My Worst Symptom: I’m Weary Of It All

This is my sixth week living in our new paradigm. For the most part I’m doing okay, but there are times I feel an overwhelming emotional exhaustion. It isn’t brought on by fear of contracting COVID -19 or anxiety for the future or even the demands of social distancing. It’s because I feel like we’re walking a long road while at the same time those who should be leading us forward have tied a rope around our waists and are pulling us backwards. It’s like swimming against the tide. An uphill climb. Or walking into a headwind. Pick your metaphor. But it’s wearing me out.

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My Silver Linings Playbook

Believing as I do that the words we use influence the way we experience the world, I have decided that rather than referring to this current situation as a “crisis” I will instead use the word “opportunity.”

I don’t mean to make light of what’s going on. My sunny outlook is entirely situational of course, and not in any way meant to downplay the very real and very serious impact of this pandemic: death, illness, sacrifice, extreme economic hardship, social isolation, anxiety, and more.

It’s just that for me and for many millions of others, doing our part to comply with stay-at-home orders means changing our expectations and our mindsets rather than enduring any actual hardship. Having to work from home, spend more time with my spouse and my cat, wear gloves and maintain social distancing, and watch a lot of Netflix isn’t exactly a crisis. It’s an opportunity.

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The Week That America Died

This is the week that I lost my faith.

This is the week that Donald Trump was acquitted of charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress by a Republican Senate so cowed by his bullying that they are willing to empower him to shred the very document that they have sworn to protect and defend. He has now claimed total vindication and is completely untethered from any real or perceived limitations on his self-enriching, autocratic, vindictive tendencies.

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How To Beat a Bully

Chinese Finger Trap

I get a knot in the pit of my stomach when I listen to the current occupant of the White House. The rambling incoherence is bad enough, but I really get dispirited from the taunting and the belittling and the name calling. And from the way his loyal followers and trusted advisers stand behind him and give him encouragement. It’s so ugly. So familiar. It evokes such visceral images of high school that I can practically feel the acne erupting.

If you mentally superimpose an image of a school cafeteria behind him when he speaks, Trump’s behavior becomes crystal clear: The school bully, emboldened by his minions standing behind him. They snigger when he mocks the kid with the disability. The pretty girlfriend at his side smiles her bloodless smile when he calls the smart girl names. They all laugh when he cracks a joke at someone else’s expense. They whoop and encourage him.

Around them, the other kids stand uncomfortably, looking down at their shoes, not wanting to say anything, because then the attacks will surely be turned on them. Better to stay quiet and safe. Out of the line of fire.

The bully isn’t the popular kid. No one actually likes him. But there will always be those kids who are broken enough inside that they’re willing to latch onto him. Sad, lonely, unhappy people who find a sense of belonging with other sad, lonely, unhappy people. They like the security that comes from being part of his crowd. And the bully draws his power from the ugliness that they feed back to him, like some perverse super-villain. Without them, his power would vanish.

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Help! I Don’t Know How to Write About What’s On My Mind

Rather than being a wonderful opportunity for me to share ideas and discuss alternate viewpoints on important topics, I’m finding this blog to be one giant frustration. There are so many topics I want to discuss, but I can’t seem to figure out how to write about any of them in a way Continue reading “Help! I Don’t Know How to Write About What’s On My Mind”

Invictus: I Am the Captain of My Soul

Sometimes we’re lucky and stumble upon just the right thing at just the right time. I felt precisely that way when I re-discovered this poem:

Invictus
by William Ernest Henley

Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds and shall find me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate,
I am the captain of my soul.

I Fear Insurance Companies More Than a “Government Takeover”

Patient and doctor consulting

I worry a lot about the state of health care in the US. The system we have now is unsatisfactory and unsustainable. And access to health care is so vital. But I don’t see a solution coming any time soon.

The most common argument offered against the US moving to a system of universal health care (whether it is “Medicare For All” or whatever) is that it will be a “government takeover” of our health care. It will “give the power and control over health care decisions to the bureaucrats in Washington DC.”

The idea that “The Government” is going to be making your medical decisions is supposed to scare the hell out of you. It’s supposed to conjure up images of some bureaucrat in a cheap suit sitting in a nondescript office in Washington writing prescriptions and deciding whether or not Grandpa gets to have his chemotherapy this week. OMG “Death Panels!” The Democrats want to turn us into Venezuela! This is a typical scare tactic by conservatives and the CEOs of multinational corporations who think that our money works better when its in their bank accounts. “The Government is the enemy! Be afraid!” We’ve heard it all before: in the 90s they wanted to privatize Social Security. Then it was Charter Schools. And then privatizing roads and bridges all over the country. In the US, we’ve been trained over the last 40 years to believe that the Free Market is our friend and that The Government is our enemy. And we’re convinced. Because a fear of The Government plays nicely off of our historical enmity of Communism and fear of its “political twin” Socialism.

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