Sometimes The Glass Is Half Empty

We are not capable of acting with civility and altruism except in short bursts. Our default mode is self-preservation, looking out for ourselves and those closest to us. This, it seems to me, is why the Christian baptismal calling, or most any religious calling, is so foreign, so hard. It forces us to turn to God for help, who is or isn’t really here.

There. I said it. It doesn’t feel good to say it. It feels risky and dangerous, traitorous, faithless, sinful, wrong. Heartbreaking. But it is honest. The thing about belief in God is that no one can say God exists with anything approaching full confidence. Such a statement is always tinged with a mix of doubt and hope, but not unshakeable confidence. It is a faith statement, after all.

I’ve never understood how some people can claim unwaveringly that God exists. I’ve never been impressed or moved by this. More often the feeling is closer to suspicion, or sympathy. How can anyone be so (gullible, naive) … sure?

Out With It

I wonder what gave Mother Teresa pause, what fed her discouragement and doubt in her periods of waning faith. I guess I should read up on that.

Personally speaking, I find it difficult to move beyond what sounds more and more plausible with each passing day: religion is balm for when times are hard, a gap filler, a response to our fear of death, a hoping for something more than what we see. And there’s a growing sense that this is all it’s ever been.

Apart from the religious lunatics on the right, the loudest voices are skeptics or self-professed atheists, and I must say that the atheists are making much more sense. I don’t know as I’d go as far as Ron Reagan or Bill Maher and flout my atheism (I guess I still wonder about a lightning bolt, or karma), but there is a certain appeal or logic to the atheist’s argument. It’s certainly easier.

Wow, the more things change the more they stay the same, I guess—there will always be Athenians and others who prefer logic and reason over a leap of faith. Anyhow, perhaps Mother Teresa’s dis-ease grew more acute over time- time in which the suffering she saw never abated and God seemed indifferent, impotent, or just nowhere to be found. It takes a toll when you’re always searching but never really finding, when you feel abandonment more often than the abiding presence.

“Opium of the people” seems a bit harsh and Skeptical with a capital S, yet not without some basis in observed reality. And then there’s the time factor. Two thousand years is an awfully long time to wait, God’s timetable notwithstanding. Even those early descendants of Abraham didn’t have to wait this long.

What’s the hold-up? Things are getting crazy down here, and Earth is about ready to spit us out.

By Drips and Drops

Tommy Gong. A now higher-profile elections official in San Luis Obispo County, California, who for many years flew below the radar and just did his job. And, apparently, did it well.

Say goodbye to Tommy Gong, because a loud ignorant minority is “concerned” he may be under the thumb of Communist China (you know, because he looks to be and is of Chinese descent, so this must be the case…) and have been pressuring and threatening him about 2020 election results.

Mr. Gong is leaving town, moving on, because why shouldn’t he? Who needs this kind of treatment, after years of doing the job well, with pride and expertise and efficiency? And accuracy.

All it takes is a few no-minds threatening violence, and good people are just gonna say, “I don’t need this.” And this is how our democracy dies.

Like An Engine That Won’t Turn Over

There seems to be a tireless effort on the part of those who have no liking for Trump to find some charge that will stick, pursue some line of attack that will produce a conviction of some sort. But one could get the feeling that there is and will be nothing—despite all the current cases and efforts—that will end in a conviction. Nothing. Lots of smoke, no fire. He’s gonna outrun all of it.

And maybe this is the game for him. Maybe this is all he lives for, what gets him out of bed in the morning. He enjoys this endless cat and mouse. What could be sweeter for the person who aspires to nothing more than being a 75-year old attention hound?

This has all been the textbook definition of an exercise in futility. He’s a boil on our collective ass, America. We need to stop giving him the time of day. Though ignoring him probably isn’t going to make him go away.

It’s a sad situation. The manchild has no sense of propriety, no plans on exiting the stage for the good of the country. It’s always been about what’s right for him, to the exclusion of everything and everyone else.

Disintegration and Impotence

I’m beginning to sense that Joe Biden isn’t going to have what it takes to stem the tide of lunacy. He looks frail to me, weary, overmatched. His DOJ is sending strange signals and acting timidly. And he’s always just talked a good game, anyway. I voted for him because he wasn’t Donald Trump, and his presence in the White House at least signaled a return to some measure of sanity and rational, compassionate behavior. But he is getting older by the minute and he doesn’t have much to work with in the way of Congressional support. Public support, though currently robust, seems not to matter.

Biden’s majority has been as slim as it can possibly be, and now that Joe Manchin has signaled he won’t be on board for the voting rights act, there is a slimmer chance of stemming the tide of the growing madness on the right. What is Manchin’s gig, anyway? Is he really a Republican in a Dem’s clothing? Or is he a Democrat in a red state occupying a woefully compromised seat, talking out of both sides of his mouth and just looking out for himself and his own job security?

As each day passes, it is becoming clearer to me that the wolf at the door is going to find its way back into the house. The resistance to Donald Trump and his army of sycophants and wackadoodles consists mostly of bluster and indignation, a passing shower in the midst of ever-deepening drought. No matter how wrong The Big Lie feels or actually is, there nonetheless seems to be an air of inevitability about it.

It is difficult to be optimistic about this nation’s future when so many in positions of power are holding onto the past, and the bottom line seems only to be whether one wins or loses. Victory at any cost. But that is the American way, right?

The End Is Near?

Wow, Maddow painted a frightening picture recently, regarding where we are as a country. Trump continues to linger, like raw chicken wrapped in newspaper and thrown in the garbage 2 days ago. The “recount” efforts are gaining steam in several states, and the big lie is taking hold, inspiring restrictive voting legislation also in multiple states.

We are watching our elected officials drink the kool-aid, wander aimlessly and mindlessly in Trump world, ignoring real needs and focusing on a paper tiger.

Everything feels tenuous, like we’re teetering at cliff’s edge. A monumentally selfish, angry, unstable man continues to clamor for attention, and people you’d think would know better appear willing to indulge him.

America The Beautiful, my ass.

Cold Water to the Face

I’ve given thought lately to an unsettling reality, prompted by the upheaval after George Floyd, in light of the current efforts to restrict voting rights, and after having read Caste, a book by Isabel Wilkerson. It’s something that, for almost the entirety of my life, has never been a topic of conversation or accorded a bit of attention.

Lately, though, I’ve been thinking about it a lot, and it’s had the effect of casting everything in a different light.

My life has had its share of ups and downs, but in a relative way has been a pretty smooth ride because of the pigment of my epidermis. Like every other human being on earth, this is something I had no control over or choice in, yet I have enjoyed privileges that I’ve never treated or understood as privileges, most neither earned nor expressly deserved yet still taken for granted. Mere benefits of a collective, deeply rooted bias based on nothing more than the whiteness of my skin.

And, sadly, supported in part by a selective and unfortunate interpretation of scripture, along with successive generations of people who have embraced and perpetuated a gross, monstrous lie.

It’s Comin’ Along

Our last couple of trips to the big box or grocery store have been maskless. And the first thought or feeling that comes to mind has been gratitude. Just plain gratitude—for living where I live, for the people who developed the vaccines, for those who expertly administer them and keep the clinics running smoothly. For those who deliver the vaccine to sites all over the country. For the funding that allows us to receive the shots at no cost to us, though I guess if there was a paper trail, we’d find that we paid for them with our tax dollars? Money well spent, if that’s the case.

Anyway, I’m grateful that we’ve come this far, that this weird year-plus is beginning to fade into the past, something to read about someday.

Of course, much of the rest of the world is not in the same place. So there’s that. We need to be mindful of that.

More Pathetic than Creative

Come on, America.

Stop waiting to be rewarded for something you should do simply because it’s a good thing to do.

Who doesn’t want a million bucks, or a 4-year free ride to a state university, or Super Bowl tickets, or a free beer, or a fishing license, or a hundred other perks being offered for getting vaccinated? Once again, we’ve arrived at reinforcing the tried and true “What’s in it for me?”

The shots are free, and I guess it’s not really about long-term unknowns or quick-to-market jitters. It’s just that the incentive wasn’t right.

B.F. Skinner was on to something.

Day and Night

Sometimes the contrast is striking, somehow comical. I’m sitting here thinking about how to clean the kitchen, mowing the lawn, maybe buying a good de-thatching rake. Meanwhile, Vladimir Putin is making threats toward us and, for all I know, contemplating world domination, or at least how to destroy America. What an evil-eyed gnat.

How does he occupy his day? Does he care about the people he governs, or is it more about the perks and the power?

He must always be watching his back.