The Sandbox Writing Challenge #47 — Huh?

It’s time for another one of Calen’s questions. This one is from July 12th. Hopefully, I will eventually catch-up with them. This one also made me pause and think, and I will try to keep it a bit more on the light-hearted side then the heavy side of recent questions.

What don’t you understand?

I am curious by nature and spend a lot of time doing research on various interests, but I will admit that there are some things that I just cannot quite grasp. I don’t know if it is because I am more right-brained than left-brained or if I just have a mental block on some subjects. I have an excellent grasp on most things creative – art and literature, to be sure, and I am also very interested in history. I enjoy music, but cannot read music to save my life. It just doesn’t make sense to me. It’s the same with higher levels than Calculus with Math. I can grasp some understanding of science, but when it gets deep into Quantum Physics, I go all “what the fuck?” Math and Science really do interest me though. I am fascinated by those who understand them and can articulate them, even if I don’t completely understand.

It may come as a surprise to many, but one place I have a lot of difficulty is reading comprehension. I read well and I understand all of the literary techniques, but when it comes to relaying those things back to others, I get a mental block. That’s hard to share, especially since I am an avid reader and a writer. I have to keep “cheat sheets” on all things literary so that I know what a writer means when they use a literary device and I know how to use them myself when I write. But there are literary techniques that I just cannot understand. The worst one for me is writing form poetry, especially when it comes to writing in iambic pentameter or some other metered form. Doing all that counting to get a correct rhythm just confuddles the hell out of me. Maybe I am lacking a rhythm gene. I had a professor in college who kept trying to get me to write in Blank Verse, but I just couldn’t grasp the concept. I don’t seem to have that problem when writing Haiku, Senryu or Tanka though. Does not understanding meter make me a bad poet? Perhaps. Or perhaps I don’t need to understand those things to write decent free-style poetry, which is what I mostly write anyway.

So yes, there are many things that impact me as a curious-minded person that I don’t quite understand, that I get mental blocks, and have many head-scratching moments over. That doesn’t stop me from continuously attempting to understand though. I guess you could say that I keep forcing myself to delve into topics that confuse me in the hopes that eventually my brain will have an “aha!” moment.

Creative Question 17 – Political Porridge


CQ17: Do we need to rethink our version of democracy; of elections and governance; of reconnecting with real people and their issues?

It is quite the political season, what with the US Presidential election looming, and since I am of a political mindset today, I figured I would attempt to delve into Kate’s Creative Question.

Normally, I am not a politically-minded person, but I am a history buff, so politics does interest me from a historical point of view. And I will admit that I am not a fan of Capitalism. I am a liberal progressive and I believe in inclusivity. I am not in favor of the top 1% having the bulk of the wealth while the lower 99% falls deeper and deeper into poverty. This is what Capitalism has done to this country, not just now, but throughout our history. In the past, huge monopolies gave the top 1% an economic advantage. These capitalists controlled our country’s wealth through our banking, trade and labor systems. The bulk of Americans lived in poverty-like conditions while these wealthy Capitalists lived in luxury. We saw changes during the late 40s and 50s when a middle class emerged through FDR’s policies and our country became economically strong.

So when did it all begin to go wrong? We can trace the decline of the middle class back to the 1980s when Reagan first proposed his “trickle-down” theory. The premise of this was that if we gave corporations (capitalists) huge tax breaks, then they would open more businesses, thus creating more jobs, and the wealth would trickle down to the lower 99%. It continued during GHW Bush’s administration when he first proposed NAFTA, the North American trade deal with Mexico and Canada. This deal was supposed to allow Mexican and Canadian companies to trade openly with the US. It was signed by Bill Clinton during his administration. What happened instead was that US corporations found cheaper labor, mainly in Mexico, and began moving their corporations out of the US and into Mexico. Other trade deals followed in the ensuing years, allowing corporations to move overseas to China, India, Bangladesh, etc. All of these corporations were looking for the same things – cheap labor, a lax on environmental laws, and more money in their pockets. And who got the shaft? American workers, the 99%.

So now we are looking at the same situation that we faced as a country before the 1940s. Capitalism has once again turned us into an economically backwards country. Those at the top love Capitalism because it makes them wealthy. They tell the American people that if we just worked harder, we too could reap the benefits of Capitalism, but they are merely feeding us a pipe dream. We are being lied to by those who hate the very idea that the 99% could be as rich as the 1%. Both sides of our current political agenda want to keep us living in poverty. They occasionally throw us bones to keep us pacified, but the truth is, as long as Capitalism is the American Way, the 99% will always be poor.

So what is the alternative? There are many corporations in this country who do the right thing. They allow unions and incentive programs, like sharing company profits with the workers. These corporations know that American workers are happy and satisfied when they benefit from their labor. Most of these are medium to small-sized businesses. They don’t get the big tax breaks of large corporations. And perhaps, that is what makes these companies better for our current economic situation. But what is more important is that these companies reflect a more socialistic atmosphere.

Socialism isn’t the “devil” that many Capitalist paint it as such, and it definitely is nothing even remotely close to Communism. Socialism is an unselfish form of government. Its premise is that when we help the less fortunate in our communities, we also help ourselves as a whole. It says that even the lessors of our people have value and should be taken care of – children, the elderly, the disabled. And we do this by everyone paying their fair share of taxes, the poorest and, most definitely, the wealthiest. Critics say that Socialism is Un-American, but those critics have been fed the Capitalistic pipe dream for centuries. It goes back to the days of Kingdoms and fiefdoms.  The wealthy deserve to remain wealthy and the poor must just endure. We see Socialism in action in small communities all over this country – charities, churches giving aid, food banks, bake sales for children’s school activities, etc. Capitalistic-minded people even participate in these kinds of events, but they don’t realize that these things embody the very spirit of Socialism.

Our government would benefit from adopting more Socialist ideas by giving incentives to companies that enrich their workers through unions and profit sharing programs, by creating a fair tax plan for all Americans (the poor and wealthy), by investing in schools, our infrastructures, and our health care, and finally, by punishing companies who outsource their jobs overseas. We need to stop being a selfish country where we think of ourselves as individuals and only look out for number one. We all have value and we should all reap the benefits of what this country has to offer.


The Sandbox Writing Challenge #46 — A Matter of Perspective

I am still behind on Calen’s challenges, but since they make me reflect, I am determined to continue writing about them. This one is from July 5th and it has definitely challenged me. In fact, I’ve been thinking about it now for well over a week, trying to figure out just what I want to articulate.

06Whom do you look down upon?

I like to think of myself as an accepting and inclusive person. I try not to judge others or interfere in their decisions about life, but I’ve come to the conclusion that there are some whom I consider “unsavory” and yes, I do look down upon them. This is a hard thing to admit. Unfortunately, my admittance comes from watching this year’s Presidential election play out. It has been a long time since I’ve been involved in politics. I haven’t voted since John Kerry ran for President back in 2004. I became so disillusioned with the whole process after he walked away without a thorough counting of the ballots when he said he wouldn’t during his campaign. I began to see the political world in a whole new light, but I am not here to discuss conspiracies theories.

So what makes 2016 any different? Donald Trump and his ardent followers. I started paying attention while he was still going through the primary process. I listened to some of the things he was saying, his crassness,  his ability to say anything and everything regardless of how wrong or inflammatory his words were, and how his crowd of fans reacted with enthusiasm over those words. You see, I am a history buff and I have seen crowds respond this way in other historical venues – Hitler and Mussolini’s rise to power in the 1930s to be exact. I know what it looks like when people are angry and upset by the established government who doesn’t seem to care about the “little guys” out there. I know what can happen when a leader is careless with his words (or crass on purpose). Trump has stirred up the sleeping giants in our society – the White Supremacists, racists, bigots, and misogynists. These people now feel not only justified in their thinking, but they also feel like they have been given a mandate by Trump to openly do or say the points in their horrible credos.

Trump has consistently used violence in his campaign speeches – telling his followers to punch anyone who gets in their way, stating that he wants to “knock out” his critics, and alluding to gun owners to assassinate Hillary Clinton and/or any Supreme Court justices she may appoint if she is President. His apologists continually come behind him to clean up his “missteps” and refer to them as mere jokes. But the only people who are laughing are Trump and his followers. The rest of us see the seriousness of his words. Words that could have long term consequences in the future, especially if he becomes President. On August 24, 1964, John Pastore gave the following words during the keynote speech at the DNC about the Republican nominee, Barry Goldwater:

“What does the Republican candidate choose to have anything mean at any given moment? This world cannot wait until Saturday to learn what he meant when he spoke on Monday. The man in the White House doesn’t have the luxury of a second choice. He has to be right the first time.”

Pastore’s words are just as important this election as they were fifty-two years ago. We don’t have time for Trump or his apologists to clarify what Trump has said on any given day. If he were President, his words would have to be correct the very first time he said them. If he were to say something inflammatory about a foreign country where our ties are not so strong, we could be facing another major war. We could lose allies. We could even lose the backing of important trading allies. But then, Trump doesn’t seem to care about these things. He has stated that if NATO countries haven’t paid their bills, we won’t defend them. He wants to renegotiate all trade deals and impose huge tariffs on imports. He admires Putin, Kim Jong-Un, Hussein, and Gaddafi. He sees them all as being strong leaders and wants to emulate them. I’ve even read that one of his wives said that he kept copies of Hitler’s speeches by his bedside. These are not the values of Americanism. These are fascist values.

So who do I look down upon at this moment in time? A would-be President who embodies fascism and his ardent followers who embrace his ideas.

Confessions and Thoughts on Hate

I have a confession to make. My family is racist.

This is hard to confess because I’ve always been an inclusive person. I believe in diversity and that all races should be treated equally.

It’s hard living in a household where the N-word is thrown around far too often. Just today, it was used twice. Once by my brother in relations to Black players in the NFL and once by my dad in reference to a Black player attempting to steal a base during a MLB game. They know how I feel about the use of that word, but since when has anything I care about deterred them? Never. Racism is embedded deeply in their hearts and nothing I say or do prevents them from being racists.

I have another confession. They are also anti-gay.

My family knows that I am bisexual and support LGBTQ rights. That doesn’t stop them from throwing around the word “faggot” often. Just recently, my dad said that he didn’t like Tim Kaine (the Virginia Senator who is now Hillary Clinton’s VP pick). Not because of Kaine’s politics, but because in my dad’s eyes, Kaine looks like a “faggot”. That’s his only reason for disliking the man. Doesn’t matter that Kaine is a straight man who is married and has children. Nope. Not in my dad’s eyes.

I’ve heard racial slurs and anti-gay sentiment in my household all of my life. I’ve even heard it from extended family members (aunts, uncles, cousins). Living with these people, hearing their disdain for anyone who doesn’t look just like them, has always caused me deep pain. I’ve spoken up, but my words fall on deaf ears. One of my cousins even called me a Commie for my inclusiveness. What she fails to understand is that Communists are not inclusive people either. The proper words would have been a Liberal Socialist, but you cannot tell some people facts.

And now the news is filled with hate, racism, bigotry, misogyny and anti-gay sentiments on a daily basis thanks to the recklessness of Trump’s campaign. These people are crawling out from under their hate-filled rocks in droves. Hatred is fueling violence everywhere in this country.

I am finding myself retreating more and more to my spiritual base. I have to surround myself with crystals, meditate, and practice Ho’oponopono constantly. This isn’t just the sin, evilness, or whatever you want to call it, of a few; we are all responsible. Collectively, we cannot continue to allow such hatefulness to thrive. We have to speak up about it and never stop fighting against it. Love must always triumph over hate.