In Response to the World Around Me

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pen

I write in response to the world around me.  When I can no longer contain the conversation going on inside my head, I liberate it; publicly, here.  Here where it may be read by the few people who happen to stumble upon it or elsewhere into my journal when the rising dialogue falls into the realm of too personal for anyone’s eyes ever.  It, whatever it is—my fixation, issue, observation—once it takes up residence in me, it roils and agitates until eventually it must exit.  A fleshing out as I seek to understand, then a flushing out and words pour forth. This is how I process the world around me. I write about it.

I get in trouble for the words I write (and the feelings that give rise to them).  There are consequences for putting my thoughts and ideas out there.  Real world consequences, like loss of economic opportunity, loss of respect, loss of relationship.  Ever have there been consequences for free speech.  I understand this, have had to come to terms with this, and have made the decision to keep on writing.

Censorship, threats, unwarranted repercussions put a chill on the free-flow of communication causing fewer ideas or thoughts to be shared.  I am one tiny voice experiencing this on a micro level, weighing the cause and effect of my words each and every time I publish.

On the macro level, it gets far more serious.  Unfolding right now in these United States, the siege on journalism is unprecedented. Daily, from the highest pulpit in the land news outlets are viciously and speciously attacked. That #45 would respond to critique by inciting distrust and outright lying is troubling indeed. When threats and defamation spew from the mouth of the President, when we capitulate to alternative facts, when any voice is silenced, it must be met with resistance. One thing’s for sure, as repulsive as I find his attacks on the media, his scrutiny got me thinking.

What of us, the consumers?  We take our truth as we are.  It is hard work discerning content, getting the whole story, identifying unbiased sources.  It is harder still to come to terms with our own biases, which of course color every single thing.  We choose from infinite sources of information. “News” is available everywhere in every kind of format and configuration, “news” far right and far left of truth, served up for you any way you want it.  And since we don’t like to consume that which does not agree with us, we go with what makes us comfortable, or worse, we choose something not good for us.  More than ever we should reevaluate our media diet for surely our daily feast of insalubrious content is making us unhealthy indeed.  At the intersection of cyberspace, consumerism, liberty and self-indulgence we have a choice.

The whole media shakedown has rattled the journalist in me.  I wish more people would find distortion and falsehood unworthy of us. I wish more people would make heroes of the analytical, thoughtful, impartial, and courageous journalists who show up, who go boldly into our dark night, who face down the tyrant President who would silence them.  When in my own corner of the world there are repercussions for the things I write, I’ll think of them.  I am so grateful for them, for writing in response to the world we share.

A Far Better Nature

This is me, finding balance, purposely turning my back on a world of people, taking refuge behind my camera.  I am deeply troubled by the things that humans do and say to one another. I am so deeply troubled my voice rises; I add to the noise. I join the fight; I add to the conflict.  This is me, quieting…retreating (for a moment) to a far better nature.

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forget-me-nots

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dragons

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mooooon

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lilly

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Women’s March in Washington, D.C.

Our march on Washington, D.C. This is what democracy looks like.

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i-make-america-gay-again

j-madonna-said-a-bad-word

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l-we-the-people-support

m-water-is-life

 

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q-expecto-patronum

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y-not-my-president

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cc-fu-uterus

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ff-pam-represents

 

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jj-joyful-protest

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kk-pray-for-the-dead

ll-mia-and-molly

nn-donald-and-putin

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vv-stop-sexism

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xx-wearing-his-platform

yy-we-the-people

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and finally, with my daughter…

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If we have to, we will keep on marching because women’s rights are HUMAN RIGHTS.

“No country can flourish if it stifles the potential of its women and deprives itself of the contributions of half of its citizens.”  –Michelle Obama

 

 

Election 2016: Our Children Are Listening

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Part II

“Did Hillary Clinton kill people?” asks my nine-year-old boy. “Is she a liar?” For the last several weeks now, part of the daily debrief I have with my son after school includes decoding what’s being said there.  I attempt to clarify (and to correct when necessary) the election’s endemic hyperbole spewing from the mouths of children.  Much more difficult though: how do I ease the confusion and terror of a child who fears that one candidate (if elected) will start a nuclear war as I had to do yesterday?  I did not create his fear.  His fear was born on the playground, but it was not conceived there.

Let me tell you, children are engaged in this election, perhaps like never before.  They are out there stumping for their candidates—well, their parents’ candidates, which would be really cool if it weren’t so distressing.  Because while it is exciting to see the seeds of activism sewn so early, the political stumping taking place at the elementary school is done in the vernacular kids hear at home—more hate speech than dialogue.  On the one hand, I applaud discussions about integrity and dishonesty, know-how and ignorance, strength and weakness, but much like the grown-ups, the conversation has devolved and reason has given way to spin and insult.  Words like ‘Killary’ and ‘Drumpf’ and ‘crooked’ and ‘idiot’ are lobbed back and forth.  Too much like the grown-ups the disagreements at school have become personal.  What is happening among our children, young humans still in the single digits, says a lot about who we are, says a lot about the discourse of our nation.  One thing’s pretty clear, we are too emotional—far too angry, and our passion is mucking up the conversation.

When I was growing up, politics was a taboo topic, never ever discussed.  I had no idea whether our family was Republican or Democrat or other, because I grew up in a total political vacuum.  Only when I was an adult did I learn that my parents cancelled out each other’s vote.  They must have made the conscious decision to spare us the confusion, the battles, the drama, the pain of having to choose one parent over the other.  My children, on the other hand, are being marinated in political affairs, as if I have a choice these days. I can’t imagine raising unconscious children given the world they are inheriting.  I don’t have the luxury of controlling the message or hiding it from them altogether, because as I said it is no longer possible to hide from the campaign madness filling the airwaves all around us.

I was going to let my daughter watch the second debate, that is until that horrid tape surfaced and I knew that the evening would move in an unsavory direction.  It was late when I learned that the 11 year-old did in fact sneak out of bed to eavesdrop from her hidey-hole.  You know what America? Our children are listening.  They hear us bicker and name call and defend the indefensible.  I had work to do to undo the impact of the shit-storm of a debate.

As “punishment” for her indiscretion, my daughter was required to write a 200-word essay on both what she heard and what she thought about what she heard.  I gave her 72 hours to complete the task.  When I picked her up from school on the first afternoon, she presented her work to me upon entering the car.  “I finished it in first hour, 237 words.  I can write 1,000 words if you want.”  Among the many thoughts she had, she shared this: “I heard him say ‘No one respects women more than me.’  I also heard him insult lots of women before the debate.  Worse, he doesn’t limit his insults to women.  I do not think he is the president we want for the United States.”  Yes, our children are listening.

We are supposed to raise our children to be critical thinkers, to separate fact from fiction. Pretty difficult to do when our Presidential Candidates are free to sling mud and insult, and lie ad infinitum without penalty or consequence.  It’s being called the most negative campaign in history.  It paves the way for future campaigns to be even uglier and even more devoid of facts, if that’s possible.  Democracy is messy.  Nevertheless, I believe we have a duty to elevate our conversation for the sake of our nation, for the sake of our children who are listening.  The campaign season has been too long, too painful.  While this election may not kill me, it most certainly is critically wounding me and I know it is hurting my kids and yours, too.