Of the Divided States of America & Redux

Another week in the United States and another tragedy at the hands of a firearm. 

Not to kick a dead horse, but I feel like I’ve been here before…

Then I was told that guns aren’t the issue with Alton Sterling or Philando Castile, or the Dallas Police officers for that matter. 

It’s about Obama and the death of America.  It’s about division.  

Then we were told Alton Sterling was shot because he was reaching for his gun. 

So he was shot with a gun because he was reaching for a gun, but it’s not about guns.

I’m confused.

Police Officers are armed to defend themselves against the citizens who carry guns.

Some of those same citizens carry guns because they fear brutality from police officers who carry guns.

It would be dismissive and ignorant to claim that people of colour, especially those from neighbourhoods with higher levels of crime and thus greater interaction with law enforcement, have no real history from which to base their fears. 

Police officers have been convicted and sent to prison for brutalising and murdering people of colour.

People of colour have brutally and senselessly murdered police officers

So this is a war, and every American has been asked to take a side.  Who’s right? 

Does no one seen the gun correlation?

If America banned guns would the police still need to carry them?

Alton Sterling doesn’t have a gun because he hasn’t grown up in a culture that taught him he may need it, thus he has nothing to reach for, and – assuming the reports are true that that IS the reason they shot him – the officers have zero reason to kill him. 

But the fears of both sides are real and justified, however much we want to close our eyes to it. 

Thus, another in a long list of lines are drawn in America, leaving the population divided and blind to the fact that the enemy they think they are fighting is the wrong enemy. 

The real enemy is ourselves. 

Blinded by sensational media from both sides of the fence that are forcing people further and further apart, yet both sides point fingers at the other side’s ‘sensational media.’  And round and round and round we go, with no one getting any wiser to the real problem. 

American is a selfish nation full of individuals who are too easily manipulated by fear.

It also doesn’t help that Americans deal so frequently in absolutes. 

One cannot respect and honour the men and women of law enforcement who go out everyday of their lives and sacrifice their own personal safety to make America a safer place and also hold them to a high standard that says, ‘if you cross the line you must answer for it.” 

One cannot be shocked and saddened by the recent loss of life and not be considered a ‘cop hater’. 

One cannot also be disgusted by the amount of crime and violence on the street without being ‘racist’ and ‘blind’ to the fact that I’m of a skin colour that denotes privilege and thus have no right to speak.  My skin colour is often the very root of that problem.

I have to feel bad for the colour of my skin because it means my life was easier.  So, we don’t want an end to shame, just a reversal of it. 

It’s these same absolutes that lead decent people to claim that Donald Trump becoming the president of the United States is not evidence that bigotry is acceptable as long as that person is the representative of ‘my party’.  But the division isn’t their fault.  It’s the OTHER guy. 

That pointer really is handy as a finger, ain’t it?

American has their lovely two party system and it’s what leaves people feeling like they have to pick a side.

The sad truth is that neither side is really the side of progress for the whole.  It’s all self serving and the majority of people live in ignorance of that fact. 

The majority have also never stepped out of their own little bubble to truly understand the width and breadth of their own country.  How can you truly say you know what’s best for America when you’ve only ever lived in one place?  Put yourself in the shoes of someone living on the other side of the country from you, facing wholly different problems…

“But those aren’t my problems, I have to deal with….”

Your own shit.  That’s what American’s care about.  The three feet in front of their face.  The context from which they understand their own individual life and circumstance. 

So, two people of colour and five police officers died and we fail to acknowledge that this is a war we’ve allowed to boil over for years, and neither side is solely to blame. 

The real blame falls on the people, because we refuse to take the guns out of everyone’s hands and try to bring the violence to an end.  We refuse to actually be, in fact, united.

“It wouldn’t stop the illegal guns though!” 

No.  But it would be a start.  Stop focusing on why it won’t work and start trying to help find a way to MAKE it work.

America needs to start being know for something other than violence.  Military might and guns.  That is America.

I had a girl in my preschool class last year who was talking to me about where I come from.  We nicknamed this girl “Katy” after Katy Perry and everyone in the class often called her, “California Girl.”  She said she wished she could visit California one day and go to the beach.  Then she made a sad face. 

“What’s wrong?”  I asked.

“I want to go, but I can’t.” 

Confused, I stabbed at the reason she was saying this.  “When you grow up you can go wherever you want.” 

She shook her head.  “I’m afraid of going to America, I don’t want to be shot by a gun.” 

That’s from the mouth of a 6 year old Japanese girl.

That’s the image America is selling.  That’s what people see when they look at America from the outside. 

We should all be ashamed.

Alton Sterling, Philando Castile, Lorne Ahrens, Michael Krol, Michael Smith, Brent Thompson, and Patrick Zamarripa are all dead now because we cannot see how divided we are.  Because we stand on our side of the line, clinging to our righteousness, and refusing to understand that change doesn’t come without a willingness to concede the need for it… from BOTH sides.

Instead of looking to pin blame, we should be looking for the root of this problem and finding a way to stop it form ever happening again.  How can we do that if we are too busy trying to prove it isn’t our side’s fault while blaming the other side for pointing the finger at us?

Like any dispute we must be willing to accept our own culpability, carry our share of the burden, and cross the line to our so-called enemy and ask how we can end this.  Until we can share the burden equally we’ll always be divided.

That very concept runs contrary to the name of the country and so few want to face how disgraceful that is.

So there’s your problem.  Now how are you going to fix it?

Book Exchange

36 possible books for the price of 1!  Sounds great, right?

Okay, I am going to throw the ugly word our there now… it’s a pyramid scheme.  BUT A GOOD ONE!  The only thing you do to participate in this is buy one (1) book and send it along.  Then gather up six friends who want to play along and have them do the same.

If you send along your book, and you can find some brave souls who want to participate, you can get up to 36 books back from this… for the price of 1 book!

I don’t like money making schemes.  Book making schemes though?  I’m all for it.

I bought my book and sent it along, and if that is all it costs me, I am happy to have done it.  If you would like to have a few books come your way and spread literacy and the love of it around, please like this post.

But!  Only like this post if you want to participate.  You can email me at my gmail address (located in the “contact me” section of my blog)  and I will send you the rest of the details.

Let’s spread some book love around!

Of Guns & Control

America sure does love its guns. 

Well, some of them don’t, but those are just the bleeding heart liberals that don’t understand the necessity of deadly force when an intruder comes for your loved ones.  Could happen any minute now, so we gotta be prepared. 

The simple, ‘violence begets more violence,’ never crossed anyones mind I guess. 

The issue is complex and I don’t mean to make light.  Many people have lost their lives due to America’s stubborn refusal to take a good hard look at not only why guns are such a problem in the US, but how they became one. Continue reading

Mount Fuji, or how I almost died.

 

This is an old blog I wrote nearly 6 years ago – dear God, has it really been that long? – after climbing Mount Fuji.  When I saw the daily post ‘mountain‘ I couldn’t help but dig it back up.

Mountain climbing really is an amazing experience and re-reading this brought that back in a huge rush.  If you’ve never climbed a mountain, I would highly recommend it.

PS – I actually took that picture!


Continue reading

Of Hollywood & Diversity

I read on a friend’s Facebook post the other day that they are making a biopic of Michael Jackson’s life and that he will be played by Joseph Fiennes. 

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This lead to a debate of needing to give more people of colour the opportunity to star in major films. 

To be clear upfront:  casting a caucasian man to play Michael Jackson, who was African American, is absolutely ridiculous.  Regardless of what Michael might have looked like toward the end of his life. 

That being said, there is a reason behind why this happened and I am going to attempt to address it.

1. The Problem of Miscasting Goes Deeper Than Race.

Continue reading

Battle Royale: Star Wars – Round 2

With Episode II rightfully flattened last week, we move on to round 2 with Episode I still standing on top of the hill!

For details of how this king of the hill battle works, please check the previous post here.

Round 2:

Episode I: The Phantom Menace

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versus Episode III: Revenge of the Sith

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Why Episode I Lost:

1: Midichlorians, Immaculate conception, and Trade Disputes.

In The Phantom Menace, George Lucas tried much to hard to create an overly complex story with elements that left the audience asking, “why does this matter?”  The characters were wooden and all the banter and connection felt in the original series was destroyed by his need to over tell the story. 

a8ac315baa675b0caaba96ce570a728ffc8a7b97924cd0a7df932f7c493a97c9As to Anakin, all that needed to be said was, “I’ve never felt such a strong presence of the force.  Even from a fully grown master.”  We don’t need midichlorians, or associations with Jesus.  Please.

“He’ll bring balance to the force… by dying for all of our sins…”  Ugh.

The empire was a vast, overpowering, tyrannical machine that suppressed the people.  That is a theme almost anyone can understand and sympathise with.

A trade dispute, on the other hand, sounds petty and, well, just boring.  Grand Moff Tarkin was a man one could respect as a serious man of purpose.  Viceroy Gunray is a douche. 

2. Baby Anakin Is Even Worse Than Teenage Anakin.

“Cho skrunee dopat, sleemo.”  Yeah… Almost everything Anakin said in Episode I is cringe worthy.  “Are you an angel?”  “I wouldn’t have survived this long if I wasn’t so good at fixing things.”  “Yippee.” 

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Many people have tried to blame this on Jake Lloyd and that is unfair.  The assumption has been, “It can’t be George Lucas’s fault.”

Yes, it damn well can be. 

This was quite possibly the worst child acting I’ve seen in all my years of watching films.  But I have to also admit that it’s the worst performance I’ve ever seen by Ewan McGregor and Natalie Portman as well, an actor and actress whose body of work is incredibly impressive.  So, if two Oscar level actors appear unable to act… who is to blame? 

The douche bag who spent too much time obsessing over the sound effects and flashing lights. 

Little personal note to Mr. Lucas:  No one gives a flying shit about ship noises.  Well, no one but you.

3. Stealing, absolutely not.  Gambling with a child’s life?  Sure.

Oh no, the hyperdrive is broken!  What will we do?  They land on Tatooine.  There’s a slave holding scumbag that has one… but mind tricks don’t work on him (making his race equal to19fe5dfc3adb3101e8ec5dc67bdc9056de7c85ec6d64bef879555c096b104300 Hutts… which begs the question, why not just use a Hutt instead of increasing the number of beings impervious to mind tricks??). 

Stealing the hyperdrive was out of the question.  They were on a Hutt controlled planet! 

With two Jedi, I find it hard to believe they couldn’t have worked this out.  Then, to assuage your conscience, you bring back a brand new one when you are finished escaping with the queen.

Nope.  We are going to gamble with a child’s life in a race that leaves many people dead.  That is much more sensical.  Que the, “Who needs logic,” soundtrack. 

4. “I’ve Got the High Ground” Only Applies to Good Guys.

Darth Maul was awesome.  He was intimidating, fast, and totally fit the role of series bad guy.  Then he died… in the stupidest way possible. 

I contest that one of the major faults of the prequels was their lack of a consistent bad guy.  Think of what having Darth Vader for three films did.  It built his character slowly, showing you different sides of him and made you grow to dread him while at the same time secretly respecting him for his badassery. 

Every one of the prequels had a new ‘sidekick’ to the emperor…and they are increasingly lame. 

So Darth Maul kills Qui-Gon and then Obi-Wan rushes in, all filled with rage and hate, and fights him like a serious bad ass.  That sequence is by far the best lightsaber fight ever captured on film.  The successive films lost their focus on how to film these well and they sucked.

Then Obi-Wan gets knocked over the side of the vent, loses his lightsaber and is hanging on for dear life.  Darth Maul toys with him a bit and, somehow, can’t sense that Obi-Wan is reaching out for his master’s lightsaber (some force user Maul was… despite how well he fought UP to that moment)

Then what does Obi-Wan do?  Leap straight up in front of Darth Maul, flip over his head, land behind him and cut him in half.  And Darth Maul… never… moves… a…. muscle.  A force user who proved to be impossibly fast couldn’t think to even put his blade out, which is all it would have taken. 

This is made even more ridiculous when you factor in that, having the high ground (as Maul did) is the VERY THING OBI-WAN USES TO DEFEAT ANAKIN! 

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Again, ugh. 

5. All The Wacky Antics.

I am not going to blame this all on Jar-Jar.  That character was a mockery in and of itself.  Many people felt the same vitriol toward C-3PO when the original series came out though.  Likewise for the Ewoks. 

George Lucas, and I am certain he gets this from his buddy, Mr. Spielberg, loves to create childish and stupid characters to play the comic relief.  Then have thtumblr_m9n4e7djcu1rcl33co1_500em do stupid things stupidly to lighten the mood. 

I don’t really like  it when Spielberg does this.  I hate it when Lucas imitates it. 

Jar-Jar was the recent version.  As were the battle droids. 

Riddle me this, what good did it do for the movie having stupid droids?  Why does that even make sense?  It’s a robot. 

So Jar-Jar was stupid.  The droids were stupid.  All the Gungans were stupid.

Unfortunately, so was most of the movie. 


 

Honorable Mention:  Jedi’s are supposed to be tranquil.  Anger leads to the dark side, right?

Why the hell was this clown a Jedi then?

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Creates Angriest Characters in the History of Film… Picked to Play a “Peaceful” Jedi.

Episode I, you are the weakest link.  Goodbye.

 


 

A new Battle Royale! will be published each Saturday.  Next week I will be pitting Episode III of Star Wars up against Episode IV.  The movies will duke it out until we have crowned a king of the mountain.  As always, I appreciate any comments or feedback… especially if you disagree with my point of view.  Let’s hash it out, bro!

Downfall VII: Holier Than Thou (#Fiction Friday)

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A Lake Without Water

“How does one quantify a life?”

A crowd of black clad mourners stands in the pouring rain, taking in the words of the soaking priest with blank expressions.  The rheumy eyed man drones on, the lower half of his cassock clinging to his body and water hammering his umbrella, drowning out his words.  That the woman had been murdered in the rain and was now about to be buried in the same circumstances escaped no one present, least of all the man delivering her eulogy.

God works in mysterious ways.   

“In second Corinthians four, verses seventeen and eighteen, the scripture tells us not to focus on the struggles of the flesh, “for light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.  So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”

“And so we entrust our sister’s body to the earth, not in sadness, but in joy.  For we here gathered understand and believe wholeheartedly that the world to which she will now be commended, the unseen world for which all true believers are bound, is eternal.  It is a place of peace and rest.  A place where she may lay her many labours aside and rejoice in the glory of the Lord!” 

Scanning the crowd, the father’s face begins to constrict.  He is met with indifference and boredom.  They no more believe in the salvation of God than magic or fairy tales, these servants of gold and earthly riches.  They stand before this grave a mockery, spitting in the face of the Almighty.

Their fallen companion was no better.  She had been baptised in his church many years ago but had not attended in nearly 10 years.  The moment the choice had become hers she ceased to turn up.  Only on holidays where the rest of the family came together did she deem God worthy of her time.  She had chosen the rewards of the flesh and now she would lie with the maggots.  Opening his pale hands to them and narrowing his eyes he continues, struggling to contain the true words he wished to unleash upon these charlatans.

Lukewarm.  You are all lukewarm and will be spewed from the mouth of the Saviour.  Spewed like the self-serving sycophants you are.  Filth. 

“As for ourselves, we must take comfort in first Thessalonians four, verses seventeen and eighteen, “After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air.  And so we will be with the Lord forever.  Therefore encourage one another with these words.” 

The hymn was sung after and the burial ceremony began.  The priest stood with his bony hands clasped before him, starting at the gathered crowd from his pale, hallowed face, and wondering if they had caught the subtle message he sent in his last words.  He highly doubted it.  Sinners that they were they could not raise themselves up from the filth long enough to understand the true magnificence of God.  This lot was the very reason he had had to struggle so mightily to build his church.  The congregation had money enough to go around, and yet the tithes had always come back short of expectation.  Why?  Because tangible sin is so much more enjoyable than the intangible promise of salvation. 

A slow smile spread from his lips and his gray eyes narrowed. 

Great shall be my reward.  I cannot say the same for the likes of you. 

The crowd began to disburse and the priest stood long, allowing the taint of vanity and selfishness to wash away before he could perform his final duty.  He would need one final conversation with the woman before he could be satisfied that the work of his station had been fulfilled.  When the last of the attendees were out of sight he began.

“Alone now, I shall take your final confession,” he began in a voice laced with hate.  “As you are unable to give it of your own accord I shall have to make assumptions as to what you may have said. 

“Forgive me father, for I have abandoned the Lord and made my own self master.  Pride and greed are my sins and I have revelled in them like a pig in shit.  I have spat on your name and sought my own rewards here on earth, caring nothing for the heavenly riches I should have striven for whole heartedly.  I shared the temple you created of my flesh with any man willing to worship it and I disregarded almost every commandment you laid forth, casting off the burden of righteous living and choosing instead the path of least resistance and greatest worldly pleasure.” 

The priest took a deep breath and his lip began to twitch into a snarl.  The next part he could not twist or allow to be tainted.  It would make him as guilty as she and he would not allow her sins to drag him into hell.  He would see the face of God, even if this selfish whore would not.

“You are forgiven, child.  Now go with God.” 

The priest’s tongue felt heavy and he licked at the roof of his mouth as if the words he had spoken were distasteful to him.  Staring down at the woman’s grave he found himself filled with rage and hate.  It was people like her who had forced him to do the things he had done.  Her sins had brought him down.  If she had given as she should have, none of it would have happened. 

Lost in thought, the priest never heard the man approaching from the rear.  He registered a sudden swift whooshing sound and then the world exploded in a firework of pain and colour.  He fell to his knees in the sloppy mud, felt the back of his skull cracking open like an egg shell, and his brain began misfiring hundreds of millions of last second messages.  He needed to know that he was in pain, that his head had been caved in from behind, and that several pieces of skull bone had pierced his brain.  He needed to know he was dying there in the mud. 

Only God knows if he understood. 

A man clad in all black stepped around the priest, a piece of carbon steel piping in his gloved hand.  He carried a black umbrella in the other hand and he stared down at the dying priest in disgust.

“Sanctimonious falsifier.  You cast your eyes down upon others, but it will be you who stands first in line for the great lake.” 

The priest’s mouth hung slack and his eyes glassed over.  Drool began to run down his chin and onto the soaking ground as the man with the umbrella leaned in closer. 

“You are not forgiven, wolf.  Now go to hell.” 

The priest breathed his last breath, collapsing face first into the mud and the muck.  The man with the umbrella tossed the steel pipe down on top of the fallen priest before disappearing into the gathering storm, whistling the tune to A Lake Without Water as he went.


To the loyal readers of this series, welcome back and sorry for the delay.  Life, as they say, got in the way.  I also had a mighty struggle over who my black clad friend would kill next.  It took me a while to be satisfied with the target and now I am.  Thoroughly.

Update on scheduling:

Downfall is one of two series I am developing on this site and a new episode will be released every other Friday on what will now be entitled, “Fiction Friday.”  Posts on Fridays will alternate between Downfall and Othersiders from now on.

Next Friday (February 12th) will be the next episode of Othersiders.  The next instalment of Downfall, in which our faithful friend the detective finally finds a large clue that will help to unravel the true motive of our umbrella buddy, will be released on the 19th of February.  

Thank you so much for reading and, as always, I appreciate your feedback and support!