Back long before puberty and even a few years before I began dousing my breakfast coffee with bourbon I used to listen as the morning news reports interrupted the popular music playing on our small town local radio station. And periodically there would be snippets of a young lad drowning in a backyard well.
And what I could never understand is why, since they eventually pulled him out of the well, didn’t he just get back to living and breathing?
I think it was Al, the night watchman in my dear ol’ bourbon-sippin’ Pappy’s little chainsaw factory, who explained it simply to little, biddy me: “Because when you’re dead there ain’t no coming back.”
Hmm… Please, tell that to some of my ex-wives.
Anyway, I remember stammering to Al while skipping after him on his nightly rounds: ‘Well, they pulled him out, didn’t they? He’s got plenty of oxygen now. Can’t he just start breathing again?’
It didn’t take much to confuse Al. I think he spent too much time in the dark. Or maybe it was that foxhole in World War II. But when he was really stymied that little sty on his left eyelid would detonate tear drops dripping like Japanese water torture. And Al would pull out his white handkerchief and simply wave the troubling thought away.
But of course!
Nevertheless, I’ve got to admit that there are times even today, in sobering moments, when the thought still perplexes me.
I perfectly (or at least pretty much) understand that unless you’re ‘Hey-Zeus’ when you’ve ceased breathing there ain’t no coming back. Yet there’s oxygen, oxygen everywhere… It’s the third most abundant element in the universe.
Oxygen makes up nearly 21% of the earth’s atmosphere. It accounts for nearly half of the mass of the earth’s crust, two thirds of the mass of the human body and nine tenths of the mass of water – which, by duh way, is the main ingredient in whiskey and beer. Which a lot of us obviously need to drink more of these days so that we quit wasting so much oxygen on being stooo-peeed, talking stupid, acting stupid and watching too much stupid stuff on TV.
Which brings me to the Paris climate change talks. As well as the latest jihadist lunacy of murder and mayhem in San Bernardino, California. And of course my man Donald Trump who – for better or worse — is defining the conversation we need to have as Americans.
It’s not that he’s a demagogue… or not dangerously so. Or that he’s a charlatan. Just remember, hyperbole is to The Donald what oxygen is to the rest of us. And as I have often chastised you: Never believe a man when he’s in love, drunk… or running for public office.
Anyway, the trouble is that just like we are squandering the earth’s resources, and sailing ourselves along a course that is destined to kill us deader than dead, we seem to be wasting a lot of oxygen.
We are talking too much, saying too little and doing nothing but waiting for our do-nothing elected officials to do nothing more than come charging out of the hills like the cavalry to assault the wounded. Namely us. The people who voted for them. Or didn’t even bother to vote against them. Or have forgotten that in a Democracy it is us who’ve gotta hold them accountable.
Hmm… Am I interrupting your ‘we’re number 1!’ football concussion?
The Paris climate talks didn’t resolve anything. It was a waste of oxygen. Only thing we garnered is what we already knew… and can’t do much about. That is that the poor countries think us rich countries ain’t nothing but a bunch of hypocrites. And the poor countries wanna get rich by over-burning the same fossil fuel us rich countries did.
And meanwhile, after San Bernardino we are again huffing and puffing with the same old plaintive wail about more gun control. Outlawing guns so that only the outlaws will have guns.
Please, quit wasting my share of oxygen. If you don’t think bad guys can always obtain just about any gun someplace, then you just don’t understand the ingenuity of good-ol’ American capitalism. Just think about the age-old drug culture prospering amidst our corrupt war on drugs.
Hell, and while you’re at it, think about Kent State when the Ohio state militia shot down unarmed college students protesting an illegal Vietnam war that only served to make the rich, richer. Or think about all those cops of late shooting mostly-black people for not using their turn signals.
And so forth…
Be enterprising. Shut the f-k up and start listening and engaging. Because we’ve also been using up more than our allotted share of oxygen for years now hemming and hawing like battered donkeys about our rampant illegal alien problem.
And then The Donald comes along snarling that he’s going to build another ‘great wall.’ Only this time along the Rio Grande. And also export 11 million folks here back far south of the border.
Neither one of those things is ever gonna happen. That’s why we have a government of checks and balances – or so I am told. But The Donald’s got us shaking and rattling the pots and pans… threatening like he’s aiming to depose that populist American-Indian-ophobe Andrew Jackson on the $20 bill.
And his straight-talking, no-bull-shit manner is rallying more and more of us to figuring what-duh-hell, what-duh-heck… it beats hanging them up by the neck.
Well… doesn’t it?
And now he’s spouting off about banning any more Muslims from the very same country that enabled his and many of our ancestors to escape persecution from across the pond. We all know that ain’t gonna happen, either. Hell, The Donald doesn’t have any authority… yet. Congress has the authority… but has yet to do anything.
But The Donald, who is merely tossing his oversize hat, mouth and money into the Presidential campaign circus, headlined yesterday’s news all over the world – which, by the way, seems to be struggling from Paris to Budapest with its own surge of immigrant problems of refugee Muslims.
And in case you haven’t heard, these are the same Muslims that their ‘pious Muslim brothers’ in countries like Muslim Saudi Arabia won’t take in.
Did you catch any of that? Or do you want me to repeat all of the above?
At least The Donald’s got us talking. And for that, I sincerely thank him. Everyone else – especially our so-called elected leaders — is afraid… Afraid of being labeled. Or stereotyped. Afraid to speak up. Speak out. Recognize the obvious. Serve it up with the dinner stew. And invite everyone to sit around our Thanksgiving and Saturday night tables and talk about the quiet desperation banging the bass drums on the cavalcade of our nightmares.
For, what we need more than ever in America is to have an open and honest conversation about most everything — from the moribund climate to our so-called immigration dilemma.
And we need to converse in dialogues without being intimidated and shouted down by political correctness… or by people making too much money by keeping things the way they are…. or by a bunch of those idiotic thugs who are going around beating up on anybody who looks Muslim and tossing pigs’ heads about.
And, if an honest dialogue is going to offend your tender sense and sensibilities, then all I can say is: Get over it! I am not here to apologize for my parents, or any of my ancestors… Or even the past. I am here to talk about you and me and our future.
And keep your clothes on… at least until the lights go down on the pep rally.
Without such conversations we lose the ability to not only understand others, but more importantly, ourselves. What we stand for as a country. What we won’t stand for. And what we’re willing and capable of doing to put Humpty Dumpty back together again.
You know… the stuff they used to teach in civics classes when we used to have education in this country. That is before Hollywood and Washington decided it was more profitable just to sell us what they wanted us to hear between football snaps and booty shakes.
In other words, a conversation speaks volumes. And one of our biggest mistakes is believing there is only one right way to listen, to talk, to have a conversation that hopefully leads to a fruitful relationship with one another.
I mean, look how upset the world leaders have ‘supposedly’ gotten over the powerless words of Donald Trump.He doesn’t speak for all of us. He only says out loud what all of us are thinking.
Nevertheless we live in a Democracy. And democracy is a daring concept – a hope that “we’ll be best governed if all of us participate in the act of government. It is meant to be a conversation, a place where the intelligence and local knowledge of the electorate gets all added up together to arrive at actions that reflect the participation of the largest possible number of people.”
Hmm… I often quote myself. It adds spice to the conversation.
I guess my salient point here is that when you really listen to another person from their point of view, and reflect back to them that understanding, it’s like giving them emotional oxygen.
It’s all a part of that good ol’ American freedom. And freedom – especially our freedom of speech — is the oxygen of the soul. That’s why we need people like The Donald who will say things our Pollyanna ears don’t particularly want to hear. It doesn’t matter whether you agree with him. What matters is the conversation.
So, look at Islam in a rational manner and without demagoguery or emotion. It is the leading religion of the world with 1.5 billion followers. A close second is Catholicism. Between the two we are talking close to half world’s population.
Yes, and of that a miniscule percent are jihadist. And likewise, a miniscule percent are pedophiles. And if I lived in Israel these days and one of those miniscule percent of knife wielding Palestinian jihadists jumped me like they are doing to innocent Israelis you’d better believe I’d find a way to kill him. Then I find his family and kill all of them from the grandmother to the grandson. To the family dog, sheep and chicken. The message has to be as clear and open as the conversation.
Donald Trump isn’t making the situation worse for Muslims and Arab-Americans. We are. We all are. Because we are afraid of the conversation that he’s forcing us to have.
There is no denying that bad shit is always going to happen. But the best weapon to keep it from escalating is open and honest conversation. (And perhaps a GLOCK.)
We can’t leave our fate to luck. Luck is a matter of preparation and opportunity. And most of us just aren’t preparing. I tell people that the first step in cleaning up the world is cleaning up in front of your own house.
Meanwhile, we can tell Muslims and Catholics and Protestants and Hindus and Buddhists and Jews and all the rest that we can either live in peace respecting our differences or we can listen to the ground swell of voices like Donald Trump. And they are no longer whispering.
We ain’t running out of oxygen But the oxygen masks are dropping down all over in this spaceship we call Earth. And it’s time we take a breather. It’s good for the brain. Helps us to remember: The Donald may not be the solution, but he’s not the problem.
The enemy is us. We have fallen down the well. We’re drowning because we’re too stoo-peed to realize that there is oxygen… oxygen… everywhere…
And dats yDrewIS on dis penal colony…