To Boldly Go

Posted on September 7th, 2016 in Personal, Politics, Religion | No Comments »

¬†“We work to better ourselves, and the rest of Humanity”
– Jean-Luc Picard, “First Contact”

As I write these words, we are two months and one day from history being made with the 2016 Presidential election. Two candidates who have polarized America in such a way as to lay open deep wounds, which may never heal in my lifetime. Eight years ago, I supported Hillary Clinton over Barack Obama; now I’m not so sure. Clinton’s position seems to paint her as a moderate Republican rather than a progressive Democrat. Charges of corruption and the influence of deep-pocket Wall Street donors paint a less flattering portrait of her than I saw back in 2008. Her opponent is a puffed-up tycoon who appeals to the populist vote by saying whatever he thinks will work at any given moment. The fact that he’s running neck and neck in this election speaks volumes to the depths in which both parties have lost touch with voters, and how decades of under-funding education, promotion of belief over science and the rise of jingoistic blind patriotism has finally come home to roost, with a vengeance.

¬†Throughout the United States, I see the fall of empire, the dissolution of a dream. The great experiment of a new nation is beginning to fail. A government exposed as corrupt and totalitarian,¬† run by career politicians who will say anything to maintain their grip on power in order to keep being fed by wealthy special-interest groups. A populace who pay lip service to the ideas but year by year lose interest in the vigilance required to maintain their liberties, distracted by glitter and sheen and vacuous indulgences. Dumbed down by a faulty education system that is continually challenged by lack of funding and under constant attack from those who wish to impose their ‘faith’ over facts. Graduates who care barely read or write, were told Moses was a historical figure, cannot make change and never taught the basics of reproduction, or how to protect themselves from the consequences of their natural urges.

We live in an Orwellian world of double-speak, where ignorance is wisdom, giving up our freedoms makes us free and to question is to be wrong. Edward Snowden languishes in Moscow instead of being hailed as someone who told us what our government is doing in our name. A football player who refuses to stand for the national anthem is treated as if he somehow offended the military who fight and die in futile wars far away for no good reason. We are not allowed to ask why we sacrifice our troops; just “honor” them. Every day, people are killed on the streets of this once-great nation and no effort is made to overrule the gun industry and limit the weapons that take so many lives and destroy so many families. Not even the slaughter of schoolchildren in their own classrooms can stop it; money can cover anything, even the blood of the innocent. An idea as logical as banning assault weapons and universal background checks is treated as an attack upon the Constitution and the second amendment; but Congress votes to increase secret surveillance of innocent Americans, violating the fourth amendment, and it’s seen as good and proper.

America was once the leader of the free world; that claim is dubious now, to say the least. Other nations have better standards of living; free health care, better education; a happier, safer populace, not dominated by the obsessive need to feed the military whatever it wants, or the need to kowtow to obsolete, nonsensical religious claptrap. Other nations don’t have a crumbling infrastructure, with bridges built nearly a century ago and failing to cope with the increased demands of more and more cars. Other nations recognize the role we play in warming the planet, making every Summer ‘the hottest on record’, year after year after year.

We expect ‘regimes’ to keep innocent people locked away, with no trial; tortured and sometimes killed. To use their armies to attack and murder women, children and babies in their own homes. To spy on their own citizens and deal harshly with anyone who opposes the official party line. With every drop of blood, the United States of America becomes that which we supposedly hate; that which we supposedly stand in contrast to; that which we thought we would never be. We are now.

Next week will mark the 15th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. I have spoken before about how we were a different people then. So much has happened to us since that clear, blue morning. We were shocked to find that some could hate us so much that they would do such a terrible thing. It was terrorism of the worst kind, brought home from distant shores half a world away and deposited on our own doorstep. Now we look around at the hate, the shrug of the shoulders to the constant wash of violence, the nonsense and lies spouted off by our leaders and wanna-be leaders, and it’s difficult to deny that we have become a cruel, deluded people, with perhaps our best days behind us. The journey from innocence to cynicism in breathtaking speed.

I still believe that one day, we will rise up and become the people we think we are capable of being. The statement by the captain in Star Trek could ring true as a motto for us all. It is true for some people now, around the world. But there is a long, long way to go in order for it to apply to the majority, never mind the whole of Humanity. I wish I could see it, but I know I won’t. More importantly, I wish I could see it start to happen. I hold onto the hope that it already has.

Always Groovy

Posted on April 23rd, 2009 in Personal | 2 Comments »

I’m not ashamed to admit that I’m a child of the 60’s. It was my decade, and it shaped the person I became many years later. I was too young to recall where I was the day Kennedy was shot, but I do remember the assassinations of Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy. I grew up very close to the Space Center in Florida, so of course I remember the moon landing. I remember the launch, watching it go up into a beautiful sunny sky, and thinking to myself “I must remember this”.

The 1960’s, from my perspective, started with the death of JFK, leading quickly to Beatlemania. They ended on election night in 1972, with the defeat of George McGovern, and any chance the youth of America felt they had in putting their convictions to the test. Nixon continued to reign, and everybody hunkered down and put themselves first for awhile.

While I was only a child for the entire decade (having instead to spend my teenage years in the 70’s, living with Disco), watching footage from that era leaves me feeling very nostalgic. I accepted the world around me like any youngster, be it Beverly Hills, Hanoi, Biloxi or Beruit. The long hair, the clothing, most of all the music, filling me, leaving its imprint upon my soul. I had a Nehru jacket at seven (with black-frame glasses and about a quarter-inch of hair closely-cropped around my skull). Woodstock passed me by, but the film now is oddly familiar in a way that Lollapalooza never could have been.

By the 80’s of course, the world had moved on to corporate greed and the ‘me generation’. By today’s standards even that was a gentle, naive time. I’ve seen the sixties dream torn to shreds, first by Watergate, then cocaine, punk, crack, Reagan, Bush, 9/11 and Iraq. People who missed it all roll their eyes when talk turns to old hippies, probably much like we lampooned ‘rebels’ in the 50′, or those wacky young men in the Roaring Twenties, with their Dagwood Bumstead hair and raccoon coats, swallowing goldfish or piling into phone booths. Kids today are so much more hip (or so they like to think).

But I don’t care. The idealism of those days still burns inside of me, and I’m sure many others. Even if the leaders grew old and disillusioned, the kids who hung out with them, watching and wanting to be like them, still carry the torch they dropped so long ago. Some years ago I recall reading a magazine article about parents who were also Beatles fans, and how they were ‘living Beatle lives, and raising Beatle kids’. And that’s true, I’ve seen that with my own eyes. It makes me terribly proud for some reason, that in the face of all the postmodern doubt about the world, families are still telling their kids about a band that once, long ago, ruled the world.

In spite of all the terrible bad around us today, the small glimmer of hope that shone on the faces of kids with flowers in their hair is still here with us, even if most of the hair is gone. I believe in the sixies dream, and always will, until my last breath. I am a child of the 60’s; peace and love.