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H2O Man

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Member since: Mon Dec 29, 2003, 08:49 PM
Number of posts: 67,501

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My son and I got into Buffalo in the mid-afternoon on Saturday. The four hour ride for his fight in the finals of the NYS Golden Gloves was pleasant. We enjoyed the weather, and talked the entire time about psychology and sociology. That mood changed as soon as we entered the hotel's lobby, and saw the news reports about the horror that had taken place a short time and distance from where we stood.

I was reminded of the same ill feelings I had watching the 1972 Olympics. Although the vicious attack was not aimed directly at the Golden Gloves, a similar reaction permeated the neighborhood, the city, and soon the country. And that is saying something in a country that has suffered from such a high number of mass shootings in every week of 2022.

Now, this essay isn't intended to be about boxing, but rather to use the great sport as a vehicle to make a point. For centuries, in times of social stress, variations of "replacement theory" have taken root. Every tyrant knows that to exploit the fear and anxiety, they need only blame a small group, to confuse the majority into blaming that smaller group for all of their problems. This includes normalizing the hatred of their target, which gives license to the most disturbed among them aiming violence against their "enemy."

Human shit-stains like the one in Buffalo do not tend to watch Fox News. Rather, they inhabit the darkest corners of the internet. But there are connections between a Tucker Carlson and that guy: older men like Steve Bannon that understand that young men often follow the orders of their gym coach/ drill instructor without question. When Fox News -- the voice of the republican party -- repeats lies about "replacement theory" over and over again, it becomes normalized in times of social stress. I remember my late uncle, a WW2 hero, telling me that the Trump cult was what he fought against in Europe.

Now back to 1972. When my brothers and I traveled to cities across New York State to box, the locker rooms were not pleasant places. Different races occupied different sections of the rooms, and there was open hostility between the groups that came as quite a surprise to three hay seeds from a rural, upstate farm. But that has changed for the better. These days, there is a brotherhood among the young men preparing to compete in the ring. Even the old trainers who fought in circa-1972 all get along!

There was the traditional "ten count" to honor the victims at the beginning of Sunday's finals. Plenty of those involved in or at the fights knew one or more of the victims. We were not far from where the savage attack had taken place. Normally, the audience at boxing matches -- especially where alcohol is sold -- are noted for good behavior. So I was glad when the crowd was silent in honoring the dead and wounded.

However, it is important that people not be silent about the horror. To let what is unacceptable to be normalized. We need to counter the efforts of the Tucker Carlsons to normalize racism, and crush the Steve Bannons that inspire the unhinged, And I know that is easy to say. I know. Watching the news reports on the horror after my son dropped me off in the early hours on Monday was extremely upsetting. The more I saw, the more disturbing it was. It brought up old feelings.

I contacted a Clan Mother that I know from the days when I worked with Chief Waterman. Within a couple minutes, I was snarling about if I were as tough as I was in 1972, I'd teach people like the racist gang that attacked my nephew in 1998 -- they didn't like the media attention a brown-skinned high school scholar/ athlete was getting -- a lesson. "Then you'd be in jail, and that wouldn't do us any good," she responded. "Think back to the lessons of the past, and apply them today, for a better future."

Teach Your Children Well

“Unexpressed emotions will never die. They are buried alive and will come forth later in uglier ways.”
― Sigmund Freud

Recently, I identified our opposition as a fist, combining individual fingers such as rigid christians, militia-types, etc. Today, I'd like to talk about the palm of their hands. Obviously, an unhealthy, repressed sense of sexuality creates conflicted, angry adults.It would be too easy to laugh and make rude and crude jokes. But is not sexuality the core of all "cultural" issues the republicans declare war on?

What horrible events cause some to be uncomfortable with sex as a means to pleasure, rather than shame? How devoid of meaning is a life focused on an obsession with other people's sex lives? And, in a tip of the hat to Sigmund, is there really much difference between the sad sap who imagines his gun is a reflection of his penis, and the incel who grabs a gun to inflict suffering on happy people?

Okay, okay ...... Freudian theory has some weak spots, things that are better understood today. Freud, like every good teacher, hoped for students to go beyond him. Being old, I may not be up to date, but I liked A. S. Neill's views, expressed in his 1960 classic , "Summerhill: A Radical Approach to Child Rearing." (The title was later changed to "Summerhill School: A New View of Childhood." He thought that if sexuality was viewed as religious/spiritual, so should things like gardening and making a meal. Works for me.

The introduction of Neill's book is by Erich Fromm, my favorite in psychology and sociology. In his series of books, Fromm covers the distinctions between well-adjusted human beings, and a group of people we know today as "republicans." Frustrated individuals who have buried their emotions and drives, only to have them come back to the surface in the ugliest of ways. And that damages them -- sometimes even in their political careers -- as well as their families, communities, states and this nation.

We are witnessing this dynamic today, with their projecting their inner obsessions with child sex upon normal, healthy people. That is telling. Unless one is employed in law enforcement or child protective services, it is an odd topic to be thinking about for hours every day. It is the definition of projecting their inner demons outward. One cannot but connect this with their guilt-ridden religious superstitions.

One can't help but notice that they want to impose their superstitions in all social realms: in the legal system, over science, and in the public schools. They want to outlaw the teaching of an accurate history of our country. A significant portion of the relations between the good white christians and black and red people involves the unhealthy perversions of those white men. And that wasn't limited to targeting adult women -- one need only to take a look at the horros of the schools for Indian children being uncovered in North America today. You can attempt to bury the Truth, but it will rise to the surface, too.

Sex education in schools is a Good Thing. But it scares our republican siblings. There are a number of reasons why. Most often, they say sex education should be taught at home or in the church. No parent who takes a responsible approach to teaching their children about sex need worry about it being taught in school. It's biology, it's science. And not all kids have parents taking that responsibility. Not all parents want the emotional ball & chain associated with religious misinterpretations of sexuality. We favor that wall of separation between church and state ..... and between church and bedrooms.

Anxiety, guilt, and fear combine to energize the rage that the republicans channel into society. Consider how scary life has become for them. Their creation myths are challenged by yje mere thought of their children being taught the science of DNA and evolution. The idea of keeping guns out of the hands of the unhinged causes a very Freudian castration anxiety. A highly intelligent, well-educated and experienced black woman is on the Supreme Court. A brown-skinned person walked through their neighborhood. The list of thoughts and behaviors they want to legislate appears endless.

But we are going to put an end to it. These are simply the older versions of the kids we didn't like in school. Maybe from grade school, and definitely from high school on. They are emotionally damaged, ethically scarred victims of a social illness that we must contain and keep from causing more entrenched damage. Come November, we will crush them at the polls, with the promise that we'll teach their children well, so their parents' hell, can slowly ..... wait! Change of lyrics: so their parents hell will quickly fade away.

“One day, in retrospect, the years of struggle will strike you as the most beautiful.”
― Sigmund Freud

Scrambled Eggs

I note that a group of crows is called either a "congress" or a "murder," neither of which sounds like a compliment. They are an interesting bird, though not particularly popular around bird feeders. When they land under mine, the Rhode Island red rooster charges across the lawn in a rapid waddle that reminds me of a Tyrannosaurus rex, and apparently the crows view him much the same. Yet, when a hawk circles my herd of birds, the crows will chase the hawk away. Life is filled with complicated mysteries to ponder on a sunny day while gardening.

As I pull a never-ending number of weeds around my hedge roses, I watch all of the roosters are a bit more aggressive in their approaches to the hen population. This at times includes the Guinea hens, which creates some fighting with the Guinea cock. I shall not say these birds resemble humans, for anthropomorphism is frowned upon. But a lot of humans do, in fact, resemble these birds.

Is not a church full of closed minded, anti-science gather in a hen house of worship called a "flock?" Do not conservative republican males have sick views on sexuality, that includes "legal" dominance over women's bodies? At what point might they demand the chicken eggs be declared fully chicken. But they are not ..... they are eggs, maybe fertilized, maybe not. Just eggs.

I do not want this flock of superstitious seagulls to determine limitations upon my daughters, sisters, nieces, cousins, neighbors, or females I have never met. It can be hard to get it across to them, though, as they want the same limitations for all females ...... except the rich, who will find safe, affordable abortions upon demand. So the struggle is clearly cut out for us. It follows the same pattern we followed in 2018 and 2020.

Let's consider the nature of the beast we must confront. I have spoken about the need for the good people to join together, like the fingers on a fist, to protect our rights. Our opposition is also a fist. One finger is the superstitious christians, another the white nationalist militias, and a variety of the people that you didn't like in school, and dislike today. That's their fist.

We know their three most glaring weak points: history, science, and the rule of law. We must beat them over the head with history, science and law. They run candidates for school boards, local, state,and national office in an attempt to prevent the truth from being taught about the history of Native Americans' experience, and of Africans held in slavery. Many believe the earth was created 6,000 years ago, and demand that this fiction be taught in schools. Some participated in illegal behaviors such as the insurrection, to try to use the force of criminal behaviors to get their own way.

I read a post yesterday, where a Good Person said that they are tired. Been fighting the Good Fight for fifty years. A number of people identified with that. Including me. I'm tired, I have aches and pains, and too many bills to pay. I struggle with doubts, and the temptation to withdraw into the space of my house and property and ignore the horrors going on around me. Yes, I do. But I also recognize that this is the exact time to be an active participant in that Good Fight, that it is most important to do so now.

Let's scramble their eggs.

Mad Men & Witches

I will speculate that no member of the DU community has been searching the site to find my opinion on the Supreme Court and abortion. More, none of those who "lurk" from time to time are interested. But I am hopeful that one or two of you will be interested in another opinion .....

Watching the Lawrence O'Donnell report (above), I was reminded of conversations I had with Onondaga Chief Paul Waterman that touched on this topic. Among the Six Nations of the Iroquois, there are some who identify as Christian, some who follow the Code of Handsome Lake ( who combined traditional beliefs with some Quaker influence), and the traditional Longhouse people.

Paul was Longhouse.This means he went by the teachings of Sapling, the Peace Maker, and the real "Hiawatha." He respected that Handsome Lake (1735 -- 1815) had a powerful vision in 1798, that told of the environmental crisis that we are experiencing today. He was a revival prophet, and his grave is at the Onondaga's Longhouse. Paul's differences with Handsome Lake are instead from his life in the early 1800s, when he became powerful.

Besides his visions of the future of the soil, water, and air, Handsome Lake taught his followers to avoid using alcohol, cards, and money. He was also opposed to abortion and fiddles. The Iroquois women knew of a plant that when consumed resulted in abortion. When Longhouse women continued to use the plant, Handsome Lake thought it was a challenge to his authority. Paul explained that Handsome Lake called these women "witches." Shocking, I know.

Paul said that Handsome Lake had allowed "power" to confuse his mind. He began advocating violence against "witches." Paul said that, because the post-Revolutionary War era was one of decline for the Iroquois, which may have been why Handsome Lake advocated for more births. But he said that's like Christians believed that beating off was a sin, dating back to when the tribes of Israel's numbers needed increasing..

So it's really not a surprise when a dick-dripping like Samuel Alito's draft relies upon the teachings of Edward Coke:

And it is no surprise that Coke was against abortion and witches that didn't believe he was the moral authority. Like Paul said of Handsome Lake, he mistook his thoughts for those of the Creator. In the Original Instructions/ Ten Commandments, this is spiritual theft. It results in individuals going from speaking of the Creator, to mistakenly thinking they speak for the Creator. Paul said they have snakes coming out of their heads. Such rigid minds often babble about others going to hell. They are too confused to know they are in hell, a state of unconsciousness.

Thus, they fear people who do not share their religious beliefs, especially women that refuse to go by their code of superstitions. They are convinced that they are in a "holy war" that pits people of their faith with Black Lives Matter, antifa, and witches. They are haunted by the very idea of orgasms not intended for procreation. I remember Paul saying that Europeans had abandoned the art of oral sex -- "probably because they didn't bathe often" -- until they came into contact with his grandfathers. Is this not the chapter that Dante edited out of his Inferno, due to the cruely and horror? No wonder Europeans had chips on their shoulders. No wonder why white women frequently preferred Iroquois society.

I'm reminded of Ecclesiastes 1 : 9 -- "The thing that has been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done; and there is no new thing under the sun." We have been confronted by such aggressive ignorance before ..... and we have kicked their asses. It's time to do so again.

Two Questions

There isn't a "right" or "wrong" answer to anyone's opinion. It's just about what people think now, while recognizing that Good People can change their opinions over time. This is based upon something my younger son said to me today. I appreciate any responses.

(1) Should President Biden attempt to expand the number of Justices on the Supreme Court?

(2) If President Biden does try, will the effort be successful?

After the Gold Rush

"There was a band playin' in my head
And I felt like getting high
I was thinkin' about what a friend had said
I was hopin' it was a lie
Thinkin' about what a friend had said
I was hopin' it was a lie" -- Neil Young

Sunday morning started like many mornings do. My cousin called to complain about the price of a push-lawn mower he bought to tend to his mother's lawn. A cup of coffee later, the dog and I ventured out to feed the cats, chickens, new chicks, Guinea fowl, wild birds, and the fish in our pond.

The dog is fine with the large Koi -- well over two feet -- swimming around her legs as she wades in the water. But when a school of small sun fish come to investigate, she jumps out and runs back to the house. It takes me longer, of course, to make my way back. It is becoming the warmest day of the year, and so I will work in the medium garden, where I grow herbs and spices for cooking and canning.

While re-setting some of the stones, I find some flint artifacts I had placed there to decorate 27 years ago. I question why I put a number of good quality, whole projectile points there, before remembering a former inhabitant complained I had too many artifacts and books in the house. The dog gets excited as my younger son drives up the driveway.

He and I went out to walk two small fields, where he found four projectiles, and I found two. While the ones I found were complete, two of his were not. However, they were both Kirk serrated points, a very old (9000 to 6000 years before present) type that I have only found one of, back in 1987. We talk about how amazing it is to hold something that old, a part of the human history of this land.

Being old and feeble, I'm ready for a nap when he drops me off. I had just got comfortable with the dog getting comfortable laying her head on just the right spot on my legs, when the phone rang. It was my older daughter, calling from Boston. She said that she had to run something by me, to get my opinion.

She had just come from a rally to celebrate the growing strength of unions. There was a good sized crowd, consisting primarily of people in their late teens and early twenties. There were also city and state politicians attending -- all Democrats -- who she said appeared to go unnoticed by the crowd. Now, my daughter knows them, as she has worked for one, and has worked with several others. She's currently volunteering with a couple of their campaigns.

She enjoyed listening to the speeches while interacting with the politicians and their staff members ..... until one union leader on stage -- who she knows and likes -- said, "It's time that we recognize that the Democratic Party has ignored us. We need to look in another direction." That upset my daughter, who is on the left wing of our party. What did I think?

My daughter knows that I am at the very left of the Democratic Party, and that over my decades of life, I have broken bread with figures from Angela Davis to Abbie Hoffman to Mark Rudd. And that, among many other social-political activities, I've invested a heck of a lot of energy in campaigning for Democratic Party candidates at all levels. Indeed, since she was a little girl, she and her younger sister often joined me in campaigning door-to-door.

I reminded her that, in my opinion, it is not just a matter of what you think about issues, it is a matter of what you -- and those you work with and support -- can actually accomplish. Now, that includes a recognition of what forces you are up against. That I doubt any party member has been 100% satisfied with every Democrat in office in the county, and that even the very best ones have flaws and imperfections. There is an old Irish saying, I reminded her, that a saint is but a dead sinner who's life has been edited and revised.

Yet to accomplish things -- including both advances, as well as defending against the opposition to progress -- the Democratic Party is the best option available to us. That "looking elsewhere" is not a rational option at this time. I noted the states seeking to deny women their right to health care, specifically abortion. And how the Democratic Party provides the only option to the madness of the conservative christians who want their religious beliefs imposed upon others.

"What can I do?" she asked. I told her that what I do is to try to serve as a bridge between the Democratic Party and the Left. The Iroquois word is "ahskwa," meaning in this context the human bridge that unites people of like mind on important issues. She laughed and said, Now don't die any time soon, Old Man. I need you around to remind me to trust my own instincts." I told her I plan to live to 125, and we ended our conversation.

The next phone call I got was from an old friend, who is a Hubert Humphrey Democrat. A Walter Mondale supporter. So you know he is delighted that Joe Biden is president. "Have you seen the news?" he asked. I hadn't. He told me to turn on the news right now, to see the horrible news about a leak regarding the Supreme Court.

I was hoping it was a lie.

Monday Afternoon

"You own your lies. Even if it takes a while, every lie you tell will eventually catch up to you. So try very hard to tell the truth. That is what I think. It's better to tell the truth." -- Onondaga Chief Paul Waterman; November, 1994.

I watched reports of Kevin McCarthy lying about what he said about Trump and the January 6 insurrection, followed by a tape of his saying exactly what he was denying. Then I watched Marjorie Taylor Greene lie faster than a cheetah can run on the witness stand. My cousin and I spoke several times on the telephone during the Greene testimony, each of us having other chores to do, neither of us able to walk away from the television until it was over.

On my walk to the pond to think about these lying liars, I thought of Gandhi's saying that "Truth is God." He explained the distinction between that and "God is truth." As my boot got stuck in some mud in the swamp before my pond, I asked myself -- if Gandhi is correct, then what is the logical deduction regarding McCarthy and Greene's lying? For I understand "evil" only in the human context. I have yet to see "evil" as anything but a 100% human product. Hence, for example, I frequently cite Michael Stone's 2009 book, "The Anatomy of Evil," in which the professor of clinical psychiatry documents levels of evil one encounters in forensic work.

At the pond's edge, while the dog went wading, I saw more than a dozen salamanders floating in the warm water. Pollywogs scurried about, hiding under rocks or in the mud. A school of tiny minnows caugt th dog's attention, before a number of fish -- including the two giant koi -- came to be fed. One of the koi likes to swim through the dog's legs, a habit sure to get her back on land.

As the dog was busy sniffing a variety of odors, I thought back to the first interview I did with Paul, almost 28 years ago. That is where the above quote comes from. What a difference in what is considered "leadership." Paul sat on the Onondaga Council of Chiefs, and the Iroquois Grand Council of Chiefs. A person like McCarthy or Greene would never e considered worthy of a leadership position in a traditional society. For they would be recognized as liars.

Next, I thought of the theories of Jean Piaget, Lawrence Kohlberg, and Erik Erikson. It's important, from the giddy-up, to recognize that while some of Kphlberg's studies had flaws -- h focused on males exclusively -- these theories have some value. Each of the three wrote about levels of human development in a manner that we might view as a staircase. Tiny infants recognize themselves as the center of their universe. Toddlers through about 5 years old have fascinating concepts of right and wrong, and the truth versus lies. It is largely rooted in the behaviors of their parents, and so for the sake of this discussion, I will be speaking of those children raised by nurturing adults. And I recognize that there are no "perfect" parents.

If we consider that first step, from infant to age 5, to be the pollywog stage of deveopment -- for we are, after all, at the pond's edge -- the next step up is akin to when a pollywog stretches out and sprouts hind legs. It is generally from ages 6 to 11. They encounter the society we call school, with expanded rules of right and wrong behavior. If these are consistent with those of the child's home, things go smoothly. There may be an issue with telling the truth from time to time. Among those frequently encountered at this stage is the infamous, "Well, what about _______?" It is essential to refocus that child with "I am only talking about you behavior now." Failure to do so often leads to adults who attempt that same weak tactic of trying to change the subject.

Note: it is not a coincidence that Russian military intelligence has inserted this exact tactic into the modern republican party.

The next step up comes roughly between the ages of 12 and 17. It is here that youth begin to explore the rules and guidelines in the larger society, with more expansive rules regarding right versus wrong, and truth versus lies. There are young people at the far ends of the spectrum, from those who rigidly follow every rule, and tend to point fingers at everyone else, to those who have zero respect for any and every social norm, and swing fists at others. But most of us fell somewhere in the middle. When confronted with wrong-doings, because they have a restricted ability to consider the consequences of their behaviors, nature has provided teens the ability to produce the most stupid, unbelievable of lies at the drop of a hat. Patience is necessary in teaching them that lying does not work to their advantage -- unless one had parents like mine, who were easily fooled. Yet, exactly as Paul said, those lies provide only the illusion of working, and eventually catch up. More than once, the NYS Police came up our driveway, lights flashing, regarding my brothers and/or my behaviors.

The next step is from 18 to about 24. In the "old days," this was recognized as adulthood. In the late 1960s and early '70s, especially in regard to college students, this step often became an extended form of "youth." But we weren't swallowing goldfish or cramming into a phone booth. There were, obviously, many people our age that did not have this luxury, and indeed behaved like adults. But many of us inhabited the margins between right and wrong, believing we were uncovering a higher form of truth. We recognized that non-white males who were falsely accused of a crime faced severe punishment if they told the truth. We wanted to believe Carlos Castaneda's series of books were true.

Today, of course, the environment has changed for those at this step, perhaps most importantly with the internet. Cell phones allow instant access to things that are indeed true, some that are a mixture of truth and lies, and the Trump cult's shared delusional lies.

The next step generally takes place between 25 and 45, obviously representing a longer expanse of years compared to any previous step. One gets a job, maybe gets married, might have children, and usually respects most of society's rules. This may include some violations, such as exceeding the speed limit on an open highway. Some of us can admit that we likely had too much to drink and still got behind the wheel. A very few may have even smoked pot in our homes after the kids went to bed, even before our state government determined it was okay to do. This, despite the fact that today's product is a wee-bit stronger than it was decades ago.

The final step, which not everyone takes, is found in those with mature social consciousness. This includes the recognition that some laws change for the better when attention is paid to a situation. More, there are what Martin Luther King, Jr. called "unjust laws," which in his time involved the "legal" oppression of non-white people. This was, of course, similar to Gandhi's social experiments in India, fighting similar unjust laws. It should never be confused with signing a petition on the internet, of being dazzled by a meme. No, this step requires one's being at one with those suffering from injustice, specifically the pain caused by the lies of a McCarthy or a Greene. When these individuals break a law, they do so openly, and tell the truth when they accept the consequences. It is essential that we understand that this requires more than an inividual Gandhi or King -- for both harnessed the Truth of thousands of people who's names are forgotten. (This is why, when "Trout Unlimited" asked Chief Waterman and I to join them on a project, Paul said that he and I were "Minnows Unlimited."

Now, I've said all this to make a point. In my experience with forensic social work -- just like your experiences in life -- I found that some adults lacked the capacity to ever tell the truth when confronted with their behaviors. For some, like McCarthy, lying as a tactic to get temporary relief is an entrenched habit. They go from one lie today, to another tomorrow. A few are more like Greene, who take delight in lying to your face, fully aware that you know they are lying. Different degrees of toxicity.

Among most criminals, lies follow a certain pattern. It always involves taking a step down from the level they are at, to one or more from previous stages. It starts with the simple, "No, not me." When confronted with, "Yes, you," they attempt to distract with, "But I'm usually a very good person, who has done good things." When again confronted with their bad behavior, they take an even lower step down, which includes how they are a victim of circumstance, and it is really other people's fault. (Note: when I worked at the mental health clinic, I sat in once when federal investigators accused a sociopath of stealing from Medicaid. For the lone time in the decade I knew her, she was honest, explaining that money paid for a heck of a lot of cocaine. She wasn't upset in the least with facing prison time, telling us she would take full advantage of the opportunity to have sex with numerous other inmate. I shall never forget that afternoon, eith for the impressive interrogation techniques, or her honest answers.)

There tends to be discomfort when one is around an adult who has the habit of stepping down a level to lie to avoid responsibility. It is grotesque when elected representatives do so. It makes me wonder why people prefer an elected representative, at any level, who's being is defined by lying, when there is the option of men and women who recognize that Paul was correct in saying it is better to tell the truth.

Beyond the Valley of the Vallow

"I spent 20 years in prison, in a hell hole where people everyday tried to strip me of my dignity. I did nothing to be there. .... I did not belong there. Because I refused to follow their rules, I spent 10 of my 20 years in solitary confinement -- 6 feet underground, 5 slices of stale bread a day. I was stinking and starving. There was no morning, noon, or night -- just different shades of darkness. Hate took over everything." -- Rubin "Hurricane" Carter

My older son and his girlfriend visited. They talked about their workplace. She said, "It's really dysfunctional, but people ave adjusted, and the work gets done." This reminded me of two things: first, Erich Fromm's classic 1955 book, "The Sane Society," and second, one of Rubin's friends in Rahway State Prison, joining Carter in atalk with an amateur boxer who was angry and prone to hateful responses to his surroundings. Fromm's book details how difficult it can be for sane people to navigate in an insane society. Rubin and his friends would expand on their efforts, to create what became Rahway's "Scared Straight" program. The angry teenager listened to Carter's advice, hung up the gloves, and went on to become a sociqal worker. (Indeed, I used a modified "Scared Straight" with the help of my brothr-in-law, who worked at a correctional facility, when I worked with teens.)

Communities can reach a level of dysfunction when there is widespread issues of violence, poverty, drug abuse, and other problems. That dysfunction multiplies in force when a percentage of people experience what is known as shared delusional thinking. I do not think it is the long arm of coincidence wrenching itself out of socket to hold that we passed that point when Donald Trump got elected president. Most of us have family, friends, co-workers, and/or neighbors who, when it comes to politics, are as delusional as, say, Lori Vallow Daybell is about religion. Thus, in my opinion, we find ourselves existing in a dysfunctional society at this time. Our collective response will determine if we plunge further into an insane society.

Rubin's friend Tommy spoke of how when a person first enters prison, and a system different than anything they have previousle experienced, they tend to behave in a certain pattern. At first, the observe how that system operates. Soon, they adjust their behaviors in a manner that provides some degree of safety in an unsafe setting. And then, they become part of that sick system. That change in their behaviors becomes entrenched, thus explaining why rates of recidivision is so high upon their release. Dysfunction has become ingrained.

A significant percentage of republicans -- including people you and I knew as decent, rational people -- now are inhabiting the Valley of Vallow, where delusional thinking saturates their being. And, again, our individual and collective response will determine the future.

"Every 15 days we were allowed to take a shower, and every 30 days we were given a physical exam. During one of the checkups, I walked by a mirror. I saw a grotesque image. I saw the face of hatred, a monster, and that monster was me. I realized that Iwas not hurting them. They were hurting me. Hatred and bitterness only consumes the vessel that holds it." -- Rubin Carter

Back in 2001, after listening to Rubin speak at Binghamton University, a professor there asked a friend to ask me if I could get Rubin to add a chapter to a book she was writing. She had been raised in a brutal household, and the emotional scars that remained were extremely difficult for her to deal with. The quotes I am using here are from Rubin's contribution to her book.. He began with his thoughts on pain as a part of suffering, before talking about the amazing writings of Victor Frankl about his experiences in a concentration camp.

Frankl's writings played an essential role in Rubin's transformation, from a hostile man wrongly incarcerated, to becoming free. He knew that this would demand that he forgive those responsible for his incarceration -- the two convicts who were pressured into lying about him, the three cops who planted "evidence," and the prosecutors, judges, and juries. "I had to first forgive myself," he wrote. "I had to understand the conditioning. People are not born hating others or themselves. Their hate did not have to become my hate. ....

"... I came to an understanding of who and what I am. Like Victor Frankl wrote about concentration camps, I realized that prison provided me the tools to become all that I could be. I was able to seize the opportunity to use the horrible conditions to find something above the law. I had an opportunity to go on an anthropological expedition into an unnatural laboratory of the human spirit."

When a single piece on a mobile hanging above an infant's crib shifts, the other pieces must also shift. As Rubin changed, he found that those around him changed as well. It was a slow process, of course, but came to include not only those around him in prison, but also his circle outside of prison. This included members of his circle being motivated to uncover evidence that would be used in his final appeal -- including some from that former angry teen turned social worker. Rubin would attribute his winning in the federal courts to his transformation as a human being.

Few of us will ever be confronted with the type of circumstances that Rubin was confronted with. Yet, he could relate on a personal level with the issues the university professor was dealing with. He told her that, "ro forgive yourself and your parents, you need to understand that you too are a machine. I am no different, you are no different. There are no saints. It is the way we were created. We are all savages on this earth. We are as much of a machine as your lawnmower. Your reactions are the same as mine or anyone else's. But you have the ability to wake up. That's your salvation. Somehow, some way, you have to get over it."

Rubin used to tell me that every day we are alive on this beautiful, living earth, is a miracle. He also recommended that I move my family up near him in Canada, because he thought the United States resembled the crumbling empires of the past. Yet he believed that the good people in this country had the ability to transform it into a more perfect union, but that this would require a significant number of citizens to "wake up" (not to be confused with the misused "woke" we witness today). This was not some type of "religious" hokey-pokey, for Rubin viewed most "religious" leaders as charlatans. It was his belief that human beings were the highest level of unconsciousness of the earth, capable of becoming the earth consciousness. To transform the severe damage humankind has done to what we call the environment in recent centuries. And that this transdormation is on both the individual and group level.


'You can gain reconciliation from your enemies, but you can only gain peace from yourself.'
- Rubin 'Hurricane' Carter

The "spring peepers" were busy singing their song before the sun had set. Their chorus is a sure sign of good weather to come, although the next few nights are sure to be cold with a full moon rising. There are always three freezes after their first song before one should plant the earliest of garden crops, and this weekend marks the third. This is one of the teachings of the Elders, from the distant past.

As the dog and I venture down to where the bran once stood, we are followed by two cats, a rooster and a hen. Some crows signal that we are on our way, as others consume the sunflower seeds that have fallen from the bird feeder. The Plymouth Rock rooster is no fan of the crows, and he overtakes the dog and I as he engages in his rapid waddle towards the crows. He is surely a modern, if miniature, tyrannosaurus.

The barn was not like those of the dairy farm variety still seen on the New York State rural landscap. It was the much smaller, "family farm" type common in the first two-thirds of the 19th century. The ground floor for a few cows in the winter, the second floor for their hay. The barn burned 70 years ago, and that area has now become wooded. A very old water pump is still there, and I've asked my son to pull it out so I can transplant it as a decoration in my garden. He stops here most days to train for the finals of the NYS Golden Gloves, and I told him that moving the pump for me is a great way to get in shape.

The dog loves to dig holes in the dirt, as dogs do. The soil is black, not only from the fire, but from decades of plant growth and decay. I think back to my father telling me about his father teaching him a lesson from the Old Sod about the need to enrich your garden's soil every year. Dad said that as a kid, his father had him bring soil from the delta where smaller streams intersected with larger ones. When I taught my sons this when they were young, they asked why Grandpa didn't just buy Miracle Gro?

As the sun sets, two Pileated Woodpeckers fly in, one appearing to chase the other. For the first sixteen years I lived here, a pair lived in the huge trunk of what had been an Ash tree. In its shadow grew another Ash, which judging from its size was a century old. Yet the remains of the dead one were even larger. The woodpeckers had converted it into a home with an amazing number of entry-and-exit holes, and raised their young each year. But after sixteen years, the old tree trunk fell, and the other tree died and fell, too. Most of the Ash trees on my land have died, due to the emerald ash borers. No more pileated woodpeckers until this year. I note that I will not have to buy so much mulch and bark chips now.

Being outside brings me inner peace, although I have to check for deer ticks when I come inside. (I recently got over my 4th bout with Lyme disease.) I have become reconciled with the fact that I have to take various precautions that were not part of my life in the past. I recently came upon a recipe for a non-toxic recipe for a tick reellent, but checking for them remains essential when coming indoors, I recently found.

I cannot find inner peace by watching/reading "the news." Or engaging in discussions or debates with other members of the human race, either in person, on the phone, or on the internet. I am solely responsible for finding my own inner peace. And, without it, interactions with others is of a far lesser value. This I know as well as I know the back of my hand -- or the front of it, for that matter. And I know that right now, as I write these words, that these difficult days make it a much harder struggle, and not only for me, but for many -- if not most -- of the Good People trying to make it a better society. I know that if many more of us do not make conscious efforts to find that inner peace, that the disturbed people will continue to poison society with the fears and hatreds of the Trump cult. That is something I think about as the November elections approach.

H2O Man

April 4, 1968

The above film is of the speech Dr. King gave the night before he was murdered. This is something that I meditate on each year. I think it is especially important at this time in our nation's history.
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