Sacrifice Something

The internet moves at light speed from one topic to another. Everyone must pick a side, and of course their side is always right.

I’ve been thinking about Colin Kaepernick for a while. Now I am thinking about Colin Kaepernick and Nike. Maybe what bothers me is that it just another talking point in someone’s Twitter feed or Facebook.

Where I live no one admits they voted for Trump. We pat ourselves on the back talking about how fabulously progressive we are. We voted for Obama! We’ll probably never ever stop talking about that.

Our town has a dirty little secret though. Instead of talking about what we could do for the disadvantaged, our school district worried about placating people of privilege who didn’t want their children exposed to gangbangers, the illiterate and people of color. They couldn’t entirely avoid the undesirables of course. The big point of contention was that the special people had to have a new high school built for their little precious angels. They were going to tell the school district how big the school could be and who could attend it.  For reals. They couldn’t take a chance on having their kids go to school on our side of town. My husband and I aren’t University professors! We have no books in our house. People on our side of town engage in gunfights as the children get off the school bus.

Of course all these allegations were ludicrous. These parents were very careful in official channels about how they delivered their message, since by and large they were highly educated registered Democrats speaking to a school board of mostly the same type of people. It was fun at times to watch a few of these people struggle to deliver their coded messages at school board meetings while they sweat, sputtered and spit.

Our school board spent YEARS on this issue, worrying about catering to the elite.

What is my point?  Instead of these sorts of hypocrites laughing at the Trump supporters who would burn their Nikes, maybe they should go SACRIFICE something. They could attend local government meetings and advocate for the disadvantaged.

My son’s football team played the new precious high school’s team and our team won.  I am sure the parents of the precious were fuming.

Somehow though as Friday Night Lights turns into College Football Saturday in our town, I doubt I will see anyone newly motivated to sacrifice something. The best and the brightest in our town will be getting drunk, pissing and vomiting on private property as they trudge toward the stadium. Students and grown ass folks alike.

This is my little corner of America. Yours may be different. If you think “sacrifice everything” is the ultimate message , make it a message of action not just a talking point.

What Would Dad Say?

My dad has been gone for a long time.  I often wonder what he would say about certain events.  He died previously to September 11, 2001, and that was one of the first times I’d had that thought.

My dad had been a lifelong Republican, but I don’t think he would recognize the party as it is today.

I was talking to my mom on the phone the other day.  My mom is beginning to have some memory problems but she still watches the news.  She was talking about all of Trump’s criminal associates but stumbled to remember their names.  I supplied the names as I could, Manafort and Cohen.

After our converation ended, there was a notification on my phone that John McCain had passed away.  My dad, like McCain, was a Navy man.  My dad of course did not graduate from Annapolis, he was an enlisted man.

A few years ago, when Trump questioned whether McCain was a war hero or not, because he’d been captured, I felt my dad roll over in his grave.  What would my dad have said about Trump’s remarks.  What would he have said about such a man who would  mock a veteran?

What would he say about Trump, a sitting President, whose behavior has been so egregious, he has not been invited to the funeral of Senator John McCain.

What would he say when it was other politicians across the aisle who would come to the defense of John McCain.

I don’t think my dad could imagine such disgraceful behavior.  For the people that still support Trump, how do you reconcile yourself with such disgraceful behavior.

 

Forgotten Americans

I read a post recently talking about  The Forgotten American .  I wasn’t sure that I fully understood what was being conveyed.  The author, Dina Honour talks about pundits wearing glasses spouting off about a certain brand of forgotten American .  I’m not sure how glasses play into anything, but they must.  Maybe because I’ve had my head under a rock lately.  To me though “forgotten Americans” is just another political talking point like “deplorables” and “guns and religion”.  Most politicians, especially Trump, are out of touch with how any of us might struggle.

There are many forgotten Americans.  Homeless vets who have never received enough mental health care.  Poor elderly.  Children of the poor travelling through our educational system.  All of the above from every state, color, religion and sexual orientation.  I’m sure it wouldn’t take you long to think of someone who has been forgotten.

I live in the midwest.  You might call it flyover country, or perhaps more flatteringly “the heartland”.  I’ve lived in a few different cities, all in the midwest.  My hometown doesn’t really conform to some glorious stereotype of the heartland.  You can find a little bit of everything in my hometown from gang activity to cultural events.  The place I was born, not the place I consider my hometown, had ties to the mafia.

The place I live now is university town.  Some of our residents would describe it as a progressive mecca where Republicans not need even attempt to run for local office.  We are all crunchy environmental types.  Except when you dig a little deeper you see there is a lot of under the surface classism and racism which our school board likes to ignore.  I’ve written before about my observations regarding the school system here.

I’ve spent twenty plus years as nurse.  I’ve had one child graduate through the public school system and have one more soon to do so.  Both my kids attended a minority-majority elementary school.  The poor elderly are still in the same boat as they were twenty years ago.  The kids from disadvantaged backgrounds in our school systems, well not much has changed for them through several presidential administrations.  Our school district has many strong points….acknowledging the families from disadvantaged backgrounds isn’t one of them.  While forgotten Americans could include many groups the young and the elderly are present no matter what part of America you live in.

As someone who takes antidepressants I wonder what I will do if I can no longer afford them.  Sure our insurance pays some of the cost, but not all.  If I received Medicaid would I get to stay on the medications that work best for me, or would I be placed on something else that is cheaper.  The poor with mental health issues..one more group of forgotten Americans.

Most days, coming home from work, I’ll see a couple of homeless men, begging at a street corner hoping a passing car will help them out.  Most of us don’t care who they are or what their story is, we’d just prefer to forget about them while we sit in our warm cars while they endure the cold.

I’m a cynic.  I don’t see that much has changed for the less fortunate whether it was Clinton in power twenty years ago or Trump now.  The midwest is known for pig production..surprisingly neither Clinton or Trump were raised here.

Bubble

I was ill recently.  I spent a lot of time sleeping when I wasn’t coughing.  Between being borderline hypoxic and dehydrated I felt as though my mind was playing tricks on me with the strangest of dreams.  When I finally felt better and emerged from the bubble of illness, reality was even stranger.  The orange man, Trump, was talking about shitholes.  People were encouraging Oprah to run for president. I thought America had decided TV stars with no political experience weren’t allowed to run for office.  Oh America, how fickle, strange and sometimes ugly you are.

Rule Book

When I was a child I remember having very strict notions about what was FAIR.  I think I also had some strict notions about what was just, even if I couldn’t have articulated the concept.  Of course fair as a child might center on trivial issues like each child at the birthday party getting the EXACT same sized piece of cake.

When I was a child I had the notion of an invisible rule book everyone followed, because that would be FAIR. One person would receive the same penalty for a crime as another.  The teacher would step in when she saw someone bullied.

Going to Catholic schools growing up I believed our leaders tried their best to ensure the public school system ensured equality of opportunity for all who passed through its doors.  When my own kids started public school, I saw that wasn’t quite so.

I believed my Catholic public school neighbor would stand up for me when his friend shouted “Dirty Catholic” across the street, when he saw me walking home in my Catholic school uniform.  I believed my parents would intervene somehow in the situation.

I believed that people wouldn’t selectively turn their heads away at the injustices of the world.

Of course little by little I realized my rule book was an imaginary work of fiction in my own brain.  If I got myself in a tizzy every time someone didn’t follow my rule book, I’d go crazy.

Recent events in the US from Charlottesville to the Las Vegas shootings to Harvey Weinstein make me sad.  That rule book in my head just won’t stay quiet.  No answers, just sadness.

I remember after 9/11, crying all the time when I watched the news.  Eventually I had to stop watching TV for a while.  Turning off the TV might be okay, but someday we need to pay enough attention to get our problems figured out.

American Hypocrisy

A few years ago, there was a regular visitor to my workplace, a VIP kind of a guy.  I never did understand his presence in our workplace.  He expected people to stop what they were doing and cater to him.  He often exhibited many strange behaviors.  If you complained about him to your supervisor you’d get some really odd responses.  Odd responses from people that considered themselves very openminded.

I generally found the guy disruptive and an asshole.   One of my odd experiences with him was him entering my “office”, and me finding him there, looking at information that was supposed to be kept confidential.  I complained, and was essentially gaslighted by my supervisor.  I must have misunderstood, he’d entered the office by mistake, he wasn’t trying to look at confidential information.

He kept being an asshole and no on stopped him.  Fast forward a few years and he is asking others how he can take pictures of female employees with his phone.  He makes lewd remarks loud enough for others to hear.  He calls female employees vile names. Not too long after that he is finally banned from our workplace.

When others complained about his behavior they would be told they were taking things too personally.  Administrators don’t seem to care.  I live in a place that calls itself progressive.  People voted for Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama.

While I’d never been the target of the VIP guys lewd comments, the whole experience makes me feel dirty.  Especially the administration’s long term attitude of gaslighting the individuals who had complained about his behaviors.  The two people I directly complained to about him were women.  Go figure.

Fast forward to this Harvey Weinstein business.  It all strangely reminds me of old VIP guy.  People know about his behaviors and don’t challenge him.

Now that famous people are coming forward to denounce Harvey Weinstein, something seems to stink to me.  Surely many people knew about his behaviors before, but chose to deal with the devil anyway.  People are anxiously waiting for Hillary Clinton and the Obamas to denounce him,  as if they believe these individuals care about the Harvey Weinstein’s  behaviors.  Hillary and the Obamas took money from him, they made their deal with the devil.  I have yet to hear if they will return contributions given to them from Weinstein, like other individuals have done.

People give opinions about Harvey Weinstein, but sort of jump around the Clinton issue.  They might denounce Trump and rightly so.

Those who jump around the Clinton issue, I find strange.  It is no good for Harvey Weinstein to be a sexual predator, but we totally avoid the fact that Bill Clinton was also a predator…this I cannot understand.  Especially when so called feminists can’t put Bill in this camp along with the Donald and Harvey.  It makes me sick.

I voted for Jill Stein in 2016.  November of 2016 was as close as I ever came to wanting to move to Canada, not that it would necessarily be a better place.  I hope in 2020 we can find some worthy candidates free of baggage.

 

Charlottesville Riots

Here in the United States, white supremacists came to Charlottesville, Virginia to rally around their cause.  In the violence that happened during the event, one woman was killed and many injured.  I personally know no one who supports the cause of the white supremacists.  In my circle of friends and acquaintances many of expressed horror and disgust over the actions of the white supremacists.  People are saddened that these nasty individuals are considered a representation of the United States.

As we grieve and are saddened by the events, I have questions.  If we really want people to be on equal footing, what small things are we doing on a daily basis to help achieve this.

I live in a very liberal university town.  My children attend/attended public schools.  I attended private schools growing up.  So perhaps I was a bit naive, but I thought the public school system represented equality of opportunity.  I thought everyone from the superintendent to the school board members to the principals to the classroom teachers were on board with this concept.  I was very wrong.  In my community those from disadvantaged backgrounds have little voice in the system.  Many parents who have kids in the public school system want a system where the rich get richer, and their kids are separated from those they considered the lowest of society.

I’m always surprised that we are horrified by the events of Charlottesville, but we turn a blind eye to other, smaller forms of prejudice.  If we want things to get better, we all have a role to play.  That means getting involved in local politics and state politics as well on a national level.  It means showing kindness to everyone.

Something I will never understand having recently traveled to another part of the country.  What jerks still make and sell Confederate flags?  Who the heck would dress their kid in a tshirt with a Confederate flag.

If I had marched…

Why would I have marched…..

To see the development of a real health care plan that could lend a hand to my sister with both issues of addiction and mental health.  The ACA provided her with a very high deductible health care plan.  It is hard to get help if the first several thousand dollars come out of your pocket…several thousand she doesn’t have.  I don’t understand how people think the ACA benefits someone like her, or a man in her same situation.

To call out the so called Christians who have an opinion about how each gender behaves and should function.  To the greasy unkempt guy who thinks himself a marriage expert and likes to perpetuate harmful stereotypes that he believes are divinely inspired.  Oh, and stop being the modesty police, and breathlessly talking about how the women folk are causing the brothers to stumble if they show a hint of cleavage. The little women who stand behind these preacher men, you don’t do women any favors. Oh, Emerson Eggerichs and Shaunti Feldhahn, you can stop with your gender stereotypes as well.  I can’t imagine my work being centered on this kind of nonsense.

To eliminate subtle but harmful gender expectations in the workplace.  Outright misogyny or misandry should not be tolerated.

For the parents out there that let their kids listen to music where every other word is ho or bitch, well I don’t know what to say.  You probably don’t give a fuck what I have to say.  I met one of your little teenaged darlings recently….to his mom who doesn’t care she is raising a little misogynist…stay klassy lady.

To make sure that we are doing right by kids from disadvantaged backgrounds when it comes to education.  I see everyone is an uproar about Betsy DeVos.  But can anyone tell me what Arne  Duncan has done the last 8 years to improve education, at the classroom level?

For the people in my life who just stood there and did nothing to call out injustice to women or perpetuated harmful stereotypes…screw you.  Yes that includes people close to me.

Before we all go making an idol of Planned Parenthood, ensure they are providing quality care….in the case of my sister, they did not.

To make sure the condition of women doesn’t slide backwards to some sort of old world antiquated notion where women were barely human.

To nurture a system where the average Josephine has a voice,  and to have journalists who will give her a voice.  I could really care less about what any celebrity has to say.

To nurture a system where there is an abundance of highly qualified candidates for public office.

Thoughts on Veterans Day…let us think about our sons on this day

I see a gallery of pictures of elderly veterans, some women but mostly men.  Next to their most recent pictures our pictures of them in uniform, mostly from the World War 2 era. There are earnest faces, dashing faces, pictures of women looking elegant in their uniforms.  The one that grabs my attention the most is one of a baby faced young man.  I look at the picture and I wonder how he have possibly been 18 in that picture.  How could his parents send him off to war without an aching heart.  Did this young man insist on enlisting, no matter what his parents might have said? Or was he drafted?  In the gallery of pictures this information isn’t given.  I can surmise though that the women in the gallery had the choice of enlisting.

In a few years my son will by law be required as an American male citizen to require with the Selective Service System.  If he wants to pursue federal employment or getting a student loan, they will check to make sure he is registered. I wonder, do other parents say a silent prayer that the draft never returns.  I admit I hadn’t given this much thought until recently.  I had no brothers to give their thoughts about the system. Very few of my male peers talked about it.

My dad was a veteran who knew he had a good chance of getting drafted and enlisted in the hopes of pursuing the best opportunity.  And he got the GI Bill out of the deal.   Of course history tells us that some never made it home from their military experience. Some came home with physical and/or psychological scars that would never heal.  It is said that my dad’s father who served in World War 1 suffered from “shell shock”.  I believe my grandfather’s psychological scars made it difficult to fully parent my father, I’ve never really had a sense of my dad as having much of a childhood.  My dad started paid work at age 13, I believe in part because his parents could not or would not fully provide for his needs.  So in some respects the military offered a path for my dad to get somewhere in life.

For all the men and women who are veterans, surely we can do better as a nation to provide for them, especially the ones who come home with physical and psychological wounds.  For those who are on active duty, surely we can do better in providing for their families.

This week there has been a lot of talk about male privilege.  There has been talk about what sort of legacy the events of this week leaves for our daughters.  I can tell you my daughter’s 18th birthday came and went without a thought of military service.  No matter who we may have elected President this week you can bet the requirement to register for the Selective Service System won’t go away.  As the Selective Service System website says “It’s what a man’s got to do.”

I am cynical about politics.  I am tired of hearing about male privilege this week.  In a few years I will be thinking about my son’s friends, rich and poor or black and white registering for the Selective Service System.  I’ll say a prayer for peace , a prayer for the young men, and a prayer for their families.  I’ll say that prayer for peace today that the draft never returns.

For all the men and women today who voluntarily enlist in the military we Americans owe you so much.  Let us be called to action so that we can find a better way to repay you for your sacrifice.