December 16, 2016

The New McCarthyism Smoke Screen Continues

The New McCarthyism smoke screen continues. The unDemocratic Party wants you to forget all the facts of their own malfeasance and instead focus on some unproven narrative that Russia hacked the DNC, then provided the info to WikiLeaks to swing the election in favor of Trump even in the face of a WikiLeaks operative insisting someone inside the DNC provided them the documents out of disgust. 

Honestly, it's not that I'm surprised the DNC would pull this nonsense, I'm mostly surprised how many people have bought it into it and embrace it with both arms. I mean, I know I shouldn't be. You know, confirmation bias and cognitive dissonance and all that stuff that gets thrown around in online arguments. And this whole thing does allows a continuation of the infantile good/evil narrative that the duopoly always has in play during elections, but it's the hypocrisy that is so shocking to me. It's like:

You're not mad that the Democrats rigged the results of the primary but you are mad that revealing that the Democrats rigged the primary may have influenced the election.

You're not mad the Democrats collaborated secretly with traditional media sources to construct and control "news" narratives so they were favorable to the party's chosen candidate or that they rewarded those journalist collaborators with positions but you are mad that "fake news" may have led people to vote against the candidate.

You're worried that an oppressive foreign regime which controls news sources used fake news to influence our election and you think the best way to counter that is to let corporations like Facebook and Google decide what news you see and to trust only the same news sources that collaborated with the Democrats.

You're not mad the Democrats voted to keep the super-delegates who helped ensure their pre-chosen candidate won the primary, but you totally think they should get rid of the electoral college to stop their opponent--the guy you don't like.

You're not mad that one of the chief strategies of the Democratic Party to get their chosen candidate elected was to ensure Trump was their pre-selected candidate's opponent but don't blame them at all that he got the nomination and won.

You're totally worried about what's going to happen to immigrants under Trump but didn't seem to notice Obama's record-breaking mass deportation efforts.

You're really upset about the influence of big business on Trump's cabinet and policies but weren't bothered that Citibank pre-selected Obama's cabinet.

You're worried about the coming of tyranny under Trump and the right but don't mind that the majority of Democrats voted and still regularly voted to allow mass surveillance and that Obama's cabinet has been the most secretive in history while persecuting more whistleblowers than any other.

December 2, 2016

The Girl and the Rice Pudding

The last couple of days, I've been thinking a lot about Sujata, the girl who gave the Buddha food. I don't know if you know the story but the last thing Siddhartha tried before just going and sitting under the Bodhi tree where he found enlightenment was to live as an ascetic.

Now, the stories talk about how Siddhartha threw himself into everything he tried, so of course he was the most rigorous in his discipline and the most severe in his denial of the body, the mortification of his flesh—think existing on a single sip of water and a single grain of rice while engaged in meditation or chanting or whatever difficult practice.

Eventually, Siddhartha realized asceticism wasn’t helpful and wasn’t getting him anywhere. Unfortunately, by then, he’s near death. Weak and in pain. Exhausted. Can barely move. And a girl—Sujata—she sees him and she gives him her payasam—which is like this sugary, milk, rice pudding dish—and that’s what keeps him from dying and what gives him the strength to go on to the Bodhi tree.

I’ve seen that story presented a lot of ways. Sometimes she’s not named. Sometimes she’s very young. Sometimes she rich and beautiful. Sometimes she’s just walking by. Sometimes someone goes and tells her about the sickly looking man on the roadside by the edge of the wood. And sometimes she gives Siddhartha that rice pudding because she thought he was a tree god.

But none of that matters, right? Do you get that?

The trappings, I mean. Because at its heart, it’s just about a girl who gives a starving man food and without her, just that moment of thoughtless kindness--she just did it without planning or thinking about it, there would be no Buddha, no dharma, no sangha. Something about that really strikes me deeply. There’s no magic or miracles or prophecies or holy wars or supernatural forces crackling across the heavens, it’s just this immediate and genuine act of kindness when a girl gave some sick, gross-looking guy a bit of food.

In my head, I tend to picture that as one of the things Siddhartha rolls around in his mind when he’s sitting under the Bodhi tree, that knowledge that it really…just comes down to that…a girl and a bowl of rice pudding…

I don’t know about you all, but I’ve been in a weird mental place lately and dealing with a lot of stress. And with everything that’s going on in the world and the things you see on social media, it’s easy to feel…beset. Beset by a legion of assholes and the very forces of the universe.

Do you feel that way too?

What I think would be cool for us--without mucking it up by turning it into a clickbait, meme thing--is to practice some gratitude because gratitude makes you feel better mentally and physically and it boosts your self-esteem and it puts good things into the world. But let’s practice it in a very specific way.

First, I want you to think about little moments of kindness that you’ve shown people. I don’t mean the big stuff, I mean, the little stuff like a man, a girl, and a bowl of rice pudding. Things like giving someone your parking spot. Giving someone the quarter they needed to make bus fare. I think we tend to ignore those things, to give them short shrift. Part of it is how our minds work. We tend to focus on the big stuff and ignore the little stuff unless we’re in a bad spot and then we notice every little thing that’s wrong.

Part of it too, though is we don’t know what comes of those moments. But those can be difference makers in someone’s life, just like the bowl of rice pudding. So, try to remember one of those times and think about the impact of your action on that person’s life. I mean, really think about it. Maybe it was the one good thing that day for them. What would that mean to you if you were in their place? Maybe it kept them going. Maybe it got them to that important job interview. Doesn’t matter if any of your imaginings are true, it’s about what it does to you mind and where your mind goes, your world follows.

Next, while you’re caught up in the feeling, I want you to think about your own life and when people have shown you those little moments of kindness and what that meant to you, what it did for you, what it meant for the rest of your day. Because we really do tend to ignore those. And when you’ve got at least one of those, if you can, I want you to go to that person and I want you to tell them thank you. For reals. I want you to tell them thank you. Even if it’s just the downstairs neighbor whose name you don’t know and you’ve never really talked to but they always go out of their way to hold the door for you when you’re coming back from the store. Go tell them thank you. Don't message them or email them, if you can help it, instead--look them in the eye and tell them thank you.

Then, lastly, pick a day, that same day ideally and keep your eyes open for something small and nice to do for someone as soon as the opportunity presents itself. I mean, right now, are you walking around with a bunch of change in your pocket that you're probably going to toss on top of your dresser when you get home? Are you near parking meters?

See what I'm saying. Doesn't have to be big and huge. Because, man, it's just about a bowl of rice pudding, you know?

December 1, 2016

Gun Mantra

I used to write a lot of fiction that appeared on the free online zines. Most of those have run their course. And, honestly, the few who are still around aren't doing me any good because no one is going to dig through those for a flash fiction story that appeared two or more years ago.

So, I'm moving a lot of those over to Wattpad. Not only does it give me a chance to teach myself photoshop, but, hopefully, I'll eventually get the attention of new readers.

First up is:

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...