Entirely Myself

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There is ever unfinished business.

Uncertainty is a nagging demon, inflaming doubt, tempting inaction. Calm determination and experience give us the tools to weigh importance. They give us steady balance and courage to step from shadows, beyond the captivating flatness of certainty, to practice and play in our given fields – the ones we inherit, the ones we earn. They give us the sense to discern when to venture out, when to stay home.

Never so foolish as when ever safe, never so damned as when never tied.

There are ever matters to finish – until there are no matters at all.

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The Unadorables

Why would anyone in his right mind address the topic of religious malfeasance? To my mind, only a man in his right mind would – and should – address the issue. Why should anyone turn aside when the cloak of religion is blatantly employed to corrupt American politics and international affairs and undermine the welfare of the general public? Religious entities are fighting tooth and nail to impede social improvement, eagerly denying that there is an objective social entity (except, perhaps, for family and church) or improvement (other than in areas of personal gain and righteous feeling), recklessly violating an explicit compact with the nation.

Religious entities chose to aggressively enter politics, a grave error that noted spiritual leaders have lamented, warning of dire consequences for the principal purpose of religious exercise. One would assume that glorification of a deity would be the first objective of the enterprise, and one would hope that the betterment of congregants, and the population of the nation and the world at large, would be close in priority.

Yet, religious entities, perhaps only a boisterous minority, have become the last refuge of scoundrels. A Dickensian deep, dark depravity runs amok and unchallenged in religious leadership that perverts its calling. Entities that follow such leadership deserve to be stripped forthwith of all claimed exceptions and exemptions, as they have not only lost respect for, but all connection with, public decency, justice, fairness, right, blessedness, and reason. I humbly offer as evidence the religious group that harassed the funeral services of veterans. A few cynical religious consultants even conduct back-channel dealings with foreign powers of distinctly shady standards and practices to bring them to play in America’s work at home and abroad.

What say beings left to the mercy of such charlatans? Though many mute and oppressed inhabitants of earth are unwilling or unable to speak for themselves, weary ethical beings of gentle, clear logic, based on objectively verified and probable fact, say, “Time is up!”

First-hand, I have witnessed the effects on elders in Tennessee of a religious house that defaulted on its covenant with members of good standing and long service. Second-hand, I have discovered how a changeling reverend used and abused his old congregation – how a predator sapped the good will and wealth of men and women into their old age and returned nothing to them in terms of comfort or guidance in their years of frailty and infirmity.

As a people, as an ethical social church, we should ferret out these miscreants, drain the venom, defang the viciousness, and terminate their benefit of the privileges rightly afforded to houses of worship and social service whose leaders aim to respectfully contribute as a part of the general social body of the nation. As for respectables who claim that local individuals, families, organizations, institutions, and governments do good work more effectively than national government, they owe it to put up and do what they claim rather than expend all effort to block the progress of all other remedies.

Let there be no more inattentive overlooking and polite dismissals of religious malfeasance from this day forward. A rapacious politicized pastor is to God what a tiny, blank sticky note is to literature and history. The influence of these scam artists taints lives around the world: they worsen lives suffering under the thumbs of their villainous allies in countries such as Russia and Uganda. And the intent of this mischief has no relationship to the work of God and critical bearing on the undoing of it. These missionaries of doom turn logic and language upside down in extremes that would make Orwell blush in unholy familiarity. When those under the banner of religion choose to rant, plot, and meddle in every public forum – act to undermine our Constitution, our just policies, the integrity and vitality of our planet – religion forfeits its special place and protections and calls upon itself scrutiny, censure, and even taxation. Abhorrent are despoilers of good works and honest reputations. Fie on them and their minions – and may God save their followers and us all from their depredations and their devious and dangerous ways.

Gray Claws

No thing reveals the fate of a nation more than the plight of its old. In America, at the dawn of the 21st century, people who sought expansion of personal horizons and independence are suddenly finding themselves confined and utterly dependent.

Doubling the trouble is the tendency of the utterly feeble to rely on the decrepit twin highwaymen of our political system – to wit, the Republican Party and its bastard sibling, the Tea Party – to cling to privilege and to restore a lost golden age that never was. This is not to say that the Democratic Party lacks its own deficiencies. But at least the Democratic Party contains the diversity of microbes necessary to digest change and excrete failure through the natural family processes of internal bickering, back-stabbing, inheritance hunting, and deathbed watching.

Through all the bitterness over the Affordable Care Act, I was guilty of not being sufficiently livid at the obstructionists who spent untold effort trying to prevent, overturn, repeal, slander, and otherwise block implementation of health reform. That is until I witnessed first-hand the desperation of the old and uninsured who need good information and more rational and fair health insurance coverage. To the dimwits who fought the Affordable Care Act tooth and nail with every underhanded deceit known to man, I say thank you from the bottom of my heart for calling it Obamacare. You have insured that one of the most significant advancements in health services in this country will be forever linked with the president whom you refused to give a chance and the Democratic Party, which sacrificed much to hold the tiller firmly during a gale of lies, whining, privilege-seeking, and self-indulgence. May you not suffer in your old age as you would have others suffer.

The old – and that bracket includes baby boomers – don’t have much to fall back on in terms of the children next in line: many of our children are lost in cyberspace and consumed by their own selfish concerns and presumptions of superiority. And, too, progeny in every developed country are but one Internet or electrical-grid failure away from complete helplessness themselves.

It is assumed by those who wish it so that the old will whimper, rollover, and die. An alternative plan on the political right and left is for the old to claw back in elder rage and irrationality that further dooms the long view and the arduous climb out of the hole we have dug for ourselves.

There is another way, as usual. The old can accept their duty to mentor and pass the baton responsibly to another generation. They might delay retirement but be ready to step aside and let jobs go to the young who need to start their overdue careers. They might vote and speak as if they acquired common sense over their many years of prosperous existence. The young can accept greater responsibility and maintain sensible engagement in politics and the lives of the old.

Never has it been so apparent how maturing Americans have inched themselves, and our society, out on a flimsy limb far away from practical community. It is not the fault of this generation of elderly or the past one. It is not the fault of evolving youth culture, either. That is except where the habits and culture of each generation have fused seamlessly and energetically with the unbridled consumerism of the past century and a half and neglected the future.

The most giving and creative society can indeed simultaneously be the most selfish and shortsighted. Too tired to try, the old fall back on bitching and recliners. Though high time for generational change, few new friends of mankind stand out: no figure, no group, no ideology, no method leaps to mind to make our evolutionary path easier or surer.

One cannot hear the sounds of the environment with embedded ear buds. One cannot see one’s surroundings in the illumination of a hand-held device. One cannot connect when constantly plugged in and tuned out. Neither can the old hear, see, or connect from the cave of their dens, strangers to the Internet, immobile, and steeped in denial until it is too late.

No external solutions exist, only the basic everyday ones. The momentum is with each household and tribe pursuing its daily survival. That is how we have gotten by for centuries. That is how we will rise or fail together – one by one.

Precipitously, our old fall off the playing field. Nothing changes – except that the wisdom of the ages is diminished in a steady dribble. Forgetting is what we do best. It is what we do worst. The brittle gray claws of the old crumble and break. And the spaces left when they decamp are beyond filling.