“Where Were You When…”

 

There are certain movies that, as soon as the first image comes to life on the screen, you know with out a doubt, what year you are looking at. Maybe it’s the type of car that passes in the opening credits. Sometimes it’s the clothing the actors are wearing. It strikes the mood in an intended way, as directed by the script. Usually the time of occurrence is integral to the plot.

But certain movies are unavoidably tied to a specific time period due to iconic events. As soon as that is flashed on the screen, no matter when the movie is trying to portray, we automatically know this movie is history.

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As soon as you see this, you know a specific time period, specific circumstances. If you lived it, songs on the radio that summer, smells from events that took place, people you haven’t seen since then. Feelings that you felt from seeing such an amazing sight.

I hope that historians will look back at our current situation and see this image of Lady Liberty under repair, as how they describe the nation. It is a fitting metaphor for our society right now.

After hundreds of years of storms, hurricanes, earthquakes… dirt and damage due to neglect has left a noticeable mark on Liberty! The torch does not shine quite as bright as it did not so long ago. She STILL stands, but no one seems to notice the beauty as much as they used to. “Yeah, yeah… we know. What else ya’ got?”

I suppose that’s the problem with such a beautiful thing. You take for granted the idea that this powerful force stands with you everyday and you don’t stop and recognize just how wonderful it is. So many long to see her and make a point of visiting, just once, and then hope one day, they can make this place their home, too. To Us, it’s as reflexive as inhaling or blinking.

Until one day… there’s talk of changing it. What?!! There’s nothing wrong with her? Look… Keep your hands off my Lady! She’s the best thing in the world and ain’t you, or NO ONE gonna change that! You hear me?!!

Then the scaffolding goes up…

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And now, that beautiful lady we didn’t want to leave, has faded from view. It’s temporary they say, but it hurts none the less. It forces us to remember just how precious having her around really is. But even more than that, it awakens a love deep within us we didn’t know was there. Seeing things in a way not seen in hundreds of years…

My God, when she’s gone, how we ache! And the comfort, and safe feeling… I wish EVERYONE could feel that way, forever. The gift of universal love and acceptance shining brightly, we must recommit to it and reaffirm just how wonderful she is!

Anyone can tell you, after so many years, every relationship has to be worked on. It cannot just sit and “be”. As we all grow, so too must our connections to others. Things get rough from time to time, and sometimes, when something separates people, it can rekindle a passion long forgotten. It will force you to question what is the priority and what is the obstacle. Having that destination in mind, of returning to that warm embrace, clarifies and emboldens.

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And both understand, that this commitment is only an optional thing. We knew going into this, that we could change it at ANY POINT. The majority of relationships before ours have been dissolved, and odds are stacked against us. Some days its hard to see the common ground we want to achieve. Some days we think maybe there is greener grass. But there is something to be said for the comfort we get from being in a relationship with Liberty. The ability to chose, to bend, to grow. The freedom to gain scars from failed endeavors, and know a place to heal awaits us in times of trouble.

As disconnected as we sometimes feel we are, when we see her, we remember why we get out of bed some mornings. Because we gotta try and get it right… if not for me, then for Her.

Keep your head UP.

JC

 

The Breaking of a Moral Compass

During WWII, Americans were called upon to aid in the war effort. By sacrificing here, “The boys in Europe won’t go without!” When asked “What are YOU doing to fight the enemy?”, average Americans could point to their ‘Victory Garden’. That helps keep our boys fed ‘over there’! It made the war’s end seem achievable with a point of unity. Together, we can see this through. No doubt that helped win the war.

After September 11, 2001, the public ached from the sudden loss, just as at the beginning of WWII. As our anger and grief turned to concern and support for our troops in a new war, average Americans again asked what they could do to contribute to the effort, to bring closure to such a deep wound.

George W. Bush told us that we should continue our lives like before. Go buy a car. Spend money. The goal of the enemy is to disrupt your daily life. In essence… Go shopping or the Terrorists win.

THAT has improperly closed a MASSIVE wound in the Nation’s collective mindset. By the account of most observers, GWB had cute ‘mannerisms’, and that the go shopping statement was a kinda joke…. ha ha. But average Americans did as told. Having faith in the system of justice and our moral high ground seeming to be on secure footing, we did just as he asked, hoping that THIS might sooner bring an end to the pain we felt from that day’s loss.

A seemingly unending war on an idea. An idea being fought with ignorance. In order to secure ourselves, we must push away those who would only seek to help and strengthen your position. In order to fight this anger and hate, we must unite in anger and hate toward our enemy- An idea that fear and anger are the winners in a discussion of ideas.

… are you confused yet?

The enemies of Our Country are fighting this battle RIGHT NOW. The Russian attempt to influence US Elections was successful. They INFLUENCED Americans, motivated people to ACTION here in the USA, to go to demonstrations, and executed it all from OUTSIDE the US.

This was Round #1. They are ONLY getting started.

Most of us aren’t even AWARE there is a war going on.

To be Blunt for a moment…. All Americans consume a steady diet of news from an obviously deeply interested corporate media titan of one type or another. It is a fact, even if you were not fully aware of it. And no matter who you are, or what color your favorite Kool-Aid is, we ALL recognize ONE THING:

ALL of them are full of it.

Weather you consume yours with ‘red sauce’, or you prefer ‘blue sauce’, in the middle, under all that ‘sauce’… is still a big pile of it. But we are still not fully aware of the magnitude of the battle.

The problem is our bullshit is being compromised.

PROPOGANDA designed to invoke a feeling. Our enemy knows what makes us ‘tick’, and can be sneaky. There is a BATTLE going on on your smart phone, in your email box, and even on your Facebook page. You are in the crossfire everyday you participate in the virtual world. Every American, and every citizen on this planet who values free speech, is in a war.

“What can Americans do to help win the war? We Want to Help!”

This Battle will require us all to secure our individual identities. To make ourselves digitally secure. It also requires EVERYONE of us to become computer literate. To become masters of our own identities. Just as one would with a social security number and driver’s license, etc. Your virtual digital identity is even more important. So, the “Call to Arms” for the citizens of THIS moment is a simple one. The MOST EFFECTIVE WEAPON against the bad actor with bad intentions is still the same-

“Arm yourselves with KNOWLEDGE.”

Keep your head UP!!

JC

 

“…this is necessary. Life, feeds on life, feeds on this…”

“Doctor has just returned most enthusiastic and confident that the little boy is as husky as his big brother. The light in his eyes discernible from here to High Hold and I could have heard his screams from here to my farm.” 16 July, 1945

“Operated on this morning. Diagnosis not yet complete but results seem satisfactory and already exceed expectations. Local press release necessary as interest extends great distance. Dr. Groves pleased. He returns tomorrow. I will keep you posted.” 18 July, 1945

As Harry S Truman was crossing the Atlantic, on his way to Potsdam, he received the news. Humanity had just given birth to giant baby monster. As WWII engulfed the planet, claiming souls in battle and from the ‘cost of war’, a quick end to fighting was now at hand. The fortitude of our enemies was apparent. Their resolve, just as strong as ours. Truman knew who was fighting and dying in this war- the families on the farms back home in Kansas City, and countless other “back-homes” from State to State.

He made his decision with THOSE FAMILIES in mind. Good intentions. Horrible situation. Horrible choices.

A “Necessary evil”

Humanity seemed to be on the cusp of splitting the atom in the 1930s and 1940s. Just a matter of time before the theoretical became physical. The geniuses conceiving this ‘little boy’ also understood the vast POTENTIAL that could come from splitting the atom. The possibilities of vast amounts of free energy where almost tangible… so they tried to tell themselves as they tried to digest what they witnessed at the Trinity test site.

 

Trinity_test_(LANL)
Image from Wikipedia. Only known COLOR photograph of the first atomic bomb.

 

Attempting to judge the merit of these decisions is difficult. Truman made a cold mathematical calculation, less casualties > everything else. FDR decided that the US having that technology was better than Germany having that technology. Einstein brought the idea of splitting the atom to the attention of The President. (AND he created the damned theories that made it possible… way to go, Einstein!!)

Now, balance that with all we know NOW. The decisions made IN THE NOW are, tomorrow, undefinable. Example- Bugs Bunny. (…stick with me…) The Warner Bros. cartoons, the ones with GUN toting animated characters off to fight Hitler, are the “Adult Swim” or “Family Guy” of that era. I just NOW made that “Family Guy” connection, consider this… when people watch “Family Guy in 2088, how many jokes will they understand? 70 years from now? How many gags are in an EPISODE of “Family Guy”, let alone an entire SEASON?!! Yeah. wow. In the Warner Bros. cartoons, each animated short had, what… 2 or 3 pop culture references?? Family Guy is just an unbroken stream of pop culture references for 23 minutes.

SO MUCH of the NOW that those minds were dealing with THEN has evaporated. One can try to gain an understanding by reading the papers at the Truman Library, but some things are not contained in a dossier. They are only in the moment. And so it was decided. With the facts and emotions in hand, we had a baby.

Babies need THINGS to… exist. It seems that everyone involved in the conception knew what a HUGE responsibility this would be before it happened, so there had to be preparations beforehand. We might not get it right the first time, so we would probably need to practice a few times to perfect it. That would mean an assembly line of some sort… wait. I crossed my metaphors… oops. You get the idea. So… since there was no ‘Thermonuclear-Parts-R-Us’ yet-

We had to Create one.

The most honorable responsibilities imparted to the men and women in the development of our nuclear technology, past and present, are great. Humanity envisioned a method to unlock the power of the universe and manifested it in reality. At that time, we were only just beginning to see the powers of the Universe are quite inhospitable toward life. The sacred honor of protecting humanity would need to go hand-in-hand with the honor of attaining this knowledge. No less humility should be given to such a tremendous force. The ability to destroy ourselves became the tool used to protect ourselves.

The honorable and sacred duty of guarding the Nuclear Weapons being necessary at all costs, the diverse entities needed to build the arsenal were now under an umbrella of protection due to their roll in the bomb’s production.

…we must build the bombs to protect the bombs we must build the bombs to protect the bombs we must…

A COMPLEX network of INDUSTRY was put together to support the MILITARY. A MILITARY INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX, if you will. It had become necessary, the honorable position. “What do you do?” “I help keep America safe. I build the____ on our Nuclear weapons.”

But now, 70 years later, the honor of that duty has been minimized. “I often worry Thought will fail to wing his way home, but my fear for Memory is greater.” The honor has been exploited for profit due to the guaranteed commitment to protecting the arsenal AT ALL COSTS. Like the Royal Guard at Buckingham Palace, no matter what you throw at them, do to them, they will continue with the sacred honor entrusted to them.

And so it is with our Nuclear Infrastructure. It must NEVER be compromised. It is our protection, our assurance, that others will not use their Nuclear Infrastructure to destroy our ability to use our Nuclear Infrastructure to protect…

AT ALL COSTS.

We have reached a point were the jury must decide if the mother should be condemned for stealing the loaf of bread to feed her child. A crime that is NO CRIME. Something no one would allow to happen, yet would never look down upon. YOU MUST FEED THE BABY! It is the sacred duty.

How does this change? You make sure the mother has all the tools and support necessary so breaking the law is not an option. Education. Knowledge. Openness. Oversight. Regulations. Support.

A quote from George W. Bush, as played by Will Ferrell on SNL-

“This is HARD!”

Keep your head up.

 

Kim Jong-un vs. “…Your Mom!”

I am… a giant. At 6’4″, 175 lbs, I stand above everyone. With RARE exception, I can either see over a large crowd unobstructed or my hat (a SpongeBob SquarePants Yellow hat) can bee seen over everyone. I am instantly shocked when someone taller walks into the room. Because it never happens! I have been tall all my life. Tallest in class, tallest in the school. Taller than all but one of my teachers. (second grade, my teacher was 6’1″. I was only 5’6″.) I was the tallest kid in my elementary school at the beginning of 5th grade, but at some point that year, Mindi hit her growth spurt and passed me by a couple inches.

I think that’s the reason I had a crush on her.

When I was in Cub Scouts, around 13 yrs old, my friend Tim’s Mom was our Den Mother. I was 5’6″ or so and a mouthy thirteen year old, and she was as tough as a wolf mother, and not even 4’6″ tall… To my eyes, it was a DRAMATIC height difference. And, being a 13 year old, I liked to… um, kindly reference our differences in height…? (did anyone buy that?)

Right. I would smart off “Oh yeah? What’cha gonna do about it, shorty?”

…. quick aside here. As I write this, I have in my minds eye a scene where I am being sarcastic with Tim’s Mom. I HOPE that’s how it was? I sound like a hell-child writing it out loud! I HOPE that’s how it came across. If not, I guess, Look for my “Apologies and Retractions” section, coming soon!… sigh…

SO, smart-ass me says “What’cha gonna do about it, shorty?” And, bless her heart, all four-foot-nothing walks right up to me, serious as can be, looks me in the eyes and says “No matter how tall you get, I can ALWAYS stand on a chair.”

boom.

She was a wonderful woman. Very caring, loved her being our Den Mother. So she had earned our respect, and each of us tried to show it. And we had seen he grab Tim’s ear a time or two, so we knew NOT to piss her off!

I could not think of a better person to be engaging overseas with aggressive foreign leaders on behalf of the People of the United States. Honestly, who could make decisions that reflect the overall wellbeing of the ENTIRE US better than “…Your Mom!” I would say, in fact, IF Tim’s Mom were to run in 2020, that would be the ONLY possible opponent I could not defeat.

After all, she could just stand on a chair.

 

Race, Sex, and Gender IRL

As a white male, when I interact with humans (being socially awkward to a degree, I avoid this interaction as much as possible), I have come to expect a certain reaction from people. Maybe not reaction, a better word might be impression. As I assume all people do, they look a person in the eyes and usually see from most people some type of reaction. Inquisitive eyes, happy eyes, etc. Often, I see happy eyes looking back at me since I wear a yellow SpongeBob SquarePants hat. One of the main reasons I like wearing it.

I have learned to appreciate this, as not everyone receives this. As a young man, one of my Father’s best friends was a 6’6″ black man named ‘Magic’. His real name was Verdon, so I see why he preferred Magic. He had a chance to go pro and play for the KC Royals back in the ’80s, but due to a family illness, he chose not to try out. Very good man with a big heart. He went on to greatness when he helped my Father coach my little league baseball team, leading us to second place overall, and 1st place in the B-flight tournament.

That’s not my point… Some time after I turned 21, we went out to a local dive bar named “The Crossroads”. So, suburban Kansas City, after work. Handful of Harley-Davidsons out front,  couple of pick-ups… average white suburban hole-in-the-wall bar with darts, pool tables. This was the FIRST time I had gone out with my Uncle Magic just him and myself.

I will never forget it.

When we walked in, a quick pan across the room showed 20 to 30 middle aged white men, a handful of white, middle aged women, classic rock playing on the jukebox, people laughing can carrying on… A bar. BUT, as Magic and I walked in. He’s 6’6″ and BLACK,not brown or tan, but BLACK. I’m a 6’4″ white beanpole, maybe my whiteness helped contrast the difference, like a polar bear in a tropical forest, but EVERY set of eyes turned and trained on us. EVERY ONE. For a good couple seconds, they looked. To me, it was like a punch in the face. I stopped. I assume my mouth was agape. In my head it was! But Magic slapped me on the back and said something like “Come on, what’cha havin’?”

We didn’t outright discuss it. But I said something like “Did you see that?” He noticed that I had never seen that before. But it was obvious that he sees that ALL THE TIME. As if the situation was just another day, he blew it off and we went and grabbed a pool table.

It angered me. As I thought about it over time, I tried to empathize and thought “Maybe they don’t have a whole lotta black friends? Maybe its just Magic’s massive build?” I didn’t realize at that time. Not for many months, it didn’t occur that that situation could have been a dangerous situation. As I sit and write this now, I wonder how many times a situation like that DID turn dangerous for him. Just because he is a black man.

I look at a person and begin to size them up from the get-go. Nothing concrete, impressions can change, as they should. But a person’s outward appearance says a lot about where they come from, where they’re going. To me, in my mind, these things say NOTHING about a person’s inner character. They give information about ones decision making process, but say nothing about their future potential. I went to the Urgent Care center a few years back with a persistent cough. After an hour wait in the lobby, I went back, saw a nurse, answered the questions (where’s it hurt, how long, let’s take your temp) and then waited for the doctor. She came in, sized up the situation, and wrote me a prescription. She said, “This will take care of it. Have any problems, call or come back and see me.”

I said thank you and extended my hand to say thanks, to wrap up the evaluation and show my appreciation. She was shocked. A bit ecstatic, but shocked would be the word. As if she did not expect I would want to shake her hand, or did not receive this simple gesture of appreciation from men too often? There is a lot of assumption on my part here. Maybe she was happy I didn’t ask for Percocet or Oxy, IDK. But, to me, its seems insane that a medical professional would NOT be shown this simple gesture by everyone she evaluates.

Regardless a person’s race, gender, age, we ALL have important attributes that are valued by everyone, and we should remember to show appreciation for that. Sometimes our ignorance can come across as judgement of others if we do not express how we are feeling. Communication. It’s required by businesses of its employees to be tolerant of others differences, because we know everyone has the SAME CAPABILITIES ON THE INSIDE. As HUMANS, we ALL work the same, we are put together a bit differently from model to model, but the ‘manufacturer’ is the same. Expressing this from time to time is important.

In real life, we all want to feel we have a role to play, a place we are needed. Sometimes expressing a limitation within yourself to someone else,as a sign of empathy or compassion can change a mind, and open a dialogue once thought impossible.

Expressing our own ignorance, AND the desire to become more enlightened, will see unity FASTER than a speeding bullet. I may not know EVERYTHING, but I CAN someday, with help from others, know everything. And that is the path I am on, and I know I share this path with many others. We just gotta talk about it more often, to more people, with confidence.

And, again, being introverted, I understand it can be hard. Baby steps, right?

Keep your head UP!!