Those few of you who have followed my little blogs over the past few years know that I like to write, even though the quality varies between the levels of success enjoyed by the Chicago Cubs and the New York Yankees. I must admit that I hope to see the Cubs maintain their usual performance, not that I have any personal animosity such as my feeling toward the Oakland Raiders, but because I’ve informed my doctors of various maladies to expand their arena of operations, “please keep me alive until the Cubs win the World Series”. I figured that would safely take me near the century mark although I was a bit nervous at the outset of the present season, as they were winning more regularly than usual. Fortunately, they seem to have settled back into their comfortable traditions.

Anyway, I’ve had a lot of difficulty beginning this blog. You see, the last five or six weeks have been chock full of activities and events, many which triggered the writing response but were overwhelmed by further happenings also leading me down other avenues of thought and reflection. A partial list of these things would include:

Progress report on the two spinal epidural injections from early June

Buying a new car, my first new one since 1987.

A road trip to Arizona (to buy the car)

A road trip to the Kansas City area, to visit an ill friend and see other friends from my checkered past

Reflections on an in-depth essay about the personal meaning of the recent Ramadan, to a treasured Islamic former acquaintance

Disgust at the continuing saga of the GOP and that party’s romance with Mr. Trump and Fox News.

An introduction to the importance of mental health treatment, from a significantly bipolar friend who is able to express thoughts about this in a highly articulate manner.

Depression that there is currently no candidate for whom I would vote for President, even if my vote counted (Wyoming is so Republican that if you vote for any other candidate, it’s forgotten).

Tired of Hilary

Tired of bigotry

Personal reflections on Same Sex marriage and abortion

Now that I’ve mastered golf, should I turn to Curling?

And so on. These along with others compete for my attention and given the long hours on the road, it’s left for me to work out the answers myself without having anyone else to help me identify a core. At one time in recent years, I had a correspondence with someone with whom I exchanged deeper thoughts and viewpoints, the interaction acting as a catalyst to lead my mind down new pathways of exploration. Unfortunately that is no longer an option, and I’m left generally associating with folks who are nice, but are not eager to explore options because it’s outside their comfort zone.

Let me comment briefly on several of these, and maybe go into some depth on a few others.

  • Epidurals—the promised relief came quickly, and departed almost as fast. The doctor said they can do it again and see if it will last longer. So, August 3 can’t come too soon.
  • Bought a new Honda CR-V EX-L, easier to get in to, and more significantly to get out of, than the low slung sedan I had. Arthritis sometimes shouts out for attention; this is one way to address it.
  • My ill friend is recovering and will be released from the hospital on August 3, to return home after four months.
  • If people don’t like Same Sex marriage or abortion, then they don’t have to do it, and leave the rest of the world alone. The marriage thing can be easily resolved if one considers marriage to be an economic arrangement in which two persons commit to a shared existence. I guess what troubles the conservatives is that they assume there is always sex involved, which may or may not be the case, and which really shouldn’t concern them. Many of them try to refer to the Bible in some fashion, ignoring the fact that it was put together from many sources over many years, with lots of conflicting perspectives. The claim that it is “The Word of God” is a catchy way to sell books, but it was written by men. Many men. And often not “on the same page”.
  • Abortion is sometimes necessary, and that fact needs to be recognized. Maybe what defines “necessary” is up for grabs, but when I worked in the inner cities I saw frequent cases where it might have been better than sentencing a human being to a lifetime of poverty, neglect, and major health issues. There’s some argument whether to consider the union of the egg and sperm to be a person; the most that can be said is that it has the capacity to become a person, over time. And generally, I’m not in favor of abortion when it is only for personal comfort although that raises the issue of relationship issues when one of the procreators wants the child and the other one doesn’t. Major guilt and resentment from carrying out the procedure may linger throughout their lifetimes.
  • As my bipolar friend points out, he himself has had violent episodes but fortunately brought no harm to others. At the same time, he received a variety of treatment protocols, most based on wrong diagnoses, some in institutional settings and with greater or lesser success. He is now actively promoting more attention to identification and treatment in order to minimize events such as those we’ve been faced with in recent months and years. He emphasizes that these “culminating tragedies” could be eliminated in many cases, if we would greatly increase the treatment resources available in lieu of incarceration.
  • I have a personal perspective that I’ve developed over a career of working with all kinds of people, and strongly believe that everyone needs to have some area of their life when they feel “in charge”. School counselors and teachers should be identifying the “loner” child, and make every effort to get the child into constructive activities in which he or she can enjoy success and a feeling of self worth. If the activities don’t exist, then create them, tailored to children’s needs, abilities, and interests. Andy Warhol talked of “everyone’s 15 minutes of fame” but didn’t specify positive or negative. If we look at the backgrounds of many of those who take the lives of innocent folks, they often are loners and have no area of their life when they feel they are important to themselves or others. Such a sense of being powerless may result from social isolation, from living in a highly-restricted environment such as a fundamentalist religious organization, or other situations in which individual expression is minimized. As each of these tragedies has occurred, I have always looked at the perpetrator’s life history and it comes as no surprise that one of the first two is usually present.

As a corollary, as I was involved with evaluating schools in our state and around the globe, those that were the most successful were those in which everyone has ownership of a program’s success, and that includes all staff, parents, and students. When their input was sought and used, each felt important and obligated to work together toward mutually accepted goals.

  • These are indeed confusing times, with events seemingly in direct conflict with rationality and understanding. We can look at this theme from minor concerns, to some which are overwhelmingly ridiculous. As an example of the former, take the pharmaceutical Cialis. Notwithstanding my wondering what young children want to know about the meaning behind the constant barrage of commercials, if the stuff really works then why do we see the two partners sitting in separate bathtubs at the end of the ad? I would think that the whole purpose is to get both of them into the same unit.

Which leads me to a more significant paradox. For many recent years, Republican leaders in government urged upon us two wars, passed legislation enhancing the wealthy while putting more financial and social burdens on the middle class and poor, applauded Supreme Court decisions that serve to maintain those situations using the election funding process, and all the collateral damage that each of these engenders throughout the social fabric of the nation. My confusion? Why do people directly affected by these maladies continue to vote for those politicians? They are representing lobbyists, billionaires, and ultra-conservative clusters of an array of organizations such as the NRA, Koch Industries, Big Oil (which is subsidized in spite of having their greatest profits ever!), pharmaceuticals, and others.

And when I see the ridiculous number of GOP stalwarts contending for the Presidential nomination, I gain admiration for the British whose political parties establish their platforms as the first step in the election process, then choose which individual will be that party’s leader. Citizens vote for the platform, not the individual. We’re stuck with 20 ambitious but inept competitors vying with each other through negative attacks upon each other and on the current President. To my knowledge, none have proposed any programs or perspectives, just vitriolic bombast.

Sadly, Fox News is encouraging all of this chaos, and has garnered that network considerable financial gains through political commercials. But even worse, we have this cable tv network actually dictating a major component of our election process. WHY?

  • In reading an essay My Ramadan on the blog site, “It’s a Halal Life”, the writer reveals how the month of fasting and reflection allows her to focus intensely on her personal faith and beliefs, while at the same time offering a renewal of spirit, social and physical well being. It points me toward a glimmer of understanding that True Faith lies within the individual, dormant as a resource to which the person can turn in times of need. But its existence needs first to be recognized, to be drawn forth, and that is what constitutes Faith. I need to spend some further effort to explore this thought; I personally don’t believe in prayer but I do know that there are “hidden depths” within each of us that can yield great rewards when finally understood. I also recognize that regardless of one’s cultural setting, there is an almost universal need to explore and unite with our Universe at the spiritual level, whether we call that unity God, Allah, or simply a Supreme Power. I guess it’s only natural that as one begins the last act of living, that this topic becomes more important and of greater interest.
  • As for curling, I don’t think I can easily lift one of those 40+ lb. stones. Maybe I should stick with golf, especially now that I’ve apparently mastered the art of hitting a variety of high wedge shots directly at the flag, and have adopted a somewhat successful new approach to putting. Age and infirmity has robbed me of leg strength and therefore, distance of my drives. But I’ve adjusted psychologically finally to the fact that I need to be secure within myself. After all, the sports pundits don’t really understand the fundamental concept of golf. They’re wrong when they talk about “rivalries” between various golfers. The actual rivalry is between a golfer and the landscape; this sport has no offense or defense directly toward an opponent. All one is saying is that “I can hit this ball around the pasture in fewer shots than you”. Defense could marginally be making crude noises while your opponent is in the middle of a backswing, little more. My par for 9 holes is 41; that’s attainable. And I’ll be content.

Always Be Happy    To Our Youth

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