Finding My Peace.

I took a few days to unplug and visit my roots last weekend. No cable news, very little social media and lots of time being with people I love. It was so refreshing. I had spent the previous seven weeks trapped alone for long stretches of the day with only an electronic umbilical cord feeding my angst whilst recovering from surgery. I think a lot of us feel similarly trapped as we digest the rhetoric of our exploding political divide. But you know what I’ve learned? Everything doesn’t have to be a battle.

There is a certain feeling like we have all become Howard Beale in the classic movie Network. “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take this anymore!” I get it. We liberals suck at standing up for ourselves. We elect people to office who believe cooperation and compromise are valuable skills for good governance. We are always the ones willing to try and understand an others point of view. And we are tired of it. But are we really so open minded?

Every election I am confounded as to how millions are convinced to vote against their economic interests. Supply side economics has a forty year history of failure for the working class. As income disparity grows exponentially people who struggle to live beyond paycheck to paycheck still clamor for lower taxes. But you know what has failed even more miserably than supply side economics? My assumption that those who buy into it are stupid.

I have a lot of failed responses to people who’s ideas are different from mine:
• I lash out at angry old white men because they lash out at my friends of color.
• I spew harsh judgement on evangelicals because they do the same to my friends of other faiths.
• I refuse to tolerate the intolerance of LGBT+.
• I mock those who cling to their guns to feel brave because they are afraid.
• I despise all of the immigrants in this land who oppose immigration.

What has that got me?
Donald Trump and Steven Bannon.

And the talking heads on both sides are still fueling our outrage because it sells news. This weekend I had the opportunity to attend a No Ban – No Wall rally in Cedar Falls Iowa. img_0042There was a small but bull horn equipped opposition demonstration across the street. The reality is that the feeling I got attending that rally was of love and inclusion. Nobody was particularly bothered by the misnamed Patriots For Christ across the street and several speakers reminded us that our fellow Americans across the street deserved our love as well. Nobody balked at that idea that I could see. Being on the ground among like minded people reminded me of our better nature. It’s always said that our differences aren’t as vast as they would seem and I believe there is truth in that. The disposition of that crowd was nothing at all like we see in the comment sections of news sites and social media.

I’m not saying it will be easy but my plan for a new way forward in this upside down world is going to be engage and listen. I’m not moving on and accepting anything but I hope to diffuse polarization when I can. I will stand up to any bullying I see and fight if I must. I just think trying to resolve our differences through conversation rather than accusations will be a better path forward. Hey! Maybe this won’t be so hard after all!
I could use your prayers.

It’s Time To Find Joy.

I hate this time. I hate the all the uncertainty, the hostility and divisiveness. It’s like I need a reality check. It’s my nature to be a people pleaser, a positive attitude guy and encourager. I don’t feel like that guy anymore, I no longer feel like who I am. It’s not just in my head. People from my past, people I love, people I respect are telling me I’ve changed. Some can’t handle it and are cutting ties. They seem to miss the old me who was mostly positive and light hearted. So do I.
Thing is, for some of us, the world turned upside on November 8. That’s not hyperbole. For civil rights voters the partnership of Steve Bannon, Reince Priebus, and Donald Trump was about as scary as anything imaginable. That fear was manifested in the rhetoric of these men’s life’s work. We took them at their word and to date there has been no evidence that our fears were unwarranted.
So here we are.
Time to find the good in our predicament. And we need to find inclusive good. Almost half of the electorate that was made up of less than half of eligible voters wanted this change. A portion of those may be having second Tumblr- Inspirethoughts and others remain committed only because they are so wrapped up in finally having some power over hated liberals that they are willing to overlook nearly anything. Hopefully the latter will come around at some point. I say all that as confirmation that most Americans didn’t sign up for this presidency and resistance holds promise.
So what do we do in the meantime?
I look back at the times in my life where I felt the most joy and when I was most fulfilled; The least scared for my brothers and sisters. Those times always incorporated a combination of working toward attainable goals and being of service to others. It was at those times in my life where I subjugated complacency and self service to working toward a larger purpose that I found peace and joy.  That works perfectly with what these times call for. Those of us longing to feel grounded with purpose can find it in standing up against oppression and disenfranchisement. Those of us suffering an impending sense of dread can focus on lifting others from the same sense.
I’m going to seek out opportunities to spread joy, to lift up, to support others more shaken or vulnerable than me. We had a safety pin movement not too long ago. Not sure if that’s still a thing but my safety pin is going to be a smile, a greeting, an acknowledgement that we are all seen, noticed and appreciated. If there is ugliness I will stand up to it. Where there is hatred I will show love. None of that will change. Now that my feet are back under me maybe those who have cut ties with me can meet me part way and recognize that we are first children of God. We are second part of a global humanity and the least of what we are is defined by political differences.

A Question of Legitimacy.

When civil rights icon Rep. John Lewis, a Georgia Democrat, told NBC News’ Chuck Todd, on Friday, “I don’t see this President-elect as a legitimate president.” Trump responded in the worst img_0026possible way. The chasm of our political divide continued to widen. Let’s not forget, Donald Trump was elected to lead us. All of us. Is that what he’s doing? As long as he operates as a retaliatory demagogue we will remain a nation divided. So the question remains, is Trump legitimate? I’m not questioning if he won the electoral college or if he will occupy the oval office. I’m questioning if he can be accepted as legitimate in the hearts and minds of critical thinkers.

Legitimate can be defined as “being in accordance with established principles or standards or in accordance with the laws of reasoning; logically inferable” and I think Representative Lewis may be correct.img_0022

The first question is, however, if Trump was, in fact, elected legitimately. It’s no secret that voter suppression activities, both foreign and domestic contributed to the results of the election. Oppressive voter ID laws, shortened early voting, reduced registration hours as well as consolidated and over crowded polling locations were the norm in states governed by republican majorities. And Putin. Putin performed espionage aimed at undermining our confidence in the democratic process. I needn’t outline it here. Any reputable media source has enough detail for you to know it’s true.

Second I wonder if Trump can perform legitimately. Is he capable of doing the job? Does he possess the intellectual curiosity required or the mental capacity to learn the responsibilities? And beyond that is he even capable of acting presidential? The guy really needs to be seen as presidential. We need to have confidence in him that he won’t screw everything up. We need to not be embarrassed to call him our leader. If we can not accept him as presidential how can he expect to be seen as legitimate.

Finally, if Trump has any hope of being recognized as legitimate he needs to hold himself up as such. With the exception of his acceptance speech Trump has done nothing to assure his detractors that he will do anything to hear their concerns. To the contrary. He has expressed that red states would be treated better than blue states. He has expressed that news media who are complimentary are thought of more highly than others. He has not apologized or reached out in any way to any of the people or groups that he attacked during the campaign. If you hold yourself up as an opponent to the majority of the electorate you shouldn’t be surprised when they believe you and say NOT MY PRESIDENT.

People demanding Trump be recognized as legitimate are hung up on the technicality of the definition of the word. I’m saying to be legitimate Trump must be seen as such in our hearts and minds. If we don’t believe he is legitimate he can sing it until he’s blue in the face. The only thing holding Trump back from being a legitimate president is for him to act like it. There is no test for legitimacy other than our understanding he truly wants to be president for all of us.

Can’t We All Just Get Along?

I first used Red Hog Diary to think out loud in 2005. It worked like therapy for me and was much less expensive. I retired the domain in 2008 I suppose in part because I liked the way the country was heading and I felt safe. That was then. I’m back. I suppose in part because I… well that’s maybe not important. I don’t have a mission writing here other than to seek a little validation that I’m not alone in my thoughts. So thanks for reading.
The election of Trump and his continued sophomoric misbehavior have created a national cognitive dissonance that is at once embarrassing and alarming. I’ve been wrestling with the resultant emotions as each day brings increasingly childish tweets and the obvious lack of preparedness of Trump to do this job.
Those are some pretty outrageous feelings aren’t they? I mean, I literally struggle with questioning if I’m blowing things way out of context one moment and if I’m absolutely not doing enough to defend our way of life the next. Yeah, it’s that scary sometimes. A lot of people just want everyone to calm down and see what happens. I get it. Hostilities and defensiveness are running at an all time high among families, friends and acquaintances.img_0025
I get messages and comments from friends asking me to stop, to give Trump a chance, they want me to shut up. You know what I want? I want Trump supporters and Congress to acknowledge that our president must support our intelligence agencies always and Vladimir Putin never. When Trump goes off on childish twitter rants we should agree we expect more from the President of the United States of America. When Trump demagogues all press and favors only those agencies who are complimentary of him we need to expect more. I could do this all night but you should get the idea by now. Oh one more thing. If you want us to come together then when Donald Trump lies you need to say, “Yep. That was a lie.”
If all grown adults in this country would agree to hold our president elect to the standards that the office of the President of the United States of America commands I might calm down some. I’ll meet you half way. Let’s come together by holding all of our elected officials accountable to we the people and not to Goldman Sachs, Exxon and mother Russia. This isn’t that hard people.

Dear Trump Voter

I am the first to admit that I do not understand the trump voter and until recently, I had no desire to do so. Just being honest. That’s really the problem isn’t it? It also seems reasonable to believe that most who voted differently than I have no desire to understand my complaint with the results of the recent election. Nearly everything I see and read suggests our differences are irreconcilable given the status quo. So what do we do? Should the majority of the voting electorate just suck it up, get over it, and move on? I don’t think that’s likely.

Let’s start here. Dear Trump voter, I’m sorry I did not appreciate your pain. Explain to me, if you would be so kind, what was so unbearable in your privileged white middle class life when Obama set about to save you from a global depression. Haha. OK. Let me try again.

Dear Trump voter, I’m sorry I did not appreciate your pain. Explain to me, if you would be so kind, what was behind your decision to do what you’ve done. Honestly, I don’t get it.
There is the anyone but Hillary voter but I don’t understand them either. Obviously, however, they meant it when they said anybody. What is it about Hillary that impacted you directly, that made even the smallest difference in your life that is so unforgivable?
There are the we need change voters. Tell me if I’m wrong but I imagine those voters are driven by income inequality. Either they think their portion and opportunity for a slice of the pie is inadequate or they believe people less fortunate than they are eating their pie. The Goldman Sachs billionaire cabinet will be holding you down in billionaires policies and the woman and child on welfare were only going to cost you $405 a month.

I really have no idea what could have possibly motivated you to vote for Donald J Trump. But you did and your side won so we’ve got to deal with that. We’ve got to suck it up, get over it and move on. This is really hard for me. My president, in his farewell address reminded me, “We through the instrument of our democracy can form a more perfect union.” He described that as one of the greatest gifts of our founding fathers.

Obama farewell address

When I first watched that speech I was restored with hope and was convicted to draw upon my better nature and look for it in others. But there was another part of his speech that I think resonates more clearly to me now that I’ve had a few days to internalize his message. He said he was returning to the most important job in our democracy. Citizen.

So Dear Trump voter, I’m sorry I did not appreciate your pain. Maybe you should just suck it up, get over it, and move on because I and a majority of Americans will be doing everything we can to undo what you have started here. Our job as citizen will be to point out what is truly happening in this world. We won’t lead with fear but with hope and you are welcome to reap the harvest like you did the last 8 years. It’s too bad you were so blinded by rage that a black man was your Savior that you couldn’t just enjoy life and contribute to making it even better.

Stand Up!

I don’t want to feel dirty anymore. That’s the best way I can describe it. I reject being lumped into the category of “American” if that associates me in any way with trumps Great America.
I get that some of you desire to get along, to move on, but this, to me, isn’t about tax cuts or second amendment rights. It’s not. And it surely has nothing to do with a Breitbart painted prescription of Hillary hatred. I especially reject and condemn the abomination that there is room to hide behind the Bible and a narrowly defined “sanctity of life” in exchange for the oppression of gays, Muslims, blacks, Hispanics, people with disabilities and the sick. Oh, journalists and teachers. I forgot to include the fucking ridiculous idea that teachers and journalists are bad, not nice, and dishonest.

So I’m not going to get along. I’m not going to move on. What some fail to recognize is that a majority of Americans, by majority I mean 2,865,075 actual voters, witnessed the undermining of their values of not only what it means to be American but even more so – what is sacred to their humanity. Too much? I don’t think so. And the really sad part of all this is those who don’t understand, those who put their own flawed understanding of personal economic interests, their frightened comfort in clinging to their guns and Bibles and their personal lack of confidence that is manifested in distrust of any non homogeneous entity think it is my responsibility to conform to their cowardice. Forget the great premise that this country was built upon that all men are created equal. Forget that Jesus said the greatest commandment is to love one another as ourselves.

The idea that all men are created equal and that I should love all others, not just some, as myself is the foundation upon which I stake my humanity. There is a very viable movement in America right now that has emboldened misogyny, xenophobia, racism and homophobia. This can not stand. Perhaps never before has Edmund Burke’s quote “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” been so relevant. Where do you stand?

It’s Time To Move On

It’s time to move on.
It is.
If you think moving on is accepting the idea that things are going to be different because I am now falling in line with with where we seem to be heading you are wrong.
If you think I am going to sit idly by while the progress we have made to create more inclusiveness for more people is rolled back you are, again, wrong.
You see, one of the most important values I hold is that everyone is able enjoy the same basic fundamental security we feel when we know we matter. After creating a safe place for everyone, then everything else can fall in place.
That’s the foundational thing isn’t it. Whether you ascribe to the belief that God created each of us in his own image or you simply are civilized enough to respect the dignity of man, there is no reason to assume anyone is more valuable than another is there? There is no reason to think one religion or gender or race should be treated differently than another. There is no reason to think it will make you a better person if others think like you, talk like you, pray like you or love the way you do.
I wrote last time about living on the edge of knowing the feeling of otherness. When I sense that, when I feel like I don’t fit in, a portion of my creativity and energy go to resolving that dissonance and not toward what I should be focused on. That’s part of our human nature. It’s also part of our human nature to have self doubt but the differentiation here is where negative thoughts come from. It is hard enough to not spend too much time in our own head as a result of internal dialogue. And that is bad enough.
Imagine a sense that you don’t matter when it comes from the existential threat of expressed hatred. Imagine seeing disdain of the fundamental essence that you are, that you exist. And then you watch in horror as those prejudices are given legitimacy and acceptance from a movement that grew powerful enough to elect a leader who endorsed speaking ones mind regardless of how putrid that ugly insecure little mind might be. I can’t imagine the horror of being reminded some might hate you simply because you are. And I won’t allow it.
I don’t understand nor accept anyone’s right to compensate for their moral deficiencies, misplaced insecurities or evil disposition at the expense of my fellow man. I mean let’s face it. Some of us get upset by a shopper with 13 items in the 12 item or less express aisle. You ascribe a personal affront to that. Consider how you’d feel if the affront were real. If it were based on what you look like, who you love, where you worship or a disability you endure.
Truly it is time to l move on and now I believe it there is a legitimacy to the expression “Make American Great Again. “ Right now I don’t think we are so great. Furthermore, if the sort of divide we are witnessing was boiling beneath the surface all along maybe we haven’t been great for quite some time. If ever. That doesn’t mean we can’t improve. It’s time to stand up for equality and inclusion for everyone. That means we fight hate with love and defend against oppression always and everywhere.
We can do this.

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