Do Not Feed the Troll

As I continue to pull back from a lot of online areas – mostly due to the constant barrage of “what Donnie does, what Donnie says” – I have noticed that internet trolling is becoming more and more common. As well as open criticism without regard for what is being read. We’re a good worldwide society at complaining, sniping, and criticising other perspectives. The internet provides a lot of cover for those that decide to hide behind a pseudonym or fake profile to achieve their means.

I’ll admit, getting the zinger in does feel good. I do it all the time with the President’s Twitter account. Well, not ALL the time. I do have a life. But I do toss in a zinger from time to time.

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I would love to think that the President of the United States actually reads my trolling efforts, but I sincerely doubt it. Besides, I am not trying to provoke a response from him. Since this is a communications medium tied to a Presidential administration, that means that when he finally does leave the White House these will be part of his Presidential archive (by law). I just wanted to be sure my voice was added to that for future reference. 🙂

But let’s come back to the area I am wanting to work with here – how we communicate. Or rather, how we choose to communicate within an open, online “forum”. I am sure you have seen the “battles” that take place on Facebook, and I am sure there are a lot of you out there who, like me, are tired of watching the energy that gets expended in these exchanges. These exchanges that solve nothing, and change no one’s already well-set perspective.

For some, these exchanges are what they get off on. They enjoy spreading the anger by cajoling others into an interaction. When one responds in an angry fashion about what a waste of human excrement that this “troll” is, the “troll” gets fed precisely what was desired – your emotional response. The result is that the “troll” will fire off another retort or statement that is even more incendiary than the first, expecting an even greater expenditure of emotion from you. And when you respond, in that same fashion again – the cycle begins with even more bombastic rhetoric. I have seen this cycle. Nine Hells, I have even participated in it – from both sides. But long before the internet.

Back in the late 1980s to sometime in the late 1990s, I participated in Bulletin Board Systems, more commonly referred to as “BBSs”. I had my local favorites here in the DFW area. “Pandora’s Box” was an adult-oriented system. Renaissance BBS was when dedicated to discussions of all sorts, and one of the places I “published” my poetry on. Dark Side of the Moon was themed after the Pink Floyd album of the same name but was geared towards philosophical discussions. Malkuth BBS was a Pagan-oriented BBS where the ability to participate was by invitation only. And then there was The Church Mouse. Run by a devout Christian, it was here that I played the role of the troll. I jabbed and punched at various Christians in rolling debates, along with an Atheist and a Chassidic Jew. Some of the discussion was actually serious, but most of the time, I played the role of hit-and-run troll. Looking back, I realize that my interactions were childish, at the very best. All I was trying to do was make someone angry. And when that individual did respond in anger, I felt I had won the battle.

“Won the battle.” What in the Nine Hells did I win? A short emotional response that made me feel more superior to someone else. Last night, in a discussion with a much younger individual (early twenties), he made the remark that he had won plenty of “battles” with folks in a discussion. I asked what he had won. He told me that these folks did not like him, as if this was a trophy to hold. I told him that for me to participate in such antics – there had to be a prize, like money or an actual trophy. of course, I was being sarcastic, but I doubt my point had any application for him. I remember feeling invincible at that age too.

But I actually did win something during all those trolling moments. Like my young friend, I earned the disdain of quite a few people. Furthermore, I assisted those individuals into thinking that every Pagan that they would meet was an angry, combative individual. That all a Pagan could accomplish in a conversation is an angry derisive commentary against their beliefs. Or maybe they merely came away from those thinking that directly of me, and not broad-brushing against all of those who were also Pagans. I certainly hope it was the latter.

All of which leads me back to my semi-constant barrage against the President’s Twitter account. The above tweet that I sent is one of my “cleaner” tweets. I have sent some really nasty tweets to Donald Trump. I’ll admit, it is not one of my more adult things to have done. But sometimes, you have to fire back at someone who is using power provided to him under a social contract such as the Constitution of the United States to harm other people. I cannot drive up to the White House, knock on the front door, and slap the wig off his head while admonishing him for all the hurtful policies he has implemented as “Executive Orders.”

What I can do; however, is to vote in every election. For politicians who will vow to be more socially conscious with what they should be doing. Regardless of the level of the position that they are seeking or even the political party that they are part of. So long as they follow the social contract that is what government is. I can publish blog posts like this, asking others to follow that lead. Ask. Because I do not command you. “I am no leader. I do what I have to. Sometimes people come along.” Yes, I am quoting Dennis Leary’s character from the movie “Demolition Man” because it is a direct understanding of what I am and who I lead. I only have one follower – me. Anyone else who chooses to follow my example does so because they decided for themselves to do so.

As one of my fellow Pagan bloggers said quite a while back (I am not sure who or when – just that I read it on a Pagan blogger’s site) “words do matter.” I would also add that what we decide to accomplish with those same words matters as well. Internet trolls only stick around, so long as you feed them. React to them, you provide what they want. They will attack with even more force, more names, more derision…because they want another reaction from you. The idea is to force you off your center and balance so that you flail back constantly. You are not harming their assumed personae. You are just wildly lashing out. And for them, that is laughable. Try not to feed the trolls. It really is not worth your time or effort. Take it from someone who was a troll before there were internet bridges to sit under.

do_not_feed_the_troll_by_veilx-d38viyi

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Be a REAL Patriot…Vote.

It is the 4th of July…another day. I am not a flag wavin’ type of individual, so this is essentially a normal day. Except that folks feel the need to fling gunpowder into the air and ignite it. But that’s their problem, not mine. And if anyone wants to question my “patriotism” over my lack of glee on this day – let me remind you, I gave up my rights as a citizen for eight years to serve in the military. Please, don’t thank me for my service, I don’t want or need to hear it. Not in the current environment we live in.

No, my reference is not to the fact that the Sunkist Dictator is currently the elected President of the United States. Rather, my reference comes to the state of how we do politics in this country amongst ourselves. Rather than just disagreeing, we make it personal. Rather than discussing, we talk past one another, while attempting to speak louder than a Manowar concert. We hold these “discussions” as a form of battle – having to “win” at all costs, even finding appropriateness in hurling extremely insulting terminology at the other side, in much the same manner that military forces hurl napalm into theaters of war. We are not mindful of what these words do or even what that means to the people that wind up hearing them. Because we have to “win” the argument. Because no one can have a differing political point of view from our own.

MeYesterday morning, I saw a news report where a woman and child were united after two months of being apart. The mother relayed a statement that was essentially a warning to anyone wanting to come to the United States: “Do not come here. These people are heartless.” I can completely concur with her statement. No, I am not being sarcastic here nor am I advocating for tighter border security. Rather, I concur with her statement that people in America are heartless when it comes to immigrants fleeing the terrible conditions in their own country. The United States is not seen as a pot of shining gold, where currency falls from the trees like leaves. Rather, it is seen as a place of refuge, a place of safety, where an individual can work hard for their family’s needs, and eventually have a better life. And that better life would be one where daily violence is not visited upon them as it is back in their home countries. At least that is the hope.

Here in America, we seem to have started a new un-civil war. Violence is slammed against those that do not see the world through the same jaded worldview. Granted, we do have a President that is pushing against the laws that rightfully restrict the powers of a single individual in a triad of governmental control. To call this man an adult with reasoned understanding is a flat-out lie. He is nothing more than a petulant child that only sees his own needs before those of anyone else. And that is a bad thing to have for a position that is to be a representative of all the citizenry of this country. He also comes from a position of significant privilege that has been afforded him by his significant wealth. In other words, he is used to getting his way on everything. Laws be damned. Money speaks. Except when you’re a government official. And we watch him constantly rage on Twitter about it.

The bad thing here? He rages, we react. Essentially, he calls the tune, we dance. Maybe – and I am just spitballing into the wind – if we stopped letting him call the tune and we stopped reacting to his pied-piper act on Twitter, we (the collective citizenry of the United States) could drive the narrative. I think we all forget that whether you voted for the individual or not, government officials work for us. But to make that statement have any bite whatsoever – Americans need to do what they do not – vote in EVERY election. As I pointed out earlier, what if the other person shows up to vote? Who knows how the election might have actually gone in the last Presidential cycle. It might have made things interesting. But it all brings up another point – when do we start getting people that are WORTHY of our vote to run for elected office?

I will admit, I was unhappy with the individuals that were offered up by either of the two major parties. None of the Republican candidates were to my liking. I would not vote for Bernie Sanders – not a democrat – at any point in my life. I think I agree with Sanders about five percent of the time. And while I loved Bill Clinton as President, I was not as enamored with his wife, whose politics do not mesh well with my own. I found a third-party candidate that was a better fit for my beliefs and provided my vote there. To be completely honest, as John Beckett noted to me in a Facebook comment: “…if someone is looking for a perfect candidate, they will never find one.” That is not a direct quote, but it is close enough. A perfect candidate is likely to never occur. My vote for the third-party candidate was for an individual that was not a perfect candidate for me. Because that individual does not exist.

So how does all this relate to my Druidry? Well, my concept of Druidry is that I find connectivity to the world around. Politics and all the gnashing of teeth that is currently underway is in that web of connectivity. I do not like that it is, but to deny that existence would be to remove a part of what I sincerely believe. I am connected to a lot of people on Facebook. Here, people post links to articles, badly created and worded memes, and even long statements on how today’s political affects them or other people that they know. I’m not a massive empath, but all of that stuff does hurt. I see people in distress over what is being done.

Done by a single individual, the petulant child I mentioned previously. I do not completely agree with the ferocity that others provide to this Twitter Dictator. To put those kinds of feelings and emotions into the hatred of one individual gives power to that person. The true power that he holds is somewhat limited under the powers provided to his office through the Constitution. And those limitations are enforced by the other two branches of government. One is an appointed position that is granted after a process between the President and the Congress. The other – the Congress – is voted in by the citizenry of this country, as their representatives. Elections have consequences, folks. Sure, turnout in droves for the Presidential cycle. In the meantime, less than ten percent of the voting populace turns out for all the other cycles. There are officials and government representation that gets voted on here – including Congressional representatives and senators. These are the folks that have the representative power to keep the President in check. And you let ten percent of the voting populace determine who that will be. Let that sink in…ten percent. One out of ten voters makes that difference.

Politics does not figure into my Druidry or my Spirituality. But community participation does. And I honestly cannot think of a more community focused activity than voting. I could care less who you vote for or the reasons you put behind it. That is your personal business, not mine. I am not telling you who to vote for or what proposition to vote for or against. Make yourself an informed voter and educate yourself on all of that prior to making it to your local polling location. That is a part of connectivity. Knowing the issues, and participating in your community elections. For me, that is a part of my Druidry. And that type of connectivity, in my opinion, means far more than slamming poorly written memes up on your Facebook wall or having insult-laden arguments with others in whatever venue or medium you choose to do so.

You want true Patriotism? Forget the flag waving. Forget the hollering “America is the best country in the world” at the top of your lungs. You don’t even have to wear a military uniform to be truly patriotic. Be a true Patriot, participate by casting a vote in ALL of your elections. Your local, county, state and federal elections. All of them. Be involved enough to know what the candidates stand for, and what voting “yes” or “no” on an issue will mean to you. Be a real Patriot: be informed, and for the love of the Gods…VOTE.

But that’s really just my own perspective. I can only do me. You have to figure out you.

 

Dealing With Untimely Death

I honestly had planned to write something very different for today’s blog. Unfortunately, my mind is elsewhere, to be precise it is on my youngest kitty, Kaylee. And just like the issues with Gizmo last week – this week does not bode well. In fact, it is shaking me right to my very core.

Gizmo
Gizmo hiding…sort of

See, last week – I had to have Gizmo put to sleep. She had a cancerous growth that was extremely quick and invasive on her tongue. It grew in size quickly, and cut off her ability to eat and was affecting her ability to breathe. It was an inoperable form. So rather than watching her in pain, and knowing things were not going to get better, I opted to help her cross the veil. I could have been selfish and kept her alive a little longer – hoping against hope that a surgery that would have happened today would have helped her. But she was in pain, and last Thursday morning – she had essentially checked out.

In the meantime, Kaylee had been having trouble walking on her front left leg since late May. She is the most active of the three cats – always moving, and jumping, and checking into everything. The vet and I both chalked it up to landing wrong. Rest, and some painkillers went home. Xrays showed nothing wrong with the leg. So, I babied her and watched. And waited for her to start using her leg. She didn’t. I kept checking it, pulling on it, massaging the toes, thinking that she was feeling some kind of feeling because she had refused to use it. Eventually, I could feel her upper leg getting bigger and stiffer. Like her muscle had clenched up and wouldn’t let go. This was also the time frame when Gizmo was starting her rapid decline, so my entire focus wasn’t really on Kaylee’s leg. Until the day that Gizmo passed.

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Kaylee curled up in my office chair

On my out of the vet, an appointment was made for today for Kaylee to be seen. X-rays were taken. The tight muscle was actually new bone growth. or rather, bone growth brought about by the bone cancer on her upper leg. The prognosis wasn’t favorable. Provided that cancer had not spread from her leg into her chest, Kayle would lose the leg and the left part of her collarbone. A deeper x-ray was needed, and Kaylee was moved off to the Equine center next door for more in-depth scans. She has a mass in her chest that might just be a fatty deposit. But it could be the spreading of her cancer. Materials for a biopsy, along with the x-rays have been sent to a specialist. I should know early next week what happens from here.

Kaylee is currently on the daybed which is next to the window that looks out over the pool. This was a favorite spot of Gizmo’s, but occasionally I would catch Kaylee laying there. She has been watching out the window. A few times, I have gone over and sat with her, petting her, letting her clean my hand, my forearm, and the tip of my nose. She has always thought of me as her kitten, I suppose. Cleaning me constantly to make sure I was the cleanest kitten on the block. Some of the symptoms of bone cancer include lethargy, which she has. She does not move often from whatever spot she winds up in.

All I can do is watch. And hold her. And pet her. And kiss her. And talk softly with her. All of that, while knowing these might be the last few days we have together. Knowing that if the end is not here, long and difficult days will be ahead for the rest of her life. And if I am given that gift, her being around with a leg missing – I will count myself damn lucky. And that I will have stolen those days from the Reaper.

Otherwise, I know that this cat – a cat that was adopted from the Hickory Creek Animal shelter…. This cat, who was left in a foreclosed home with her mother and six other newborn kittens… This cat who was the last to be adopted from that entire group… This cat, who three months later would lick the tears from my face after I was verbally assaulted by the President of the company I worked for (a company I would quit four and a half hours later – in the middle of a digital phone upgrade over that abuse)… This cat, who spent every single day with me during my two years of unemployment, playfully reminding me that joy in life isn’t measured in by the dollars you make… Yes, this cat, who has meant the world to me since she came into my life and became my “puppy”…this cat has been and continues to be the shining star in my life, and I will forever be grateful for that.

No one should ever have to go through the untimely death of their children – furr-kiddo, human or otherwise. I have already done that with Gizmo, just six days ago. I can hope that I am not about to go through that again with the cat that is as close to being a familiar for me can be. But I do have to steel my heart over that possibility. Again.

How can you deal with the impending passing of a loved one? I am not sure I have that answer…for anyone, including myself. I do what I normally would. I cry when I am completely alone, and be happy and loving in her presence. I go out to the stone circle and ask the Spirits of Ancestors to watch over her on her passing, just as I did for Gizmo. I remember what I believe. And why. And that it applies to not just human beings and animals but everything around me. And yes, I feel angry. Angry that Gizmo has been taken from me. Angry that Kaylee is currently in pain. And I ask “Why them?” And I know full well I will likely not receive an answer. But I take comfort in that they had full and wonderful lives filled with love while they were with me. And while that will never fill the hole that Gizmo has left, nor the potential crater that will be opened if Kaylee leaves…it will have to be enough. Because it is what I have.

Just Because I Said It Doesn’t Mean You Have To Listen to Me or Do It

Within a lot of the more openly activist circles that I am in, I tend to get blasted for the perception that I am not “on-board” with a lot of the activities that tend to occur. I don’t attend the marches or protests. I don’t blast meme after meme after article after article denouncing the President and conservatives all over the country. I’m told that I am the problem with what is wrong.

I have no desire to sit here and refute each of those particular perspectives or justify how I am “with” what the protests are aiming to achieve. Why? Because I think its nonsense to have to justify who I am and what I do and what I believe. I can; however, tell you what I believe, and demonstrate that on a daily basis by continuing to be who I am. Without apology. Honestly, if that is not enough for some folks, so be it. I don’t live my life or walk my beliefs daily for others. Who I am and what I do is not some reality television show that needs to be placed on display to prove something to others. Nor should yours be, in my opinion. I cannot do you. You have to do you.

One of my favorite graphic images is currently making the rounds as a Facebook meme. tankgirlIts an image of Tank Girl pulling on her boots, the cherry on her cigarette beaming brightly as she makes her statement that things cannot be this way, that we can be wonderful. We can be magnificent. We can turn this shit around. And that statement is so very true. We can turn things around. We can be magnificent. We are wonderful. We just happen to be going through a difficult moment in our collective history. One that we have visited before, and forgotten. We have seen a lot of the issues that are currently taking place. Terrible treatment of others based on the pigmentation of their skin. Hatred and resentment of others because of who they love, or how many they choose to love. Codification of minimizing people who are different than those who happen to be in charge. Human history is littered with examples of this from every corner of the planet. And no matter how much you show these examples to those choosing to be on the inhumane side of things, it will not change their minds. They will find “holy” writings to utilize religious beliefs to justify their actions. They will flat out ignore those examples, utilizing the “we’re in charge because we were elected” mantra. They will point to laws as justification for what they are doing – its legal to do so, the law says we must. They will utilize invented morality to state their correctness. “Those people are sick in the head.” “I don’t want to see them in my everyday life.” “I don’t want my children to be like them.” Their children. Irrational hatred of those different than yourself is a learned behavior. Done through observation. The observation of their parents. Gods be damned, I certainly do not want my actions or behaviors to be the catalyst to having children hating others.

So why am I not out in the streets trying to combat all of this? Why am I not picking up stones and hurling them at police? Why am I not following politicians in their daily lives and shouting at them? Well, for me it is a simple thing – I am not willing to discard my humanity. Because when things are brought to an end, I would prefer to be an example of how we – that collective we thing – should act towards one another. I would rather be the force of calm and reason even when standing in the jaws of the maelstrom. And if that makes e into someone that is the “problem” then I will gladly wear that mantle.

I have sympathy and compassion for those that are being mistreated because of their differences in society. And I will gladly and willingly step between those swinging the riot batons at them. I will take the blows for them. I will not return those blows. I will struggle to defend myself and others. I will not take the offensive. I believe that once I have taken those steps, to visit chaos on others simply because they are conservatives or part of the current governmental administration – I will have lost the very ground I seek to defend.

Tank Girl’s point is a good one. We, again the collective we, can turn this shit around. We can be magnificent. We can be wonderful. Yes, we can fight the battles. We can achieve the legal equalities that we seek. We can win those battles. What happens after that? When fascists and conservatives are defeated and beaten. What happens then? Those same fascists and conservatives will continue to be a part of society. That collective We were screaming hatred, anger, and attempting violence (in some cases) against those very same people.

Once the collective We win, once the collective We are in charge – I guess it will be back to tea and crumpets at the Red Hen, eh? Collective history suggests that this is not usually the case. All of this is far closer to a civil war than a country v. country war. We will all live within this collective society together. Even when capitulation happens, the battle will likely continue in our immediate environment. Perhaps not openly, but it will be there.

We can turn this shit around. We can be magnificent. We can be wonderful. But I would submit that the collective We need to be a little more careful with the how it is accomplished. Lest we come back to do this again in another forty to fifty years. And maybe then, reason may no longer be available to curb some of the more despicable and disgusting methods of forcing one aspect of society to come to heel under the boot of another. We’ve done that chapter of history a few times before. And right now, we are only a few steps away from it happening again.

Nearly a year back, folks asked what #TheStorm would look like. Well, the edges of it have already passed. We are staring straight down its gullet now. Except that the description of a storm might not be an appropriate metaphor to use. Because this is a more like a Dragon. And it is the same Dragon that has visited our village before. Last time, before the Dragon left to slumber in his lair, our village was a smoking ruin. And now, as the battle rages around us, we squabble amongst ourselves over the choice of weapons that others bring to the battle or the manner in which they swing their swords. And yes, I am aware of how this statement relates on to what I am stating here – the cyclical aspect of it pointing directly back at my own words.

I am not a commander of troops in any of this battle. I manage me. I realize that my approach is open to criticism, ridicule, and disdain from others. Anything that anyone does in life is open to such. But as I noted before I know how to do me. You know how to do you. Far be it from me to tell you that you are doing it wrong. But I might comment that I certainly wouldn’t do it that way. Just because I said it, doesn’t mean you have to listen or change what you do. All it means is that I said it.

 

 

Thinking About….

So, as many of you saw earlier, my middle cat (I had three) crossed the veil this week (just a few days from this writing). Gizmo has been foremost in my thoughts for the last month. After a trip to the vet to find out what was going on with eating issues, it was noted that Gizmo had a melanoma tumor on the back of her tongue that had worked its way down her throat. It was an aggressive growth, as her health and well-being declined rapidly. I had steeled myself the best I could, knowing that these were going to be her last days in this incarnation. I gave her all the juices from the cat food, so she didn’t have to chew as much. In the end, I pureed her food into liquid form so she could get more sustenance. I sat with her in the middle of the night, petting her and talking softly to her during bad gasping episodes as the tumor started to narrow her ability to get air.

The hope was to get her to Tuesday morning when she would see a specialist down in Dallas to try and shrink the tumor with laser and radiation treatment. Thursday morning, she was in a seriously bad way. She had taken to hiding under the bed or behind the couch – her way of dealing with pain was to hide from everyone. At the vet’s office, I kept whispering to her that it was time to let go. As much as I hated to let her slip beyond the veil, a selfish thought admittedly, I know she is not in pain today and that is what was most important to me. Tonight, I will set a bowl of milk out at the stone circle, and say my final goodbyes. The bowl of milk is nourishment for her travels beyond the veil.

Everyone has their own ideas of what happens beyond. For most folks, there is the beloved tale of the Rainbow Bridge, where pets play and wait on the other side for their humans to cross – ready to provide the warmth and love they have done in this incarnation. My perspective; however, is a little different. I am a firm believer in the concept of reincarnation. Beyond the veil, is what is affectionately referred to as “the Summerlands” – a place where one can rest a short bit before coming back in another form. Don’t ask me what the purpose of continually being reborn is because I really do not know. I can speculate wildly for you, but its only speculation.

I believe that every creature has a part in all of that process. Even my little Gizmo. I love the story of the Rainbow Bridge and am deeply touched by the idea that Gizmo will be waiting for my own crossing at that bridge. But Gizmo has her own journeys to undertake. Our Paths will cross again at some point in eternal time and I look forward to when that happens. Until then, my life is far richer from having her in it just as hers was enriched by my presence as her human.

I know some folks will provide their own perspective of the afterlife based on whatever deeply held principles that they will have from their own experiences and connections that they have with the wider world around them (or not have as the case might be). The truth of the matter is this, none of us knows what comes after. You have to experience that in its totality to understand that mystery. And once it happens, there is no coming back to report the experience for others. To understand it, to experience it, one has to pass that point of never returning to this incarnation.

Is there a Heaven or a Hell? Maybe. A Limbo? A Purgatory? A Summerlands? Possibly. Or something we just do not understand or comprehend? A complete nothingness? I can understand that potentially being there as well. And while I sincerely miss Gizmo and wish she didn’t have to cross and experience all of that – I am not ready to cross over myself. I have lots of other mysteries and experiences to still have. Plus, I truly do believe our Paths will cross again, perhaps even in this lifetime that I am currently in. But I cherish the time she and I have had. The experiences we have developed together. Our little rituals for meal-time. Finding her curled up and firmly against my head at 4am in the bed. Her coming out and greeting me every time I came home. I will miss those little, nearly daily moments.

Good night little girl. I have enjoyed being your human. We will meet again. And that never-ending bond will continue to exist. Whatever form it happens to take.

If The Other Guy Had Showed Up

I was reading a recent article with Mark Hamill, and he was relating an aspect of his role as Luke Skywalker that raised an eyebrow for me. It was actually rolled up into using the backdrop of Star Wars – starting with Episode IV with the years of “modern” society played up against. The quote that caught my eye was:

It is tragic. I’m not a method actor, but one of the techniques a method actor will use is to try and use real-life experiences to relate to whatever fictional scenario he’s involved in. The only thing I could think of, given the screenplay that I read, was that I was of the Beatles generation – ‘All You Need Is Love’, ‘peace and love’.

I thought at that time, when I was a teenager: ‘By the time we get in power, there will be no more war, there will be no racial discrimination, and pot will be legal.’ So I’m one for three. When you think about it, [my generation is] a failure. The world is unquestionably worse now than it was then.

I literally sat there speechless, it was an angle to this last Star Wars I had not really contemplated. And one that will likely completely change my perspective on the movie img_9688the next time I sit down to watch it, this coming weekend. But the quote also had me replaying what life was like for me when I graduated high school back in 1984. My generation was wide-eyed and bushy-tailed – ready and willing to take on the challenges of finding peace in the world, finding equality for all, and yes – the acceptance of marijuana – just not as big a point as the first two.

We all came out of high school, full of hopes and dreams – and fattened by the broad-spending to keep up with or better our neighbors in the amount of crap we had. We took that mantra, and stepped eagerly towards debt, changing jobs every few years, moving from apartment to apartment every six months. And we expected no different from our various government entities. After all, we were raised under that mantra…why shouldn’t the government practice it as well?

Racism? Equality? We saw enough of that on TV. With JJ Evans hollering “Dyno-mite!” every episode, the Jeffersons were moving on up to that deluxe apartment in the sky, and Roots was there to remind us of the terrible tragedies that the blacks had gone through. ‘Blacks’ – what a terrible racial naming concept. Except we do the opposite of using the term ‘whites’ as well. But we weren’t running off to hang someone over the color of their skin. Nor were we burning down their homes either. We were on the way to achieving equality. Except that we stopped with finding monetary equality in the corporate job environment. Promotions were harder to find for minorities, and women as well. And there really wasn’t much of a push to make things better. Once we spent ourselves into debt, we literally fought tooth and nail to make a living – essentially becoming a statistic. And eventually moving home in the mid-1990s with our parents…that literal mid-aged lifeboat. We were focused on saving our own skins…not enough time and energy to push for corporate change.

When the 1990s came to a close, the next generation was a larger force in the workplace. Just not in numbers. They learned technologies much quicker, after all they had a longer exposure to technology when they were younger. And that particular notation has continued with each new generation – more technology savvy, quicker with technological concepts. So, once again, my generation found itself focused on competing in the work-force with younger workers who didn’t come with all the burdens we had – family, kids, medical needs, debt. They worked cheaper and were willing to work longer for those lower wages. No push for change coming there.

So now, we are where we are. A political environment that is so divided that the hatred between both sides is thick enough to squeeze out an 8oz glass of vitriol and have enough left over to freeze as ice cubes. The newest generation entering the work-force is having to deal with an aging work-force ahead of them – mostly my generation working for lower-paying positions to just get by. As a rough example, I make a little over 40k a year at my job. Not great pay for a technology-sector worker with two Masters degrees and a Bachelors. Luckily, I work at a job where I believe in its overall mission, and this amount of money is just enough to get me by with a little left over each month. I know many others with the same degree credentials that I have, including my thirty-four years in Information Technology, who make far less than I do, and some work two or even three jobs to get by. All of that clogs the work-force for the younger workers just coming in, which becomes part of the problem.

Now, I am not laying all the blame at the feet of my generation. There are a lot of contributing factors that I am leaving out. But Hamill is correct. My generation failed. And the resulting mess is what we are looking at. There is a lot of clean-up that is going to have to be done, starting with the move towards complete equality. And Gods, I have no idea how we get there. Just looking at my country, America, which likes to style itself as the leader in everything around the world (it is not – and that arrogance is also part of the problem) – we have issues that stem from political issues, from learned hatred of those that are different from us (pick one), from lack of equality, from a lot of things…and people are completely fed up. They are ready to tear shit up over all of this and have in a few instances. We have police officers that abuse their powers of protection. We have politicians that enact laws that are harmful to others over some perceived issue that masks what is essentially racial prejudice. We have laws that are twisted to suit one demographic of people and no court system willing to put the law back into its neutral position. How in the fuck do we fix all of that? Well, let me rephrase this a bit…

How do the younger generations fix all of this? No, this is not “kicking the can down the road” – though it does sound like it. This is a touch of realism. The younger generations are driving the war-cry for change, for an overhaul of the system, for complete equality. Sure, there are those in my generation that have picked up a protest sign and joined the front-line. However, their words are the loudest. Except at the ballot box. The younger generations have a strong mistrust of the system. They are not wrong to have it either. The system is literally set to provide for the “haves” and ignore the “have-nots”. But the ballot box is an area where honor and correctness continues.

Yes, there is voter fraud that happens at the ballot box. Not in the numbers that conservative firebrands at Fox News claim, but it is there. There is also increasing apathy from the block of individuals that are eligible to be registered to vote and are currently registered to vote. The system seems to not really change. Democrats and Republicans (and even many of the third-party candidates) are essentially the same types of politician. They will canvas for the votes of the people, and then swear complete fealty to the political party. Essentially, they are beholden to their donors rather than to the registered voters.

How do you change that? You find candidates to vote for that reject that kind of thinking. They hold their fealty to the people rather than the party. Except that to get on the ballot, you NEED the party’s assistance in all states and territories. And to get that assistance, you need to show that you are in their boat – ready to do their bidding on the various governmental floors when the time comes. And nearly every point that gets made has a counter-point to place it in check. And the outcry of the system being rigged becomes louder.

::sigh:: Hamill is right. We failed. But all is not completely lost. Yes, the storm clouds look dark, and the wind is starting to whip the rain like watery, steel nails into your flesh. But failure is not the same thing as complete loss. If you watch the last Star Wars movie, the individuals playing at being “rebels” are the children. These younger generations are the hope. Yes, we are only going to be around for some of the clean-up of the mess we have created. But we can provide the example of what didn’t work. What needed to be formatted differently to achieve the change that was necessary.

I already hear the words:  “What about Trump?” flying through my Email box. What about him? He represents the last gasps of what needs to be changed. Yes, it certainly is an uphill battle. But I would like to remind you – Clinton won the popular vote 48% to 46%. And that was with only 56% of the total voting populace turning out. Essentially, that means that every other voter did not come out to the polls for that election. It makes me wonder what might have happened if that other guy HAD showed up?