“Books are like seeds. They can lie dormant for centuries and then flower in the most unpromising soil.” (Carl Sagan); “Nothing ever dies on the Internet.” (anon.); “This is not your father’s Oldsmobile.” (Madison Ave. [m]adman). My posts amalgamate these three philosophical elements into one novel experience; they champion critical thinking, human dignity / equality, levelheaded / even-handed / liberty-based governance and solid environmental stewardship. C’mon in!
Yesterday, I blogged re the 20th anniversary of Australia’s Port Arthur Massacre and how, in the 1996 aftermath, (then) Prime Minister John Howard had ushered in strong gun control laws… those efforts creating a dramatic reduction in mass shooting incidents.
Originally I had (naïvely) thought, “Wow… what a great man!” I mean what could be more dramatic than ZERO such incidents over the past two decades?
Well… long sigh… as it turns out… re Howard… there IS a lot of drama… and none of it good. More about that in a moment.
The first order of biz, this day, is my shout out to a fellow blogger who hails from Australia. His comment on yesterday’s posting alerted me to the fact that gun control is the ONLY good thing Howard ever accomplished during his tenure as P.M.
As for the second order of biz, I decided to dig deeper into Howard’s ideology. And, folks, unless you’re in the habit of inviting Big Brother over for a political cup of tea, I strongly recommend that you have an airsick bag within reach.
While you’re readying that receptacle… check out this video…
Political analyst Tony Kevin now adds his voice:
“I have a bleaker view of the Howard years. Only time will tell if my case is overstated. I see Howard as a disruptive and dangerous national leader. His rule is steadily degrading the values of our society and corrupting its political institutions. The longer he stays in power, the more the checks and balances of our society will crumble. We will continue our slow slide towards an Australian model of fascism.”
“Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. That is why checks and balances are crucial to the health of democratic systems. They are the grit in the gears of government machinery, preventing excessive concentration of power.”
The 10 Specific Lowlights to John Howard’s Dystopia…
1. Howard exploited the war on terror just like George W. Bush had… fear mongered his people into xenophobic paranoia. Since he kept these citizens in the dark and fed them a ton of BS, one Deputy Prime Minister referred to this as “Howard’s Mushroom Club”.
2. He deployed Australian troops to fight in W’s (provoked on flat out lies) Iraq War. Just like W, he posed in photo ops with soldiers for political gain.
3. Howard jailed innocent women and children refuges behind the barbed wire of Hell-hole concentration camps and deported Australians. His “One Australia” had been mere window-dressing for his vile white-supremacist movement. He enforced social and cultural conformism… denied Aboriginal people their universal land rights. Indeed… in his narrow vision… only those who did not clash with the bleak, homogenized Howard motif need “apply”.
4. He called all the shots… decided what issues would / would not be brought up for national debate. Dissenting Parliamentarians risked ending their carriers. He also stacked the court system with likeminded, mindless, spineless, political hack judges.
5. Howard dispatched thought police to quash the freethinking nature of universities and think tanks… marginalizing any and all voices of differing POVs.
6. He dominated the actual police forces and bestowed totalitarian powers upon them… with zero oversight they could not / could never be reined in by anyone. All department whistle blowers were vulnerable to punishment… naysayers escorted to the exit signs. Career advancement was based solely on being a good little toady.
7. Howard allowed only token dissenters to maintain the illusion of a fair and balanced MSM. With everyone else on board with tapping into Orwellian concepts, mendacity ruled.
8. He went on expensive overseas junkets while excluding the press corps from his aircraft.
9. Howard busted up labor unions and dismantled the eight-hour day, pensions and other benefits.
10. He implemented teach to the test and “values” lessons within public schools (an idiotic lesson he had also learned from mentor/moron W).
You can read more in depth about those above 10 items…
“Here is the real story of the Howard years. We no longer live in a healthy, self-correcting democratic system, but in an expanding, albeit still “soft-authoritarian”, system of corporate national power. While leading elites remain mostly quietly complicit, dissenters look on in horror as our national pride is devalued and our freedoms are dismantled.”
About all I can add to those sentiments…
That Howard put an end to mass shooting incidents is to be commended. True that has saved lives… but it can also be argued… and I might add convincingly so… that those who remained alive were not / are not really living. To quote Randy California’s song lyric…
“Just where will you be when your freedom is dead?”
To tap into that lyrical Spirit… hear out the rest of California’s sentiments…
On this day 20 years ago, a murderer went on a rampage for 20+ hours in Port Arthur, Tasmania… at a former Australian prison colony and now popular tourist attraction. Armed with a Colt AR-15 SP1 Carbine and L1A1 SLR Battle Rifle, he opened fire…
Dead 35… Wounded 23…
For committing one of the deadliest mass murders the world has ever witnessed, his punishment was 35 life sentences (1,035 years) without any chance for parole. At present, he is currently doing his time in the psychiatric wing of Risdon Prison in Hobart, Tasmania.
While imprisonment of that nature may’ve made society rest a bit easier… one has to wonder… are this killer’s victims truly resting in peace?
btw, I’ve decided not to identify the perpetrator, by name, because any publicity runs the risk of breeding / emboldening copycats. Also absent from this posting will be name naming vids and links. For inquiring minds, Google searches can flesh out my skeletal blog.
So… what’s a national leader to do?
Former Australian Prime Minister John Howard, via the National Firearms Programme Implementation Act of 1996, managed to usher in strict gun control… and ever since then?
Mass shooting incidents have dropped to ZERO!
Now… if only President Barack Obama could convince the NRA dominated, mostly GOP, knuckle-dragging, knuckle-headed Representatives and Senators to pass no-nonsense legislation… America could become a far less deadly place to live.
Just to be clear here… nobody is saying that hunters should be denied the right to shoot critters for their dinner tables. A legal crackdown should only involve those who are mentally unstable and/or seek excessive firepower and/or intend to train their weapons’ crosshairs upon human beings.
Yes, I’d love to see a world where there were Zip-ZERO-No guns at all… but in our gunsick society… we’ll have to settle for taking baby steps.
That all duly noted, let’s now return to our own President’s woes. Considering how those gridlocking, DC legislators are so bigheaded and pigheaded, it’s a forgone conclusion that by the time Obama leaves office?
Zip-ZERO-Nothing of major significance will have become the law of the land.
It would appear that, unless there can be some change we can believe in… “We the People” will continue to go through life with big, blood-red bullseyes pasted on our backs… and…
The future of America is… figuratively… and quite literally… shot to Hell!
Every now and then I do love to wax poetic. I now invite you to do a little time trippin’ with me. To help keep everyone from straying off course… to this post… I’ve inserted temporal, subheading guideposts.
In the beginning…
The dawn of Earth… our land pristine,
Bright skies of blue… lush fields of green,
Clear crystal streams … air sweet and fresh,
Realms where life teems… fins, feath’, fur, flesh.
Fashion runway models, pop divas, Hollywood film stars… with an assist from Madison Avenue (m)admen / (m)adwomen… all conspire to “sell” their thin is “in” mantra to overly impressionable young women and girls.
The problem here is we’re not talking about a glow of good health thin. We’re talking walking cadaver type thin… deadly thin… what the medical profession diagnoses as an eating disorder a.k.a. anorexia.
Having worked in sales / management for two big-name, retail clothiers for thirty years, I must’ve sold, literally, thousands of pairs of jeans. And, amidst that immense blur of store patrons, I had actually waited on a young woman who, in all likelihood, had been brainwashed into an eating disorder by that abovementioned, pop culture cast of characters (or perhaps even by a parent and/or other family member).
It is the memory of her, which, to this very day, still tends to haunt me. I cannot help but wonder… what ever happened to her? Did anyone ever get to her in time? Is she even alive today?
I’d now like to tell you how our paths crossed. While I never got to know her by name, let’s call her Harriet.
I was working the day shift when Harriet came into shop. Letting her browse a few minutes… she eventually wound up in the jeans section. I approached and, after we exchanged the “Hi, how are ya?” pleasantries, I described the various fits in our product line. From years of experience, I already had a pretty good idea which one would best compliment her slender physique.
Since she was short and those smaller sizes were (where else?) on the top shelf, I fetched two pairs down for her. I then escorted her to a changing room. A few minutes later… she emerged. She had nailed the perfect pair of jeans on her very first try!
The only problem was… between the two of us… I was the only one who had thought so. Harriet didn’t even need to say a word… I could already tell from her long face. In a sad tone of voice she then said…
“I really need to lose more weight before I buy new jeans.”
I was so stunned I didn’t quite know what to say. As she went back into the changing room, I thought to myself… why would anyone who fits perfectly into a “size one” even want to lose one single ounce?
Not taking the time to try on the second pair, Harriet soon reemerged. In my usual low-pressure selling style, I told her that she REALLY had found the perfect jeans… and added (with a chuckle) that I wasn’t “just saying that” to make a sale. She smiled slightly… yet… wasn’t ready to either buy my pitch or the jeans.
I then offered to put them on hold… to give her more time to think about it… and she reluctantly agreed… adding that if she wasn’t back in an hour… I could put them back on the shelf.
I then reached for our denim brochure, took out my pen, circled the fit she had just tried on and then handed it to her… telling her that if she didn’t make it back that day… at least she’d know what to ask for the next time she shopped with us.
Well, off Harriet went back into the mall and off I went on my lunch break. An hour later I found her jeans still sitting on the hold closet’s shelf. As I put them back out onto the selling floor… again I wondered…
Why would anyone who wears a “size one” want to lose more weight?
The outcome of unresolved anorexia is never good. I can only hope that someone in Harriet’s life got to her in time to save her very life.
As for putting an end to the totally unrealistic body images being portrayed in the media / pop culture…
We’ve Only Just Begun… as sung by anorexia sufferer, the late Karen Carpenter.
Our appearance. It’s how others judge us. More to the point… oft summarily prejudge us. To say the least… exhibiting THAT type of behavior is NOT attractive. To say more… real life experiments have exposed this oft-ugly side of human nature.
In late 1959… author John Howard Griffin, managed to successfully pass himself off as a black man after first taking massive, oral doses of the anti-vitiligo drug, methoxsalen, and spending 15 hours per day under an ultraviolet lamp.
Then, for six weeks, he proceeded to travel throughout America’s, racially segregated Deep South by Greyhound Bus and by hitchhiking. To summarize the story, which he related in his book Black Like Me, he had faced down the typical, brutal bigotry, which the region of that era had been known for.
More recently… actress Roxanne Pallett had successfully passed herself off as a ninety-year-old woman, courtesy of a four-hour process where she was fitted with Hollywood type prosthetics and had applications of special makeup.
She then faced the public… and long story short… had experienced the ill-mannered indifference and ill-tempered impatience of those younger than she.
Folks, I’ve seen this ageism, first hand, too, in the grocery store checkout lane. I watched a woman, ahead of me in line, slowly writing out a check… her noticeably arthritic fingers having a tough time holding onto her pen. Then, after she had left, as the younger cashier rang up my purchase, she rolled her eyes, shook her head and said, with unforgiving, under her breath scorn, “Some people…” She never finished her sentence… not that I had ever really wanted her to do so.
I, too, have undergone my own transformation. True, mine merely involves my normal, day-to-day physiology / aging process doing its thing. But… I can certainly attest to much of what Pallett had related re her own experiences.
Shopping while gray ~ I’ve oft experienced store clerks’ “special treatment” / their “looking right through me” stares. I’ve practically heard their internal voices, bouncing about within their cranial abyss, saying…”Eh… who needs him?” OR “He’s just an old geezer who’s gonna kick off any day now!” OR “He probably doesn’t have a lot of money, anyway, so who needs him?” OR “Ignore it and maybe it’ll go away!”
It was only after I grew my hair to shoulder length that, all the sudden, I started finding the store clerks rushing up to me to cautiously, nervously “offer” me their “help.” Truth is, they’re wrongfully suspecting that I’m going to rip them off (read more here).
Imagine how demoralizing and frustrating it is to be perceived to be someone you know you are not. Perhaps, you don’t need to imagine?
Racism and ageism wrongfully punish us for our physical appearance… for traits that (unless one is part of some sociological experiment), one has no control over. Melanin content is in our DNA. So is how soon and how fast the wrinkles and other signs of aging manifest themselves.
Superficial characteristics have absolutely nothing to do with who we actually are… who we oft are wrongfully being judged to be.
Those who think small have yet to realize that we all begin aging on the day we are born… that, someday, they, too, will feel the heartbreak of being unjustly perceived as “not-valid” human beings.
Welcome to Earth Day 2016. My question to all WordPress readers:
What are you doing to prevent Earth from becoming an ecological disaster area?
My comment box awaits your replies.
While you are typing away (input, here, is totally optional) if you have specific info to show that what you are doing is making a difference, include that, too.
ADDENDUM: Saturday, April 23, 2016 9:23 a.m. ~ Since every day should be Earth Day, I still am interested in your comments… be your posting them to tell us about the ways you Go-Green-Lean-Clean in your day-to-day lives OR to discuss, in general, any other issues of the environment important to you/ to us all.
PS… my thanks to all who have already commented and clicked my “Like Star”.
To get the comments rolling…
Here are a few of my Go-Green-Lean-Clean ideas:
1. I only plug in my laptop and printer when I’m using them… this saves 365 kilowatt hours annually. Compared to my past usage… it’s as if my power company is now billing me only for 10 months each year. For even greater kWh savings I also unplug audio / video gear when not in use.
2. I recently had more insulation blown into my attic and have installed energy efficient windows and entrance doors. The reduction in my monthly electric/gas bills has been dramatic.
3. In the winter, I keep my furnace’s thermostat set at 62 degrees by day / 55 by night. Staying warm is not tough… that’s what long johns, bulky sweaters and extra blankets are for. In the summertime, I’ve totally stopped using AC.
4. With my insulation backed curtains drawn shut, this keeps heat in when I need it / out when I don’t. And since nobody can see inside, during summer it’s clothing optional (OK… that last tidbit probably was a bit more than you needed to know… but… hey… LOL… it’s all going towards the Go-Green-Lean-Clean greater good.
5. Rather than drive… I power walk to nearly all my local destinations (yes… fully clothed). This not only saves gasoline but is great exercise. Btw… I only have 40,000 miles on my car, which I’ve owned for 17 years.
Well, it’s now your turn…
I’d love to hear about your own Go-Green-Lean-Clean ideas. The goal, here, is for us to make this list as long as possible. My comment box is standing by…
Oh… btw… even if you’re not adding to the list… per se… I still welcome your comments / observations…
As Part 2 of this series concluded, we stood together at rainbow’s end while I spoke of that full spectral arc… believed it to be Divine Intervention… God’s validation of my Mom’s decision to “no code” her husband… free my Dad from his hospital ICU torture chamber… permit this terminally ill man the death our false hopes had denied him.
I now welcome you to Part 3. This installment has four subheadings titled:
A Time of Transition… A Time to Die… A Sliver of Sunlight…A Time to Reflect.
I’ve linked two of my companion blogs to this one… and… unless you’ve already read them… I strongly recommend you follow these links as they appear… I believe the depth they add to this posting to be immeasurable.
A Time of Transition…
On the eve prior to my Dad’s ill-fated surgery, the last words he’d ever spoken to me were… “Keep the home fires burning.” Ergo, from 1988 through 2003, I was caregiver to Mom… caretaker of her property… thereby allowing her to remain in her home sweet home for her final fifteen years.
During that time, Mom and I had oft regretted how Dad’s “full code” hospital status” had condemned him to “living” a zombie-like existence. No matter how many times we had rehashed this… each and every time we’d wind up looking each other squarely in the eye to solemnly vow we’d never do that to each other.
I was so glad we had had those frank discussions; too… for it was in early 2003… after Mom had fractured her femur and was convalescing in a nursing home… when pneumonia’s deadly chokehold would not permit her to rally.
With all reasonable, medical treatment options exhausted… with Mom’s quality of life steadily worsening with each passing second and her chances for recovery near zero… there I was… staring down at that nursing home “full code” / “no code” form.
Mere days earlier, a Judge had appointed me to be my Mom’s legal guardian and so her fate now rested in my hands. It would’ve been far too easy to feel the same false hopes for my Mom (the same type of false hopes Mom and I had felt for my Dad). But, I simply could not ignore Mom’s voice echoing in my memory… could not turn a deaf ear to her past impassioned pleas… “Please don’t EVER let that happen to me!”
While I hated “no coding” my own Mother… I hated the thought of her suffering even more. Choking back my tears… I signed on the dotted line and handed her fate off to God. After all… even if I had made the wrong decision… He could always intervene to let her recover and continue to live.
A Time to Die…
My showing my Mom mercy had spared her untold misery and she had died a pain free, dignified death. The final chapter of her life can be read in my posting: Going Home… Going Home…
Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, author of On Death and Dying, once described it thusly:
“Watching a peaceable death of a human being reminds us of a falling star; one of the million lights in a vast sky that flares up for a brief moment only to disappear into the endless night forever.”
Six days after Mom had gone to her Heavenly home, I presided over her Memorial Service. Having pasted on my bravest, public face, I had somehow managed to tearlessly deliver her heartfelt eulogy to a larger than expected gathering of mourners and well-wishers… a fifteen minute summation of her near ninety year long life and times.
With nothing else left for ME to do for my Mom… it was now time for ME to go home… to consider what I’d be doing for ME… in whatever time remained for ME on Earth. And after thirty years of helping my folks… how odd it felt to be prioritizing ME at the top of my to-do list.
A Sliver of Sunlight…
On the one-year anniversary of my Mom’s death, I began what was to become my annual ritual to honor her and keep her memory alive. My honoring her request that she be buried in her family plot in Minnesota, had meant I’d be paying my respects from afar… in two special, serene locales within my Michigan, hometown’s city limits.
It was seven years into my newfound family tradition, when something magical happened… my third “Oh Wow” moment… a jaw dropping, astounding, meteorological event which I could not interpret to be anything other than Divine Intervention. I tell more about my experience in my posting: A Sliver of Sunlight
A Time to Reflect…
So here I am in the here and now of 2016. I certainly intend to keep my eyes wide-open to see if any other episodes of Divine Intervention will come my way. Since, so far, they’ve all been weather related… I know my gaze should focus skyward… and since I’ll be already looking up… I’ll be certain to thank our Creator for having never let me down.
Of course there is that “Good things come in threes” adage so… might I have already maxed out my Divine Intervention limit? If that’s the case… then this makes those I’ve already experienced all the more precious. For sure, I’ll treasure these special days and events for the rest of my mortal life… and throughout eternity…
November 9, 1973 ~ The sunbeams breaking through the wintry cloud deck after I had narrowly avoided a fatal head on crash with a semi on that iced over, US-23 overpass. I believe God had spared me so I could carry on till tomorrow… live on through three more decades worth of tomorrows… just to be there to help my folks when they had needed me the most.
November 1, 1988 ~ The rainbow, which told Mom and me that my terminally ill Dad’s storm was finally coming to an end… had assured us both that only death could bring his agony to an end.
April 16, 2011 ~ The sunbeams, which had acted as a Heaven to Earth conduit… streaming my Mother’s love, eternal, upon me. After an eight-year long silence… it had sure felt so good to “hear” my Mom, once again, “say”, “I Love You!”.
Admittedly, I had briefly considered titling this posting: “A Cute Cuddly Puppy & Kitty”. But the actual title you’ve just read is a bit more honest… for, on this new day, the “creatures” I’m talking about are none other than our world’s religious sects. These “creatures” can and oft do exert forces upon our society, which are both too large and too small.
Terrorist cells and Theocratic societies draw their energy from too large religious ideology. Blue and white collar crimes can trace their roots to too small religious influences. Either way… humanity loses.
Clearly, the polarizing, extremes of religion are not working towards the betterment of our global society. So might the solution to dealing with our world’s ills be found in a moderate, middle ground faith?
While I’d never be so arrogant as to claim I have all the answers and MOST ASSUREDLY I am NOT on a mission to ram my own religious beliefs down anyone’s throat… here’s what my CommonSenseFaith is all about.
1. I do believe in God and cannot help but base such a conviction upon some of my own life experiences. I’ve shared two of those special moments in my posts: Going Home… Going Home… and A Sliver of Sunlight. I believe, if folks stop to really think about it, some might realize they, too, have had similar “oh wow” moments in their own lives.
2. I fully accept that God may not be a wizened, old man with a long, flowing white beard… that He could even be a She OR… in lieu of that… simply be the elegant and unifying universal laws of Biology, Chemistry and Physics.
3. I do not believe in organized religion and haven’t been a regular churchgoer since I was a preteen. That’s because I feel living my religion in my day-to-day life is far more meaningful than living the lie of “Only on Sunday” “morality”. Now, this is not to say that I’ve not had lapses in my own good behavior. But key here is to learn from our transgressions and then self-correct.
4. I also believe that agnostics can be and oft are paragons of virtue 99% of the time. Why not 100%? That’s because nobody is perfect.
5. I feel living the Golden Rule provides us all the structure we need… i.e., the perfect, rock-solid foundation to build a non-violent, loving, flourishing society upon.
6. I may even be like you… you, who feel that want-to-puke-revulsion every time we see fraudulent, parasitic, gold-plated, stain-glassed televangelists “fleecing” their flocks. This breed of “religion” likely ranks right up there with the pumped up on steroids, bulked up, too large sects I spoke of above.
7. While I do insist that each and every one of America’s elected leaders be a humane, humble (wo)man in possession of a moral compass, I also concur with the U.S. Constitution that religious services ONLY belong in our Houses of Worship… that they MUST NEVER be convened in the White House Oval Office, on the U.S. House and Senate floor and, MOST ASSUREDLY NOT with the U.S. Supreme Court bench serving as a rickety, makeshift altar. True… the church government mash-up a.k.a. Theocracy may work out fine in Iran… but that’s not what America is all about.
Since too large and too small religious sects are failing… I believe my seven tiered, CommonSenseFaith philosophy sounds compelling. Hell, this could even work without bringing a Supreme Being into the mix. Might such an moderate approach pave the path towards a better world? Let me know what you think.
On the April 16th, one-year anniversary of my Mom’s passing on, I had realized that since she had been interred in her home state of Minnesota, this Michigander living on a shoestring budget, would need to pay his respects from afar. But… where could I go, instead?
Well, I believe after we depart this earthly realm, we do become part of something much bigger… part of everything in nature. With that in mind, it dawned on me that the very locales I needed could be found in two very special places… all part of nature… all within walking distance. Even better, I had already been there before.
So, on that early spring morn, with my shoelaces tied tautly, I went on a hike.
My first stop was the very same, out-of-doors nursing home bench where I’d gone to mourn… on the morn of Mom’s death. There I sat, once more, in solitary, silent meditation.
From there I proceeded onward to a nearby park on the west side of my hometown.
Though my words won’t do it full justice… we’re talking about 50 acres of rolling terrain, wetlands, nature trails and the calming “white noise” generated by a long winding river.
This is the home turf for a diverse ecosystem of flora and fauna… this serenity beckoning all free spirits to… wander beneath towering pines, elms, oaks and maples… traipse through fields of clover… behold a vast variety of wild flowers and groundskeeper planted perennials… hear the buzz of bees… the honks of geese and quacks of ducks… the birdcalls of sparrows, robins and countless other feathered species… eyewitness the occasional visiting deer, foxes and waddling woodchucks.
Well… I wound up walking away from this experience feeling so emotionally uplifted that, on my way back home, I vowed this would become my annual ritual.
Amazingly, for seven successive years, the fair weather ruled… but not so in 2011.
The overnight torrential rains had persisted well past daybreak. But then… just as my usual 9 a.m. departure time neared… the downpour abruptly ceased. In nearly jaw-dropping disbelief, I was out the door and on my way.
Of course… about halfway to my destination, the rains did return… but… even that had held off until I was passing under a dense canopy of trees… had been short-lived… simply turning off as I was emerging into the clearing ahead. God was not raining on this man’s, one-man parade.
The storm clouds then started to break and brighten. My own shadow dimly appeared before me on the sidewalk. By the time I had reached the nursing home and sat down on the bench, the sunbeams broke free… in their full radiant splendor.
Barely fifteen minutes had passed when, just as I was emerging from my deeply contemplative state, the clouds were beginning to roll back in… these overcast conditions persisting as I journeyed onward to the park and as I made my way back home… that blue / gray gloom eventually dissolving into the inky black of nightfall.
So, how could everything, in our normally buy-it-off-the-rack world, have been so tailor made, just to suit me?
Well, I believe this fleeting “Sliver of Sunlight” had been a bridge to the Great Divide. On that April 16, 2011 morn, I believe the warmth of Mom’s love, eternal, had been tightly interwoven in those streaming Earthward sunbeams.