Saturday, January 26, 2013

Can't we all just get along?

Three Sisters, Central Oregon, near Sisters

My opinion is most likely, no, we cannot-- IF we have to have our way, IF there are deep, core differences in our values, IF one of us wants to unfairly take what another has (which could be freedoms or material goods), IF we feel threatened, IF we see our cause as greater than anyone else's, IF we will win at any cost-- then we often cannot get along. We have to find a way to live with that fact.

Even in tribal peoples, basically they have/had someone who ran things. That was the one who decided if they fought a war, moved their camp, forced someone from their group. In some tribal situations, there would be one leader who ran daily life while another ran the spiritual. 

There was a reason a leader was agreed upon, maybe even chosen from birth-- humans don't get along real well. We are individuals and even for those raised within a tribe, those differences can still lead to conflict.

In a family, we see where some get so angry at others that they no longer speak. Agree to disagree means having to let something go-- not just stopping arguing for the moment but literally letting go the fact that two don't always agree. Some people simply have to convince others their way is right and the only way. Some will die/kill to further their causes and there is no way they can accept someone who sees it otherwise as having equal validity.

As a culture we have a Republic where we vote for leaders and what do we see happening-- one group trying to rig the system so they win power through whatever method it takes. Do they care if they have the will of the majority? Absolutely not and currently are gerrymandering state after state to win elections with the minority. Their latest plan would have had Obama winning 51% of the popular vote but losing the Electoral College.

Two recent examples of how we don't see things the same way:

When I watched the President's inauguration, I thought he gave a powerful but actually generic speech. He didn't nail one side or the other but said we should all respect each other, understand we all have value. There was more, but basically it seemed like a no-brainer. 

That wasn't how the right wing saw it. They saw it as an attack on their values. It was hard for me to understand. They wanted him to agree with them, agree with the principles on which so many of them ran and lost. When he did not, when he espoused other principles, it enraged them and some, like Ted Nugent, are now talking revolution again. Don't believe me on that? Listen to them on their punditry shows. 

Another example was when the right wing grilled Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Benghazi. She was using logic and the tea party types who challenged her were ideologues. When she got frustrated enough, she said, why does it matter why it happened. What matters is what we can do to make sure it doesn't again. Good Lord, you'd have thought she just suggested crucifying Christ again.

Their purpose was political, partisan power. They kept harping on four people died. Three of those who died were paid to protect. They were warriors. They were mercenaries you might even say and in this case in the pay of the CIA or State Department. They were there to do what they could to keep the Consulate and Ambassador safe. The Ambassador died from smoke inhalation, almost a fluke death as nobody deliberately tried to shoot him. One of the operatives did also. The other two from rocket fire. 

Exactly what was intended by the attack is not yet known. What we can pretty well determine is that the arms they used, their training, what is happening in Africa is a result of despots being removed. Sadly leaders like Gaddafi kept order at a terrible price in terms of human abuse. Now their weapons are being spread among terrorist organizations and Mali and Algeria are also feeling the effect.

That was logic. An Ideologue instead says-- if I was president I'd fire you for those four deaths. That guy doesn't care what happened. He cares that he can pontificate (a guy incidentally who will NEVER be president). One of the men Kerry addressed the next day admitted he was out there posturing but had not attended briefing meetings. 

That's the two sides of this-- one to posture and scream. The other to look at what we do now. How do they get along? A clue-- they don't.

Theoretically when we vote, doesn't that mean it's settled until the next election? Not hardly.  The arguing wouldn't be so bad if we could even apply the principles that just won that election to see if it works. It doesn't happen. 

We don't even see the word fair equally. It has become a partisan term that infuriates some to even hear. To them fair is a liberal word. If they think of it at all, it's what is fair to their own interests. I hear them talk about taxation without representation as if voting for something automatically means you get your way even if you didn't win the most votes.

Jupiter in proximity to the moon 
January 21 Central Oregon

As a nation we should agree that we want uniform voting regulations, places to vote, counting of the ballots, methods for campaigning. You know we do not and some feel that by limiting who can vote, they assure their idea of fairness. How do you get along with someone who is talking revolution when you believe in voting?

I know it's the ideal that we can come to a meeting of minds. I just don't think it's actually possible and am not sure why not. Is it brain chemistry that has two people looking at an image of a hungry person and one sees a need to do something effective that will help while the other sees a person who brought on their own problems and is now trying to get help they don't deserve.

It's amazing that we don't all see life the same way but we do not. Even with friends or family, sometimes we have to agree to disagree and look for other areas we can agree.

There was a book out some years back that said when you get into a situation where it's a win/lose; then your best option is to not play. Get out of the argument/debate because when one person has to lose, it's going to lead to trouble. The point of the book is to go where there is a win/win in any conflict. It sounds good and might work in personal relationships (or maybe not). It is harder when it involves deep, heartfelt core beliefs.

 Metolius River in January-- an energy place

So rather than having this all be negative, I thought I'd present some of my actual ideas on how we can get along. If you read this far and have others, I'd appreciate you adding them in comments.

Accept you won't convince everyone you are right (you might someday find you were wrong). 
When irked with someone, try to find those places where you can agree. 
Understand that everybody, even those you disrespect, is trying to do what works for their lives. 
Don't feel you need to give up your point but don't expect to always win. 
Avoid getting angry-- that doesn't win points-- with them or you. 
Be involved in the choices the nation is making because head in the sand doesn't cut it and leaves no way to whine with honor later. 
Vote for leaders who come as close to your core beliefs as possible-- it won't be all the way.
When your way doesn't succeed, work on other areas and wait for a new day.
Find things to think about besides all that's wrong with the world. The alternative is a good way to an ulcer.
Look for options in getting to a certain goal-- sometimes the goal is the same but the method is the problem and we can get hung up on details.
And when it's family-- love each other. Don't remember every grievance. Expect growth in them and yourself. 
Find activities that make you happy and where you can forget all that's gone wrong anywhere in the world and in your own life. 
Spend time in energy places and pull them into you for times when you'll need that.
For parents, when you see your children showing anti-social behavior, possibly fascinated with the macabre to an unnatural level, take some action. I think a lot of these tendencies to see violence as the solution start very young; and if parents would work with experts, try to deal with their reality not their wishes, maybe, some violent events could be avoided.

Finally on getting along-- when out in public-- be alert and aware what is around you. Pay attention to warning signs, noises, sights and it might be smoke in the air. Don't be oblivious to the weather, activity by others because when we can't get along, sometimes it turns ugly fast. I am not saying get a gun because that's not as good a solution as just staying aware. Never think it can't happen to you-- others thought that too. We can't always avoid violence but we can have a plan in our mind for what we'd do if we have time-- life is such that we won't always and that's just a reality and not unique to our time in history.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Guns and regulations

In the name of full disclosure: I, yes, the above person, am a gun owner. Multiple gun owner of both rifles and handguns-- no assault rifles. I had my first .22 at twelve-- which I had asked for as my Christmas present. I treated it with great care with a gun cleaning kit which I still have even though with the bullets of today cleaning guns doesn't happen with the regularity it did back then. 

In our home right now there are loaded rifles and handguns. That only changes when the grandchildren come to visit and everything goes into a locked gun cabinet which is steel, bolted to the floor and has the kind of keys that if you lose yours, you have to send back to the company that made it to get another. Our home in Tucson also has a gun, ammunition, and a locked gun safe. 

My first gun was gotten because I had seen our sheep torn apart by neighbor dogs who were coming up to chase and shred living animals. I wanted something to patrol our 80 acre farm and kill those dogs if I saw one in killing mode. I still have that .22 but prefer another one now that has more range. I have shot all my guns. I have shot them at living beings. I didn't want to kill coyotes, but I also didn't want more dead lambs and crying ewes. 

When Oregon allowed for concealed weapon permits, Farm Boss and I were among the early applicants. I hear a lot of fear over these permits but haven't heard much about the crimes committed by someone who has one. In Oregon it required taking a class, fingerprints, photographs, references, no record of offenses, and approval by the state. We got ours to enable us to carry a handgun in the vehicle and have it loaded and hidden. We do sometimes have a gun with us when we travel. We never have one with us when grandchildren are part of the travel.

A handgun, a loaded one, is not far from my reach when I am on the computer. I would not think of using it-- unless someone broke into my home; and then if I didn't know I could use it, I wouldn't have it. That was one of the points of the class. A handgun is not a deterrent. It's not something to wave around and threaten. If it is pointed at someone, it should be only when fully prepared to pull the trigger. Otherwise it becomes a danger to the one carrying it.

My father taught me good gun safety. Like when walking with a rifle (or handgun) no fingers inside the trigger guard. Safety on. Never put a finger near a trigger unless ready to pull it. Do not fire at something when you don't know what's behind it. Don't fire at something when you don't know for sure what it is. 

Guns are tools and like a chain saw or a tractor or many other tools, they are not to act macho or impress someone. For me, they are meant for protection from a predator. They are to kill an animal that is down and needs to be put out of its misery. Where I live, a lot of people hunt and they need that food. I know others enjoy them for target practice. The rules for gun safety should be part of all of that and the recklessness that I sometimes see where someone shoots up a highway sign infuriates me because it means that person didn't deserve having a gun.

I expect to keep my guns until the day I am dead, too senile or weak to use one. I do not feel any threat from the government to take them.

Reasonable regulations are NOT a threat to a legal, responsible gun owner and everybody who is one ought to speak out in support of effective gun regulations. When they don't, do they truly believe they are immune to being at a political rally and having someone start shooting, that they could not be in a movie theater when bullets are rapidly fired, or their children/grandchildren in school when someone comes in with a semi-assault rifle? 

The argument that guns prevent crimes is as stupid as saying taking all guns will prevent it. There is a picture out there showing President Reagan right before he was shot.  Guns were all around him. Did that stop the shooter? Nobody can take all the guns. They might get those from law abiding citizens but the ones most likely to commit a crime with a gun? Are they kidding!

At Tucson's political event, there was an armed citizen there. Because he was responsible, he wasn't sure who was the shooter and he waited, then he helped to subdue him rather than use the gun with the risk of shooting the wrong person.

In the Aurora movie theater, the shooter was wearing body armor (what's up with letting that be sold to ordinary people), so like where would the citizen with a gun shoot assuming in the chaos they could get a good shot. 

In the school, really we want guns around kids when we could just make the doors impossible to break through? Seriously we want all janitors armed? Do they get checked now like I was for my concealed weapon permit? What about having panic buttons in the front offices that bring the police on a dime? There are a lot of things that could be done but having more guns in the school, around children, doesn't strike me as one of them

The extreme right is launching an attack on Obama and even his family. Frankly some of them seem to have gone over a legal line in their threats. Are they asking for attacks on this man or his family? You'd think Obama was Hitler and out to take away all freedoms. When you hear them rant or write, they sound ready to shoot anybody who disagrees with them-- which would include gun owners like me. 

From the GOP, even elected leaders, I hear a lot of loose talk about the Bill of Rights and how Obama would take our rights. Excuse me but this is the same bunch who said nothing when Bush did exactly that with his Presidential assault on the Bill of Rights (as in the right to a trial for all citizens).

Real background checks, delayed purchases to give time for those, and a ban on extended magazines, semi-assault and assault rifles would be a good start.  As a gun owner, I don't see this as a threat on my right to own guns. I see it as making it possibly safer the next time I go to a mall. I wouldn't stop with banning the sales of these war weapon. I'd make their ownership illegal after a year's time to do a buyback.

And the NRA, don't even get me started on them. They began many years ago to push assault rifles as a macho need for Americans. They offended Farm Boss at that time so much that he stopped being a member. Every responsible owner of guns should do likewise. What on earth is wrong with the NRA or their defenders? One thing I can say is they regard those who follow them as gullible and stupid. 

Without a doubt, guns aren't enough. There has to be more done on mental health, but war weapons are a good start. I do not believe that responsible gun ownership means the right to help ordinary citizens stock up enough arms to attempt to attack Washington DC or stand up against the US military when they decide they didn't like the laws passed in a democracy. Supposedly we vote-- not shoot someone or blow up their buildings (thinking Oklahoma City now). 

The Second Amendment to the Constitution says:  

A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.  

First of all that refers to a well-regulated militia under the auspices of the government, doesn't it? It was done during a time when the Indian wars were still a part of everyday life and during the time where there were still wars against other countries. It relates to the security of the State which is anything but what I hear from the radical right. It also refers to well-regulated which means regulations are in order.

Wild talk won't help anything, but it will make more money for talk show hosts and those who have no other way to get dollars other than such causes. I even heard Ted Nugent suggesting the police should stand against any laws that he and his ilk don't like. 

Listening to a right wing talk programs as they ranted about this, I heard a list of Oregon (and some other states) sheriffs who said they would disobey any executive orders. Isn't that asking for insurrection? We enforce the laws we like and not those we dislike? Likely this will all head for the Supreme Court and which way will they go?

Hopefully responsible gun owners will speak up and support reasonable restrictions before half the country gets so angry at the carnage that another Amendment to the Constitution is attempted-- one to ban all guns-- while the other half sets out to start a civil war. Listening to that talk program and the idiocy advocated there, I can see how this could turn very violent. 

The support for owning assault rifles just amazes me. And why are they supported-- according to that host because they fire bullets and anything that does should be legal. 

Recently two guys walked around downtown Portland with assault rifles swung over their shoulders to show they could. So how do citizens tell the difference between them and the guy who recently started shooting in the mall? My best guess is only after bullets are flying.

Every time I hear someone talk civil war or revolution so casually, I wonder if they ever pay attention to who leads a nation after such in other places-- the meanest, most brutal, charismatic dictator, that's who. Really, that sounds better than elected officials? Anyone who says yes is ignorant and shouldn't be owning any gun-- let alone a war weapon.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

who we are and are yet to be

 You are today where your thoughts have brought you; you will be tomorrow where your thoughts take you.     James Lane Allen

With a new year, a new calendar, it can be a fitting time to look at our lives, to assess where we're going, whether we are who we want to be, ask if changes should be made. Part of looking forward once in awhile means looking back.

A few years back I had been thinking that what I had done when young was part of what I was at that very moment, and it led to a bit of a poem. I used a photo of myself as a young woman to illustrate the idea (which the above quote also says). She was the mother of me as I am the mother of all I am yet to be. It's both an awesome responsibility and a great joy when you think of that because it doesn't let you ignore today's reality as though it doesn't matter. It is feeding your future.

That  thinking led to my looking for a photo collage I had created also a few years back. It was about how all the people from whom I came and who I have loved, they are a part of who I am. Pieces of all those people, beloved or otherwise, are part of my thinking and being. Since I am not one to look back often, creating the collage was a way of acknowledging what was true without dwelling on it.

To even think about how these people are all gone from the earth both amazes me because they don't seem gone and also because someday so will I be. It really is the most mysterious part of life because it never feels like we could really come to an end and yet we can and will. They and I, for awhile, will live on only in memories-- hopefully positive ones.

Today there are people, children, grandchildren, friends, and they are part of who I am and who I am yet to be. Because I don't use the family photos here, you will just have to take my word for it that they are all beautiful-- in all ways. My family is really my deepest joy as I see them experiencing their lives, building their worlds apart from mine, and it's what life is all about-- the grand cycle.

For me, the land is a big part of who I am, that on which I grew up, where I live today, and the places I go and love. I don't know if land is so critical to everybody, but I grew up on a farm where I loved that land but had to move. Now I live on a different farm where I love that land but whether I die here or have to move, I cannot hold onto it. It will, however always be part of me-- including that which I own in Tucson.

Beyond my own places and land there are other experiences that come up when I think of treasured moments, moments that make me who I am today. I can think of so many, but to illustrate one would be my times near the great buffalo herds of Yellowstone.

In Yellowstone, buffalo, grizzlies, wolves, interact and live as naturally as is possible with humans on the fringe of their lives but not influencing their fears (nor hopefully diet). It is easy for humans to forget this isn't a zoo. Getting too close is best done with a telephoto lens.

Those times sitting on a bluff somewhere or from our vehicle and observing grizzlies, wolves, buffalo, birds, etc. are part of my inner treasure. To watch their family interactions, the way they move, hearing their sounds are memories I can draw up whenever I need them. Such inner experiences help me when dark times come or just on a day when I want a jolt of something to excite my energy.

 digital painting at coast using a ruined photograph to create something new

I am who I am because of the experiences I have gone through whether pleasurable or not. I have learned a lot by things that I would not have chosen to experience but can see how they enriched and gave me a depth I'd not have had otherwise. There is a saying, which I am paraphrasing, that it's not what happens to us so much as how we react to it.

Some might think by the age of 69 a person would stop thinking what they want to become. In my experience, not only with myself but with friends my age, those years haven't come yet if they ever do.

Lately I have been busier writing and less involved with self analysis, but once in awhile I think it's good to take time out and think about where I've been, why I am here, is it where I want to be? Sometimes I write a list of things I want to emphasize in the year ahead but this time I didn't do it--yet anyway. I am pretty happy with what was in my 2012. It was one of those years where I stepped out on something that was an emotional risk, and it feels good now to know I did it.

2013 is a special year for me since I will turn 70 during it. Those years where we get to start over with a 0 at the end of our age seem special to me. When I begin a new decade, I often try to come up with something I want to be doing when that happens. I'll give that some thought as my turning 70 isn't until the fall. Although as often happens, with my friends and those in my age group already turning 70, I tend to feel I feel I am already there from the beginning of the year.

Tuesday, January 08, 2013

Hagel-- right man for the job

Hopefully Democrats and moderate Republicans are paying attention right now to the coming confirmation hearings for Chuck Hagel as Secretary of Defense. The battle by the neocons to deny him the position has already begun. If you travel to a Fox news (I use that latter term loosely) site, you will see massive dislike of Hagel by those who fill out the polls. They are already being indoctrinated.

Why do Neocons and those like McCain and his little buddy Graham, dislike Hagel so much for being at the head of Defense? Do some research and find out.

This is clearly going to be an attack on policies that Obama wants implemented, but his choice of Hagel is an excellent one for the soldiers and veterans. A man who actually served in combat, who was wounded, a man who has stood up for the veterans in every way he can, a man who doesn't favor wars we don't have to fight, one who wasn't a chicken hawk, this is the kind of guy who can really have the back of our soldiers.

For a lot of the right wing, they are all for the military until it properly equips the soldiers going into combat, until it is about Veteran Benefits when they get out.  Then it goes from a pat on the back to a sneer that they are takers. This from those who never fought a war of their own.

This debate is over whether we rush into another war as some Neocons are eager to see happen. It is over whether Obama has the right to choose his own team and frankly with Kerry in State, Hagel in Defense, and Biden as Veep, I think we have an excellent team to be with Obama but also give him wise advice.

I like the choice of Hagel and Kerry a lot (more uncertain about Brennan) and hope Democrats and moderate Republicans will research Chuck Hagel's career and opinions; and if they also like it, get behind the appointment. It might take public opinion to make it happen.

Saturday, January 05, 2013

Moods of Tucson

 If we can let go, relax and fall into the center of now, we can encounter directly the freedom that we have all been seeking.               Adyashanti

With this being the beginning of a new year, I like to find something that indicates my thoughts. The quote above pretty well says how I hope to live this year (how I always hope to live). It's on my new calendar for January.

Our little ranch did well with us being gone for a month totally because we have the best possible guy looking after it. In the years of owning it, the business of finding the right person to check on it, put out hay, monitor the livestock hasn't been easy. The man who does it now is strong, tough, knows this world and basically is so responsible that it's hard to imagine ever having anybody else if he stops wanting to do it-- I won't think about that since for now he does.

at Signal Hill

Arizona was wonderful, but I always wish I had more time there. So many things I'd have loved to do, but there was also a ton of work that the house needed, and it's the reason we were there: outside watering system repair, new dishwasher (what's with these energy efficient ones that save energy by not actually drying?), garbage disposal replaced, new blinds for living room and two bedrooms, kilns removed with one given away and the other brought back here, rental tractor to grade and repair driveway, clearing back invasive cactus to enable bringing our vacation trailer next time, some odds and ends, and my writing my first novella, A Montana Christmas.  It's amazing it all got done in the three weeks we were able to be in Tucson.

rented tractor and grading work-- hereby proving you can take the rancher off the ranch but not take the ranch out of the rancher.

Our oldest cat, BB, was in heaven to be there again. This is where he spent the first five years of his life, most of them as a stray where he scrounged and caught his own food. This time, as a pampered pussy cat, he didn't get freedom to run around by himself. He's deaf and old. He no longer can leap to the top of the wood fence and then onto the roof. Still he enjoyed his time outside with us and kept sniffing the air and rolling in the dirt. He wanted to visit all his old haunts.

Blackie and Pepper weren't so thrilled. Actually the female got along better with travel than the males, but she didn't like being outside which surprised me since she loves it on the ranch. I carried her out to the enclosed pool area, set her down, and heard the most pitiful merrrrows. She was terrified. As to why, who can ask a cat?

BB in the ironwood tree he climbed as a young cat and surprised us both by jumping up and doing again

The last day of 2012 had me on my hands and knees scrubbing the kitchen floor for the renters who were coming in that night as we would be driving north. Usually we have a neighboring couple readying it; but this time, they were gone to spend the holidays with their family in Florida. So doing it made me once again appreciate how wonderful they are and what a great job they do. If they ever stop wanting to do it, we might find it impossible to continue the vacation rental there.

Sometimes I think about how it'd be to have the house available to us in the winter and not be renting it out. Being able to hike in a desert where maybe you need a sweater and maybe not, that's a big plus. Then I think of our grandchildren and kids in Oregon, the farm. I also remember the benefits of the Tucson house as a rental with other people getting to enjoy what we do, with the rental money that enables improvements as well as pays all the insurance and taxes, and I know it's as it should be for now at least. I LOVE Arizona. I LOVE Oregon. Too bad they are so far apart.

We didn't get out of the Tucson valley this trip and had no time for a lot of our usual enjoyments. We did take many photos some of which will be quite useful in the future. We worked in some hikes but not nearly as many as we had hoped. We did get to Old Tucson where I hadn't been for years, not at all since an arsonist had destroyed the historic sets. I was surprised at how wonderful it now was with backdrops that made for great photos as well as useful for future eBook trailers. It was recreated with an artist's eye and is still being used for movie sets.

 Old Tucson

I know I've said how much I love Tucson but I want to repeat it. The energy, the diverse cultures that came to this place, the landscape that changes with only a few feet of elevation, the beauty of an autumn in the river and creek bottoms, the history, the magic of the sky, well it's just a wonderful place to be. I spend as much time as possible out on the desert, but it has a very nice city attached to it with all the cultural advantages of such a place.

Tucson is a place of extremes, of beauty and danger, of mystery and creative energy, of history and the moment. From the first time I saw it in 1965, I loved that area, have been there many many times even before we owned the house, but never felt I could live there full time. I don't really see myself as a snowbird either as I love the monsoon season, the spring, the fall, but for me, it's more a place to touch down, to have part of my soul be rather than the place I live.

With a new video of the Tucson desert, I wanted to pick up some pieces of its wonder, of what makes it what it is, of that diverse culture. Words don't do it justice. Tucson really is a mystical place for me-- the thing I can touch but never own.

Since I am sharing videos, here's one I created for our VRBO site and the Tucson home we call Casa Espiritu. It depicts spring, different colors and moods.