Never Underestimate the Value of Cash–Election 2012

But, shucks, we got the best politicians in this country that money can buy.”

Will Rogers

It is election day and after a long fight both sides should be exhausted after working feverishly around the clock, mostly in swing states, trying to reach those undecided voters. Meanwhile, the same politicos with the toothy white grins and the perfect spins are haunting the TV and Internets with images of big glossy maps of the United States decked out in blue and red with a touch of gray.  Always coming to the same conclusion, we are a nation divided. This is of no surprise and how this can be news is beyond me.

We in Oregon are often overlooked. We are quiet and quaint. Most people are distracted by the bright lights of California or Seattle. Politicians usually ignore us. At most we are a photo-op stop as Obama showed in 2008, we are a blue state and I live in a very blue county inside this blue state.

Romney hasn’t a chance here and he should know it but his constant barrage of commercials suggest otherwise. I’m relived that this whole mess is finally almost over.

(See the opinion of a future voter in the following You Tube video that’s making the rounds.)

Tired of Bronco Bamma and Mitt Romney

I think I may speak for all Americans when I say that I am sick to death of all these commercials and ads from both sides. To me it’s a waste. It shows how absolutely money crazy we are. If we have any national religion it is the worship of that–Money.  It’s holier than thou and it’s burning a hole in your pocket right now…

In our mixed up national psyche we are convinced that the candidate who raises the most money is the automatic winner.  Nothing else matters and it’s not as if anyone is holding bake sales to raise this money–they are getting it from the rich who have their own agenda and ideas which may not jive with most of us.

And why do they need the money…what do they spend it on? A great deal on those damn ads and flyers…

My mail has been inundated for weeks with thick glossy and expensive flyers proclaiming this and that. I have been bombarded with countess TV commercials–all with smiling politicians proclaiming this and that–supporting this message and that message.  Each proclaiming the other guy is wrong, very wrong even scary wrong.

Since my city of Portland is right on the border with Washington State we get their commercials too–this can get confusing and annoying.

 

The whole system is like that. It’s not just the presidential candidates or the Democrats or Republicans, it’s all of them.  Honestly, I am happy the people in the flyer factory have jobs and the media people do too and really kudos to the postal service.  I know all this money must be stimulating someone somewhere….Right?

I can’t help but wonder in my simplistic way that perhaps all this money spent on this mania could be spent on something more worthy… 

For instance: feeding hungry children or repairing crumbling bridges. How about training programs for the unemployed? How about jobs…not just lip-service trickle down jobs that live solely in campaign speeches but real jobs…perhaps via public works programs? How about it?

How about money for schools? or for disaster relief? I can think of a million worthy causes…

If I saw a politician spending “hard-earned” PAC money to feed the hungry and damn the consequences, I would have respect for that person–I’d be downright impressed and I’d listen to what that person had to say–regardless of party. I think a lot of people would as well. I also think that people are more independently minded than others may give them credit for.

This kind of do-gooding could create a buzz that would bring in the media with free advertising; a win-win situation for almost everyone…except for the ones with the deep pockets…the donors..the movers and the shakers…the ones attached to all that cold hard cash.  I ran across a list of them, it is HERE

I’ve read that between the two major candidates six billion dollars will be spent on this election, a new record. I can’t help but wonder what good that kind of money could do.

I did a little research…and six billion dollars goes a long way…

In The United States:  All that money could buy 200,000 average-priced cars…22,059 average-priced houses or…with six billion dollars 69,940 students could attend college for four years.

6 billion could buy one month’s worth of food for over 9 million families of four.

2 billion children could buy a warm coat with that amount of money and 6 billion dollars could definitely buy the world a coke…I could go on and on but you get the picture.

HAPPY ELECTION DAY!

Strawberryindigo.

References:

2012  Presidential Campaign Finance Explorer (Washingtonpost.com)

Does big money spell big trouble in campaigns? ( CNN.com)

Cost of Average Home (www.census.gov)

What’s the price tag for a college education? (Collegedata.com)

Average cost of a 4 year University (USATODAY.com)

USDA cost of food Sept. 2012 ( USDA.gov)

Cost of food at home (USDA.gov)

The Writer’s Lament

Hey you writers out there, are you like me? Do you long for days of uninterrupted silence? Do you fantasize about having hours upon hours of free time devoted to your only real love: Writing?

I may be the only one who’s so obsessed…and I am obsessed. I can think of nothing better than to tap tap tap my life away if only I had the time and the silence.  Oh blessed silence…can I be the only one who craves this silence?

I don’t have to tell anyone how noisy our modern world is already and the distractions…there are so many distractions. I get started with my tapping and before you know it, life rears its inevitable head and drags me back to reality for in which there is limited room for anything remotely resembling tapping.

Here I am in a rare moment, I have all afternoon and I’m set to write about one of my favorite subjects; Being Different in -The Daily Post’s Weekly Writing Challenge and then a million things happen and there is no time.

I am a mom and I have all the responsibilities just like everyone else. I probably don’t have to tell you this; we are all busy with our lives.  Most of us don’t have much free time and there is always some minor crisis to keep me more than occupied.

I admit that at times I can be hard to live with.  I tend to be lost in thought about something or another and there tends to be a lot of something or another’s swimming around in my half-crazed brain.  l admit I get pent-up and rather testy when I can’t get the opportunity to write…and like a junkie who needs a fix, once I get what I crave, I’m happy again. I do admit it’s an affordable addiction and who knows, perhaps all this craziness will pay off in the end?

I’m sure most writers and artists in general are a little on the obsessive side.  I mean I could name names but why bother. We all know this is true…and really when I get to think about it….even you; if you are any kind of writer at all, I bet you are a bit crazy too just like the rest of us…and that you know that I wouldn’t have it any other way.

I guess I should be grateful. If I had it my way, I’d probably tap tap tap my way to oblivion…..I would be going a mile a minute..faster and faster and then suddenly I would just explode: KA-BOOM!

I could see the scene now…my spent carcass slumped over a burned-out laptop, dirty coffee cups and piles and piles of printed word surrounding me….What a mess…

Perhaps that will do…

MUCH HAPPINESS,

Strawberryindigo.

NOTE:

I have been off “adventuring”and have been limited on time, that is why I haven’t been posting much. I am not AWOL.  This is only temporary and I will be up and running at full speed in a couple of weeks.

I look forward to catching up with our visits after all this is over. I will be back full of wonderous tales about my “exotic” adventures.

Success

THE SKY’S THE LIMIT

Mention the word success and certain images come to mind. Images of good-looking people with high paying jobs in powerful positions with big houses, big bank accounts and big lives.

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We are taught by our Western culture that one’s whole self-worth is dependent on what we have, not on what we are. You are special and you are better than most others. One can tell this by the stuff you own, the things that you do and the places you go.

We are constantly bombarded with messages, especially by the media such as this from day one and it isn’t surprising when we develop impossibly high expectations that most of us cannot live up to. When this happens people lose confidence. They feel that they don’t measure up. Even people whom society deems as successful surprisingly also have this problem; this fear of not measuring up; of not being all that you can be.

This can cause depression. It can cause people to try to escape reality via denial and self-destructive behavior. Sometimes this dissatisfaction turns outward in anger toward the very society that sets the bar so very high.

The American dream is yours for the taking and all that. What happens if this dream doesn’t pan out or even becomes a nightmare; not all of us can win this rat race we have set up. This sort of set up requires losers and an awful lot of losers to support the winners.  No one wants to be on the bottom and will avoid even the appearance of THAT at all costs. We are taught that it means we are defective. We are worthless. Worth less than someone else.  We seek approval from each other and from ourselves on a constant basis. It’s human nature. Our society views those on the bottom of the economic ladder in a bad light.

Poverty is seen as some sort of disease that one catches by the act of laziness. It is such an anathema that people have this urge to keep assuring themselves, their peers and society that they themselves are not infected by this awful disease.  Many will go into debt to prove this point.  It takes a wad of cash to keep up with the Joneses. Little do we realise that in our quest to keep up with the Joneses, the Joneses are struggling to keep up with us.

We are a shopping culture and in all honesty if we all decided to stop buying if only for a day it would send our global economy into a tailspin.  It’s quite a sticky situation we have gotten ourselves into.  All this wanton greed and fervid consumerism. It’s taking its toll on the environment.  It has a mind of its own…it’s a monster of our own creation and it could spell our undoing.

We in the West are starting to see the errors of the past creep back up and bite us. We still continue on with our ways like there is no tomorrow and we criticize other countries, especially third world countries who are just trying to catch up to us…who doesn’t want a big middle class, who doesn’t want prosperity for all?  In the past other countries have looked to The United States as an example of what to strive for. It is we who have set the bar so damn high and it is we who complain when somebody can play our game better than us…and they are….and as time goes by more and more of us will be on the bottom.

There is only so much land, water, natural resources and there are more and more people everyday. This strikes me as dangerously unsustainable. Something’s got to give and it is starting to.

A Successful person

I think many of us may need to rethink some of these notions that have been sold to us…maybe reconsider just what being successful really means. Does a measure of a man or woman depend on the content of one’s pocketbook or the content of one’s character?

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I also believe we should reconsider our idea of happiness…Is happiness mean having stuff? Or is happiness a certain satisfaction with life and oneself. Knowing that life has its ups and downs and riding those with grace, compassion and hopefully a bit of humor. Happiness does not have to be exclusive.  True happiness is inclusive. It is something to be shared. Happiness is an attitude. We decide to be happy and having more stuff than everyone else around you doesn’t do it in the end.

In the end it is those intangibles as love, friendship and respect that really matter. It is fulfilling a dream. It is striving to be better, not better than anyone else but better than your previous self. It is the satisfaction of doing the right thing and the giving of yourself to others. That is success.

I am reminded of a quote:

“Having given all he has to others, he is richer still.”

Lao Tzu

Wishing you all the success in the world,

Strawberryindigo.

Angry

For the past week or so I have been blocked. An idea has run rampant in my writing mind but it is more than an idea. It’s a feeling, an emotion. It’s basic, it’s primal and it’s powerful.

Every time as of late when I sit down to write, it has been extremely difficult for me. 
 I start with a certain tone that feels right at the time; I’m tap, tap, tapping along and then…Wham, it all turns oh so negative and very angry.

I try to put a positive spin on what I write for the most part. Sure, my indigo bleeds through once in a while but it seems my moody indigo has turned a dark angry red.

I am not the angry type.  I don’t typically hang on to emotional “baggage” or hold grudges. I am a mild-mannered even-tempered peaceful person. Anger hurts. I am  sensitive, probably more than I should be but I do have a conscious and a strong streak of justice runs deep in me. This is how my inward leaning and quiet nature can sometimes flip on a dime on a perceived injustice and suddenly this little kitten can rage with the roar of a thousand lions.

Right now that roar is in an uproar. I don’t want to feel this way and it probably would be wiser to just keep silent on my feelings and thoughts on the subject of my ire. But there is something in me that won’t or can’t keep silent. I guess this is why I write.

I must speak, or write the truth as I see it and the truth is; I’m angry, damned angry.  I feel cheated and duped…and afraid.

Afraid of how my country is evolving or devolving, afraid of what the world is becoming. Afraid for the planet and the people and what’s to become of us all.  I ask myself what kind of world we are going to leave our children and future generations?

How will this all be explained? What could be possibly said? That greed controlled the world and money meant more than people. That our government was weak and the economy went south as we all sat back like good little citizens; distracted by the puppet show. Spending and getting into an endless cycle of debt to feed the banks, paying our taxes to fund wars and the killing of innocent people, falling for sound bites, clever ad schemes and catch phrases.

I fell for it all: the American Dream bullshit just as many others.  Being a child of immigrants I perhaps took this a bit more seriously, this American thing.  This once true story of people working hard, learning and growing, making a life for themselves and their children. Saving money, buying a house, sending their kids off to college;  the next generation having a better life than the one before it.

It seems this dream is dying, some would say it’s already half dead. It’s hard not to be discouraged sometimes, angry sometimes. I admit I’ve been lucky in life and have lived a bit isolated from reality, sheltered from true hardship. It’s easy to pontificate and elaborate and say I’m with you, you 99%!  And watch from the comfort of my nice mortgaged home and see all these people lose their homes and life savings.

I think it becomes easier to be angry when it hits close to your home.

It is easy to become bewildered and lost a bit. This I know.  I know a little more now and I understand how the 99% feels, especially the vocal minority of which I guess, I’ve just joined the ranks of.

My point in all this? I don’t really know. Maybe there’s an upside to all this I have yet to find. Maybe It’s an explanation of why this blog has become so dark as of late. Maybe it’s my way of saying this is temporary and it’s a phase that I must go through so please bear with me.

“Clouds come floating into my life, no longer to carry rain or usher storm, but to add color to my sunset sky.”

Still a bit angry but hopeful…thanks for listening.

Strawberryindigo.

The future of humans

I worry about our future.  I wonder if our machines will become more natural to us than our own humanness. I see it time and time again and more and more all the time.  People ignoring one another in public. Turning the other way. Looking right past a person, almost denying someone’s existence.

I see people on their phones. Talking away to some distant person, ignoring the one in front of them. Be it the checker who’s bagging your groceries, the person at the counter of the post office, your dinner companions.

I see these space cadets walking down the street, in the street, eyes cast down on their little box of insanity. Ignoring the real world of real people, real streets with real cars on them. Engrossed in some distraction on the screen, some vitally important game or text that cannot wait. People endlessly texting or tapping or something or another. Thumbs flipping away, eyes glazed over, mind placid and unchallenged.

star trek borg race Star Trek Exhibit at Queen...
star trek borg race Star Trek Exhibit at Queen Mary Spruce Goose Dome, Long Beach Ca, Feb 2008 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

We are an instant generation. Our ancestors were forced to have patience. Life generally works that way. But we humans have perverted the system. What used to take time and hard work, now takes an instant.  The minute itself stretches and contracts depending on the situation. We are a race that can spend hours upon hours, slack-jawed staring at a screen and still have a hard time waiting 60 seconds for a convenience store burrito.

A sprawling clearcut of old-growth forest stre...
A sprawling clearcut of old-growth forest. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

How much have we lost already?   We of the quick and convenient.  That human knowledge passed down from generation to generation. Homespun talents. Hardscrabble necessities.  How to grow your own food, how to darn a sock, make a quilt, pluck a chicken.

And knowledge of a more ancient wisdom: The healing power of plants, the power of belief and living at one with the earth instead of against it; as if it were some sort of adversary. The power to walk in the woods without making a sound or leaving a trace.The wild arts. How to make a fire, how to live off the land.

I know its easy for me to say; to judge. Do I have any of these practical talents? Not really. Beyond my urbanized knowledge of plants and animals through books and gardening in my backyard, I am pretty much useless in the real woods. If I were stranded alone in the true wilderness, the odds would be against me.

A young boy living on an East Cipinang garbage...
A young boy living on an East Cipinang garbage dump, Jakarta Indonesia. Picture taken by Jonathan McIntosh, 2004. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Our human civilization, our very existence is dependant on  “progress”. Always upward and onward. Always a new hill or people to conquer. A mountain to climb, a resource to be exploited. We have colonised, revolutionised and lost our sights and priorities, maybe even our collective minds as we rape and pillage and steal from the future generations, who will have no choice but to try to live in the mess we’ll leave behind.

We have lost our way. We are losing our humanity. We are losing our collective soul, we are losing ourselves.  And it is ourselves who we need to conquer not nature.

This reckless attitude we humans have taken toward nature. This need to be dominant over nature, this very human need to conquer no longer serves us as it once had. Nature is fighting back.  All the lies and ad campaigns can no longer hide this from us.  We are “progressing” ourselves right down the road to extinction. Is this our future? Many believe it is.

The Earth seen from Apollo 17.
The Earth seen from Apollo 17. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It seems the one’s in charge on this planet are in race to use up what is left and get it all before everyone else can.  Our beautiful Planet Earth has become a commodity, for sale to the highest bidder.  But our planet, our mother, belongs to us all.

We are being sold out and generations upon generations will hate us for it. They will ask why.  Why did we just sit back and let this all happen? What will our answer be?

  Strawberryindigo.

“America was once a paradise of timberland and stream but it is dying because of the greed and money lust of a thousand little kings who slashed the timber all to hell and would not be controlled and changed the climate and stole the rainfall from posterity.”       **Don Marquis (1935)**

Busyness

Tanakawho - Busy busy...(by)
Image via Wikipedia

 What’s the rush?

It seems most people are in a hurry these days, always on the run. A blur of activity. Many practically live out of their cars.  Ferrying themselves and their children from here to there, from work to home, to school, to activities. What’s for dinner is decided in the drive thru of a fast food joint and eaten in the backseat by sleepy children after a much too long day filled to the brim with busy.

Sleeping with no deadlines...There is literally no time. No time for this or that.  No time to talk..”gotta’ go”.  No time to eat, let alone cook a healthy meal. No time to say hello, or good-bye. No time for family or friends, no time to read a book or take a walk.  No time for improvement or creativity. Or fun?  No time for love. No time to stop and smell the roses or appreciate a beautiful sunset.

No time to think, or reason or ask why. No time to see the man behind the curtain.

Time ticks by and every moment; every second is a miracle. It is a gift and most of us, myself included, just plow right through it.  Always in a hurry.   Always a full agenda.  It can’t be helped, you know..I’ve said this to myself.  People have responsibilities.  I’m swimming in them and my life is full.   Sound familiar?

Busyness

How many times have you asked someone how they’ve been doing and your query was answered with “busy”  How many times have you said that?  I know I’ve said that.

It is the correct answer, most of us are busy. With jobs and families and everything else in this ever-changing ever evolving world.  Our society becomes faster paced and more complex.  The bar is set higher and higher and you better run faster and jump higher than the next guy because it’s a jungle out there.

BusynessEven when we are not busy, most of us say we are. Idleness is looked down upon. Busyness is related with importance.  An important man is a busy one and his time is more valuable than yours, so you wait.  The poor and insignificant spend a lot of time waiting.

Busy people are needed and wanted.  Busy people are in high demand. It is those that are the movers and the shakers in this world. It is the busy ones that get things done. The busier you are the more important you are and the more valuable your time is.

In Praise of Slowness

There is much to be said for slowness in our fast-paced society.  The fact that  the very concept of “slow” is seen in a negative light shows our need for the benefits that slowness brings.  It’s difficult to see clearly when your life in always in motion. Growth can only come with examination and reflection.

Life is not a road race or a competition. It’s the journey not the destination. Life is meant to be savored. The people in our lives are important, our children are important. You can do more for your child’s development and future success by talking and spending time with them rather than dragging them to a million activities and “enrichment” classes. Time spent together is essential.   Years from now when we are old and running out of it time will any of us look back with rue and regret about how we didn’t spend enough of it at Busyness?

 

Strawberryindigo.

Money is a harsh mistress.

Lincoln memorial cent, with the S mintmark of ...
Image via Wikipedia

MONEY.  Songs are written about it.  Lives and reputations lost because of it.  Some say the love of money is the root of all evil, but is it?

 Can anyone truly love money and is that truly evil? It’s dirty, that I know. My mom wouldn’t let me put it in my mouth as a child..”It’s dirty”, she said.  Damn right, it’s dirty and it gets around. Your average quarter, or nickel or dime probably travels through quite a few pockets and grubby unwashed hands before ending up neglected sitting alone in a change jar on someone’s dresser top or in your average toddlers mouth. How can you love that? Or those colorful but mostly green pieces of paper that spew out of the ATM? Those things with the pictures of dead presidents and the like with the phrase

 In God We Trust 

I can tell you one thing for sure; no matter how I personally feel about it, money certainly does not love me…

..And can anyone truly love it? And if so, is that evil?

Money
Money (Photo credit: 401K)

Definitely money can buy things. Stuff. Mostly crap we pretend we need because we just want to buy something new…shiny.. and expensive, but  it’s difficult to have regal tastes on a paupers budget and these days more and more people are finding themselves with a cash flow problem…meaning it doesn’t…flow.

Our heads get crammed full of things they say we need.  China makes it. The media sells it.  The banks provide credit, or at least they once did. And people suck it up like crazy.  Very few invest or save.  It’s nearly impossible not to be in debt these days.

 The youth are our future

It falls heavy on the children of those with fewer resources. Too often the only way to higher education is for these young people just starting out in life, to take out  student loans on the promise and the hope, really, that a future career with a good salary will be worth the large amount of debt they will accrue.  I don’t have to tell anyone how well  many new grads are fairing. Jobs are scarce these days.  It’s  no wonder why so many younger adults are so angry and so full of extra time to express their frustrations.

Money is a great cause of worry to many, myself included.   Money buys security and so it stands to reason that a lack of money buys insecurity  Money affords safety.  A roof over one’s head, electricity and a full refrigerator.  A current income increases your likelihood of not being thrown out into the street and forced to live under the bridge.  Money means comfort and ease and nice things.  Money means your child will be able to go to a good school and you will have a nice car.  Enough money means anything you want.  Want to travel the world? Wear designer clothes and have all the bright new shiny things and big kid toys you can find?  Want to be looked up to?  Admired? Listened to? After all, money does buy influence and power. Sufficient funds can put your name on a sports stadium or hospital wing. How about public office?  Money certainly buys that.

Money can buy anything. It can buy friends or at least the semblance of them.  It can buy what some may proclaim as love or some sort of affection.   It can buy hangers-on and toadies and users.

English: Imitation paper money (issued by &quo...
Image via Wikipedia

The 99%

Money can buy power and privilege. Money can insulate if one allows it  and money does buy exclusiveness. The chosen few ride first class while most of us ride in coach with the rest of the 99%.  Money makes the world go round but it can also make one lose touch with what is important. Sometimes people see money as an indicator of the worth of a person; the measure of a man so to speak. It’s a widely held misconception among the rich that poor people somehow deserve their plight and that poverty is the result of bad breeding and idleness.

 Oscar Wilde once said: “There is only one class in the community that thinks more about money than the rich, and that is the poor. The poor can think of nothing else.”  How true.  If the credit hounds are at your back door or the balance of your bank account doesn’t remind you, the hard edge of the sidewalk will.

People are emotional about money.  This I have seen many times in my work in the financial industry. People make rash and important money decisions based solely on emotion.  That is never good. Numbers are not emotional. Interest is not emotional. Life is not fair and you better read the fine print.

Money is a harsh mistress…

Money can change people and our perceptions of them.   People fight over it, they lie, cheat and steal.   It can ruin friendships, relationships, marriages too.  I guess one could say that some sell their very souls for money. But does it buy happiness?

Can it buy love, real love?  Or real friends? Or real anything?  Can money really buy anything but things? Can money buy appreciation? Or humbleness? Or the depth of intelligence? Can money buy good taste or good sense? Or creativity, innovation or ideas?

Can riches buy respect?  Can the possession of things make one person better than another? More worthy?

Or does a measure of a man, or a woman lie not in monetary worth but in human worth?  In decency and respect for life.  In love for one’s fellow human. That’s the love affair that should be going on and the one we should be talking about.  For it’s not the money; it’s the person behind the money.  It’s the heart and the soul of that person.

  In the right hands money is a powerful tool that can be used for the benefit of us all.

Being wealthy doesn’t automatically make one evil or an uncaring, unsympathetic selfish jerk and wallowing in poverty doesn’t make anyone a saint either. It’s easy to judge and it’s easy to expect those who can most afford to pay for those who can’t.   It is also easy to see why the rich might not see it that way. Nothing is all black and white.

So what am I trying to say with all this? I suppose it would be that perhaps we should be aware about what we teach our youth about money, about the value of money and the value of a human life and which holds the most worth. No one is born with a love for money and we as a people, I hope, can progress to a point where we can get over this bad love affair with money. There is a good reason why it goes by the alias.

Cold hard cash.


We are all connected

We humans of the planet Earth are all in this together. What affects one of us affects us all. How we treat each other and what we value shows what kind of people we are.  It’s a small world and it gets smaller everyday.  We are all connected,  rich and poor alike. And all of us will have to do our part if we are to ensure a better world for all.

The Earth seen from Apollo 17.

Strawberryindigo.

Related articles

Occupy What Next?

Occupy Portland in Pioneer Square
Image by S.MiRK via Flickr

Recently I paid a visit to my local “Occupy” encampment.  I first wrote about the Occupy Movement in a previous post and   I wondered about the outcome of all this “occupying”. Now after some time has passed and the movement has gone on into full swing, I decided to go see what all the fuss was about.  Well, I should say that MM talked me into it.  He asked what kind of writer I was. To miss out on such an event?  He shamed and goaded me, then offered me a trip to Starbucks. THAT did it…. and before I knew it, we’re on our way.

Much has happened since this whole thing started here and all over the country, even the world.  

Occupy My Town

 Our local occupation consists of two city park blocks across the street from the courthouse.  There are an estimated 500+ people there.  There are two bathrooms.

By the time we got down to the occupation it was high noon, the sun beamed brightly giving the scene a sense of hopefulness.  It was like I was entering a moment in time that would forever be etched in my memory. I felt a great excitement to witness this exercise in freedom; This power of the people.  I felt alive and electric. 

Occupy Portland Image 32 jcj

 A row of shiny police motorcycles caught my attention and then it was the tents, so many of them in a big multi-color conglomerate.  Hand lettered signs everywhere, running the gambit of the highs and lows of cardboard communication. From telling me to vote “nobody” for president and take my money out of the “evil” bank,  to “We are the 99%” and Death to tyrants”.  Someone had even put up a picture of Teddy Kennedy next to one of Che Guevara

Occupy
Image by K. Kendall via Flickr

A man in a rainbow shirt welcomes us to the occupation. We smile hello and are greeted by a woman sitting on the ground, her wares spread out on a blanket beside her, selling beaded bracelets and bran muffins. Her sign proclaims her to be a student and not homeless.  I’m glad that she can clear this up. Later I see the relevance in the sign as we go deeper in.

It all reminds me of a bad Mad Max remake, but with a  dreadlocked D.J. providing  a glitter rock soundtrack. We skirt around the art tent and the first aid booth, with its free condom jar smiling proudly.  There is a lending library and a green  Medical marijuana tent next to a small one labeled “chill”.  A sign proclaims fortune-tellling and a local radio station has a booth, broadcasting live.  

Near the community “garden” there stands, most impressively, a food line, serving what one man exclaimed to be “good shit” around a statue of pioneers, now riddled with police tape and spices.  Someone has put up a sign  asking for dish-washing volunteers and they seem to have a handle on recycling and waste management.

In a way, I am impressed, there is some organization here.  It is good work to serve and feed the needy. But isn’t this supposed to be a protest?   Nobody really seems to be protesting anything, or advocating anything either, just occupying. 

Tent City
Image by kuow949 via Flickr

We reach the other side of the occupation in the adjacent park.This one is a bit more crowded and a lot raunchier.  A blue haired woman kisses a blond rat on her shoulder, while the “cute” tweaker couple in front of us fight over a cigarette.  A heavy-set  woman in a red dress puts a scarf over her head and screams “Starbucks!”  I smile and drift away, thinking of chai lattes.  M.M brings me back to reality when he points out the group of about 20 bikers laughing and partying in the midst of it all.

We obviously don’t belong here and it shows.  We look like total tourists. Most of the occupiers don’t seem to notice us and go about the business of “occupying” which apparently consists of sitting around smoking cigarettes, drinking and yelling out  random drunken nothings.  

 It finally dawns on me that the park is mostly filled with people who have no where else to go.  I saw the local media coverage of this phenomena, most of the people featured in the coverage of the marches and protests seemed to be from all walks of life. I guess those people went home because 99% of these people left here squatting in a public park in the middle of our downtown are obviously street people and the mentally ill. Some look  downright scary.  

I had heard of problems here.  A major uptake in crimes. Theft, damage, assaults, and rape.  Even with the police presence across the street, a certain lawlessness prevails. Seeing all this makes an impression on me.   

In a city that prides itself in weirdness, this wins hands down as one of the weirdest moments of all. But to what end?  Who will occupy what next?

Dare 2 Dream too homeless camp

I think about protests in the past and how this one is different.  It has become bigger than itself and  it’s taking us to a place of no return.  

 Occupy Reality

 The sentiment behind it all, the one that started it, is valid but it has grown into  a monster that lives on the backs of  well-meaning activists and YOU; the citizen and taxpayer.  This monster serves not equality and change, but chaos. These occupiers are setting a precedent that does not bode well for actual social and economic progress in the future.  I believe in the cause but I believe it does not justify the means.

To the occupiers I ask: To what end?

I hope more people don’t get hurt. 

      Stay Safe.             Strawberryindigo.

Sick

None - This image is in the public domain and ...
Image via Wikipedia

S I C K... A RANT By Strawberryindigo…

This is usually the magical time of the year when one or both of my kids bring home from school something they did not take there; this comes as the form of a virus that if not carefully contained infects the entire household.

It all starts with a cough, just one, then another and another. The coughs get deeper and deeper.  I know, MM knows, we look at each other..”Oh no, not again.”  We know the drill, It happens every year, flu shot or not.

We are lucky enough to work at home so it is no problem keeping our kids in when they are sick.    This year it was my daughter who first fell victim.  I kept her home for 4 days.  She rested, took in lots of fluids and basically sat around waiting to get better.

On the morning of her last sick day I received a phone call from the school. To my surprise it was the school psychologist. She inquired about my daughter’s state of health.  I told her that my she had been ill but that she was “getting better and that she would be returning the next school day”.  The psychologist then, in a breezy offhand manner told me that “something was going around”… and then she became way too serious when she said that my daughter had stayed out longer than anyone else.

I was a bit surprised.  4 days?  This warrants a call from the school psychologist?

I said what she wanted to hear and  somehow I felt that I had barely passed some test of hers.  We said our goodbyes and the next day I sent my still coughing daughter to school.

The words of the psychologist echoed in my mind and the more I thought about it the angrier I became.  I thought back to the beginning of the year to a speech given by the Principal during Back to School Night.  She was bragging up the school’s achievements from last year and justifiably so. My daughter’s school is fantastic, it is one of the best  in the city and we are lucky to be able to have our daughter attend it.

It was something she said specifically about the school’s attendance record…”which was and still is…award-winning”?

Did I hear correctly?  The schools compete with attendance records, the ones with the fewest absences “win”.  What do they win?  The winning school and apparently the winning principal get bragging rights, which I say are well deserved… but in hindsight I can’t help but wonder if the school is a bit over-zealous in their commitment to achieve perfect attendance.

I thought of my daughter and all the make up work she must do just to catch up.  I think of all the valuable school days missed.  School is important and the quality of her education suffers when she must miss school because of illness.  However, I think my daughter’s health and the health of all the people in the school are more important than an attendance record.  It seems that this prevalent attitude among the schools fosters a climate that encourages families to send their sick children to school where they infect others…and the cycle continues.

It is amazing how one small seemingly insignificant action or non-action can affect so many.  One properly sick child can infect a roomful of people and through that action can affect so many more.  We are all connected, even in sickness.

I realise that many people have to work and have no choice but to send their sick kids to school as well as coming to work with obvious illness themselves.   Maybe an attitude adjustment would be appropriate for bosses and the bosses of bosses as well. Maybe an attitude adjustment for everyone, public school systems too.

We all know firsthand that sick people are not at their best and do not perform well, at school or on the job.  Sick people make more sick people.  This seems to have a snowball effect; making more people perform at sub par. It also turns people off.  When the teller at the bank sneezes on my money or the grocery clerk coughs all over my celery, I’m turned off.

What I’m trying to say, in a long-winded round-about way, trying not to offend anyone but I need to say, really plead….You. (you know who you are) If you are sick and you are able to, please stay home. If your child is sick, try to keep him or her at home, If you can’t do that please wash your hands and do what you can not to infect everyone.

And in a personal note to one school psychologist; keeping my daughter home when she is ill is a consideration to you as well as everyone else.

And so to everyone: Have a great and healthy day!  Strawberryindigo.

Indigo Rant: Critics

Great barracuda with prey.
Image via Wikipedia

You’re so vain …..

I bet you think this post is about you..Perhaps it is..If you see yourself in the forthcoming words, don’t be alarmed, just listen…

Ronald Reagan once said “I don’t pay much attention to critics.

The world is divided into two kinds of people:

Those who can and those who criticize.”

No truer words were ever spoken by anyone.  The fact that it comes from someone I disagreed with politically and morally do not take away from the wisdom of those words.

It seems that where there is art and where there are artists and creative types there are a few critics hanging around.  I guess that makes sense, for how could a critic be a critic without something or someone to criticize. Usually critics have trouble with the creation process themselves, they tend to resent those for whom creativity comes naturally.

These people are usually bright and scholarly. Some have impressive degrees and credentials but one can’t just acquire creativity so easily and so shallowly.  Creativity cannot be taught by convention and laws and whatever someone said before.  Creativity is from the heart.  From the soul itself and everything that is the essence of a person; all the beauty and the ugliness. 

It could be some cannot bare to give a long hard look at themselves.  Maybe it’s ego? It would be easy to think these critical types would have enormous egos but it may be quite the opposite.  I think that criticism….I’m talking about unconstructive criticism, not anyone trying to be helpful but someone who is trying to be hurtful.  A petty spiteful kind of criticism, I think that kind of criticism shows in a profound manner, the character of the one who’s criticizing.

I feel I must say something to these people, these critics, why leave it all to Ronnie Baby.  So here it goes…

I have a little advice for Mr. and/or Ms. Critical.  Free your Mind.  Acknowledge the fact that you do not know everything about everything. I don’t know if you are bored or angry or lonely or whatever, I do know that your kind destroys what it does not understand in its quest for its posession. 

For my friend,  You do not possess creativity or the appreciation of it.  It possesses you. Learn it, know it, feel it.  Perhaps you may join the world of those who contribute, we would love to have you

Wishing you well…

Strawberryindigo.

Hey You! An Indigo Rant

Crosswalk sign

Hey you…Yes you..Can you hear me?  I guess you don’t but I’m going to tell you anyway.  Maybe someone smarter than you may listen and learn something….

We almost hit you today, my friend and I.  We almost plowed right into you with his dark green Honda.  You could have been seriously hurt or worse.  You have no idea how close you came to getting your nice young red blood spilled all over the street.

If it wasn’t for my friend’s lightning quick reflexes and some kick ass breaks you would have been toast today.

I can imagine how your parents would have felt.  You getting hit on your way to school, at the start of a new school year.  Maybe they saw you off this morning, maybe they watched you with pride as you walked off to school.  You are quite tall for your age, which I suspect is about 16.  You with your dark hair and black clothes must have cut quite the figure as you walked off, navy blue backpack, jammed full of books on your back.

Being a parent of a 16-year-old myself, I understand how it’s hard to let go and trust that your kid is going to do the right thing.  You teach what you can and hope for the best.  I’m sure your parents taught you how to cross the street.  I bet they told you to use a cross walk, look both ways and don’t just walk out into moving traffic.  But yet this is just what you did.

You walked into oncoming traffic, without a care in the world…You never even looked up, or you would have seen us.   You, stooped over with your hood covering the tell-tale white cord and ear buds of your IPOD.. you never even heard us, honking at you…you never heard the screech  that the tires made as we stopped just in the nick of time.  We came so close..you came so close, and you never noticed. 

I wanted to stop and get out of the car and chase you down to give you a stern talking to.  I wanted you to know how serious it all is, this life business.  I’ve lived long enough to realise that life is fragile and fate can turn on a dime.  One second of stupidity can make you pay big time for a lifetime.

I know you probably made it to school, the very same school my son goes to, you might even know him.  And you probably made it safely home after school today as my son did. All the while never knowing how close you came to your life changing forever, and not just your life, but your parents lives, who most likely bought you that IPOD and would never forgive themselves for it, or the lives of your friends and family members who would miss you, not to mention, my friend who would have hit you, he never would have been the same either….

And so to anyone who is listening tonight…hug your kid a little tighter tonight, I will.

Stay safe,  Strawberryindigo.

Nightly News: An Indigo Rant

"The Blue Marble" is a famous photog...
Image via Wikipedia

A Runaway Train On Meth or how I didn’t stop worrying and love insanity…

It takes an extreme amount of energy to try to keep hopeful on this insane wreck of a planet.  I am a reformed news addict; I simply cannot take it anymore!  The nightly news is so sensationalist and bizarre and oh so depressing. 

I do not need this, I can look outside my window and find bizarre and depressing.  I feel the urge sometimes, to head for hills, or somewhere.  It reminds me of a car wreck, a horrific, bloody mess of a car wreck, a truly sickening sight, I have to look away but then I’m compelled to take a little peek…and I’m frightened at what I see…

We are a great society in decline, a massive and swift decline.  We are in such decline that we are likely to screw it up for all life on this planet, not just ourselves.  We as a species are so egocentric, we believe that the Earth and all its treasures are for us to control and manipulate to our own greedy selfish ends.

We condemn  others who do not share this philosophy of dominance and instead promote unity and coexistence.  Society writes them off as best as well-meaning ignorants or at worst, militant nuts.

I am guilty as the next person, I will admit.  I consume  like a good citizen. I stay out of trouble, I recycle and pay my mortgage on time.  I pay my taxes and I never see the man behind the curtain, I have a good idea that he’s there, pulling all the strings.  I know enough to just pay up and keep my mouth shut….

Or do I?  Maybe I’ve decided not to keep my mouth shut or my eyes.  It’s like a bad dream and  human society is a runaway train on meth and no one is at the controls.  In fact, the crazy passengers on the train of fools are busily arguing as to whether they need an engineer at all.  We are about to jump he tracks. everybody sees it, they all talk about it but do nothing.  It’s like they cannot stop the insanity long enough to see this and I am the only one who does and I’m no damned train engineer,  I want to scream…..”Stop this selfish bickering before it’s too late and we fall into an abyss never to return”…and  no one can hear me but I still shout…….

GOOD night,  Strawberryindigo.