MY FORMER SPOUSE was my guide during my first visit to Dante's Inferno. She led me to the Eighth Circle where frauds are punished. That was, after all, the substance of our marriage. However, my latest foray to the infernal regions took me to the Ninth Circle where demons tore and gnashed at my leg. They were named sciatica.
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A night in the emergency room and a visit to my physician provided me with a substantial stock of Hydrocodone/Acetaminophen for pain, and advice to find some sort of specialist to figure out what was wrong with me. Unfortunately, none agreed on which medical specialty I should consult to help relieve the underlying problem. My x-rays revealed no deformity or injury.
Therein lies the problem. Sciatica is not a diagnosis of a disease or condition. It merely describes symptoms of lower back and leg pain that are the result from some undetermined cause. In other words, all the doctors provided was a word to describe my pain, but no clue as to its cure. Thanks. Anyone watching me writhe on the floor could see that I was in pain. No word was needed. Actually, I don't believe that any word could describe it.
I might have visited the specialists, one-at-a-time: orthopedist, neurologist, et al. (It was a safe bet that I could skip the Obstetrician-Gynecologist. I'm not pregnant, one of the common causes of sciatica.) However, my daughter insisted that I begin with her chiropractor. Really? I was skeptical.
Like most people, I viewed chiropractic medicine as quackery, but my daughter can be extremely insistent. She had been injured while rowing for a collegiate team and none of the sports medicine specialists had helped. Thus, she swears by the chiropractor who ultimately alleviated her pain. She calls him a witch doctor. I made an appointment to keep peace in the family.
You should go, at least once in your life. A visit to a chiropractor is like a visit to The Magic Castle, a Hollywood institution where dinners are served along with magical shows. In addition to diagnosing the root cause of my sciatica, the chiropractor treated me to several demonstrations of medical legerdemain.
In addition to the pain, my left leg had lost its strength. No, the muscles hadn't withered. They simply weren't receiving the proper electrical cues from the nerves to perform as they were supposed to. The chiropractor had me wear a pair of magical colored glasses that restored strength to the afflicted leg. How? Beats me. I told you, it's magic! He could also weaken my good leg by simply touching a certain spot on my back. There wasn't any therapeutic benefit to that latter demonstration. I'm sure that he was just showing off.
After just three visits with the chiropractor, the pain was relieved and strength was returning. I was able to put the pain medication aside for almost forty-eight hours. Then, one night, the demons returned with reinforcements.
If my wife hadn't been at my side to encourage me, I might have blown my brains out. Even the pain pills were useless. I had an appointment with the chiropractor for the next morning but doubted he could help. I had lost the little faith I had acquired in his arts. My wife insisted that we go anyhow. She agreed to start calling the other specialists if he couldn't help.
The problem was that chiropractors manipulate your body, especially the spine, and my pain encompassed every part of my back and leg. It included many types of pain including touch and pressure. It felt as though my leg was immersed in hot lava, tons of it. Even the ride to his office was excruciating. I became annoyed with my wife's driving convinced that she was swerving and jerking the car on purpose, and diving into every pothole as retribution for my many sins.
When we arrived, the chiropractor went to work and the pain subsided with every adjustment. Within fifteen minutes, it ended. He then began asking questions trying to determine what had occurred to cause the flare up. He knows that I am a writer and speculated that something had happened with my chair.
How did he know that? Yes, my office chair has a pneumatic piston that allows the user to adjust seat height. It began leaking air two days before and sank to its lowest setting as soon as I sat on it (no fat jokes please). Ah, there was the problem. Sitting with the knees elevated above the hips was causing my spine to pinch the sciatic nerves. That's when he gave me the magic wedge (no, not a wedgie). It's a simple foam wedge that I sit on to raise my hips above my knees.
The wedge worked. I sat on it on the ride home and arrived there without any pain. The bucket seats in the car had been the culprit, not my wife's driving. (I know that she'll smile at this part as she proofs this for publication.)
The chiropractor also instructed me to ice my back whenever the pain returns. Whereas the pain pill required about forty-five minutes to take effect, icing the lower back works almost immediately. Also, the pain pill only masks the pain. The cold pack alleviates the swelling that causes the pain.
Now, I'm a believer. My wife and I are annoying everyone we know with this tale. Anyone who suffers pain is lectured on the reasons why they should hie themselves off to the chiropractor.
See me next week, and I'll tell you about bats' wings and eye of newt.
I'M ON SHAKY GROUND this year. My hometown team isn't playing in the Super Bowl. The truth is that my hometown doesn't have a team in the National Football League despite being the second largest television market in the United States. Yes, I'm talking about L.A. Los Angeles. The town that the NFL forgot. So, technically, I don't have any vested interest in the game's outcome. Or so you would think.
Click to visit the NFL Super Bowl webpage
I believe that most Southern Californians (excluding San Diego – they don't have a team either – well, at least not one with a coach) have adopted teams to cheer for. Since most of us come from somewhere else, it's easy to cheer for a team from somewhere else where we used to live.
I'm from Baltimore originally. (Excuse me – “Balmur”.) Unfortunately, my team left Baltimore too. They moved to Indianapolis. So, I have a choice: Cheer for Baltimore or cheer for the Colts. One's in the Super Bowl. The other isn't.
I don't like the Colts. Our respective departures were vastly different. I left Baltimore to fight for my nation. They stole away in the night, taking Baltimore's football trophies with them, much like the Clintons tried to exit the White House with the silverware and china. Neither the Clintons nor the Colts are a class act, at least not as evinced on those occasions.
I like the Ravens, but I'm afraid to root for them. I'm a jinx. Seriously. A genuine jinx. Let me explain.
I left Baltimore in 1966 to join the Army. The Colts had won a few championships while I lived there by virtue of the fact that I never attended any of their games. Football wasn't the great sport then that it is today. Baseball was America's pastime and I rooted for the Orioles. They never won a game, at least, not while I was watching. No, not one. They also never rose from the cellar – the bottom of the league standings.
I see you. You're Googling it, aren't you? Yes, Baltimore won the World Series in 1966. Why? I wasn't there to jinx them. I was an Officer Candidate at the Infantry School at Fort Benning, Georgia, at the time. I asked one of my classmates if he had heard who was playing in the World Series. We didn't have much time to follow sports while attending Infantry School. He told me Baltimore won it. I laughed. He didn't. He was serious. That's when I began to suspect that I was a jinx. Not only did the Orioles win the World Series, but also they won it in four consecutive games against the dominant Los Angeles Dodgers.
During the intervening years, after serving a tour of duty in Vietnam, I lived in Hawaii and then Colorado. There weren't any professional sports teams in Hawaii for me to hobble, and when the Broncos arrived in Denver, I was encouraged to leave the state. (They must have heard something.) I moved to Los Angeles.
I never saw the Dodgers or the Rams win a game. Oh, they won quite a few, but not while I was watching. Not from the stands or on television or radio. I had the same effect on the Lakers. They lost the one game that I was allowed to attend. My nephew and I arrived late. The Lakers were ahead. My nephew found our seats while I picked up some hot dogs and drinks. He watched me as I approached our seats. The Laker's lead evaporated with every step I took towards him. His eyes never left me.
My nephew played sports. He even played some college basketball. His mother was under strict orders. I was not even supposed to know when he was playing. Attend one of his games? Out of the question.
So, that brings me to Super Bowl XLVII. Do you want to know who I'm going to cheer for? Better yet, do you want to know who I'm betting on?
It'll cost you.
I HAD A FRIEND who had a helluva good singing voice. He simply sang whenever and wherever the spirit moved him. We didn't have karaoke bars in those days, so we only got to hear him if we stood outside his bathroom window or plied him with a drink or two at a party. I have often wondered if he might have become a professional singer if we had karaoke bars in those days where more people could have heard him
It's hard to be heard when there are so many clamoring for attention
Websites that publish flash fiction and serialized stories are the modern author's equivalent of karaoke bars for storytellers. No agents or publishers are required. Just upload a document file and see what happens.
I've had some success on a couple of these. Thousands have “Liked” my short stories at Venture Galleries
and the now defunct The Writers Collection, as well as my own website/weblog. I recently received an invitation to publish my short stories on a new one, ReadWave.
These websites are there to help you discover new writers, ones who tell stories you like to read. It's a lot easier wading through a lot of badly written prose looking for the gems when the stories are short.
Many famous authors began their writing careers penning short stories and serialized novels. Ray Bradbury. Louis L'Amour. Jack London. Mark Twain. Charles Dickens. In times past, they were published in newspapers and the pulps
, cheaply produced magazines, as well as glossies
, magazines printed on polished paper. These media have largely disappeared, replaced by websites. They provide an opportunity for readers to get to know writers and their style before they commit time and money to read their full length novels.
Please look me up on these sites and tell your friends. You'll be doing them and me a favor.
A BLOG HAS an insatiable appetite for words, hundreds and thousands of them every day, every week. I know. I've fed mine for more than a year and a half now posting every day. I'm beginning to feel like the character, Seymour, in the musical The Little Shop of Horrors who is forced to feed a cannibalistic plant from outer space.
My blog hasn't sucked me dry, not yet, but it's taken blood, sweat, and tears that I would rather have invested in a new book.
Yes, I've had some success as a blogger. About 1,500 people visit this one every day. That's more than came during the first months. However, it was never my intention to become a blogger. I created it to sell books. That's how you sell ebooks these days. Well, that's what everyone told me. Unfortunately, it doesn't, at least not mine.
I have dreams of writing several books that I've avoided over the past year and a half while I have posted my blog stories from history, current events, and my imagination. I'm not saying that it hasn't been fun. It has. It's also been useful for developing my craft as a writer.
Don't worry. My blog isn't going to disappear. Approximately eighty percent of the visitors to my blog every day are newcomers. Many find something that interests them and there is a repository of more than 400 postings for them to read while I work on my new stories. There will be new postings as well. They won't come every day. I'll try to post at least one each week, but I'm not promising anything.
Hopefully, my novels will be “discovered” after I've written a couple or three more. If not, I'll just have to keep on telling my stories as long as the breath is within me, just for the love of doing it.
Thus, this isn't goodbye. It's just a promise of better things to come.
I MADE A RESOLUTION to avoid writing about New Year's Resolutions. There, I broke it. Isn't that some sort of record? Have you ever broken a resolution any faster than that?
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I don't know why we do this to ourselves. Don't you feel worse about breaking a resolution to improve something about yourself than you felt about the issue or behavior that you promised to change? It makes you wonder who started this farce.
Wikipedia tells us that New Year's Resolutions are rooted in early religious practices. Well, what more do you need to know. If Wikipedia says it, it must be so. (Maybe I should make a resolution to stay away from that resource.) However, in this case, I'm inclined to believe it. Religion, at least the organized variety, has a colorful record of broken promises.
Isn't that what resolutions are all about, promises? They're promises to ourselves, the easiest kind to break.
If I've learned one thing in seventy years, it's that it's harder to avoid making promises than to keep them. I've made countless promises without stopping to think if it was one that I could keep. I would have made a helluva a politician, wouldn't I? Think about it. Every political campaign is a promise and everyone expects them to be broken. We just don't put much stock in promises, do we?
My son has taught me a new trick. Whenever he hears something that is obviously untrue, he calls it “malarkey”. It's a marvelous word, much more acceptable in polite company than the old standby, “bull shit”. Oops, please forgive that. I didn't mean to print it. (Malarkey!)
It's easy to spot malarkey. When a candidate for President (Prime Minister, if you will) says that they will lower unemployment, malarkey. No political leader can improve employment prospects except by not meddling in it, which is, of course, something they will never do. Lower taxes and remove barriers to free enterprise, and employment will rise. Tax anyone, including the rich, and attempt to impose economic stimuli, and employment will fall as businesses fail. That's no malarkey.
When a drunk promises to quit drinking, malarkey. When a philanderer promises to be true, malarkey. I'd as soon expect a skunk to spray me with rosewater.
Now, write “Malarkey” on a piece of paper and keep it at hand. Glance at it every time you make a resolution this New Years Day. It will make you feel better. Trust me.
MY BEST PRESENT is my family. I can't remember any toy, any electronic device, any knickknack that has brought me greater joy. It is the one thing that I wished for all my life.
Me and My Family (click to enlarge)
Anyone who has read my stories, especially the Trifles that I have posted on this blog, knows that I am intimately familiar with abuse. I grew up with it. I watched it perpetrated upon my brother until he was old enough to escape and then it was my turn. Still, I dreamed of what a family could be and that is what I wished for.
I suppose that I appreciate my family even more because my first attempt at building one was a failure. I chose the wrong woman. When you grow up loving people that you don't like, it isn't a stretch to imagine that you would marry someone cast out of the same mold. I should have known better, but didn't. I was even foolish enough to pursue her despite repeated rejections. I simply wore her down. The marriage only lasted about three months though we remained together for four years and had two children. One is dead and the other estranged.
Then I met Arlene. No, I didn't really learn my lesson. I simply got lucky. I had a good friend who made the match. He made it well and it stuck. We had two children, now three grandchildren. We are closely engaged in their lives. I have concluded that grandchildren are God's gift to those who suffer parenthood.
Many years ago, when I was a young sailor, there was a popular television show, Adventures in Paradise. Gardner McKay starred as Adam Troy, a World War II veteran who remained in the Pacific Islands to skipper a trading schooner. My mother often remarked that she could envision me living that life. Although I was drawn to it by my love of sailing, the reality of my life proved her wrong. Although my experiences with a dysfunctional family might have pushed me into a lonely life at sea, I was still drawn to a more domesticated fate. I'm glad I was.
It's fun looking back at the old TV shows, even though they're hard to watch today. I suppose I was that handsome when I was young (please allow me my delusions), but didn't wander off on exotic adventures as Michener wrote of. Still, I had many adventures of my own. I've sailed both coasts as well as Hawaii, in everything from tiny cat boats to tall ships. But, I was able to get home most nights to be with my family.
Lest I depress you overly much (that wasn't my intention), let me offer the following video as my Christmas card to all the world.
I DID IT! I sat through the entire screening of The Hobbit without urinating. Don't scoff. It's no mean accomplishment for a man of my years. The woman sitting to my right, just past my wife, failed. Poor dear had to climb over our cramped limbs and scurry off to the privy with just ten minutes remaining in the show.
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How did I do it? You may well ask. I prepared. I used the bare minimum of water to swallow my medications this morning. Yes, medications, plural. It's ordinary for a man of my years. (Pay attention. I already confessed to that in the first chapter.) I then deprived myself of my orange juice and breakfast. I avoided my morning coffee. That put me in a foul mood for the rest of the day. Honestly, I didn't think that I wanted to survive.
Was it worth it? You bet your sweet bippy it was. (Google Rowen & Martin's Laugh In if you fail to understand that reference.) The film was a visual feast. As far as I'm concerned, New Zealand may now sink beneath the waves. It has served its purpose. (...as a film location for the Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit – pay attention.) What else is it good for? If God really intended for folk to live there he would have pushed it closer to civilization.
What are you expecting – a review of the film? You have to be kidding. It's The Hobbit. Either you've read the story or you're an illiterate. If you have read the book, you have only one question to ask: Is the film true to the story? What? Didn't you see the Lord of the Rings trilogy. It was made by the same crew. Of course it's true to the book.
Yes, I know that there are some who complain about any attempt to render a beloved book into film. Did you see what happened with Dune? The producers of that film were almost lynched by the people who loved Frank Herbert's classic tale. (Frank Herbert wrote Dune. Do I have to explain everything?) Actually, I like Dune, both the film and the book. They were two different experiences, both enjoyable.
There will be no such problem with The Hobbit. The film is true to J.R. Tolkien's original story. Yes, the director took some license for the benefit of the literary-deprived in the audience who hadn't read the book. They also gave a little screen time to characters, such as Sauron, who is barely a footnote in the book. I suppose fans of the Lord of the Rings trilogy liked the evil wizard. They even used the same actor to play the role.
Once again, Gollum stole the show. My wife and I had watched a story about the actor who plays him, Andy Serkis, on CBS Sunday Morning. His expressions and inflections bring the character to life. The electronic wizardry that animates him on the screen is truly miraculous.
We saw The Hobbit in 3D on an Imax screen. (My wife and I get senior discounts.) Of course, my son who sat next to me warned me not to grab at things that appeared in front of my face. (I embarrass him that way sometimes.) My wife agreed with me that it was worth the few extra dollars, not for the thrill of dodging things flying into the audience, but rather for the scenery. (Did I mention that it was filmed in New Zealand?) Surprisingly, the interior scenes were among the best when viewed in 3D. We seemed to be sitting among the actors.
Complaints? Yes, my wife complained that some combat scenes, especially towards the end, were too drawn out – especially when you're old and you've been deprived of a trip to the restroom far longer than you're prepared. I agreed with her. However, modern audiences need their fix and this movie will give it to them.
I DIDN'T HAVE my first taste of a Twinkie until I joined the Army. They were standard fare in box lunches, especially at the Reception Center at Fort Jackson, South Carolina. We grew up on much better snacks, TastyKakes. The memory of TastyKakes has remained so strong on my palate that I never became a fan of Hostess products, even after I moved away from Baltimore.
Better things for better eating through chemistry (click to enlarge)
TastyKakes originated in Philadelphia and didn't spread much beyond the mid-Atlantic states until recent times. Now they can be found throughout the South, including Texas. The problem is that they don't travel well. TastyKakes would either have to build bakeries in key cities or start using chemicals like Hostess (God forbid).
TastyKakes have a very short shelf life. Unlike Hostess products, such as Twinkies that were edible as long as twenty-seven years after manufacture (or so I've been told), TastyKakes aren't full of preservatives. Some have to be eaten within a week or two or pulled from the shelves of stores and disposed of.
Creamy butterscotch icing (click to enlarge)
Unfortunately, TastyKakes have been marketed poorly. Their branding and packaging look much like they did in the fifties when I grew up with them. They were never “modernized” and the managers of the company never saw any need for such frills. Everybody was supposed to just know how good they were. Well, those of us who grew up with them knew it. However, nobody outside their limited market area had even heard of them.
Located near Disneyland in Orange Country, California (click to enlarge)
I encountered the same attitude with Knott's Berry Farm in the days when I was an ad man. I specialized in product packaging and point-of-purchase marketing. A product manager at Knott's Berry Farm consulted with me when they were test marketing a canned version of the punch that was popular at their theme park in Southern California. I tried to tell them that they needed more than a fancy can and product displays to sell outside the park. “No,” the bosses argued. Everybody knows and loves Knott's Berry Farm. Right.
Knott's products are better than most and well loved locally (click to enlarge)
Coincidentally, Knott's Berry Farm experimented with mall stores specializing in their products in the San Francisco Bay region. They failed. Apparently, not everyone knew just how popular the brand was in Southern California, nor did they care.
Shortly after this incident, TastyKakes appeared on the shelves of our local grocery store in Orange County, California. Imagine my surprise. I did a little checking and found that they had rented warehouse space and were shipping a limited selection of their products from Philadelphia, the ones that could be refrigerated without destroying their texture or flavor. I contacted their local marketing representatives and made my pitch. “Modernize the packaging.” “Invest in advertising.” “Sponsor events.”
Creamy chocolate icing on real chocolate TastyKake. Hostess chocolate coatings had lots of paraffin to make them shine and give a crunchy bite (click to enlarge)
The local manager agreed. “Posh,” said the old guard in Philadelphia. Everyone knows how good we are. “All we have to do is put them on the shelves and the customers will snatch them up.” Well, they didn't. The warehouse soon closed. The product disappeared from Southern California shelves.
Well, not completely. Luckily, there is a fast food chain that serves up a reasonably good Philadelphia Cheese Steak Sandwich and offers popular Philadelphia drinks and sides. They also have a limited selection of TastyKakes for desert.
Real fruit filling in Tasty Pies. Not just a smear of jelly inside a tough crust like others. Are you hungry yet? (click to enlarge)
So, I can get my fix once in a while. If Twinkies are your thing, you better stock up now. You may not see them again unless Bimbo in Mexico buys the recipes and starts producing them. Of course, they'll be chock full of preservatives to help them survive the trip to the States, and you'll still enjoy the same great taste of chemicals. Yum.
IN WRITING REBELS on the Mountain, I had to come to grips with machismo. To be honest, I have always had some difficulty with it. Fundamentally, I came to believe that it is simply descriptive of Latin male behavior, especially when in the presence of women.
The lovers in my novel, not only have to overcome racial prejudices to have a relationship – one is a Anglo-American and the other a Cuban mulata
– but also, their cultural differences. Nick, the protagonist in Rebels on the Mountain
, and his love interest, Lucia, have different methods of expressing romantic interest. She's expecting masculine cues that he does not know, nor does he understand her signals even though he is fluent in her language.
The entry for machismo
in the Encyclopedia Britannica reveals an Anglo prejudice towards it.“
Exaggerated pride in masculinity, perceived as power, often coupled with a minimal sense of responsibility and disregard of consequences. In machismo there is supreme valuation of characteristics culturally associated with the masculine and a denigration of characteristics associated with the feminine.”
Well, of course a Brit would describe it that way.
Frequently, while I was leading my Sea Scout crew composed of Hispanic youth offenders from the Orange County Juvenile Detention Center at Joplin, I would observe them strutting their stuff for the benefit of girls who happened to be in the area where we were training. They postured and called out to the girls in ways that reminded me of the film Outrageous Fortune
starring Bette Midler and Shelley Long, in which a group of Mexican-American workers attempt to attract the ladies from a passing truck with catcalls and suggestive gestures. Bette's character responds with a challenge: “Did that ever work for you boys?” Well, in my experience with the Latino gang members, it did. The girls they appealed to with catcalls and suggestive gestures responded with smiles and suggestive messages of encouragement. Let's just say, without being judgmental, that cultural behaviors vary.
I once lost a job for violating the cultural boundaries of machismo
. I was working as the communications expert for a Chicano owned and operated social research organization in Colorado. [Note: Before you jump me for using a pejorative, let me explain that Chicano was not a bad thing among Hispanic-Americans in that part of the country. Indeed, it was the self-descriptor that they used, even in their letterhead.] Another employee, an artist, was supposed to prepare titles and charts for a slide presentation that I was assembling. (Long before personal computers and MS PowerPoint.) I prepared them myself to meet my deadline and thereby diminished his machismo
. It served as grounds for discharge. Coincidentally, I had diminished my boss's machismo
by failing to support him in a dispute with another supervisor. This occurrence left me with the distinct impression that machismo
was not to be toyed with. I suspect that, in another time, violating the strictures of machismo
might have led to a duel as in the 18th or 19th centuries when, if you accused an Anglo of lying, you would find yourself on the "field of honor."
Ultimately, a street scene I witnessed in Ensenda, Mexico provided me with some insight. A bus stopped nearby while I was walking to a cafe and the driver disembarked to attempt a meeting with an attractive young woman. He flattered her unashamedly and begged her name and address while his passengers egged him on. Although he failed, he returned to his bus as his passengers cheered him for the attempt and the young woman continued walking with a broad smile on her face. Machismoappeared to have served both well in that encounter. An Anglo on the bus might have been annoyed by the delay. An Anglo woman, the object of such an approach on an American street, might have been embarrassed and called for the police. An American bus driver would have been fired. In Mexico, it appears that there was no harm, no foul.
Macho, an American disambiguation of machismo, tends to infer masculine strength only without any of the sexual connotations that one finds in the Hispanic culture. For example, Macho Man Randy Savage is acclaimed for his skill as a wrestler, not as a lover (however, he may be). [Note: The author is neither implying nor expressing anything that might be construed as impugning Mr. Savage's prowess with the ladies.]
My study of machismo has left me wondering how many more young ladies I might have dated when I was a young man had I been raised in that culture. However, in truth, I doubt that I would have been any more machismo than I was whatever it is we substitute in America for catching the lady's eye. Not every muchacho tiene machismo.
I'VE NEVER BEEN to a Tea Party gathering, however I am what passes for a conservative these days. I thought that I should mention that for those of you who have not read any of my previous postings. There was a time when I could say that and trust that you would read on. However, that may not be the case these days. It seems that the divide between conservatism and progressivism left the realm of politics sometime a few years ago, and it now defines a difference in ideology.
Once upon a time, both conservatives and progressives in America shared the same goal; to maintain a happy and prosperous republic. They differed mainly in the means to that end. However, we now find progressives advocating social democracy while their former friends strive to conserve the republic. I say former friends because, now that the difference is ideological, progressives appear to have become intolerant of anyone or anything that stands in the way of effecting what they view to be necessary changes. President Obama said it best when he observed that the Constitution is flawed because it prevents him from effecting the changes that he deems must be made.
I am not going to rebut the President. I am not concerned in this article with arguing one ideology versus another. What I am concerned with is the fact that revolutions make enemies of friends. We do not yet have brothers shooting at brothers, or fathers and sons engaged in mortal combat as in the Civil War, but the battle lines have been drawn in parlors, dining rooms, classrooms, conference rooms, even bedrooms, and almost every public and private place. The fuses are in place waiting for the matches to be lit. It seems that almost any spark could ignite a conflagration that we would all regret.
I am reminded of the musical Hair when I hear progressives complain about the heartlessness of conservatives. They seem to think that they have a monopoly on good intentions and we are left to wonder why they abandon us as when the character in Hair, Act I, Sheila, voices her distress in the song “Easy to be Hard...”
“How can people be so heartless,
How can people be so cruel...
Who care about strangers,
Who care about evil,
And social injustice...
“Do you only
Care about the bleeding crowd?
How about a needing friend?
I need a friend.”
Although I am not a Republican, I am tarred with the same brush - I belong to the party of "No" as though "No" is a bad thing. Well, I am grateful that someone in Washington is saying "No" to bigger, more intrusive government, and more spending. Curiously, I haven't seen the Republicans doing much of that in years past and wish they had.
Generally, I find that conservatives are willing to listen to progressives while the opposite is not true, although individuals from both sides are guilty of hyperbole and flights of fancy. Is it possible that one side is more confident in their opinions while the other is not?
I want my friends back, but they have dismissed me as the enemy. They expect me to listen to their points of view, but refuse to hear mine - indeed, many become uncontrollably enraged if I even whisper an opposing view. I'm sorry that we can't agree on this, but cannot see how this alone should end our relationship. Unfortunately, many have said that they do not care to keep me as a friend if I cannot agree with them, or at least, shut up.
Were they ever my friends?