2020

Thumbs Up, Thumbs Down

2020 is coming to an end, and what a relief it is for a year that hit the Planet like the worst cyclone ever as it ravaged all that was in its way! Of course, the fact that it is ending does not mean that the cyclone has abated for we will all be dealing – and for years to come, if not decades – with the after-effects of a lethal Pandemic, and more to come; of Economic Stress and Disasters; of Climate Change that will affect every aspect of life on earth; of Inept and Corrupt Political and Religious Leaders wrapped up in their self-serving bubbles; of the Rats who followed the Pied Piper as he led them off the cliff; of Inequality and Injustice galore; Political Hierarchies that continue to lie, to cheat, to manipulate, to skim every penny they can from the people, while padding their own wallets – the disgusting US Mile High Stimulus Packages being an excellent example of this; a Billionaire Class worldwide that continues to live in gated communities caring nothing for the people who have enabled their riches and filled their coffers and on and on! Yes, 2020 might be coming to an end, but not so the Planet’s Catastrophes.

These past two weeks, and as is my tradition every end of year, I go through everything in my home: all my paperwork, my files, my pictures, my drawers, my closets, pantry, refrigerator, on top of the shelf and under the sofas and chairs. I trash, I shred, I dust, I clean until I am satisfied that all is in spic and span and organized order. Only after doing all that do I feel that I’m ready to face whatever the New Year of 2021 will bring to myself and to the world. It is a very satisfying feeling, although this year, more than any other, I wish that I can clean up, organize and disinfect the world too!

However:

Thumbs Up:  For the American Democratic System of Government (although since 9/11, especially, it has often seemed more like a fading illusion) that has proven it works albeit with its humongous flaws, imperfections, shortcomings, hypocrisy and cacophony of irrelevant political and religious leaders spewing nonsense. Nevertheless, it is a system worth preserving, chiseling, upholding and celebrating!

Thumbs Down: For the liars, haters, bigots, racists and uninformed millions, and for the evil political and religious sycophants and spineless supporters of Strongmen whomever and wherever they happen to be on our Planet.

Thumbs Up: For the honest and honorable Journalists and Activists (many of whom have been killed), Writers, and Whistle-blowers who continue to work, investigate, probe and ring the alarm bells about the malfeasance going on in our systems across the world. They are Heroes!

Thumbs Down: For all Journalists and Writers who use their pens and their voices to be the echo chamber of the ruling and corporate class perpetuating the lies and promoting the hypocrisy as they opine, emote and spew so much nonsense. They have no Conscience!

Thumbs Up: For all who believe that unless we seriously tackle the issues of Climate we are dooming ourselves and this Planet.

Thumbs Down: For all ignorant, negligent and uninformed Climate Deniers, and for Corporations – especially the food industry – who are not switching to recyclable packaging, renewables and organic products, but would rather sicken the people as they reap in more profits. They are the worst immoral polluters!

Thumbs Up: For all Organizations standing up for the Colonized wherever they may be on our planet and for all the millions of minorities and occupied humans demanding Equality and Justice all across this world. They are Heroes!

Thumbs Down: For all International Organizations and Bodies who continue to support the ongoing Colonialism, and who are consolidating their Powers and Economic Survival at the expense of other humans. They are Shameless!

Thumbs Up: For All Decent and Honorable human beings, and American Congress/Senate/Government men and women who’s only agenda is to serve the People and the Country. We need so many more like them them all around the world!

Thumbs Down: For all the Dinosaurs, On the Left and on the Right in our government and all other governments across the world clinging to power by their corrupt and rotten teeth. A pox on all of them for the suffering they are causing to their people!

Regarding the new Biden-Harris Administration about which I have reserved judgement so far, because, in all fairness, we have to give them a chance. We have to allow them to wrap their minds and efforts around the enormous problems that they have to deal with. And, enormous might be an understatement! Moreover, although “normal” is a very low bar that  many of us are yearning for, it is far better than the chaos we have been in.  The Incoming Administration has to deal with the myriad problems facing these United States, as well as the worldwide catastrophes. I am hoping that they will rise above the usual passé cold-war mentality with its belligerent and antagonistic swaggering approach to the world and choose instead to foster cooperation, coexistence, coordination and peaceful resolutions. I hope that Biden would call for a Summit Meeting of world powers in order to design better standards and regulations, including rules regarding cybercrimes, hacking (despite the latest viciously dangerous hack on our government no matter who was behind it) and espionage, which we, and many other countries have regularly indulged in. Yes, we have! There is no Sainte Nitouche in these malicious and dangerous games! They just have to stop! So let us cut out the hypocrisy, fake denials and double standards and find a solution!

Equality and Justice begin here at home with our own citizens before we lecture and threaten those other nations who do not apply that same Equality and Justice to their people. Moreover, Equality and Justice must apply to All People across this world if they are ever to mean anything other than being empty and hollow words. Nor can we continue to point the finger at others while we do exactly – exactly! – that for which we blame them. Why do we point our fingers at other nations for the way they treat their minorities when we haven’t done so much better with our Native American, Black and Brown people? Why do we decry extra judicial murders by other nations when we have committed and/or abetted such crimes ourselves? Why do we continue to talk Peace when we are waging Wars? Why do we persevere in treating this world as our private domain and its people as our vassals when we condemn other nations for desiring the same hegemony? Is there a Gold Standard here, or does it go by the whim of whomever is conveniently deciding? Are we dealing with Facts, or Propaganda? Reality, or Illusions? We have to sort out all these issues honestly if we are ever to have a more peaceful world. This Lethal Virus has exposed so much scum that was hidden behind the Glitz and Glamour – Hypocrisy, Double Standards and Arrogance being a few of them! People have had enough! Let’s change that decadent formula! It is doable! It can be done if there are open minds and good intentions. Let’s do it then!

Welcome 2021! Happy New Year World!

2020

Virus Christmas

I thought and thought and thought on what to write about as this Very Sad and Disconcerting Christmas Season is arriving onto a Broken and Tragic World. Everywhere I look around on our Planet there is Misery and more Misery. It seems as if our World is spinning out of control as more and more Crimes Against Humanity are being inflicted by Zealous, Hypocritical, Corrupt and Merciless Political and Religious Leaders wielding their Poisonous Venom on Defenseless Populations. We are facing Catastrophes across this World, and there does not seem to be any entity, any moral compass, any ethic or principle to rein them in. It is, indeed, one of the Saddest Christmas Season that I have lived through and it reminded me of a post I had written on December 15, 2013 the memories of which are as painful today as they were then. It is all the more painful when I see that Humanity is yet suffering the effects of Wars, Uprooting, Displacements, Hypocrisy, Corruption, Selfishness, Heartlessness, Lawlessness, Inequality, Injustice and Arrogance inflicted by the Depraved Few on the Innocent Many! During the seven years since I wrote this, the world for us, the Ordinary Hoi Polloi, seems to be going from Bad to Worse and for the Rich and Connected it seems to be going from Better to Best! Something has gone terribly wrong! When and How Will Sanity and Reason Prevail? Will it?

Snipers, Christmas & Kalashnikovs

. . . The Christian snipers holed up at the Holiday Inn were eventually brought down. One was a woman, her bloodied hair lying about her as still as she was. Jubilant gunfire exploded throughout the neighborhood. As soon as I heard the bullets, I ran the children into the bathroom and slammed the door shut. The concierge called me on the interphone. “Come to the balcony. Bring the children. Let them see this glorious event!” I took one look over the balustrade and dashed back into the bathroom. The militia who had brought the snipers down straddled the male killer to a car, one leg tied to each of the back wheels, and went bouncing him through the streets as his brains were scattering on the asphalt. It was a morbid, unbelievably vile act. I could not believe that I was being asked to expose my children to this wickedness!

. . . In December of 1975, about 200 Muslims going to work early in the morning were stopped at one of Beirut’s bridges. They were then killed by Christian militias – mostly by throat-slitting – and tossed over the bridge. Many were still alive. Vengeance!

At the time, my family of five, together with my brother and his wife, were living in the house with my parents. We had both left our apartments that were in more dangerous zones. For us Christians living in predominantly Muslim West Beirut, the terror and fear for our lives from retaliation was astounding. My father and brother went out and came back with a Kalashnikov. They practiced how to use it defensively. My sister-in-law – an American woman, born and raised in drama-free Milwaukee – flipped out and rushed to the bedroom sobbing in horror.

Christmas was a holiday that I had always gone way out for. The tree, the gifts, the cookies, the milk, the whole shebang! A week before that miserable Christmas, I gathered the kids – about 12, 8 and almost 4 years of age – and told them that Santa would not be flying over Beirut as his reindeer and sled might get hit by a missile and then all the children of the world would be miserable. No gifts!

I had also ordered a Christmas log cake. I cancelled that. My mother did not put up a tree. On Christmas Day we had one of my mother’s fabulous lunches then sat around in the living room gloomily listening to the news. My son, the almost 4, disappeared into our room. When he came out he was dressed in his red evening robe, had his red galoshes on, a cotton beard that he had fashioned from my mother’s makeup removal kit, and a pillowcase stuffed with all his toys and slung over his little shoulder. He then went around the room handing each of us a toy and wishing us a Merry Christmas. How on earth did my son come up with this? That event must have – must have! – left an indelible scar on my baby. That scar is still there, somewhere within him. I know that the two pills of Valium my doctor had me on at the time weren’t enough that day! I swallowed more. I did that more for many, many years to come!

And every day since then, we have been hearing the news of how much worse wars and their side effects can, and do, get!

Combat leaves its scum everywhere!

I have read many books about the two World Wars, about Vietnam, about Iraq, Afghanistan, the wars all over Latin America and Africa. I have watched the documentaries and movies. I have heard all there is to hear from the politicians and talking heads as they analyzed, dissected and opined about all these wars. None, zero, zilch comes even close to depicting the actual horrors and dreadfulness of personal and first-hand experience.

The effects of experiencing war, of course, depend entirely on where one is on the totem pole. The further down you go, the worse it definitely becomes! And, no, my memories, pains and agony are nothing to compare to others. I have, after all, led a very privileged life on the whole, albeit that I could not control most of its events, which is quite disconcerting, but not disastrous. However, for most of the war-torn populations of the world, combat is very traumatic and tragic!

As we celebrate Christmas, how I wish that we can think of all the needless and senseless wars occurring in our sorry world; catastrophes caused by multi-national corporations and misguided governments that are wreaking bloody mayhem all over the globe! Civilized? No, we’re not civilized at all! We just have a glitzy façade that hides our underlying bigotry, selfishness and savagery! And, isn’t that, after all, what all our Prophets and, especially, Jesus Christ was born to save us from? And we haven’t learned that lesson yet? When will it ever happen? Yesterday would be great, today is perfect!

Merry Christmas World!