Did You See It?

At the junction with the “Great” conjunction

So, I have this blog thing. You are right; I should not start a sentence with a conjunction. Even if it is a post about a conjunction. Just pretend that I was using the word “so” as another part of speech that the word so can perform, so that we can continue. So is so useful.

Anyway, I have this blog thing. Sometimes I just do not know what to write. That makes it so hard to keep the blog thing going. There are so many important people writing about so many important things, and then there is me, writing about how I do not know what to write about. So sad. So so.

Enough about my writing, did you see it? The Great Conjunction? My friend reminded me that there was supposed to be a cool astronomical alignment on December 21, so I went outside just after sunset to see for myself. Ooh, so again.

I got the compass app fired up on my smart (so much smarter than me) phone and found southwest. You would think that since I live in Arizona I would know which direction was southwest, but once again, I amazed myself. I would not have looked in that direction. We should align streets to the compass points. So much easier. Ooh, more so.

After ascertaining the correct alignment, I looked just above the horizon and lo and behold, there it was. The Great Conjunction. I will admit I was so underwhelmed. Two adjacent pinpoints of light, one decidedly brighter than the other, both bright enough to cut through the light pollution. However, not so great. So again.

So as not to be so disappointed (so used as two parts of speech?), I decided to Google the Great Conjunction. I guess I should have been so much more impressed. Apparently, this conjunction of Saturn and Jupiter happens about once every twenty years, but a nighttime alignment as close as this alignment has not happened in 800 years! So cool! However, every time I hear the word conjunction I think of this. So sad.

Image courtesy of NASA (I think). Conjunction Junction video courtesy of Disney (I think). Please don’t sue me. You won’t get much.

The Spaces Between the Words

Learn to embrace the silence

In the spaces between the words. That’s where the thoughts wait, snug, and safe in their lairs. When the last reverberation of the last word stops falling on your ears, that’s when the thoughts stir, ready to pounce.

As long as the words are there, either yours or someone else’s, spilling out of or into your consciousness, the thoughts stay hidden, afraid to come out. So you strive to keep the words coming, and you beg others with your words to speak theirs, and the sound of the words in your ears is so important that you don’t care that the words are meaningless, only that they make a sound, only that they keep the thoughts away.

But eventually, there is a space between the words. There always is. And if the space is big enough, then the thoughts do come out. And the thoughts have their way with you. They always do. They leave you with what they will, anguish and self-doubt, or whatever is their way.

The thoughts are not you, though. They are of you but they are not you. They cannot define you. You are the one who stands beside the thoughts, separate from them. You are the one who reacts to the thoughts if you let yourself. You are the one who gives the thoughts all of their power if you choose to. But you are not the thoughts.

Remember that you are the one standing beside the thoughts, separate from them, undefined by them, you are not the thoughts. Remember to take away their power because the thoughts are of you but they are not you. Remember not to react to the thoughts, because they hide what’s really in the spaces between the words.

The beautiful silence of the present. And you.

An Open Letter

An open letter to Federal, State, County, and Local government employees, and to all people in the United States of America.

We are in crisis. We are in a global pandemic that is unlike any in this century, perhaps in any century. Our leaders cannot guide us out of this. Some who could guide us are not in a position to do so. Many who are in a position to do so are not capable. Some who are in the best position to do so refuse, perhaps to avoid responsibility, perhaps to capitalize on the crisis. Many leaders failed in response to this crisis. Many citizens chose to follow these failed leaders. Because of this, we are all in danger. We must save ourselves.

For this reason, I implore you to ignore anyone who fails to recognize the severity of the situation or who fails to follow the recommendations of the scientific and medical communities. I implore you to do what is right, no matter the consequence. This is our only recourse. No one can save us from this crisis. We must save ourselves. We have no other choice.

If you are a person in the United States, your job is clear. Wear a mask, avoid crowds, and keep your distance. This may be all you can do, but it is enough. If you are a federal, state, county, or local government employee, you are still a person in the United States. You must still wear a mask, avoid crowds, and keep your distance. Do it with conviction.

However, if you are a government employee at any level and the leadership in your branch of government fails to recognize the severity of the situation or fails to follow the recommendations of the scientific and medical communities then you must make noise, question your supervisors, or alert the media. Our only way out of this failure of leadership is to expose the failed leadership at every level of government to the sanitizing rays of sunlight. We need you to do what is right, to do it right now, and to do it now more than ever.

This crisis will pass. We will eventually make a final tally. Future historians will assess our response, but not favorably. I hope you and yours are still here, some of mine are not. If not, rest your souls, and I hope that you chose to do the right thing. Wear a mask, avoid crowds, keep your distance, and expose those who will not. It is that simple.

How Is It Different Today?

Will this generation finally solve the U.S. race issue?

There has been a lot of turmoil in the United States these past few weeks. Unusual turmoil. Yes, I know, there is a deadly pandemic, not that turmoil, that turmoil is for another post. This is not the first time the United States has experienced such turmoil. In fact, many aspects of the turmoil today echo turmoil from the past.

Racial, ethnic and religious intolerance is a hallmark of the United States. One could argue that the founding of the United States was, at least in part, a result of the religious intolerance in 17th century Europe. It should come as no surprise then that intolerance thrives in the United States today. It is genetic.

From the Founding Fathers to the present day, the United States has blamed the problems it faces on racial, ethnic and religious bogymen. The Puritan line of the Founding Fathers had the Catholics, and all the Founding Fathers had the Native Americans. In the 1840’s it was the Irish, followed by the Germans, and the Chinese, and from 1880 to 1920, it was the southern and eastern Europeans. The list goes on.

Most of these religious and ethnic groups came willingly, seeking a better life, although some indentured themselves to afford the trip. Africans came as slaves, against their will, as early as the 17th century. Moreover, although the United States Congress banned the importation of slaves in 1808, it was not until the end of the Civil War in 1865 that Africans became at least partial human beings in the United States.

As the years wore on, many of the second-generation ethnic and religious groups victimized by intolerance fomented intolerance. As these groups blended into the United States and became an accepted part of this grand experiment, they slipped easily into the intolerance habit, in spite of their recent experience on the other side of the equation.

However, one group, those exposed to racial intolerance, has never easily blended into the grand experiment. The very nature of the fabric of the grand experiment keeps them from becoming a part of the experiment. Africans and other people of color have fought for every scrap of fabric they have.

From the early 1960’s, one hundred years after emancipation, until today, they still have to fight for every scrap. Selma, Martin Luther King, the Watts riots, Reagan’s “Welfare Queen”, Rodney King, Treyvon Martin, Michael Brown, and so many others that it boggles the mind, are all echoes from past turmoil in the present turmoil.

However, the present turmoil is unusual when compared to past turmoil. The sides have changed, the protesters are more diverse, the outrage is more widespread, and the rhetoric more direct. Perhaps it is social media. Perhaps it is fatigue. Perhaps it is just time. We may never know.

Maybe a generation finally says “Enough.” I hope my generation is listening to that generation. They have something important to say.