The World Doesn’t Need White Men Anymore

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying the world ever needed white men, but there was a time when many people were convinced that it did. White men did a pretty good job of convincing and bullying all the non-white-men (women of all colors including white and everyone else) that white men were essential to civilization. Lately I’ve been struck by the bloated sense of self-importance that fills the prose of my favorite writers – Steinbeck, Hemingway, London, Kipling, Maugham, Verne, Melville, Stevenson – these guys were convinced of their place in the world and how important it was to keep it. White men – the keepers of order and civilization. White men – the last bastion of sanity between the encroaching primitive civilizations and the hysteric female imperative. White men. Yes.

I think – and I’m not sure of this – but I’m pretty sure – I grew up in the last years that white men were the self-acknowledged and self-proclaimed masters of the universe. The 1970s and early 1980s were a time that the world was still processing the movements of feminism, Native Americanism, Black Pride, Hispanic pride, Asian pride, and multi-genderism. I don’t know what to call all of these movements – but they can all be lumped together under the banner of “Straight White Men Are Not Better Than Anyone Else” movements. These movements took place mostly from the late 1960s through the 1990s and during much of that time – white men still held the keys to the kingdom.

It was a time when it was still okay to tell black jokes (if there were no black people around), it was okay to characterize Asian people with a language that sounded like ching chong and with slanted eyes, Hispanics were still considered lazy and sneaky (the men) or lascivious and waiting for rescue from white men (the women). It was fine to demean other white men with descriptions about how they had female genitalia, how they were homosexual, or how they were (fill in the blank) like a (fill in the blank). To be a straight white man was the ideal.

I think I can pretty well pinpoint when it began to change. Bill Cosby and the Cosby Show – a black doctor wearing colorful sweaters and raising a respectful family. Whoopi Goldberg becoming a wise character on Star Trek: The Next Generation. All of this right around the 1984-1988 period. The world was thrown on its head – suddenly there were African-American characters who didn’t speak with a ghetto accent, Hispanics on television who were not drug dealers, and Hillary Clinton – the First Lady, actually had the audacity to take on real political issues like healthcare and gender equality. Mind you, it was still fine to tell gay jokes through much of the 1990s – but much of the mythology of the straight white man being the pinnacle of civilization had worn off by the time I graduated in 1990.

Perhaps it was that sense of being thrown adrift into a world heading towards equality that pushed me to join the US Marine Corps – a last bastion of white masculinity. I’m happy to say that in the USMC, I was part of a multi-racial fraternity – that while still heavily self-segregated (whites and blacks tended to sit at different tables in the mess hall) introduced me to African Americans, Latinos, and even Eskimos – but I’ll be brutally honest here – it was much easier for white guys to get promoted even in an equality Marine Corps. And it was don’t ask/don’t tell – which translated to it not being okay for guys to be gay. As for women in the Corps – they were treated as inferiors and sexually harassed almost constantly during the time I was in.

Between 1994 when I got out of the Marines and 2008 when I graduated from the University of Hawai’i – things changed even more drastically. I majored in Anthropology – I suppose in part because I grew up reading Tarzan, Robinson Crusoe, and other books where white men encountered and learned to live with the ‘savage’ other. I was always fascinated by the pre-Christian, pre-Muslim, primitive cultures of the world. I was drawn to the wild blood drums of howling fires in far off lands. I sought the pageantry and intense passion of intense humanness. I wanted to peel the onion layers of civilization back to see the reality of the human condition. I gazed at the other with a white man’s eye. My advanced level of civilization – looked down on the people of the world with a paternal eye born of thousands of years of white men dominating everyone else. Our society, however, was moving on.

Now, in 2016 – I live in a rural Oregon town where straight white men still rule supreme. From the time I graduated to now, I’ve traveled a good bit of the world. I married the daughter of an Arab shepherd I lived with in a poor African village. I left my country for nearly half a decade and then returned to this region of ignorant white men in huge gas guzzling trucks who look down on the world with a paternal eye while they cut down ancient trees in exchange for paper money to buy gas and vegetables grown far away by non-white laborors on multi-million dollar corporate farms owned by rich white men.

And all of this has led me to a conclusion that I should have come to long ago. The world doesn’t need white men anymore. It really doesn’t. And it never did. The reign of the white men is coming to an end. They won’t give up without a fight, they will continue to dominate for as long as they can. Donald Trump carries their banner. To some extent Hillary Clinton carries it as a proxy for her husband – a man who was the most powerful man in the world and used his position to fuck an intern who was just barely out of her teens – and got away with it. Bill Clinton would carry the white man vote if he were able to run – and for that reason. Hillary Clinton might win because she brings Bill with her – she was the ‘Good Wife’ who stood by her man. White men don’t hate Obama for his policies nor because he is black – they hate him because he is not a white man. It’s why Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio stand no chance of winning – they are Latino – they are other. Bernie Sanders is a different story – being a non-practicing Jew who likes guns – he stands as an almost white man other – but not quite. He may get the white man vote – it’s hard to say.

I’m saying a lot here – I don’t expect this kind of honesty to go without harsh responses from white men and from non-white men both. Let em go. I’m happy to hear my blind spots. Thank you.

A Scary Nazi World

I admit it. I’m a little freaked out by the world we are living in.
This morning there was a NPR Story about Donald Trump followed by a story about how Hitler’s Mein Kampf was released for the first time in 70 years in Germany.
It’s not the first Hitler allusion the universe has put next to Trump. From a ‘mistake’ at the beginning of his campaign where an aide put Nazi SS soldiers on the White House lawn to a Trump supporter yelling Sieg Hail! at a Trump rally in Vegas while a black protestor was dragged out of the building. Maybe it’s foolish, but I believe in signs from the universe. I’ve seen too many, benefitted from too many, and ignored too many (to my chagrin) to discount them completely. I’m rational and hate to admit that I have a hippy dippy side, but there it is, I do. And I think the universe is trying to tell us something. I think we are heading into a very dark time, my friends. I hope I’m wrong. Hitler committed suicide in 1945. A year later, Trump was born. I think it’s worth considering a re-incarnation. If ever there was an anti-Christ – few will deny that Hitler was he. Scary, scary, scary Nazi world.

Making a Better 2016 – Choose Your Own Adventure

One of the things I learned last year, was that it’s futile to try to save the world and everyone in it – especially when the person next to you on the bus is miserable and your backyard is a toxic waste dump. I know- I’m being a little dramatic – call it poetic license and let’s move on.

Well, actually, let’s not move on. I was trying to do something sneaky there – I was trying to make you think closer to home without implicating you or me – and let’s face it – it sounded disingenuous at best. We all need to be implicated. Revolution should start with yourself. Or better yet – with me (since I’m you to you).

I can’t save the world or anyone in it when I’m a mess. The first thing to do is to save myself. Ideally, to save myself while keeping those around me safe. This may seem selfish at first glance – but imagine this scenario:

You are on the Titanic and the ship is sinking. For illustrative purposes, it’s sinking really slowly. I mean really, really slowly. It might take years to sink, but in the meantime – no one will come to help. It’s up to the passengers to save themselves. You are there with your spouse and children and friends around you. Even your parents and siblings are on board. The ship is going down and if you don’t do something everyone will die. How do you save the most people? (Now it’s like Choose Your Own Adventure)

If you ****
****wait for someone to come along and save you and your loved ones turn to page 61 (where you all die waiting for someone to save you)
****decide to save your spouse and children by putting them in a lifeboat and shoving off turn to page 63 (where you float aimlessly while those around you die and then you freeze to death because you didn’t take the time to find a jacket and then your family eats your corpse before dying of exposure because you didn’t think about provisions or the elements – by the way – they die of exposure after they eat you)
****go back to your cabin to put on your cold weather gear and grab supplies turn to page 65 (where you have more decisions to make)
****wait for someone to tell you what to do turn to page 67 (where someone else makes all the rest of your decisions for you and may or may not give the book back to you at a later time)
****give up turn to page 69 (where you will die)
****rally all the passengers and attempt to fix the ship using teamwork and a positive mental attitude turn to page 71 (where the ship sinks and everyone dies but in a spirit of great solidarity)
****make yourself a martyr turn to page 73 (where your story ends and the fate of those you love remains unknown forever)

What’s the best option? You choose.

I choose the option where I prepare myself to be in the best possible position to save those I love and care about. Life is all about options and choosing the best one you are able to. Yes, sometimes we choose terribly. It’s no use beating yourself up over that – as long as you are still alive, you can still make choices. Choose your own adventure. Choose your own path. Fix yourself first and then you will be in a better position to help others. If you are totally fixed – I tip my hat to you. I’m not. Not by a long shot. So, I have no business trying to fix anyone else. I’m working on me – I’m conducting my human revolution. I hope you don’t mind me sharing my journey with you.

What I Learned in 2015

What I learned in 2015.

Snark and sarcasm are lazy excuses for lack of talent. Vitriol is a mask for ignorance. Outrage is a moot justification of fear. Fear mongering is a sneaky way to showcase intolerance, racism, sexism, and prejudice. Love and tolerance really are the answer. Don’t bother loving the world or everyone in it – focus on the people you encounter. Don’t try to fix the world, focus on fixing the places you can touch right now.

I am thankful that I was fortunate enough to learn these things and more in 2015. It’s been a very valuable year.

Happy New Year World.

My 43rd Year in Review

Tomorrow, I turn 44. It’s a magical number only because it is a doubling number and so, I like to think it will herald a magical year. For the moment, on the eve of my 44th and the last evening of my 43rd – I’m going to do what I’ve done the past several years and look at my 43rd year in review before jumping into what I’d like for my 44th.

It’s been a good year – remarkably drama free in my personal, family, and work life – though the outside world has been boiling in chaos. Most of my year has been devoted to work, work, work – mostly in the form of buying dead people’s undervalued possessions and then selling them to people that value them a bit more. There were some live people’s things as well – we did an estate sale for a woman who was moving in with her children and bought a few estates from people who were moving and downsizing. Mostly though, I trafficked in the goods of the dead. It was not a year or much travel or adventure – but it was a good year.

Much of what I bought and sold was low dollar value this year – unremarkable furniture, general household stuff, low end art, watches and common jewelry, glassware, dishes, ‘collectibles’, junk, and decorative knick-knacks. I’ve learned that I hate that shit. If I ever own a thrift-store I will hire someone else to sit and deal with the people who shop in it. I get no pleasure from them for the most part. I feel like this low dollar selling is a big reason that I had to spend so much time working this year – it’s just not that profitable and it sucks up my valuable time. Yes, it paid my bills and allowed us to improve our businesses and life – but it was not enjoyable and took away from what is.

But back to my year end review – every year, I create goals for myself. These were my major goals for 2015:
1. Keep my family safe, happy and healthy – Yes! I accomplished this. At the end of 2015 we watch less TV, play more games, and eat better. We are alive, safe, and happy! Grade: A
2. Improve my health and fitness – My cholesterol and blood pressure improved but I gained a few pounds. I didn’t increase the amount of exercise I get or cut out sweets. I began having anxiety attacks but meditation has helped to curb them. Mentally and emotionally, I feel like I made a huge amount of progress. Grade: B-
3. Improve my business and finances. I fell about $45k short of my goal for this year, but I did improve revenue, start a small newspaper, and pave the way for making more money in the coming years. My credit rating improved.I didn’t purchase a home but I did get a car less than 10 years old. I earned a solid middle of the road grade in this category. Grade: C
4. Make Great Art – I painted a little, I did a bit of wood working, but overall – I didn’t make any great art to speak of. Grade: D
5. Sell more stuff – declutter my life. I sold so much stuff and let go of so much stuff this year it is pretty astounding. I did not realize my goal of doing 2 or more antique shows though – so I can’t give myself higher than a B- on this one. Grade: B-
6. Write More – Sell More Books. I wrote a little bit on this site, but not much more. I did not sell very many of my own books at all, though I have started to sell a lot of used books in my shop. Grade: C-
7. More Joyful Living. I taught my daughter to read and introduced her to the joys of camping and travel. I took walks where I felt fully aware and have tried to be more mindful. I have been meditating and feel like I’ve grown through much of my anger and resentment – things which have hindered me greatly in the past. Grade: B
8. Unplanned Accomplishments. I ran for office and got 35% of the vote with no campaigning. I rekindled several important friendships and hosted a mini-family reunion in my home. I traveled internationally with my wife and daughter and managed to do some kayaking. For all of this, I give myself a Grade: A+

So, how did I average in what I dubbed the Year of Business Success and Financial Freedom? Averaging my GPA from the above I get a 2.74 – or a B-. Not bad but not great. I’m shooting for a 4.0.

When I look at where I was a decade ago and where I thought I’d be today versus where I am – it’s humbling. I was so insecure, so egotistical (at the same time – they go together, I think), and I really thought I’d be a millionaire by now. Not even close. And yet – I have more than I ever thought possible. I am proud of what I’ve done and who I am in the process of becoming. I’m on the right path to the best possible version of me. I’m not anywhere near where I thought I would be. I’m not nearly as cool as I thought I was or would be and yet – I’m happy with me. I’m proud of who I am and what I do in this life. I look forward to getting to know the best possible me in the future because I am getting closer.

Now it’s time to work on my goals for next year. This shit works.

Mixed Christmas Feelings at Middle Age

This has been a strange Christmas for me. There hasn’t been any drama, which is nice. There were no big family Christmas gatherings and the pressure therein- which is also nice. Also, on a more internal note – I think this may be the first Christmas in my life where I didn’t want anything. I’ve been able to provide myself with most of what I want materially – within reason -I mean, I admit it, I’d still like a nice yacht in a Mediterranean port and to own a beach house somewhere – I still have a bucket list of travel destinations and experiences – but in terms of the kind of stuff you get for Christmas – I’m good. My dad sent a little cash which helped with holiday expenses and my wife bought me a few goodies to feel guilty snacking on – other than that – I can’t say there was anything on my wish list. Having a four-year-old – Christmas has been more about figuring out what would make her happy and also finding a way to get my wife a present she would love. I think I succeeded on both counts.

I’m not a Christian – though I think Jesus was a pretty wise teacher who deserves an international holiday devoted to love and tolerance and peace – so I’m cool with the holiday. I don’t go to church (since I’m not a Christian) so that isn’t a part of our tradition – in truth – we are building our traditions – on Christmas Eve, I bought us all new pajamas which we opened and I made chowder two years in a row. On Christmas day, we woke up and watched Sophia open up all her gifts which we gave Santa most of the credit for – and now I start to move into the reason I am feeling a bit of discontent – her gifts were generally expensive crap! I bought her a $40 kids doctor kit and it was packaged nicely and looked like a good quality toy – not so – once out of the package it was so much easily broke plastic crap. The beginning sewing kit was like the leftovers from a yard sale in a pretty cardboard lunch box. The painting set has so little paint in it that we’ll be lucky if it lasts three sessions. None of these were cheap! Except to produce. The fancy kids tablet her grandparents got her is a great idea but burns through batteries like no tomorrow and has a super slow processor which doesn’t do much more than a 2007 smart phone – actually it does considerably less – and if you want to get any games or apps for it – the cartridges and downloads are $25 each or more…her best gifts in my opinion were a wood puzzle and multiple pairs of socks and underwear. She was ecstatic at each gift which made me happy but the quality of these things – it soured my mood. Not because of the money I spent – but because of the trickery of the packaging and products. What happened to quality products and standing behind them? I should know better – customer service has been outsourced to 3rd world nations where poor workers are taught to say “I’m sorry sir, I will file a complaint for you” and if you choose to rant and rave only say the same thing again – and no, there is not a resolution ever.

I didn’t know what to do today. I took a couple of walks. I took a drive. I surfed the net and watched an old Jerry Lewis movie about an alien coming to Earth – I feel like I’m the alien. I heard a pretty interesting interview with Dick Van Dyke on NPR while I was driving. He’s 90 now – he said the world is Orwellian but instead of the governments having control – it’s the corporations – then he said he’s going to Disneyland for his 90th birthday – he called it his home country.

Man, this society we live in – it makes it hard to find peace. It makes it hard to be content. It makes it hard to have an internal human revolution. On the up side – I don’t want anything. On the downside – I want more for my daughter than apps that offer in game purchases and plastic toys that don’t work. I feel very fortunate to have a wonderful family and to not be in need of anything. I feel blessed. I feel so fortunate to not be a refugee, not be being tortured, not be starving or freezing or imprisoned by an unfair and unjust system. My health and my family’s health are blessings. Everyone should be able to have these simple things. Everyone should be so lucky. Most are not. I’m not sure if that’s part of what is under my skin today or not…

Merry Christmas Friends. Merry Christmas.

The Human Revolution

Now is the time for all great humans to come to the aid of themselves and their world. The way to do that is within each of us. I am engaged in a great struggle within myself these days – a moment of turmoil, an epic battle between the best possible me and the just sort of okay, muddling along, middling version of me. I am caught up in the human revolution and at stake is my happiness, my worth, and my entire being. It’s the greatest possible battle I can be engaged in and it will never end – nor should it. Every moment of every day, the battle rages on – each decision and the decision of how I spend each moment determining not just my fate, but the fate of those around me, and around them, and around them – like ripples in a pond echoing outward until virtually the entire world is touched.

I’m afraid, my friends, that many of our fellow humans have lost the battle or are losing the battle. They have given in to the dark side of this existence. They have allowed themselves to tap into the baser side of things. We all do it – from time to time- but unfortunately, some people create more powerful waves than others on the great pond of our reality. WE are constantly hit by the selfish, angry, greedy, and manipulative waves of those who are lost in the pleasure principal of this world. They are taking this life for everything they can – regardless of the cost to they or us. Violence, degradation, murder and worse surround us and are used to push us into the same sorts of behavior, the same sorts of desires, that the sick are addicted to.

A great deal of my life has been spent trying to outwardly fight, to expose, and to resist these forces. It is only now, as I approach my 44th year that I realize just how misguided I have been. I may have made a positive difference from time to time, but ultimately, I have not changed anything with my anger, my rage, my fear, or resistance. I sought an external revolution. I was wrong.

The revolution will not be televised because it cannot be filmed. It must take place within us. The revolution must be individual and it must be internal. Rather than hating the circumstances of the world – we must accept them. We must make peace with them. We must discover peace in the midst of turmoil. As the waves smash into us, we will drown if we try to calm them. Like surfers on a breaking wave – we can be wiped out and smashed against the reef – or we can ride the wave. The revolution must come from within. It will be a silent revolution. When the revolution is complete – people will not even realize that it has happened.

I am engaged in my human revolution. I am telling you about it. Those who don’t read this will never know, they will simply wonder why I smile more and why they enjoy being around me. Viva la revolucian humano.