“Impossible is just a big word thrown around by small men who find it easier to live in the world they’ve been given than to explore the power they have to change it. Impossible is not a fact. It’s an opinion. Impossible is not a declaration. It’s a dare. Impossible is potential. Impossible is temporary. Impossible is nothing.” Muhammad Ali
November 9, 2016 upended many of my beliefs – but not for the glaring reason that you think or think you think! For almost a year I have been wondering how our world so quickly devolved to Civil War 1850’s and 1860’s thinking. Recently a racist, evangelical bigot was nominated as the Republican party’s nominee for Alabama Senator and standing behind him was the typical bleached blond republican woman. One of his biggest supporters was the expensively highlighted blond radio broadcaster and opportunist and well educated east coaster who campaigned for the bigot. Given the right circumstance, our bigot would put a red robe with white hood on her and if she’s still of child-bearing age give her to an infertile couple for baby incubation. Sarah Palin (a one-line joke) campaigned along with the idiot who makes duck calls, and a failed Hollywood writer, Steve Bannon, who wears two shirts at a time and who defined Trump’s campaign by reading a book that called for the dismantling of democracy and convinced Trump who only reads good things about himself that dismantling government would be a smart business move.
And now, over the weekend, a lunatic with 40 assault rifles in his collection opened fire with 23 of them in Las Vegas killing 59 and sending another 480 plus to the hospitals. Gun stocks soared on the markets as the NRA celebrates its control of America while the world mocks us.
I expect masculine fear to be dressed up as gun-toting, NRA loving Roy Moore and Donald Trump buffoons who feel the ebbing of their white dominance over others due to an increase in a demographically more diverse world. There is an Instagram younger version them disguising his impotence with pictures of a stash of guns like the lunatic in Vegas. He is surrounded for the most part by his guns and half-naked girls sending pictures virally so everyone can see what a moron looks like; but, it also shines a regrettable light on women willing to demean themselves for fleeting notoriety.
What has happened to women?
Fifty percent of well-educated white women voted for Trump. They voted for a man who would, if they had big boobs, blond hair and nice legs, molest them for his impotent masculine pleasure. However, he would define most of those women as pigs.
A therapist I know presented a psychological perspective for Hillary’s lack of support from these women that made some sense. Statistically, one in four – that’s right – 1 in 4 – women are sexually molested or abused in this country. When Bill C flaunted his sexual immorality with dozens of women and got caught as president, many women myself included, wondered why she stayed with him. Love, maybe. Partnership, perhaps. Political ambition or so we thought. No matter how much good she did and does in the world for women and children, the memory of her staying with a sexually abusive man diminishes her power. Women voted against Hillary because she represented the “mother” who couldn’t and didn’t protect us – or so the therapist thought.
Belief however is the harder, more painful truth of what happened and happens to women. To get along, women seem to go along whether its religion, politics or economics. The sisterhood of the 60’s has devolved into the exhaustion of the 21st Century. Having it all has been an overwhelming proposition. The sisterhood didn’t bind enough women together to create a force of belonging that would transform and sustain the changes necessary to thwart the insanity of the NRA, the war on a women’s right to choose, victimizing women who are raped, and demonizing a woman running for president who had been hailed as one of the most respected women in America when she was Secretary of State. As a result, we get a Congress who is moving closer to banning abortions while allowing the children’s health program to expire. Have more kids so we can kill them later. That program medically covered 16 million children but the pure evil of a republican congress leaves those kids lives at risk.
While my heart breaks for what happened – yet again – the slaughter and wounding of hundreds of people by a crazy NRA sanctioned gunman (because the NRA has co-opted Second Amendment as their silly freedom battle cry), and the nomination of a misogynistic bigot for US Senator, I wonder how to change a belief system held by so many and destructive to the believers.
I am grateful for a younger generation of men giving voice to the insanity. Jimmy Kimmel’s monologue after Las Vegas made me cry. Seth Meyers, John Oliver, Trevor Noah all comedians who I presume would rather tell jokes than be voices against the injustices of their fathers and grandfathers.
Where are the women? Ellen DeGeneres gave voice to hope but Sarah Sanders, Laura Ingraham and the blonds of Fox are shaming themselves with the go along to get along party line.
Rachel Maddow every night valiantly, intelligently without rancor or blame shines the light of fact and truth on those who would upend democracy for their own greed, aggrandizement and ego. But we need more women to find their voice(s)! Not necessarily on TV but as driving forces within their communities.
In Shasta recently, our cowardly city representatives gave into greed and passed a resolution in the dead of night giving a water bottling company the right to take our pure water, to deplete our resources for that company’s enrichment of its bottom-line and the enrichment of the individual cowards on the council. Resisters courageously fought these evil twits with environmental reports but it took too long and the fight was getting boring so the coward’s council came together late at night to green light injustice.
There are too many men and women who disdain government while calling themselves patriots and use their elections to enrich their personal bank accounts. They run for office using lies and fear to get elected. And those who need and want to get along go along. Most Democrats don’t seem to have the stomach for battle so they let the Republicans who don’t seem to stand for anything rape a country or a city council or a state legislature.
Am I rambling? Maybe, but I am fed up with all the mayhem. This mayhem is a result of Belief. Belief isn’t truth or based on fact for the most part. It is the emotional response we have when we want to belong.
Belief is the glue that holds people and cultures and nations together. Religious beliefs particularly the literal, evangelical, fanatical kind are the most damning and destructive regardless of their religious vessel: Islam, Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism, Hinduism, et.al. The Muslim Rohingya in Myanmar are being persecuted as I type by Radical Buddhists – what the hell is a radical Buddhist and where are you Dali Lama during this pogram?
Beliefs are interesting phenomena. Who is right? My beliefs are the antithesis of Trump and Moore. I don’t think Trump has a belief system or a moral compass but I do think Moore is true to his bigotry and misogyny and hatred of Muslims. If they believe they are doing the right thing and I believe that my value system is the right way – who is right? Are we both right? Are we both wrong? Is one right and the other wrong?
This takes me to Alabama where Roy Moore, the evangelical bigot, believes there is only one rule of law – God’s – and that’s his version and belief in his god. He doesn’t believe there should be a church and state separation because his god told him so. He believes that homosexuality and transgender people should be criminalized as they are an abomination against his god. He believes that women are vessels for bringing children into the world. He is against abortion even if it kills the woman – which makes perfect sense if they are considered simply vessels. And, he is potentially the next United States Senator from Alabama.
One thing is clear – the ultra-Righters whether they are Americans, Russian, Iranian, Egyptian, Turkish et.al. believe their way of life is under attack from people who don’t believe what they believe. And in the US, they believe that because Fox News and Breitbart and the crazy Alex Jones and the even crazier guy who makes duck calls and the illiterate and one-line joke Sarah Palin tell them that’s what’s happening. They believe the non-sensical ads on social media and buy into the outlandish gossip from trolls because it makes them feel right and part of something that tells them are. And they will continue to believe it because a woman now in charge of education in America is on a personal mission to get rid of fact and science in the classrooms and bring on “creationism” as the educational foundation of the USA.
How did we get to a point where a woman, who bought her position as head of the Department of Education, is able to transform national education into her personal belief system called Creationism. If we must call upon God then Dear God what are you thinking?
For the most part, what has happened to women is misogyny, and that small voice inside our heads that whispers “you are less than equal.” The internal and external mantra has colored women’s thinking for centuries. I am a woman; thus, I have experienced firsthand, been victim to and at times I have believed the essence behind it. It is an energy force that defines how women should be in a world dominated by the Trumps and the Roy Moore’s, the Bill Clinton’s et.al. Are we feeling guilty for the bra-burnings in the 60’s? Are we filled with guilt about wanting it all and not having a clue how to do it all well? Sheryl Sandburg who has nannies and cleaning people and money to spare tells us to “lean in” into our power. I have far more respect for the women who work one or even two jobs, raise children on limited budgets and hope for personal success while doing double duty at night making dinner, doing laundry, helping with homework, paying bills, fixing the plumbing and fall into bed exhausted by 11:00 PM with the alarm set for 5:30 or 6:00 AM. That’s power! Not Oprah’s kind or Sandburg’s kind.
I grew up in the privileged enclaves of what I call tasseled loafer with no socks Republicanism. My father tried to instill in me that education wasn’t important even though they sent me to one of the best boarding schools in the country. He told me I would marry and my husband would take care of the important things, and I would do volunteer work for the Junior League and have lunches at the country clubs and raise children and find happiness through my husband’s successes. That didn’t happen. I had always fought against their exclusionary values and when I told them I was getting a divorce they told me they would never help me. And they didn’t! I was ex-communicated from the moral values of 1950’s male society. And that is what saved my life though it was unbearably difficult at times.
The 60’s shook that world up but the 70’s and 80’s and 90’s created a backlash toward women and minorities and non-Christian religions that has given us Donald Trump and Roy Moore and a powerful NRA and a government filled with idiots.
What I do know is that to grow beyond one’s limiting belief system we need to transcend it. Thus, I am on a mission this year to understand historically where it went wrong for women, where we gave in or did we give up. I have a limited grasp of ancient history and the Bronze Age notion that weapons were more powerful than adhering to peaceful community ideals in getting what others had. So here I come Neandrthals.
Jimmy Kimmel has given me renewed hope that his generation of young men are unafraid to show emotions, to cry even in public when sorrow so great affects them. To speak forthrightly and eloquently about injustice to those less fortunate than he as he did about health care and the gun violence in Las Vegas. I have seen it in the young men who have come to Headwaters and wondered if they were an anomaly but I think not.
I need to have and to feel that same hope for women. If as the Buddhists believe that “all life is suffering” then it’s how we deal with that suffering that defines our character. The Million Woman March was a start. But we also need to understand how the underlying fever of misogyny and the “not good enough” mantras expressed by men and women affects us personally before we are able to transcend that belief system.
Are we, as Ali said, small women who find it easier to live in the world we’ve been given than to explore the power we have to change it.