Yesterday, I was feeling as though I have been a rock. Seriously. A low-frequency vibration that is mostly static, unyielding, stationary, constant. At the start of that association, I forgot about one of my long-time memories of a song by that name – “I Am A Rock”, by Simon and Garfunkel. It sums up quite a bit of what I have felt in my life, what I am feeling even now.

A rock feels no pain, and an island never cries.

So. That song came out in 1965, when I was a little tyke. I didn’t discover it until nearly twenty years later, but when I did, I felt as though it it had been channeled directly from my heart space. I totally related to the sentiment – I don’t need anybody. I have my books. Friendship causes pain.

I had those feelings decades ago, and sad to say, they remain. On some levels, I reject those sentiments, and nearly force myself to have friendships, deep friendships. But that deep feeling that friendship causes pain is still there. I suppose I am choosing to do something different.

I am still intrigued with the notion that some part of my psyche just didn’t form, that a blank space exists where healthy bonds with others can be formed. I stay away from anything or anyone that might possibly develop into a romantic notion because that spells disaster for me. I have grown totally weary of disasters; my life is not going to be a retelling of “The Poseidon Adventure” or “Titanic”. If I’m going to drown, I think I’d rather go under and be eaten by sharks, just to get it over with.

I’m told that pain is inevitable, but suffering is optional. Not sure if I believe that entirely, but that’s irrelevant. Suffering exists. In abundance. When I have brought it on myself, I suppose I am more angry than anything else, and the suffering is doubled. Or tripled. Or exponentially increased by some power way greater than myself. So. My strategy is…best defense, no be there. Thanks, Mr. Miyagi.

All of that notwithstanding, I was a little annoyed this morning to find that some news had broken through my continued viewing of the volcano in Iceland (which is still burping out about 6.3 cubic meters of lava per second, in spectacular form). The attorneys for Derek Chauvin are requesting a new trial, because one of the jurors was filmed attending a rally where the family of George Floyd spoke, and he was wearing a Black Lives Matter t-shirt. The horror!!!

Aside from that, the GOP is after Liz Cheney with pitchforks and torches, like they are chasing the Frankenstein monster. Let’s ignore the transgressions of Matt Gaetz, and the former President, and Ted Cruz. Let’s crucify a lone member of Congress who stood up for truth, justice, and the American way (literally). Let’s part ways with Mitt Romney, who also stood up for the truth, and boo him and vow to eject him from his position. Let’s send the message that truth is only a tool when it can do something for you. Otherwise, it’s fake news and to be avoided at all costs. Thus spoke the GOP.

These are times when I don’t understand how this country is surviving at all. Hate crimes are on the rise. There was a recent case where a crazed woman attacked an Asian American student with a hammer, and demanded she remove her mask. Not sure what her point was, and I guess she didn’t have to have one.

I suppose the notion of attacking people because you simply hate them is not new. Most reasonable people are capable of making the connection between fear and hatred, between fear and crime, but what are we going to do about it?

Currently, we have data on hundreds of hate groups in the United States, groups of people bound together by an ideology, a sentiment that designates others with certain attributes as the enemy. Not their personal enemy, but a collective enemy. They are saving the country, not just themselves. It’s their sworn duty as “patriots” to defend America.

I say that’s a convenient excuse to get your jollies under cover of organizational status. It’s like collective bargaining for white supremacists. It’s not me, John Dweeb, it’s all of us…hundreds, thousands of us. We can’t all be wrong, and this is what the nation was founded upon – patriotism. Riding through the streets waring people of enemy attack.

The problem with that is, well – one of the problems, because there are many – let’s look at the ride through the streets. First of all, there were significantly fewer people involved than now – colonial America vs. the United States of America, a few hundred thousand people vs. several million people. More to the point, the story of Paul Revere’s ride left out one of the principal characters – there was a second rider, who happened to be a Black man. We totally ignore that guy, who was no less a patriot, and no less instrumental in the story of American freedom.

Second, the political and colonial reality was, um, just a bit different back then. The fledgling nation was fighting its mother country. This was not a civil issue. This was a dispute with a foreign power. not domestic. Taxation without representation – we were second class citizens, and we didn’t like it. We’re supposed to treat each other slightly better than that, I think, but I guess that’s going to take a little work since we’re still arguing about who “we” are.

We haven’t ever figured out how to have conflict between ourselves, on large or small scale, and we don’t do all that great with the external ones, either. Let’s just pretend the problem doesn’t exist, and not talk about it, and it will go away. But it doesn’t, and it grows way larger in the dark than it ever would have if brought into the light. But that’s some basic science fact, and I forget that we don’t do science when it’s hard.

Anyway, we’re still muddling around and, in some respects, circling the drain. Like this kind of thing:

This is the sort of thing I hate to see, when the ostrich does indeed go down on its front legs and bury its head. Actually, I read a little while ago that ostriches don’t actually bury their heads…because of the way they’re built, when they are foraging for edibles in the grass or the sand, they have to assume that position in order to get their beaks oriented to seize insects and invertebrates crawling around down there. The head burying thing is a myth, but hey, it works for the most part. A huge bird with a small head that is positioned lower than its nether regions is a wonderful illustration of putting one’s vulnerabilities more at risk while your sensory and cognitive attributes are hidden and out of play. Lossely translated, when your head is down that far, your butt is up in the air and fair play for predators. So, there you have it.

Regardless, this bill in Iowa is the kind of nonsense that has gotten the ignoramus class out in front of the herd lately. Just deny, deny, deny and repeat the lie until it becomes indistinguishable from the truth. Human beings have short memories, particularly when the memories are unpleasant. We are very fragile, and we don’t want to feel bad, so … don’t make us feel bad. If you make us feel bad, we’ll be very, very bad things.

It would be amusing if the people who retaliate when truth hurts were 3rd graders, but they are not. They are legislators and politicians and captains of industry, and the bad things they do cause harm to a lot of people. It is more than ironic that retaliation from some of the fake news crowd results in harm to themselves, and people who look like them, but so be it. This has been going on since the days of lynching as social networking.

That occurred to me quite recently, that lynching and violence against marginalized communities were some of the first instances of social networking that we know of. People managed to communicate with each other, long before FaceBook and Twitter, through word of mouth and church bulletins. They were coming together to celebrate God’s word with some covered dishes and a picnic lunch at a lynching. What better way to underscore your faith than with a murder, in the name of God? After the body stopped twitching, it was mutilated so that body parts could be handed out as souvenirs, or relics.

This is some sick stuff. I sometimes think it horrifies us in these times because we somehow thought such macabre displays of hatred and supremacy had died several generations ago. But they have not. The descendants of those lynch mobs are still walking around with us, looking just like us, holding jobs, buying homes, going to school. I’m sure there are some who have fallen away from the fold, but there are enough who have remained that we can’t delude ourselves that time will heal all of those old wounds.

It starts with the small intolerances, with using religion as a shield for supremacy and bias. It starts with refusing to make a cake for someone you believe doesn’t live according to your religious belief, even though your religious belief says nothing about discrimination. Says nothing about punishing, or depriving, people with whom you don’t agree. The message that you are a person of faith when you discriminate on that basis came from other human beings, not from a divinity. Not from a deity, or the supposed word of a deity.

Human beings have been screwing around with the faithful over many centuries, and using religion to murder, cheat, lie, and steal. I don’t know why, in the 21st century, we’re alll up in arms about this when it’s already a part of our DNA. We’ve honed hatred and discrimination and bullying to a fine art now, and we have technology to improve it. Daily.

Forcing people into submission has never done a damned thing to progress the human race, and it is a race. It could be a race we’re losing, and don’t realize that we’ve fallen behind the front runners. In fact, the front runner may be so far ahead of us, we can’t see that, and delude ourselves into believing that we are the only competitors. So, hey y’all – watch THIS – look at us fusing atoms and making nuclear devices…that can kill people. A lot of people. Aren’t we clever?

I sometimes fancy that a divinity is banging its celestial head on some crystalline desk. Why, why, why?

But, here we are. We have been given free will, and so of course we can use it to mitigate, or negate, the free will of others. Well, that’s a fine use of a tool. It’s ungracious, to say the least. If only they’d use their powers for good, Batman. Yes, Boy Wonder…but until then, we have job security. To the Bat Cave!

So, I suppose many of us are huddled down here in the Bat Cave, and we’re getting a little antsy. Metropolis is being deluged with villains, and they are way more sophisticated than the Riddler, the Joker, and Cat Woman (although Eartha Kitt was a formidable feline in her day).

There are prophets among us who are telling us that all is not lost. Telling us that we have forgotten how to use our super powers. We’ve even forgotten that we have power. We’ve forgotten things like…the best way to make a narcissist disappear is to ignore them. A narcissist thrives on attention, and they will ramp up their game every time people express horror at their antics. Negative attentions is better than no attention, so the shocked faces do nothing but feed them.

The media created Donald Trump as a political figure, and they are going to have to acknowledge their responsibility for that at some point. He was a blow hard and a buffoon who got some attention only because of his gaudy and conspicuously consumptive lifestyle. He was the proverbial representative of the leisure class, and the media has always played well with those folks (remember Leona Helmsley? Paris Hilton?) .

When his racism began to overtake his limited reasoning, and a Black man was in the White house, he ramped up his rhetoric and the media was only too happy to oblige. They began giving him ore free publicity than he could have dreamed, and when Obama finally embarrassed him at a National Press gathering, he was ready to take his show public. And he did. The media went right along with him – the mainstream media, not even just Rupert Murdoch’s inions – and together they created a Jerry Springer political event that tore down Hillary Clinton’s campaign, with a little help from the Russians.

So, five years later, we’re cleaning up the debris from that big frat party. Five years later, we’ve added “fake news” to our lexicon and demolished alternative press. We’ve bastardized the second amendment to a simple issue of personal freedom, rather than defense of the common good, and we’ve legitimized all the “-isms” as matters of free speech. I can call you a n*gger, a dyke, a kike, a slant-eye, and angry Black woman, a f*g, or whatever else I want to because the Constitution says I can. So, screw you.

OK, people have been doing that kind of thing since before we even had a Constitution, but where it gets criminal is when law are passed to support those irregularities. The NRA lobby uses those sentiments to leverage passage of laws for bigger and bigger guns, because the Second Amendment says Americans have the right to bear arms. Let’s just ignore the whole “in order to maintain a well-regulated militia” part.

Various pieces of legislation that do not represent the best interest of all citizens, but represent the best financial contributions of “special interest groups”. The term “special interest group” became a buzzword in political circles for gay rights advocates, racial equity advocates, and advocates for the poor. It’s rarely used for the likes of the NRA, or the healthcare lobby, the oil and gas lobby, or the fossil fuel industry. Those are just economic generators and the life blood of America, not “special interests”. Special interests are bad. Very bad.

If nothing else, the political establishment is an abusive life partner for me these days. My government is not my enemy. I don’t really have a beef with my government. I have a beef with the entities that bastardize my government, and change its course, change its intent, make it hypocritical. That’s where democracy is suppose to live, but it’s dying a slow and painful death there. It’s on the ropes of the boxing ring (which is such a misnomer, since the boxing arena is a square, with corners, and not a ring, but I digress), and Mr. Sluggo is beating the day light out of it. Oooohhhh nooooooooo, Mr. Bill!

So, enough silliness, although Mr. Sluggo really is the Senate minority leader. And yeah, he’s that mean.

Politics is a nasty business. It’s influence peddling, and there’s nobody in there who can claim to be pure as the driven snow. They’ve all had to compromise, make deals, give something to get something. It’s organized disorganization – breaking down factions and power bases strategically, so you can control them. That’s what passes for power in the political environment – control. I don’t believe it’s the same thing at all. Control implies subjugation, subordination, domination. As such, there is always destructive resistance. Always.

I am feeling that we have lost something. When people speak about “the soul of the country”, we’re missing something. We’re missing our own souls, our own definition of who we are, and why we are. This battle for our own personal souls goes deep, deep down, to our very core. We speak of core values, but what exactly are those?

Our core values aren’t supposed to entail belief in other folks’ core values, but in our own. In what our experience and our consciences have proven to be true. Not in what someone else tells us that someone else told them to tell us. We aren’t supposed to believe in other people. We can love them, be loyal to them, but we shouldn’t assign them infallibility or deity-like attributes. For their part, they should pledge to walk with us, not ahead of us. I don’t know that “follower” is a title I want to have.

Being a leader is not a bad thing. It just depends on the destination. We are all leaders, but we just don’t frame our influence that way. The first insurgent who began climbing up the wall of the Capitol inspired others to do likewise, until there was a horde of people scaling the walls like the Wicked Witch’s flying monkeys. That’s the way it works in groups. The energy flows downhill, like clockwork.

When I tend toward passive aggressiveness, I’m not so much leading anybody anywhere, but I’m giving permission to abdicate responsibility. That’s one of those side jaunts that leadership can take, and it’s not always effective. It’s being the braying ass in the road who sits on its haunches and won’t go. Just won’t go anywhere. When I’ve done that, it’s usually in resistance to some inequity or mistreatment, which can be valid. The problem, though, is…I make no demand. I just stop. I block the road. I stall the progress. But I have no demand to change the offending circumstance. I have to work on that.

Mr. Sluggo is alive and well these days. He takes on several forms…he looks like a rabid Congresswoman from Georgia some days, he looks like a fat-necked gnome from Kentucky on other days. He looks like a Georgia State Trooper who hauls a Georgia Congresswoman out of the Goergia State House for knocking on the Governor’s door, and he looks like the District Attorney in Pasquotank County North Carolina who won’t turn over the Andrew Brown death case to the State Attorney General. He looks like the school principal who paddled a six-year old in front of her mother, and he looks like the CEO who told a male high schooler who wore a dress to the prom that he looked ridiculous. More usually, Mr. Sluggo looks like the woman who attacked an Asisan-American student with a hammer for wearing a mask.

Whatever you do to the least of these, you do to me. That’s the truth, no matter what God looks like to us. We’re all of these people.

It is allegedly darkest just before the dawn, but I suppose that’s irrelevant if you’re underground.

Published by annzimmerman

I am Louisiana born and bred, now living in Winston Salem, North Carolina. Fortunately for me, I was already living in NC before Hurricane Katrina decimated my beloved New Orleans. An only child, I now feel that I have no personal history since the hurricane destroyed the relics and artifacts of my childhood. As I have always heard, c'est la vie. My Louisiana roots show in my love of good coffee, good food, and good music. My soggy native soil has also shown me that resilience is hard-wired in my consciousness; when the chips are down (or drowned)...bring it on.

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