Brief Thoughts on the Mexican-American War and U.S. History

The Mexican-American War (April 25th, 1846-Feb. 2nd, 1848), provoked by U.S. troops on Mexican soil (now in Texas, if I read Howard Zinn correctly), was covered so briefly in my U.S. History classes, which I find both pathetic and appalling. What an enormous, awful mess, as all war is. It was just another example of an empire ruthlessly expanding on the backs of soldiers and innocent civilians, in this case Mexicans especially but also economically disenfranchised Americans (e.g., family members and friends of soldiers, themselves largely disenfranchised).

I humbly admit that, as a preteen and teenager, my interest in U.S. History was virtually nonexistent, sadly. I’m glad that has long since changed. The whitewashing and abridgement of whole chunks of America’s history, which appear to only be ratcheting up in several if not likely all– to varying degrees– state school systems, is deeply concerning. There are so many people who, like defiant children sticking their fingers in their ears and shouting and kicking at anyone sharing painful but relevant information, do not want our collective history known. Heaven forbid we actually learn from the past and grow from it.

Brief Thoughts on Leaving Behind the Ladder of Hierarchy Mentality

Modern industrialized cultures continue to be so invested in the dynamic of dominance by some over others, who, according to their gender, skin color, and assortment of other characteristics (such as socioeconomic status), are each placed somewhere along the rung of an ancient hierarchical ladder. Every nation has its own nuanced version of this set up. I’ve spent much of my adulthood empowering people— including myself— to get away from this ladder mentality as much as possible. Clearly, many would rather kill and be killed than give up this outdated, harmful worldview.

Brief Thoughts on Elitism and Education

Staying with this reflection about how in group/out group tribalism pervades human thinking and behavior (such as what I posted about yesterday, re: religion and spiritual paths), I’ve been concerned for a long while about elitism and education. I think it’s a common element of classism, this belief that achieving a formal, higher education equals reaching the highest level of evolution as a human being and those without such experience, and subsequent awarded degrees behind their names, fall short somehow. Hence, such individuals are stunted, less than. (They are then to be pitied, which, of course, is so patronizing.) It’s an embedded extreme assumption I grew up around and have intentionally spent years steadily releasing from my psyche. I think this belief by many in the educated middle and upper classes has actively contributed to a lot of the white working class alienation and subsequent anger we’ve witnessed channeled through the rise of Trumpism in recent years.

There are many other ways to view success and human evolvement besides through the lens of formal education achievement, right down to taking in each person’s own strengths and laudable ability to live their own lives as best they can day to day— whether they happen to have a college degree or didn’t finish high school.

Political Plug and Rant: I Support U.S. Senator Edward Markey

I’m struck with what seems like ageism and superficialness overly influencing the Democratic primary race for the U.S. Senate seat here in Massachusetts. I’m supporting the incumbent Ed Markey for re-election. His voting record and particular issues he’s impassioned about have long impressed me. I’m left thinking, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” I appreciate his Green New Deal proposal, which he worked closely on with young and vibrant Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio- Cortez. She clearly respects and values him as a close ally and collaborator in Congress, as does Senator Warren. I’m grateful for Markey’s concern for the USPS and his advocacy to sufficiently fund it. To my knowledge, his environmental track record is excellent. Over the years, he’s been very responsive to me when I’ve written and emailed him with numerous concerns, many of them regarding the welfare of the environment. He’s been on the front lines fighting to ensure Internet neutrality. And as far as I know, he’s pro Medicare for All.

Along comes Congressman Kennedy– young and handsome and, well, a Kennedy. These attributes alone are not relevant for me. (I mean, we’re not talking here about filling a position for modeling stylish men’s clothing.) To my understanding, he’s comparatively more conservative than Markey, who continues to have plenty of energy and ideas to keep doing a great job as my U.S. Senator. I don’t mind that Markey is in his 70s and not a Kennedy. I haven’t heard that he’s having any major health problems. He’s not in need of being put out to pasture. I don’t think his age or lack of family fame should matter for voters. Only his long legislative and advocacy record should.

We don’t need this mid stream change during such trying times in federal government (and beyond), particularly when Markey is doing just fine in the Senate for me, the rest of his constituents, and the country at large. But, a substantial number of folks seem overly swayed by someone who’s simply young, good looking, and a Kennedy, his opponent’s legislative record and so much other hard work in Congress be damned.

I say, come on, Joe Kennedy, you could have waited a while longer before running for Senate, because you’ve got plenty of time, and directly support Markey in his solid, ongoing legacy of great work on behalf of Mass. and America overall.

Thoughts on America’s Current Civil Unrest

It is very possibly the design/intent of many of the current vandals and looters in assorted American cities to throw off the central narrative of the urgent need for racial (and economic) justice. However, we each have the choice to keep this recent heinous crime born of racism at the forefront of our minds in the face of what’s going on and to insist others do the same. We privileged white people owe that to our long oppressed Black and Brown fellow humans. Please don’t let all the smoke blur/confuse your mental vision or moral compass around the changes that need to happen. This latest ground swell of violence all started from yet another lynching of a defenseless Black man (George Floyd, pictured) and the lack of justice against this hate crime. There are surely agitators involved who wish to keep the status quo of systemic racism and there are the usual criminal opportunists out looting for their own immediate material gain. And then there are both the nonviolent and violent protestors who are sick of this oppression. Please let’s speak and act up against these ongoing wrongs, and not choose to be inactive so as to simply avoid being associated with violence and criminality when nonviolence is one’s preferred ethical course of action. Such deliberate inaction is acting from out of white privilege, or so I’ve come to understand.

I did see some film footage and accompanying written narrative of peaceful Black protesters in Minn. trying to dissuade white people from vandalizing and looting. Again, please don’t lose site of what’s at stake, especially for people of color.

I want to add that, coupled and intertwining with ongoing system racism, America’s economic structure has been strained to a breaking point. To my understanding, civil unrest such as what we’re currently seeing is what eventually arises from more and more disenfranchised people being juxtaposed up against increasingly concentrated wealth and power of a few. In my lifetime, this imbalance has only grown more extreme. And Drumpf’s divisive words and deeds keep just fueling the pent up rage and anguish so many people are going through, as misdirected as these visceral emotions are for some. This current chaos is a storm of a sort fueled by the need for a new and better, fairer order, racially and economically. The status quo won’t hold because it can’t, not at least if enough of us collectively want a truly working, thriving democratic republic.

A Lovely Day

I spent a lovely day with my husband shopping for assorted necessities plus a pretty bird bath (pictured), which we then set up by one of two trees in our yard. We capped it all off by taking a pleasant evening walk in the neighborhood. I observed how the next phase of plants and trees are blooming, the bulbs along people’s lawns having peaked some weeks ago.

Amidst a culture peppered with so much Drumpf-inspired Sturm und Drang idiocy, I’m continuously grateful to be living La Dolce Vita of sorts in a peaceful, largely sensible-filled immediate community. (How’s that for a pretentious mix of literary and cinema references?)

More Momentary Political Musings

Perhaps the U.S. presidency will eventually become more of a figurehead position than anything else, like the Queen of England is over Parliament. That would be fine with me, particularly if grouped together (i.e., pact-made) states carry more power. The U.S. is too large with its major regional differences (e.g., the South vs. New England or the West Coast) to run very effectively anyway. Let corporations have to contend with more regionalized cooperative governments who collectively lean more Democrat. As a few large united fronts, these pacts can push back against those corporations more effectively. Of course, this would all depend on just how close-knit such coalitions could and would become in working harmoniously. Right now, a world pandemic crisis that we’re in has me thinking of how crises, by nature, catalyze energy and focus to make major changes that are usually viewed by most as impossible or, at best, very slow to happen. Still, it’s nice to dream. Again, my imagination takes me places…

National Movement

With a cooperative pact between governors happening here on the Eastern Seaboard and the three states on the West Coast doing the same– including Governor Gavin Newsom declaring CA a “nation state” last week– I am feeling both hopeful and intrigued. The thought of states banding together to eventually become separate countries to fill the vacuum of federal leadership feels strangely possible, even if this may result in civil war. My imagination is a rich one, I admit. But, national movement and restructuring in some actual ways seems to be happening. Hmmm…

A Strong Hope

In regards to the COVID-19 pandemic crisis here in the United States, my frustration and sadness over not only the lack of presidential leadership but absolute detrimental, minus leadership from out of the White House are felt acutely of late. But, these feelings are placed right up against a strong hope that solid leadership from other quarters, including by some governors, congresspeople, doctors, nurses, and many others around us will somehow be enough to see us through.

Facing the Inevitable

Inevitable reality cascades over me. Recession is surely on the way as part of having such necessary mass social distancing going into effect. I have felt so fortunate to live in a thriving area of commerce and culture. But, local restaurants and other retailers whose owners have business loans and/or personal home mortgages will be– or already are– strained around keeping up with their monthly payments. Given that a large percentage of them probably at least have mortgages, this will soon be a large-scale problem, with banks and stock markets reacting to this strain. Employees of these businesses will then (or actively are, I already imagine) be cut back drastically in response to such huge slow-down of public purchasing of goods and services. Sales of online products and physical necessities have and will increase exponentially, until spending money runs out for a significant percentage of consumers whose employment has been adversely affected by this global crisis. Not everyone can simply work online from home. Already, I myself have shelved my upcoming plans to make a certain large purchase in the next few months or even probably this year.

Here in the United States, leadership at the federal level has been extremely lacking, unquestionably. The only high up elected official who seems truly capable is House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. But, even she is not quite enough. I am grateful for some degree of state level competency where I am. Again, it seems to be too little too late, though. To my understanding, we could and should have had successful containment during an earlier window of time that is now long closed.

I do not mean to sound fatalistic or complaining, because I have faith we’ll get through this, except for those who will die of COVID-19 and/or economic-related fallout. At this point, it’s all about mitigating bad outcomes. People– myself included– will need to help those who are especially isolated and/or economically impoverished by this TWILIGHT ZONE of a situation. It is going to be very rough for a while before things get better. In the meantime, I’m well aware there are lives to keep safe– our own and everyone else’s around us. And, with me as a psychotherapist and my husband who works in customer service at a small community bank, we each signed up to be on the front lines in our own ways.

Take care, dear readers, both of yourselves and those around you. There are solid safety guidelines out there for avoiding infection and spread of COVID-19. Please follow them responsibly, while also helping those you know (and don’t know) who may especially be in need.