Amidst the Rubble, Flowers Grow

When we’re quarantined with one person, together day in and day out, what happens or can happen between us?

 

The pandemic, magnified by the negligence and mismanagement by the DT administration, has led to isolation and anxiety; it has cost almost one-half a million American lives and over 10 million jobs. It has upset the entire way millions of people live. And losing jobs, losing homes, losing in-person in-school instruction, for example, is not just an inconvenience. It is an unquestioned loss, of stability, of hope, and of income.

 

But can we, at least with our loved ones, re-imagine our time together? Many of us have already begun to do so. Our lives have been simplified. I’m retired and live with just my wife and pets and this is clearly true for me. Are we “stuck” together while quarantined from others? Or are we privileged? If we have less to do and fewer distractions, maybe we can get closer to those we live with instead of taking our fear out on each other. Frightening as it has often been, maybe we can learn to see ourselves and each other more directly and kindly.

 

D. E. Harding, in his book, On Having No Head: Zen and the Re-Discovery of the Obvious, proposes ways to directly encounter our true self. Many of us imagine we are our memories, habits, a self with a head and body standing at a distance and separate from what we see. But one day Harding saw himself differently. He was actually walking in the Himalayas, the sky and air absolutely clear, and suddenly “all mental chatter died down.” Just looking around was completely absorbing. He forgot who he was. Past and future disappeared.

 

And when he looked internally, where he thought his head should be, he instead saw the clear blue sky, the outward scene where his eyes were pointed. He realized he “had lost a head and gained a world.” Or where a head should be situated, he carried the mountains and sky.

 

Imagine looking through a tube, one eye on one end, and our spouse, best friend, lover looking in the other. Eye to eye. This is a startling way to lose a head and gain an intimacy. (The exercise was inspired by Harding but created by Richard Lang, who led workshops worldwide on Harding’s teachings. See the article in the Spring 2021 Tricycle Magazine by Michael Haederle.)

 

There are similar meditation exercises. In sitting position, face another person, eyes to eyes. Breathe in. Breathe out. Together.

 

What do we see when we look in the tube or we face another person directly?

 

Every morning when I get up, after I put on my pants, I go downstairs to look for my wife. 90% of the time she is up before me. I find her in the kitchen or den. And I greet her cheerfully. It’s a promise I make to myself. No matter how well or poorly I sleep I am happy to see her. “Good morning. How are you? How did you sleep? What a day this is!” Being happy with her, I am happy with myself.

 

It’s almost a ritual, or a song we sing to make our house a home. No matter who any of us live with ⎼ children, parents, friends ⎼ or we’re alone, we can adapt the lyrics to fit the situation. But as best we can, make the tune loving, so we wake up to what’s most important ⎼ the nourishment love and kindness give us…..

 

To read the whole post, please go to The Good Men Project.

Freeing Our Minds: So We Don’t Feel Caught in A Place We Don’t Want to Be

In every life, there are moments (or months) that feel endless, when we don’t like where we are but fear we can never get to somewhere other than here, sometime other than now.

 

This is the nature of fear. It can hold us so tight in its embrace that one moment can seem eternal, and we forget all but a tiny fraction of who we are and what we are capable of being.

 

One such moment happened years ago, when I was hitch-hiking in Europe. Today, during the pandemic, it seems incomprehensible that anyone could have traveled so openly. At one point I was hitching from southern France to Sweden with Ingrid, a Swedish friend I had met in Nice, France. I was actually escorting her home, as she had run out of money to fly or take a train and I didn’t have enough to lend her⎼ and I wasn’t ready to say goodbye. The fastest and easiest route was through Germany. We decided to stop off in the capitol, Berlin, and found a ride to take us there.

 

It was 1966. Germany was divided into 4 zones: one controlled by the Union of Soviet-Socialist Republics, one by each of the main Western allies⎼ the U. S., Britain, and France. Berlin was similarly divided but was located in the East or the Soviet zone.

 

When we arrived at the border between East and West Germany, we found it to be a scene out of a war movie. It was heavily fortified. On the Eastern side, not only were there East German troops but Russians. An American troop convoy, with several truckloads of soldiers, had arrived just before we had, and the border guards were inspecting the vehicles before letting them through. This was the height of Soviet-American tensions from the Cold War. Just four years earlier was the Cuban Missile Crisis. Five years earlier, the Soviet-Russians ordered the wall between East and West Berlin to be built to stop people from escaping Soviet oppression.

 

Two border guards stopped our car and told Ingrid and me to get out. We were led inside a cement block building where we were searched and asked to take out our passports. When Ingrid opened her passport, her photo fell from the page to the floor. At that moment, everything stopped, and we froze in place. A large female soldier took Ingrid’s arm and led her to a back room. I was told to stay put.

 

While I was waiting, the driver came in with our back packs. He said he was told to continue on without us and left, wishing us luck.

 

Here we were, stuck at the East German border, with no ride, my friend being questioned in a back room, the authenticity of her passport now doubted by authorities hostile to both our nations. Any attempts by me to ask questions about Ingrid’s status were rebuffed.

 

And it was getting late in the day. Hitch-hiking across the border was difficult anytime, but at night, it could be dangerous….

 

*To read the whole post, please go to the Good Men Project.

The Cold of Winter, the Heat of Summer, and our Neighbors are not Abstractions

It’s snowing again. It has snowed heavily for a day or two, lightly for over a week. More snow. More cold.

 

Yet, it’s beautiful. White flakes fill the sky. When the wind speaks, the flakes whip around, the air itself excited.

 

How can we look at the snow and simply enjoy it, see only the white flakes, and see no other time but this? Back in November, the first snowfall was exciting. I couldn’t help but let my eyes delight in it. But now?

 

The snow and cold is what we mean by winter. Winter is not just a date on a calendar and time not just an abstraction. Dogen Zenji, a 13th century Japanese Zen teacher said, in reference to spring, “The time we call spring blossoms directly as an existence called flowers.” The time we call winter falls directly as an existence called snow. If we don’t like the cold, we can’t suddenly decide to love it, but we can love the fact that we can feel. Then, although we won’t suddenly warm up, rip off our winter clothes and run naked in the snow, we can be naked in our response and dress accordingly.

 

When we feel something we don’t like or that threatens us or is hurtful, we turn away. This is crucial to our survival. And when the threat is ongoing, we might want to turn away from anything or everything that reminds us of the danger. This can give us needed relief whether we’re facing immediate danger, trauma, or a malignant political administration.

 

But also crucial is noticing⎼ are we protecting ourselves from the threat, or from feeling the threat? Or from both? It’s awful to fear our fear so much we can’t see clearly what frightens us. We then don’t take needed action. As much as we are able in each moment, we need to see clearly enough to act.

 

Even though it was cold and snowing, I shoveled the path from my house and then took a walk up our hill. It was tough going. My wife and I live on a fairly steep rural road. A neighbor, who I had gotten to know slightly since I started taking daily walks during the pandemic, was out shoveling. After greeting him, he said to me, “Where is global warming now?” I thought, at first, he said it as a joke, but then realized it was a barb. We had had discussions about the climate before.

 

He said natural events, like volcanic eruptions, magma and the clouds they cause are warming the earth, not humans. I replied that global warming did not mean there would no longer be snow or cold. It meant there has been a raise in average temperature all over the world and an increase in destructive weather events, all happening too fast for it to be explained by volcanoes or other non-human processes.

 

I realized he wasn’t really listening to me and, distressingly, I didn’t have all the facts at hand. So I tried what I thought was common sense. “Isn’t it logical that all the air pollution caused by human manufacturing, fossil fuel energy, etc. would cause problems? That the released gases like carbon dioxide would create a sort of hothouse effect over the earth? And that we bear most of the responsibility for this increase in global temperature?”

Vocanic eruptions

He didn’t seem to know or want to know anything about carbon dioxide. So we switched gears. I wished him a good day and continued on my walk, resolved to go online when I got home to update my knowledge of global warming….

 

To read the whole piece, go to The Good Men Project.

Stories of Crows and People

If We Knew How We Dug Holes in the World, Maybe We Wouldn’t Fall in So Often.

 

 

Two crows come to feed in the yard where my wife scatters food. They sometimes seem to be living metaphors or myths, so black, as they sit on a limb, they’re a hole in the canvas of the sky.

 

Instead of getting domesticated and rushing to the area when she feeds them, the crows come to the yard at unpredictable times, remain independent and constantly alert to us, not quite trusting. Even from inside the house, taking a photo of them is impossible. They know where we are. They are too smart to drop their guard for a payoff of a few seeds.

 

Maybe they don’t want us to observe them too closely, or they refuse to be captured even in a photographic image. Maybe they are just shy. Or maybe they know exactly the dual nature of human beings, how compassionate and yet dangerous we can be.

 

When they spot us inside the house with a camera, they quickly fly off, a mocking tone in their voice, “Not this time.”

 

These crows reflect back to us different shapes of ourselves, show us who is doing the watching as well as what is being observed. Anything can do this service for us, be a crow in this regard. The rain, the wind, thoughts and memories⎼ all crows and mirrors. Maybe we are the black hole. And if we recognize this, we can more easily step through the mirror, Alice Through the Looking Glass, not into Wonderland, but into what’s real in our perceptions. If we know how we dig holes in the world, maybe we won’t fall in so often.

 

In 1970 I was living in New York City. But despite having, at times, three jobs, I had no idea how to make a living. Every job threatened to demolish whatever understanding I had of myself.

 

One day, I was standing towards the front of the old Eighth Street Bookstore in the Village, in the psychology section. In the back were two older people, a man and a woman, dressed in clothes elegantly dark with age and possibly homelessness. The woman seemed almost regal, certainly dignified, the man more like a retired professor, his clothes not as rich and old as hers but equally distinctive. They were holding books in their hands while talking spiritedly. I moved closer, wanting to hear what they were saying. They were in the philosophy section discussing the French existentialist, Jean-Paul Sartre. Their accents were Germanic.

 

Over the next few months, I ran into one or both members of this friendship at least three times. I don’t know if I should use the word ‘couple.’ One day, on 7th Avenue, she was alone, with a bowl in her hand, asking people for money. I was surprised to see her. If anyone tried to pretend she wasn’t there, or anyone obviously rich, she’d follow and berate them about how capitalism turns people blind. The third time I saw one or both of them was uptown at a lecture on Thoreau….

 

To read the whole post, please click on this link to The Good Men Project, where it was first published.

Vaccination Frustration: Holding Accountable Those Who Deserve It

Do you want to be vaccinated but can’t even get an appointment?

 

As we hear about friends or neighbors who are the same age as we are and in the same priority group getting vaccinated before us, it can feel like we’re in a competition and losing, or we’re repeatedly doing something wrong.  Because potential relief is so close, we can feel the threats of the virus even more strongly.

 

We had grown almost used to wearing a mask. It had become weirdly “normal” to stay home or stay at a distance from anyone not in our pod, and to think of other humans as potential carriers of an infection that might kill us if we didn’t take precautions, including washing immediately after leaving their presence. For many of us, a compulsion to wash our hands has become a life-saving aptitude.

 

But now there’s a vaccine. Not a cure, but a preventive measure that could protect us from getting sick or dying. Or protect us from some of the strains of the virus. We had grown accustomed to the restraints. Now, the wounds are raw once again.

 

And the new strains add another level to the threat, another unknown. Who knows if the preventive measures we have used in the past will protect us in the future?

 

Last week, I spent hours trying to get a reservation for an appointment. I have spent more time on getting a reservation for a vaccine than I would have, in pre-COVID days, spent on planning a vacation.

 

I was on the website for a local pharmacy for hours and was so excited when I finally found an open appointment. I had just finished filling out the online form and had pressed submit, only to then be informed that the time slot was no longer available.

 

Then my wife and I were able to reserve a time slot at a state-run venue. After doing so, my wife received a recorded message on her phone saying she wasn’t eligible for the vaccine. We are the same age and in the same priority group. We answered all their eligibility questions to their satisfaction⎼ or so it seemed. Now, we will have to call to object or keep on searching for new appointments.

 

How many of us are experiencing the same frustration?

 

It would be easy to try to blame someone. But who do we blame? Biden has been president for less than two weeks. DT and his administration totally mismanaged the pandemic for a year. They put our lives at risk, often refused to take any responsibility for the pandemic. They  undermined this nation in a great variety of ways as well as undermining the incoming administration, so it is DT and his followers who we would blame.

 

To read the whole piece, please click on the link to The Good Men Project who first published it.

When Trees Speak: The Dark Does Not Descend on Us. It Emerges from Inside Where Eyes Meet Others

My wife and I took a long walk late in the afternoon. The sky was mostly dark grey. It had rained earlier, with a touch of snow. With the dropping temperature, the rain turned to ice, which coated all the bushes, tree branches, and electric lines. There was just a hint of the setting sun, but that hint was reflected and augmented by the ice, so everywhere we looked there were individual hands and fingers of light, thousands of them.

 

As the light disappeared further, instead of the dark descending on us from above, it was as if it emerged directly from inside everything we noticed⎼ from each tree or bush my eyes met or from the road itself. Details and colors, and the remnants of light icing the branches seemed to be sitting on darkness and winking out.

 

In previous years, during the winter I did not often go outside to exercise. It takes heavier clothes and boots, mittens, and hats, and the road and paths are often slippery. I used to work out in the gym or martial arts dojo. My wife did yoga classes. Now, due to the coronavirus, especially with new and more virulent strains⎼ and the vaccine so close yet not widely available⎼ our home is our gym and we hike steep hills in almost all sorts of weather. An added benefit is we also see our neighbors more than we used to, or at least the ones who walk.

 

Walking has become a stable part of our day, not only a way of getting out of the house and getting exercise, but a classroom and a way to constructively structure time. As we walk, we study how the light plays with the road and trees, and how the trees play with sound. By paying careful, mindful attention, we better understand and feel more at home wherever we are.

 

It’s usually so quiet we can hear the other residents of the road. Three ravens live in the pine forest and often fly over us, speaking with their hoarse cry. The trees speak with unexpected voices. The pine forest occasionally makes sounds like a cat calling out. When I first heard the sounds, I responded, shouted out the names of my cats to see if one of them was in there. But no cat emerged. Other times, especially when it was windy, the pines sounded like wind chimes. Further up the road, a very different voice. Oak, maple and ash trees leaned into each other, speaking in groans, sighs or whispers. Each tree or pair of trees had its own voice.

 

When we arrived home today, the mail was waiting for us. It was not just ads but a package. A new book, or actually an old one I had to search for, a translation of The Four Chinese Classics, by David Hinton. I took off my coat and gloves and sat down, excited to see what the book would offer.

 

I opened to a random page. It was in the Chuang Tzu, one of the two most important books of Taoism, and read the following passage spoken by an adept named Piebald: “In the awesome beauty of mountain forests, it’s all huge trees a hundred feet around, and they’re full of wailing hollows and holes⎼ like noses, like mouths, like ears, like posts and beams, like cups and bowls, like empty ditches and puddles… When the wind’s light, the harmony’s gentle; but when the storm wails, it’s a mighty chorus.” …

 

To read the whole piece, please go to The Good Men Project.

 

Mindfully Healing from Hurt and Feelings of Revenge

Teachers know just how traumatized both adults and children have felt this past year, with all of the political tension and ongoing COVID crisis. As we hope for a more positive year ahead, mindfulness can be the first step in letting go of pain, but it has to be used in a trusting space, with awareness of what we as teachers and our students might be facing.

 

A trauma is an incapacitating form of stress. Stress by itself can be helpful or harmful. But when it is deep and we can’t integrate or face it, it can become traumatic. The DSM-5, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders defines a traumatic event as exposure to “actual or threatened death, serious injury, or sexual violence.”

 

In his book Trauma-Sensitive Mindfulness, David Treleaven makes clear that this exposure can come in many ways, from directly experiencing or witnessing a trauma or from learning about what happened to a relative, loved one or close friend. Children are especially vulnerable. One in four children in the U. S. have experienced physical abuse, one in five sexual. Then we add a pandemic, political instability, and oppression, whether it be sexism or violence directed at one’s gender identity, race or religion, etc. and we have a huge number of people who have suffered from trauma. We have not just a coronavirus pandemic but a pandemic of extreme emotions like hate and a craving for revenge.

 

Teach Compassion and Turn the Classroom into A Compassionate Learning Community:

 

Compassion can include but is more than empathy. It is close to kindness, with the added commitment to taking action to relieve the suffering of others as well as ourselves. It is one of humanity’s greatest strengths. And when it lives in us, the hurt lessens or disappears.  In fact, practicing compassion is a way to skillfully let go of any hurt. By acting with compassion, we walk a bigger road and rediscover our strength.

 

Having students research compassion can be a way for them to teach themselves the benefits. A wonderful resource is the Greater Good Science Center

 

Explore what emotion is and specifically what revenge is.

 

How do we as teachers explore negative or hostile feelings if they arise in class, either online or with in-person instruction, considering the time restraints, stress, degree of trauma, and unique circumstances we face today? [https://www.badassteacher.org/bats-blog/for-blended-teaching-its-not-just-the-covid-its-the-stress-by-dr-michael-flanagan]

 

A useful guideline especially on-line is be short and simple, with processing afterwards and weaving the practice into the subject matter of the day. Before introducing any type of meditation or visualization to our students, we must first practice several times by ourselves and then imagine how specific students would feel doing this type of practice. Provide choices in all aspects of practice, including postures, whether we keep our eyes open or closed, etc.

 

Start with asking questions to stimulate engagement and intellectual curiosity. What is emotion? Feeling? How do you know what you feel? Why have emotions? Work on increasing self-understanding and our ability to calm mind and body and focus through mindfulness. We strengthen ourselves and our students with visualizations, compassion, and other exercises, then apply those practices to better understand the person and situation that hurt us, and how to respond in the most healing fashion.

 

A student once asked me what to do about his “feeling” he needed to take revenge on a classmate. He obsessed over it. Young people can be especially vulnerable to this emotion, as they are so aware and sensitive to how others treat them

 

I told him that it was a difficult question, but like any emotion, the inner push or craving for revenge can seem like it is one humongous stone in our gut that we can’t handle. But it is not one thing and not just a feeling. It is composed of many components that can be broken down so we can handle them.

 

What is emotion? Daniel Siegel makes clear emotion is not just feeling. One purpose of emotion is to tag stimuli with value so we know how to think and act. There are phases in the process of constructing emotion. The first phase is jolting the system to pay attention, what he calls the “initial orienting response.” The second is “elaborative appraisal,” which includes labeling stimuli as good or bad, dangerous or pleasing. We begin to construct meaning and then prepare for action, to either approach or avoid something. This sets up the third step, when our experience differentiates further into categorical emotions like sadness, happiness, or fear. Memory and thoughts are added to feeling and sensation. Teaching about emotion, its uses and how it’s constructed is one of the most important subjects we could teach our students. In fact, it takes up most of my book on teaching compassionate critical thinking.

 

Revenge is a complex of emotions, like anger, hate, humiliation, fear and a sense of being threatened. According to Janne van Doorm, hate, anger, and desire for revenge are similar but have a different focus: “anger focuses on changing/restoring the unjust situation caused by another person, feelings of revenge focus on restoring the self, and hatred focuses on eliminating the hated person/group.” …

 

To read the whole article, please go to MindfulTeachers.Org.

From Snow Dancing to Sun Shining: The Day We Saw an Inauguration of Hope

I woke up to snow, huge flakes dancing, not falling, but spinning in the wind. Playful. I haven’t seen the heavens be so playful for years. But here it is, the earth dancing. To see trees and people, snow and wind, different ways of being coming together, dancing together.

And now the sun shines.

A new President was inaugurated today, pledging to speak the truth and act with decency. To recognize the threat of white nationalism instead of hiding it. To advance and protect democracy instead of undermining it. Amanda Gorman spoke. She danced with truth in her words, personal strength and insight. Poetry replacing shouts, incoherence, and lies.

Two moments today when so many of us felt tears break out. May this be a new America. May we win the new Civil War or, as President Biden put it, Uncivil War, even better, may we defeat the impulse to go to war, to go to hate, to go to self-serving greed.

This is our chance. May we take it.

DT, the would-be dictator, the only President in our history who incited an attack on our Congress, our nation, the Congress and nation he swore to protect, the President of hate, lies, and grievance, is now gone from the White House if not from our memory or pain or nation. We must do everything in our power to make sure no one like him is ever given power again. “Never again.” To make sure those guilty of assaulting Congress in an attempt at a coup or to stop Congress from recognizing the will of the people, or who incited and assisted the assault, or worked in Congress itself to destroy democracy- they need to be punished, not out of vengeance but justice.

We need to make sure DT is never allowed to approach a government office again, except for a courtroom. We need to let the whole nation see his crimes.

What a morning and afternoon. We needed this. It’s a lesson and reminder⎼ we must be prepared⎼ to fight, to speak out. To take to the streets not to destroy the power of the people but to secure it. Not to thwart the rule of justice but to make it rule. Not to force a lie on the nation, not to mock truth but proclaim it. Not to kill but heal. That these efforts can and did, for now, succeed. We did succeed.

We need to take a breath. We need to dance. We need to sing.

And then speak out once again, for impeachment in the Senate and for new policies. To quickly have a new cabinet approved. To care for those who are sick and to protect us from becoming sick. To pass new relief legislation. To protect the nation from the violence of internal hate as well as external. To pass new legislation to protect our voting system, right to vote and right to equal justice. To improve our infrastructure. To fully fund an equitable public education system that protects its students and teachers, teaches the history and responsibilities of freedom and democracy, and fosters critical thinking. That makes good health care available to all. And that protects our earth. Our home.

A new day. The inauguration of hope has begun. Let us make it so.

 

 

**Here is a list of those we can call. The first 5 are probable votes for impeachment. The next 6 possibly possible. If you think of anyone else, let us know.

Sasse 202-224-4224

Toomey -202-224-4254

Murkowski 202-224-6665

Romney 202-224-5251

Collins 202-224-2523

 

McConnell 202-224-2541

Grassley 202-224-3744

Lankford 202-224-5754.

Portman 202-224-3353

Capito (202) 224-6472

Thune 202-224-2321

 

This blog post was syndicated by The Good Men Project

End the Shocks and Remove the Presidency of Hate: Hopefully, an Administration of Justice, Rationality and Democracy is Coming

I am almost disappointed in the impeachment. Almost. Although there is great hope⎼ ten GOP did vote to impeach DT and President-elect Joe Biden will (hopefully) be inaugurated next week. But DT is still in office, and 197 Republicans, all but 4 of the rest of the GOP in the House, voted against impeachment.

 

Despite being attacked by a mob intent on violence and vengeance against fellow Congress members, and intent on stopping the operation of the Congress to which they belonged, many GOP remained silent or even tried to deny or cover-up DT’s role in the violence.

 

Some claimed impeachment would make matters worse, totally ignoring the deleterious effect of the continued lies about stealing an election and the incitements to further violence by DT and other members of their own party.  A few, like Rep Matt Gaetz of Florida, tried to equate the Black Lives Matter protests and the Capitol assault, equate protests over the murder of African-Americans with a deadly attack on the government of the U. S.. The lies and racism supported by these GOP was an assault in itself.

 

Washington Post Columnist Greg Sargent wrote that the GOP claims that impeachment would further divide us is part of an attempt to obscure their guilt, and blame the violence not on the people, like DT, who fueled and directed it, but to a generalized divisiveness. It’s not a generalized anything, but one side, DT’s side, declaring civil war against everyone and anyone who opposes his efforts to steal power for himself.

 

Such statements by the GOP during the impeachment debate followed a week of lies, distortions, and blatant efforts to cover-up DT’s culpability. It began by trying to claim, crazy as it sounds now, that it was members of a non-existent group of Anti-fascists who assaulted the capitol dressed as DT’s supporters. It continued with the Department of Defense creating an official timeline for the public that expurgated all of the actions and incitements by the President and other GOP.

 

The January 6th Assault on the Capitol was the latest in a long line of deliberate shocks administered by the DT administration. The Assault on the Capitol⎼ it sounds like a movie title. From the beginning of his run for office until now, DT has done everything he could to attack democracy, the rule of law, our humanity, our trust in others, our lives, and our hope for the future.

 

He started back in 2015 with racist attacks on President Obama, falsely claiming that if he had lost the 2016 election, it was due to Democrats committing voter fraud, while simultaneously calling for Russia to interfere in the election. He continued to ignore or lie about the threat of COVID while thousands died daily. He made a phone call on 1/02 to threaten a public official into manufacturing votes for him, and later urged on an actual assault on the Capitol building and the Congresspeople meeting in that building.

 

This wasn’t the first time he called for violence. Last year, for example, his comments contributed to attacks on the Michigan statehouse and an attempted kidnapping of the Governor. And he continues to cite malignant, irresponsible falsehoods, deny that he badly lost an election, deny that the only large-scale fraud was committed by him, deny any culpability in violence. According to the Washington Post and other news media, intelligence agencies, Governors, at this moment Right-wing and White Nationalist groups are planning ongoing attacks and a possible disruption of the inauguration all based on the alternate reality DT created for his followers to preserve his power.

 

Is he deliberately trying to use the Shock Doctrine, using “the public’s disorientation following massive collective shocks” to force his way on the American public? Or is he simply shouting, tweeting who he is and spreading his diseased mind?

 

In an article called “What the Science of Addiction Tells Us About Trump,” the author, James Kimmel Jr. describes how the brain of someone who carries a long-term grievance or who desires revenge is like the brain of someone locked into an addiction. Harboring a grievance, defined as a perceived wrong or injustice, real or imagined, activates the same neural circuitry as taking a narcotic.

 

And this revenge addiction can be easily spread. In the case of DT, we have a politics of grievance meant to manipulate feelings of hurt and humiliation into an addiction to hate and a blindness towards the truth, just like a heroin addict might not see the reality of what the drug is doing to them. Kimmel says DT primes our brains for revenge. He is addicted to being aggrieved and blaming others.

 

Racism, sexism, anti-Semitism, and other forms of hate are not only attempting to hold onto power but are also addictions that undermine or destroy community. They make everyone feel threatened, not only those the hate is aimed at, but those who allow it and those who hold to it.

 

I don’t know if DT is deliberately applying increasing shocks to the citizens of this country (or the world) or it is just his malignant, addicted and demented sense of self-importance, but for the health and well-being of all of us, he must be removed from office and his agenda of hate ended. The assaults, and the lies and crimes that incited it, must be investigated and prosecuted not for revenge but to discourage further violence and place justice and the rights and well-being of “we the people” first.

 

We need an inauguration of hope. We need to do all we can to pressure more of the GOP to speak honestly about the election (and COVID), put democracy first, and treat the new Biden Administration as people⎼ if not as partners, then at least not as enemies. We need to pressure 17 GOP Senators to join with Democrats, to remember their oaths, and complete the impeachment.  To protect our voting system and prevent future DT’s. To protect us from the virus, rescue the economy from the super-rich, end institutional racism, and create a more democratic nation.

 

This post was syndicated by the Good Men Project.

 

Hate, Sedition and the Big Lies Cannot Be Allowed to Win

Last week, we saw the cost we pay for hate and lies. Of course, we’ve been seeing this for four years.  But last week was too much. The cult of DT followers attacked the U. S. Capitol. They committed violence and many aimed to do even worse. An article in the Atlantic talks about one of the attackers shouting into a megaphone, “I wanna see executions.”

 

Yet, now we have GOP Congresspeople trying to excuse violence directed at their own worksite, at their fellow workers⎼ at the Capitol of the U. S., at Congress. Those who attacked the Capitol meant direct harm to the representatives of us, the people, and this nation. We cannot allow the harm done and intended by these acts to be distorted or forgotten.

 

We don’t know all that happened or all who were responsible for it, but there are photos and videos from different sources. Many of us turned on the tv to check on the Georgia Senate victory and were horrified to see the attack play out in real time, almost in slow motion. We saw gallows set up to hang Congresspeople, hang the last remnants of democracy, and proclaim a lie as King. Congresspeople and their staffs were huddled behind doors not only locked, but barricaded with furniture, where our political representatives called the Pentagon and other institutions of our government to get help from those supposedly sworn to protect them and received none.

 

Many of the would-be executioners believed the lie about who tried to steal the election, but those in Congress had no such excuse. They were cooperating with a noose.

 

One of the first attempts to cover-up and distort what happened began almost immediately. Almost immediately, instead of blaming the guilty⎼ DT, his White Nationalists and lie-addled and fascist supporters⎼  DT allies in Congress and media tried to blame Antifa, a group that does not exist unless you call those who oppose Fascism and White Nationalism a group. They might as well blame half of this nation⎼ and maybe they do.

 

About the same time, those bearing some responsibility for the horror began to attempt to distance themselves from it. DT was one of the first. Even as the events were happening, he was convinced by WH staff and others to call it off, to stop the violence. And he finally did so while continuing his lies about the election. “I know your pain.” He tweeted. “We had an election stolen from us.” “But you have to go home now.”

 

The next day, facing calls for impeachment and being cut off from his Twitter feeding, he condemned the attack on the Capitol and sacrificed his supporters on the street to his last gasps at power. Many GOP, who for years supported his slow coup and attempts at undermining the constitution, tried to distance themselves from him. Were they just letting the anger and outrage calm down before they could assert more disinformation or lies?

 

Other GOP finally had enough of him. Even before the attack began, Senator Romney had called on the GOP to stop lying about the election and stop the malignant attempt to interfere in the certification of the Electoral College vote. And afterwards, Senator Murkowski called for DT to resign.

 

Then there were attempts to re-write history. In an administration of lies, these are amongst the worst. DT’s Defense Department published a timeline of events from Wednesday, but they excised DT’s part in inciting the violence.

 

Journalist Steven Harper filled in what was blanked out, including DT’s tweets and statements at rallies beforehand to spread the lies, and how he urged his supporters to come to Washington. “It will be wild,” he said. The DOD left out the contents of DT’s 90-minute speech urging the crowd on: “If you don’t fight like hell, you’re not going to have a country anymore.” They left out DT’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani provoking the crowd by talking of settling the election with “trial by combat.”  It took 90 minutes from the time the Mayor of Washington, D. C. called for help before the DOD decided to send it.

 

Twitter and other social media feeds and news reports indicated the believers in the lie are planning further attacks. They have clearly not given up the lies and grievances they are addicted to or their attempt to stop the will of the majority of the people from being honored.

 

And now, many of the GOP are proclaiming Democrats are playing politics, dividing the nation even further, by calling to hold DT responsible for sedition by inciting attacks on the U. S. Capitol and Congress itself. Supposedly, trying to stop the man who incited violence against his own government from being in office or inciting such violence again in the future⎼ this is supposedly making matters worse? Those who spread lies are responsible for what is enacted in their name. These GOP are trying to protect themselves from being held responsible for their own misdeeds. As an article in the Atlantic Magazine makes clear, the GOP own this attack.

 

So, who is dividing the nation even further?

 

We don’t want to give White Nationalists and the GOP who support them anything to use to make DT somehow a martyr for their hate. After all, some of them have already turned against DT. The 25th Amendment, or forcing DT to resign and admit his lies would be preferable. But impeachment is the constitutional remedy for crimes such as his. And if it’s the only vehicle at hand to hold him accountable and get him out of office before he could do any more damage, then so be it.

 

We are hurting, as individuals and as a nation. We are fearful not only of getting sick but of violence directed at us because we want our rights, our vote, our future, our nation protected.  In order to heal, to feel a bit safer, we cannot allow these crimes and this disinformation to win. The truth of last Wednesday and what led to it, or as much as we can discover, must be spoken.