In Flanders Fields

100 years ago today my great-grandfather Joseph Ford was on the Western Front when Armistice was declared in World War I. At the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month of 1918, fighting was finally suspended in man’s most inhumane act toward man.

Joseph Ford’s service, and that of all Allied soldiers, was solemnly honoured at ceremonies across France this weekend, which were timed to coincide with the Centenary of Armistice. The somber memorials to the declaration of truce in the most savage act of butchery in history (at that point) were attended by the most powerful, influential leaders of the world – which is to say that Donald Trump either skipped the proceedings he specifically traveled to France to take part in, or showed up so insultingly late he missed the convocations.

Instead of honouring the fallen and wounded American soldiers of the Great War at a Saturday ceremony planned months in advance, Trump decided at the last minute to stay in his hotel room like a sulky tween. The President of the United States spent the day Rage Tweeting, ordering room service and watching television – ostensibly because it was *raining*.

Trump chose not to pay his respects to the American soldiers interred at the Aisne-Marne American Cemetery in Belleau, and his propaganda people offered up the excuse that he didn’t want to be driven 50 miles to spend an hour under an umbrella in a cashmere overcoat. He followed up that stunning display of disrespect with snubbing the entire U.S. Marine Corps by not even acknowledging their 242nd birthday, and their tireless commitment to keeping America safe.

I do not yet know if there is any truth to the rumors that Trump met with Putin in secret when he was supposed to be honoring fallen American soldiers from WWI. But I DO know that the very best spin you can put on this ugly brush-off of our Armed Forces is that Trump just couldn’t be bothered to pretend he gave a damn about the sacrifices made by the troops he commands.

As a dual citizen, I have never been so PROUD to be a Canadian as I am today – and so ASHAMED of how Donald Trump has disrespected America and our soldiers who gave the last full measure of devotion for their country.

 

Trump Smiles At Vlad

Get yourself a lover who looks at you the way Trump looks at Putin on Veterans Day

 

Beyond the raging vanity about his hair not getting wet, and the seeming inability to operate an umbrella, the entire world knows Trump lives in a bubble of hubris and only cares for the adoration of the ever-smaller crowds at his vanity-driven rallies. The international community is fully aware that Trump is so insecure he becomes enraged at the lack of deference from world leaders who are more capable, powerful, self assured and respected than him. But even they were astounded that Trump blew off the Centenary Memorial of The War To End All Wars, and after spending the entire day holed up in his hotel room he showed up 2 hours late for a State Dinner. His follow-up act was to refuse to meet with other world leaders for breakfast on Armistice Day itself, and then to arrive after 11 am for the 11-11-11 Armistice Commemoration.

Trump did all of these things without an ounce of self-awareness, ignoring that the world was stopping to remember – and say out loud – that a malignant ego serving only itself destroys international relations, causes untold suffering, and sparks needless global conflagrations.

 

 

Boer War Pulling Gun

British Royal Artillery troops hauling a gun up a railway line during the Second Boer War, 1899

 

My Great-Grandfather Joseph Ford was born in County Cork, Ireland, in the mid-1870s. His mother died when he was a small child. When his father remarried a few years later his new stepmother immediately shipped young Joe off to a military boarding school. During those years at ‘school’ he was likely little more than a servant to the upper-class Irish second-sons who would not inherit, but whose families could afford to buy them a commission in the British Army. Joe’s first assignment was to be a drummer boy for the officers-in-training.

Joseph’s education came to an end when he was about 15 (circa 1890), when his father signed him to a commission with the British Army – legally binding Joe to the Royal Artillery for the next 12 years.

My great-grandfather served his time in the British Army honorably, and spent the last 4 years of his commission in South Africa fighting in the Second Boer War, from 1889-1902. When the war ended Joe returned to Ireland, and married my great-grandmother Lillian. In 1908 Joe accepted his Volunteer Bounty Act land grant in Canada for serving in the Boer Wars, and moved his growing family to Ontario.

My grandmother Honora Bridgette was the youngest of Joseph and Lillian Ford’s 7 children. She was born in a large white farmhouse in Sarnia, Ontario, in early 1914 – just months before the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria, and the start of World War I.

Joseph Ford didn’t need to answer Brittan’s call for soldiers for the Great War – the white farmhouse was proof enough of his bravery, and his service to Crown and Country. But he felt it his duty to protect Europe against German aggression and their declaration of war, and so he answered the call and served his King and countrymen, yet again.

 

Vimy Ridge 1

Canadian forces at The Battle of Vimy Ridge, 1917

 

Joe left his family and his adopted homeland to go to war once more, and for nearly five years he faced the greatest of all inhumanities – The War To End All Wars.

My great-grandfather left parts of himself and his soul on the battlefields of Flanders, Somme, Passchendaele and Vimy so that those who came after him would know freedom and peace.

Canadian brigade-surgeon Major John McCrae immortalized the sacrifice of my great-grandfather’s fallen brothers-in-arms with his immortal poem In Flanders Fields. Devastated by the death of a close friend and fellow Canadian Army Officer during the Second Battle of Ypres, McCrae’s heartbreaking verses forever cemented the red poppy as the international symbol of Remembrance.

 

Flanders fields 2

Flanders Field, Waregem, Belgium

 

In 1919 Joseph Ford was lucky enough to return to his wife and adoring family in the big white farmhouse in Sarnia. But he did not come back a whole man. A hale-and-well-met-fellow of many friends, Joe was jovial by day but would forever suffer the night terrors of PTSD – what was then called Shell Shock. Joe’s lungs and eyes were scarred, and he was partially paralyzed from the chemical weapons that were the hallmark of WWI.

As a member of the Canadian Forces he was exposed to Chlorine gas in 1915, phosgene in 1916, and in 1917 they were hit dozens of times with mustard gas during the 5-month-long Third Battle of Ypres. His left arm was permanently shriveled and atrophied, and he limped in pain. For the rest of his life Joe’s body was weak, and he was never able to take a full breath.

My great-grandfather sacrificed for the good of the world. He gave of himself when he could have rightfully said, “Let someone else do the heavy lifting this time. I did my part for the war.” Instead, he left all that he’d worked for and held dear, and quite literally fought for the things he believed in.

 

Vimy Ridge 3 German Machine Gun Nest Taken By Canadian Forces

Canadian Forces in German Machine Gun Nest They Have Taken On Vimy Ridge, 1917

 

The only thing Donald Trump fights for is the right to abuse and threaten the Press, consolidate Nationalist power, and keep his comb-over-weave from getting wet in the rain. That’s because he doesn’t value anything my great-grandfather fought for – and 16 million people died for – in WWI. Trump can’t stop himself from showing how much contempt he has for Equality, Fairness and Peace, any more than he can hide his naked aggression, thirst for power, and craven need to always be the center of attention.

I would be devastated that Trump chose not to honor the Veterans of WWI, as well as the service of my son, my father, 2 of my brothers, my father-in-law, and my uncle – if he were anything but the Pretender President, who is PROUD of being incapable of feeling empathy.

Frankly, I’m overjoyed my great-grandfather was Canadian, so that his sacrifice will NEVER be sullied by Donald Trump’s ugly soul, deliberate cruelty and malignant desire to start another war.

I will be forever grateful that my Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, humbly honored how much of himself Joseph Ford left in the trenches of France and the Fields of Flanders.

My great-grandfather was subject to unimaginable deprivations in the muddy trenches of the Western Front, and he suffered half-a-decade of unthinkable depredations for the cause of Liberty and Freedom. Joseph Ford spent the rest of his life replaying the horrors of war in his dreams, his body wrecked and wracked by pain, so that Justice could survive during a few decades of grudging truce.

May his sacrifice – and the sacrifice of all who served – never be forgotten.

 

In Flanders Fields

In Flanders fields the poppies blow

Between the crosses, row on row,

That mark our place; and in the sky

The larks, still bravely singing, fly

Scarce heard amid the guns below.

 

We are the Dead. Short days ago

We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,

Loved and were loved, and now we lie,

In Flanders fields.

 

Take up our quarrel with the foe:

To you from failing hands we throw

The torch; be yours to hold it high.

If ye break faith with us who die

We shall not sleep, though poppies grow

In Flanders fields.

–John McCrae 1915

 

Flanders Fiels 1

 

 

 

 

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Crazytown

So. We are here at last. We have arrived at The Rubicon – the point of no return.

The choice for Trumpers – who always blame the victims when it comes to babies in cages, Muslim bans, and sick people – is whether or not they will go over the cliff after 45*, and deny the reality of 3,000+ dead Americans in Puerto Rico from the devastating one-two punch of Hurricanes Irma and Maria in September of 2017.

 

PR Fake Deaths Twee 2

 

Let’s ignore the self-serving ‘I’ statements, and 45*s conflating anecdotes with evidence. Let’s discard his blistering, raging, unquenchable narcissism and refusal to acknowledge a scientific, peer-reviewed study based on in-person interviews with coroners and emergency responders. Let’s be nonplussed at his spurious, utterly fabricated claim that he raised penny one for Puerto Rico, when the facts are that he withdrew FEMA aid 4 months after the disaster, while the majority of the island lacked electricity and running water, and that he reallocated FEMA funds to ICE for the specific purpose of keeping babies in cages who were kidnapped from their asylum-seeking parents.

Instead, let’s take a moment to savor the depth of malignant sociopathy and the bottomless pit of needy victimhood it requires to imagine that tens of thousands of people pretended family members died, and that government officials at every level along with researchers from the most respected institutions of higher education reinforced that lie with the help of every newspaper, radio and television station IN THE WORLD, for the sole purpose of making him look as bad as possible.

No, really. Take a moment to swirl the taste of cancerous narcissism so deep that he imagines the whole world is gaslighting HIM to make him feel bad.

The

World

Is

Gaslighting

HIM

Seven-and-a-half billion people think SO much of him that we all got together to pretend several thousand people died in Puerto Rico – and it was all spearheaded by the evil Democrats, out to make him look bad.

 

 

1984 Essential Command

 

 

Interestingly, half a dozen MAGAts – who up until yesterday blamed the deaths in Puerto Rico on corrupt local politicians – fell silent this morning when I pressed them on whether Trump is lying or crazy, or if they actually believe 3,000 people didn’t die. They ghosted the conversation when I refused to allow them to derail it with Obama and Clinton Whataboutisms. I imagine they’ll be silent until Steve Bannon gets the talking points out via Brietbart and Drudge, and they percolate to Fox and thus directly into the ears of the demented fraud who sits in the White House, and imagines himself the Supreme Ruler King.

I have great faith the MAGAts will cross this river with their eyes closed, and one step at a time they will ease into the frigid water of deliberate insanity, until they finally get used to denying the reality of thousands of dead Americans and convince themselves they thought this all along.

Tomorrow we will be able to watch people we know choose to alter what they believed yesterday to satisfy the whim of a madman today.

This is Jim Jones level shit.

We have crossed The Rubicon and officially arrived at Crazytown.

 

Frowny Face

Boiling Frogs

In the last 6 weeks I’ve awakened in my bed at home only 13 times. The rest of the time has been split between Canada and the cabin. Different patterns and places cause you to see things from a different perspective, including and especially a lack of internet connectivity for days at a time.

Being without internet for long stretches means when I check back in it’s a virtual laundry list of ‘What the fuck am I reading?’ to ‘I remember when this would have been too absurd for The Onion’.

In short: It was only when I got back into the internet pot did This Little Froggy realize how HOT the water has gotten.

Let’s cut out all the noise (like rage-tweets demanding Sessions fire Mueller) and just look at the last day:

  1. Our Intelligence Agencies held a presser to stress the seriousness of the continuous attacks by Russia on our midterm elections. Mere hours later 45* slurred his way through another Fuhrer rally, calling that announcement a HOAX.
  2. Press Secretary Sarah Sanders refused to say during a press briefing that the Press is not the enemy of the people.
  3. Network television has apparently *just* discovered Q-Anon and their rabid willingness to become violent over their unhinged world view, and to keep Trump in power while thanking Russia.
  4. We’re STILL violating the UN Convention on Genocide, and the Geneva Convention on kidnapping, as well as torture, and the Trump Regime is now insisting the ACLU be responsible for finding the deported parents before families can be reunited. A third employee of the child concentration camps has been arrested for sexually assaulting multiple prisoners. Where the hell are the girls? It’s amazing how quickly this atrocity has dropped off of the A Section in news blocks.
  5. Enjoy your NEW $60 Billion in Chinese Tariffs while you mull over June new housing starts being down 12+%, new homes sales dropped 5+%, and only 150,000 jobs were added last month.

This dynamic is simply not sustainable.

Fighting In A Burning House

After being out of this country for 2 weeks it’s impossible to describe how AWFUL things are here: Americans are at war with each other, and we seem incapable of seeing it.

If people aren’t actively cheering the Russian coup, they are fighting in a burning house because they’re STILL angry that a man who called Roe v Wade identity politics was rejected by DNC voters.

I was blocked yesterday by a man whose opinions on politics matches with mine so closely that a Venn diagram of them would be a damn near perfect circle. But, he banished me over something we disagree about that happened 2 years ago, and cannot be changed.

Rehashing a primary that has passed is *insane*. It’s the spouse who keeps hammering their partner about a long-past difference of opinion, and destroys the relationship because they can’t let it go.

It’s time to face the facts that Americans have fully embraced the lunacy of a death wish that we are accomplishing via gun violence, lack of health care, and a bloodlust for a national fight.

I grew up in a madhouse that was a microcosm of what the USA has become. We WANT to fight. We WANT to inflict damage on the OTHER – whether they’re brown or Muslim or on ‘our side’ but didn’t hew closely enough to the opinion you cradle like a priceless object.

The real enemy in my house were my parents: A narcissistic rageaholic mother, and an enabling, lying, cheating, thief of a father, and they both gaslighted the lot of us: The ultimate ‘Good Cop, Bad Cop’ scenario, where we children were being played one off the other.

But, that didn’t stop my brothers and I from savaging one another as children AND adults, and passing that generational trauma on to our children.

We six siblings are no different than society at large: Instead of coming together to fight off the attacks, as children we invoked ‘Every Man For Himself’. As adults we did *nothing* to heal our wounds as a family, continuing to nurse our grudges.

As a result? We are fractured beyond repair, and my brothers have angrily cut one another out of their lives, shit talking their siblings, and further perpetrating the anger, the hurt and the war someone else started.

For me? I hold little hope November will change anything. The reason is because the cheating, lying, narcissism and gaslighting from on high won’t stop – and we’ll all be too busy fighting amongst each other to focus our forces and energy against the people who are REALLY hurting us. I’ve watched my family tear itself to shreds for more than half a century without a thought to creating peace.

I’ve seen how this goes – and it doesn’t end well.

Our insisting on fighting in a burning house will be the death of us and the Republic for which we used to stand.

This Is Fine

Heroin Junkies and Trump Humpers

We are in a Constitutional Crisis, and this last week has laid bare the truth that Putin stole the presidency for Trump, with an assist from billionaires who have been buying our government for the last few decades.

Trump’s unhinged Rage Tweets this morning point to dark days ahead. Dare I say the words Civil war?

We’re really already there emotionally, and isn’t this all that matters?

We’re already at war with each other – there’s not a one of us who hasn’t seen a loved one drink Trump’s Kool-Aid. I have a neighbor of 16 years who hasn’t spoken to me since 2015 because I dared to tell her that putting Muslims in internment camps was morally wrong and violated the Constitution.

Quite simply: Trump Humpers live in a reality of their own making where inconsistencies abound and facts are discarded. A reality flush with conspiracies, and where a porn star who was paid $130K in hush money is lying about having an affair with Trump, AND he has every right to sue her for $20 million for talking about the affair they didn’t have.

You cannot reason someone out of something they didn’t reason themselves into, and there is no negotiating with people who aren’t just willfully ignorant, but aggressively wrong.

Trump Humpers delight in cognitive dissonance and nothing makes them happier than calling up down, just to see the look on your face. They will NEVER let go of this new reality. Never. They are too far invested in their flat-earth, fact free existence. They are as hopeless as a heroin junky.

The ideological clash among Americans is intractable – there is no way to compromise: Either you believe in equality for all, or you are actively working to deny people their rights, and turn the clock back to the Reconstruction era. There is no middle ground.

Add to that the reality that Trump is making the office of President into a dictatorship. Make no mistake: Trump does not intend to leave the office, and intends to install Ivanka after him.

His goal is unvarnished and laid bare for all to see. I don’t know if the Presidency will ever recover, and surely not in my lifetime.

I will be surprised if Trump allows the midterms to proceed, and he will likely use the excuse of ‘Russian meddling’ to suspend them – and Trump Humpers will nod with glazed eyes, greedily accepting this new reality like the junkies they are.

It’s time to accept that Trump recognizes no rules or laws but his own. To continue to deny this is dangerous and dabbles in Trump Humper wishful thinking.

It’s time to face the bitter cup before us: The Constitution no longer holds force in this country, and America is now a fascist authoritarian regime.

To make that horrifying reality worse – we are under daily attack by Putin, and Trump refuses to stop him. Putin has control of our power grid, our water processing plants and our aviation facilities -he could cripple us with a keystroke. We are at his mercy – and he has none. Yet, somehow people think he can’t control our voting machines, or he hasn’t been manipulating us to fight each other. Putin is like the villain in Stephen King’s novel Needful Things – and he’s just getting warmed up. Of course Putin was assisted in his role by Roger Ailes and Fox Spews, who tuned up the crowd for a decade and a half.

We were invaded by Russia with GOP assistance. Putin has the GOP’s peckers in his pocket through blackmail via the RNC email hack, and laundered cash from the NRA. He especially owns McConnell and Ryan because they direct most of those monies. That’s why they take no action against either Trump or Putin. We have traitors in all levels of the government.

Putin, the Mercers, the Koch brothers, and about 400 other people are using Trump to Balkanize the United States of America. They are terrifyingly close to getting their wish of having the US be a geographical collection of fiefdoms based on natural resource extraction.

These people produce nothing, and only seek to gorge on the riches of the earth, its people, and ultimately each other – they are an insatiable ouroboros. They’re sick, and they’re in charge. Doubtless they’ve been told they’ll have their place at the Oligarch’s table when America is in flames. I don’t know about you, but I can smell smoke.

Wrap your head around this: Rexxon Valdez Tillerson, the man responsible for unfettered greed and despoiling the planet with his 3 decades in Big Oil was *too liberal* for Trump. A man who raped the earth and built his fortune on pollution and misery was simply not extreme enough for Trump.

That is how far the Overton Window has been pushed to the right.

That we are not meeting in the streets, but are sitting stunned tells me bad things are to come. The fuse is burning, and the backlash will be like a big earthquake instead of 3 mild ones that take the pressure off of the fault.

Trump is fighting like a cornered animal, and he’s even more dangerous now than he’s ever been. He will do things that will create chaos in a way that will make the last year look like comedic relief.

He is capable of anything – and I do mean ANYTHING.

I could see a time in the not too distant future when states like California refuse to remit their federal tax monies because Trump does something to try to ruin them the way he has done to hundreds of people. Think Puerto Rico-like damage on the mainland inflicted by him. He is entirely capable of killing his own people BECAUSE HE’S DONE IT BEFORE.

I think it’s time we review 10 Absolutes About Abusers:

  1. You aren’t human – you’re expendable chattel without rights
  2. Your opinion, wants and needs are punishable offenses
  3. You are expected to follow rules and display manners that they deny exist
  4. You will NEVER get them to acknowledge facts
  5. They will never, ever, EVER admit they are wrong
  6. They will steal from you while insisting you’re a duplicitous thief
  7. They will lie so boldly and confidently that you will question your sanity
  8. They enjoy your pain even more when you tell them how much it hurts
  9. They will not stop until they control you completely and capriciously
  10. Anything they can’t control completely they will ceaselessly try to destroy

It’s crucial for you to burn these into your brain, because things are coming down to the wire. It’s not long until the powder keg blows, and it is vital to remember the value you have to Trump, his Humpers, the 400 and Putin: None.

It is time for us all to accept what is happening to America – for us to deal with the reality we’re in, not the one we want to be in.

Courage to us all.

Duck and Cover, kids!!

Part of the soundtrack of my youth was the eerie blaring of air raid sirens being tested at precisely 10 am on the last Friday of every month. I was 4 when I first asked my mother what the disturbing noise was. “They’re sirens to warn us when Russian airplanes attack,” she answered vaguely, hustling me along the sidewalk to the commercial interview she was taking me to. At my wide-eyed look she assured me, “It’s just a test.”

A month later the same sound sent me outside the house in shivers of fear, scanning the skies for planes (always the reporter), and any bombs they might be dropping. It was only then that my mother thought to explain that the tests happened every month at the same time. Young Reporter Claudia demanded clarification of Exactly When they went off every month, and never forgot it.

I distinctly remember the sounds of the unsynchronized sirens whirring to life – each just a fraction of a second off from the other – and their high-pitched oscillating tones warning of danger. When the test was over and the sirens finally stopped, their wailing echoed for a few lingering moments over the San Fernando Valley. Thinking about the keening, undulating sound long enough begins to put a clench in my jaw and stomach.

Part of the curriculum in the Los Angeles Unified School District in the 1950s, 60s and 70s was repeating the Duck and Cover drills we learned in kindergarten from cheerful films featuring catchy jingles, Bert the cartoon turtle, and calm, well-dressed white children. The films spoke confidently and repeatedly of WHEN The Bomb would drop – not if. 9 months a year for 13 years every child attending school in Los Angeles was vigilant for the inevitable, inescapable flash of our doom, and as air raid sirens howled above us we learned to cower under the magical safety of a laminated Formica desk.  (Link to Duck and Cover propaganda film)

As the sirens warned of impending doom the teachers turned off the lights and closed the blinds, and we students would kneel under our desks on the linoleum floor, our fingers laced behind our necks, forearms over our ears, and elbows shielding our faces. We were told to keep our eyes shut, and our faces hidden in our clothes.

While we crouched with hidden faces, the siren’s mournful monthly tune ended and became nothing but a discordant echo over cheaply built post-war housing. We waited until we heard a long bell being wrung by Mrs. Hale, our Principal, signifying the ‘All Clear’. It was during one of those drills that I first felt the suffocating quicksand of claustrophobia.

The exercise ended with the entire school huddled under our desks, pretending a bomb would explode near us. The bell would ring – and Scene! We would return to our studies, the subtext of the ritual was that we had all just died.

Here’s the unvarnished truth about Duck and Cover: Nobody ever gave us instructions on what we should do *after* the bomb dropped. There was never any talk of what to do when we were done ducking and covering, no warnings about food or water or radiation poisoning. We didn’t even have instructions to wait for instructions.

The inference was that if we ever heard the Russian planes overhead everything was over. ‘Kiss your ass goodbye’ was a phrase commonly used, and most people figured ‘They’ll never try it, and if they do? We’re all dead, but they are, too.’

The drill went on year after year – long past the point of being of any use to the children repeating it – until it became normalized and just more Cold War theater

Whether or not the adults around us would acknowledge it, their unconscious behavior affected how we reacted – we took our cues from them. They knew there was no surviving a direct hit & we picked up their signals.

We were told to kneel and patiently await our fate when we heard the sounds of air raid sirens. Deep inside all of us knew that if the missiles actually flew the lights and the shades and the command to Duck and Cover were nothing more than busy work to fill the time until we were incinerated in a flash.

***

At 6 am on February 9, 1971, the Russians finally attacked. I awoke to the sound of air raid sirens and explosions that were so big it moved the ground beneath me. I heard shouting, and the ground shook even harder – the earth itself was making a grinding noise as books and games flew off of my shelves, raining down on me. Instinctively I hid my face as I sat up in bed. Abruptly the shaking stopped, but the sirens went on. I was in shock as my father hollered “EARTHQUAKE!!! Get out of the house!!” I had no idea what he was shouting to me.

In all their preparations for nuclear war it had never occurred to any of the adults to mention earthquakes to the California kids living on the San Andreas fault. No one thought to tell us the sirens could be used for emergencies other than nuclear war. I mistook a 6.6 quake for World War 3, and awoke certain I was dying in a mushroom cloud. The heaving ground and exploding transformers only served to underline that mistaken notion that the world was coming to an end. It’s not the kind of thing you forget.

It puzzled me as I grew older how so many of my classmates relegated the jolly propaganda films that promised a terrifying death via radiation to the farthest corners of their minds. By the 1980s the drills had ceased, and most folks seemed to forget what the sirens were – they became just another background noise people ignored. Almost no-one noticed when the Los Angeles Civil Air Defense sirens were permanently silenced in 1986.

 

Duck and Cover 1

 

 

I don’t envy anyone with young children right now, because they’re going to be freaked out by what happened in Hawaii – how can they not? It’s utterly fucked up, and in the days to come they’ll be exposed to over-stressed adults and videos of panic and terror. Hopefully they’ll also see clips of parents trying to protect their children, (the video of the father putting his crying children into the storm drain in which he cannot fit is heartbreaking – but also a moment of the purest love and sacrifice) and there will be adults around them who are calm and reassuring.

Keep in mind that children already have their own version of Duck and Cover when they practice mass casualty shooting drills every month. There are seniors graduating in June of 2018 who have been practicing this horror-show drill their whole lives, just like I practiced waiting for the bomb to drop. The heartbreaking thing is that some of these students, and a few of their teachers, won’t get to see graduation day because their lives will be cut short in a flash from the muzzle of a gun. The added burden of the threat of global thermonuclear war between two madmen seems especially cruel.

None of it’s fair, or particularly sane, but it’s where we are as a country right now. This is who we are.

For the moment we are at the mercy of an aggressive, ignorant, rageaholic narcissist who suffers delusions of grandeur, likely has dementia, and is itching to use nuclear weapons. For the moment.

On the bright side: After a few years in this pressure cooker of lunacy and danger we’re bound to have some really good art and music come out of it –  if we can pull together and #Resist long enough to outlast the bastard.

 

99 Red Balloons

Bullshit Positive Affirmations

Oh bullshit. I’m so tired of that trope and the whole notion that any of us is wholly responsible for our success. It’s classist and ignores the collective knowledge that mankind has gained off of the backs of others. It rejects the notion of role models, mentors and teachers and utterly fails to consider the opportunities afforded to those who are economically and racially privileged.

Yes, it’s that time of year. The New Year seems to encourage an avalanche of Bullshit Positive Affirmations shared on Facebook. BPAs are the annoying things people post and say that are supposed to encourage you to be the best person you can be. The illogicality of them frustrates me. I’m not sure if people actually believe this magical thinking, or they just think they should believe it.

 

BPA 3

 

No. No, it’s not.

That is embracing the ridiculous notion that everything is within our control.

That’s saying that people born into poverty choose to stay that way if they are unable to break the cycle. That’s saying children in marginal schools could have a better education if only they tried harder. It’s saying that the children of privilege don’t have 2 legs up on everyone else when it comes to college and student loans.

Then there are the things that happen when we’re adults. Sometimes unexpected shitty things happen to us out of the blue. Sometimes a spouse leaves and takes all the money. Sometimes the stock market crashes because people you have no control over sold unsound financial investments and it wipes out your 401K. Sometimes you find yourself unemployed and unemployable when your job has been outsourced. Sometimes you get sick.

Life is not a static arrangement of events that can be planned. Life is messy and often catches you unaware.

 

BPA 17

 

I swear I am not making this up.

Someone actually posted this piece of cruelty to their timeline on New Year’s Day. I suppose they thought it was inspiring. Instead, it just sounds like they’ve been lucky enough not to have had something really bad happen to them.

Let’s see how his proclamation holds up, shall we?

“No more whiners. If you have cancer it’s because you let it get that way.”

“No more whiners. If you’re depressed it’s because you let it get that way.”

“No more whiners. If your company eliminates your department it’s because you let it get that way.”

“No more whiners. If you were hit by a drunk driver it’s because you let it get that way.

Oh, I could do this all day, but you get the idea.

 

BPA 2

 

Really? So I can be an astronaut? What about run a 4 minute mile or be the President? I can conceive being a trillionaire, are you saying that’s possible? It’d be nice to be a supermodel. I’d sure like to win a gold medal in swimming.

The problem is, no matter how much I can conceive or believe, those things aren’t going to happen. I could do everything possible to achieve any of those goals – everything possible – but none of them will happen.

That’s because there are things we can’t do. I know it’s hard for the snowflake generation (I’m looking at YOU boomers) to hear that, but it’s true. Not all of us are exceptional and there are limits to what we can do and it’s time we accepted that fact.

 

BPA 1

 

I hate this one most of all.

It’s especially galling to those of us with depression. Oh – I could just wish myself better? I can choose whether I have this disease or not? Why didn’t you say so! That really would have saved me a lot of trouble had somebody told me sooner. I feel just like Dorothy with her magical ruby slippers – the power was in me the whole time!

People think they’re being helpful when they post BPAs, but they’re not. Those of us who have had life intrude on our well planned path understand that these clichés are not helpful, and only serve to make the reader feel negative when they read it. The notion that you can think your way to success is foolish and doesn’t benefit anyone.

It seems like people who share BPAs are looking for an easy answer to the tangled reality of life. The problem is that hoary bromides don’t straighten out tangles or cure diseases.

It’s not to say that you shouldn’t try to be positive nor have happy thoughts. But, I’d prefer my positive affirmations to be less filled with bullshit and a little more realistic. I prefer my affirmations to be things we can all actually do.

 

BPA 7

 

Manners – it could become a cause of the day and go viral like the ice bucket challenge. People would be posting videos of themselves waiting patiently in line to say please and thank you to supermarket workers and food servers or being polite to random strangers on the street. The cool thing is that you wouldn’t have to pledge a damn dime, and it would bring a wealth of benefits for society. Although it would involve a greater effort than hitting the share button for a useless platitude, it could work.

How about:

 

BPA 11

 

Or:

 

BPA 13

 

Or, even simply:

 

BPA 15

 

It could happen.

All I’m saying is that if we’re going to encourage ourselves to do better lets aim for things we can actually do that make our little corner of the world a better place.

Let’s avoid the BPAs. They’re worthless and may serve to just make someone feel worse.

I have to admit there is one positive thing I don’t mind sharing. It’s something I really believe in, a cause close to my heart, and it’s something that I would really encourage everyone to do.

It doesn’t cost a penny, and doesn’t ask you to do anything unethical or immoral. It’s something that can be practiced without show in both public and the privacy of your own home.

It is, in fact the antithesis of a Bullshit Positive Affirmation:

 

BPA 9

 

Now, that’s something I can really get behind.

 

**Originally published Jan 5, 2015 – Republished Jan 3, 2018, with minor edits**