A Dream Deferred: Thoughts On Dallas In Two Quotes

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.”

I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia, the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr

What happens to a dream deferred?

Does it dry up
like a raisin in the sun?
Or fester like a sore—
And then run?
Does it stink like rotten meat?
Or crust and sugar over—
like a syrupy sweet?

Maybe it just sags
like a heavy load.

Or does it explode?

Langston Hughes

Bernie Sanders: Damned If He Does, Damned If He Doesn’t

Bernie SandersTwo headlines and their subheadlines over two days from the same online publication, submitted without any need for commentary:

How Bernie blew it: Even his staffers admit — holding back against Hillary might have cost them the nomination
Given how close this race is, it could have been a different story had Bernie been more aggressive from the start

Salon, 4/4/2016

Paul Krugman: Bernie Sanders’ increasingly “ugly” campaign is a sad finish to what was supposed to be a “positive and idealistic” race
Sanders successfully created the impression that he was “above the fray,” but was playing dirty all along

Salon, 4/5/2016

A Perfect Illustration Of Hillary Clinton’s Duplicity

both-sides-mouthHeadline from today’s online edition of The New York Times:

After Michigan Loss, Hillary Clinton Sharpens Message on Jobs and Trade

Headline for the same article from national paper edition of The New York Times:

 Clinton Retools Message On Job and Trade Deals

The difference between the two is interesting to consider.

On one hand, the online version is less charitable, as it mentions the loss in Michigan.

On the other hand, “sharpens” is more charitable than “retools”, since, clearly, the former suggests something that is the same, only now sharper, and the latter suggests something that has been fundamentally changed.

This was no sharpening (my emphasis added in bold):

DETROIT — From the start of her presidential campaign 11 months ago, Hillary Clinton has presented an upbeat assessment of an improving economy, saying Wall Street and corporations would be held accountable, but must be part of the solution for all Americans to benefit from the country’s prosperity.

I want to be the president for the struggling, the striving and the successful,” she often said…

[Michigan’s] voters, scarred by the free trade deals associated with Mrs. Clinton and her husband that have been widely blamed for the loss of American manufacturing jobs, delivered a surprise victory to Mr. Sanders, who railed here against “disastrous trade agreements written by corporate America.”…

Stung by the bad showing, Mrs. Clinton was already recalibrating her message, even altering her standard line before the Michigan race had been called. “I don’t want to be the president for those who are already successful — they don’t need me,” she said at a rally Tuesday night in Cleveland. “I want to be the president for the struggling and the striving.”

This is just the kind of thing that explains why, in an ABC News/Washington Post poll from late January 2016, only 36% of Democrats find Hillary Clinton to be trustworthy.

I’m reminded of how, when Bernie Sanders entered the race, the media narrative never took him seriously as a candidate who could win the Democratic Party nomination, but there was considerable talk about how he could nudge Hillary to the left of her traditionally centrist positions.

And, while it’s tempting to conclude that the shift in Hillary’s message mentioned above is proof that this is happening, the very fact that she changed her message to hopefully improve her chances of getting elected erodes our trust that she won’t change it back if she IS elected.

The Sound Of Lies

Squander

Awareness vs. Self-Preservation: Revisited

burying-ones-head-in-the-sandThings typically get quiet around here, at Fish & Bicycles, around the December holidays, but if you read my last post, titled Awareness vs. Self-Preservation, it was likely pretty obvious that I was struggling with the weight of the world.

So, I took a break from blogging.

Thinking about it now, a few weeks later, I feel no small amount of embarrassment for having assumed that it was both humanly possible AND my responsibility to attempt to carry the weight of the world.

The several comments I got, from readers generous enough to take the time to offer suggestions, reminded me that like so many things in life, awareness vs. self-preservation is an artificial mental construct. There actually is no such choice to be made unless we irrationally convince ourselves otherwise. 

Rather, both things are desirable. Awareness is good and badly needed, AND humans need self-care, indeed self-preservation, in order to use that awareness, to notice the existing good in the world and the potential for manifesting more good.

As the new year approaches, I don’t currently have plans for any formal resolution-setting process, but I have set one goal, and that is to take better care of myself, that I might be better able to take care of others.

I’ve mentioned here numerous times over the years that I am a musician, and since, historically, one dependable way of taking care of myself is to make music, more specifically to make music with other musicians, one step I’ve already taken towards taking better care of myself is to fully commit to a new music project that I’m involved in.

I’ll share more details soon about this project, but for now I’ll say that it involves the most technically challenging music I’ve ever played, requiring me to work hard at learning new things, which at the age of 51 is no easy task, it involves building wonderful new, and warm, as it turns out, relationships with band members I’ve never played with before, and, having volunteered to build the band’s online presence, I’m getting to mix in other vehicles for creativity, like graphic art and writing.

So, I’ve definitely turned a corner, getting just enough distance between me and the gloom in the world so that I can carry on, do what I can, help when I can, be there for the people in my life here and now, and even experience the joys that remain entirely possible in life.

Awareness vs. Self-Preservation

burying-ones-head-in-the-sand

“It’s good to be exposed to politics and what’s going down here, but it does damage to me. Too much of it can cripple me. And if I really let myself think about it — –the violence, the sickness, all of it — –I think I’d flip out.”

–Joni Mitchell, from Rolling Stone Magazine, 1969

I think about this ALL the time!

A couple of weeks ago I wrote that I was choosing to face some gloom, because not doing so would be contributing to the problem rather than the solution, and the toll it took on me was considerable, I just about flipped out.

See, I feel like, if I’m going to be helpful I need to be well-informed. But man, getting informed, reading as much as I can on issues, reading more than one source, reading competing ideas, it all adds up to a lot of exposure to ugly details, terrible injustices, radically horrible attitudes and ignorant ideologies.

And yet, even if you bury your head in the sand, your ass is still sticking up in the air and vulnerable to getting mightily kicked.

I do believe that spirituality can help, I keep doing my meditation and yoga in hopes that being more firmly grounded in the present moment and less susceptible to regret and fear will help, but I still can’t avoid becoming overwhelmed by the unforgiving harshness in the world.

So, what’s the solution?

How do people like career activists and humanitarian aid providers do it, day in and day out in some of the most desperate situations?

Any ideas?