Wednesday, November 18, 2015


I will always feel and see the scar by my left temple from where he either hit me or threw me down. It happened too fast to remember which. There was a blinding burst of white and then my face was touching the kitchen floor and blood already pouring into my blinded eye. I scrambled and stumbled and tried to run, but he easily smashed through the bathroom door and we were immediately tripping and falling over each other until he landed on top of me, hands around my throat and screaming, "I'm going to fucking kill you" while mom helplessly brought her fists down on his back. No dignity.

Dad told me a few years later he was at that time actually terrified of me, despite having 50 pounds on me. We both had terrible, violent tempers. Fear was precisely what I was going for. Back then, I openly insisted there was no such thing as god or love. Like dad, I had bloodied many faces and had my own face bloodied more times than I can remember. I believed the most a person could hope to attain in life was to be feared, as I confused fear with respect or strength. Its nothing of the sort. I was so ridiculously lucky to have a change of path and heart. Dad was lucky to have the same. Some dignity regained.

When my now engaged daughter was still in diapers, we in Oregon voted on the death with dignity measure, to allow doctor assisted suicide for those suffering the most. It is surreal to see how a father who once inspired such fear and hate and then eventually forgiveness, today lays with a tube in his throat, helpless and silent, powerless as a baby. Before he took the most recent turn for the worst, he was already entirely dependent on the nurses at home, daily changing his catheter and taking his vitals. Even when I saw him still conscious and responsive in March, he could not walk or talk. I hugged him in his hospital bed and told him I love you and he mumbled back I uh ooh.  Reduced to diapers and baby talk. Where the fuck is the dignity?

I never passed on the raising of my fists to my now adult son, although he has seen the lingering, clinging hair-trigger temper burned into me by so many fists from my past. Like ghosts across three decades, they refuse to let go or stop swinging. I envy my sons calmness, patience and self-control. I am proud of him, but also proud of myself for having helped raise him on a far different path than my own. A more dignified path.

When our parents pass, it often forces us to examine our own brief time and influence here, as it should. You wonder what lasting good that one mans life could ever forge in such a short span. Like a blink of an eye, it is suddenly already over and our footprints look and feel almost immediately erased and meaningless. But in truth, like ripples in a pond, our influence continues to spread out long after all sound has died and every light has faded.  Even now, a once violent man, since redeemed, does not continue to fade away all alone and forgotten, but is tenderly and vigilantly watched over by a loving wife and another of his sons. Therein hides an elusive but everlasting dignity.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

"Pas Peur"

A few weeks ago, Amy and I started going over some other countries we might like to visit next year and she nervously said she wanted to stay away from places more prone to terrorist attack and agreed Paris was one place that would probably be fine.

As America is still reeling in horror at the attacks in France yesterday, I remember that one of the benefits of having so many friends on Facebook is that I get to see the broadest variety of reactions to everything in the news, from the mundane to the outrageous and tragic. Some call for yet more prayers, while some angrily call for an armed response. Others take the time to type out or read heartfelt sentiments, in either short posts or long blogs, while many others just change the colors of their profile pictures. While the many contrasts in such different responses are stark, all but the most extreme feel as if they have some validity to them. They also feel too damn familiar.

When yet another mass shooting or terrorist attack once again spins up the quarterly or even monthly news cycle, the first thing I notice in the subtext of comments and reactions is a desire to speak out something, anything, so as to not accept it as the new normal and resist it being something to become desensitized to and care less and less about. The next thing I see is an obvious fear that if over 120 can be murdered by ISIS in the streets of one of our more powerful, vigilant allies, it could happen here in America. Suddenly our humanitarian cries and John Kerry and this administration calling to draw in an astounding 85,000 Syrian refugees next year and 100,000 by 2017 has less supporters than before. Just 24 hours before the attack, the President tragically said that ISIS is not gaining strength and that we've contained them.

I admit I recognized the subconscious fear it could happen here when I for the first time in a long time remembered the job offer I got a while back from one of our federal agencies that specializes in protecting our borders. I wonder if there is more I could and should do. I also admit my response falls somewhere between the "just pray" and "we need to hunt them down".

Here is what you and I do not want to hear: this ideological war will not abate or be "contained". The horrific and specific attacks on civilians will increase. The shocking nature of the slaughters and beheadings will continue to spiral upward and will be posted on YouTube. Our saying that "we care" and posting pictures of candles will not even remotely slow that bloody march in the years to come.

This administration has made some important progress against these militants in the last eight years, but they've suffered some terrible setbacks as well. Maybe unfortunately, they also felt it important and useful to initially abandon the expression "war on terror". The terrorists have not abandoned that war.

Like others, I am writing to speak out against the encroaching temptation to become inured and numb to these events. I want to say something that is meaningful and important. Yes, let us pray for the families and friends of the over 120 people murdered, but god help us if that is all we try to do.

When "only" twelve people were murdered in Paris in the Hebdo attacks, it was up until then the deadliest attack in France since 1961. Just ten months later, it is now paled and entirely overshadowed by a slaughter of innocent civilians that is over ten times in size. Shortly after the attacks back in January, thousands of Parisians gathered in the streets in solidarity and one perfect, succinct sign stood out above the others. Regardless of your feelings on how we should respond, in the face of the horrors assured to continue in the years to come, it is something we must all agree upon so that both our enemies and we ourselves see it written and hear it stated out loud, again and again.

Pas Peur.

Not afraid.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

The Future is Awful, but the Ratings are Wonderful

Howdy, subscribers! It's currently June of 2024 and according to what's now trending across the worldwide Teleweb, the biggest question on everyone's mind this election season is whether or not Secretary of State Chelsea will outdo her mother Hillary to become the second Clinton to rule in the Big House (formerly known as the "White House").

The hacker group Anonymous is again partnering with TMZ to promise election cycle excitement with their regular summer release of all the candidates private Teleweb surfing histories. Several of the highest rated candidates, like Kanye West, try to get ahead of the scandal by announcing, "of course I watch a little My Little Pony porn, who doesn't?"  America nods in agreement and changes the channel.  Kayne goes up 4 points in the polls.

Opposing front-runners in the new Christpublican party, like Josh Dugger, weep openly at their press conference that sure, they too have a serious problem being sicko "My Little Porny's", but their wives remain dutifully by their sides. America yawns and changes the channel. In an unexpected twist, the hackers at Anonymous give another press release stating they were kidding, as they honestly had not gotten to breaking into the candidate's filthy Teleweb histories just yet and "thanks for saving us the time by confessing".

Incumbent President Trump cuts the ribbon at the new D.C. mall attraction, Trumpland®. The highest ride towers several hundred feet over the Washington monument and thousands of Trump fans excitedly waddle in or drive in on their Hoverounds. In a first, the U.S. Supreme Court (owned and sponsored this year by Taco Bell and their delicious Monster Extreme Burrito Supreme) awards a full transferal of trademark and copyrights to Trump for his newly revamped version of "Donald Duck". The embattled and now financially struggling Disney Corporation announces they will decline further court appeals. Donald's Donald goes online to quack his Tweet, "Total Loothers!"  America laughs and changes the channel.

It rolls into November, just days away from the election and the new question on everyone's mind is the provocative and absurd new Starbucks "Hoppy Hellidays" cup, now all in black and Santa skulls. For the first time in almost 20 years, in the ensuing fake outrage, every Teleweb server crashes for Facebook (now a subsidiary of Taco Bell). The secret council of the Illuminati Facebook board decides to leave the stupid Telewebsite down until January.  

Detached from their digital teat, most of America weeps openly and wanders aimlessly in the streets. Many are begging for a sign and direction of where to now aim their outrage as Social Justice Warriors on the Teleweb. Most of the traffic halfheartedly redirects to the already insane ramblings of the comment section of TMZ's telewebsite.

On a more positive note, the producers of The Walking Dead promise this year that their close work with genetic scientists around the world should finally reveal history's first actual zombies by 2025! 

The upcoming "The REAL Walking Dead" reality show promises to be a big hit on the Teleweb, with the first season's runners and survivors being none other than America's beloved royal family, the Kardashians. President-elect Kayne is unavailable for comment.

The producers also reveal that some of the real, dead toddler Walkers will be prominently tied up and displayed at Trumpland® in the "It's a Small, Awful World After All" attraction. They also assure us that these adorable Dead only have about a 40% chance of breaking free and devouring the living theme park visitors. It's an exciting gamble, as these cute little deadlers will supposedly be genetically modified to outrun Hoverounds. A full 96% of Americans agree that even if this happens, by now we pretty much deserve it.

In a surprise announcement, the NRA (now a subsidiary of Facebook) claim there is nothing to worry about with the Walkers as they unveil their national "Free 9mm with every Hoveround" program for everyone above the legal concealed carry age of 8. The next day, two people are injured at Trumpland® on the fan favorite "You're Impeached!" log ride from accidental firearm discharges.

America absentmindedly drools a little and eagerly awaits the next distraction or outrage.

Change the damn channel.