So, it has only been a week since I posted anything, it’s felt like longer.
Today President Trump signed an executive order the gist of which is that the Dakota Access Pipeline is going through. My opinion, I continue to think that it would be smarter to re-route the pipeline. However, here is where it’s likely time to admit that I’m a writer who is armchair quarterbacking. So, if they’re going to do it, I hope they do it right, and not just because the clean-up from a major spill would be catastrophic, but because if something were to go wrong, no one is ever going to hear the end of it. My opinion that I’d feel better about it the pipeline wasn’t in danger of potentially polluting water sources, hasn’t changed. (It has since been stated that the pipeline will be made with the highest quality American Steel.)That’s an important point there to keep in mind, about “armchair quarterbacking” when it comes to politics. There’s a reason why most of us aren’t heads of state or titans of industry.
Thinking about this brought me to another point. I’ve been disappointed, if not disgusted, by a lot of what I’ve seen with regard to American politics over the course of the last year. There seems an endless supply, in general, of knee-jerk reactionism backed up by emoting without thinking, a ton of hypocrisy, ignorance, and an overall lack of logic and common sense. I’m not talking about people blowing off steam, or like I’ve never been upset and shown it. I’ve seen the world seemingly turned into a place ruled by the cult of personality and popularity. Think about the idiocy of the idea of a world governed and ruled by social media? By what someone, ANYONE, tweeted? Dear God, we’ve got to be smarter than that. Don’t we? I’ve seen “American Guilt” and self-loathing reach epic proportions, something I happen to think and believe is completely useless. That’s like hating yourself for being great. Not perfect, great. I’m kind of tired of the bashing of the United States by people who don’t really seem to think through what the alternative might be, to the freedoms and luxuries we enjoy here. I think that so-called hatred of wealth or of the wealthy is patently dishonest, that people don’t hate wealth nearly as much as they hate not being wealthy themselves. (I grew up poor and lower middle class.) What’s that quote? “If you want to know what God thinks of money, just look at who he gives it to.” ~ Dorothy Parker. What if I told you that Meryl Streep’s net worth is estimated at around sixty-five million dollars? ( This was written around the time of the Oscars or the Golden Globes when a multitude of celebs were letting us in on how much they care about the little people, from behind their very sheltered existence, from behind very high walls, from red carpets walked with the tightest security, armed bodyguards, to protect them from… well, us.) What if I told you that some estimates put her net worth as high as seventy-five million dollars? Do we hate the rich? Or do we just hate the wealthy people whom we don’t feel sympathize with the plight of the rest of us? “Oh, she said something nice. Oh, she says she hates what we hate and she’s for equal rights too. We like her.” ( I hope no one is that simplistic or easily fooled, but, there it is.) I’ve seen a growing disconnect between city-folk and country folk, for want of a better way to put it. I’ve seen it become not cool or okay or acceptable to say the Pledge of Allegiance because so many object to the line “Under God” because what if you don’t believe in God, and bristling at any hint of what they might deem patriotism, or having some pride and self-respect about where you are from… how it is okay for people to be proud of being from the Bronx, (or wherever) but not okay to be proud of being an American? “South Philly! Represent!” But, not okay to be proud of being an American? Not okay to be proud of being a citizen of the strongest, wealthiest, most free, society in modern history? Did any of your grandparents fight to preserve that freedom in World War II, in Korea? Anywhere? They believed in this country, in fighting for it, that it was worth fighting for to preserve it for YOU, so that you could be free, so that you might have opportunities greater than any they ever had or could have dreamed of. Isn’t a slap in the face to every Veteran, to their families, not to be proud of this country or to want to put it first? Would you say, “China first!” Meanwhile the tax dollars of Catholic taxpayers and many others who don’t believe in abortion at all, as a fundamental basis of their religion and very personal relationship with God, there are those whom believe that to be one of the seven deadly sins, regardless of what the opinion of anyone else is, because that is their right as free citizens of this country, just as it is yours not to believe in whatever it is, watch their tax dollars go to fund abortions, and how is that “fair” to them? It isn’t. Forgetting then, on every level, we’re all in this together, that America, is the ship we are all on.
I used to like to say The Pledge of Allegiance when I was in school. I felt good about it. I bought the “School House Rock” version of the “Great American Melting Pot”, I was supposed to buy into that, we all were. They did that, came up with that, “the melting pot” idea, specifically for our future, so we would understand that it didn’t matter what color our skin was or where our grandparents came to this country from, we were here now all of as Americans, FREE citizens of the United States, going forward into the future together, and that was our common ground and a great thing. As a little kid, I felt good as I looked around my diverse classrooms, thinking about what they were teaching us then, that we were all different, and that was awesome, because look what we could learn from one another, but that we were all the same, because, we were Americans. And that was something good, and strong, something to be proud of. Not only that, it was something that no other nation had the way we did, it was what made us special and great and strong, our diversity, and our sameness in that we were, and are, Americans. I understood and was taught that there is a right way and a wrong way for new citizens to enter the United States, legally, not as a matter of exclusion, not at all, but as a matter of keeping our country and its people safe. Immigrants used to have to funnel in through Ellis Island. Every country has laws about immigration, every one. It isn’t just about safety either, it’s about economics and making sure we can take of our own people, American citizens, and all of that is why people wanted to come to America, and wanted to assimilate and become Americans. Back in the day, many immigrant families from Ireland, from Italy, from wherever, they wanted their children to only speak English, to be American, to be of this new place that offered a life far better than any they could hope for in the places they’d come here from. FREEDOM and opportunity. ( Speak as many languages as you want to speak, the point there was that people wanted to be American.) I liked seeing that “Made in America” tag or imprint on things, that meant quality, that someone knew that they wanted to make it good, they wanted to build it to last. And while that little “Melting Pot” movie presented a “nice” version of things, one that didn’t mention Native Americans being here first, or slavery, or, a lot of things that we learn about when we’re allegedly mature enough to handle it without acting like absolute idiots about a past that we cannot change, ( “Hey man, I’m hella pissed at you about your eleventh great-grandma in 1795, that you don’t even really know anything about but I heard she was Fritzlehatchgompersop, from Jimmy on the damn twitter, and that is bad”) that doesn’t mean that the sentiment and the idea behind the “Melting Pot”, of us citizens all being Americans, wasn’t the exactly right one.
If we’re lucky, we get to grow up. I liked that idea of America, of diversity and respect, much better than the divisiveness that I’ve seen rise over the course of the last fifteen years or so, because really, I think it started in 2001. I think that is still a difficult thing to understand and accept, but I think that event on September 11 so long ago, is really when people in this country began to look at one another differently again, after so many years of forward progress. Is the United States a perfect nation… that would be no. If you’re looking for a modern, free, nation, without a bloody history of battles, wars, growing pains, mistakes, hardships, to go and live in so you can pat yourself on the back because you happened to be born into a country that has never, ever, ever, ever, in its history committed an atrocity, for any reason, so that you can then base your guilt free existence and sense of self-respect on that, well, good luck. Much of the point of our history is to learn from it, and what we were supposed to learn from it is that we are all, citizens of this country, Americans, that they United States is the house of every American, and our freedom and the lives we’re able to have here, were fought hard for. Our history, should unify us, should teach us about the things we don’t want to happen again.
In the last week or so, I’ve seen things that I don’t understand. I’ve seen people who, generally, advocated kindness, and love,and change, think that it’s acceptable or allowable to make fun of or mock and innocent ten-year old kid because of who his father is, because they don’t like his father. If your father is in prison for murder or rape, is that your fault? Hopefully it isn’t necessary to be too technical about that to make the point. I don’t understand that, I think that as a human being, that is not a decent thing to do. “But his father, but his dad, but Trump said….” No. Two wrongs do not make a right. “Well, his dad says stupid shit that I don’t like all the time.” Oh, so you want to emulate that? So that makes it okay to cowardly pick on a child? If Billy jumped off a bridge, would you jump off a bridge too? I don’t understand that. I think they dislike no one so much as themselves. I’m talking about values, common decency.
I don’t understand how anyone can advocate Women’s Rights, say that “slut shaming” has to stop, talk about the rights of “sex workers” and how they choose to make a living, to make their own way in this world, or that women have a right to do with their bodies whatever they choose to, and then say one word about the past of our current First Lady, Melania Trump. If she chose to model or pose nude, or whatever, to make her own way in this world. Make up your mind about what a free, liberated woman, is allowed, and stow the hypocrisy. If you think that she’s not liberated because you don’t like her husband, if you think she’s dumb because you don’t like her husband? Well, she speaks five languages and runs her own business, owns her own business, has a personal net worth of eleven million dollars, without him. I think that it’s a terrible thing when people need to try to make themselves feel better at the expense of another human being. “Free Melania?” I think she’s probably fine. Stow the hypocrisy. (And don’t forget that before he was elected President, people loved Donald Trump. A lot of the same people who claim to hate him now. He was referenced in movies, if not himself personally, then exteriors of his buildings, or mentions of them, going all the way back to the 80’s at least. He was frequently seen and photographed with many, many, prominent political figures, celebrities, athletes, people wanted to know him. Etc. )
“When they go low, we go high.” ~ Michelle Obama, former First Lady. (Apparently meaningless talking point as none of the Dems seems to have followed that advice or example.)
I don’t understand the “nasty woman” phenomenon. So, a man whom you don’t like, don’t respect, whose opinion many say has no value, voices his opinion that a woman is a “nasty woman.” Why on earth would anyone give that “nasty woman” remark even five more minutes? Let alone adopt it as a means of self-identification, even as a sarcastic f-you….again, to a man whose opinion you’ve asserted to be meaningless? A lot of people have called me a “bitch” during the course of things in this life but that don’t make it my name. Do you think that Hillary Clinton wasn’t tough enough to defend herself? I wouldn’t want to tangle with Hillary. But, what did she do? She held her head up and went to the inauguration. I don’t think for a moment that she misunderstood the fight she was getting into. Did people honor the example of, “When they go low, we go high.”? Some did and have and do. I’m not going to voluntarily change the way that I self-identify because of something that anyone (man) said. (Update, 2019, the DNC appears to have pulled its support from the Women’s March amid a controversy over Anti-Semitism. Anti-semitism is racially based prejudice against, or hatred of, Jews. And… we don’t do that here in the U.S. Israel is an ally to the U.S. Some may also remember a thing called World War II, but I digress.)
I can tell you that I think a lot of that is that our society today is sick with “HEY, LOOK AT ME!” and that a lot of people jumped on that bandwagon to get out there and get a moment for themselves and if the fact that a lot of them were already actors and celebrities is lost on you, then I think you might be a little naive. There are people whom I don’t think quite as highly of as a result of what looked to me like an opportunistic, if not exploitative and inflammatory, at some moments, grab for attention for themselves. I also think there are just as many true believers.
We are all replete with our opinions. But when we lose our own sense of dignity, of decency and decorum, that usually isn’t about the other person’s behavior.
Do I care if our president is popular, charismatic, good-looking, liked by Hollywood? Not one bit. In fact, I think that such criteria are a lot of what is wrong with this country. Are we going to elect politicians the way the Homecoming King and Queen got elected? Because what did you think of that back in the day? Or are we going to elect people whom are qualified to do the actual job they’re running for election for? I think that there isn’t much question as to the fact the our new president has often been uncouth, graceless, crude. Do you want to be like that? But what makes people nervous about it is that he seems emotional and/or unkind. But is that his job either? Okay, well, our new President is also an incredibly successful businessman, one who understands taxes, and regulations, and trade agreements, and how to make money. Who is going to understand those things better than someone who has had to deal with such things constantly, in practical application, in order to conduct his own business and run his own businesses? Do you want to listen to a farmer tell you how to build a good levee, or a politician? I think that the 2016 presidential campaign was one of the ugliest, dirtiest, political campaigns in modern history. Think about that, we know what we saw of it, there’s a lot we didn’t see. Do you think they were fighting each other with cotton candy and compliments? I’m sure that behind the scenes, it wasn’t any prettier all the way around. I think that people are generally naive and/or unthinking as to what it really takes to be a leader of a country, it isn’t a luncheon with crumpets and you know, how lovely that the world is so beautiful! It is one gigantic real life game of RISK. Like I said, I think this divisiveness within our own country began with September 11, 2001, as it shattered not only our peace, but also our peace of mind with one another and how we keep this country secure, I think that we’ve yet to be honest about that, that it remains the elephant in the living room of the American psyche. I hope we can return to a place of pulling together instead of apart. I think that there is quite a lot that the average American takes for granted in terms of how good life here really is, and because of it, they forget that no matter how nice we are, the rest of the world may not be so advanced or forward thinking, or perhaps, there are those who would like take this chunk of a continent and make it their very own, because the strength of this land that we call America is, in part, that it is self-sustainable.
I think that people are afraid, just in general, I think that they’re afraid. I think that there’s something of a “the sky is falling” mentality, and I hope that we, as a country, are able to shake loose of it and get ourselves together before we bring it down on our own heads. We’ve got to vote for the people, the person(s). whom are most qualified for the job(s), regardless of gender, race, or any other supposed qualifier, the best person for the job. Regardless of what is popular or what “everyone else is doing/voting/saying” we’ve got to think for ourselves and learn about the issues so we can make informed decisions and vote wisely. We’ve got to question what they tell us and be wiser than the campaign pitch, whatever it is. We’ve got to stop listening to what people from Canada or Australia or wherever else, have to say about our country because they don’t live here. We’ve got to educate ourselves and in some cases re-educate ourselves regarding our own constitution. These politicians who are telling you that our Constitution is “outdated”, they want to take it away from you, not to make your life better, not to help you, but to be able to control you even more. Americans need to understand that the Constitution is their greatest strength, greatest protection, it is a gift to every one of us from those who formed this nation, guaranteeing our RIGHTS and FREEDOM, the Rights and Freedom of every citizen, by law. ( You can read the U.S. Constitution online, or you can buy a copy for yourself to study.)
When I want to know about something, I look it up for myself. I check several sources, opposing, conflicting, sources, until I’m satisfied that I’ve gotten the gist of the thing, and then I form my own opinion as to what the truth is. Something that I think is completely necessary in today’s world where opinion is too often presented as fact, and I’ve seen both “sides” do that. ( Remember when there was the feeling of there being one side, that yes, there are differences but at the end of the day, we’re all Americans, and that means something?) They used to teach critical thinking in schools, how to gather and disseminate information, and the difference between fact, or ascertainable facts, and opinion. I will always be an advocate of thinking for oneself.
I’m hoping for the best for the future of this country, my country, the United States of America. I’m not sure how I feel about commentary on any of these subjects at the moment though, or commentary going forward, because while on one hand, I think there’s a lot of bullying all the way around and that regardless of your opinion on such issues, no “side” should be harassed into silence, that’s wrong. On the other hand, it’s pretty obvious that everyone is trying to get their voice above the din, and that no one is really listening. Personally, I think I would rather focus on my own work, my writing, and the good in my life, but, obviously, I understand sometimes there’s the want to say something. So, I advocate learning to use our voices with thought, with care, with as much objectivity as possible, with as much reason and logic as heart, with respect for the beliefs and opinions of others or at least for the rights of others to have their own opinions and beliefs, even if you don’t agree with them, and to know that the two serve to balance one another.
Pull together, not apart.
If you read this, I hope that you’ll take the time to look these things up for yourself, or to look up any such things. I’m still learning and continuously educating myself. ~ TS