Perhaps We Trusted Too Much

If you were born with pale skin in the United States in the last 150 years, you have led a life of great privilege, though you might not realize it.  You might begin to realize it if you could exchange brief life stories with someone your age born in Ghana, Afghanistan, Hong Kong, Brazil, Iraq … most any other non-democratic nation.  But here’s the thing … we are so used to that life of privilege that we no longer appreciate it, we take it for granted.

Since you were old enough to talk, you’ve understood that this is a mostly free nation, that people have certain ‘unalienable’ rights.  You can choose your own career path, can choose to be well-educated … or not.  You can choose, within the confines of your economic status, where to live, what sort of car to drive.  You are not told who, or even if you must marry.  You are not forced into any religion.  And perhaps most importantly of all, you have the right to vote in order to keep people in government who are dedicated to preserving your rights.

You were told when you first learned about the founding of the U.S. and the U.S. Constitution that this document was the foundation of our nation and was the primary safeguard against the country ever becoming a Nazi Germany ruled by a madman.  You were told that the Constitution guaranteed that religion and government would always be kept separate, that you would never be beheaded for not believing in any religion.  It is your right, you were told, to be a Jew, Muslin, Hindu, Christian, or atheist.  It is your right to marry whomever you choose.  It is your right to have the final say over your body.  And you thought all this was guaranteed, that those ‘rights’ could never be taken away from you.

It may just be that you were wrong.

We became lazy, we became complacent, we became inured to the little things that were chipping away at our lives, our freedoms, as we didn’t even realize it.  We trusted in our government and its foundational separation of powers that would always keep any one branch of government from having too much power.  We never asked ourselves what would happen if two or even three of those branches plotted to join hands and become all-powerful.  We had the utmost faith in the impartial, non-partisan, 9-member Supreme Court that would always rule in favour of ‘right’.  We trusted in the ‘Separation of Church and State’ doctrine to keep us free of bigoted, restrictive rules imposed by religious sects.

But a funny thing happened as we travelled through the decades.  Men became intoxicated by power and the smell of money. And then they lied to us.  They lied about little things, they lied about big things.  They manipulated us, told us that those who try to help people in need are ‘socialists’ and ‘communists’, even though the majority of people do not even understand what those terms mean, but these greedy men gave us their interpretation and … we were too lazy to educate ourselves with facts, to learn the truth of the matter.

I won’t go through the entire scenario of the past twelve years or so, but here we are today … dangerously close to the precipice, to that thin line that separates a democratic republic from an autocracy.  Even now, when we nearly lost our voices and our freedoms on January 6th, far too many people believe that the men lying to them on a near-hourly basis are the good guys, the guys in the white hats.  They have allowed themselves to be brainwashed into believing that white folks like themselves are being pushed into a minority and that … somehow this is not a good thing.  They have been convinced that climate change is a hoax, that the pandemic is but a minor blip on the radar, and that somehow all evil stems from one side of the political spectrum.

A quote by Nelson Mandela speaks volumes here …

The United States is at a crossroads.  We can continue to allow the politicians, our elected representatives, to lie to us, to rob us, to cheat on us, as we take comfort in the fact that we have a job, a comfortable home, a ‘happy’ life, or we can educate ourselves, wake up and realize what could happen, how drastically our lives could change over the coming few years if we simply do nothing, continue to believe that somehow it will “all work out in the long run.”  A lot of people in Germany 90 years ago made the same mistake.

Lolla-Pa-Whazzit???

Take a look at the above picture.  How many people do you see wearing a mask?  Look how close the people are.  Social distancing?  HAH!  I think not!  This was the scene at the 4-day music festival in Chicago called Lollapalooza held this past weekend.  Approximately 100,000 people attended each of the four days.  To attend, people had to either provide a Covid-19 vaccine card or proof of a negative Covid-19 test from the previous 72 hours.  Big f*cking deal.  This event should not have even been held, but to allow nearly a half-million people during the event to mix and mingle sans masks is the height of stupidity.

My daughter is a member of the Cincinnati Caledonian Pipes and Drums band, and as such they typically play at 15-20 events in the eastern half of the U.S. and Canada each year, including a Winter Storm festival in St. Louis, Missouri, in January.  All but one of their events this year was cancelled, and the Winter Storm festival for next January has already been cancelled due to the pandemic.  Yes, the organizers and sponsors of these events are losing money, but they value human life over profit.

Infectious disease expert Dr. Tina Tan said: “When you have 100,000 or more people who are in a fairly enclosed space and there’s no social distancing, the vast majority are not wearing masks, you are going to get some transmission of Covid-19 Delta variant.”

It has already been proven that even if you are fully vaccinated, you can transmit the virus.  Even if you are fully vaccinated, you can catch the virus and become ill.  Doesn’t it just make sense to stay home???  Oh … there’s that word again … ‘sense’ … a lot of people seem to have none.

Chicago is already averaging more than 200 new cases per day, a significant increase from a few months ago. It could be two to three weeks before the effect of Lollapalooza on the city’s case rate is known, and there is also concern about people who visited the city for the festival taking the virus back home with them.  Picture the parents who attended, leaving their children behind with Grandma and Grandpa …  “Oh look, kids, I brought you souvenirs from the festival and one other thing … a killer virus!”

A reporter for the Chicago Sun-Times asked the question, “Why was Lollapalooza allowed to go forward?”  Easy answer … $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$

The average cost of a ticket was $545, and that did not include food, drinks, souvenirs, parking, etc.  Multiply that times 100,000 people.  Let me save you the trouble … over $54 million.  Hell no, they weren’t going to give that up, no matter how many deaths may come as a result.

I have long lamented that the human species seems determined to bring about its own extinction and this event is further proof to support my premise.  Climate change, chemicals in our food, plastic in our oceans, nuclear weapons, and so much more … all man-made disasters that, if we don’t wake up and work toward fixing the problem, will render this earth uninhabitable not only by humans, but by thousands of species.  And now … the utter greed and stupidity of people as a response to the pandemic that has already killed more than 4 million people worldwide.

Way to go, humans.

Bang!!! Bang!!!

A few of yesterday’s headlines …

  • At least 150 people fatally shot in more than 400 shootings over the Fourth of July weekendCNN
  • More than 90 shot in Chicago on Fourth of July weekendChicago Tribune
  • Shootings at two Indianapolis shopping malls over July 4 weekendWTHR News
  • Chicago weekend shootings: 92 shot, 16 fatally in Chicago since Friday nightChicago Sun-Times
  • At least 140 people died in shootings across the US over Fourth of July weekendBusiness Insider
  • At least 150 killed in nationwide shootings this July 4th weekend: dataNew York Post

There are more, but … you get the picture, right?  In case you don’t quite get it, let me paint it for you.  In the

Most of the

Think their right to own a

is greater than our right to

I’M SICK AND DAMN TIRED OF THIS, FOLKS!!!  Give the fucking guns up … throw them in the ocean for all I care but get them out of the hands of ordinary people who tend to be fools and idiots from time to time, and as my mother-in-law used to say, “Ain’t got no sense.”

Take your 2nd Amendment and shove it where the sun doesn’t shine!  For that matter, you can put your guns there too!

{Filosofa takes 10 deep breaths}

Okay, let’s talk about this calmly now that I’ve gotten my fury out of my system.

Fact:  guns outnumber people in the United States

Fact:  humans sometimes get angry and act out of emotion rather than coherent thought

Fact:  guns kill people … or rather, people kill people WITH GUNS

Fact:  the 2nd Amendment does NOT guarantee that every person has the right to own a gun and carry it in public, nor does it address such things as automatic weapons that have the capacity to kill hundreds within minutes

Fact:  gun violence in the United States surpasses that of any other nation on earth

We can no longer feel safe going to the grocery store, much less a shopping mall on a holiday weekend.  We cannot feel safe in a movie theater, restaurant or bar.  We are not safe walking down the street, even in broad daylight.  We are not even safe in our own homes.  Something needs to change and it needs to change NOW!

Republican members of Congress, who are largely owned by the National Rifle Association (NRA), have long resisted even the most moderate legislation that would affect gun ownership, such as expanded background checks.  They have absolutely refused to even discuss a ban on assault weapons such as the AR-15 and AK-47.  I think the family of every single victim of gun violence from this point forward should file a federal suit against every Republican legislator who has naysaid gun legislation.

A favoured talking point of the NRA is that “guns don’t kill people, people kill people.”  Yes, but to the stupid who buy into that phrase, might I remind you that people kill people WITH GUNS!  Rare in the U.S. is the killing with fisticuffs or Swiss army knives.  Almost every damn murder is committed with … a gun!  Just how damn hard is it to understand that people who don’t have guns generally don’t kill?

Yes, I know I’m spitting in the wind, preaching to the choir, and the gun nuts will go on being just that … NUTS.  But I cannot be silent on this issue!  This is one of the three biggest issues that is threatening to destroy this nation from within, the other two being racism and money in politics.  And yes, I know that I’ve already said all of this before, more than a few times.  But PEOPLE!!!  WAKE UP AND SMELL THE GUNPOWDER!!!  It’s right outside your door!  Two of the fatalities this past weekend happened within a few miles of my home, likely a couple happened near you, too.  Our children are not safe in their classrooms, and we are not safe even in our workplaces.  How can the gun nuts even begin to justify this?  More to the point, how can our elected officials, men and women who are supposed to have our best interests at heart, justify taking bribes from the NRA and refusing to even discuss laws that might save lives?  Does anybody have an answer?  Hell no, for there is no logical answer.  It’s all about profit … profit for the gun industry, corporations such as Smith & Wesson, Glock, Beretta, Remington et al, and profit (money + power) for our not-so-illustrious elected officials whose salaries, I might remind you once again, WE PAY!

The right of a person to own a gun is about as far down on the priority list in my mind as anything could ever be.  And yet, it is the defining ‘right’ of far too many fools in this country.  The next holiday weekend will be the three-day Labour Day weekend, September 4th thru 6th.  Anybody want to make any bets how many of us will end up dead by guns at the end of that one?

Musings From The Rabbit Hole – A ‘Shared National Identity’????

As I am still inhabiting the rabbit hole – I swear, the rabbits are digging it deeper and deeper by the day – I cannot seem to stop my mind from wandering.  Well, in truth, it is aided and abetted by the chaos that would seem to have become the definition of Donald Trump’s tenure in the Oval Office.

One of Trump’s statements I read yesterday set the current train of thought in motion:

“The only path to unity is to rebuild a shared national identity focused on common American values and virtues of which we have plenty.”

I’m not sure what country he thought he was in when he got out of bed and later uttered that inanity on Monday morning, but it is the furthest thing from the truth here in the formerly United States.  A shared national identity?  Who is he kidding?  This country is the most divided it has ever been.  EVER.  On the one side there are those who seem to value “ethnic purity”, who are white-skinned and feel threatened by any who aren’t.  Those who support police killings of unarmed black people.  They applaud taking young children from their parents and keeping them in cages simply because they weren’t born in this country and their skin is not pale.  They support a madman in the White House who basically promises to give preferential treatment to their white-skinned friends & family.

And on the other hand, there are those of us who believe that “All ‘men’ are created equal”, even though the original author of that statement, Thomas Jefferson, had a more narrowly defined view of ‘all men’.  Those of us who understand the significance of “Black Lives Matter”, for far too many in this country seem to think Black people are somehow of lesser value.

And then there are the divisions of wealth.  There are those on the one hand who would argue that the right to earn and keep money supersedes the responsibility to others who are less fortunate.  They eschew higher taxes on the wealthy millionaires and billionaires, put profit ahead of the environment and ahead of people, and have the basic attitude of “I’ve got mine, you go get your own.”

On the other hand, there are those of us who have little, but believe it is our responsibility to do everything in our power to protect the air we breathe, the water we drink, and our natural resources.  We believe we all have a responsibility to help feed, clothe, educate and provide health care to those who are unable to do so themselves.

I have come to realize that these ideological, humanitarian differences have always existed, but in the past they were tamped down by leaders who understood there is no place for bigotry in this relatively new nation.  Today, though, we have a leader who sees this ideological gap as a wedge that he can use to drive us further apart than ever before, for his own political benefit.  And We the People are letting him do just that.

Much of what divides us seems to have its roots in bigotry of one form or another.  Immigration, guns, religion, abortion, health care, programs to help the poor, climate change, civil rights … all trace their roots back to discriminatory views, whether against Black people, women, LGBT people, immigrants, Hispanics, Muslims, Jews, atheists, or other groups.  And it is ripping this nation apart.  No, that is not an exaggeration, not hyperbole … it is a fact.  And we are letting it.

Our politicians feed on the divisions between liberals and conservatives, the wealthy and the poor.  They pour gasoline on the racial unrest that is a logical result of the systemic racism that exists in our police departments.  And Donald Trump, the so-called ‘president’ of this nation, is among the worst, for by his denigration of minorities and immigrants, his refusal to condemn racial killings, his support of white supremacists, he has turned this nation into a tinderbox just waiting for the right spark.  And yet he is the one who says we have “common values and virtues” and that we must work to rebuild a “shared national identity”?

He has done less than nothing to bring the people of this nation together, to help each side understand the other, to find common ground and a meeting of the minds somewhere in the middle.  Instead, he has encouraged violence since before he even took office.  If Hillary Clinton had been inaugurated in 2017, do you think that Kyle Rittenhouse, the 17-year-old punk who killed two people last weekend, would have been in Kenosha, Wisconsin, armed with an assault rifle and looking for trouble?  We’ll never know for sure, but probably not, for a President Clinton would almost certainly have followed through with the police reform measures started during the Obama administration.  In fact, in all likelihood, Jacob Blake would not have been shot 7 times in the back by a rogue police officer in Kenosha and there would have been no protests, no violence.

As I sit here pondering, it seems to me that the United States is truly two nations.  Until we learn to respect each other’s opinions, to listen to others, to put away the damn guns and use our brains to solve problems and resolve our disputes, there can be no “shared national identity”.  Can that ever happen?  At the moment, I think not.  A lot of things will have to happen in order for us to resolve our major differences, and it for damn sure is not going to happen with a person like Donald Trump at the helm.  I think it more likely that this nation will actually become multiple nations at the end of the day … if, that is, we don’t continue to be the single worst polluters on the globe, for if we continue down that path, life on this planet will cease to exist and it won’t really matter who had how much money or what colour anybody’s skin was.divisive