Category Archives: arm wresting

Trump Signals the End of Our Democracy

My brother, Bob, used to talk about the impending end of our democracy. I am glad that Bob did not live to see it.

The end has arrived. It is embodied in the man recently elected – not by popular vote but by the Electoral College – to the highest position in this country. the President of the United States.

If you don’t believe me, please read American Has Never Been More Ripe for Tyranny.

This is not Facebook hype or Twitter trash. This is article is well-thought out; it is insightful and it is terrifying. Written in May of this year, 2016, before the primaries, before the conventions, before the debates, its author predicts what was going to happen.

It has happened.

Andrew Sullivan builds his case meticulously, without rhetoric, without “sound and fury” but brick by brick.  Sullivan quotes the work of another author, Sinclair Lewis. Perhaps you read his novels in high school. But most of us never read or even heard of It Can’t Happen Here – Lewis’ 1935 novel about what would happen if fascism…were to triumph in America.

Lewis imagined American fascist leader is Senator called Buzz Windrip —  a “Professional Common Man …who was vulgar, almost illiterate, a public liar easily detected, and in his ‘ideas’ almost idiotic.”

The description sounds familiar but Windrip was fiction written more than 80 years ago. Unfortunately, Sinclair Lewis’ writing, like Sullivan’s, was predictive, as well.

Read the article. It will scare you but it will also help you understand how we come to have Donald Trump as the President Elect of the United States of America. If you don’t want to read the entire article, read the final paragraph. It pretty much says it all for me:

“…Trump is not just a wacky politician of the far right, or a riveting television spectacle, or a Twitter phenom and bizarre working-class hero. He is not just another candidate to be parsed and analyzed by TV pundits in the same breath as all the others. In terms of our liberal democracy and constitutional order, Trump is an extinction-level event. It’s long past time we started treating him as such.”

We are witnessing the end of democracy in America. I, for one, will be glad to leave this world before it gets as bad as I think it will.

 

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10 Ideas for Living a Good Life in Bad Times

Face it. We live in a very uncomfortable time with some very uncomfortable realities.

Donald Trump is actually a viable candidate for President. The alternative, Hillary Clinton, is no better than La Donald, just a different shape and different background. On November 8th, 2016, the American public gets to choose between a male bully with megalomania and  no morals or a female cobra with ever-changing ethics and situational morals.

Can you say Hobson’s choice?

Whoever wins this election, these United States are in for a rough ride, facing international sanctions and national crises — all of our own making and all born of greed and the overweening desire for power and control.

I can’t change any of this. All I can do is live my small life. You can’t change any of this either. So, this morning, I offer a way for you and I and anyone else who is tired of the trash talk, afraid of the looming future and worried about their loved ones, some insights from  one of my very favorite intellectuals, writers, and muses.

Maria Popova offers 10 core values which, she has gleaned over the 10 years of writing her amazing blog – Brain Pickings

My Sunday mornings are spent with a cup of coffee and her newsletter – my break, my solitude, my weekly dose of philosophy, culture, insight, learning and being.

I offer Popova as an antidote to the idiocy we see all around us. I offer her as peace in a world fraught with panic. I hope she brings you the same joy that she brings me.

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A Fundamental Life

I spent most of yesterday at a funeral in Philadelphia.

It was an Italian funeral which started with 3 hours in church, the viewing, the mass, Communion, the recessional. Then the burial in a small graveyard right behind the church. The afternoon blended into evening, ending with a catered 6 course dinner.

Leila was 90 when she died. She lived her entire life in a small Italian neighborhood in Philadelphia. Loved and loving, she was surrounded by sons, grandchildren, great grandchildren and friends — in life and in death.

As I witnessed this gentle good-bye, I realized that Leila lived and died exactly the way I want to. She lived what I call a fundamental life. That’s not to say she denied herself any of the usual pleasures, a good meal, good wine, books, friends, community but she didn’t need all the “stuff” many people think they need today to feel happy.

Leila didn’t have the latest iPhone. She didn’t want or need high-speed internet, satellite television, Sirius radio or GPS. No constant noise, no endless entertainment, no need to shop for new clothes or new shoes or new anything, Leila already had everything she needed to be happy.

She cooked her own food. she cleaned her own house, washed her own clothes and walked, everywhere. And her house was beautiful. Always welcoming and always filled with friends or family or both, it wasn’t a decorator’s show home. Her furniture was not new; her dishes and silverware didn’t always match and sometimes we drank wine from Mason jars.

But Leila’s house, her home, was always filled with the aroma of homemade Italian or German food, quiet conversation, and laughter. Her door was always open and her smile was ready. This was a place where everyone felt at home.

I only met her a few times but each time I was struck by her joy, her kindness, the light in her eyes and the smile that lit up her face. I felt lucky to have spent some time with her. Those who spent their lifetimes in her presence must have felt truly blessed.

Leila left us this week but she left behind the sure knowledge that we don’t need “stuff” to fill up our lives; we need each other. We need simple acts of kindness. We need time alone, time with nature, time with those we love. We need to clear the clutter, stop the noise and come home, to ourselves and to our families.

We need to live more fundamental lives.

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Non-Violent Protests Work

The next time you are feeling helpless in the face of crooked elections and even more crooked politicians, think about employing some non-violent actions to start making the change you want.

The next time you are angry at mega corporations like Monsanto for polluting the food chain and our drinking water, but don’t think you can make a difference, think about boycotting the business.

Those are just 2 of the ways you can make a difference. One of the TED Talk presenters in this week’s newsletter offers 196 other ways to force change where it’s needed.

Those of you who know me, know I love TED Talks for all kinds of reasons. Here’s another one I love. Jamila Raqib , Executive Director of the Albert Einstein Institution, focuses on how non-violent protests have worked, around the world, and how they might just work for you….for us.

Raqib calls this movement a type of non-violent arms race.  She shares a document created by her mentor, Gene Sharp, that lists 198 methods of non-violent protest. Raqib also points out that a unified strategy helps boycotts to win the fight.

My biggest concern this Father’s Day morning is how to stop big money and big power from stealing the election out of the hands of the very people who really are supposed to be the ones who elect people to office.

Donald Trump may just implode on his own or be helped out the door by his fellow Republicans. It’s unlikely that Hillary Clinton and her mega-donors will as she represents many of the largest donors of political history.

Also, Clinton wants to win at any cost and has proven that by using bully tactics and what, in any other context would be considered bribery, to keep trying to silence those of us who support Bernie Sanders.

Unless we, the people, unite and engage in a unified, strategic and non-violent fight, we will watch Bernie Sanders, his ideals, his ethics and his desire to help his country be washed away in a tidal wave of political maneuvering and back room brokering.

Here’s hoping that Bernie Sander’s team is planning some non-violent protests at the nominating convention in Philadelphia. Let’s join in and make a difference.

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Carl Jung’s Words of Advice for the Depressed – Beyond Meds

Please don’t let Carl Jung’s name put you off reading this. It is an amazing post from Jason E. Smith, founder of Heartsfire Counseling and a Jungian psychotherapist.

In my younger days I suffered from depression. I can honestly say that I don’t know anyone who has not fought the twin demons of rage and depression.

Smith explores Jung’s approach to both and shares some practical advice from Jung, himself, on how to do battle with both.

“From Jung’s point of view there is a hidden intention in depression. It “forces us downwards.” This is not, as it might sound, a punishment for arrogance, but rather a consequence of having become cut off from the human, instinctual part of ourselves.”

Source: Carl Jung’s Words of Advice for the Depressed – Beyond Meds

Also, if you are thinking of sharing this post, please adhere to Smith’s copyright requirements:

All rights to original works reserved. No works may be reproduced without permission. Brief quotes may be used with a link and attribution back to the source.

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Great Advice for Women Over Fifty

About 5 years ago, I wrote a tongue in cheek bit about what it really means to grow older in this bless-ed country!

When you are growing old in the land of nip & tuck, lose weight, dye hair, look young(er), it can be tough to see any humor in the fact that, like it or not, you just tipped over the waterfall of life and are heading towards the end with incredible speed and a few chin hairs.

But there is humor here and I just stumbled on another writer who started my morning with a laugh.

Michele Combs, a blogger (and software programmer tackled this topic about a year ago, on her blog, Rubber Shoes in Hell. She neatly sums up answers to the age-old question of, “..what not to wear when you are over 50.

The article is a rif on all the fashion tips readily available for we aging warriors. Combs does a bang up job of it. If you liked this article, try Part II of what not to wear if you over 50 because I loved it too.

This advice is solid, it makes me laugh and it reinforces my idea that there are some very important items that I really don’t want to wear anymore. I can listen to my own voice, now. I can wear, do, say whatever I want because I answer to no one now. No boss. No societal constraints. No voice in my ear telling me, “no, no, no!

And there never will be, again.  Stand up tall, women of a certain age, and finally, finally, claim your independence. And Michele Combs? Bang on as the Brits would say, bang on!

 

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Amazing Thinking & Amazing Insights from BrainPickings

My Osteopath introduced me to Brain Pickings.

It’s hard to put this eclectic, philosophical, introspective and intriguing site into words but founder, collator, researcher, writer and bottle washer, Maria Popova offers this description:

“Brain Pickings is my one-woman labor of love — a subjective lens on what matters in the world and why. Mostly, it’s a record of my own becoming as a person — intellectually, creatively, spiritually — and an inquiry into how to live and what it means to lead a good life.”

Every week, when I click through a link in Popova’s newsletter, I feel like I imagine Alice felt when she fell down the rabbit hole and into Wonderland. But this Wonderland is more of a literary and intellectual salon — a place of good food, good wine, good conversation and always, good insights.

In one of these rabbit holes, I discovered why I did what I did for a living despite the fact that it was mind numbing and simultaneously self important.  I worked in corporations. I know how much there is to do, how good it feels to cross off items on your list of work.

I could never articulate just how intellectually and spiritually deadening my work environment was.  Then Popova shared a passage written almost 70 years ago by writer Willa Cather who was writing in response to her long time companion, Sarah Jewitt:

My Dear, Dear Miss Jewett;

Such a kind and earnest and friendly letter as you sent me! I have read it over many times. I have been in deep perplexity these last few years, and troubles that concern only one’s habits of mind are such personal things that they are hard to talk about. You see I was not made to have to do with affairs — what Mr. McClure calls “men and measures.”

If I get on at that kind of work it is by going at it with the sort of energy most people have to exert only on rare occasions. Consequently I live just about as much during the day as a trapeze performer does when he is on the bars — it’s catch the right bar at the right minute, or into the net you go. I feel all the time so dispossessed and bereft of myself.

My mind is off doing trapeze work all day long and only comes back to me when it is dog tired and wants to creep into my body and sleep. I really do stand and look at it sometimes and threaten not to take it in at all — I get to hating it so for not being any more good to me. Then reading so much poorly written matter as I have to read has a kind of deadening effect on me somehow.

I know that many great and wise people have been able to do that, but I am neither large enough nor wise enough to do it without getting a kind of dread of everything that is made out of words. I feel diluted and weakened by it all the time — relaxed, as if I had lived in a tepid bath until I shrink from either heat or cold.

Popova finishes these observations with this very salient quote from Parker Palmer, “… “the tighter we cling to the norm of effectiveness the smaller the tasks we’ll take on.”

That was my life; don’t let it be yours.

 

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