Back To School

The way forward has become clearer in the last few months. Becoming an organizer, public policy maker, lawyer, or other community leader has become attractive. I’ve always cared about social & economic justice, but I’ve not had much personal power.

I’ve read four books in the last few months that have been very illuminating & instructive. Thomas Frank’s, Listen Liberal, helped me see how we got where we are, along with George Packer’s: The Unwinding: An Inner History of the New America, which details through personal narratives how America lost it’s center, while Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis, by J. D. Vance reveals another facet of America’s slow, and not-so-slow, decline.

My favorite book, however, and the one which drives my ambition to organize is: A Force More Powerful: A Century of Non-violent Conflictby Peter Ackerman, & Jack DuVall, which is available on film as a PBS documentary.

As I’m boycotting Amazon, I suggest streaming online using iTunes, or Hulu, or borrowing the books and film through your local library. Amazon has become a predatory company with abysmal working conditions and unfair pay for many, if not most, workers.

The Woman’s March was affirming, and there are more planned marches in the works as the new authoritarian regime takes shape and we stand to lose ever more of our Constitutional rights.

Democracy requires participation, and while subtle stripping of our rights over the last few decades in the name of ‘fighting terrorism’ quieted many, we can no longer complain from the sidelines as we see bolder disassembling of our republic by those elected who follow their own agendas rather than the majority’s consent.

We can’t have everything, and we do need to compromise and find common ground where possible, but we resist attempts by the monied class and other interests to ruin our environment, or remove our Constitutional guarantees to seek redress for wrongs, to peaceably assemble, and for free speech.

https://www.monticello.org/sites/default/files/uploaded-content-images/Declaration_Engrav_Pg1of1_doctored_0.jpg
https://www.monticello.org/sites/default/files/uploaded-content-images/Declaration_Engrav_Pg1of1_doctored_0.jpg

Power is derived from the governed’s consent as our Declaration of Independence reads, in part:

“…We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.- That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, – That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.”

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© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh) and Abstractly Distracted’s Blog, 2010 – current

Uncomfortable

Life is incomprehensible to me.  I learn from my mistakes as I make them, but it sucks to live this way.  You’d think I would have gotten better at it as time went on, but no.

At 16, I traveled to Virginia Beach with a friend, where we decided to stay for the summer, and quickly ran out of the forty bucks between us.  My friend got a waitress job, but I hadn’t found anything yet.  We met a few kids our age, and I hung out with them, smoking pot, while waiting for my friend’s shift to end after midnight.  The police pulled up where me and the two kids were sitting, and one of the kids ran while the cops asked me and this other kid what we were doing and how old we were.  We both said our ages and were promptly hand-cuffed and put into the back of the cruiser, roughly, as though we were resisting, when I asked why I was being hand-cuffed, and was told to ‘shut up’.

I was taken to Tidewater Detention Home, where I was strip searched, and put in a cell, and had no idea what would happen next.  The next day I took a book, or magazine, to my cell, and at roll call, I was told I couldn’t watch TV anymore for violating the rule of not bringing materials into my cell.  I learned the rules by violating them, and I still had no idea why I was there.

It wasn’t until four days later, when I had a court appearance, that I learned I was picked up for loitering and breaking curfew.  LOITERING AND BREAKING CURFEW.  As well as possessing a pipe with pot resin in it.  No pot.  Just resin.  I was told I was never welcome in the state of Virginia again, which was fine with me, but I still felt as though the punishment was ridiculous compared to the ‘crime’.

My son has a sister, whom I dearly love, from his father’s first marriage.  I was out of touch with her for a while but re-connected on Facebook. Unfortunately she felt she was being FB stalked as I liked all her posts, wanting to be a part of her life, however virtual.  I had no idea that was creepy.  I’m the last person on earth who wants to be creepy, but there’s the rub, I guess?

I try to remember that I was born into hell, pretty much.  I experienced domestic violence from day one, being the fifth child of six in a family that was sick from child number one.  I witnessed my mother’s abuse, my siblings abuse, as well as my own – and I became the scapegoat: the one young enough that I might not be as harmed as the rest, but not too young, like my little brother.  I confessed to many things I never did, my older sisters pleading with me to say I did it because the beating was sure to be less for me than my older siblings, but I still got the beating.

I accept that I saved my siblings from worse at times.  I’m grateful if that was true. Unfortunately for me, I never learned how to cope with the rest of my life as well as my brethren.  Had my issues only stemmed from my family of origin, that might have been more manageable for me, but there were several other mitigating abusive circumstances throughout my young life that have made success elusive.

An anti-poverty organization I held a seat on a decade ago sponsored a poverty conference.  I can’t remember the speaker’s full name – Chuck Flugel? (my apologies), but he said that people in poverty will never make it out of poverty.  It’s not going to happen.  I remember how pissed I was at such a pronouncement.  How could he say something like that in a room full of despairing people?  But, he was right.  I’ve never made it out of poverty, and most people I’ve ever known in poverty are still there.  Still. there.

We had a vote to increase the salary of our Executive Director that year, and I had to recuse myself from voting because I thought $80,000 a year was appropriate, and they wanted to increase it to $90,000.  The board spoke of how they might lose the director to another company who would pay more, and I thought that if the director left the organization for that, then they were better off.  It was astounding to me that several board members were upset with me for not wanting to authorize the pay increase, but I was looking at the big picture.  Why was the director there?  If salary was the reason, then the director was better off looking for a higher paying position.  $80,000 a year was an incredible amount in my mind, and that was in the mid-1990’s!

Finding work I can do has been a life-long struggle.  Two years ago, before a surgery that left me with a paralyzed arm for nearly a year, I had found a job that seemed pretty good, but the repetitious nature of data-entry precipitated my need for surgery, and I can’t do that kind of job anymore.  C’est la vie, right?

So, chin up!  Keep looking.  Keep striving.  Keep a happy face, baby, because nobody likes a downer.

And the irony is, I do.  It’s my nature to hope.  Maybe it’s all of our nature to hope.  Is that what was left in Pandora’s box?  It’s both the chain-lock and the key.

Like many, I’m a sucker believing that I might hit it big, so play the lottery when I can.  What’s a dollar or two when millions stand to be gained?  What’s a dollar or two a month over a year – a couple of gallons of milk, or bread, or other necessities.  Those millions have never been realized, and yet, people do win the lottery, pretty consistently.

It’s easy to believe that some ‘god’ directs all that, but what an asshole god that would be.

Nah, it’s just my insane desire for a miracle to lift me out of poverty.

So, the uncomfortable truth is that I’m fucked.  I have to do the best I can with what I have, and keep hoping, but do my best to stop being a sucker, for love or for money.

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© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh) and Abstractly Distracted’s Blog, 2010 – current