Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Amazed

It is amazing how "uneducated" the Republican candidates for President are on international relations--specifically how to deal with "terrorism." My pressure-cooker is about to explode on this topic. I am collecting my thoughts and hope to post them here soon.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Birthday Thoughts

Today I “celebrate” my 56th year on this earth. The story is that my mom was rushed to the hospital in a taxi early in the morning. I was born shortly after she checked in, sometime around 2am. I believe my father was there as well, though in those days he probably had to wait in the waiting room until I was born.

My mother told me that the room she was in had many other women giving birth. It was not the “suite” stye of rooms they have today—she was on a “maternity floor” which literally meant, the beds were in the open and next to each other. I can only imagine what this looks like. I believe I’ve seen film footage of this type of hospital ward.

Birthdays, like any other cultural anniversary, causes us (me?) to reflect on the past and look forward to the future. For me, this is a milestone birthday. My father passed away 8 days after his 56th birthday. I have been saying for many, many years that one of my goals was to outlive him. I will do that on February 6th. I hope I have many years ahead of me—cognizant years where I can see all my children grow up. My father did not see my children. He lost out on seeing them grow up to be the incredible people they are today. I feel sorry for him missing out on that. At least my mom was able to see the kids. I know he loved seeing them grow up.

I am not obese like my dad, and I tend to be very easy-going, so I don’t impose any undue stress on myself. I am happy at home, love Susan to death, and truly enjoy helping Devin with his Math homework. The only thing I am doing to “jeopardize” any life longevity is riding my bike. But if that’s the way I go, I couldn’t think of a better way to go.

I am at a mental and perhaps physical crossroads in my life. As much as I try to stay in shape, I know the body is deteriorating and there is nothing I can do to stop this. I can slow it down, but I can’t stop it. I know that my mind is still good and as long as I exercise the brain I am pretty sure I’ll be ok for a very long time. But when my body and my mind begin to fail, it will be time for me to call it a day.

My kids have all heard the story. I’m pretty sure they and Susan know what to do when the time comes.

 I want to believe I have another 25 years left both in the saddle and in this world. I’m not sure what happens after 80, but I might be able to squeeze another 5 years out after that. There are so many things to still see and experience. If anything, THAT is what I want to do for the rest of my life.

 I am happy to have made it this far in life. It’s all been good!

Sunday, January 04, 2015

Who I am Part I--I am a proud liberal

This is an appropriate time for me to “testify” to who I am as a person. Since this blog is primarily for my children (so that they can “know” a bit about my thinking), it’s important for them to know who I am and how this affects how I behave.

Here goes….

Not necessarily in this order, I am:

I am a proud liberal.
I attribute this quality to my mother and father. I’m not sure if my grandparents were liberals, but they were certainly pro-union people and totally distrustworthy of the wealthy. The boogie-men for them, which had an impact on me, were corporate bosses and big business owners. Big government was not an issue for them because they had been through the “struggles” of a 40-hour/five-day work week, social security, and the New Deal. They saw how government can be the advocate of the working people, and they were staunch supporters of FDR, Truman, and Kennedy. I never knew how they felt about IKE, but I’m sure they supported him as well since he really wasn’t a “bad” Republican President.

My grandparents (especially my grandfather) were especially distrustful of those with “educations,” but more on that later.

Back to my parents. My father grew up in my grandparent’s household and was deeply influenced by their liberal perspectives. To be clear, my grandparents attitudes did not represent some “anomaly” of the society they lived in. They reflected the attitudes of their peers from the North-East—staunchly liberal, pro-union, working class. My father embodied these attitudes and added the experience of his generation (he was part of the last “pre-Baby-Boomer wave—he was born in 1933). A die-hard Democrat, he was still a bit “racist” when it came to attitudes (I’m sure that the only black friends he ever had were during the time he served in the Air Force during the Korean War). He was against discrimination, but probably felt that as long as they weren’t discriminated against and were in their own neighborhoods everythng would be ok (try to sort that one out in your brains). He was not a “big” fan of Dr. King, but he understood the need for the Civil Rights struggle. In many ways, I have come into contact over the last 8 years with people who reflect similar attitudes. The only thing different is that they now label themselves as “conservative”, which is totally contradictory.

My dad’s influence on my “liberalism,” though, begins with a staunch pro-union, pro-working-class foundation. My grandparent’s influence adds a strong anti-corporate, anti-big-business, anti-wealthy attitude.

My mother was the social empathizer. She was Japanese, had experienced WWII with her own eyes (her home was destroyed during one of the bombing runs, and she witnessed the strafing of innocent civilians in Tokyo by American bombers and warplanes), and she was strongly against military conflict. She experienced racism and discrimination first-hand when she came to the US with my father as a war-bride. She understood the reality of being a minority in this society during the late 1950s. This was real to her. Her influence on my “liberalism” was empathy and compassion for the minority experience. Dr. King WAS one of her heroes—she supported all of his efforts. She was staunchly against the Vietnam War. She was in love with the Kennedy’s.

I am a liberal because of how I was raised. And though I took a turn down conservative alley during the 1980s, I returned in the 1990s to where my mental, emotional, and rational roots were solidly grounded—social liberalism.

From this foundation, I became even more strongly “left” as I entered academia. Theories, research, empirical findings, all grounded not only my world-view but also gave me the evidence I needed to understand how corporate interests undermine the needs of the working class. The social psychology in my training also showed me how the working-class could be “bamboozled” into believing the “rhetoric” of harmful big-government by the very corporate interests who want to keep the working-class and the poor “in their places.”

Remember, though, that my grandfather showed me that his generation of working-class people were also highly distrustful of those with educations. People like me today. I’m not sure where this came from—perhaps it was the recognition that “educated” for him meant a special privilege only the wealthy had access to during his times (which is more true then than today).

But that distrust I find today among my working-class peers.

I attribute today’s working-class distrust again to the bamboozling orchestrated and financed by the wealthy.

(BTW—the above statement IS NOT meant to be taken that I believe there’s some conscious conspiracy by the wealthy to dominate and control the working class. I believe it is just a clash of cultures, with one culture having the ability to express and institute their worldview on the rest of society).

(BTW-2: I fully realize that there are a number of Liberals who are Wealthy. They are a small percentage, with some estimates being no more than 25% of the top 1%. But my experience with these “well-meaning” liberals is that they “patronize” the working-class. They have no idea what the working-class experiences, but they have their hearts, and pocketbooks, in the right places. The only wealthy liberals that I see today who appear to have a true non-patronizing attitude about the working class are Congressman Joe Kennedy III from Massachusetts, and, well, I can’t really think of anyone else—that’s pretty sad….).

I am first and foremost a proud liberal. It comes from my background, it is grounded in my research and training as an academic, and it is further grounded in my everyday experiences.

No one can take that away from me.

And I am happy to have friends on the conservative side who know me well enough that they can respect this aspect of my life.

This passage has been longer than I thought. I have so much more to write about.  More to come.