Resistance is futile

2016-07-19 12.08.15I keep getting emails from Hillary Clinton’s campaign and from a variety of groups. While each missive has its own take on the campaign or on a particular issue, there is one disturbingly consistent theme running through them all: Fight Against (Insert Cause Here). Somehow, these folks believe, and ask us to join them in demonstrating, that anger and resistance will help their cause.

From this Cranky Little Old White Lady’s standpoint, that’s all wrong. Fighting is the last thing we need to do.

For one thing, I have spent the past three days in downtown Cleveland. I had a great time. I met some wonderful people. And some who insisted not only in telling me that I was wrong, but in letting me know in very graphic terms exactly what the cost of my wrongdoing would be. Sure didn’t make me want to stop my wickedness and join them. Hate isn’t my turn-on.

Buddha said it best 3,000 years ago: That which you resist persists. It’s a variation on “You get more flies with honey than vinegar.” Mother Teresa said she would never attend an anti-war rally, but she would show up at a peace rally.

Isometric exercises involve pushing one part of the body against another or against something immovable in the expectation that stronger muscles will result. In this case, that which you resist becomes stronger. I’ve read of experiments with kids where each was handed one end of a piece of rope. With no prompting from adults, these kids somehow intuited that the object of holding the rope was to pull against the other person. The minute one kid pulls, the other automatically resists. And vice versa. Voila: With no encouragement, two people who don’t know each other will try to vanquish the other. How to end it? Drop the rope.

That’s all well and good, you say, but we’re talking about REALLY IMPORTANT STUFF here. The Future of our Democracy. The. End. Of. Civilization. As. We. Know. It.

I get it. I am no less worried than you about what’s going on in this country. That’s why I started this blog. However, I am more worried about falling into a mind set that plays into the hands of those we wish to weaken.

Two things come to mind: First, it keeps us thinking negatively. That’s not a place I want my mind to dwell. Those who would steal our beloved country have scads more practice at thinking and planning and anticipating “The Fight” than we do. Going toe-to-toe only plays into their hands, and our equipment isn’t up to snuff.

Second, and more important, is that such thinking feeds bad juju. Science is becoming clearer that thoughts are things. The ideas and energy we put into the world will turn up again in some way. If we dwell on negative ideas, those ideas will continue to manifest. And the reverse is true: If we focus on positive thoughts, good things will show up. That’s not being Pollyanna, that’s being scientific.

Are there alternatives to fighting? Mahatma Gandhi. Martin Luther King Jr. Nelson Mandela. Jesus. These great spiritual figures taught us that love, and only love can, conquer hate. It was, at least for a time, a very effective way to protest the Vietnam War and, I believe, contributed to its end. (Of course, exposure of the lies that underpinned that war helped.) Does it work? Indians are independent. We have the Civil Rights Act (for a time longer, at least). Apartheid is ended, and Nelson Mandela is a beloved world figure because he found a way to move people ahead without violence.

I’m not saying there wasn’t violence involved in those pivotal epochs. Ask Jesus. He knows about violence. Still, those monumental events were not ended by war. Their leaders did not lead armed forces. They led people armed with ideas: Freedom. Justice. Peace. Love.

Thousands lost their lives in those struggles. That’s what happens when power is confronted with weapons the powerful do not have. They resort to violence because that is what they know best.

Some of us may not come out of this unscathed. I’d like to think my little white head would keep someone from taking violent exception to my words and actions, but there are no guarantees. And after what I’ve seen in Cleveland this week, there are some who would delight in making an example of this cranky little old white lady. Still, I understand that reaching beyond personal comfort zones into the realm of the soul can make a person feel vulnerable. And for many people, that’s a dangerous place to be. To them, a good offense becomes a great defense.

I have not forgotten World Wars I or II. My dad and uncle both were Marines in the Pacific. In that case, I believe Germans and Italians saw the dangers posed by Hitler and Mussolini but most of them just couldn’t believe these people were as dangerous as they turned out to be. And so things went too far. Once the killing began, there was no choice. A soldier either kills or is killed. In this case,  we had to meet violence with violence.

I don’t have the answer to the glut of mass shootings. I do know that carrying more guns is not the solution.

I am asking anyone who shares my view that a Trump presidency would be a global disaster to please stop fighting. It’s not about what we are against, it is about what we are for. Search your heart and then work for that. Start talking with people. Find a way to have someone tell you his/her story. Sit down and search for commonality rather than difference. Show your humanity to that person and become human in their eyes. It could win a heart. If we win enough hearts, we can do this thing.

 

 

 

 

A Cranky Little Old White Lady says. . .

IMG_7630Thus begins the Cranky Little Old White Lady blog. Here I will share periodic observations of a 67-year-old white woman (as of July 2016). I’ll be ruminating on life, love, patriotism, race, gender, gardening, food, whatever is on my heart/mind that day. I intend to be seriously light-hearted. I will speak my truth; if it resonates with you, fine. If not, remember it’s just the meanderings of one cranky little old white lady.

Labels are all but inevitable. They can damage, especially when doled out by others based on  stereotypes, assumptions, experience, fear, whatever. They’re handy when adopted intentionally. I picked each of my labels and believe you have the right to know something about the person behind them.

Cranky: Right now, I’d be cranky no matter how old or what gender or color I am. We are witnessing the systematic takeover of our beloved country by ignorant, fearful, hateful power mongers who cannot or, I believe, choose not to act in the best interests of this country. I’m mad as hell that we all have – myself included – let these shenanigans go on so long that it’s come to this point: The Republican Party – the party of Lincoln – at its national convention in Cleveland this week is about to nominate for president of the United States a congenital narcissist whose only real interest, as far as I can see, is to aggrandize himself and increase the value of the Trump brand. There is not an ounce of public servant in the man. Most who flock to him are desperately seeking answers to question far more complex than can be addressed in one or two words. But he gives ’em what they want. Those who support him out of a stated desire for party unity have lost any right to my respect. Not that they give a rat’s ass about folks like me. But people in positions of leadership who choose to turn a blind eye to the viciousness of his words and the way Trump calls forth the basest of our natures have relinquished their birthright to a nation that stands for something much more ideal. Those among us who see the problem but think there is still time to sit back and watch, or who say, “Really, this isn’t happening. Not to us,” are nearly as bad. It is happening, now, in this great country. We once believed in “give me your tired, your poor.” Today the party of Lincoln (I intend to use that phrase a lot to irritate Republicans who might still have souls) has actually endorsed a political platform that calls for building a wall across our border with Mexico. Although, as things stand, Mexico might pay for it just to keep us out.

Little –I am short. After having been the tallest girl in fourth grade, it was downhill from there. Everyone else kept growing until I was average among my peers. At the same time  I began my expansion into clinical obesity, although most of the kids just called me fat. After years of dieting, with more failures than successes, after a lifetime of wanting just about any one else’s body but the one I was in, and after, in despair, convincing  myself small was never an adjective that would describe me, I found the magic of real food. Now I am little. Five-feet three, down from 5’4-1/4. I wear a small in anything. Even my shoes are a half-size smaller than they were. Little fits.

Old – I started receiving Medicare two years ago andSocial Security last year. Officially, that makes me old. I don’t feel old but I watch how people react to my short white hair and the clear evidence that I haven’t been carded in decades. To them I’m old. Young adults call me ma’am. Whether 67 is young-old, middle-old or old-old are hairs I don’t care to split right now. I don’t have enough hair to waste on such a silly exercise.

White – I have come to refer to my ethnic background as Northern European mutt. There’s British, Irish, Scots, Welsh, French, a little Italian (I’m thinking the Alps region) with a dash of Spanish and North African. I look white and I’m white according to census criteria. That makes it official. This is an important descriptor because those of us who have been floating on the luxury barge SS White Privilege are the only ones who can get up and give someone else a comfortable seat. We need to get over ourselves and welcome everyone else on board. And only someone with membership in that exclusive club can tell them the truth. Not saying they’ll like it. But someone needs to start THAT conversation. I’m here.

Lady – This is the identifier I had the most trouble with, simply because there has been, as long as I’ve been alive, a distinction between being a woman and being a lady. Actually, I’m female, although that is only a biological classification. My being a woman is a biological fact of life. I’m a female who at one point in my life menstruated. The past tense confirms the old part. In our culture, to be called a woman is not necessarily a compliment. To be called a lady is always a compliment although not necessarily for the right reasons. As I have been taught to see things, a woman is her own person, which is seen as dangerous. A lady can be her own person but not out loud. She earns the appellation by being beautiful, demure, graceful and above all, appropriate. A woman farts; a lady passes gas (and only in the confines of her own bathroom at night when everyone else is asleep). A woman shakes hands; a lady touches fingers. A woman laughs; a lady titters. In those contexts, I am no lady. But I learned long ago from the most womanly lady I’ve ever known that a woman with class is very much a lady. She won’t go out of her way to make others look bad even when she knows she’s the smartest person in the room. She understands the importance of compassion and empathy and seeks to laugh with her companions, not at them. I’ve known many conventional ladies who smile at you and watch you walk away in shreds. A womanly lady can show up in sweats and a T-shirt and still look good, because being a womanly lady is an inside job. She’s confident, light-hearted, absolutely committed to her friends and family and the things that matter most in her life. She doesn’t take shit from anyone, but isn’t compelled to rub your nose in your bad behavior.IMG_7630.jpg

So that’s me, the Cranky Little Old White Lady. I have some things to say. Take your earplugs out. It’s going to be fun.