Category Archives: Greatest Generation, Boomers, Millennials, Alphabets

Frankly, My Dear, I Don’t Give a Hoot

Actually, the long suffering and finally fed up Rhett Butler said to Scarlett O’Hara at the end of Gone With the Wind: “Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn.”

The word “damn” was effective because, at the time, swear words were not part of the public vocabulary as they are today. Rhett’s speech now would be about as noticeable as a car passing on the street.

As we all know, our language has been upended. So called swear words and terms for bodily fluids and intimate acts are common in both our movies and our written literature.

No doubt we bid good riddance to the faux courtesy of earlier days, as well as the racism embedded in Gone With the Wind.

However, our greater honesty is threatened with a vocabulary that is as enlightening as an overflowing sewer.

To use demeaning words prevents us from discussing a topic in meaningful terms. To claim, for example, that either proponents or opponents of the recently passed tax laws are covered in excrement kills true discussion.

We might, instead, say that we favor the law because we believe it will boost the economy with money saved from taxation. Or we might oppose the law because we believe it taxes middle class income while leaving too much wealth untaxed.

Some of our current speech is too often undisciplined blather against people who bother us. Or it flows out against those who happen to be in our space.

Purposeless language aiming merely to shock is like the empty calories of junk food.

Men at Home

Until the industrial age, women’s contribution to the economic well being of their families was as important as that of men. They worked on farms and in home based shops and businesses along with their fathers and brothers and husbands. In addition, children knew their fathers on a close, daily basis.

With the industrial age, work and home began to separate. Men went off to factories and city offices. Women stayed home to raise the children. Women were separated from the economic function, but men were separated from the home.

In the past few decades, women entered the economic sphere once again. However, the separation between home and work continues, for the most part, with too many fathers absent from close contact with their families.

Here and there, the digital age brings changes. Some businesses operate from private homes. Some corporation employees work partly from their homes.

Still, family remains an afterthought in our current life. The career person, man or woman, is in the spotlight—often portrayed as a gung-ho, get-it-done, partying millennial.

We lack, though, a work environment that allows home and work to more closely align.

No one supposes that every man and woman should become a parent. However, it’s to our benefit to create a society that allows its citizens (men and women) to choose both family and career if they wish.

In fact, our survival depends on birthing and raising responsible offspring more than it does on any career.

Holiday Libations

Writers and other artists have a reputation for drinking a lot. Maybe the artistic culture has more drunkards or maybe its members just write more about it.

Szilvia Molnar, a publishing professional, wrote about the importance of drinking within the writing/publishing world. ( “On Book Publishing’s Drinking Culture,” Literary Hub, 6 December 2017)

Though Molnar has no problems with drinking per se, she said she recently recognized “while it’s not been difficult for me to turn down a drink when I’ve not wanted one, it’s only recently that I don’t feel embarrassed by not drinking at all.”

It’s a high school mentality, she writes, that one must have a drink in order to fit in.

She indulges in a few whimsical imaginings: “ . . . what if we incorporated a little nonsense juice-bonanza into our social events? What if we performed delicate tea ceremonies or got really wild and crazy about latte art? Or ended a reading with a meditation rather than an open bar?”

Caveat: Like Molnar, I don’t have a problem with responsible drinkers. I don’t drink alcohol for a number of reasons, one being that breast cancer has appeared in many females on my mother’s side, and studies indicate that drinking alcohol may increase the odds of developing it.

Besides, I fulfill two services to society. One: Recovering alcoholics don’t have to stand out for refusing to drink if I’m around. Two: I’m always available as the designated driver.

War on Newspapers

Can Americans be led to doubt responsible journalism? One group’s aim is to make it as hard as possible for traditional newspapers to do their job.

James O’Keefe is the founder of Project Veritas. The organization’s purpose appears to be the decapitation of mainstream news media through feeding them false stories and hoping they will accept them.

Recently, a woman tied to Veritas tried to peddle a false story to The Washington Post about her supposed sexual relationship to Republican U.S. Senate candidate Roy Moore. The paper performed checks on the woman’s stories, found them questionable, and refused to publish her accusations. That is what responsible news media do.

Being human, they do sometimes make errors. When brought to their attention, however, they admit their errors and correct them. They are not in the business of spreading rumors but of bringing truth to their readers.

It is doubtful our representative government can survive without them.

How Many Pulitzer Prizes Has Twitter Won?

Facebook, Google, and Twitter face scrutiny over Russian infiltration of social media to influence the 2016 U.S. elections.

Do we actually depend on Facebook, Google, and Twitter for news and analysis? If so, we deserve the less than stellar candidates recently elected to public office.

I connect with friends on Facebook, use search engines to aid research, and tweet my blogs over Twitter. For news and analysis, I read reputable newspapers and magazines. Most can be read online as well as in print.

What does reputable mean? Judgement by peers is one measure, like winning a Pulitzer Prize. Editors, publishers, writers, and educators gather each year at Columbia University to judge entries for the prizes.

According to the Pulitzer website, entries “may be made by any individual based on material coming from a United States newspaper, magazine or news site that publishes regularly during the calendar year and adheres to the highest journalistic principles.”

Prizes are awarded in many categories. Recent awards were given for investigations of abuse of power, analysis of the opioid tragedy, exploration of hidden tax havens, and a host of others.

In other words, the reporters investigated. They didn’t depend on unsubstantiated rumors. Editors checked facts.

The founders of the republic were under no illusion that simply holding elections would, by itself, safeguard the nation. For it to survive and flourish, the citizens had to be informed.

Information will not come in a few digital bytes. Only dedicated digging can keep tabs on politicians, business interests, cultural movements, and other complexities of our postmodern world.

Opioid Plague: Searching for Spiritual Answers?

Dr. Thomas Andrew, at age 60, is changing his profession from medical examiner to that of minister. As medical examiner for New Hampshire, he’s appalled by the mushrooming number of deaths from drug overdoses for which he’s had to perform autopsies.

He’s planning to enter the ministry as a chaplain under the United Methodist Church. After watching the drug toll mount, Dr. Andrew, in the words of a newspaper article, “wants to try, in his own small way, to stop it.” (The Seattle Times, “Opioid deaths are taking a toll on medical examiners’ offices,” October 8, 2017).

Maybe Dr. Andrew has hit on an answer too little tried in our horror at what can only be called a moral epidemic. We plead with young people and others to save themselves from drugs, to enter rehabilitation programs, to think about what the drugs are doing to them.

Maybe getting people off drugs is not merely to keep drugs from harming them. Perhaps it’s also because, if they destroy themselves, they deprive their communities of their gifts.

Their job is to find their purpose in life, to discover their particular talents and skills, to explore ways to serve. In other words, to understand that they don’t exist for themselves alone.

Bring Your Pets to Work; How About Your Children?

A shopping section of one newspaper featured equipment a pet owner might want for taking their pet with them to their workplace. Suggestions for the growing pet-to-work movement included a pet carrier, collapsible feeding dishes, and a portable paw washer.

Anyone who’s loved a pet can understand the satisfaction of a pet’s affection and how the pet’s presence might contribute to less stress in the work place.

Animals now are used in some prisons to teach inmates responsibility as they provide care for a living creature dependent on them. Hospitals use pets to relieve tension of patients preparing for medical procedures. Sometimes animals are part of mental health programs.

Might parents also profit by having their infants and young children close by as they work?

Small humans present certain challenges, of course. They sometimes cry and want to be picked up no matter what other responsibilities the worker parent has. They have to be changed and fed, not always on schedule. As they begin to crawl, they are apt to pick up small items off the floor and attempt to swallow them. They constantly explore. Trash baskets and reachable desk drawers are a treasure trove.

One solution might be close-at-hand children’s centers. Parents could stop by on breaks and spend a few minutes. They might eat lunch with them or perhaps put them down for a nap.

Our separation of work and home, beginning with the industrial age, separated mothers from economic production. It also separated fathers from their children. Perhaps bringing children closer to workplaces might lessen both problems.

Personal Tragedy Becomes National Tragedy: We Can’t Work Because We’re Addicted

“The Columbiana Boiler Company [in Youngstown, Ohio] forgoes roughly $200,000 worth of orders each quarter because workers can’t pass drug screenings.”

The New York Times, as reported in The Seattle Times, July 30, 2017

For several years, we’ve read about the opioid epidemic, the drug abuse that kills young people in unprecedented numbers, especially in states like Ohio and West Virginia. Drug users have so increased in number that large segments of the young adult population cannot qualify for good jobs.

Working class jobs, we read, are disappearing. Yet, available jobs are going unfilled, because “too many applicants—nearly half, in some cases—fail a drug test.”

The risk with drug abusers is the higher possibility of accidents related to their addiction. Accidents may result in fellow workers being killed and maimed. The company cannot hire them. It loses work to foreign companies because those countries have a better labor pool, apparently with less drug abuse.

States now rush to pass laws legalizing cannabis because pot has become a part of the culture. The reasons behind legalization are understandable. Law enforcement officers are stretched thin to fight opioid use, much less cannabis.

Yet cannabis also interferes with a worker’s ability to produce. Why did pot suddenly come on the scene? Why did Americans need a new pleasure drug?

Communal drinking has been around since grapes were first fermented. But today’s drinking has gone beyond a few beers around a television while watching a football game. It’s become more than enjoying a satisfying wine to enhance a meal.

Party goers now drink in order to get drunk. Unlike countries such as Great Britain, where the public takes more seriously the ban against driving under the influence, car-dependent Americans think nothing of driving away inebriated from the bar or the party, their judgement seriously impaired.

Why do we feel such a need for that which destroys us? It’s a question we should all be asking.

What Is the Alt-Right and Why Did the Largest Protestant Denomination in the United States Denounce It?

“Resolved, That the messengers to the Southern Baptist Convention, meeting in Phoenix, Arizona, June 13-14, 2017, decry every form of racism, including alt-right white supremacy, as antithetical to the Gospel of Jesus Christ; . . . ”

Thus, the largest Protestant denomination in the United States announced itself against alt-right white supremacy.

What is the alt-right?

The Seattle Times defined the alt-right, or alternative right, as “a loosely defined far-right movement associated with white nationalism, racism, misogyny, anti-Semitism, Islamophobia and a desire to keep the United States a majority white country.” (November 29, 2016, “What Is the ‘alt-right’?”)

Why did Southern Baptist delegates from an evangelical denomination vote as they did? The denomination was founded in 1845 partly because of issues over slavery, some leaders at the time espousing slavery as supported by biblical texts.

However, in recent years, Southern Baptists have begun dealing with their past history. In 1995, they apologized for their role in supporting slavery. The convention now includes more non-white members.

No doubt a more diverse membership contributed to passage of the resolution. One of the bulwarks of the evangelical belief of Southern Baptists is that people can repent and change.

Hallelujah.

Safe Places

What if girls and young women at risk of unwanted pregnancies found safe places to gather and grow? What if such places offered guidance often missing in dysfunctional families? What if they provided an alternative to all that advertising suggesting that a woman’s only concern is attracting a male?

If those at risk could gather in safe places, they might discover a more mature vision of their purpose. They might find practical help—with their homework, with ideas for careers, with the motivation to set goals for their lives.

Older women could tell stories about finding their place in life and their need for maturity before allowing males into their lives. They could model motherhood as a responsible choice.

Working with young women before an unwanted pregnancy might bring together both sides on the abortion issue.

Why Did Women Vote for Trump?

About forty-one percent of women voted for Trump in the November election, according to numbers from The Washington Post.

Why would a significant percentage of women vote for Trump, despite his recorded remarks toward females which many consider sexist and disparaging?

Why would they not vote for Clinton, a woman who surely epitomizes women’s search for respectability and equal status with men?

For professional women, Clinton is a role model. But many women in the United States, just like many men in the United States, are not professionals. They work at their jobs because they need the money to live.

Such women might be interested in equal pay, but their careers, as for some men, are not geared toward success in the professional sense.

Many men and woman yearn for a past time, sometimes mythical, but whose loss they feel. Just as numbers of working white men are angered at the loss of well-paying jobs, so some women are angered at feeling pushed toward the career model when they really prefer more time at home tending to family or engaged in community service.

Not all women are interested in crashing the glass ceiling or working at high stress careers. Some prefer part time work after the children are past the toddler years. Their main focus is still on their families, (including aging parents) as well as religious and community service. The high cost of living in today’s world creates barriers against this kind of life.

Of course, many men might wish for more time off to be with family. Some men and women are not drawn to the role model of the elite professional, though it is a commendable goal for many. It just isn’t the goal for all men and women.

The irony is that Clinton favored more family leave and other family-focused policies. Is the new administration aware of the need for such policies?

Homelessness Is No Community

Writing in First Things (“Homeless,” June/July 2016), R.R. Remo talks of the homelessness felt by so many in today’s world. The obvious homeless increasingly sleep on streets or in encampments in U.S. cities. The refugees flooding into Europe are homeless, as are many who cross national borders in North America.

Homelessness is not limited to the physically homeless. People drift spiritually from communities that sheltered them in the past. Old beliefs are called into question.

Even the well off may lead rootless lives, leaving little room for lifelong friendships or family support. As couples increasingly have only one child or no children, terms like aunts, uncles, brothers, sisters, and cousins pass from use. Our connections tend to be temporary.

Rootlessness affects our political situation also, Remo says. “Rejecting established leaders, voters who feel abandoned are vulnerable to manipulation.” They may flee to “strong men who promise protection.”

How fight homelessness? Solutions require some exchange of self interest and the acceptance of risk for the sake of entering into community, including communities of family, faith, neighborhood, and even addiction recovery.