Snippets I

This is the first in a series that I’m going to entitle “snippets.” It will contain brief comments about news of the day and my reactions to that news. I hope that you’ll feel free to comment. I promise not to attack your views the way some people find it necessary.

From The Washington Post: “Last night the news broke that Trump had told Johnson’s widow, Myeshia Johnson, “He knew what he was signing up for, but I guess it hurts anyway.” This was according to Wilson, (Frederica Wilson, Democratic Representative from Florida) who late yesterday told The Post that she had overheard the call on a speakerphone while riding in a limousine with Johnson when Trump called, and that this exchange made the widow cry. This is what Trump claims was “fabricated,” which now has reporters speculating that Trump may have a recording or an official transcript.

Trump also said that he had proof of crimes that could put Hillary Clinton in jail. He intimated that he had proof James Comey was lying. He damn well better have proof of this latest comment because the media and the Congress should not let him get away with this kind of insensitive remark. A President of these United States would not make such a remark. Donald Trump would make that type of remark. In addition to his comments, I cannot help but wonder why it took 12 days for Goldilocks to say anything about the four Special Forces soldiers killed in Niger. From what I understand, it was during that period that Trump and Bob Corker were having their own private little feud, at least they were at each other when Trump wasn’t off playing golf.

Opioid Crisis: There is no question that we have an opioid crisis in America. The question is, “What are we actually doing other than saying that it exists?” Big Pharma is a lobbying group in Washington almost equal to the NRA. We know that getting gun regulations passed is about as certain as Hillary getting pregnant, ergo, we’re not doing one damned thing. As most of you are aware, Donald Trump is not my president, but we do agree on one thing: This is, without question, the most incompetent collection of assholes ever to sit under the Capitol Dome. If 435 people cannot find consensus about anything, it has nothing to do with issues and everything to do with personalities. It seems to me that Paul Ryan, Mitch McConnell, Nancy Pelosi, and Chuck Schumer are more useless than tits on a bull and should be voted out of office as soon as possible. If Congress and the Department of Justice cannot reign in what Big Pharma is doing to destroy this nation, they should all be forced to resign. Addiction, in my mind, is not a disease, it is a choice. I made a bad choice when I decided to smoke. I did it for 51 years. Some would say, “Oh, he’s addicted. He has a disease.” Bullshit! Ten years ago, I quit being addicted. I’m not proud of the fact that it took me more than half a century to do so, but I did it…and I’m not the strongest-willed person in the world. Purdue Pharma, the makers of oxycontin and other pain meds should be fined a million dollars every time anyone dies of a drug overdose in this country. Too harsh? Well, since mollycoddling hasn’t worked, perhaps it is time for harsh. If that doesn’t work, let’s give a hot shot to the CEO when we pass 1,000 deaths in any given year…now that’s harsh!

Halloween Parties at School: Hey, schools are for educating our children, not for partying. You want a Halloween Party, tell mom and dad to invite your class over after school. We bitch and wail about how our kids aren’t staying competitive with children from other countries, but it’s no big deal if we have a party at Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, etcetera. What’s next, a party every day of the week for some damned fool thing or other? Suck it up, kiddies, you’ll get your fill on October 31st which, by the way, is a Tuesday. Oh, and the little darlings won’t still be on a sugar high on Wednesday?

Racist writings anywhere: I am so pissed at cowardly racists who sneak around writing the “N-word” on residence hall rooms, paint swastikas on synagogues, and otherwise scuttle like the rats they are. Of course, I’m also tired of the Black Lives Matter signs that I see. Every life matters, people. Patience and understanding helps everyone. If it wasn’t so damned long, I’d have that made into a sign for my yard. When the culprits are discovered, not “if,” but “when,” they should be prosecuted and jailed for a minimum of a year, during which time they should be force-fed exactly what the consequences of racism are, including holocaust films as well as how blacks were treated in the past…and in the present. This is the 21st Century and we surely haven’t come very far in our tolerance of others…and that’s just plain wrong!

Who is responsible?

It doesn’t matter if you’re are the chief executive officer of a Fortune 500 company, making millions of dollars a year or a lowly peon doing grunt work and making minimum wage. By accepting the position that you are in, you are also accepting the responsibility for your position, and you are accountable for doing the job your position requires.

That seems to be antithetical to some of the people I’ve encountered lately. From, “Naw, I don’t know where that is in a retail store,” the answer given by a clerk who then walked away to the person who is supposed to open the doors of the gym but who makes no apologies for being late or even attempts to get to her job on time, people don’t appear to understand the words, “responsibility” or “accountability.” I can understand the person at the gym who informed me one day that the manager often called her and asked that she check him in early because he was going to be a few hours late. If her boss doesn’t take his job seriously, why should she?

In accepting the Liberty Medal Award recently, Senator John McCain said, “To refuse the obligations of international leadership and our duty to remain ‘the last best hope of earth’ for the sake of some half-baked, spurious nationalism cooked up by people who would rather find scapegoats than solve problems is as unpatriotic as an attachment to any other tired dogma of the past that Americans consigned to the ash heap of history,” While he was speaking on a far grander scale than anything of which I could conceive, there is the analogy of the clerk who didn’t know where the product was or the employee who didn’t care to open the business on time. We, each one of us, is accountable for the actions we take, the responsibilities we accept by the positions we occupy, and when we attempt to pass the blame onto others, our structure falls apart.

Let’s get down to basics for just a moment. Assume that you and I have gotten married. We’re young, but we want to start a family. We’ve saved a bit of money and believe a baby would not be a problem. Our child is beautiful. Then things begin to go wrong. I lose my job but find one that doesn’t pay quite as well. We struggle but we make it because we have accepted the responsibility of parenthood and the responsibility of being married. We do not put our child in an oven and kill it…yeah, that’s right, put the, in this case, two kids in an oven and kill them. You do not allow me to kill our child and help me bag it up and throw it into Boston Harbor. Let me go a bit further. You are a tenured professor at a prestigious university. You are a published author and reasonably respected in your field. However, you’re getting a bit long in the tooth; you’re tired; and more and more, you allow your grad assistant to take over your classes, make assignments, correct papers, and on some days, you don’t even bother to show up at your office. Are you being responsible? Hell, no, but you’re tenured and an institution at the institution. Sad to say, but you can get away with this nonsense for many years, or at least until some young academic vice president comes along and questions why you weren’t at your 8 am class or why you had your grad assistant teaching your 5 pm class on the same day. Then, you find your office is being moved to the basement of the crappiest building on campus. If you don’t get the message at that point, you’ll probably receive a buy-out offer that will be difficult to refuse.

I can understand why people are late for work…they don’t care about others. They are dissatisfied with what they are doing. They are underpaid, at least in their own minds. However, if this is their attitude, in truth, they are not underpaid. They are actually overpaid because they aren’t fulfilling the responsibilities they agreed to accept when they accepted the position. Did I ever feel overworked and underpaid in any job I held? Of course, I did, and there are probably times when you felt the same way. However, it was my feeling that if I continued to perform, to be accountable and responsible, things would change, and, for the most part, that’s exactly what happened. Rather than look for others to blame, it’s up to us to understand exactly what is required of us before we accept any position where we have responsibilities and where we are accountable for our actions. It doesn’t matter if it’s being that CEO or that retail clerk, that tenured teacher, or the coach of some team. Oh, did I forget to mention the coach? Let me explain. My high school had not won a football game in several years. A new coach was hired and the old one went back to his first love, teaching mathematics. On the first day, the new coach addressed the team. “You can continue to lose games if you want,” he said, “or you can work harder than you’ve ever worked before and we can win.” I was there. Those were his words. I didn’t play the game, but I was there. My friends worked harder than they ever work before and wound up with an 8-1 season. Under George Boothby, the new coach, they became a team, each person responsible to the other, each with a job to do, each accountable to the coach and to their teammates for their actions, each savoring victory after so many years of defeat.

It is the same with anything we do in life, whether it’s the amount of studying we do to achieve a certain grade, the amount of effort we put into our jobs, or the hard work we do to ensure that our team wins, we are accountable and responsible for our own actions. That’s a lesson that seems to be fading away in America today.

Truth in advertising

“Try Viagra soft and have an orgasm all day.” Good Lord, can you even begin to conceive of what that would be like. Take it in the morning and you’re dead by noon. I just can’t imagine such a thing. I’m quite certain there are some young – very, very young – boys out there who are thinking, “Wow.” Son, let me tell you something…you’ll tear all the tendons in your wrist by eleven o’clock. Either that or your partner is going to say, “Enough, awready,” at least by noon. Orgasm all day…who the hell are they kidding. That’s false and deceptive advertising.

There’s a lot of false advertising out there. I saw one today that encouraged you to try it for clearer skin should you be the unfortunate victim of Psoriasis. The only problem with the product is – hey, at least they were honest – it had been known to cause constipation, nausea, vomiting, and cancer. Oh, great, my skin will be clear but I’ll get cancer. Is that a trade-off or what?

Truth in advertising, I’m ready to believe, is a thing of the past. Or was there ever really genuine truth in advertising? After all, the job of the advertiser is to convince you, the consumer, to buy its product over that of another advertiser. Think back to the days of yore when patent medicines were sold that cured everything from warts to your Uncle Everett’s gout, and from flatulence to Aunt Emma’s lumbago. Most were damn near 100 percent alcohol, codeine, cocaine, or some other drug that made you so damned happy or cuckoo that you didn’t even know you had warts, gout, flatulence, or lumbago. As a child, I remember being given terpenhydrate and codeine as a cough medicine. You didn’t cough because you were freakin’ drugged. The stuff was terrible, yuck, what a taste, but it sure worked. Later, mother became more merciful and purchased a cough syrup called Cheracol. Now this was a cough syrup. It was pleasant tasting, a nice dark purple color, and it contained enough codeine that you could really get high. Oh, I should also note that when I was a child, these were over the counter medications. Eventually, someone realized that you could boil these medications down until you had something like pure codeine or something and that shooting this shit by injection, even if you didn’t have the flu, had a marvelous, albeit somewhat deadly, effect. I guess the druggies didn’t need to hear the advertising, they just gravitated toward the drugs.

Let us return to this truth in advertising thingie that we began talking about. To do this, we first must talk about the Food and Drug Administration, the oldest comprehensive consumer protection agency in the federal government. It was begun by the passage of the Pure Food and Drug Acts in 1906. The principal reason for the act was the filth of the Chicago stockyards and the resulting food poisonings not only from beef but from other products being sold as ‘food.’ In 1930, it became known as the FDA and in 1938, laws were passed that allowed the department to regulate cosmetics. Yep, that’s right, all sorts of crap were being passed off as cosmetic aids, some of which could harm the skin. Today, the FDA is still protecting consumers though inspections and close watches on what can and cannot be sold. All that said, I guess we finally get to the question of truth in advertising. While the Federal Trade Commission is responsible for protecting consumers by “combatting unfair and deceptive acts or practices,” it often appears that their regulation and enforcement if lax. Take, for example, the new Toyota ads for 2018. The emphasis here is on high speed and having fun by driving fast. The ads I’ve seen so far appear more to promote recklessness rather than Toyota’s traditional ads featuring performance and cost savings. Perhaps they’re taking a page from the book of Lexus which has, for several years now, been speed oriented. Last I knew, we still had traffic laws regulating speed limits in this country, but you’d never know it to see some of the car ads on television. Perhaps the ads that bother me the most are those that talk about prolonging your life if you have cancer. Cancer kills, and while new approaches to cures are being found just about every year, this insidious disease killed well over half a million Americans last year. I cannot tell you how many of my friends have died from cancer. I stopped counting long before my wife contracted and died from it. For advertisers giving what I consider to be false hope to cancer victims by advertising products that they say will extend one’s life is tantamount to not telling them just how much more suffering will be involved when stage IV finally arrives. When I’ve discussed Joan’s struggle with others who have endured the caregiver role, there seems to be agreement that if it had been legal, our patient would have wished for an early out. I guess that’s my real bitch with advertising. Forget the bait and switch deals that car dealers use. Forget the 70” latest model television sets that the store had for sale at only $99.95…that were purchased by a couple of store clerks when the first came to work…”but this one is better at $799.95.” You know the type; you’ve been there.

Perhaps what I’m encouraging you to do is don’t let yourself get taken in by advertisers. Have a good laugh when you read those ads in the Sunday paper, but always remember, “Believe nothing of which you read and only half of what you see with your own eyes.”

Just my view

The exposure of Harvey Weinstein as a sexual predator hopefully has opened a new door about how women are treated in this country. While his actions are disgusting and disgraceful by anyone’s standards, he has exposed an attitude that has been accepted by too many men since the Pilgrims first set foot on the shores of the New World. After all, how many women signed the Mayflower Compact, the first written form of government in what is now the US? If your guess was zero, you’re right on the money.

I’m still trying to figure why it took another 228 years for the women’s movement to begin. One of the reasons that I question this goes back to the Salem witch trials that began in 1692. The huge majority of those convicted of witchcraft and executed were women. If I was a woman at that time, I think I’d begin to take a hard look at the men in charge and begin to organize just because of their stupidity. Yes, of course I know that’s not fair, but 228 years is a really long time. I’m certain that during that period there were attempts by individuals and perhaps even small groups, but men being men – and a lot haven’t changed today – they forcibly put down requests for even the most basic of rights. After all, didn’t the Constitution state that, “all men are created equal,” but with no mention of women.

You may find it difficult to believe but it wasn’t until 1920 that a law was passed that banned husbands from beating their wives, and it wasn’t until the 1970’s that the criminal justice system began to look at domestic violence as a crime rather than a “family matter.” When you begin to do a little research on the subject of women’s rights, that is, if you have a compassionate bone in your body, you’re stomach starts to turn over the manner in which our great, great grandmothers were treated by the men in their families.

But, enough of that. The first true organized women’s movement began in 1848 in Seneca Falls, NY. According to Info Please, “After 2 days of discussion and debate, 68 women and 32 men sign a Declaration of Sentiments, which outlines grievances and sets the agenda for the women’s rights movement. A set of 12 resolutions is adopted calling for equal treatment of women and men under the law and voting rights for women.” If you wish to learn more about these resolutions, I invite you to do a bit of research on your own. I think you’ll find it worth the time. In spite of efforts on the part of women such as Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony, Lucy Stone, Alice Paul, and many others, it wasn’t until August 26, 1920, that the 19th Amendment to the Constitution, granting voting rights to women, was signed into law by Secretary of State, Bainbridge Colby.

Today, there are women in positions of leadership in almost every field of endeavor. Are there enough? Absolutely not. The glass ceiling, wage inequality, and even “…the grabbing of pussy” is still considered by many narcissistic, misogynistic, pigs to be a male entitlement. It is not. I don’t believe I have ever heard of a case of a female leader walking up to a male underling and grabbing him by the penis “because she was ‘the star’ and could do anything.” No, 99 percent of women – I hope – would never consider such an impropriety.

I can well remember in high school the ‘conquests’ bragged about by classmates. I think it was every boy’s dream to “get laid” before he graduated. Admittedly, I did not. I graduated a high school virgin, something which gives me neither great disappointment nor great pride. Was I a virgin before marriage? Sorry to disappoint, but no, by then I was a proud member of the male chauvinist club. However, and I say this in all sincerity, I do not believe that ever in my life have I consciously disrespected any woman. Perhaps that’s because most of the women I have known have all been a hell of a lot smarter than me and without overtly doing so, have commanded my respect. I have been fortunate to have worked directly for two women. Carolyn “Pat” Patillo was the office manager of Curtis Publishing Company in Boston. As part of the co-op program at Northeastern, I worked at Curtis for several terms. Pat was a victim of cerebral palsy. She walked with two crutches, and it was an effort for her to do so. She was fair, objective, honest, and insightful. Her critiques were always accurate, but it was her sense of fairness that impressed me most. My second female boss is still among the living and therefore, I will not embarrass either of us by mentioning her name. For the first two years of our relationship, it was hell on wheels. To this day, I cannot tell you the exact reason. Had she been brought in as a new vice president? Yep, and I resented the daylights out of it. Was she one of “those” women’s rights advocates who wore her beliefs right up front? Yep, and I’m not certain I thought that was particularly fair. Over the last five years of our relationship, we became a team, and anyone with a critical word to say about her became a lasting enemy of mine. She taught me a great deal, and I will be forever grateful. (STK forever).

Will there be more Harvey Weinstein exposes? I sure as hell hope so. Gentlemen, we can no longer think that we are the be all and end all. Many, many of the women today, as well as the women of yesterday, are so much brighter than we are. It’s up to us to swallow our macho, asshole pride and admit it. I’m pleased to see attorney’s general going after companies and demanding equal pay for women. I was really pleased when GM named Mary Barra as CEO, a promotion that was well earned and well deserved. While we still have a long way to go to smash and throw away that ceiling made of glass, who knows, maybe a Madame President isn’t such a strange dream after all.

What a country II

I really must stop asking, “How stupid can he possibly be?” Donald Trump seems to be taking it as a personal challenge…really. His increasing fall from reality must be looking pretty darned good to what few Cabinet members he has as well as a growing number of Congressmen and women. I mean, come on, when you get into a pissing contest with the dictator of North Korea who couldn’t care less about his own people and you bring your country pretty close to the brink of a nuclear war, you really should be checking in with your shrink to see if your elevator is still going all the way to the top. If that’s not bad enough, you forget your obligations to American territorial possessions, sign an executive order that is going to screw millions of poor people, and manage to alienate several of our closest allies by disavowing a nuclear deal that has the approval of those allies. What am I missing? American voters thought they were electing a businessman, not a politician. Donald Trump isn’t a businessman. He’s a billionaire who played at being a businessman. And he certainly has no political intelligence whatsoever. His screws aren’t loose, they’re ready to fall out, and I expect to see Heckel or Jeckyl pop up as the head falls off. At least those two crows knew enough to get out of trouble when it happened.

While Germany, France, Great Britain, and the rest of the civilized world is wondering, “Whatever happened to America,” we’ve become embroiled in such critical questions as, “Will Trump’s admonition of NFL owners result in new standards of behavior during the playing of the national anthem,” and “Who gives a damn about those millions of poor people and their health care anyway.” I think Goldilocks’ next move will be to name Harvey Weinstein as Secretary of Health and Human Services. It just seems logical for a jerk to appoint a jerk-off. It appears to me that Mr. Trump is making waves in every direction but one, that being Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation. It’s called keeping Mueller off the front page and out of the television headlines.

Speaking of the NFL, if the owners vote to force all their players and staff to stand during the national anthem, isn’t it a violation of the First Amendment rights of the players. And when a group of those players decide to protest anyway, by taking a knee or whatever, how will the owners punish them. It certainly cannot be by benching them. The alternative would be to dock their pay. I’d like to see them enforce that one without finding themselves involved in a lawsuit. Perhaps Trump will issue another executive order absolving the owners of any responsibility for their actions and put the blame where it so rightly belongs…on Roger Goodell and the NFL. If that makes sense to you, you might wish to apply for one of the unfilled deputy secretary positions that Trump has yet to fill. Speaking of executive orders, Trump was highly critical of Barack Obama back in 2012, tweeting “Why is Barack Obama constantly issuing executive orders that are major power grabs of authority?” Trump has signed 50 executive orders to Obama’s 26 at this point in his Presidency. It’s truly amazing how short Trump’s memory is, and I’m certain that were he to be confronted about the executive orders he would maintain that he never, ever, made that tweet. Trump’s lie-ability is truly fascinating; both The New York Times and the Washington Post, as well as Politico and several other sites are keeping track of the lies told by this man since taking office. I stopped counting at somewhere over 400, and that was only from the Times tally.

It seems to me that Donald Trump, in addition to all of his other lovely qualities, is a racist white supremacist. Elaine Chao and Ben Carson are the only minorities in his Cabinet, and his intense, secretive hatred of Obama is coming out as he attempts to destroy anything that smacks of success from the Obama Presidency. First, Trump was one of the first authors of the “birther movement,” which stated that Obama was not a viable candidate for the office. Once Obama was elected, the tweets from the “tower” constantly bombarded America’s first black president. Oh, and among those tweets was the number of times that Obama was ‘caught’ playing golf. In a tweet from October, 2014, dear Donny wrote, “Can you believe that, with all of the problems and difficulties facing the U.S., President Obama spent the day playing golf. Worse than Carter” Sorry, Donald, but at this particular point in time, you are a plus seven over former President Obama. Try this one, “Can you believe that, with the humanitarian crisis in Puerto Rico, Donald Trump spent the day playing golf.” See, what goes around, Donald, can come around and bit you right square in the ass!

Hey, Donny

America has more than 800 military bases stationed around the world. Soldiers, sailors, marines, and airmen populate those bases. Yet, we now have a commander-in-chief who is threatening to pull military forces from one of our own American territories and halt the progress that the Federal Emergency Management Association (FEMA) has made purely because he received some criticism for his slow response to a humanitarian crisis when hurricane Maria goddamn near wiped out the island of Puerto Rico. Donny, baby, you don’t get to pick and choose which parts of America you want to help. It doesn’t work that way. You see, that little Oval Office in which you sit when you’re not holding “rally’s” with your 30 percenters or playing golf at one of your clubs, yeah, that’s the place. Okay, remember now? Anyway, from that office, you are in charge of 48 states on the continent of North America, another really, really big state up beside Canada, a state comprised of islands that is damn near 4,900 miles from the mainland, and…now read carefully, Goldilocks…several islands that we call American possessions. In other words, we are responsible for the well-being of those possessions. You probably don’t give a damn about them because they aren’t allowed to vote in presidential elections so, in your particular vernacular, you would probably say, “Fuck ‘em. They can’t vote for me so why should I give a shit about them.” That about right, there, Blubber Gut? Just so you’ll get a bit of a geography lesson, the possessions are called American Samoa – wow, they even use part of our name – Guam, where American casualties numbered nearly 8,000 during WWII, the Northern Mariana Islands, which were also contested during WWII. On Saipan, for example, Americans killed numbered more than 3,000 and over 12,000 wounded. You also should be concerned about the other two possessions…Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands.

So, you see, Donny, your job is a bit more than worrying about who’s going to get on your case about the legislative agenda that you don’t seem to have, or what ‘fake news’ outlet is calling you out on your lies and other misstatements. You have a great deal more responsibility than even you thought you’d have when you swore an oath to “…protect, preserve, and defend the Constitution” last January. Instead of being concerned about the size of that crowd, or who’s kneeling and who’s standing for the National Anthem at NFL games, you really do have some bigger issues with which you should be concerned, and that includes issues that have to do with these things we call territories.

In all fairness to you, Donald, I don’t believe that any of your predecessors did a great deal to help these island possessions. Hey, Puerto Rico defaulted on $70 billion in bonds, had a really shitty power grid and basically sucked as anything but a tourist destination. They also have a pretty rotten gang problem that means tourists damn well better not venture too far from where they’re staying or else they may be staying for good…in the ground. Here are a couple of thoughts: First, maybe, the resurrection of Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands could be your legacy. Can’t you just see it now…in big bright lights…”THE MAN WHO SAVE PUERTO RICO AND THE US VIRGIN ISLANDS…DONALD JOHN TRUMP.” Man, wouldn’t that be a gas? They might even let you build a hotel and a golf course somewhere. With your business savvy, you could turn both places around…and you wouldn’t have to spend a penny of your own money, just get Congress to appropriate some big bucks. Oh, the second thought: Sell the fuckin’ things to some unsuspecting country in the Caribbean; get rid of ‘em. Might have to take a bit of a loss on the sale, but hell, you’ve done that before. You know, decrease the debt of the lower 48, and while you’re at it, how about Hawaii. The Japanese are already the major investors in the islands. You could still keep Pearl Harbor, and it would be a nice whack at Obama since that was where he was raised. I know you’d do anything to give him another shot.

Anyway, Donny, as we used to say on the boats, “It’s time to fish or cut bait.” Either commit to Puerto Rico and other United States possessions and make them great or tell them that you want nothing to do with them and go down as one of the biggest assholes ever to sit at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Just as an aside, I think option one is your best choice because you’re already on your way to achieving the second option. Why add more fuel to the fire?

I am convinced that I live in a white-bread-world. Oh, hold your horses, I’m not talking about color or race or any of that crap. I’m talking about a world of naiveté and innocence (that’s what naivete means dummy), a world where my neighbor’s kid is shot by the police because he just happens to be black and is waving a toy gun or knife around. I’m talking about a world where my friend doesn’t wait overnight before calling the police and telling them that her four-year old didn’t make it home from pre-school yesterday. I’m talking about a world where a child’s greatest wish is to have her own bedroom. And yes, I’m talking about a world where fraternity hazing does not include letting pledges drink themselves to death. I just don’t know those worlds. They’re out there, but I don’t know them…and I certainly don’t care to know them…but I should care.

I grew up in a world where I did have my own bedroom…at least until I was twelve and my baby brother came along, but there was no big deal about that. Yeah, we had a bullet come through the living room window one night and lodge in the wall near the TV but we didn’t think a whole helluva lot about it. It wasn’t an every night occurrence. I’m white and so were all the cops in my home town; hell, I didn’t see a black cop until I began attending college at Northeastern University in Boston. Either my mom or dad was still up when I walked in the door one night…well, except for the one night that I slept over after a party…unanticipated good fortune had smiled upon me and I didn’t get home until 6:30 the next morning. Mother was in the kitchen and just looked at me and shook her head…how do mothers know these things anyway? My world, even at Northeastern, consisted of Boston’s South End. We were told that we would not be welcome in the Roxbury community. I just accepted that. “Here’s a place where you don’t go,” period, end of statement, okay, fine by me. Even when I pledged a fraternity, we weren’t forced to down alcohol to the point of getting so shitfaced we might have died. Fact is, I don’t recall any hard drinking during my pledge days. Sure, we got whacked on the ass with the pledge master’s paddle a few times, but nothing excessive. Sure, we had some crazy pledge tasks to perform, but I’ve already told you about those. And sure, we were a bunch of assholes who were supposed to be brotherly, but I never saw it that way.

So, where are these worlds of which I am so ignorant? Who are these people who allow their kids to do things that get them shot by police? Why do people feel the need to carry a weapon in what we call a civilized society, and if it’s so damned civilized, why are so many people either getting shot or shooting others? This. Is. America. It. Is. The. Land. Of. The. Free. This is a place where, if you get off your ass and get a job, work hard at it, go to school – day or night – and work harder and better, then maybe, just maybe, you can avoid getting into a position where you don’t have to carry a gun, don’t have to worry about getting shot by a cop, don’t have to worry about next month’s rent. Or am I dreaming? Am I blowing smoke? Do I even know what the hell I’m talking about? I haven’t lived in that world, those worlds, the worlds where we don’t even know if there will be food for dinner…I just don’t know that or those worlds. I certainly don’t wish to become part of them, but I would like to know more about them. Why? Because maybe if I knew something more about them, I might just get some idea of how to change them, make them “better,” if that’s the right word to use. Are there people out in those worlds who care so little about themselves that they wouldn’t want “better” if it was available to them…even if it meant putting forth a little effort to reach “better?”

We used to have fried baloney and baked beans for dinner a couple of times a week. I don’t recall that we had steak very often. We ate our chickens when they stopped laying. I don’t recall eating a raspberry until after I was married. There were people in my town who sort of looked at my family like we were from across the tracks. That was okay because we just minded our own business and didn’t associate with “them.” When I went to work, part of my salary became part of the household income, and that was just what was expected…no big deal. Based on what I see on television and read in the papers, I guess, in some ways, I must have grown up pretty damned rich, either that or I grew up in a world where things were far less complex or complicated than they are today. Of course, the country was only 152 million strong back in 1950. Today, our nation is nearly 325 million people, and I’m quite certain that is part of the explanation for these different worlds of which I write. Nonetheless, it would be nice if those of us who don’t understand these different worlds could somehow begin to better acknowledge, understand, and perhaps encourage the elimination of a few of them.

Perhaps we could begin to eliminate some of these worlds by using a bit of common sense. If you can’t afford to have another kid, keep your damned legs closed. If you don’t know where your kids are, get off your ass and find out. If the boyfriend gets rough with your baby, throw the bastard out the door. If, if, if, and I know these things won’t be done…just like I know I’ll never know those worlds. But I sure as hell wish they didn’t exist.