We opened the box…

The shower is my sanctuary. Its glass walls providing a steamy blackboard where the problems of the world are examined, tested and solved. My mind drifts wildly as the warm water pours across my shoulders, washing life’s drama into the basin, where I watch it splash and swirl before it flows into the drain. I am at peace.

Suddenly, I’m jolted back to reality by a vindictive mind who insists on keeping my tension level in an elevated state.

Vivid pictures of Chuck Schumer come splashing across, taking a once peaceful and bare mental canvas and changing it into a Jackson Pollack painting, full of anger and frustration. I am forced to endure, again, the media clip of his response to the President, who, for whatever reason, capitulated and reopened the government. Schumer, as usual, is arrogant and overflowing with hubris, as if he, alone, brought trump to his knees with only a chair and a bullwhip. I loathe this man, from the tone of his voice to the way that he peers at the world over the top of his glasses. Like a snake in the grass, he stays hidden from the public’s eye until the moment is right, and then rises from the swamp, assaulting my ears with the sound of his voice.

I’m now forced to add cold water to my shower as the temperature has become unbearable. My sadistic mind then drags out Nancy Pelosi’s latest media clip and my blood, again, readies to boil; but, oddly, it doesn’t.

I begin to regain some semblance of peace as an unknown force seems to be washing away the paint splattered canvas as one washes away sludge from the bottom of a shoe. My mental canvas, while not perfect, is at least bare again. As the fog of frustration lifts, I begin to wonder why I feel so differently about the two.

Is she less evil than him? Is she evil at all? Maybe, neither are evil.

The difference bothers me. They SHOULD be the same; cut from the same wretched bolt of cloth. But…they’re not. I search for answers as pictures begin forming on the glass. A column comparison is made, they are the same. Yet, they’re not. It then occurs to me that somehow, my mind has not placed Trump center stage. He has said things far worse than the other two. But, wait, he hasn’t. Why has my mind neglected to add Trump to today’s presentation? There are also plenty of right-wing religious conservatives that should be joining this vaudeville act too; where are they?

More cold water, more drawings, more…then the answer appears. They ARE the same!  They ARE cut from the same cloth. I need to lower my expectations. They’ve all been saying the same thing but using different words and behaviors. Schumer says one thing and his body language fills in the gaps. Pelosi says very little but makes up for it by what she DOESN’T say. Trump says it all and you don’t even see his body language, because your eyes can’t stop staring at his mouth. But they are all saying the same thing; I’m right, you’re wrong and I’m not going to bend. So much for coalition building.

I search the shower glass for a time in history when we’ve had so many bad actors, all pursuing their own personal agenda, at the same time. The wall is empty and reveals nothing. Politics, past and present are filled with small people with big ideas and all standing with their hand out. Each, essentially, has been reduced to that of a lobbyist for their micro-cause.

My expectations when I vote are, apparently, also too high. I’m hoping for an Abraham Lincoln, either Roosevelt or a Ronald Reagan, but instead we get The Big Lebowski. I know “the Dude abides” but I was aiming just a bit higher.

The tragic part is that if, like the mythical Hydra, we chop off one head, two others grow back and they’re usually worse than the original. So, we’re essentially stuck with them.

The election of Donald Trump was a paradigm shift for the U.S.A. I would have said “for America” or “for the American’s” but apparently that would be inaccurate as “America” is just a land mass and “for the American’s” might leave someone feeling excluded. (He says sarcastically).

Anyways, we came too far too fast with President Trump. The world didn’t like it and, it seems, that everywhere north and south of the USA, didn’t either. Since their opinion now seems to matter, we’re looking at a whole new ballgame.

In fairness, politics was in desperate need of a change. A S-L-O-W one though.  With the election of Trump, the hard-right, feeling that their time was finally at hand, oozed out of the slime and clogged the plumbing of the Republican party, effectively rendering it impotent and unable to rise to the occasion; that being the first half of the new Presidency. The average voter (whoever that is) prefers that the pendulum stays closer to the middle.

Politics will never be the same again. This hard-right pendulum swing has opened a Pandora’s box and a whole new batch of hard-left crackpots have come crawling out (think Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez).

By electing Trump and drastically changing the status quo, these people, who would normally be just be a bug stain on the windshield, now have an audience and are considered somewhat legitimate; somewhat.

Today, this country is a mess. We agree on nothing, we accomplish nothing, and we are gridlocked. When you deviate too far from the mean, the edges suddenly become relevant.

Normally, the edges are kept in check by the mean, but our world has become constipated. What goes in, must come out, and in 2016, the world uncrossed its legs and took a big crap on the White House lawn. But instead of springing forth flowers, out sprung the “new “politician, spreading seeds of discontent across the country. While each one is different from the last generation, they all remain cut from the same cloth.

In retrospect, I should have voted for Hillary Clinton. My arm would have probably fallen off as I checked the box, but the status quo would have remained the same, and the edges would have remained in the edges.

If the 2016 election taught me anything, its to stick with the devil you know.

With the hot water now gone, it’s time to get out of the shower, put on my rose colored glasses and face the world.

Welcome to the new mean.

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A Thought on Respecting the Opinion, and one’s right to voice that Opinion, in a Democracy.

(Below is a partial quote from the movie “The American President,” 1995. Written by Aaron Sorkin.)

“America isn’t easy. America is advanced citizenship. You’ve gotta want it bad, ’cause it’s gonna put up a fight. It’s gonna say, ‘You want free speech? Let’s see you acknowledge a man whose words make your blood boil, who’s standing center stage and advocating at the top of his lungs that which you would spend a lifetime opposing at the top of yours.”

https://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/The_American_President

I’ll “dumb this down.” Have the depth and decency to allow that others may disagree with you and accept that they may feel just as passionate about their opinions as you do about yours.

Rule of Thumb: If your goal is to effect real change while respecting the opinions of others; steam on. If your goal is to make your point on TV through violence or to get your “15 minutes of Fame,” please do us the courtesy of at least carrying pocket change.

The Puzzle of Our Existence

In the beginning, the world, as we know it, was created. It doesn’t really matter how, it just was.

And, in the beginning, like a puzzle, the first edge was formed. For the sake of argument, let’s say that time moves in a line from left to right, so it was the left edge.

The rest of the puzzle’s pieces didn’t exist yet, only the first row. But like any puzzle, each piece was in search of the next piece to fill its unique void.

The rules were simple. Two factors dictated the creation of the next piece; Humanity and it’s desires/needs and something bigger; God, Mother Nature, whatever. The second just made sure that the first didn’t destroy the world or itself; that it survived.

Now here’s the deal. Each new piece is not random. The piece before it created the space that only that particular new piece would fit. The prior piece is looking for a solution to what it perceives as a problem and in theory, the new piece solves the problem.

A modern example: Polio is ravaging the world. The desire of its citizens is to end the disease. This piece of the puzzle will only allow one other particular piece to fit; the cure.  Enter Dr. Jonas Salk, the matching piece. He was the right person, at the right time and he was a perfect fit.

A Historic example: What happens when humanity becomes too dense in a confined area? Starvation, unsanitary conditions, war. The World has a problem and needs a solution. The matching piece; the solution, if you will, is usually something horrible that quickly “thins the herd” returning the affected area to levels that are sustainable. The European plague of the 1600’s comes to mind.

The point is, what we receive is usually what we asked for. We just didn’t think it would be so painful.

A tragic example: In 1919, Germany “accepted” the Treaty of Versailles. This once proud country was now on its knees. An economic depression ensued, and its citizens were starving, miserable and searching, desperately, for a solution. They remembered, fondly, the heady days of a great and powerful Germany and they wanted it back.

In 1923-1924, the missing piece of their puzzle wrote a book, and in that book, he addressed the problem and then he offered a solution. His name was Adolf Hitler and we know how that turned out. He was the right person, in the right place, at the right time and it ended in disaster.

The moral of the story: Be careful what you wish for as you may just get it.

What I’m suggesting here is that when enough people perceive that something is a problem, they create a space where only a particular and unique solution will fit. Adolf Hitler, in any other time, would have been “laughed off the stage,” but at that particular and unique time, his piece attached perfectly to the piece before it.

Moses, Jesus, Muhammad, Lincoln or Franklin Roosevelt, in any other time, may have never succeeded and been just another unknown name. But they were known, they did rise above, and they were the desired piece of the puzzle for the time and place in which they existed.

Each time we add to our linear puzzle, we must accept the results of the outcome. We, the prior pieces, formed the design of the next piece, insisting that it align with our desires and once found, we provided the opportunity for it to thrive.

Fast forward to 2016. Hillary Clinton could not have won the election. Actually, she really never even stood a chance.

The business of Politics had become synonymous with the words: Status quo, Corruption, Gridlock and Dishonesty. The cries for change were at fever pitch and it was inevitable that the next piece of the puzzle would be someone “different.” That is not to say “better,” just “different.”

Enter, Donald Trump: “The everything else but a politician,” piece.

History will judge President Trump as it judges us all. Bickering over whether he should remain in office is a waste of time and energy. The reality is that he is the President, it is his time, it is his place and we, the People, did create this particular and unique void in which his piece fit perfectly.

Humanity really should be much more careful about what it desires. As each day passes, we are actively creating the environment for the next missing piece of our puzzle to thrive; either good or bad.

 

We choose not who will be good and who will be evil; we choose only to open the door and let them in. It is then that they take root and choose the path that they’ll follow. It is also then that we yield to them our fate.

Michael McCown

 

A man is but the product of his thoughts. What he thinks, he becomes.

Mahatma Gandhi

Three Hours to Change a Life

In 1975, I was in the 5th grade and was struggling with math. Our class had about 28-30 students and the Teacher, Dona Millan, was a school favorite. When I finished the 4th grade, she was the Teacher that I hoped to be assigned to. I really didn’t know why, other than I had heard she was nice. Fortunately, the stars lined up and there I sat; content but with “math issues.”

Mrs. Millan said we needed to go fishing. There was a lake nearby that had Trout “planted” in it regularly and she kept a careful eye on their “planting” schedule. She called my Mother for permission and later that day, the two of us went to the lake. She carried fishing equipment in her car and soon we were standing on the sandy shore casting her version of a “trout line” into the water. She taught me to tie a “fisherman’s knot” and how to add 3-4 bait hooks to a single line. We fished, talked about everything BUT math and watched the Sun go down. She dropped me off at my house and that was that.

I had just experienced one of the best days of my life.

This “Teacher” had invested three hours of her precious personal time in one student with a math problem from a class of 28-30. The next day, I worked harder than ever. There was NO way that I was going to disappoint Mrs. Millan. My grades improved and to this day, I smile when I think of her. I later learned that she took as many students as she could fishing and I now understood why her students did so well and why every fourth grader wanted to be in her class.

Mrs. Millan was married and had a family, didn’t get paid extra for her efforts and had a large classroom of students, all anxious for her time. They almost had to drag me, kicking and screaming, from the fifth grade to the sixth.

Today, obviously, times have changed from 1975; schools, teachers and technology. The current dogma suggests that yesterday’s “thinking” is outdated and obsolete and that today’s “thinking” is progressive and improved. My “thinking” is that this “thinking” is “textbook” crap. A Teacher took three hours of her time. My Grand Children are handed iPads and headphones in class. I can hear the excuses already…

 

It’s time to rest, John

John McCain

O dear soul, it is finally time for you to rest

To gladly exhale, one last time

Your corpus ever so weary and worn by tireless battles

Never yielding, ever driven to Persevere, to Survive, to Overcome

 You have returned home

Physically broken, emotionally exhausted, trudging one day to the next with Strength and Dignity

You continued the Valiant fight

Until the end, where, within in the loving arms of family and friends, you bowed and gave yield to the calling voice of heaven, and rested, finally at Peace.

Your Sword, alone now, has found peaceful refuge in the proverbial stone from whence it came,
where it will once again, patiently await the next glorious soul, worthy of it’s possession.

M.S. McCown