Three Words

I hate him.

A few weeks ago I posted three words on Facebook: I believe her. Three words.

My good old liberal friend Ruth said right on. Another acquaintance said I don’t, and left it at that.

A woman I know, who is now a former friend, came back with a rant about how I was unfair and how would I like to be falsely accused and how terrible the liberal media was, and so on. Roughly 100 words of hysteria brought on by a simple opinion.

At that point I shrugged it off. Then another friend shot back, highly offended by the former friend’s dismissive tone. Ah well. A flame war had begun. I’ve seen it before, and have been sorely tempted to join in. Still, no big deal.

The woman who shot back happened to mention she had been raped. My heart went out to her, as it does to any woman brave enough to come forward.

My former friend went into overdrive. She piled on the invective, the bitterness, the ignorance. She would not relent.

The woman she attacked is my friend. She has been most supportive of me through some difficult times. She’s part of my support network.

I could not let this verbal assault pass. I told the attacker to knock it off or I would report her.

I have heard nothing from her since.

I hate him. He has used the office of the presidency as a club against anyone and everyone who does not live up to his warped standards. He mocked Dr. Ford before a cheering crowd, and while many were outraged, I was simply surprised he had not done it earlier.

It says very little about our nation that he was elected. There is an excellent chance he will get another four years, and that says even less.

He did not create create bigotry. The racism behind his ascension to power has festered for a long time. He is a symptom of our failure to be decent.

But… he exploited the worst in our country, and he panders to it every day. He works day and night to turn us against each other.

Somewhere in my former friend, a kind and decent person is struggling to get out. I pray for her. I hope she finds a better way. But the man she admires is ruining her humanity.

I hate him. But more than that, I hate the hatred this unleashes in me.

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Whose Wicked Ways?

If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land. (2 Chronicles 7:14)

It’s a lovely, hopeful verse. It implies to me that a nation, even one like ours that is rife with fear and inequality, can mend its ways and learn the ways of justice. It tells me that the United States of America could once again lead the world toward democracy and human rights.

It’s too bad the fundamentalists have hijacked it. More often than not, it is used not as a call to prayerful amendment of wrongs but as a signal to credulous Christians to defend the status quo. Its latest appearance is in The Trump Prophecy, a film that propounds a dangerous doctrine that God’s children should submit without question to state authority.

Make no mistake. When the religious right talks about “wicked ways”, they mean same-sex behavior. Nothing offends fundamentalists more than homosexuality, even though Jesus never favors one mode of sexuality over another.

Several verses in the Bible condemn homosexual behavior. Biblical literalists use them to persecute the LGBTQ population.

In the view of many scholars, these verses refer to specific practices that violated the religious norms of the society in which they were written. (So are the apostle Paul’s injunctions against women speaking in church.) Those who take a more nuanced view of the bible will tell you that many verses are meant to address culture-specific problems. They were not intended to be universal truths.

Written in a pre-scientific world, the Bible does not acknowledge that homosexuality involves a deep and inborn attraction to members of the same gender.

Coexisting with the fundamentalists’ Pharisaical obsession with heterosexuality is a dangerous attachment to nationalism, sexism, plutocracy, racism, nativism, militarism, and greed (aka unregulated capitalism).

I apply 2 Chronicles 7:14 differently. You want wicked? Here’s wicked.

Sexual assault. Immigrant children torn from parents. Muslims castigated. Women insulted. Minorities demonized. The poor left to rot. Science denied. Art censored. Flags used to sell cars. Soldiers who come home addicted and suicidal. Oppressive marriages. History forgotten. Selfishness elevated. Gambling hyped. Alcoholism glorified. Ignorance enthroned. The intellect derided. Bigotry championed.

Yes, adultery and pornography are on the list, but so is male domination and the exploitation of children. (By the way, does anyone besides me consider it wrong to push a career on an eight-year-old?)

I could go on all night.

You may have detected anger in my list of sins. So be it. Evil should make us angry. Dwelling on and acting on anger is dangerous… but so is complacency.

God breathes hot fury against injustice. One day that fury will scorch everyone who cheats the poor and shafts the downtrodden. He will do this without regard to what believers profess with their lips. Judgment will come. Count on it.

My Code

Personal mottoes:

 

Don’t fuck with my peeps.

Never kick someone when they are down.

Fight fair.

Win and lose gracefully.

If the movie sucks, leave.

Question your first impulse, except in emergencies.

Root for the underdog.

Vote or shut up.

Hit no one for any reason.

Give to all your full attention, especially kids.

Think for yourself and no one else.

Admire art.

Bathe in music twice a day.

Take the stick out.

Laugh at old jokes.

Practice silliness.

Read your favorite book every ten years.

When all else fails, procrastinate.

Honor the God of your misunderstanding.

The Final Scene From a Movie That Will Never Be Made

EXTERIOR. MEDIUM LONG SHOT

Late autumn sunset in the parking lot we saw in scene one, when the BOY had been kidnapped. A brick school building glows in deep red tones. Leaves fall from the trees beside the parking lot. They skid across the pavement in the brisk wind. The flashing lights of police cars and emergency vehicles strobe on and off, reflecting off the crouched form of the FATHER, who extends his arms in welcome.

The back of a police SUV opens. A woman in police uniform steps out, holding the boy in her arms. She sets him gently on the ground. He stares at his father, hesitates. The cop gives him a little push.

He runs to the FATHER, clutching his teddy bear. He trips at the last second, and the FATHER catches him. They embrace. The boy folds into the FATHER, whose body shakes with sobs. All watch. No one moves.

TWO-SHOT

The BOY and the FATHER. Tears flow down their faces.

FATHER

Safe.

The boy smiles through his tears.

BACK TO THE WIDE SHOT

Leaves fly by, dancing on the asphalt.

The wind picks up. A mass of leaves swirls toward the camera, which freezes as they fill the screen.

CUT TO BLACK

Ten Advantages of Being Clean

1) You don’t wake up in strange rooms with people you don’t like.

2) Your beer budget goes to important things like chocolate and automobiles.

3) You can look people in the face. Even the ones you don’t like.

4) It’s easier to spell than “sobriety.”

5) Every difficult task becomes do-able.

6) Every once in a while you can take a vacation from your ego.

7) You realize, in your core being, how unspeakably beautiful is this Earth.

8) Pissing matches and one-upsmanship become optional.

9) You can smile in broad daylight for no reason at all.

10) Given enough time and Step work, the inner war that tore you apart comes to an end.

Four More Keys to Happiness

1) Happy little toes. Unhappy pinky toes complicate life. They snag your socks and cramp your feet in tight shoes. Come to think of it, comfy shoes in general are necessary to well being.

2) Going light on the Twitter feed. If That Man in the White House had more Twitter control, we would all be happier.

3) A $3,000 bicycle. You read that right. $3,000. Sure it’s materialistic. Do you think life is nothing but spiritual enlightenment? If it’s good enough for Greg LeMond, it’s good enough for you.

4) There is no fourth happiness key. Yes, I promised you four. Consider it a lesson in reducing your expectations.

Qualities to Emulate

Kindness. Wisdom. Leaving something good for your grandchildren. A compassionate sense of humor. Critical thinking. The ability to construct a strong sentence. An appreciation of art films. Empathy.

Five other qualities to be named at a later date.

What’s Really Important

Comfortable socks. Hymns that make you cry. Scallops—the real thing, not the faux-scallops punched out of skate muscle. Syncopation. Babies with dirty hands. Seeing the Moon in daylight. Holding hands. Folding coupons three times to perforate well. Exquisite typography. Flip-flops. Decency. The Bullwinkle Show. Cats washing their wittle faces. Cute girls. Cup a Joe’s. Satire.