Still wondering if this shit’s real? Here’s a clue by four…

Still wondering if this shit’s real? Here’s a clue by four…

Early this year, in the mad grab for Hamilton tickets, I decided to go ahead and get a full subscription to the Hippodrome in Baltimore. I invited a friend to join me, and we got a pair of tickets for the coming season. Continue reading “Still wondering if this shit’s real? Here’s a clue by four…”

Endarkenment (Part 3)

Endarkenment (Part 3)

I’m all too familiar with the spiral Anne Wheaton describes here. The stress of the news, coupled with the kitchen repairs and impending divorce and new job and old job and milestone birthday…they all wrap around the next two and a half weeks. Continue reading “Endarkenment (Part 3)”

Changes…

Changes…

And these children
That you spit on
As they try to change their world
Are immune from your consultations
They’re quite aware of what they’re going through…

–David Bowie

A little under two years ago, I wrote this post in reaction to Philando Castile’s murder:

Storm’s here.

In that time, nothing changed, until last February, kicked off when a series of white males took up arms against their social circle and inspired a movement in the aftermath of their destruction. Except, that’s not the whole picture.

Compare and contrast.

Four articles from The Guardian, a somewhat left-leaning source with roots in the United Kingdom:

1. Florida shooting: suspect escaped scene by hiding among students as they fled
Nikolas Cruz, 19, charged with 17 counts of murder as officials confirm the AR-15 rifle used to commit massacre was purchased legally

(Incident: February 14, 2018. Dead: 17, injured: 17)

2. Austin bomb suspect left video ‘confession’ before he died
Police say footage portrays ‘a very challenged young man,’ but nothing to show he was motivated by hate

(Incidents: March 2-20, 2018. Dead: 2, injured: 5)

3.  ‘They executed him’: police killing of Stephon Clark leaves family shattered
A young, unarmed black man was shot 20 times in his grandmother’s backyard. Now his brother is fighting through grief to demand justice

(Incident: March 18, 2018. Dead: 1)

4. Maryland student who shot classmate dead killed himself, officials say
Austin Rollins, 17, fired a fatal shot to his head just as he encountered the school resource officer at Great Mills high school

(Incident: March 20, 2018. Dead: 2, injured: 1)

Wait. Did I say four? I meant five.

5. Alton Sterling shooting: two police officers will not be charged with any crime
Blane Salamoni and Howie Lake II won’t be charged for incident that occured [sic] in July of 2016 that sparked unrest throughout Baton Rouge

(Incident: July 7, 2016. Dead: 1)

Two of these incidents are not like the others. In fact, the victims in those two incidents stand in stark contrast to the others, even though they are connected by the way in which they died. And in how the victims were described. And in the accountability of those who perpetrated their murders.

On March 22nd, I wrote this piece, after the Associated Press put out a horrendous article describing the Great Mills murderer as a “lovesick teen.” The phrase AP used seemed completely tone deaf, wholly inappropriate given the reality that, according to the Violence Policy Center, 11 murder-suicides happen every week, and that 9 out of 10 murderers use a gun.

As the article above shows, the Resource Officer originally credited with stopping the murderer actually hit him in the hand, and that the kid died from a self-inflicted gunshot.

The hand.

Think about that.

In contrast, Stephon Clark was shot twenty times in his own backyard, murdered in cold blood, and the only thing the cops could find after the dust settled was a cellphone. And nobody could explain why they had to turn off their body cameras.

When Alton Sterling was shot, he did have a gun on him. And it shouldn’t have mattered. After all, Louisiana is an Open-Carry state, and Sterling was within his legal 2A right to possess and carry the gun.

According to an eyewitness report from his friend inside the store, near where Sterling was murdered, the gun was in his waistband, not in his hands.

What Sterling and Clark, and Castile, and Brown, and all the others have in common is an abundance of melanin, which most of the cops and all of the civilian murderers listed above, lack.

People of color have been targets since the first of the slave ships landed on these shores. And cops have proven that lynching isn’t necessary as long as they feel free to pump lead into any individual they view as a threat, regardless of reality.

Being born with dark skin isn’t inherently threatening unless one wants an excuse to pump the entire contents of a gun clip into a human being and call him a target, to exercise summary justice outside of the legal system, to shut down any possibility of accusations of police brutality or corruption.

Any excuse will do, regardless of whether the victim’s legal and civil rights say otherwise.

I’ve been writing about racism since the first few posts I wrote in this blog, way back in 2005, in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, when the Bush family turned a blind eye to reality and cost the lives of almost 1,500 people and displaced a huge number of poor families, many of color, in New Orleans.

#BlackLivesMatter, which started as a hashtag on social media,  came into existence in 2013 in response to the acquittal of Trayvon Martin’s murderer, George Zimmerman.

Zimmerman’s acquittal finally drew attention to the massive disparity between being black and being white in America.

But not enough. Not nearly enough.

No, it took a major tragedy at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, in a privileged part of Florida’s Broward County, to focus the movement like a laser. These students are articulate, driven, privileged kids. They have finally, firmly, seized that banner of truth and anger and sadness, raised it high, and reached out to their siblings across the country who have been targets far longer.

Inclusive, determined, driven by force of will, these kids who founded the March For Our Lives movement, who have declared #NeverAgain in places across the country, are defining the future in their terms.

Now that they’re coming of age, their movement looks a lot like the Vietnam War protests of our past. And no wonder.

We ARE at war.

We are deep into Civil War, and we have no idea where it will lead, but the children…OUR children…have declared in more than a million clear, strong voices of all ages, ethnicities, genders, and cultures, that #EnoughIsEnough.

Emma Gonzalez, David Hogg, Cameron Kasky and their friends speak not just for the students at MSD, but for kids across the country, and they will sit in silence no longer.

It’s no surprise that they have welcomed their siblings of color, who are considered “at-risk” merely for existing. After all, they’re theatre kids. They understand diversity in ways only some of us fully understand.

In a time and place where our people of color are maimed or killed in disproportionate numbers, simply because they’re not white, these kids see only one thing: Themselves.

In our gun-saturated society, there’s a reckoning coming. It’s coming at the ballot box this year.

This is just the start.

May these children succeed where we have failed, in the ten years since the District of Columbia v. Heller  decision, to force change. I only wish David Bowie was still here to see it.

David Bowie – Changes (Olympia)

Achilles’ Heel…

Achilles’ Heel…

Achilles’ heel

  • n.
    A seemingly small but actually crucial weakness.

Continue reading “Achilles’ Heel…”

A departure, in appreciation: Frank Deford

A departure, in appreciation: Frank Deford

In 1986, I moved into the Metro DC area. Eventually, my first boyfriend got me to listen to WAMU (mostly for Mary Cliff’s folk music show, Traditions. I started to use WAMU in the morning as my wake-up radio station, way back when Bob Edwards was still the host.
Continue reading “A departure, in appreciation: Frank Deford”

Goodbye, Amazon: A cancellation story in seven PDFs and a phone call…

Goodbye, Amazon: A cancellation story in seven PDFs and a phone call…

“Hey, Amazon.com!”

Sorry, but you don’t get to market HATE objects to me or my kids. I’ll be sorry to see Woot and IMDB go, and Prime was useful for a while there, but it’s time to part company.

(Click the following “exhibits” to see PDFs of the objects in question, and their “suggested” additional items. I’m not going to provide them with free advertising.)

Amazon.com Exhibit A

Amazon.com Exhibit B

Amazon.com Exhibit C

Disgusting?

Yes, but nowhere near as disgusted as I am with the customer service trap Amazon sets for customers who really, truly want to leave.

Seriously.

The last time I had this much trouble canceling an account was way, way back in the dark ages when I had an AOL account for all of 10 minutes. It took almost an hour to cancel the account after I realized it wasn’t going to serve my purposes, like, ever.

See, there’s this rabbit hole called “Help” that’s supposed to answer all your questions. Just for grins, go to this link and type in the word “close” and then type in “cancel” and see what you get.

https://www.amazon.com/gp/help/customer/display.html/ref=nav_cs_help

Notice how many different ways people have asked the question?

There’s a reason.

Now, click through this link and then click the link that actually says About Closing Your Account.

Lots of scare tactics, right? But do you see, anywhere, a place where you can actually close your account?

No?

Good. You’re not blind. It doesn’t exist.

And when you do go down that rabbit hole, here’s where it eventually leads here:

[AMAZON LOGO]
Your Account Amazon.com
Message From Customer Service
Hello,

I want to make sure that closing your Amazon.com account won’t cause problems with any open transactions or other websites you might visit.

Here are some things to keep in mind:

— If you use your Amazon.com log-in on other sites (e.g. Audible.com, international Amazon sites (co.uk/.fr/.de/.es/.ca/.in/.au/.com.br/.nl/.com.mx) except for Amazon.cn and Amazon.co.jp, etc.), you’ll also lose access to those accounts.
— If you’ve placed orders on AmazonLocal, you’ll no longer have access to your vouchers.
— Any open orders you have will be canceled.
— All subscriptions will be canceled (Amazon Prime, Subscribe and Save, etc.).
— If you have a remaining Amazon.com Gift Card or promotional credit balance, you won’t have access to use the funds.
— Returns and refunds can’t be processed for orders on closed accounts.
— You won’t be able to initiate Textbook Rental returns and will remain responsible for outstanding rentals.
— You won’t be able to access digital content (Kindle, Amazon Video, Amazon Appstore, Digital Music, etc.).
— You won’t be able to re-download content from your Games & Software Library.
— Your Amazon Payments account will be closed and can’t be reopened.
— We can’t transfer the history of an account to another account.
–We will delete your customer profile as well as all your reviews, discussion posts and customer images.
— You’ll no longer have access to your Associates, Amazon Web Services, Seller, Author Central, Kindle Direct Publishing and/or Mechanical Turk accounts.
— If you have an Amazon Web Services account, please contact AWS customer support for assistance with closing your AWS account :
https://aws-portal.amazon.com/gp/aws/html-forms-controller/contactus/aws-account…

If you still want to close your Amazon.com account after reviewing the items above, please write back by visiting this link and state that you want to close your account:

https://www.amazon.com/gp/help/rsvp/rsvp-mi.html?q=acc1

I hope this helps. We look forward to hearing from you.

We’d appreciate your feedback. Please use the links below to tell us about your experience today.

[snipped]

Best regards,
[clueless git]
Did I solve your problem?
Yes No
Your feedback is helping us build Earth’s Most Customer-Centric Company.*
Thank you.
Amazon.com

[*Emphasis mine. –CT]

About Closing Your Account (Amazon.com Exhibit D)

Contact Us (Amazon.com Exhibit E)

What can we help you with? (Amazon.com Exhibit F)

More Information, Please (Amazon.com Exhibit G)

Nowhere. Not on any of the previous screens, not in the email I received after.

They simply do not provide an exit.

It took me a phone call to the supervisor of the first level and a solid 45 minutes to get across to these people that there was no additional activity and that closing the account immediately was the only thing that would satisfy my desire to disengage.

And this is what I disengaged from, when I finally got what I wanted.

THE AMAZON LIST
————

6pm
Score deals on fashion brands

AbeBooks
Rare Books & Textbooks

ACX
Audiobook Publishing Made Easy

Alexa
Actionable Analytics for the Web

Amazon Business
Everything For Your Business

AmazonFresh
Groceries & More Right To Your Door

AmazonGlobal
Ship Orders Internationally

Home Services
Handpicked Pros Happiness Guarantee

Amazon Inspire
Free Digital Educational Resources

Amazon Rapids
Fun stories for kids on the go

Amazon Video Direct
Video Distribution Made Easy

Amazon Web Services
Scalable Cloud Computing Services

Audible
Download Audio Books

BeautyBar . com
Prestige Beauty Delivered

Book Depository
Books With Free Delivery Worldwide

Casa . com
Kitchen, Storage & Everything Home

ComiXology
Thousands of Digital Comics

CreateSpace
Indie Print Publishing Made Easy

Diapers . com
Everything But The Baby

DPReview
Digital Photography

East Dane
Designer Men’s Fashion

Fabric
Sewing, Quilting & Knitting

Goodreads
Book reviews & recommendations

IMDb
Movies, TV & Celebrities

Junglee . com
Shop Online in India

Kindle Direct Publishing
Indie Digital Publishing Made Easy

Prime Now
FREE 2-Hour Delivery on Everyday Items

Prime Photos
Unlimited Photo Storage Free With Prime

Shopbop
Designer Fashion Brands

Soap.com
Health, Beauty & Home Essentials

TenMarks . com
Math Activities for Kids & Schools

Wag.com
Everything For Your Pet

Warehouse Deals
Open-Box Discounts

Whispercast
Discover & Distribute Digital Content

Woot!
Deals and Shenanigans

Yoyo.com
A Happy Place To Shop For Toys

Zappos
Shoes & Clothing

Welcome to the company store. Amazon covers just about everything you could possibly need, filtered through their myopic lenses. And what they don’t have, Wal*Mart does. I wonder whether we will get to the point when we are only paid in Amazon credits or Wal*Mart credits, while real money becomes a thing of the past for the average worker.

I’ve had direct connections to the things above that are italicized. It’s annoying, but I’ll get over it.

 

Your mileage may vary. I’m done and I don’t regret the choice.

How we process the news from Santa Barbara…

How we process the news from Santa Barbara…

In this world, too many people see discussions as only about one topic or another, and these folks shun the idea that topics have many subtopics and sources.

The world of Elliot Rodger is by no means exclusive, but if his actions bring these multiple threads of discussion to a head, perhaps we can have the discussions we need to that will help us get past what corporate interests prefer not to discuss for the sake of continuing to generate revenue at the cost of human lives.

In this discussion, but by no means an exhaustive list: Misogyny, misandry, gun control, mental illness, autism, entitlement, politics and more. Every single one of these topics has something to do with the murders and injuries in Santa Barbara, but not the way you might think. And for me, this post has been coming since Sandy Hook and Aurora, but until now I couldn’t wrap my mind around the pile of implications and threads without being afraid either of outing myself or offending someone else, so I’ll say this first and get it out of the way, because you need to know.

It all starts with

#YesAllWomen

And it ends with

#NotAllMen

Now before you blow up all over me and say I’m interested in taking away ALL TEH GUNZ, as some now-unfriended people have done in the past, let me share some facts with you:

1. I have been in therapy on and off since I was a teenager. Losing a parent early is bad enough, but I also suffered bouts of depression and headaches and cramps that were bad enough to put me out of commission for a couple of days. Add to that being unable to get organized because I would start one process and then ten hours later find I’d gotten sidetracked and only partially finished the original goal, but forgot those 15 other things that also needed doing (along with the food I was supposed to eat regularly), well, that’s ADHD in a nutshell. Add to all this a separation from my husband and how to handle his behavior and the aftermath of the break-up, and death of a parent, and it’s not a surprise. I have been on medication but am not now and have not been for the better part of a year, and in that year I’ve accomplished Dean’s List two semesters running. My ability to cope has been tested sorely and I’ve come out okay on the other side.

Mental illness comes in all forms and so do other mental issues. I’ve never considered myself a danger to others. I used to think it was all on me, that I was broken, but no more. Having watched my ex-relationships and how they handle their current relationships, I’ve come to realize my biggest fault is in the relationship choices I’ve made and not so much with me. Some of the problems I’ve had could be chalked up to immaturity, narcissism flawed logic on the part of the opposite sex. I’m tired of playing romance roulette and I’m not looking anymore, mostly for this reason. And I’m mostly okay with that.

2. I grew up in a household with an NRA member who also smoked. I never picked up either habit, though I am a fair shot with a .22 rifle. I have spent time with people who were doing drugs, but never knowingly took drugs on my own or sought out more than alcohol and I don’t drink much now because I don’t like the effect or (in many cases) the taste.

3. I have suffered sexual abuse, above and including the “dirty phone call” variety. In more than one instance I was not a consenting adult. Only one time did someone of the opposite sex hit me, and he’s been out of my social circle for an extended period of time. No, I won’t go into details. The statute of limitations ran out a long time ago.

4. I like movies quite a bit, but am increasingly uncomfortable with what I see in them, especially when they revolve around relationships between men and women. The Bechdel Test is weighing particularly heavily on my mind just now.

So, when the news broke about Santa Barbara over the weekend, I had plenty of thoughts on the subject, but until I started seeing responses on my Facebook feed, I was willing to ignore them until I could get my thoughts to gel.

What follows are a number of articles and videos, in what I think are appropriate order. You can feel free to follow my path down through the material or just take my word for it: We have a major problem on our hands and we don’t even know how to talk about it because these issues are coming up and getting in the way of the conversation.

We can start with Ann Hornaday’s response (auto-launch video warning!) to the critical feedback she received on her scathing article published May 25, 2014, in which she indicts the Hollywood movie machine as a foundation for the problem of male entitlement.

What follows here are four reactions, every one of them written by men. I want you to read what these four men have to say on the subject. I am excluding from this conversation the father of one of the male victims in the Santa Barbara rampage because he’s addressing his questions to congress. In the end, this is what you must do, as well, or the conversation will not change.

First, regarding the shooter’s mental health condition, a subject that should really be investigated further because we do NOT treat mental illness the way we should and we never ever have. Worse, assumptions by the police that it isn’t as bad as observers have seen has much to do with lack of training, coupled with a lack of beds in hospitals and the lack of trained medical staff for dealing with violent mental illness.

Washington Post: Sheriff: Calif. shooter Rodger flew ‘under the radar’ when deputies visited him in April

That the pharmaceutical industry and health insurance companies restrict access to care and shunt everyone to drugs first is a failure to address the fundamental problem: We are not equipped to handle mental illness because it’s not in the interests of drug companies to fix a problem that nets them billions of dollars annually.

These situations exist because we have failed both the families of our most fragile citizens who know better and try to warn about the dangers and those victims who likely never knew what hit them or why. There is but one target for this: Our laws fail us and our lawmakers fail us because they answer to the industry and not the people.

But then, there are those in congress who prefer to blame the mentally ill and regulatory failures instead of looking at why those gaps exist:

Washington Post: GOP’s Rep. King calls for more background checks in wake of Calif. killings

Rep. King’s views aren’t new, but they are politically motivated, and it’s still easier to point a finger at background checks without recognizing that without a universal database to check, such a system will fail, and such infrastructure simply doesn’t exist because of the taboo discussion regarding mental illness in the first place. So sure, go ahead and talk as if a background check might have kept the violence from happening, but it’s a smokescreen on a much larger problem.

And on top of all this, there’s the dreaded “Autism = Murder” issue that came up with Sandy Hook. I read the article below when it came out, and I think it bears rereading. I know at least a dozen people in my social circle who fall somewhere on the spectrum. Everyone wants something to blame to try and explain the actions of murderers. Consider these words before you become part of the problem:

Psychology Today – Asperger’s, Autism, and Mass Murder: Let’s stop the rush to judgment.

Two more articles, and I’m done for now. I’ve posted at least one of these on my Facebook feed already, but both bear reading and further reflection.

First:

Slate – Not all men: How discussing women’s issues gets derailed

and second:

Patheos.com – John Beckett: Dude, It’s You

If you want to have the discussion here, you’d best spend the time and read these last two articles because I will boot you otherwise.

You can feel free to share this information. We can’t have the discussion if we don’t recognize the foundation for the problem.

A Tale of Two Rapes… *Trigger warning*

A Tale of Two Rapes… *Trigger warning*

CNN and the rest of our media are taking a lot of well-deserved flack for their report on the Stubenville, OH, rape verdict handed down Sunday.

There is also this report from CNN: http://www.cnn.com/2013/03/17/justice/ohio-steubenville-case/index.html 

I recognize that reporters are far less objective than they once were, but CNN (and the rest of our media sources) should take the public backlash as a clue to re-evaluate their reporters’ investigative standards. They need to understand that they promote this reprehensible custom: Sympathizing with criminals while leaving victims out to hang. Jezebel says Here’s What CNN Should’ve Said About the Steubenville Rape Case

CNN isn’t alone in letting this unadulterated crap slip through. Too many members of our society encourage this sort of thinking.

NBC News and Fox fared just about as well, though neither source came out and said it was a shame what happened to those boys. Yahoo (of all places) gets much closer to the truth of the situation Yahoo’s Dan Wetzel for calling it what it is.

Throughout this trial, the two defendants and a parade of friends who wound up mostly testifying against the defendants, expressed little understanding of rape – let alone common decency or respect for women. Despite the conviction, the defendants likely don’t view themselves as rapists, at least not the classic sense of a man hiding in the shadows.

We live in a culture of rape, patronizing subordination and violence. We glorify gun ownership and alcohol and we look for ways to excuse bad behavior because they’re young and don’t know better. But who taught them about behaving this way in the first place?

We encourage our kids to dress in ways that enhance their attractiveness to each other, but too often we fail to teach them anything about what should happen when they are together, about taking responsibility for one another, or what abuse means. The emphasis on the victim’s level of intoxication should lead us to wonder how she had access to so much alcohol, how she came to be in that condition when they abused her.

This “they’re OUR kids, hands OFF” approach to sex education leaves kids with a basic understanding of biology and no understanding of ethics. Add alcohol into the mix, reduce remaining inhibitions, and you have a mess on your hands. Assuming the family or church will handle it absolves our society of dealing with the real problem: Education our kids with empathy, understanding consequences and recognizing right from wrong.

But that’s not what CNN reported.

Is it social media that’s to blame? No. In fact, without access to the electronic connection, the victim’s abuse would have gone unreported and she would have had no recourse. Nobody would have believed her because “she lied” and must have “asked for it” by being at the party and drinking. At least, that’s the gist of the reports coming out of this trial.

So when her rapists are found guilty and punished, we hear sympathy for them and what they’ll go through now that they’ve been found guilty.

Really?

The only way we’re going to change our society is to acknowledge that these crimes deserve punishment and that victims are NOT to blame for being in the wrong place at the wrong time or for provoking the actions of their abusers.

In fact, there should be NO WRONG PLACE.

The real story here is how hard it was for victim to seek and receive justice, not how the verdict destroyed the lives of two boys because the victim sought justice.

How we address these issues speaks volumes about who we are as a society. For all the good we can do, there’s this, also from CNN:

6 men arrested in gang rape of Swiss tourist in India

Contrast? You bet. Sadly, it happens here, like this, all the time.

Nobody told those boys they were doing anything wrong until they got caught and punished.

Seems to me they regret getting caught as much or more than the acts they committed, as horrific as those acts were.

That is the biggest crime of all.

Attempting to see the forest…

Attempting to see the forest…

Last weekend I attended a Unitarian Universalist Fellowship Dinner. It’s an annual event held by congregations across the country, as a chance to get to know people from the congregation and to share entertainment, conversation and good food.

During the conversation at dinner, the subject of race came up. The conversation drifted to discussing how we can get past the foundations of race without sounding racist which put me in mind of the documentary Journey of Man: A Genetic Odyssey. The DVD is available through PBS, but some enterprising YouTuber put the show up in a series of episodes with Spanish subtitles.

If you haven’t watched this documentary, stop reading right now and go watch it. Seriously. I’ll wait.

Done? Good.

Welcome back.

For me, the theories and research became a game-changer for my views not just on race but on cultural differences. So I surprised myself by saying that while we can say there’s no differences genetically between us white folks, and our African, Asian, Arab and European brethren, there’s a danger in carrying the conversation too far, because it’s easy to conflate racial stereotyping and cultural choice and with the myth of gender choice.

We don’t choose the color of our skin, the shape of our eyes, who we find attractive or how our bodies function. Moreover, our brains are designed to sort everything we encounter into select boxes. Our cultural training gives us the context for deciding what to do with those boxes once we’ve done the sorting.

But there’s a trap, and until I read these articles today, I didn’t have a way to articulate what that trap was because I am so fundamentally American in my belief structure that I can’t see the forest for the trees, or the rest of the world for my own borders. I suspect I’m not alone.

We Aren’t the World: Joe Henrich and his colleagues are shaking the foundations of psychology and economics—and hoping to change the way social scientists think about human behavior and culture.

I have had more than a passing interest in anthropology over the course of my life.  In fact, before I became a theatre major, I was going to be an anthropology major. I’m drawn to the research and understanding of human behavior and how it affects societies.

Coming from an areligious background, I find it more than a little strange to be committed to attending services weekly, and more than a little strange when I visit services in other religions, because I have no tools to work with, no existing framework on which to hang my belief system. It is nearly impossible for me to attend any service, UU or otherwise, without observing the ritual from the outside. UU congregations are by far the most welcoming because there is an overriding desire to incorporate the principles by which we live, which transcend virtually all other religions.

From the Unitarian Universalist Association’s web page (http://www.uua.org/beliefs/principles/index.shtml), this is a summary of the UU Principles:

There are seven principles which Unitarian Universalist congregations affirm and promote:

  • The inherent worth and dignity of every person;
  • Justice, equity and compassion in human relations;
  • Acceptance of one another and encouragement to spiritual growth in our congregations;
  • A free and responsible search for truth and meaning;
  • The right of conscience and the use of the democratic process within our congregations and in society at large;
  • The goal of world community with peace, liberty, and justice for all;
  • Respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part.

Unitarian Universalism (UU) draws from many sources:

  • Direct experience of that transcending mystery and wonder, affirmed in all cultures, which moves us to a renewal of the spirit and an openness to the forces which create and uphold life;
  • Words and deeds of prophetic women and men which challenge us to confront powers and structures of evil with justice, compassion, and the transforming power of love;
  • Wisdom from the world’s religions which inspires us in our ethical and spiritual life;
  • Jewish and Christian teachings which call us to respond to God’s love by loving our neighbors as ourselves;
  • Humanist teachings which counsel us to heed the guidance of reason and the results of science, and warn us against idolatries of the mind and spirit;
  • Spiritual teachings of earth-centered traditions which celebrate the sacred circle of life and instruct us to live in harmony with the rhythms of nature.

There is a social aspect to UU faith that attracts me, coupled with a completely different way of worshiping that includes and encourages laughter, discussion, meditation, two-way communication and sharing in ways I haven’t found with other religious groups except, perhaps, the Quakers.

But that’s not all.

Shortly after encountering the first article, I saw this one.

False beliefs persist, even after instant online corrections

When I read these two admittedly scholarly research papers, it was easy for me to find them connected, because they both address our perceptions of reality based on empirical evidence we seldom collect outside our own safe spheres of reference.

In other words, they both tell us we can’t see the forest for the trees.

I have made a career of putting information out and correcting inaccurate information when I’ve found evidence that suggests the contrary, but in the end, we can never truly know reality if we don’t have the truth as it exists, not as we perceive it. It is impossible for us to view information without the filters we have built by being part of our society. Changing those filters takes work. There are too many times when people view that work as unnecessary, even bothersome.

Witness, for example, Richard Nixon’s fall.

Yeah, okay. I’m dating myself. If you’re not of a certain age, you won’t have the tools you need to understand where I’m headed with this, but bear with me for a moment.

Until David Frost caught Nixon on tape saying he, as President, was above the law, there was still a question about whether he had done anything illegal. Gerald Ford’s pardon was insufficient to take away the stain of the acts which forced Nixon to resign. To this day we will never truly know what happened and how it came to be because a good deal of the motive behind Nixon’s activities were buried with him.

Nixon’s legacy, that we can never truly trust the elected officials in charge of our country, persists to this day in the form of Birthers who would rather discuss President Obama’s birth certificate and legitimate claim to the Presidency than look at the country as a whole and try to find a way to fix the problems we have now, thanks to more lies from corporate entities that are more concerned with the bottom line and CEO salaries than with the lives of the people they serve.

We got here because we believe our way is the right way to live. We support those who have their own best interests in mind because they have told us to believe they are doing the things they do for us.

But what if we’re wrong? What if they’ve lied?

The French Revolution came about because the people got sick of starving to death and took it on themselves to reduce the long-standing ruling class to severed heads. The present-day American aristocracy has done its level best to deflect violence away from the true source of trouble, incarcerating anyone who seems interested in taking them down. Our government is no longer of, by and for the People, unless those people are the rich ruling class. The rest of us are here to make sure the American Aristocracy maintains their hold on the upper class.

We are almost 50 years away from landing our people, Americans, on the moon. We are fighting to keep North Korea and Iran from gaining the bomb because we have no control over their activities. We know our borders are insecure and we have done our best to lock them down, only to reduce our country to panic-stricken sheep who believe everything our politicians say, because they must be right.

Our children are starving automatons designed to follow the herd, not to innovate or be creative. And if they don’t tow the religious line, they are also incarcerated, if they don’t fall prey to random shooting violence, drugs or worse.

We spend our time watching fairy tales on TV, or modern-day gladiators in an electronic Colosseum. In the end, whatever we do will be too little too late.

And all because we think we know what’s best for the rest of the world. Because we are Americans.

When the revolution comes, it won’t be televised. I just wonder when it’s going to start.

Theme: Elation by Kaira.