Comments, relating to the topic, are welcome, add a great deal to a blog, but must be in English, with no profanity, hate-filled insults, or links (unless pre-approved).

Saturday, April 27, 2019


by Rain Trueax

This has been a difficult week to write anything here. It's had two physical problems. The first might be unpleasant to read; so if you prefer not getting it, come back for the next blog and enjoy the cactus blooms.

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Diane on Beginning new paintings

To take advantage of the early morning sunshine, I started painting at 7:00 AM  last Thursday. The first gestural attempt sometimes is the best. Thursday I mixed a cold wax directly into the oil paint. Using wax for the first time since 1966.  I noticed the smooth texture of oil was lost. I remembered why I didn't explore wax mixtures further.
 Friday I noticed the car would not fit into the garage and I was less thrilled by the yellows. I missed the spring green  grass with morning dew making it almost white.

Monday morning the weather was taking a turn.  It was cooler with a breeze. Early on there was a burst of sunlight low in the sky.  Shadows were very distinct at 7:00 AM. Darkening the sky changed the mood. I want the good feeling from sun light shining through leaves like glass and dark trunks and limbs like lead.

Then the mist obscured the background trees.  A lighter sky perhaps. When the oil paint dries, clean fresh color is easy to apply. In the background closer evergreen trees can be added in a darker tone. I Brushed a spider from my face at about 9:00 AM. I am applying cold compresses to my eye.           I did  not painting outdoors Tuesday. Wednesday was a good painting day.

Saturday, April 20, 2019

addictions of a kind of innocent sort... maybe

by Rain Trueax

bobcat in our Tucson backyard

Everybody has ways they waste time… Maybe not everybody but I do. I am not sure I can justify my own choices for what I do instead of something important… Well, maybe we need to define important, but after just going into the immigration issues, I am not going to define anything here—just describe what I do when I should be cleaning house or something more noteworthy, like writing on the next book.

My time waster began innocently enough. Don’t they all! I got interested in people who live a full-time RV life. I can’t describe right now how I found the ones I began to check out on YouTube. Maybe because I joined some Facebook groups about RVs since we have one and were looking at changing to something different. Because I also have a YouTube channel, with very little on it, I had interest in the art form, and know from experience that it isn’t the easiest thing to create something others want to follow.

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

by Diane, Civil discussions are possible on issues like immigration?

Sunday, April 14
             Working close to the earth, being responsible with money, observing the law, protecting nature, helping neighbors in need, being a loyal friend, morality and aproaching problems by being practical are some of Rain's values.
            She shared in her post that her childhood on a small farm as well as living on a ranch as an adult shaped her values. So quite reasonably her political view of immigration is unsurprising. Being a practical person without knowing a complete solution, Rain shared a few doable ideas for improving immigration at our borders.
    My experience as a child of a naturalized citizen I have similar values. Rain and I have more in common than not. We grew our vegetables and some of our fruit. My parents never took government assistance, father went to great pains to be sure he always obeyed the law.  Preparing our taxes was a particularly tense time.  Tax forms had to be perfect for his income and  my mother's cottage doll making business. We had no debts other than borrowing money to buy our house. Father paid off the debt. He demonstrated his value for education; father modeled the joy of learning studying advanced math every night.  He filled notebooks with mathematical formulas and his calculations as he studied theoretical advanced math books.
    There were differences.  Both of my parents were university educated. Their close friends were from their college days. We, however, lived in low income neighborhoods with mostly blue collar workers until I was in high school. Though my parents were educated, politics were seldom mentioned and discussed in our home beyond my father explaining joyfully, "The presidential campaign conventions are super wonderful". Rain comes from a family far more politically vocal.  Rain like her parents follows the news with interest and passion.  Her example amazes me. Her well thought out arguments! She has instilled in me an interest in politics. 
     I was not taught to be snobbish about being the educated elite. Uncle Fred, mother's brother, was a shoe salesman. I am not sure he graduated from high school. I grew up thinking he was as good as my college educated parents.
     Wearing my thicker skin. I am allowing my premise to fall away.  My premise being a few strategies can make a smooth bridge of understanding between the right and left. My pet experiment is a pie in the sky dream. My idea of finding a way is futile.  Left and right citizens cannot  talk to one another in a civil tone.  How silly to think our fellow citizens would take on explaining where they come from before expressing their opinions.Telling ones story is too difficult. Sadly citizens would not listen and hear how those who oppose them came to their mutually good values. I am a day dreamer thinking we can invent a grass roots level method for all of us citizens to start to turn the tide away from becoming more and more polarized. We will continue to gulp up messages that tickle and confirm our individual ever widening different views.

Monday, April 15 -16
      My spirits improved after getting an answer to this request:

"consider my invitation to a brainstorm on how to conduct ourselves in both addressing problems of children living in poverty here and those refugee children who would die in their native country and are coming in ever greater numbers. If you cannot post on my blog, send by email. I will post your input.

The answer I welcome:

It's easy: Take care of your own children and homeland first. Always. If you "care" so much, get a ticket to whatever poverty-stricken area you wish and help out. But take care of our own business first! And DO NOT steal from others so you can support feeding the world's down-trodden. If that is your belief, go for it. Without the rest of us.

My response:

      On Monday my mood improved after receiving my friends challenging response. I am grateful for my friends trust in the face that we do not agree.  Her words are more gentle then sometimes, still I feel a little defensive.  I might defensively say something that would end our friendship and dialog over the past 5 years. This blog is about civil conversation not the place for my knee jerk response.  Then I  step back and wonder why I feel guilt for not taking action beyond writing. I am guilty as I should be.  I feel I am not an asset helping at the soup kitchen like I used to.  I declined a request to teach watercolor in Belize to children at a summer church camp. Certainly I could find some place where I could contribute with doing something and not just writing and talking.  No, no! My search for weaving back the fabric of our society is a good thing to do.
      I feel very grateful of how my friend continues to correspond even though we do not agree on many things. I understand her admiration for New Yorker frankness and her dedication to volunteering. She is a good person and writer of political articles in a right wing news letter, as well as writing stories and plays. During the Carter and Regan Administration she wrote presidential speeches.  She is knowlegeable.

     Another writer of stories and plays is my cousin, Jim Cunningham who liked some of my Facebook posts.  He recently published a book of his short stories available on Amazon. He is giving all the money he gets from book sales to St. Jude's Hospital for Children.
     His poignant stories often burst my bubble and increase my empathy. A few of his stories are somewhat autobiographical. All of the stories are like stepping under someone elses' skin and leave lasting impressions.

One of Jim's stories, "Where the Mountain Meets the Plain" is about  a present day father and his son who own a small  ranch. They are among the disappearing few small family run agricultural businesses.   Perhaps their strong values are disappearing.  People of the land use to extend their helping hand when neighbors are in need - one important value that made our country great.  Jim's story says much about the goodness of people giving of themselves just like the way our nation was built. After mulling over Jim's powerful and awesomely concise story, I am sad that our old values are being tested by extreme challenges. 

        I hope I have been fair in my tone on my friend's response on how we should conduct ourselves so our trust continues. Jim's story brings home to me that volunteering is not like it used to be in solving problems. Jim's insights on citizen volunteering illustrates the problem with my friend's simple solution.
         Another point of my bringing Jim's stories into this blog post is story telling is best for communicating ideas.  Telling your personal story is a powerful way towards effectively beginning a civil discussion that will bring people together in understanding. If we stick to personal experiences it will be harder for alien sources to infiltrate our national dialogue around elections.
          I watched Yo-Yo Ma on the importance of telling each other our stories on PBS News Hour April 15.
"Culture turns the other into us, and it does this through trust, imagination, and empathy. So, let's tell each other our stories and make it our epic, one for the ages."

Rain wrote on a Facebook link to this blog.
Diane and I tried an experiment-- discussing our very different ideas on immigration. She went first and I followed. Our goal was to show that people can differ on important issues and still remain friends. Mostly, this is helped by not discussing those topics lol. We made an exception for the blog, which generally doesn't do politics at all.
She wanted us to begin by what in our background had led us to what we currently think on immigration; so that's what we did. Hers was... on the 10th and mine the 13th. I don't think either of us believe we have all the answers for a situation that may grow much worse if global climate change makes some areas unlivable. I don't think the world is ready for what might come and some of that is because we have no idea what it will be as much is projecting based on the past except human history is short and especially that recorded or with tools to do measuring; so it's geologic and fossils that provide data. The one thing we know for sure from that-- earth can change a lot even without human interference.
Some of today's immigrants have their situation made worse by failed or failing governments. No easy answers for sure.

  A few responses are better than daydreaming on my own. Good chance I will try to improve on my attempts sometime in months to come when using other issues as examples!


Saturday, April 13, 2019


by Rain Trueax

 Sonoran Gopher Snake at our Tucson backyard pool. He/she might look scary, but they are very beneficial to the environment. You can tell a dangerous snake from this one by head shape. Rattlers have triangular heads. The rattles are less reliable as they can lose those various ways. It's nice when we can clearly define what is dangerous and what is beneficial.

Originally, I had not planned on starting with from where my thinking on immigration has come, but Diane asked that I do that. She and I come from different backgrounds but have been friends for over 50 years. In the early mornings, we used to meet for coffee, when we both lived in a Tucson apartment complex. Our husbands would leave for Graduate School, and she and I'd talk over different things that seemed important at the time. We often disagreed, but it didn't matter. We didn't get mad. She'd head off to paint and I'd write. It was a creative environment, one I have never actually duplicated.

Recently, she and I decided here to discuss some big topics that we know we don't see the same way. We are doing it to show people can disagree and remain friends. We can let it go when we can't convince someone else that we are right. One of the problems today is the bubbles in which so many live. They hear only one side and get to thinking everyone out of their bubble is bad. I've been unfriended for that very reason on Facebook. I've come to believe that in most bubbles, if I read them at all, it's smarter to not say what I think unless it's Amen. The bubble is their right. It's a shame though as hearing from other viewpoints can let us know the ones who think that way are not bad people for disagreeing.

As for my own background, I come from working people, mostly lower income but responsible folks. There wasn't an elite among us-- intellectually or economically. I have jokingly called myself a redneck because I understand those people and ranchers tend to work with the basics of life. My people valued education but didn't see someone with a fancy degree as necessarily any smarter than someone without a high school diploma. They were more knowledgeable, of course, at least about some things...

One of my main lessons from childhood is--actions have consequences. I grew up with a belief that idealism is fine, but it has to be tempered with reality. This was reinforced when my husband of 55 years and I bought a farm over 40 years ago. Farming teaches you even more strongly that idealism doesn't get the work done. It doesn't fix broken fences. There is a reality that those who work the land learn or they go back to the city. For farmers and ranchers, work is not a temporary vacation. It's a day by day reality. You do it or it does not get done. 

True, some farmers do pay those not legally here to do the work but not many cattle ranchers as it's dangerous work where you need to be skilled or it won't turn out well for you. That is also true of most forestry work; and in my part of Oregon, I see very few migrants in those jobs. The only big farmer nearby has brought up workers from Mexico but applied for them legally with blue cards. That lets the workers come and go.

Now, I do see a lot of those likely without documentation seasonally for Christmas tree harvesting. They aren't here later. Generally speaking, work for migrants has meant a need to move with the crops-- this is not new. It was big in the US during the Dust Bowl years in the '30s for families like Ranch Boss's father's. It is true today for those living in RVs, who go from job to job. Steady work isn't always available for some-- here illegally or otherwise.

My time in Arizona, where the border is today an issue, began in 1965 and has been off and on until it increased when we finally bought a second home in Tucson 20 years ago. Tucson is a place of many ethnicities, a city proud of its past with influences from the early Mexican settlers, the Native Americans, the Chinese, and yes, European settlers.

I've seen the difference illegal immigration has made to Southwestern places where I enjoy re-creating, mountain islands and valleys along the border. There was a time, when we could explore washes down there or out of Tucson with no concern for who we might meet. For those who don't know, the scary people are not generally speaking the migrants but those who bring them and drugs. I've personally seen what it has done to border towns like Nogales where the fences got more onerous and intimidating, where the ones I'd see hanging around looked more dangerous-- on both sides. Where rudeness to women got more out in the open by the comments made. That was not the Nogales of 1965.

One of my favorite areas to explore out of Tucson (Ironwood National Monument now) had a group of immigrants murdered as they waited for a ride-- murdered by a rival cartel. It's a place we no longer go without watching for what's coming. 

Same thing with nearer to the border. We go but with caution and yes, with a gun. On the ranches down there, I've read their stories, seen for myself the plastic garbage strewn (which when cows eat kills them), seen cut fences, to which I, of course, relate. I've read how tanks were left dry after migrants refilled their bottles and left the tap open. This whole thing of having people crossing land with no respect for it can't be understood unless someone understands and tends to the land. 

Despite understanding the side of those who have their land and want to protect it, I also sympathize with those here without papers, who work hard but find their lives on hold as they never really know if there will be a knock at the door. This is an intolerable problem and it's made worse that some profit from it-- on both sides of the partisan divide. 

Because of my nature, I read both sides, desperate stories like this one [Risks for the migrants] but I am a practical woman, made so by my life and belief in rules-- an archaic way to be in today's world apparently. I also believe that with a country 22,000,000,000 in debt, where we aren't going to see 0 interest in the future, what can we really afford? There is no sugar daddy out there to pay that all off. We have to live responsibly as individuals. Why is the government different.

So, here we go with what I have come to believe-- and yes, it involves a wall--

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

by Diane Widler Wenzel: Civility in disagreeing on immigration

My assemblage, "Immigration," was inspired by my father's values. It includes  father's #8 envelope containing proof of citizenship papers secured with a woven cotton cord tied with the precision of a Boy Scout, sailor's knot. My hand made papers symbolical represent his contribution of values he absorbed from living in several other countries.
He beautifully mended files and cars as opposed to throwing away any worn out thing.

         This is the first of paired blog posts with my co-author, Rain, on divisive issues facing our nation.  Acknowledging that differing opinions of our current USA and world wide issues could result in breaking our friendship, Rain and I are going to try airing our different sides on several issues in a civil tone.  Of course I am optimistic that telling my story behind my opinions will build a stronger bridge between us. My hunch is that explaining what I understand to be my background will soften hot buttons.    I invite Rain to add more definitions of terminology and to share her background to her present opinions on immigration. Since I do not want to control this exchange, my blog pardoner deserves the same freedom she gives me.  I want Rain to be free to present her side in her own way.
           The question for me is, knowing my friend, can I understand her perspective without taking offense.  Rain and I have been friends almost continually since 1965 when we and our husbands went from Portland to Tucson, Arizona where our husbands completed masters degrees in chemistry at the University of Arizona.
           We are willing to put our friendship to test by the stress of revealing our opposing feelings and opinions on issues because we might set a good example. We can have an open airing of what we believe. Or fail at finding a way for every citizen to start to change what I believe is the biggest threat to our republic - our polarization leading to demonizing each other followed by the unthinkable. I don't want to loose my best friend next to my husband. Personally a loss of our friendship would be extremely hurtful. The risk is worth the effort for the love our country.
          Thank you, Rain for suggesting we do these dual blogs. Thank you for over the years putting me in my place when I am ignorant of facts. I appreciate our past disscussions and I credit you for helping me mature.
             In respect for Rain I accept Rain's goal as mine too. We will demonstrate that good people are on both sides of  hotly argued issues like immigration. Our intention is not to change the other's mind or even the readers' minds on the issues we cover. Neither is it agreeing to disagree when such an agreement is a contract to avoid a complete hearing and acceptance of each other.

Me with collected pebbles and my parents near Lake Tahoe, 1948 

          I finally see myself as being the latest edition of migrants going back to the earliest homosapiens. I didn't alway see myself as coming from early humanity and related to all humanity.

          During my childhood I believed I came from an American melting pot mixture of peoples like the English, Pennsylvania Dutch, and the French American Indians, combined with my newly immigrated father with roots from the Middle East, Switzerland, Russia and Central Europe.

          My father took a dim view of my mother's pride in her many ethnicities. I grew up hearing from him that the white man should not adopt China as their country like his parents and grandparents tried to do before Mao and Communism took over Shanghai. I heard from father that in the United States your roots do not matter. He denied his father was Jewish because he was not observant. Father had a personal philosophy not believing in organized religion. Here in the United States everyone is equal.  Here we should all try to be like Americans he said.
         His heir, however, wanted to know about their roots. The desire to belong to a tribe is strong for me. I want to belong to some group especially because I didn't have that comfort as a child. Always feeling like l was an outsider leaves a hole in self-esteem. So as an adult in my pursuit and interest in my heritage, I have been a snob. I needed to be openly proud. Snobs are not likeable and I also wanted to be liked.
       I do not know what it is to be persecuted to the point of fearing for my life like my ancestors were. And for another DNA testing is only beginning to impact the general population with the realization that our ancestors are all from the same source with the same need to survive so virtually we all are descendents from migrants.

Our 1953 Yosemite camp with our 1934 Chevy coup's hood supporting canvas tarps held out by the cot that I slept on while my parents slept on the ample bed of the trunk. All of this camping and cooking gear was stowed in the trunk and in two duffle bags on the fenders. We only forgot the can opener.
       My parents did not buy a new car every year during the 50's like our neighbors. Maybe their values set me apart from the other children. I felt different, some thought we were Jewish. I was not popular.

       Although  between 1948 -1958 in Berkeley, California and near by El Cereto, I was surrounded by minorities when I went to school. Racial tensions were high: I both loved and feared some of them. Their voices were musical as they called out to one another under the resonating canopy covering the stairway to and from the out-building classrooms of Portola Junior High School. I loved their street vocalizations but when I entered the restroom I was fearful a group of them would be there and I would be bullied. This was the year before segregation during a time when the South was integrating.
       To me when so many ethnic groups are living together there are tensions that come to violent outbursts, but here in the United States we are making progress in learning to accept one another even if we go through periods of back sliding. I am a Polly Anna and I am OK with that label.
        My family and the community shaped my opinion on immigration. First, before presenting more of my opinion, I want to establish definitions of terms. My theory I am testing here is that language is important in addition to sharing our backgrounds to have a civil sharing of different opinions.


Immigration is the action of coming to live permanently in a foreign country.

Migrant is a person who moves from one place to another, especially in order to find work or better living conditions. Animals and people migrate. Some animal migrants are a part of a balanced ecosystems Like the swallows who return to our back yard just as flying insects hatch in the spring. Other animals like wild pigs, Scotch broom, or killer bees are invasive. There are 50 thousand invasive species in the United States. 

Refugee is a person who has been forced to leave their country in order to escape war, persecution, or natural disaster.

Refugee Status is, generally speaking , is a displaced person who has been forced to cross national boundaries and who cannot return home safely. Such a person may be called an asylum seeker until granted refugee status by the contracting state or the UNHCR if they formally make a claim for asylum.

A hot button for me is being labeled a globalist if it is defined as someone who believes that ultimately all borders and nations should be dissolved, resulting in one single world. This Utopian Globalism would be fantastic but is unreachable. I am a globalist if it is defined as a person who advocates the interpretation or planning  of economic and foreign policy in relation to events and developments throughout the world.

In my humble opinion of immigration policies, I will try to be humble because truly I do not comprehend the scope of providing shelter for all of the hurting peoples of the world. I do not know an immediate fix. And I fear someday we will need to migrate to safety.

        Building a  continuous wall on the Mexican border is not a good immigration policy. Claiming the country is "full" is inhumane. Building a continuous wall is counterproductive waste of our precious resources. The wall without border patrol backup is a symbol rather than a functioning protection. Walls require adequate border patrol agents using technology to prevent criminal activities. They are already effective judging that most crime enters by air and sea.  "Build the wall" is a campaign slogan giving false satisfaction to President Trump's base.  Support for a wall ignores the realities on the ground. It divides economic communities in El Paso, Nogales, and San Diego. Our economies are intertwined with a flow of commerce and  services. I want our tax dollars to go to facilitating the flow of commerce. Also we need tax money to go to timely processing refugee's applications for some type of legal status.
         The United States and the world's nations are being challenged by the increasing frequency of epic storms and drought stricken flora and fauna. We need world co-operative efforts. We need to realize that as compassionate beings we will have to be considerate of others beyond our borders. Being considerate means making sacrifices to benefit humanity as a whole.
         I imagine and fear leadership that undermines co-operation between nations.  We do not have to follow the path of building the Great Wall as was done in China. The Mongol Barbarians eventually ruled China. The Barbarians, interestingly, assimilated the Chinese culture. Unfortunately forests were cut down to fuel the kilns to make bricks for the wall. Where the trees were gone the land became a desert and the rivers flooded. Of course we are not ancient China. Yet, we would use significant energy making a steel wall. Steel will be used that will not go into our failing infrastructure.
          Allowing immigration comes with the fear other values and even other countries will govern us. It is a fear with historic examples of colonialism, fascism and communism. Clearly I am optimistically certain that we can keep our national identity and belong to world governance organizations.
           In the United States two blocking sentiments exist around immigration. The desire to celebrate our recent roots can lead to an instinct for nationalist exclusion of other countries and strangers.  The other but related feeling is fearing that outsiders seeking to immigrate are threats.  Looking at history large migrations have wiped out indigenous populations. The migrations that turned violent catch our attention and strike terror in our heart obscuring migrations that fostered mutual enriched life and survival.
May Day 1949, Annie Sanchez my best friend then  and I
were dressed to wind crape paper garlands around the May Pole.

 In conclusion:
Thinking well of those who oppose us is helped by understanding the opposition's story. Knowing where we each come from is a key to civil discussion. Maybe the way we disagree will be an example for citizens to meaningfully bridge and heal the great political polarization threatening our country and bogging down our governments effectiveness.

Rain's views will follow this coming Saturday the 13th. So if you made it through my entire essay, the complete conclusion to our main purpose, I apologize, is not possible until Rain states her views and reacts. Can we see each other as being good people when we fully air our opinion?  Rain has a special perspective on the border and immigration. She researched the history of the Arizona border for some of her novels. She divides her year between living in her Tucson home and a ranch in the Oregon Coast Range. She keeps up with currentevents. I await Rain's opinions with anticipation.

I welcome comments to this blog within the scope of this blog on culture - not political rants. Meaning even if the comment is in agreement with my opinion, it is irrelevant in this blog. What interests me, for example, is a short sentence or two of roughly where you stand with as much  elaboration you need on what is your background that shaped your opinion. I am open to new ideas on how to bridge the cultural habits we have that promote polarization. This post is about how in political discussions our feelings of how good or bad the opposition is painted by how we communicate our political beliefs. Personal stories, in my humble opinion, are most likely to be well received and bridge polarization.


Saturday, April 06, 2019


by Rain Trueax

photo from last May as the saguaros are not yet in bloom. When they are, the doves are there to feed
One of the joys of living in the desert, especially such a lush one as the Santa Cruz River Valley, has to be the birds. There are so many if one puts out food, which we do with quail blocks and seed oriented to attract cardinals.

Watching them for hours sometimes, I've been at times disillusioned by the behavior of doves. If you have watched them, you see some definite bullying behavior. The males can become almost monster-like. They ruffle up their necks and stalk the other birds-- especially the young females. Talk about no understanding of boundaries. Doves are considered birds of peace, but they don’t always feel that way especially some of the older males. I wish I had been able to photograph them when they were doing that but never got the right shot.

This spring, I saw a new side as, because of the missing carport, a pair of doves began to build a nest under the covered porch. Ranch Boss saw that and put some wire mesh up there to make sure their nests wouldn't fall through.

Wednesday, April 03, 2019

by Diane Widler Wenzel: War on dust mites and household fumes

In the garage is a large stack of glass of many sizes. In the shop are three shelves of aluminum frames. In my studio a floor to ceiling metal shelf pantry organizer is stuffed with framed and unframed paintings and drawings some dating back to childhood - 60 years of painting. Many of the older works on cheap acidic paper smell not of mold or mildew. They have been well cared for but the smell of them and the entire studio makes my eyes itchy and the eyelids puffy. My guess dust mites?

This weeks purge is not the first time I have gone through my extensive collection and retired some keeping representative work. Almost every year I can part with a couple. At first the larger glass ones were taken apart. I took the glass to glass shops and cut down the glass for smaller frames. The last five years I have unframed almost all of my paintings under glass.  I just do not want to work with glass much longer. There are ways to paint large watercolor-like paintings covered with acrylic varnish so there is no need of glass.

The past three days I have three paintings from my collection only one is a drawing of one daughter when she was 11 years old upon her request. The other two are a watercolor by Shirley Hilts and the  first oil painting by granddaughter Melissa Edge. Yesterday afternoon I received a Fedex package containing four paintings from Dr. Donna Holdberg Kuttner. All seven are ready this morning to go to The Corvallis Caring Place Assisted Living.  They will hang in the upstairs South Hall where I exhibit my collection and other artist's collections. These are works not for sale. In return for sharing her work, I am giving Donna the framing. I am thrilled that my discarded frames and glass are going to good use.

Since I wrote the last blog about my search for a way to talk about politics that will bridge the widening political gap, I have lost my train of thought. If I ever had one. Next Wednesday Rain and I will put our friendship to the test by publishing our opposing opinions in a way that we think each of us can hear the other side.

Tuesday, April 02, 2019

by Diane Widler Wenzel: Not about political issues: About how I think about the issues

This blog is about our culture  - not our current political debate. How we think and understand is a cultural topic not meant to spark a debate on current events. I am writing my story.  How I came to the way I think about our polarized culture! What I have worked at trying to understand most of my life!  And still working to understand! Why I feel the need to share!

Grandfather Emile
My Facebook posts reflect a passion for bridging the gap between my left wing friends and my right wing ones.  My desire comes from my grandfather Emile Widler who said he hoped I would study what really happened in his once adopted country China before he immigrated. My passion comes from studying the background conditions for Communism taking hold in China through the lenses of people mentioned in my Great Uncle Elly Widler's book, SIX MONTHS PRISONER OF THE SZECHWAN MILITARY.

 Around 1919 Great Uncle Elly met up frequently with Louis M. King in Tatsienlu, Tibet where Elly was situated for 8 months. Widler wrote, " Mr. King is one of the few living great Asiatic Explorers. I pondered upon the long talks we used to have in far away Tatsienlu. Mr. King had a natural gift of gab, and it used to be a pleasure to sit down for two to three hours at a stretch and hear him talk."

King's book, WARDEN OF THE MARCHES, contains two concepts that I keep in mind even decades after I read his book. Their truth in China parallels the truth in the United States today. First is the power of a weak outsider to change the course of history. Even a small weak power can cause Chinese to believe they see dragons that do not exist. In the borderlands of Tibet and China the weak outsider was the International KKK also known as the Hidden Empire.  It was easy for the outsiders to warp the Chinese perception of the reality of dragons? It was not because of stupidity but it was their desires connected to their mythology of folk tales. The childhood folk stories of good dragons caused them to want to believe what they desired to believe.

Grandfather just before he passed away came to visit us and he was careful not to outwardly go against my father's wish to not to burden me with his activist ideas. Or Grandfather was just accustomed to esoteric symbolism because he lived most of his life in oppressive China where freely speaking would have been a foolish act of endangering yourself and family. Against my father's wishes he planted seeds in me.  He gave me a three sentence typed translated Chinese folk tale about dragons. Dragons were good because they symbolized hope to an otherwise hopeless people. The Dragon stayed in a cave and kept old books. The dragon read old books and slept on them. When the people were suffering from drought and despair the dragon hears the people and wakes to fly from his cave. The people see the dragon fly and hope is restored.

Since 1961 I have been haunted thinking about what his short story meant and what my role could be. Something in me wants to be like the good dragon in the cave. I have dragon passion. I am greatful that I am haunted.

 Our desire to believe is stronger than the smartest rational thinking whether you are the most read and smartest person or of average knowledge and intellect. In this human truth we are all equal. True a hundred years ago as it is now. True in China as it is here and now. Being mindful of this truth means I see us all as being equal in the cycles of nation building and decline caused by polarizing groups, the challenges of media technologies, and the destruction of governance.  Being mindful of this truth helps me to try to listen for a basic core hidden in the rhetoric of opposing views of reality to mine. Being mindful of our human desire overriding intellect helps me to shed personal attacks without retaliation. Though not always successfully!

Today in the United States we are receptive to being manipulated whether the manipulators are power seekers or the humanity of our brains. The process of altered perception may have many causes. One cause of altered reality may be the increased urbanization of the population where most people do not understand where their food is coming from and the needs of the people who grow it.

The other idea that stands out from King's writing is the power of rumors.  Rumors spread fear that can destroy a dynasty even when the rumors are highly unlikely. Just bringing up rumors may spark the fear I feel. It is difficult to keep all who read me on my intent to focus on the process of thinking and feeling about what we know. I hope my story here will be effective where Face Book posts have failed.