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photo by Sheri Dixon

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Living Liberal in East Texas- Voting

So I voted today.

Walked into our tiny precinct for the primary run-off election and there were the two tables- one marked Republican and one marked Democrat.

The lady at the Republican table asked me how I was voting and I pointed to the Democrat table lady.

There was an instantaneous air of shock in the room. "Really?" the three elderly ladies (honestly not older than me) looked at me with heads cocked to one side, like they were trying to get me into focus. I spun around as gracefully as my pear-shape allows but think I pulled it off pretty well thanks to my colorful sari skirt and hippie-braided rainbow hair, finishing off with a flourish of arms in the air.

"Are you sure? You know there's only one thing on that ballot- there are LOTS of things to vote for on the Republican ballot."

I said, "I can vote Republican even if I'm a Democrat?"

"Sure! You can vote however you like!" *sweet smile*

Wait a second. "How many Democrats have voted here today?"

The lady at the D table hesitated and said, "Well...none. I don't usually do this (her badge said she's really one of our municipal judges) and they told me I wouldn't have to do anything but sit in the chair all day- I don't even know what to do."

I really, really wanted to vote against that idiotic dangerous old bat Mary Lou "Obama was a gay prostitute to pay for his drugs" Bruhner as head of the state school board. Really. It would've meant me voting R today. Just today. The ladies at the R table beckoned- smiling, waving that ballot with her name on it...

NOT TODAY.

I made the lady at the D table learn how to check someone in, saying, "Ya'll must've been expecting me- when I first moved here 20-plus years ago, they didn't even have a person in that chair- it was a potted plant." *Nervous laughter*

I took my voting machine code from the young man who was probably fulfilling some sort of community service civics thing- high school age, MAYBE college age. This was, I'm positive, the most excitement he'd seen all day.

So I voted Democrat and in the Athens paper when they list the election totals by party there will show TWO STINKING DEMOCRATS VOTED IN BROWNSBORO---including Ward, who is voting later today. It shall not show that Brownsboro TX voted 100% Red. Shall. Not.

I told the lady at the D table that my husband would be in, and to remember how to check him in. I told them all that in two years our son will be voting Democrat, too.

On my way out the door, I took one more spin and said, "Yep! We're taking over!" and the laughter stopped.

The young man smiled, winked and gave me a quick, secretive thumbs-up.

Can't blame him, really. He's stuck there till 7pm with three actual dinosaurs.

Change is comin', darlin'. One crazy old rainbow-haired hippie at a time.





Saturday, January 2, 2016

Well, This is Awkward



So this came across my path yesterday with a notation that it just might be me. And I chuckled. But then I realized that it all fits except the 'awkward' part.

Oh, I still DO awkward shit- I haven't reached some magical age where I'm suddenly all grace and serenity because there's no danger of THAT happening EVER.

But here's the thing.

I just don't care anymore.

I'm extremely difficult to embarrass, and that's totally OK. The people WITH me may be embarrassed by the things I do and say sometimes, but yanno---so not my problem.

It's a new year and I'm going into it with realistic expectations about myself and what I will and won't do with it.

I need to lose about 20 pounds. I know I do because I'm not fit anymore. If I could carry this extree baggage on my ass and gut and still get around and not be completely stiff and stove up all the time that'd be different but I can't. I hate like hell when I scootch behind something and my ass bumps into a wall or piece of furniture and BY GAWD I KNOW I USED TO FIT IN THERE. So my resolution is to eat less. Yep. Pretty rad, I know. 99% of the time when I'm eating I'll get about halfway thru with something and think, "I'm not hungry anymore" but there's SOME LEFT so I eat it. I'ma stop doing that. I know I'll be throwing away some food and that's a Mom Sin of the highest order but it'll STILL be cheaper than any 'diet plan' I could go on. So there's that.

I need to drink more water. This is a tough one because it'll also make me pee more and I already pee way too much and with increasing lack of control. TMI? Probably. Remember tho---I no longer give a shit :) If I drink more water, I'll be less stiff because it's freaking WATER and will help lube up my old joints. I hate feeling like Edna at 90+ moved with less trouble than I do at 56.

So those are my two big resolutions. Eat less. Drink more water.

Will they give me the perfect body of a 30 year old? Nope. I'm not 30 years old anymore and wouldn't be 30 years old again for anything. I really WAS awkward in my 30's . I cared about everything- was I a good enough wife? Lover? Mother? Employee?

I'm good enough. I've gotten up every morning for over 50 years and done the best I knew how to do with the knowledge and resources I had. Every damn day. I'm good enough.

This body has grown 3 human beings inside of it successfully and has the road wear to prove it. It also carts around my brain and has done so for over half a century. That's a powerful burden right there.

My goal is not to be perfect, or even 'attractive'. My goal is to tweak and maintain this corpse so it'll carry my brain around for another four decades or so with moderate grace and acceptable presence.

My goal is to be here for my family, my friends, and all those people who depend on me and who even like me some of the time.

It's a worthy and attainable goal.

Oh, and no worries. Even if I'm not awkward, I'll still be foul-mouthed and sarcastic. And delightful. Always, always delightful...

Friday, December 11, 2015

It's All Going According to the Plan

Hang onto your hats, kids. Come the first of the year, we're gonna see the ACA do some fine imploding. Oh, there are several fronts this will happen on, but lemme share the one that'll get me up close and personal.

I'm for the ACA and what it stands for. I was and still am thrilled that millions of people who were considered 'uninsurable' before are now covered. I understand that this is a big country and some compromise had to be worked into it in order for it to pass.

At the time, I was really squidgy about two things that were compromised away---

-The lack of a public OPTION

-The lack of comprehensive regulations against the insurance companies

The ACA, AS ORIGINALLY WRITTEN, would have had a public option- open enrollment Medicare for all who wanted it. Not FORCED to get it- anyone who wanted it INSTEAD of private insurers. This would have given the private insurance companies true competition instead of handing them a lovely gift of millions of customers who wouldn't pay for insurance unless they were compelled to- say by a tax penalty if they didn't. That part stayed in, and the new customers were handed to the private insurers like the Best Christmas Ever.

But they took out the public option to the wailing of the GOP who said it smacked of socialism, communism, fascism, every ism you can throw at something to make it look bad when it's really an outstandingly good idea. Ya- both parties now work for their corporate owners, but the GOP is hands-down much more open and serious about it. The insurance companies didn't WANT true competition, and certainly not from MEDICARE, which is the BIGGEST INSURER IN THE NATION and runs on a lean 4% margin instead of their cushy and profitable 35%. Because while Medicare is not a BUSINESS, they are- it's their job to make money for their investors and stock holders and to do that you have- large margins and profits which are made when you- take in way more than you pay out which happens when- you raise premiums and deny claims- which they do ALL THE TIME- nothing personal- it's just BUSINESS.

This is why something like people's lives should NEVER be at the mercy of the free market. Ever. Nothing personal- it's just business.

Now, there WERE some regulations that stayed intact and they have been very good for people- millions of people.

- you cannot be denied insurance due to pre-existing conditions. (You can, however, be charged out the ass for it)

- you can stay on your parents' insurance till you're 26 (as long as you're also in college, which is a whole NUTHER huge expense)

- insurance companies MUST spend 80% of the premiums you pay them on your actual medical care or refund the difference. We actually do get back a check from BCBS every year in the neighborhood of about $30. WHEEEEEEE doggies.

No regulations against the insurance companies becoming monolithic giants who would corner individual markets. No regulations against how high premiums could go. Those were gutted out of there because you cannot hamper and hobble the free market- just give them all those new customers and they'll do the right thing by them. *wink wink*

When the healthcare.gov marketplace opened up, Texas had three different insurers you could choose from.

***Because remember, kids- there's no such thing as 'Obamacare insurance'. You can't buy Obamacare brand insurance any more than you can buy a Travelocity brand hotel room. You go to to Healthcare.gov and choose from PRIVATE INSURANCE COMPANIES- Blue Cross, Humana, Aetna...like you go to Travelocity and choose from Marriott, Motel 6 or LaQuinta.

Last year there were two in Texas and this year? One. Blue Cross has the entire Texas market for individuals buying off the marketplace. That's not a marketplace- it's a corner on the market.

So individuals can 'choose' from one provider.

Also new this year---individual plans do NOT include any PPO's. None. Zip. Zero.

Also new this year---Blue Cross is discontinuing some individual plans already in existence and those people have to choose from one of the marketplace HMO's. Unsurprisingly- the discontinued plans are PPO's. Unsurprisingly- they are targeting the people most likely to, yanno, use insurance.

Alec's individual plan? Good to go- he can keep his PPO.

Myself and a friend of mine? Discontinued. Choose a new HMO.

Alec is young, male, and healthy. I'm over 55 and female and my friend is female in 'child-bearing years'. Not difficult to figure that out.

The reason given is that all the new people they were FORCED to take have driven up costs and they just can't afford to, you know, provide health care for people anymore the way they had been doing. Which is ridiculous considering every national health care company logged RECORD PROFITS LAST YEAR BECAUSE OF ALL THE NEW HEALTHY PEOPLE WHO SIGNED UP AND WHO ARE OBVIOUSLY COVERING THE COSTS OF THE PRE-EXISTING CROWD AND THEN SOME.

So it's bullshit. They are raising premiums and cutting plans just because they can- just because it's good for their bottom line and that's not because they are evil, selfish rat bastard weasels, it's because we TRUSTED PRIVATE BUSINESS TO TAKE CARE OF PUBLIC INTERESTS, and it's their job---by definition---to make money.

It's a business' job to take in more than they pay out. Period. What that looks like in this case, in real life, is that thousands of people can no longer access places like MD Anderson, who will be out of network for them.

Every single person of a 'risk group' age who buys insurance individually will no longer be able to choose their doctor and that ain't the fault of 'Obamacare'- that's the dictate from your precious PRIVATE INSURERS.

If you are covered by a LARGE business' insurance plan---you can still have a PPO. If you're on Medicare or Medicaid---you're golden anywhere.

So Alec, Ward and Joe (who has both Medicare and VA) are good. If I get anything 'bad' between now and when I turn 62 and can access Medicare, I'm screwed.

So...

When the ACA implodes after the first of the year, you'll hear it broadcast far, wide and loud from the Right that 'THEY KNEW IT- THEY'VE BEEN WARNING US- THEY SHOULD'VE BEEN ALLOWED TO OVERTURN IT AND NOW LOOKIT THE BIG OL' MESS IT IS AND SEE HOW RIGHT THEY WERE!'

Just remember, it was THEM who made damn sure it would never work.

It was the GOP governors in EVERY RED STATE that made damn sure their own constituents suffered by rejecting the Medicaid expansion that would have covered anyone not poor enough to qualify for Medicaid but not rich enough to pay the outrageous private insurance company premiums.

We live in a corporatocracy, folks. They're not people and they don't give a rat's ass about individuals.

People die. Corporations don't die- they change leadership and go on. And on. And on.

We're being told that the insurance companies 'have to' cut plans because there are too many sick people they were forced to take care of. That's bullshit.

We're being told that social security and every single social safety net program will have to be cut or eliminated because our deficit is too high and they're unsustainable. That's bullshit.

We're being told we need 'austerity' to bring our country back to greatness. That's true.

The austerity should NOT be coming from the bottom, though- taking from those (US, people- they're talking about US) who can ill-afford to lose more, taken under the guise of , "Think of your children and grandchildren- sure, you'll feel the pinch a little, but it's going to be so much better for THEM!" THAT'S BULLSHIT. The only ones, ONLY ONES that'll be better for is those at the top.

Trickle down is a scam of the highest order.

HAS ANYONE YET SEEN ONE DAMN DROP OF IT??? No. And you won't.

They'll keep feinting throwing the ball and we keep running after it eagerly, joyfully, tongues lolling, looking confused while they laugh and bank our money. Over and over and over again.

No more.

I will NOT let them kill me, or my husband, or my son. Fuck that.

I'm not being dramatic- hundreds of thousands of people die in the US every year of TREATABLE THINGS. No one has to round us up and execute us. All they have to do is deny us access to health care.

If a Republican, ANY REPUBLICAN gains the presidency, we WILL see the dismantling of every social program including Social Security and Medicare. If that happens, my family will be gone. I've never stated or thought of leaving this country of my birth. I love America. I love my home with a fierce and abiding fervor. I love the IDEA of America as it can be.

But I will not let it kill us. Will not.

Oh, I know it'll look like we're 'just like' those Republicans who hollered, "If that Obama gets elected I'm OUTTA HERE! This ain't MY idea of America!!!" but it won't be anything like that at all. They were pissed that a black man had the balls to live in the White House. I'll be pissed that my husband won't be able to get the medical care he needs to stay alive and my son will be ripe for their fucking cannon fodder and I will not let either thing happen.

America needs to get its collective head out of its ass. Stop being so 'exceptionally' proud and ignorant and look around. We are increasingly violent at our own hands- not some foreign enemy that's mostly ginned up fear. And since when is it American to be so damn AFRAID? Our income disparity in this country is worse than in any other industrialized nation, bar none and we're celebrating that by giving those at the top our government, our money, our lives (both in our willingness to work for low pay in awful conditions for long hours thanks to Right to Work laws, and our willingness to accept less and less in the way of health care access, thanks to the flaws in the ACA) and happily doing so because 'some day, I could be rich, too!'

We need to stop being so stupid. Our government isn't working for us and that's not because it's 'too big' or 'Obama's a tyrant who shreds the constitution!'

NAME ME ONE THING HE'S DONE THAT'S UNCONSTITUTIONAL. ONE. NAME ME ONE THING THIS ADMINISTRATION HAS DONE THAT KILLS ANYONE OR HINDERS YOUR FREEDOM TO PURCHASE STUFF THAT CAN KILL OTHER PEOPLE. ONE.

Helpful hint---GETTING GAY MARRIED HASN'T KILLED ANYONE YET.

If our government isn't working anymore, it's because it's being run by those who don't care about it working for the masses (that's us). We don't need to 'take it back!' from the libruls/libtards/any other clever ignorant hate-mongering name for those currently in charge---we need to take it back from the corporations and banks who OWN IT.

The ACA is imploding by design. Not the original design, or the design that SHOULD HAVE passed- design by the corporate entities (that's the private insurance companies) who owned the politicians who hacked it to pieces and are now fixin' to get even richer off of the suffering and death of Americans.

And anyone who says, "Well, that's the way it is now and there's nothing I can do about it" can just kiss my ass and get out of the way.

Because I don't WANT to move, and I'll do everything in my power to make sure I don't have to in order to keep my family alive.









Wednesday, December 2, 2015

The Blink of An Eye

My son and his friends are looking at Denmark. Or the Netherlands.

Not for a visit, but to move there.

I'd say, "I don't know how I feel about that" but it'd be a lie. I know exactly how I feel about that.

I'm excited at the youth and strength behind such a plan- I remember (not that I'm that old)having much the same thoughts as they do, albeit less farther-focused. My main thought was to get the hell out of Wisconsin. Took me a while, but I did it and have never looked back. Actually crossing the US border and staying across never occurred to me.

I'm proud that we've raised a human with such an independent bent. A free-thinker who knows more about current events and social issues, politics and world events than most adults do. Someone who loves his country but is not brainwashed to believe that the US is #1, that the US must remain #1 and that everyone on earth wants to be us and all other places are backwards shitholes. I'm proud as hell of that. He doesn't HATE America---there's a big ol' middle ground between screaming "We're #1!" while wearing a flag t-shirt and clutching an eagle by the throat... and yelling "Death to America!". Big. Ol'. Middle ground.

I'm terrified that once he boards a plane and is out of my Mama Bear reach, our economy and society will continue on the ungracious, unattractive and (unless something changes RADICALLY QUICKLY) inevitable sliding into the social squalor that is the morning after for all societies that become 'too big for their britches' and I'll never see him again. I do not believe we are in danger of a Mad Max No Food Zombie Apocalypse. But we're NOT #1 anymore, we never WERE the gloriousness of a Leave It to Beaver fictitious utopia, and we're looking like a B-film starlet after one too many cosmetic procedures in a frantic attempt to still look 21 at age 51 instead of...Katherine Hepburn at age 81- gorgeous and not giving a shit, just going about living life.

So it scares the hell out of me.

But then I realize...if we are (and we are)headed for an age of disgruntled frumpiness and depressed economics, still steered by bullheaded backwards financial initiatives and punitive social agendas...where does that put my son, as an American in America?

If he can get college-educated and come out of it with zero debt (and he can in Europe), if he can get a job that can support him and won't kill him with low pay and dangerous workplace conditions as well as short work weeks and hours (and he can in Europe), if he can have access to health care without paying almost 20% of his gross pay in premiums (you see where this is going...), then that's where he needs to be. That's where I WANT him to be.

Until the US gets its head out of its far-right, pseudo-religious, egotistical ass, the only place my son and others like him will have even a marginal shot at having a life that is the Norman Rockwell American Dream...is outside these borders.

And that's a fucking shame.

Last night my son was looking for a 'new' book to read- he'd just finished up the last of the Game of Thrones series and like his parents he HAS to have a book in front of him at all times. He was going through all the shelves in the house that hold a total of about a thousand books- very few fiction other than the 'classics'. He found a medical guide (huge old tome) that was 'new and revised' in 1905. He found a little book of PHOTOGRAPHS (it was capitalized just like that because PHOTOGRAPHS were such a new thing) from a 1800's World's Fair. He found a box of crystals and yak hair that'd been sent to him for his birthday half a dozen birthdays ago.

He looked around this log cabin and said, "Our house is full of weird shit." And he smiled.

The world is full of weird shit, son. Most of it delightful, intoxicating and smile-inducing. I'm so happy we've taught you that, and I hope you never forget it.

Step across the borders and grab the American Human Dream wherever you find it- for yourself, your friends, and all humans.

A blink of an eye ago, I was fifteen and eager to find my spot in the world. Now I'm watching my son do the same. My great-grandparents came to this country looking for a better life and the next two generations stayed put in Southern Wisconsin. I left and came to Texas and now my Texas-born is looking even farther afield.

He has his roots here in a log cabin in East Texas full of weird shit.

No telling where his wings will take him.



Sunday, November 15, 2015

Slogan Solutions: the Deadliness of The Easy Fix

The Flat Tax

Slash Government Waste

Entitlement Society

Just Get a Job

Adoption Not Abortion

Trickle Down!

Make America Great Again!!!

Wipe Out the Terrorists

Show of Strength

Let Go and Let God


We are not encouraged to think critically. We are trained to listen to our elders, our leaders, our superiors, from the second we are born till the moment we die. Crowd control is really the basis of every single ideology- political or spiritual.

Crowd control.

Every ideology has its own goals and agendas and every one of them depends on getting the largest amount of people on your team. When there are small numbers of people involved, positive reinforcement works. Talk your team up, show people what works and how their life will be better if they sign on, positive reinforcement is a great way to individually affect lives and effect growth for your cause. One on one. One at a time. A solid foundation for the future of your goals.

But, damn that's so slow. It's slow and tedious and requires actually, you know...talking to people and living all the good parts of your philosophy your own self as an example. Whew, that's exhausting and honestly kind of boring.

Humans being mammals, and of a community (herd) persuasion, the one thing that gets everyone's attention and action in a heartbeat is fear. Good old fashioned Fear.

Fear of death, fear of attack, fear of privation, fear of eternal damnation...Fear.

Now here's the good part.

Just something that causes instantaneous panic- like an earthquake, or tornado, or Facebook going down for an hour---all that Fear needs to be directed at something to be effective. So we also need---An Enemy.

The Enemy has to be an entire demographic---something big enough to rally anOTHER entire demographic into action.

Liberals, Nazi's, blacks, gays, conservatives, women, men, Muslims, Christians, Jews, Japs, Spics, Yankees, Rebels, Educated Elites, Rednecks... every single group can be demonized and utilized by another one. If they look, talk or live differently than you ALL THE BETTER to make them seem less like you, like your family, less human.

Now you have Fear, and an Enemy. People are afraid, confused, possibly panicked, and looking for an answer, and they want it to be easy, and blunt, and seemingly air-tight. Enter the Slogan Solution.

They are astounding in their stark simplicity.

So we have our Slogan Solution, and we have an Enemy. It's so easy, especially if the topic is all twisty and gnarly and somewhat painful to consider---merely cave to the Slogan Solution and it'll all be better in no time.

Now the hard part.

Take any one of the slogans above and hold it in your hand. Turn it over and around and really consider-

-what is the real issue it's addressing?
-what caused or is causing that issue?
-what caused THOSE circumstances in the first place?
(I know- this is hard. Keep going.)
-what can we do to address the original issues- NOT what's in front of us now, but what caused it? Treating the cause of a disease instead of merely masking the symptoms, as it were.
-what can we do, going forward, to make sure those original causes aren't given the environment to thrive?

The operative word that should come out of every mouth when given a Slogan Solution is "HOW?"

How are you going to do this? What steps exactly will need to be taken and what's the toll it will take on all involved?

You may think that 'Let Go and Let God' doesn't fit with the rest, but it does, unless the same above steps are taken. If a situation is so hopeless that all you can say is 'let go and let God', you need to be damn sure you have already done YOUR OWN SELF everything possible to remedy that situation and that means going thru the above steps. Let go and let God at its finest is saying, "I have done everything I can and everything I know how in order to make this better. That's either good enough or it never will be."

Slogan Solutions are great things to throw around, to rally behind and to wave a flag or holy book to. Catchy, inspiring, seemingly completely sensible.

But what does it do to your Enemy? Remember, your Enemy is an entire demographic of mothers, fathers, children, families who are in reality all insidiously exactly like your own. No 'buts'. Exactly. Like. Your. Own.

So hold their feet to the fire, these Slogan Solution Spewers. Demand that they tell us HOW. Insist that they relate to us the cost in dollars and human lives.

Refuse to be blinded by the simplicity of an Easy Fix.

Don't live in Fear of the Fire.

Stop, drop and roll.

Stop being afraid.

Drop the big questions on the fear-mongers.

Roll over their sorry asses and support your fellow humans.

All of them.













Sunday, June 21, 2015

Who Could've Known?

"Who could've known Dylann would take the guns we know he has out of his room filled with racist propaganda and go shoot up a church? Did NOT see THAT coming!"

What the hell, America?

Young black men get killed all the time and we're told that it couldn't be helped- it's their culture that they are steeped in and it makes them violent, aggressive, dangerous. It's the cultural norm for this demographic.

Not armed, you say? Not committing a crime at the time? No worries- we can find a whole shitload of 'evidence' pointing to past transgressions that we can use to justify what was done.

Adam Lanza? James Holmes? Dylann Roof? Well, lets see here. Adam shot himself in the head when the cops showed up, but the other two were taken alive and are in jail. Obviously armed to the teeth and apparently not at all shy about shooting people dead, yet they were taken into custody alive.

And not only that, there is ZERO focus on the 'culture' they were raised in. Zero. They are simply labeled, 'troubled young men who just snapped. Who could've known?'

I guarandamntee someone knew. Someone knew they were messed up and STILL gave those boys guns to play with. Someone knew and STILL turned their backs and said, "Just boys being boys...they'll grow out of it" or WORSE- silently (and/or not so silently) approved of the mindset that led up to the last horrible moments.

Our 'culture' is every bit as sick as any other- MORE sick because we refuse to acknowledge that behavior like this is NOT an accident, NOT an isolated incident, and NOT surprising. It's ingrained into us and we don't even see it while being VERY vocal about, "I'll tell you what's wrong with THOSE people".

Maybe because I sit here in the glittering rhinestone that is the center of the shiny buckle of the Bible Belt that I see it more acutely- this barely-submerged, intolerant, judgmental bullshit that condemns an entire culture; admonishes them to FIX THEMSELVES, why don't they just fix themselves? Why aren't they more like US?

We have an entire log-jam in our eyes yet we snipe at their speck.

Yanno what doesn't help?

It doesn't help for us to be 'that guy'.

That guy we all know who always turns shit around to be about him. You're sick? He's been sicker. You're hurting? He's been hurt WAY WORSE than you. We need to stop being 'that guy'...stop saying, "Well, yes your community is hurting, but SO IS OURS", "Well, yes the cops looked to have used a tad too much force, but think of the INNOCENTS the cop was protecting---they didn't KNOW if he was armed or not".

'That guy' is a douche. When we're faced with something awful, we need to stop putting our own spin on it, protecting our own flaws and weaknesses. A young white man went into a church of black Christians, announced that black people are destroying America and shot them dead.

No one put him up to this. His thinking isn't isolated AT ALL (he just acted on it). It IS about race because he SAID IT WAS.

It IS about the culture he embraced- 200% about the culture of hatred and racism and everyone around him either embraces the same thing or knew DAMN WELL he felt that way.

Who could've known? Everyone around him.

http://www.patheos.com/blogs/barrierbreaker/why-it-might-be-time-to-accept-that-white-lives-matter-more-a-black-atheist-reacts-to-dylann-roofs-bond-hearing/



Sunday, June 14, 2015

What to Do With the Last Cookie

Let's talk stereotype. Wait. That's a word with many bad feelers attached to it so let's just use 'generalization' instead.

IN GENERAL, when I express frustration about a situation to a man, I won't even get to the end of the description of said situation before the man will interrupt me and say, "Have you tried ______?" or "Maybe you just need to __________."

Because that's what guys do. They fix shit. They get presented with a situation and their first (and sometimes only) response is to offer a way to FIX IT. A lot of times the problem with that is they don't really know the background behind the situation or the possible ramifications of various solutions because they're not focused on that. They live simple: Problem/Solution/Done.

IN GENERAL, when I express frustration about a situation to a woman, they listen. They nod. They may (depending on the woman) offer a sympathetic hug and a, "Oh, honey- that must be tough" or a glass of wine and a , "Wow- that's some bullSHIT right there!"

Because that's what women do. They listen. They know I just need to give a situation voice and let the words hang there in the light of day so I can see them for myself from all angles. They know I've already considered back stories, side stories and all possible ramifications of every single solution about a million times in my head so when I say

"I just don't know what to do about this"

What I'm really saying is, "I haven't decided which course of the twelve rolling around in my head I'm gonna take with this."

IN GENERAL, men are presented with a problem and that's what they focus on. The problem at hand, like it's an isolated event with no connection to anything else. They see the problem and they solve the problem in the most logical (and quick) manner and done. All that other stuff that may be affected by the solution will just have to shuffle out and fix itself.

IN GENERAL, women look at a problem as a symptom of other shit all around it. Deal with that other shit and the problem goes away.

EXAMPLE-

Two kids are fighting over the last cookie. Mom comes in and asks each one how many cookies they've already each had. If the answer is lopsided, the one who's had less gets the cookie. If it's the same, there are several ways to go
-Mom can have one break the cookie and the other choose which half he/she wants
-Mom can point out some treat one has recently gotten that the other one didn't and counsel compassion and generosity
-Mom can pull the 'you're the older one and therefore have already eaten more cookies in total than your younger sibling, hand him the cookie' card
-Mom can remind one of the siblings that they don't even LIKE that kind of cookie and to stop being a dick and let their sibling have it
Mom looks at the background, context and future possible issues surrounding the current cookie battle and uses this as a teaching moment that will hopefully prevent it from happening again- the kids will have witnessed and now have tools to judge what to do in the future that is a fair solution to them both.

Two kids are fighting over the last cookie. Dad comes in, takes the cookie and eats it. Problem/Solution/Done.

While it might be tempting to say, "Dad's solution is clearly the best way to go" (especially if you're a dad who likes cookies), all that has taught the kids is to take their fight underground when dad's around. Which is kind of (?) a lesson in primitive teamwork, but doesn't really go very far to engender communication and empathy skills since 99.999999% of the time the bigger one will just eat the cookie...in front of the little one...slowly...luxuriously...

So while dad is in the living room, washing his cookie down with a nice iced tea as he watches the news BECAUSE TO HIM THE ISSUE HAS DISAPPEARED WITH THE LAST CRUMB, the kids' goal is now to grow up to be big and strong as quickly as possible because the biggest most powerful person can take pretty much whatever they want for whatever reason, and that whoever you are, you might be the biggest one minute, but the next minute someone even BIGGER will come along so you'd better cram that cookie in your mouth quick before your mom hears your younger sibling holler or your dad comes and takes the cookie for himself. Self-preservation above all.

That's the difference (I think) between most MODERATE conservatives and most MODERATE liberals.

I say MODERATE because there are extremes on both sides that most EVERYONE agrees are not feasible or humane.

IN GENERAL, conservatives see a problem and look at how to deal with it. They focus on how to punish current behaviors that are unacceptable- financial, moral, ethical- to deter future wrongdoing. It's direct, it's logical, it's clean (at least on the surface). Punish the end result harshly enough and no one will do it. Easy.

Except punishments cost money. Lots of money. Liberals are loathe to spend money on punishments because

IN GENERAL, liberals see a problem and walk it back to all possible causes. They focus on eliminating the environment that causes unacceptable behavior- financial, moral, ethical- so people won't go down that path in the first place. It's involved, it's complicated, it's messy and seemingly impossible (at least on the surface). Eliminate the causes to a problem and the problem will no longer exist. Easy.

Except that sort of thing costs money. Lots of money. Conservatives are loathe to spend money on stuff they can't see the direct and immediate benefit of.

Here's the thing.

In the real world, we need both. We need people who are wired to focus on eliminating causes of problems, and we need people who are wired to focus on punishing those who persist on behaving badly even tho they have no reason to...because those people will always be around. They are a small minority, but they will always be around.

Because sometimes the kids just dig their heels in and refuse to cooperate regarding the last cookie and mom ends up giving it to dad anyway before sending them to their rooms for being uncooperative, hateful little shits.

MODERATE Conservatives and liberals are not mutually exclusive groups whose beliefs are 100% anathema to the other- we've been brainwashed to think that by the media and the extreme factions of both sides.

MOST conservatives don't want people dying for lack of health care or children going to bed hungry at night.

MOST liberals don't want a pony in every yard and mass murderers set free because 'they just had a bad day'.

MOST everyone loves America, and their families, and is compassionate, and knows money doesn't grow on trees.

We need to work off the strengths of each other instead of tearing each other apart for the differences.

We need to find ONE THING we can agree on and go from there.

We need to embrace the word 'compromise' because otherwise we're doomed, and as grownups we know no one gets their way ALL the time. We do know that, right? That just because someone has a different way of attaining the same solution you all want, doesn't make it WRONG, it's just DIFFERENT.

The end goal is attaining the America that CAN be- not a monument to any one religion or ideology, but 'with equality and justice for ALL' and 'Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness'. All that stuff. What a great idea. We should try it sometime.

Because right now, we're fighting over crumbs while someone else has all the cookies.













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