I have been realizing lately that all dysfunctional systems are houses of cards: requiring vast amounts of time and energy to maintain an image with no foundational support to keep it going when times get tough.
It hit me a few weeks ago that my family doesn’t have relationships; we have roles. And mine is not worth playing. Exit stage left. No emotional needs of anyone at any time, as far as I can tell, have ever gotten met. It’s not just me. I feel like I have been trying my whole life not to upset my mother. Wait a minute. She’s the adult. I feel like I am trying to be the “good daughter.” That’s not a relationship; that’s a role. As I’ve gotten older, I have concluded that her mother never even wanted children. How awful is that? And yet we pretended to have “relationships” all the same. I have a brother that is an active alcoholic. His wife and children have begged him to stop drinking and he refuses. The disease is protected and so no learning occurs. Odds are that this brother will be dead by the time his son is thirty. This young man has no coping skills. His house of cards will implode and I can see him spiraling downward very quickly when that day arrives.
This idea goes for politics, as well. My mom and I were talking about statues being destroyed. She said, “They will have to all be fixed, at taxpayer expense, of course.” I said, “Uh, I doubt they will be fixed or replaced. The people that are bringing them down will not be having any of that.” “So what then? They’ll just be destroyed and these cities will look like Detroit?” “Maybe.” It does not occur to her that the people destroying these confederate monuments might have a better idea.
My mother wants the restoration of the old order. I understand that. And I understand that it is never going to happen. People today want an America that works for everyone, not just the old white Trumpers. The image is not worth investing in. The old house of cards is collapsing. Wholeness cannot be coerced, manipulated, or bribed. When something stops working for people, they refuse to invest in the charade any longer. The role is not worth playing. They want something that meets their needs.
All dysfunctional systems are houses of cards. They require vast amounts of energy and investment to keep functioning. It’s an image. It’s play acting. These dysfunctional systems protect the few at the expense of the many. The fastest way to produce something better is to invest in something better and to withdraw all emotional and financial support from the system that doesn’t meet one’s needs. It’s not brain surgery. You stop pretending that a system meets your needs and start meeting them yourself and find other like-minded people. You see what doesn’t work and abandon it. You move forward without that system. It’s painful, but healing, to move on.
I’ve worked at the Goodwill for almost two years. I have always felt like I have managed to say or do the wrong things around our district manager, K. I got paranoid a couple weeks ago. We made sales in June, which was astonishing given the occupancy restrictions. Others had already received their incentive vouchers, little purple gift certificates for employees. I hadn’t yet received mine. Had I pissed off K?
I asked a couple of different managers if I had offended K. Both said K had no problem with me and one even said K liked me. My response? “You’re kidding.” I wonder if K has no people skills whatsoever. I’ve been walking around for the past two years wondering if I was on the verge of getting fired by K. Everyone else thinks I’m great. I show up and work hard. I even got an extra voucher for helping in donations. My personal philosophy on being an authority figure is that one must provide positive (or at least some sort of) feedback. If one does not provide feedback, one becomes a blank screen for everyone to project their childhood issues onto. Then one runs the risk of unknowingly upsetting people and wondering where the hell their reactions are coming from.
Have I been doing this to everyone my entire life? Talking to my psychoanalyst, she asked me if K reminded me of my mother. I thought about it and said no, she was more like my dad, providing little positive feedback. No wonder I have issues with her. I sort of get along with my mother. Not so much with Dad.
Speaking of evolution, I’m seeing a lot of it lately–and a lot faster than I thought I would. Republican lawmakers are testing positive for the coronavirus. Herman Cain, a black Trumper, died from the virus after attending the Trump rally in Tulsa. And my mom thinks the numbers are exaggerated, even as numbers explode all over. At this point, my parents could die of this thing without any awareness that that’s what’s happening. It is now at a point I thought it wouldn’t reach until well after the election, maybe not until next year.
Everything is happening at such a dizzying pace that I wonder what on Earth could be next.
I went to Barnes and Noble yesterday. They didn’t have any new Buddhist magazines. I was really disappointed.
I was looking at the books. I was thumbing through a book I had looked at in February. The book seemed odd. I still agreed with many of the things the book said, but it seemed out of date because it was published pre-coronavirus.
That’s when I realized that the pandemic is one of those “before and after” events. Everything gets evaluated based on whether something happened pre- or post-pandemic. Kind of like Barry’s death. When I look at a TV show description, I always check out when it first aired. January 12, 2018 is the divider, as in “Barry might have seen this,” versus, “This wasn’t aired until after he passed.”
We still have all the previous problems…plus everything the pandemic has created/exposed.
Just sitting there, drinking my mocha. Watching people come and go. Not talking to my fellow humans. Basically banned from normal interaction. Everything has that slightly surreal quality, like I am watching a novel unfold in real time. Are you real? Am I?
On Friday, at work, I saw people coughing. It is neither cold nor flu season. One person was a co-worker at lunch, not wearing a mask. It is tough to wear a mask while eating. And I think I heard two customers coughing and I’m pretty sure at least one of them was not wearing a mask.
The store manager seems agitated that sales are uncertain, even though we made sales in June–despite doing things by appointment only at first and having occupancy restrictions.
There is one customer in particular that I haven’t seen since we reopened. He is a very nice guy, elderly, widowed, Greek Orthodox. I’ve Googled him and not found an obit for him, so I think he’s alive.
It’s the people I’m not seeing that make me feel creeped out. The sound of crickets where there should be conversations. The people dying, not directly due to the virus but because they cannot access normal health care because of an overwhelmed health care system. No drama. Just silence.
The coughing worries me because nobody was coughing when we reopened. Nobody. The coworker I referred to has another job as well at a fast food place. She needs every minute of work she can get. She could probably be half-dead and might lie just to earn a paycheck. Does she have the virus? How would anyone know? Widespread testing is still not available. Goodwill does temperature checks when we arrive to work. Here’s the problem: my temperature runs low (97 degrees) and if my temp ever gets up to 98.6, that will mean I have some sort of infection and I will still be allowed to work. People have to work. Even if that means infecting everyone else.
Sometimes it’s not the bad, scandalous, or traumatic things that create the problems. It’s all the good, right, non-negotiable, essential things that do not occur that create the problems. The empty spaces that should be filled with people. The silence where a conversation should be. My normal tendency is to avoid drama, but I am starting to see drama as a sign of life, like a pulse. It feels like the calm before round two of the storm.
As a Buddhist abd a liberal, I see how everything is related to everything else. Now politics and the economy are confirming the truth of what I have always believed.
The economic recovery is non-existent. Not happening. I’ll give you an idea of why. Many jobs were eliminated back in March and April. Lots of people went on furlough. People were stuck at home with their children. Day care centers closed. Now it’s July. Some of the jobs are returning; some are not. Problem: Your job just came back, but you have no child care. You cannot go back to work. End of discussion. Until you can find child care, you have no job. Now multiply that by millions of working parents.
Everyone is dependent upon everyone else. Until the people at the bottom get what they need, nobody is going to be happy. Throw in an increasingly sick population and we are all in big trouble.
Have you noticed the virus numbers lately? For example, you might have a state with 20,000 cases, 8,000 recoveries and 100 deaths ( 0.5% death rate). What’s the problem? The 11,900 cases that didn’t die or recover. These are the people with lingering health problems. They don’t die, but they don’t totally get better, either. Now imagine these people try to go back to work. They need the paycheck. But they are struggling and may not have insurance.
Do you see how their lack of insurance impacts the business, their family, etc.?
Now we are starting to see how everyone depends on everyone else. Things just had to get ugly for people to get it.
Yesterday was the fourth of July. I was dreading going to my family’s get-together. I didn’t want to be the only one wearing a mask. I got to the point where I decided I wouldn’t wear a mask for two reasons–I am tired of feeling like a liberal freak in my super-conservative family and, more importantly, I am done caring more about my family’s well-being than they do. I have spent many years watching my brothers self-destruct. Now their health stinks and I don’t think they have long left. I didn’t get asked and was so relieved to not feel obligated on any level to go. Problem solved.
I also got this feeling: survive this year and prepare for next year because absolutely everything will be different next year. I am sure one of my brothers will not survive another twelve months. And, politically speaking, everything is turning on its head.
When the riots started and I watched the Minneapolis police precinct go up in flames, I was sure the new name of the Twin Cities would be “Detroit, Jr.” It’s fifty-two years after the riots of 1968 and Michigan never recovered. This was the only thing I could think of that would make Trump look good in comparison. Wow, was I wrong. Trump’s numbers never went up. He even tried to play the law-and-order card, but that’s not really feasible by a President who consistently holds himself above the law. He tried to pull a Richard Nixon but ended up looking like Lyndon Johnson, forgetting that Nixon resigned in disgrace.
The whole race baiting thing could have worked fifty years ago when whites were a much stronger majority. Now…not so much. White supremacy is part of the foundation of America. It is part of our heritage, but not a heritage that any human should take pride in. It’s just like anti-gay rhetoric. I remember when I was a conservative Protestant and people were taking a hard-line stance against “the homosexual agenda.” It’s fine to protest gay rights when you are not aware of any gays in your life. Back in the 1990s, Ellen DeGeneres had a sitcom that she lost when she came out as gay. This is not fifty years ago, but maybe 25. Now gays are much more out. Do you really want to protest against your mother, father, sister, brother, friend, co-worker, boss, or classmate ever having basic civil rights? Now Trump is taking a hard-line stance against people that protest and topple the white-supremacy agenda. The problem for him is all the people that are now friends, lovers, co-workers, mothers, fathers, or classmates of blacks, Asians, Hispanics, etc. What worked fifty years ago is now falling on deaf ears. It’s like playing your parents’ favorite music, quaint and uninteresting. Being white is not so privileged anymore and the younger generation has no patience for celebrating Confederate traitors.
And then there’s the economic issues. Capitalism is not surviving. The basis of capitalism is consumer demand. With 30 million Americans with no job and many of them with no wealth to fall back upon, the plug has been pulled on American capitalism. You can force a restaurant to be open, but you can’t force potential customers to have money to eat there. You can force a salon to be open, but you can’t force people to go if they think they are risking coronavirus to do it. Let’s not forget about the millions of Americans with massive, crushing student loan debt, including myself. These people can’t buy houses or cars or much of anything else. Conservative Republicans have been taxing the poor for many years, but that is not possible with people that have no jobs. Conservatives have brought this upon themselves. With no middle-class to rely on, the wealthy will start having to pay their fair share. Welcome to the American Banana Republic.
So even if Trump got re-elected in November, everything will change around him. He represents a world view that is white supremacist at its core. And he is killing off his base. The states with surging coronavirus cases are mostly those led by Trumpian ass-kissing governors with no concern for the welfare of their own citizens. Killing off every single black and brown person in Massachusetts or California will not turn those states red, but eliminating even a handful of elderly white Republican voters in swing states like Florida and/or Michigan will turn these states permanently blue. Trump will be forever known for offing his staunchest voters.
I feel like I am preparing for the next phase not just of my life, but of the whole country. I will not defend things that just don’t work. That includes my dysfunctional family, white supremacy, or Darwinian capitalism. I am not fighting these things. I am simply removing my support from them. I will not give my unconditional support to things that have never served my interests. I am done. Let the chips fall where they may.
I saw on the news today that VP Pence is cancelling two speaking engagements, one to Florida and the other to Arizona (I think) because of the coronavirus outbreaks there. This is just the beginning of non-existent rallies.The one in Tulsa was less than impressive. I believe that is because even though Trump doesn’t take the virus seriously, many of his 65+ followers do. If you are a Trumper, the last thing you want is to die before you can vote for him in November. The virus is causing these fire-engine red states to hit pause on their re-openings. I saw a map of these states. I think it included Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Texas, Arizona, Nevada, Utah,and Idaho. So…….let me get this straight: the blue states don’t want Trump or Pence visiting them and the red states are not safe for them to visit. How hilarious is that?
Last week, the husband of one of my friends died. He tested negative for the virus, but the tests give 30% to 70% false negatives. I don’t give much credence to such tests. Here are the limited facts, as I know them. He had had eye surgery a few months ago and was improving. Suddenly, he had a pain in his left leg, then it moved up his left side. He died of two blood clots to his lungs like a day or two later. The point: he was not sick. Part of the coronavirus’s effects is blood clots. He was 56 years old. Not 76. Another Trumper bites the dust. His condition was serious enough to warrant getting tested. That says something.
And now Connecticut, New York, and New Jersey want tourists from these infectious states to self-quarantine if they visit. Governor Cuomo has shown massive leadership and has no interest in a bunch of red-state tourists undoing all the state’s progress. And the European Union is banning American tourists. They have their pandemic under control. Turn-about is fair play, like when Trump forbade EU tourists from coming here. The US is now in the same category as Brazil because of the same lack of leadership.
The polls have Biden leading Trump in all the battle ground states. One poll even showed Biden ahead in Texas by a point. It’s a statistical tie (within the margin of error), but Texas should not be a battle ground state at all.
The red states may not stay red and the battle ground states are looking bluer and bluer. Playing racially-divisive political games is risky at best in a country that is becoming less white by the minute. Trump needs a new playbook if he wants to hold rallies anywhere at this point.
I’ve been watching the protests. I don’t really care about them. They just provide an alternative to Trump on the TV. I think the protests will go on all summer. Why? Because the protesters have nothing else to do. I have heard that 38 million Americans have filed for unemployment since the pandemic began. Some of them haven’t received a dime yet. No job and all the time in the world on their hands. Nothing to lose. This is a set-up from hell. It is always bad to create an entire underclass with nothing to lose.
Capitalism’s foundation is consumer demand. With millions of Americans without a penny to their name, this cannot end well for capitalists. Zero disposable income. Who thinks this can have a positive outcome?
I’ve been nervous for the past several years. I know many people who have been working two or three jobs and barely scraping by. I knew that if the economy so much as hiccuped, the entire system might implode. Trump kept touting how great the economy was. For whom, exactly? Wealth has been moving upward for a while now.
This is karma writ large. Conservative Christians are staunch defenders of the capitalist system, which shows how unintelligent they truly are. The Bible is clear: to whom much is given, much is required. (Luke 12:48) Capitalists say that it has to be voluntary. Uh, no. Whether or not it is given voluntarily is irrelevant. It is called “justice.” Rich people say, “I earned that money.” My friends working two and three jobs worked way harder than you and have nothing. Taxing the rich is righteousness. Taxing the poor is a good way to create a coup. Now the whole system is in jeopardy. Welcome to the new American banana republic.
I am seeing chaos.
My parents came to my apartment last week. My dad was downright flippant. He said, “I am not contagious and neither are you.” I stated flatly, “You can’t know that. I haven’t been tested.” My dad’s grasp on reality is tenuous at best. This is proof.
At work, we are relaxing the standards more by the hour. I think we are being careless and greedy. We are reducing the quarantine time for items. Customers are not wearing masks. And now customers can once again shop from the z-racks when they are dragged out onto the floor. This is frightening.
And then there’s Trump. He wants a shoulder-to-shoulder rally in Arizona. You might think he doesn’t take it seriously. You would be wrong. He is forcing would-be attendees to sign a waiver that they will not sue him when they get the coronavirus. Once again, he takes zero responsibility for anything whatsoever. He knows the risk is real. He knows the health of his base is in jeopardy. And he does not care. Let that sink in. Anyone stupid enough to sign the waiver and attend a rally deserves whatever they get. I am not kidding.
One of my brothers lives in Florida and has COPD (and cirrhosis and heart disease). His COPD seems to be getting a lot worse, or so says my mother. After we talk, it hits me: he might have the coronavirus. No one will ever know. He already has so many health problems that it will occur to nobody that the virus played any role at all. Why would anyone test him?
What I think is different now is the spread of the virus. When it landed in the U.S., it came to Washington state from China and to New York and New Jersey from Italy. It was an urban thing. Now, especially with the protests, it is making its way into every nook and cranny of this country. Churches are opening. States are opening. Some cities, like Miami, are seeing such spikes that they are contemplating re-closing.
This thing is not going away. At some point, every single American is going to know someone who has had it and/or died from it. And people seem unconcerned. Wow.
The protests continue.
They go on night after night. But they do seem to be less violent.
There are multiple levels of concern here. First, violent protests only prove to the oppressors that they have been correct all along. Blacks really can’t self-govern because they lack the basic self-discipline to function in a democratic society, any white nationalist will tell you. Torching the police precinct in one’s own neighborhood makes the white nationalists look intelligent and on-point.
Second, the protesters look like covidiots. They are not all wearing masks and we are talking about zero social distancing. When there are spikes in cases and deaths from the coronavirus, trust me, there will be little sympathy from conservatives. The protesters are trying to make a point about police brutality and racism. That’s kind of tough to do when you are dead or in a hospital vainly hoping for access to a ventilator. People six feet under make poor advocates for anything.
Third, the new school year begins in a few months. I am waiting to see if white Minneapolis parents yank their kids out of the public schools and move elsewhere for their children’s safety. I really, really don’t want the Twin Cities to be the next Detroit. It is 52 years after the Detroit riots and neither Detroit nor Michigan as a whole has ever recovered. I am now 52 years old and would not live to see the rebirth of Minneapolis.
I did see an article that offered a small amount of hope. It compared Trump to Lyndon Johnson, not Richard Nixon, in reference to the riots. The protesters in 1968 were fighting against Vietnam and the racial situation that Johnson and the Democrats were presiding over. Today’s protesters are fighting against a militarized police force and racial insanity that Trump has stoked. Trump is the incumbent, not the “law and order” fixer come to save the day. He has tried to present himself as the law-and-order guy, but he has used the military in a very banana-republic, Moammar Qaddafi, kind of way. Military leaders are rebuking Trump up one side and down the other for being used in such a dictatorial manner.
One of the things Trump is doing is using armed people to control protesters. I say “armed people” because these folks have no insignia, no badges, no names. This is seriously creepy and will backfire on Trump massively. Real law enforcement and military have unit insignia, names, badge numbers, etc. The reason this will blow up in Trump’s face is that we don’t live in the 1950s anymore. Everyone has a cell phone that is also a camera. The faces of these anonymous people will be plastered all over the Internet and they will be recognized. Anonymity, like privacy, does not exist today. If you think no one will recognize you, you are delusional. Trump has not thought this one through.
I see similarities between now and 1968, but now I see some differences. Are they enough not to send Minnesota down Michigan’s path? I sure hope so.