Liquid Ink

The official website of Gint Aras, Finalist 2016 CWA Book Award

My secret to avoiding procrastination

Leave a comment

Here’s my video response to the challenge, 30 seconds to impress. I don’t know if I’ve impressed anyone, but it was a fun thing to try making.

Beyond the point I make in this video is that I’ve come to embrace procrastination as part and parcel of the writing process. My meditation practice has revealed some things about procrastination that are actually worth thinking about.

What do I actually do when I procrastinate? Usually, I’m going over writing scenarios in my mind.

Sometimes I’ll waste time on social media. Of course, these days, I’m writing about an issue, racism and bigotry, that I get to study when I look at social media. I follow very few cat video people, and I’ve long-since blocked or unfollowed people and pages consistently full of drivel.

Other times, I’ll procrastinate by listening to music or—I mean this sincerely—by grading student work. It’s easy to say, “I have work to do that pays me money,” when in truth I’ll turn to grading because it’s a careful means to help me avoid some crucial decision or difficult moment my writing is about to reveal.

That’s the most common reason I procrastinate. It’s because my writing is about to show itself to me, and that’s often a terrible moment. What if it sucks? You come face to face with yourself in your writing. If that frightens me more than news about our narcissist president, his unfortunate followers or the general decline of our culture and collapse of our values, I know I’m onto something.

Procrastination, then, is a teacher.


To hear a Republican politician’s prayer

With so many of our leaders once again offering thoughts and prayers following another mass shooting, I find myself wondering what those thoughts and prayers sound like.

What are you praying for, and what does the shape of your prayer reveal about God? When people lie slaughtered, today in Texas, yesterday in Vegas, the day before in Orlando, what words do your hearts send to God? When school children are sliced and diced by weapons designed for no other purpose, how do you shape a prayer?

You cannot possibly have been praying for these shootings to cease. If you’ve been begging Please, Lord, stop the killing—so many times now to have lost count—you should naturally be doubting your faith. That prayer isn’t being answered. If you believe all things happen through God, the slaughters are obviously part of His Great Plan. Your prayer, then, is a hopeless breath, slain silent in the chaos of so many rifle reports and final cries before death.

Do you pray for the souls to find heaven as the bereaved find solace in the wake of our sins? How does God hear that prayer, and only hours after you’ve prayed for further donations from those who profit from America’s addiction to weapons and fear? How does God allow comfort to the grieving when tomorrow yet another parent will lose her child, yet another son his dad, all part of His Great Plan?

Do you pray for the killers to burn forever in hell? Oh, but you couldn’t. That wouldn’t be Christian.

Your prayers aside, honestly, what are these thoughts you keep sending? What are you thinking? Do you imagine the children strewn across the floor of a classroom splattered with blood? Do you keep in mind the portraits of those shot and trampled during a concert? Do you note their names, think of their humanity, wonder what they might have done the next day, had the gunman’s plan run aground? Do you imagine your own loved ones—or, perhaps, you yourself—shredded by the weapons your political allies peddle?

Or do you think the bereaved can now be counted on for votes? Because, let’s face it, in this dangerous country, where every Fate and Fury can buy a gun, they’ll need guns to keep them safe. And who’ll protect their access to guns, the very guns that kept their loved ones safe in school, at the concert, in church and on the dance floor, if not you, messenger of God, disciple of the word? Where would America be without you?

Where would God?

Prayer

Photo of Praying Hands by Albrecht Dürer from Wikipedia.


Your right to hate speech

This should only be said once.

Dear Nazis, no one is taking away your right to spew your hatred. You’ve been doing it all along: on the Internet, at dinner parties, on bar stools, during Thanksgiving dinner, and now in Portland, where you were met with opposition.

The reason you believe you’re being oppressed or denied rights is because you conflate your right to spew blather, ignorance and mental sewage with the listeners’ need to believe you or agree with you. This is how freedom of speech works. You stand up and spew your hatred, express your ignorance, make public fools of yourselves, and your peers duly note it. When you stage your protest, the counter-group stages theirs. That’s not a denial of your rights. On the contrary: it’s you expressing your right to stand up in public and say “I’m an imbecile!”

We know, and we’ve known all along.

There’s a reason most people don’t believe you. You’re blatantly and idiotically wrong, and your world view is psychological and sociological pollution. Your loathing is based on a false perception, on constructs you’ve never taken the time to investigate or think over. Your ideas would bore most of us if they didn’t lead to violence and the destruction of lives.

It bothers you to witness those you loathe supported politically or enjoying economic success, larger acceptance into mainstream society, or just greater confidence to walk hum-drum down city streets as everyday people and not “others” or “freaks”.  You believe that the success of those you loathe disenfranchises you. That’s to say your power or station in society is not actually the result of anything you yourselves can do or manage. In order for you to feel secure, you need someone else to be struggling or denied their humanity. “How come I’m not wealthier than these people I hate?” Good question. Don’t most of you believe that you get what you deserve, that individuals determine their own fates all on their own?

Your mistake is to think that power and acceptance are ladled out like soup. More soup for “them” means less soup for “you” until the whole pot has been distributed. Forget about the idea for a moment that the difference between “them” and “you” is constructed in your mind. If you woke up to see that your neighbor’s success actually makes your life easier, you’d have no need to raise your right hand in defiance of your society’s democratic values.

But you won’t ever see that. It’s obvious. Every time you speak freely, raise your hands into the air, you make that perfectly clear. It’s clearest when you stand up and wonder why you don’t have the right to speak freely, as if you’re unaware that you’re speaking. That has always been to most baffling part to me. It’s always the loudest and most hateful drunk in the bar screaming “Why isn’t anyone listening to me?”

Soap Box

 

 


Own it, America

We’ve left the Paris Accords.

Let’s face it, Americans. This is who we are. This is our face. This is what we’ve done to ourselves and everyone else. It’s malignant, profane, destructive, and we’re beyond the point that we should be embarrassed. Our current course should be terrifying.

Left-wing talk on social media and over airwaves today begs the world to understand a variety of platitudes, all meant to separate us from the act.

Not all of us are this way! 

A minority elected him!

It’s just a fringe that think like this!

I recycle!

None of that matters. We have a half-literate madman at the helm, driven by greed and narcissism. He’s not supported by some mythological horde of angry and bitter maniacs who deny reality or know no alternative to their passive aggression. Currently, the vast majority of Republican politicians support him. There is no rational, civil or sensible case to be made for the support of a man who puts short-term profit and thumb-nosing above the destruction of our planet. Yet there he stands, complete with his covfefe (which my autocorrect kept trying to change), his party toeing the line as he stomps about the garden.

Our process elected him. He is the result of our apathy and adoration of ignorance. This is from Business Insider:

Nearly 139 million Americans [turned out in 2016]…but that total suggests that only 60% of the country’s 232 million eligible voters actually voted…

For some Americans, the two names at the top of the 2016 ticket were so unpalatable that they opted not to vote for president at all, instead focusing on down-ballot races.

In 14 states, more people voted in the Senate races than voted for president. The overall results show that nearly 2.4 million people nationwide cast ballots but left the presidential line blank.

Inexcusable. We need to be done with the excuses and platitudes and realize that a critical mass of Americans support a party that sees no problem with our current course of mayhem. Not even the potential for mass extinction humbles them before their desire for profit and power. They see a malignant narcissist and wonder what they personally might gain from his madness. Opportunists are everywhere. Presidential candidate Lindsey Graham, who once said our president “doesn’t know anything” about foreign policy, just yesterday tweeted this utter non-sense: “I support President Trump’s desire to re-enter the Paris Accord after the agreement becomes a better deal for America and business.”

Our system is flexible enough that we can change this course, but the first step has to take place in our consciousness. Right now we are a nation led by a party whose only compass is profit and personal gain, whose God is Ayn Rand, not Jesus Christ. Its leader is a man so toxic that he poisons any system he enters. We are, all of us, members of that system, and we can’t change it by putting forth an effort to separate ourselves.

We left the Paris Accord because we elected a man and party who see no course as wrong so long as their wealth is growing and protected, even at the expense of their grandchildren. If we want to change that, we have to take responsibility and action ourselves, and the first step is to look at the mess. It’s in our house.

IMG_4389


The 21st Century Holocaust

The video below is from December. Lucy Aharish told us then that we were facing a holocaust, and the world is witnessing that holocaust right now, amplified and accelerated before us: a barbaric, categorical slaughter of citizens.

While American leaders demonize these innocents, using them to fan fears among imbeciles and racists in an effort to secure votes, our global adversaries dare us to stop the slaughter, thumbing their noses while children lie dead on concrete and dirt, their mouths open like suffocated fish, their skin bleached and burned.An_Aerial_View_of_the_Za'atri_Refugee_Camp

Our grandchildren will ask us why we did nothing to stop the slaughter, why we allowed it to get to this point, and why we did not welcome the victims, offer them refuge. The answer isn’t complicated: we didn’t care. We believed in the delusion that these people were “over there” while we were “over here,” that there was some massive difference between them and us. We saw the videos and photos, read the testimonies, understood the geo-political game and sat back to say, “It doesn’t affect me.”

Whatsoever you do to the least of My people, that you do unto Me.

Realize who our most influential thinkers have been. We are not followers of Hamilton, Franklin, Lincoln or any of the people on our money. We are certainly not followers of Christ, who told us whatsoever we did to the least of His people we did unto Him.

There he is, Jesus of Nazareth, asking to be let in to our home, and we refuse because he might be a terrorist, this Middle Easterner with a beard.

Our most influential thinker is Ayn Rand. She would shake our hands right now and say, “Well done. Help is futile. Fools get what they deserve.” And look at the evidence! The stock market is rising, isn’t it? Haven’t the prices of homes gone up? Aren’t we “bringing back coal” and reducing regulations, cutting aid for the poor, ruining our presently bad schools, getting tough with unions, keeping terrorists out, making sure married people don’t sit at the table with members of the opposite sex, taking rights away from women, from minorities, from people we hired ourselves to work for less than minimum wage? All while shrugging at the images of a holocaust a half-hour after the electorate shrugged off a madman’s racism, rationalizing their vote by claiming they wanted “change” and had “economic reasons,” lying to themselves all in to the trope of bringing America back to some former greatness?

Greatness is just around the corner. Our grandchildren will be interrogating us sooner rather than later. They might not ask us why we did nothing to help. They might be wise enough—er, great enough—to ask the obvious question: “Grandfather, grandmother, why didn’t you care?”

 

Lucy Aharish – nobody stopping holocaust in Halab, Syria from EurOpinion on Vimeo.

Photo of the Za’atri camp in Jordan from Wikipedia


Leave a comment

How to kill the middle class and ruin the environment 

In our attempts to make sense of how anyone would have voted for the president (when the answer is obvious), we keep losing sight of what’s happening. 

The following bills have been introduced:

1. HR 861 Terminate the Environmental Protection Agency

2. HR 610 To distribute Federal funds for elementary and secondary education in the form of vouchers for eligible students and to repeal a certain rule relating to nutrition standards in schools.

3. HR 899 Terminate the Department of Education

4. HJR 69 Providing for congressional disapproval under chapter 8 of title 5, United States Code, of the final rule of the Department of the Interior relating to “Non-Subsistence Take of Wildlife, and Public Participation and Closure Procedures, on National Wildlife Refuges in Alaska”. 

5. HR 370 Repeal Affordable Care Act

6. HR 785 National Right to Work (this attacks collective bargaining, ending unions)

7. HR 147 Criminalizing Abortion (“Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act” or PRENDA)

8. HR 808 Sanctions against Iran

The assault on unions and public schools all at once is driven by nothing more complex than basic human greed. At institutions of learning nationwide, educators are perceived as liabilities, a waste of money that could go to an administrator. If they could get rid of the teachers union and all faculty, they could teach classes with software, and a pile of money would appear for whomever was left.

How are any of these proposals acting in the best interest of the middle class that “feels forgotten”? How is the pollution of our planet, and acceleration towards an extinction event, in the interest of the wealthiest Americans, or of college administrators, or of tea party activists, or of Nazis? Don’t you think it’s weird that the 1%, tea party “patriots”, gun addicts, skinheads, Nazis and champions of Jean Raspail now form a political coalition? 

The swamp was drained to reveal monsters who had only been stuck in the muck. Now they get to crawl up on shore. 


Leave a comment

Coleson Whitehead on delusion

I must admit that I’ve yet to read The Underground Railroad, although it’s high on my list of books to get to soon. This quote gets to something I’ve been thinking about for a long time, for longer than we’ve had a fascist leading our country, a man most everyone in America disapproves of, except for white men.

And America, too, is a delusion, the grandest one of all. The white race believes–believes with all its heart–that it is their right to take the land. To kill Indians. Make war. Enslave their brothers. This nation shouldn’t exist, if there is any justice in the world, for its foundations are murder, theft, and cruelty. Yet here we are.

colson_whitehead_2009

Photo of Coleson Whitehead from Wikipedia