Quick Thoughts on Kraft and Human Traffickers

Personally, I have no moral judgment against consenting adults receiving money for sex from other consenting adults, as long as all parties concerned are doing so completely from a place of free will. I don’t think it’s my place to judge what consenting adults do with each other behind closed doors, including whether money is exchanged between them or not. But, it’s a different matter altogether with trafficked individuals, who have been captured and imprisoned into a life of prostitution. Shame on both the traffickers and purchasers of the “services” provided in such heinous, criminal circumstances. Robert Kraft and others should know better. To Kraft et al, I say, find unfettered consenting adults for sexual servicing and stop perpetuating a cycle of brutal exploitation. And I do think that paying for sex with a trafficked individual should be considered a serious felony offense, and an even more grave one if the person is a minor.

This incident involving Kraft is yet another example of largely rich white males continuing to exploit women and minorities in this skewed, power-imbalanced culture. Nothing new, sadly, but well-worth fighting to stop.

Thank you, Martin Luther King, Jr.

Over time, I have grown more and more grateful for MLK, Jr. and his deep, visionary thinking. We are still as a society working on catching up with him, towards manifesting, slowly but surely– in a three steps forward, two steps backward kind of way– his beautiful dream.

I embrace his overall philosophy and feel freshly sad today that Dr. King’s life was cut so short. America and the world lost a great soul and thinker.

Rant: A Certain “Missionary Position” Facebook Meme Is Not Funny

Over on Facebook, there is a cruel meme going around referring to the missionary (or missionary-leaning) man who was recently shot dead with arrows by member(s) of an isolated indigenous island tribe off the coast of India. While I do indeed agree that his actions were not thought out and that he had no right to barge into the territory of a protected tribe of people who were innocently minding their own business as they went about their lives, I find it in very poor taste to mock his death.  Posting a picture of a man with arrows in his back with the accompanying description “Missionary Position” is tasteless mockery, yet it has been reposted by people who know better.  Doing this only adds ammunition to the ongoing polarization between us and those who mock so many other kinds of lives lost, lives who most, if not all, of my friends over on Facebook say they value, be they those of trans people, gays and lesbians, Muslims, Jews, Native Americans, Black people, other peoples of color, and so on.

I’m not a Christian, but I know many wonderful Christians, including those who would not sanction this recently deceased man’s ignorant behavior, even though, in his own mind, I think it was actually well-meaning. (Please consider that possibility, and think of “forgiving our trespasses,” as part of a worthwhile Christian prayer goes.) Problematic evangelicals who do support what this man did and seek “justice” against the tribe will only martyr the man and themselves in their cause, drawing justification from being antagonized by anyone mocking his death. Do you like being antagonized? I suspect not. Let’s try and step away from such a protracted, pointless fight by not stooping to the same low level of those we deeply don’t agree with and perhaps don’t even like. Burning Pagans back in ancient times didn’t somehow get made better by burning Protestants, Jews, or Catholics, or whoever else.

I don’t find actual, real-life violence against another person funny, certainly not when it leads to death, no matter how much I may not like the individual. And this dead individual has been duly labeled by others as acting from a place of hubris and arrogance, among other negative adjectives. Yes, and be that as it may, I have no doubt he had positive qualities as a human being, another member of the human race like the rest of us. Let the judgments of him and his harsh fate be enough, then leave the matter be. He has a surviving family, I’m sure.

Let’s please consider not mocking the death of any other human, even if the incident occurred from an act of self defense. I love humanity as much as whole segments of it frustrate and anger me, as I know it does for so many others, including those reading this. I will not intentionally, consciously laugh at the killing of another. Let’s not participate in dehumanization, please. Others who anger us already do far too much of that. We know and can do better.

Rant: California and Its Wildfires Vs. Trump

As a California native who still loves that state very much, I’d like Governor Brown and Governor-elect Newsom, as well as Senators Feinstein and Harris, to take Trump on with his outrageous statements about cutting federal support to CA with managing its wildfires. For every $1.00 CA contributes into the federal Treasury, it gets 0.80 in federal funding for services, etc. In other words, CA gives more than it gets back. Well, CA is in justifiable, clear need right now.

Sen. Feinstein likely wouldn’t participate in this call-out of Trump, or very briefly so if she did at all. She’s too much of a moderate sell-out. Still, between Brown, Newsom, Harris, and some of CA’s congresspeople speaking up, the discourse would be eye-opening. Perhaps a good share of Dems in the newly-flipped House would get behind this fight Trump has called. That would be great if legislation and executive action could be created around curtailing CA’s funds into the U.S. Treasury and re-directing said funds into that state’s own fire management. That’d wake Trump and others right up.

Trump’s statements are both clearly wrong and unfair. He is scape-goating CA because he knows a huge hold-out of folks, including elected officials, can’t stand him there, yet CA is an enormous economy for the Union as well as in the world.  CA is far more important and ever-lasting than Trump.

A Personal Declaration

I am a pro-feminist ally Two Spirit gay man, really as feminist (and ever-evolving) as one can be, short of being cis-gendered female and, from there, identified as feminist. My heart and mind are aligned with women deeply, as that is my nature. Those who know me well know that I speak truthfully from my heart.

In the past few years, I have learned that what I have stated above remains very much the case while more clearly separating out this commitment to myself:  I will not be a doormat of domination and/or disrespect from others, including feminist-identified strong women.  Previously, it was just domineering, intimidating, difficult men with whom I set down such a clear boundary.  Now, it’s anyone who comes across this way to me– domineering/disrespectful. This is a fairly recent development, one that has taken a few years to clearly figure out and delineate. Self respect means being clear about being treated fairly and kindly by anyone and everyone, regardless of their gender and identity as a feminist. And, yes, I am always open to learning from and owning up to my mistakes. But, for someone to be in my personal life on an ongoing basis, I will expect the same reciprocation of valuing and respect that I myself am willing, able, and glad to express, no matter who you are. Peace.

Choose a Side

Sometimes, fire must be met with fire in order to prepare to face whatever gauntlet has been thrown down. On the national political front, one was thrown down a while ago, though many may still spend time parsing out exactly when that was. At this point, the “when” doesn’t matter. The gauntlet is clearly there and now it’s time to face this reality and decide which side of it we each are truly on. That surely occurred in Nazi Germany, when many people in France, for example, joined and became “The Resistance” to fight Hitler’s tyranny. I am struggling still with “resisting,” though I know that who I am and how I live is already considered resistance in certain quarters. I also know this: outside of my job role as psychotherapist, I have little time and energy to try and convince Trump supporters to think, feel, and act differently than they currently do. I am on a certain side of the gauntlet. And to those who are working still on softening hearts and educating minds towards becoming more compassionate and broad-thinking respectively, well good for you and thank you. I’ll do that here and there on the job as a clinical social worker. But, outside of that, in my personal life, I’ve simply committed to protecting my rights and others’, uncivil as that may indeed sometimes be. You ain’t seen nothin’ from me yet.

Further Thoughts on the Film BLACK PANTHER

[***Spoiler warning: Outcome of movie referenced towards the end of this article.***]

I’ve seen the movie BLACK PANTHER twice and feel like I can still watch it again and derive more to think about. I have read a few articles written about the film, including a very critical one, which has also helped me to mull it over further.

Historically, Black Panther’s kingdom of Wakanda is a country that has never been truly known or fully “discovered” by the rest of the world. This makes that nation a completely uncolonized land, truly a safe haven for African born people. From this backdrop, the struggle to return to one’s origins when one has not been born in her/his ancient, ancestral land, but descended from natives still there, is powerfully depicted in the movie. I can only try to fathom the workings of this beautifully complex internal and external struggle to sense ever-deeper into one’s African roots and form a clearer, stronger identity from there.  And all this done as a means to help facilitate a solid inner state of purpose and agency in life, these being basic human needs for thriving, not just surviving.  Such a process is constantly played out both individually and collectively for Blacks in America and everywhere.  This movie struck an inner chord for viewers by distilling and mirroring these aforementioned strivings into a compelling portrayal of one man’s flawed but earnest efforts to connect to his beginnings and a resulting cultural identity he had heretofore found lacking, albeit seemingly just within reach.  All this is juxtaposed against an idyllic vision of people living from a line of unbroken rootedness to their ancestors, cultural traditions, and a subsequent sense of cohesiveness and effectiveness in the world around them.  The virile Black Panther King T’Challa, his brilliant tech-savvy princess sister, and other characters closely associated with the monarch each embody this ideal of a solid, grounded identity in their own appealing ways.  Talk about feel-good fun!  Ultimately, regardless of one’s race(s)/ethnicity(ies), I think it’s a natural impulse to wonder about one’s heritage, those somehow special, unique beginnings of where one came from that inform who one is now, be that biologically, culturally, spiritually. Hence, why I–who appear as being almost as “white” as you can get– was moved by this film and its message of valuing a meaningful, alive-feeling connection to one’s rich background, whatever that happens to be, or at least honoring the longing for such. It’s a longing I myself hold dear and sometimes pursue at fulfilling.

Practically speaking, Wakanda is an anachronism, not to mention an obvious bubble of a utopia, placed outside of the context of linear, “real” time as most, if not all, of consensus reality would dictate. Still, this fictional land with its ancestrally “pure” people and the narratives that unfold from it comprise a pertinent allegory of a “place” from which to derive and better understand generalizable truths or large-scale shared experiences about the human condition, some of them just discussed above.  Given that “universal” has become understandably so associated by many with overly-absolutist, simplistic, monolithic thinking, I am purposefully not using that adjective here before the word “truths.”

From a political perspective, I appreciated the complex “villain.” Effectively played by the handsome Michael B. Jordan, the anguished character Killmonger has a good primary intention. He plans to balance out mass injustice via powerfully arming (with Wakanda’s unique vibranium-made weaponry) oppressed populations around the world. All downtrodden African descended peoples are his understandable main concern. However, fulfilling his vision would have led to draining Wakanda of resources in fairly short order and putting the country in imminent danger to other, larger superpowers.

I felt ambivalent about the anti-immigrant message conveyed in the film. But, then, Wakanda is not representative of, say, the U.S.A. It is a small country with unique resources to protect, especially from falling into the wrong, corrupt hands. I could imagine how welcoming immigrants into the little nation would lead to endangering Wakanda’s particular integrity. I imagine others have thought this issue through more than I have, however, and am open to hearing/reading other views on this. I did find that King T’Challa’s opening up his country the way he chose to at the end was naive and not well-thought-out, as much as I deeply appreciated his magnanimous intention behind doing so.

In BLACK PANTHER, the protagonists and main antagonist (Killmonger) were neither “all bad” or “all good” in the tired, formulaic, Manichean way of character presentation in a drama. This was both refreshing and a big nod back to the ancient Greek tragedies, where every main player had a tragic flaw that left them vulnerable to downfall while they also possessed humanly relatable and well-meaning intentions.

BLACK PANTHER is undoubtedly one of the most thought-provoking Hollywood blockbuster movies I’ve seen in the longest time, if ever.