Tag Archive for politics

We Need More “Yes AND” and less “Yes BUT”

In writing, you are told to say, “Yes, BUT”. In improv, you are told to say, “Yes, AND.” I think we all need a bit more of the latter in our real lives right now.
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“Yes, the character gained invisibility, BUT now she is blind and begins to freeze to death because the sun’s light passes through her.” This is MEANT to create more problems for the character to solve in a way that impedes their progress, to present opportunities for conflict and setbacks that create tension and drama.
 
VS
 
“Yes, your character is invisible, AND they work in a funeral home.” Or “Yes your character is invisible, AND they cannot speak.” This presents opportunities by combining the elements.
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In the real world, Yes AND leads to growth, and progress. Yes, BUT leads to feeling shot down, patronized, or to conflict and argument.
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“Yes, that is one idea, BUT you didn’t consider X and Z so your idea is flawed/bad.” “Yes, that is one idea, BUT I think this other idea should be considered instead.”
 
VS
 
“Yes, I like X aspect of your idea, great job, AND we should also consider these other ideas, so we can build on your idea together to create something even better.”
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I feel like the Left has been sabotaged by too much Yes BUT. Yes, black lives matter, BUT. Yes, that women’s march was huge, BUT. Yes, that is a great way to fight Trump, BUT you ignored that this group over here cannot fight that way so your way is bad.
 
I hope we can do more Yes, AND.
 
Not ignore the instances where privilege and blindspots and omissions may be hurtful or harmful, but say Yes you are fighting a good fight, AND we also have this group/ concern over here, AND here’s how we can build on each other’s efforts and lift each other up rather than beat each other down while the real problem goes unaddressed.
 
“Yes, Randy, BUT …”
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Occupy Marching Forward

Seeing the millions of people marching yesterday was inspirational, and the perfect counterbalance to the events of the previous day.

Thank you!

Women's March

But when I woke up this morning, my brain couldn’t help but wonder, what’s next?

It is the day after the march.  Although millions marched, they weren’t even mentioned on Fox News today (how odd!).  And Trump will surely be as delusional and in denial about them as he was about the “millions” who attended his inauguration.

But the marches were not just “preaching to the choir.”  Those in power surely took notice.  Millions of people of all genders, ages, colors, ability and orientation have become actively engaged, and that is no small thing, and not easily ignored — if it continues. If it leads to something.

If I have any concern at this point, it is that this surge of activism will go the way of Occupy Wall Street.

When that movement began, I was hopeful that it would rise up to be the Progressive counter to the Tea Party.  But while the Tea Party was generally united toward specific goals, organized, well-funded, and effectively took over the government from the bottom up, Occupy Wall Street never overcame its beginnings as a sit-in with split focus, unclear demands, little leverage and no real plan to actually effect change.

When I heard one reporter saying how the marchers had struggled with messaging in some cases because, of course, different marchers had different motives and goals and priorities, I felt a brief cloud pass over the bright sun that was the march.

And it seems like other attempts to forge a “Left” movement with equal influence (but more reason and reality-based policy) than the Tea Party also fell away with little effect due (based on my admittedly limited and non-expert understanding) to a lack of cohesion, a lack of strategy and organization, or fell victim to the distractions of infighting and self-policing.

So my personal hope today is that the spirit of activism and participation that swept the country, and the world, yesterday will resolve itself into sustained and effective action.

Here are just a couple of resources that may be helpful with that:

Indivisible Guide is “A practical guide for resisting the Trump agenda where former congressional staffers reveal best practices for making Congress listen.”  It outlines how you can invest your time to best effect, what doesn’t actually work; and, importantly, there is a lookup for finding a local group of fellow Indivisible participants to join: https://www.indivisibleguide.com/

 

Jezebel’s list of pro-women, pro-immigrant, pro-earth and anti-bigotry organizations we can donate money and time to: http://jezebel.com/a-list-of-pro-women-pro-immigrant-pro-earth-anti-big-1788752078

 

VolunteerMatch is a website where you can search for local, and virtual, volunteer opportunities.  I am very happy with my current volunteer positions I found through this site: http://www.volunteermatch.org/

 

And of course, we must act locally so that we have the strength to prevent voter disenfranchisement and to push back at Federal power when it is abused.

 

I am cautiously hopeful for the future.  Not because I hope that Trump and the GOP will suddenly do anything different than the self-serving and destructive actions they’ve promised to do, but because you all have given me hope, you who marched and shouted and stood up to be heard, that together we will push back and prevent, or undo, their damage with time, with hard work, with love for one another.

 

Thank you.

 

And now, I’m going to continue looking at all those amazing photos of marches around the world and grinning ear to ear.

 

Good luck!  And may the Force be with you.

Princess Leia Join the Resistance

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Rise Up – they are coming for our art and history

When you close your eyes and think of ancient Egypt, ancient Rome, feudal Japan, what do you see? What symbolizes “Vikings” to you? If you had to make a person walk into a room and have an “experience” (without food or drink) that is French, or Irish, or Mexican, what would you do? How do you know what life as a musketeer might have been like? How do you know what gods the ancient Greeks worshiped, and how they acted?
 
Indiana Jones

I hate Nazis, snakes, and rich people who think art is only meant for rich people.

How many people knew who Alexander Hamilton was before 2015?
 
What is the book “The Crucible” about, and what inspired it?
 
How many lives did Dorothea Lange’s photographs save, how much hidden history did they preserve?
 
Art (writing, painting, theater, dance, music, et al) is important not only as entertainment, but also as expression, history, education, and provocation. Art is also one of the most defining and enduring attributes of a culture.
 
What defines American culture to the world beyond McDonalds and Starbucks in every town? In 100 years when someone is making a holovid about the period, how will they evoke “Early 21st century America”? How will they learn about experiences not captured in mainstream media, or the increasingly constrained press?
 
We need the arts. They may not seem important in the day-to-day life of many, but those lives have in fact been touched and shaped by the arts in a thousand invisible, and visible, ways.
The Electric Company
And that doesn’t even touch on the fact that many rural and low-income areas rely on PBS and on arts program funding to have any access to the arts, free educational experiences, and the opening of options and opportunities. When coupled with an Education Secretary who’s made it her life’s work to shift funding and support away from public schools to private and charter schools, this aspect is even more important.
 
There was a recent WWII movie called The Monuments Men about Allied art experts fighting to save art from Nazi theft and destruction. A new fight to preserve a nation’s cultural heritage may be upon us, and that culture is our own.
 
The Monuments Men

The Republicans are closing in!

The Republicans have tried many times to undermine and defund the National Endowment for the Arts, usually because it supported something that dared challenge what they have deemed is appropriate for us to experience. And now supposedly Trump has said he wants to defund the NEA.  He wants to defund a program that coincidentally supports non-dominant, non-mainstream voices and experiences from being expressed and preserved.
 
Don’t let it happen.
Rise up and let your voice be heard.
Hamilton the Musical
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What Now? One Possible Option

The future remains in our hands.

Whether you woke up today feeling gutted, or terrified, or victorious, and regardless of who wins an election, the things that you can do to be happy and healthy remain much the same.  Except now I feel one of those things takes on even more importance.

Before I offer it, I want to say of course, please take care of yourself.  I’ve written before about the four areas that can impact your happiness – physical, mental, emotional and social.   That article is aimed at writers, but the basic points apply to everyone.  Always put on your own oxygen mask before helping others.

And I hope you all are safe, and remain so.

Now let me ask: what were your concerns in the election, or for the coming four years?

Advocacy & Human Rights, Environment, Immigrants & Refugees, Women, LGBT, Crisis Support, Education & Literacy, Employment, Homeless & Housing, Justice & Legal, People with Disabilities, Politics, Race & Ethnicity, Veterans & Military Families?

This list of categories (and others) is found on http://www.volunteermatch.org/, a site that lets you search for local volunteer opportunities.

This is what I wanted to suggest to help get us through the days ahead: volunteering.  It has been shown to add greatly to a person’s happiness and health.  In fact, “community involvement” was one of the measurements used to determine my total health when I filled out a recent health questionnaire.

EDIT: Adding a link to an excellent list of organizations that you can also donate money to either in addition to, or instead of (if time/ ability does not allow) volunteering: Jezebel’s list of pro-women, pro-immigrant, pro-Earth, anti-bigotry organizations

You can search sites like volunteermatch, or can search Google for specific organizations that support the causes you care about.

These organizations needed our help yesterday, but they will need our help even more perhaps tomorrow.

I myself have volunteered in the past, but admit I have fallen away from it in recent years, giving only money, always feeling it “wasn’t a good time” to commit some of my time just now.  I am recommitting to it now, making it a priority to protect some time each week to help others.  It is something concrete and positive I am able to do, that I have the privilege to be able to do.

I recognize volunteering does not easily erase the scope of damage that the US government can do with trickle-down economic policies, or ignoring global climate change, or hardline immigration policies, or rolling back decades of progress on civil and personal rights, or, you know, nuclear weapons.

But we can help offset much of that damage I hope, help those hurt by such outcomes, and perhaps even pressure change in the right direction.

And I certainly do not wish to diminish the real fears and concerns of those who have been targeted these past months with hateful speech and threats by suggesting volunteering will make those dangers magically disappear.  Again, I hope you are safe, and my thoughts are with you.

I also recognize that there are some people who are genuinely unable to volunteer due to the burden of time, or access to the transportation or resources needed, or due to age or physical or health or legal limitations or other considerations.

Regardless of whether or not community involvement is an option for you, again I hope you take care of your own health and happiness in the coming days and years, and reach out for help if you are in need.

Share love with your family and friends.  Perform a random act of kindness today for a stranger to help lift your heart and theirs — then do it again the next day, and the next.

And know that we can get through whatever comes, together.

 

UPDATE: I have begun one regular volunteer job, and added several regular donations to my budget.  I hope to do even more as time and funds allow.

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The Real 2016 Election Map

I created this handy election map in case folks were trying to understand where we stand.
Polls show that much of the blue areas are due to Hobbit, High Elvish and Good Wizard influence, thus the movement to #unmakethe3rings that gave the elves and Gandalf power to influence the vote, and the push to send all Hobbits back to the Shire and build a wall around them.
Per Sauron, “It would be great. It wouldn’t even have to be a tall wall. Have you seen the Hobbits? Even smaller than those fat ugly dwarves. But believe me folks, there’s nothing small about me.”
Middle Earth Election 2016
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Orlando: Many Problems, Many Solutions

I feel like one more post on Orlando is just noise right now. Yet I also feel silence is unacceptable. So, in short:

 

First, it is not any one problem, it is multiple problems. And the solutions are complex and many.  Here’s an admittedly simplistic and limited list:

 

Yes, it is the problem of fundamentalist extremists who believe violence is a divinely blessed action (which we have in every religion).  Solution: Religion isn’t going anywhere for a while, so as long as it is here, support moderate voices in all religions and ideologies, and don’t arbitrarily punish those who believe in the same version of deity as this week’s terrorist yet don’t share the same belief in violence.  Embrace the messages of love and peace, and leave the outdated bigotry and fears (and rivalries) of the Iron Age tribes behind.

 

Yes, it is an issue of bigotry and hatred.  Solution: do not shame people for being different (which only leads to self-shame), and do not support the insidious belief that some deity has deemed their very nature a sin, be that nature their sex, orientation, or race. Know that someone being different than you does not take anything away from you.  Diversity is strength.  And if you know someone who is not a cis-gendered heterosexual, reach out and let them know you care about them.  Events like this are a scary reminder of the hate and violence that can strike them at any time just for being who they are.

 

Yes, it is an issue of uncontrolled gun sales.  Solution: Let the government study the disease of gun violence, to determine and vote into law effective safety rules and regulations the same as we have for cars, for planes, for alcohol, for anything else that may be dangerous if abused.  We can regulate gun sales and license owners without violating the 2nd Amendment.

 

Yes, it is an issue of mental health.  Solution: greater support of mental health facilities, greater support of mental health services by insurance providers and government health programs, and less stigmatization so that people aren’t afraid to seek help.

 

And Yes, it is a problem of broken politics.  Solution: Force States to rewrite voting district lines fairly, and push for campaign finance reform, so that the vast majority of Congress are not safely GOP or Dem seats sponsored by special interest groups and wealthy donors, where the members only have to worry about pandering to the most extreme in their party to keep their seat rather than actually being accountable to a widely representative group of voters.

 

Here’s some folks you can send your thoughts to or support besides the echo chamber on Facebook:

If in the US, contact your US Representative

Human Rights Campaign – LGBT support

GLAAD (Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation)

NRA

Mental Health America

National Alliance on Mental Illness

Muslims for Peace

Volunteermatch where you can find general volunteer opportunities

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When Worlds Collide: Diversity in Fiction vs Drumpf

I see two major conversation streams in my world converging here: Diversity in fiction, and our current political circus.

Diversity in fiction is about many things, but one of those is that it allows us to experience lives unlike our own, and through that experience gain a deeper understanding of people who are different from ourselves, and the ability to empathize with other experiences. This applies across all media.

Perhaps if we had more popular media that shared an honest view of the Mexican immigrant experience, for example, we might not have a demagogue winning votes by promising to build a giant wall and kick people out of the country, or playing on other racial and religious fears.

Not saying diversity in fiction is THE solution to any problem, but this is just one example of why I feel diversity in media is actually important not just for any specific group who see themselves continuously ignored or badly stereotyped in media, not just for those who are marginalized or persecuted in society, but for everyone. Because we are all in this together — at least until we find a way to teleport to our own planet where we can mess it up however we want without affecting others.

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When Discussing Paris and Beirut and Kenya and Damn It

What a terrible week. As usual, there are folks quickly navigating to extremist positions (Thanks, Obama, for freeing terrorists!) (Thanks, Bush, for invading Iraq and creating ISIS!) (Not all Muslims are terrorists, but the “real” terrorists all seem to be Radical Islamists…)

Yes, I imagine this next week will see the inevitable debates between the extremist left and extremist right over where to lay blame for these recent attacks (in addition to those extremist Islamists of course — extremism and dogma are real problems over THERE).

I just want to make my plea for reason and kindness, and open minds. A problem can have more than one cause, and more than one solution, and laying blame seems to me more a cause than a solution. Understanding causes to prevent repeat of mistakes is one thing. Pointing fingers to score points for your team is another.

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My White Male Writer Manifesto

I could bemoan the injustice of the Trayvon Martin case, but just as easy as it is to blast off a post or tweet saying “I am ashamed of the US legal system” or snark on how easy it is NOT to shoot someone, it is equally as easy for everyone to ignore or quickly forget that — and anyone who doesn’t already agree with it anyway certainly won’t be changed.

 

But here’s what I as a white male can do to work towards a future where all people are treated equally, and truly have equal protection, opportunity, and access to power.

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Sarah Palin – Shallowed are the Ori-publicans?

(From "Current Jaffairs Magazine" Special Jaffa Reporter)

 

It seemed our struggle was nearly over, brothers and sisters.  The system lords Bush and Cheney were on their way out, and there was hope that the terrible destruction they have wrought on our people would soon be addressed and undone.

 

For although they had somehow taken over McCain with one of Bush’s Guao’uld clones, it appeared that their attempt to prop up another false god in their place would surely fail.

  

 

But I fear an unholy alliance has risen. 

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