Growing up in America

When I was young I found myself in a very diverse community, the South Side of Chicago. I can adamantly swear under oath that I found different cultures fascinating. But in particular this is about people of color.

The Black and Hispanic families often lived differently than my white pals. I discovered that was the result of two things. Money and culture. I learned that white people live differently than blacks and wealthy live differently than poor. Culturally our music and books and clothes were different. But the 60s brought us all closer to a more unified culture as we had music crossing over

What I also found was that poor persons of color displayed a stronger sense of justice. While young Jews often were afraid to confront antisemitism for fear of the physical or social results which might flow, the persons of color were quite likely to confront it. The white ethnics in my area often inflicted violence on us Jewish kids, merely because we were Jewish. The black kids did not single us out. They beat us up sometimes for being white but not for our religious status.

And when I was growing up, everyone was aspiring to become successful participants in society. Black, Latino, Irish, Polish, Italian et al. We laughed at the same television shows and talked of how we would someday grow up to be……(fill in the blank)

But something happened around 1970. The sociologist started to declare that young black boys were being raised to be super-predators. Incorrigible, incapable of rehabilitation and fearless was the description of what we would find in our midst. And in response, legislatures created sentencing structures to assure that young people of color would be imprisoned as long as possible to protect us. Then they passed laws making crimes like possession of crack cocaine harsher than an equal amount of possession of powder cocaine.

I looked around and people of color were being marginalized, criminalized and disenfranchised. Upon their return to the streets, we no longer shared aspirations or cultural contexts. These men no longer could share the American dream of affluence deriving from hard work. They were prohibited from living with family in public housing projects, they were denied access to resources designed to rehabilitate and reform behavior and lifestyles. Slowly they grew into a large criminal subculture. Much less enmeshed with middle class America and much more savvy in the ways of full-blown criminal enterprises, trained in the school of hard knocks and prison tiers.

People of color seem so bitter to so many whites who feel they are being held responsible for the sins of our great grandfathers. But the discrimination now is no less violent or insidious when you marginalize entire inner city communities where jobs and education are as scarce as hens teeth. Maybe the average white man is not perpetrating this offense but our government, our police and our correctional centers are perpetrating every day, all day.  We have done little to create equity in education and opportunity. If you criminalize for life and then penalize continuously for the early sins, you create the self-fulfilling prophesy of a super-predator who is impervious to rehabilitation and assimilation. (And let us not forget the influence of a for profit prison system.)

The confederate flag and statues are not the true issue as much as access to prosperity. Persistent denial of the realities, of the absence of opportunities in achieving the American Dream is the REAL issue.


Women are being served a lot of s**t sandwiches, (and told it is roast beef)

Is it not painfully obvious that we treat women badly? Is there a man who does not know at least one woman who has been sexually assaulted? Personally, I know dozens of women who have been. The truth
I wish our society would expend a lot more effort into figuring out how to dissuade men from exploiting, assaulting or otherwise harming women. We do not seem to put any real effort as a society into changing our misogynistic culture. The best we offer as men is benign platitudes about respecting women while we keep the language and media of exploitation fully active.
When we realized smoking was harmful we changed our whole outlook as a society about it. We sucked the oxygen out of the cool factor. Couldn’t we do that with sexism?
We love our daughters but not enough to train our sons to keep their mouths and minds out of the gutter.
I love my shoot em up movies. I hate the gratuitous female beauty who is there solely to titillate. I love my shoot em ups. I hate when the tough lady suddenly starts bawling at the losses while the men keep their composure.
I could keep this up all day. The list of sexist messages we either approve of or fail to openly disapprove contribute to a culture where truly helpless people are harmed, psychologically, emotionally and/or physically.
I seem to be the only person I know who gets pissed off watching dance shows and the women have to compete with high heels and flimsy outfits as if that has some relevance to their skill. (“Ginger Rogers did everything Fred Astaire did, except backwards and in high heels.”)
This is what happens when I sit home and watch television and take pain pills. It is also what happens when I see depictions of harm done to women, children or persons or living beings unable to defend themselves. I generally don’t mind watching men beat themselves silly, fantasy or reality. Or “tough broads” fighting or killing. I love my shoot em ups.
But it is not enough to get pissed off about this stuff. It is long past due where men need to participate in the sexual revolution that resulted in women evolving socially, sexually and intellectually. I swear it seems we men just stood by with stupid grins on our faces while it all went down.
Time to man up and put meaning into the word “gentleman”. Not complicated. Break it down. Practice love, do no harm, hit the reset button. Listen, observe and wait before we speak the next anti-woman expression, whether all in fun or in anger or from ignorance.
The stakes are high. Just say no to misogyny. Or anything that even sounds demeaning.
Update…The recent release of parts of Clinton’s book and the recordings of Trump speaking crudely are trumpets sounding. Women are appalled. Why not men. Not interested in the few exceptions of righteous indignation. I mean where is the groundswell of umbrage that these things can happen so publicly without consequence.

“Trust God. Clean house. Help others.”

Dr. Bob’s famed summary of the A.A. program and way of life? “Trust God. Clean house. Help others.”
Another way Alcoholics Anonymous has had of stating its foundation is “unity, service and recovery”. I have expanded these to all parts of my life, in and out of AA.

Will our future as a country be one of expansion, tolerance and progress, or one of intolerance anger and fear. If I did not have AA I would probably be engaged in a battle for my soul because I enjoy Facebook but it is just not a place to keep up on the comings and goings of my friends and the world anymore. More and more it brings an onslaught of hate and intolerance. Righteous indignation!!

Then today this appeared on my Facebook timeline.
“Anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that ‘my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.’” ― Isaac Asimov
The truth which runs through that quote frightens me. There have been mass purges of people based on their education. Historically, countries like Cambodia and Turkey, Russia and more have purged the educated, and of course many countries have purged Jews who were generally well-educated. I don’t know of any country which killed people based solely on their lack of education.
The present president has a large segment of our population that keeps trumpeting about purging elements of our society (including liberals). I am too old and too well armed to suffer the worst but the move towards a more tolerant, open and progressive society seems to have been halted at best and regressed significantly at worst.
How could this be in a nation which prides itself on its adherence to Judeo-Christian principles and the Golden Rule?
A large number of people are using Facebook to proclaim knowledge and understanding of important issues based on reading Internet articles which have no truth or even a semblance of truth contained therein. It is as if people are now proud to not have studied hard, read well and engaged in appropriate discourse with other knowledgeable persons. These folks seem to discard the notion that they need skillful teachers because these folks are either too lazy to resume their education or are entrenched in a false belief that these short articles found in cursory glances at the Internet equal knowledge. I confess, I did poorly in school and I dropped out at a young age. But from a very young age my father made me read books and more books. And I listened to everything the teachers said in class. But I didn’t do homework. Hated it. Short attention span. So, I got bad grades.
But being well read is the reason I could navigate law school when I lacked a standard high school or college education. What I mean is, I could read, understand and analyze what I read. If I were were to defend you in court the way some of you defend your political positions, you would fire me or sue me for incompetent representation, and rightfully so. You expect me to show up in court and present your case with skill based on knowledge and facts. You do not need to go to law school to choose a political candidate or choose your value system. But why do you feel free to publish memes that are lies and damnable lies? Why is the standard of choosing our politicians boil down to an adherence to anger and ignorance? It takes open-mindedness to navigate the Internet skillfully. We need a political revolution in this country. We need to loosen the strangle hold that moneyed interests have in our system. But a political revolution without genuine spiritual principles to guide it was called under Mao Zedong, the Cultural Revolution. China underwent a spasm of violence in support of said revolution.
To increase the likelihood of building a greater America and stronger society we may need to look to our adherence to spiritual principles. AA and Buddhism are paths to spiritual progress and liberation from self-will. There are others. I was ready when I arrived at these disciplines to do; the study, the homework and what the teachers who were knowledgeable told me to do. When the student is ready, the teacher will appear. We hope.