The Purpose of Life?

My mind is in a state of rambling and introspection today …

What, for most humans, is the purpose of life?  I’m not asking about the ‘meaning’ of life, for that will be something very unique and personal to each of us … what gives your life or mine meaning is not necessarily universal.  But, what I am asking is the purpose … what justifies me or you taking up space and using valuable resources on this planet?

No, I haven’t lost my bloomin’ mind … I’m just cleaning it out a bit.  Much of the news over the past few weeks/months/years, have led me to ask this question, have taken my mind down a path that needs to be explored.  And no, this isn’t in the least bit a deep philosophical discussion, but rather an ideological one.

Is the purpose of life to gather as much wealth, as many toys and shiny objects as possible during the course of one’s life?  It sure does seem that some people would answer in that way.  Think … here in the U.S., people applauded when the fool-on-the-hill rolled back environmental regulations in order to benefit the fossil fuel industries.  Why?  Well, the robber barons in the coal and oil industries applauded because it extended, albeit briefly, their ability to make money at the expense of the planet, the future.  Other people applauded because they hoped it meant their jobs in those industries would be secure, at least for a few more years, for they know no other trade.  And some applauded simply because it was Barack Obama, an African-American, under whose tutelage the regulations had been established in the first place.

Donald Trump ran in 2016 on the buzz-phrase, “make America great again”, but what does ‘great’ mean?  My vision of a ‘great nation’ is different than that of those who wear the silly red hats and cheer Trump’s slogan.  My vision of what makes the U.S. … or any nation, for that matter … great is diversity, people of all nationalities, all getting along together.  In my vision of a great nation, people help each other just because it’s the right thing, the compassionate thing to do, not because there is something in it for them.  But, in the maga crowd’s view, I think greatness is defined differently.  I think it is defined in terms of relative wealth and of bigotry.  I think the maga crowd wish to turn this into a nation of straight, white, Christians, and in my book, that would be hell on earth.

So, what is the purpose of life?  And please note that I am not coming at this question from any religious viewpoint … that speaks, again, to the ‘meaning’ rather than the purpose.  To me, I would feel I had fulfilled my purpose if I made other people happy, if something I did improved the quality of life on earth for as many as possible.  I’ve no interest in wealth, am quite content with the basic essentials (essentials, of course, includes books!)  Do you think Donald Trump, Mitch McConnell or any other politician in our government today would be satisfied with such?  Or what about the CEOs of Exxon-Mobil, Amazon or Nike?

In my view, the purpose of life should be about making life better for everyone, not just for oneself, or even one’s family.  I fail to understand what pleasure is derived from gathering wealth just for the sake of wealth.  The only purpose I see in wealth is the ability to use such wealth to help others, to help find ways to improve the quality of life for as many people as possible.  But instead, those who value their wealth over humanity are using their wealth to destroy all life on earth.  They are using it to build more factories that spew more chemicals into the earth’s atmosphere.  They are using it to develop harmful products that enable them to grow more food but are killing the bees – bees without whom we will all die sooner than later.  They are using it to build and buy weapons, both for military and civilians, that have the sole purpose of killing.

Socialist?  Yeah, I pretty much lean that way these days.  I would much prefer to see equality among all than the scant 1%, or I believe it is now ½%, living in houses with gold-plated toilets while others go to bed with empty bellies.  I would like to see people getting along rather than the bitter gulf that exists between the political parties and their followers these days.  I would like to see people throw their guns into the sea, deciding that life has more value than the false sense of power the gun gives them.  I would like to see all people caring enough about future generations of all life forms to make the sacrifices necessary to protect and preserve the planet and its resources.

I think that our lives can have purpose, and for many they do, but that purpose isn’t money.  If one’s purpose is to amass great wealth, then I posit that the person truly has no purpose at all.  Thanks for putting up with my rambling thoughts for the day … and now … back to the news of the day.  I see Trump just fired John Bolton. More chaos. Sigh.

Let America Be America Again

langston-hughes-5.jpgLangston Hughes was a leader of the Harlem Renaissance and a great poet, activist, novelist and playwright.  He was one of the earliest innovators of the then-new literary art form called jazz poetry. Hughes is best known as a leader of the Harlem Renaissance in New York City.

As I have mentioned a few times before, I am poetically challenged and have a difficult time understanding poetry.  I am a pragmatist, a realist, and am rarely able to see hidden meanings, much preferring that words say exactly what they mean, rather than taking a roundabout path and relying on me to properly interpret them.  Poetry tends to often be elusive, cryptic, symbolic, and as such, I am generally lost by the third line.  There are exceptions, however.

A few days ago, this poem by Langston Hughes crossed my path, and as I read it, the words moved me, for they are just as true, just as meaningful today as they were when the poem was written in 1935.  For a time between then and now, perhaps the nation was on its way to realizing the dream of equality, liberty and justice for all, but we have since lost our way, more so in the past two years than at any other time.

langston-hughes-4

Let America Be America Again
Langston Hughes, 1902 – 1967

Let America be America again.
Let it be the dream it used to be.
Let it be the pioneer on the plain
Seeking a home where he himself is free.

(America never was America to me.)

Let America be the dream the dreamers dreamed—
Let it be that great strong land of love
Where never kings connive nor tyrants scheme
That any man be crushed by one above.

(It never was America to me.)

O, let my land be a land where Liberty
Is crowned with no false patriotic wreath,
But opportunity is real, and life is free,
Equality is in the air we breathe.

(There’s never been equality for me,
Nor freedom in this “homeland of the free.”)

Say, who are you that mumbles in the dark?
And who are you that draws your veil across the stars?

I am the poor white, fooled and pushed apart,
I am the Negro bearing slavery’s scars.
I am the red man driven from the land,
I am the immigrant clutching the hope I seek—
And finding only the same old stupid plan
Of dog eat dog, of mighty crush the weak.

I am the young man, full of strength and hope,
Tangled in that ancient endless chain
Of profit, power, gain, of grab the land!
Of grab the gold! Of grab the ways of satisfying need!
Of work the men! Of take the pay!
Of owning everything for one’s own greed!

I am the farmer, bondsman to the soil.
I am the worker sold to the machine.
I am the Negro, servant to you all.
I am the people, humble, hungry, mean—
Hungry yet today despite the dream.
Beaten yet today—O, Pioneers!
I am the man who never got ahead,
The poorest worker bartered through the years.

Yet I’m the one who dreamt our basic dream
In the Old World while still a serf of kings,
Who dreamt a dream so strong, so brave, so true,
That even yet its mighty daring sings
In every brick and stone, in every furrow turned
That’s made America the land it has become.
O, I’m the man who sailed those early seas
In search of what I meant to be my home—
For I’m the one who left dark Ireland’s shore,
And Poland’s plain, and England’s grassy lea,
And torn from Black Africa’s strand I came
To build a “homeland of the free.”

The free?

Who said the free? Not me?
Surely not me? The millions on relief today?
The millions shot down when we strike?
The millions who have nothing for our pay?
For all the dreams we’ve dreamed
And all the songs we’ve sung
And all the hopes we’ve held
And all the flags we’ve hung,
The millions who have nothing for our pay—
Except the dream that’s almost dead today.

O, let America be America again—
The land that never has been yet—
And yet must be—the land where every man is free.
The land that’s mine—the poor man’s, Indian’s, Negro’s, ME—
Who made America,
Whose sweat and blood, whose faith and pain,
Whose hand at the foundry, whose plow in the rain,
Must bring back our mighty dream again.

Sure, call me any ugly name you choose—
The steel of freedom does not stain.
From those who live like leeches on the people’s lives,
We must take back our land again,
America!

O, yes,
I say it plain,
America never was America to me,
And yet I swear this oath—
America will be!

Out of the rack and ruin of our gangster death,
The rape and rot of graft, and stealth, and lies,
We, the people, must redeem
The land, the mines, the plants, the rivers.
The mountains and the endless plain—
All, all the stretch of these great green states—
And make America again!

‘We Are The World’ …. “🌎 We Always have Been, We Always will Be 🌎 …. “!!

It has been yet one more week that has bombarded our sensibilities with hate, with ugliness, with things that we didn’t think could happen, couldn’t possibly even imagine two years ago. The ‘man’ in the Oval Office was allowed out of the Oval Office to travel abroad, where he left a trail of offal, for lack of a better word. Today, I think we all need a break from it, and our very dear friend Dr. Horty Rex has provided a most wonderful and apt respite that I would like to share with you all this afternoon. Thank you, Horty, for this beautiful song to remind us, to give us hope for the future, and for implied permission to share.

It Is What It Is

~~July 13, 2018~~ 

TURBULENT TIMES

~We Always have Been, We Always will Be~

I find myself so pulled by the negativity and awful events taking place in our world nowadays. Sometimes it’s so overwhelming that I can’t really breathe.

I can’t fathom or wrap my head around the level of inhumanity, greed, vileness, evil, violence, crime, injustice and so much more that inhabits this world.

Music helps me.

Here’s an example.

HortyRex©

RedLineBYael Silver (Tony-winning producer Once On This Island), Robin Carus and Van Dean (Broadway Records, President) today released “We Are The World,” a music video featuring an all-star roster of theater artists and calling for healing and unity in the world today.

“More than ever, people need to know that their voices make a difference and their voices together are incredibly powerful,” said producer Yael Silver.

“We Are The World spoke to…

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Barefoot and Pregnant … Again?

Today I am scratching my head, confused, puzzled, bewildered, baffled, befuddled, perplexed.  (Yes, I used a thesaurus).  Why is Filosofa all of the above, you ask.  Because there is something that I simply do not, cannot understand and I am asking you, dear readers, if any one of you can explain this phenomenon to me.  My question is that, in light of all the sexist, demeaning remarks Donald Trump has made about women (see below), why are some 30% of women in the republican party still supporting and defending this buffoon?  Jane Addams, Susan B. Anthony, Helen Gurley Brown, Betty Friedan, Julia Ward Howe, Margaret Sanger, Sojourner Truth and many others who fought so long and hard for women’s rights must be turning over in their graves today.  Have we, as women, forgotten those struggles, have we forgotten that once we were not allowed to vote, nor even to speak in church, that we had no control over our own bodies, could neither own property nor divorce our husbands? Have we forgotten a time when the vast majority of women were seen as tools for bearing & rearing children, cooking meals, keeping “home & hearth”, and not much more?  Or do we simply no longer care and are we willing to return to being simply “objects” put on earth to do the bidding of men?  Are we willing to be mocked, criticized, and demeaned?  Or are we somehow no longer intelligent enough to see what this person stands for, to see that he is not merely “outspoken”, but a cruel and brutal man?  Do we really wish to return to the days when women were expected to be kept “barefoot and pregnant”? Well, I can only speak for one woman … myself.    And I am telling you that my answer to all of the above is a resounding “NO!!!”  Not only will I not support Donald Trump, but I will shout from the highest proverbial rooftop to all who will listen that he is not funny, not sincere, not a “truth-teller”, not a good man nor a kind one.  He is a narcissistic bully who will destroy all that women have worked to build throughout the centuries, if given a chance.  I will do everything in my power to see that he is never given that opportunity!

This is a list of the 18 most disparaging comments Trump has made about women according to Huffington Post:

1 That giving your wife “negotiable assets” is a terrible mistake.

2 That women are essentially aesthetically-pleasing objects.

3 That sexual assault in the military is totally expected.

4 That women on “The Apprentice” need to rely on sex appeal.

5 That bad press doesn’t matter as long as you have a sexy girlfriend.

6 That a woman MUST be hot in order to be a journalist.

7 That pumping breast milk is “disgusting.”

8 That all women hate prenups, because they are gold diggers.

9 That women have a “great act” going on to trick men.

10 That Hillary would be a bad president because of her husband’s actions.

11 That Angelina Jolie has dated too many guys to be attractive.

12 That Bette Midler’s “ugly face and body” are offensive. Pot calling the kettle black

13 That Rosie O’Donnell is “crude, rude, obnoxious and dumb.” Pot calling the kettle black again

14 That the best line in any movie is this beautiful gem: “My favorite part [of ‘Pulp Fiction’] is when Sam has his gun out in the diner and he tells the guy to tell his girlfriend to shut up. Tell that bitch to be cool. Say: ‘Bitch be cool.’ I love those lines.”

15 That a journalist who offended him had an ugly face.

16 That Cher is ‘lonely’ and ‘a loser’ because she doesn’t support him.

17 That women fawn all over him because he is rich and powerful.

18 That the ladies on “The Apprentice” are all super in to him.

Now back to my original question:  Why do women continue to support and defend this person? (Sorry, but I choke every time I try to refer to him as a “man” … in my book a man has very different attributes than Trump).  I found the following answers to this question online:

“I like that he’s not politically correct,” said Michelle Letner, a 48-year-old commercial cleaner from Medina, Ohio, who donated $225 to Team Trump. On the derogatory names Kelly brought up during the debate, Letner—who said she’s never donated to a candidate in the past – said, “I have no problem with a man being a man. I like him because he’s real. He’s saying it like it is. If you want to be treated like a lady, act like a lady.”

Lori Pesta, creator of the Women For Donald Trump Facebook page – which has nearly 2,000 likes – is going as far to organize a “national women for Trump” day across the country on Oct. 18. “We want to show our support that women are behind Donald Trump, as are men as well … I think Donald Trump is very pro-women,” said the Atlanta resident

While Trump has repeatedly claimed that he would be “the best for women”, he offers no details on this statement and when recently asked on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe”, his reply was, “As far as questions like that … I’m not going to do it on this show and I don’t want to discuss it on this show. I want to discuss those questions at a debate. But all I can say on women’s issues and women’s health issues, there will be nobody better than Donald Trump.”  Oh yes, I can only imagine what he has in store for the women of this nation.  And believe me, it does not include our choice in any matter, but our future will be in the hands of the buffoon and his male minions.

Women are certainly not the only group Trump hates … his list includes Muslims, Jews, Hispanics and African-Americans. In fact, the only group he seems to have any use for are white Anglo-Saxon males.  I only chose women to talk about today, as it is one of the groups that I can personally identify with and I am simply amazed at the level of support he is getting from those who I used to call my “soul sisters”.  So now … I am appealing to you, loyal readers, to help me to understand this craziness.  Does anybody reading this post actually support Trump?  If so, please enlighten me as to your reasons.  I am genuinely curious.  Meanwhile, if any of my readers actually has access to Trump, please feel free to share this post with him!  I really want him to know how I feel and what I think! Perhaps he will even come “punch me in the face”!

Why Black Lives Matter

This post is longer than I usually write.  I considered breaking it into two separate posts, posting them on two separate days, but in all honesty, that would be unfair.  I struggled for many hours over it and it is only about a fourth as much as I could have written, and I know that I did not do it justice, but it is one post that literally pulled something from within me and left me near tears more than once.  I hope that you will read to the end, because I think that we all need to work a little harder to understand what I am saying.

I admit that until recently (yesterday, actually) I did not fully grasp the meaning of the BlackLivesMatter (BLM) movement.  Though I supported it, I did not fully “get” it.  Like many, I had a vague sense that it was a response to the many unjustified murders of black people in the last four years, starting with the death of Trayvon Martin in 2012.  I knew that the African-American community was protesting against the needless deaths caused by the very people who we pay to protect us all, the police.  But BLM is so much more than that, and I had a lot to learn.

In the 1950’s and 1960’s, there were many who did not understand the Civil Rights movement, also.  It did not necessarily mean they were bad people, but merely that they could not grasp what it meant to be forced to use a separate water fountain, a separate restroom, ride in the back of the bus.  They had never been sprayed with a water hose by a policeman or had their friends killed when their church was bombed.  They did not understand and they did not try to understand.  No, they were not necessarily bad people, merely ignorant.

Fast forward to the 21st century.  We have come a long way, right?  There are no “Whites Only” signs on restroom doors or restaurants, inter-racial couples are allowed to marry, white and black children attend the same schools (mostly), and blacks are given the same employment opportunities (theoretically).  February 26th, in Sanford, Florida, a 17-year-old African-American boy is leaving a convenience store and is fatally shot by a local neighborhood watchman.  The boy’s name was Trayvon Martin and his crime was simply being in the wrong place at the wrong time (a predominantly white neighborhood), being black, and wearing a hooded sweatshirt.  He carried no weapon and was a resident in that neighborhood.  The police supported the watchman’s right to shoot the boy and the court upheld that, judging the watchman “not guilty” the following year, despite his having lied about several details of that night.

The murder, for what else can it be called, of Trayvon Martin, is far from an isolated incident.  It neither began nor ended with Trayvon Martin, his was merely the first case that caught the attention of the public, the first time the public, white and black alike, became outraged in recent decades.  Consider, if you will, the following facts:

  • Police killed at least 102 unarmed black people in 2015, more than any other race.
  • Nearly 1 in 3 black people killed by police in 2015 were identified as unarmed, though the actual number is likely higher due to underreporting.
  • 37% of unarmed people killed by police were black in 2015 despite black people being only 13% of the U.S. population.
  • Unarmed black people were killed at 5 times the rate of unarmed whites in 2015.
  • Only 9 of the 102 cases resulted in officer(s) being charged with a crime.

After the murder of Trayvon Martin, I was outraged and expected no less of my friends, neighbors and fellow citizens, but I was to be disappointed.  Excuses were made, lies were told, believed and spread, and the upshot was that most people I talked to failed to see it as cold-blooded murder, but like the jurors in the case, believed it was a justifiable action.  This was the beginning of the Black Lives Matter movement, formed in 2013 by Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors, and Opal Tometi, though it did not gain widespread national recognition until 2014, after the murders of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, and Eric Garner in New York City.

Black Lives Matter is not a continuation of the Civil Rights movement, though many see it as such.  We resolved some issues in the 1960’s as the Civil Rights movement wound down, but in the 50+ years hence, new issues have arisen.  Make no mistake … racism is alive and well in the U.S. today.  It has merely found a new home with different methods, different issues, a new veneer.  Black Lives Matter is not the Civil Rights movement of the 1950’s and 1960’s.  There is no Martin Luther King, Jr. to direct us toward peaceful, non-violent solutions. It is a movement all its own based on police brutality against black citizens, the wealth gap, a failing system of public education that needs fixing, issues of housing equality and gentrification.  These are the issues that the BLM movement seeks to address in addition to police brutality and murders by police.

Black Lives Matter is not an anti-white movement though white supremacists argue that it is.  Now here is the part that I didn’t understand, and I am willing to bet that most people do not.  When you respond to Black Lives Matter with “All Lives Matter”, it is a slap in the face.  It is an insult.  No, BLM is not an anti-white movement. But it is a movement to remind us, to jostle our conscience, to let us know that blacks have been left out of much of what makes lives meaningful, and that frankly they are damned sick and tired of it.  I don’t blame them. When you say “All Lives Matter” in response to Black Lives Matter, you are putting yourself first, once again.

The best explanation I have come across is this:

Imagine that you’re sitting down to dinner with your family, and while everyone else gets a serving of the meal, you don’t get any. So you say “I should get my fair share.” And as a direct response to this, your dad corrects you, saying, “everyone should get their fair share.” Now, that’s a wonderful sentiment — indeed, everyone should, and that was kinda your point in the first place: that you should be a part of everyone, and you should get your fair share also. However, dad’s smart-ass comment just dismissed you and didn’t solve the problem that you still haven’t gotten any!

The problem is that the statement “I should get my fair share” had an implicit “too” at the end: “I should get my fair share, too, just like everyone else.” But your dad’s response treated your statement as though you meant “only I should get my fair share”, which clearly was not your intention. As a result, his statement that “everyone should get their fair share,” while true, only served to ignore the problem you were trying to point out.

That’s the situation of the “black lives matter” movement. Culture, laws, the arts, religion, and everyone else repeatedly suggest that all lives should matter. Clearly, that message already abounds in our society.

Tell me, dear readers … when was the last time that you felt, really and truly felt, that your life did not matter?  I have, as you probably have, felt that way once or twice in my life, as a child, but never for more than a few hours or a few days at a time.  Can you imagine spending your whole life feeling that your life was worth no more than … say a single fish in a pond?

  • If you’ve ever been stopped by police and not feared for your life, you’ve mattered.
  • If you’ve walked down a street at night and not been looked at with fear or suspicion, you’ve mattered.
  • If you’ve participated in our legal process and assumed you’ve gotten fair treatment, you’ve mattered.
  • Until this is true for all of us, we have work to do.

One other issue is relevant here.  Recently I saw a white woman on the news who said that while she supported BLM, the blacks really had only themselves to blame, that if they “acted right” and “spoke properly”, they would be taken more seriously, respected more.  There are those, even within the black community, who believe that blacks have not risen in stature, do not garner respect, because of their own behavior.  Because they are not trying to “fit in”.  Because maybe they dress differently or speak differently.  Baloney!  Blacks do not get the respect they deserve because many of us still believe they are inferior based on their race, based on the colour of their skin.  Nothing more. All people should be treated with dignity and respect, regardless of how one looks or speaks.  THIS is what Black Lives Matter is attempting to convey.  Another excellent explanation for the BLM is to be found here:  http://johnpavlovitz.com/2015/11/25/why-do-i-still-have-to-explain-blacklivesmatter-to-other-white-people/

The saying “Black Lives Mattef” should probably include the word “too” or “also”.  That is what the movement is really about.  Black Lives Matter Too.  Black Lives Matter as much as White Lives.  Black Lives Matter as much as ANY LIVES.  No, they do not matter more … nobody ever said they did … but they must matter as much.  They must.

One last question before I give my fingers, my mind and my heart a break:  would somebody please tell me what that damn # is for???