For the love of guns and flooding

The typical thing would be to say, “I’m not looking for a debate” when posting about a touchy subject. The reason we’d state that is because we just want to speak our minds without being challenged. We want to believe what we already believe and nothing more, nothing less. It’s our right, I suppose, to our opinion where things like this are concerned.

The river is flooding the town here.

I look at this flooding, around the issue of mass shootings, gun violence in general and the specter of “gun control” in this country and I think, This is the river and the river is flooding the town.

We are drowning, one by one. The fields are marshy. The cars cannot move. The water has risen to the point where we forget where it ends and where we begin. The water is cold, but we’ve been in it so long that we have forgotten the cold. It’s tempting, perhaps, to speculate that it is the water that’s warmed to our skin, rather than to recognize the truth of it. We’re losing touch. Our skin is numb. We cannot feel our feet or hands. Extremities have no more information to give us.

We cannot leave it all to the civil engineers. This is our town, after all. It’s important for us to keep moving, to support the work of the people who are meant to help us understand what’s happening. When they look at the river, we want to know that they see the river bed, the water, the boundaries, the tributaries, the ocean that feeds it. We want to be sure they see the weather patterns, the global implications, the wheat fields and strip mining. We want to support the clean-up efforts, the burial rites, the grief process, the replanting along the riverbank.

We are drowning here.

Come up to the high ground. It’s a sacrifice to leave the trenches dug out to protect long-held beliefs, property, fears that have been inlaid since we were young, injured, fortified. It’s not enough to dig the trenches. The water is too much. The river is too swollen. The factors are too many and too powerful.

And we are drowning here.

It’s time to come up to high ground. We all want to live.

Advertisements

another election…

Well, it’s only a short time before we end this torture we call “presidental election season” and begin to find ourselves again, hopefully. By now, people who are voting are most likely certain about who they’ll award their vote and people who are not voting are unlikely to be swayed by anything short of aliens landing. (and I’m not ruling out aliens landing.)

So, my vow to you, dear Reader, is that I will do my level best to ease up on my infernal liberal ranting here at Mrs Metaphor between now and the election. So in light of that, I will take up another election, this time electing to offer you this website of cute puppies that you may reference no matter how ugly it gets out there-

The Daily Puppy

 

Only cute puppies and kitties can save us now.

In defense of the empty chair…

Clint Eastwood made news last week with his odd interaction with an empty chair at the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Florida. It was, in my best estimation, an attempt to make his point in a way no one else had yet made it. Departing from the boring, soundbite prone, talking points, Mr Eastwood placed an empty chair on stage, seated an invisible President Obama in it and confronted him on some issues. I’ve employed this technique myself a number of times. The process of the “Empty Chair” is a therapeutic device. While many of us were entertained and some of us were horrified, there’s a large number of people out there in the world using this technique session after session in our therapist or pastor’s office, on weekend intensives and interventions. The Empty Chair is no cause for joking for a great number of people.

The first time I asked someone to use the Empty Chair process I was leading an intensive women’s weekend. She was skeptical about the process. It was rudimentary, no bells and whistles, no deep breathing, no props….except for that chair. We placed the chair in the middle of the room and I asked her to stand wherever she felt comfortable, wherever she felt she was in control of the situation. The Empty Chair process is all about giving the person doing the work a chance to take control of  a situation, to say things he or she could never have said, might not still be able to say. Without the possibility of being “shut down” as may have happened in the past, speaking one’s mind to an empty chair is cathartic. It can break through walls that we’ve built up over the course of many years. We begin to see how we can be in charge of our destiny again when we purge the issues of our past. It’s important.

The problem with Mr Eastwood’s Empty Chair, however, is that he made the mistake of adding imaginary dialogue for President Obama. Adding this in puts him right back into a place of feeling out of control again, putting in what you *think* they might say takes away one’s power, changes the playing field from being able to speak those things you want most to say, to defending and then attacking and then defending again.  Obviously, talking to an empty chair does mean we’re engaging in a little bit of fantasy, we have to imagine our subject IS there. But in my limited experience, the shift in our spirit doesn’t happen if we take it too far, we just tend to dig in to the bitterness we hold, we grab tight onto what got us there in the first place, we project our own fears and doubts and injuries on to our subject and we lose track of what we were doing there in the first place.

Now of course, it’s possible that Mr Eastwood never intended for his Empty Chair to be therapeutic, for himself or for the GOP viewers or even for the undecided voters. It’s possible it was simply a new way to beat the same talking points into the hearts and brains of the voting public. The potential power of the imagery becomes a farce then, just another way to entertain people with propaganda and uncomfortable laughter.

I wonder, though, why Mr Eastwood, who is seemingly passionate about social issues, did not choose to place someone else or something else in that empty chair. The empty chair is powerful imagery in this day and age fraught with potential. If Mr Eastwood wanted to simply make a point in a powerful way with the empty chair on stage I can think of quite a few potent possible symbolic occupants-

Why not ask us to place the large number of people who are unemployed in that empty chair? Or perhaps it is the chair of someone whose job was shipped overseas?

Is it possible that chair belongs to the people who are without proper healthcare?

Is it plausible that chair belongs to people who feel their rights are violated on a regular basis, people who feel that they truly ARE invisible in our current culture?

Does that chair belong to a child who does not have enough to eat?

Can we visualize that chair as belonging to the home owner on the verge of foreclosure?

Is the empty chair also a metaphor for the voter of today who feels it’s not even worth showing up at the poll because big money in politics means more than his or her vote?

It’s a good image, that empty chair. I’d suggest that it’s therapeutic for all of us regardless of our political affiliations. It may be wise for us all to consider what that chair represents, who might be sitting there and what it is we need to say ourselves to that person. Do we need to regain control of our situation by having a conversation with the empty chair? And yet, I wonder if it may be better therapy for our country to stop having conversations with empty chairs and start having real, tangible conversations with our appointed leaders, to speak out by voting, by signing petitions and by protesting.

I wonder, too, if it may be better therapy for our country if we find time to put aside the rhetoric and start addressing the issues of those who really have been forced to leave the chair empty; the poor, the weak, the powerless, the voiceless, the grieving, the lonely, the desperate. I wonder what our culture would look like if we spent time seeking out these people, hearing their stories and offering them the empty place at the table.

guns and ammunition…

This is a rant. It’s all I got.

Another shooting today, this time in New York City. The Empire State Building saw bloodshed this morning and after the initial “newsy” tweets came the barrage of finger-pointing and sarcastic remarks and thoughtless, souless jokes and I fell to tears because it was all I could do. Sitting alone today, two kids at school and two kids away on a trip with their dad I fell to tears in the wake of yet another shooting and another wave of commentary, speculation, wry connections to political parties and religion and left or right wings and I fell to tears because it was all I could do.  Perhaps it is all any of us can do, really. Smug remarks won’t fix our broken spirits. Sarcastic retorts won’t keep this from happening again. There is no “perfect” candidate to vote into office.  There is no “perfect” solution to what ails us. What ails us is too deep, too rooted in mistrust, anchored to an absence of hope and an abundance of apathy.

“Us” is a big term, unwieldy, unmanageable. I can only speak for myself perhaps. I can only answer for my own part in how things unfold. It is all about being “local.”

I’ve tried posting about intelligent discourse where politics is concerned. I’ve tried to curb my own tendencies to fall into being a smart alec when confronted to non intelligent discourse. It seems to fall on deaf ears and I admit, often I don’t take my own advice when it comes to curbing my outrage when the news cycle revs up. It’s a struggle, there is so much machine to rage against.

It seems as though the only goal I can set for myself these days when it comes to political discussions and news of the world is simply this, “Try not to be an asshole.” Whatever I post, whatever I respond, whatever I think or feel I’m working the hardest to just not be an asshole toward my fellow man where politics is concerned. Heaven knows I am prone to fail at this and for that I am most truly apologetic because after all is said and done no matter who gets elected I really want to keep the friends I have and I’d prefer they didn’t think I was an arrogant asshole.

Lord knows, the discussion won’t miss the opinion of one more asshole.

I fell to tears today in the wake of the anger and infighting and loss of life. I fell to tears and prayers of “Lord, have mercy” because in the end, it feels as though it is all I can do. In the name of compassion and kindness, we fall to tears.

Advice for politicians…

Some days I like to mentally rearrange all the thoughts in my head and put them on paper so that they make sense in the grand scheme of the confusing world. It’s like straightening out the utensil drawer of my brain. It can be very helpful. What follows for today’s post is a version of this. It’s a compilation of all the things that seem to come to me over and over as I read the various and sundry politics related news stories these days. You could say this is a kind of “open letter” for politicians although I doubt many would read and take to heart this unsolicited advice. They pay big money for advice, generally. They have gas-powered multi task machines, as it were, they have little need of my vegetable peelers and melon ballers I wager. Nevertheless, here is my advice to politicians-

1)Don’t tell lies.

Winston Churchill has said that “a lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on.” Politicians seem to bank on that these days. The truth is that propaganda and spin have always been a tactic for swaying public opinion. Before the United States was the United States, in fact, the founding fathers printed up propaganda to shore up their case to the public. They knew that without public support there was no way they could fight the British and survive. While I am not proposing that Thomas Paine’s “Common Sense” was filled with lies I will contend that it painted the picture of our state of affairs in a certain light. Clearly, along with other writings of its time, it was effective enough to muster public opinion.

These days we have both an advantage and a disadvantage in the glut of information available to us. We have pages and pages of new outlets and fact checking websites, all with different funding sources, affiliations and slants. If we’re diligent and if we don’t give in to the “raging fervor” of the latest 7 word sound bite we can unweave the truth from the spin. The lie you tell, Mr or Ms Politician will be found out. It may take time but it will come to light so do us all a favor and hire fact checkers for your fact checkers and tell the truth.

2)Be relevant.

When my kids argue it’s inevitable that they got off topic and someone pulls out the old “well YOU broke mom’s vase that one time.” I know that you feel it behooves you to tell we voters all of the unseemly things your opponent has done but to be honest, Mr or Ms Politician, when we’re struggling with paying our mortgages and raising our children without poisoning them with poor food choices or bad cultural norms you’re really only pandering to your own side of the fence. Stop fertilizing your own grass over there. We can smell it way over here. I’ll admit there is a time and a place to inform the public of inconsistencies, scandals and unsavory character traits it generally falls flat when used as a “response” to a completely different topic. Unless you have NEW, RELEVANT, TRUE information that would help us to make an informed choice and that is not simply a talking point or apropos of nothing, then keep it to yourself.

3)Have your own plan.

This one is easy, it really is. Picture it this way. People wash up on a shore from a shipwreck. One man, who has been there for four years has built a village and invited the people to live in it. One person from the wreck who wants to be in charge goes forward and starts tearing down the village to prove how unsafe it would be to the people. When he’s done the people on the beach look around and as a storm approaches they all realize they have nowhere to go. Instead of focusing on tearing down what your opponent is doing, why not just build us another freaking village first? Show, don’t tell. Have your own plan, back it up with research and facts. Take some of the money you are spending on “spin” and invest in some great advisors, planners and research folks. Build something.

4)Know your constituency.

The best example of this I can muster is this one- the big news about the ACA ruling has spurred a series of state’s governors saying they will not implement the law when the time comes. This is all fine and good so long as the people in your state don’t suffer while you stand on “principle.” Those people, if they suffer, no matter what their political affiliation WILL vote you out of office when the time comes if you screw with them. It happens, all the time. What people in this country forget easily is that the power of this republic is with the people, not with the politicians. You work for us, we do not offer homage, taxes or fealty to you. We pledge our support of the system of government described by Abraham Lincoln so eloquently-

of the people

by the people

for the people

We’re those people and no matter how you redraw districts or change voter ID laws or recount votes or shovel money into your campaign we always have the chance to throw you and your cronies out.  You might bank on us forgetting this and given the anemic vote turn outs in years past it would make sense that you’d want to bank on it. The tide will turn though because it always does. Tides are like that. Remember too that Benjamin Franklin was right that the only certainties are death and taxes, you have no job security as a politician. Know your constituency, they are powerful.

5) Don’t be a jerk.

Even if you are a jerk in real life, give that up. Sometimes people will elect a jerk because they think that he or she will get the “job done” or “be a good leader” because they appear decisive. It does happen but for the most part, if you look at the candidates who have won the highest office in the land in years past they tend to not come off as jerks. I’m not a fan of many of the Republican presidents I’ve seen elected in my lifetime but even while they were in office I can say I didn’t think they were jerks. Be the best version of yourself, treat people kindly, be a good listener, get your facts right, have a plan and don’t be a jerk about it. That’s all we’re asking.

There is so much more advice I could give to your unasked questions, dear Politicians but I’m not so sure that appealing to you to be better people is really going to make much of  a difference frankly. It could be that the political machine is simply too strong to give us another “Mr Smith Goes to Washington” kind of scenario. Maybe my next open letter ought to be Advice for Voters…

Waiting for the ships to land…

There are days I just wish the extra terrestrials would land and take over or that the evil robot overlords would finally move out from behind their clever disguises. Those appliances lining my kitchen counter are just biding their time, I know it. How long before they become sentient and just start rooting through my things while I sleep?

There are some days when being ruled by a giant toaster sounds pretty good, I admit. Generally I feel this way after a week of political debates or theological arguments. Suffice it to say, this being an election year and weird American commercial theology being what it is, I’m looking a little more carefully at my toaster these days.

Arguing politics and theology wears me out or maybe it just bores me. I’m no rocket scientist but I think I do alright where cogent discussion is concerned. I can follow a stream of conversation, I can add in my own understanding of things. I confess, I’d rather buy the golden rule than buy gold even knowing it’s possible it’ll come back and bite me on the ass later. Maybe I’m a sucker for hoping that the good in people will win out eventually.

I’m posting today because honestly I don’t know how I’m going to last out this election cycle. Between the graphs about who is responsible for the US Debt and the fake email warnings about the president being a secret Muslim and the passive aggressive tweets or FB statuses about the State of the Union address or the state of the church in America I just don’t know how to maintain the “peaceful” and “loving” attitude I’ve hoped to muster in times like this.

The best solution I can consider is to go into a cave somewhere absent all forms of communication and wait it out. Some of my less techie friends think this is an awesome solution for me. They already believe I’m over-loaded electronically and they’re not wrong. That’s why I keep them around. Sometimes I actually listen to them. Sometimes.

It’s a crazy thing, waiting for the aliens to land.

My older brother used to scare me with stories about aliens, sneaking into our window in the middle of the night. He’d say they were gathering information on us, that we wouldn’t even know they had come except for maybe a blurry memory or a strange dream or a bruise a day or so later we don’t remember getting. I slept with my head under the covers for longer than I care to admit. I wasn’t afraid that they were coming to take over the world. I was afraid only for myself and maybe for my sister who shared the room with me. Then again, I didn’t know much about the world then. When I was a kid the big world outside my own neighborhood was not even on my radar. Why would it be?

The news of the world is hard on grown ups. Being a grown up is hard on grown ups. And I’m tired. I mediate fights all day long between my children, it’s exhausting. I don’t want to watch Congress act the way my children do when they are fighting over pie or television or which cartoon hero is better. What leads me into depression around these conversations is that EVERYONE THINKS THEY ARE RIGHT. No one is willing to consider the other view. Have you ever tried to mediate an argument in which everyone thinks they are right and there is no convincing the other party to consider shifting their position? Cherry pie lovers are notoriously unmovable where lemon meringue is concerned. It’s fruitless.

The bottom line here is that I am sick of swimming through the bullshit of modern politics and american cultural weirdness and I don’t see that changing in my lifetime. It’s depressing. That’s defeatist, I know. Sorry about that. If I held to my belief system I suppose I’d pull myself out of that and join Occupy Wall Street or make a stand of some kind against the wall of overwhelming before me. I’d take action. Maybe. But I’m tired.

It’s easier to hope that my toaster comes to life.