literature for centuries, and expanded upon with film, and even video games. Yet, as we grow more isolationist, the anger and fear we have for other people ends up turning inward, dividing us in ways our founders would find abhorrent and shameful.

Last week, the Pentagon, and the Offices of the President, were sent packages containing Ricin (a powerful and deadly poison). This week, not only leaders of the Democratic Party, but the Offices of CNN, were sent packages with suspected Pipe Bombs. Regardless of where your politics lay, there is no excuse for these kinds of cowardly acts – yet, there they are. And there are no excuses you can give to justify these actions. If it’s OK in your mind that Obama get a pipe bomb, but you are angry that someone tried to poison Trump, then politics is not your problem. Short-sighted arrogance, ignorance, and a narrow world-view have a lot to do with it, but not politics.

What we are seeing now is the result of the polarization of the American Population. Extreme views from both sides of the spectrum are to blame for this, and only by ending the ‘us vs them’ mindset most people have these days can we even hope to not end up destroying ourselves. As it stands now, as ‘We the People’ stand more divided than ever, we are one gunshot away from another Fort Sumter. It’s a scenario where no one wins – not the Right or the Left. We have to take hold of our fears – whatever they may be – and learn to work together to overcome them. Compromise is the only true path for Freedom, and the only way to Govern a diverse population. Otherwise, all our fears will be our undoing. And if this Great Country falls, it will not be from the outside. It will be because of Bullshite, middle-school playground politics, masquerading as political discourse. We must learn to find common ground, and compromise on the things we don’t already agree on. It’s the only way to dig us out of this way of thinking, that is getting more dangerous each day.

If we don’t, then war is coming. Some say it’s already here – but that is not only foolish, its part of the problem. If you see everything as an affront or an attack, then you are living in fear, not reality. Sure, things are rough – things are not perfect, and they never will be. That does not make this a war.

But it will be, if we are afraid enough to literally start killing each other in the streets. If we are too short-sighted, too arrogant, and actually bring war against each other.
And war never changes.

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Somewhere in time…

Erin nervously set her bag by the car that had come to get her, and take her off to start a life of her own.

When the driver came along to place the her luggage in the trunk, she instinctively reached out to do the job herself, then stopped, letting a nervous laugh escape from her. Then, with tears welling in her eyes, she turned back to me, lowered her head a bit, and took a deep breath.

I reached out to lift her chin, and look in her eyes. “It’s ok to be nervous, my love”.

“I know, mom,” Erin answered, wiping her eyes with her sleeve. “I’m OK; don’t know why I’m crying!”

“You’ll be fine, hon. And I will be right here anytime you need me”.

Erin reached out to hug me one last time before she had to go, and I knew that, in my arms, there was a smart, capable young woman, who was ready to conquer the world. I knew I’d tried to teach her everything I could about the world, about being responsible, and kind. I also had taught her to kick ass when needed, to protect herself, and those she loved. And she had always exceeded my expectations.

As I nestled my head next to hers, breathing in the scent of her hair, I softly spoke to her.

“There is only one solid piece of advice I can really offer; live to the fullest, my love. Take the chance with your heart, love with everything you have, and try as hard as you can, no matter what you do”.

“I know, mom,” she said quietly. “I learned from the best, you know.”

The driver honked the horn, tearing into the time and space we’d made just as our own, and life once again bled over into existence. Letting go, I kissed her one last time on the forehead, and held the door for closing it securely.

The vehicle pulled away, with one of my darling daughters sitting in the back, holding her cell to the window, and blowing kisses as the pulled off into the smoggy mid-morning.

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The Fascism Waltz

This may piss a lot of people off – but I am beyond the point of giving a damn.

There is a growing portion of the population in the United States that leans toward a more authoritarian-style government (see footnotes for links). Oddly, these are often the same people who can be found waving American Flags, and yelling at brown people to ‘get out’ of ‘their’ country.

For a population that is supposedly a fan of Freedom, the reality is that they only want ‘freedom’ when it comes for them, and them alone. And by *them*, I mean other white folks who share their limited worldview. Of course, that isn’t how Freedom works. But that is what they are pushing for. And it is downright appalling.

Now, this is the point in my writing where I usually try to play the peacemaker; where I take a step back, and call on reason and intellect to take the steering wheel, and where I remind myself (and my readers) that the high road always has a better view. But that isn’t going to happen this time. With a ‘White Rights’ Rally being scheduled for Washington DC in August (incidentally, planned by the same ‘fine people’ that organized the fiasco in Charlottesville, VA), we have gone too far past the line, and danced right into Steps Three and Four of the Fascism Waltz. And even though these twits are not actually representative of the majority of Americans, their numbers are growing. This is happening for the same reasons that young middle-eastern men join ISIL – feelings of disenfranchisement, of loss of status, or loss of the future. Poverty and destitution, grown in the fertile soil of ignorance and fear, propels this trend. And it has to stop.

Our Founders sought to create a nation where all men are created equal. True, in their time, it was a widely held belief that only White Men of European decent were included in that idea. But as we have grown up as a society, we’ve come to realize that all men really does mean “ALL” people, and not just a privileged few wealthy males with a Melanin deficiency.

As for ‘White Pride’, I can personally think of nothing more ridiculous to celebrate. What exactly are you proud of – being a racist piece of crap? Feeling superior because your ancestors subjugated other people across the centuries, and now that those people are finally getting a chance to even ‘begin’ to catch up, you’re going to cry foul? Sorry, but white pride is a big crock of steaming horse-shit. You want to be proud of something? Get off your ass and *do* something to be proud of (other than just being white). Try carpentry, or writing, or art. Hell, go plant a garden for god’s sake. But don’t just stand around feeling proud because of the colour of your skin, or because you have a family history of being an asshole to other people who were not like you.

Now, Black Pride, Gay Pride, etc etc, is another matter entirely, simply because those people have been the targets of hatred and murderers for centuries. If all goes well, and humanity actually grows the frak up, then one day, we can look at black and gay pride in the same way we should be looking at white pride now; but until then, I’ll continue to support communities of colour, the LGBTQ community, and the ANTI-FA. And you should support them as well. Because if the so-called ‘alt-right’ (insert swastika here) people have their way, unless you are a white man, you will have no place in our ‘Free’ country. And only selfish, wretched people have to build themselves up by destroying or belittling other human beings.

You want to be proud? Stand up for unity. Stand up for Freedom for ALL. Everywhere.
Accept nothing less. Then maybe you’ll have a reason to feel proud of yourself.…/in-a-new-poll-half-of-re…/……/got-authoritarian-streak-study-says-o……/survey-one-third-of-republican…/

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