Unaccountability

Keith, as always, has words of wisdom that need to be heard and heeded far and wide. Thank you, Keith, for reminding us of that oft-forgotten concept of “accountability”.

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Parents have tended to emphasize to our children that they need to be accountable for their actions. When I see a child or adult accept accountability, it impresses.me, probably because it should be more commonplace than it is. “It is my fault, I messed up, and I will take care of it,” are words that need to be said more often.

Sadly, one of the worst examples of the lack of accountability is the former president. He has long avoided accountability which has contributed to his blaming others or avoiding blame for his mistakes. This is a key reason he remains an “enfant terrible” even into his 70s and is well known for his deceitful bent.

The latest example is the sycophants in Congress who are rationalizing his autocratic-like spying on people he perceives as his enemies – Democrats and the mainstream media. This is on top of only seventeen…

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Quotations On Presidential Responsibility

A few short, but very relevant quotes from a variety of presidents over the past century, by Charles French. Thank you, Charles …

charles french words reading and writing

In any time of crisis, the United States looks to its President for true leadership, for someone who can guide and understand the magnitude of the times, for someone who can also accept responsibility.

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(https://en.wikipedia.org)

“The Buck Stops Here!” (from desk sign)

Harry S. Truman

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(www.pixabay.com)

“Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.”

Abraham Lincoln

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(www.pixabay.com)

“Let us not seek the Republican answer, or the Democratic answer. Let us not seek to fix the blame for the past. Let us accept our own responsibility for the future.”

                                                                          John F. Kennedy

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(www.pixabay.com)

“Power always brings with it responsibility.”

                                                                         Teddy Roosevelt

Sometimes, leaders do not rise to the necessary levels during such times of need.

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(https://en.wikipedia.org)

“I don’t take responsibility at all.”

                                                                        Donald Trump

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PLEASE — More Respect, Less Hate

No matter which side of the partisan divide you are on, which side of the Trump coin you prefer, I think the one thing we can all agree on is that the two years of the Trump presidency has been the most divisive of any in the history of this nation, perhaps with the exception of the Civil War era, but I’m not even certain of that.  It has absolutely been the most divisive in my lifetime and that of anyone reading this post.

This post is not about Donald Trump … I have made my feelings about him clear in enough other posts … but rather it is about the hatred and divisiveness that people on both sides of the equation are engaging in and that is leading us down a path of destruction.  What brought this about and why now, considering that I have written no less than six past posts with the word “Respect” in the title?  A number of things, but it began with this headline …

High school basketball team pulls out of game after controversy over fans with Trump sign

It happened last week in Minnesota, where the Roosevelt High School basketball team visited Jordan High School for a game.  Roosevelt players are predominantly black, while Jordan players are predominantly white, and Jordan fans decided to fly this flag …trump flagIt’s high school, folks!  High school sports, for Pete’s sake!  Granted, some of these young people will be able to vote in the next election, and it’s a good thing for them to study civics, to learn about our government and the people in it, but it is not a good thing for them to bring political icons into high school sporting events.  The upshot is that now, Jordan High School has canceled yesterday’s scheduled game against Patrick Henry High School for one of two stated reasons: a) they feared something might happen to their players in retaliation for the flag incident, or b) the team did not want its presence at the event “to detract from the athletes”.  Whichever reason, it does not matter … what matters is that sports is supposed to teach young people sportsmanship, teamwork, cooperation … it is supposed to bring positive things into kids’ lives, not hate, not racism and bigotry.

What’s next … kindergarten kids wearing those red hats and beating up other kids because they look different?

Here are two examples I found on Education Week’s website:

  • Three swastikas were scrawled on the note found in the girls’ restroom, along with a homophobic comment and a declaration: “I Love Trump.”
  • Found inside the backpack of a Latina student, a note that said: Go back to Mexico.

These incidents took place at Council Rock High School in a predominately white suburb of Philadelphia.

Education Week and others have partnered with non-profit news organization ProPublica in a project called Documenting Hate, in an attempt to understand how hate, intolerance, and bias are affecting school climate and impacting students and their educators.  Take a look at some of the incidents they have reported on … I think you will be appalled.

No matter whether you love him or hate him, nobody can deny that Trump’s rhetoric and policies have been laden with bigotry … xenophobic, racist, homophobic and misogynist.  BUT … that does not give any of us the right to act upon his rhetoric.  Freedom of Speech is one of the core principles guiding our society, our lives, but as with any and every right, it comes with responsibility.  When we ignore the responsibility, then we risk losing the right … it’s that simple.

So, you have the right to march in peaceful protest, but you do not have the right to call the police on somebody swimming in the pool at your apartment complex just because their skin is darker than yours.  You do not have the right to yell racial slurs at people in public. That is bigotry.  You have the right to attend a Trump rally … or a Clinton rally … and wear whichever hat or shirt you deem appropriate, but if you wear that hat to a bar, a sporting event or the grocery store, you are doing it only to annoy those who don’t agree with you, and you do not have that right.

beliefsYou have the right to raise your children in whatever faith you choose, but you do not have the right to teach them to hate those who don’t believe as you do.  You have a right to support Donald Trump, but you do not have the right to make obscene gestures and utter hate speech in front of national television cameras.  It all boils down to one simple word that apparently too many people in this nation have forgotten: R-E-S-P-E-C-T.  Write me off as a friend if you wish, but do not threaten my life.

flesh-crayonsAnd most of all, folks of both parties, please do not teach your children to hate.  Teach them to accept and tolerate everyone, regardless of skin colour, race, religion, gender, gender identification, ethnicity or party affiliation.  If you cannot tolerate someone, then stay away, leave them alone … you do not have the right to hate and hurt others and you do not have the right to turn your children into hate-mongering little people.

Good People Doing Good Things — Acts of Kindness

A friend and reader, Ellen, pointed me in the direction of a new source of ‘good news’ stories, and one of the first things I saw last evening when I visited the site in search of ‘good people’, was this headline:

The Most Inspiring Everyday People of 2018 Showered the World With Kindness: Our Top 10 Favorites

I visited and found some awesome stories of everyday people doing small kindnesses for others.  Two of the ten turned out to be stories I had previously included in my ‘good people’ posts, but I want to share a few of the others with you today.


The first one is just a small thing, really, but I found it touching.  It happened at LAX airport last February.  A young mom, pregnant and with a toddler in tow, was trying to board her flight, but the toddler apparently had other ideas and was having a meltdown, running from the mother, crying uncontrollably.  Been there, done that, and I could feel that mother’s frustration as I read this story.

Finally, the young mother simply sat down on the floor of the airport, placed her hands over her face and joined her son in having a good cry.  As if by some unseen, unheard signal, suddenly 6 or 7 women came to the pair and worked their magic.  One sang The Itsy Bitsy Spider to the young boy, another peeled an orange for mother and son, another pulled a toy from her bag, while yet another offered the mom a bottle of water and words of comfort.  Within a few short minutes, both mother and son were calm and able to board their flight.  It is said that the women did not speak of what was being done or what needed to be done, and yet acted as a team, as if it were a well-coordinated effort.  According to one of the women …

“After they went through the door we all went back to our separate seats and didn’t talk about it… we were strangers, gathering to solve something. It occurred to me that a circle of women, with a mission, can save the world. I will never forget that moment.” 

Solidarity.  Empathy.  Compassion.  Kindness.


Adarsh Shrivastava was on a train that was traveling through Uttar Pradesh in northern India in July when he noticed something strange about his fellow passengers. His train cabin was filled with girls between the ages of 10 and 14 – and almost all of them were visibly distressed. Some of the youngsters were even crying.

Sensing that something was afoot, Shrivastava pulled out his phone, created a new Twitter account, and sent several messages detailing the situation to railway and law enforcement authorities, saying that he suspected the girls to be victims of human trafficking.trafficking.jpgUpon writing out his cabin and train number, the Good Samaritan only had to wait thirty minutes before the Ministry of Railways Twitter account responded to the message. A few stops later, several police officers boarded the train and arrested two men who had been transporting the girls for a human trafficking scheme.

“Their parents have been informed and the men have been taken into custody,” a statement from the Railway Protection Force said.

Many social media users are calling Shrivastava a hero and asking the Prime Minister of India to honor him for his actions – however, Shrivastava has simply responded by saying: “Thanks, but as a citizen of India, it’s our responsibility to help people.”

Humility.  Courage.  Responsibility.  Empathy.


It was on a routine flight to Jamaica that an elderly woman suddenly went into cardiac arrest.  Luckily there was a nurse onboard, but she was unable to relieve the woman’s breathing distress.  However, there were two very inventive anesthesiologists aboard the flight, Matthew Stevenson and John Flanagan.  After determining that the plane was not equipped with a hand-operated, manual resuscitator, the two men leapt into action.  Dr. Stevenson performed CPR on the woman while Dr. Flanagan concocted a makeshift ventilator using tubing and an airbag from one of the plane’s emergency masks and connecting the device to the onboard oxygen tank.oxygen deviceThe two doctors worked to keep oxygen flowing to the woman’s lungs with the makeshift device for 45 minutes, until the plane was able to make an emergency landing in Fort Lauderdale.  Passengers pitched in, too, holding the doctors steady during the bumpy landing.  When medics rushed onto the plane to take over, the passengers gave a cheering round of applause to the two doctors.docsIn this, the day of frivolous lawsuits, many doctors will not step into such a situation, for their malpractice carriers caution them against touching a person in distress without a liability waiver.  These two men put a human being first.

Caring.  Humanity.  Courage.  Responsibility.


Randy HeissRandy Heiss had been out on a walk with his dog in Patagonia, Arizona when he saw a deflated red balloon trapped in some shrubs. More peculiarly, there was a little note attached to the string. The note, which was written in Spanish, was a Christmas list that was addressed to Santa from a little girl named Dayami. The sweet youngster simply said that she wanted some paints and new clothes for Christmas.balloon-noteHeiss was moved by the letter, not just because of its innocence, but also because he used to send letters to Santa the very same way – so he became dedicated to fulfilling the child’s Christmas wish.  But … how to find the child?

“It really touched my heart to find it and I said well how in the heck am I going to be able to figure out how to make contact with this little girl and make her wishes come true.”

He took to social media, hoping to find someone who could put him in contact with the family. With Christmas looming ever closer, Heiss eventually approached a Mexican radio station for help, and within one hour of them broadcasting his story, he was connected with Dayami’s family in Nogales, Sonora.

Delighted for an opportunity to bring some holiday magic to the family, Heiss ditched work to go shopping for Dayami’s gifts at Walmart and bring them down to Nogales.Dayami.pngDayami’s family was extremely grateful for the gesture, and Heiss and his wife were careful about telling the kids that the gifts were from Santa.  Heiss gained even more joy from his gesture, though …

“We lost our son nine years ago. So, we don’t have grandchildren in our future and so really getting to share Christmas with kids was something that’s been missing in our lives.”

Heiss has stayed in touch with Dayami’s parents through social media, and they are quickly becoming extensions of each other’s families – all thanks to his act of Christmas compassion.

Generosity.  Sharing.  Kindness. Love.


I end this post with a quote from English writer John Bunyan:

“You have not lived today until you have done something for someone who can never repay you.”

Let’s all try to be ‘good people’ this year, shall we?  Remember, it isn’t the size of what you do, but the spirit with which you do it.

Voter Apathy — Part I

An article in New York Magazine’s Intelligencer caught my eye yesterday.  The headline?

12 Young People on Why They Probably Won’t Vote

Say what???  In the wake of the Parkland school shooting last February, I thought young people were energized, I thought they were determined to make their voices heard, to make a difference.  According to the article, however, more than half of American adults plan to cast ballots in November, but only a third of people ages 18 to 29 say they will. What happened?  I had to know, so I read the article.  Here are some of the highlights …

  • 2016 was such a disillusioning experience. Going into the election, I was so proud to be in this country at this moment, so proud to be voting for Hillary Clinton. I had my Clinton sweatshirt on all day. I was on Twitter telling people that if they didn’t vote they were dead to me — like the whole thing. Watching the results come in, it was just disheartening. My faith in the whole system was crushed pretty quickly.

  • I think there’s a way to be an informed nonvoter. I’d rather have an informed nonvoter than an uninformed voter going in and making a choice they don’t understand.


  • There are things that I’m aware of where I’m certain I’m right. But for most things, although I feel strongly, it’s very probable that there’s some aspect of this that I don’t understand. Somebody provides a new avenue of thought, and it changes the way I think about something. I never felt certain enough to vote.


  • I tried to register for the 2016 election, but it was beyond the deadline by the time I tried to do it. I hate mailing stuff; it gives me anxiety. I don’t remember seeing voter-registration drives, no. I’ve seen a lot more the past two years. I’m sure there must have been stuff. I just don’t remember it.


  • I guess I still thought, Okay, my vote is largely symbolic in this election because I’m in Texas. Even if Texas went blue, I’m pretty sure my vote wouldn’t matter anyway. Austin is very liberal, but it’s very gerrymandered.


  • I have ADHD, and it makes it hard for me to do certain tasks where the payoff is far off in the future or abstract. I don’t find it intrinsically motivational.


  • I rent and move around quite a bit, and when I try to get absentee ballots, they need me to print out a form and mail it to them no more than 30 days before the election but also no less than seven days before the election. Typically, I check way before that time, then forget to check again, or just say “F*** it” because I don’t own a printer or stamps anyway.


  • I feel like the Democratic Party doesn’t really stand for the things I believe in anymore. Why should I vote for a party that doesn’t really do anything for me as a voter? Millennials don’t vote because a lot of politicians are appealing to older voters. We deserve politicians that are willing to do stuff for our future instead of catering to people who will not be here for our future. I’m a poli-sci major …


  • I look at it this way: That report just came out the other day about global warming, talking about how we have 12 years, until 2030, for this radical change unlike the world has ever seen. And The Hill newspaper just put out that article about how the DNC does not plan on making climate change a big part of their platform, even still. I just do not understand why I would vote for a party that doesn’t care about me in any way. They can say, “Sure, we’ll lower student interest rates.” Well, I don’t give a shit about student interest rates if I’m not going to live past 13 more years on this planet.


  • Most people my age have zero need to go to the post office and may have never stepped into one before. Honestly, if someone had the forms printed for me and was willing to deal with the post office, I’d be much more inclined to vote.


  • I vote when I feel like I have to. But I mostly consider it something that sucks a lot of people’s time and energy away from actually building power with the people around them.


  • For a while, I thought it was an immoral act to vote. It means that we’re giving our approval to a system that I totally do not want to validate.


  • My parents are of the generation where they actually watch the news, and they know about candidates via the news. Where my generation, the millennial generation, is getting all their news from social media like Twitter or Instagram or Facebook, and that is not always the best. Reading things through social media is snippets, and it’s not the whole details on everything, you know? It’s a wild theory, but setting voting up so that it’s all on social media, putting all that information in just an Instagram Story, in a Snapchat filter or whatever — bulleted-out, easy-to-read, digestible content — would encourage me to vote.

As you might guess, the article left me torn between a sense of intense fury, seriously wanting to go smack a young person, and one of “we are doomed, folks … these are that ‘next generation’ we’ve been counting so heavily on!”  Who’s to blame here?  Perhaps we all are, but offhand I am angry with parents who have not bothered to instill a sense of responsibility into these young people, and our schools who somewhere along the line decided it was more important to teach them to program a computer than to teach them how our government works and how very important each and every vote is. vote-3

Suggestions!

Our friend Hugh is a philosopher and a professor who nearly always makes me think, makes me question some corner of the world, of life with questions of his own. Often I find he is out of my league and he makes me think very hard! Today, however, instead of questions Hugh is giving us his insight and, as often happens, I can find not a single thing with which to disagree. When I read his excellent post last night, my first thought is “he must run for president!” But I really like Hugh and wouldn’t wish that on him. Please give Hugh’s post a few minutes of your time, and be sure to let him know your own thoughts on how to fix that which is broken! Many thanks, Hugh, for allowing me to share this work!

hughcurtler

One of my favorite readers has expressed her impatience with social critics like myself because we seem to point out problems but never make predictions or suggest solutions to the problems we point out. In a word we are “nattering nabobs of negativism” — remember that!!?? In that spirit I thought I would make a stab at suggesting a few remedies for the many problems we face at this point in time.

Let’s begin with politics. There are a few things that are obvious, but I will state them anyway. There should be term  limits for every elected office at the state and federal levels. And let’s put pay raises for elected officials up to the voting public — they should reflect the rise in the cost of living in the general public and not  be determined by the officials themselves in a closed meeting. And the PACs, especially Super…

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Active Shooter

Last week, I wrote a post in which I mentioned a soon-to-be-released video game, Active Shooter, that was based on the spate of recent school shootings. The premise of the game greatly offended my sensibilities and I was, needless to say, appalled. The post elicited some comments and discussion about whether such games are a partial cause of the recent violent tendencies we are seeing in some young people today, such as the shooters at Parkland and Santa Fe. Our dear friend Hugh has taken up the gauntlet and written an excellent, thoughtful and thought-provoking post that opens the door to even more discussion! Please take a few moments to read and ponder Hugh’s post. Thank you, dear Hugh!

hughcurtler

My good friend Jill recently posted a comment about the release of a new video game called “Active Shooter” in which the player is armed and enters a school to see how many “cops and ‘civs'” he or she can shoot. The “civs” are civilians — presumably including children? I don’t know because I haven’t seen it. No do I want to. But her summary and description of the game caused me to burst forth with a comment in which I insisted that we must finally face the fact that violent games cause violence in children. Scottie, a fellow blogger, then politely took me to task on the grounds that he was (and is) a game-player and also in the armed forces later in his adult life and he has no desire whatever to enter a school and shoot children. Point taken. I would like to respond to his comment…

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To My Friends and Family on Facebook, I’m closing my Facebook Accounts

My blogger-friend Rob Goldstein has closed his Facebook accounts, and I must admit that I am considering doing the same. To understand the reasons, please check out his very informative post about Facebook’s role in helping Russia to interfere in our sham of an election last year, thus leaving us in the mess we are in today. Thank you, Rob, for compiling this very helpful information, and for giving me permission to share your post.

Art by Rob Goldstein


Update: 09/27/2017 
This is the latest update from ABC News on Russia’s weaponized use of Facebook to subvert the 2016 U.S. Election

A screenshot of a September 27, 2017 report from ABC News regarding Putin's use of Facebook to steal the 2016 US Election Russia pushed Trump as the only viable option

Posts that circulated to a targeted, swing-state audience on the social media site railed against illegal immigrants and claimed “the only viable option is to elect Trump.” They were shared by what looked like a grassroots American group called Secured Borders, but Congressional investigators say the group is actually a Russian fabrication designed to influence American voters during and after the presidential election.

“Their goal was to spread dissension, was to split our country apart, and they did a pretty good job,” said Sen. Mark Warner of Virginia, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee.

Facebook told Congressional investigators about a series of posts from a group calling itself “Secured Borders,” which had the look of a grassroots American…

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We’ve got our Backs Against the Wall

Not a writer of fiction, I rarely post fiction by other bloggers, but today I make an exception. I recently discovered Sha’Tara when she visited my blog. This particular story is … well, really I do not have the words to describe it, but it is haunting, sad, beautifully written, and also food for thought. Please take a few minutes to read the story of James Macken and his daughter Elle by Sha’Tara. Thank you for a thought-provoking short story, Sha’Tara, and for your permission to re-blog!

~Burning Woman~

                                            [short story, by Sha’Tara]

James Macken closes down his netbook and goes looking for his daughter.  Twelve year old Ellie or “Elle” Macken is leaning on the railing of the cabin’s small patio, looking intently into the night sky.  There is no moon and the stars, this high in the Coast Mountains, shine brightly.  Despite a light breeze blowing from the west, the summer night remains warm. 

His voice breaks the night’s silence, “Elle?”

“I’m over here, dad.”

James walks over to her and leans on the railing, his face following where she was staring.  “What’s up there, Elle?”

“ I don’t know, dad.  I just feel so funny, so detached, all of a sudden.”

“Funny, like how?”  He isn’t joking or pretending.  He’d learned long ago to…

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Confessions of an Unkind Filosofa …

Yesterday I was ornery.  I was, perhaps, unkind.  I was fed up and I let my fed-up-ed-ness get the best of me.  I am not always a nice person, though I try … I really do try.  Here is what happened:

A Facebook friend opined that her life is terrible because she is “in a rut”.

Yes, friends, that is all it took to set me off.  Nothing more than that, but it came at the wrong time.  It came on a day when I needed help plugging in my vacuum cleaner because I could not see the wall outlet.  It came at the end of a week when I grieved with a dear friend over the death of her young granddaughter.  It came on a week when another dear friend has learned that her son will not likely live to see Christmas.  It came at the wrong time, when I had shared true grief with people whom I love and when my compassion meter was running on fumes.  Sorry, but “in a rut” simply does not evoke my empathy.

My response to her was, perhaps, unkind … and that is not my nature.  It was not thoughtful, but rather off-the-cuff, and my cuffs were worn and frayed at the time.  This is not the ‘ME’ I want to be.  However, I offer no apologies, because after the passage of a day, a night’s sleep, and much soul-searching, I realize that I spoke honestly, and one should never apologize for honesty.

“In a rut”.  “Bored”.  I suppose I should be thankful that I have no context for these words.  The last time I was bored, I was ten years old.  And the last time I was in a rut was … never.  Luck or design?  Both, I suppose.  But this whole episode led me to think about the concept of being bored and in a rut.

First, I do not see how, with all the books in the world, with the wonders of nature right outside our front door, a person can possibly be bored.  But that said, if you are bored and your life is a rut, why not do something different?  Whose responsibility is your life?  It is not mine … I’ve got enough on my plate.  If you are ‘in a rut’, why not change something?  Volunteer your time at a homeless shelter or the local Humane Society.  Volunteer at the library.  Volunteer as a classroom aide at the local elementary school.  Take online classes in a topic that interests you.  Start writing your memoirs.  Go explore a new park or hiking trail.  Try a new recipe.  Learn to knit.  Play Sudoku. Learn a new language. For Pete’s sake, there are so many opportunities out there … there is simply no excuse for being “in a rut”.

We are each responsible for what our lives have become.  Throughout our lives we have made choices, have come to forks in the road and had to choose a path.  Each choice, each path, leads to consequences … some desirable, some less so … but each of us are responsible for those choices … nobody else … just us.

I rarely dwell on my problems because I have better things to do. When I do whine, I confine it to my soulmate, H, rather than inflict my mood on the general public. I do not make it a habit to publicly bemoan my problems, nor do I often allow myself to dwell on them, for that simply causes them to loom larger-than-life.  Life is short … I want to enjoy my days, not spend them feeling sorry for myself and engaging in self-pity.

sad-imgSo no, I am not proud of the manner in which I responded to my friend, but neither am I repentant.  I am mostly saddened by the fact that she, and others I know, have chosen to waste their lives focusing on what they perceive they are missing, rather than trying to broaden their horizons, do things that have value such as helping others, furthering their knowledge, and focusing on the good in their lives.  It is a sad statement of the human condition. It is a damn shame.

I am not a psychologist, but I do know that we each hold the keys to our own lives and our happiness.  Nobody else can give us either of these … we must make our own choices.  There is an old saying, “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade”.  It is trite, but really, if you think about it, it’s true.  We can either whine and feel sorry for ourselves for what is making us unhappy, or we can change it.  If we cannot change it, then we can learn to live with it and move on.  Social media is chock full of people engaging in pity parties, pathetically asking the world to give them sympathy, empty commiseration, rather than turning their lives into whatever it is they want.  Sorry, folks … that ain’t the way it works.

However, I will try to be nicer in the future, or, as H advised me, just scroll on by.  🙂