I Wonder? (Again)

I’m told folks refuse COVID-19 vaccination for fear of negative, long-term consequences and/or they don’t want Government telling them “what to do.” 

Regarding long-term consequences, vaccination advocates point to the rigorous scientific protocols and testing which make America’s National Institutes of Health and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Gold Standards for certifying vaccines and other medicines are “safe and effective.“

Regarding being “told what to do,” for “the common good” our government formulates statutes and regulations mandating certain actions and forbidding others.  Do my anti-COVID-19-vaccination friends refuse to comply when the Government “tells them”:

  • To vaccinate children for measles, whooping cough, polio, and the rest?
  • To pass tests and be licensed to drive a motor vehicle, practice Medicine or the Law?
  • To license their motor vehicle?
  • In Oregon—surely other states—to insure their motor vehicles?
  • To use seat belts?
  • To obey traffic regulations, signs, and lights?
  • To buy a license to catch fish or kill wildlife?
  • Not to steal other people’s money or property?
  • To pay taxes?
  • Not to murder?

I wonder?

See How It Feels

Reposted of folks who missed or forgot.


It’s said, debate arose among Churchmen of Medieval Europe regarding the native language of man.  Greek or Latin?  When prayer, scripture, Plato and Aristotle failed to address their question, the learned Clergy devised a scheme which, a millennia later, became the hallmark of Science: an experiment.

Newborns were isolated never to hear human speech.  Anticipating what enlightened researchers would label “extraneous variables,” the infants were fed, diapered and clothed but otherwise experience the barest of human contact.   Hypothesis: Unsullied by hearing human speech, the subjects would reveal humankind’s native tongue.  The outcome was inconclusive.  The subjects never spoke.  Denied nurturing they died.

A millennia down the road, Bulgaria’s child welfare system deteriorated to conditions eerily reminiscent of this—I hope apocryphal—Dark Age experiment.  In 2007 BBC exposed “Bulgaria’s Abandoned Children.” Vacant-eyed infants peering through cribs bars, naked bodies nodding on cold plastic pots, legs hardly able to support skin-and-bone, emaciated orphans scraping  metal bowls, frantically competing for a fragment of potato.  The psychological impact of this horrendous experience was inescapable.  The Daily Mail’s Rosa Monckton reports,  despite being warehoused cheek-by-jowl, due to a “lack of interaction, children in Bulgarian institutions grow slowly mad.”

The tragedy exposed, organizations and individuals rushed to foster and adopt.  Documentaries recount the myriad physical and emotional challenges American families confronted in attempting to rescuing these profoundly damaged little people.  For me one scene stood out: an out-of-control boy throwing objects, breaking pictures and mirrors, punching holes in the wall.  When a desperate Mom attempted to placate him the seven-year-old punched her in the stomach, “See how it feels!”

For a long time this cryptic exclamation puzzled me.  Surely anticipating that rescuing a physically and emotionally stunted child could well upend her family’s life, this woman who jumping through bureaucratic hoops, assuming significant financial expense, overcoming myriad unforeseen obstacles, was thanked with a punch to the gut!  “See how it feels!”

See how what feels?  Lady with the big house, see how it feels to stare through crib bars for days on end.  Lady in the king-size bed with its sweet-smelling comforter and  half-a-dozen pillows, see how it feels to lie in a moldering nightshirt on a dank mattress day and night.  Lady with cupboards, refrigerators, and freezers stocked to feed an orphanage, see how it feels to experience constant gnawing hunger, to fight over a handful of spoiled beans.  Lady on her sterile white toilet in her porcelain and chrome bathroom, see how it feels to squat amid naked, emaciated, near-zombies swaying on cold plastic pots.  See how it feels to hurt lady!  Really to hurt.  See how it feels

It goes beyond Bulgarian orphans and caring moms.  “See how it feels” is the heart of so much human suffering.  When it hurts too much, we slug someone in the gut.

“See how it feels” is the taproot of abuse.  Through irrational thinking, we believe we can be rid of suffering by giving it to someone else.  Child abuse, spousal abuse, elder abuse, colleague abuse, employee abuse are attempts to, if not alleviate, at least have someone know our pain. Sick, tired, injured, insulted, frightened or just had a bad day, we come home, kick the dog, shout at the spouse, beat the kid.  Some walk into a kindergarten, church or synagogue with an AK47!  See how it feels to hurt, really to hurt!

“See how it feels” triggers violence, rebellion, revolution.  Feeling marginalized, abused, deprived we lash out at power.  See how it feels to be insulted, ignored, used!

“See how it feels” America!  When we crash airliners into your World Trade Center, see how it feels to have one of Earth’s the oldest cities, our home, bombed, demolished, leaving economic and cultural chaos behind.  As you grieve your three thousand, see how it feels to have tens-of-thousands of our innocents massacred in your unprovoked assault.  

In your grand cities with their skyscrapers, streets crowded with cars, sidewalks crowded with shoppers, homes with electric power, hot and cold water, heating and air conditioning, see how it feels to live in mud huts, tents and refugee camps, sometimes for generations.  As you cruise highways paved with asphalt from beneath our feet, see how it feels to walk in sandals down a rutted track.  In your Super Markets, shelves stocked with so much food more than a quarter goes to waste, see how it feels to be painfully hungry, to die from starvation!  See how it feels America.  See how it feels to be marginalized, exploited, humiliated.     

“See how it feels” has a corollary: Misery likes company.  The former attempts to alleviate my suffering by hurting you.  The latter finds vicarious relief knowing others suffer.  Fueled by the paparazzi, devoid of moral stricture, the “National Inquirer” and other tabloids capitalize on this.  At the checkout counter, with a laid-off spouse and three-year-old running a hundred-and-two degree temperature at home, about to charge another cart of groceries to a nearly maxed-out VISA, seeing “Hillary’s Breakdown,” “The Pope’s Love Child,” “Obama’s Porno Addiction,” “Tom Cruse Dying of Aids,” even the rich and famous suffer, offers fleeting respite.

In 1935, misery likes company found creative outlet when Bill W. and Bob S. expanded peer support from church, synagogue, Elks, Rotary and Masons to the suffering’s broader world.  Over ensuing decades their Alcoholics Anonymous model expanded to drug addiction, mental illness, cancer, heart disease, diabetes, suicide, suicide prevention, those impacted by suicide, murder and violent death, grief, Mothers Against Drunk Driving, Parents of Murdered Children and more.

Given all the above, it’s crucial to point out, “News” notwithstanding, we very rarely lash out from purely malevolent intent.  Whether we suffer in silence, beat up on the next object or person we see, or take perverse comfort in knowing others suffer, the lion’s share of human behavior has unconscious roots.  The horrors inflicted by a sociopath derives from mental processes humankind may never fathom.  We don’t really want to hurt others; we just want the pain to stop.

A Rock and A Hard Place

At heart, I seem to be a Socialist.  If hearing this sets off alarm bells, please bear with me.  I define “Socialism” as “Free Enterprise with a Conscience.”

Conservatives say Liberal social programs kill individual initiative.  I agree.  Arguably, to survive too many lower middleclass and poor Americans depend on unemployment checks, subsidized housing, Social Security, food stamps, and other government programs.  Farther down the income scale this is more apparent. 

At the same time, buried in arcane legalese and regulations a host of schemes and grafts exclusively benefit the rich.  Precious few of us know of the handouts thousand-dollar-and-hour lawyers, shrewd MBA’s, lobbyists, and legislators have crafted to ensure that the fortunate five percent do very well indeed!  Tax breaks and loopholes allow millionaires, billionaires, and billion-dollar corporations to minimize and dodge taxes, leaving an overstressed middle class to pick up the tab. 

An unarticulated corollary to the Conservative view is the poor need various forms of government welfare because they are innately stupid and lazy.  As I see it, the money we “earn” and have is decisively determined by where we draw that first breath!

As a kid, I sometimes felt overworked and underappreciated.  Today, I see how incredibly lucky I was!  I was born to hardworking people in a hardworking culture; I learned to work!  Born in East L.A., Southside Chicago, as one of 50% unemployed on our 326 Indian Reservations, physically or mentally handicapped, who would I be today?  Food stamps, subsidized housing, on the street, in a gang, prison, dead?  

In my meager understanding, Socialism encourages Free Enterprise while looking after those who, mostly through no fault of their own, cannot “earn” their way in the marketplace.

Under Capitalism financial profits must always prevail.  Caught between the proverbial rock and a hard place, corporations maximize profits while appearing to serve their consumer’s and society’s “general welfare.”  Those who doubt this, don’t understand Capitalism, don’t believe in Capitalism, or lie.

Of uncounted examples of Capitalism putting profit over people, two: First, Big Tobacco’s putting profit above public health, at enormous social costs is open and notorious.  From “42 Facts About How Smoking Effects Your Health,” a couple: Smoking is America’s leading cause of preventable death, disease, and disability.  Smoking costs America $300 billion a year for medical care and lost productivity.  And 40 more.  Questions?

Second: Before a Senate subcommittee, former Facebook data scientist and whistleblower Frances Haugen cited internal company documents revealing, among other facts, Facebook curries young users despite knowing of detrimental impacts their health, sows division and undermines democracy in pursuit of “astronomical profits,” executives misstated and omitted key details about what was known regarding Facebooks and Instagram’s ability to cause harm!   

The Grand Old Party

President Donald J. Trump’s January 6, 2021, assault on America’s Capitol, Congress, and Constitution exposes the level to which a Madman will stoop to become America’s first Emperor!  I’m bewildered that, reportedly, the former president still maintains ironfisted control over the Republican party.  Ominous as this may seem for Honest Abe’s Grand Old Party, indeed America, all is not lost.

In runup to our recent Presidential bout, Conservatives George Conway, Rick Wilson, Steve Schmidt, Jennifer Horn, John Weaver, Ron Steslow, Reed Galen, and Mike Madrid’s “Lincoln Project” took “Trumpism” to task.

After the  2019 bell, like a punch-drunk pugilist, the GOP staggered to its corner to clear its head and hear from trainers and coaches.  Of course, there are Republicans Heavyweights who fight fair, no low blows, no trash talk, no attempts to bribe the referee and judges.  Sane folks who are stepping forward to rescue their party and America from Trump’s Totalitarian Fantasy!

In his first impeachment trial, Senators Mitt Romney and Susan Collins voted to convict.  Less than a year later, Republicans Bill Cassady, Richard Burr, Susan Collins, Lisa Murkowski, Mitt Romney, Ben Sasse, Pat Toomey followed suit.  In 2021 Republican Representatives David Valadao, Adam Kitzinger, Peter Meijer, Fred Upton, John Katko, Anthony Gonzales, Tom Rice, Jamie Herrera Butler, Dan Newhouse, Liz Chaney voted to impeach.

Representative Liz Chaney’s castigation of Trump’s January 6 insurrection, vote to impeach, and scorn for Trump’s “stolen election,” led minority leader Kevin McCarthy and other House Republicans to boot Liz from their leadership.  Nut-case death threats forced Chaney to spend $58,000 on private security.

Speaking out against Trump’s claims of a “rigged election” and “voter fraud,” Illinois Representative Adam Kitzinger was the first Republican to call for the President’s removal from office.

Advise from a Democrat: In 2024 Republicans should forget 2012 and rally behind Mitt Romney!  After four years of insanity and embarrassment under a sociopathic, Malignant Narcist, Mr. Clean would go far toward resurrecting the GOP’s longstanding commitment to ethics, morals, and decency.   

We need sane Democrats and Republicans.  Unchecked, Liberals would mortgage the Farm to rescue down-and-out Neighbors.  Unchecked, Conservatives would mortgage the Farm, to build hundred-room mansions and Five Star, Luxury Resorts for them and their Gazillionaire Buddies!

Conservatives look after humankind’s survival instinct.  Liberals remind us of our reasons to survive: Relationship and Love.