Wacky Head

I guess I should just accept the part of myself that no matter how many times it happens, I will only remember that when I’m starting to chomp at the bit and get a little wacky in the head it means I haven’t been writing, even if I’m just writing nonsense like this.  It is probably even further evidence I should be writing nonsense like this rather than trying to write anything intelligent.  Part of the reason I have not been writing lately is that I can’t seem to think of anything intelligent to say.  I can’t even think of anything not intelligent to say.  My brain has been a vacuum.  Well, that’s not true.  But it’s been caught up in wanting to leave Hawaii and not much else.  The foolish thing about this is I should just write even if what I have to say is pointless because it helps to leak off some of the pointlessness thereby leaving room to possibly think of something a little less mundane.  And so it goes.

So here I am draining off the air, releasing some of the unimportant crap in order to clear my head.  We’ll see if it works.  The way things have gone in Hawaii over the last couple of days, all I can really think of is my escape and whether I will make it off this island.  I actually had the completely irrational thought that Hawaii would not let me go, that I would die here.  I told my boyfriend if this happened I want him to fly me to Oregon and bury me there.  Just don’t leave my body here.  You can see why there isn’t room for intelligent thought.

Ignorance Remains Sublime

As a response to the profound and distributed ignorance in this country on the basic definitions of forms of government and common economic systems, as well as the widespread interchangeable use of terms describing aspects of each, I have decided to post a mini civics lesson.  I am so fed up with the way words are tossed around by politicians, pundits, and citizens, with no respect for their actual meaning.  Frankly, I’m sick to death of it.  Apparently in America, ignorance remains sublime.

Forms of government describe the ways societies govern themselves. Economic systems describe the ways societies produce, distribute, and consume goods and services. Of course, it would be too simplistic to say that these two are not intimately intertwined, but they are different things.

Herein lies the problem.  Because political leaders and pundits use the terms interchangeably, most citizens haven’t a clue that the two are not the same.  For instance, the US claims it wants to “bring democracy” to a certain country.  However, the US has helped to topple democratically elected governments that were not capitalist.  The truth wasn’t that the US wanted democracy, but that the US wanted capitalism.  Two different things, but to most people, democracy equals capitalism, and that is okay.

Another word that is bandied about with little regard for what it really means is socialism.  This is the bad buzzword today, along with terrorist.  People use this word with no knowledge whatsoever of its meaning.  This one particularly irritates me, along with the misuse of communist.  Socialist and communist are used pretty interchangeably by people who don’t know what they are talking about.  They just heard on television that socialism and communism are bad things, so they go along with it.

I wonder if any of these people who think socialism is so bad realize that public education is a form of socialism.  Public roads?  Socialism.  Want the government to help you with health care?  Socialism.  All socialism means is that we, as society and through our government, pay for certain things so that all of us benefit.  Each society gets to decide which of the things it pays for.  In the US we have decided to let the government manage road systems and public education.  We haven’t yet figured out it might be better to get profit out of health care, but that is because everyone is so afraid they might have to pay taxes, and the capitalists in our country do their damndest to make sure citizens stay afraid so they can continue to profit.  The irony is that people will scream and yell and have a fit about spending .25c of each dollar on taxes, yet these same people fork over .65c of the same dollar to a private company who skims .40c off the top before applying the other .25c to the actual cost of the good or service received.  It’s inane.

Do you hate it that your HMO makes a profit off your heart attack?  Does it bug you that insurance companies make a profit off your illnesses, or that children go without basic health care because their parents can’t afford it?  Can you stand it that energy companies, phone companies, airlines, and banks can all mostly govern themselves and profit off of you, regardless how fundamental some of their services are to your survival?  Well, you can thank capitalism, the economic system based on supply and demand, for all that profit.  Capitalism is not democracy.  It is not a form of government.  It is an economic system, as is socialism.  It describes the exchange of goods and services.  It is not the way a government runs (although a government may partake in a capitalist system).  Governments are intrinsically linked to economic systems, but the two are not synonymous.

Forms of government are the institutions societies, as states, use to govern themselves.  Democracies and dictatorships are forms of government.  A dictatorship is an autocratic form of government where the leader enjoys absolute rule, free of laws or other political factors within the state.  Democracies are forms of government in which citizens govern themselves.  There is no hard and fast definition of the term, but democracies invariably include two principles.  First, all members of the society have equal access to power.  Second, all members enjoy universally recognized freedoms and liberties.

It would be nice if Americans were educated as to the real meanings behind all these words they so carelessly spew, democracy, socialism, communism, et al.  Sound bites are easy; they can make you sound like you have a clue when you really don’t know what you are talking about.  Dictatorships (a form of government, not an economic system) are easy too.  The dictator tells you what to do and you do it.  No thought required.

Democracy, on the other hand, is a bit more difficult.  It requires citizens educate themselves on things in order to make wise choices.  The problem is that many Americans don’t actually partake in the education process, they partake in the sound-bite process.  They hear a word and react to it without any idea what the hell it is they are talking about.  Because of this, I fear we are headed for disaster.

1242

Regardless of your politics, having a black man running for president has been good for one thing:  it has sussed out all the secret racism that has been seething under the surface in this country for years.  People who felt unable to express their nasty views publicly seem galvanized by the knowledge there are others just like them and are now willing to put their racism out there on display.  Terrorist attacks too have brought the issue to the fore, letting racists vent their hatred against people from the middle east all in the name of supposed fear of terrorism.

Obvious loathing for Mexicans isn’t even a secret.  Public officials and citizens claim to want immigration reform to “protect American workers.”  They tout limited Spanish instruction in southwestern schools and propose English-only referendums sold under the patronizing aegis of wanting to help Mexican children assimilate into American culture.  It’s all just racism.

I have often suggested it has not been publicly okay to be racist against blacks, but a person can get away with being racist towards Mexicans and Arabs.  Hating blacks is moving back out of the closet.  Perhaps the acknowledgment that it is going on will help kill it once and for all, although I don’t expect this to happen overnight.

Racism is the epitome of ignorance.  It is the Parable of the Cave come to life.  It is the philosophy of The Other.  It brings some sort of pitiful security to the hater who feels some protection in perceived superiority, unwilling to admit base and immoral fears.  I personally cannot fathom why someone’s skin color should scare someone enough to hate them, but it happens.  It happens all the time.

Racism is confusing.  There are members of my family who are blatantly racist. My mother was the oldest of seven children.  When my mom was six, my grandmother divorced my biological grandfather.  With three children in tow, she married a Navy man and had four more children.  When the youngest child was 8, my grandmother developed cancer.  Over the next four years, she lived and died a harrowing death, her body completely eaten by the disease.

By the time my grandmother died, my mom had moved out, married my father, and had two little girls.  The rest of the children were in various phases of growing up.  My mom’s step-father was the man I called Grampa.  He was the generous person we visited on every holiday.  When my biological father physically abused my mother, my Grampa helped her out, offering financial and emotional assistance.  He did not date or remarry until his youngest child was in her early twenties and married.  He was a Navy man who fought in World War II.  He was a good man who worked hard and took amazing care of his family.  And he was a racist.  He is still a racist.

I know others with similar family members, the grandparents who give them everything yet hate black people, the step-father who was kind, but rails against Mexicans in restaurants.  It is such a complex problem.  Interestingly, in all of the cases I know of good people with loving family members who happen to be racists, none of us are willing to do much about it except to sit silently, thinking these people are old and will never change, that they have good in them too.  Perhaps in our complicity we are perpetuating the problem.  I don’t know.  It is truly a conundrum.

Silly Me

I’m all in silly love.  I love my boyfriend so much, I wanted to say so.  This is my metaphorical shouting from the rooftops.  He is magnificent.  I know this is silly, but it feels good so here it is.  Nine months ago he was brave enough to start talking to me.  For this I thank my lucky stars.  He reads this sometimes so he might see what I’m saying here.  He would tell me I’m a dork. Yeah.  My adoration is not news to him; he knows.  We are moving in together, after all.  He is a delight.  I love him, all of him.  Meeting him and knowing him has been one of the best things to happen in my life.

Andy Martin is a Beetle-Headed Idiot

This is the hebetudinous guy who thinks there is some vast conspiracty theory regarding Obama’s birth certificate.  If Mr. Martin is to be believed, the newspapers in Hawaii predicted Obama would run for president in 2008, and therefore printed birth announcements of a baby born in another country in order to ensure he could run for office over four decades later.  See article here.

Um.  Yeah.

Mr. Martin?  Get a grip.  I’m sick of seeing your annoying face on the top of the most read posts when I log in to my blog each day.  You’re obtuse and you are wasting your time.  Obama was born in the United States.  Get over it already.

Wishing for Change

I went and saw the movie W tonight and had the same feeling I have every time I see a movie like this. I wish to hell I could do something big and profound to help change things and then I end up feeling more pathetic and helpless than ever before.  All I’m good at is writing things, but I don’t know what to write that hasn’t been said that could actually make a difference.  I wish I could inspire people to want to help our world.  I wish I could help to heal the rifts between people.

A week ago I wrote an article on Huffington Post trying to get people to recognize our common humanity.  The result was more than my share of ugly emails and quite a few angry comments from people who missed the point entirely that we can be mad and want to change things without turning into them, the Sean Hannitys and Rush Limbaughs of the world.  We don’t have to be ugly to be angry.

I also realized that if I’m feeling this frustrated and unable to change, what must it be like for someone who has no artistic or other outlet?  I feel small and insignificant, like I can do so little, but at least I can write.  At least I do write.  But there are millions who don’t.  How are their voices heard?  I try to effect change in how I’m raising my child; I suppose others can do that too.  But what do we do in the short term?  How do we get our spirits back?  How do we all stop hating each other and being so polarized?  I don’t know the answer to that one.

Blogging to Ease Off

Busy busy.  Feast or famine, right?  I went for weeks with little to do except going to the beach, taking Milla to school, and working on some stuff I’m writing.  I would apply for jobs, go to interviews, and other interim things, but for the most part, I was bored out of my skull.  Then Boyfriend came to visit and we decided to move together to NYC and life suddenly hit warp speed,  I decided definitively to apply to grad school at Columbia.  I met a publisher who liked my work and offered me some editing assignments.  My housemates have a friend who needed help in her costume shop.  I have been writing pieces on Huffington Post and wanted to keep going with that.  Literally, all this hit at the same time and I was suddenly buried in things to do, so much so that I felt enormously pressured.  On top of it, my darling Milla went to visit her dad.  He has some changes going on in his life and it will be good for them to spend some time together until I get there, but I miss her like my arms are missing.  Yikes!

Anyway, life has not been conducive to daily writing on the blog, althugh I am getting writing done, just not here.  But I feel like I need this as a mental outlet and when I’m not getting it, the pressure seems only to increase.  Luckily today I was able to take an additional day off from the costume shop.  This is a good thing because I have started to feel like I’m coming down with something.  I woke up coughing twice last night and it took a while to stop.  This morning I was buried in the throes of sleep when Boyfriend sent me a text message at nearly ten that woke me up.  Thank goodness!  I would have kept sleeping all day at that rate.  My body is telling me to find a way to ease off.  Okay, so here I am.  Blogging to ease off.