Monday, December 13, 2021

The Erosion of Democracy

 I wish I were the only person concerned about the ongoing erosion of our democracy. The worst part of it is that it is coming from within ourselves. Republicans were upset about losing the election. And, being led by a man who claimed that the election was stolen, and who made an attempt to coerce several people to try to overturn the results, many people believed him. 

Once he was out, we might have hoped that it was over. But, it isn’t. A part of the country believes what he said, regardless of what facts are presented. They dismiss the facts as lies. And, accept lies as truth. Meanwhile, politicians In several states, lawmakers, men and women who are elected to lead us, are changing laws to make it harder to vote, in the name of preventing an election from being stolen, again. Again? The election wasn’t stolen. Trump lost. Move on!

At the same time as these supposed lawmakers, supposed leaders, are continuing to encourage people to believe that the election was stolen, against all facts, they are using the lie to change voting laws. They are also gerrymandering, reorganizing voting districts, in order to try to ensure that they win the next election. So, they are doing exactly what they claim was done. The dishonesty, the lack of truth, is crazy. It seems as though, consciously or not, they are setting about to destroy our democracy.

I understand that anyone wants to win. But, at what cost? I understand the desire to be led, but at what cost? I understand the desire to please, but at what cost? We are the freest country that I know of. I haven’t been to every country or continent in the world, but I have traveled. And, no country has the freedom we have. No country has a Declaration of Independence that says that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness…Our rights are birth rights, no one, no government, gives us the rights.

These founders of our country were absolutely extraordinary. Are we willing to destroy what they fought to give us, in the name of winning at all costs? And, the cost could be our freedom and our democracy. China and Russia now seem to believe that they can be aggressive, because we are no longer as strong a democracy as we have been. 

I’m not ready to give up my freedom. And, I hope that anyone who reads this feels the same way. We need to be careful. We are reaching a point from which we will not be able to turn back. We cannot allow ourselves to believe the lies, or to believe men and women who have proven themselves to be interested only in their themselves, and their ability to use the power we have invested in them for their own ends. I’m not sure how to stop this spiraling loss of democracy. I do know that I do not advocate the violence perpetrated on January 6th. It was shameful.

But, I remember in 2000 when Al Gore lost the election to George Bush. The Supreme Court voted to reverse a Florida Supreme Court’s mandate for a recount. I was stunned. I believed that they should have sent it back to Florida, allowing for a recount. While the Supreme Court claimed that their decision was to maintain the security of the country, their decision seemed to me to interfere with the democratic process, and that it was politically based. I hoped that my fear was premature, and that it was not a sign of the erosion of democracy. Because, the judicial branch is supposed to remain separate from the other branches of Government. It is a fundamental pillar of democracy. We saw what the Nazis did to the Judiciary in Germany. We see it operate in autocratic countries, where the judiciary serves the dictator. But, not here!

Many years ago, I was teaching acting in West Berlin. The Wall was still in place. There was an actress who had been able to leave the East, and was now living in West Berlin. One day, during a break, I asked her how she liked being in the West, being free. And, she said that she didn’t like it. I was surprised, not being able to imagine that anyone wouldn’t want to be free. I asked her why. And, she said, “Because it’s too hard.” 

Honestly, I never have thought that freedom was too hard. Life is hard, but if you live, after awhile, it’s not hard. It’s just life. But, it is true that freedom demands that each person take responsibility for their actions, and their life. Trump lost, but like a spoiled, poor loser, he was willing to try to subvert the constitution and democracy for his own ends. Enough people continue to propagate the lie. 

The world now wonders whether the United States is still a strong democracy. I’m not sure that their fears are misplaced. What we do in the near future will be very important. Can we take responsibility for ourselves, learn to be able to discern when something is true or not? It’s very hard with the inundation of information, and all the misinformation we are subjected to on a daily basis. I don’t watch the news. And, I still know what’s going on. We need to protect ourselves from the over saturation of information, or we won’t be able to feel when what we hear or read is true or not. It’s a time for us to be strong, independent, and dedicated to protecting freedom and democracy, especially from within ourselves.

Friday, December 3, 2021

Contact stimulates life, thought, and creativity

 Here we are, stuck in the pandemic, feeling isolated, afraid to touch, though at least we’re beginning to reach out to one another, hoping that by touching we won’t die or kill someone we love. The worst part of the pandemic is the difficulty of interacting with one another. 

When life was what we call normal, you could meet people, have an interaction with them. That stimulated ideas and creativity. We’re doing that on the internet, and it works. But, the actual feeling of contact in your body, isn’t the same. And, I’ve seen very intimate moments online in my acting sessions. Some of them are more intimate than when people are together in the same space. That surprised me at first. Then, I realized that because it was virtual, and people weren’t actually touching, they could allow themselves to feel more. Strange, but true. 

But, it’s not the same. It doesn’t make your cells vibrate with life, the way it does when you actually touch someone. It’s real. But, it’s more cerebral. Why wouldn’t it be. You can be stimulated. You can have sex. But, you can’t have intercourse by internet. 

I’m glad that I have live classes again. I’m glad I can meet someone and have a drink together. It’s an important part of living.

When I sat down to write, I didn’t know I was going to write about this. I had a different subject in mind. I guess it goes to show that we need to make contact in order to really know how we feel. And, even I need to remember to recognize the difference in how my whole being is affected by the feeling of contact as a head trip. And, contact that is actual touching, but superficial. And, deep, intimate contact. I’ll write about the other subject another day.

Thursday, November 18, 2021

The Fact or Fiction of History

 The New York Times will be publishing a book entitled the 1619 Project and the Racialist Falsification of History spearheaded by Nicole Hanna-Jones, a journalist of the same. The book is the result of her initiative, and is based on essays published on the World Socialist website. Globally, it reinterprets American history to be inextricably entwined with slavery.

History has often been rewritten and reinterpreted, but too often by a person, a dictator, or a group, to support their own self-interest, and idea of what they want to believe; and want others to believe. Often, it is politically based, as in the case of the Chinese communists rewriting history to make the current leader more important.

History, as we live it, is interpreted from the point of view of the person observing or living it. While I believe that there are deeper truths, it is difficult to prove that there is a deepest truth. Change your perspective, and the truth changes. I believe this, all of it.

If we accept the belief that the United States is founded on slavery, and its roots are defined by it, what does that mean? Historically speaking, as far as I know, there is no great, successful, society that didn’t have slavery, not to mention war. 

Slavery is fundamentally cheap labor. I think that some people being paid are fundamentally slaves. The history of slaughter houses in the mid west, miners in the East, and immigrants working for low wages and being forced to buy from a company store is, to my way of thinking, a form of slavery. Many religions brainwash their followers into becoming slaves to their beliefs, binding their lives with rules that often make the believers little more than slaves.That includes both the privileged members, and the underprivileged members, who believe that their God has consigned them to their fate. Their God being an interpretation of God that filters down from the Heavens to some privileged human being whom God speaks to.

But, what are the facts? What is real? If we accept the belief that slavery of Afro Americans is the foundation of the United States, where does the Civil War come in? How should that be interpreted? Do we go back to the African chieftains who traded their fellow tribesmen and women to Arab traders who sold them to European and American whites? Who is to blame for slavery? 

Does the interpretation erase all other history from the books? Do we rewrite history to ‘prove’ that slavery is at the basis of a democratic society? How do we explain the battle to free Afro Americans that has been fought by people who are not Afro American? How do we deal with the history of American Indians in our vision of the slave state that is the United States? Or, oriental culture. How do we explain the changing of laws to eliminate segregation? How do we explain how the underpinnings of our beliefs, that underlies a free, democratic, society, allows for the new slave interpretation of our history to exist? If we were Fascists, we would simply crush any attempt to redefine our country. Is that just an accident? Or, is it a manifestation, not of slavery, but of a nation’s belief that ‘all men are created equal’? And nowadays, our desire to interpret ‘all men’ to include women, and all races.

Honestly, how women are treated is the clearest measure of a society, not race. And, I think we should all think a little more about what we believe before we open our mouths. Because, when we do say what we believe, we are often confronted with the reality that Americans believe that freedom is my right to defend my ignorance to the death.

I do not mean to ignore the problem. I think its important for Afro Americans to claim their place in the world. I believe that racism is a problem in any society I am at all familiar with. It is a terrible problem. I wish that there was a race on Earth that didn’t have racism. And, I understand, though I don’t pretend to know what racism feels like to those upon whom it is practiced. I understand the pain, the anger, the desire for revenge that can exist in someone. But, I haven’t experienced what Afro Americans have, and do, experience. I think it’s wonderful that they are manifesting. I hope it reaches all Afro Americans, because there are a lot of them who seem indifferent or unable of taking responsibility for their lives. 

I understand the desire to live in a world and be judged simply on the basis of who one is, without the caveats of race, color, sex. But, that’s a world that doesn’t exist. And, that I doubt will ever exist. We may be born with equal opportunity, at best. But equal doesn’t exist. It never will. We are not all the same. Nature is not equal. And, while we must all strive to live with what we are born with, many people are incapable, or ruled by their fear of life.

Rewriting history isn’t going to solve the problem.

I am listening. I am thinking. I’d like to hear more clear thinking, be it from the right, the left, or some other, more rational place. 

And, what do these people want the majority of us slavers to believe, and do? Is the hope of the reinterpretation of history an effort to change the world? Often, the idea of a better world, an ideal world that doesn’t exist hides the anger, and desire to destroy the world we have, for one that doesn’t exist.  

I’d rather try to discover the truth. It is a lot better than rewriting history to prove and support anger, dissatisfaction, and unhappiness. Freedom is hard. Most people don't really want to be free. Others confuse freedom with license. Socialsim promises to take care of you, in exchange for you giving up some of your freedom. I've never seen it work. Communism wants to destroy the world for a better one in which we are all equal. It was, and is, a fantasy, a means of destroying what is. Period. It doesn't work. It maintains itself by brutality, often through brainwashing. And, if that doesn't work, fear and brutality. Fascism of the Right or the Left.

I don't want any of it. In exchange, I have my freedom. But, life is hard. Still, if one believes in being free, one knows that freedom only exists as long as each individual accepts responsibility for his or her, or its, life. And one knows that life is hard. On the other hand, if one lives, and works, and loves, life isn’t hard. Its just life.

Friday, November 12, 2021

A confusion of beliefs isn't always a bad thing

Aside from the Pandemic, our country has been suffering from a massive divergence of opinion about what our problems are. On one side, people and politicians defend a confirmed lie; that the last election was stolen from a man who is a proven liar and mythomane. They justify their beliefs by saying that whatever is said against him are lies provoked by political interests, whom they believe want to take over the country. As though the man they defend didn’t try to overthrow an election to take over the power of the presidency. It’s kind of crazy.

On the other side, we are being forced to believe in systemic racism, prejudice, and lets not forget all the accusations of sexual harassment. If you disagree with any of these ideas, you are immediately labeled as a racist.

These are both extreme views, equally dangerous to me. The first resorted to physical intimidation, while the other, while partially supported by riots based on acts that may, or may not, be racially based, resorts to a form of correct thinking, which is better known as brainwashing. It was a tactic widely used by the Communist regime in the former Soviet Union. Dissenters were declared to be insane. In China, they were sent to the country to be “reeducated.”

Luckily, we live in a free country. And, our freedom is not an illusion. It is very real. But, at the moment, it’s leaving us really confused. What to believe?

I don’t believe either. And, what I find to understand is why too many of us are unaware of our history? And, the history of the world?

For the election, and the effort to, once again, impose laws that restrict voting rights. Its directed, in particular, to limit the rights of racial and socially poorer citizens. Yes, whether you like it or not, citizens. Remember the Civil War? Do you remember that the southern states, who fought for slavery, lost the war! And yet, it seems to me that we’re still fighting it. As though people won’t accept the will of the majority, which is the basis of law in a free society. Without law, and mutual respect, we have anarchy. Or, fascism.

For the new woke, correct thinking, we have to take a look at the roots of slavery. Can anyone show me a civilization, regardless of race or color, that didn’t have slavery as a basis for economic growth? American Indians had it. African tribes had it, and they are still at war. There is no culture, regardless of color or beliefs, that didn’t have slavery. Arabs were slave traders. Some chiefs sold their own people into slavery. 

After the Civil War here, as the southern states insidiously reinstalled racism in place of slavery, the north was worn out from the constant pressure to uphold the law. And, not until the mid twentieth century did we see a movement to overturn the unconstitutional laws imposed in southern states. Even the Army was segregated in WWII. Of course it’s awful and a disgrace. Of course, our consistent betrayal of treaties we made with various AmerIndian tribes is a disgrace. Always has been, always will be. And, as Americans throughout our history have said, we will be judged based on our treatment of American Indians. To our credit, as far as I know, we are the only society to address and correct some of our errors. And, that is to our credit. 

Some cultures, some people, still see women as a form of slave. I actually believe that if we looked at any culture’s treatment of women, and made women truly equal under the law, we would change the world.

To help us clear up the confusion, I strongly recommend looking at history. It helps to give us perspective on some of the serious problems confronting us today. It helps us get our beliefs into those that are false illusions, and those that the facts help us to see that they are real, clear perceptions of what we are living through.


Saturday, November 6, 2021

 To Be Or Not To Be

Believe it or not, this is not a blog about Hamlet, or the Theater, or the Creative Process. It is about the problem I’m facing about my role as an American citizen. For many years, I didn’t vote, because I thought that if I voted it was giving politicians my tacit agreement to keep doing what they were, and are, doing. But, this is a free country, one of the few I know, and voting is a basic privilege in a free society, as we’re seeing nowadays as some Republicans try to impose Trump’s false assertions about a fixed election, and make it harder for people to vote, because they want people to believe that the election was stolen. God forbid that people actually voted to get Trump out of office before he caused any more damage.

So, naturally, I voted for Biden. And what do I see? Not the moderate man I thought I voted for, but a man too weak to stand up to the Progressive sector of the Democratic Party. Progressive, or could we say Socialist? Or, dare we think Communist? Well, Communism wants to destroy the society that exists, in the name of creating a better world, in which all people are equal. The problem is, that better world fantasy is just that. Equality doesn’t exist. We aren’t born equal. It doesn’t exist. The best we can do is to try to give everyone the opportunity, the freedom to try to do what they want to do. But, Communism, or Fascism, two sides of the same coin, willingly destroy what we have, with the promise of something better. Granted, our world is flawed. But, these dictators, be they from the left or the right, try to impose their will on us, as though if we give up our freedom, we’ll live in a more perfect world. How can you have a more perfect world when you have human beings, and so many of them are not the healthiest people in the world? The world is a magnificent place. If only there weren’t any human beings in it.

My first awareness of voting was when I was twenty, and too young to vote. I forced my parents’ who normally didn’t vote, herding them to the polls to vote for JFK. After that, I voted for a variety of Presidential candidates, from George McGovern to Ronald Reagen. It depended on whom I thought would be the best choice for the moment. I consider myself an Independent, and what I appreciate the most about being American is the amount of freedom we have. I doubt that most Americans realize just how much freedom we have, and seem so willing to long to be led, to have the difficulty of being free made easier. 

Honestly, I’m angry too. But, not enough to be a terrorist or belong to some para military organization that thinks that all their personal difficulties are the fault of the Federal government. 

I think that the Republican members of Congress have behaved like a bunch of adolescents for quite a few years. And right now, the Progressive left is willing to prevent any form of moving forward to defend their political ideals. It really seems as though politicians, and Congress, are living in their own country, far away from us, and our needs. 

Where is the willingness, and the ability, to respect one another, have a dialogue, and find a way to move forward. Or, at least, get out of the way and let the country take care of itself. Surely, we need law, we need respect. How about honoring the ten commandments! They are still the basis of law. Without law, we have chaos. I, for one, don’t want to live in that world. Just look at Africa, or Haiti, or China for that matter. These places are incapable of freedom. Not to mention Russia, which had a Czar in the early twentieth century, as China had an Emperor. Both systems quickly became dictatorships. How can they become free democracies? 

The big problem is that the only way to be free is if each individual takes responsibility for their life. 

How can we establish simple respect, the ability to listen, without which we cannot confront the problems we have as a society? Unfortunately, we’re not going to get it from the people we elect to represent us, and who are supposed to do that for us. It makes you wonder what has to happen for us to change that, and be able to move forward.

Monday, February 15, 2021

Part of what's wrong is why Trump got elected and acquitted

Trump got elected because he wasn't a politician and people believed that he was anti-government and might change things in Washington. Well, he may have lowered taxes, and got tough on China, but he also lied, changed his mind often enough that you might think that he was slightly deranged. And, he just tried to subvert the constitution and the legal system and stay in office despite losing the fairly conducted election. He spread lies that some people actually believe. They have no sense of truth. They follow, blindly. I never believed that the United States would see a day when an elected official would act as Hitler did in the 1930's. We are a democracy. 

Honestly, I don't like the government either. Well, the Senate, and particularly the Republican Senators, have now shown us why. I am angry at their inability, their selfishness, their distorting of the facts, in order to justify acquitting him to save their power. They try to cover their lies and betrayal with statements pretending outrage, hiding behind their lies that have allowed a serious criminal act to go unpunished. It is a disgrace.

But, they have no shame, no feeling, no serious belief in their responsibility to the people, and to protecting the laws of the country, and our constitution. Funny, how they don't speak about unconstitutional when describing Trump's acts. Their unconstitutional is based on Mitch McConnell's clever play to delay the trial until Trump was no longer President; as though that is what is important. It is another lie. 

I'm an independent, I vote for the person, and what I believe to be the best solution, for the moment. But I don't know whether I could vote for a Republican again, for a long time. Well, at least there were seven who have principles. We'll see whether their political careers survive. I hope so. I have enormous respect for them for voting with their conscience, rather than protecting their power.

The rest of the Republicans believe that it doesn't matter to their power base that they have behaved as they have. They think that after voting for acquittal, a few strong words of criticism of Trump makes their actions all right. 

Remember Nuremberg, when we declared that each of the accused Nazis were personally responsible for their actions? They voted to say that their power is more important than the truth of what took place. And, in our country!

Freedom only exists when each one of us takes personal responsibility for their actions. It is the basis of freedom. And why most people don't want to be free. As an East German actress I met many years ago said, when I asked her if she was happy to have come to the West, and was now free to live her life as she wished, during the years when the Berlin Wall still existed, "No I don't like freedom. It's too hard."

Yes, freedom is too hard for the majority of the people on the planet. Most countries on the planet are ruled by dictators. People living in those countries may be angry, they may be unsatisfied, but instead of changing their lives, they choose to be led.

The Senate has betrayed the country. Hurrah for a weak, irresponsible group of Senators who have chosen to lie, and have allowed an attempt to overthrow the government to go unpunished.

Friday, January 29, 2021

Surviving the lies and destruction with truth and love

 We live in a moment, surrounded by life, death, change, defeat, hope, truth, and lies. Who we are as individuals, what we are, is fundamentally determined by what rules us, our desire for either power or love. 

To me, the means by which I handle the waves, the slogging through mud, the horrors of our times, watching men ignore lies, ignore their oaths to defend the constitution in order to maintain their fiefs of power and money, regardless of what it costs, is my devotion to discovering what I believe to be the truth. Truth and love are more powerful than any force or illusion of truth that man has invented. And, despite the deaths, the denial, the blind who cannot see, believing what they’re told, the truth is that we will survive. I hope all of you reading this will, at the very least.

Personally, I believe that any American who incites the overthrow of our laws and Government should be tried and convicted of sedition. We are a symbol of democracy to the world, despite our problems. When you think about it, there are very few democratic countries in the world, in comparison to the number of countries ruled by dictatorships. We have stood as an example of individual freedom. To allow ourselves to lose that because politicians are afraid of losing power, is unconscionable.

The former president was able to foster his false claims, and desire to remain in office at all costs, by exploiting peoples’ anger, dissatisfaction, and ignorance. To be honest, I’m not very happy with our Congress, either. I believe it has functioned as a separate entity from the country it is supposed to serve. I think many members of Congress serve themselves and their party. But, my solution is not to create chaos and disorder. This country has more freedom than anywhere I have been in my life. It shouldn’t be thrown away because one man can’t stand to lose. 

My solution would be to have a referendum in the next election, where we could vote to limit the number of terms a Senator or Congressman could serve, as they limited the number of terms a President could serve, after Roosevelt was elected four times. I would limit Senators to two terms, 12 years, and Congressmen to 6 terms, 12 years. It seems enough time to accomplish something, without allowing any one of them to build the equivalent amount of power to control how the Congress functions. It might help to eliminate the polarization and lack of exchange and compromise that is the basis of how a democracy functions. Without that dialogue, we are dysfunctional. That must be ended. And since I doubt that Congress would vote to limit itself and its power, we the people should.

How many people have to die before people who deny the reality will see the truth? Will the man who tried to overthrow democracy be brought to justice? I wish I believed that politicians were dedicated to truth and justice, instead of self-interest. Yes, the country is in trouble. We seem to have lost our way. There is a sickness in us worse than the Covid. We suffer from a virus of inability to live our lives to the fullest. And, this unhappiness is a sickness that is destroying the world as we know it. It is what makes some people, too many, blind to the truth. And makes others willing to ignore the truth because of what the power they are afraid to lose. Power to do what? To me their actions are cowardly. We need a bit of truth nowadays. It cleanses the soul and the mind.

I’m not hoping that things will get better. Hope scares me. People hope when they are terrified, or don’t know what to do. They stop living. I’d rather trust to moving forward. If we keep going forward, no matter how hard, we may be able to create moments that make life worth living.

At the moment, any moment of live contact gives me joy, even though we can’t touch one another, need to wear masks, can’t even sit and have a cup of coffee outdoors. Well, someday, this pandemic will be over. And, we will look at the loss, the damage, the people and places that no longer exist, because they couldn’t resist. We must resist. We must demand change.

I know many people are depressed, which is normal these days. And, some have given up. It’s a poor choice in my profession. Living depressed is normal for actors. Some even stay depressed when they’re working, worrying about whether they’ll get another job afterwards. As for money problems, regular jobs, good luck. In reality, actors should be better prepared for hard times than everyone. We get a lot of practice.

I know I write about a lot of subjects, but life is the source of my work. It is what I am passionate about. And, living in these extraordinary times, as bizarre sounding as it may seem, can also be taken as a gift.