H2O ManH2O Man's Journal
"In those days, I identified with the ideas of Malcolm X, his philosophy of 'by any means necessary,' rather than what I misinterpreted as the passivity of Dr. Martin Luther King" Rubin "Hurricane" Carter; Eye of the Hurricane; Lawrence Hill Books; 2011; page 62.
In the past couple of days, two of my best friends -- people who I've been close to for many years -- have contacted me, asking for some encouragement in these difficult days. I wish that I had some meaningful insight, and I do anticipate that in the future, things will improve. But I suspect that in the near future, say the summer of 2020, a number of significant social dynamics will get worse.
Until Trump is defeated in November, and removed from office in January, there will be more destruction to the foundation of our society. Intelligent people question if when defeated, Trump will cooperate with the peaceful transition of power that as defined the previous changes in administrations. I think that's a valid question. But before our nation reaches that point, we have to deal with what will be the long, hot summer of 2020.
Older forum members know the implications of the phase "long, hot summer." Malcolm used to speak about when conditions created a powder keg. He noted that you could toss burning matches at that keg, and nothing would happen. But if a spark hit a little fuse, there would be a big explosion. He knew that sparks fly during long, hot summers.
The brutal murder of George Floyd is highly disturbing to all good people. To me as an individual, it makes me physically sick to see even a still shot of that thug's knee on that man's neck. Yet that physical reaction is mild compared to the psychological pain of that single picture. It brings back memories that haunt me, of family and friends who have suffered similar attacks by vicious thugs. I feel every thing.
I experience mixed emotions while watching the protests in the streets of our nation's cities. I am encouraged to see young people on the front lines, demanding social justice. My mind wanders back in time, to when I was young and on those front lines. I think about one afternoon, when a small group of friends gathered at Onondaga Chief Oren Lyon's cabin. Two close friends, Lisa and Jim, along with myself and my two small sons, drove Chief Paul Waterman to this meeting.
It was a crazy time, really, but inside Oren's home, it was peaceful. Paul gave an outline about the specifics of the struggle we were involved in, and what Lis, Jim, and I were doing. I remember Oren smiling, and saying he was reminded of back when Paul and him were on the front lines when they were our age. Now, he said, they were Elders, and played a different role, one that coordinated with young adults to produce the best possible outcomes. For they had confronted te same issues, in different contexts, and could thus provide a voice of experience for us, as well as speaking to the larger society.
Both Martin and Malcolm were young men on the front lines. History records Martin being involved in protests in the streets more often than Malcolm, but there is a chapter in Malcolm's career that is important, one that I think too few young people know about. In 1957, the NYC police violently attacked three NOI members, causing Hinton Johnson severe head injuries. The police were holding Johnson at a station, denying him the emergency medical treatment required to save his life.
Soon, black citizens were gathering outside that police station, including a large number of NOI members. At first, the police denied Malcolm's attempts to get Johnson medical attention. But when the chief saw more than 500 people, in single file, surrounding the station, the dynamics changed. The police could not get the crowd to disperse. But after agreeing to get the victim of police brutality the medical attention, Malcolm shocked the police by giving a simple wave that got the crowd to leave in an orderly manner. A cop who was watching told a reporter, "No man should have that much power." As Malcolm later noted, he meant no black man.
Both Malcolm and Martin began to see the problem as being one of "human right," rather than simply "civil rights." I think that answers any question about why white people are protesting with black and brown people in America's streets today. I find myself thinking about the many marches and protests that I participated in as a young man. I am honest enough with myself to recognize that while I generally used good judgement, that wasn't always the case after the sun went down if I had been consuming alcohol.
My older daughter called me Thursday morning. She had just been hired to work for the head of the city council in one of America's largest cities. She'll be doing community outreach to marginalized populations. We talk about that, and then about other current events. When we get off the phone, I find myself thinking about being older than Oren and Paul were that afternoon they met with three young adults in Oren's cabin.
My adult sons remember that meeting primarily for all the treats Oren had for them while the adults were busy. Now it's their turn to be the young adults. (Note: any person 50 or under is "young" in my opinion.) Both are horrified by the brutal murder of George Floyd. It is a constant topic of conversation. During the week, I get more time to speak with my younger son, who has a passion for understanding systems -- including how dysfunction impacts them. At this point in time, he is better at organizing the various factors involved, and I enjoy listening to him present his ideas for orderly, systematic change. He understands that consequences are never coincidence.
I listen to him as I work on expanding my garden. Actually, he does any and all of the heavy work. Last year, he built a large labyrinth, with raised beds, that tells a story of history as one approaches the center. Being both Irish and Taurus, his stone work has perfect balance, down to the smallest detail. And even in the huge boulders -- the ones my friends my age shake their heads at, and ask how one person could have moved them such a distance.
I have purposely made the expanded beds outside of the labyrinth off-balance. Since he notices detail, I explained this is because the outside world always seems somewhat out of balance, and that one must go inside in order to be able to maintain balance. When the outside world is spinning faster and faster, seemingly out of control, Find your center. And that's not just a physical place -- a labyrinth, a sweat lodge, or where ever -- it is inside yourself.
Find that balance inside, recognizing what role you are currently in, and then and only then can we see what it is that we can and must do at this strange and dangerous time.
I usually do not write about personal issues here. Well, that's not really true. Plus, divorce is a big deal. I had opted for a separation from incoming film of Trump in April, opting to allow Stephen Colbert to represent my interests on television. I read some articles on the internet. But Trump is so toxic that I found not watching him was the healthy option.
Keep in mind that Trump wants every human being on Earth to watch and think about him each and every day. While I remain aware that he exists, I have better things to do with my time. And that obviously includes working for Democratic Party victories in November. I do not need to listen to any member of the Trump cult to focus on that.
While in my separation from listening to Trump phase, I took daily phone calls from family, friends, and/or associates, asking if I heard what he said or tweeted on that particular day? I noted that good people were becoming saturated in the anger and hostility that Trump was injecting into society. I found myself recalling a documentary I watched about an old man who only watched Fox News, morphing him from a decent gentleman into a raging turd. I strongly recommended these callers file for a separation from Trump, and place a restraining order on their televisions and computers.
As spring sprung, I began working in my garden, thinking more home-grown food might come in handy if Trump engineers a more total collapse of our country. Because I'm old and not nearly as strong as I was at age 26, I depend upon my young and enormously powerful sons to do the heavy lifting. I do the more technical tasks, including weeding, planting seeds, and changing the Beatles CDs as needed.
One son noted that weeds continue to sprout up in the garden beds. "The Earth is alive," I told him. That is a Good Thing that we should all be consciously aware of. Do not listen if Trump recommends injecting Round Up into the soil, for he is soon to be on the compost pile of the past.
The ultimate factor that led to the divorce was when my cousin called me, and was laughing so hard that it took several minutes before I understood what he was attempting to communicate. Trump told reporters that he was taking hydroxychloroquine as a preventive measure. Yikes! Perhaps the aging lard-ball is heading for an early round up in hell, if such a place exists anywhere outside of the current White House. The very idea has reportedly resulted in millions of agnostics and athiests praying for such an outcome.
However, it is important to recognize that there are other potential side effects. Taking this for no valid reason can cause some unattractive, long-term consequences. These include paranoid and delusional thinking, as if Trump's mushroom-shaped brain needs an increase in those areas. Quite literally, it can convince a person that someone else can hear their thoughts. Perhaps this explains why Trump, beyond campaigning, is refusing to participate in the hanging of President Obama's portrait in the White House. That painting might be spying on his every thought.
We have a president who, now taking hydroxychloroquine, increasing his moral hydrophobia and ethical hydrochlamydria, will become increasingly dangerous as he seeks to spread his disease. The next five months hold the potential for tragic events across the land. I refuse to allow Trump et al room in my mind. Instead, I prefer to be one of the weeds that choke the life out of any insanity Trump plants in the White House.
Be strong! Be safe!
Two of the three friends who called me yesterday spoke about the frustrations they had experienced earlier in the day, in conversations with otherwise good people who support Donald Trump. I attempted to explain why I generally do not share that level of frustration, although I certainly do understand it and appreciate the difficulties in communicating with members of the Trump cult. I suspect that when I spoke about some National Geographic specials on ABC in the mid-1960s, they wondered what the heck I was babbling about.
Now, this may sound like the long arm of coincidence, wrenching itself out of socket, but if you stick with me, it may not be that much of a stretch. In the 1960s, there were documentaries on Louis and Mary Leakey's discoveries at Olduvai Gorge in Africa. They found what were then recognized as the oldest stone tools produced by our early ancestors, dating back 1.85 to 1.77 million years ago. One of my late friends worked with them at the site, and I now ave his 50-piece collection of artifacts. I also have artifacts from Neanderthals in France, and the El-Adam culture in what is now part of the African desert. They are kept in my home-museum with the Native American artifacts that I have found spanning 10,000 years of local history.
(My interest in local Indian history was sparked in the first grade, when principal Howard Dunbar spoke to our class about Mohawk leader Joseph Brant's camp in Sidney during the Revolutionary War. Brant's warriors stole the clothing local settlers had on their clotheslines, and Mr. Dunbar told us of about some of the warriors donning women's bloomers. I now have over 100 artifacts from Brant's camp in my collection. But I'm rambling.)
What I find most fascinating about all of this is the evolution of the human brain. Certainly, the growth in our brain size and structure has made resulted in the evolution of our consciousness. And this has resulted in our social evolution. Yet, at the same time, those older portions of our brain, from the bulb we call the brain's stem up to the prefrontal cortex, still operates 24/7, primarily at unconscious a subconscious levels. And I think that is important for us to keep in mind.
We are all familiar with the concept of the fight or flight response that humans share with many other animals on earth. It surely helped us survive as a species, going back to our most ancient ancestors. However, I think it's possible to say that its value can be distinct when we think of the context of scavengers at Olduvai Gorge and scavengers carrying weapons of warfare while protesting for their rights at a state capital.
Fight or flight originates in the sympathetic nervous system, a component of the autonomic nervous system which involves our spinal cord. When stimulated, it activates the release of chemicals in our brains that allow for the individual to increase the odds for survival. And those chemicals in our brains play an important role in our emotions, including anxiety and anger.
Clearly, emotions are also tied to the operations of other parts of our brain, from the middle regions to those prefrontal lobes. That is the region where things such as memory and attention necessary for our species to anticipate and thus plan for the future are found. This was among the primary reasons that modern humans survived, while our close relatives the Neanderthal and Denisovan did not. (However, modern humans from Europe usually have a small trace of Neanderthal in their DNA, and Asians end to have traces of Denisovan in their DNA.Fascinating!) More, scientists are making advances in locating parts of the prefrontal lobes that do not operate particularly well in the psychopaths and sociopaths among us.
Hence, I think it is likely that the difficulties that normal people find in communicating with Trump supporters is rooted in how and where incoming information is processed in the brain. In my mind, it explains why, for example, that many of my friends who hunt and fish recognize that changes in the land, water, and air quality have brought about changes in the nature of their hunting and fishing experiences, yet at the same time are convinced that climate change is a hoax. I do not believe that they are stupid or bad I know that they are not.
Now, upon the slender chance that anyone is so bored by social isolation that they have read this far, I am curious if this makes sense?
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