GOOD TIMES, HARD TIMES, AMERICAN PROPAGANDA AND THE PAST – Marilyn Armstrong

I never thought America was the international good guy. Read far too much actual — not school — history for that. What I did think is that we had a fundamental sense of right and wrong and that when nip came to tuck, we’d do the right thing … and right had nothing to do with the Soviet Union, either. Remember, that Berlin wall came down when I was pretty young. I really thought — for a while until, like most illusions, it was shattered by reality — that the old U.S.S.R. might, without their antique soviet rulers, be free enough to make good choices.

I remember a world where people were more polite to each other and where however individually corrupt our pols were, they still believed in “the good of the country” above and beyond their individual agendas. That belief has been falling apart with the passing years. I really thought at least some of them cared. I wish I’d been right about that. We could use some caring.

This horror in which we live right now? It didn’t start with Trump. It started when we decided to create a nation, we would allow slavery and it was okay to slaughter the Natives. We sold our collective souls to the devil before we even had a constitution or anything resembling a country. Oh, we had a nicely written constitution and some idealistic people who did some good, sometimes, when they were allowed.

Overall? We have always owed our souls to whoever had the most money because that was what the slavery deal was about — letting the south keep slaves so they could hold on to their plantation and not (heaven forbid) have to actually work.

Standard Oil went half a dozen rounds with Theodore Roosevelt and theoretically, Rockefeller lost over and over in court, but really, he lost nothing. He literally laughed at the court rulings and nothing changed. J.P. Morgan had a good laugh too as TR tried to break up his ownership of the railroads and many other corporations.

Today’s Exxon is Standard Oil with a cooler name. It is bigger, uglier, and more ruthless than ever. Huge corporations never lose, not today or ever. Money is power.

I don’t remember that nearly perfect world, nor does Garry. Maybe only white middle-class people remember it. The rest of us were under no illusions about where we stood in the great scheme of things.

I do remember a world where there was more personal communication between people. There was also more opportunity to make progress in the game of life. Those opportunities have largely disappeared. The big corporations have bought out, sold off, or absorbed most (almost all) of the smaller organizations which had been the stepping stones for individuals trying to climb the ladder.

Today, we are feudal. If we are born a serf, we will die a serf.

There is an assumption by our kids including my granddaughter that we remember a perfect world.

We don’t. There’s a lot of assuming going on. Some old people want to remember that world. Maybe they lived in one of the white suburbs and never had to bump into a dark-skinned person and treat him or her as an equal.

Then again, maybe age has rosied their memories so now they remember what they wish it had been.

Yup. Lots of assuming going on.

I miss people being polite and talking — even arguing — together. I never believed our propaganda, probably because my mother and father didn’t believe it either. There’s a lot of youngsters out there who are so deeply ignorant they think the boomer generation destroyed the world. We did everything. Built the corporations, fought all the wars — even the ones that occurred before we were born.

All of the problems if this world were created by my generation. And probably yours, too.

The level of ignorance and stupidity going around the world is breathtaking. I think I’ve gotten past being shocked. Now, it’s closer to disgust.

War is never out of style. There has always been a war going on as long as I can remember, which goes back to Korea. I remember listening to the news of the war on the radio with my mother. I remember her talking about it, wondering why in the world we were there in the first place? What did we think we were going to accomplish? I must have been four or five, but I understood. How? Maybe it’s not my first life.

We destabilized Asia. That’s what we did. We are still trying to deal with the consequences. Mom was ahead of her time.

Then, later, I was in my mid-twenties. It was during Vietnam. There were protests and I was involved in some. Not most. I had a little one and a fulltime job, so there were time limitations.  I had friends, a husband, dogs, cats, and a house where sometimes it seemed the immediate nation congregated every evening. A lively social life.

I pointed out to my mother (like I had just discovered this, silly child) if we weren’t sending all that money to make war in Vietnam, there would be money to do things here, at home. Maybe we could do something about healthcare.

My husband and I went effectively bankrupt following my spine surgery and we had insurance. It didn’t cover everything and my surgery — and the four months in the hospital which followed — was wildly expensive. I remember asking Jeff if we didn’t pay them, would they take me upstairs and re-break my back? Because we couldn’t pay. We were going to have to pay them off, month by month for years to come.

Then Owen was born with two club feet. It was the final blow. Wiped out. We never rebuilt our finances. Even way back in the 1960s and ’70s, my issue was healthcare because everyone thought their work insurance was plenty. They hadn’t had a major medical crisis. They would learn.

But, I digress.

My mother raised an eyebrow and looked at me. She said:

Thus spoke my mother. Because cynicism isn’t always wrong.

I was taken aback. I thought she was being too cynical. But you know? She was right.

Wars end and the war-making money vanishes. Never does it go toward healthcare or education. It just disappears as if it never existed and no one seems to question it.

Just once more, I’d like to hear our politicians across party lines look for ways to do what’s best for the country and the people they serve.

GAME OF LIFE AND THE MEANING OF EVERYTHING – Marilyn Armstrong

I pick these up from Melanie B Cee at:

sparksfromacombustiblemind –
EMBERS FROM SOMEONE DOGGEDLY TRYING TO MAKE SENSE OF IT ALL

She gets them elsewhere so I’ll pass it upward and she can pass it forward or backward. Whichever. Chainmail has never worked well for me.

This is an interesting bunch of questions. I probably would have been more amusing with them when I was younger. I’ve pretty much settled down.

The Rules …

1] Leave the Permanent Questions [PQ] always in place PLEASE.

2] Reblog should you so desire

3] If you do reblog, a pingback would always be welcomed so l don’t miss it.

4] This is a non-tagger/ non-nomination game.

Today’s questions are perhaps a little bit more taxing, however, this is the way of life as we know it, and there is never anything wrong with a little bit of thought provocation is there?


Questions:


Q1] What is your take on ‘free will?’

I will restate something someone said to me many years ago. “Life,” she said, “is a room. There’s furniture there. You can sit on the sofa or a chair. Or even on the floor. But you can’t leave the room because that’s your room. And your life.”

Personally, I tend to view it more as a bus. We get on the bus when we are born and we go traveling. We don’t really know where we are going or when the bus will stop. We are not driving the bus and whenever we try to drive, we discover we actually don’t know how. Our attempts to drive are often rudely interrupted by a reality we didn’t expect. We can sit anywhere we like, enjoy the company of other travelers, and occasionally, when the bus stops for fuel, we get to wander around in some strange and new place if we so choose.

We don’t know how long the trip will take or exactly where we will end up. Somewhere. Hopefully somewhere we love.

The single thing we can never do is drive the bus. Whenever we are certain we are (finally) in control, we soon discover we are not. We have free will, but only to a point.

Q2] We all ask ourselves at one time or another what is the point?  So what is the point to our existence?

I’m not sure there IS a point.

Q3] What do you believe about Fate and Karma?

I don’t know. It depends on when you ask me. Mostly, I don’t know.

Q4] As a species, how do you think humans will become extinct or do you believe that we will not?

I think we will go extinct, but I also believe the universe will become extinct and the sun will blow up. Nothing lasts forever.

PQ5] What is your belief with regards the meaning of life?

Another “I don’t know.” Does life have a meaning? Or is life itself the meaning?

Q6] Ok, fess up, do you believe in aliens from outer space – is there really other life out there in the far-reaching galaxies beyond our own?

I assume there is something out there that is intelligent. I’m also pretty sure we either haven’t met them, or they dropped by, took one look, decided we were hopeless and left.

PQ7] What is your best quote for ‘living life?’

Life is short. Eat dessert first.

Q8] What doesn’t kill us – makes us stronger – yes or no? Explain.

That is one of those placebo explanations that people use when they don’t know what else to say. Many things ARE stronger than us and yes, it can and does kill us. Many people I loved are dead. “It” didn’t make them stronger.

Q9] What would you say have been your biggest successes in life?

Still being here when I’m pretty sure I ought to be dead.

Q10] If you could find out the exact time and cause of your death – would you want to know?

No.

Q11] Is it more important to help yourself, help your family, help your society, or help the world?

All of the above, but I think I’ve helped my family to the extent that I am capable of helping. I think I’d rather try and help our society, such as it isn’t and after that, what’s left of our world.

PQ12] If humanity was put on trial by an advanced race of aliens, how would you defend humanity and argue for its continued existence?

I wouldn’t. I think as a race we don’t deserve our world.

Q13]  What is the biggest waste of human potential?

Our overall stupidity.

Q14] We often see those that write ‘what would you say to a younger you?’ However, what would you say today to a future you?

I would run like hell. Anything I said would be a disaster. And undoubtedly wrong in every possible way.

PQ15] Why do you think that as a species, humans need to believe in something? Be this religion, fate, karma, magical, mystique and so on.

I don’t think we need to believe in something. Many people don’t and they are just fine. Right and wrong are not religious principles. They are part of our DNA.

Q16] If we could not retain any of our memories – who would we be?

Jellyfish.

Q17] Time is such an important part of our world, but do you think you would notice if time was altered in any way?

It would depend. Am I still in this world? Am I in a parallel universe? Am I suffering hallucinations? Dementia?

Q18] How important is playing in living a healthy and fulfilling life?

Critical to development. If we don’t play, we do not grow. It is during play that we learn to lose, learn to make deals, learn how to arrange life to suit our needs.

Q19] With no laws or rules to influence your behavior, how do you think you would behave?

Exactly the way I do now, except hopefully, with many fewer bills to pay.

PQ20] Are you deleting any questions, if so which ones?

Nope. Just went with the flow.

Q21] Should euthanasia be legal? Why or why not?

Yes, because I think if we believe a dog in pain needs to be let out of his misery, why would we be less kind to a human being? But that’s an opinion. Not a fact. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion and I will respect it.

SOMETIMES THE MAGIC WORKS – Marilyn Armstrong

So there you are, in your car on your to somewhere. The open road lies before you and you are cruising along at a comfortable 75 mph in a 60 mph zone. You aren’t worried. There are rules and then there are the “real” rules. Everyone speeds. The general rule of thumb is about 15 miles over the limit. Push it more than that, and someone might decide to ticket you, especially if it’s toward the end of the month and it’s time to fill up those books and hand them in.

You can usually get away with whatever you are doing — as long as everyone else in the lane is doing pretty much the same thing.

On this particular day, a car shot past me at what must have been supersonic speeds and cut me off and sped onward. It’s scary getting cut off at those speeds. It takes at least seven car lengths to nearly stop. To fully stop, add at least one more.

I breathe. I continue driving. There’s always some dickhead on the road who has something to prove.

About two, maybe three miles down the road, I see this same jackass pulled over by cops. He isn’t pulled over by one cop or even two. He sped right into a troop of police officers on their way to an event of some kind … and they ALL pulled him over. There are cop cars everywhere. Lights are spinning, sirens are wailing. This guy is doomed.

Everyone was writing a ticket. Dozens of cops. ALL writing tickets for different things. Dangerous driving. Speeding. Crossing lanes without a directional. Cutting off the police chief.

Whatever they could think of, he was getting a ticket for it. I figured it would be thousands of dollars before he found his way out of the storm into which he had driven.

He deserved it. I felt proud, yet somehow humble.

I looked at the police. I grinned at them. I popped up my thumb — and the cops popped up theirs. Karma.

Sometimes, the magic works.

FORGIVENESS AND OUTLIVING THE BITCHES

One Sunday in church, Pastor’s sermon was about forgiveness. He asked everyone in the church to stand up. Then he asked those who had any enemies to sit down. Everyone sat down but one very old woman.

“You have no enemies at all?” asked Pastor.

“Not a single one,” she answered, nodding her agreement.

“Please, come up here and tell everyone how you reached such a great age without having any enemies,” said Pastor. A deacon accompanied the elderly woman to the pulpit and everyone in church applauded as she slowly made her way up the steps. Pastor adjusted the microphone.

“You must have done a lot of forgiving,” said Pastor. “Please, tell us your secret.”

The old lady smiled beatifically.

“I outlived the bitches,” she said.


Life marches on. You get older and after a while, you realize all the people you used to obsess over, the people who hurt you, are mostly gone. By the time you pass 70, a lot of people have disappeared from your life. Good ones you loved and the evil ones you hated. The sickly ones with bad hearts.

Chickens come home to roost. Crazy drivers meet their maker on a dark highway. Heavy drinkers, smokers, drug users find a sad end. It turns out that hating them was a waste of energy. Cancer, heart attack, and other diseases weed out people, the best and the worst, remorselessly and without no regard for personal qualities. Meanwhile, the older generation passes away, one funeral at a time.

Time makes most of the fears and worries of life less important. It turns out, forgiveness is not about repairing relationships so you can be friends again. It’s all about letting go. Passing stuff to your “higher power,” whatever that means to you. Acknowledging you can’t fix everything.

Realizing it’s not your job to fix it.

Shit happens. Some of it — unfair and unforgivable — happens to you. You can make it the center of your world and spend your life brooding and obsessing over it. Or, you can decide you won’t be defined by the worst stuff that happened to you — or the worst stuff you’ve done.

I know people who had wonderful careers full of honor and respect who lost their jobs and promptly declared themselves failures, as if that one bad thing — getting fired — negated everything that had gone before.

I know men and women who were abused as children who still define themselves as victims — 50 or 60 years later.

If you like yourself, you can be pretty happy no matter what life throws at you. It’s that simple. And that difficult. When you start forgiving, forgive yourself first. For the mistakes you made. For the bad choices, the stupid decisions, the asshole(s) you married, almost married, allowed to mess with your head.

perfect path in the woods

The jobs you screwed up, shouldn’t have taken, should have taken (but didn’t). The opportunities you blew. The unfinished manuscripts, the unpublished stories. The times you were wrong and didn’t apologize. Your failures as a parent, the books you didn’t read. All the “shoulda coulda woulda” you’ve accumulated.

If you throw it all out, you won’t eliminate all your problems. The money you don’t have won’t suddenly pop into your bank account. Youth and health won’t return. But, you don’t have to haul the past with you into the future and you can enjoy what you do have without obsessing over what you missed.

The sooner you do it, the better. Life isn’t forever, even if you live entirely on salad and never miss a day of exercise. Then, with a little luck, you’ll outlive the bitches.

PASSING THROUGH – JUDY DYKSTRA-BROWN

Because you are you NOW, but who might you be in another time or place? Karma has long reach. No one is exempt from those sticky, curling fingers.


Passing Through

Do not jostle for your places, for you’re fully in our view.
We have the V.I.P. seats here in your cosmic zoo.
Perhaps you sense our presence, but there”s nothing you can do
to see us for it’s set up so we’re only viewing you.

We see who you turn into each time you’re born anew.
One lifetime you’re a Muslim, and another you’re a Jew—
your choice of birth determined by your placement in the queue.
It’s purely arbitrary which person will be you.

You might become the very thing that now you most eschew,
but there’s no one to object to. There’s no one you can sue,
for the world that you’re reborn to was made by folks like you,
and the life you’ve made for who you’ll be might be a life you’ll rue.

This revelation should not be coming out of the blue.
It’s one that’s often explained by the mystic or guru.
If you love this lifetime where the cat’s meow is you,
please hold onto your passport, for you’re only passing through.


The prompt today was passport.

Source: lifelessons – a blog by Judy Dykstra-Brown: Passing Through

 

OUTLIVING THE BITCHES

One Sunday in church, Pastor’s sermon was about forgiveness. He asked everyone in the church to stand up, then he asked those who had any enemies to sit down. Everyone sat down but one very old woman.

“You have no enemies at all?” asked Pastor.

“Not a single one,” she answered, nodding her agreement.

“Please, come up here and tell everyone how you reached such a great age without having any enemies,” said Pastor. A deacon accompanied the elderly woman to the pulpit and everyone in church applauded as she slowly made her way up the steps. Pastor adjusted the microphone.

“You must have done a lot of forgiving,” said Pastor. “Please, tell us your secret.”

The old lady smiled beatifically.

“I outlived the bitches,” she said.


Photo: Garry Armstrong
Photo: Garry Armstrong

That’s how I’m beginning to feel. Many, if not most of the people who done me wrong and about whom I used to obsess are gone. I’m not that old — not quite 70 — but as you age, you lose people. The ones with bad hearts, the heavy drinkers. The smokers. The ones who never learned to let go of anger. The strange ones who kept playing hockey with life, but refused to wear a helmet.

Chickens come home to roost. Crazy drivers meet their maker on a dark highway. Cancer, heart attacks, and other diseases weed out others. The older generation passes away, one funeral at a time.

The biggest baddest villain of my life was my father. I stopped talking to him long before he died. I wrote about his death before it occurred. Most people who got to know me in recent years and read my book assumed he was dead. He wasn’t dead — not physically — but he was dead to me. By the time he died for real, it no longer mattered. Other stuff, time rendered unimportant. When I look around, few of the people with whom I had a beef are still here. Time has made the rest irrelevant.

Forgiveness is not about repairing relationships so you can be friends again. It’s letting go of anger and grudges. It’s about passing the heavy stuff to your “higher power,” whatever that means to you. Acknowledging you can’t fix everything and realizing it’s not your job to fix it.

Photo: Garry Armstrong
Photo: Garry Armstrong

Shit happens. Some of it — unfair and unforgivable — happens to you. You can make it the center of your world and spend your life brooding and obsessing over it. Or, you can decide you won’t be defined by the worst stuff that has happened to you or the worst stuff you’ve done.

I know people who had wonderful careers who lost their jobs and promptly declared themselves failures. As if that one really bad thing — getting fired or let go — negated everything. I know men and women who were abused as children who are still defining themselves as victims 50 or more years later.

If you like yourself, you can find a way to be happy no matter what life throws at you. It’s that simple — and that difficult. When you start forgiving, forgive yourself first. For the mistakes you made. For the bad choices, the stupid decisions, the asshole(s) you married, almost married, allowed to mess with your head. The jobs you screwed up, shouldn’t have taken, should have taken (but didn’t). The opportunities you blew. The people who stabbed you in the back (you should have seen them coming). The times you were totally wrong and didn’t apologize. Your failures as a parent, the novels you didn’t finish or never started. All the “shoulda coulda woulda” you’ve accumulated.

If you throw that garbage out, you won’t eliminate all your problems. The money you don’t have won’t suddenly appear. Youth and health won’t return. But you won’t have to haul your past into the future. You can enjoy what you do have without obsessing over what you missed or lost.

The sooner you do it, the better. I wasted a lot of years hauling rubbish. Doing it sooner is better. Then, with a little luck, you’ll outlive the bitches.

My Karma Ran Over My Dogma

Somehow, despite all the weird and awful things that happen along the way, we end up where we belong. Destiny always takes us to the right road, even as we mourn for what could have been. This was too beautiful not to share.

lifelessons - a blog by Judy Dykstra-Brown

My Karma Ran Over My Dogma

IMG_0472 This picture was taken two sunsets ago from the porch of the beach house I’ve rented in La Manzanilla, Mexico. Not a bit of color editing has been done.

She felt the small disk glance off the steering wheel and land on her lap as they jolted over the rutted dirt road. She picked it off her leg before it was jostled off and onto the gray carpet covered with dirt, gravel and slips of paper containing quickly-scribbled lines of inspiration for future poems.  Quickly, she glanced at the words printed on its front. “My karma ran over my dogma.” What did it mean, this button she now stabbed back into the sun flap over the steering wheel of her dusty van?

She had thought it hilarious when she saw it pinned to the poetry sweater of the stranger at the reading at the L.A. coffee shop almost twenty years…

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