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Life Arts

NOW WHAT?

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This morning talked with a neighbor who deplored the gap, as he put it. "We seem to stand in two countries and we don't speak each others' language." He listens to Rush Limbaugh. Do you ever wonder about what he says, maybe he is wrong, I said quietly. He pointed his finger, "but they all lie, the ones you read too!" (He knows I read; he listens).

Is he right? There really seems to be this split in America: half of us believe and think one way, the other half knows too much thinking is bad and they know that what they know is the truth, and anything else is from the devil.

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There was a time -- and not that long ago either -- when we were happy for our neighbors on this side because they say they have found the truth. And we were equally happy for the neighbors on the other side because they know that... however they worded it. And we were happy for our family because we were still struggling to find out what it is all about. Now we have fewer choices, itʻs either one or the other.

What I consider "the other side," has words that immediately pumps up their blood pressure. Socialism is one of those words. I have a sense that they have not a clue what socialism is. Americans think socialism is the communism of Stalin. They are indignant when you talk about universal health care, unless you mean a sort of, kind of, almost universal health insurance. What's wrong with having twenty different insurance companies who offer twenty dozen different plans that you can choose from?

Well, the first thing wrong is that they are for profit. What's wrong with the government organizing health care, meaning doctors, nurses, hospitals, and why not include dentists and optometrists?

Socialism, they scream.

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The thought occurs to me that perhaps we have forgotten that the government is us. We say we are a democracy, but rarely do we think We the people. "The government" is over there, something all by itself. Yes, that is what it has become, the first eight years of this century certainly. A government with a leader who is all powerful, who is very obviously doing his thing with very little regard for what is good for us the people. It does not help that the only earthly power greater than the leader is the Supreme Court and they have demonstrated that they are firmly five to four on his side.

So, with much relief we elected someone we thought could not be more different from that leader. What has changed in Washington is that this leader is an intellectual orator. Otherwise sometimes I think this new leader tries to prove that he is just like his predecessor.

What do we expect from an election?

Brave horsemen at the end of the movie flags waving storming into the village shooting the bad guys as they gallop through main street until the main guy jumps off his horse, confronts, and, BANG, shoots the bad guy dead. High Noon.

Before we had come to the gap my neighbor and I talked about our road, the traffic, the weather, his and our animals. All very neighborly. Then we talked about jobs, and how hard it was to find one these days. And why had the bubble busted? Then I said "splurge," which he heard as "The Surge," and that. of course, led to why were we still in Eyerack. Obviously not for WMD, they never had any; we have them all. For democracy, he said. For oil I said. For an end to Muslim terrorists he said. For money I said; we agree on that. Some people in this country must have made a mint selling weapons and bombs and those safety vests, and helmets, and nightvision glasses and depleted uranium bullets. And thousands of people dead, millons fled -- "and bad" he rhymed.

Yes, we live in different worlds, speak different languages. But we live on the same planet. The same country, even; next door to each other.

My neighbor, turning to walk away over an imaginary boundary line between properties, over his shoulder, "and I worry every night about him surviving another day; he is black, you know." His statement did not need a response but I thought to myself, he is not really black at all, not even very dark, and yes, I worry about that too, because that is one of those statements that make self-fulfilling prophecies. As one of the candidates who did not win said, "Second Amendment solutions."

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The Media, all media, influence who we trust, who we believe and certainly what we believe. And if they have learned anything it is that there are ways to get an idea across, perfectly legally, but nevertheless sneaky, underhanded.

Once at a County Fair some weirdo read my palm. Of course generalities are always kind of true. As I walked away he told me "look out for the number 8." I turned my head, Why, I yelled. But he did not, or did not want, to hear me. So, now, I am stuck with thinking about "avoiding number eight." I know it is ridiculous, but I cannot stop myself from adding up numbers, phone numbers, addresses, bills, the price of something I want, and if it adds up to eight, I get nervous. My phone number has four eights in it. Bad luck, I think. But I discovered that if I add all the numbers, and then add all those numbers again, it comes to ... oops, 8 again. But if I leave off the area code it adds up to 1. One must be a good luck number, a beginning, hope. But I still distrust that phone. One of these days it is going to bite me.

It is now clear that this election was not about what we like to call "the issues," but about personalities. How prepared are they to be our representatives? But they are not that anyway, they represent the generous donors of their campaigns. Is s/he able to stay calm in areal debate about real issues. But across the gap we donʻt have the same issues, do we?

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robert wolff lived on the Big Island, called Hawai'i

his website is wildwolff.com He passed away in late 2015. He was born in 1925, was Dutch, spoke, Dutch, Malay, English and spent time living and getting to know Malaysian Aborigines. He authored numerous books including What it Is To Be Human, (more...)
 

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