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Choices

The last sunset of 2020.

Starting from where you are now, you choose. And in choosing, you also choose who you will be. If this sounds difficult and unnerving, it’s because it is. Sartre does not deny that the need to keep making decisions brings constant anxiety. He heightens this anxiety by pointing out that what you do really matters. You should make your choices as though you were choosing on behalf of the whole of humanity, taking the entire burden of responsibility for how the human race behaves. If you avoid this responsibility by fooling yourself that you are the victim of circumstances or of someone else’s bad advice, you’re failing to meet the demands of human life and choosing a fake existence, cut off from your own authenticity.

~ Sarah Bakewell, At the Existentialist Café

New Year’s Day at the Point.

Well, that was an unexpected break.  The technology gods decided I needed another short break and took away my internet connection.  I can’t blame them for the broken phone, though.  I did that myself by not making sure the unprotected and new phone wasn’t secured in my pocket (which has a zipper for that purpose).  It slid right out and hit the concrete pad near the garage, cracking the screen.  A small portion of the upper corner was shattered but the pieces remained.  I’ve scotched taped it and it’s holding for now.  Repair costs are more than replacement so I will get another new phone.  *sigh*

There have been a series of small mishaps since I last wrote.  The thing is, none of it is important in the grand scheme of life.  I don’t like that I have to shell out more money for a phone, but it’s only a phone.  An object, and not an object of affection.  The waste of it all is bothersome because I am trying hard to be a better human on this planet.  Less consuming, more reusing or doing without if it isn’t entirely necessary.

This is Pig, who might get a name eventually. She’s out on the dock, watching the sunset with me, and part of photography project I hope to get going with the Little Wookie.

I began a Happy New Year kind of post yesterday morning.  It was one in which I wrote that I was beginning to hear and feel whispers of hope.  Then, as they say, all hell broke loose.  Whatever I was going to write disappeared in an afternoon and evening of insurrection tainted with sedition, lies, conspiracy theories, white supremacy/privilege, and domestic terrorism, all seemingly incited by the President of the United States and his enablers (including but not limited to my representative in Congress).  The thing is, many of us saw this coming.  We’ve been watching this train-wreck-in-slow-motion for four very long years.

Screen shot from Twitter this morning.

Like many in the U.S., I was horrified by what I watched yesterday.  I can’t even begin to list all the things that horrified me but the very worst of all was the vivid display of the reality of the two Americas we live in.  I was already well aware of it, and certainly made even more aware of it with the murder of George Floyd.  However, to see it play out in the nation’s capitol building was something I don’t have words for.  White privilege storming the gates, walking right in and looting.  Yesterday and this morning I saw photo after photo, video after video, of right-wing white people destroying or carrying away things from the building.  I even saw one man with zip ties.  What was he going to do with those?  Hold the Vice President or the Democrats hostage???

I am not the only person who thought, who still thinks, that had this been a Black Lives Matter protest, there would have been carnage and rivers of blood running down the capitol steps as the police shot and/or beat the hell out of the people protesting.  If you think differently, you are part of the problem.  If you think differently, perhaps this will convince you:  In June, more than 400 people were arrested in D.C. during the George Floyd/Black Lives Matter protests.  When the Mad President wanted a photo op in front of a church, they cleared the area with rubber bullets and tear gas in an amazingly short period of time.  Tens of thousands throughout the U.S. were arrested during the summer protests.  As of this writing, only 52 people were arrested last night.  52!!!  And 47 of those were arrested for violating curfew.  There are plenty of videos showing the terrorists being led out of the building, just walking away as if nothing happened.

U.S. Capitol. (Old photo from 2011)

The time to be silent, to send out thoughts and prayers and good vibes, has long been over.  The Mad President will still be in office over the next two weeks.  I dread what the next thirteen days might bring from a man who doesn’t know how to lose, a man who incites his followers towards violence, a man who lies and lies and lies and whose enablers take up those lies, presenting them as truth to people who, sadly, appear to belong to his cult.  Maybe nothing will happen.  I hope that to be true.  But I don’t trust the statement he made regarding the peaceful transition of power.  I don’t trust one word out of his mouth or his twitter fingers.

I don’t know much, not for sure.  I can speculate, maybe make a few educated guesses based on what I’ve seen in the aftermath.  What I do know for sure is that we have a lot of work and a lot of healing to do.  I ask you to consider what kind of elder you wish to be?  What kind of ancestor?  What kind of country and world do you want to leave to future generations?

In the U.S. Botanic Garden. 2014.

There are those out there calling for unity and saying that both sides need to tone down the rhetoric.  I strongly disagree.  Those who were complicit in this need to be held accountable in some way.  White people, especially those higher up, are rarely held accountable for their actions when it comes to things like this (and other things, but that’s a different story).  The U.S. is a country where “law & order” doesn’t apply to white men in the same was it applies to BIPOC.  If you don’t believe me, look for images of the anti-lockdown protests at the Michigan State Capitol.  Armed white people, shouting in the faces of the state police who are holding them back from entering the floor of the legislative chamber.  Then look for images of force being used on the people participating in the George Floyd and Black Lives Matter protests.  Go ahead.  I’ll wait.  That’s just a start.  There is a lot more you could go look at to prove my point.

As long as white domestic terrorists and white supremacists are not held accountable, this will continue.  It might escalate.  The fact that there are senators and representatives who are complicit in it makes it worse, in my opinion.

In a ditch.

I can’t begin to explain what it is that makes white people, particularly white men, so angry.  Oh, I’ve read the news stories and the interviews.  They believe their way of life is vanishing.  So what?  Why do they think that their way of life was or is the best way to live?  Yes, yes, yes, I get that change is hard.  Change is also inevitable.  That doesn’t excuse their behavior.  That doesn’t excuse those who should know better knowingly glomming on to the conspiracy theories to line their own pockets or to further their own agendas and power grabs.  And I don’t believe we should excuse it.  We have been doing that for far too long.

I listened last night to the speeches of those who have now lost the power they had, those who have given tax breaks to the rich, those who have done nothing for the poor, those who have done next to nothing during the pandemic to help people, and those who have enabled and emboldened the mad would-be king in the White House.  I listened to their “it’s time to join together” attempts at unity rhetoric.  They are the same people who have spent the past decade or so building up partisanship, building up hatred, and continuing this country’s legacy of pitting working class and poor white people against BIPOC.

Swampy. (Jane’s Island.)

I am not suggesting yet another form of hatred.  I am suggesting that truth is not neutral.  We all have assumptions and opinions.  There is no neutral.  The media and others have used the excuse of “both sides” to avoid truth in the name of neutrality.  When you use that excuse, the idea of neutrality, as an excuse to avoid uncomfortable truths, truths that need to be told, then you are avoiding responsibility.  I am also suggesting that holding out the olive branch without some sort of accountability will not solve the problem.  It is time, in my opinion, to step up.  Make the phone calls, send the emails, and if you can’t do that much, at least start with yourself.  What do you believe?  How do you express it?  How can you show up?  What do you need to do to unfreeze yourself and engage in the work that needs to be done?  And how can that work be done with heart and with compassion?

Lighting up the path.

We need to call things what they are.  Stop the euphemisms.  Yesterday’s attack on the U. S. Capitol building was an attempted coup.  There are Republicans as well as Democrats calling for the 25th Amendment to be invoked.  Others are talking impeachment.  Again.  There are also some who are already trying to change the narrative and place the blame this on an almost non-existent group they call antifa.  It should be noted, as well, that even after an attempted coup, 138 representatives and 7 senators still voted against certifying the Electoral College results.  The statement that “this is not who we are” is not true.  This IS who we are.  And we should feel grateful for the light that’s been shined on that because it gives us an opportunity to make much needed change.

We need to drop the “Greatest County on Earth” rhetoric entirely, forever.

We need to stop even saying that we ARE a great country, and start humbly aspiring to do the work to finally become one.

~ Ethan Nichtern

Sometimes the way ahead is lit up for us.

I’ll step down from my soapbox for now.  Regular programming will resume soon.  I don’t have answers for anybody other than myself.  I know what I’ll be doing, especially while there is time to do it.  One suggestion I have is to start looking into the folks who are working on stopping the disinformation online.  Try the Center for Countering Digital Hate for starters.  Click around.  They have some good advice and they are trying to follow the funding of sites that promote hate.  If you’re interested in racial justice, well, there are a lot of places you can start, but here’s one idea:  Anti-Racism Daily on Instagram.  It will help you unlearn and learn.

Thank you for stopping by today.  Please be safe, be well, and be kind.

Author:

Robin is a photographer, artist, writer, yoga teacher, sometime poet, wife, mom, grandma, daughter, sister, friend, and occasional traveler currently living on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. She shares her daily walks and meanders, a lot of quotes, some of her artwork, and a lot of her photography here on Ye Olde Blogge. Older posts can be found at Life in the Bogs, her previous blog. Robin and her husband are (still!) in the midst of renovating the house and cleaning up the property they refer to as the Wabi-Sabi Ranch, 35 acres that include marsh, a dock on a tidal creek, meadows, and woodlands. Every day brings new discoveries.

23 thoughts on “Choices

  1. …but seeing the photo of PIG was a great release. How satisfied she walks there.
    I am also very grateful that I don’t live in America now. In Norwegian papers there was a note of good things happening BECAUSE of the Donald: The democrats becoming stronger. :)And the black pastor who became member of the Senate.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I hear ya. I feel your pain. Before this happened, spurred on by the shenanigans (to say the least) of the past four years, I started volunteering for the League of Women Voters and for a group that is trying to end gerrymandering, which is how we end up with some of these people in office. (Also how even though more democrats are voted for in a state, a republican may get the seat because of how lines are drawn). It’s not just white guys’ “way of life” is going away. It’s flat-out racism that is in our country’s DNA going back to before the founding. That, and the history of white guys just taking whatever they want (colonialism) even though it doesn’t belong to them. The problem is the men and women who allow themselves to be tricked to not see that’s the actual problem. I’m not sure how you counteract that. If I was, there would be family members I still talk to. I don’t know the answers, but I know these four years have made me more awake than I’ve ever been. And I”m not alone. And the work goes on.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, the work goes on and on, Tara. Thank you for being part of the work. I wish I had some answers to how we could counteract the disinformation and wake people up to the truth of things. I have family members that I barely speak with anymore. It’s harder, too, because we only interact online most of the time (due to physical distance), or talk on the phone occasionally. When my father, for instance, comes for a visit, I can begin to see the stirrings of awakening after a week or so. He doesn’t have access to the propaganda (Fox News, et al.) because we don’t have cable television. We get a few over-the-air channels. We watch only the local news when we do watch the news. Eventually, we can have reasonable conversations about things without anyone getting heated. Then he goes home, gets back on the Fox News and other right-wing news train, and he quickly changes back. He doesn’t see that it’s the rich, white men who want to keep us all disconnected from each other and that those rich, white men want to keep themselves rich and in charge and couldn’t care less about him except as someone they can use to keep the divisions going.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I see the same changes with family if they don’t watch for a while, then right back to the same angry rhetoric and the back to reality realizations disappear. Mine has a history of believing the best about the worst for a long time even before THAT CHANNEL. It’s all psychology if you ask me and I don’t know how to address that when people deliberately use it to manipulate people. It’s sad, I know that for sure. The fun for me is extra because I went to journalism school and worked as a journalist. They don’t even think twice calling “FAKE NEWS” at me, in front of me, etc. I’m just “indoctrinated.” OK, if that’s what you think. I gotta go now and I’ll still love you all, but from WAY OVER HERE.

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  3. Like Tara said, these past four years have been eye-opening, yet also full of profound discouragement and failure to understand. How people can continue to support a man with no redeeming characteristics completely baffles me. Yesterday was – was that really America?!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Unfortunately, Carol, I think that was really America. I think America and how she truly is was on display for all to see. I was reading an article this morning about the artifacts destroyed and stolen, and about the artifacts the insurrectionists/terrorists left behind (including cigarette butts, urine, feces, water bottles, flags, and more). It’s sad and disgusting. On another track, thinking about the litter they left behind gives me an eye-opening clue as to who leaves litter everywhere. I already had some sense of the type of person who might be littering, but this was an interesting look at it in terms of politics and beliefs.

      Like

    1. That’s the worry. The next 12 days. I wish they’d do the swearing-in at some secret location. Put it online. Get it done and then hold a public event, if they want a public event.

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  4. This week, the one in which I’d allowed myself to be hopeful for the first time in months, has turned into a horror show for anyone who believes in accountability. I agree with you that while unity is a great concept in general, in this specific case these people who committed seditious acts need to be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. This includes 45, of course. Justice first, unity next.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you, Ally. I’d like to see all of the representatives and senators who helped lead the charge held accountable. Section III of the Fourteenth Amendment states it pretty clearly.

      Liked by 2 people

  5. So very very hard, Robin. Many tears here this week. I don’t get it. Thanks for writing such a heart-rendering post. Like Barbara I am cautiously optimistic. But we need to get through the next couple of weeks. And I do hope those who committed those acts will be made accountable. Hard to believe this could happen in our country.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I agree with all you say, Robin. Even though many of us could see this coming, the actual seeing of it was horrible. Though can you imagine if DT had actually won the election? And now the rats are diving off the ship. I hope those who stormed the capitol building are held for their actions, but even more so, I hope DT and his enablers are held accountable for what they have done. He really hope he’s removed from office–and then is prosecuted and convicted of the crimes he’s committed, so that the next would-be dictator will think twice about what he (or she) does.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Same here, Merril. Same here. They all need to be held to account.
      Interestingly, I was not surprised by what happened but as you mention, the actual seeing of it was horrible. It was shocking. I suppose there was a part of me that held out hope that people would wake up.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Hear, hear! I’m with you all the way and wrote a piece about the attempted coup on my blog, too. We have many things to do counter this noxious movement: Speak up, vote, organize, write, march (peacefully!). Democracy requires constant work, vigilance, and the building of civic organizations as safeguards. The last one we can take some comfort in. In the last two months, while Trump and his insurrectionists pounded against the doors of our government, enough people held firm so that he did not succeed in breaking down the door.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. We did get luck, Laurie, that’s for sure. The next time might not work out so well. All the more reason to get things in order as quickly as possible, including consequences. We’ve had four years of criminal and next-to-criminal activity. The current administration has weakened some of those safeguards. Biden and Harris have a great deal of work ahead of them. And so do we all.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Robin, I appreciated this post very much. I have found words to be so hard to come by these days; reading yours was just what I needed. I am very tired of the platitudes about the “shining city on the hill” (Reagan); and the “this is not who we are”. I am glad you called it out…it IS who we have become. We are the most arrogant nation on the planet.In my work with government executives from many different counties over the years, I learned more about how we were seen. They were always surprised and delighted to meet federal executives in this country – to see how kind, thoughtful and caring about democracy we all were. It was truly an eye opener the first time or two I experienced that feedback. I believe we have more challenging days ahead. Truth and accountability is what I feel we are all seeking.

    “Truth is truth, even if no one believes it. A lie is a lie, even if everyone believes it.”

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much, Carrie. I had similar experiences with friends from overseas, and when I’ve been overseas (particularly during the George W. Bush era when the U.S. was not seen in a good light). People were always surprised that all Americans are not the Ugly Americans depicted on the news (or experienced as tourists).

      Liked by 1 person

  9. I do agree. Wednesday was horrifying, but not surprising with the rhetoric that has been spewed over the last five years culminating in a stolen election. So much reckoning and healing to do. Yes, the difference between BLM and this mob was astounding.

    More pig please!!! What’s cutie

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I will never forget that difference, Sarah. I’m not glad that the riot happened, but I have hope that it might have awakened some of the sleeping. More pig on the way today. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

Comments are delightful and always appreciated. I will respond when I can (life is keeping me busy!), and/or come around to visit you at your place soon. Thank you!

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