Saturday, May 23, 2015

BULLIES


I am currently dealing with a neighborhood bully. It is a minor case at this point. I hope to work to a resolution by simply asserting my civil rights under municipal regulations if my attempts to approach the bully civilly fail. I have had ample experience with bullies as a lifelong homosexual in a homophobic society. I am a nonviolent person. My activism against bullies has been nonviolent unless my own life or health have been directly endangered.
 
Ultimately I trust cause and effect as ruling principles in an otherwise chaotic universe. This means that bullies inevitably reap the effects of their bullying causation. I have had several incidents in my life which have supported this hypothesis.
 
My first overt and violent experience with bullies occurred in 4th grade. One of my classmates who lived in my neighborhood organized a gang of young punks in the neighborhood to beat me up after school. They ambushed me as I walked home from school. There were six of them. They tore my clothes, destroyed my books and pummeled me in the street. I fought back and eventually broke free after inflicting my share of damage.
 
My mother was furious when she came home from work and discovered my bruises and ruined clothes. Frankly, I think she was angriest about the clothes. She was thrifty. She called the mother of the bully organizer and threatened to send my father, the police juvenile officer at the time, to deal with her son. Her son was promptly taken out of the Catholic school we both attended and sent to public school.
 
Twenty five years later, the mother of my chief attacker was admitted under my care in the state mental institution where I was a nursing supervisor. She was psychotically depressed. I had never met the woman before that meeting, but I immediately knew who she was. I insisted on being her primary nurse, the person to coordinate her care during her stay. I did my best for her. She recovered and was discharged. Two decades later she approached my mother in their parish church after mass. She told my mother I had saved her life and that she would never forget my kindness.
 
Another incident with a bully also supported my hypothesis about cause and effect. I moved to a resort town on Cape Cod in my thirties. It was summer and rentals were difficult to find. I took a room in a private home of a gay man twenty years my senior after finding it advertised in a grocery store. The man also rented another room to a bartender and transvestite performer who was about his age. They were old friends.  It soon became evident they were both alcoholics.
 
I endured weeks of alcoholic behavior in order to avoid the time-consuming effort of finding another rental during peak season. The owner of the house loudly resented my complaints about being woken by drunken parties in the kitchen next to my room in the middle of the night. He soon began to bang on my locked door at night and eventually, with a chorus of his drunken buddies, threatened to gang rape me. I knew one of his drinking buddies was a town cop, so complaining to the police would have been useless.
 
I packed my things the morning after the gang threat, when I assumed my landlord was passed out. I quietly got into my truck and started my engine. Suddenly the landlord and the other tenant appeared. The landlord was carrying a kitchen knife. I drove off. They got into the landlord's car and careened after me. The neighborhood was a winding maze of crude streets. Finally I got to the major highway. They were tailgating my truck. I ran a stop sign and managed to get on the highway. I now assume they had followed in pursuit.
 
I remember hearing a noise behind me after I went over a hill in the road. I paid it no mind. I just needed to get away. I managed to secure an overpriced room at an inn in the next town. The following day, I read in the local paper that my landlord had been killed in a head-on collision and his passenger critically wounded. It came out later that my landlord and his passenger were heavily intoxicated. I occasionally saw the bartender/transvestite who survived. He was crippled for life and walked with a cane. We only spoke once very briefly. After I said hello, he simply said, "I'm sorry." We never spoke again.
 
Some people turn to religion to soothe the pain caused by bullies. Some people internalize the abuse and assume it is their fault. They can become masochists in all areas of their lives. Some people become raging bullies themselves, as though infected by the abuse. I have worked hard to realized that there is no easy answer to dealing with bullying, because bullies are mentally ill. This is why we have laws, police, mental hospitals, addiction rehabs.
 
Remaining nonviolent and persisting in responsible and educated behavior under the law to the best of my ability has been, and will be, my way of acting in the face of bullying aggression. Sometimes communicating with bullies is a useless exercise. Sometimes engaging civil authority immediately is the wisest course. But ultimately I am responsible for and will defend my own health and safety.

Friday, May 22, 2015

CONFORMITY

North Korean parade.


Mindless conformity is the enemy of innovation and civilization. Mindful conformity with justice and equality for all under law is the way of the good for the greater good. We are in a time when narcissistic aggression for exceptional consideration struggles against mindful conformity with justice and equality for all under the law.
 
The Age of Me struggles against the Age of Human Rights. Universal human rights cannot be the privilege of the aggressive, whether they are corporate CEOs or illegal migrants. Universal human rights can only be applied under law. Law can change. Nonviolent protest can succeed. This has been proven by history. Aggression simply reaps more aggression. Aggression suits those ignorant and/or unethical human beings who thrive in and through violence.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

NOVEL IDEA


Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron has introduced a novel idea: The rule of law. Europe is reeling from an invasion by human traffickers and their clients. Liberals in Europe have fallen into the typical Liberal trap of defending the invaders as hapless victims of circumstance. This form of self-congratulatory compassion is not compassionate to those legal citizens of a country who suffer the consequences of an illegal invasion. In other words, it is not compassion. It is political posturing.
 
Progressives turn to progressive strategy, based in tested law. For example, it is progressive to grant the same rights to LGBTQ people that are guaranteed by general human rights law, since homosexuals are humans. It is progressive to tax the wealthy at the same rates as the rest of us by eliminating loopholes which allow them to avoid paying taxes. Mr. Cameron is being progressive when he applies criminal law to all lawless transgressors in his own country, including illegal immigrants. This ends the non-progressive immunity from law provided previously to illegal immigrants. That immunity was an injustice to those lawful citizens in Britain who were paying the price environmentally and financially for hosting exploitative illegal immigrants.
 
The recent migration of masses with no consideration on their part of the consequences of their actions upon the countries they wish to enter illegally is no different in its impact than previous colonizing by nations seeking empire in previous eras. Colonization, whether organized or not, disrupts a native culture and causes damage to the members of that culture. Those who defend the current attempts to colonize Europe or the U.S. with disregard for law on the basis of previous colonizing actions by previous generations are using false logic. The military colonization of the 18th and 19th centuries was damaging to native cultures worldwide. The de facto colonization of the 21st century by illegal migrants will be damaging to native cultures worldwide.
 
Globally negotiated and legislated immigration rights and policies could be a progressive gift to the human species. Current immigration policies are driven by corporate economics and politics, not scientific and ethical principles. More sensible immigration policies in developed nations could do wonders in alleviating conflict, poverty and overpopulation in underdeveloped nations. The current wave of illegal immigration does nothing to sustainably improve the human condition overall.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

PLANTING



Back garden in 2014.

Planting seeds in my urban gardens each Spring is an exercise in postponed gratification. It has also inspired awe in me when I consider the life of people who farm acres of land each year.  I watched The Homesman on Netflix recently. Those who began farming the wide plains of Nebraska in the 19th century come to mind now as I tend my tiny plots.
 
Watching seeds cycle through their lives, Spring to late Fall, is a time-lapse reminder of my own life's inevitable arc. The bright green of cute seedlings, the bright colors of Midsummer, the fading maturity of late Summer and early Autumn. Harvesting the dessicated twigs for composting burial before the snow falls...all of this brings a sense of immersion in the reality of living on this planet.
 
Random planting of mixed seeds brings a lesson. Diversity and beauty are synonymous in a healthy flower bed. While cultured geometric plantings may be useful for harvesting a crop, a random patch of flowering plants in an urban patch is an oasis of life. Bees, beetles, worms, even slugs add a welcomed dimension to city living. Planting seeds in Spring is like setting the stage for a symphony of life, colors and smells. Learning to wait and appreciate the process brings deep personal rewards.

Monday, May 18, 2015

VALUES


I was saddened while listening to a piece on my local public radio station this morning. It wasn't presented as a sob story, like some of their more sentimental pieces. It was about a young Harvard graduate working in venture capital.
 
His venture capital firm is thinking of dabbling in nail parlors, currently regarded as possible fronts for drug distribution and prostitution, associated with human trafficking. They are thinking of turning the nail parlor "industry" into a chain business , like Starbucks.
 
I cannot think of a better example of how corporate capitalism is bringing down the human species. Intelligent human beings with privileged educations and money are focusing on nail parlors. Why? Because they are driven by profits without a greater vision of where those profits come from or what those profits contribute to the greater world.
 
Manicures will not save the planet. Pedicures will not solve the life-threatening problems of climate change and overpopulation. Corporate capitalism, centered in New York and London, has lost all sense of proportion and values.