The B!%@# is Getting Sick of Nostalgia

This evening I flipped through the results of my local school board election and found myself shaking my head in complete and utter disdain.  A candidate who really has no respect for the local schools had found himself elected to the school board.  He is your typical white repugnant middle class backwards thinker who has nostalgia clouding his vision and he wants to carry the school district in the wrong direction.  The direction of the past…

During his published interviews he had gone on about the three local private religious schools, holding them up as a paragon of things done right (no his name is not DeVos). He had rambled on about needing to return to the old ways of doing things and had criticized the forward direction that the local schools had been moving.  When I had read his interviews I had found my heart sinking… as it was again another reminder of why I have come to feel a strong disdain for the area in which I live.

Sadly this election was just another flashing beacon, reminding me of how utterly lost the Midwest and southern region has become.  It seems to be so entirely fixated on stepping back in time toward a period that was good for no one (except maybe middle-aged white dudes).  People have this silly fantasy built up in their heads of the past and they want to drag the world back there with them.   Here, in this little pocket of the world is just another example of the grand problem that led to the election of the repugnant Tangerine.

The past is the past for a reason.  It is over and done and it cannot be returned to.  Yet people have a horrible habit of romanticizing what they look back upon.  All the while they demonize or degrade the present.  It’s not a new situation.  You see it in movies going back forever… the older generation always trying to hold onto the past and complaining about kids today.  The music is too loud, TV is too this, movies are too that.

Every single generation has a habit of wanting things to be the same for the next as it was for them.  It’s as if the changes somehow lessen the value of history in their minds. They hold onto they way things were as if it were some shining example…and as they hold on to the past they seek to drag the future backwards.  Holding it back… slowing progress…their way of doing things was the right way and the present or the future is getting it wrong.

I suppose it’s a way of keeping themselves relevant.  If things don’t change and things stay as we remembered them to be, then we are still part of it.  Change is scary and in their minds it’s easier to drag their heels and slow the steady progress.  They won’t have to change if they settle in and hold out.

It has always seemed odd to me that so many people want to move through their lives looking backwards.  It would seem that you would walk into a whole lot of poles if your entire life is spent gazing at the rear view.  Yet, they are determined to fix their gaze backwards.  All the while allowing the cloudy, romantic haze of reminiscence to paint in the blurry corners of the picture.

Sure you can look back to the way they used to do things in schools and you can decide that you want to drag your children back to the past.  It’s an odd argument really…I mean, what’s the point of teaching your children to live in a world that won’t exist when they are adults?  Even today there are so many jobs that did not exist when I was in high school.  Many of the people who have found themselves moving into those jobs have had to seek retraining and further education in order to work in those fields.  Yet, there are people who jump up and down screaming that they want things to go back to how it ‘used’ to be.  But even the past did not prepare people for what is today… so why on Earth would you want to hinder your children by demanding they learn in ways that didn’t even prepare us to meet the needs of the present?

The reality of the world though is that it will always change.  There is no choice but to move forward.  You can try to drag humanity backwards, but it will always find a way to course correct.  Unfortunately most of those course corrections end up being rather harsh and their is an awful lot of whiplash in the process.

 

The B!%@# is an Exceptional Eclectic

Have you ever found yourself hating the mere mention of a phrase?  A phrase that sends you scrambling for the other room, the next state, or perhaps a few countries over, when you hear it uttered?  You know those phrases.  The one’s that remind you of someone dragging their fingernails across a chalkboard.  The words that have your spine lengthening, your lips curling, and your temper intermediately riled.

While I could make case for many annoying phrases, there is one that will always put my temper on edge.  The two little words in question?  “Good Christian.”  Now let me start out by saying that I believe that everyone has to find the religion or non-religion that brings them a personal sense of peace.  People need to find a personal code that guarantees they will treat others with respect and dignity.  This post is not in anyway, shape, or form designed to demonize the Christian faith, as I know many people who are Christian for whom I have much respect and admiration.  It is, however, my intention to specifically target a group of people who have made the lives of many difficult and at times almost unbearable.  That group being the ones who spout venom and hate all the while proclaiming themselves to be “good Christians.”

I suspect you can ascertain from my need to address this topic that I am not Christian and you would be correct.  For the last three decades I have identified myself as either Pagan, Wiccan, or simply a Spiritual Eclectic.  The later probably being my label of choice, if I had to give myself a label.  I don’t spend my days going about advertising my spiritual beliefs.  It has never been that I am ashamed of them, I simply don’t find it necessary to wear them like a pair of designer jeans with the label prominently displayed across my ass.

The world is made of a hodgepodge of faiths and beliefs.  Everyone seems to be trying to assign meaning to things and they are always on the lookout for signs that they are somehow right in their personal choices of faith and belief.  The problem with that, is that in order to believe themselves “right,” they have to believe someone else is wrong.  That, in and of itself, is not a problem.  The problem appears when those people start arguing over who is right and wrong.  The conflict develops when one people decides that they must inflict their beliefs on others.

This brings me back to those two teeny tiny words.  Why do they inspire a rage in me?  The simple explanation is that they imply a superiority of the person who utters them over others.  Rarely can you compliment a “good Christian” by calling them a good person, as they will frequently correct you.  It is as if being a good person is somehow not sufficient. They can’t take credit for their actions without attaching their religion to it and with that they are somehow proclaiming their religion as being the cause of their positive actions. Their religion is the basis of all good and the implication is that a person cannot be good enough if they are not of that religion.

With the current social climate these beliefs are ever present and seem to be saturating the actions of many politicians.  Today, as I was scanning through the articles running across my news feed, I found one that mentioned a group who are determined to bring “good Christian” beliefs back into the classroom.  Admittedly my initial reaction was a muttered string of expletives.  Why do people feel the need to dictate religion to others?  Public schools serve people from a variety of faiths and when you proclaim that you want to carry those schools back to “good Christian” beliefs you are declaring that other faiths are NOT good and NOT worthy.  It’s offensive to make such claims.

Every day we are subjected to the “good Christians” need to convert the world. They cannot seem to accept diversity and they demonize differences while they proclaim they are simply being “good Christians.” They only want to save everyone and in order to do that they have to tell you everything that is wrong with you (in their opinion, of course).  Call me crazy, but I have never felt the need to stick my hand on a hot stove… but when a “good Christian” gets to spouting off their hate and judgment that stove seems the better alternative to their ways and beliefs.

For years I have had to listen to people spout off about how Christianity is under attack. Do you know why people of other religions rarely utter such moronic statements?  It’s not because they are ashamed of their faiths or beliefs.  It’s that they simply do not feel the need to wave their personal faiths around like a flag.  They desire respect in their choice of faith, but they do not need to have it become some universally accepted proclamation. They do not need to force it down the throats of the public at large.  Not once has it ever occurred to me that I should be out converting others to my personal spiritual truth.

Generally you could say that I am tired of being the one who sits silently in the room as those around me talk about their faith and religions.  I am exhausted by burden of having to validate their right to believe as they choose, while denying my own right to be as expressive.  I am disgusted by the fact that the word “good” has been commandeered as a label to be applied to those of a particular faith and belief system.

Perhaps we should let them have that word… instead let us choose something more splendid for our personal identification.  Let us be magnificent Muslims, marvelous Jews, wondrous Wiccans, and just generally phenomenal people.  We don’t have to allow them to inflict their “good Christian” ideals on our classrooms, in our personal lives, and throughout our government.  Instead we need to demand that they demonstrate that they can be spectacular human beings and embrace all of the world’s diversity with a breathtaking wonder.

The B!%@# Values Education

The uneducated are doomed to repeat a history they know nothing about.  For years education has been under assault.  We live in a country that relies upon the ability of our citizens to make educated and informed decisions.  This country works best when its population has learned how to think critically about the issues.  We do not function well when we are indoctrinating and/or brainwashing our citizens into following a dictated set of beliefs.  An educated populace is one that is less likely to be corralled into the role of chattel.

The confirmation of DeVos sent a shiver down my spine.  Truth be told, I spent the day trying to avoid the news.  There was no doubt in my mind that the Repugnants would vote in spite of their constituency.  While there were two who listened to their constituents and voted against her, the rest of the Repugnants toed the party line or were paid for by the DeVos family donations.

Through their devotion to money and party, the Repugnants sold the children of this country to the highest bidder.  They guaranteed that a woman who has effectively destroyed the Detroit schools has a hand in dictating educational policy throughout the nation.  There was no consideration for the hundreds of thousands of people who contacted them asking them to deny her nomination.

Education professionals were discounted and their opinions were devalued.  These politicians decided that people who have spent years earning degrees and specializing in the field of education should have to answer to a woman who has absolutely no educational experience.  They declared that while they expected teachers to be highly qualified they did not see a need for the head of the Department of Education to actually know anything about education.

Why do I think the Repugnants made such a choice?  Are there reasons beyond having their lips surgically attached to the Tangerine’s posterior?  We all have our theories. Personally I believe that it’s about opening the doors to the idea of privatizing education, another way for corporations to earn money while ensuring that the poor have a minimum education.  The emphasis being on the word minimum, as the Tangerine has declared he does love the poorly educated.

The poorly educated are less likely to think for themselves.  Generally those who are lacking in critical thinking skills gravitate to television networks such as Faux News.  They find there, an unhealthy dose of hate and sensationalized reporting.  In the sound bites their lack of education is catered to and reaffirmed.  These people become the one issue voters that don’t take into account all the damage that can be done through their tunnel vision.  So naturally the Tangerine wants to cultivate more of that type of voter.

As a child I was encouraged to think for myself.  We had an expectation that we would learn and form our own opinions based on the facts available. One did not make assumptions without evidence and all evidence was to be evaluated for authenticity and application.  Our critical nature even led my brother to create a website for the sole purpose of presenting documentation on the issues, cases are presented and debated.

Perhaps the appointment of DeVos is a way for the administration to try and ensure that there are plenty of poorly educated voters out there for the Tangerine to love.  This is not something that we should accept.  We as a people are going to have to step up and realize that it is time to push back.  Society is going to have to encourage and value education that leads to critical thinking.  It might be the only way to correct the damage that has yet to unfold.

 

 

The B!%@# Has Access…

The repugnants have a buzzword.  You can hear it spattered throughout Washington D.C. and in various state level legislatures.  The buzzword in question is: access.  Whenever they want to sound as if they are willing to actually take care of people they make statements along the lines of, “everyone will have access to.”  It makes it appear as if they care and that they are genuinely going to work to provide for those whom they have been elected to serve.  All the while they are concealing their true intent.

Today while watching a clip of Senator Sanders questioning Senator Tom Price about how he will act in the position of H.H.S. Secretary the buzzword raised its ugly head.  As they discussed drug prices in this country the buzzword made an appearance. Mr. Price stated that he would ensure that everyone had “access” to the medications that they need.  Sanders then continued with his questioning about healthcare and asked whether or not healthcare was a right simply because a person was an American.  Again Mr. Price tossed out the word access by stating that he would work to ensure that everyone had access.

Sanders’ response was what really started me thinking about that word. He came back with a quip, “I have access to buying a 10 million dollar home, but I don’t have the money to do that.”  Just because someone has access to something doesn’t mean they can actually afford to act upon that access.  That is the reality of the word access.  A reality that was summed up in a single sentence tucked into a round of questioning for the potential cabinet members.

My personal reality is that I have access to a great many things, just as anyone does. Access is open for a trip to some of the most beautiful destinations in the United States or world.  I have access to resorts and hotels.  I have access to exquisite cuisine in some of the finest restaurants.  Access is wide open to stores where a single shirt would cost just a mere $1,000.  However, I don’t exactly have the money to take advantage to that access. We all have access, but whether or not we can act upon that access is a completely different animal.

I don’t begrudge anyone that I don’t have the money to do any of those things.  My financial situation is based upon the career I have chosen and the life I live.  I am not angry about the fact that I can’t actually afford to go dine in a upscale restaurant and face the $500 price tag for the evening.  I don’t write from a place of hostility over my lack of means. Let’s face it, most of us can’t actually afford those things on a regular basis.  We might be able to splurge for a vacation of a lifetime after years of saving or we might be able to add that extra bit of luxury to a car as we justify the few dollars more a month in the payment.  But generally we are tied to average lives within our means.

What I do begrudge, however, is that the repugnants and their Tangerine-elect have developed a master skill at throwing around that word access as if it were a badge of honor. They see themselves as somehow redeemed in the eyes of the world if they state that everyone has access to something.  Just as long as that access is on their terms.  Look at health care.  For the last eight years they have been fighting tooth and nail to repeal the ACA.  Each and every time promising that they would put something in its place that would grant access to everyone.  But if you are paying attention you catch on to the fact that doesn’t mean that everyone will actually be covered or taken care of by this new plan.

All you have to do is sit and watch the repugnants speak for any period of time.  You will start to hear that word jump out at you.  DeVos is declaring that she wants to ensure that parents have access to school choice.  Price wants to make sure that people have access to health care.  Ryan has stated multiple times that he wants to allow seniors to have choice and access to quality health care by privatizing Medicare.  The reality is that they don’t want to ensure that everyone actually has those things, they only want to make sure they have access to them.

Sadly people have fallen for this rhetoric.  They are often left shocked when they find themselves unable to take advantage of the access provided.  Faith is lost when a person realizes they ended up with the short end of the stick.  They feel the fool for believing the lies, when in fact, they were simply misled.

Personally I think it’s time for the public to start reminding these politicians that we don’t want access.  We want substance.  We want to hear detailed descriptions of  what the palpable outcomes will be when they make a promise.  The next time a politician gives an answer guaranteeing access, we need to call them on it. What kind of access?  Will this be something I can afford or is this simply another one of your rhetorical situations?

The B!%@# Believes in Education

Education is one of those subjects that is near and dear to my heart.  To me the idea of a free public education is imperative to the development and maintenance of a productive society.  It is through education that we ensure that people remain free.  A full education creates a person who can think for themselves.  They can look at all of the evidence available to them and synthesize a position.  When you are educated, you learn to question.  In a society such as ours it is those questions that push us forward and continue to help us grow.

My deep love of the idea of education found me sitting in a rather perplexed state as I watched the confirmation hearing for Betsy DeVos.   The Tangerine essentially took one of the major Repugnant donors (AKA exceptionally wealthy white woman) and decided that he would let her play school on the taxpayers dime.  To me this is like tapping a fast food employee to be Surgeon General.  Translation:  BAD IDEA, someone is going to get hurt.  While DeVos has no formal background in education, she does have some experience.  Unfortunately the students in Detroit are the ones who are paying for her experience.

Education has been taking a lot of lumps and I am not sure, but this one could be the fatal blow to the head.  With DeVos we have a person who doesn’t believe in public education.  She wants charter schools, religious schools, and private schools all under the claim of promoting choice.    That in and of itself is not necessarily a bad thing.  There are many good schools in this country that fall into one of those three classifications.  The problem arises when you start taking money from the public schools to give to those other school types and DeVos believes in doing just that.  She believes in vouchers.

For years Repugnants have been saying, well if we give people choice it will force the schools to perform better and will therefore attract students.  Education is not a place where you can expect improvement when you cut budgets.  School districts don’t have a secret stash of money hidden away to pull out and magically make themselves “better.” They generally have extremely tight budgets and they rarely misspend what little money they have.  Most of them are tasked with finding ways to make a mac n’ cheese budget look like a filet mignon dinner.

Due to those mac n’ cheese budgets, teachers spend an unbelievable amount of their own money in classrooms.  They do this because most teachers go into education with the goal of making the lives of children better.  Each day they get up and head into work despite the ever increasing odds and they do their absolute best for their students.  They fret and worry about every choice they make and they look for better ways every day.  They continue to train and take professional development classes for the rest of their career.  All with the goal of improving education for their kids.

The confirmation of DeVos seems to be one of those foregone conclusions.  Other than being wholly unqualified for the position (much like the Tangerine-Elect), there doesn’t appear to be any skeletons waiting to jump out and knock her out of the running.  She will become the head of Education and she will work to push through vouchers and all that entails.  Teachers will be left to do what they can when school budgets are cut to cover the money shelled out in vouchers.  They will try to fill the gap even when it takes money out of their home.  They will do what they can, but will have been set up to fail.