2020

On This Delightful Anniversary

Seven years ago, I started this blog and I have been posting every 15th. and 30th. of the month since then. It has been a terrific and rewarding endeavor. I am very proud of this “stick-to-itiveness,” and of the fact that my 173 posts have been read and viewed by so many. Unabashedly Gloating!

Moving on . . .

So, son messages that he is on his way to buy groceries.

Paranoid Mother of mentioned 43-year-old Son, messages back: Don’t forget your mask, gloves, and make sure to take your shoes off before reentering your home.

Sassy Son responds: No mask, no gloves and I will lick the soles of my shoes before I go into my house!

Harrumph! Harrumph! Could this response be classified as Elder Abuse? Especially that my paranoid motherly cautions were getting plenty of flak even before Virus? Ah, this Virus . . . It has changed all our lives drastically! And, for today, I thought that I would share two posts from a very interesting, creative and original blog (www.everythingafter50..com) that I follow regularly, mainly because my daughters and my adopted daughters are primarily its creative writers.

Here goes . . .

 


At Camp David…

RJD, #Beirut, #Lebanon

The Donald and I are sitting on the porch sipping our evening drinks (Melania mixed them so I am not so sure if they are good) as the birds sing and the trees whistle above us. We are spending the weekend here at Camp David while Jared and Ivanka are gallivanting between New Jersey and DC. Someone in DC had dinner with them last week and told me that they claim they are corona-immune. Those Kushners!

The conversation resumes from where we left off yesterday, when we didn’t say goodnight to one another. This morning was tense, but during the day, we kind of let it go.

Donald asks “Hey, you still upset with me?”

I give him a long look, lower my eyes, shake my head, and respond “are you going to remain a self-centered prick while I am here, or will you remain so for the rest of your life?”

Our fight yesterday was about sweeping statements and walk backs. Donald was trying to convince me that everything he says is taken out of context and my argument was that he is totally irresponsible about his words, their outcomes, and the volcanoes that erupt from them.

I pointed about that he should read a book called The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz. The Donald said he doesn’t like reading what others spew. I persisted by explaining that from the book, he will learn how to be more responsible for  the words he says and will stop creating needless suffering. He ignored me again.

“Melania, bring me my cheeseburger and fries. Hey, and bring our guest a bunch of green crap mixed with some of those grains that grow in the mountains of Australia (he meant Quinoa from Bolivia apparently), I don’t know what they are called and give her some dressing that my buddy Emmanuel (Macron) made for me, he loves me!”

“Donald, Mr. President, can you stop to listen for once without interrupting and being callous?” “Listen to what?” As he takes in a mouthful.

“Ok, so in the past few weeks, you have uttered more than 7 misleading or false claims such as: ‘Nobody knew there would be a pandemic or epidemic of this proportion.’

“Seriously Don, you had a month of warning when China (your favorite piñata) Italy and Spain were burying their dead at a rate faster than lightning and you kept denying it and saying things like ‘I just think this is something…that you can never really think is going to happen.’ Well it happened. It happened in New York and New Jersey and Boston…you just chose to ignore the warnings and you have no right as it is your responsibility to protect the American public, plus you either fired or didn’t even fill the posts of experts in the CDC. You also slashed their budgets to use the funds to support your megalomaniac agenda.”

“Oh sugar, come on, we did great things with those funds. Who needs bodies filling offices discussing things that have a very very small chance of happening. I think I did the right thing and it was beautiful. I said that this pandemic is going to disappear. One day it’s like a miracle – it will disappear.”

“Don, do you have a version of reality that none of us see? Come on. Melania, talk to him.”

He answers on Melania’s behalf before she can open her silicon lips, “Ran, this thing, this crazy thing is just a way for my enemies to get back at me and umm…what’s her name…Melania believes everything I say because I am so great. I am the best. Look, I made America great again.”

“But Don, you didn’t! You have done everything to not make America great again: the world hates us, our infrastructure sucks, our innovations are falling behind, we are still spending money on the military-industrial complex and wars, nothing on education, rejecting immigrants and we are still not supporting inner city poor folk.”

“THEY don’t count. THEY are just like those cockroaches at the borders.”

“Mr. President darling (sorry Melania, I smile at her silence), where do you think the nurses on the frontlines come from? Idaho? Nebraska? They come from Africa and Jamaica and South America because we Americans find nursing a menial job. And you have the gall to slander them?”

“When one of your Corona team members, Dr. Anthony Fauci said ‘You’ve got to be realistic, and you’ve got to understand that you don’t make the timeline, the virus makes the timeline,’ you decide enough of him and his scientific theories and now you want to fire him?”

You also said: ‘Anybody that needs a test gets a test. We – they’re there. They have the tests. And the tests are beautiful.’”

“What the f*^% Don, what did you mean by that? The tests are beautiful. The tests are not Melania. They are not beautiful; a swab tickling your brain is anything but beautiful. Don, you need eyeglasses. Hell, you need a lobotomy.”

“You stop here Ran, or we are going to get into it like last night.” And he pouted. I left him alone for 10 minutes as I took a walk into the woods to meditate and calm down. When I came back, I wanted to hit him with one more before I pack my bag and give up my attempt to knock some sense into his thick head.

“Don, you are the best President the United States has ever had. You are the most successful man in business and you are the one who rescued America out of the gutters after Barack, but I really need to know one more thing.”

He smiled, he gloated and sat up straight. Hell, I know how to get to his ego and grab his short-spanned attention! It’s like telling my cats the word “treats!”

“I am all ears. Isn’t this place decrepit. I think I need to bring my team and turn it into a luxurious hotel with my name on it in big gold letters. I think we can knock down these forests here too, what are trees for and I will build the world’s biggest and best golf course…”

Stupefied, I go for the kill. Seriously and with a straight face. “Mr. President, which one did you choose to drink, the Clorox or the Lysol?”

He looks at me, perplexed. He asks why he would do that and I remind him that it was his suggestion last week in the presence of the poor Dr. Brix who wanted to become an ostrich right there and then.

He denied it, he said he never said that. Then he slapped Melania on her derrière.

…The only thing I recall after that are the lyrics from Hotel California “you can check out anytime you like, but you can never leave…”

When Nadiba Speaks, We Listen

Tina F., Fairfax, #Virginia

I am honored to be shut down with Nelson Mandela, the global symbol of humanity and peace.

Mr. Mandela is a very wise man of few, well-articulated words. Our talks have been enchanting.

Mr. Mandela asked me to call him by his nickname, Nadiba. I discovered that his birth name was Rolihlahla Mandela, but every African child who goes to school was given an arbitrary English/Christian name and his teacher picked Nelson. Reminding me of how many ethnicities use English names to fit into the Western world.

As the days passed, my feelings of fear and anxiety became overwhelming. Nadiba calmly said, “I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.”

To pass the time, we played games like Scrabble and Monopoly. He recounted how he and his fellow inmates kept busy during the many years of incarceration. Madiba was imprisoned for 27 years, and here I was, losing my mind after a few weeks of being home. He said that no matter how long he had been in confinement, his ideas never died. One must use time alone to reflect, think, and learn. The mind needs to be challenged and nurtured. Physical exercise and a sound mind go hand in hand. Note to self: begin exercising tomorrow.

One morning at breakfast, I apologized because we had run out of bread. Madiba smiled and told me how they were never allowed bread during their imprisonment on Robben Island. His fellow inmates were baffled by the wardens who claimed to be very religious and prayed “give us this day our daily bread,” yet they did not think the Blacks were entitled to share in their daily bread. Nevertheless, he was grateful. “It is what we make out of what we have, not what we are given, that separates one person from another.”

By the end of the month, I was missing my family and friends. I asked Madiba how often he saw his family whilst imprisoned on the island. He told me they were allowed a visitor once every six months and the meeting lasted for 30 minutes. During those meetings, they were not allowed in the same space. Prisoners on one side behind a fence and visitors at least 6 feet away behind another fence, all yelling to each other at once. So the social distancing for him was not too challenging.

I am learning to spend more time alone in reflection, thanks to Madiba. However, I had a burning question for this great man. “Madiba,” I say “with your wisdom as an activist, peacemaker, and president of South Africa, how can the USA move forward with such a hateful, racist leader? He is dividing the country and his followers are armed militias hoping for a White America. I feel we are heading back to the days leading up to the Civil War.”

Madiba calmly responds, “No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.”

I tell him that people are proving they are inherently evil and I cannot allow that in my world. “Tina, “ he says “Forgiveness liberates the soul. It removes fear. That is why it is such a powerful weapon.”

2020

Surprise!

Based on my perceptions of everything that I am reading, hearing and seeing, I think that many aspects of the COVID-19 Pandemic will become clearer over time, because that calamity will not only be about those who perished, the businesses that folded, the unemployed, the impoverished, or those devastated in one way or another, for we are seeing that already. No, the tragedy will be when most of us realize that the political and corporate malevolence that is endemic throughout our planet could have – should have – been better prepared to cope with this tsunami and to mitigate its manifestations much more efficiently, and that it would not have taken them by Surprise had they been truly concerned with looking after the long-term welfare of their citizens and not after their own corrupt politicking, greed, arrogance and ideologies. After all, the Chinese Government did report on its cases to the WHO on December 8th. of 2019, and there were multiple national, and international, studies that many specialists had on hand and for many years during, and much prior to, 2019 warning of the looming catastrophe and on what should be done. Why then was everyone so Surprised? Especially the US and the Western Nations? Was it the smug belief in their own Exceptionalism? Or, was it Arrogance that something like that could never happen to the “Civilized World?” Questions that we should all be asking, especially that the cascading after-effects of this Pandemic will be global in their reach and devastation for many years to come, mainly on developing nations and poor people in this country and across the world.

Also, I am hoping that another one of the aftermaths will be the realization that unless every nation reassesses its policies to reflect that wars, occupations, sanctions, subordinating those we deem as enemies at the point of our guns etc. is a failed agenda that has throughout our existence on the planet proven to be disastrous, and that those evil policies, while they might serve a nefarious purpose for a time, cannot and do not endure. Empires come and go; occupations come and go; administrations come and go; cities are demolished and then rebuilt; politicians come and go. However, while most wars wickedly annihilated entire ethnicities, cultures and civilizations witness how they today crumble in the face of a raging Pandemic that is an equal opportunity killer which reduced all their swaggering, greed, military prowess, and arrogance to nothing!

I also hope that this realization will one day demand of its leaders to negotiate a more peaceful and cooperative modus operandi between the nations of the world, one that is built on mutual respect, fair trade, acceptance, and one that works for different nations according to their own people’s needs, because there is not one political, religious, or social philosophy that works for every people, every nation and all the time. That, of course, will never, ever happen if we continue to acquiesce to corrupt systems, evil aspirations and wicked politicians as we have been due to our Ignorance! The fact that this Pandemic has caused the protests and citizen unrest that were going on in many parts of the world to die down does not mean that the demands for a living wage, universal health care, education, climate control, justice and equality have evaporated. They have not. In fact, they are essential now more than ever. Will we continue to demand them, or will the corrupt political structures prevail and cower us into submission?

I also imagine that another one of the aftermaths of this Pandemic will be the realization that religion and religious bodies throughout history have always used politics, and were used by it. In other words, that they have been sleeping in the same dirty bed, and, through that alliance, trampling on every virtue and value that their religion professes to believe in. That, for me, is enough proof of their “ungodliness.” for, Religion, like Political ideology, believes only in power that intimidates the weak and the meek and in amassing wealth to serve itself above all as most of them have been consistently doing for millennia! This is Not religion, especially when all the Holy Books demand – without preconditions – empathy, compassion, acceptance, forgiveness and justice for one and all rather than on fostering power, violence, greed and corruption.

For me, the huge Surprise was that despite all the Propaganda, the Glitz and Glamor of the Western World, and as the virus pandemonium ravaged all their governments, and while we all witnessed how inefficient those governments are, and how fragile and unprepared for any catastrophe they were, it seems that they are Never, Ever unprepared for going to war, ransacking resources of other weaker nations and keeping their, and all poorer citizens of the world, impoverished. It also brought to light that in these United States we have not even updated our system of government so that the Federal and State responsibilities are clearly delineated resulting in a blame game between Trump and the Governors. Isn’t it time to revisit those differentiations, plus so many other useless, senseless laws, rules, regulations? The same goes for the European Union – now showing fissures, and a rising nationalism – and how fragile it really is except for – again! – the readiness for wars and occupations anytime! What for then were all these gatherings and photo ops such as Davos, G7, G8, United Nations, Economic Conferences and World Forums etc. etc.? What purpose did they serve other than to make lofty, empty speeches and scheme about how to consolidate their economic and military power over all the developing nations?

Aspirational wishes, such as mine, do not always translate to reality. Humongous global events such as what we are going through can either lead to a renewal and a renegotiation of our failed social contracts, or to . . . yes, war. So when President Trump says: I am a War President, I worry that he wasn’t just blustering, but that he might be meaning it literally. After all, based on our dangerous and violent history, war is a fantastic opportunity to exert more power by intimidating national and international enemies, as well as to deflect a nation’s attention from failed policies. Remember the myth that illustrated how Nero burnt Rome? Not far-fetched in Trump’s delusional mind. Moreover, wagging the dog has been utilized as a strategy by other Presidents. Isn’t it enough to scare us all that Trump is acting like the schoolyard bully and picking a fight with everyone and their mother? Is this the pathetic and terrifying state we have come to? Are there no more politicians with enough fear for their nation to stand up to him before we all suffer a worse fate than the one we are in already?

This pandemic could, might, hopefully will, awaken us all to the fact that we truly are in this altogether, and that no nation, no borders, no religion, no ideology, no “ism,” no people are isolated from the wrath of nature, or from a raging Pandemic. We should not be caught by Surprise again in this dismal, fumbling, scrambling, pathetic and very dangerous way. We should not be caught by Surprise again if we continue in existing on this ravaged planet following the same corrupt and evil playbook. We should, and we can, alter the course dramatically if we shed our selfish and violent pursuits whether on a personal, national, or global level. Dare I even hope?