COGNITIVE DISSONANCE AND NAZIS, REDUX – BY TOM CURLEY

I’m writing this on Saturday August 12, 2017. I only mention this because I’ve noticed that many of the blogs I’ve written since November 8th 2016 about the  “Orange Fuehrer” (yup, I’m going there) which I thought were specific to that week or day, have become “evergreen”. By that I mean if it’s re-posted  six months later, it still seems like I wrote it yesterday. Today may be different.  But somehow, I doubt it.


Cognitive dissonance is defined as one mind simultaneously holding two or more conflicting beliefs, ideas or values.

I experienced a variation of that today. Ellin, my daughter Sarah and I went to see the movie “Dunkirk” this afternoon.

It’s a very good movie. It documents the reality of what 400,000 English troops experienced for a week. They were trapped by German forces at the beach of Dunkirk. The Germans, no excuse me, to be more specific, THE NAZIS, chose to send the Luftwaffe to bomb and shoot them like fish in a barrel.

They bombed RED CROSS HOSPITAL SHIPS FILLED WITH WOUNDED SOLDIERS! NAZI U-Boats sank every ship they could find overloaded with troops.  What eventually saved the English troops were hundreds and hundreds of private citizens. These people owned small fishing boats, small pleasure boats, any kind of boat, and sailed them across the English Channel, risking their lives to rescue British troops.

Churchill hoped to save 30,000 troops. Out of 400,000. The boats that went over rescued over 350,000. They had no guns. The troops only had rifles to fight back against U-Boats and dive bombers. Dunkirk was both one of the worst moments for the allies and the best moments for the allies. When the troops reached England, there was a volunteer who was handing out blankets to the soldiers. He told each one “Well done.”

One of the soldiers replied. “All we did was survive.” The man replied “Sometimes, that’s enough.” The NAZIS went on to do more horrific things before the war was over.

My point is. The Nazis were the bad guys. I mean, really REALLY BAD GUYS. It’s rare in human history to have really, really bad guys with no redeeming qualities. The best thing you could say about Hitler was that he was nice to his dog. And we sort of need really good bad guys. After the Nazis died out, we briefly had the Klingons.

They were really bad guys. Until Star Trek Next Generation where they became not so bad guys.

But Nazis? They have ALWAYS BEEN REALLY, REALLY BAD GUYS. Hell, in German schools, from grade school on up, they are upfront with their history. They make sure every German is aware of exactly what happened in WWII to make sure that it never happens again.

At least, in Germany.  I bring all of this up because when I came home from watching Dunkirk, I started watching the news. White nationalists, waving NAZI flags and Confederate flags, were rioting in Charlottesville at what they called a “Unite the Right” rally. A NAZI, drove a car into a group of counter-protesters, killing one and wounding 19 others. These were not Germans. White men, born here.

I cannot call them Americans. Their leaders claim that “they are fulfilling the promises of Donald J. Trump. They are taking back America.”

They led a nighttime rally reminiscent of Hitler’s rallies of the 1930’s. But they did it in polo shirts and with  TIKI torches! TIKI torches! Are you kidding me??? I went to a Luau clam bake and a KKK rally broke out!

The Governor of Virginia gave a stirring speech saying that these NAZIS were not welcome in Virginia. They were not welcome in America. He is right.

What did our Asshole-In-Chief say? He said a lot of people are to blame — but never mentioned …. THE FUCKING NAZIS!!!!!

Here’s the dissonance.

We fought a war against these assholes. My dad and his generation served and died fighting against these assholes. For those few who are still alive, what must they think watching the news — today, Saturday, August 12th. 2017?

What has happened to us? NAZIS ARE THE BAD GUYS!

I usually try to be funny with my posts.

I try to find the humor in the insanity that has become our reality. But not today. Maybe tomorrow.

PRICELESS

There was a time when many items in my world were priceless. Many of them were items without significant dollar value, but they had great emotional or sentimental value. Then came a time when I realized these priceless things had morphed into dust collectors. I enjoy them, but they are long past priceless and have become part of the stuff I will I would happily give to someone who would treasure them — and dust them — rather than me.

Antique Famille Rose porcelain plate

Very old Han pot, Han Dynasty (206 B.C.–220 A.D.)

Funny thing about the way things change. The stuff that was priceless becomes clutter. Attractive, elegant clutter. Much of it becomes burdensome instead of priceless, unless priceless also means no one is willing to pay to take it away. I suppose that might be another interpretation.

Now, life is priceless. Maybe, honor, too.

THE GARDEN BY THE FENCE

The Last Plant, by Rich Paschall


Every spring and summer for many years, decades in fact, Mr. Jardin had spent weekday evenings and all day Saturday or Sunday tending to his yard and garden.  With such a large area to manage, Mr. Jardin found the work to be a full-time job, in addition to his full-time job.

The yard was bigger than most in the area and there was a long garden down one side with a vast variety of plants.  Along the other side ran a sidewalk, but Mr. Jardin found just enough room between the walk and the neighbor’s fence for a row of lilies of the valley.  The flowers did not last long, but the large green leaves were there all season.

Beyond the back fence near to the alley was a cement slab where Mr. Jardin often parked his car.  Along a fence on the side of his cement parking space, and all the way to his back fence, were more flowers and plants that needed attention.  As the years went on, the gardener had to choose which sections to work each week.  The idea of working from one end to another in one day was no longer possible.  He was slowing down, and he knew it.

This particular year, Mr. Jardin could be found near the back fence every evening after work and often on weekends too.  He could never seem to get everything under control, so each day he took his carrying case with the garden tools and a plastic bag for the weeds that were pulled or plants that were trimmed and headed to the same spots.  Sometimes he brought a little garden bench with him.  It was the kind you could turn over and kneel on.  When turned over, you could use the legs on either side to help get up.  Mr. Jardin needed that some days.

Most evenings this season a woman came walking down the alley and passed by Mr. Jardin’s garden.  Sometimes she was carrying plants, sometimes a shopping bag.  If she caught the attention of the gardener by the alley, she would smile and nod and continue on her way.  It seemed odd that she would come down the alley as it could not possibly be a short cut from anywhere.  The gardener did not give it much of a thought.  He was focused on the flowers and plants, weeds and grass.

One day, the alley lady stopped and watched Mr. Jardin at work.  When he finally noticed her she complemented him on all the nice flowers.  He smiled and nodded politely and she was off to wherever the alley lady goes.  For the next few days, the woman found a comment to make about the flowers as she passed and Mr. Jardin always expressed his thanks.

Then one warm evening in early summer, the alley woman stopped as usual and when she got the gardener’s attention, she said, “My name is Mary, by the way.  Actually Marylou, but I never liked that.  You can just call me Mary.”  The gardener’s had a big smile in return for her.  She was an ordinary looking woman, much younger than Mr. Jardin but still middle-aged, so he thought it interesting that she would want to have a conversation with him.  She wore a wide-brimmed hat that would seem perfect for summer gardening.  Her long brown hair was tucked up inside.

“I’m Mr. Jardin,” stated the amateur garden master.  Seeing her disappointment at a formal introduction, he quickly added, “Roger Jardin.  I guess you can just call me Roger.”  He was not much for socializing, so even at his age he was not comfortable with introductions and conversation.

For the next few nights Mary stopped to talk to Roger on her way from wherever it was that led her to the alley, and Roger always made a little time in his important weed pulling duties to say a few words.  Then Mary surprised Roger with an invitation.  “Perhaps you would like to come over for dinner some evening,” she stated with an inviting smile.

“Oh, uh…why?” a confused Roger replied.  Mary laughed a little.

“Well, because I thought you might be hungry enough some evening to come over.  You can not work out here every night.”  Roger actually thought he could work out there every evening until it was too dark, unless the rains came.  The alley pair decided on a date in two days because rain was predicted.  Mary explained she lived around the corner in an apartment building. They made a date.

Roger was right on time.  The two had a pleasant dinner and a nice chat.  “That must be a lot of work, planting all of those flowers,” Mary commented.  Her interest in the garden pleased Roger.

“I do not actually plant anything anymore, except for one tomato plant near to the house.  The others are perennials or volunteers.”

“Volunteers?” Mary was unclear what Roger meant.

“There are flowers that come up because of seeds dropped by last year’s flowers.  It is almost as if they were perennials.  Other seeds might come on the wind or from the birds.  I don’t plant.  I just pull.”

Mary stopped by the alley often in the weeks that followed to comment on the hard work of the garden, and Roger always smiled and said nice things to Mary in return.

One day Mary walked by and found Roger lying in the garden.  She called out his name, but there was no response.  She went right up to him to him and called out loudly, “Roger!” but there still was no response.  She poked at him, but he was lifeless.  She shook her head and said to herself, “I knew he was working too hard, especially for a man of his age.”

At that she picked one of the long-stemmed yellow flowers she had admired so much, turned around, and headed home.

NOT FINDING ANSWERS, BUT STILL ASKING QUESTIONS

I have not found a religion to follow and it isn’t because I haven’t tried. I have flirted with many, gave a solid try to at least three (formal) religions, though arguably Buddhism is the most informal of formal religions.

Christianity is great — if you don’t look at it too carefully. At one point, I figured it must work because so many people follow it. But then I tried to figure out what Christian actually meant and I got lost between sects and more or less gave up. A row of people all attending the same church can’t agree on what it is, so how am I supposed to figure it out? Also, Christianity requires you to accept Christ. If you can’t do that, you are not a Christian.

If I had to pick a single God, I’d pick Ganeesh. He’s the writer’s God and I appreciate that. But to get Ganeesh, you have to buy at least a piece of Hinduism … a religion far too complicated for me.

I might as well stick with Judaism. Judaism is the original legal system and everything in it is weirdly logical. Even the illogical has its own logic. I like all the laws and the rulings. I love the courts and how you can take your case to an actual jury. I am glad “repentance” doesn’t fix everything. I’ve always considered that a cheat. Be a really horrible human, but repent and hey, you’re good? Bugger that.

Judaism has laws you need to follow. You can be as repentant as you want and apologize your heart out, but it won’t get you past the guard at the gate. Judaism is about work.

Note that nothing in Judaism indicates if there is a Heaven or a Hell. Whatever good works you do may get you into heaven. But quite possibly, they won’t. The stuff you do is for your own sake, good or bad. There’s no guarantee of a reward to come. You get to choose the kind of person you want to be. There’s something deeply existential about this.

Judaism is about work. If you really get into it, it is work that never ends. From your first breath in the morning to closing your eyes at night, there’s always something you need to do. I admire it greatly, but I don’t live that way. If I were to pick a religion, that’s the one I’d pick, but I’m not picking.

I’m sure I will never take the leap to faith. It isn’t because I don’t believe there is faith-worthy shit happening. I’m sure there is. I’ve had too many experiences I can’t otherwise explain. The problem is I’m not sure what I’m supposed to believe. Is there a god? Many gods? No gods but a giant thought? Is it magic? Who is in charge? What does prayer have to do with any of this? Why do churches exist? What’s with the whole dogma thing? Do gods exist because we worship or do we worship because there is a god or gods?

I’m never going to have answers, so I’m never going to walk a defined path. It isn’t because I haven’t spent most of my life searching for answers. It turns out that you can search from childhood to old age. And still not get the answers.