This Inspired me

Happy New Year 2021

This new year is not the marker we all want right now. I hear people talk about 'getting back to normal' or 'the New normal'.
I think it is way too soon to make guesses about how that will look. There is this nice clean New Year, though. Each of us must make of it what we will.

Here is Pentatonix's version of Auld Lang Syne:

And this link is to a good article about the song and its lyrics.

And the lyrics:

Auld Lang Syne by Robert Burns

Should old acquaintance be forgot,
and never brought to mind?
Should old acquaintance be forgot,
and old lang syne?

For auld lang syne, my dear,
for auld lang syne,
we'll take a cup of kindness yet,
for auld lang syne.
And surely you'll buy your pint cup!
and surely I'll buy mine!
And we'll take a cup o kindness yet,
for auld lang syne.

We two have run about the slopes,
and picked the daisies fine;
But we've wandered many a weary foot,
since auld lang syne.

We two have paddled in the stream,
from morning sun till dine;
But seas between us broad have roared
since auld lang syne.

And there's a hand my trusty friend!
And give us a hand o thine!
And we'll take a right good-will draught,
for auld lang syne.

Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
and never brought to mind?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
and auld lang syne*?

For auld lang syne, my jo,
for auld lang syne,
well take a cup o kindness yet,
for auld lang syne.
And surely ye'll be your pint-stowp!
and surely I'll be mine!
And well take a cup o kindness yet,
for auld lang syne.

We twa hae run about the braes,
and pud the gowans fine;
But weve wanderd mony a weary fit,
sin auld lang syne.

We twa hae paddld i' the burn,
frae morning sun till dine;
But seas between us braid hae roard
sin auld lang syne.

And theres a hand, my trusty fiere!
and gie's a hand o thine!
And well tak a right gude-willy waught,
for auld lang syne.

https://www.americamagazine.org/faith/2020/12/31/auld-lang-syne-meaning-239618


HCR on Endings and Beginnings

Heather Cox Richardson has been the voice I've followed throughout most of this year.
It felt appropriate to post here her latest two posts:  December 31, 2020 and January 1, 2021 That is what follows.

And so, we are at the end of a year that has brought a presidential impeachment trial, a deadly pandemic that has killed more than 338,000 of us, a huge social movement for racial justice, a presidential election, and a president who has refused to accept the results of that election and is now trying to split his own political party.

It’s been quite a year.

But I had a chance to talk with history podcaster Bob Crawford of the Avett Brothers yesterday, and he asked a more interesting question. He pointed out that we are now twenty years into this century, and asked what I thought were the key changes of those twenty years. I chewed on this question for awhile and also asked readers what they thought. Pulling everything together, here is where I’ve come out.

In America, the twenty years since 2000 have seen the end game of the Reagan Revolution, begun in 1980.

In that era, political leaders on the right turned against the principles that had guided the country since the 1930s, when Democratic President Franklin Delano Roosevelt guided the nation out of the Great Depression by using the government to stabilize the economy. During the Depression and World War Two, Americans of all parties had come to believe the government had a role to play in regulating the economy, providing a basic social safety net and promoting infrastructure.

But reactionary businessmen hated regulations and the taxes that leveled the playing field between employers and workers. They called for a return to the pro-business government of the 1920s, but got no traction until the 1954 Brown v. Board of Education decision, when the Supreme Court, under the former Republican governor of California, Earl Warren, unanimously declared racial segregation unconstitutional. That decision, and others that promoted civil rights, enabled opponents of the New Deal government to attract supporters by insisting that the country’s postwar government was simply redistributing tax dollars from hardworking white men to people of color.

That argument echoed the political language of the Reconstruction years, when white southerners insisted that federal efforts to enable formerly enslaved men to participate in the economy on terms equal to white men were simply a redistribution of wealth, because the agents and policies required to achieve equality would cost tax dollars and, after the Civil War, most people with property were white. This, they insisted, was “socialism.”

To oppose the socialism they insisted was taking over the East, opponents of black rights looked to the American West. They called themselves Movement Conservatives, and they celebrated the cowboy who, in their inaccurate vision, was a hardworking white man who wanted nothing of the government but to be left alone to work out his own future. In this myth, the cowboys lived in a male-dominated world, where women were either wives and mothers or sexual playthings, and people of color were savage or subordinate.

With his cowboy hat and western ranch, Reagan deliberately tapped into this mythology, as well as the racism and sexism in it, when he promised to slash taxes and regulations to free individuals from a grasping government. He promised that cutting taxes and regulations would expand the economy. As wealthy people—the “supply side” of the economy-- regained control of their capital, they would invest in their businesses and provide more jobs. Everyone would make more money.

From the start, though, his economic system didn’t work. Money moved upward, dramatically, and voters began to think the cutting was going too far. To keep control of the government, Movement Conservatives at the end of the twentieth century ramped up their celebration of the individualist white American man, insisting that America was sliding into socialism even as they cut more and more domestic programs, insisting that the people of color and women who wanted the government to address inequities in the country simply wanted “free stuff.” They courted social conservatives and evangelicals, promising to stop the “secularization” they saw as a partner to communism.

After the end of the Fairness Doctrine in 1987, talk radio spread the message that Black and Brown Americans and “feminazis” were trying to usher in socialism. In 1996, that narrative got a television channel that personified the idea of the strong man with subordinate women. The Fox News Channel told a story that reinforced the Movement Conservative narrative daily until it took over the Republican Party entirely.

The idea that people of color and women were trying to undermine society was enough of a rationale to justify keeping them from the vote, especially after Democrats passed the Motor Voter law in 1993, making it easier for poor people to register to vote. In 1997, Florida began the process of purging voter rolls of Black voters.

And so, 2000 came.

In that year, the presidential election came down to the electoral votes in Florida. Democratic candidate Al Gore won the popular vote by more than 540,000 votes over Republican candidate George W. Bush, but Florida would decide the election. During the required recount, Republican political operatives led by Roger Stone descended on the election canvassers in Miami-Dade County to stop the process. It worked, and the Supreme Court upheld the end of the recount. Bush won Florida by 537 votes and, thanks to its electoral votes, became president. Voter suppression was a success, and Republicans would use it, and after 2010, gerrymandering, to keep control of the government even as they lost popular support.

Bush had promised to unite the country, but his installation in the White House gave new power to the ideology of the Movement Conservative leaders of the Reagan Revolution. He inherited a budget surplus from his predecessor Democrat Bill Clinton, but immediately set out to get rid of it by cutting taxes. A balanced budget meant money for regulation and social programs, so it had to go. From his term onward, Republicans would continue to cut taxes even as budgets operated in the red, the debt climbed, and money moved upward.

The themes of Republican dominance and tax cuts were the backdrop of the terrorist attack of September 11, 2001. That attack gave the country’s leaders a sense of mission after the end of the Cold War and, after launching a war in Afghanistan to stop al-Qaeda, they set out to export democracy to Iraq. This had been a goal for Republican leaders since the Clinton administration, in the belief that the United States needed to spread capitalism and democracy in its role as a world leader. The wars in Afghanistan and Iraq strengthened the president and the federal government, creating the powerful Department of Homeland Security, for example, and leading Bush to assert the power of the presidency to interpret laws through signing statements.

The association of the Republican Party with patriotism enabled Republicans in this era to call for increased spending for the military and continued tax cuts, while attacking Democratic calls for domestic programs as wasteful. Increasingly, Republican media personalities derided those who called for such programs as dangerous, or anti-American.

But while Republicans increasingly looked inward to their party as the only real Americans and asserted power internationally, changes in technology were making the world larger. The Internet put the world at our fingertips and enabled researchers to decode the human genome, revolutionizing medical science. Smartphones both made communication easy. Online gaming created communities and empathy. And as many Americans were increasingly embracing rap music and tattoos and LGBTQ rights, as well as recognizing increasing inequality, books were pointing to the dangers of the power concentrating at the top of societies. In 1997, J.K. Rowling began her exploration of the rise of authoritarianism in her wildly popular Harry Potter books, but her series was only the most famous of a number of books in which young people conquered a dystopia created by adults.

In Bush’s second term, his ideology created a perfect storm. His administration's disastrous response to Hurricane Katrina, which killed more than 1,800 people and caused $125 billion in damage in and around New Orleans in 2005, revealed how badly the new economy had treated Black and Brown people, and how badly the destruction of domestic programs had affected our ability to respond to disasters. Computers permitted the overuse of credit default swaps that precipitated the 2008 crash, which then precipitated the housing crisis, as people who had bet on the individualist American dream lost their homes. Meanwhile, the ongoing wars, plagued with financial and moral scandals, made it clear that the Republicans optimistic vision of spreading democracy through military conflict was unrealistic.

In 2008, voters put Black American Barack Obama, a Democrat, into the White House. To Republicans, primed by now to believe that Democrats and Black people were socialists, this was an undermining of the nation itself, and they set out to hamper him. While many Americans saw Obama as the symbol of a new, fairer government with America embracing a multilateral world, reactionaries built a backlash based in racism and sexism. They vocally opposed a federal government they insisted was pushing socialism on hardworking white men, and insisted that America must show its strength by exerting its power unilaterally in the world. Increasingly, the Internet and cell phones enabled people to have their news cater to their worldview, moving Republicans into a world characterized by what a Republican spokesperson would later call "alternative facts."

And so, in 2016, we faced a clash between a relentlessly changing nation and the individualist ideology of the Movement Conservatives who had taken over the Republican Party. By then, that ideology had become openly radical extremism in the hands of Donald Trump, who referred to immigrants as criminals, boasted of sexually assaulting women, and promised to destroy the New Deal government once and for all.

In the 2016 election, the themes of the past 36 years came together. Embracing Movement Conservative individualist ideology taken to an extreme, Trump was eager enough to make sure a Democrat didn't win that, according to American intelligence services, he was willing to accept the help of Russian operatives. They, in turn, influenced the election through the manipulation of new social media, amplified by what had become by then a Republican echo chamber in which Democrats were dangerous socialists and the Democratic candidate, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, was a criminal. Thanks to the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision which permitted corporate money to flow into election campaigns, Trump also had the help of a wave of money from big business; financial institutions spent $2 billion to influence the election. He also had the support of evangelicals, who believed he would finally give them the anti-abortion laws they wanted.

Trump lost the popular vote by almost 3 million votes but, as George W. Bush before him, won in the Electoral College. Once in office, this president set out to destroy the New Deal state, as Movement Conservatives had called for, returning the country to the control of a small group of elite businessmen who, theoretically, would know how to move the country forward best by leveraging private sector networks and innovation. He also set out to put minorities and women back into subordinate positions, recreating a leadership structure that was almost entirely white and male.

As Trump tried to destroy an activist government once and for all, Americans woke up to how close we have come to turning our democracy over to a small group of oligarchs.

In the past four years, the Women’s March on Washington and the MeToo Movement has enabled women to articulate their demand for equality. The travel ban, child separation policy for Latin American refugees, and Trump’s attacks on Muslims, Latin American immigrants, and Chinese immigrants, has sparked a defense of America’s history of immigration. The Black Lives Matter Movement, begun in July 2013 after George Zimmerman was acquitted of murdering teenager Trayvon Martin, has gained power as Black Americans have been murdered at the hands of law enforcement officers and white vigilantes, and as Black Americans have borne witness to those murders with cellphone videos.

The increasing voice of democracy clashed most dramatically with Trump’s ideology in summer 2020 when, with the support of his Attorney General William Barr, Trump used the law enforcement officers of the Executive Branch to attack peaceful protesters in Washington, D.C. and in Portland, Oregon. In June, on the heels of the assault on the protesters at Lafayette Square, military officers from all branches made it clear that they would not support any effort to use them against civilians. They reiterated that they would support the Constitution. The refusal of the military to support a further extension of Trump's power was no small thing.

And now, here we are. Trump lost the 2020 election to Democrat Joe Biden by more than 7 million votes and by an Electoral College split of 306 to 232. Although the result was not close, Trump refuses to acknowledge the loss and is doing all he can to hamper Biden’s assumption of office. Many members of the Republican Party are joining him in his attempt to overturn the election, taking the final, logical step of Movement Conservatism: denying the legitimacy of anyone who does not share their ideology. This is unprecedented. It is a profound attack on our democracy. But it will not succeed.

And in this moment, we have, disastrously, discovered the final answer to whether or not it is a good idea to destroy the activist government that has protected us since 1933. In their zeal for reducing government, the Trump team undercut our ability to respond to a pandemic, and tried to deal with the deadly coronavirus through private enterprise or by ignoring it and calling for people to go back to work in service to the economy, willing to accept huge numbers of dead. They have carried individualism to an extreme, insisting that simple public health measures designed to save lives infringe on their liberty.

The result has been what is on track to be the greatest catastrophe in American history, with more than 338,000 of us dead and the disease continuing to spread like wildfire. It is for this that the Trump administration will be remembered, but it is more than that. It is a fitting end to the attempt to destroy our government of the people, by the people, and for the people.

 

December 31, 2020

As the sun sets on 2020, I want to thank you all.

It was not clear what this year would bring, and fear that we were seeing the end of American democracy was very real. Thanks to people like you, we have won a respite, at least, and now have the chance to articulate what this country can look like if we put all hands on deck.

I also thank you for your support for me, and for this project. It is no exaggeration to say we are in this together. I shape what I write according to your questions, and learn at least as much from you as you do from me. More, though, your personal support, especially in the face of the hate mail that comes over the transom, is what keeps me going.

So I thank you, all around.

I wish for you, and for us all, a better 2021.

                            

                                                             

                   


"Every Minute Someone Leaves.."

A poem for dying by Courtney A. Walsh.

Every minute someone leaves this world behind.
Age has nothing to do with it.
We are all in this line without realizing it.
We never know how many people are before us.
We can not move to the back of the line.
We can not step out of the line.
We can not avoid the line.
So while we wait in line -
Make moments count.
Make a difference.
Make the call.
Make priorities.
Make the time.
Make your gifts known.
Make a nobody feel like a somebody.
Make your voice heard.
Make the small things big.
Make someone smile.
Make the change.
Make yourself a priority.
Make love.
Make up.
Make peace.
Make sure to tell your people they are loved.
Make waves.
Make sure to have no regrets.
Make sure you are ready.

Sage's Play: Old at Heart

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Old at Heart: Reframing How We Talk about Aging and Being Old   by Gaea Yudron, a writer/artist + much more, and a FB friend.
                             You can find her thru the link to the article, or on FB.

https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-AhF2XUn9NqE/VYGZqp0DUgI/AAAAAAAABwg/y7eEsaw-8h8/s1600/11412110_10152979041348581_8675086500946453573_n.jpg

I am a fan of Tao Porchon-Lynch, the nonagenarian yogini and ballroom dancer, whom I have written about before in this blog. She is a wonderful example of vitality and joy in old age.

But what is wrong with this picture, or rather the quote that is included with it? Like Tao, I believe in energy, certainly. Energy. Vitality. Being uplifted. All that.

But I believe in age, too. And isn't Tao's comment a bit off key? To me it is. Perhaps it just needs a few more words. I think it would read better this way.

"I don't believe in stereotypes about age. I believe in tapping into cosmic energy."

I think that is what Tao is wanting to say here. I am sensitive to how words are used about aging. I don't really warm up to being addressed as 74-years young. I will not be happy to be called young at heart. I have live! live! lived! as Auntie Mame exhorted a repressed character to do in the wonderful old flick of that name.

I have 74 years' of life experience. I am old at heart. I don't want somebody who believes that youth is the main stage of life to be telling me I am young at heart. No thanks. Youth is not the pinnacle of life experience necessarily. Perhaps for some it is the peak and everything afterwards is downhill. But for many of us, life after youth contains a great deal of uplift, ecstasy and richness.  I am happy to be old at heart, with everything I know at this age. Which is certainly a great deal more than I knew when I was in my twenties, thirties or forties or even fifties. Just writing that line and taking a brief retrospective reminds me of how I have changed and matured. I am not perfected, but I have certainly changed and matured.

 
 

The experience of maturing, the depth a person can come to in maturity is something worth recognizing, not one to deny or ignore. I aspire to more maturity, to being even older at heart. To becoming more altruistic, kind, to having a more integrated, panoramic awareness, to being more loving.

If you have been reading this blog for awhile, you know I am on a campaign to reclaim the word OLD from the trashpile of corrupted words. Old has a lot of power, a lot of rich qualities. Be happy to be old at heart, my friend. Young at heart has delightful qualities. Old at heart is another territory, one whose qualities are deep and worthwhile--let's honor it!

 
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
There was more to this blog post, but it is out of date & the links don't work; it's available thru the link.

I love that she is also interested in words, and in reclaiming the good ones.
Gaea would fit well in our group, I believe... if we still had one. ...


What's it like to have the M.A.I.D. drugs sitting on your kitchen counter?

Ronni Bennett knows now. Read her impressions and thoughts here.

As is usual with her, she writes with humor and honesty in this quote:
"But I suspect that more often now I will take up the questions that have both buoyed and bedeviled me from time to time
and even, in a couple of cases, made me laugh:
Will I have breakfast on the last morning? If so, how will I choose? Cheerios? Scrambled eggs? Maybe just a muffin with jam?
Should I wash the dishes or leave them for someone else?
And what does one wear to one's own death, especially when you know you are dressing for the final time?
To whom should I look for inspiration? Anne Boleyn? Marie Antoinette? Lady Jane Grey?"

Her post is well worth the read, IMO.


Ursula K. Le Guin on Being a Man

This article was found on Brain Pickings, written by Maria Popova.  I keep going to unsubscribe from her newsletters only to find so many more interesting things, that I just never unsub... 

Ursula K. Le Guin was a very influential American writer (October 21, 1929 – January 22, 2018). "Frequently described as an author of science fiction, Le Guin has also been called a "major voice in American Letters", and herself said she would prefer to be known as an "American novelist"."

"She blends anthropology, social psychology, and sheer literary artistry to explore complex, often difficult subjects with remarkable grace. Subjects, for instance, like who we are and what gender really means as we — men, women, ungendered souls — try to inhabit our constant tussle between inner and outer, individual and social, private and performative.

"This is what Le Guin examines in an extraordinary essay titled “Introducing Myself,” which Le Guin first wrote as a performance piece in the 1980s and later updated for the beautifully titled, beautifully written, beautifully wide-ranging 2004 collection The Wave in the Mind: Talks and Essays on the Writer, the Reader, and the Imagination. To speak of a subject so common by birth and so minced by public discourse in a way that is completely original and completely compelling is no small feat — in fact, it is the kind of feat of writing Jack Kerouac must have had in mind when he contemplated the crucial difference between genius and talent."

Consider this excerpt:                    
 
"I am a man. Now you may think I’ve made some kind of silly mistake about gender, or maybe that I’m trying to fool you, because my first name ends in a, and I own three bras, and I’ve been pregnant five times, and other things like that that you might have noticed, little details. But details don’t matter… I predate the invention of women by decades. Well, if you insist on pedantic accuracy, women have been invented several times in widely varying localities, but the inventors just didn’t know how to sell the product. Their distribution techniques were rudimentary and their market research was nil, and so of course the concept just didn’t get off the ground. Even with a genius behind it an invention has to find its market, and it seemed like for a long time the idea of women just didn’t make it to the bottom line. Models like the Austen and the Brontë were too complicated, and people just laughed at the Suffragette, and the Woolf was way too far ahead of its time."      

With wit and charm, Le Guin continues her essay On Being a Man. 

I do hope you'll read it, and perhaps, enjoy it as much as I did. 
                          

 


The Lost Words Blessing

Gorgeous harmony; beautiful words.... 

 

 

The lyrics:

"Enter the wild with care, my love
And speak the things you see
Let new names take and root and thrive and grow
And even as you travel far from heather, crag and river
May you like the little fisher, set the stream alight with glitter
May you enter now as otter without falter into water

Look to the sky with care, my love
And speak the things you see
Let new names take and root and thrive and grow
And even as you journey on past dying stars exploding
Like the gilded one in flight, leave your little gifts of light
And in the dead of night my darling, find the gleaming eye of starling
Like the little aviator, sing your heart to all dark matter

Walk through the world with care, my love
And sing the things you see
Let new names take and root and thrive and grow
And even as you stumble through machair sands eroding
Let the fern unfurl your grieving, let the heron still your breathing
Let the selkie swim you deeper, oh my little silver-seeker
Even as the hour grows bleaker, be the singer and the speaker
And in city and in forest, let the larks become your chorus
And when every hope is gone, let the raven call you home."