Monday, January 11, 2016

The Lottery

Here’s a grim conflation of thoughts: on this day (January 11), the first recorded state lottery occurred in 1569—Queen Elizabeth I instituted it in England (read more here).

Once that caught on, other lotteries popped up various places, including the early American colonies, where lotteries helped capitalize early development.

Now, in 2016 the U.S. is seized with an overwhelming lottery fever with the Powerball in January, which has reached—as I write this—a total of over 1 billion dollars.  Yes, I did write Billion. (No doubt, Queen Elizabeth I would LOVE such a national outpouring of … madness for money.)

Of course, there have been other lotteries.  Think the draft lottery in the 1960s, during the Vietnam conflict. Thousands of men drew the wrong number, were sent to Vietnam and then were killed there.

One of the most astonishing and horrifying stories in American literature is Shirley Jackson’s short story “The Lottery.”*  It is such a riveting story, and when you read it the first time—it takes your breath away.

Oh, my—I just had a sudden awful thought. Since Donald Trump is so derisive and dismissive of immigrants in our country, I hope he doesn’t read the story “The Lottery.” It might give him an idea of how to “get rid of immigrants.” One at a time.

Nah—I feel a bit relieved. Such an approach while sensational, would be far too slow, not splashy enough for his Trumpness.** Does this conflated thought sound crazy to you? Me, too.  But then, I thought people taking his Trumpness seriously and actually voting for him sounded crazy.

*If you have not read it, you can here.

** From here ever after, I shall refer to him as his Trumpness.

Saturday, January 09, 2016

An Open Letter to Donald Trump

I have one message for you—STOP IT. 

  • Stop saying you want to make our country great again, and then spend most of your time on the campaign trail belittling and diminishing and marginalizing people. 
  • Stop playing on the fears and prejudices of people so that you bring out the ugliest of ugly behavior.
  • Stop making it acceptable to boo a peaceful protestor and have her escorted--based on prior “orders to remove all disruptive” attendees at one of your rallies.
  • Stop being the huckster that you are—handing out thousands of FREE tickets for one of your “shows” to be held in venues that will not accommodate the number of people who want to see your “events”.  
  • Stop saying the fire wardens or other reasonable officials won’t let all the people in who want to be at these “events” when in fact that was part of the planning, part of the PLAN—making it seem that your events are so popular that thousands want to get in. 
  • Stop making it acceptable to be a racist—yelling racial slurs and physically attacking people.
  • Stop setting our country back 200 hundred years.
  • Stop saying things like "There is hatred against us that is unbelievable. It's their hatred, it's not our hatred."
  • Stop pretending that you have the moral high ground so that you castigate a former president for his own sexual indiscretions when your life is far from a shining example of purity.
  • Stop taking our country down a road that history has seen played out many times before, most recently Germany in the 1930s.

Stop it.
Stop it.

  • Before the Statue of Liberty has to lower her lamp and change the message to “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses” to EVERYBODY WHO IS NOT WHITE JUST GO AWAY.
  • Before we are too far down the road to a frightening vision of governing.
  • Before we end up on the dust heap of history, another failed nation.

Before we lose whatever greatness we may have had.

Friday, January 01, 2016

What Can We Give our Children?

Perhaps you too have the perennial seasonal question around Christmas time...what can we give our children?  Of course, with Amazon each of them can compile a wish list, complete with selections that come from other vendors for which Amazon is the convenient place-holder.

But, prompted by some recent national news,  I've been thinking that there are other "things" we can give our children.  The news to which I refer is the detaining of the so-called "affluenza" teen and his mother. You may recall this woeful story. Two years ago, when a 16 year old, this young man and some of his friends stole beer one night, proceeded to get drunk, went for a joy-ride with some friends and lost control of the vehicle plowing into some pedestrians--killing four, and injuring nine other people.  When he was charged and tried with "intoxication manslaughter" his attorney argued that he had been so coddled by his wealthy parents, thereby being deprived of a sense of responsibility: the defense having been dubbed the "affluenza defense."  The judge bought it and sentenced him to 10 years PROBATION.

Two years later, a video began making the rounds showing this teen apparently drinking, in violation of his probation. Rather than FINALLY making him face the consequences of his action, his mother fled with him to Mexico--where they were caught last week.

So why this recitation of such a sad and depressing story?  Because it answers, in part, my question--what can we give our children.

Here's a list: 
(Feel free to add your own thoughts)

  1. A sense of personal responsibility;
  2. An understanding of the concept of the common good;
  3. A respect for living things--creatures and plants;
  4. A desire to help others;
  5. A capability to exercise self-control;
  6. A wonderment at the intangibles in life;
  7. A love for music, literature, and the arts;
  8. A joy in personal relationships;
  9. Respect for one's own self
Oh, yes, I could go on.  Each of these thoughts listed is amorphous. Perhaps that is as it should be--we do, after all, have differences in the great vast complex family of humanity.  But the underlying bedrock principle is universal.

So, what can you give your children?