A Memoirist’s Manifesto

A great blog post from Sonya…

Sonya Huber

These are scary times–if extreme right-wing semi-fascist rhetoric scares you. It scares me, so I’ve found myself huddling, a little depressed, a little beaten down. I’m not talking about your religion or your political orientation. I’m talking about the extremes that many of my Christian and Republican friends are appalled by.

The language of hate and exclusion creeps into society like a cancer, a fungus. When the solution to a problem is framed in terms of “Who should we get rid of?” the intolerance poisons not just relations between those in control and the targets, but among all people within the community. Trust is universally lowered. Polarizing rhetoric sets an electric charge in the air; who is the next “us” against the next “them”? Everyone gets defensive and edgier. Anyone could be the next target. The chilling effect of threatened repression is what tempts people to draw back into themselves…

View original post 620 more words

Loving the world

Well into my second week being mostly off the media grid, I’m feeling a recovery of the feelings of beauty and wonder that constitute love for the world… at least most of the time!

Finding that beauty, wonder and love in all the grit and grime is the real challenge. I am working on building my strength, working on being able to engage fully without losing that sense of the worth intrinsic in life.

The universe gave me a little nudge in that direction a few days ago when I came across this beautiful passage written by a friend, Sonya Huber:

A concrete loading dock doesn’t ask anything of you, doesn’t demand that you agree with its crazy stories or its lies–and that is love, after all. It will wrap you in the baked-cookie smell of rain on warm asphalt, the earth as industrial rows of monocrop corn stretching on either side of the highway. It will give you billboard-sized abstract paintings in layers of faded paint and chipped brick and colors that haven’t been named yet. You can read a philosophy on those surfaces, can vaguely make out the palimpsest of hope in the foreign language of a splash of yellow that somehow survived around those lovely pockmarked metal walls.

Ah yes, finding beauty, love, philosophy, hope even, in industrial concrete! What a gift!

This is practice in its highest form.

The paragraph is from Love and Industry, Sonya’s winning entry in the Terrain.org Non-fiction writing contest from back in 2013, which I had missed, probably because I was going to really need to hear it in August of 2016, and would not likely have gone back to read it had I already done so. The universe is clever like that. At least it comforts me to think so.

However, why ever, it happened, it happened. I read it. And it was very meaningful for me… helpful in those little ways friends and writers have of supporting us through the dark moments when all seems lost. Reminding us that love doesn’t always come with hearts and flowers and pink lace doilies.

It’s a great piece, still so perfect for these times three years later.

I must confess, I had to look up palimpsest – tho I had an inkling of its meaning, the full definition is instructive: “a manuscript or piece of writing material on which the original writing has been effaced to make room for later writing but of which traces remain.”

It’s a wonderful image. An image true to so much of life, especially in these times. So much of what we have thought for some time to be true and unalterable has been scraped away by the edges of life’s movement, and perhaps it is yet just the flailing about of our crushed longings, but something new is being written on the old forms, something perhaps better and more true.

If we keep our eyes and our hearts open, maybe we’ll survive these latest insanities and move on to create that more beautiful world, one that is easier to love, but in the meantime, we have to keep loving the world as it is.

As Sonya says, “What else is there to love?”

Perspective on the scene

A few days of ignoring the news, especially the political news, has done wonders for my attitude! I feel lighter, and much more relaxed. Of course, I’m not advocating an ostrich approach to the tenor of the times, but dropping back for a bit seems to have the added advantage of giving me a better perspective on the current scene.

And this year, perspective is everything.

My blogger friend Rosie, a British ex-pat of sorts – she and her husband are both retired from some executive-type jobs and live in Spain somewhere – brings such amazing perspective on the current American political sideshow, as well as having a right proper insight into the British insanity of the moment, Brexit. She’s been a bit too busy with life lately to do much blogging, but she shares her commentary with me from time to time, and I find it quite enlightening.

“In the UK, sadly, it’s those who are desperate to turn back the clock who will suffer most as Brexit unfolds,” she said to me soon after the exit vote. She blames the leaders for not bothering to really explain things to the English voters. “It’s difficult to explain that the world has moved on, especially when you have the likes of Trump and Boris Johnson trying to further their own personal positions regardless of the rest of us. Hillary and her supporters need to show understanding of and empathy with the disenchanted, whilst demonstrating that Trump could never deliver what they hope for. The intellectual superiority and patronising attitude lost the referendum for the Remain campaign in Britain. I only hope Hillary does better…”

Rosie (that’s not her name, but she said I could call her that, as she blogs under the name Ramblinrosemaryann!) sees lots of similarities between the Brexit vote and the support for Trump. “Both sides in the [Brexit] campaign lied and/or exaggerated, but that apart, it seems there is a significant section of UK society that feels ‘left behind.’ Generally older, male and blue collar, their traditional occupations (mining, steel, heavy industry) have all but disappeared,” she said.

“They feel they have lost their place in society and their communities have been left to decline. Even if they and their children get service sector work, they can’t feel pride in it. The gap between them and the progressive, pluralist multi-culture grows wider daily. It’s been happening over decades, but the EU referendum gave them a chance to exercise a protest vote. They genuinely believed the clock could be turned back to the 1970s.”

This seems to me to be just what is happening in the US – just the same motivation. People who feel indignant, left out, economically side-tracked and culturally abandoned have turned to Trump without much real analysis of what it would mean for them should he actually be elected. Of course, that seems a more and more remote possibility, but these people aren’t going away and their feelings are not going to change unless Hillary really jumps into a progressive agenda, which seems unlikely.

“It’s too easy to say, ‘tough, the world has moved on’ – manufacturing isn’t coming back from China anytime soon!” Rosie said. “Something has to be done for the genuine concerns of these people. Building walls across the English Channel and the Mexican border might sound attractive to some, but can never be the answer.”

Though the British have begun to revisit the vote and some suggest it should be re-voted, while others say the implementation still can be avoided, it seems to be going forward. Let’s hope we don’t get into that here. I do understand those who can’t bring themselves to vote for Hillary, but I’m still feeling the risk is too great to support a full-scale third party movement in this election.

But as many are beginning to suggest, including Bernie, we must begin to build a true progressive alliance on the ground in the US, and we must address the issues that are driving the fascist appeal. Otherwise we’ll be facing some other, probably slicker and more palatable, authoritarian candidate in the next election.

And then it will be too late to do anything about it.

Media break

I’m taking a break from social media, and most news media as well.

My wife and two of my friends ran a little impromptu intervention Thurs night to let me know that I’m being adversely affected by all the negativity out there. i was feeling it somewhat, but didn’t realize how it was affecting others.

To confirm the whole thing, the universe got in on the act with a huge thunderstorm that has taken out my home Internet connection … until Tuesday! Weird.

But already I feel better. I cleared out the piled up crap in my inbox and Unrolled a bunch of email subscriptions, took Facebook off my mobile desktop, and posted a notice that I won’t be checking in on Facebook. Call or email me. Or leave a comment on this blog.

I don’t think fascism will be stopped by Facebook actually, so boots on the ground time… see ya in the streets. … tho I do plan to finish posting 132 names of black people killed by police. …. maybe make a poster… not that I’m anti police, just anti the fascists who control them…

No passaran!

¡No Pasaran!

They shall not pass!

This is my new motto, borrowed from Nadia (Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, now Nadya) of the Russian fem-punk band Pussy Riot, who borrowed it from Dolores Ibarruri, a popular anti-fascist icon of Spanish Civil War fame.

Dolores gave a famous radio speech in July of 1936 that ended with the statement, “The fascists shall not pass! No pasaran!” It became the motto of the Spanish anti-fascist Republican, and this song was used in their campaigns:

Ahí van marchando los milicianos
Van para el frente con gran valor.
A dar sus vidas se van cantando
Antes que triunfe Franco el traidor.
En el espacio van los fascistas
Bombas aéreas destrozarán
La bella urbe capitalina
Pero a Madrid . . . ¡No PASARÁN!
Matan mujeres, niños, y ancianos
Que por las calles suelen andar.
Esta es la hazaña de los fascistas
Que allá en la historia se ha de grabar
Si sangre de héroes regó los campos
Bellas simientes resurgirán
El cañón ruje, tiembla la tierra
Pero a Madrid . . . ¡NO PASARÁN!
There march the militiamen
With great valor to the front.
They go singing to give their lives
Lest Franco, the traitor. triumph.
The fascists are in the skies
Their aerial bombs may destroy
Our beautiful capital city
But to Madrid . . . They Shall Not Pass!
They kill women, children, and the elderly
Who are out and about on the streets
This is the deed of the fascists
Which will be inscribed in history.
Where heroes’ blood watered the fields
Beautiful seedlings will flourish.
The cannon roars, the earth trembles
But to Madrid . . . They Shall Not Pass!

= from  Women in World History, Primary Sources



Nadya and her fellow Rioter, Maria Alyokhina, have recently been speaking out on the American fascist tendencies revealed in the Trump campaign – particularly since Trump has been expressing admiration for their arch-nemisis Vladimir Putin – and warning the American people of what may happen.  “Here, all who are in opposition to Putin are in the security services’ sights. Our mail is read, our phones tapped and we are watched. And that is not the limit — some of us have been killed,” Alyokhina said in an interview, referencing the murder of former deputy prime minister Boris Nemstov, who was killed last year.

Nadya released a potent graphic last month aimed at the Trump campaign:


[Nadya’s comments indicate that this is an electric chair!]

Alyokhina also made this amazing statement, which seems to speak so directly to our situation: “Artists should make more powerful statements than politicians. We must change the world and its ways so that politics breathlessly runs after art.”

Maybe we are in the post-political period. Maybe politics are truly meaningless, just an anachronistic facade in America now. Maybe that’s why I feel so depressed and unable to relate to the whole thing in a positive way.

Maybe that’s why my strongest feelings are !No pasaran!

Hey, Progressives! Your White Privilege Is Showing.

Harsh, but chillingly true. We need to wake up and smell the BS…

the poetic arsenal

I used to vote with my conscience. Now I vote with my allies.

Like many young white progressives, I was a vocal Bernie supporter during the primaries. I hated Hillary the war criminal, and abhorred the idea of being forced to press the button for her. Back in 2000, I voted for Ralph Nader. Sure, his chances of actually winning were less than zero, but hey, I voted with my conscience.

My conscience has since learned to embrace empathy, pragmatism, and folks who don’t look like me. My conscience is also 110% clear in voting for Hillary, and the key factor in my change of heart is the constant battle to check my own white privilege.

I saw the writing on the wall watching Bernie speak at a packed rally in St. Paul. The “political revolution” was in full swing, and the rapt audience waxed ecstatic about the electricity in…

View original post 775 more words