What if…

Wednesday, 17 October 2018

I have no idea if what I’m about to write is correct, or incorrect, or partially correct and partially incorrect, or totally fiction. So, you can ignore me if you wish.

During my six years (yes, six years) of therapy, my doctor informed me, more than once, “Mark. You are very intelligent. More than intelligent enough to take a problem apart, and put it back together, to see how it works. You can turn the problem over. Turn it on its ear, look at it sideways, and take it apart in a totally different way, and put it back together. And learn more about it.”

Well. Since the events of November 8th, 2016, in the United States, I’ve been doing that. I’ve been taking apart the problem, and analyzing it, and putting everything back, to see if that’s how it makes sense to me. It’s been a harsh two years. I’ve lost a lot of people I once could speak with. I’ve had many parting of the ways, caused by ideologies that didn’t like each other. But, I kept at it. And I’m still keeping at it. But, now? Now, I have the beginnings of an understanding that’s grown enough I can put some of it into words. This may sound like a lot of what if questions. But, this is not me asking questions.

I don’t want any answers.

This is me, thinking perhaps, things are not what they seem.

What if. What if there are people who believe it’s not the job of government, the United States Federal Government, the State Government, the County or City government, or any other government, to write laws that dictate how people behave.

What if. What if there are people who believe it’s not the job of any government to take care of people. Not the job of the government to feed the hungry, to make certain the sick get the medical care they need, to make certain the population is educated.

What if. What if there are people who believe it is the responsibility of people, human beings, neighbors, and friends, people of the churches, to feed those who are hungry, care for those who are sick, and need medical care, and keep themselves, and each other, educated, and learning, through life.

What if. What if there are people who believe crowd funding is a great thing, because it makes it easier for people to help each other. Because they can send $5 to help someone they don’t know, and will never meet, get the cancer treatment they need to stay alive. Because they can send $1 to help someone who got let go when the company closed, and now can’t pay the electricity bill to keep the heat and the lights on in their house.

What if. What if there are people believe neighbors, and neighborhood churches, should carry bag lunches to people living on the street, using their own money, or money they get from other neighbors, or from church members.

Somehow, I don’t think people who believe such things would view government mandated health care the same way as people who believe the government should guarantee everyone healthcare? Rather, I think they would have a totally different view of health care, one that’s almost incomprehensible, and makes no sense at all, to those who think it’s the government’s place to make sure we all have health care.

What if. What if there are people who believe gender is a private, personal thing, and not something to be shared publicly, or advertised. What if there are people who believe it is natural for some men to love men, and some women to love women, and they don’t have a problem with such love until they are told they have to publicly embrace such love as normal. What if they believe it’s normal for men to marry the men they love, and women to marry the women they love, and that they should follow the same path to marriage everyone else does, and find someone who feels it is OK to perform gay marriages. What if there are people who feel about this the same way they feel about marriages between people with different religions, such as Conservative Christian, and Muslim?

Somehow, I don’t think people who believe such things would view government laws declaring who can marry who, and which clergy is to be required to perform such marriages, the same way as those who believe government legislation is the only means of securing the right of marriage for all people, and not just for standard heterosexual marriages. I think they would have a totally different view of marriage, and again, it may well be incomprehensible to those who think it’s the governments place to guarantee everyone the equal opportunity to get married.

What if. What if there are people who believe sexual harassment isn’t placing your hand on a woman’s shoulder without asking, as you try to help them fix their computer, and are standing behind them, but is, rather, making an effort to observe the screen, and the actions the individual is taking, in order to better identify the problems?

What if. What if there are people who believe men are the victims of millions of years of biological processes, perhaps even evolution, where their biology pushes them to mate with women, and it’s not that they are predators, as portrayed in the press, but rather, they are biological beings, with body chemistries, and survival instincts, that some are better at controlling than others. What if there are people who believe that weaker men, men less likely to be selected by women as mates, are more likely to perform sexual assaults, because of the biological urge to survive, as a species.

Would those people who believe the laws of the government can mandate how people behave view sexual harassment, or even sexual assault, the same way as the people who believe such things as these biological processes?

If you have wondered what I am trying to say, trying to explain, when I tell you there is no right or wrong, no up or down, no left or right, no good or evil, no just or unjust, you should know, this is an example of what I’m trying to say. That I’m trying to ask, “What if?”

What if. What if there are people who believe there should be more churches like the one the entrance to the home development I live in. A church where, every Tuesday, from 1000 hours until 1400 hours, has a food service. They provide food for those who need it, as best they can. And they collect canned goods, and non-perishables from their congregation, and from anyone who wishes to contribute, as they can. And they’ve been doing this for over eight years now.

There are, it’s true, evil people in this world. There are, it’s true, hate filled, prejudiced, supremacists. But, not everyone who sides with the Republican Party, and with Donald Trump, Mitch McConnell, and Ted Cruz is hate filled, prejudiced, or a supremacist.

What they are is different. What they believe is different. How they think, and react, to the same events, is different. They aren’t evil. They’re different. Strikingly different. With a different view of what government is, and how it should work. And what society is, and how it should work.

It may be that there are more hungry people than churches, friends, neighborhoods, and families can feed. It may be that medical treatments, and housing needs may be more than neighbors, and churches, and crowd funding, are able to support. But, does that really mean the government needs to take over? Or perhaps, the government would make a better supplement, when it’s needed, when churches, friends, neighbors, and families, aren’t sufficient.

As I said when I started these words. This is not me asking questions. This is me, finally figuring out how to put some of what I have been learning these past two years into words.

Will my words have any meaning to anyone? I don’t know. But, I do find, at times, to be able to sleep at night, I have to write them down, and put them where they can be found.



For The Roses…

In 3 days, it would be my turn. I would turn 50 years old. 50 orbits around the sun, completed. It was time. 3 days. All the time I needed, all the time I could ask for.

I packed my gun in the bottom of my bag. Made certain the fragmenting rounds were in it. I knew how to use it, what to do with it, as my father had known, and his father. I got dressed, and joined my wife for breakfast. We spoke of what was to come. “You know I only have 3 days, right?”

“You’re going to the gardens, right? To stay there? To see the flowers?”

I nodded. She’d made waffles. Blueberries all through them. My favorite, and she knew it. My favorite brand of soda to drink, no milk, no coffee. “Hope you like your meal, dear.”

“It’s perfect.” I smiled. “You’ll send Tommy after the car?”

“Yes. It’s all settled.”

“I wish Becky was older. Already moved out. Would make it easier on her, I think.”

My wife of 24 years nodded. “I’ll join you in a couple of years, you know.”

It was my turn to nod, “I know. I hope they’re good years for you.”

“They will be. At least I’ll have all my memories.”

I finished eating, visited the bathroom one more time, and got my bag. I kissed the love of my life on my way out. That was, I think the hardest part, saying good-bye to her. Even knowing the day was coming for my entire life didn’t make that any easier. Knowing I would never see her smile again. Never hold her again. “Dad told me this would be the toughest part, you know.”

“A wise man, your father.” She held me a bit tighter. “Why do I never want to let you go?” I let her hold me for as long as she wished. Knowing she would let me go. Knowing this was her last gift to me. “Remember me, OK? Promise me. Promise me you’ll remember me, and wait for me.”

“I will, dear. You know I will.”

Those were the last words I spoke to her.

The drive to the botanical garden was quiet. I never turned on the radio, or any music. Instead, I listened to the world. The sound of the wind, the songs of birds, the laughter of children, the honking of horns in traffic. All of it. I’d never noticed how beautiful it was. Never noticed how much a gift daily life was.

The drive was uneventful. Quiet, even. The young man, still a boy, really, who let me through the gate, nodded. “I’ll let them know you’ve arrived. No one will disturb you.”

“Thank you.”

It all started a thousand years ago. It’s all there in the history books. How the world couldn’t support all of us. There were too many people. There was not enough water. Not enough air. Not enough metals, minerals, plants, animals. Not enough of anything. Tens of thousands of us starved every day. Tens of thousands of us fought in wars, every day. Old men shot children, boys and girls, to protect their own children. Murder was the only way to get a job. Someone had to die for an opening to become available. There were too many people.

It was the same with our religions. Every one of them claimed to be the only true faith. Claimed their god was the only god. There were entire parts of the world left in ruins, the ground radioactive, the air toxic to breathe, where religions had tried to kill each other. No one could go there. No one could live there. Even after a thousand years, thousands of square miles of land, all over the surface of our world, were still so deadly, not even bacteria lived there. And bacteria could live anywhere. Even inside volcanoes, where they thrived on the noxious gases, and temperatures that would melt rock, and incinerate a person so thoroughly, not even their bones would remain.

Our religions had killed parts of our world. No one would ever live there again. It would be 100,000 years, maybe much longer than that, before those parts of the planet healed.

Faced with our own extinction, we finally woke up, as a people. We finally stopped fighting. We’d learned there was no winning. That winning meant destroying everyone else, and everything else.

So, we changed. It started with the old men, really. They knew. They knew they were the problem. So, they wrote new laws. Then, they followed those laws. And all the old men, every last one of them, over the age of 50, shot themselves.

The women did the same.

Now, after a thousand years, it’s our way of life. It’s how we care for our world. For our children. For the life that remains here. We move on. We die. At 50 years old. It has limited the population, or at least the rate of growth. There are always jobs for our children when they become adults. No one starves anymore. Hunger on our world is gone. So is poverty.

We nearly lost our world, nearly destroyed it, and ourselves, before we learned. All life is priceless. All life is to be valued. All life is to be protected. Not use my life. Not just my families life. But the lives of those I have never known. The lives of the birds in the sky, the fish in the sea. They all matter.

It was three days until I turned 50. I stood in an ocean of roses. Deep, velvet red, pure, innocent white. And countless other colors. I’d always loved roses. They’d always brought peace to my soul. Calm to my life.

That’s why I stayed there, among them, until the sun set. And why no one came to get me after the garden closed.

My body will be here when the sun rises in the morning. But I won’t be. For the good of our world, the good of my children, the good of the roses. I’ll reach into my bag, beneath the light of the stars, sometime tonight. And I’ll get my gun.

And before the sun rises, I’ll do what I must. To make this world a better place for everyone.

Sunday, 06 May 2018