The World Is Worth Saving

Is the World worth saving?

My answer is always yes but I’ve been thinking about why I feel that way. Because I know there are a lot of days when it’s hard to see the purpose of putting forth any real effort into doing anything other than surviving so why do more than just survive?

This is a question I’ve been asking myself for some time because I know other people, especially young people have been asking it. I know the struggle for answers in the face of very loud and ugly opposition from people who seem hellbent and determined to destroy everything if they don’t get their way. So why put up a fight against people who honestly don’t give a shit whether they live or die?

First, this is the only rock in the Universe we’ve been able to live on. We haven’t mastered interstellar travel and it’s going to be a good long while before we do. So first of all, we don’t need to burn our own house down just so we can blast off the wreckage and find another rock to do the same shit to again.

Second, this little blue ball hurtling through space is pretty awesome. It’s amazing in its’ beauty, and its’ ability to sustain and nurture life. And with a little love and care, it’ll take care of us in return.

Third, because I don’t want to die. I’ve come to terms with my mortality and I understand all too well death comes for us all. But I sure as hell don’t need to hasten it and I’m not going to let anyone shove me into the grave to satisfy their own bullshit need to be an asshole.

Most of all, I’m tired of living in a constant state of anxiety. I’m tired of feeling like I have to be on the edge all the time. That’s not a way to live and it’s not healthy either. In the darkest times of my past, I used to think the assholes of the world wanted me to be constantly on edge and that if I stepped back from that edge they’d push me over it. Now I know that’s not true because the average asshole doesn’t think about anyone or anything past the tip of their own nose.

Sometimes I feel like the world is sustained on a constant outrage machine but I know that most outrage is manufactured by assholes in order to fatten their greedy self-serving pockets, or well-intentioned people who need to learn how to tone it down and take it easy. Most change happens very slowly in this world because humans are the epitome of the term ‘slower on the upstart’. Most humans take a lot of time and effort to really change their lives and because of that, as a collective whole, humanity takes a good long while to pull its’ collective head out of its’ ass.

But I do believe despite our slowness in changing things for the better, we have to do it. And we have to keep pushing for change despite assholes saying we’re out of line for demanding changes in order to save lives or make this world a better place. We also have to keep pushing back against the assholes who say change isn’t possible or sustainable. It’s too damn easy to back off and give assholes space rather than standing up to them and telling them to shut the fuck up. Because the average asshole who is fighting change is really nothing but a bullying coward who can’t think their way out of a paper bag. And most of all, anxiety is a lying asshole most of the time.

I know it’s hard to see a bigger picture or believe in a better future when shit seems to happen constantly. I know it’s hard to see the good in this world when it seems like something’s always breaking or falling apart or some crisis blows up in our faces every time we sit down to take a breather. But guess what? Shit’s going to happen even if you’re sitting down. Unless that shit is literally coming down on you, take that breather and think things through instead of just reacting. For the longest time, I used to think I just had to deal with things as they came and without breathing. Now I know unless nuclear hellfire is raining down, I can take a step back and think before I do something.

The world is worth saving and it doesn’t require perfection or perfect solutions. To my way of thinking, you do what it takes to get it done and if it gets the job done and someone still doesn’t like that, they can go fuck themselves all to hell. Don’t be hard on yourself and don’t be hard on other people just trying to survive.

When I think my part in trying to make this world a better place and helping people if given the opportunity, I feel alive. I feel the tension inside my body ease up and my concentration sharpen. Getting wrapped up in anxiety does the exact opposite and I’m sick and tired of that shit. And as my late father used to say, the quickest way to get out of a hole is to quit digging and start climbing.

So let’s climb out of our holes and the graves we don’t need to dig for ourselves, and let’s give a damn about saving this world of ours once and for all.

The Written Road – Behind the Story: Maybe It Was Memphis

Yesterday I cross-posted a short story I wrote for the Facebook group I am a group administrator for, Writers Unite!. First, I want to thank everyone who read it and shared their kind words about the story. I’m really glad you enjoyed it. Now I want to take you into the writing of the story to try and illustrate a creative process for me that’s something I don’t really think about in words too often.

The story ‘Maybe It Was Memphis’ came from a prompt. A story prompt can be anything, such as a picture, a topic, or anything chosen. In this case, the prompt was a picture of a front porch swing.

Now with prompts there’s usually other requirements to work within, mainly the length of the story. This is to help writers focus their storytelling skills in order to tell a story that doesn’t wander all over the place or doesn’t go nowhere at all. For me, this front porch swing got me thinking about a song I’d heard years ago, “Maybe It Was Memphis” by Pam Tillis. The song mentions a front porch swing and is about a young woman meeting a young man sitting on the front porch swing of her mother’s house as the song goes. This first meeting gave me the starting point of the song.

Most of the time, coming up with the beginning of a story isn’t hard for me. Occasionally I have a hard time finding where to start the story but in this case, the opening scene you read came to me pretty quickly and I ran with it. And as you can see, I don’t write out a plot or an outline with my fiction. My writer’s brain does not work from outlines and such because that part of my brain thinks that if I outline a story then I’ve written it and that’s it. So I start from ideas and bits and pieces of scenes and lines of dialogue then go from there.

With a short story, one big thing that kept me from writing them for many years was the issue of plot. Then I realized in a short story the plot line has to be linear. By linear I mean the plot has to function as a straight line with no off-shoots, or sub-plots as they’re also known. With this story, my plot line became how do I get these two characters together in the end when one of them is going off to war? Five years pass by in a thousand words or so and I’ve never written anything like that before.

The original mid-section actually got deleted and completely rewritten because in my first draft I had Carolyn’s brother killed in combat and John coming home and he and Carolyn bonding over that. But then I thought that’s been done before and it’s much more complicated to do therefore I deleted it and started over. Then two things brought me to the ending of the story: John realizing he saw no future for himself after the war was over, and Bryce (Carolyn’s brother) talking about a woman who referred to herself and him as ‘The River and the Highway’. Because in a way, John and Carolyn were a river and a highway in that they had their own lives halfway around the world from each other but they felt a connection with each other and Carolyn had promised to wait for John no matter what. So with that, I had the ending in place: that connection even in an uncertain future.

Another thought that came to me with the ending of this story was how soldiers have a tremendous amount of difficulty adjusting to life at home after being away at war for so long. In my story, when it came to the end of war, John just didn’t see a future other than hopefully with Carolyn. Now Carolyn understood that John would need time to adjust and figure out his path in life. Carolyn’s way of thinking is to just take things one day at a time and figure out as you go along, which is how I feel about life in general. That patience and understanding are what bring John and Carolyn together in the end.

To add here: since I didn’t kill off Carolyn’s brother Bryce I will be writing his story for this month’s prompt with my group Writer’s Unite!. It will be how he learns to understand what his lady Christie means when she describes their relationship as the river and the highway. So far all I can tell you is their story is a road-trip with an overnight stay. It’s about two people together with nothing else to do but talk things out. That’s the basic idea anyway. Now all I’ve got to do is just write it and figure out what they’re going to say and how they’re going to say it, and work things out.

The Debate Is Over

ABC World News Tonight has a feature each Friday called ‘Person of the Week’ about someone who had done good or made a difference in the world that week. One week in 1989  it was called ‘Persons of the Week’ in honor of the people of Pulaski, Tennessee. Shortly after the Civil War, the Ku Klux Klan was founded there and every year on the anniversary of the founding the KKK and other Neo-Nazis descended on the town to spew their filth and hatred to the people that lived there (and who were nothing like those monsters). That year in 1989 the townspeople did something very different: they closed their businesses and went into their homes and closed their doors to these bastards parading through their town. They gave these monsters their freedom of speech and assembly, but in return they gave themselves the freedom not to listen to this filth or see the Nazi salutes and other symbols of hatred. It was a powerful image to see a bunch of Nazi’s and KKK-limp dicked assholes parade around to nothing but silence.

I tell this story because it wasn’t just a powerful example of non-violent counter-protest. It was also a way of showing the world there is no debate with people who put their own hate-filled lives above all others.

When I saw the debate is over it’s not just stopping debate with right-wing neo-Nazis and their filth. It’s also stopping debate over policies, or lack of policies that have been proven not to work. Arguing with someone who refuses to accept the truth of their failures or of their support of failed policies and positions is pointless. But worst of all, someone who refuses to acknowledge or accept that something doesn’t work won’t budge from that position. Instead, they’ll keep you coming at them until you wear yourself out, get tired, and back down instead of standing back then turning and walking away.

Now at this point I’m sure some reader here will be wanting to ask me: am I saying to give up on people?

Yes.

By yes I mean I’m not going to argue with someone who won’t admit to failure, or someone who holds a position or belief that causes harm to others, or lets harm to come others without working to stop that in some way. I’m not going to let anyone like that batter me into submission because I have in the past and all I have to show for it are a lot of scarred-over wounds.

But this doesn’t mean I’m retreating into silence and running and hiding, far from it. It means that I am going to continue speaking out in truth, but also asking questions out loud and working to find the answers and share them. Because as I’ve said before here, my purpose in life is not to pull someone’s head out of their ass, nor is it anyone else’s purpose in life either.

Instead, I’m going to talk about problems and solutions, ask questions and find answers. And I’m going to work on providing a happy and pleasurable respite from the pain and darkness of this world. It’s been said the Universe likes balance so I think we need to start working on bringing that balance to life.

I’m not going to back down from sharing my thoughts and feelings, and I’m not going to back down from sharing other things like facts and figures, too. And I will keep telling readers here to ask yourself why you think and feel the way you do and keep asking until you find all the answers that you can though I will warn readers they may not like the answers they find and that they will have to deal with them sooner or later. And I’m not going to stop telling people they are so much stronger than they will ever realize, either. But if someone just comes at me like a battering ram, I’m not going to let them batter me into submission ever again. I will resist and fight with every ounce of strength I have in me against that battering. And I will not tolerate nor listen to any attempt to manipulate me or gaslight into doubting myself, and most of all, I will not let anyone heap shame and guilt onto me for things I haven’t done wrong.

I will not ‘debate’ someone over things that clearly cause harm or don’t work. If someone wants to listen to me I’ll listen to them in turn. But if I don’t agree with them and they can’t accept that and try to batter me into submission, I will walk away in silence.

I’ve lost more arguments than I’ve won simply because I gave in rather than hold my position. I won’t do that anymore. But life is not an argument to be won or lost. Life is about living, and not just living in fear and pain. Fear and pain will always be a part of life but it is no way to live, and neither is living in fear and outrage. I’ve felt a lot of anger and rage in this past week and I’ve had to let it run its’ course. But I’m working to focus instead on action that will result in change for the better. I’m not going to stand around and debate with someone when there are things that can be done to make things better for the future.

Now let’s get to work.

God Is Love

Many years ago I read about a Nazi-occupied town in Europe during World War II in which a group of Resistance Fighters were hung in the town square. The group of fighters included a young boy of about twelve or thirteen. The story goes that there were two men in the crowd watching the hanging when one asked, “Where is God? Where is He?” And the man next to him replied as he looked at the young boy as he was dying, “There He is.”

I’ve thought about this story a lot over the years since I’ve heard it and the idea that God was a single omnipotent being watching over us and meting out judgment, punishment, along with mercy and divine intervention just didn’t work for me. To me, God is a singular reference point our tiny human minds use in order to try and understand the infinite vastness of the Universe we live in. To me, The Universe is all that we are, all that we were, and all that we will be. It is all of our lives, our souls, our consciousnesses, our thoughts and feelings, our dreams and our hopes, and our pain and suffering. But in that vastness is one thing that drives the direction we all go in: free will.

My father used to say ‘free will’ was a tricky concept and I understand why he thought that way. Because if we have the freedom to make any decision we want to, how do we know which decisions are the right ones?

I believe the Universe, God, has provided us with the guidance needed to choose wisely and choose well. From the Prophets of the Old Testament of the Bible to the teachings of Jesus Christ and his Apostles in the New Testament, to other religious faiths such as Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, and countless others, and also from countless men and women throughout the history of humanity. The guiding belief is to love another, to do no harm, to care for those in need, and to change the world for the better. I believe all these teachings come from conscience, empathy, compassion, and love. So in turn, teachings of hate, harm, and oppression come from teachings with no conscience, no empathy, no compassion, and no love.

So why are the voices of hate, harm, and oppression so loud, loud enough to cower people into silence? My answer is they are loud because they are without any restraint of conscience, empathy, compassion, or love. When a person is devoid of those things, the only holding them back is their own decision to do so. I’m willing to believe that some who talk in an awful way or who have caused harm to others may have tiny shreds of conscience, empathy, compassion, or love inside them. But I don’t believe that’s for other people to reach out and find in those people who live their lives by hate and harm. In the spirit of free will, I believe each person has to find their own way in this world through the good and the bad. Therefore I say to those who have done harm and continue to do so: ask yourself why you think and feel the way you do and keep asking until you find all the answers that you can, but I will warn you that you might not like the answers you find, and sooner or later you will have to deal with them.

I believe the Universe runs more on good than evil. I think our planet here is a good example of that because good has triumphed over evil by the fact that we haven’t nuked our planet into oblivion, and that this little blue ball is still hurtling through space full of life. Yet in order to save this little blue ball of ours, we can’t give up hope for a better life. We can’t choose evil over good. We can’t back down in the face of hate or be drowned out or cowed into silence by voices of hate and harm. We must always strive to live our lives with love, and the reading below shows us the way:

From the first letter of Paul to the Corinthians (1 Corinthians 12:31-13:8a):

Brothers and sisters:

Strive eagerly for the greatest spiritual gifts.

But I shall show you a still more excellent way.

If I speak in human and angelic tongues but do not have

love, I am a resounding gong or a clashing cymbal.

And if I have the gift of prophecy and comprehend all

mysteries and all knowledge; if I have all faith so as to

move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.

If I give away everything I own, and if I hand my body over

so that I may boast but do not have love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient, love is kind. It is not jealous, is not pompous,

it is not inflated, it is not rude, it does not seek its own

interests, it is not quick-tempered, it does not brood

over injury, it does not rejoice over wrongdoing but

rejoices with the truth.

It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things,

endures all things.

Love never fails.

Grief Into Action, Part Two – BREAK YOUR SILENCE

Silence is the tool of the oppressor.

This is a thought I had some years ago as I dug through the wreckage of my heart and soul and that was because the people who hurt and oppressed me demanded my silence more than anything. They lied to me and said if I was silent they would stop hurting me, and that if I was silent I wouldn’t be hurt anymore. But the damage was done and they didn’t care to repair the damage they caused. They were the ones who walked away from me and left me to deal with everything up to and including death and the grief that followed it alone.

During the last few years, I realized how much shame and guilt I felt for things I didn’t do wrong. But that shame and guilt kept from doing the things I should have done so one set of shame and guilt has been replaced by another. Now some may say I shouldn’t feel shame and guilt over being driven into silence by fear and grief and pain, but I feel shame and guilt for my silence. I know how deep a hole inside yourself shame and guilt can dig so I remember what my late father always used to tell me, “The easiest way to get out of a hole is to quit digging and start climbing.”

Digging yourself out of a hole is not going to be a popular decision with some people, whether they be stranger or someone you know. Having you out of sight and silent keeps them from dealing with their own feelings of contempt, cruelty, and lack of compassion. Being silent keeps people from facing their own failures and accepting responsibility for them. But their feelings are not yours to deal with. And another thought I had in regard to this recently was this: no one is responsible for pulling someone’s head out of their ass for them. If someone has their head jammed up their ass and is refusing to take it out, just walk away from them.

If anyone reading this feels like I’m backing them up against a wall, or is feeling uncomfortable, or maybe even feeling pricks of guilt, shame, or remorse, those are your feelings to deal with, no one else’s. Your discomfort means NOTHING in the face of so many people grieving in pain. My feelings of shame and guilt mean nothing in the face of those grieving in pain but I will not drive anyone into silence simply because I’m feeling things that are painful, such as shame and guilt. Instead, I will try and turn my feelings into a plan of action to try and save lives and keep other people from going through the absolute hell twenty-one families in Uvalde, Texas along with thousands of other families in this country whose grief has roared back to life with a terrible vengeance.

To those of you reading this who have felt helpless and full of fear and anxiety over speaking out against the oppressors of this world both near and far from you, I understand your feeling and where they come from. I want to tell you what my father used to tell me: you are so much stronger than you will ever realize. I want to say that you have the courage and strength to break your silence and stand and fight for what’s right and true in this world. I want to say your compassion, empathy, kindness, and love for others are your greatest strengths.

When I first started blogging again recently and became active on social media I had a fear to work through: the fear that I would have to deal with someone coming at me and trying to silence me. But as I continue to break my silence and work through the thoughts and feelings that come with that, my fear had begun to recede. And it continues to recede every single day I write and live my life. Breaking my silence is the best thing I’ve ever done for myself. And I know the day will come when someone will try to come at me over something I say here or elsewhere. But I know I can choose how to respond, from a simple ‘agree to disagree’ to a blunt ‘fuck off’, or silence and block, the choice is mine. And the choice is yours, too.

To all of us feeling shame and guilt over the decades of active-shooter drills for our children and teachers, let’s tell the truth about what these do and don’t do. Break the silence around this horror and let’s work our asses off to end the need for these types of drills and give future generations of children a safe environment to live and learn in. Let’s break our silence on gun control legislation and speak out about it even if someone tells not to. Keep talking, and don’t stop talking. And let’s turn grief into action once and for all.

BREAK YOUR SILENCE

Grief Into Action

Earlier today a gunman walked into Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas and murdered eighteen children and three adults. I will not say the gunman’s name nor ever write it out here, and I will not speculate as to what his motive was. Instead, I will try to address a question so many people asked yesterday: what can we do to stop this from happening again in the future?

The following are based on my own observations, research, and beliefs that I am trying to put into action.

1) Take a stand. By this I mean take a position and stand on it. You don’t have to go public with it like I am. All I ask is that you make your position known in the voting booth. Your vote is now literally a matter of life and death. Choose wisely, and choose well.

2) Vote for candidates for any public office who have solid plans to address gun violence in our country. And if they are rated by the NRA (National Rifle Association), make sure their grade is F for this means they support sensible gun legislation and they don’t take any money from the NRA or other gun lobby groups, groups that are nothing but greedy butchers. The NRA and other groups like them have only stoked fear and outrage to enrich themselves. These groups have no conscience, no empathy, and no compassion for anyone.

3) If you want to give financial support, support organizations that are working for sensible gun control legislation. Two groups I recommend are Everytown for Gun Safety and former Congresswoman and shooting survivor Gabby Gifford’s group. These organizations have been campaigning tirelessly for years to save lives so if you have the means to support them, please do so.

4) In the coming days, weeks, months, and even years, crackpot conspiracy-theorists like QAnon adherents will accuse the families in Uvalde of being ‘crisis actors’ and that the murders didn’t happen. The families of the children murdered at Sandy Hook Elementary School have been battling these monsters for years, so much that some of these crackpots are in prison for threatening the families. If anyone speaks to you like this, shut them down as hard as you can, so badly it hurts. There is no compromise or tolerance for these views.

5) If you are a gun owner, be a responsible gun owner. Know how to safely handle and store your weapon. Keep it away from children and other people at all times. And hope and pray you never have to use it because if you boast that you could shoot someone, know that if you do you will have to deal with it for the rest of your life. Don’t ever speak of being a gun owner in a cavalier way or be irresponsible in any way.

Most of all, be there for those who are grieving now. You don’t need to find words to comfort someone. To comfort someone all you need to do is be there and listen with an open heart and an open mind. Cry and share emotions such as sadness, pain, and grief. But also share emotions such as joy, and remember their loved ones, their hopes and dreams, and the lives they lived, even those lost at such a young age such as the children in Uvalde today.

This evening President Biden addressed the nation and talked of turning grief into action. Before President Biden has talked about turning grief into purpose but we already have purpose in our lives, and that is to live well, love well, and do no harm. Now we have to take that purpose and turn it into action.

I will tell you here that if you take a stand against gun violence there may people in your life who will not agree with you on this. You will have to agree to disagree though in my experience that is not really done. I have been told that if I don’t back down there will be no peace because I have to be silent in order to keep the peace. I say to that: there is no peace in silence. I have also been told if I am too outspoken that people will not want to be around me, or like me, or love me. I have been told if I am outspoken I will come off as hard and cold when I am anything but. To those who would seek to isolate me for my beliefs and my actions I will say this: I am alone here in front of you now, and if I have to live my life alone I will. But I don’t believe that being outspoken will isolate me like I have feared for so long. Because most of all, I still have hope for a better world, and a belief that our world is worth saving.

Turning grief into action will not be easy. Doing this may have you accused of being a troublemaker, of making trouble where there shouldn’t be, and that now is not the time to take action. To that I will respond with a quote from the late Congressman John Lewis:

“Do not get lost in a sea of despair. Be hopeful, be optimistic. Our struggle is not the struggle of a day, a week, a month, or a year, it is the struggle of a lifetime. Never, ever be afraid to make some noise and get in good trouble, necessary trouble.”

– John Lewis, tweet from June 2018

Stand or Fall – Shattered Glass Ceilings

In 2021, I read a book called ‘Ashley’s War’ (by Gayle Tzemach Lemmon) about Lieutenant Ashley White, US Army Reserve who was a member of the first Cultural Support Team (CST). Lt. White was killed in Afghanistan, the first CST to die in the line of duty but her story will always be remembered. This book changed me simply because it made me realize that as long as I don’t give up on myself and focus on my goals in life, I can succeed like Lt. White and all her fellow CST’s did. Because what she and her fellow CST’s did was shatter one of the biggest glass ceilings there ever was in this country for women- the ban on women in combat which was lifted in 2013.

Early on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the United States military realized they were losing out on valuable intelligence because male soldiers could not interact in any way with women in Iraq or Afghanistan. These countries are Muslim and in strict Muslim society, women are not allowed to interact in any way much less speak to men who are not related to them by blood or marriage. Now women in these countries will talk to other women regardless of their nationality so the US military began pulling female soldiers, most of them in non-combat support roles, to interrogate and gather intelligence from women in Iraq and Afghanistan. In 2009, US Special Operations Command began to formulate a plan to create all-female units to embed with combat units specifically to gather intelligence from the women in Iraq and Afghanistan. Now they had to take their time doing this because of the ban on women in combat positions. But in 2011, they put out the call for the Cultural Support Teams and thousands of women in the US military responded and answered the call.

The argument against women in combat roles was always this: the American public would not be able to handle the sight of female soldiers coming home in flag-draped coffins.

One-hundred and fifty-two female American soldiers have died in the War on Terror since September 11, 2001.

And you know what the reaction of the American people was:

ABSOLUTEY NOTHING!!!

I put that in all-caps to make a point. There were no protests at the sight of female soldiers coming home in flag-draped coffins. There was no outcry to stop women from being deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan. In fact, I will venture to guess that some readers of this piece will not even know how many female soldiers have died in Iraq and Afghanistan, or that the ban on women in combat was lifted almost ten years ago.

The reason I’m writing this here is because I see a right-wing conservative Republican movement that will not just replace the glass ceiling the CST’s shattered, but they will create a steel-walled prison for all women. I believe the goal of these motherfuckers is to take away all the rights of every woman in this country, and for them to determine the life-path of every single woman in this country. And for those that defy that, I believe these motherfuckers would torture those women who resist in ways that I don’t want to think about.

I’m sure some readers here may think I’m going off the deep end to even speculate about the future these motherfuckers may want to make a reality. In 1945, the world learned just what the Nazi’s were fully capable of and did, so much so that a new word had to be created to describe the mass-murder of millions of people: genocide. Do I think these right-wing bastards would commit genocide to achieve their goal of total world domination? Yes. And I believe they would start with subjugating women and imprisoning them in strictly-defined roles with a few women selected as evil overseers.

In my forty-eight years I’ve seen a lot of glass ceilings broken and shattered. I’ve seen a lot of battles for women’s rights fought and won. But what I’m seeing now is not just an attack, but a full-out battle being planned to take away all of those accomplishments. It isn’t just a race-war these monsters want, but war against anyone who isn’t white, male, heterosexual, and ‘Christian’ (I put the term ‘Christian’ in quotation marks because none of these monsters are true Christians).

In the book, ‘Ashley’s War’, the women of the Cultural Support Teams constantly wondered if they were good enough for what they were being asked to do. They worried they would fail, not just their fellow soldiers but that if they failed they would destroy any opportunities for other women in the military. So they never gave up, never gave in to those fears and doubts. And in my own small tribute to them, I have vowed to do the same with myself.

To any woman reading this who has ever been told she can’t do something simply because she’s a woman, I will tell you this: do it. And if you want to say anything to these motherfuckers you can say this: “Watch me.” Then go out and take names and kick ass as hard as you can and never quit on yourself, or your sisters-in-arms.

Breaking Radio Silence – Strength Isn’t Cruelty

I was driving along yesterday and got to thinking this: being mean or cruel to someone doesn’t make them stronger. My late father in his manic phases, and especially after he had his stroke and part of his brain got fried, said things to me that I won’t repeat to anyone. The gist of his tirades against me was that I wasn’t ‘strong enough’ or ‘mean enough’ to deal with what life was going to throw at me or had thrown at me. At the time, I just sat and took his shit because I didn’t want to escalate his temper any worse than it already was. And sometimes he apologized for what he said and I wrote a lot of it off to fried brain-circuitry. But hearing from him that I was weak, stupid, and not strong enough to deal with the world like a so-called ‘normal’ person hurt like hell.

This got me thinking about all the shit people have spewed at me simply because I’ve spent my life being as quiet as I can be, trying to be a good person, trying to be kind and encouraging, and most of all, trying to keep my emotions under the tightest control possible. Being treated like shit for being ‘different’, for being clumsy and awkward, fat and ugly, didn’t make me stronger. If someone thinks that silently taking shit is someone who is strong I want to tell you right here and now that’s not true. In reality, words of hate and cruelty create wounds that will never fully heal.

My mother never spoke to me like this. My mother and I were very similar in that we were both quiet and shy, awkward, and got treated like shit because of it. My mother grew up being told she was ugly and stupid and would never amount to anything. She decided to raise me differently and I’m forever grateful for that. One of the very first things I ever remember hearing from her was this, “You are a very pretty girl.” She would also compliment me on doing things well, would listen to me talk, and always wanted to spend time with me. My mother wasn’t one to say ‘I love you’ very often and she wasn’t very affectionate but I understood she wasn’t raised to say to those words or to be affectionate. But she spoke the truth so when she complimented me or spoke to me with encouragement, I knew she meant every word. Even though it’s been twenty years since she died, I miss more than ever sometimes. I miss her because she knew strength didn’t come from cruelty, but from love even if she wasn’t one to say the word ‘love’ very often.

No one really wanted to be around my mother when she got sick with cancer. No one wanted to deal with the ugly reality she lived with every single freaking day of the last seven years of her life. I tried my best to be there for her in every way I could. I doctored second-degree radiation burns. I cut her hair when it started falling out. I let her talk about how awful cancer was. And I sat beside her in a darkened bedroom willing her to stay alive as she battled the depression that was trying to kill her. And I did my best to support her when she sought help for that depression. So when the tumor in her brain robbed her of her ability to speak at the end of her life, my heart broke in a way that will never fully heal.

If I had told my mother to stay strong, to think positively at all times, and to fight no matter what, I would have destroyed my relationship with her. I would have hurt her in horrible ways and truly isolated her. Instead, I worked to create an environment where she could let her guard down, talk shit when she needed to, and just know that I would be there for her no matter how bad it got.

And my mother wasn’t perfect and neither am I, and both of us (if she were alive she’d be saying this right along with me here) would be the first to tell you we weren’t perfect. And we didn’t try to be. We tried to just keep our emotional shit together and not be a burden on anyone. We tried to do what needed to be done and be there for people when we could. Yet we both felt like that was never good enough and we dealt with that in our own silent way.

My mother broke her silence when she sought help for the depression that tried to kill her. And I’m breaking my silence by telling her story alongside my own. One big part of that is this: talking to someone in way that’s cruel, insensitive, and ugly doesn’t make someone stronger. It just drives them into silence more often than not and makes them feel like they’ll never be good enough for anyone. My mother never made me feel like I wasn’t good enough for her, or that I couldn’t do anything right at all. I hope that she knew I felt the same way about her.

If someone ever tried to talk cruel to me in order to ‘strengthen’ me I’d say one thing to them: “Go fuck yourself.” Then I’d walk away and leave them stewing in their own shit. And if anyone reading this has ever talked shit to someone thinking that’s going to toughen then up, stop doing that and ask yourself why you feel justified in doing that. You might not like the answers, but they’re yours to deal with, not mine. I’ve always found my strength without cruelty.

Problem or Solution

Do you want to be a part of the problem or the solution?

That is a question that is being asked more than ever and I can tell you most of the replies to it are silent. Why is that, you may ask. My answer is that it takes more work to be a part of the solution and not just sit and mouth off about the problem while doing absolutely nothing to solve it.

Case in point: This past week one-hundred and ninety-six Republican members of Congress voted against a bill to address the baby formula shortage in the United States. Why? I think the best answer I saw was that Republicans want to campaign on problems and not solutions. Luckily, the bill passed along with the President invoking the Defense Production Act to increase manufacturing of baby formula and organizing an airlift of formula from Germany, too.

Why the shortage of baby formula? A problem that has its’ roots in the previous, Republican-majority Congress from 2016 to 2020. A law passed that banned the importing of baby formula and not addressing the consolidation of baby formula manufacturers in addition to lax regulation of baby formula plants that led to multiple infants hospitalized due to contamination issues.

So why create problems and not solutions? Answer: for people to grab and consolidate power they don’t deserve at all. Creating problems and outrage over them distracts people from seeing these monsters steal from those in need and hurt others simply because they can. Because these monsters want to break people down to absolutely nothing so these people will fall into line and do what they’re told simply to survive.

Does this sound cruel? As a popular saying amongst us leftist-ANTIFA’s goes: the cruelty is the point. And if this hurts anyone reading this, or makes you feel like you’re being backed into a wall, ask yourself why. Ask yourself why people have to suffer when there are solutions available. Ask yourself why you believe that certain groups of people have to suffer when there is no need for that at all. And ask yourself why you listen to the outrage instead of solutions.

One thing that comes up is that us Democrat-Lefties aren’t forceful enough with our message. We are. It’s just not a message with empty outrage. It’s a message about the solutions that are right in front of us ready to be implemented if only conservative assholes weren’t standing in the way. We don’t make excuses why things can be done but instead say, we can do this and here’s how.

Now I’m sure some asshole (and I honestly don’t give a shit who that is) is saying, “Well, what are you doing about this?”

One: I’ve never, ever voted Republican. I’ve never voted for a candidate who didn’t offer real solutions to the real problems in our world. If a candidate is just ranting and raving like a lunatic without any solutions they won’t get my vote.

Two: Doing what I’m doing here. I know I have a very small voice right now but if I get just one person to think about why they think and feel the way they do then that’s more than enough. And I will only grow my voice by continuing to write and publish here because one solution is for people to find their voice and speak out against the problem-mongers and outrage-fanatics.

One of the hardest things I’ve had to work through with finding my voice is being hated and isolated because of it. But then I tell myself I’ve been on my own all my life and also, I’ve had my world crash in on me twice in my forty-eight years and all I could do was shoulder those burdens alone. I’m not asking for sympathy or any bullshit like here. I’m just stating fact that this is not easy for me to do. But silence is a part of the problem and not the solution. So by breaking my silence, I’m choosing to be a part of the solution.

To anyone who feels like they don’t matter at all I say this to you:

If your voice didn’t matter so much they wouldn’t be trying so hard to take it away from you.

If your vote didn’t matter so much they wouldn’t be trying so hard to take it away from you.

If your kindness and compassion didn’t matter so much they wouldn’t be trying so hard to take it away from you.

If your ability to solve problems and deal with shit as it comes didn’t matter so much, they wouldn’t be trying to take that away from you.

So ask yourself, do you want to be a part of the problem, or part of the solution?

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