Post # 684     THE 5 SEASONS

As a preamble to this mini-essay, we would offer the following, objective explanation of the dynamics of the Earth’s four seasons: A season is a division of the year, featuring changes in weather, ecology, and the amount of sunlight. They are the result of the Earth’s orbit around the Sun and marked by changes in the intensity of the sunlight that reaches the Earth’s surface, causing animals to hibernate and migrate, and plants to become dormant. In the Northern Hemisphere, spring began on May 20 and will end, on June 21, 2022.  

 Our readings indicate that ancient peoples were very attentive to seasons and to the Sun’s journey across the sky because their livelihood depended upon planting and harvesting at the right time.  Worshipped as a Deity, the Sun was commonly, envisioned as traveling across the sky in a boat, or chariot, depending on the specific culture. Many of the significant agricultural dates, became pagan holidays, the dates of several of which, generally, coincide with our modern holidays. It is our understanding, that the ancient experience of regular seasonal changes is the foundational background of modern man’s religious beliefs and holidays.

Worshippers of the Sun God noted the perceived “death” of the Earth. Each year, the trees would lose their leaves, plants grow dormant, and many animals and birds, disappear from the scene (“Death”). It was, not less than, a miraculous occurrence that all of the evergreen trees, (Christmas trees) did not “die” (remained green). Nevertheless, predictably, in a matter of a few months, the Earth would be restored to life, (resurrection) the little animals seen, a verdant planet (bunny rabbits, eggs, etc.). The origin of the Christian theme of “death and resurrection,” we would propose, is empirically, traceable, to this perennial (seasonal) phenomenon.

Many Hebrew holiday observances are directly in sync with planting and harvesting time, viz., “Sukkot,” (harvest time),” Tu Bsvat,” (trees), “Lag B’Omer (re: planting times). For those people, interested in religious belief, its origin, and analogous modern observances, there is a useful treasure- trove of (empirical) knowledge readily available.

We do not denigrate religious beliefs or ethnic folkways. The same has given meaning and significance to multiple generations of believers. Historically, the Black Church has been the existential backbone of support and hope to its adherents, and their many centuries of inhuman injustice, and to European Jews, during pogroms and the holocaust. For many, it is a soothing balm to man’s universal acknowledgment of his mortality. Cultural and ethnic beliefs can be a positive supplement and support, most especially, in times of stress.

Religious belief, however, is justifiably, criticized, when, it attempts to impose its own dogma on others, when it denies empirical facts and thus impedes human advancement or human rights, such as anti-vax prejudice, anti-abortion, anti-divorce, anti-gay, and fascistic book burning. It is especially harmful when it seeks to substitute religious dogma for empirical science and proven objective knowledge Even worse, from a historically, humanistic perspective, it has been the underlying cause for a plethora of history’s bloody, shameful wars.

Religious belief, to be appropriate, should remain private, and personal, and not part of governmental policy or shared societal expectations. History, however, eternally, demonstrates that religious evangelism and policies of religious attempts at persuasion (to the extreme of warfare, pogroms, and inquisitions) are chronic. Religious belief, purportedly, dedicated to peace and justice, has, too often, been the root cause of human warfare and great suffering, especially, when the operative cause is a competition between religious beliefs (example: the European Thirty Years War).

Accordingly, we would now suggest a humanistic,” fifth season,” not a reflection of seasonal changes, responsive to the amount of sunlight reaching the Earth’s surface, but rather, a year-long, perennial, observance by an enlightened humanity, peacefully and respectably, keeping its proclamation of nuanced religious beliefs, or lack thereof, to itself, or if desired, to fellow believers.

-p.

Post # 683    A PEANUT BUTTER RHAPSODY

Serious and disturbing events, of late, domestic and international, have responsibly, called for somber comments, as contained in many of our recent writings. Distressing essays on Donald Trump, Vladimir Putin, Ukraine, Global Warming, the pernicious Right-Wing voter suppression of votes of communities of color, and the miscreant deeds of anti-democratic, White Christian Nationalists, to name some representative subjects, make one, virtually, apprehensive of the development of some kind of “Blogger PTSD” pathology. Accordingly, on this occasion, we have, therapeutically, elected to write on a more salubrious, but, nevertheless, societally significant, subject, viz., peanut butter. In terms of full ethical disclosure, we will confess to being just shy of addicted, to this singular item, and have for decades, been its secular evangelists.

Peanut butter is universally, known as a nourishing food spread made from dry roasted peanuts (and some other ingredients, included for taste). It contains omega 6, a fatty acid that lowers bad cholesterol (LDL) and increases protective cholesterol (HSL), and, additionally, is loaded with healthy ingredients, including Vitamin E and Iron.   While, by tradition, a predictable ingredient in school box lunches, recent, medical recognition of serious peanut allergies, such as anaphylaxis, has significantly curtailed such use.

It is commonly believed that the brilliant and creative, American agronomist, George Washington Carver, was the inventor of peanut butter. However, archeological records indicate that a peanut paste of sorts was developed by the ancient Aztecs and Incas. Moreover, official federal patents, for its development, reportedly, recite title ownership in Marcellus Elson, John Henry Kellogg and Joseph Lamont, but not to Carver. Carver, however, did develop many peanut products but not peanut butter.

The definition, contents, provenance and properties of peanut butter having been briefly, but, (it is submitted), adequately, discussed, we might now, permissibly, turn to its salient feature, its taste and recommended application. Initially, we would, energetically, resist the narrow view, that it is, merely, a fun, (albeit, nutritious), treat for children. Those who maintain that limited view are not seasoned peanut butter enthusiasts. We see peanut butter as a gastronomic treat for the initiated palate.

First, a caution and a reservation. The observations and comments, included in this writing are not applicable nor relevant to the “ersatz” “peanut butter flavor,” advertised and sold, relating to yogurt, stuffed pretzels, ice cream, birthday cakes and chocolate filled candies, such as “peanut butter cups.” We identify these advertised “peanut butter” flavors, as “ersatz,” because, by explanatory analogy, their purported, peanut butter taste is as aesthetically identifiable, as peanut butter, as “lime” flavor lollypops are, to the actual taste of lime. To the authentic peanut butter aficionado, the latter designations approach the deceitful offense of false advertising.

Authentic peanut butter comes in jars, “crunchy” (our choice) or “smooth.” It is satisfying to eat alone, yet most people prefer to eat it in sandwiches, with jam or jelly (viz., a common choice of the younger set.)  After much scientific experiment, we have developed an advanced and more aesthetically pleasing version of this popular choice. We took objective note of the existence of another common sandwich, cream cheese and jelly (also, a favorite of the younger set) and explored the possibility of adding cream cheese to the peanut butter and jelly, or jam. The last time we conducted a serious culinary survey, we learned that this updated version, viz., peanut butter and jelly, or jam, and cream cheese, constituted, no less than, a major culinary triumph (not limited to the younger set).

Regarding the choice of sandwich bread, the older, experienced, gourmands, generally, prefer whole wheat, raisin or dark bread, while the younger set seems, conservatively, to remain loyal to white bread. Nevertheless, we remain ever hopeful that, with the passage of years and further development of maturity, the younger set will evolve to a better choice for the sandwich.  

The avid peanut butter fan, by empirical experience, has learned that its plenteous gifts are not limited to its ingestion in sandwiches. He is also delightfully, rewar ed by the application of peanut butter, to hot oatmeal, to many fresh fruits, especially bananas, pears and apples; some hard-core fans have lauded the application of peanut butter to pretzels and potato chips, eaten while drinking beer.

In addition to its unique taste, peanut butter (which does contain some fat) is a healthy food. The American Actuarial Association, in Washington D.C., has reported, that those Americans, who choose to eat peanut butter for 100 years, tend to live long lives.

-p.      

Post # 682 CO- PARTNERS

The average American citizen, following the events of the atrocious and unjustified war mounted against the democratic Nation of Ukraine, by Putin’s autocratic and fascistic Russia, understands that it is as much about an existential war against the ethical and humanistic existence of “Democracy,” as it is about territory and the right of national sovereignty.

To be more specific, it is a war against democracy’s freedom of assembly, free speech, equality, citizenship rights, consent of the governed, voting rights, freedom from unwarranted deprivation of the individual right to life and liberty. In the United States, the elected representatives of the people construe legislation in accordance with the expressed will of the people. By contrast, an autocracy (as in Russia) is the form of rule in which absolute power is concentrated in the hands of one person, whose decisions are not subject to legal restraint or popular control. The decision to invade the Ukraine was the sole declaration of Boris Putin (as opposed to Russia, itself). In the disastrous event that Putin was victorious, Ukraine’s democracy, predictably would decline to a similar autocracy as Russia. Recent reports indicate that Putin’s war is at a standstill and we are hopeful of an acceptable resolution.

We do not have a Putin in our country, but it is our misfortune to have a Donald J. Trump, Putin’s admiring friend and sub-rosa confident. Despite an unexplainable large populist following, Trump lost the bid for a second term as President and began a nefarious program, which, if there were any possible doubt on the subject, revealed the inescapable truth that he, like Putin, is an advocate of autocracy.

Trump, in stereotypic autocratic fashion, employed the singularly, perverse tactic of all autocratic tyrants,” The Big Lie.” Without any factual basis, whatsoever, Trump asserted the false claim that the election was rigged and his rightful second term, was “stolen” from him; this despite consistent confirmations by several professional auditors.

 Incredibly, Trump, who had somehow, accrued millions of supporters (despite his demonstrated ignorance, incapacity, and immoral behavior), in true Nazi fashion, called for an uprising to protest the allegedly “stolen” election effected by Biden and his minions. Many of his loyal supporters ardently responded, by mounting the well-publicized, violent and bloody, Capitol Building insurrection.

The insurrection failed, but not before the perpetration of homicide, injuries and property damage by the Trump inspired insurgents. It did, however, have the singular benefit of raising America’s consciousness to the imminent danger of a forceful imposition of a totalitarian autocracy (like Russia).  It was an undeniable, ominous, warning that the populist followers of the autocratic, Donald Trump are found in every part of the American scene. In their actions and position statements, they are, effectively and empirically, co-partners with Putin, in his autocratic rule and aspirations and, as well in his unforgivable military adventures.

Since the defeat of Trump, there have been useless audits, unprincipled gerrymandering, acts of State Legislatures aimed at suppressing the votes of communities of color, (which, wisely, voted against Trump and for Biden), book banning and (Nazi style), burning, biased, homophobic, gender, racial and ethnic demonstrations of prejudice, including anti-Semitism, booming gun sales, anti-science and anti-education sentiment, censorship in teaching the darker periods of American History, the latter, orthodox features of the autocratic, or totalitarian State.

In previous mini-essays, we have attempted, with limited success, to account for the disappointing phenomenon of the existence of such large numbers of adherents to Donald Trump and his autocratic agenda. The Nation’s traditional and democratically inclined citizens have predictably evinced alarm, concerning the hordes of Americans, supporting the Trump, totalitarian agenda. We have on occasion, questioned the motivation of these citizens, who, as indicated by their actions and expressed opinions, in effect, directly, support the Trump or Putin, autocratic form of government; despite the empirically, indisputable fact, that the latter, promises them less personal rights and liberties, than our democracy.

Our only acceptable explanation is that their errant choices are made, based upon some personally nuanced, combination of ignorance, feelings of disappointment with life, or personal insecurity (viz., the insecure need for group approval). It is a tragic, that any minimal and rational analysis might suffice to convince them that their adopted position is exclusively in the interest of the would-be autocrat, and, certainly not theirs.

Those American citizens who, like Trump (and Putin), oppose Democracy, should realize, that in realistic effect, they are his (and Russia’s) partners, in all their wrongful endeavors. It is our sincere hope for the immediate bankruptcy, of such partnership; the continuance of success, in our Nation and for a quick victory over autocracy and Russia, by its besieged, democratically, Ukraine.

-p.                                                   

Post # 681         TEA FOR TWO

In slightly short of 700 published mini-essays (“Blogs”), refrained from comment on the hustle and bustle of that discrete aristocracy, known as “Show Business Celebrities.” In addition to the fact that the dissemination of the latest “skinny,” on one or the other, of that media ennobled class of entertainers and actors, is in reality, the product of their public relations person, we have continued to feel that there are a great many subjects, more conducive to useful consideration. The following writing nonetheless, deals with two members of that exalted class, essentially, because it is our view that something can usefully, be learned from the subject.

The popularized incident occurred recently, during the 88th Oscar Awards Ceremony, between the actor and Oscar winner, Will Smith, and the comedian-Master of Ceremonies, Chris Rock. It seems that the predictably, irreverent, Chris Rock, poked fun at Smith’s wife, Jada Pinkett Smith, regarding the subject of her hair (or lack of it, due to alopecia). Smith, in response, and in clear view of the many hundreds of attendees, and the television cameras, rose to his feet, walked to the stage, and angrily slapped Rock. It would appear that there have been reactive opinions, ranging from admiration to condemnation, concerning Smith’s unusual public reaction and differing views on the comedian’s choice of topic. It is our own considered opinion, that both Mr. Smith and Mr. Rock, displayed abominable behavior, before the huge audience and the television cameras, and that there are useful, perhaps, valuable, life lessons to be derived from a brief discussion of the startling incident.

Chris Rock appears to be an energetic, high voltage, comedian, often irreverent, but a talented and funny, stand-up comedian, whose sardonic humor often deals with sensitive subjects, like racial, gender and social inequality. Throughout his performance, he seems to maintain an irrepressible smile, which, effectively, adds a note of not so subtle, sarcasm, to his hilarious presentation, and a mode of acceptably and permissibly, referring to those uncomfortably discussed, injustices or inequities.

However, the comedian’s substantial success in spontaneous and unedited, diverting public comment on the injustices of society, or on members of society, albeit, their possible accuracy or truthfulness, gives him no privilege, to make critical observations that are hurtful or offensive to individuals. The successful audience response, by desired laughter, does not amount to a franchise to demean or insult the target of those observations. Maintaining individual respect for the sensitive feelings of others would seem to override Rock’s flush of success at inducing laughter. Chris Rock needs to sufficiently, hone in his sensitivities for, and awareness of, the feelings of others, regardless of their potential for invoking laughter. It would seem, eternally, to be forbidden territory to make sport of (in lieu of having empathy for) another person’s illness or incapacity.

As thoughtless and insensitive as Chris Rock’s thoughtlessness and lack of awareness of the impact of his biting humor on others, it is our opinion that Will Smith was the more serious offender. It is to be borne in mind that there were several hundreds of people in the theater, and many more watching the Oscar Awards on television. The event, regardless of its context, was not one, exclusively, between Mr. Rock and Mr. Smith at some private venue. There seem to be some viewers who see this entire, regrettable event, as a pre-arranged public show or performance; a view with which we do not agree.

Just as we see the flaw of insensitivity, in Chris Rock, who, it seems, has bartered all feelings of sympathy and respect for, the more desirable, element of laughter, we are of the opinion that Will Smith was, by far, the worst offender. Albeit, we grant Smith some questionable, credibility, as to his claim that he acted in defense of his loving wife, his violent action was, at best,” poor form” and at worst, “abominable.” We would choose to characterize his crude action by the second adjective.

Smith’s highly improper action was an obvious demonstration of his insular, shameless arrogance. It was, “his” wife, that was demeaned, and his inflated ego and need for immediate retribution were personally, irresistible. Let all of the attending show business personalities and the thousands of television viewers know, that, he, Will Smith, super-celebrity, was not going to be derivatively, insulted. His self-inflated ego, even further distended by this Oscar, would not permit him, properly to discuss the matter, privately, with Chris, after the conclusion of the Oscar ceremonies. His neurotic need to visibly and immediately, assert himself, is a testament to his unquenchable insecurity and the consequent, irresistible impulse to the demonstration of dramatic public assertiveness.

-p.

Post # 680     THE BEST LAID PLANS

The Scottish poet, Robert Burns, famously wrote the following lines: “The best laid plans of mice and men oft gang agley (often go awry). The lesson of this caution is, once more confirmed, in this writing.

There are instances in life, we find, when retrospectively musing, that we suddenly come to realize that certain distinct events that we assumed to be independent and unrelated, are in fact, connected, and serve to furnish a new understanding of events. This factual phenomenon is to be distinguished from conspiracy theories, where the existence of relationships, or causes, is delusionary.

We had often wondered as to the motive behind the intense support of Donald Trump, as a candidate, by Putin (Russia), and the subsequent dynamics and purpose of the bizarrely close relationship between a President of the United States and the former KGB gangster and autocratic leader of Russia, our sworn enemy. It will surprise no one to observe that Putin is a wily perverse, tactician and that Trump is an ignorant and unprincipled egocentric.

 The illegal and unprovoked attack by Putin’s Russia, against Ukraine, and its strong opposition by Biden and the United States, and NATO, were events, which furnished sufficient enlightenment to satisfy our curiosity.

The United States and certain other nations have been furnishing billions of dollars in weapons, military supplies, and money to assist in the Ukraine defense. It has also imposed significant sanctions against Russia, its banks and its corrupt so Putin-supporting oligarchs. This existential assistance, in combination with the valor and skill of the Ukrainian defenders, has, to date, stalled Putin’s illegal adventure. Should Trump have been re-elected, one might assume that U.S. support for the Ukraine would have not so easily, been furnished. Fortunately, Putin’s tactical wooing of Donald Trump went awry (gang agley).

It is further instructive and enlightening to note that during the one bizarre term of Trump Presidency, America’s historically close and friendly relationship with NATO and several other allied countries was materially downgraded, (a desired, tactical goal of Putin) by the unjustified, offensive statements and actions of Trump. The sly little, rodent had successfully, manipulated the bulky orange-haired, orangutan, conceivably, with the profuse flattery the latter, so neurotically and eagerly sought.

While acknowledging the empirical wisdom of Robbie Burn’s famous admonition, we are concerned that, despite the history of Trump’s sundry acknowledged criminal acts, (many incontrovertible, having been witnessed on T.V., by the public), and on several occasions, his disloyalty to the Nation, to the extent of treason, Trump retains aspirations (and millions of right-wing, supporters) to again, run for the Office of the American Presidency.

-p.      

Post # 679    THE BONFIRE OF PUTIN’S VANITIES *

Russia’s autocratic, President for Life, Vladimir Putin, ostensibly, possessed of Napoleonic or Alexander the Great, style delusions, has committed fatal error, in his attempt to continue Russia’s facile aggrandizement of Crimea and The Donbass regions, into the Nation of Ukraine, itself. His apparent assumption was that it too, would easily fall, and within in the matter of a few days. His assumption turned out to be dead wrong.

In fact, large numbers of body bags of Russian soldiers, regularly continued to arrive, in addition to battlefield intelligence, reports on the ongoing destruction of Russian tanks, helicopters and other munitions. Putin began to realize that his ambitious desire to conquer and acquire the Nation of Ukraine, may have been too optimistically, envisioned. He discovered that the Ukrainian military is imbued with great patriotic sentiment, and possessed the capacity and motivation, to mount an effective defense and to launch aggressive, counterattacks against the invading Russian military.

Putin’s assumption, that Ukraine will easily and quickly fall, having proven erroneous, the frustrated and pathologically motivated, Putin directed that his aggressive war be criminally, redirected against non-military targets, residential apartment buildings, businesses and civilian automobiles, hospitals, maternity wards, schools and churches, and, worse still, civilians, regardless of age. Televised transmissions of the bloody results of Putin’s frustrated, and unhinged behavior, have caused us to be thoroughly nauseous, analogous to the appalling view of highway roadkill. It has been reported that upwards of 3,700,000 desperate refugees from the Ukraine, have fled Putin’s terror, and been given shelter by empathic neighboring countries, horrified by his war crimes.

Added to Putin’s failure, to date, to subdue Ukraine, are the following consequences, hurtful to Putin and Russia, and helpful to those Nations, which oppose his autocratic policies and xenophobia:

  • Rejection of Putin and Russia by many nations
  • Cultivation of international empathy and military respect for Ukraine
  • Willing and generous assistance, in the supply of money and military arms by Western and many European countries
  • Opposition of many Russian citizens, as exemplified the by large St. Petersburg protest
  • Loss of confidence in Putin by many Russians
  • Severe sanctions imposed by the U.S, and other nations
  • Cementing together joint relationships with other countries, previously marred by Trump policies and pronouncements
  •  Conceivable discouragement of other autocratic countries from pursuing similar actions

Putin has effectively isolated, and cut himself (and Russia) off, from other countries, while salubriously, (and unintentionally) repairing the damage between NATO countries, and America, caused by the previous policies of the incapable and ignorant, Donald Trump. Such results are contrary to Putin’s (Russia’s) interest. In classical literary terms, Putin, “…has been hoisted on his own petard.”

However, a serious concern persists. As a psychopathic and neurotically ambitious leader, Putin, (like his friend, and fellow neurotic, Donald J. Trump) simply, “cannot accept losing.” We fear that Putin, a person capable of bombing and waging war against civilians (grandmothers and grandchildren) would in desperation, elect to employ some weapon of mass destruction, nuclear or chemical, to attempt to avoid being a “loser.” We have the instructive case of the losing candidate, Trump, and his minions, persist in their nefarious process of attempting to destroy our country’s democracy, and its democratic vote, to avoid accepting the certified tabulation demonstrating his loss to Biden.

We remain hopeful but much concerned.

-p.

 * Apologies for the title, to Tom Wolfe, author of the novel, “Bonfire of the Vanities.”

Post # 678                                     REQUIEM FOR THE DAYDREAM

Regular followers of this blogspace are, doubtlessly, aware that it has eternally been our view, that whatever convenient benefits are concomitant to the widespread use of “smartphones,” the same are, outweighed, by its resulting, lack of recognizable personality, expression and spontaneous response. The substitution of the computer transmitted, ersatz messages, for personal conversation. (Face-to-face, telephone) has been a salient factor in the growing impersonality, and lack of joint enterprise.

In a separate, but related context, our recent essay, “The Masquerade,” while acknowledging the wisdom and prudence of wearing a mask during pandemic time, nevertheless, observed the unnatural and dystopic sight of crowds, masked and uniformly, lacking in social expression and communication.

Augmenting that dystopic and bizarre sight, one is witness to his fellow man, masked and, routinely, looking downward at his respective smartphone, the latter, unfortunately, his sole liaison with the world of “others.” Like identical toy soldiers, or synchronized ballet dancers, they move, together, or in separate directions, uniformly, gazing downward, at small flat objects (smartphones) held in the palm of the hand; rarely, looking upward (as would be appropriate, for the anthropologically evolved, Homo sapiens.)  All concentration is rooted on the cell phone, the source of route determination, of general and encyclopedic information, music, photographs, computation, photography, film and television, as well as the digitally received, computer style messages and texts. There is scarce impetus, at the present time, to look upward (the posture continuously maintained, since the species began to walk upright, in Paleolithic times). Additionally, evolution’s gift of an opposing thumb, enabling Early Man to make tools is contemporaneously, lauded for its specific utility in facile “texting” and general cell phone operation.

We would ask the reader, to picture the everyday, dystopic, scene of large hordes of individual Homo sapiens, masked, conceivably, lonely, uniformly, looking downward at their palms, to connect with humanity; despite the empirical reality, that many of its members are located at his elbow, similarly and autonomously, peering at small, lit, screens sitting on the palm of their hands. It is a bizarre scene, uniformly, silent, like choreographed swans, a flock of arctic penguins or a herd of grazing sheep.

Of still greater import than the bizarrely, chilling sight of uniform, manikin-like individuals, in mechanical synchrony, looking downward at their respective palms,( and its consequent, dehumanizing, absence of interactive communication), is the observation we have lost the franchise for free, introspective, personal thought, or private rumination. Tragically, we leave no room, time or opportunity, away from the mandatorily, close scrutiny of the lighted screen on our hand-held smartphones, for a pleasant journey in thought, for our aspirational daydreams. This personal loss is a costly debit against humanity’s aesthetic aspirations and its eternal hope for an improved society. Should this smartphone waltz is not re-choreographed, it may ultimately, result in a ritual dance of sentient, cognitive death.

We have lost the valuable, momentary diversion, or respite, to daydream, the latter, an extra bonus included, among many others, in Evolution’s generous gift to Man of a superior brain. Society has bartered fantasy and imaginative creation, unwisely, for the time required for the rapt scrutiny, required by the use of the smartphone. The absence of the occasional diverting benefits of the momentary, private daydream or fantasy relegates the individual, exclusively to the hard, immutable facts of what may be a humdrum or disappointing reality. Daydreaming is an outlet for frustration, and, when used reasonably (and not as a substitute for reality) is a soothing, albeit ephemeral, but personally needed, oasis, in an unrelenting desert of disappointment or frustration; and significantly, an opportunity for relief, personal creativity and theoretical, problem-solving.

We are fearful that society’s irresponsible choice to converse by smartphone, in lieu of personal conversation, may be a foreboding, not only of the mortal end of (the reassurance of) natural inter-personal conversation but, as well, the salutary, thoughtful, and unexpressed stream of internal conversation (introspective thought) within ourselves.

-p.

Post # 677    ON EUROPEAN COMPASSION & (TRUMP’S) “CARAVANS”

There are occasions, when we, as mainstream American citizens, are tempted to hide our heads in shame, due to various perceived aberrant acts of our government. The number and perverse character of such explicitly, shameful and aberrant acts were materially, exacerbated, during the single and deplorable, four-year term of the Trump Presidency. Effectively, the cruel, un-American nature of the American immigration policy, under Donald Trump, can be evaluated by its stark comparison to the current context and treatment by several European Nations, of Ukrainian refugees, fleeing bombs and artillery shelling of the homicidal, Putin war.
We have witnessed numerous television broadcasts, of the unfolding, misadventure of Putin’s unjustified and unprovoked, attack against Ukraine, and are encouraged by the degree of success, to date, of the patriotic defenders. Putin, however, frustrated by  disappointing results from Russia’s assaults upon the Ukrainian military, pathologically, has ordered Russia’s artillery, rockets and bombs, to be directed against non-military, civilian targets, hospitals, maternity wards, schools, food storage depots, residential apartment buildings and civilians.

It is every bit as repulsive and horrifying, to see the  broken, bloody and dead bodies, including those of infants and grandmothers, as the nauseating view of roadkill (see, earlier essay, ”Viewing Roadkill”). The citizens of the assaulted Nation, understandably, are experiencing widespread, mortal panic and are fleeing the country. Scores of pictures of terrorized families, carrying what few possessions they can, and tightly gripping the small hands of their accompanying children, clearly evidence a universal fear of injury or death. The numbers of Ukrainian fugitives to date, reportedly, are in excess of 3.3 million.

Our strong feelings of condemnation and anger against Putin and Russia are, to a degree, somewhat assuaged by the warm welcome extended to the millions of Ukrainian refugees, fleeing the horror and danger of the war. Many European nations, including Poland, Romania, Moldova, Hungary, Slovakia, Scotland, England and Wales, have opened their doors, expressly inviting the refugees. We observed volunteers at one such facility in Poland, who, in addition to warmly welcoming the Ukrainian refugees, were distributing to them food, clothes and other necessaries.

During the four years of his administration, Trump, acting contrary to the history and established policies of the United States, courted his followers on the political right, by blocking immigration, and tactically defaming refugees, (fleeing from lives of danger and privation, in Mexico and Central America), as “criminals,” “rapists” and “human trash.” His hallmark campaign promise was to have an enormous wall erected at America’s southern border, to make it impossible for immigrants to enter the U.S. The “compassionate” Trump, additionally, saw fit to issue an order to arrest all “illegal” immigrants crossing the border, which tragically, resulted in the publicized, widespread separation of children from parents.

Trump’s racist pejoratives, defaming such people (who he never met), without factual basis, as” rapists,” “criminals”, and undesirables, was made more menacing by his false and creatively inciting warning that  “Caravans,” of such undesirables, were descending upon our Nation, to carry on their nefarious criminal conduct and as well, to steal legitimate jobs.

This tactical fiction, viz., Caravans, (of undesirables) as denominated by Trump and right-wing supporters, for the unfortunate asylum seekers, fleeing danger, criminal gangs and economic privation, was, shamefully, successful. DACA was suspended and immigrants, seeking refuge from Guatemala, El Salvador, Nicaragua and Mexico, who survived the grueling, bare-footed, trek, over the hot, arid Sonora Desert, were cruelly, turned back, or unjustly, imprisoned.

Trump and his loyal right-wing supporters, in the maintenance of their selfish, bigoted and uncharitable policy, chose to ignore many salient facts and historical, National tenets, on the subject of immigration (especially refugee immigration). Considering the overriding, empirical and contextual fact, that America as a Nation is composed 100%, of former immigrants and their progeny, we are easily disposed to detest and critically, question their notion of (selfish) inequality or limited entitlement, on the part of others.

Moreover, one can remind such bigots that the United States has relevant Statutes, providing for and permitting, immigration, most especially, refugees. We should also remind them that, in New York harbor, the world famous, Statue of Liberty is the undeniable, and eternal, American invitation to the beleaguered or troubled immigrant, to come to our country in search of a better life.

If Trump’s right-wing, sycophants, should elect to heed current events, they well might hang their reductionist-bigoted heads in red-faced, shame, viewing the humanitarian, charitable and welcome message to (currently) 3.3 million Ukrainian refugees, by the generous, participant countries, in stark, moral contrast to their seemingly, intractable, selfish and bigoted, xenophobia.

-p.    

Post # 676  A TALE OF TWO VLADIMIRS *

In any elemental comparison of Vladimir Putin and Volodymyr Zelensky, it can emphatically and accurately be stated that by far, the least significant difference, is the mutual spelling of the first names. The differences in character, persona, appearance, moral personhood, grace, empathy, candor, and just plain decency, are, demonstrably, light years apart. It is eternally to be remembered, that Putin, autocrat and self-appointed, President for life, of Russia, without provocation, caused his Nation to declare all-out war against the Nation of Ukraine, of which Zelensky is the democratically, elected President. The contrasting features of the two Vladamirs are, empirically, so numerous and stark, that we felt that it would be useful to summarize the salient differences, by means of the following, comparative, format:

PHYSICAL APPEARANCE

Putin: “Sly Fox” demeanor, half-closed eyes, unsmiling, mirthless, cold, threatening visage of a predatory reptile, merciless, faux arrogance

Zelensky: Warm, approachable, affable, friendly eye contact, neatly trimmed beard, sense of humor.

PERSONA

Putin: Autocratic megalomaniac, delusional, psychopathic, corrupt, power hungry, narcissistic, lacking empathy or humane sensitivity, mirthless, cruel and viciously competitive, power hungry.

Zelensky: Responsible National leader, public benefit and family oriented, communicative, social, empathic, easily approachable, healthy sense of humor, courageous, highly intelligent, patriotic.

POLITICS

Putin: Autocratic, merciless ruler, corrupt, insanely ambitious, fascistic perpetrator of the Big Lie, dishonest, arrogant, totalitarian, merciless killer and jailor of dissidents, repression of newspapers and general media, xenophobic, bigoted, Messiah complex.

Zelinsky: Democratically elected, believer in human rights, dedicated to family and Nation, advocate for democracy and personal rights, humane policies, responsibility to citizenry and family, ethically and empathically oriented, patriotic, non-bigoted (Jewish), well informed and highly educated.

The extreme and obvious differences between the two Vladimirs is interestingly and coincidentally, demonstrative, of the stark contrast between Republican Democracy and Autocracy or Totalitarianism. In democracy, we have the aspirations of rule by and for the people, as well as Statutory, provisions for universal equality. While these democratic aspirations, in America, in many instances and to various degrees, are still a “work in progress,” nevertheless, these definitional aspirations are determinative of the signature moral aspirations of the American Nation.
In Putin’s autocracy, we see arbitrary rule, corruption, and denigration of human rights, extreme repression and absence of human liberty. Should Putin (Russia) be successful in his unwarranted and illegal adventure into the Ukraine, these repressive and fascistic phenomena as exist in his Russia would be mandatorily, visited upon that defeated nation.

 By contrast, should Ukraine triumph over Putin’s illegal incursion, it salubriously would remain a democracy.

 The marked differences in outcomes are directly analogous to the manifest differences between the two Vladimirs.   

-p.

* Apologies to Mr. Charles Dickens, for the title ( “A Tale of Two Cities”).

Post # 675    ON OBJECTIVE THOUGHT

As has been authoritatively written, human thought (thinking) is the mental process in which memory forms psychological associations and models of the world. Thinking is managing information, such as concepts, problem solving and decision-making.

Before we proceed to our theme, viz., objective, or clear thought, we feel constrained to once more, refer to the 18th Century, English philosopher, John Locke. Locke declared that Man is born with a clean slate (which he termed, “tabula rasa”) and that he acquires (all of) his knowledge by his life experience (“empiricism”). This enlightened philosophy, to which, we fully, subscribe, leaves no room for irrational thought or inherited or transmitted beliefs. Thus, one’s life involves an ongoing process of learning and is factual and anecdotal (presumably, including human emotion).

After much initial frustrating and disappointing attempts at some cogent analysis, we have fundamentally, concluded, that much of our Nation’s (and democracy’s) problems have, as their foundation, a too-ready believability, or instinctive gullibility, of a vast segment of the American society. In addition to this human weakness, there are many other individuals, who are inclined to support a particular mode of thought, because it happens to be, in accord with their religious beliefs. This latter inclination, by illustration, may explain the ardent passion of those, of the Christian right to, eternally, oppose a woman’s right to abortion. Many beliefs are irrationally, maintained, not because they have merit, but because they “seem right.” For this reason, individuals find it unseemly, or improper, to deign to question, the existence of a Deity.

It is a matter of public record that many citizens, most especially, members of the extreme right, have declared and circulated (perhaps, even believed) an entire plethora of bizarre conspiratorial ideations, which may, properly and clinically, be ascribed to schizophrenia or paranoia. These delusions are taken as valid by those whose political persuasion induced them, as fellow party members, to loyally subscribe to a (their) groupthink. An important caveat is that to make rational decisions, one must have sufficient confidence in himself and in his ability to accurately, see the world.

We would be overjoyed to observe the decline of ignorant, irrational thought in society; however, such subjective (irrational) mode of thought seems, unhappily, to be flourishing. The popular admonition, “Do not believe propaganda,” is of no practical utility, unless one has the ability to distinguish empirical fact from the tactical falsity.

We need to efficiently, promote a universal respect for science, for legitimate, newspaper media, for academia and scholarship, for the maintenance of our democratic government, with its Constitutional checks and balances, and, most significantly, the existential importance and positive utility of rational thought, to achieve human progress in understanding, health, interpersonal relations, and, to enhance the quality of human life.

It is certainly conceivable, that we may be able to, include, as a vital part of our educational system, the useful and important subject of the fundamental and existential necessity for rational thought.

-p.