Inching toward winter (journaling/updates)

In other news, I’ve been doing very well on my diet the past several days. Managing my macros and keeping my carbs under 30g per day (20g or under for 4 of those days). Weighed in on Tuesday and am down to 165 lbs. (fully clothed), so that’s nice. Even decided to snap a photo yesterday (perhaps the first one I’ve taken all year).

cropped_oct312017

Not known for being photogenic, but that’s okay. Working with what I’ve got over here. Hair was frizzy after working out — didn’t feel like trying to get fancy for the camera. So anyway, I’ve been tracking my calories through MyFitnessPal for over 40 days now and am really appreciating that site. Unfortunately I’ve had to stay home and away from Former this past week in order to stay true to my diet, lest he wreck it like usual.  LoL  Missed out on his chili and tacos. Bah! But oh well. Might stop over to visit him tomorrow.

Been working out with my trainer a couple days a week (would like to do so more often but we have schedule conflicts). Beyond that, been going to the gym a day or two a week on my own. Mostly focusing on strength training, plus some cardio on the elliptical. Same old, same old there. Overall I’ve been feeling pretty good. Kind of felt like I might come down with a cold at the beginning of this past weekend, so I stayed in as much as possible and kept warm and managed to stave it off.

Besides that, the new books I’ve listened to in audio format recently were The Art of Invisibility: The World’s Most Famous Hacker Teaches You How to Be Safe in the Age of Big Brother and Big Data by Kevin Mitnick (narrated by Ray Porter); The Dark Net: Inside the Digital Underworld by Jamie Bartlett (narrated by Matt Bates); The Secret History of the World: As Laid Down by the Secret Societies by Mark Booth (narrated by John Lee). Those first two were very interesting (especially enjoyed Ray Porter’s narration) — gave me a lot to think about in terms of personal security online. That last book was a bit of a wild card, and I can’t recall how it ended up on my wishlist. Actually was interesting to take in up until the last chapter or so, then it just seemed to wrap up quickly and in a super-woo-woo form of a happy ending. Can’t put much stock in the content of Mark Booth’s book, but it was something different to contemplate.

Since finishing up those three I decided to re-listen to a couple others: The Antidote: Happiness for People Who Can’t Stand Positive Thinking by Oliver Burkeman (read by the author) and Thomas Sowell’s Civil Rights: Rhetoric or Reality? (really appreciate this one!). Made some electronic bookmarks so that hopefully eventually I’ll get around to uploading clips so as to lure others into checking these books out for themselves.

Believe I already mentioned before on here that I also listened to Steven Pinker’s The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature (and loved it). Would so highly recommend that one to others. It’s a must read for people curious about evolutionary psychology, biology and/or sociology.

Been getting chilly out lately. Down in the upper 30s the last couple of days. Not looking forward to snow, but it’s coming whether I like it or not. Praying this winter doesn’t kick my ass, having been spoiled by such a mild winter last year (which people around here say was highly unusual and probably shouldn’t be expected for another 40 years or so  eye-popping_smilie ). Just a matter of weeks before I have to get my snow tires put back on (usually around Thanksgiving) and start trudging around in my heavy-ass snow boots again. What fun. But ah well. So long as we don’t have blizzards then it’s not so bad.

What else? Oh, my little brother celebrated a birthday recently. He’s now firmly in his 30s. I ordered him a cake, which hopefully tasted good. As always, he’s super busy with work.

Not been getting out much these days aside from working and going to the gym and occasionally visiting a couple of friends. Haven’t set foot in a bar in weeks, therefore I haven’t kept up with any pals in that scene. Yesterday marked week 20 in my commitment to stop drinking alcohol. Still going strong with no problems there. In fact, a couple days ago when I was out driving along I got to thinking about wine, but this time it was accompanied with a sickening feeling, reminiscent of a particular brand I used to buy and a few bad nights I had with it. Wasn’t alluring. So I suppose that’s progress — no longer dreaming of wine in a tempting fashion. Rarely do I miss beer despite that being my main drink of choice. Not sure why. Perhaps I drank enough of it to suit me for an entire lifetime. lol  Probably.  Still amazed at how much money I’ve saved by not going out to bars or buying drinks to bring home. Saves me oodles of money, no joke. Shocks my friends when I calculate up what my average cost of drinking likely was in any given month. Even the one that drinks more heavily seemed surprised. Note: drinkers are notorious about NOT tracking how much we’re spending while involved in that lifestyle. Starting to think I’m having a positive influence on Former since he hasn’t been going out to his bar as often in recent weeks, nor does he seem to be drinking quite as much at home. I never nag him about it since that’s his lifestyle and his choice and I know for certain he’ll never give up alcohol. C’est la vie. But for whatever reason he seems to at least have cut down, which makes me happy in terms of his health.

I certainly haven’t cut down on smoking cigarettes though. If anything I probably smoke a bit more nowadays, unfortunately. So easy to do when I’m hanging around the apartment much of the time. Though I do smoke less when I’m over visiting Former. My lungs have been giving me a little trouble this week, as they do sometimes. Twenty-two years of smoking is taking a toll — imagine that. Though this is one addiction that has my butt straight-up kicked, so I’m pretty terrified of trying to go up against it. Keep saying I will one of these days…

Not been sleeping too well lately. Actually I sleep fine once I finally get to sleep, just can’t seem to get there. Just bounding with energy and curious about what all is going on on the internet at any given moment. Ha! Thinking about picking up some more of that bedtime (Chamomile) tea to see if it might help relax me. Probably need to find ways to exert more physical energy.

And lastly, my eyesight is very noticeably declining. Having trouble reading more and more without the aid of my new drugstore reading glasses. Former says it’s due to all the years I’ve been sitting staring at the computer screen. Heh  He’s likely right. Thinking I’m going to have to locate a coupon and go in to see an eye specialist one of these days and maybe purchase prescription reading glasses. The joys of aging…

Anyway, that’s about it for now. Onward into November!

Individuation process vs. hiding within collectivistic identity-based movements and groups

My thinking seems to oscillate daily. Sometimes I get irate over racist extremists — like black supremacists and their push for “communalism” (“one mind, one choice” to quote Latausha Nedd, a.k.a. Eye Empress Sekhmet) and outright rejection of individualism. As was the case yesterday. Then the next night rolls around and I realize just how much they’re fighting an uphill battle, not against white people or society but again Nature unto itself when it comes to trying to staunch and reverse humanity’s gravitation toward individuation. It’s where humans have been heading for the last few thousands of years and it won’t cease just because some ideologies wish for it to. In fact, those ideologies are destined to fail and cause grave destruction on account of going against the natural flow in trying to force human groups backward into outdated modes of existence. Won’t work. Hasn’t thus far. The 20th century demonstrated how devastating attempting to go down that path will be, and the 21st century will prove it again if enough feel so inclined to keep trying to force a square peg through a round hole.

It’s foolish to think we can return to the past. Not possible. Yet it remains popular for people yearn for and romanticize past epochs, believing life to have been simpler then and people to have been kinder (at least within one’s own tribe). We infuse these dreams of the past with magical properties, and then take the view that we have fallen from the grace they represented. That’s the interesting thing about dreams and imaginings — we can concoct them any way we wish. Their adherence to factual reality is irrelevant to us. We gaze fondly upon an imagined past most likely because we’re so uncomfortable with the uncertainty of the present and the future. And that too is a natural inclination.

When I refer to us humans as a bunch of modern-day Luddites, I’m only half joking. We really are, and it’s understandable in a sense. And because of this we’re keen on seeking out someone or something to blame: God, other races and groups and nations, modernity itself, other political camps, influential philosophies that we take issue with, etc. This is all part of the reckoning process that comes with living, especially in such drastically changing times. Lifestyles of a century ago are so foreign to us that we cannot relate, and because of this we get to thinking we’ve been robbed of something precious. Well, we have lost what once was, but, in turn, we’ve also gained what now is and what perhaps may someday be. Everything in life involves a trade-off, whether we like it or not. And Life doesn’t consult with us on whether we’re cool with that — it simply rolls on and we either learn to roll with it or get dragged along. Right or wrong, that does appear to be a fact of life.

On hearing that I’m sure some folks will dig in their heels all the more and proclaim someone like me to be jaded, overly cynical, even nihilistic perhaps. They may think I’ve given up hope, which is not the case. I’m just coming to terms little by little with what’s in my control and what isn’t. The past most definitely isn’t. Though you and I can impact the present and possibly the future as well. So that’s where I am being called to turn my attention, having long been one of the most stubborn Luddites out here who also liked to entertain dreams of what may have come before and harbored resentment over it being wrested from us. I too have been angry over so many things and cast blame in various directions, and still do at times. But, little by little, I’m starting to see this world a bit differently along with my role within it.

The individuation process is very necessary. Consider it the next big leap in the evolutionary progress of humankind. Another step in our progression away from pure animality and primitive sapienhood. Of course the process is painful and trying — when has living and growing not involved suffering? Suffering actually appears to be fundamentally necessary here, prompting expansion of one’s mind and empathetic reflections to enhance relations with other people and the world at-large. Don’t take that in the lovey-dovey sense, as if I think we’re all going to come together and sing kumbaya anytime soon. No, I’m referring to alterations to how we view and live in the world and communicate with one another, which are all forged through trial and error and many hardships and pain and sorrow that can lead us toward a greater consciousness and appreciation for Love, connections, critical inquiry, and grasping what’s of real value.

But this path I speak of is a lonesome valley. Can’t be any other way. People are trying (unconsciously or sub-consciously) to seek refuge in groups and movements and identity politics in an effort to avoid this path and all that goes with it. You can run but you can’t hide. There is no past to retreat to. It’s no more than a fiction in our minds at this point so far as retreating is concerned. Yet people keep trying to go that route, perhaps more and more nowadays, probably because they’re growing all the more terrified with life and where it might be headed. As is understandable, to an extent.

“There’s nothing to fear but fear itself” is an empty platitude that is often repeated but rarely heeded. Why? Because we’re all scared. Very difficult not to be. Uncertainty terrifies us, as does suffering. As does unfolding our own individual potential — that too scares us terribly for some reason, perhaps more than anything else. Maybe because it can’t help but be such an intensely solo (thereby lonely) project, not to mention fraught with worries over being judged by others for whatever fruits we attempt to produce (whether we fail or succeed). Fear of personal failure, especially while observed by others, is huge. And then there’s this nasty requirement that we put in so much effort and learn to turn away from unnecessary distractions (plenty of which we find entertaining). Beyond that, I wonder if it also has something to do with appearing naked in front of our Lord/creator (metaphorically speaking). The group, the hivemind, is a place of refuge not unlike a forest where we appear to be just one tree among many. To stand alone is to stand judged, and that’s a mightily uncomfortable proposition for anyone to contend with. Doesn’t sound like something most of us would willingly sign up for, and many of us therefore don’t.

But life has a way of forcing our hands. One such way, so it appears, is hiding within a group or movement until it grows strong enough that it becomes a monster in its own right that devours a good many of its own as well as those it stands in opposition to. Then all those individuals hidden out therein wind up with a bunch of blood on their own hands (assuming they survive and aren’t one of the ones targeted by the beast of their own making), which they then wind up judged for. Possibly for generations to come. They may cry out that they themselves, individually, were innocent and did not envision nor endorse what the beast eventually became, but others will mock them as cowards and pretenders in response, and rightly so. You built up that aggregated beast through your own individual efforts and contributions — that was a choice. Perhaps it was the easiest choice at the time, but it remained a choice nonetheless. To have otherwise faced scorn and ridicule, rendered alienated or been effectively deserted or maybe even targeted for attack and possibly killed — STILL it was a choice. Because the decision is difficult and the consequences potentially dire does not negate the fact that a choice was made.

So people can wind up tainted by the sins of that which they help create and build up and attempt to hide within, or we can risk being tainted by the sins of our own direct doing without a refuge to obscure us and our activities. Many of us prefer the former since if we do indeed prove to be wrong, the blame and shame winds up distributed among all involved, lessening our own sense of culpability (and/or public witness of it) via camouflage. Seems like a good plan, until it isn’t. Great consequences can be meted out to those deemed responsible for horrific wrongdoing, plenty of which are psychological in nature. And those who truly weren’t comfortable with the direction their organization was heading but who remained involved just the same wind up tarred and feathered along with the rest in the aftermath. No pity shown for them either because they chose to go that route. Here we can reflect on how societies across the world today view the German Nazis and the Russian Communists and the Chinese Maoists of yesteryear — still unforgiven (and unforgivable) decades later. And on and on it goes…

But one doesn’t hide within one’s race unless one makes a conscious identity of it. Because others attribute unwarranted characteristics to you based on your race doesn’t make you automatically guilty. There is a difference between what one is and can’t change and what one chooses to partake in (like an identity-based movement).

Either way, we will potentially face scorn and hardship and blame, no matter who we are. Attempting to hide within a human-made forest won’t change that, nor will standing alone on one’s own merit. BUT at least when one goes his or her own way and grapples with life in an authentic fashion, we’re hiding less from ourselves and others and thereby are capable of learning and clearly observing what will and will not work (assuming one’s goal is to be fruitful, and by that I mean honestly productive, e.g. life-affirming in orientation). Obscuring such truths only prolongs the process and the accompanying pain inherent in it. So taking the easy way today might very well lead to much greater long-term suffering for oneself and/or our descendants (those we claim to care so much about).

No group/movement is capable of instilling these truths into the minds of its members. Each individual has to reckon with and come to terms with what is and what is not on his or her own. Nobody else on earth can do it for us. If one opts to tune out and refuses to explore and examine information for oneself, then potential growth will be stunted for that particular individual, with no one else possessing the power to change that fact. If we choose the less studious route and allow a group or movement to indoctrinate us with talking points in place of real information that we have fact-checked and quibbled over, then we’ve allowed ourselves to be misled. That is one’s own responsibility since we are our own gatekeepers as adults. And if that group/movement we’ve chosen affiliation with goes into beast mode and creates havoc, we deserve our fair portion of the blame for having provided it fuel to grow and become what it has.

At bottom, there’s no way to escape personal responsibility. Try as we might to fight it and run from it, we’ll keep being returned to face this human truth. Again and again and again. Until we learn it and strive to act in accordance, it will continue being Ground Hog Day on this planet — repeating the same mistakes over and over with painful consequences that provide an opportunity for reflection, introspection and personal growth. It is ultimately our choice on what we each decide to do. If people prefer to create hell on earth by refusing to come to grips with this, then hell we shall have.

There are rules that are beyond our making but that must be lived in accordance with if we’re to ever transcend our current conundrums. I’d like to tell you that I’m sorry for this, but actually I’m not. It’s just life. Is what it is, and that’s okay. I happen to find it very interesting and awe-inspiring, albeit unnerving and very tough to come to terms with each step of the way. My prayer for others is that they too come to embrace Life’s wonder and strangeness without letting too much fear and pressure from other humans get in the way of exploring the possibilities. Take care.

“Eschewing Tribalism” (video by Benjamin Boyce)

“‘PRO BLACK’ IDENTITY EXTREMIST” (a message from TheMadHeadDoctor)

I’ll copy and paste what I stated in his comment section:

You’re right. Unfortunately the consequences of those black folks who choose to behave like major jackasses online through celebrating injuries to cops and increasingly calling white people “nonhuman” while not calling out pro-black icons like Latausha Nedd WILL VERY LIKELY wind up distributed across and/or impacting all black people in this society. Seems virtually impossible that that won’t be the case, particularly when it comes to shifting public perceptions as is already underway.

People out here are admittedly getting scared whether we care to openly state it or not, so more will start turning toward the police for protection (as well as employing more self-defense measures), because average citizens fear the Law and police far less than they do black extremists posing as potential threats. Some will blame it off on “racism,” but it’s primarily rooted in fear and a desire for safety, not ill will against black Americans as a group. But if things keep heading where they look like they’re going, there will inevitably be a backlash from on high. A nation can’t be expected to accept all of this lying down, but in the end we’ll [ALL] lose since, like you mentioned, the government will utilize this opportunity to further encroach on the rights of all citizens that much more.

It’s an unnerving scenario unfolding, but I don’t know what to do. The polarization appears hell-bent on continuing, and is being stoked along by outside forces as well. It truly is as if people don’t give a damn, like they think this is a joke and can’t comprehend how much tensions are escalating. Nihilism…

 

“Identity Politics in the Classroom – Be Quiet White Men (THE SAAD TRUTH_528)”

Resentment, oppression and examining one’s dark side (quick clip from Jordan Peterson)

His lecture content remains highly relevant and is freely accessible for those curious enough to take time with what he’s sharing. His full lectures are available on his YT channel.

Creating our own dysfunctional realities again and again

Recently I stumbled across some interactions between a group of people online, in which they got into some banal disagreements that turned into all-out videos wars where the gloves came off and the situation quickly degenerated to aiming insults beneath the belt. Typical drama to be found on youtube, for sure. And not particularly interesting either, other than it got me thinking about how and why these individuals attracted toward one another in the first place and wound up playing into one another’s preconceived narratives, as is so common.

Look, there’s a good bit of truth in the notion of like attracts like. Often I hear of self-described feminists online complaining about men and their treatment of women, perceiving themselves as victims of chicanery and “attacks” from the men in their lives. What I’ve noticed though is that in order for someone to be a victim, there must be someone else to play the part of aggressor or abuser, and this can and often enough does wind up proving to be a repetitive pattern. When one’s identity is tethered to being victimized in some such way, whether that person means to or not, he or she tends to be inclined toward attracting people who fulfill that dynamic, thereby perpetuating the very drama one claims to wish to avoid. But how can you avoid such drama if you’re unaware of how you’re attracting it and exacerbating it yourself? And do these folks even truly wish to avoid such drama when it serves the identity they’ve constructed over time? I’d argue that in many cases they actually thrive on such conflicts, especially when made public, because it aids them in broadcasting the narrative and outlook that defines them.

How can one claim to be a perpetual victim if not perpetually victimized by others? Do you think it’s an accident that the perpetual victim attracts perpetual victimization, especially well into adulthood? And here I think it’s important to draw a distinction between pitfalls that youths experience out of naivety and a lack of enough life experience versus the cyclic patterns of behavior fully-grown adults allow themselves to repeatedly become enmeshed in. Unfortunate circumstances that can and often enough do impact youths will hopefully provide opportunities for personal growth and increased self-awareness, albeit learned via the hard way (as proves inescapable in this life). But what about people who don’t learn, or if they do it seems the lessons they gleaned (consciously or sub-consciously) pertain to manifesting more of the same again and again and again, ad nauseam? Should we consider this a sign of willful ignorance and/or manipulative game-playing when one will not extract oneself from such toxic dynamics or figure out a way to elevate the game?

It gets a bit depressing observing people older than myself out here continuing to engage in immature skirmishes that aren’t geared toward improving relations in any way but instead appear to be signaling the same broken message again and again without ever hoping to be satisfactorily resolved. So you wish to be viewed as a victim on an ongoing basis…how is that helpful to yourself or anybody else? It’s pure drama on a base level. Where’s the lesson to be learned from that? What’s of real interest in repeating that cycle? What’s the benefit in portraying oneself publicly in such a fashion? What does one get out of it? Because people who repeat such patterns well into adulthood are most definitely getting something out of the dynamic or they would refuse to keep playing such games with one another. When the costs sufficiently exceed the perceived benefits, one becomes compelled to make drastic changes. We don’t simply stay willingly in toxic dynamics for long if there’s no benefit to be derived for ourselves, and I’d argue that often that turns out to be an ego benefit in terms of bolstering one’s constructed identity. If the game changes, you would be forced to change too, and that requires effort and accepting discomfort as a result. And doing so might cut you off from the easily acquired sympathy and attention garnered through the game you’ve been playing up until now.

We humans are notoriously conflicted about change, commonly preferring known patterns (even if dysfunctional and toxic) to uncertain forecasts. But the only way we’re likely to grow is by being challenged and pushed outside of our comfort zones. Does it really look like people who remain bogged down in these perpetual victim cycles are growing and expanding their awareness? No, more often it looks as if they’re hiding within such patterns and dynamics specifically so as to avoid change, even if that change might eventually prove most beneficial for all involved. It’s another form of escapism of sorts, a role to hide out in that’s comfortable because it’s well-known.

But why would people wish to keep this up? Doesn’t such repetitive drama grow old and boring? One would like to think. But again, what benefit can be derived? Such an individual can utilize these dynamics to garner attention that otherwise might prove to be hard-won and actually require a great deal more effort on her/his part. So in that sense it can serve as an easy fallback routine, a norm that’s grown comfortable over time because one’s familiar with how that game is played, even though it’s also crazy-making in its own right. To expand beyond such trivialities takes effort and heightened awareness, which then tend to force us to confront uncomfortable truths about ourselves and our habits and how we’re creating the very reality we claim to wish to escape.

I get to thinking that most older folks are well aware that they’re perpetuating these ugly dynamics and yet continue to do so because they find it entertaining in an otherwise uninteresting life. Though our lives are only as uninteresting as we choose to make them. So it’s an easy avenue to “excitement” and a feeling of relevancy. While it’s common to accuse the one playing the role of victimizer as only doing so in an effort to make himself/herself relevant, the opposite also is true in that being perceived as victimized makes you appear relevant as well. And if your identity is tied up in the perpetuation of such base drama, how can it be any other way? How might you shine outside of such a tried-and-true dynamic whereby you’re rendered visible and deserving of sympathy and support? Would require a different strategy in order to do so, and some folks just aren’t that creative or ambitious to switch up the routine. Basically, if it works then why fix it? If this provides me with attention over and over again with minimal investment on my part, then why learn another trick? What’s the point in growing if I’m sufficiently satisfied with where I am currently and what this game is providing me (as evidenced by the fact that one keeps with repeating the same old song and dance)?

If it hurt badly enough, one would seek a way out. If you’re still there playing the same game decade after decade, it obviously doesn’t hurt enough. Or you’ve grown comfortable enough with that “pain” that it’s become preferable to alternatives. Otherwise you’d change it. We can and we do if and when we decide the game is no longer worth it. Happens all the time. So we can’t help but surmise over time that those who continue playing such games do so on their own volition. Many, many people have broken out of much worse conditions. People have proven time and again the willingness to try to move mountains to get what they really want (or to escape that which they really do not). We either improve the game we’re playing, discard it for another “game,” or accept it as is. Those are our options and intuitively we’re all become of aware of it eventually.

Personally, I’ve come to see such banal, directionless drama cycles as the product of lazy, unimaginative and/or manipulative people. It strikes me as rather futile to accept such outcomes as the norm continuously. Makes life bland and pointless, dedicated to creating senseless strife that aims to go nowhere other than around and around in the same circle. Crazy-making in the lamest sense. And artificial, unauthentic, and too easy. Where’s the real grit associated with playing such a game? And what’s the real prize in the end? Sympathy and attention received from other people in the same situation as yourself? How valuable is that? The growth potential is nonexistent in such scenarios. And that’s why so often we look upon such people as immature, behaving like 20-year-olds who never grow up, caught up in irrelevant high-school level drama and mayhem that serves no worthwhile purpose. Turns into little more than he said/she said conflicts of the most ridiculously trite kind. Goes nowhere, accomplishes nothing, provides little fresh insight for those involved usually (or for outside observers), and eventually proves boring and lame.

At a time when there’s so much information available to us, easily accessible from our computers, it seems a shame to waste so much time stuck in a dumb cycle to nowhere that can’t expand one’s understanding in this life and only serves to distract and detract. I don’t grasp the value in that, yet it remains popular enough. Granted, we all are intrigued by a bit of drama — such is the human condition. But at what point does engaging in the same low-level shit again and again get stale? For some, the answer appears to be never. And that bores me. Monotonous and dumb.

Life’s so much more interesting when we find a way out of framing everything as an us vs. them/ victim vs. victimizer dichotomy.

“The Donald Trump video every Jew MUST watch!” (plus my thoughts)

Interesting that Trump and Hillary were ever friends. Perhaps I’ve misjudged him a bit due to his past association with the Clintons. But I couldn’t bring myself to vote for either Trump or Clinton in our latest presidential election.

The internet is abuzz with people discussing “the Jewish question” these days. I don’t have a firm position on all of that, still learning as I go and never having taken issue with Jews as a group. But I do recall the pro-Palestine position strongly pushed by the very liberal peace-building organization I once belonged to. In fact, our local chapter here in the Midwest had as its primary mission to be pro-Palestine, a position I questioned our program coordinator about since we have very few Arabs in this state (at present) and a growing number of Jewish people are relocating here from the east coast and contributing to our local economy. Didn’t seem like a good use of our financial resources since there are so few Arabs here to cater to, and she said that the decision that we be pro-Palestine was handed down on high, meaning it was a position assigned to us from the national offices of our (multinational non-profit) organization. Huh. Okay. I didn’t understand much of that then and still barely do so now. Seemed like a good way to alienate our organization from the locals, considering we were already underfunded and paid little attention by the media or the general public. Our program coordinator assured me it was an important humanitarian issue, and repeatedly the name of Rachel Corrie was bandied about (believe I even saw her parents at one event) — our martyr for the cause. For four years while I participated with this organization the talk of Israel vs. Palestine was ongoing and unchanging, which seemed a bit strange to me at the time since we’re supposed to be about peace, yet we relentlessly sided with the Arabs when it came to all Middle Eastern matters (including anything to do with Iran). When I spoke out against Saudi Arabia (as I’m fond of doing), it was met with crickets. Pure silence. Even as they castigated our U.S. government over oil dependence and consumption, and blamed all the wars in that region on us, claiming them to be little more than power grabs. Being nervous of the U.S. military at that point in time and highly critical of government corruption, I decided to listen and try to learn from them. But on and on it went, even where it made little sense or showed blatant contradictions in regards to the values we claimed to promote.

Four years I stuck around to hear that message and to participate in their rallies and to try to help raise money for what, I don’t know. Probably to hand over to Democratic candidates since that was their explicit bias. Why a libertarian type would stay around for that remains a mystery to my own self. Maybe it was my way of trying to connect with the Arab blood inside me, to try to grasp that perspective though I’ve only ever known American culture and interests. And try as I might, my involvement in the end only cemented my dismay for partisan politics and led to more questions than answers on the Irael/Palestine conflict. Not sure what I learned through my time volunteering with those folks aside from recognizing that the supposed underdog isn’t always and automatically deserving of sympathy and support. And that I hate movements and groups who blindly follow political candidates and act as if they can do no wrong, even when the candidate in question repeats the very sins you were losing your mind over in the presidency that came before.

The politics of Democrats have left a bad taste in my mouth ever since. Something’s happening there, and what it is ain’t exactly clear… Indeed. For all of our appeals to tolerance and community-building and inclusion, there were no other non-Democrats among us. I, as an independent, was the only one. And I was needing to be educated apparently, to listen and take in what they were saying and to support what they were doing. When I first envisioned what a Quaker organization would be about, I didn’t expect it to be so one-sided and biased, but perhaps that was naivety on my part. That they thought our feminist ally groups would gel with the pro-Islam sentiments expressed continues to baffle me. Yet there we all were, a bunch of mostly white and beige people out in the Midwest, uniting over matters that don’t immediately impact us and therefore can’t help but be theoretical in nature. This idea that we can all come together as One, as if our conflicts in interest will melt away in the face comradeship. Didn’t happen. Much lip service was paid but the distrust remained. Seemed to me more like people trying to use one another to get what they politically want in the short-run. I don’t doubt for a minute, now looking back in hindsight, that those disparate interest groups would eventually turn on one another once they had successfully suppressed and disarmed the groups they jointly took issue with. Don’t doubt that for a minute. All this talk of peace, yet power still remains the name of the game underneath it all. Sad to come to that conclusion in the end, but c’est la vie.

That was and will be the last organization I align myself with. Groupthink is for the birds.

Wasn’t a Trump supporter, but I believe in judging a man on his merit and actions. So I maintain an open mind about him and what he’s actually about, ignoring the media’s hysteria. In person I’m not hearing much talk against Trump, even from those who aren’t a fan of him. Though I’ve heard plenty of people express disdain for Hillary Clinton. Didn’t take Russians hacking anything for that woman to lose the election. She lost because she’s wildly unpopular, despite what the media might try to tell you. People are uncomfortable about her judgment capacity, and rightfully so IMO. Yet all day, every day, the narrative being spun in the news these days is that Trump is a horrible person, a racist, a sexist, a homophobe, an anti-semite, etc. None of those claims appear true. Doesn’t stop Democrats from relentlessly repeating them though. The Democratic Party is shooting its own self in the foot and can’t seem to come to grips with that reality. So it blames it off externally. Must be the fault of us racist, sexist jerks out in society who just need to be better educated and who need to sit down and be quiet, right?

I don’t even find the matter funny. How people are losing their minds these days (including, I imagine, many of those I once volunteered with) is actually kind of embarrassing. And lying in order to promote a specific narrative will only ensure that your own credibility will be destroyed in due time. Doesn’t take a Republican stance for one to feel that way either. I’d be thrilled if both political parties were erased and replaced with more sane options.