Sunday, November 7, 2010

Pollyanna, Meet Private Benjamin

Well, I spent the week deep in denial, hoping against hope that the next subject I would write about would not be politics. I promised myself when I started blogging that I would try to keep any strongly political posts to a minimum. I have wanted to stay outside the fray, not get caught in the machinations. And I've done fairly well, so far.

As you probably know, I talk a lot about hope and change, change for the better. I even believe in it and try to practice it every day. Again, I've done fairly well, so far. Today, I'm struggling to hold my head above water. It seems I've sent my inner Pollyanna away to camp for a week or two.

But, instead of having fun, participating in all sorts of mayhem around parental issues, she's found herself in what appears to be basic training. Pollyanna, meet Private Benjamin.

No merit badge again this week.

First of all, I'm having trouble with an America that appears to be schizophrenic (in the traditional, not clinical sense). We swing from a vicious pendulum, not knowing what we want. We just know we don't want what we have. In an age of instant gratification, we want change. And we want it now. Nothing even slightly slower will do. Yes, the economy is in dire straits, and not of the musical variety. But, change doesn't happen overnight, at least not usually, and certainly not in the realm of politics.

I've made a few notes, appropriate for the occasion. Such as this one from our old pal, Bertrand Russell:  "The trouble with the world is that the stupid are cocksure and the intelligent are full of doubt."  Remind you of anyone we know?

I wonder what Aesop would have to say ...  Oh, yeah, "We hang the petty thieves and elect the great ones to public office." 

Then there's the quote erroneously attributed to our man, Gauis Petronius Arbiter, c. 27 - 66 AD (Boy, they don't name 'em like that anymore, eh?). Anyway, apparently he didn't say it, some soldier in Korea or such is now attributed with it, but I like to tinker with reality now and then, and it could have been said by Gauis Petronius (heck, it could have been said by David Petraeus), so for the sake of my point, let's pretend it was spoken by Arbiter himself. It is just so timely. Like, suitable in any time.  He said, "We trained hard ... but it seemed that every time we were beginning to form up into teams, we would be reorganized. I was to learn later on in life that we tend to meet any new situation by reorganizing; and a wonderful method it can be for creating the illusion of progress while producing confusion, inefficiency, and demoralization."  Is any of this ringing a bell?  I'm hoping the answer is 'yes.'

I'm also having trouble with an America which stands to lose the most from the conservative agenda, always voting these folks back into office. Again and again. It's not like they don't have proof. I swear, a bunch of cave people, sequestered for the last few years, were released to vote this past Tuesday. Apparently, we haven't been hit hard enough. We're so curious to see what rock bottom looks like, we're doing all we can to ensure that we get to see it.

I'm also wondering, how can a state, that state being Minnesota, which elected Al Franken to the Senate, writer of such should-be classics, Lies (and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them), and, Rush Limbaugh is a Big Fat Idiot, also elect Michelle Bachmann (to the House)?  How can this be?  And not once, but twice, in Michelle's case. Heavy on 'the case.' And, we're not going to talk about the pink feather boa wearing ex-wrestler we elected governor. I still like Jesse. I still think it was a good idea. That didn't work out. The good folks of Lake Woebegone couldn't handle that much change. I go away to Santa Fe for a few years and come back to Tim Pawlenty. As in Pawlenty of bullshit. As of this writing our new governorship is still in limbo between Mark Dayton and Tom Emmer. Emmer referred to Bachmann as his "mentor."  I can't even go there.

Instead, let's look at a couple more outspoken folks who say it better than I. And they can't get in trouble. They're dead. This is one of my favorites: "Democracy is four wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch."  Ambrose Bierce

Here's another of my favorites: "Anarchism is not a romantic fable, but the hardheaded realization, based on five thousand years of experience, that we cannot entrust the management of our lives to kings, priests, politicians, generals, and county commissioners."  Edward Abbey

And, we can't forget George Carlin: "When you're born, you get tickets to the freak show. When you're born in America, you get front row seats."

I suppose I should quit while I still have the illusion of being ahead.

But, nooooo. Not me.

So, while we're at it, or I am, let's hear from Mark Twain:  "If Christ were here, there is one thing he would not be: a Christian."  I'm just sayin', there's a whole lot of folks out there who are not practicing what they preach. Yes, I know, I'm one of them. Please bear with me. I'm using this self-granted, once-in-a-blue-moon, free rant pass, while those folks will still be delusional, mistaking their "Onward Christian Soldier" attitude for the Truth, and taking it all the way to the White House. And that's scary.

I am not anti-Christian. Quite the opposite. But, I do have a problem when people don't demonstrate the tenets, as taught by Christ Jesus, but instead hijack a term for political gain, i.e. power, all the while demonstrating intolerance, prejudice, and hatred. Uh, folks, the Bible says, "God is Love." It really doesn't get any clearer than that.

I know, I know, I'm not practicing what I preach. How do I love both Al and Michelle?  It's just soooo hard sometimes.

I was going to write about skipping down a woodland trail a few days ago, happy and hoping, despite all sorts of evidence to the contrary. What I was doing was hanging on to hope for dear life. And I will continue to do so. I'm a hope-a-holic. If there's a cure, I don't want it. There's a lesson in everything and we'll just have to see what this one is. Really, what else can we do?

I saw a quote by Martin Luther King, Jr. the other day, and realized it spoke to me, asking me to drop my resistance to writing this. He said, "Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter."  This matters.

Next time we have a desire for change, let's be careful what we wish for. And how we state it.

I'll leave you with one more saying, a Turkish proverb, it goes: "If you speak the truth, have one foot in the stirrup."

I have to go check on Pollyanna, see how she's doing at that crazy camp.

In Pollyanna, as well as The Parent Trap, a movie set at camp, the main characters are portrayed by Hayley Mills. I was a big fan when I was young.

The wooden plaque and the bottom image are by Brian Andreas.

And, we all know Mr. Twain. If you don't, you've been living in a cave.


  1. You are SO articulate, Teresa! We missed the last of the craziness when we were out of the country. This morning I read the voters in Washington State have said they do not want any more taxes and they voted down alternative revenue ideas. So we will have some BIG changes here. However, there seemed to be plenty of money coming in from outside the state to run a Republican, Dino Rossi, against our long-time senator, Patty Murray. So the money is there for the bs, but not for the Medicaid.

    Me? Just writing my blog, applying for a job that sounds like a dream that I will undoubtedly not get. I don't even want to go back to work!

    Spend some time outdoors today being grateful for the beauty all around you, regardless of who's been elected.

  2. You touch upon a lot of issues with precision and grace. I enjoy many of your poignant quotes too like Bertrand Russell's "The trouble with the world is that the stupid are cocksure and the intelligent are full of doubt." The metaphor of Pollyanna and Private Benjamin,..wonderful.

  3. Teresa I don't understand your political system, never have been able to get my head around it! But I don't need to understand it to know what you are saying. Are politicians/politics any different in other countries - I don't think so. Some of your quotes really hit home with me. The district I live in, a rural district made up of 3 small towns that serve agricultural and horticultural farmlands, has just been forced into a SuperCity. "Democracy is four wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch." Ambrose Bierce - this is so apt. More than 80% of our district voted against this happening. Politicians were quoted as saying that democracy would be enhanced with this SuperCity model - I wrote to our Prime Minister asking how can democracy be enhanced when it doesn't exist in the first place, I received a 9 page reply but nowhere in this reply was my question answered.
    "We hang the petty thieves and elect the great ones to public office." - This is another quote that could be applied here.
    I too try to live in the Now, see the good in everything but at times it gets so hard.
    I love the last piece of art work and words by Brian Andreas.
    I too was a fan of The Parent Trap.

  4. I'm working on a theory. Bush-Cheney managed to divert huge portions of our country's resources to The Wealthiest Few. But they did it so smoothly that the middle class never caught on. And the Democrats have never articulated this. (Because they too want support from Big Business?) So the middle class gets made at "government" and "incumbents" instead of the real thieves. My only source of hope is that things are cyclical. I hope.

  5. Linda, Welcome Home! I think. :) I was thinking about how interesting it would be to spend a year abroad and see the U.S. from a distance. I have to believe the rest of the world is just shaking its head.... I did get outside and it helped immensely. Thank You!

    Paul, Thank you, so much. I find quotes that stand the test of time most interesting. The more things change...

    Marilyn, It's good to read your perspective. I guess politics are politics no matter what part of the world you live. Yes, the Brian Andreas thought offers us a path away from the craziness. It seems the ability to imagine a better world is not a priority for the folks who appear to be in charge here, at least not at the congressional level. But, there are many others who can imagine it, and my bet's on them, still.

    Nancy, I agree. It seems both sides of the aisle are looking after numero uno, themselves. It is a completely dysfunctional system and has been for far too many years. Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

  6. Teresa, you said exactly how I feel. I wish I could say it as well as you did. If I would write on this subject, I'm afraid it would be X rated...and I would end up feeling bad and I'm sure it would definitely not be very zen. I don't know how many times, during these elections, that I had to close my eyes and shake my head. Why did I close my eyes? I don't know...maybe trying to shut out what I was seeing and hearing-the insanity. Instant gratification..oh my, you are so right! I read on one of my favorite posts (can't remember which one, right now)...anyway, she said that,"Americans want what they don't have. Then, once they get it, they don't want it anymore." She also noted that nothing changes quickly in Washington, and that was probably the best thing about our system of government. Time, she said, is on our side. Eventually, Americans realized that slavery was unacceptable. Eventually, Americans realized that women should be given the right to vote. And, eventually, it was realized, that seniors needed financial help at the end of their lives. Sometimes, those living in proverty could use a leg up...and, eventually, maybe all would be able to get healthcare...maybe. oOOH..I remember who wrote this, it was Margaret and Helen's Tongue in Cheek. It just makes me ill... And, as you know, BF listens almost nonstop to Fox news...drives me nuts!

  7. I like your Turkish Foot in the Stirrup proverb and I'll add that "Being morally right is a very dangerous thing in politics." Other than that, I refuse to break my code of silence.

  8. With a close, careful first read, I totally agree and admire your choice of quotes from the past and present. I think the right wingnut media and shock jocks are poisoning the commonwealth and give simple, uneducated answers to very complicated questions. People should find another station to listen to. Oh, wait a minute, that's what schools were supposed to do: help foster a thinking public to rationale discourse in life so that they can separate the trivial (and dangerous) from the valuable.

    There are outposts and people that are thinking and helping the common good. Don't forget that even though our guys lost in the election, there were a lot of votes for our side. We just didn't win today.

    I'm marking this post of yours for future reference.

  9. Lynn, I would have a difficult time in a relationship with a conservative. I have often wondered how James Carville and Mary Matalin do it. Good for you, that you can. Lots of Zen practice, I suppose? :) I had to rewrite this a few times to quiet my inner sailor. I ended up feeling somewhat proud that I managed to not use the F word one time, though sorely tempting it was. In these times, it must be hard to be a Buddhist... LOL Thank you for your comments.

    Manzi, I respect your code of silence. Thank you for your comments. :)

    Jack, The problem with the school system... It mirrors the dysfunction of our entire system. It's broken, and we need to fix it. But, from these front row seats, it's not looking good, is it? I do try to read stories that provide another perspective, stories filled with not just hope, but real action. And there are many. But good news doesn't sell, and what does that say about the collective us? "There's the rub." Maybe it would start to sell, if we injected it more often and broke the habits of listeners. It does come down to breaking bad habits, while replacing them with good ones.

    Thanks for your comments, Jack.

  10. Nice thought Teresa, but from what I'm seeing is that good thoughts/good actions are torn apart. Distroyed, bit by bit, by those seeking power. They take words, out of context, and build stories around those words. Criticize the action doers, by "their team". I've watched as they bring in their "analyzers" and listen as they tear great ideas apart by applying strange numbers, quotes, or unrevelent history... I've seen religion, clothing, sport, and even their pets used by this group... I need to go back to some of your quotes and simply let it go.......

  11. if this post were a book, i would not be able to put it down.
    when will we be heard. "change takes time, takes listening, takes TIME!!! takes a plan, and takes hearing and accepting the TRUTH."

    so glad you said it! glad george carlin said it. glad mark twain said what jesus would say! glad the strange-bodied, small headed color drawing said it.

  12. and one more thing, can we work together to expose more good news and change some of this mass hysteria? i just read your response to jack. i am willing to open myself to the possibility, to an avenue to appear that will allow for me to sprinkle good news--to inspire the habit of patience and acceptance and TOGETHERNESS. {enough of the ego-centered politics}
    WE have to speak, teresa. WE have to help CHANGE this addiction to complaining--addiction to fast food information.
    michelle, again

  13. Lynn, I agree with what you said, including your final statement, but I think my response to Michelle will also respond to your additional comments.

    Michelle, I'm glad this post resonated with you, and others who have commented. I was thinking, as I responded to Jack about just this thing, that I plan to create more posts around the good news. I think many of us are trying to do just this thing, yourself included. As we open our thought to this and Expect it to happen, an avenue will be revealed and good things will emerge.

  14. The people voted so hopefully the elections will effect some real change for the little guy and not big business, cause it's definitely needed.

  15. Well, I think some important work is being done now, with President Obama working out an agreement with India in which jobs will be created here in the U.S. That's real change from a constant flow of outsourcing jobs overseas during the early years of this past decade.

    I am very willing to keep an open mind and see how it all unfolds.

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  17. This is my ALL TIME FAVORITE post of yours! Nobody (and I mean NOBODY) could have said this better. I am with you 1000%.

    The quotes you chose...priceless. I especially love Mark Twain's "If Christ were here...". It's SO true. The illustrations are spot on.

    Oooh, I feel strangely energized!

  18. Thank you! I love reading your blog and you say it all so well. Thanks!

  19. Cheryl! Wow! I appreciate your encouragement. Thank you, so very much. :)

    Paige, I love hearing from readers I haven't "met" yet! Thank you, very much.