Stand or Fall – It Starts With the Books

#FreetheBooks

When the Nazis came to power in Germany in 1933, one of the first things they did was start banning and burning books.

Ninety years later, the state of Florida is banning and removing books from classrooms and school libraries until they can be vetted by state-sponsored censors.

In other parts of the United States, there are laws being proposed in state legislatures like Florida’s and movements by right-wing Nazis here in this country all of whom vote Republican and all the legislation is sponsored by the Republican party. Therefore to me, the Republican Party is the American Nazi Party.

When I was a kid going to school in the 70’s/80’s/90’s the biggest things books were targeted for:

Bad language: I think this was the ultimate irony that reading curse words would corrupt us when we knew all the bad words by the time we started kindergarten thanks to parents who swore like crazy and the R-rated movies we watched.

Sex: Holy shit! If there was any hint of sexual relations and we read it we were all going to die!!!

Homosexuality: Any hint of that and we would all turn gay. Yes, this was the argument back then and there was no discussion of transgender issues (the word ‘transgender’ wasn’t in the lexicon back then).

Back then, if you were a white kid (like me) and you read books on Black history or the history and culture of other races and ethnicities, you were told that you were trying to be black (or insert other race/ethnicity here).

I look back at those days and think, how quaint. Because back then we just cranked up our headphones and listened to heavy metal, gangster rap, and read whatever the hell we wanted to. We knew the adults in power really didn’t give a shit about us past a certain point and courtesy of Rage Against the Machine, we knew the police were the bulls on parade and would do nothing to protect us.

Today books are banned for the following reasons:

Homosexuality and Transgender experiences: the bullshit-argument is that kids reading books with these topics are being ‘groomed’ by pedophiles. No, the pedophiles are the Christian ministers and police officers being arrested daily for being the pedophiles and groomers they rail against.

Black History and Other History and Stories that Aren’t White-Nazism: The bullshit-argument is that white kids will feel enormous shame and guilt reading about slavery and other oppression. I’ve actually had this told to my face and to that I say this: BULLSHIT! If you are a white person and reading about oppression and the true history of races and ethnicities other than yours makes you feel shame and guilt, you need to sit down, shut the fuck up, and ask yourself why.

I’ve read that many young people today (those being under 25) feel like the powers-that-be don’t really give a shit about them. They feel like these motherfuckers will ban their ban their books but flood the streets with guns and ammunition through mass production and permit-less gun ownership. They know law enforcement will stand outside their schools and let them be shot to death like they did in Uvalde and Parkland, Florida (Florida just passed a permit-less gun law this week). And they’re right about the American Nazi Party, aka the Republican Party. So yes, they vote Democrat and organize against the American Nazi Party and that’s really freaking these Nazis out which is why they’re banning books and putting more guns on the street.

At this point, if you’re reading this and have voted Republican and are probably really pissed off at me for calling Republicans Nazis, ask yourself why you can justify guns over books. Ask yourself you have to live in a state of perpetual anger and fear while these motherfuckers get richer every day and you get poorer every day? Because in the end, it’s all about the grift as lefties like me say. And these grifters will use any ideological-bullshit argument to maintain their power and wealth and they will destroy everyone and everything if they have to before they let that go.

At this point, if you think I’m being way too over-the-top here, let’s go back ninety years to Nazi Germany. Their book banning-burning led to mass murder that created a new word for the world: genocide. And if the Nazis had developed the nuclear bomb, they would have bombed the world into oblivion as they had the means to deliver those deadly payloads courtesy of the V1-V2 rockets and long-range bomber they have developed. Today, the threat of nuclear war is still around courtesy of Russian President Vladimir Putin (a really big donor to the Republican Party) but the real threat is the embrace of Nazi ideals of racial purity and hatred for anything other than white, heterosexual, and Christian beliefs here in this country.

I’m going to close out with an excerpt from an article that is definitely worth a read as it contains this quote which sums up the American Nazi Party intentions without the profanity I’m fond of:

But there’s an even deeper reason that book bans are such a mainstay of authoritarian politics, even as the ideas being suppressed shift from regime to regime. Authoritarians hate reading for the same reason they hate sex, or any private behavior that allows people to experience thoughts and feelings outside of the authoritarian’s control. Learning to sit quietly and read by yourself is, for most people, the first step towards being able to sit with your own thoughts. It’s crucial for learning to think for yourself. There’s a reason most teachers like to have a wide array of books on hand, giving kids the freedom to read on their own. It’s how kids develop other skills, like critical thinking and creativity. (link here for the complete article)

MLK Day 2023 – The Time Is Now

I remember when the holiday commemorating the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was created in the 1980’s and I will tell you right here and now, there was considerable opposition to it. The state of Arizona was the last holdout on the holiday and there were boycotts by artists and protests. Why? Because Dr. King was not popular in his lifetime. And not so much because of his advocacy for civil rights and fighting racism, but because he wouldn’t back down.

In his letter from the Birmingham jail, Dr. King wrote of being told to wait for the right time and Dr. King said, in essence, the time is now. Anyone who says to wait when there is a need for change needs to ask themselves why. And to anyone who says that to me directly I will ask: when will the time be right?

There is no ‘right’ time, or ‘perfect’ time for change. If things were right and just, then there wouldn’t be a need for change. The Civil Rights movement of the 1950’s and 1960’s was born from decades of segregation, and of pain and blood. It was born from a people denied their basic fundamental human rights and Dr. King led a movement based on non-violent resistance as advocated by Jesus Christ, Mahatma Gandhi, and many others. And despite what watered-down textbooks and other sources will say, it was not a popular movement. People were beaten and murdered, including women and children.

In this year of our Lord 2023, there is a movement by right-wing Republicans to bury this history and not teach simply because they say it will make white people uncomfortable.

To that I will say: your discomfort in response to pain and oppression means NOTHING.

No one is blaming white people, or individuals for past hatred and oppression. But each and every person in this country has been exposed to and taught attitudes of hatred and racism. In the last few years, I’ve begun to examine what I was taught and exposed to and yes, it’s painful as hell to know I was silent in the face of most of that. But I’m breaking my silence over that like so many others are now and like Dr. King and all the other Civil Rights activists did back in the 1950’s and 1960’s.

Another reason Dr. King was not popular in his lifetime was his opposition to the Vietnam War. In 1964, Dr. King began a friendship with the Vietnamese Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hahn. Thich Nhat Hahn had been exiled from his home country of Vietnam for speaking out and advocating non-violent resistance against the South Vietnamese government’s brutal oppression and violence. I believe this friendship showed the world that the cause of non-violence isn’t limited to just your home country. That if we are to truly live in peace and harmony with each other we must speak out whenever we can. Thich Nhan Hahn told Dr. King Buddhists considered him a ‘bodhisattva’, an enlightened one. To be enlightened means you see how everything is connected and you nurture those connections in peace and love.

In recent years, I’ve learned a lot about Dr. King’s teachings and advocacy not just for Civil Rights and against the Vietnam War, but also his advocacy against poverty and economic injustice. He talked about creating the ‘Beloved Community’, a community in which all people were welcomed to the same table with the same opportunities given to others already at the table while being accepted as they were. But this is not a popular idea even today and why is that?

Because like in the past, there are people who are opposed to this who say that by welcoming all to the table that those people will take from those already seated. That’s not true in any way, shape, or form. There is no need to take more than you need or to take from someone simply because they are not like you. Suffering is NOT noble or right in any way, shape, or form. Suffering does not build character or resiliency. Instead, it creates trauma that echoes through the generations and takes time to heal. And that trauma can’t be healed if a person is suffering from oppression, poverty, or violence.

Non-violent resistance means you will not take up arms against your oppressors, but you will not remain silent in the face of that oppression either. This is why I say to those who push back in fear or ignorance against change for the better: ask yourself why you think and feel the way you do and keep asking until you find all the answers you can, though I will give warning that you might not like the answers you find, and sooner or later you will have to deal with them. No one can change another person, or as I like to say, no one can pull someone’s head out of their ass for them. I do believe people can change for the better and I will welcome those who do sincerely change and accept responsibility for their words and actions in the past.

The time for change is always now, and forever.

For more on the friendship between Dr. King and Thich Nhat Hahn, you can read this wonderful and moving piece by Jay Kuo HERE

To Younger Voters (voters under 30)

To all the younger voters this past week, thank you. Thank you for turning out in record numbers and determining the outcome of so many races. Thank you for organizing and standing in line for hours on end to vote. And thank you for pissing off every right-wing Nazi pundit for voting like you did.

As I’ve said before, I think all of you younger voters know exactly how hard life can come at you simply because your first memories in school weren’t learning letters and numbers, but of doing active-shooter drills. You voted against a party (the Republicans) who have made you do these since you can remember. You voted overwhelmingly against a party that has tried to destroy the public education system, ban and burn your books, and make you economic slaves to their greedy capitalist bullshit.

I’m proud of y’all. But I want to put something out here that I’m sure you’ve thought of: will your hope and anger die off and you’ll become the people you hate?

In the past, I would have said that was a strong possibility. Now I will say that’s nowhere near as much of a possibility because I know a lot of you wonder if there will be a habitable planet for you to live on by the time you reach my age. I believe it’s nowhere near a possibility now because younger people are rejecting organized religion, especially neo-Nazi non-Christian evangelism in record numbers. And that many labor union movements in the last couple of years have been founded by young people.

I believe that young people are stronger than ever before. An example of this is the activist group March for Our Lives founded by the survivors of the mass shooting at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. These young people have had numerous death threats against them and their families and have been harassed and threatened by members of Congress (look up the evil bitch-from-Hell Marjorie Taylor Greene to see what she’s done to them). Despite these threats and harassment, these young survivors continue to work for change and to save lives.

I’ve seen young people leverage technology like no other generation before them. Young people migrated from legacy platforms like Facebook and Twitter to Tik Tok and others and have used social media to wreak havoc on the right-wing Nazis hell-bent on turning them into goose-stepping soldiers. Most of all, people under the thirty don’t consume right-wing media in any significant numbers other than your less-than-ten-percent who y’all run off your college campuses when they try to spout their neo-Nazi bullshit to you.

Don’t give up.

And don’t ever go silent.

You’ve all stood up to the loud-mouth raging Nazi lunatics, but I want to remind you that you need to stand up to the well-intentioned hand-wringers as I call them. These are the motherfuckers who will come up to wringing their hands saying they have your best intentions as they try to silence you. I gave in to these people way too much in my life and just have a shit-ton of mental and emotional scars to show for it. I think you’re pretty good at telling these motherfuckers to go to Hell but if you haven’t done so, do that if anyone tries that well-intentioned hand-wringing bullshit on you.

Know that there are more older people on your side than you might realize. A lot of us are breaking our silence like I am, and a fair number are also pulling their heads out of their asses and getting their shit together to join the right side and not be conservative assholes. But younger people have the numbers and that’s what has the right-wing assholes scared shitless and trying to take away all your rights and freedoms like they are now, such as raising the voting age to twenty-one and establishing a right-wing dictatorship simply because they know best.

Believe every single thing these right-wing neo-Nazi motherfuckers talk about doing, whether it’s abolishing Social Security and Medicare, banning books, shutting down the US Department of Education, or anything they talk about. Because like the Nazis of Germany in the 1930’s, they will do what they say if given the opportunity. Don’t give these motherfuckers one opportunity to put any of their plans into motion. They’ve already done enough damage over the last fifty years with gerrymandering and the right-wing media apparatus along with thoroughly corrupting organized religion.

Finally, take care of yourselves. Take care of your physical, mental, and emotional health. I believe in you, and I care about you along with millions of other older people. Don’t give up, don’t give in, and don’t go silent.

And to quote a book of your generation, ‘The Hunger Games’: “May the odds be forever in your favor.”

Stand or Fall: Buying Time

Today is the 2022 Mid-Term Elections. These elections are crucial to say the least but to me, they’re just buying time. I think the Democrats will hold both the House and the Senate and some states will go Blue. But the opposition is dug in deeper than Hell and I think the Red side will bleed hard at their losses.

My optimism is tempered by the fact that this isn’t 1992, or 2002, or any other election year. The first wave of Generation Z voters are coming online and if the numbers play out like they’re projected to, they’ll be the deciding vote. And that’s a good thing, and something that’s going to be fought against harder than ever. But these kids know just how hard life can come at them, and in a way they remind me of the Greatest Generation who lived through the Depression and fought Nazis and Fascists and won. But us oldsters need to get off our lazy butts and stand with them, fight alongside them, and be there for them, especially Generation X. Us X’ers have the attitude and we need to tell the Young Republicans that grew up into MAGA-assholes to go fuck themselves once and for all.

I say this election is just buying time because I’ve seen the euphoria of a win wear off so many times before along with the shock and sadness of a loss, too. But we don’t have time for either one of those things right now. Because what the people of the United States of America are facing is like nothing we’ve ever faced before.

I’ve read articles saying that the right-wing hate-and-outrage machine began in the 1980’s but in reality construction on that machine began in 1972 with the election of Richard Nixon and when the Democrat and Republican Parties made their final, fundamental switch complete. The Democrats truly began to fully embrace a progressive agenda of equality for all Americans and the Republican Party rejected the values of Abraham Lincoln and became the party of racists, and also Communists.

I grew up in the 1980’s and saw straight through the lies and bullshit of Regan Republicans, and George Bush, Sr. made me want to projectile vomit with his talk of ‘compassionate conservativism’ because there is NO compassion in conservative ideology. I rode the euphoria of Bill Clinton and Al Gore in ’92 and watched it crash and burn by 2000. Barack Obama is one of the best leaders this country has ever produced but my faith in the system for correcting itself was gone by the time he was elected. I had hope in 2016 but that hope was destroyed that year and although 2020 was won, it wasn’t by a landslide. Today’s election is still to be determined and although I feel good in seeing record numbers of young people voting and know they skew heavily towards democratic progressive ideology I still say this: today is just about buying time.

We should be out colonizing our solar system now and healing our planet and not killing each other over stupid shit. But because white-power mongering assholes and giant corporations couldn’t profit off of equality and advancement, they decided if they couldn’t get everyone under their control they’d burn the motherfucker down. And they tried to do that on January 6, 2021, and will do it again if given the opportunity.

How do we keep right-wing fascist traitors from destroying everything:

Vote them out of office and keep them out of power as much as possible.

Stand up to them and don’t back down in the face of their threats, harassment, and intimidation.

Don’t minimize their agendas or excuse their bad behavior.

Keep as much money out of their party apparatus (Republican) and their media outlets to where they can’t fund their hate and disinformation campaigns.

And most of all, to anyone reading this who voted Republican in 2016 and 2020, ask yourself why. Listen to the monsters you voted into office and read the agendas they’ve set out. Then make your choices, and know that if you chose hate you won’t win.

To young people reading this: enjoy the euphoria of a win then get back to work and don’t ever stop working towards a better future. Don’t turn away from the values of kindness, compassion, and empathy no matter how hard someone tries to destroy those things inside you.

Most of all know this: politics is personal. In the last six years I’ve learned just how personal it is and not just to myself. I’m still working on putting that into words, but I stand by my words here, and I vote accordingly.

And like Jyn Erso said in the movie ‘Star Wars: Rogue One’:

“Rebellions are built on hope.”

Stand or Fall – 2022: The Year of the Pissed-Off Woman

WARNING: Strong and foul language here so proceed with caution.

Like I wrote yesterday, I’m not going to post excerpts of my books-in-progress every week and for ‘Stand or Fall’ today, I have a piece I’ll post here because until the mid-term elections are over and all the votes are tallied, I won’t know the result of how pissed off women are at right-wing politicians who want to send women back to the 1950’s when they were only supposed to be perfect housewives who were closet alcoholics or pill poppers, or just silently raging and waiting for their husbands to die. And no, I’m not saying all women were unhappy back then but a good number of them were and with no real freedom of choice in terms of health, education, and employment this seething rage was real and it’s what gave birth to the feminist movement of the 1960’s.

When I turned eighteen in 1992 and became eligible to vote, that election cycle was called ‘The Year of the Woman’ because a record number of women ran for office at all levels and were elected in record numbers. But soon after, the conservative backlash started and has come to a frightening level of oppression thirty years later with Republicans in Congress led by Senator Lyndsey Graham (R-SC) proposing a national abortion ban today in Congress.

Abortion was turned into a political issue after the rise of the women’s movement of the 1960’s and the legalization of birth control and abortion. Unborn babies became so easy for right-wing assholes to advocate for because these unborn babies didn’t require any medical care, food, shelter, and education because these motherfuckers didn’t give a shit about these babies, most of whom would be poor, black, or brown. In reality what these motherfuckers wanted to do was control women from the cradle to the grave and now have freely admitted to wanting to make sure there is a ‘domestic supply of infants’, especially lily-white babies for rich conservative pricks to adopt and indoctrinate.

In the last two years, a terrible number of laws have been passed across the country to not only outlaw abortion, but to make it a crime for a woman to seek out any information on it or help a woman get medical care. These laws put a target on the backs of millions of people, and especially women like myself who are in an occupation that provides transportation. Yes, these fucking ‘bounty’ laws (most of which are in a holding status), could have put me in jail just for doing my job.

So how in the fuck do conservatives continue to be hypocritical assholes talking about freedom? Only freedom they believe in is what they dictate for others. Or as I like to say, THEY DON’T CARE!

Abortion is a deeply personal and incredibly-difficult decision for a woman to make and therefore it’s not one that is to be made in a public forum or by assholes who have no part in it whatsoever. I don’t believe any misinformed, uptight, judgmental man or woman has the right to tell a woman what she can and can’t do with her body. Not to mention that conservatives feel women should die in horrific ways because of medical complications of carrying a fetus that won’t survive outside the womb. The Republican Party is NOT pro-life. They’re pro-death and for forced-birth.

Yes, this is an issue that has pissed off thousands of women across this country. Women make up the vast majority of new voter registrations and have already turned out in huge numbers in special elections and referendums. I think the mid-term elections in this country are going to be a blue tsunami and make conservative Republicans shit their pants so bad the stench is going to be horrible.

It’s about fucking time these conservative assholes learned to eat their own shit and own it for good. Because this attack on women’s reproductive health and well-being is just the beginning of attacks on women’s right to education, employment, and just being free to live their own lives. I grew up on stories about what life was like for women before the changes of the 1960’s and 1970’s, the flat-out discrimination and restrictions imposed on women simply because of their gender. And we’re not going back in time because you can’t do that no matter how hard the conservative Republican establishment tries to make that possible.

Women are sick and tired of being made to feel like second-class citizens, and for being told to sit down and shut the fuck up by uptight judgmental assholes both male and female. I’m pissed off as hell that some dickhead or bitch who doesn’t know me at all and honestly doesn’t give two shits about me thinks they can tell me what to do with my life. I’m just here trying to live my life and get through the day like millions of other people and I sure as hell don’t need someone breathing down my neck and dictating every move and breath I take. But that’s how conservative people make me feel and I’ve truly had enough.

And I think in November they’re going to find out just how badly they have fucked up. Pissed off? This is just the beginning and there’s now stopping us now.

In Search of Subtitles (for my books)

Image by hudsoncrafted from Pixabay

Ever since I started my non-fiction book projects, I’ve been in search of a subtitle for each one that fits the book. Why? Because I feel like the subtitle gives the reader an expectation about what they’re going to be reading about. The title is like a summary and the subtitle is like a bit more detail. Today as I got out of the shower, five subtitles came to me and I scribbled them down onto a piece of notebook paper before I updated each page here with the subtitle. Now here’s the story and meaning behind each one:

Breaking Radio Silence: A Self-Help/Memoire Hybrid

In the Fall of 2016 when I first conceived of what would become ‘Breaking Radio Silence’, I simply labeled the file ‘Untitled Self-Help/Memoire Hybrid’. The goal at that time was to use writing to try and figure out why I thought and felt the way I did and to use my own experiences to illustrate anything I learned in the process. The title ‘Breaking Radio Silence’ wouldn’t come to me till the Spring of 2018 and it fit perfectly from the moment it came to me. But for the last four years this has been a book project in search of a subtitle until today. And as I start writing this book in earnest now, I need all the focus I can get so this is why a subtitle was so important for this project.

Stand or Fall: A Rebellion of Hope

After the US Presidential Election in 2016, I (along with millions of other people) went, “What the hell just happened?” I came up with an idea to use writing to try and figure out how things got so fucked up. Now of course I didn’t know what the next six years would go nor could I have imagined what’s happened even in my worst nightmares. At the time I first came up with this project-idea, I simply labeled the file, ‘Untitled Political Book’ because at that time I knew this book was going to be seen as political. Like, duh but I’m not a scholar so I thought I’d make it personal and tell my own story alongside what’s happened in the last forty years or so in terms of politics and the world in general. I was searching for a subtitle for this book because I kept asking myself what the purpose of writing this if not just for myself? And then the quote from the movie ‘Star Wars: Rogue One’ came to my mind, “Rebellions are built on hope.” That’s what I want this book to be, a statement of rebellion and hope.

Behind the Story: How I Write and the Stories Behind My Writing

This book’s origins are a bit murky though I think I came up with this one sometime in 2018, I think around Fall if I remember correctly. Initially I wanted to do a straight how-to book but then I realized for me writing is more than just how-to. There’s a lot to my writing and I think my story in regards to that is worth telling. Now the title of this book was a struggle for me as the title just came to me a couple of months ago but without the subtitle until today.

Uber Tales: Stories and Observations From Behind the Wheel as an Uber Driver

Not long after I started working as an Uber driver in 2017, I began to post on my personal Facebook page stories and observations from the road that I titled ‘Uber Tales’. They took off and people really like hearing my stories and observations so I began to think there was a book in there. As of right now, I don’t have any really crazy or outrageous stories from the road and a lot has happened and changed since I started driving. Also, I’ve read a lot of news articles about Uber driving and I don’t really think a lot of these journalists have talked to a lot of drivers, or any at all. So I want to tell my story and it’s just my story because each driver has their own unique experiences and observations though over the years I’ve talked with other drivers and we do share some common thoughts and experiences.

Dirty Thoughts and Stories: Talking Dirty About Sex and Other Naughty Things and Fiction Inspired By My Dirty Thoughts

This is in its’ earliest stages right now mostly based on my blog here though I think over time I’ll have enough material for a book. This is a mix of non-fiction blog entries that might get expanded into longer essays along with fiction stories. The title is sort of self-explanatory as talking about sex is seen as dirty by a small yet very vocal segment of our population who really just need to learn how to get over their hang-ups and have some fun in life instead of trying to control every aspect of everyone else’s life, especially their sex lives. And naughty fiction is just fun to write and I’m not going to back down on that.

So this is where I’m at on these projects just to give out an update. It feels good to have subtitles I like and that fit well. Now I just need to get my ass to writing, which I will be doing in addition to everything else I need to do (like earn a living, eat, sleep, bathe, take care of my pets, etc.).

Stand or Fall: Rebellion of Hope

Rebellions are built on hope.”

Jyn Erso (played by Felicity Huffman from the movie ‘Star Wars: Rogue One’)

(screenplay by Chris Waltz and Tony Gilroy, Story by John Knoll and Gary Whitta, based on characters created by George Lucas)

In 2016 when I came up for the idea of this book, I didn’t know how things were going to turn out in the years since. I feel like we’ve had a lot of worst-case scenarios come to life, most recently with the overturn of the Roe vs. Wade Supreme Court decision, but I’ve also seen hope for a better future, most notably the Presidential Election of 2020. Now we’ve got the mid-term election coming up and it’s all coming down to the wire yet again. And my thinking has changed now from seeing this as a battle against fascist White Nationalism-Neo Nazism to rebellion not just against that shit, but also against hopelessness, fear, doubt, and people being a bunch of dumb-asses like they always are.

As I thought about the term ‘rebellion’ the line from the movie ‘Star Wars: Rogue One’ came to my mind. It’s one of my all-time favorite lines ever because to me it says so much. Because the question isn’t what are you rebelling against, but what are you rebelling for? What do you hope to accomplish with your rebellion?

Deep down inside of myself I’ve always felt like I’ve been rebellion against so many things. I feel like I’ve been rebelling against bullying, for being alienated and ostracized not just for being different, but for doing the right thing and making people project their shame and guilt onto me (which they can take and shove up their asses where it belongs). I feel I’ve been in rebellion against narrow-minded and insensitive hypocrisy with people shooting their mouths off about one thing but doing another, like right-wing pro-life assholes who get abortions for themselves or their daughters, or their mistresses.

I think it’s an act of rebellion to think at times, and to feel emotions, too. I think the appeal of right-wing fascism is that it doesn’t require a person to be original, or to be unique, and it gives them an ability to avoid having to do the difficult things of feeling like shit or feeling pain for those in need. I think it’s also because this right-wing bullshit means that as long as you toe the party line they won’t turn on you. But as someone who has taken shit all my life for things I didn’t do wrong, I saw through this at a very early age. The worst part of this is making things like compassion, empathy, and genuine kindness seem weak and worthless, and try to make people feel like shit for having those feelings and trying to live by them.

That scorn against compassion, empathy, and kindness to those in need is really turned me against right-wing conservatives in this country. The ‘fuck your feelings’ shit I heard in 2016 really exposed the cruelty behind fascism and how easy it was for people to embrace that. And the answer to why that is isn’t one I need an answer to because it’s not my fucking problem.

Instead, what my purpose is to not only live the life I want to in the way I want to, but to fight the rights of others to live freely, openly, and to make their own decisions without anyone else’s interference. At times, I think it’s a lot easier to get someone pissed off and outraged over something than to have them actually leave someone alone to live their own life. I think if right-wing conservatives quit worrying about other people’s lives that have nothing to do with theirs and aren’t hurting anyone else they’d be a lot happier. But it’s not happiness they’re after at all because deep-down the root of conservative ideology is that happiness is wrong unless it’s expressed or lived within very strict confines.

I want people to be happy and healthy. I want to live on a planet that’s healthy and life-sustaining. And I don’t believe suffering is noble but something to be alleviated as much as humanly possible.

My book ‘Stand or Fall’ has been in a constant state of evolution since I started the project six years ago. It’s a hybrid of memoire and history but also commentary on the past and present, too. It’s not just me asking the questions of why things happened, but how we can learn from the past. Because I will tell anyone I can, you don’t have to do the same shit you did before simply because you did it before. You can change the future by making different decisions in the present. And if someone doesn’t like that they can that opinion and shove it up their ass where it belongs.

Conversations From the Road – Long Time Coming

Today, June 24, 2022 the United States Supreme Court overturned the Roe vs. Wade decision that legalized abortion in 1973. The Court’s majority opinion said that abortion was an issue to be left to the individual states to regulate in any way they choose to. Almost half the states have laws in place to outlaw and criminalize abortion and other forms of reproductive care. In a concurring opinion, Justice Clarence Thomas said that two other Supreme Court decisions, Griswold vs. Connecticut which legalized access to artificial birth control and Obergfell vs. Hodges which legalized gay marriage need to be ‘reviewed’. ‘Review’ is a thinly-veiled code-word for potential decisions to be overturned.

I’ve known this decision to overturn Roe vs. Wade has been coming since the early 1980’s when I came of age under the Reagan administration and saw the rise of the Christian Right. The Christian Right has said since the late 1970’s that their goal was to outlaw abortion, access to artificial contraception, and outlaw all rights for LGBTQ Americans. The Texas Republican Party on their platform in addition to this also called for the overturn of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. These people have been telling us what they were going to do and they got just enough voters along with a serious amount of dirty money from here and abroad to put enough Supreme Court Justices into place to over turn Roe vs. Wade and put the other laws in their crosshairs.

For forty years I was told not to make political or social issues personal. I was told I had to learn how to agree to disagree with people and tolerate them even if their beliefs were horrible and evil.

SILENCE IS A TOOL OF THE OPPRESSOR

Oppressors and abusers demand silence from their victims. Oppressors and abusers tell their victims that no one will believe them if they speak out against oppression and abuse.

The Christian Right are the oppressors and the abusers here. They have said for the last forty years they were under attack but that was NOT true. They have been on the attack against the rights of everyone who is not exactly like them: white, heterosexual, and Christian (only in name but not in practice).

Thirty-eight years ago, I began writing. Back when I started writing it was because I was in love with the magic of words. What I didn’t understand back then like I do now is this: I started writing to put my thoughts and feelings into words, to find words that didn’t hurt me like those that were said to me. Back then, I knew I wanted to say so many things yet I knew if I did it would not be taken well. I knew back then if I spoke out against things that hurt me and others the oppressors and abusers in my life would try to silence me. They did silence me by making me feel like I had no words that would break their power over me.

Six years ago, I came up with the idea of using writing to try and figure out why I thought and felt the way I did. I then added using writing to figure out what the hell was going on in our world and what we could do about it. At the time, I didn’t know what I was going to do with those answers. And I didn’t know how hard it was going to be to ask those questions and deal with the answers. Most of all, I know there are people in this world who don’t want to hear what I have to say. But my words are not for those that don’t want them, but for those that do listen to me.

Six years ago, I didn’t realize that I was going to do was break my silence. Back then, I didn’t realize how much silence I had lived with. I had retreated and hidden in silence in order not to be hurt by the words and actions of others. That’s a survival instinct but not a way to live. Running and hiding didn’t take away the pain inside of me, or the fear that if I came out of hiding that I would be forced back into that hidden place if I spoke out about my thoughts and feelings.

Right now, I know many people are feeling pain and fear at the rights being taken away from so many of us by our lawmakers and court systems. And they are asking what we can do to regain these rights. My first answer is BREAK YOUR SILENCE. Breaking your silence starts in your mind when you put your feelings into words and let those thoughts flow through you.

After you break your silence in your mind you can then find ways to break it in your daily life. It can be as simple as casting a vote that is the opposite of how you are being told to vote. And yes, I think it’s more than okay to lie about that if you have to because I understand the need for self-preservation.

If you can find the strength and courage inside yourself, you can then break your silence out loud. You can speak out against people who speak with hatred, contempt, and tell lies. You do not have to let hate-mongering and lying go unanswered. You can stand up for yourself and stay true to who you are.

I started by breaking my silence in my mind then I moved on to the written word like I am doing here. Now I’m getting ready to move on to the next stage of breaking my silence, which is creating a podcast so my voice can be heard out loud. It’s something I’ve been thinking about for a long time and like the other ways I had to learn to break my silence, this one involved a lot of hard work through fear and anxiety that created doubt and uncertainty in my mind.

But I keep thinking one thing: I have nothing left to lose. I have nothing no one can take away from me. I am a broke, middle-aged woman living on next to nothing. Yet I have found peace and happiness like never before in my life. I found that peace and happiness by finding my voice and breaking my silence. And most of all, I found peace and happiness by being on my own, not alienated and ostracized. I know I’m not perfect, but I also know no one else is either even if they profess to be perfect.

As a child, I found word could take me away to places far away from the lonely and painful reality I lived with. Then I found words that provided knowledge and showed me the wonders of the world. I found words that told of pain and suffering, and how to overcome that. I found words that provided comfort when I had no other form of comfort for myself. Most of all, I know my words and the words of others have meaning, and can be used for good, and can provide comfort and strength to those in need.

Today may feel like a dark day even though outside the sun is shining high and blazing with summer heat. And I know this day has been a long time in coming, and that knowledge is what has given me focus today and kept my heart from trying to pound its’ way out of my chest. Because I’ve lived with this knowledge for so long, I realized I have lived with the words inside of me, too. And now I have the ability to share those words and hopefully give hope to others, and to provide a plan of action.

BREAK YOUR SILENCE

Stand or Fall – Tolerance Doesn’t Equal Silence

From as far back as I can remember, I heard that you had to tolerate people and their bullshit which meant that you just had to sit and listen it without calling them out on it. I was taught that you can’t change people and that you have to let them be who they are. And for myself and way too many other people, we thought it meant we couldn’t speak out against their bullshit and actively campaign against their reign of terror.

We were wrong. Tolerance failed and officially died on January 6, 2021 in the halls of the United States Capitol Building when a mob of right-wing monsters tried to overthrow the duly elected government of the United States.

In the past, I’m sure someone would be calling me out on the above paragraph telling me not to get overwrought or that I’m exaggerating things. Fuck that shit. And fuck those assholes no matter how well meaning they might think they are, or were back then. They were wrong then just like they are wrong now.

I know I can’t pull someone’s head out of their ass for them, but I can sure as hell call them out on it. I used to think I didn’t have it in me to call someone out on their bullshit but I know I do now. Because I have taken the time not just in the last few years, but all my life really, to think things through as best as I can and try to do the right thing. And to be shit on for doing the right thing caused me some serious wounds but wounds do heal over and you can put up shields to keep people from hurting you again.

I recently saw a quote from the late rapper Tupac Shakur: “Just because you lost me as a friend doesn’t mean you gained me as an enemy. I’m bigger than that. I still want to see you eat, just not at my table.”

So in staying with Tupac’s statement here, I can say tolerance doesn’t mean letting someone sit at your table and give you and your guests shit simply because they’re different and not doing anything wrong by being different. If you want to sit at my table, you don’t talk shit to people to their face or behind their back, or with thinly-veiled well-meaning bullshit either.

I used to think I had to sit and take people’s shit simply because if I pushed back on it then I was the bad guy. That’s gaslighting because it’s like saying I’m the one doing something wrong when that’s not the case. It hurt like hell to be accused of being a hopeless idiot for believing in the good of this world and in good people instead of those who were hurting people left and right.

I can be a cynic with the best of them but practicing tolerance with silence gave shit-headed people an opportunity to try and use that against me. They tried to use that against me by amplifying cynicism instead of combating it. Being cynical is a human reaction to massive amounts of bullshit and pain but it’s not the way to live. It’s wrong to say all people are shit-heads and that everyone will eventually shit all over you, except of course the person telling you this who has shit on you yet tells you to be grateful in taking their shit.

Sorry for the excessive use of the word ‘shit’ here in all its’ forms but the word fits because that’s what lies and manipulation are. And as the great Maya Angelou once said, “When people show you what they’re truly like, believe them.”

People know what they’re truly like even if they don’t want to completely admit it and take responsibility for themselves. And only an individual person can change themselves, no one else can do it for them. Or as I like to say now, no one’s purpose in life is to pull someone’s head out of their ass for them.

Are we deadlocked here then? Never able to find a common ground? My answer to those questions is that the ball is not in your court, but in their court. I know where I want to go in life and what I want to do. I want to leave this world better than it was when I came into it. I want to lift people up from sadness and despair. I want to give people hope when they feel helpless and weak. And I want to be a defender. I want to stand in front of those who hurt others and say to them, “I’m not afraid of you anymore.” And yes, I am prepared to take their blows no matter how hard they hit, or how much of my own blood I might taste. But in reality most people who hurt or destroy are cowards, weak and scared. They’ve just taken that weakness and fear and turned it inside out-mean as my father used to say.

Tolerance doesn’t have to be silent. Tolerance means standing up for what’s right, and true, and to make the world a better place by standing up for others and defending and comforting those in need.

Stand or Fall – Preaching to the Choir

One question I’ve asked myself with this project is who is this book being written for? I’ve said to left-leaning folks like me it’ll probably be like preaching to the choir and to right-leaning folks it could create some serious cognitive dissonance. But now I’m beginning to think that cognitive dissonance could also happen to my left-leaning readers and that’s because I don’t think my left-leaning readers are going to like me telling them they fucked up and fell down on the job.

I think the biggest failure of us Lefties is our stupid default setting of giving up and quitting when things get really loud and shitty. I hate hearing people talk about not voting anymore, or not voting because of one thing, and I really hate people talking about packing up their shit and leaving some place like the idiots who talked about quitting when Elon ‘Dickhead’ Musk announced he wanted to buy Twitter (the deal is on shaky ground as of this blog post). I want to say if you do this, you’re a fucking idiot and I’ll put a verbal foot up your ass and boot you out of the room if you don’t want to be in the room where it happens (with acknowledgement to the great Lin-Manuel Miranda and the ‘Hamilton’ team).  

There’s an old saying, ‘If you can’t stand the heat, then get out of the kitchen.’ And that is so freaking true. And if you don’t want to be in the kitchen simply because things aren’t going your way or because you don’t get to run the show, then get the fuck out. Being a spoiled brat is being an absolute asshole no matter what side these brats lean to politically. Left-leaning ones will step out of the kitchen while right-leaning ones will stay in the kitchen mouthing off. Either way, both are wrong and both either need to get the fuck out of the way so others can do what needs to be done, or shut the fuck up, roll up their sleeves, and get to work.

It’s taken me a long time to really believe I can be in the room where it happens and that I have just as much right to be there as anyone else. Most of my life, I used to go silent whenever someone would get loud or get right up in my face. Now I know that’s just a tactic assholes use to intimidate someone into silence because that person is just trying to call them out on their bullshit. It’s why I’m working to teach myself not to back down or go silent in the face of someone getting up in my face.

No one is perfect and to insist on perfection in people is total bullshit. In 1992, I voted in my first Presidential election. I got swept up in the idealism and rock ‘n’ roll of that campaign and by the end of the decade I watched it crash and burn. I recovered some of that idealism in 2008 but watched it go down in flames in 2016. By 2020, I turned that idealism into pure dragon’s fire. Because as far as I’m concerned, we don’t have the luxury of idealism anymore. The clock’s running down fast and no one is sure if we’ve hit the point of negative return (that’s when a spacecraft launches and at a certain point they have to make orbit because cutting the engines and trying to return will get them barbequed in the atmosphere). I don’t think we’ve hit negative return yet but I think we’re close.

So to my left-leaning choir here I want to say this: don’t back down. If someone gets in your face tell them to back off and shut the fuck up. And yes, they won’t like that. They also won’t like it when you tell them not to change the subject because that’s a common tactic the average loud-mouth asshole likes to use when they know they don’t have jack-shit to stand on.

Lately, I’ve thought about just not engaging with loud-mouth assholes at all but instead, I’ll take the tactic of challenging them to listen to me like they force the world to listen to their bullshit. Most of these loud-mouth assholes don’t have the tits or balls to face someone directly or take a stand on their own (they’re real good at being good little cult members and parroting talking points handed to them). I read from a college professor online that when he asks a conservative student why they hold certain views they start off by saying, ‘well, in my family-.” And he stops them right there and goes, “No, what do YOU think?”

That’s what I want to do with my ‘Stand or Fall’ book: I want to make people think when reading it and after they’re done reading it. And honestly I don’t care what side of the political aisle my readers are on because if you can’t think for yourself and determine your own path, it doesn’t matter what side you’re on. Because I believe if you can think for yourself, then you can find the right path to go on.

I believe the appeal of authoritarianism is that it gives people the ability to let someone else do their thinking for them. It makes them feel like they’re a part of something though they don’t realize acceptance comes at a very steep price, and that price is a person’s mind, heart, and soul belonging to someone else. I’m an outsider and I always have been, and I always will be so I’ve never seen the appeal of right-wing authoritarianism because I know I wouldn’t be accepted by that side simply because I’m different and have a brain that never shuts down. I think I’d be like Captain Kirk in the movie ‘Star Trek V: The Final Frontier’ when he asked, “Why does God need a starship?”

So let’s start asking questions until we get all the answers we can.

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