Friday, 25 August 2017

Left of Left

There's an Alt-Left!? Why didn't anyone send me an invitation? Seriously... I am so put out. Hrumph!

His Nibs, The Donald, in an incurious turn of events, went off script... again... or still... or something. He literally put the notes smarter people gave him into his pocket. “I seen him do it, Bobbi-Jo. This'll be good fer shur. Thet King Donald fella gonna give it to 'em now. He dudn't tek no shee-it from nobody.”

That's when the term “Alt-Left” slipped from DT's ill-wind-aided flapping maw. (Which is the only thing flapping more than his hair these days.)

I've spent the past couple of days attempting to figure out what the Alt-Left might be. The Alt-Right isn't so hard to pick out. Generally speaking they have; guns, flags of long ago defeated nations, more guns, knives, swastika tattoos and four wheel drive trucks with gun and deer racks. They roam in packs with Walmart tiki torches and have a decided lack of hair or a scruffy beard to their knees. However, in order to define an Alt-Left person as referred to by his sanctitude, the make-believe king of America, we might have to take a closer look at the ideology of the Alt-Right. They should be polar opposites, no? After all, the universe is balanced with polar opposites; north vs south, up vs down, light vs dark, good vs evil, the Trump administration vs people who know what the fuck is going on.

Before we get to the comparisons, I have to state that "Alt-Left" and "alternative facts" have a familiar ring to them. I have to wonder if Kellyanne Conway was whispering in Trump's ear when he coined the Alt-Left thing. Probably not since her favourite position seems to be hanging out in the Oval Office on the sofa playing solitaire on her cell phone while men in suits do the important stuff... like banning the rest of the world from visiting Disney Land and trying to figure out if Ding-Dongs are Communist or not.

Back to the point.

The Alt-Right is self described as isolationist, protectionist, antisemitic and white supremacist while overlapping with Neo-Nazism, Islamophobia, anti-feminism and homophobia. That sounds an awful lot like the campaign promises of a certain orange haired, White House dwelling garden gnome. And, that is a lot of antis! Are they for anything? Well, quite bluntly, it seems they are for themselves and pretty much no-one else.

  • If the Alt-Right is isolationist, that would make the Alt-Left inclusive.
  • If the Alt-Right is protectionist, that would make the Alt-Left receptive.
  • If the Alt-Right is antisemitic (racist), that would make the Alt-Left tolerant.
  • If the Alt-Right promotes White supremacy, that would mean the Alt-Left promotes equality.
  • If the Alt-Right is anti-feminist, that would make the Alt-Left egalitarians.
  • If the Alt-Right is belligerent, combative and militaristic, that would make the Alt-Left flower power peace-nicks.

Something is wrong with the reasoning of Dopus the Potus when he proclaimed the Alt-Left was just as to blame for the combative nature of the confrontations in Charlottesville. It would seem, by simple logic and inspection, that the Alt-Left referred to simply wouldn't be at a march at all. They would, it seems, be huge proponents of live and let live. Stated plainly, if the Alt-Right marches through the streets with guns and clubs and plastic “made in China” dollar store torches all the while chanting hate slurs, the Alt-Left would be home around a campfire hugging their fellow humans and singing Kumbaya.

There is an Alt-Left.

And most of us are hanging with our friends, reading good books, snuggling with our sweeties and getting on with our lives...

Like humans.

Tuesday, 31 January 2017

It's Good to be Trumped

I was about eight or nine years old and curious about the world in many ways that should have been left to their own devices.
When I was young, we lived on a street that backed onto a forest. I've been back to that neighbourhood since then and it's completely different. The forest is gone and is now occupied by a row of houses intended to differentiate themselves from one another only by the siding or brick colour. Other than that, it's a collection of postage stamps sold as a piece of real estate to families with a neighbour on one side who uses tweezers to cut his lawn while the one on the other side chugs onto what used to be his lawn with his mud ridden monster truck, two four wheelers and a plethora of kids bikes and toys.
Anyway, there used to be a nice forest there.
I was out in that forest one day with a friend and happened across a hornets nest. I was watching the tiny black and yellow busy-doers wander in and out of their paper nest when my friend thought it might be cool to toss a rock at it. This is the children's version of one friend saying to the other, “Oh yeah? Hold my beer and watch this!” Generally speaking, those words are followed by a visit from a panel truck with red lights, a screaming warning signal and the words “Emergency Vehicle” plastered everywhere around it's gleaming white hide. Next stop, the Emergency Ward and the detox centre... not necessarily in that order. Unless you're a kid... then it's the Emergency Ward and a stern talking to with a smack on the ass.
I threw a rock.
I'm ashamed on two levels. Firstly, I was behaving badly by disrupting the lives of creatures for my own enjoyment. My only defence is I was eight or nine and dumb as a clump of cat litter. Secondly, I wasn't very good at throwing things then and couldn't purposely hit a stand of maple trees with a fist full of pebbles.
My friend, who was much more accurate than I, hit the nest.
For a moment, the hornets were confused. Then... they organized. I started running. The hornets saw the movement and decided defending their territory was the best course of action. As it turned out, I wasn't much of a thrower but I was really fucking good at running. I got a few stings while my friend, who wasn't such a good runner, took the brunt of the assault.
Yeah... I haven't bothered with hornets much since. I have chosen to live with them rather than piss them off.
I've been looking at this whole thing since the election. Disturbing as it is, there are some who are applauding the actions taken since inauguration day. Others are appalled at the lack of humanity. Those would be the hornets. The hornets have finally become enraged enough at the establishment that they elected someone who was willing to tear down the shroud of the inner workings of the government regardless of consequence.
To purposely mix metaphors, the pendulum has swung as far to the right as it possibly can and has clunked on the side of the aged wooden cabinet of the grandfather clock with an unceremonious thud.
This is not a bad thing. That sound you hear is the bone crunching machinery coming to a grinding halt.
What we have been doing up until now has not worked. Not for everyone. While ninety-nine percent of us toil because we have to, the other one percent bandy about the planet in their yachts and jets while eating exotic foods like dolphin and dog and chocolate covered ants. Eight people have the same financial resources of 3.8 billion others. Firstly, does it seem right that anyone should be wasting those resources like the one percent? Their carbon footprint is larger than some small towns in any G20 country.
This carbon footprint extends to those we place into power in our illustrious institutions as well; presidents of country and corporation, mayors of major cities, business leaders, envoys to other countries, music and acting stars, TV personalities, sports stars, etc. They all have a larger footprint than most small corporations.
It has to end.
What Donald Trump is doing is necessary. Short of launching a ballistic missile assault on Denmark for not setting a good pyramidal example to its citizenry, the current system of haves and have-nots has to be abolished. And, unfortunately, the only way to prove to the masses that the old system will never, ever, ever work for them is to blow the fucker out of the water.
This pyramidal, top-down experiment has run its course. It doesn't work simply because of greed.
What Donald Trump has done during his first week in office is not palatable to most of us. He is crude, ignorant of international policy, intolerant of others points of view, protectionist, narcissistic, homophobic and illiterate. He's exactly what is needed to tear apart what is, surely, a one sided scheme. Our job, as socially responsible humans, is to work on what is going to replace what he is tearing apart.
For decades (centuries? Millennia?) we have had a hierarchy which pandered to the few while making empty promises to the masses. (Trickle down economics, my ass.) So? What are we going to do about it? Some ideas would be a good start. And those ideas need to start now so, when The Donald is booted unceremoniously to the curb, the pendulum can swing back toward the middle where it belongs.
Donald Trump is no more than a kid throwing a rock at a hornets nest. The hornets (us regular folk) need to sting back and set our boundaries. And, while that is happening, we need to reorganize and not go back to what we had.
It's time to build a new nest.
It's time to do things differently, equitably and for the protection of the Eco-system of the third rock from the sun... our only home.
It's time to break down the system that clearly doesn't work and build a new one.
While we're hating on Donald Trump, we need to secretly be thanking him for tearing the system down. For exposing the inner workings of a corrupt system.

Now we need ideas.

Tuesday, 15 November 2016

Mind Your Elders

Family gatherings, whatever the reason, tend to reveal a lot about who you are, where you've been and where you may be going.
(Where you are going is always a choice.)
I looked around a crowded room at my family and friends recently and was struck by how we had all aged. My father, now in his eighties, is still a pretty healthy guy. Many of the people I remember as much younger than who they are now. The reason for the recent coming together was a sombre one; my Mom's funeral. It occurred to me during the long drive home that these people, these elders, would be me in not so many years. The passing of my Mom made me realize I was becoming one of the older folks in my “tribe” but was I becoming an Elder or simply becoming an older version of who I was in my teens or twenties?
Am I still twenty-five in my head or have I drunk at the well of life enough to impart some form of functional experiential wisdom?
In our culture, we lament aging; aching joints, failing eyesight and hearing and stepping slower than we once did. We fear the aging process past thirty to the point of making humorous birthday cards and, to modernize it, memes, that joke about getting older. We spend thousands of dollars trying to look like some reasonable facsimile of a Vogue cover. We look at aging as if it were some cruel punishment for over-exuberance in our teens, twenties and thirties. Indeed, I know many people who still are behaving as if they still live in their teens and twenties despite bodies which are much older. We fight the aging process tooth and nail as if getting older were some crime and our slowing, aching, wrinkling, sagging body and underachieving metabolism were the prison.
We are viewing it wrong.
Aging is part of the process, not only in body but in mind, emotional stability and humility. It is an honour to age. It is an honour to become humble and quieter in spirit. It is an honour to choose wisdom over physical prowess. As we grow older, we need to become grounded in ourselves so we can ground others. Rather than rile the masses or pit one side against the other, being an Elder is the reasonable voice in conflict.
Anything else is a combative adolescent in wrinkled skin.
How does one become an Elder?
What is the difference between an older and an Elder?
Becoming an Elder is not simply a function of age or of experience. It seems becoming an Elder is more a function of one's disposition. In fact, if one looks at the presumed function of an Elder from historical times, they were learned people with life experience and not only knew right from wrong, but had the common sense to make decisions that were best for an entire group rather than a select few. Those who would have been deemed to be Elders during tribal times would not have had personal agendas knowing their time of personal gain decision making had passed. Those Elders were stable, centred, grounded while carrying wisdom and balance into their resolution of issues.
It seems to me elders are about continuation. That is, passing on a stable legacy for all.
But then, that was a tribal elder as opposed to a country's elder, right? It's more difficult to find one single person to run a community as large as a country without them having a personal agenda. After all, it's the societal structure we (the global we) have designed and have come to know. Decisions are made with regard to profit or loss. That is, whether it costs more than an alternative rather than whether the alternative is better for the global community as a whole.
We see it in North Dakota at the moment where a money making entity pits itself against the well being of citizens where money may well be the deciding factor. Too often, the money wins.
I don't believe that is what an elder does. I believe an elder makes decisions that are sometimes difficult (financially or otherwise) yet result in what is best for the whole of society and the future continuation of that society. By making decisions based on cost or convenience and not long term functionality and healthy citizens, we are often discounting new ideas for the comfort of old, outdated, less costly systems.
And then there is an election.
I won't go into what I believe is right or wrong with the presidential decision. My opinion matters not. I am, however, compelled to ask some rather pointed questions.
Does the new leader make decisions based on the needs of society's future or based on the cheaper, more immediate financially lucrative path?
Does he have a history of basing his decisions on people rather than money?
Does he have a track record which is inclusive rather than exclusive?
Is he an Elder or simply an Older?
Has he any bias toward a group of people?
While we may surmise what a future with this leader will be like, we really don't know for certain what it will be. At the same time, we have only the history of this man to judge from. He may, in fact, be brilliant for the United States. While that fact may or may not be true, I have a peculiar feeling he is not going to have a far reaching positive affect on the world.
That makes him not leader of the free world.
That makes him not inclusive.
That makes him an Older, but not an Elder.
That makes him an little boy in big boy pants.
For myself, I know, as time passes, I am becoming an Older. Evidence of that was punctuated at the funeral. My wondering is whether I am becoming an Elder.

As with this recent decision by the people of the United States, only time will tell.
Be well.

Saturday, 8 October 2016

Dear “Mr” Trump

Absence of respect, courtesy, manners, or admiration creates a state of poverty irrespective of the amount of money you have in the bank.”
Deepak Chopra

While I understand I don't speak for all men, I'm quite certain there are a majority of us who actually like women. 
During my entire lifetime, I have never spoken of a woman in the manner which you, "Mr" Trump, have in your recently released video debacle, whether publicly or privately. Nor have I spoken in this manner with a group of other men. The vast majority of your remarks when speaking of women are not only rude, but also smack of a person who hasn't grown out of his truculent, ill-mannered teens.
Your remarks and actions toward women are childish.
There are a great many men, of which you are not one, who respect women. Not respect because women are better or are different or are shapely, but because we recognize they are as much a part of who we are as we are of ourselves. These men cry and laugh and have feelings. These men care deeply for their spouses and mothers and sisters and daughters. These men don't assault women and brag about it. These men share their lives with women.
These men are men, not childish little boys in suit and tie.
Real men have no need to “keep anyone in their place”.
Real men have no reason to denigrate women physically or verbally to feed their ego.
Real men cook and clean and do laundry.
Real men have discussions with their spouses.
Real men don't use their position to cop a feel.
Real men behave as adults.
Real men understand the strength of a woman makes them better men.
Real men do not walk in front of women nor do they follow. They happily walk by their sides.
You, sir, are a child.
There are many men and women who will vote for you in this upcoming election. Unfortunately, I am not one of those who is able to counter those votes. I am not American. However, I am a man and, as any man from any country would be, am appalled by your remarks, whether they are current moronic tirades or idiotic remarks from a decade ago. I suspect there are men across the globe, some with as much affluence as you, who are disgusted by your actions. It seems that those whom you would respect for wealth and power are beginning to turn their backs on you.
Speaking for myself, I have little interest in your twisted apology nor your lame excuse that the video was shot “over a decade” ago. I have little interest in your attempted deflection of your behaviour toward Bill Clinton. I have little interest in your bashing of Hillary's relationship. I have little interest in you what-so-ever.
For women who may read this, please know “Mr” Trump's example is not normal behaviour for grown men. It isn't how we speak about women when we are “with the boys”. He is an example of what we, as men who love women, are not.
I would expect women to rise against you. I, for one, will be beside them... cheering.
From one Canadian to “Mr” Trump, please don't come to my country for a visit or vacation or official business, whether you are elected President or not. I would be forever grateful if you would stay within your own borders.
My point is you are a dangerous, uncontrolled, truculent teenager with far too much means to cause irreparable damage to anyone unfortunate enough to be in your presence. And not damaging just to women, which you clearly have done, but also to your country and potentially my country. 
Please, please, please...
Find a cave in the bowels of the Earth and live your life there.
I can only hope there are others who share my view.

Wednesday, 5 October 2016

The Global Dream

You want to know what the American Dream is?
That's it. There is nothing more to it.
[The American Dream is] that dream of a land in which life should be better and richer and fuller for everyone, with opportunity for each according to ability or achievement. It is a difficult dream for the European upper classes to interpret adequately, and too many of us ourselves have grown weary and mistrustful of it. It is not a dream of motor cars and high wages merely, but a dream of social order in which each man and each woman shall be able to attain to the fullest stature of which they are innately capable, and be recognized by others for what they are, regardless of the fortuitous circumstances of birth or position.
James Truslow Adams
From “Epic of America” -1931
Nowhere does Mister Adams say the American Dream is to lay around swilling beer like some incapable lout bitching about someone not handing you a job on a silver platter. We're all out of silver platters largely because the price of metals have gone through the steel corrugated roof.
You notice Adams says “for everyone”? Did you see that? Everyone. Not for a select few but for every person residing in America. It seems Americans (and many others around the world who claim the same ideals) have lost touch with this simple sentiment.
I find it interesting that some Americans (not all inclusive, obviously), have done such a stellar job exporting those ideals (and Walmart and McHappy Meals and iPhones and the Almighty Buck) to the world and then lay around bitching while slouched on the sofa, during another rerun of the Price is Right, that the world has taken their dream of a forty year job at some mundane-jobbed smoke farting factory. The world has done no such thing. You gave it away by demanding more and more while other country's citizens claimed they could do it for less.
You priced yourself out of your own market.
That's point A. Point B is this...
Some Canadians and some Europeans and some Asians and... and... and... aren't any different in their lousing. Everywhere on the planet there are people who want more opportunity. It's not as if Americans are the only ones grousing about loss of jobs and high living expenses. You ain't that special.
So... America... you have accomplished your mission. Bitching and complaining because someone else won't keep you in beer and Cheetos has gone international. The American Dream hasn't stayed confined within the thin red borders of the good ol' U.S. of A. It's dribbled into Mexico and Canada and European countries and African countries and Middle East countries and South American countries and Asia, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera.
And yet, each of those countries and America all blame the other for doing what they, themselves, are doing.
The dream of opportunity and recognition is not an American dream. It's a global dream. A human dream. Get over it.
Point C is this...
According to ability and achievement”
If all you're achieving is moving from your sofa to a lawn chair to the bathroom to the lawn chair all while emptying another case of Bud Light, then you'll be treated like a lazy, drunken slob. Because, Sunshine, that's all you've achieved.
Somehow the American Dream has been twisted over the past 5 decades or so to mean, “You owe me a job and an easy peasy life because I'm American.”
There are people out there with real issues who struggle daily to make ends meet doing whatever they can to survive and keep their family going. People with two or three part time jobs. Single moms and dads mopping floors. Unemployed people washing the windows of cars at stop lights. Other people in beat up old cars and trucks who are cutting lawns or painting decks or shovelling driveways or doing odd jobs. There are young folks in their twenties and thirties willing to take any job just to secure their own independence... despite a college or university education. There are people from foreign countries filling niches most home grown people scoff at as beneath them. These people are trying.
These people still believe in the dream.
The American Dream has never been about a government “bringing jobs back to America”. In actual fact, the American Dream has never been exclusively American. The American Dream has always been about the individual having the opportunity to try to do something on their own. Somehow, since Adams coined the phrase in 1931, we have bastardized the term to mean someone else is going to give us the opportunity.
The jobs didn't go away. The Dream... the term... became global.
It's not about bringing jobs back to America. It's about being innovative in your own life. That's the opportunity!
The opportunity has always been there. Whether you choose to take it or not is your choice. It's not the problem of big business or governments. Big business's job is to make money and they don't care where the jobs are. The government's job is to provide an atmosphere where opportunity exists.

It's your job to create your life the way you want it.