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Wednesday, May 25, 2011

I Remember America, Before She Was Cold and Comatose

America is becoming more and more, a country devoid of justice and equality. Not a day goes by that I do not grieve for the nation I grew up loving and admiring. There is an almost daily flow of insanity which I watch from my television, in the form of new laws, old laws being struck down or corrupted, Supreme Court decisions, new regulations, or more likely deregulations. In each of these cases, these changes in policy, code, and statute have a net effect: they hurt the rank and file American, while benefitting the American Aristocracy.

America is nothing like the nation I grew up with in the 50's and 60's. We had serious problems then too, but we were always getting better, seeking to become the nation we saw outlined in the Declaration of Independence, The Bill of Rights, and The U.S. Constitution. We were 2 nations back then: one with white citizens, and the other with black and other minority second-class citizens. But, The Supreme Court was not like our current Supreme Court. They upheld The Brown vs Board of Education case brought by the NAACP, which began the legal breakdown of 60yrs of "Jim Crowe" laws which upheld the evil "separate but equal" doctrine.

We had already begun to break down those barriars because there were business leaders who had a soul, and were willing to take a stand. That is what Branch Ricky did when he brought a black man into Major League Baseball a few years before the Brown decision. Baseball was truly the American pastime in those days. It was symbolic of our lives, our successes and our disappointments. When a dark skinned Jackie Robinson came to bat for The Brooklyn Dodgers, it was obvious to all, that this was no longer our fathers sport, and America was changing.

We were a nation struggling to live up to our constitution as we fought the localized wars of civil rights. President Kennedy and Attorney General Robert Kennedy took a stand for justice and equality during this struggle. Men such as Martin Luther King Jr., Medgar Evers, and others rose up to carry the standard of justice and equality, knowing full well they may have to make the ultimate sacrifice...and, they did.

All of the champions of my generation were murdered: John F. Kennedy, Medgar Evers, Martin Luther King Jr., Robert F. Kennedy, and many lesser known warriors for justice and equality. But, we still were able to get landmark civil rights legislation passed in 1964 and 1965, and these laws were enforced, as we sent a message to the selfish, the bigots, the haters, the truly unamerican scoundrels: we will continue to develop and become the nation outlined in The U.S. Constitution!

There were valient battles fought in this nation, from the labor sit-down strikes of the 30's to the womens rights battles of the 70's. This is what allowed an expanding middle-class, and more people than ever to partake of The American Dream. We had some great days, where prosperity was within reach of most citizens who were determined, and willing to study and work hard. But those are days of yore, glory days that are now the material of legend. There is no such country today.

Today you have the American oligarchy/plutocracy where there is no true love of country, because there's nothing to love. There is no respect for The U.S. Constitution, nor the Bill of Rights in our legislatures or our courts. There are a few who want to rise up, be the new warriors for justice and equality, but their message and ability to recruite can always be hindered and dimminished, because the oligarchy controls the media and much of our communications. A political action movement cannot work today. The only thing that could stem this ever darkening tide now, is revolution; but that is too radical and frightening for most Americans today. By the time the average American realizes that the only real option was to "storm the Bastille", it will be too late.

I will always cherish my memories of what America once was, and what it could have been, but "America" is no longer that America. It is already dead, although most of us just don't know it yet. Many of us refuse to accept this as the impending American epitath, and struggle on. I sympathize with you, and admire you, but America is not on it's deathbed. It is already brain-dead, and has only a carcass that is being artificially kept alive by herculean life support measures as the rich drain what they can before deciding to pull the plugs. God bless America.

Monday, April 26, 2010

An American in Manila

I have been here, in Quezon City, for over 2 months now. I planned to do a lot of writing, but only after a period of rest, relaxation, minimal responsibility, and a hedonistic attention to fun and amusement! I'm not of a mind to manifest my hedonism in debauchery and drunkenness. I have mostly sated my cinema literati lust, while also setting no boundaries for slumber (which is a giddy luxury for those of us who secretly revel in our insomnia), and doing late night cyber-research in any eclectic or esoteric intellectual inquiry that my wondering, wandering ADD afflicted mind may choose for me!

Today, April 26, 2010, I will finally write, and I suspect I will find much fun and amusement in the structure and discipline it will bring to my life. I have truly sated myself "ad nauseum" to the point of burn-out in spontaneous, impulsive choices meant to entertain, amuse, and pleasure my own twisted form of intellectual hedonism.


I arrived in Manila on the morning of February 12, 2010 of our Lord. My wife, Claudette, met me at the airport, which quite naturally made this date memorable, as it was the happiest day I had experienced in recent memory, dating back over half a year to July 2009, when we had last been fortunate and blessed to have been together. Other than that, my only days of happiness were the days that I had spent in the company of my beloved children, Stephen and Alexandra.

I am a clinical depressive, and I can lapse into a rather acute depressive state in a relatively short period of time. Unfortunately, I rarely bounce back, or "recover" in a commensurate period. My bouts with acute depression have become more frequent and lengthy as I have transitioned from middle aged to the dawn of my "old age" or senior citizen status. I am now firmly into my 60's, having passed my 62nd birthday in September of 2009.

I have the most severe case of adult attention deficit disorder that I have ever personally encountered in life or literature. The ways it can manifest in my life are nefariously numerous and sundry, often providing me with profound embarrassment, humiliation, and a totally inaccurate public representation of my nature, character, and very being. I have long ago accepted that my life would forever be one of disappointment, guilt, and shame.

People such as myself usually have had numerous failed marriages before they transition from middle age to old age (if they live that long), and I have been no different. One of my wives once had decided to make her very purpose of being to change me by providing me with such a severe daily dose of criticism and denigration that it would provide me with a clear picture of my own guilt and shame, and make me realize how utterly and despicably culpable I was, that I would somehow change. I finally told her (to no avail), "My entire life has been one of disappointment, guilt, and shame. Shame is a way of life for me, so what is it you're hoping to achieve?".  I have accepted my condition. Self acceptance is simply a pragmatic attempt to achieve the best possible semblance of mental health and well-being  for myself. But, I have in no way resigned myself to it.

I have dedicated much of my life to creatively and intelligently devising, designing, revising, and reforming strategies and tactics to gain some measure of control and normalcy in my world. My ADD can exacerbate and magnify my depression in so many ways, but considering depression can slow my ability to think and hinder my cognition (ability to recall, reason, analyze, perceive, discern, etc), the fact is that depression also exacerbates my ADD.

I not only must always be thinking and adjusting, I must also evaluate stimuli and responses in an on-going, real time basis, and then evaluate the real time evaluation. People think I am laid back and quite mellow, rarely ever getting angered. No, that is simply part of my normal tack while thinking, evaluating, strategizing. When my thinking is impaired, I am vulnerable to inadvertently bringing heartbreaking sabotage down upon myself. Depending upon my setting and situation, I could be at a dangerous disadvantage.

My current wife, and my children, are the only people who truly know and understand me. My life has always been one of loneliness and disappointment, with very few friends, and often having to face moments of loss. Literally all of my friends have left me, sometimes in a few short series of debasement, denigration,and despising; often in profound moments of loneliness and loss, where I have discovered my friend has silently, quietly become a ghost of my past, and all that I enjoyed in my friendship and affection was now relegated to melancholy memories.

I have even lost the one friend who seemed to always be there for me. He was my friend for over 30 years, a most remarkable achievement for people such as myself, much of it owing to the character and virtue of my friend. He is a most remarkable man, but in the end, even he had to sever the ties. He has too much honor and loyalty to overtly call an end to our longtime friendship, so we still talk once or twice a year; but, I know we will never again do things together, be together, or truly share our lives. This is one of the great disappointments and heartaches of my life.

So, now I have expatriated myself from the paragon of Western life to one of one of the lesser players in an Asian continent which is quickly emerging as a world player in commerce, manufacturing, production, and culture. I am now a Pacific Island denizen, living on one of more than 7,100 Philippine Islands situated between the South Pacific Ocean and the South China Sea.

I could previously leave home in the morning, and make it in time for lunch in New Orleans, New York, Miami, Saint Thomas, Chicago, Jamaica, Puerto Rico, The Bahamas, Bermuda, and many more exciting or beautiful locales. I can now leave home in the morning, and have lunch in Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Phucket, Hong Kong, Bali, Seole, Taipei, Shang Hai, Tokyo, Jakarta, Saipan, Guam, Fiji, Solomon Islands, Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon), Bangkok, and many more Asian, Micronesian, and Polynesian destinations. I have a cousin who has been living in Saipan for almost 20 years, so I will surely visit him someday. He has probably forgotten exactly how frustrating and irritating it was for him when he lived with me 25 years ago, LOL!

I arrived in Manila at a most auspicious and opportune time: two days before Saint Valentines Day! They are a very romantic people here, so this is a date that is observed with more than a little romance and affection. Claudette and I are both very romantic, sentimental, and affectionate, and this was going to be our first Valentines Day in which we were together. How big was this for us? We had been together for over eight years, meaning that 8 Valentines Days had passed in which we each sent flowers and chocolates to one another, while also grieving and cursing our separation.

Our love has been a classic epic love story. For benefit of the uninitiated, for any story to rise to the level of an epic, it must involve great struggle, include great tribulation and yearning, painful separation, almost insurmountable challenges and disappointments, and cover a long, grievous duration of time. True stories of epic love and struggle are remarkable because they are so very rare. Most people refuse to expose themselves to so much waiting, struggle, disappointment, grief, and heartache. Few people even have what it takes to make that decision, and fewer yet have what it takes to follow through to the end.

Most people considered my epic struggle to be another symptom of my folly and foolishness. More evidence of my disconnect with reality, rationale, and good old-fashioned common sense. The neo-Freudians and other psycho-babel, new-speak modern day witch doctors speculate as to my culpability and cooperation in the increased level of my depression during the past few years. They are of no more consequence or import than were the three wise men who counseled Job, or Job's wife whose best suggestion was "curse God and die"!

Sartre, Camus, and Rollo May wrote eloquently about existentialism in treatises from the disciplines of philosophy, literature, and psychology. I simply live in quiet existential anonymity...but, I now do it with a most remarkable life-partner!