Showing posts from June, 2018

Repentance is Easy

What do these two men have in common? Neither is good at apologizing. All you have to do is repent. It's amazing what repentance can accomplish. Simply words like "I'm sorry," "I was wrong," "I apologize," "How can I make it up to you?" can make all the difference to a wounded or broken relationship. Estrangements can be healed, reconciliations accomplished, friendships restored, marriages renewed, careers salvaged. Provided, that is, you mean it. An false apology, however sincerely delivered, sets the stage for estrangement to become divorce. Apologize and then go back on the apology, and sadness becomes distrust, anger, even hatred. I've experienced this in my own life. Relationships with family members and friends that have been damaged by one or the other of us causing pain, even for what is perceived by the actor to be righteous reasons, merits an apology, even if it's the mediocre "I'm sorry you feel th

Apartheid in the USA

No, it's not Pretoria, South Africa, 1968. It's McAllen, Texas, yesterday. Yes, our president has fascist dreams. Yes, he panders to the far right, up to and including torch-bearing Nazi-saluting white nationalists. Yes, his foreign policy is a rejection of seven decades of global interdependence, choosing instead to cozy up to autocrats of both the right and left. And yes, his public declarations and tweets are designed to fire up and consolidate the most extreme elements of his base, a strategy that both renders the opposition impotently incoherent and cows the more moderate members of the GOP with fears of being primaried by more rabid Trumpists. It's a cult of personality worthy of Hitler. But no, we're not turning into Nazi Germany, c. 1936. Not yet, anyway. A more appropriate comparison is to South Africa. Like the United States, South Africa was a civilized place long before white colonists invaded, using their superior technology to force their wi

The Worst System

Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all the others.--Winston Churchill They saw this coming. I've heard and read the many experts bewailing the gathering storm clouds of Constitutional crisis, wringing their hands and fretting over how the founders never imagined a populist monster like Donald Trump could become President, dragging the nation into a vortex of corruption and deceit that makes  House of Cards  look like a Disney cartoon. With the executive branch ignoring any custom, tradition, or customary practice that might impede its overarching policy of "order bad, chaos good," and hinting at the likelihood it will ignore rulings by even the Supreme Court, while simultaneously transforming the Immigration and Customs Enforcement force into a battalion of storm troopers, and constantly ginning up the racist fears of its small but rabid base, it does, in fact, appear that the founders should have built more safeguards into the Constitution t

Ashamed to Be an American

It happened so quickly. Remember Election Night 2008? I do. I was proud of my country, proud of a people who had looked beyond race, who had chosen a President whose platform was about progress, inclusion, diversity, and thinking and talking through problems. For the first time in a decade, I was proud to be an American. That pride lasted for the better part of a year and then, just like that, it fell away. I hadn't given up on my President, or the Congress who swept into office with him. Not most of them, anyway. I was thrilled that Washington was engaged in the hard work of expanding the social safety net to include health insurance, and while it frustrated me that so many Democratic legislators had bought the snake oil of the insurance company and were opposed to a single payer system, I still had hope that they could put together something that covered far more Americans than the previous system. But I was already growing jaded at the knee-jerk resistance of the Re

The Ugly Game

Just another play. I'll start with a confession: if a football game is playing on a television in any room I'm in, I can't keep my eyes off it. It doesn't matter if I'm eating, drinking, shooting pool, having a conversation, trying to write a blog post: whatever I'm doing, I'll find my eyes straying every chance they get to the screen where large athletic bodies are crashing into each other as one set of them tries to move a ball down the field while the other tries to block that action. I have no fan skin in any of these games I watch: I know the names of only a handful of players, care little or nothing which team is winning, and have no idea until a few days before the Super Bowl who's going to be in it. And yet, the drama of this violent game grabs my attention every time. I thrill at successful passes, at dodged tackles and blocks, at interceptions that turn into touchdown runs; and I groan at hits that seem far too solid for any human bo


Is this the essence of masculinity? The story was always the same: a drifter comes into town, on the run from something, he doesn't want to say what. In fact, he'd rather not say anything about himself. At first he's successful, but then something happens: he finds himself getting close to someone vulnerable, he encounters an injustice, he becomes aware of a need that his particular skill set can address, and he can't help himself. He steps in. The situation escalates until he has no choice: the monster within him emerges, vindication ensues, and when things have calmed down again, he has to flee once more. Issue after issue, episode after episode, this was the story of the Hulk. I never read Hulk comics, but I did partake of the television drama based on them, until I tired of the procedural formula that gave the series its sameness from week to week. I longed for season story arcs, for characters and situations to change. I knew that wasn't how TV worked,