“An Open Letter to Chick-Fil-A” — and the Dilema it Leaves Us

This is a letter by someone I don’t know.  But he represents such a vast number of people I do know and care about —

JOHN PAUL – An Open Letter to Chick-Fil-A.

This presents a dilemma.  I know why Chick-Fil-A is closed on Sundays.  Anybody raised in a fundamentalist protestant church knows why.  Because somebody wanted to “keep the Sabbath holy,” but didn’t know enough to realize that the Sabbath meant Saturday.  And besides, what fundamentalist wants to share a day off with a bunch of Jews?  And what lunatic would close a business on Saturday?

So we all knew that Chick-Fil-A was run by those kinds of arbitrary rules.  And I understand that.  There is and will always be a segment of the population who believe they have the one and only true truth in the world, and everybody else is either choosing to disregard the truth, is too stupid to know the truth, or have been persuaded of a lie.  They are a very absolute people.  Everything in their world is solid black and solid white — like the little cows in their ads.

And that’s fine.  They’re entitled.  It is, as they say, a free country.

And as long as I didn’t know all the things discussed in this open letter and the supporting documents linked in it — it didn’t matter.  They make good food for a fair price.  No MSG.  No trans fats.  Lots of fruit and veggies.  They’re reliable.  They have a gluten-free menu.  They try and treat their employees fairly.

But now, having read and searched out to be sure of all the things in this letter — I know of other things in their black and white world which are counter to my own beliefs and practices.  And I can’t ever un-know what I know about Chick-Fil-A.  And I don’t think I can ever drive through one of their outlets again without being reminded where my dollars may get applied through their charitable giving.

And I have no idea how to resolve this.  No amount of boycotting is going to change their black and white beliefs.  They would rather lose profits and even go out of business than waver one iota from their absolutes.

And I know that I (and we — my family) inadvertently support other businesses who channel money into things we wouldn’t approve of — if we knew about them.  But we don’t — and so life goes on.

And we DO know about Chick-Fil-A.  And it makes me a little sick to think such a well manged and honestly good little eatery will be off the list of choices — but it has to be.  Because I can never not know these things about them again.

If I cared so much about the crimes being committed by banks that I would move my money to a small, locally owned bank or credit union — if I care so much about the business practices of other institutions that I would take my business elsewhere , then it’s not really a choice.  This is like leaving a country club that wouldn’t allow people of certain races to be members.  Or choosing a different university based on prejudicial admittance policies.

It’s such a little thing — but little things are important.


Owning up to Poor Judgement

I was just reading an article about how the conservatives on the right use HATE to control voters, and get them to vote against their own self interest.

The article can be found here

And, I was watching a clip of the Rachel Maddow TV show that had been put up as a link on Facebook — basically about how the Republican Party is once again asking Republicans to vote against their own self interest — and how that strategy of hate/fear is being assembled.  The accompanying strategy of how to “bait” democrats with ideas and phrases guaranteed to get them to react, is employed to rally republicans against the opposition.

That clip is here..

We’ve all heard of this idea that thousands of voters are actually voting against their own self interest by electing people who want to raise middle class taxes, and yet refuse to raise taxes for corporations and the wealthiest Americans (and even swear to this pledge, and get it notarized!)

What must these people be putting in the drinking water, to get lower and low-middle class adults/parents to vote for soneone who has promised to keep the taxes of the wealthy low at any cost — even if it means making the low and middle class drop lower and have less?  Or who clearly will not send their own kids off to war, but are eager to send the children of lower and middle class families to the land of IEDs and brain injuries/stress disorders.

It’s Hate and Fear that make such contradictory behavior possible.  If Democrat-A says he promises to make it so that gay people have the same rights as straight people; and Republican-B ramps up your fears and anxieties about gays and lesbians and how they’re out to corrupt your children and move into your neighborhood — then regardless of what else Republican-B stands for, (even if it’s getting rid of your medicare and social security, allowing credit card companies [banks] to charge you 52 different monthly fees, and making it okay for your insturance company to drop your insurance if you get sick)  you’re likely to vote for him — because he’s created/fed/nourished your fear, and made you furious [HATE]  that somebody might want make all Americans equal in the eyes of the law.

This is the perfect button for the current political climage -- I found it online at zazzle.com / I think they sell it for something like $2 each....

But I really don’t think it’s so much hate being sold as it is fear.  Fear of the unknown.  Fear of change.  Fear of the “other” — those people who are not like us in belief, diet, appearance, habit, ritual, style, fashion, or behaviors….

It’s FEAR that’s being sold.  It’s fear that’s being bought by thousands and thousands of people.  It has no reason or sense to it — it’s just plain, raw emotion being scooped up and held close as though it were important.  It makes us suspicious — and even paranoid — about our neighbors and friends and governments and police and family and church and teachers and …. and, and and and and and.

And sooner or later, the dust clears, and things DO change, and fears are not borne out, and suspicions prove rediculous.  And yet — nobody says “hey, I was wrong.”  They just pretend — either that it never happened, or that the new change hasn’t actually occurred.

Being proved wrong by time is a tough thing.  It’s really what the whole notion of being on the “right side of history” is all about.  An error in judgement like that leaves you feeling stupid.  You feel left out of the tide of people who weren’t seduced by the fear or the anger or the sarcasm or the pessimism.  You never get a second chance to join in with the fearless and those happy to have been on the right side of history.

A lot of people who aren’t good as the “pretending” part of denial end up isolated and cutting themselves off from friends and family who might say, “I told you so!”

Remember all the acid and fire being spit from pulpits over the Harry Potter books as they were being written/published?  Those books were said to be laid out like cheese for mice, all long the road straight to hell.  Web pages were created to prove that this was the work of the devil, to ensnare our children with witchcraft.  J. K. Rowling was a demon living in Scotland, and her evil writing marked the downfall of civilization as we know it!  Just look at how many books she was selling!  Look at the children reading the books, over and over, through the night.  Analysing every cha…racher for motives and plot details.  The children spend their time making costumes and pretending to be the characters in the books! No human could accomplish that feat!

Well guess what?  Not a single apology from any of those blustering blow hard theologians who burned Harry Potter books and DVDs.  Not so much as an official or even unofficial retraction.  By book #7, they just all quietly slunked away into the shadows.  The websites disappeared.  The objections disappeared.  The froth.  The spittle.  The fireworks.  Gone.

Like it never happened.

There are so many examples of this kind of error in judgement that it’s hard even start a list — much less finish it.  There are so many people out there who want to tell us what we should hate, and what we should be afraid of — what we should spend our energy, money, and emotional capitol on — when all that energy, money and emotion would be so much better served if we spent it on kindness and building the future.

But hating what’s in front of us in the present — and fearing the future — are so much easier….  Especially when were never called to account for having been wrong.  They don’t require any imagination or thought of any kind — much less critical thinking.  It’s just easier to trust some character in a suit — whether  politician, clergy, guru or teacher — that somebody told you was going to have all the answers to all our problems.

But they don’t.  Nobody does.  And inevitably, if you hitch your wagon to some shooting political, religeous, intellectual or spiritual human-star, then you’re going to be faced with having allowed yourself to be influence by them.   And this is where the denial and isolation can begin, unless you jump right off that wagon and proclaim yourself to be human — and as such give yourself permission to make mistakes.

In the end, I think a lot of the denial business makes its profits from those who simply can’t stand the idea of admitting that

Things people (where I live) have not owned up to being wrong about:

  • Harry Potter books (he turned out not to be the son of Satan after all….)
  • -Climate change, Global Warming, Climate reality (it’s all completely normal, they say – La Nina explains it)
  • -slavery (they were for it)
  • -racism (they were and still are for it)
  • -“Bell” racism (they used it to try and prove they were right)
  • -The Dixie Chicks (they burned the DC’s records and refused to play their songs on local radio, even though the DC’s grew up here)
  • -the War in Viet Nam (they were hawks looking for a cold war fight.  Of course it was the right thing to do!)
  • -the Equal Rights Amendment (they still don’t believe women should have equal rights – at least not where their bodies or their salaries are concerned)
  • -keeping organized, mandatory prayer out of public schools (they want to keep the pressure on those “other” children to learn the “truth”)

Things they haven’t even begun to process that they will, sooner or later, have to own up to being wrong about:

  • -GWBush (they want another just like him)
  • LGBT rights (OMG!)
  • -gun control (because every quail hunter needs an automatic or semi-automatic rifle)
  • -the use of growth hormones, antibiotics, pesticides, herbicides, and other agricultural errors-in-judgement to increase profit margins
  • -increasing taxes on the top 5% earners, and reinstating the graduated tax code (just because)
  • immigration (because there’s not enough to go around as it is?  because they’re dirty and uneducated and they hate us? because they just want to live on the welfare that we, the taxpayers, pay for out of our own pocket?  because they don’t have the decency to speak English?  Because they don’t pray to the same god we do? — you got me on this one.  Everybody here but the various tribes of native North/Central Americans either immigrated here, or was born to someone who immigrated here.  This whole question is bizarre.)

Free at Last — Free at last! The End of Poverty and Hunger in America!

It’s a Tea Party!

The USA’s numbers are in! Only 44-million people living in poverty! (Just 1 of every 7 of us in these United States!)  And, 35% of that number (15,400,000) are children, and everybody knows they don’t count. So really, just 28,600,000! I call that a victory! So yes! now is the time abolish social security, medicare, unemployment benefits, health care, education loans, WICs, Title 9, public libraries, public education, state universities, the SAC, the Coast Guard, the National Guard, the Army, Navy, Airforce and Marines, the FDA, the CDC, NOAA, the National Weather Service, Federal judges, Federal prisons, Federal Courts, the FBI, the CIA, the FAA, the DEA, the ATF, the National Institutes of Health, the Veteran’s Administration, MHMR, the Interstate and Intrastate Highway Commissions, the FDIC, the Consumer Protection Agency, PBS, national parks, state parks, city parks, county hospitals, community services, Americans with Disabilities enforcement, Border Patrol, State Highway Patrol, and other assorted social services…

Pretty soon all those nasty dirty poor people will be gone, and think how comfortable and snug we’ll be then with the money we’ll have saved!  And how right we can feel having prevented the Nazi Socialist government and a black Muslim who is not an American citizen  from interfering and sticking their noses and filthy corrupt fingers into all our hard earned money!

Seriously.  If the questions were simple, we’d already have the answers.

If the street in front of your house has pot holes — you don’t dig up the road and haul the concrete away to fix it.  It’s true, there would be no more pot holes — but it’s also true that dirt paths don’t meet modern needs.

Throwing out all systems that don’t work means throwing out pretty much everything — because hardly anything systemic works perfectly, and even those that do eventually break down in the face of change and have to be adjusted.  If you’re in a space ship and the air filtration system is not working properly, do you eject it and go without?  Probably not.

At the end of the day, whether you are crafting a complex system, re-designing it, or just repairing it — you don’t give the job to the lowest bidder, or farm it out to those without the experience or background to do it properly.  How many roofers does it take to fix a difficult leak?  As many as it takes to find one who can figure it out.  And tearing down the house to the foundation is not an option.

We start where we are now.  Not where we were 150 years ago.

Lock step and barrel….

I heard a woman’s voice on TV saying these words yesterday (9/13/10.)

Today, I found the footage on the internet.  She is Christine O’Donnell, and is a candidate of the Tea Party running for the senate in Delaware.  The US Senate.

The clip doesn’t link directly, but you can find it at ABC News.

Before I knew who she was, I wrote this on Facebook:

what? what did that woman just say on TV? I don’t know who she is or what the context was, but she said she wasn’t going to just do what was expected of her and jump in all “lock step and barrel.”I know why education is in trouble — we hand microphones to people too stupid to know their own language.

While I’m happy to hear she is Pro-abortion rights, and Pro-gun control, I maintain my position.  I live in a country that actually had at one time a political party called the Know Nothing Party.  If we go that route again, then we deserve what we get.  While this woman has an education (in marketing – one of the great capitalist inventions) she fumbled her phrases like a drunken quarterback in front of the big microphone.  And as anybody in marketing knows — perception is everything.

Let’s be clear.  LOCK STEP is what soldiers and marching bands do.  Close formation, identical steps.  A good metaphor for those who “fall in” and obey norms and become part of a machine.  The most negative connotation has to do with Nazi troops goose-stepping their way to oblivion — an allusion that both Republicans and Tea Party guests would like to call up at every opportunity.  However, it works well not only for the military and marching bands, but also for medical professionals, law enforcement, fire departments, and any field where consistency, agreement, teamwork and cooperation are important.  Goose Step is the unmistakable negative reference to the Nazis — lock step is the softer allusion.

LOCK, STOCK, and BARREL is a gun metaphor — not unlike THE FULL MONTY.  ALL IN.  HEAD FIRST.  It is a full commitment and requires that every aspect of your resources are fully engaged.  Not holding back because of doubts, embarrassment, pride, or any other reason.  You put everything into every action when you go in lock, stock, and barrel.

To blend these 2 perfectly good metaphors into one mistake is called a MIXED METAPHOR.  Like, “killing two birds with one in the bush.”  And yes, that is an intentional reference to W.

“Why is this a big deal?” you ask.  It’s a big deal because it indicates that this speaker — with a national microphone — didn’t think before she spoke — or if she did, her motivations are more nefarious than should be tolerated.

Either she didn’t think at that moment, and so “slipped;” or, she intentionally tried to make both points without enough grammar to pull it off; or, she didn’t think as a matter of habit and so had not thought through the meaning of either “lock step” or “lock, stock, and barrel.”  They are not the same.  They don’t belong together unless linked by grammar and context.  They are both part of defined American English — and she either didn’t know the correct phrases, or didn’t think ahead and use them correctly.

“Maybe that’s what she meant…” you say.  And that is the most troubling of all the possibilities.  If it was not a case of jittery-mouth stumbling, or mouth-running-without-brain-fully-engaged, and was instead an intentional blend (which is possible, considering her marketing background) — then you have to assume malice.  If she was intentionally trying to forge the idea that those who respect and participate in the expected norms of society (lock step) and those who dive in with full commitment (lock, stock and barrel) are the same — two sides of an undesireable thing to be avoided at all costs  then there is a problem.  Her implication is that she will never fall so low as lock step and barrel.

Once again let me say I do understand the impulse to fight against the bad politicians of the past and the present.  That’s not my problem with this message.  But to intentionally try to fuse the negative associations of military lock step and the positive associations of lock, stock, and barrel (all in, the full monty, jumping in head first – or feet first) into one negative characteristic is an attempted manipulation of perception that I am not willing to accept.  Not all lock step equates with goose-step; and not every all-in is a leisure activity or a fool’s leap.  That’s the pleasure and the tripwire of metaphors — they are complex and carry the baggage of centuries.

This kind of error is a lot like intentionally mispronouncing a word (like nuclear) out of stubbornness or ignorance.  Regardless of which cause is true, it isn’t cute, it isn’t intelligent, and it belies either an inability or a contempt.

Because we glorify, elect and reward ignorance, we continue to slip in the global marketplace and global authority.  What incentive is there to become the best and the brightest, when the second-rate, the narcissistic, and the proudly ignorant continue to occupy the microphones and cameras of the media?

Scholars, creative minds, explorers, inventors, and brilliant innovators should be what we aspire to and what we emulate.  Instead, the media feeds us a diet of racist Florida sheep-dogs and politicians unable to think 5 words ahead of their mouth.

Even in schools, we place a higher value on being pretty, running fast, personal charisma, and wealthy parents; instead of high academic achievement and innovative thinking.  Nerds, dweebs, bookworms, freaks — we’ve got a lexicon full of insults for the kids who don’t fit the popular, jock, or rich-kid mold.  In every aspect of our society, we boost those who are part of the social norm, and exclude those who are exceptional in ways that don’t fit the mold.

I don’t want to be led by the ignorant, the ordinary, the emotional, or a guy with whom I’d feel comfortable having a beer (if I liked beer.)  I want to be led by the exceptional, the thoughtful, the brilliant, the creative, the innovative, and the courageous.

My friend Carrie asked what patriotism is.  I think it’s the courage to take the difficult high road to make the country better, rather than the easy, foolish, selfish, racist, sexist, greedy, self-serving, intentionally unread, intentionally ignorant, delusional, proud-to-be-common low road.  I don’t want an Ordinary-Joe in the White House, the Senate, the Supreme Court, or even the House of Representatives.  I don’t want to be led by someone who is financially successful at any cost.  I don’t want to be led by someone who prays on street corners, on his/her way to a board meeting that will cheat millions out of ten or fifteen cents a day and call it capitalism.  I don’t want to be led by people who make it their primary goal to turn a profit at any cost.

Don’t get me wrong — there are noble, honorable, honest, hard-working, loving, generous, loyal, clever, creative and good people of all kinds and in all walks of life.  But those who lead millions have to be exceptional.  If they are not — then their leadership simply won’t hold up to the negative pressures and overwhelming prevalence of what is easy.  How simple it must be to slip from painful honor to easy dishonor when thousands of people and millions of dollars bear down upon you, telling you, “It will be okay just this once.”

Growing tired of pretend anger….

and pretend fear.  and pretend compassion….  There are better shows on Broadway if I want to see people acting.

20 years ago, as a single parent, I was planted firmly in the lower class ranks of the US Tax Code.  As a result, for over 10 years I did not pay income taxes.  In fact I got money back in the form of “earned income credit” — they were so glad I wasn’t on welfare, and that I consistently held down a job, the IRS sent me some money so I’d keep trying.  And I did.  We ate a lot of pasta and rice and beans.  All my furniture was used.  My car was used.  My apartment floor was rotted so you could see the first floor living room from the 2nd floor bath tub.  The gas leaked.  The faucets leaked.  The roof leaked.  The electricity didn’t work in 1 room and the lights wouldn’t turn off in another.  We never made long distance phone calls.  We never bought any food we weren’t going to eat that day or the next because of the bugs.  We didn’t go shopping or have a Christmas tree.  My doctor was a lovely man who didn’t really need all my money, so he charged on a sliding scale.  I was uninsured, and so I paid $15 total for office visits — the result was that my son and I got to go to the doctor when we needed to.

Then one day, I started making money.  I made more money in 2 years than I’d made in the previous 15.  And those years I paid taxes.  Quite a bit of tax.  It came as a real shock to be asked for 40-45% of what I’d earned.  But I knew it was coming, and there was a feeling of — maybe pride? — that my years as an adult were evening out.  I also made a point of paying back the other spheres of “tight money” I’d been opting out of by donating bags full of toys to the local Toys-For-Tots Christmas collection, and more toys to the local Ronald McDonald Houses.  In cafes and eateries, I started leaving 20-25% tips to make up for the 3-5% (if any) I’d left for hard-working waiters in my lean years (on the rare occasions when I’d find myself in a restaurant.)  I assume that’s how it works in the long run.  Those who have, make up for those who only have a little.

Then, at a lapse of a few weeks between old insurance coverage, and what was to be its replacement policy — my little family was run over by a serious illness, and within 5 months, my savings, my son’s college fund, and pretty much everything I had was gone.  And — I was back to not paying income tax again.  In fact, I was back to far worse than I’d been before because so much of the time I had to stay home and be a caregiver — so there was less money coming in.

Everybody survived but my finances.  But time passes.  I was working as a substitute teacher and going back to college when I met my husband, Jim, and the world stopped being such a scary place again.  There are a lot of people not lucky enough to fall in love with a sweet, infinitely kind, stable and single college professor.  I wasn’t going to end up on the street without him — but I was probably going to end up in an asylum — or just dead.

In financial terms, when I remarried, I was suddenly back in the household income category that paid taxes.  Not a lot, by comparison to my flush years, but a good, middle class income.  I started a retail toy business while the Clinton budget was still in place (and before 9/11) and so reaped the run-off of the plump economy for about 4 years.

War has a bad effect on the toy market.  Especially one with as much debt as Iraq was stacking up, and no end in sight.  Each year of the W. Whitehouse, we made less and less in the toy store, until finally, we stayed open one last year, even though we were losing money, just to keep our one and only employee employed until she knew what was next in her life.  We closed the doors in May of 2010, and that was that.  We gave the leftover toys to the local Childrens Home, the Foster Care folks, Bikers Against Child Abuse (they carry little plush animals in the pockets of their biker jackets), the Stork’s Nest (where teenage mothers are taught the basics), and the Childrens Advocacy Center (where traumatized and abused children are taken to give legal statements and to receive therapy.)

So once again, for the last 5 years, we have not paid income taxes because the toy store wasn’t making money.  And we probably won’t pay taxes this year — because we lost so much money in the end.

But after that — who knows.

The point is — over my working lifetime, the amount of taxes I’ve paid has just about equaled the amount of taxes Jim paid.  His was always taken out of his paycheck like everybody else who works a steady job.  Mine was a little more complicated — but it evened out.

And as far as I can tell, almost nobody we know paid taxes last year beyond Social Security and incidental amounts.  We lost money when we closed the store, and had half-a-store full of toys to give away.  But everybody that worked last year got special tax incentives and deductions, and so may have paid some tax — but a much smaller percentage than previously.

The lower class — the people where I was when I was a young, single mother — don’t pay anything but payroll tax anyway, and will probably get that back as “earned income”, or a refund in the end. In the middle-class range, anybody from 80k down is just paying payroll taxes, or the lower rungs of the tax ladder — so they aren’t being squeezed outrageously.

The real money comes from people who are doing very well, thank you.  People who work hard, buy nice houses, new cars every couple of years, fashionable clothes for their kids, cars for their kids, new furniture every few years, vacations, plane tickets, meals out every day for lunch and several evenings a week, have elective cosmetic surgery, housekeepers, big toys like motorcycles, hunting trips for sport, season tickets to their favorite sports team, movies, a phone for every member of the household, a computer in every room of the house — and plenty.  That’s the word I’m looking for.  Plenty.

I said all that to say this.

I was in my car yesterday and the car in front of me had a sticker on its back window.  I say the car had a sticker — the truth is, the person driving the car had the sticker.  The car was an innocent victim.  It said:

And did I mention the car was a brand new, dealer-plated, 4-wheel drive sport utility vehicle.

I don’t mean to be rude (yes I do) but if you’re driving a gas guzzler straight off the dealer lot in the current economy, no, you haven’t paid enough taxes already.

Those who have plenty, make up for those who don’t have enough.  That’s the way it works.  Sometimes you’re the have and sometimes you’re the have not — and you can’t control which every day of your life.

2 days ago, our local food bank called the local TV outlets to say that they had less than 2 weeks of food left.  Usually, they make it through the summer on the produce of their little farm which is worked by volunteers, but this year, the flooding ruined the crops. And… instead of 500 clients a week, they are seeing 700+ because of the economy.  So we loaded up our car with groceries and headed over there.  They were happy to see us — and several other folks were doing the same thing.  This morning, the regional grocers donated food by the truckload, and promised to match up to $10K in donations made by customers at the register.

Those who have plenty, make up for those who don’t have enough.  That’s the way it works.

What doesn’t work is put-on outrage.  If the lower class isn’t paying taxes, and the middle class below 80k isn’t paying much — then who is it that’s making and wearing these bumper stickers on their new sports utility vehicles?

It’s a trick question.  We already know the answer.  There are only 3 groups who could be doing this.
1.  People making plenty, or plenty+
2. People who don’t really know how much tax they paid last year or who don’t really know what the current tax rates are and why
3. People running fast to jump on a passing bandwagon

Regardless of which group they fall in — these are not people who are pinched to the point of hunger, doing without, or poverty.  Their tax rate is not moving them from the HAVES column to the HAVE NOTS column.  Their tax rate is not keeping them from eating what they want tonight.  Or from going to the doctor, the mall, or the private school tomorrow.

The SUV driver was a white, 40-something, driving during the middle of the day, and driving in town.  I’m sure their income is well deserved and they work hard for it.  I’m sure they have a rocky, hill-y, dirt road farm that needs a utility vehicle and all the gas it drinks on a daily basis. (we live in a desert.) I’m sure they resent like hell having to pay their taxes while single parents, and those going through family illness and crises get their taxes back in refunds and EICs.  I’m sure they resent having to pay a higher percentage of their higher income into the pool than their lower-income counterparts.

And I’m sure that they resent that they have no direct way to specify what their taxes pay for or don’t pay for.  They don’t want to pay doctors to give good health care to lazy people who won’t work, or people who don’t eat right or people who have long-term diseases or health conditions, or people who work at stupidly dangerous jobs.  They don’t want to pay for rebuilding the power grid and the infrastructure of utilities, roads, water resources etc.  They don’t want to pay teachers, firefighters, police, or other public servants raises negotiated by unions.

But they probably do want the police to come when they hear somebody coming through their back gate.  And they do want other people’s children to be educated — because if they weren’t, then they’d all be too stupid to work and pay their own way.  So they want humanitarians to go into poorer neighborhoods and teach those children.

They want the social contract — but they don’t want to pay for it.  They want a standing army.  They want to be able to storm into a country that hasn’t attacked us and isn’t threatening us, so we can give them freedom from their misguided ways and terrible peer-pressure induced religion, and offer them the free gift of democracy.  But they don’t want to pay for it.  Or maybe they do want to pay for that, but they don’t want to pay Social Security benefit to people who have been paying into the system for a lifetime.  Maybe they want to pay for a war, but not the salaries of judges who might give rights to the wrong people….

I’m just reallly reallllly tired of false outrage.  Of people saying they are outraged about taxes, when what they are really afraid of is not being in control of the money they contribute to the general fund.  They want their hard earned dollars to be in a special fund, they control, and they direct.

And that would work, right?

I’m tired of people pretending to be revolutionaries.  Obviously they haven’t read much about real revolutionaries.  Revolutions don’t happen just because you and your plenty-fied friends are pissed off because their party isn’t in power at the moment.  And revolutions don’t happen because a bunch of your friends meet at a picnic and decide to print pseudo-outrage on 5×12″ bumper stickers, lapel buttons, and Facebook pages.

“Revolution! Ooooo, it gives me shivers! Let’s go talk about it over lobster ravioli and margaritas….”

I’m sorry.  Those who have plenty, make up for those who don’t have enough.  That’s the way it works.  Any other way, and it stops working.  If you want to see revolution, then break the social contract with all the single parents, devoted caregivers, retirees, public servants, unemployed, underemployed, uneducated, undereducated, hungry, disabled, and unable — and their families.  There is nothing on earth as scary or as dangerous as someone who has nothing and therefore nothing to lose — and that’s where real revolutions are born.  Not on the back windows of new, gas guzzling sport-utility vehicles.

Saturday afternoon revolutionaries… are not my cup — well — you get the idea.

Top 5 Things I Want Back (orig 10/08)

1.  The cerulean sky.  When I was a child (it sucks to be old enough to say that…) the sky was actually a different color than it has been for the last couple of decades.     It truely was cerulean — rathar than the washed out, faded denim, slightly-chromed-metalic-gray-blue color it has been since the late 80’s.   Between 9-11-01 and 9-13-01, they gathered enough data do prove Global Dimming was/is actually happening because the skies were empty of aircraft.   So doubt is down to zero that it really is getting darker, even at noon; and the color really has changed.  And there has already been enough change since the number of commercial aircraft has been reduced in the last 10 months, that it makes me anxious for this one.  I want my cerulean sky back.

2.  I want my religion back.  My problem is not with Christianity, or with any of the religions that influence our daily lives.  In general, they do individuals a lot of good — and have some positive impact on the societies and cultures where they are.  My problem is with the people who hijack religion for their own agenda.  Capitalism hijacked fundamentalist Christianity to gain the carte blanche support of well-meaning people who default to trust over skepticism.  What they got, in addition to that trust, was the power of the pulpit.  “What is said from the pulpit is as inspired by God as the Bible is…” is both faulty reasoning based on no Biblical claims, but it is also one more nail in the coffin of free will and personal responsibility.  Those who give up their right and ability to think for themselves, probably deserve what they get.

I, on the other hand, am not willing to accept the directives from the pulpit concerning public policy, but I am also not willing to accept that the cornerstone of faith is is ignorance and blind submission to any man or woman who takes the microphone in a building that is distinguished only by a sign on the curb claiminng to be “God’s House.”    Regardless of which God the sign professes to represent — it was still hammered into the ground by a man or woman.
And as far as I know, it is only men and women who have ever tried to make blind, uninformed, and unquestioning faith a tenant of religion.  And I want people of all faiths to stay out of the “I know what God wants you to do” and “I know who God favors” business.

3.  I want my money back.  I want all that money the US Govt. spent on private contractors, Haliburton, and tribal pay-offs back.  I want all the money funneled into the bank accounts of Republican cronies and pork to go back into the US coffers.  I want all the money spent so that politicians could “look busy”, “appear hardworking” or take a cushy trip around the world returned to my own personal account.

4. I want conversation without irony back.  Just that.  Not a big request, really.  Just plain, straight talk.  Words with no manipulation behind them.  Compliments without agenda.  Truth, without a joke to mask our low expectations.

5.  I want community back.  Everyone is so caught up in the quest to get ahead (a personal quest), to show a profit (a personal quest), to present the desired image (a personal quest), and to “play smart” (a personal quest), that neighbors have slipped out of focus.  We are persuaded to strive to be our own personal best.  To fulfill our own potential.

And self sacrifice, being our brother’s keeper, giving more than we take (or even as much as we take) have all fallen into disuse and then atrophy.   This is not to say that we aren’t all equally to blame for this phenomenon.  The temptation is to say “this is my time — don’t ask for it” and “this is my future I’m giving up if I stop to help you.”  Those are sentiments that the time and place where we are living have worked very hard to vanish.  “This is my money you’re asking for.”  “These are my emotions you are asking me to invest.”   Mine.  Nobody else’s.

I want what is ours back.  It’s a pendulum.  I know.  This has happened before in history.  I just want it back.