After the story, I shall share a very important article from The Atlantic and a really sharp video from a comedienne I’d never heard of before, (how unaware can an aware person be?) regarding the same subject from different people with the same ideas. Are you bored, yet? Well, after I tell my story, I promise, you won’t be.
Over a week ago, I received an email from a dear friend from across the pond (Atlantic Ocean for the uninitiated). London, England to be specific. She and her husband have been in real lockdown since the discovery of the more contagious variant of Covid 19. So no complaints about what you can or cannot do…. they cannot do or go ANYWHERE! Get it? Good!
Well, as they sit long term in their home, computer working, staring into space counting steps and other things, they have become Titans of Television. They are oh so grateful to the streaming services.
In particular, in her email, she mentioned a Netflix series called Lupin. She exclaimed how wonderful it was… a very clever French Detective Series with wonderful scenes of Paris and an extraordinary leading man. She had never seen him before and she raved about what a great actor and how gorgeous he is. She is as critical as I am (amazingly, on certain occasions she can be even more judgmental than I can… hard to imagine) but since we usually agree on what we read and see… plays, movies, television, I knew I would have to watch it.
The very next night I turned it on. At the beginning of episode 1, the script brings you into the bowels of the Louvre, where the cleaning staff gathers to do their nightly chores. For the first 10 minutes of the episode, I searched for and could not find this extraordinary leading man. All the cleaners passed before my eyes and I kept waiting for him. Finally, it occurred to me that this very beautiful black actor, Omar Sy, was the man.
I couldn’t believe me! Consciously, I never thought the leading actor she raved about would be black.
OK… going back to title of this piece, it never occurred to me the lead would be an unknown-to-me black actor, who is actually very well known in France.
Shame on me.
My own systemic racism showed itself. I am a voracious reader of writers of all persuasions, as well as a writer myself who is appalled not just by systemic racism, but by all the white overprivileged people who chant, “I AM NOT A RACIST!”. It is the rare white person that is truly color blind. I grew up in Brooklyn. I went to schools in Manhattan. My classes were always mixed. I shall not use that ridiculous phrase, “Some of my best friends are…” Even so, I thought I was one of those rare white ones.
I am not. For me to feel comfortable again, and I confess after this self revelation, I am so very uncomfortable, I have to crawl out and away from my dark denial into the light of who I really am… with all my zits and warts, and work this denial out of my system.
Now let me talk about my journey with and in denial. My experience tells me I use denial to protect my ego. I believe the ego is my defense system and you can’t be an artist without a strong ego.
As an artist, rejection is a primary color. Every artist exposes themselves to a very personal onslaught of slings and arrows of outrageous fortune. The product involved in this rejection and criticism is ME… my soul, my heart, my very skin. Without risk, there is no art. It is easy to say “you win some, you lose some”. In risking, the artist completely exposes him or herself. Without the defense of the ego, aka: denial, I would have evaporated a long time ago. As I matured, and please believe me, I am never going to finish that process… (no complaints, just a confession.) Over the years, I realized very slowly that denial was losing it’s sparkle. It was a growth inhibitor. While I thought it was protecting me, it actually made it very easy to repeat some very negative behaviors: abusive relationships, unhealthy habits like smoking and eating, and exposing some personality and character traits that developed from being brought up in the usual normal dysfunctional family.
Previously, if there was something in my life that was too painful to bring into consciousness I kept it buried (denial) in what I thought was a safe place. Now, I work very hard at acknowledging my denial. And when I do acknowledge, make no mistake, peeling the layers of denial away to tell myself the truth is a very painful process. And that is why most of us back away from exposing that denial.
My mother always told me, “Sally-Jane, the truth will set you free, but first it’s really gonna piss you off.” Actually it wasn’t my mother, it was one of my many therapists.
Yes, my sweet friends and family, coming out of denial is extremely painful. Birth usually is.
P.S. A few quotes that will help me along the way come from Richard von Weizsacker, circa 1985, making a speech as the Federal President of Germany commemorating the 40th Anniversary of the end of World War II:
P.P.S. Before I forget… (A great title for a one woman show), here is the Atlantic Article
And even though I was very young back in 1944 (10 to be exact) I was old enough to remember a RADIO show by that name of which I was a devoted listener. My passion for the mysteries of life, no less literature, started when I was very young. For the last 20 years, at least, I buy and read the good ones from all over the world. Pitting my puzzle-solving oriented brain against Holmes, Christie, Sayers, Highsmith, Penny, le Carre, Ross Macdonald, Markell, Hiassen, Crais, Mosely… to name just a few of the masters. Lately, David Ignatius has captured my imagination.
His genre of books is the political thriller in the land of the internet. I am computer challenged on every level. Without help from a very dear friend, I would never have been able to organize and send the Blah Blah Blog. (There’s a juicy self-deprecating remark just pulsing to be written which I will hasten to ignore.) So why would an internet driven mystery intrigue me?
I’m so glad you asked. Because David Ignatius is a journalist, editor and columnist for The Washington Post. I find his 11 novels to be edged with reportorial skills that give insight to the real and actual political workings of hot spots around the world (Afghanistan, Syria, Egypt, Russia; just to name a few) and no less detailed workings of the many Departments of the government of The United States. Truly, in the most legitimate sense of the words, he has inside information.
Well, ever since January 6th and watching as the President metaphorically, but really actually, yelled “FIRE!!” in a crowded theatre, prompting the frightening, illegal and unbelievable assault on the Capitol, I have been waiting for someone to unravel the mystery of how this horrific happening came to be.
The information we have received up to this date has been sparse, incomplete, and does not tell the whole story. To put it in today’s terms… it just doesn’t compute.
I am inspired to try my hand at writing a political thriller based on the events of January 6th. Including that which preceded the happening and what follows. With your indulgence I am going to share with you my outline. Forgive me if I seem to overstep the bounds of rational reasoning. Come to think of it, for the last four years that particular mental condition appears to be as contagious as the virus…
Here is my outline in 3 parts…
Part I Phase I
January 2009 Palm Springs: A Gazillionaire meeting hosted at the palatial fortress of Manny Midas of the top ten Gazillionaires. Topic: “There’s a Black Man in the White House“
The decision after everyone finally stopped blaming everyone for being asleep at the wheel was to fund an educational program that would train young men and women to promote the “Rich-As-Croesus-Old-White-Racists-Men” (RACOWRM) ideas of racial and economic division.
Their strategy was brilliant. DIVIDE AND CONQUER.
The old white racist men decided to endow a Rich-As-Croesus-Old-White-Racists-Men’s educational program in various colleges and universities throughout the United States.
Taught mostly by committed conservatives* of every stripe and occasional color, the programs offered what appeared to be an almost free education for those who qualified.
Upon graduation, the sharper and by now completely committed conservatives were offered high paying positions in the Conservative Think Tanks around the country and public relations firms committed to radical ultra-conservative issues… formenting public opinion on issues such as gerrymandering, voting restrictions, immigration policies… They did this through organizing social media, creating many ultra-far-right-radical-conspiracy-theory individuals and groups.
*Point of clarity: There is no judgement on being a conservative by choice. However, there is a difference between being an Ultra Radical Anything where reason and logic exit the field, leaving no opportunity for dialogue.
RACOWRM danced the Scrooged Screw (a well-known Rich as Croesus Dance) at the success of their program and vowed to meet every year in Palm Springs to discover how else they could control various Government programs from their hot tubs in Hot Springs.
Part II Phase II
In 2012, the rich as Croesus old white racist men were assured by the pundits and by the amount of money they spent that the black man in the White House was a one term President.
In January 2013, meeting again in Palm Springs, without dance or hot tubs, these RACOWRM decided it was no more Mr. Nice Guy time… the gloves were off.
The momentous decision of that meeting was to search and find a missing President. A missing Presidential candidate that would bring White Privilege back to power and center stage. Criteria was important.
Manny Midas, the richest of the RACOWRM, was a fan of a television show called The Apprentice. He enjoyed watching the host make a fool of himself and he made a lot of money as one of its sponsors.
For reasons we can only guess at, but shall never know, Manny fought for and won the lottery on finding the missing Presidential candidate. Of course, it helped that this man came with his own base (literally and figuratively). His fans were addicted to his vulgar, intolerant, and mentally unstable character. Human nature at its worst.
From 2013 until 2016, the RACOWRM built their special candidate. It was like reading or watching a sequel to Mary Shelley’s 19th Century novel. (look it up)
Using their same principle of Divide and Conquer, the Ultra Conservative Think Tanks and public relations firms worked tirelessly through the use of algorithms (can anyone explain that to me?) and other modern techniques of social media on the internet to organize and develop the “Younger Not So Rich White Racist Men and Women”. They fed the YNSRWRMW the necessary information to make their chosen candidate irresistible.
Let’s face it. It was kind of a miracle. To convince people that a bankrupt unsuccessful businessman in his 70’s who was a reality TV show host and who had never won an election or served in any public capacity, except as a Page 6 headline making President Clinton look like a member of the Puritan Party, would make the perfect President. The moon was definitely in retrograde because…
Against all the odds and evens and pollsters and punsters and everyone in the real world, he actually won!
Part III Phase III
I’m not sure, guys, whether to fast forward through the gathering storm of false news, the twitter and the tweeting, mind-boggling appointments, and too numerous to count declarations of “You’re Fired”, to get to 2020, but I think I shall…
It must be said that our Palm Springs group continued to meet and continued to pull strings on their creation and they were happy. They had a proven handle to control. If they wanted action of a certain kind, they primed the pump of his ego. His tweets were his method of governing. Leaving the real work of legislation and judicial review to their RACOWRM Worker Bees and the President’s family. His being “the greatest” worked miracles for their agenda. If he got out of line, they just let some of the air out of his ego balloon and woosh, he was back in line. The RACOWRM never veered from their original agenda – stoking the fires of racism. This election year was supposed to be a shoe-in. So many Democratic candidates, all fighting and blaming each other. A party in disarray. Definitely a shoe-in.
And then an ill wind blew in from China. Whoa! Regroup time!
The RACOWRM were stymied. No matter how much money they threw at the virus – and they did throw money – conquering the rogue virus was beyond their control. And to add to this conflagration, another black man was murdered by a group of white police officers. George Floyd’s death by police should not have been any different than the thousands that came before, but (and that’s another story) it was. Combine the pandemic with the Black Lives Matter rebellion by blacks and whites and the playing field has been permanently altered.
Well Guys, he never got his MOJO back. Unfortunately for the RACOWRM, their creation was a man incapable of dealing with reality which means he cannot be called upon to cope in an emergency.
He tried. He caught the virus to prove his super powers of recovery. However, no matter what he did, he never found the magic wand or pill to staunch the bleed. So he lost the election.
He remembered what his best buddy Roy Cohn advised him, “NEVER ADMIT DEFEAT”. Perfect advice for this situation. He didn’t lose. He won. He was still the world’s greatest… victim. They stole his election. “They” being anyone who knew he lost.
Uh-oh! The RACOWRM had to find a way to distance and disassociate from their creation. They were able to get their Ultra Conservative white worker bees to prime his pump again.
The plan was to stoke his ego to the bursting point. He needed to both implode and explode… a very difficult task. So when he lost the election his backers were set up to create chaos and dissonance and if push came to shove, which it usually does in these situations, violence. This was easy to do. They simply had to convince him to ignore the election. Ignore the Pandemic. Ignore anything happening in the real world, which was fine with him because he would do that anyway.
But as his ego was being stoked, the various Younger Not So Rich White Racist Men and Women were being organized to follow their leader. They had had a dress rehearsal at Charlottesville which proved very successful.
It was not difficult to get their creation to stand outside the White House on January 6th, a little puff of ego air, and do exactly what he and his family and his various white racist groups were programmed to do – scream “FIRE!!” in a crowded theatre, aka “The White House”, followed by invasion, assault, and destruction of the Capitol of the United States of America, as they were bidden to do by their leader. And they didn’t have to work to get access. They were indeed invited in and escorted out.
Okay that’s as far as I got. I’m waiting for the CIA, the FBI, the various intelligence agencies to suss it out. So, what do you think? Do I wait? Or is this the craziest most ridiculous unbelievable plot that no publisher in the world would buy because it could never happen in this country?
Update January 14:
I thought this post was a reasonable compilation of fact mixed with my over-the-the-wall, wild and vivid imagination about what I felt brought about the Capitol riots of January 6th. I clearly did not go far enough. There is now a call for investigation of claims that on the day before the pillage, Republican representatives and senators who had spread the lies of a fraudulent election, organized tours through the Capitol for the riot gang leaders from their different states. They allegedly pointed out points of interest like Pelosi’s office and various other chambers. Didn’t you think it was strange they knew exactly where to go? The Capitol is a mighty big building. I’ve been through it many times getting lost as I went.
I don’t know about you but even before the pandemic and certainly before the election, I began to worry about what was happening to cause the ever-widening gap between citizens in the United States.
How had the words of our Declaration of Independence, our Constitution, and our very laws been made to look like yesterday’s mashed potatoes. How had “reasonable men and women” become frightened enough and desperate enough to lose their good old American Horse Sense and verbally and physically hurt their fellow humans who had another opinion. I had always known that the Civil War was still an open Southern wound, slow, if ever, to heal. In my opinion, the way the South voted as first a Dixiecrat bloc and presently a Republican bloc, proved that to me. However, there are so many good people of good intent working to heal those wounds, I had hopes.
Daily my hopes are being pounded into dust. I didn’t understand. Usually, after an election, there is elation for one group, dejection for another. Eventually, as a nation, we pull up our socks and hoping for the best, pull together for the good of all. After my own disappointment in 2016, I really did hope for the best and was willing to give one and all the benefit of the doubt. A doubt, unfortunately that over the years expanded exponentially. I digress.
How did we forget that the American Way is to come together? Furthermore, life isn’t just about me, right? It’s about me in concert, cooperation, and coordination with my family, my friends, all my relationships… which includes my citizenship. Even if elected officials negate their responsibilities, that doesn’t absolve me of my duties as an American citizen.
Little did I know that working against all that good old American way of thinking were some of my social media choices. I have written before about the use of propaganda in this digital age. How did I get snookered into the very action I was wailing about?
I had written about Cambridge Analytica and how they invaded through algorithms people’s privacy …. and forgot that one of the major contributors to their success and ultimately their downfall was Facebook.
Yesterday, a good friend asked if I had seen a recent Netflix Documentary, The Social Dilemma. I hadn’t.
STOP. WATCH IT. THEN DELETE.
I saw it last night.
If they can’t find you, they can’t influence you. And if you think you can withstand their influence, make an appointment with your therapist. Denial and Delusion is not the name of a law firm, it is what I am guilty of. How can I continue to wonder why this growing rash of violence, separation, discord evolved from air? It didn’t.
Corporate greed from a new corporate breed: PROFIT OVER PEOPLE
Until these social media corporations have the same regulations as telephone, radio, and television companies have, you can personally take action. And it is an action that is totally in your hands… literally in your hands.
LOVE, Sally-Jane ❤️
P.S. Whatever Holidays you are celebrating I wish you love and joy. Herein are my gifts to you all:
P.P.S. I got some interesting responses to my latest Blah, Blah, Blog… Here are 2 of them:
1.This isn’t the first time Heather Cox Richardson and I have explored similar topics. Hers from an educated historian perspective me from the seat of my opinionated pants:
In Houston, Texas, today, police arrested a former police department captain for running a man off the road and pointing a gun at his head in a misguided attempt to foil a massive voter fraud scheme. Sixty-three-year-old Mark Anthony Aguirre claimed to be part of a citizens’ group investigating voter fraud. Believing his victim was hiding 750,000 fraudulent ballots in his truck, Aguirre rammed the truck with his SUV and held the driver first at gunpoint and then with his knee in the man’s back until police came. Upon inspection, it turned out the truck was full of air conditioning parts. The district attorney, Kim Ogg, said “His alleged investigation was backward from the start—first alleging a crime had occurred and then trying to prove it happened…. [W]e are lucky no one was killed.” And the reason for this crazy man’s head bent full of these crazy ideas is Greed. Greed by big corporate players like Facebook and greed by right wing hucksters like Doug Jones who draws attention to his website by gorging out conspiracy theories in order to keep his audience outraged which makes them keep coming back for more and let’s him sell them more and thus pull in huge amounts of moneyAs they say in all of the detective stories: If you want to catch the criminal follow the money.
No matter which political party, our citizens voted!
The largest number of voters EVER participated in the democratic process. Whether you agreed or disagreed with their choice is irrelevant. The naysayers (and I confess at times I vacillated as one of them) proclaimed the downfall of Democracy.
Of course the division in the country exists to make life complicated and difficult. Just stop for one moment and think about it. Together we exercised our rights as citizens. No matter our differences, we stood on line together, we waited for hours together and in certain states and locations we kept our distances and were masked. In other locations not so much… but it didn’t matter. Either way we voted. There was not a single instance of violence or disruption throughout the country during this largest of voting turnouts.
For Miss Pollyanna here, I see a light. If we can be together in one action, maybe in time together we can learn to hear what the “other side” is saying and find our way towards if not reconciliation, then perhaps agreeing to accept our disagreements.
As a wannabe 87 year old Talmudic Scholar said:
On the one hand a leopard cannot change its spots.
On the other hand a good spot remover can do wonders.
I don’t know what to do with myself. My nerves are frayed. My ability to focus has sharply declined. AND… I feel a little like my tv set when it goes into its “buffering” state. You know… the picture and sound disappear and there is that little circle that goes round and round. I imagine that this buffering circle is running after the sound and the picture… and I sit there praying it catches them before I forget what it is that I was watching.
In both worlds of the pandemic and election craze daze, we have reached the stage of repetition in the stories and warnings and expose’ and charts and statistics and rallies and tallies that only brings numbness and confusion.
Sooooo… in an effort to distract myself from myself I want to tell you a story about my dance audition for The High School of Performing Arts.
How’s that for an oxymoron! (Oxymorons exist… I know few of them…sorry, it was just sitting there and I had to.)
I was 13 and full of myself. I thought I was a gift from the muse Terpsichore.
For my audition I was asked to prepare two different kinds of dances.
My second choreographic choice was to the Boston Pops version of the popular tango, Jealousy.
I thought each one reflected my brilliance as a dancer and choreographer.
Come on, guys, give me a break. I was a 13 year old who dreamed of stardom. If I became a star, I would be loved like I loved Betty Grable. Love and stardom were intricately and undeniably linked.
On the day of the audition, I changed into my leotard, walked into the big bare room with my two recordings, covered my nervousness and insecurities with a solid slice of bravura because I knew any minute I was about to be “discovered”.
Imagine my surprise as I discovered, there among the other people who were auditioning us, sat the High Priestess of Dance herself, Martha Graham. And I knew for sure the only reason she was there was to “discover ME”.
And so I danced with a fury as if my life depended on it. And for me, in a way it did. At 13 I knew family and home had a shelf life. I needed to begin my climb sooner rather than later. I moved to The Blue Danube increasing the tempo with speed of dips and turns never once looking in HER direction. And of course the ending was an overdramatic leap into the air with a slide flat out onto the floor. The thought of that move today would be the end not the beginning.
I immediately rose up from the floor and changed the record before they had a chance to say, Thank you and usher me out.
My interpretation of Jealousy followed along the lines of the movie The Red Shoes. I used the dramatic orchestral flourishes to interpret going “crazy” as I tangoed through the morass of a troubled mind… The everything and the kitchen sink approach…
I’m not going to keep you in suspense. I was accepted as a student in the dance department. I had also auditioned for the drama department. Of course, I was hedging my bets. It was not quite as dramatic as my dancing. I think I did a scene from something I wrote where I played all the parts. Over-the-top defined me then as now.
Many years later when I could bear to think about what I put Martha Graham through, I tried to imagine what she thought. I had spirit and energy. I had an intense desperation bordering on insanity to succeed, which is absolutely necessary for any budding wanna-be artist. And she had to have been amused or at least distracted from her problems for those few moments.
Phew! That felt good. There is no question about it. Distraction was definitely needed. In spiritual terms, I really want to believe that no matter what the outcome during this pandemic and after November 3 … All will be well. And honestly, my friends, in the deepest part of me, I do believe that is true. My sense of life is as long as I have it… life that is… all IS well.
I am the microcosm in the macrocosm. No Republican or Democrat or Libertarian or Anarchist or Nihilist brings the sun up and good old Mother Nature laughs (and lately cries) at those who think they can.
Right??? Of course, right!!!!
Love, Sally-Jane 💗
P.S. I promised I wasn’t going to get into it… but I had my fingers crossed… So, if you are so inclined, give this a look:
I feel a little bit like Peter Finch in the film Network. Remember he played a television broadcaster who amidst the pressure of his work world and the world around him, had a mental breakdown on television screaming, “I’m as mad as hell and I’m not going to take this anymore!!!”
Well, as I watch the media play into the hands of Trump as they did in 2016… not realizing, or maybe conspiratorially they are aware that by their incessant Trump coverage bad, good or indifferent, they are going to get him elected. In this day and age, the PR pundits from P.T. Barnum to Rush Limbaugh, are right: There is no such thing as bad publicity.
I cannot hear or see about anyone except Trump. If I were someone who watched a great deal of television and I wasn’t sure about my vote I wouldn’t even remember who the other guy was so, “what the hell…”. For those who think I am exaggerating, I AM NOT! And at the same time, OMG! I hope and pray I am wrong.
But like Howard Beale, Peter Finch’s character in Network, I can’t take this anymore!!
So I’m going in another direction where the human experience offers an opportunity to alter a self destructive path to planet annihilation. And you thought I was going to make a funny.
Well, in the hopes of the return of my sense of humor, I want to offer for your consideration, two fantastical documentaries on Netflix:
This is about Craig Foster, a videographer living in South Africa, fast approaching a Howard Beale-esque burnout and how he saves his life, by making a 180 degree turn, removing himself to a hut on the Atlantic Ocean near the Cape of Good Hope. He begins a daily swim and dive in the cold and stormy Atlantic. \He encounters an Octopus. He makes this discovery the center of his daily dives for almost a year.
OK, my only experience is watching other people eat the poor animal. Not an animal I would consider pet worthy. But I’m a Brooklyn girl and not too many pet Octopuses in my experience.
This is not about pets. This is about our relationships in what is left of the world we live in and I promise you… in a time of pervasive meaninglessness you will find meaning and purpose in his journey. And here is the best part: You can apply his journey to your life. Of course it’ll be different because we all are different. Basic human geshrai is basic… and it needs to be visited… NOW!
This gentleman… and literally he is a gentle man… at 93, takes us painfully through the decimation of our planet from the year of his birth through today. When he was born, 1927, our world was in what was called the Holocene Era where there appeared to be a balance between wild places (aka nature) and modern civilization (the industrial revolution gone mad).
For me, it was extremely painful to watch the not so-slow-destruction of our planet because during most of my particular generation we gave very little thought to other geographic spaces that held the natural balance. Oh, yes, we wanted to travel to foreign, distant and unique places around the globe, but never thought about what was happening in these habitats; the flora, the fauna, the air.
For those who want to see what and how it happened and most importantly what we can do to reverse the death of earth planet, David Attenborough gives a balanced, measured and simple accounting. It’s not about climate change. Although, that is in it. It’s not about blame. Although, it’s impossible for you and I and all us humans not to acknowledge our responsibility. He explains how we are losing the battle to save the planet and at the same time, he gives us hope. I’ll run with that. Actually at 87, I shall walk with that. Join me!
I chose these two documentaries because in each we have an opportunity to correct some negative, hopeless, scenarios. I don’t want to feel shamed in front of my children and grandchildren that I left them such a crappy place to live.
This is my response to a special feeling of being pelted by media negativity. As a mere mortal, I have a limited ability to withstand the slings and arrows of the outrageous fortunes of their depressing onslaught.
Repeat with me what Howard Beale of the Network said:
Too many of my friends and relatives watched the debate last night!
Was there any intelligent HUMAN who didn’t know which way the evening was going to go?
Didn’t you know you were tuning into a new version of The Apprentice?
I want to be clear, I never intended to watch, I do not watch reality TV shows. They have never appealed to me. I don’t enjoy watching my fellow humans humiliated and belittled and shamed in front of millions of other humans. In my own life, I have experienced all of the above (thank goodness, not in front of millions). Why would I ever want to watch anyone go through such a negative, dehumanizing, and belittling experience? It never made sense to me. No, I don’t want a medal. This was my choice.
What I do not understand is why was I one of the few who knew it was going to be a bloodbath for Democracy. If you had the slightest knowledge of either candidate, how could you think this debate could go anywhere else? And please, let me not give the debacle last night the title of “Debate”. It was no debate…shouting match! personality clash! forget issues and points of law!
Where in the aftermath is the compassion for both gladiators? The lion being starved and prodded within and without by forces who were determined to have a bloody spectacle. And the lamb, prodded by forces within and without who insisted the lion’s natural instincts for devouring his prey were tamable. Nero would have been proud.
I for one hope there is not another one.
But if there is going to be another one… do yourself a favor so you can be prepared to understand the two candidates clearly. Watch PBS Frontline program Election 2020: Biden vs.Trump. It is an in-depth look into each of their lives. It may appear to be biased. Personally, I do not think it is. There is not a single human being, including the Pope, without yin and yang or as I prefer zits and warts. The program illustrates the zits and warts of each candidate. For me, it’s a personal choice of which zits and warts are acceptable.
In my world, I will hopefully choose humanity over human nature. In reality (God, I’m getting to hate that word!) I realize until I have been truly tested, I will never know what my choice would be.
However, I do have brilliant role models who help me find my way. On my 80th birthday I asked a friend to find photo portraits of these role models to hang from the ceiling at the party. Here is just a partial list:
William Shakespeare, Sigmund Freud, George Gershwin, Ulysses S. Grant, Sandra Day O’Connor, Billie Holiday, Abraham Lincoln, Marlon Brando, Doris Lessing, Virginia Wolfe, Mary Wollstonecraft, Martin Luther King, Thomas Merton, FDR, Leonard Bernstein, Martha Graham, Charlie Chaplin, Maria Callas, Eleanor Roosevelt, Buster Keaton, Marilyn Heit Leibovitz, Georgia O’Keefe, Ruth Bader Ginsberg, Albert Einstein, F.Scott Fitzgerald, Dianne, Lori, Pamela, Rainer Maria Rilke, Frederick Douglass Gustaf Mahler…
Not one of these beautiful people are without his or her zits and warts. However, everyone of them, when confronted in life – as we all are – chose their humanity over their human/animal nature.
On Friday night, September 18th, after returning home from a life affirming and joyous outdoor Rosh Hashanah (Jewish New Year) celebration with seven others, a lovely mix of family and friends, a friend texted me about the death of Ruth Bader Ginsberg. I went into a tailspin (aka depression).
What was my problem? Her imminent death had been a foregone conclusion for years. Her heroic mission kept her alive beyond the miraculous. Her staying power was Herculean. Knowing what her demise would mean to Affordable Care, Roe v. Wade and so many other issues of humanity, she left a request to the American people:
“My most fervent wish is that I will not be replaced until a new president is installed.”
Mitch McConnell used the same rationale while Obama was President. But that was 15 minutes ago and he changed his mind… again.
All right! All right! From the moment I heard of her demise, I found myself wallowing in dark and dangerous thoughts.
Always at these times, I go into a dialogue with myself. Here it is.
Me: (in fear of the future) OMG what am I going to do? What’s going to happen now? Is there going to be a Revolution…Civil War…do I have to join a gang of vigilantes. Is America going the way of Job? First the Pandemic, then the Election, now RBG!
I have to leave this country. Where? Where can I go? Any country I want to go to doesn’t want Americans.
Me: (in the moment): Calm down. We have a lot of grieving to do. Your fears are diminishing her story. Who she was? What she accomplished. Her strength and tenacity as a woman, a wife, a mother, a lawyer, a jurist and ultimately a role model for men and women. If you stay in this minute, I promise, ultimately it will show you how best to live in a world that throws the best curve balls ever.
I GO DOWN TO THE SHORE
I go down to the shore in the morning and depending on the hour the waves are rolling in or moving out and I say, oh, I am miserable, what shall — what should I do? And the sea says in its lovely voice Excuse me, I have work to do.
You know what? This staying in the moment thing is really hard. If I stayed in the moment, felt the grief, felt the power of this petite woman’s life to change what had previously been thought impossible to change , yeah, right!!! What is it about staying in the moment which I know is really the only way to live but, oh, my friends, it is soooo difficult.
I have spent a lifetime believing that to believe in God is to believe that all things are fair and there will be wonderful surprises.
The best surprises come out of not knowing! I think there is a lesson in this.
I have no idea what the fallout will be from this cataclysmic event. It doesn’t make any difference. Whatever happens we will always have RBG’s strength, tenacity and perseverance to keep up us in the light.
I had a recent unsettling experience… let me set the scene:
Two acquaintances on my porch for morning coffee and croissants. As we settle down and begin discussing the topic du jour… our various adventures in and around the pandemic and the election, eventually, in my own inimitable voice of authority, I bring up the wearing of masks.
“If only we had some Federal leadership that would create a national program for the wearing of masks and other safety issues that are necessary for our protection,” says I.
Let’s face it, my friends, I am old enough – barely – to remember the Federal programs during World War II that were necessary to help us survive and help the war effort… ration books for food and gas, meatless days, paper and metal drives.
Oh, sure there were always people that didn’t join in that effort… and there were many Black Market organizations. But for the most part, most everyone came together as part of the civilian war effort.
People died in the war. People died in the pandemic.
End of the aside.
Expecting to have both guests nod heads in agreement, I was heartily disappointed. The female of the duo nodded. The male said,
“I don’t think it’s fair to blame him. We are a country founded on States’ Rights and each state should have their own laws about how they want to handle the pandemic. I think, considering what he has to deal with, he is doing a very good job.”
Shock! Dismay! Disbelief!
I know a few people (and relatives, too) who think he is doing a good job. However, I am not in close proximity with them. You might say we really have perfected long distance social distancing. This was the first time I was sitting near enough where I could see the whites of his eyes. I was struggling to be polite. But when he started quoting Fake News items I realized there could be no discussion.
I quickly looked at my watch, which I forgot to put on, and told them that I had forgotten I had an online class in a few minutes. You didn’t need to be a rocket scientist to know that time had just run out… the party was over.
They left. I was angry. But worse than that I was shocked. This manis a cultured, educated, sophisticated upper middle class white human male. How did this happen? I racked my brain.
And it finally came to me…
After a self-organized reading program of black non-fiction writers like Isabel Wilkerson and Carol Anderson, I realized they were right all along! The white majority is disappearing. I had just been witness to an example of this fact. This white upper middle class man in fear of losing his white majority is going to vote for the man who will guarantee that majority against all odds. As time goes on the white majority will be no more. I am not rabble-rousing. Check the statistics (I can’t believe someone who hates statistics as much as I do is saying this).
And before I let go of this bone, in 1970 you could substitute the silent majority of the Nixon era with the white majority of this era. And never forget it was this silent majority that allowed the wannabe tyrant Joseph McCarthy to flourish.
So alright already… What is this white majority that is being written about and exemplified in books, movies, television, podcasts, editorials, and just plain life? Obviously, I am going to have difficulty explaining it because I am so apparently part of it. I am of the white/caucasian persuasion. Black, white, brown, orange, purple… we are all part of this human condition… with differences. As part of the human condition/nature, consciously or unconsciously, we each strive to be better than someone else. A human animal popularity contest, if you will.
I know as the seventh of eight children I do not remember a day when I didn’t strive to be better than anyone of my brothers or sisters. My parents actually promoted that competition, thinking the competition would push us to excel in our various gifts, which personally I am happy to say it did, but they used it also as a control of a sometimes uncontrollable large family. And because of my race, I could move more easily in the world. And here is the big word that explains how I could do it:
ASSIMILATE – that’s what I could do.
I was acceptable… up to a point… being a Jew kept me back many times in my life and I can still recognize a slur when it happens… even in jokes… but basically, if I chose to I didn’t have to say I was Jewish and then I would always be acceptable because I could assimilate into this amorphous white majority. See how easily it works???
If you are black, this is not possible. A black person is always black. Except of course, black people who look white and then they have to decide whether to pass which is another word for assimilation. So how did the white majority control the black population? During the centuries of black slavery this was easy. Blacks were property, not people. There was no white majority because in fact whites controlled everything and therefore, obviously it did not need to be stated.
It was after the Civil War with emancipation, voting rights, human rights, and civil rights, when whites, most obviously in the South and more subtly in the North, felt the thunder and fear of change.
A brief dream time of Reconstruction was systematically squashed by the new Jim Crow laws of the south, created and enacted by the vanquished losers of the Civil War and legislators of the treasonable former Confederacy.
Ghettos, incarceration, proliferation of drugs, low service jobs, sharecropping (another version of slavery), limited and segregated housing and education, unequal voting and civil rights… all the negative control factors used by the white majority to control black lives.
Whites fear that black lives not only matter but that they will race ahead, leaving white lives in their dust. They certainly have done it in the world of sports and popular music.
Obama’s two-time win (accomplished without the white majority) put the white majority into a tailspin and is the most probable cause for the continued bitter (and what I personally consider un-American) politics of Republic Congressman, Senators and Judges – A black president in the White House? Never again!
The white majority is and will disappear. That’s a fact! The mix of nationalities which, to me has always been the backbone of America’s strength will now add a new strength in the form of mixed colors… HOORAY!
And let us not forget, the President’s National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorders known as the Kerner Commission, headed by Governor Otto Kerner of Illinois, appointed by President Lyndon B. Johnson in July 1967 to uncover the causes of urban riots and to recommend solutions. The report, which declared that “our nation is moving toward two societies, one black, one white – separate and unequal,” and warned that unless drastic and costly remedies were undertaken at once, there would be a “continuing polarization of the American community and, ultimately, the destruction of basic democratic values.”
There is a slate up for election on November 3rd that exemplifies a necessary and overdue recognition of this reality.
My reckoning is that this person who came to my porch for coffee and an abrupt departure doesn’t even realize he is part of that fearful white majority. I am sorry for him. But I am happy that his partner will cancel out his vote. I worry about others who don’t have anyone to cancel out their vote. So I ask us all to do what we can to give us back a country with some basic civility and caring to help us heal.