More On “What Happened?”

What happened to America?  What happened to our parents’ and grandparents’ America?  What happened our Founding Father’s America? 

Today burgeoning numbers of notions and actions, unimagined as little as a generation back, fly in the face of fundamental precepts of a country committed to “establish justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity.

A laundry list:  

  • Following a five-decade decline, in 2020 America’ nineteen-thousand firearm deaths eclipsed every year in history.  Ten-thousand gun-related deaths in the first eight months of 2021 exceeds 2020 by 24% and 2019 by 49%!
  • Proud Boys, Patriot Prayer, Neo-Nazis, and White Supremacists openly challenge America’s commitment to the equality of all persons regardless of religion, ethnic, national origin, gender, and sexual orientation
  • Until a quarter-century back, few Americans did not have shelter, however humble.  Today the tents, tarps, and packing crates of homeless Americans crowd sidewalks and hunker beside freeways.
  • Global Warming is tragically and scientifically obvious.  Assuring us the Earth, “will cool off” President Trump pulled America out of a Global Initiative to limit greenhouse gases.
  • Swallow QAnon’s and other wacko groups’ groundless, wholly unsubstantiated claims, perhaps a third of our citizens believe that some “Deep State” conspires to control America and the World.  By this logic, or lack thereof, I might argue that Donald Trump kisses up to Vladimir Putin because Vlad has video of Don ruffling the sheets with Soviet Sweeties.  Lacking evidence: witnesses, hookers’ depositions, the video, this is merely one man’s unsubstantiated hypothesis.
  • After two centuries of vaccination eliminating or controlling scores of diseases, tens-of-thousands refuse safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines in favor of horse medicine! 
  • As Jowl Street sets records and Corporations and Billionaires pay no taxes, an overstressed Middle Class picks up the tab.
  • January 6, 2021, President Donald J. Trump orchestrated and ordered a seditious attack on our Capitol, Congress, and Constitution.

In 1587 Sir Walter Raleigh founded the first English outpost at Roanoke Island on the eastern shore of what became North Carolina.  After three years, a supply vessel discovered the Roanoke Colony mysteriously, swallowed up by the Wilderness.  Three decades later, on today’s Cape Cod Bay, Puritan Separatists’ established the first permanent European foothold in the Western Hemisphere.  From the onset it was obvious that to survive in this New World individual’s needs and preferences must serve the “common good.” 

Over two-and-a-half centuries of conquering, exploiting, and colonizing, America’s survival depended on understanding that, while individuals and factions would disagree and even clash, we must pull together.  We each must be prepared to sacrifice, suffer, or die in service to the Common Good!

Maybe it’s nostalgia.  Maybe I’m just a crotchety old man, but my sense is, since around the turn of the century this vital precept of codependence has seriously eroded.  Previous generations passed to us a wonderous, prosperous country.  Today, more and more Americans feel no commitment for the  common good.  It’s “everyone for him- or herself.”  Some American take American’s privileges as an entitlement, a birthright, with no thought or obligation to contribute, even sacrifice and die for the Common Good. 

Thankfully the majority of Americans, right and left, are in there slugging it out, raising families, paying taxes, doing right for themselves and each other.  

Compounding COVID-19

Fulfilling mandates to ensure the “common good” and promote “the general Welfare,” America’s federal, state, and local governments formulate statutes which curtail or ban certain individual behaviors.  Some indict these jurisdictions with “taking away our freedom.”  The push and pull between group and personal rights energizes a major dynamic of governmental debate and policies.

The charge of curtailing or taking away personal freedom is valid.  Without a license I am not free to catch a fish or perform brain surgery.  Drivers and passengers are not free to wear or not to wear seatbelts.  Drivers are not free to ignore speed limits, traffic signs, and traffic lights.  Unlicensed pilots, lawyers, teachers, bus drivers, doctors, and dentists are not free to hazard “the general welfare.”  I am not free to take another’s property or life.  Americans are free to own and use firearms.  We see where that got us! 

We wrestle over our personal right to wear or not to wear a mask and to be vaccinated or not be vaccinated against COVID-19.  Research shows masks significantly limit aerial transmission of virus.  Ninety-five percent of those vaccinated against COVID-19 will not develop the disease, a handful will be hospitalized, a negligible number of these will die from the virus.  Today Americans unvaccinated against COVID-19 overwhelm ERs, ICUs and CCUs, drive doctors and nurses to Herculean efforts, and fill hospital beds, preempting treatment of less “urgent” but no less critical patients. 

Arguments against COVID-19 vaccination range from arguable to wacky.  Some believe the rush to develop vaccines leaves room for future negative consequences.  How long should we wait to be vaccinated?  One year, five, ten while, like a phalanx of combines on a Kansas wheat field, the pandemic mows us down?

On TV, a nurse said, “I’m careful what I put in my body.”  At the same time, based on hype and sketchy claims—Aunt Agnes’s neighbor cured her husband’s cancer with dandelion soup—many who scorn allopathic medicine lay down hundreds of dollars for untested, unproven diet “Supplements.”  What daily or weekly potions, does our nurse allow in her precious body?  How might parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents who, sacrificed, sucked it up, and died “for the common good,” view some Americans cavalier, self-centered sense of entitlement?

A last-ditch rationale—which it’s not—argues that some “Deep State Conspiracy” plots to control and manipulate Americans.  Proponents present no scrap of credible evidence: no document, witness, testimony, supporting their draconian hypothesis. Who, how, why?  Someone, please explain. 

Since Edward Jenner, immunization has eliminated from human life scourges of Smallpox, Tetanus, Measles, Influenza, Hepatitis A and B, Rubella, Hib, Whooping Cough, Polio, Pneumococcal Disease, Rotavirus, Mumps, Chickenpox, HPV, and Diphtheria.

Threequarters of a century back ol’ Doctor Easley would descend on Ferron Elementary School to stab a two-inch-long needle, the diameter of pencil lead—Maybe he wiped it with alcohol between stabs—into cowering, frightened, crying first- through sixth-graders’ arms.  For a week the refrain was, “You bumped my sore or arm!”

Replete vaccinations ensure the health of Armed Service personnel.  They carry immunization certificates.  At the Oakland Army terminal, waiting transport to Korea, a Cholera shot left me aching and fevered for a week.   A year later, processing to come stateside, within ten minutes medics jabbed me three times in each arm!     

I am disappointed and alarmed by a seemingly increasing number of wimps and whiners who scorn rigorous medical research and clinical trials of vaccines proved 95% safe and effective.  Accepting the future suffering of tens-of-millions and deaths of hundreds-of-thousands of American because a tragically misguided, whining minority denies irrefutable facts and asserts “individual rights” over “the common good” is indefensible.

Do the right thing.  Wear the damn mask!  Get the damn shot!  

Bravery

StoryWorth asks, “What was one of the bravest things you’ve ever done, and what was the outcome?”

The Oxford English Dictionary defines “brave” as: “1 (of a person) willing to do things that are difficult, dangerous or painful; not afraid  .  .  .  2 (of an action) requiring or showing courage.“  (My emphasis.)

Human Life is difficult, dangerous, and painfulHuman Life demands courage!  I’m brave!  So are you!  Each day, each of us exercises extraordinary bravery!  Unfortunately, doing so since birth, we don’t notice.  We fail to give ourselves painfully earned credit!

Most would be hard-pressed to deny that human life involves suffering.  How we manage suffering is crucial to ameliorating the pain in what Grandma Leslie called this, “veil of tears.”

Each morning, from the moment our eyes open and our feet hit the floor, we’re hoisted into a wheelchair, or remain amid an array of wires, tubes, monitors, and life-supporting gadgets, we exercise the bravery of a Warrior confronting hostile spears and arrows.

Switching metaphors, like a captain navigating her or his vessel over an uncharted sea, we trim the sails and grip the wheel.  We skirt sandbars and treacherous reefs, weather hurricanes, and keep constant watch for Sea Serpents.  With courage, luck, and masterful seamanship, most make it a safe harbor.  Less favored but lucky sailors are rescued.  Others watch the poop swallowed by the sea.  A few give up and drown.

Survivors of capsized ships cling to broken-off spars.  In homes, hospitals, and hospice, flotsam and jetsam of medical science keeps noses above water.  Despite physical agony and terminal diagnoses, they fight for one more breath, one more heartbeat.

No Shame

Congressional Republicans scratched from the Infrastructure Bill a proposed increase in IRS funding to ferret out the $100 billion deficit between income tax wealthy individual and corporations owe and pay.  In other words, allow the cheating to continue.

Their greed is insatiable.  Have they no shame?

It Was Treason!

January 6, 2021, President Donald J. Trump called-up and commanded MAGA Minions to assault our Capitol, preempting Congress’s Constitutional mandate to certify the states’ electors.  Thankfully, hazarding physical injury and death, vastly outnumbered Capitol and D.C. police quelled the mob.

Upward of 140 were injured in the melee.  Four assailants and, the following day, one police officer died.  Three of those who defended the Capitol and Congress have died by suicide

Clearly, the failed coup was a “crime of doing something that would cause danger to your country  .  .  .”*  It was Treason!

An incomprehensible irony is, the folks who, on January 6, attempted violently to overthrow the Government of The United States of America call themselves Patriots!  By August 4, 2021, our Justice Department had indicted 555 insurrectionists.  Twenty-four have plead guilty.  Two are incarcerated.

I am astonished and bewildered that the man who ordered the attack, like a loose cannon, remains free to spread his seditious rants and lies.  Why, in the name of sanity and justice, is Donald J. Trump not sporting an orange jumpsuit, at the very least indicted for Treason? 

*Oxford English Dictionary

All The Love

I vow to let it go.  Then, when I think I’ve heard it all, he casts a fresh worm on a hook.  Like a dumb catfish, I glom onto the bait.

In March Donald Trump advised Fox’s Laura Ingram he saw January 6 insurrectionists, “hugging and kissing the police and guards.”  In I Alone Can Fix It, reporters Carol Leonning and Philip Rucher quote America’s forty-fifth president as seeing “a lot of love” that ignominious day.

To my knowledge, no one else on planet Earth saw hugging, kissing, and love in America’s January 6 debacle.  How did Donald see what we didn’t?  How can this be?  Does Fox maintain a proprietary Oval Office channel?  I think not. 

It’s obvious.  All things Donald arise from deep-rooted Narcissism, a Monster Ego with an all-consuming demand to be recognized, praised, adored, in a word Loved!  How better could his “Make America Great Again” (MAGA) Minions demonstrate their Love than, on the Leader’s command, “be willing to march into Hell for a Heavenly cause,” attack the Capitol, Congress, and Constitution? 

Human history is punctuated with tribal leaders, warlords, Caesars, kings, emperors, monarchs, and dictators exhibiting egomaniacal hunger for praise and exaltation, for Love!  Across-the-board, such leaders exhibit a Sociopath’s lack of compassion, an absolute incapacity to appreciate human suffering and life.  In service to his egomaniacal need for praise and glory, for Love, Adolf Hitler tortured and murdered millions.  While the nature of Benito Mussolini’s demise suggests all Italians did not Love Il Duce, his bluster and Narcissism were flagrant.  In North Korea, over seven decades Kim Il-sung, Kim Jong-il, and Kim Jong-un established and perpetuated a brainwashed, mind-numbed, culture, marching in lockstep, extolling, and worshiping the “Glorious Leader!”

Closer to home, in 1978, having ordered the murder of California U.S. Representative Leo Ryan and four associates, James Warren Jones coerced 614 adults and 304 children to demonstrate Love for their Leader by drinking cyanide-laced Flavor Aid.  August, 1969, acolytes proved their Love of Charles Milles Manson by murdering seven innocent victims and attempting to assassinate President Gerald R. Ford.  In 1997, assured they would transport onto Comet Hale-Bopp, in a communal suicide 39 “Heaven’s Gate” believers exhibited their Love for Marshall Applewhite.  January 6, 2021, President Donald J. Trump saw Love in his True Believers’ assault on our Capitol, Congress, and Constitution.    

All of which, for me, raises the specter of “cults.“  Miriam Webster defines “cult” as a group of people, exhibiting “great devotion to a person, idea, object, movement, or work  .  .  .  the object of such devotion.”  Cults, the root of cult-ure, suffer an undeserved bad rep.  Religions, political parties, civic groups, cities, states, and nations are, to greater or lesser degrees, cults.

A cult becomes misguided when followers act from unswerving, mindless devotion to a Leader.  In run amok cults, language and acts of adoration and service, in a word Love, feed the Leader’s hunger for power and bond the group.  Followers yearn for a Messiah, a Savior, on whose command they willfully commit morally and legally indefensible acts including murder and for whom, in the ultimate case, would die. 

The means and degree to which any Leader’s agenda serves the common good or his or her own ego distinguishes a Humanitarian from a Sociopath. “Make America Great Again” (MAGA) is a dangerously run amok, misguided cult.  A certified Narcissist and Sociopath, Donald J. Trump is its leader.