This Little Group

The Free Thinkers and Peace Builders group I started with a friend has grown quickly. We have 85 members and have only been around 3 months! I thought having this many members would mean good turnouts for the meets I create, with lots of good exchange of ideas.

Alas, I have been disappointed. I know, people join online groups all the time and never attend a single meet. I’ve done that. You get busy and can’t make yoga. Or didn’t write anything to present to the writers group on Monday. I had thought this group was made up of slightly more determined individuals. If we want to make change, talking to each other is key! If we are not determined, why are we bothering?

If you are not committed to making change, how can change ever come? Do people expect things to change simply because they want them to? I know we have leaders out there. Those determined to expose Trump for the racist bumpkin he is. People trying to change the US justice system. They don’t seem to get the media coverage they deserve. Those in power do not really want anything to change. They own the media. All of it, and no one seems to care. Except me.

CNN and the thousands of “independent” news outlets are too busy spending two weeks discussing a hurricane. For 24 hours a day, every day.  For two weeks! And if there is no storm or crisis they still only show you the same 5 stories all day long. It would appear that today’s media does not realize there are more than one story a day.  CNN doesn’t seem to realize what a parody of news it has become. In the US we have CNN or Fox. That explains a lot doesn’t it?

Today’s Newsroom Meeting:

“Ok boys, go out and get those stories.” The “reporters” all look at each other. “What’s the boss mean, “go out”? I pick up all my stories off of Facebook and other social media. I don’t have to “go out” anywhere and talk to people live and in person. I’ve got important shit to do.” So the “reporters” set their interns the task of bringing stories to them off the internet. There are only five reporters, and five interns, therefore, we get only five stories. Not a one with verifiable sources. Are we just lazy? Is it just because my family loves to watch CNN day and night and I get incensed that the story, and clips and interviews that I saw at 9AM are the exact same I see at 9PM.

Today I feel disappointed. I know what I’m trying to do isn’t easy and not everyone can devote the same amount of time and effort. But I can’t do this alone! Have those who have joined my group done so for no apparent reason? Do they care about what I am trying here? My friend who started this group with me has since abandoned the cause. I feel ready to do the same. My WP site costs me money. My Meetup page costs me money. Not much but it’s money that I would otherwise spend on useful things like food. I’d like to think what little I pay out would pay off in a good solid group of people.

Today I am disappointed in my fellows. I sent a notice for a meeting. The topic doesn’t really matter as long as we discuss the important stuff. But only ONE person showed up for the last meet and only ONE has signed on to attend this one. I don’t know if I should bother. You can’t hitch your star to someone else’s wagon.

Same question I ponder daily: Should I give up or keep going?

Racism & White Privilege

Just read this terrific article written by Lori Lakin Hutcherson, a black woman, responding to a query from a white friend on White Privilege.  (Lori Lakin Hutcherson is a Los Angeles native, Harvard graduate, film and television writer/producer, and founder/editor-in-chief of the award-winning website Good Black News. She is also a wife, mother, vegetarian, crossword puzzle enthusiast, nerd, and avid music lover.) Though the article is a year old, it certainly hasn’t lost it’s importance.

Yesterday I was tagged in a post by an old high school friend, asking me and a few others a very public, direct question about white privilege and racism. I feel compelled not only to publish his query but also my response to it, as it may be a helpful discourse for more than just a handful of folks on Facebook.

Here’s his post:

“To all of my Black or mixed race FB friends, I must profess a blissful ignorance of this ‘White Privilege‘ of which I’m apparently guilty of possessing. By not being able to fully put myself in the shoes of someone from a background/race/religion/gender/nationality/body type that differs from my own makes me part of the problem, according to what I’m now hearing.

“Despite my treating everyone with respect and humor my entire life (as far as I know), I’m somehow complicit in the misfortune of others. I’m not saying I’m colorblind, but whatever racism/sexism/other -ism my life experience has instilled in me stays within me, and is not manifested in the way I treat others (which is not the case with far too many, I know).

“So that I may be enlightened, can you please share with me some examples of institutional racism that have made an indelible mark upon you? If I am to understand this, I need people I know personally to show me how I’m missing what’s going on. Personal examples only. I’m not trying to be insensitive, I only want to understand (but not from the media). I apologize if this comes off as crass or offends anyone.”

Here’s my response:

Hi, Jason. First off, I hope you don’t mind that I’ve quoted your post and made it part of mine. I think the heart of what you’ve asked of your friends of color is extremely important, and I think my response needs much more space than as a reply on your feed. I truly thank you for wanting to understand what you are having a hard time understanding.

Coincidentally, over the last few days I have been thinking about sharing some of the incidents of prejudice/racism I’ve experienced in my lifetime – in fact, I just spoke with my sister Lesa about how to best do this yesterday – because I realized many of my friends (especially the white ones) have no idea what I’ve experienced/dealt with unless they were present (and aware) when it happened.

There are two reasons for this :

1) Because not only as a human being do I suppress the painful and uncomfortable in an effort to make it go away, I was also taught within my community (I was raised in the ‘70s and ‘80s – it’s shifted somewhat now) and by society at large not to make a fuss, speak out, or rock the boat. To just “deal with it,” lest more trouble follow (which sadly, it often does).

2) Fear of being questioned or dismissed with “Are you sure that’s what you heard?” or “Are you sure that’s what they meant?” and being angered and upset all over again by well-meaning-but-hurtful and essentially unsupportive responses.

Please go here to read the complete article.

The author then cites only a few examples of the racism that she has experienced in her life. I think most people of the white persuasion wouldn’t see anything wrong with the actions she describes. I hope some people are dismayed when they recognize themselves.

In an odd comparison I want to relate three of my own early experiences with racism as a white woman.

I lived in a small town, which during the 50s-60s was essentially an All-White community. You won’t find this information anywhere in the history pages of Menomonee Falls, WI , but I recall my mom telling me the town had at one time a policy not to sell to Blacks.  I never saw a living breathing black person until about age 10-12. I didn’t go to school with anyone other than white kids. We didn’t even have many Jewish people living in town.

Fast food restaurants were new in the 60s-70s when I grew up, and we were so excited when the McDonald’s moved in, but it was at the other end of town, so it was not a frequent treat. But when Kentucky Fried Chicken went in on the corner of Main Street, now that was close by. My dad brought me with him to get a bucket of chick to take home. Standing in front of me was a large, very dark man. I remember being somehow stunned. I guess it was a similar reaction to Native tribes coming in contact with their first White men.  I find it very sad that this was my first glimpse into the Black community.

A second even more powerful incident struck me when I was at Girl Scout Camp one summer about age 12. There were girls from all over Wisconsin at this camp and I met and made my first Black friend. I don’t recall her name now, but I remember the look on her face.

We each washed our own dishes at a communal wash bucket as big as a horse trough. I was next in line to wash my dishes, and my Black friend was behind me. I stepped from the “sink” and she stepped up. Behind her I hear someone curse and complain that they hoped the water was still clean enough for her dishes after “black hands” had been in it. I was stunned. I’d never heard anything like that before in my life.  But my friend. The crushed look and suppressed tears told me a lot. I called the racist girl something, and took my friend back to our tent.

Then there was the time my dad took up a petition to prevent a home in our neighborhood from being sold to a Black family. I recall my mother being furious with my father about it. I’m not sure if his efforts were successful, but no Black family moved into that house.

This is what White Privilege looks like to me. But think about it. Slavery may have been outlawed, but most Whites still believed the other colors of people were less civilized and advanced. Blacks weren’t smart enough to do the job of clerk, so let them sweep the floor. When the Reconstruction of the South occurred, it only reconstructed the White south. Very little, if anything was done to help freed slaves figure out what they were supposed to do, now that they were turned out from the only homes they knew. Many were ignorant; unable to read and write. Probably many couldn’t count or add. It was like the North freed a bunch of children and said, “Ok, you go off and make a life for yourself.” “You need help?, I got problems of my own “boy.””  Finding themselves unemployed, it was pretty hard to find a place of their own. The Black experience (at least to my White eyes) has never been easy. I can’t imagine the difficulties they faced. I’m sure there must be books written about that, but I haven’t read one.

Sorry, this was kind of long, but I hope some of you learned something about racism and privilege in the US. There are many times I feel ashamed to be White, although my family didn’t arrive in this country until after the Civil War. White Privilege will continue until we can share these stories and enlighten the ignorant.  We’ve got to undo 200 years of racism. It’s going to take a while.

Meanwhile, to all the people of color: I’m sorry. I’m sorry for the arrogance of White Men. I apologize if I have ever seemed disrespectful to anyone. If I ever do say or do something racist, I do hope you will point it out to me. I don’t want to make the same mistake with someone else.

Bipartisanship

As a society we are taught there are three (or four) things that should never be discussed: Sex, Religion, Politics (and money).  I only agree that talking about money is unwise.  But the rest are what we should discuss!  If we were able to teach our children tolerance, compassion, understanding and empathy, it would be quite a different world.  Instead we teach them not to talk to those who are different, or whose opinions are different from our own.  This breeds contempt, misunderstanding, frustrated anger, and festering hate.  Just the things the GOP seems to want people to feel.

Can there ever be such a thing as bipartisanship?  Truly?  What if we could change that? Would you try?  I would and will. Do you believe that nothing should be off limits to public discourse.  A little honesty, buttered with some empathy might go down better than angry rhetoric.  At least that’s my mind.

I don’t want to listen to the other side either, truth be told.  But neither do I want to see my world continue to be blown apart by hatred, anger, misunderstanding, rumor, and lies.  I see no reason that can’t change. If we want it to.  I am now on a search for a means to have real, open dialog with those with views opposing mine.

I wrote a few weeks ago about a lost opportunity to talk to the “other side” of an issue. Not many people want to listen to someone else’s side of an argument.  We merely wait on our side of the conversation for something from the other to tear into and deny. Name calling is easier than holding our tongue.  Spouting the same tired rhetoric is more appealing than using our own minds and hearts to listen.  Hating easier than understanding.  Empathy can’t be taught, apparently.  Nor maybe compassion.  But we can learn to understand one another.  Maybe become more tolerant of our differences. But to do this we need to have real, honest communication with each other.

We know that our rhetoric has become empty phrases devoid of personal meaning.  So let’s quit spouting the same old lines and come up with a new strategy.  I’m thinking radical here, but honesty is definitely something to shoot for.  I know that goes against the grain when talking politics, but honesty in political discourse–wouldn’t that be something?

Restraint will also need to be learned. Drop your preconceived ideas and ideology at the door.  We need to enter into these discussions with an open mind.  A very tough thing to do.  I’ll admit I have a serious bias against the religious.  I didn’t realize how closed minded I was, until fairly recently.  I’m endeavoring to change that personality flaw. Perhaps you don’t fully realize that you are unreasonably closed minded about something or someone?

Brainstormed recently w/a friend about how to accomplish this, we thought the first thing we need to try to do is teach people how to think for themselves.  A thing is no longer taught in US schools, along with civic responsibility (but that’s another blog).  Too many people do not understand the meaning of the phrase “critical thinking.”

So we need some sort of public education format, Meetup groups and the like, to provide a place for people who want to understand, an opportunity to do so.  Who would teach these classes?  Good question.

Forget the GOP.  Ignore the labels of Republican and Democrat.  Understand that liberal and conservative are opposites, not hate groups.  I’d like to see us stop labeling ourselves. African American, Hispanic, male, female, liberal, christian, conservative.  I get that it is instinctual to label and order our worlds in order to understand them.  However, this no longer seems necessary.  Can’t we all just be “people”?

Want to help build bridges to the other side?  Interested in understanding critical thinking?  Want to debate the issues in an educated way?  I want to learn how to do that. I am quite guilty of not wanting to understand opposing views, but I also know that it is unhealthy to do so.  For all of us.   Join us?

 

An Open Letter to Trump supporters

Dear Trump Fan

You must understand that the anti-Trump group is not simply upset that there are questions as to foreign manipulation in our election process.  It’s not simply that my preferred candidate did not win.  It’s not because most Trump supporters are Obama haters.  It’s because the man is simply UNFIT.

He lacks the knowledge of how to govern.  You might say, yeah, it’s one of the things you like about it.  But knowing how to govern involves understanding others’ points of view.  If I read a book, or several books, about government and how to be effective doesn’t mean I know how to govern.  But I would have a leg up on Trump.

He lacks the diplomacy that is required when dealing with foreign dignitaries.  Sure, you say, he knows plenty of foreign big wigs.  Yes, but those big wigs only deal with Trump on business.  They may respect that, they may not.  It could be they just put up with his lack of grace and humility because he is making them money.  Well, the government is NOT a business, and probably shouldn’t be run like one.  Businesses look at the bottom line, profit and loss.  A country doesn’t profit from its people, but is supported by them via taxes.

To be an effective leader, one must have empathy for the other guys.  Something Trump certainly appears to lack.  In fact, I’m not even sure Trump can define ’empathy’.  Nor can many of his supporters.

One must have compassion for ALL citizens, not just those who agree with you.  Belittling other groups is counterproductive, and makes one look small and childish.  Very un-Presidential.  Disrespectful.  Something Trump seems not to understand.  Respect is earned, and treating others disrespectfully diminishes one’s chance at being respected.

I don’t believe our President should be tweeting criticisms about TV shows, or people who disagree with him.  My President has more important things to do.  My President barely sleeps, has no time to watch TV, let alone have twitter wars.  It diminishes respect for My President in the eyes of other countries, which reflects badly on me.

For a democracy to work, it cannot be run like a dictatorship.  The American people will not yield their rights to a dictator.  Perhaps Trump and his supporters don’t know what a dictator is.  Well, it is exactly what Trump proposes with his refusal to meet with certain members of the press.  The elected leader of this country is bound by the Constitution to allow Freedom of the Press.  There are plenty of Trump supporters who know the Second Amendment very well, but many seem to be ignorant of the rest.

I won’t even go into the lies.  I don’t expect politicians to tell the truth, but I do expect them to own up to their ‘misstatements’ and offer a clarification, or an apology.  And an apology is not “I’m sorry you got mad at me when I called you stupid.”  It is “I’m sorry I called you stupid.  That was untrue and unkind.”

Yeah, your candidate won.  And since no charges are forthcoming from those who claim voter fraud or foreign influence, etc., I’ll go so far as to say he won legitimately.  That still does NOT mean he is a suitable representative of me, or people who think like me.  He can’t legislate people away.  He can’t ignore the majority, not for long, anyway.  One group of people does not have more privileges than another.  At least they shouldn’t.  Trump and his supporters seem to think it’s ok to ignore the rest of us.  The British didn’t take the resistance seriously either.  You do know how that ended, right?

Care For The Mentally Ill

When will there be no stigma or restrictions regarding mental health.  My son just spent 7 of the last 10 days in a mental health ward.  He acts no different.   Still surly and angry, which I have come to understand can be part of BPD (bi-polar disorder).  Unfortunately, that is very hard to take.  I’ve never handled the anger of others well.  Get mad at me and I just want to run away.

The docs sent him home with lots of scripts, including Depacote, but I’m not sure what else.  He’s not very talkative right now, except to complain to me about his dad.  Somehow Son blames his dad for most of his problems.  It’s really hurt my husband deeply, to think their once very close relationship has come to this.

Frustrated?  OMG!  I don’t think I could feel more helpless.  We are unable to get Son to do much to improve his situation.  I have begun the necessary paperwork to get him on federal disability.  Now I have to find him a new GP, a therapist, and a psychiatrist.  Because if I don’t do it, it will never get done.  I’ve been on the phone every day the last two weeks trying to get him into a 30 day program.  I have left message after message, but never received a call back.  My last call, yesterday, I thought I was making progress, as I finally got a name (though they gave it so fast, I didn’t get it, but I did get his extension, which is helpful.  I’ve left him a message.  You know, if they don’t have the space, fine, just let me know and I will try elsewhere.  Almost NO ONE takes a patient with Medi-Cal.  The plan is absolutely worthless:  Poor quality care, lousy doctors, horrible office staff, red tape, ridiculous rules, and the docs don’t get properly paid.

I thought I found a psychiatrist last week.  The office staff and website all refered to her as Doctor, but she is a Nurse Practioner .  I think labeling her Doctor is misleading.  I asked her about her education and I find out her masters degree is in epidemiology!  And you know what else?  In California it is nearly impossible to check up on a Psychiatrist.  If you’re a lawyer you’re a member of the State Lawyers Association, and usually, a member of the national lawyers association, both of which can be easily accessed by the lay person if you want to know what their specialties are, make sure they are properly licensed.  But you cannot do the same for psychiatrists.  That most definitely seems quite wrong.  Especially when that “doctor” prescribes a drug (in this case Rexulti), but doesn’t mention any side effects.

He took one of these pills and his regular meds and a lot of alcohol, and by midnight he was hallucinating and speaking gibberish, he was paranoid, and angry, and just plain out of control.  So we took him to the ER where he sat for 5 hours during which time, nothing was done.  Why?  Because they could not make sense of what he was saying.  They would not speak with me about what had been going on.  All they wanted to know was whether he was suicidal, and because they got a “no” they just released him.  At home about an hour later, things got worse and we had to call paramedics, but since we didn’t know at the time what he may have taken, the police also arrived.

Why should I have to call the police?  They aren’t trained to recognize psychiatric problems, they just treat everyone like a criminal.  I specifically requested paramedics, assuming they were trained at least minimally in psychiatric disorders.  But they never even spoke with Son.  So I had to watch the police manhandle my poor boy and take him back the hospital to be placed on what they refer to as a 5150.  Basically it’s a 72 hour suicide watch.  It was a horrible place, where he got very little help, but when we got him back he was able to converse.

Then two days later he checked himself back in.  He came home today.  He has been drug and alcohol free for about 10 days, but his mood is still black.  He is quick to anger and always yelling.

The thing is, if he’d cut himself, or had cancer, or had appendicitis, he would get immediate and appropriate care.  But because he has a mental condition, nothing is done.  I am so angry with this broken medical/insurance system in this country I could scream.  Why is it we have to wait for bi-polar individuals to totally lose it and hurt someone before anyone intervenes?  And then again, it’s the police.

Why are mental illness and addiction treated as crimes?  How do we change that?  Finding a solution is very hard, but I’m trying.

 

 

 

 

 

Moving On

Despite my best efforts to ignore the holidays, they are still just around the corner.  I did manage to do a little holiday baking, for the sake of being neighborly, but not being religious, nor a rapacious consumer, it gets harder and harder to participate in the holidays.

I am thankful for all the things I have and continue to work on being kind.  To others and myself.  Thank you, all my readers, followers, and friends here.  I appreciate your time and effort in reading and commenting on my little blog, and for supporting me during my Midlife Crisis and Beyond.  I have been getting less and less active, both posting and reading and have decided, that, while I will continue to miss all of you, my mind is currently occupied elsewhere.

I send you all the blessings of the universe and fulfillment.  Thank you for being part of my life.  Remember to be kind, and if you can’t be kind, be silent.

 

Why is Life so Frustrating?

Why can’t things be simple?  Remember all the promises we heard about how great our lives were going to be once we were computerized?  Are you happy with computers?  God, I really hate them sometimes.  I love the access to so much information.  That’s wonderful and amazing (not to mention dangerous), but dealing with them on day-to-day activities…ugh.

DSC03101I’ve been trying to add some jewelry to my website for two days.  I took 80 photos of my pieces and transferred them from camera to computer.  Then I put them in a folder called “October”, disconnected my camera, and then when I went to load the photos onto my page I couldn’t find the folder.  I checked every folder in my Photo files, then all my document files.  Could not locate that folder.  Finally, I took the camera back out, laid out the jewelry and took another 75 photos.  Plugged the camera in and went to download my new photos, and there was my folder!  I finally added one item before moving on to other parts of my page I wanted to update.  I spent over an hour updating my page; adding more to the descriptions, changing up my bio.  When the site froze and I had to exit.  When I get back up, I find nothing was saved!  Shit!  So, next item: creating a collection.  Another hour.  Today I went to add more items, and discover I cannot find the tab on my page with my collection!

I’m beginning to think I need to try a different site.  I already tried Etsy, but the competition was fierce.  Of course, now the DSC09613competition on Artfire is just as bad, so maybe it’s time for a new site.  Sure, but then I need to set up a new page, and add the nearly 200 pieces of jewelry I’ve got.  A daunting task.  But I figure if I haven’t much to lose.  Maybe I’ll just open a second online shop.  Maybe I’ll just give it all away, but it would take a while.  I don’t know that many people.  Not even on Facebook, where I only have about 30 friends.  I’ve looked at a couple other sites, and looked at PC World’s article about the top 5 handmade online shops.  Their take on Etsy was because it was the oldest and biggest site to sell handmade items, while to me, the fact that they have 875,000 vendors, and over a million items.  My little shop gets lost in all that competition.  It’s like opening up my own little coffee house between a Starbucks and a Coffee Bean.  There is a new site, Shop Handmade.  It’s simple.  It’s free.  But of the numerous items I looked at none had more than 2 photos, and I don’t see anything about a limit in their policies.  Maybe that’s how they keep costs down?  More research is required.  I don’t want to get stuck with a site that only lets me put up two photos of each item.

HepCSo what am I doing?  I’m reading blogs and writing mine.  LOL  But it’s 8 o’clock and I got up at 6:30 this morning.  Giving me only 6 hours sleep.  (Sure I took a 2-hour nap, but I always take a nap.)  Regardless.  For me it is time to stop working and just relax and read.  Tomorrow I will pay bills, upload more photos, and maybe find time to work on my novel and a little bit on my genealogy.  That’s what I had scheduled, but I’m not sure about Husband.  He’s supposed to go to UCLA tomorrow for some kind of special liver ultrasound.  It was scheduled for today, but it seems the radiology office he made the appointment with doesn’t have this apparently special piece of equipment. That’s why I was up so early, we drove to Santa Monica, an hour and a half drive (using the carpool lane) for a doctor appointment.  We got there an hour early, and the place was empty, so we hoped he’d get in and out early.  That’s when they told us about the equipment error, and right there they made the appointment at the appropriate office, for tomorrow.  That means we have another 1 1/2 hour trip on the 405.  Which, if you didn’t know, according to Wikipedia:

I-405 is a heavily traveled thoroughfare by both commuters and by freight haulers along its entire length and is the busiest and most congested freeway in the United States.

I don’t know how accurate that is, but I’ve heard that it’s at least one of the top 5 most congested freeways in the US.  I commuted on it for 5 years, and it’s a bitch of a drive.  Yay.  I’ve got that to look forward to, unless Husband decides he doesn’t need me to come along.  Of course, if I go we can use the diamond lane and cut some time off the trip.  UCLA

The other plus, Husband doesn’t like to go to UCLA alone because Westwood is such a zoo 24 hours a day, and UCLA is a huge place.  It’s easy to get lost.  More than once I took the wrong exit out of the medical center parking lot and ended up headed in the wrong direction on a street I didn’t recognize.  So, unless Husband calls first thing in the morning to change the appointment.  it’s very likely I will spend a good share of my day tomorrow in the car.  And, because I know my way around better than Husband,   I look forward to being the navigator to his frustrated, frantic, and totally stressed out driver.  But I won’t drive, because as a passenger he’s worse!

Ah, life.  Ain’t it grand?