MLK Day 01/15/18

When we divide this country along color lines, we may conclude this holiday means more to those of us with African ancestry. Ironically, as a result of the wage gap (See graphs C and D below), one may conclude an unproportionate number of workers with African ancestry may be clocking in today as a result of their daily job duties remaining vital to day-to-day function.

Although my position at my place of employment is vital to continued function of the organization, I have today off. My job can wait one day for my attention. And yes, I am what society considers “White”. That is to say, I have mostly European ancestors. Recently, I chose to go into work on a holiday. A friend/co-worker told me in jest that I was too “White” to be there on that day. If I gave credence to this notion that the colors of our skin defined us as people, I may find the idea that my friends who happened to have darker skin work more today than my friends who happened to have lighter skin objectionable solely because I considered these friends to be profoundly different. But, if this thing we call “race” does not define a person, we cannot draw lines along “race” here.

It has been said I, a “White” male, could not possibly understand what it is like to be a “Black” person in this society. I once heard a friend of African decent tell a friend of European decent that any claim a “White” person made about experiencing discrimination was unfounded. His claim seemed to state no “White” person could possibly know what it is to experience discrimination. One could conclude, as a “White” male, I don’t experience the same kinds of discrimination my “Black” brothers and all of my sisters experience regularly. But this doesn’t mean I don’t know what it is to be discriminated against and even targeted by police as a result of demographic information.

We all have powers of empathy. We tend to empathize most with people with whom we identify. With this knowledge, we may see how claiming a person of European decent could not understand the discrimination a person of African decent faces works as a self-fulfilling prophecy. To say we are so different works to put greater division between us. Perhaps it is my liberal upbringing, but I rejoice in the fact we have come as far as we have and weep at the thought of how far we have to go. I can’t say this holiday means as much to me as it does to you, because I’ve never been you. But, for the same reason, you can’t make any contrary claim.

Any inequality as a result of a bias system is unjust. I do not revel in the fact that our current system is unbalanced, even as I benefit from it. Still, I can’t help but feel that continuing to draw lines between “races”, perpetuates a system of inequality. My point here, if I have a point, is that while it is important to recognize the division, the injustice, we cannot let this division divide us further. This division is arbitrary and only works to oppress us, ALL of us. It is only when we come together that the powers that be will be no longer. When we stop allowing ourselves to be divided, we may see the real problem, the real cause for starvation and homelessness, the real cause for those of us without to continue to go without, greed. I’ve said it before; The best cage is one the prisoners cannot see. And today the bars of this cage look an awful lot like skin color.

 

(https://www.frbsf.org/economic-research/publications/economic-letter/2017/september/disappointing-facts-about-black-white-wage-gap/)

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Answer to Eternal Sunshine Circular Timeline Theory

It has been theorized that the film, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, is meant to represent a circular timeline. That is to say that Joel and Clementine maintain a perpetual system of falling in and out of love before having their memories of each other erased. As eloquent as this theory may seem, I like to think it is not accurate.

I like to think, even as Joel and Clem accept their relationship will not work, their experience of finding each other again and gaining understanding of their previous relationship together would inspire them to do things differently. Perhaps their understanding of their incompatibility causes them to give more care to the relationship this next time around. For me, the saddest moment in this film is when Clem says to Patrick no one she has dated has ever given her a piece of jewelry she liked. In this one utterance, she reveals how her relationship with Joel was different, was special. It makes sense to me their first time around would work as a cautionary tale for their second attempt. Going into this second effort, they already have a great tool at their disposal they didn’t their first try; they have their Lacuna tapes. They have a road map of major issues they may hope to encounter and may plan ahead. Of course it’s quite possible they would’ve listened to their tapes and realized their willingness to jump in head-first a second time was hasty. At the same time, how much better would all of my failed relationships been if we could’ve gone into them with complete honesty? Maybe I’m a hopeless romantic, but those scenes of Joel and Clem’s happy relationship falling apart seem as though they could’ve gone very differently if they only knew more about each other’s needs. If Joel could’ve given Clementine a little more space and if Clem could’ve been a little more considerate of Joel’s feelings, their relationship could’ve felt much more like the Light and Day – Polyphonic Spree music video. The scene most emblematic of this disconnect is Joel’s final dream scene. He and Clem are at the beach house:
Joel: I walked out, I walked out the door!
Clementine: Why?
Joel: I don’t know. I felt like a scared little kid, I was like… it was above my head, I don’t know.
Clementine: You were scared?
Joel: Yeah. I thought you knew that about me…
It is true no relationship I’ve experienced feels anything like that first, getting-to-know-you stage of romantic love after a certain amount of time. I’ve often described this stage as sex and elation. But when that fades, I’d like to think, if we care enough about each other, something stronger may grow out of it.

Dream 12.22.17

Last night we were sharing a hotel room. My father had arranged for us to stay here for a few nights. The room was more than anything I could want to afford. We had spent several nights there already. In the waking world, I haven’t spoken to you or Dad in several years. But in this dream, you were my betrothed and Dad was means to my abode. We woke late with much to pack into the car. The hotel room still had many wonders to explore. I heard you playing pool in a nearby room. I didn’t even know we had a pool table in this hotel room. I felt the urge to stay. But it was time to leave. An inner conflict took me over as I compared my obligation to leave with the amount of belongings to be packed and my desire to stay.

Love Interest Rationale

If she is motivated by fear, she won’t understand how you love. If she doesn’t love as you do, she won’t understand your efforts to help others. If she doesn’t support your efforts to make the world a better place, you cannot spend your life with her. If you cannot spend your life with her, it would be unwise to sleep with her. If you won’t sleep with her, she won’t want to be with you. Sex is means to intimacy. There is no sex without risk of hurting someone else or yourself. To risk hurting someone else in pursuit of personal gain is selfish. Sex with one who doesn’t love the way you love may require you to give up on love your way.

But this society is asleep. The Id rules us. The presence of this understanding is reason to let fear motivate. To not let fear motivate us is irrational. And yet, you do not. You do not let fear motivate you because this is what love means to you. Because maybe it is rational if we aren’t afraid of being hurt, if, instead, we aim to reduce the hurt of others.

Rotten Poppy Pods

A hollowed out watermelon
Left in the wake a culture asleep
Dodging the eyes of a carnivore on a Friday night
Migrate to find my feather
Then I’ll trade the meat for leather
Or I pray that we start opening our eyes
Slowly moving from Jenny’s voice to Dad’s
Hey you. Hey you. Hey you. Hey you. Hey you.
From fucks to fists
And they are the same
Leaving bruises
Used up
Drowning in a sea of poppies
Searching for the one that will get me high
Mellow traumatic
Sir or get out
Hold still
Fingers tremble
Zero times anything
Trying to make love
Blood of a lamb
Sins of the father
Coffee and water
A camp of orphans
To what means?
Shane
And birds fly over heard
Guilty child
Don’t feed the raccoons

Behavior Modification Models

Behavior modification model 3: There is a man who lives in the sky. He is all-knowing and will punish or reward you as a result of your ability and willingness to abide by rules set forth in his book. If you find this claim illogical and refuse to believe in this man and/or his ability to punish you, you will be punished with an eternity of pain. This model may be most dangerous of the three as its most effective tool is fear. This model demands blind faith with the threat of punishment.

Behavior modification model 2: There is a man who lives at the North Pole. He sees you when you’re sleeping and knows when you’re awake. He will reward you with physical compensation of monetary value as a result of your ability and willingness to abide by rules set forth by adults in your world. This second model requires the subject place significant value on physical gain. If the subject ever looses his or her desire for physical gain, this model will loose its effectiveness. Further, as culture states this specific faith should die as the subject reaches a certain age, the ability for the subject to discredit this model may increase as he/she grows older.

Behavior modification model 3: There is a little man who sits on the shelf in your room. He comes to life when you are not watching and reports your behavior to the man who lives at the North Pole. The benefit of this model is the fact that the physical presence of this little man is a constant reminder to the subject. Although all three models require a certain level of superstition on behalf of the subject, this third model at least provides a tangible representation of these powers said to give reward or deal punishment.

All three work to limit our actions, to modify our behavior, with the threat of punishment and promise of reward. They inspire us to engage in acts our society has deemed acceptable and refrain from engaging in acts our society has deemed unacceptable. As the second and third models may evolve with society, they may create little conflict. Our society’s current embodiment of the first model is taken from a book that was finished nearly 2,000 years ago. As society’s values and needs have changed, this book has not. Still, so many would seem to pour the evidence we find of a higher power through the funnel of religion in order to shape their philosophical perspectives. Ironically, when we let fear motivate us, we find ourselves further away from love. This fear of punishment is not of God. This fear was set in place by those who would manipulate the beauty that is our world into a way to control the masses.

The Competition and Love

It is widely accepted that it is physically impossible for two physical objects to occupy one space. Without this understanding, there would likely be no need to claim things for ourselves. If, in fact, multiple human bodies could occupy one space at the same time, there would be no need to specify living quarters for individuals. If our automobiles could occupy the same lane at the same time, there would be no need to claim one’s lane in traffic. for that matter, there would be no traffic. But these physical bodies divide us; They tell us this is mine and that is yours. In order to fuel these bodies, we must provide sustenance. This need for sustenance is often means to competition. This need for sustenance is often motivation to work 9:00 to 5:00 jobs we disenjoy. The alternative is hunger pains and sleeping on the streets. So we compete with each other for work, because work is means to sustenance.

Further, we compete for sex. As two objects cannot occupy the same space at the same time, there are only so many options when it comes to sexual acts. Could this be why men would seem more prone to competitive behaviors? Furthering this competition for sex, is the societal standard of monogamy. Monogamy binds one person to another, making each the other’s property. Of course there is much good to be said about monogamy. As monogamy restricts our behaviors, we become dependent upon the other for fulfillment, not only sexual fulfillment, but emotional fulfillment. In this culture of competition, familial ties are much more valuable than they would be otherwise. A child is born unto my wife and me. It is our responsibility to care this child until he/she can care for him/herself. Now, what if this child was viewed as a child the Earth. It is no longer my job to care for this child. It is our job to care for this child. What if I weren’t in competition with my brothers and sisters for sustenance, because there was enough for everyone to never have to go without?

I’d like to think that world is the world in which we live with the addition of a few simple tweaks. things make us slaves. We often trade our lives for paychecks, only to wake up at 65 with the first chance, but often not the ability, to really live our lives. And what will we have to show for those 50 or so years of work? By that time, the smart phones we spent so much on now will be obsolete. The nice cars we worked so hard to pay for, will have since broken down. Perhaps the fear of going without will have inspired us to save for a comfortable retirement. Now what would the world look like if we didn’t save for retirement, but used our money to provide for others in need? If we all did this, there would be no need to save; Further, there would be no need for fear of going without. Of course, if only a few of this live this way, we will surely suffer as a result of the rest of the world’s fear. Then again, maybe baby steps are the answer. Give as much as you can without putting yourself at risk. Hopefully our model will inspire others to feel less afraid and be more willing to care for others in need. Love can be infectious. It can be scary, but it will spread if we keep trying.

Christmas Morning 1992

It was Christmas morning 1992. The sun had been up for a full 10 minutes. I peered through the archway leading into the living room and gazed at the beautiful, shiny, colorfull boxes and bags under the tree. I knew I wasn’t to enter the lving room until my parent got out of bed.

Then the phone rang. It was my chance to bend this rule. In my socks, I walked quickly across the cold, stone floor. The presents’ pull of my vision a constant temptation. I stepped up onto the ledge into the kitchen and picked up the phone: “Hello”
“Hello, ma’am. This is Sheriff Jordan Schmidt. Is Mr. Force available?”
Being confused as a woman when speaking to strangers on the phone was a common inconvenience of my 8-year-old life. I told the sheriff with a sigh, “Hang on.”
I opened my parents’ bedroom door and my father rolled over to see me. “Dad, there is a sheriff on the phone.”

Dad picked up the phone by their bed and I listened by the door. After Dad spent a few moments on the phone, I knew by his tone we would not be opening presents right away. I returned to my bedroom and waited. Mom came in a few moments later and explained Grandma had had an accident.

As Grandpa explained it to the adults in my world, he had awoken in the middle of the night to find Grandma’s side of the bed empty. He didn’t realize something was amiss until the next morning.

My aunt expressed the perspective that his story was “complete bullshit”. Apparently, two hunters had found Grandma’s body in the wooded area near our house. There was much conversation in the following days regarding Grandma’s money. This man, my grandfather, was not my biological grandfather. My father’s father had died when I was very young. But I trusted Grandpa. He had never mislead me in the past. One afternoon, outside the courthouse where my father and his two sisters waged a court case against my grandfather, Grandpa told me he knew we all knew the story was a lie. The truth was, he told me, as they made their walk back from our house Christmas-eve, Grandma was run over by a reindeer.

Vigilante Hockey

My younger sister, Samantha, was 18 when she received her first inappropriate message from a man on Facebook. We lived in Anaheim, CA with our mother. Our father had left us when she was an infant. Perhaps this was why she sought out the attention of older men. Mom spent most of her time with her lips attached to the end of a bottle. I wasn’t always there for her, either. She was rather popular in school. Her body began maturing early. Of course this brought on all kinds of male attention. By the time she was 18, I was 23. But as early as freshman year, I spent most of my time at the ice rink. I didn’t want to be home. There was no reason for me to go home. As my aspirations for that “C” on my hockey jersey grew, so did my understanding that I needed to protect my sister. One evening, during practice, a teammate lost his shit. He threw down his stick and raced to the edge of the rink, where he pulled his sister’s boyfriend out onto the ice and gave him a good thrashing. It became clear to me my sister was not the only one with problems with men. After a heated conversation in the locker room, we decided to do something about this kind of behavior. Those men who were disrespectful to women would wake to find themselves tied to the goal posts of our ice rink. Dick pics would be met with duck pucks.