General

Let’s Talk About This

Do you get the feeling some mornings that you dread getting out of bed and seeing what new disasters are happening in the world? Any new fires, floods, famines? Any dictators shooting, or incarcerating, or murdering protestors and opponents? Any more heartbreaking events? Any new war? Security threats? Has Covid gone berserk? This agnostic finds herself calling on God often these days, because so much seems to be out of control and who do you call on since no one on Earth is listening??! Could it simply all be Karma? Some days I would like to think so, because it is easy to shove it all on something beyond my control, but on most others I know that our disasters are human-made (mostly man-made!) and that aside from the Climate Changes – which Climate Scientists have been talking about for decades, but politicians ignored until this one minute to midnight? – that will be bringing on more and more misery, uprooting, displacements, immigrants, starvation, disease et al, the political upheavals that our Planet is experiencing seem more as if they are coordinated and orchestrated attacks by evil doers who have been planning all this for quite some time and that came to a crescendo during the Trump years. In fact, I sometimes go back to Sarah Palin and her voicing of: “We Need To Take Our Country Back” when she was running as McCain’s Vice-President against then President Obama and Vice-President Biden. At the time, we didn’t quite know exactly who she wanted to take the country back from, however, Trump and his world-wide ilk have cleared that up, right? Horrors! And it’s not over! Not by a long shot! In fact, every day our discourse and behavior are becoming coarser, brasher and ruder driving the population into a frenzy whose consequences could be nothing but disastrous! Heavens!

Also, doesn’t it seem that this churning is being augmented by some Political Leaders who’s Ignorance and Arrogance – a deadly combination! – could be driving us all into hell? They have obviously mismanaged the Lethal Virus – let alone everything else – which invaded this Planet so badly, so chaotically that I dare not even think of what else we will be encountering tomorrow, next week, next month, next year as a result of that and all the associated misinformation and conspiracy theories? Scary stuff . . .

. . . so dreadfully scary that we could end up in a “Real Shooting War” as Biden said referring to a significant cyber-attack on the country from China, or Russia. However, with more places than one heating up in the world – Taiwan and Iran as examples – that “Shooting War” could blaze up very quickly, because it doesn’t take much for it to manifest itself.

. . . So Let’s Talk About Afghanistan 20 years later and our Defeat – because one cannot describe it any other way – and how what we succeeded in doing was to enrich our Afghan political puppets, a few Afghan NGOs and Organizations, our American Contractors and our Military Industrial Complex altogether to the tune of billions of dollars, while raising the hopes of some of the Afghani people and then smashing them so mercilessly! Nothing else! We ended up Retreating and Losing the Hearts, Minds, Respect and Trust of the entire region and beyond. My heart breaks for every military person we lost, as well as their families, in this futile endeavor which Obama should have ended, but he wussed out of that as he did of other issues; Trump wanted to and he was right, as he was on some other stuff; and Biden made a smart decision, because otherwise our continuing with “The Stupidity of War” – which is the title of an excellent book written by John Mueller describing “Man’s Proclivity For Violence” – thus allowing for our Arrogance and Ignorance to stubbornly persevere with Shooting Wars rather than to seek the extremely – Extremely! – arduous, strenuous, stressful, and drawn-out Compromises needed for Peaceful Coexistence and Cooperation.

Nevertheless, and looking away from all those dismal possibilities for a moment . . .

. . . German Gymnasts at the Olympics decided to take a stand against Sexualization by wearing comfortable Unitards rather than the standard revealing bikini-like outfits and leotards. This is a Hallelujah statement, and only the beginning of positive changes in that domain! Moreover, I heard that the there are also changes going on in the corporate world where women are discarding those disgusting spiked heels and choosing to wear flats? Another Hallelujah! The MeToo Movement ought to celebrate these changes realizing that we, women, can look alluring and elegant without being scantily dressed, or strutting around in uncomfortable footwear just because it is “sexy!” Moreover, we have much more to offer the world than our physical attributes! Last year I was more than ecstatic when I heard that Victoria’s Secret had decided to end their yearly highly sexualized show, and now I am awaiting the moment when high school cheerleaders will choose a different attire than the sexualized one that is meant to titillate athletes and onlookers, and, for celebrities on the red carpet displaying their stardom without exposing all their body parts – the real ones, and the fake!! The Weinstein, Moonves, Cosby, Lauer, et al, et al generation of men – having grown up with an entitlement problem in which sex goes with the “territory” of fame and fortune – belong to the past, or, should! They will be dying off pretty soon, and some enlightened parents – not enough, obviously! – are doing a better job of rearing modern MeToo generations of sons without emasculating them. More Hallelujah! This prompts me to think that Maybe? Perhaps? we can yet turn things around by encouraging Real Equality amongst the sexes, and all humans; that we can redirect “Man’s Proclivity for Violence” towards a more Peaceful Existence?

. . . and Let’s Talk About Simone Biles and Naomi Osaka! Such sweethearts! I am delighted that they chose to speak up about the stress, pressure and outright abuse that they have been subjected to and have been silent about for far too long. Change does not happen unless there are “whistle-blowers” to expose the wrongs whether we are talking of cultural, social, political or any other wrongs. Our Homeland Security Department tells us that “if we see something, we should say something,” and that goes for all of us whether we are “Observers,” such as myself, or Activists in the trenches who are fighting on all our behalf, as well as more Brave, Moral, Ethical people. Our Sports have become another consumer, money-making endeavor where we are raising Gladiators rather than encouraging Sportsmanship, whether we are discussing the Olympics, College Sports, Soccer Moms, Helicopter Parents or any such organizations and behavioral extremes which are driving little kids and children to become cutthroat competitors rather than simply enjoying themselves. Why are we doing this to children who are already overwhelmed with so much? Why are we adding to their stress? Why are we allowing intimidation and fear to silence them? I am so happy that Simone and Naomi spoke up, and I hope that they will be joined by many others in the field of sports and everywhere else, because all this nonsense will not go away on its own; someone else will not solve it. I also hope that this very disconcerting period of history will not do any more damage than it already has, especially to our children, both male and female.

Oh, my! We Definitely Need To Talk About This and so much else . . . Right? I think I’ll go back to bed now before my brains get all messed up again, and continue reading the absolutely delightful and amusing “Super Host” by Kate Russo!

2021

Travelling

Some years ago a friend of mine said: “I wanted to go Traveling this year, but my money is tight.” My response: “Watch some travel documentaries. The National Geographic channel on TV can take you on a safari, on a cruise, it can pole you down the Venice Canals, or walk you on the Silk Road, fly you to Nepal and so much more. You can go anywhere you want from the comfort of your easy chair.” Fast forward to our Virus Era and I found myself in the same boat, though for Covid reasons. So, during these past few weeks I went Travelling from my comfortable seat at home!

First, I went to Ireland, which has always been one of my unrealized dreams. In fact, in one of my posts at one time I had written about my Bucket List and one of the items was that some day I intended to invite Gerry Adams for a drink at a quaint old Irish pub! I wish! Anyway, after Ireland, I went to Scotland and then hopped over to France. This week I am in Korea, and all this Travelling has been simply delightful! Perhaps it is my mood, or the miserable conditions of the world that made me enjoy escaping into these books as much as I did. In any case, I enjoyed their carrying me through their pages to four different countries and introducing me to aspects of life that I was aware of, but had never really delved into as much as these novels revealed to me.

I was in Ireland with Michelle Gallen and her novel: Big Girl Small Town. In Scotland I went with Douglas Stuart and his novel: Shuggie Bain, and in France Muriel Barbery introduced me to: The Elegance of the Hedgehog. Now I am still in Korea where I am accompanying Lisa See to: The Island of Sea Women. I could not have had more eloquent, compassionate and realistic guides than these terrific authors writing about intriguing characters in fairly modern times who compelled me in the most unobtrusive way to ask myself some serious existential life questions, the first one being: how much do we really know about other people’s history – their personal, as well as their political – and how that shaped them? I surmised that it was not as much as we should.

Each one of the main characters was authentic to the extreme. In the first two novels, the main protagonists are young, and as such, some of their manners were actually offensive and vulgar, but they were, nevertheless, very genuine and endearing. They both worked in take-out places, and while we have all been to a fast-food establishment at one time or the other, how often do we look at our servers and wonder what their lives are like? What they feel? Their circumstances? During these Virus days we may have heard more about them than usual, we may have supported an increase in wages for them, unionization, better treatment from their corporations, as such the two authors of the mentioned novels carried the important message of how the Margaret Thatcher policies, which took years, if not decades to unfold, decimated and upended the economies of Ireland, Scotland and England so drastically that the consequences for working class people led to huge social problems and miseries as well as more of the millennia-old Inequity and Social Injustice that we are living in today. This reminded me so much of how the Ronald Reagan financial measures, which also took many years before their full effects were felt, had undercut and slashed all the advances that had allowed so many Americans to move up to the middle class and enabled them to have dignity and the means to take care of their families. I am convinced that many of the US social and economic problems – certainly not all – brought on by Reagan’s policies, as well as the twenty-first century cyber world with its ensuing economic, social and cultural changes, are what led us to where we are today. These policies had opened the door for cutthroat runaway capitalism, impoverished so many, and, ended up manifesting themselves so offensively and ruthlessly during the Trump Administration. Yes, Thatcher had gotten to Reagan (not that it would have taken much to sway him!) and had convinced him of the righteousness of her colonist, racist principles which he ended up espousing. The saving grace difference for the Brits is that they had a safety net built into their governments and that provided “socialist” principles that afforded the working class, especially, basic financial aid, healthcare, education, subsidized housing that they call “projects,” and so much more that the American people did not have. There are NO rules, regulations, decisions, policies or actions that do not have consequences whether we are talking of personal matters, or national issues. It is as simple as that, and the authors illustrated this admirably by spinning a beautiful story while subtly pointing to our social ills!!

In the third novel, the main character is a middle-aged woman who works as a Concierge and I just loved her! There again, there is the underlying author’s message of the differences between the haves and have-nots, their attitudes, habits and life-styles which the writer addresses with candor and empathy. What a delightful read, and what wonderful characters throughout, although if one has never lived in a building with a Concierge one might not be aware that the person behind that reception desk has a life and a story, and it might be a very interesting and original story as this one is!

As I write this, I am still in Korea and being absolutely, totally fascinated by a beautiful story, and, most of all for an education into Korean history (which the novel Pachinko also provided), reminding me of all that the Korean people endured of occupations, colonization, uprooting, incarceration, rape, humiliations and heartache from the Japanese, Chinese and Americans, who were as ruthless and as pitiless as the other colonists. The truth is that there are No Benevolent Colonists. Non-existent! This brought home what I believe that most of us Palestinians are guilty of – myself included – which is that our Catastrophe is unique. Frankly, it isn’t! History proves that Colonization of other people, wars and strife have Always existed on this Planet, and were Always horrendous. Here’s what General Eisenhower said in 1947: “War is mankind’s most tragic and stupid folly.” And isn’t that the sad truth . . .

. . . and the disturbing aspect that as human beings we have rarely, if ever, learnt anything from the stories, the moral objectives inherent in most books fiction, or non-fiction; the lessons of life that could have made us more tolerant, compassionate, understanding, knowledgeable, peaceful and civilized. Yes, civilized, especially, because looking at the state of our Planet we are not even close to that yet. In fact, sometimes it feels more as if we are regressing. What, Oh What is it really going to take?