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photo by Sheri Dixon

Saturday, February 28, 2015

American Heroes

While everyone is singing the praises of Chris Kyle- American Sniper, I'm not so quick to join the choir.

Oh, not because I don't think he was a good American or a good sniper or a good guy- I'm sure he was all of these things. And his death was a tragedy, as all death is.

I do question the common sense of 'treating' PTSD with loaded automatic weapons...I think that's sort of a dangerous version of getting back up on the horse that threw you...and Chris Kyle's untimely death seems to lend credence to that line of thinking.

Yes, I've heard and read some of the articles and interviews from other American Snipers that are less than complimentary, but here's the thing. It doesn't matter. Chris Kyle is dead.

He came home, wrote a book, got himself killed, and had a movie made about him. Then, to top it all off, the Texas governor-elect deemed it necessary to give him his own holiday...Chris Kyle Day is a 'thing' now in Texas and will be every year.

You know what else is a 'thing'?

A literal shit-ton of Veterans in this country that are homeless.

They're homeless and sick physically and mentally because they went off to fight for something they were told was worthy and came back broken and shattered.

There's so many the VA can't handle them all. There's so many going un-handled that they are killing themselves off at a higher rate than the war is killing them. More veterans have killed themselves after coming home to the country they fought for than have been killed in (fill in the blank of your favorite current war).

They're getting killed in war and they're killing themselves when they get home and you know who else is killing them?

Police officers. *Remember when they were called Peace Officers? What the hell happened to THAT?

Seriously.

http://thefreethoughtproject.com/shocking-video-released-cop-killing-homeless-veteran-drunk/

Our police officers are killing our veterans. Are they twitchy and drunk and drugged up and armed and dangerous? (the veterans) They can be. Or not. Raymond Keith Martinez was not any of those things except drunk- a state of self-medication he kept himself in for lack of proper help and medication.

51 years old, drunk and loitering. Shot dead.

Nicholas McGehee- purple heart recipient. Shot dead.

Tommy Yancy- served in Iraq and Afghanistan as well as boots-on-the-ground service after 9/11. Beaten to death.

AJ DeVillina- a High Desert Marine. Shot dead. On Veterans' Day weekend.

Are these men not also heroes? How were their sacrifices any smaller than Chris Kyle's? Why is their legacy and story not movie-material?

What about Chad Littlefield- the veteran who was killed with Chris Kyle? Only because of his proximity to Chris Kyle do we know his name and story.

And Eddie Routh- the man who killed both Chris and Chad- he's famous too, or infamous...heading for life in prison because someone thought it would be a grand idea to arm him in a 'safe and controlled situation'. He suffered from PTSD- just another broken pawn on our empire gameboard.

It's not that I begrudge Mr. Kyle his Official Texas Day. I just wonder where the Official days of remembrance for all the others are.

I guess they all can't have their own day because we'd run out of days right quick. Maybe we could give them each an hour because

Every 65 minutes, a military veteran commits suicide.

Look at this-

http://www.pbs.org/coming-back-with-wes-moore/about/facts/

The story and movie everyone should be talking about is NOT the story of Chris Kyle. It's Raymond, Nicholas, Tommy, AJ. It's Eddie and every veteran who is homeless and jailed and beaten and killed and who kills themselves in despair and hopelessness.

We are failing them. They stepped up and served and we are backing off and letting them fall.

We're watching them fall, sometimes pushing them over the edge, sometimes killing them before they kill themselves. That is not the hallmark of a civilized compassionate nation.

Every 65 minutes another tiny light in our national sky blinks, wavers and goes out and no one even pauses to notice.

In the time it took me to write this we lost another one. Before I go to bed we'll lose two more. By morning another half dozen will be dead.

And on and on and on...our country keeping time in corpses piled up of those who served and were summarily cast aside.


Sunday, February 8, 2015

Less Than Inspiring

Yanno what I'm sick to death of?

Inspirational stories.

"What an awful thing to say! How can anyone be anti-inspirational story?"

I can. I can totally be anti-inspirational story because they are inherently cruel.

Oh, I get it. Overcoming adversity, surmounting great odds, rising above a humble perhaps even squalid beginning, yada, yada, yada.

Don't get me wrong- I'm not disrespecting those stories or those people because their accomplishments are worthy and to be lauded. What I *do* take issue with is that their stories are so often used as a weapon of derision for those who DON'T 'measure up'.

You know- the rest of us.

Try to talk about the difficulties of getting ahead in our society without the benefit of a beginning that includes the right neighborhoods, relatives or money and someone slaps up a story about the kid who makes a million dollars out of spunk and bootstraps.

Say something about a challenging- even life-threatening- health issue you or a loved one is fighting with, and BAM there's a heartwarming tale about a guy who beat cancer with a good attitude and sunshine enemas.

Natural disaster? There's the inevitable family talking about how blessed they are because they done found that baby up in that tree alongside the cat- both alive and well.

So what does that tell us? That the family next door who are all dead now weren't blessed? They somehow didn't pray right or well enough or went to the wrong church?

The thing about inspirational stories is that they celebrate those who do something that, given the exact same circumstances, OTHER PEOPLE CAN'T DO. They have some freak combination of luck, right place/right time, genetics, temperament and opportunity that the rest of us don't. Oh, for sure they work hard and go out on limbs and persevere sometimes to an extreme.

But they make the news because what they have done is SO UNUSUAL that it's remarkable.

If everyone really COULD do what they did, it wouldn't be inspirational- it would be mundane.

To hold up one of these stories and crow, "If THIS person could do it- anyone can if they want it bad enough" is cruelty pure and simple.

Because MOST people can't. Or for damn sure they would.

Tell that person who has worked two or three jobs at a time and never quite gets ahead that they just aren't trying hard enough.

Tell the person who is fading away with disease that they just need to take X miracle cure and have a better attitude.

Tell those people who lose loved ones to natural disasters that God needed more angels so he took their family up to heaven.

I have a better idea.

Why don't we support a society that doesn't make everything such a hard-scrabble for so many?

Why do we accept as normal people having to work 60+ hours a week just to stay clothed and fed and their family barely cared for...and then say, "Hey- I did it- my kid can too!" Isn't the whole point of life to make things BETTER for your kids?

There's not a damn thing wrong with looking at how things are and saying, "This is BULLshit! No one should have to work themselves to literal death. No one should have to feel responsible for the outcome (bad or good) of their own healing. No one should ever EVER have to think 'maybe if I'd prayed harder, suffered more, just had more gumption even though I bled bullets to get even this far'...no one."

in·spi·ra·tion
ˌinspəˈrāSH(ə)n/
noun
1.the process of being mentally stimulated to do or feel something, especially to do something creative.


Instead of holding up a very few blazing stars to blind and shame us with their superiority, let's be truly INSPIRED to foster an atmosphere where success is not only attainable, but normal...and fill the skies with starshine.

PS- They were hunting hogs the other night. I heard the lead dog from afar, right through the walls of the house and over the sound of the TV. Rhythmic baying, deep and insistent coming closer, closer- probably down the creek bed. I went out onto the porch and was assaulted by the savage cacophony of the entire pack; lead hound over it all, but the high adrenalin growling, howling, barking, snapping of the back-up dogs; an assortment I knew even without seeing them- Catahoula and Pits and crosses of Mastiffs- everything big and bloodthirsty enough to haul a huge tusked feral hog to the ground.

My livestock guard dogs were frantic and answering them outburst for outburst with offensive fervor and I silently hoped there would be no physical confrontations between them.

Holding my breath in the aural primal hurricane, it inched up to our place, across it, and drove on through the night leaving only the sound of the early spring peepers in the creek, full moon peeking through the scuttering clouds.







Monday, February 2, 2015

I Got Nuthin' But Excuses

Well, that resolution lasted a good two weeks. Isn't that the average length of a resolution?

I been busy, ya'll.

Busy with the mundane workings of a lower-middle-class pear-shaped-middle-aged woman's life.

I've hit the wall. The wall that's right there after work has been tended to, the family is fed and clothed, the critters have been cared for and all that excess shit that yammers for attention is slapped into submission. The wall says, "Come to me- rest your head against my lovely vertical surface...smooth and cool and blank as a goldfish's eyes. I allow you to do nothing. Sweet, sweet nothing."

"My house needs cleaning".

"Nonsense. The house is fine. Your furniture is covered with a protective layer of dust and dog hair. All that mess will still be there tomorrow. Or the next day. Or the next day..."

"I need to write something- I need to blog, to dive back into my unfinished book(s), to come up with something that will result in a check in the mail or professional recognition."

"Ha. It is to laugh. You know no one reads anything you write. All those words you so carefully knit together? No one cares. Just let it go."

"I have so many projects that need done around the farm- I have to get out there."

"No one cares but you. Everyone else thinks everything is just fine the way it is. Relax."

So I lean on the wall and the wall is smooth and cool and blank as a goldfish's eyes. I doze with my forehead against the wall.

I hear the noises of my life. Little dogs barking. Boy playing music. Cat singing the Song of His People before puking. My dear-departed mother-in-law's grandmother clock chiming the quarter hour. The soft hum of the ceiling fans. Gomez brushes the hair from my forehead. "Caramia? You OK?"

He just had another birthday- 63 on Saturday. He's sexy and kind and makes me laugh when he winks. On accounta he's got just the one eye. I'm going to hell, I'm sure of it.

And it's OK. It's all OK. I have a job that's both challenging and flexible doing something I believe in passionately. Our little farm is my Heart, pure and simple. I'm surrounded by family both blood and chosen- Boy, Ward, Joe, Jordan...all here right now and close at hand and safe.

And suddenly the wall doesn't look so good anymore. It's smooth and cool and blank when I need squishy and warm and messy.

My life is squishy and warm and messy.

And it's OK. Even busy and scattered and demanding.

It's OK.

Everything will shuffle out eventually just the way it's supposed to. I'll try to do better at this blogging stuff, but no promises. In the meantime, here's something from a REAL writer. It's important and gritty, uncomfortable and brilliant.

Until next time, ya'll. Hug your family. Right now.

http://www.commondreams.org/views/2015/02/02/malcolm-x-was-right-about-america?mc_cid=0fc2917621&mc_eid=d461ac6f14

PS- Sorcha is turning into one helluva dog. She's smart and ridiculous and exactly the dog I need for this part of my life. I thank her every day for choosing me.



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