Reflections

What Do You Want To Hear?

newspaperAt one point maybe 8 months ago I was thinking, ‘What the heck. Great leaders come out of nowhere at times, maybe Trump could fool us and really be good.’ Not that I was going to run right out and vote for him with the pretty lousy track record he had in business, but he was intriguing. That floated in and out of my brain until he started his incredible run at stabbing everyone who walked by; the disabled journalist, Megan Kelly, John McCain and other legislators, Muslims, women, veterans, Latinos and active duty servicemen. I know these people, all of them and they all contribute to our society. All of the outlandish things he was saying enabled him to be on television every hour of every day on all the 24 hour news channels. He never spent a dime on all that incredible coverage for a year or better, yet he decries the media as being unfair at every turn. They reported on things he said, none of it was made up, but he didn’t like the impact it was having on his image as he got deeper in the swamp he was creating. Instead of changing his ways he blamed the media for HIS shortcomings…Therein lies my concern.

First off, listen to him…he blames everyone for his shortcomings and has his whole campaign and more recently the media. The idea that the media is somehow unfair is a tactic many have used for years now to pull attention away from themselves. Sarah Palin did it convincingly for some, when she and her husband were facing ethics violations for firing a state trooper who would not do her personal bidding, setting us on a course of drifting farther and farther away from the truth. It was really hard for me to believe that people actually took her serious back then, but her legitimacy was cemented when the idea of a non-fact media began to take hold with her followers. It grew out of the age of people buying fake animals on the internet with real hard earned money simply to play on a fake farm…

All of that brings us to today where facts and reality are so blurred with intentional falsehoods that legislators and candidates can reel off one after another without anyone batting an eye. You see, we have been hearing all those things in email forwards and on social media for some time now, which of course proves beyond doubt it is all correct; right? The truth takes forever to make it around the world, but a lie is instantaneous.

As if that is not enough, the media in general is being denigrated by some politicians and people of trust to the point that many believe nothing they report is correct…accept Fox Network and pundit stream. Somehow folks do not see that they too are mainstream media, or at least they want you to take them that way. In recent years under Roger Alies Fox became very slanted to the right and somehow that was okay and slanting left is not? I have yet to understand that take on things, but hey I do not have a gullible personality and happen to believe that opposing info is good for democracy.  As for Fox, since their groper in chief Alies was fired, they are sounding a little more legit and have actually come down hard on their anchors for reporting marginal online polls and information from not so credible sources. Brett Baier apologized profusely a couple of weeks ago for reporting that Hillary Clinton was “under indictment” when in fact she was not and never has been. He had been given false info by a pundit. Fox has a few quality journalists these days that deserve a network that is not bent.

Blurring the lines even farther, the “fake news” which is all the rage today like those farm animals of ten years ago, is flooding social media from Macedonia with ridiculous stories. There is pretty much zero truth in any of it.

Trump has had the bed made for him on the mistrust of the media by his predecessors in the last several years, so it is only natural that he pick up where they left off and that is a scary thing when pushed by a President. Without the press and giving social media legitimacy, he and others are free to roam out of site without so much as an idea what they are doing with our tax dollars, our neighbors and in the larger world.

We have to understand that although sometimes leaning a bit one way or the other, the free press is overall not setting out to deceive us and they are all we have to keep an eye on our country. Most of them will bury a story on page 6 now and then if it doesn’t suit their audience or even leave it out all together, but they are by and large journalists who stand by their stories and have the proof to back them up.

You would never buy a car without looking under the hood or buy a horse without looking it in the mouth, so why pray tell are we being sucked into this idea that our freedom of the press is a bad thing and reporting on some of these guys is somehow unfair. Bull shit. If they have done bad things or will I want to know about it, left or right.

The single most used tool by dictators is to dispatch through state run media the message they want you to hear. People like Putin and Kim Jung Un of North Korea, they have their state run news and you will get whatever they want you to hear, not what is real. Trump will never tell you that Russia has an economy smaller than Calif. or Putin has broken it so badly all they have is oil and that Putin’s people are starving because money intended for food there was pocketed by Putin. Putin tells his people how great things are and they are blissfully ignorant, only the elite have a dime. No car, no food no money for anything, a stark difference to the U.S. both in what they have and what they hear.

Please read and listen with a discerning ear and check out what you read on the Internet. Not with more of the same, but with opposing views…that is how we learn. The American people are not stupid, this controlled media tactic was successful in Germany with well educated people. Understand that the press is all we have between our government and us, and by and large it sets out to learn the truth. What do you want to hear? Listen to all of it, not just what you want to hear. Losing the Constitutional right to a free press is the end of our free society.

One Country, With Liberty and Justice For All

7_7_11AmericanFlagMy great, great, great….grandfather served in the revolutionary war from Mill Hundred, Talbot County, Maryland. He was born in that county from “Freemen” parents who brought with them some of the blood of the Angles and Saxons of England. I do not know what trade any of them pursued, but judging by the address, they worked a mill of some sort along with some of ninety-nine other families, thus the street name.

Obviously, my distant great grandfather was privy to everything leading up to the Revolutionary War and part of the shaping of this country after the war for a time. His children carried on where he left off, seeing a country founded on Greek principals of democracy and the sculpting of a new country. They painstakingly bartered, wrote and re-wrote to shape first our Declaration of Independence and then the Constitution with its’ Bill of Rights.

The most repeated theme throughout all of the original wording and the many amendments is individual freedoms and equality among the citizens of the new country. Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness is most stressed among the documents in one form or another, and never once is written equality except for…liberty except for…never once in all those pages is anyone singled out of the pursuit of happiness or individual freedoms.

Summarily, not one political party is singled out for smooth sailing down some sort of path to domination. Not one church is designated to counsel our government and amazingly enough, in all my research on my family I have never run across much in the way of admonishment of anyone for being of opposite political ideas, religion or nationality. The ridiculous witch burning preformed by the original colonists was about over by then thankfully and generally, people had work to do just to survive. There was some mention of those pesky “Indians” because they were half starved and diseased from the coming of the Europeans, so they would beg at the doors in the townships.

Overall these folks worked together because they had common enemies as we do today; although we have not understood that yet so we fight the battles the enemies tell us to. They stuck together knowing that each had the backs of another regardless of their origins, or religion much like our military today where division will get you killed. Sure, they ran afoul of each other and slammed fists in disagreement, but they did not consider each other as divisive just for wanting to live in peace or look upon each other as subhuman because they thought differently. The radical current thinking that we need to follow one side or another, or worship one way or another is ludicrous, and they recognized that right off and wrote of it thus in framing documents. Many of them were running from religious tyranny and governments that were given to oppression in many forms. Some were simply seeking a new land and way of life, both of which are responsible for nearly every one of the immigrants this country has seen in its’ life.

The price for freedom: others covet it. Brown, white, yellow, red and black they are the same on the inside and want more out of life for themselves and their children. They leave their native lands because of religious fanatics like ISIS or simple power brokers like Putin or Hitler who push one way of life. Most are starving for religious freedom much like the Mormon’s who came to this country, and our Constitution and Bills of Rights guarantees their freedom just as it guarantees religion will not run our government. It amazes me after watching the strife in the Middle East, which is all about tribes and religion that any of us would choose any religion to run our country. It is a slippery slope in a downpour to go there; even folks of the same faith have vastly different ideas of how to practice that faith.

My family’s independence was won together with their neighbors. They did not single out who was watching their back, they all knew someone was there to cover them and they them. They fought together against oppression and they thought together with their neighbors to bring a mighty fine living for the benefit of most. It was not always easy or even cordial, but they knew early on that if one failed they all might fail and they made things work.

What I see going on today is everyone rallying around whatever is tossed into the wind that day. There is no one with the gumption to stand up for real problems, leaving the ridiculous jabber behind. There are few who will bother to research a given windblown topic to find out how ridiculous it all is. Fewer still care about any of it as long as their patch of grass is not disturbed.

We all live in one country and we are very, very lucky to have been born here or to have immigrated here. Protecting it should be foremost to all of us and the division we are creating threatens that daily, especially economically. We have wasted several years now on division. Orchestrated division to boot; it is time to learn how to play in the sandbox together again.

I Am The Only One

Smoke n sun 005Last week was a hard time in my hometown where many folks including myself attended a funeral for a young local boy who had taken his own life. The whole scene was gut wrenching sad, with parents wondering what they could have done different, classmates and friends trying to understand the meaning of it all and everyone left to wonder what was so wrong in an otherwise happy life.

I don’t know the circumstances and don’t need to know to understand that we are all given choices in our lives and some of those are easier for some than others. What sets up suicide moments vary somewhat, largely though the core reason is the same…insecurity in one form or another.

In every day life, we are compared to others, measured by their successes and scored accordingly. We never seem to be judged by our own merits and certainly not without strings attached. People who do not even know who we are judge us and often unmercifully especially if we show vulernability. Even physicians do NOT hold mental anguish and pain in the same light as physical pain. For an adult, the day-to-day bombardment of judgment is handled because we simply deal with it or become callused to it in most cases. As a teen though, every part of our being is sensitive to how we measure up against our peers and most often, the very things that affect us emotionally cloud the lens we look through.

I was and sometimes still am one of the most insecure people I know. Most of us feel that way, but few will let on that they are. In fact the bully’s and brutes around us are the absolute most insecure. They run people down only to build themselves up. They appear so strong but can’t muscle past their own conscious that knocks them around on the inside.

At one time or another, we are fooled into believing that we must be “perfect”. Whatever that is? Achilles was a grand “mortal” in Greek mythology, athletic, strong and fit to lead a charge into any battle. So his family decided he should live indefinitely, and he was held by his heel and dipped in The River Styx and became immortal. But alas, the heel they held him by was left without the anointing waters so he died in war by an arrow to his heel. We all have our Achilles heel, a soft spot, perhaps an empty spot where our insecurities are hidden and we are most vulnerable. The problems we face are real, but they are usually passing right on through on our journey in life, but sometimes we choose to grab them and hold onto them for the sake of familiarity. I suppose even a wet blanket makes us feel more comfortable than no blanket at all.

Most of us think that we are the only one that does not fit in. We are not pretty enough, or popular enough. Some like myself came by that honestly enough because I was always compared to an older brother and later to other kids my age. Seemed like they could do no wrong and I was doing everything wrong it seemed to me. I got pretty down on myself and wanted nothing more than to run away. Where I was going I had no idea, but it seemed it would solve things at the time. Self-identity takes everyone time to establish and there is plenty along the way to alter our paths.

A kid needs room to think, imagine and take a look at themselves from the inside. We are keeping them busy enough with activities and that is certainly part of well rounded youth, but there is a quiet part too where we need to go and sometimes that needs to be heard; the soft spot of that heel. There is a secret room inside all of us, a place where we go when we need a break, or need to think things through and often enough life allows no time for that. We must make the time to reach for our deepest thoughts and bring them into the light and help others to understand that it is OK to reach out.

There is no reason for blame in any of the situation we find ourselves as we have no idea what goes on in those interior rooms that others keep. Inadequacy is not something any of us can see from the outside looking in, but we can encourage growth in people around us that will displace feelings of failure. In our day to day lives the people we interact with might pick up their self esteem just by throwing them a smile or giving a quick hug; it works wonders for me.

This town will heal as will the families involved, but it will be hard. We need to pass out the hugs not just at the point of grief, but every day of every year and just maybe it will be at the right time to save another from their Achilles heel wounds.