2019

Back to School

Between 1975 and 1981 when we moved to the United States, and as the civil war was raging in Lebanon, we were in and out of Beirut on multiple occasions, primarily because I was very reluctant yet to buy a one-way ticket out of that inferno. Some years we would be there for the summer, others for the entire school year. Besides exposing my four children to the trauma of sleeping in corridors, of hiding in bathrooms, of hearing gunfire and exploding bombs, what most terrified me was seeing them off to school in the morning not knowing whether their bus will be stopped by the fighters and the children kidnapped and/or shot, or, worse, that the bus would be blown up and they would perish. It is one of the worst nightmares parents could ever encounter.

So, yes, the past two weeks have been a very sad time for these United States, and, on a personal level, I was utterly depressed by all the senseless loss of life and limb which recalled memories of an irrational Lebanese civil war. Where was the corrupt and wicked leadership that could have – should have – convened summits to resolve the issues and reconcile the opposing views? Absent! And the dire result was absolute chaos that happened seemingly overnight. This should have been a grim warning for those who have repeated that detestable scenario in many countries. It wasn’t!

Likewise, the incidents of the past two weeks in this country, as many before them, should have been a wakeup call for responsible and wise leadership from all sides of the political spectrum to rally together and find solutions before we end up in a much worse situation than the one we are already facing, whether it is with racists, or other haters and opportunists. Unfortunately, what has been happening is that no remedial action has been taken so far. This is so corrupt and evil!

Regrettably, White Supremacists are not only in our country, but in Europe as well, and as disconcerting as their ideology is, it is no different from Islamic Jihadists, Israeli Radicals, or any of the religious/ethnic groups clinging to their zealous agendas and believing that they are holier-then-thou and that we should all espouse their dangerous views, or else be targets for elimination. The result, as we can all see happening in many countries, is that the ensuing chaos compels political leadership to resort to naked, horrific, brutal power in order to remain in control of its citizens. Such ignoble phenomena have appeared before in the history of our planet and have wreaked havoc upon many areas and populations. Do we ever learn? Do we want to repeat this formula in these United States? Are we a failed state awaiting a military junta to take over the country? C’mon people! Wake up!

However, it will soon be time for kids across this nation, to go back to school, and the saddest thing for me is that they and their educators are having to learn how to cope should there be an active shooter that targets their academy. It is a mortifying lesson! There are approximately 50.8 million students in public schools, and 5.8 million in private schools as per the National Center for Education Statistics, and in 2017/18 there were 4298 colleges and universities. All of them are having to add a very disconcerting item to their curricula about the possibility of an active shooter on their premises (those in colleges and universities receive phone alerts if they sign up for them), as well as on how to counteract bullying, depression, peer pressure, rape, suicide and drugs amongst other things that no generation before them has had to tangle with on this massive scale. What on earth are we doing to these children? And, shouldn’t all of us, if we have any sense of responsibility, be straightening up the mess that our dysfunctional world management is subjecting them to?

We know that every generation is a continuum of the generations that preceded it, making us All complicit in our present state of affairs. Sociologists have given approximate ages for the Generations:

The Silent Generation: Ages 74-91
Baby Boomers:              Ages 55-73
Gen X-ers:                     Ages 39-54
Millennials:                     Ages 23-38
Generation Z:                Ages 7-22            (some call them the iGen)

So, our students today are Generation Z. Those that call them the iGen base it upon the fact that this age group opened their little eyes to a planet of gizmos, and their iPhones became their window to the world, with all the positives and negatives that such a world provides. Sadly, they are the generation that is also opening its eyes to a reality threatened by irresponsible leadership, mass shooters, climate disasters and a school curriculum that bores them to the nth degree and is not preparing them in any useful way for the future.

El Paso, Dayton and the Garlic Festival in California are only the latest carnage that we have been witnessing as a nation. We have seen it in Columbine, Sandy Hook, Parkland, dance clubs, theatres, malls and so many other places over decades. This is irresponsible, atrocious, unconscionable and uncivilized! Where but in the lawless lands of “frontier” America are citizens allowed to “Open Carry?” Where but in a lawless land are people allowed to own more military-style weapons than their police and armies? How uncivilized are we that we have to arm educators? Not in their most wild and wicked dreams did the issuers of the “right of the people to keep and bear Arms” believe that it would come to this warped and lawless extent! It is simply beyond belief and way beyond common sense!! And, I am well aware, as should everyone be, that gun laws, though vital, are not the only solution, but that we need a comprehensive change in our culture on many levels.

The Lebanese civil war weighs heavily on me to this day, as well as the agonizing personal stories and accounts of many people I know from around the world who went through similar appalling experiences, most of which could have been averted. How had so many Lebanese bought the divisiveness and bigotry that they were being sold? It was easy then, it seems to be as easy today when evil puppeteers are pulling our strings. And I am petrified that in the United States of America we are allowing those in our corrupt corridors of power, raking in nauseating corporate money, and having greedy lobbyists writing those same bills and laws that are dividing us, to continue with their misdeeds. Trump is utilizing every single audacious weapon in his arsenal to win reelection. So are extremist Conservatives and Republicans. He has no qualms about spouting bigotry, divisiveness and racist words. Are we that pea-brained as to buy into this obvious reelection agenda? Moreover, whether on the Left, or on the Right, our irresponsible Media rather than fanning the flames of discord should be bringing on panelists who speak to reason, not insanity, not hype, not partisan agendas, not outright lies and exaggerations that do not reflect what the majority of people in this country want. Yet, they do not speak about the egregious fact that this President is upending every sensible law enacted by previous Presidents in order to appease all his corporate supporters, lobbyists and base. How can that be allowed by Any President? The media on the Right have been incessantly yelling against Immigrants and Invasions, and on the Left they have been unremittingly screeching about Russian Meddling and Impeachment. It is time for both to stop scoring points and kowtowing to their corporate and nefarious agendas! It is time for them whether on television, radio, newspapers, magazines, organizations, political parties, educational academies et al to start talking every day and on every one of their programs about bringing people together, about compassion and empathy and the social and cultural solutions that we need to urgently address. It only took about two thousand trained killers to start a civil war that engulfed the Lebanese nation of about three million. It has happened elsewhere. It could happen here, much as I am sure that we all do not want it to. We must not allow it. This is not a virtual, or any other, game, America!

As those yellow school buses start out on their routes, may all our school children be safe, may all our citizens be safe, may this nation be safe from the insane and divisive politics of avariciousness, arrogance, corruption and selfishness. Finally, the best thing is for each of us to do our decent part every single day on a personal level, as well as in preserving the democracy that we have by impressing upon our legislators to act responsibly, ethically and morally, beginning with electing honest patriots who will fulfil these vital and sensible expectations. It has never been as crucial as Now!

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2019

Dangerous Zones

Reading tea leaves is not one of my assets, which makes me recall the Y2K (Year 2000) debacle. Remember that one? It was when “They” – those gurus of all things computerese – said that at midnight on 12/31/1999 a crash will resound throughout the planet as computers and all things dependent on them will come to a screeching halt and we will all suffer the consequences: no water, no electricity, no food, no nothing! Calamity! For months before that so many publications were sounding the alarms and listing what to hoard in order to mitigate the impending disaster. I remember frantically sending out emails to all my family and friends with those lists: nuts, tuna, sardines, freeze-dried foods, hand-crank radio, flashlights, candles, water and paranoia, paranoia, paranoia! Nothing happened! It was all a total dud! Some even said that it was a fabricated hoax. Maybe it was, but so many of us fell for it, and I, certainly, did!

And here we are today wondering whether The Squad will finally be the beginning of our short-attention-span insight as a nation, or, whether all this episode will fizzle out and dud just like the Y2K bug? Or, maybe the dud will be Mueller’s Congressional Testimony this past week which, unable to find a riveting piece of info to feed the 24/7 television frenzy, is, again, refocusing us on Russian Meddling in our Elections? With Facebook ads? Really? Again? And whomever are the geniuses that have an iron-clad proof of this “meddling,” then they should either divulge it or shut up, because in this cyber age many countries are dangerously “meddling” with each other, our US included! Frankly, I am so sick and tired of this banal topic!

Anyway, I wonder: had the MSM ignored most of the The Tweeter-in-Chief’s Tweeting would we have even been here? Would the President have continued in escalating the tit for tat to this ignoble degree? And, now he is denigrating and belittling Elijah Cummings? It certainly reeks of racist undertones, as well as being very Rude and Disgusting! And, would Trump have continued saying and doing what he has been in order to undermine human values, justice and equality simply in order to validate himself, his macho ego and his insecurities, irrelevant of the MSM’s behavior? Hindsight is 20/20, they say, though both Trump and the Media have been cannibalizing each other for the past two years, each for their own despicable agendas. Moreover, would the President have been campaigning for a second term from day one in the Oval Office while abetting the divisiveness and bigotry that he, and some in this nation, have been manifesting? Could this have been his plan to begin with, and the GOP’s complicity to sacrifice our values for the sake of their sick and obsolete platform? I don’t know. It doesn’t sound kosher, though! I just hope that all this hyperbole will not drive us to violence, as it very well could. Again, I am not good at reading tea leaves.

Personally, I was very offended by what our President uttered recently, even though I still support some of his issues much to the chagrin of some of my friends. Recently, he said that the four Congresswomen – Pressley, Omar, Tlaib, Ocasio-Cortez –  even though they are legal citizens – should go back where they came from (to those shitholes that he had previously mentioned?) if they are not happy (meaning: with the status quo) and if they continue criticizing “loudly and viciously” the greatest and most powerful Nation on earth. So, for starters, and since I, too, am a non-white fairly recent immigrant, I hereby voice my support and admiration to The Squad, and I am honored to be included with these brave women, even though I would have taken a slightly different approach to some of their concerns, especially those regarding impeachment and immigration. Nevertheless, they are young, enthusiastic, principled, conscientious, and they are fighting for their future, their children’s future, the future of this country, as well as the future of our planet. More power to them!

And, secondly, I’d love to go back and “help fix the totally broken and crime infested” place I came from. Perhaps Trump can ask Jared to talk to his bosom buddy Bibi and send me back to Jerusalem? I’ll pack my bags right now! Otherwise, I, as well as any citizen, can criticize these United States to our heart’s content on what we feel is wrongful behavior, along with the millions of writers, journalists, actors, comedians, pundits, bloggers, black, brown, and white citizens of this nation who also came from somewhere at one time or another, whether it was in the long ago, or recently. What on earth was he blabbering about then? It’s pure, naked and totally unwarranted provocation! The other totally inane sloganeering he threw out there is that anyone residing in this country has to love it. How does he measure Love? Is it measured by endorsing all his policies? His words? His deeds? The radical Republican Agenda? Is it in being a holier-than-thou white person, a colonist who still believes that we are all ignorant slaves and subjects? The fact is, that resurrecting the past will not work in today’s America, not by a long shot. After all, nothing else unites us denigrated citizens more than when we are being maligned! The Squad, and all of us who support them, love this country very much despite Trump’s put-downs, and that is precisely why we criticize the unjust path he is taking us on.

Incidentally, Bibi is using these exact same tactics. Constant provocation, stoking racism, evoking the Holocaust, fear-mongering, smearing and lying in order to continue with his government’s expropriations, murders, incarcerations, intimidation, subjugation and crimes against the Palestinian people. A pure exercise in a seventy-year reign of terror. That is precisely why I bristle when the US and the Brits talk about the “long-term security of the region,” (meaning the Middle East) because what they mean is that the region should remain under their sphere of influence and obey whatever the hell they ask of it, which is simply: suppression and colonization, albeit under the auspices of Democracy and Freedom! Similar contemptible tactics are being used by many politicians across the globe. After all, divide and rule is a pretty old tool. Hitler used it. Are Trump, Bibi, and now add Johnson to the mix, and all those other “populist” and autocratic leaders Hitler Wannabes?  How utterly vile and disgusting! Black, Brown, or White should be horrified!

Moreover, for Trump to say: “they hate Jews, they hate Israel” is so utterly pathetically reprehensible! Frankly, if I were Jewish I would be mad as hell that he is using me in an environment where racism and bigotry abound; where I can sense that similar intolerant rhetoric which led up to the Holocaust.  None of us hate Jews, Israelis, or Israel. We despise the Israeli Government and its policies. Why doesn’t he get this? Or, doesn’t he want to, because it is another slogan to rile up his zealous Evangelical base, though how that base can get excited about this is so beyond my comprehension! As for the “pervasive ignorance” that he taunted Ilhan Omar for saying, it is very true, because, as one example, if those same Evangelicals were to heed the teachings of Jesus Christ, then, they, too, would condemn some of Trump’s words and deeds.  But then, for those of us, such as Bernie, Warner, Gabbard, the Squad and all those writers, investigative journalists and citizens who would like to see a change in the culture and politics of this nation, one election, or two terms of a Presidency is not the only and ultimate goal. Much as we would like it to happen yesterday, revolutions of thought take time. However, we must start somewhere, and it has started, not only in this country, but in so many other places across the planet where people are in the streets demanding Justice and getting jailed and killed for that human and international value! Case(s) in point: Somalia, Hong Kong, Puerto Rico and now even Russia. It will be getting worse as “meddling” continues!

When will humanity demand: Enough! When will we wake up from our self-induced coma and realize that we are all in Dangerous Zones, and that today it is this Person, or the Other, this Issue, or Another, but that we will All be affected and that we had better wake up Right Now!! Actually, not only Right Now, but Yesterday! No need to read the tea leaves on this one, the stark facts are staring us in the face!