The Cold Commercialism of Society

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I am often disheartened by the cold commercialism of society. As I watch the rise of the giant corporations and mega conglomerates, I feel like life in general is becoming less conducive to humanity and relationships and more about flashy advertisements and raking in the money. Those few people running the world don’t just seem to be garden-variety-greedy anymore, they seem to be Scrooge-McDuck-diving-into-a-swimming-pool-of-gold-greedy.

Recently I was walking around a Walmart, my head almost swimming from all the useless stuff trying to attract my attention, when I suddenly had the impulse to go around the store and ask every employee I could find whether they believe Walmart really gives a shit about them as a person, or if they think they are viewed as a replaceable number only. I resisted the urge, but as someone who spent a short amount of time working as a greeter at Walmart, I can almost guarantee that if the employees answered my question honestly, probably none of them would say the corporation gives a damn about them. And that microcosm of Walmart, represents an entire world of similar sentiments.

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Gun Arguments & Mental Illness

I try to not be overly political on my blog, because I don’t want to chase off readers who may have different views, but this whole gun regulations argument that is raging is really wearing me down. I’m not going to go into exact specifics of what I personally believe, although I will say that I both support the American right to protect yourself and your family, while also believing that some regulations and societal protections are not at odds with the spirit of the 2nd Amendment as written.

What I really want to talk about today though is how horrible some of the gun arguments being thrown around right now really are. So many of them totally lack any sense of logic or consistency. So many people are digging their heels in and refusing to give an inch or even consider an alternate point of view for even a second. On one side you have those who may honestly over-vilify all guns, but on the other side you have those who practically worship at the altar of firearms.

On the more personal side, as the wife of a teacher, the whole “arm teachers” idea is one that horrifies me. There is so very much that could go horribly, tragically wrong with that game plan. I also feel like those who suffer from any form of mental illness (like myself) are all collectively being thrown under the bus as violent, evil creatures by some of the media. There is a huge difference in my opinion between immaturity combined with selfish or narcissistic rage and true mental illness. Plus, many of these shooters just seem to buy into violent ideologies, which isn’t in itself a mental illness.

Political Posturing and Endless Arguing Do No Good

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As I watch the massive amount of political posturing and relentless fighting come across my Facebook, Twitter and YouTube pages daily, I get sick of all the mudslinging, unfair attacks and hateful commentary that accomplish absolutely nothing. I’m not saying that it is wrong to have political ideas and feelings or to stand up for what you believe, but when both sides become so rigid that they won’t work together at all, everyone suffers in a multitude of ways.

When I see all the pointless arguing and hateful vendettas waged by certain politicians and their followers on both sides, I often think of a poem I wrote a while ago and included in my last book “Searching for the Truth“. I would like to share it here in hopes that people begin to keep the bigger picture in mind and not get bogged down with every ridiculous detail or distracted by every political tantrum.

Labels

The labels we give ourselves –
Democrat, Republican,
conservative, liberal –
why do we let these
names
fool us
into believing
that’s all we are?

The truth is
we need each other
like it
or not.

Left to ourselves
and those of our kind,
we lose balance
and perspective.

We forget

that there’s a whole world
outside
of our own narrow view.
A world of trouble,
a world of tragedy.
A world that
desperately
needs our help.

A world
that doesn’t benefit at all
from another pointless debate.

A Sad Tribute to Paul Laurence Dunbar

Paul Laurence Dunbar

Paul Laurence Dunbar

Last weekend my husband and I visited the Paul Laurence Dunbar House here in Dayton, Ohio. Being a poet myself I have wanted to check out the historical site for a while. When we arrived, I was happy to see quite a few others there, including several kids. I noticed that we were the only “white” people there (other than the tour guide), but I hoped that was just coincidence and didn’t mean that people from different ethnic backgrounds ignored this part of history. I have noticed over the years that many people tend to only care about the history of their particular heritage, which I find sad. There is so much to be learned by experiencing different cultures and studying the lives of people from all kinds of backgrounds.

Before we toured Paul’s house, we all watched a mini documentary on the life and times of Paul Laurence Dunbar. As the film went on, I began to feel worse and worse. They talked about how Paul was highly educated for his time, even becoming class president and the founding editor of his high school newspaper, but was still denied jobs in the fields he studied, because as they put it, “an uneducated white man was still considered better than an educated negro”. Paul eventually had to take a lowly job as an elevator operator. They went on to explain how even though Paul did eventually gain some notoriety as a poet, he was truly saddened because the public refused to notice his deeper, more thoughtful poems written in standard English and instead only celebrated the lighthearted ethnic “dialect” poetry. Even worse, they used his poems to back up their belief that African Americans were not as smart or important as “white folks” and even worse, that they had actually enjoyed being slaves.

When we walked over to the house, the tour guide explained that Paul and his family were the first African Americans to move into this nicer part of town (much to the dismay of some in the neighborhood). Most of the people of his race were forced to live in the “ghetto” in little shanty homes that were nothing more than thrown together huts. As I listened to all this I looked at the faces of the sweet, innocent kids around me. I felt awful that they have to live in a world where this kind of prejudice once existed (and still exists), even if the circumstances have gotten better since Paul’s day. I know it isn’t my fault and that I didn’t cause it, but I felt awful that my ancestors were likely a part of the society that so mistreated (and continues to mistreat) an entire race of people.

I could write about some of the other unfair things that were talked about, like the Dunbar family’s slavery background or how African Americans soldiers were considered “good to stop a bullet” but not good enough to be appreciated…however, I think a few of Paul’s words capture the frustration and unfairness best –

I know why the caged bird beats his wing

Till its blood is red on the cruel bars;

For he must fly back to his perch and cling

When he fain would be on the bough a-swing;

And a pain still throbs in the old, old scars

And they pulse again with a keener sting –

I know why he beats his wing!