On Being American
It is interesting to grow up Jewish-ish. If you are Jewish, you most likely understand what I mean. I was born to a Jewish woman, so, by that standard, I am Jewish.
However, if you ask other Jews how Jewish I am, you might get an entirely different response. I am "half-Jew" to some, because I never studied the Torah. I am "kinda Jewish" to the kids I went to that dumb Jewish camp with. I am "not really that Jewish" to some of my friends from the East Coast, and to the Jews in Israel? I am barely a blip on the Jewish spectrum. So you see, it really depends on who you ask. If you ask me, Jewish is as Jewish does. If you ask my brother, he is as Jewish as the occasion calls for.
Within the culture, there are levels of Judaism contrived to divide us. Because in the end, you can use any random measure to divide any culture of people, any society, any group. All it takes is a little fear. All it takes is a little fact manipulation. All it takes, in the end, is the threat of losing what little you have, and the blame placed on another group of people.
This is what being an American is all about. Not, as they would have you believe, freedom. Not about pulling yourself up by your bootstraps. Not about being white. No. America is about the richest and most powerful constantly manipulating the masses to fight each other, to blame each other for what in fact is a power structure which serves only the powerful. The less we have, the harder we will fight each other for it. That is why the government de-regulated and privatized so many industries (healthcare, insurance, banks, and the news media just to name a few) that were geared towards supporting the middle classes. Because the harder it is for us to have that stuff, the more at-risk we feel, the more we are going to look around to blame. And the rule about blame is, you NEVER blame the group in power, you blame the group that is either at your level or below you because it is much safer.
The group in power has the guns. The group in power has the control. The group in power sees you as a fly on their sleeve and if they want to flick you off, they will, because they can. So you never blame the powerful.
This is why, in my estimation, so many voted against their own best interests. They were lied to. They were manipulated. Their situation was exploited in order to get their votes, and now, and over the next several years, they will see this. Nothing will get better for them, and in fact things will most likely get worse. And who will they blame? Other poor people. Other people in desperate situations, and those desperate people will fight back.
But there are more of US. And when I say us, I do not mean Jews. I do not mean Women. I do not mean any group other than the group referred to as Americans. And by American, I mean, all people who live in the US. There are millions more of us, and the one thing the people in power need is our money. I know it is hours before black Friday. I know it is coming up on the most wonderful time of the year. But let me tell you, the only way we can affect any kind of change is to cut off the oxygen to those in charge, and by oxygen, I mean MONEY. Yes, it is that stupid, but the fact is that these people in charge put profit before people every time. It is time for We The People to put ourselves before profit. It is time to show self-love on a national scale.
It is time, finally, to understand, that the only differences between us are the ones we construct (religion, skin color, profession, place of origin, sports teams) and by definition, are completely secondary to the fact that we are all human. We all want to love and be loved. We want to feel safe. These Universal truths bond us.
When I speak of self-love, I know it is life or death, because I know that if you do love yourself, and truly accept your flaws, your foibles, and your wonders, there is no way in hell that you will be cruel to another. I have never met a happy, self-accepting person who was also a bigot, or a sexist, or any type of hateful person. Because they know. People who love and accept themselves understand how shitty people can be, and also, how amazing they can be, and they are not thrown off by insignificant differences in skin color, gender, or dress code.
So the question remains, what can I do? How can I fight this? Besides getting involved in local organizations, writing letters to your local and national politicians, you can examine your own prejudice. You can figure out why some people make you feel threatened, then ask yourself, "is this true?" Because while there are certain types of people you should probably avoid, most people, if you give them the chance, are okay. I am not saying go out and develop deep and trusting relationships with everyone you meet, I am saying don't write people off so fast. Walk a mile or two in the shoes of another by asking them what their experience has been. Listen. Listen. Listen.
And if there was ever a better time to start loving yourself enough to stand up for yourself, to not allow other people dictate who you are supposed to be, I don't know of it. This is the time for Vigilant Love.
On this blog, over the last two and something years, I have written endlessly on the importance of putting yourself first, of not allowing those in control to sway you from who you are, of not dimming your amazing bright light so that others may shine. I have written about honing your mind so that no one can persuade you to act against your own best interest. It is now time to see through the bullshit they are feeding us about hating others.
It is now time to understand that when a person acts against you, it is because they feel like shit. I am not saying accept it. I am not saying allow it. I am saying that the world is full of people who beat the shit out of other people to the point that those people only know shit beating. And this has nothing to do with you. You must stand up for yourself and yes, you must stand up for others who are beaten up on. Because abuse is an initiation into the culture of abuse. It normalizes bullying. It normalizes hate. It normalizes meanness.
None of that is normal. None of that is acceptable, and standing by and allowing it is also not acceptable. Not by any standard.
It is time now for our definition of Americans to change. We must champion the causes of all those in need. We must stand for ourselves and with each other. We must endeavor to create beauty and look for beauty in each other. We must understand that at this point in history, it is life or death.
And it is finally time to behave as if being an American means more than being manipulated. It is time to behave as if profit will never, ever outweigh the value of people. Not now, not ever.
OKAY...yeah. Political again. But love for self is political. Love for those around you is political. Share this. And when I say share, I don't mean hit "like" below. I mean, do some copying and pasting. It is the only way to get this to more people.
What To Do and What Not To Do
Several years ago, I started a blog called FWG, or, Fucking White Guys. I had gone through a solid 35 years of being treated poorly, from missed opportunities in the arts, sports and various jobs because they hired a man for the job (not because he was better, but because I am a woman,) to being harrassed and hit on by employers who had no understanding of the power dynamic (so they all claimed) between us.
I was angry. I was hurt. I had no power at all to fight back. So I wrote an angry blog every week for a while, until one of my dearest white male friends told me that it hurt his feelings. So I stopped. I don't regret stopping, but every time I have to explain to a white male how damaging it is to live your life in some way powerless and oppressed, only to get the "you're exaggerating" or the "sexism doesn't exist" reply, it reminds me of the days where I was writing about the experience of oppression and the anger that results from that experience.
Since the election, I have read many articles and blog posts blaming different groups for Trump's victory. The one that has me the most frustrated is the blaming of white women for his success.
I believe that Trump's victory is on everyone's hands. Some of us did not vote for him, but the culture that has led us to this horrifying point has been one in which we have all participated to one extent or another. A reality TV star just won the US Presidential race. He has started appointing racist misogynistic people to his cabinet. This culture has tolerated this behavior to the point that it is acceptable. We, all of us, participate in this culture.
For those of us who have been outraged all along, our silence has come back to haunt us. So. There is that. But then there is the other thing. What am I supposed to say to the white men I love when they tell me that they are just going to hunker down and endure the next four years? When so many of us do not have that luxury? That Trump is our president, and he deserves my respect? I mean, so far, I have been saying, "fuck off," but that doesn't seem to be all that effective.
The more troubling part of this is that there is a huge segment of the popuation of this country who doesn't really care about the oppression of people anywhere, let alone in their own country. From where I am sitting, the US, which at one time stood for inclusiveness, diversity and liberty is now overtly (because, let's face it, this country has always been racist and sexist ever since the whites arrived on the east coast) moving toward an oppressive and totalitarian regime, while the majority of us suffer, and a portion of us don't seem to care because they are not affected.
The good news is, I am different. I am not going to be writing angry posts about white men because I know that the problem with white men is that they have never felt oppression, nor have they ever felt the need to deal in what ever way necessary in order to survive. So, I am doing something different.
Though some of my friends and relatives might think this is not enough, I believe it to be the start of a revolution. I am giving out free images of love to plaster all over the fences, windows and walls of the buildings of this country to drown out the hate. It is what I can do. The other thing is that I am no longer participating in a system which seeks to harm so many all over the world. I am not going to be paying taxes until things change, I will not be paying back my student loans because the government makes so much money off of them, and I am filing for bankruptcy because the banks are the backbone of this world's financial problems.
I will still do what I have always done; buy local exclusively, speak out against oppression, help people whenever I can and pay as little of my money to the oil companies as possible by commuting exclusively by bicycle.
I will be proactive in my health care so that I never have to rely on the broken health insurance system or the doctors that are paid to prescribe me drugs that I do not need.
I have also started contacting women's groups all over the country and donating my coloring book to them to print up and hand out to anyone who needs it or wants it.
And though I am outraged, I will do the best I can to not tell people who don't think it's their problem to fuck off. Because, as we have seen, that is most likely at least part of why we have found ourselves in the position we are in.
Honestly, I am hoping that this will be one of my last political posts, but I can't promise anything. I will be still on the self-love, body-positive theme, but I will also be spending time and energy speaking out against oppression and hate. It has come to the point where not doing so is too painful.
I am not surprised. That is why I am not as upset as so many of my fellow Americans.
I am not surprised.
I am not surprised.
I am not surprised.
I am sad, I am broken-hearted, but no, this is not on any level surprising to me.
So I will not spend much time on sadness, anger or fear. I cannot. It would be dishonest.
What I will spend my time doing is figuring out what I can do better. How I can be of more help. How I can stand up for more of the people who need it, reach out to the people who feel marginalized, and stand up to the people who are manipulating the American people into voting against their own best interest.
Because that is what has happened. We have been lied to, and the lies, though they are different, come from the same source and for the same reason. To divide us. And I am turning that shit OFF. I am no longer interested in what the politicians and the news anchors have to say about people all over the world, including the ones in my backyard. They have fed us lies to divide us, and it has worked. We are officially divided.
And that is why I am not spending any time wallowing. Because I have too much to do. I am not giving my government the benefit of the doubt. They have abused my trust for far too long and I have been a fool to believe it. My taxes go to subsidize corporations which (I mean who, they are people now) do not pay their taxes and to pay for wars which will end up killing innocent people all over the world. All the while I am being told to fear them. And really, I should; my government has been oppressing, killing and exploiting these people for generations.
I am going to be vigilant, tenacious, unyielding. Because though it pains me to admit it, the US Government is not by the people, for the people, and it hasn't been for a very long time. This election is just another in a series of embarrassing events that I am responsible for in some way because I have been sitting by and watching. I have also been funding this entity of destruction, and that is going to end here. The government uses my tax dollars to do awful, horrifying things. I subsidize horror. This government will no longer get my money because the people in charge are doing everything they can to destroy the planet and its people in the name of profit. I am committing to non-participation until this ends. I am done.
But that alone is not enough. Because the other part of this, the whole reason this has come to pass, is that we are losing the ability to relate to each other. Instead of reaching out to people who we fear are too different from us, we are recoiling. Instead of asking people questions about why they are voting for candidates who espouse values which are violent, hateful and threatening to people all over the world, we are judging them, just as they are judging us for what we vote for. We are allowing the same machine that tells us to doubt ourselves, to convince us that we must fear and hate people who are not like us. IT IS THE SAME MACHINE.
I try and convey this as often as possible; the machine wants you to doubt yourself. You are more profitable when you do so. The machine also wants you to doubt and fear other people for the very same fucking reason. YOU ARE MORE PROFITABLE. The machine I speak of is the system which depends upon you to believe that you need more to be happy. This is the machine that feeds you the bullshit that you are not enough.
I could go on, but I am trying to save time here. We need to understand that we are being manipulated into hating each other for profit, and it is up to us to put a stop to it. The only way to beat the machine is to starve the machine.
Because the reality is that we are all being fed the same shit, and we must now soundly reject it and engage in society. Turn off the TV, get off your couch, and get out into the world. Prove the machine wrong.
There are many people looking into how to escape from America, many people who claim to be disappointed in the American people. I am not, and I will not. I will not leave this country because I love it, and because I love it, I vow to make it better. I vow to make it better by being better. I am no more disappointed in the American people than I am in myself when I do shitty things, and believe me, I do shitty things. But I am not giving up on myself, and I am not giving up on them. If I do, I have lost. We have lost.
I am not excusing hateful behavior. I am not excusing violence, nor am I trying to rationalize what is happening. I am saying we have the power to put a stop to this bullshit, and it is time we do. And we do this by talking to people who are not like us. We do this by reaching out and giving people the benefit of the doubt. We do this by being vigilant when we are afraid, to rise above those fears and speak to the strange foreign people anyway.
I am hoping that this is the thing that will finally inspire us to behave in a more American manner, and by that, I mean inclusive, compassionate, and loving. I fear that it this point, American is synonymous with a whole other set of adjectives, whether we know it or not.
I am going to be writing more posts for a while. They will be shorter but all will be on the topic of self-love and how to love what you might not understand. So tell me what you think. I am listening. OH....and share if you are so inclined.
The Strangest Day
This is the last thing I have to do today. The list was LONG. I had people to meet, a class to teach, an art show to hang, art to prepare, yoga, yes, yoga, and other little things to do like eat and unpack. And pack.
At the beginning of this day, I could feel my spine tingle as my nerves buzzed with electricity. I looked into the day and felt panic. I could tell from the way my fella reacted to me that I was already stressed. It was fucking 7 am and I was already stressed. He wasn't into it.
After we said good-bye and I got in his truck to make the journey to my town, I made a decision. I decided to fucking stop. I wasn't gong to rush through my day, trying to get things done. I was going to pay careful attention to everything, make sure I to take care with each person I interacted with, and make decisions that would reflect the care I was taking.
After I decided to slow down, everything got better. It was like leaving Kansas for Oz. The sky was more beautiful, children were actually charming, my tea tasted like wonder, and the things I had to get done turned into projects in which I learned and appreciated the nuances in the work I was doing.
Once again, I learned about mindset. I learned that the world changes if you change the way you view it. This is one lesson I hope to keep learning.
I would love for the world to continuously change throughout my life. I would love to discover new things that have been under my nose this whole time.
I would love to keep re-discovering a world that I thought I knew. I would love for people to surprise me.
I would love to observe life expand in front of me, and not have to do a god damned thing about it.
Decided to lighten it up this week. Thank you to all who emailed and messaged me last week with heart felt compassion. I can truly say it helped an immense amount.
A Love Rebellion.
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