Speaks truth to future power

I’m only on page 18 and historian Alfred McCoy has me excited inside a nonfiction tome as if I’m reading a fiction epic:

Born of war and conquest, empires are unstable, even volatile forms of governance that often exhibit contradict attributes — they are constant yet changing, idealistic but barbaric, and powerful yet fragile.… When a ruling political party retreats from rationality into delusional politics, that nation forfeits both its claim to and capacity for global leadership.

Alfred W. McCoy. To Govern the Globe: World Orders & Catastrophic Change. Haymarket Books. 2021. page 18.

The writing synthesizes disparate stimuli and phenomena that I’ve witnessed and bundled them in ways that better explain for me what’s happening. How what is occurring right now is not unique, as I’ve know it isn’t. McCoy is unsparing in his analysis and descriptions of the arrogance and corruption that constitute delusion. This is most refreshing when the common self-congratulatory statements tend to be “how America’s greatest days are ahead.” We know they are not.

The sooner the people decouple their sense of self from their nationality and the nationalist tendencies in state building, the clearer we will be about meaning, vitality, and who’s decline this is.

Some maxims:

“the concept of geopolitics has proved more useful for those who prefer to analyze empires rather than build them.” (24)

geopolitics is essentially a method for the management of empire through the use of geography (air, land, and sea) to maximize military and economic advantage. (19)

an exploration of world orders requires an understanding of the term “empire,” which has carried an ideological taint that long barred its serious study in the United States. (15)

lacking the boundaries of a nation-state or the powerful, visible presence of an empire, world orders might seem intangible or even imagined. (15)

world orders are much more deeply rooted, resilient global systems created by a convergence of economic, ideological and geopolitical forces…. Lacking the sovereignty of nations and the raw power of empires, world orders are essentially broad agreements about relations among nation-states and their people’s, lending them an amorphous, even elusive quality. (9)

Pages 60 to 70 are some of the best consecutive pages I have read in a long time as they situate the circumstances of what is unknown and what is being grasped to become known and familiar.

The personal transformation that arrives through day after day of dedication and not being dissuaded by a dearth of the right materials nor by the lack of skills or absence of familiarity. But the affirmation and realizations that come with continuing to be, do, and become.

The escalation of the story builds my anticipation and the end of a chapter has me feeling giddy, as I recall the euphoria of childhood and boyhood and being able to rise to some new level that has been unreachable in prior days.

The sentences are beautiful how they carry the feelings, the tastes, the smells and the sounds coming from inside his body, the impacts of his body with the ice and the air and the sun and the routines at dusk and nighttime culminating in abilities that come from continuously being imperfect yet persistent.

How there is joy inside in spite of the most horrendous set up.

These are some of what I experience and ride in pages 60-70 of Indian Horse by Richard Wagamese.

Great Mystery we honour

My grandmother had always referred to the universe as the Great Mystery.

Richard Wagamese, Indian Horse, page 65.

“We need mystery. Creator in her wisdom knew this. Mystery fills us with awe and wonder. They are the foundations of humility, and humility, grandson, is the foundation of all learning. So we do not seek to unravel this. We honour it by letting it be that way forever.”

Ibid.

The transformation that comes from practice and doing the same tasks over and over for many days. The chores build strength and speed and competency. The isolation fosters individuation and delight at the ability to accomplish and notice the changes that come with being able to simply do and with time master at what was once impossible.

Not pummeling, not coping

A life like mine annoys most people; they go to their jobs everyday, attend to things, give orders, pummel typewriters, and get two or three weeks off every year, and it vexes them to see someone else not bothering to do these things and yet getting away with it, not starving, being lucky as they call it.

Muriel Spark, The Portobello Road in All the Stories of Muriel Spark, page 5, New Directions, 2001.

When I told a friend who was just beginning to dip her toe into the pool of consulting and freelancing that “the full time job is a vestige of the 20th Century,” she laughed out loud. Months later, she approached me and said, “you’re right!”

“About what?” I replied.

After an incredible job that came to a shitty end after the man in charge rubber stamped the sexual harassment of at least two women. My 27 year old self was clear that I could not stick around no matter how incredible the three years prior had been. I refused to speak with or even look at the perpetrator, I was so livid that I’m surprised, in hindsight, that I didn’t agitate or create more unease in the final six months. I had sought to get the harasser fired or disciplined but he got a paltry, bullshit type of give-you-a-pass reprimand and with that, I quit.

The 403b pension, the travel perks, and lest of all, the health insurance, we’re not sufficient to keep me bound to a job or employer. The camaraderie and relationships that were the utmost of that job were transferable and s on begging that I was clear that I could take with me.

Within five years of working full time, I saw that the myth of health insurance coverage either HMO or PPO, did not outweigh the loss of autonomy and therefore the likely loss of my own dignity by clutching to a job that I thought I needed more than I needed my dignity.

That set me on my lucky path to not pummeling computer keyboards and incessant meetings. I loathe the ass-kissing that plagues too many workplaces where people in manager and supervisor positions resort to odd if not petty factors to determine the appropriateness of an employee and their evaluations of an employee.

Once I began freelancing, I began to extract myself from the habits of meeting for sake of making sure that people were working and therefore not goofing off. That didn’t make sense in the early decades of the internet before social media. In my first years freelancing, I was regularly astounded at how much people in FT jobs were posting inane shit on social media throughout their day. And I noted that people in FT jobs were posting so juicy as they didn’t have the autonomy to go for a walk when their morning or afternoon had a short or long window of flexibility.

I have wondered how I would be different if I’d stuck to more full time jobs over the last 2 decades: my physical health, my submission to meetings, if reaching 65 for the sake of retirement would be motivating me to excruciate for 2 decades more.

I’ve been lucky with a heavy dose of being wise.

Awful Cultural Norms Around Fathers

There’s this: https://www.shrm.org/ResourcesAndTools/hr-topics/benefits/Pages/help-men-take-parental-leave.aspx

23% of men could be taking parental leave but do not. Coupled with the ratio of 1 day:1 month. That’s how much time fathers take off compared to mothers.

And this simple distinction between managers and helpers.

https://www.theatlantic.com/family/archive/2022/06/couples-gender-inequality-household-chores-caregiving-management/661404/

Is it this, is it feelings

Is it shame? The shame of being a man with a penis and having had sex with women recently or decade earlier? The shame of being a U.S. citizen/an American who has tolerated the two party politics and dynamic between Democrats and Republicans for so long that they’ve squashed other political party alternatives?

Is it the horror of living in a misogynist nation state that does not guarantee maternity leave and therefore does not invest in parental leave nor provide a safety net for family leave. These notions are placed on the shoulders of the individual, not to be determined by policies to guarantee for all.

Is this inaction complacency to these domineering forces and stifling systems? Or a delusion that this greatest democracy in the world is not collapsing and convulsing.

Or is this some symptom or definition of stupidity. Socialized into apathy and subjugation.

Bone tooth wrong

60 years after being assassinated, the final bone of Patrice Lumumba is supposed to leave Belgium to be carried back to Congo by his children this month. There’s no mention of a second tooth and a bit of one finger that the same Belgian, former military, one time assassin, may have kept in his home for decades.

But rather than simply being allowed to collect the remains, the family and others in the diaspora campaigned for an official handover ceremony.

https://www.politico.eu/article/lumumba-tooth-belgium-unfinished-reckoning-colonial-past/

A public ceremony between two sets of public figures, many of whom are stooges or thugs. So one set of thugs handing some things over to a set of stooges, of a different nationality. But, the public speakers (of all nationalities) will have noted that you don’t speak bluntly about the aggressions of the government you’re ceremonializing with.

I’m cynical about any such ceremony. I suppose a public spectacle is necessary though I don’t know that it’s better than a private exchange. But, the public visage will largely be performative more than symbolic done for the cameras, not for the civics.

Reparations (as summarized by M4BL here) consists of five parts = acknowledgment of harm + compensation + restitution + rehabilitation + cessation with guarantees of not repeating.

The Belgian government does not seem to offer any compensation nor restitution nor rehabilitation. Maybe part of the public ceremony could be some verbal statements of never doing such heinous acts in foreign policy nor domestically.

But, it will be lackluster whatever does happen. And with that, I will feel disappointed by the arrogance of the former colonizers who still inherit the excesses of their grandfathers.

This or that or that other that

The opportunity cost of the last hour has been:

  • to read the fiction by Kaitlyn Greenidge
  • read about how to plant a tree
  • write this blog post
  • write toward the other writing projects I’ve got marinating and fermenting inside.

Fortunately, the tree transplant needs a few days before replanting so that gives me until tonight or mañana. Now this blog post is nearly done. And the fiction is before me. And the writing projects is still marinating.

I’m aware of this at this moment as I seek to be intentional and rigorous about doing more of the things that have particular significance though they are also things that I’m less adept and less innate to do on a daily, weekly or monthly basis.

Sometimes I’ll do something but not more it or remember it and when I do remember it I don’t think of myself as having done so as frequently as I might have done it. That is one way that I belittle myself and make myself less small by not recalling when and what I did. So if I’m not doing something so frequently to know that I’ve done it, then I need to figure out the place and way that I’m writing it down so I can find that place where I wrote it says/weeks/month ago to quiet the inner critic that is so omnipresent to diminish the actions and moves and complete cycles that I have done.

It’s tricky this tendency to do something and be someone and then forget that was what I did or who I was such that I don’t remember thy about myself at all. It’s a simple way to erase who I am and what my recent history was. There’s some who write that forgetting is essential to the functioning of our brains but this habitual forgetting makes me smaller in my own cognition and my consciousness.

So I’m practicing and building my memory and skillsets to track and therefore remember. When I cannot remember with my internal gauges I will have to write it down either on paper, a smartphone, a journal or a hash mark on a wall.

I suppose that the tracking, too, is a form or practice.

Peeling to the core

But, why is it so? she asked me.

Mortality. Their own. And the fears of things that they do not understand.

But that wasn’t right.

Later, I said, They are regretting having sold this land that they didn’t agree on. That she wanted to but he did not. Now they have sold it, we live here, and they wish that they had not.

Nor was that accurate. This was so much bigger than us with so many forces at play. We were moving through challenging obstacles in our lives in the midst of phenomena defining others’ lives that were insignificant to our own yet also featured minor ways that we would imprint on one another’s paths.

It’s that they are crackers. Yes, that was it.

Little more to it. Some false sense of entitlement, a delusional importance and some ill and mistaken notions of how you interact with others, not simply that we are a separate family but even what is appropriate and inappropriate for an adult when speaking with or reprimanding a child. They have repeatedly thought that they could have wishes for what would transpire in our lives, which they have amplified by giving voice to some of their opinions. Unwelcome and asinine opinions. Now that they’ve been rebuffed, they bristle and bicker and stir the pot of shit that they want to spread around.

And in the face of such shit spreading conduct, I could cower or attempt to manipulate my body to not get hit by their shit, as a number of other cowardly neighbors have done around the bullies, because the cowards cower in the face of their aggression. And this white woman uses her white woman fragility to push the buttons of men who spring into some misguided actions of attempting to protect. From what, they’re not too clear as they don’t recognize the very whiteness of their ways. They pretend to adhere to being colorblind not knowing that their social circles are heavily white and colorblindness has been unfashionable since 1998.

Not today, haole

On Monday, in the middle of milking a goat, two police cars arrived outside the front gate. They were coming by to check after a call/complaint from a neighbor. A white neighbor. After a few minutes, a third car arrived.

It was bullshit and nonsensical. The 20 or so minutes that they were outside the gate was irritating, scary and instructive.

Some of the lessons of the episode were:

  1. Some people just won’t like you, so don’t take it personally because the exact reason(s) can be hard to discern and impossible to confirm. More likely than not, it isn’t about you.
  2. Align with fear.
  3. When people tell you who they are believe them. Believe them moreso when they show you who they are.
  4. Do not retract or recede or retreat in the face of violence, dehumanization or attempts to indignify.

The five days since then have been galvanizing and reaffirming to experience joy and delight and figure out who stands with us and what we stand for, who and what we value, and how living contrary to dominant culture in a racist, patriarchal, violent, capitalist world is something to be proud of and further fight for in the midst of hostility.