No More Poignant Reminder of Our Shared Humanity.

There are many reminders that we are one human race. They exist everywhere around us. In this week’s events of a President who said nothing could be done. Then – with the wave of a pen – demonstrated he’d been lying all along. He stopped an atrocity that he wrought upon this great nation.

I did use the word atrocity. I had a troll on my other page who challenged the use of my vernacular as it relates to children, some very young, taken away from there parents. In a foreign land. With strangers. Unequipped to cope with the trauma that befell them. I read this short essay from Oscar Casares who is the author of “Brownsville Stories” and is a Professor here at the University of Texas at Austin, instructing in Creative Writing. I encourage you to read the whole essay. It says so much about us in our humanity and why you should find this administration culpable of the most inhumane acts, regardless of your political leaning.

By Oscar Casares

They weren’t my kids. So why on earth would I want to listen to seven minutes of an audio recording of small children crying for their mommies and daddies? Kids from Mexico and Guatemala and Honduras and El Salvador, kids separated from their families at the U.S. border, kids who weren’t from here. But everyone around me kept listening to the recording and asking: Did you hear it? And each time I nodded, not because I’d heard it but because it was sad, all of it, and I didn’t need to listen to a recording to know this. Still, it made me wonder if it would help me understand the sadness in a different way. I told myself I’d listen only once, but once turned into twice, and after the third time, I couldn’t stop listening. I listened until the back of my head rang with the grating clarity of their little voices.

I wanted to believe there was something within all that crying  I could hear, not at first. Whatever it was might have nothing to do with a “zero tolerance” immigration policy or finger pointing, nothing to do with being right or right or wrong, nothing to do with red or blue states, nothing to do with anything but what I was listening to and still couldn’t hear. There was a message in there somewhere, hidden, coded in a way that, with all the noise went unnoticed. I wanted to hear what couldn’t be heard. So I listened.

The first time through, the recording was nothing but a lot of crying; heartbreaking, yes, but I expected this. The second and third time, I paid more attention to the background chatter, the sound of the Border Patrol agent joking in Spanish that the distraught children sounded like an orchestra in need of a conductor, and then later trying to hush a crying child by saying “Don’t cry, don’t cry,” which was about as effective as shouting at someone to stop shouting. Later he asks one little kid where he’s from (El Salvador) and then another weepy one (Guatemala). Then there’s a counselor lady trying to console a little girl, without much luck. It wasn’t until the fourth time that I knew what i was listening for, what it was about their crying I was trying to understand. Maybe it was the novelist in me, but I needed to know what language they were crying in.

There were snippets, maybe in Spanish of one child asking to call her aunt and another pleading for his father, but those were just words, and in this case, the words didn’t hold the truth i was searching for; the words were part of the noise. It was the crying – the heaving of their little chests, the gasping for air between their sobs – that I was listening for. It wasn’t Spanish, it wasn’t some remote dialect, it wasn’t the echo of an indigenous language. It was just crying, plain and simple. the same crying I heard when my two kids were that age, the same crying you may have in  your house later tonight, the same crying that could be happening with a colicky baby in Lincoln, Neb., or a child’s first day of school in Lexington, KY., or kids somewhere entirely removed from here, waking up in the middle of the night in Germany or Kenya. It was crying; we all know what that sounds like.

Anyone who’s ever cared for a small child, sick or hurt or scared, knows that when the child cries, all else pretty much ceases to exist. You hold the crying child, you calm her, you soothe her, you let her know it’s going to be all right, that she isn’t alone, the world isn’t as scary as she first thought. It’s only later that you get back to the now-cold dinner you set aside, to the sleep that was interrupted for the third night in a row, to the bathroom trip that an hour ago felt so urgent. You pick up the baby first. you always pick up the baby first.

There’s a reason we have to reminded every time we fly that in the event of an emergency, we must start by securing the oxygen mask over our own mouth and nose, and only then over the child’s. There’s a reason slamming the brakes automatically makes us reach an arm out for our son or daughter in the passenger seat. We are wired to take care of those more vulnerable. This is what we do as humans.

There’s a reason we took a collective gasp when we saw the photo of the bloodied and ash-covered face of a 5-year-old Syrian boy after an airstrike hit his family’s home in Aleppo, or the image of a 3-year-old Syrian boy whose drowned body had washed up on a Turkish beach, or even further back, the iconic photo of a 9-year-old Vietnamese girl, naked and terrified after her village was scorched with napalm. That was a Republican or Democratic or independent gasp – it was just a a gasp, proof of our shared humanity.

That shared humanity, like it or not, doesn’t end at our southern border, nor any border. It’s the same humanity that understands there is a risk in entering another country illegally – possible consequences, some severe and difficult to bear, though non as unbearable as knowing that your child and family are in certain danger with gang violence at your doorstep, in many cases because a father or mother or child has already been killed. you are faced with respecting the laws of another country or disrespecting your nature as a parent. So you pick up the child and you head north, toward safety, toward the land of the free.

Years from now, if we listen closely to those voices, maybe we’ll be able to remember when the children were crying and know that they weren’t crying in some foreign tongue – that the only thing foreign was how some of us reacted.

There are certain universal truths which supersede man made boundaries, languages and culture. This President, even though he has children of his own, has no concern for all Americans. Time and again he refers to “my people”. He’s talking about a minority sliver of national supremacists who brought him to power and have very little common with human decency.

Next time you hear a child cry, maybe you can tell me what language their crying in – I can’t discern.

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Getting through Client/Therapist Attachment Grief following a Misunderstanding or Miscommunication

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These are most regretful. Primarily because our aim was to be helpful. If we feel we weren’t or worse, our attempts resulted in a negative effect rather than a positive one, it leaves me with a feeling of failure.

I don’t like to sit with that feeling and the result can be an intense desire to “fix” this. That feeling is not bad in itself. It merely is a reflection of my intense capacity to have compassion for others.

However, in a book I’m writing and in my research over the last ten years I’m discovering my own limitations on the concept of Enough and in this particular scenario when to let go.

Miscommunications happen as part of life. Misunderstandings are a result. As matters that are part of life’s course my ability to control, alter or all together avoid them is limited.

I struggle sometimes with the limitations of my ability to be helpful

I once had a person seeking my counsel who showed me a photo of his boyfriend and a cat (coming out issues, deciding whether to move in together), I smiled and asked “Oh, whose cat” wanting to know more about his interest in pets and how that might effect the decision to move in with one another. He immediately left in the middle of the conversation. I later learned through a tersely worded email that he misunderstood me to say “who’s that?” Which he took as an affront as we just had been talking about how important his new boyfriend was

Of course I felt terrible and terribly compelled to set it right but his last communication made it clear he didn’t want to see me any longer nor hear from me.

This was a difficult balance. The intense desire to correct the misunderstanding against the persons wishes to be left alone.

In a clinical/mentor relationship I think it’s inportant to remember who is driving. I’m in the passenger seat offering directions because they are welcome and asked for. At some point if the driver asks for me to stop – even if I fear we have just made a wrong turn (not the kind with life or death consequences) I should honor that and walk away, respect their wishes and allow them to seek healing through another path.

In short, being helpful when no one is asking for help or worse when they’ve made it clear for me to stop then there is the danger that I’m moving into the arena of no longer being helpful but rather controlling or trying to manipulate a scenario that I feel where I was not cast in the best light. We all like good lighting – that’s natural – but what’s best for the other person really should be my concern in these relationships.

In short, be kind to yourself and forgiving. Sometimes these situations can be avoided and sometimes they can’t. Sometimes trying to repair them created more harm and I would never want to do that. The response by others which is sometimes disproportionate tends to reveal a lot about them and my hope is that this experience is added ultimately in a positive way which may lead to the question “why is everyone an a-hole?” Creating the realization that there is only one common denominator in this persons relationship. So if that is the end result, please, think ill of me. In the end, I can still be helpful.

Good luck and best wishes to you from Austin Texas. You clearly are troubled by this difficult situation and I wish you peaceful resolution.

How to: Becoming the Person who Maintains Decisions and Attains Goals.

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This requires more discipline than most of us have. Thankfully discipline by its very definition is teachable: Verb: train (someone) to obey rules or a code of behavior, using punishment to correct disobedience.

And, thankfully, you don’t have to worry too much about the ‘punish’ element of this definition as it’s inherent with not having discipline which is to say, you don’t keep to your decisions or keep your goals.

The key to developing discipline overtime is to set small goals and work towards those. See what it’s like overtime to set a goal, attain it and demonstrate to yourself it’s possible. So often with these types of goal settings and decisions, one or two failures or setbacks throws most people into a state of “what’s the use anyway”. I coach folks to not sabotage themselves with the “F”-its.

So that being said, set these small goals before reaching for bigger ones. Once you see that it’s possible, you know if you get deterred, it’s just a set back not a failure, you can pick yourself up and continue forward. Find someone you can be accountable to in order to keep them updated on your progress. Someone who’s not judgemental and can be encouraging! Maybe even someone with a similar goal that you can be accountable to each other.

Lastly once you reach the accomplishment you’re setting out for, remember to have gratitude for the process.

Rarely do I achieve things in my life without the assistance and support of others. That’s important because the moment I start believing I’m completely self-sufficient and self-reliant, I become self centered and the true joy in reaching accomplishments is sharing that experience with others so that they can feel like they can do it too! Most of the satisfaction for reaching the goal comes from the path to the goal.

Example, my husband and I set a goal to reach the financial security to purchase a home by a certain date. We met that date. We bought our first home (that was half a dozen houses ago). And, we still recall with laughter how “poor” we were during that time. The fun we had popping our own popcorn, each taking turns to pick the movie we’d watch at home rather than going to the theatre, and inviting our friends over for a spend-no-money night in. Folks ended up coming over every Friday because they knew we’d be watching a movie and they had no money either, but those nights of laughter and camaraderie turned out to be one of our funnest memories of being younger and working towards a goal.

I hope you develop the quality of integrity and accountability and above all the discipline it’s going to take to achieve anything worth achieving in life. All the best wishes from Austin Texas.

Don’t Wait ‘This’ Long…

I’m sitting in the airport in Austin, Texas. Awaiting a flight.

It’s more than just a flight – I’ve flown many times. Always to destinations like Detroit, Phoenix or Seattle. Those are all nice places. I’m happy every time we start our approach to SFO and I’m very familiar with the terminals there. Rob and I frequent California to visit friends and family.

Also, the benefit of being asked to attend many conferences, I get to see much of the country and am always happy to arrive (and depart), even when the destination doesn’t sound, at least initially, particularly exciting. Omaha, Oklahoma City, St. Louis, etc.

Why this flight is different is because we are flying to a far away destination (Amsterdam). There’s no host on the other end to usher me to a hotel in preparation for a presentation, there’s no conference to attend, or work site expecting Rob to come in and do his thing, there’s no family who we adore and anticipate spending time with – this trip is for – us.

So much of my time is spent in the company of others, and I sincerely enjoy it. As a hyper extrovert, I get energized by exchanging spiritual energy with those I meet. Shared experiences and laughter is the highlight of my life.

But there is a primary relationship that has at many times been overlooked in that hustle and bustle of daily living and trips associated with a destination with a demand – and that’s my husband, Rob.

This trip is way overdue. Together 28 years and we have never taken a trip, just the two of us, that didn’t have a purpose or labor associated with it. This time we will be laughing together, and exploring parts of the world and culture neither of us has visited, and taking time to restore and renew our commitment that is so important to us. To each other.

Thank you all for all your support and understanding. I’m missing several important events during my absence, but truth is there is ‘never’ a ‘good’ time for me to leave my life. But, that’s what this vacation represents for me. A break from my own life. It took over 50 years to do this. Don’t ever wait that long.

I don’t think you’re gay.

This year Facebook rolled out the little flag-icon as an option to comment on others posts, pictures and the like. I was so happy to see this during traditional pride month, June as a way of acknowledging a month of reflection on the LGBTQ civil rights movement.

What on earth could be controversial about that?

Well. Quite a bit it would seem. For those who don’t have guidelines on how it’s used or what it means in the Facebook context it seems it has the possibility to be mean all sorts of things. Let’s run through some.

  1. It does not mean I think you’re cute and want to “F” you.
  2. It doesn’t mean I think what is portrayed in this commentary or photo is particularly garish, fabulous or faggish.
  3. It’s not meant in any way to intentionally inflict distress on you or make your friends laugh at you
  4. I’m not questioning your ‘masculinity’ or whatever that means as masculinity is a continuum of broad types. I myself am masculine. Just in a feminine way.
  5. It does mean I am disrespecting your different views or that you choose not to celebrate or recognize the civil rights movement of the LGBTQ Community.
  6. Lastly, it does not mean I think you’re gay.

These are important points to note. But, what this experience brought up for me was that “Wow”. Really?

We have come such a long way for those of us as part of this movement for a long time. It also demonstrates that we have such a long way to go. The idea that your friends would judge you for this little flag and that make a presumption that you must be gay because it shows up on your timeline says a lot about the folks you may be choosing to surround yourself with.

If they make fun of you and call you names – I’ll admit – that must be terrible. I guess I would have no idea what that’s like.

The idea that they would question your masculinity or demean you in any way because your timeline looks different than theirs, and your timeline doesn’t conform to what they think a timeline should look like or how you should act. That too must be heartbreaking and you must feel a little less than. I wouldn’t know.

Here’s a suggestion. Before you accuse people of what you interpret or believe their intentions to be, why don’t you ask them? “What did you mean when you placed the little rainbow flag on my post?” Give a person an opportunity to say that for some people who celebrate pride is synonymous for happy. And, seeing this post or picture made me happy. Or that you look happy. Or, I wanted to spread happiness.

Then, you’re free to say “how could you?!”

In short, because I am sure I could write substantially more on this – it doesn’t mean that I think you’re gay. And, heaven forbid that folks have a presumption about this terrible conclusion about you. Because – well – that would be just about the worst.

My, how much farther we need to go to continue educating folks within and without the community about symbols, what they mean, the power of self identification and not putting labels on each other. I respect that you’re straight. I respect that you don’t view the rainbow flag the same way I do. I always want to be respectful as my intention is not to inflict harm on another person. I’ve done too much inadvertently in this lifetime. My plan is to not to intentionally do more as I likely have exceeded my lifetime allowance.

Thus, I’ll apologize. Sincerely. I would never want to cause you distress. I’ll remove the flag. And, to make extra sure that I don’t inadvertently harm you again, I’ll likely remove you as a friend on Facebook. It’s not meant as retaliatory measure. I’m not trying to smite you for being different from me. I’m not hurt that you brought it up if it was bothering you. But with the limited amount of time that I (and all of us really) have on earth, I’m choosing to surround myself with folks with people who don’t get pushed out of shape, or misinterpret so quickly what was intended to be an act of kindness in acknowledging your happy post or picture.

So if you see me on the street, don’t presume, make quick judgements, pass over broad interpretations to my actions.  Just ask, and I’ll be happy to tell you – without harshness, without vile and in the kindest way I know how – – I am unfriending you because I wouldn’t want my gay timeline or inadvertent use of a symbol to offend you. Really.

Or you can just conclude it’s because I thought you were gay. And, you’re not. That may bring you comfort somehow.

 

1st Semester. Done.

I’m certain what I learned in class might equal what I learned overall this semester about myself, who I think I am, or who I thought I was. There were several highlights of my very first semester in college this year that helped highlight how far I’ve come, how far I have to go, and how little time each of us actually has.

How did I get to this age? It seems like not that long ago I was the age on earth as many of the young people I was surrounded on that first day of class at Austin Community College Riverside.  Professor Alvarado was asking us to introduce ourselves and being, likely, the oldest student in the class I felt awkward.

Awkward in class is not an unusual feeling for me. Contrarily, it’s the norm. However with over three decades since I’d had the last experience – I’d forgotten. Until, it all came back of course.

Introduction to Social Work cemented what I’ve known about myself for many years now. That quite frequently my desire to help others and be of service to my fellow man has been a passion. Parallel to that I’ve been on a path of self-discovery that is showing me that at times it’s been all consuming, sometimes even to my own detriment and has evolved into an element of my personality that has at times left me bitter and resentful.

At no one in particular. And, at everyone.

The idea of being a resource for others, a shoulder to cry on, a sharer of my own experiences, an assistant to help others see how they might be able to get from here to there is certainly a noble cause – but at times has been an ego-feeding one too. I like being the answer guy. I like being the one folks can sometimes point to and say “ask him, he knows everything”.

It is the nature of most of us to be liked by others. Those who say they don’t care, are likely lying.

But for some of us, it’s an all consuming proposition, for which we convince ourselves that our very lives depend on. I once found myself sharing in a conversation, sleep with my husband, drain my bank account, kick my dog, but don’t tell me you don’t like me, because I don’t know what to do with that.

Thankfully, that was a long time ago. I’ve come farther than that now and am thoroughly convinced that some people will never like you. No matter what you do. Or, what you won’t do. Knowing that though, rather than been disheartening, has offered a new kind of freedom. There is no ‘real’ reason to kill yourself in an attempt to get others to like you because either they will – or they won’t. It frequently won’t be dictated by how much you do for them, care for them, respond to their requests or demands – but simply because they are caring people or they are not inclined to care.

I say this without any trace of cynicism. Really.

During one of our assignments we had to conduct a counseling session with a fellow student. It had to be unscripted and we were videotaped. One day in class was dedicated to reviewing these recordings of one another and we were asked to critique our peers for their performance as it relates to what we were learning in our academic studies about the approaches of social work and how to conduct an assessment/session.

Since it’s Intro to Social Work, I had no high expectations of myself or of others. Most of my contemporaries in class are straight out of high school. Many of their attempts at a counseling session were of the level you might find in a discussion you’d have after class walking to your next class.

On that day we were reviewing, the Professor said she wanted to jump forward to another session for illustration and wanted to end the class on a different note. Suddenly my session was on the large screen for us all to review. She started the video and we watched me welcome the student and sit down and have a discussion about an eco map and what that entailed and how’d we approach the process. The video paused. The professor asked for a critique. She asked for folks to not hold back and give an honest assessment. I began to shrink in my chair. Not because I felt I had not done a good job. But, surprisingly, precisely because I’d felt I’d done a good job. Why would someone shrink in their chair for thinking they’d done a good job? That made no sense. I felt sick to my stomach.

The professor’s request for feedback was met with silence, as we sat there in the large auditorium, that had reduced lighting to make the videos easier to see. I sat in the back and when I had the courage to look up and glance around, I saw no hands raised. And she said ‘precisely. you cant’t find anything wrong here. This is text book. This is how it should be done’. People’s hands began to raise and they offered different accolades on how I conducted the session. And, with each successive compliment, rather than feel better or more reassured – I sank lower.

When I was in high school many years ago, I had one goal. Be – – – – – invisible.

Drawing attention to oneself was bad.  Because people made fun of the way I walked and talked and frequently called me “faggot” or pushed me around, I felt safest when I wasn’t being noticed at all.

Answering questions in class, or raising ones hand because you could solve the problem or just participating in class with any level of enthusiasm garnered “attention”. So, I learned to be quiet. Do not participate. Do not be smart. But, do not be stupid. Just be “invisible”.

When I took my transcript from High School to the college I hadn’t recalled how poor a student I was. I knew I wasn’t an “A” student. I wasn’t sure that I was an “F” student either though. It’d had been so long I genuinely couldn’t recall. I was astounded to see C, after C, after C. Middle of the road. Not too smart. Not too stupid. Invisible.

It was in this moment in Professor Alvarado’s Introduction to Social Work class that I discovered, I wasn’t a bad student, and I wasn’t a stupid student. I was an invisible student. I became very emotional following class. I sat in my car afterwards a little shaken. Not unlike I was on many days all those years ago following being thrown into a locker or put in a trash can. This time though, I was shaken with an overwhelming sense of COMPASSION. I felt more compassion in that moment that I’d felt for any of the scores of people I’ve tried to help over the many years of my life being a layman social worker. I felt compassion for myself, or for that 16 year old awkward kid at Del Camp High School, with acne on his face, who knew little about hygiene or how to talk to people. The one that rarely laughed, and walked fast everywhere because it was harder to hit a moving target.

The most important element to be a successful social worker is empathy. The idea to be able to put yourself in another’s situation and find a way to convey hope, and the promise of a potential solution, without judgement.

In that moment in my first semester of college – I knew. I’m going to make a kick ass social worker.

 

The Fear of Being Worn Down

It hasn’t been 14 days since the inauguration of President Trump, and I must say, it’s far worse than I had anticipated. I say anticipated, rather than I feared, because I made a decision, the morning I woke up following election night that I wasn’t going to take a “Chicken Little” approach to the news.

I had voted, I had contributed in manpower and money for the other candidate, and my side lost. I can be a good loser. I believe in democracy, and although I now seriously question the validity of the Electoral College, currently it is the law of the land, and each side was working with the same set of rules. Thus, I’m willing to concede to the minority of the country that voted for Mr. (and now President) Trump.

So that long period between election night and inauguration, there was a flood of comments coming from the President Elect which did little to reduce my concerns. Perhaps – tomorrow he’ll be more presidential – I thought.

But it never came. After 8 years of having a highly diplomatic, intelligent and a President who was an excellent communicator, I was beginning to see that the new selection was going to be not just a departure from the previous administration, but quite possibly a complete 180 degree polar opposite.

I’ve been on the losing side of an election before. My candidate isn’t victorious and we deal with the disappointment and we move on. Yes, I’ll take the opportunities when they come up to point out the shortcomings of the winning candidate. It’s my right as an American and the society we live in that “I can”. I don’t take it for granted. It’s a solemn responsibility. Speaking of the other side in less than flattering terms is something that both sides do. Sometimes it’s vitriolic and that’s always unfortunate. I think, I hope – that everyone would like to love their President of a country that we cherish.

That’s my hope anyway.

But, not only did our new President not make the transformation into (traditional) presidential, he has set out to upend completely the definition. I can’t say in a positive way. The stream of actions and language coming from the Whitehouse is nothing short of shocking to me. I won’t list all of the questionable comments here, we know what they are – and in all seriousness, without hyperbole, there are seriously are just too many to list.

But, what I’ve been seeing already, in just 12 days is that some of my friends are shutting down. The constant firehose stream of statements, directives in word and actions which could be characterized as unkind, but also questionably legal – have left have the country in shell-shock.

And, what I mean by “shutting down” is becoming so overwhelmed by the news and all the updates that we are becoming desensitized to all of it. My phone alone sounds like a slot machine all day. I’ve had to turn off the audible reminders for breaking news, because quite literally some days there has been been breaking news throughout each hour of the day.

To that degree, I too am part of the worn-down phenomena which i see occurring. Information Fatigue is setting in. Where folks are becoming desensitized to the outrageousness of this administration. It’s an assault on our sensibilities. Each progressive statement and action more offensive and disgusting than the next. I can use that word – disgusting. Because when I speak about an assault on our sensibilities it is precisely that. The parallel that some of my more conservative friends might want to insert at this juncture by saying “well, now you know how we felt for the last 8 years”. It is with complete restraint I must bite my tongue from issuing a string of expletives followed by the word “you”.

While our previous Presidents, all of them, Republican and Democratic have been flawed, and many have exhibited stands on matters that differed from my own – not one of them, not one, left me feeling as though they were completely disinterested in a majority of the country. Nor disinterested in our countrymen’s values or feelings, or civility or even at times, decency. No. You won’t be able to find an example. Because while many of them held positions I found objectionable, I never found their worth as a decent, caring, loving human being without merit.

That all being said, I’m more concerned in this writing about the fatigue setting in among my friends. Those who are turning off or backing away from social media. While limiting one’s exposure to news sources to to keep from going mad might be a good strategy, we could become overwrought with bombardment on so many human rights and human decency fronts – becoming non-reactive creates a worse environment.

A worse environment would be where we become so desensitized that we simply have an internal conversation that goes something akin to “let him do whatever he wants, because I’ve become powerless to do anything anyway and nothing surprises me anymore”

I don’t know where this journey will take us. There’s everything being spouted from successions, impeachments, lawsuits to civil war. I hope for none of these things. But, what I do hope is that we take up voices over arms. Action over apathy. Empathy over indifference. Ultimately, we must take back the house and the senate in just less than 2 years. That would be a herculean feat but a necessary one. Someone must stand in this man’s way or our way of life as we know it is imperil. And, I mean this in all sincerity.

Introspection

Definition: observation or examination of one’s own mental and emotional state,mental processes, etc.; the act of looking within oneself.

Periodically we are reminded that we need to take a closer look. This is true even if we think we’re on a path of improvement. We have a conversation with someone, or make a needed but sometimes dreaded amends, and the result is another opportunity to pause – and do a self-check.

Self checks are rarely fun, but frequently necessary. It’s not as a friend recently admonished/reminded me about wagging a finger at one’s self, although sometimes admittedly, that’s warranted. It’s more about taking an opportunity to see how my faults have been a drawback or drag on an otherwise helpful demeanor. Causing harms is not something anyone ever aspires for, but we sometimes create harms nonetheless. The important thing is to not continue to do that. It’s important to remember that each of us has the power to change, alter course, correct our trajectory and fly right.

Regretting the past or wishing to shut the door on it, is the emotional equivalent of the proverbial ostrich routine of the head in sand. It serves no purpose, it is not taking stock that I need to do to really see how to set about a path of improvement and thus not repeating past mistakes. I encourage each of us to take advantage of the opportunity for introspection whenever it avails itself. Attend a meditation, look at one’s self, but also have that very important conversations with the those who could help guide you to improve your condition, outlook, line of thought and ultimately action.

I hope you find it within yourself, to have the courage to really look. Sure, it’s sometimes not a pretty sight. But, only through examination and acknowledgement can we change. Change = good.

 

A Byproduct of This Election Cycle

I have always fancied myself an Independent…

I used to be a Republican. A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away. (1984 – Detroit). I always liked to think of myself as a very liberal Republican. Conservative on finances and military/security and liberal on social issues.

Oh these many years later, I’m now a Democrat. A fiscally conservative, socially liberal Democrat.

But, I’ve taken great pride to actually read the ballot in advance of entering the booth. My Mother, Esther – the most staunch Democrat in this hemisphere taught me that. Read the ballot initiatives. If you don’t understand something about them, ask questions or do the research. We’d sit at the dining room table into my adult years and go through the measures. We sometimes agreed whole heartedly and cheer that we were in concurrence. Then sometimes we’d debate, until one of us gave in to the other (there were those times when we agreed to disagreed – I am my Mother’s son after all, but more frequently we came to one mind on matters political) and then we’d move on to the next.

Now that we live states apart, we have drifted from going over our ballot initiatives. The things that matter most in Texas aren’t always the same in California. But it was delightful to just get off the phone with her a moment ago. I could listen to her for hours rant about those “Damn Republicans”. In her advanced age, I wonder if she thinks the party name has actually been changed to “Damn Republicans” because she doesn’t seem to be able to refer to them without adding that prefix.

So goes this election cycle.

Being a ballot reader, in advance of the booth – I also have had an independent streak. I don’t always vote Democrat down the line. I take the time to learn about each candidate, even the minor party ones. I am certainly not adverse to voting for a Damn Republican, er – or just Republican. Certainly there are good ones! I know this to be true. Mostly I’m interested in the individual. The one I get a sense really does want what is best for the country, State, District, Precinct, Parrish, whatever.

This cycle though, has created a jaded view of the process that I hadn’t anticipated. And, perhaps it is another by product of this election that some of us might not have seen. The death of the Independent-streak in some of us who are happy to cross party lines for the right candidate.

I have to say, with all the vitriol that we’ve seen coming from both sides, it’s been a challenge to not be dissatisfied with it all. But in the end, the litmus test I applied is which candidate seems to have a genuine concern for the country. I don’t believe this to be Trump. At all. No.

Just looking at their history one has dedicated her entire life to the assistance of others in a very direct way, the other only in an indirect way and mostly from a non altruistic perspective. You can argue this I know. The point isn’t to make you wrong, and me right – I’m merely discussing how I came to my own conclusion.

But in these pronouncements and conversations during this cycle, the idea that Mr. Trump would pander to the lowest base of human fears and bigotry, the idea that he would intentionally seek to appoint a judge that would revoke Rob’s and my marriage is an affront to human rights and liberty. You can argue of course, that – that would never happen. But, the suggestion of it, is no less offensive. And, what change that has evoked this election, different from all the others is that it’s caused me (and some others I know) to go “All In”.

I’ve not taken the time to seek out the differences in some of the down ticket candidates. I made my mind up before entering the booth that I was voting straight ticket down ALL THE WAY. (I couldn’t actually hit “straight ticket” because some of our elections, like city council are non-partisan and I wanted to see http://www.jimmyflannigan.com/vote our friend Jimmy Flannigan elected, he’s a tremendous friend to our community. But nevertheless, I merely went down the ballot, check, check, check, Democrat, Democrat, Democrat.

That had never happened before. And, it left me feeling somewhat robbed of the overall political participation experience. Now. I know I wasn’t ‘robbed’ in the truest sense – I could have continued my tradition to be an informed voter and make selections the way I “usually” have. But there is nothing “usual” about this election. And, drastic commentary and flagrant disregard for human rights has required an equally drastic approach.

For my part, I’m sorry to all the qualified Republican, Libertarian, Green-party or otherwise candidates that would make good elected officials. I think perhaps you ‘were’ robbed during this cycle. My hope is that somehow, no matter how this turns out, we can restore whatever, if anything might be left of civility in our society and not seek to obstruct or otherwise derail progress or productivity. It appears that has been horrible for the country and all of us. I hope my hope isn’t too hopeful.