Insights from the Beach

Insight:

I often have great difficulty perceiving, processing, respecting, and then responding with kindness and understanding to the ever shifting moods and emotions of the people closest to me.

Greater difficulty yet perceiving, processing, respecting, and then responding with kindness and understanding to MY ever shifting moods and emotions.

= = = = = = = = = =

Insight:

It really has been quite a long while since I engaged with myself in the present moment.

Quite a long while since I disengaged from worry, anxiety, and anger.

Perhaps years since I approached the world NOT on some crusade, WITHOUT righteous indignation.

[Crusade: any vigorous, aggressive movement for the defense or advancement of an ideal, cause, etc.]

[Righteous: morally right or justifiable; virtuous]

[Indignation: anger or annoyance provoked by what is perceived as unfair treatment]

= = = = = = = = = =

Insight:

It is, in deed, impossible to approach anything with righteous indignation.  Not that it is impossible to TRY and do this.  But, the anger foundation of indignation precludes and renders impotent the purer intention of righteousness.

So, righteous indignation is not a thing.  Behavior is either righteous…or indignant.

Not both.
Not ever.

And in a crusade, the same is true.  There can be a righteous crusade…or an indignant crusade.

Not both.
Not ever.

Problem is, very often indignant crusaders claim righteousness, but the anger usurps all virtue.  And, often enough righteous crusaders (…and in particular righteous crusaders who, like me, contend with anxiety and a deeply internalized perfectionism founded on insecurity and self-loathing…) become overcome with the overwhelming power of rage…and thus that which had true virtue is drained and stealthily refilled with indignation.

= = = = = = = = = =

Insight:

No longer do I need to contemplate if I can be here…because I am here.

= = = = = = = = = =

Insight:

(Note: The language contained in the above recording includes curses of amazement, wonder, and insight.  No anger.  All revelation.  And as a whole, very little cursing at that.)

= = = = = = = = = =

Insight:

Such things cannot exist, thought the sea dweller.  But alas, upon our very world exist alien creatures, inconceivable structures, and evolutionary intelligences that no species can comprehend beyond the scope and limitations of its own consciousness.

= = = = = = = = = =

Insight:

-G

 

Ease on Down (the Beach)

Life…is a beach.

And then you dive.

I’m coming to you from Avon, North Cackalacka today, having prepped and polished a podcast for your pleasure.

It’s Jen and me, recording on the lapel mics for the first time.

(Well, Jen on the lapel for the first time and not me.)

I’m working on getting the levels from Intro (…which this podcast doesn’t have…) to lead music (…which it does…) to podcast (…yes…) to out music (…again, indeed…) uniform enough so that you don’t need to shift the volume to accommodate me.  This is for you, and so I should be the one to create continuity to accommodate you.

I will.

But…not this week.

So, music (louder) to podcast (quieter) to music (louder) and my appreciation (which is just kind of there in the atmosphere).

We present to you, “Ease on Down (the Beach).”

P.S.  There might not be a D2D podcast next week.  Uh, this week.  Whatever.  Or, you might get something on Friday.  But, maybe not.  So…yeah, that.

Toxic Hyper-Masculinity

It’s easy, particularly for men and the mainstream media, to underestimate the power and pervasiveness of toxic hyper-masculinity in contending with the state of things in the United States…and much of the world.

What do I mean by the phrase: toxic hyper-masculinity?

Here’s my definition:

The self-interested drive to approach any endeavor as a competition which must, at all costs and with violence as the primary option, be won, controlled, and deemed right and morally superior regardless of the means utilized to achieve the self-described victory.

Violence?  You might ask.

Yes.

We tend to think of violence as necessarily direct, person-to-person physical harm, but that’s just one of its definitions, and not even the primary one:

  • swift and intense force.

There are four others as found at dictionary.com.  (I’m not endorsing that site, but want to give credit where credit is required.)

  • an unjust or unwarranted exertion of force or power, as against rights or laws;
  • rough or immoderate vehemence, as of feeling or language; and
  • damage through distortion or unwarranted alteration.

Synonyms include: might, power, impact, fury.

“Violence” is an umbrella term, existing on a spectrum.

So, back to my definition of toxic hyper-masculinity, considering the depth and inclusiveness of the term, “violence.”

The self-interested drive to view any endeavor as a competition which must, at all costs and with violence as the primary option, be won, controlled, and deemed right and morally superior regardless of the means utilized to achieve the self-described victory.

When everything is a competition, there must be a victor.  There must also be losers.  And winning, as any of you who have played games know intimately, is the ultimate self-interest.  Think of Barry Bonds in baseball, Lance Armstrong in bicycling, and Donald J. Trump in politics.

If it is in my self-interest to always win, by any means necessary, there is no logical reason for me to relinquish my toxic hyper-masculinity.  Ever.  Right?

Wrong.

It is in my self-interest as well as the interest of humanity to doff the mantle of supremacy and oppressor.

Toxic hyper-masculinity = I “win” and many “lose.”

But what happens when the fields of violence and oppression one has sewn must be reaped?  Think again about Barry Bonds, about Lance Armstrong, about Donald J. Trump and the like.  Call it karma, call it comeuppance, call it cashing the check one has written, call it whatever you will…but it cannot be avoided.  Additionally, I’ve spent enough time in my life with a vigilant, angry, competitive brain…and that stress literally takes good years off of a life and causes actual self-harm.

“Buddhaghosa, in discussing anger said,  ‘By doing this you are like a man who wants to hit another and picks up a burning ember or excrement in his hand and so first burns himself or makes himself stink’.” —Visuddhimagga IX, 23. (source)

So no, a win, in this case, is decidedly NOT a win.

The patriarchy.  The misogyny.  The hyper-masculinity.

It’s powerful stuff.

Dangerous stuff.

And it must be targeted, mitigated, and as quickly as possible, dismantled, lest we intend to proceed with business as usual…continued perpetual war and all manner of violence against systemically engineered powerless communities.

-G

Rocking Like Gilbert Grape (Del Norris, pt 4)

Certain lines from this final, supremely inebriated, Del Norris podcast float to the surface then dissipate like my attention and ability to complete deeper thoughts in the midst of chemical enhancement.

“I’m the one who has Autism.”

“Meg Ryan in Top Gun.”

“Hippie beads and Ronald Reagan.”

“We can all change and move into the vagina of the Venn Diagram.”

Yes people, we can all change…and move into that spheroid that is neither to the left nor to the right, but exists inclusively in the middle.

We present to you, “Rocking Like Gilbert Grape (Del Norris, pt 4).”

-G

This is a GIF. Click on it.

Original Sin

(From, “Uncle Sam, Goddam,” by Brother Ali)

Only two generations away
from the world’s most despicable slavery trade.

Pioneered so many ways to degrade a human being
that it can’t be changed to this day.

Legacy so ingrained in the way that we think
we no longer need chains to be slaves.

Lord it’s a shameful display.

The overseers even got raped along the way.

‘Cause the children can’t escape from the pain
and they’re born with poisonous hatred in their veins.

Try and separate a man from his soul,
you only strengthen him and lose your own.

====================

This post builds from the immediately previous several essays and even older Driven2Drink explorations of racism, sexism, homo/transphobia, and rigid religious dogmatism.

I’m not going to redefine those terms.  However, we must begin from the same premise…that “Western Civilization,” for all that it has given human knowledge, scientific, and technological progress, includes hundreds of years of colonization, population decimation, religious and ethnic cleansing, slavery, rape, murder, and systemic oppression of people who are not white, Christian, outwardly masculine and heterosexual men.

As I communicated recently, if that premise seems entirely wrong to you or causes anger, it’s likely that the rest of these words will simply carry those feelings further.

Let’s start with the concept of “original sin.”  I was baptized Catholic, and have familiarity and understanding of the idea.  The quite succinct and accurate Wikipedia entry has this to say:

Original sin, also called ancestral sin, is the Christian doctrine of humanity’s state of sin resulting from the fall of man, stemming from Adam and Eve’s rebellion in Eden, namely the sin of disobedience in consuming from the tree of knowledge of good and evil.

My Catholic baptism washed away that sin.

But as I grew, I came to understand more tangible, recent ancestral sins…including the sins of the very Catholic church which instilled in me a constant sense of self-doubt, guilt, and worry.

God fearing, they say.

But I no longer fear God.

I fear that I’ll never fully doff the mantles of the other original sins into which I was born.

What are those sins?

  1. Being born white in the United States means one is born into a system of racism that has, for hundreds of years, enslaved, oppressed, marginalized, and dehumanized Black people.
  2. Being born male, in a male body, in the United States means one is born into a system of sexism, misogyny, and heteroterrorism (a.k.a. homo/transphobia) that has, for hundreds of years, relegated women and non-binary people to diminished roles even as they supported and built the country.
  3. As I’ve communicated in previous posts and on Twitter, I think “homo/transphobia” is a term that doesn’t quite capture what we, cisgender heterosexual, people, have done to people not like us.  And because I’m a straight person, I must contend with the sins committed against generations of non-straight humans.
  4. Spiritual oppression. Being born Catholic (…or any variety of mainstream Christian church…) in the U.S. means one is born into a system of dogmatic adherence to a twisted Christianity that demeans, oppresses, and belittles all other spiritual and religious endeavors.

The power class in the U.S. is now and always has been: white, male, hetero-normative, and Christian.

The direction of oppression, from a societal/systemic perspective, flows from the powerful…to the powerless.  And the more power one possesses (e.g. white AND male AND straight AND Christian) the stronger the level of original sin.  Additionally, the less power one possesses (e.g. Black AND female AND non cishet AND non Christian) in the United States, the stronger the weight of oppression.

The challenge for me?

I’m endeavoring toward unconditional self-love, enlightenment, and a zen-like peace of mind…without losing my goddam mind.

However, I have my unique set of genetic and environmental inputs that present real obstacles toward those goals.

Additionally, there are the birthrights of original sin that I described above.  So beyond my personal baggage, I carry the baggage of my ancestral forefathers and foremothers.  And I wish to unpack those bags and return the debilitating contents to the universe where they can dissipate.

I study…

I practice…

I endeavor toward…

Antiracism.

Antisexism.

Antiheteroterrorism.

Antidogmatism.

Is there an end to this journey?

Not in my lifetime…because the world as we’ve created it still studies, practices, and endeavors toward white, straight, male, hypoChristian (hypocrite + Christian) supremacy.

But I’ll continue to stride confidently in the direction I know to be right, mindful of my personal baggage…which often gets in the way of the larger work.

And somehow, baptize myself and be born again into the loving arms of humanity.

-G

Can I Kick It? (Del Norris, pt 3)

Today, Jason gets deep.

Today, Jason commits his second soliloquy. (“Saul-ih-kwee” in Jasonese, which is not Japanese, but somehow not not Japanese.  Weird.)

Today, we get gay, but not gay gay.  M’kay?

Today, I present to you, “Can I Kick It? (Del Norris, pt 3)”

-G

Where is Saul I. Kwee? What is my soul to queen? When is Sol de Koowee?

Resisting Racism

A prominent Black journalist posted the following on Twitter:

“Hire a Black person (or 5 or 6) for Black History Month.”

And that got me thinking.

Very few people are in a position to hire anyone, including me.

However, we’re all in a position to support, promote, and sing the praises of individuals from historically marginalized and oppressed communities across our daily lives.

Mind you, this is a direct and purposeful decision.

Also, this is NOT to say we should not be lifting up any person who is excellent.

I’m not having the BlueLivesMatter/AllLivesMatter/Why isn’t there a White History Month/What about International Men’s Day conversation here.  I feel like I’ve had it enough over the course of Driven2Drink.  Also, I’m just not having it.  If you want to have it, I’m not your guy.

Are you sticking around?

Great.

Let’s all start in the same chapter of the same book:

We live in a world that has, since at least the 1500’s, been dominated, “discovered,” discriminated, and colonized by European Christian men.

And we, in the United States, live in a country that has systematically demoralized, dehumanized, slaughtered, raped,  enslaved, and oppressed Africans and native populations.

Those are the premises.

Heavy, I know.  But we must look directly at these facts if we’re to move forward in any meaningful way.  Western civilization’s (and America’s) foundation in racism, religious dogmatism, and violent hyper-masculinity, regardless of the advances we’ve made as a species in the process, is the springboard off of which I dive into the pool of the upcoming essay.  You can dive with me, or not, but know this is the worldview from which I write.

As many of you know, I’m a self-employed pediatric speech/language pathologist.  I’m not in a position to hire anybody, just yet.  However, I serve across a variety of Pittsburgh-based educational environments with amazing, insightful, skilled Black women.  (I’m not excluding men.  Fact is, there aren’t many men, period, in the pediatric therapy or early education fields, and I happen to currently work with precisely zero…but that’s another post for another day.)

I make deliberate points to communicate my respect, admiration, and gratitude to these women consistently and often.  Furthermore, I sing their praises to families and administrators whenever given the opportunity.

And yes, I do both of these things for ANY exceptional educator.

However, there is absolutely no doubt that without the support, collaboration, examples, and professional/interpersonal behaviors of Black women educators, staff, and paraprofessionals, I would not be NEARLY as confident, respected, and effective a clinician as I am today.

I absolutely owe a significant portion of my career and reputation, and thus my income, to Black Women and Women of Color.  It would be dishonest for me to communicate otherwise.

And, knowing the historical experiences of intersectionally oppressed communities (e.g. Black, Women, non-cisgender, non-heterosextual, non-monotheistic), I feel an absolute obligation to shine a light, when I can, on the strength, stamina, grace, honesty, and immeasurable cultural and social contributions of Black women.

You can call me a social justice warrior, and I am that, but really I’m just stepping out of the way and simply allowing a light to shine on those who have been a beacon of humanity for hundreds of years…and also the target of constant oppression, marginalization, and dehumanization.

No more.

It’s time to pay the bill that we, white heterosexual dogmatically Christian men, have created and ignored for far, far too long.

For me, it’s time to actively, vocally, whole-heartedly resist racism, sexism, heteroterrorism (…as many of you know, I don’t like the term homophobia because I don’t think it quite captures the reality and history of the queer experience in the modern western world…), and dogmatic hypoChristianity.

And specifically, celebrate the Black women who have supported, guided, mentored, loved, and boosted me.

-G

Why I Am (Del Norris, pt 2)

It’s often enough said that laughter is the best medicine.

I’d argue it’s a very, very effective medicine.  The best?  I don’t know.

Another wonderful medicine?  Having an honest, insightful, ego-minimized conversation with a friend.

And one more curative endeavor?  Wading through the waters of socially-learned toxic masculinity and homophobia to understand the fact that two men can be emotionally connected while not being physically attracted.

And alcohol.  Alcohol can be a wonderful medicine…a lubricant to break down psychological defenses and allow two people the room to connect.

Again, this is the best thing I’ve ever recorded.

Please have a listen…and enjoy the Dave Matthews Band and Michael Jackson at the bookends.

We present to you, “Why I Am (Del Norris, pt 2)

-G

All Lives Don’t Actually Matter

All lives…don’t actually matter.

I remember when no world power broker (i.e. western/white corporate and political classes) cared about the AIDS epidemic as long as it appeared that only Africans and gay men were dying.  Ronald Reagan, and nearly the entirety of the U.S. government and media, were…stone cold silent. They called it, “Gay Cancer.” They believed the savages in Africa mated with infected monkeys, and gay men fornicated with perhaps both the monkeys and the Africans.  Also, there was no real money in researching and/or eradicating HIV.

It didn’t matter.

Until…Ryan White.

White was…well, a white, middle class, 13 year old hemophiliac who got the disease from a blood transfusion.

As soon as the straight white male hypoChristian (…these are not real Christians.  They are hypocrites.  Thus, hypoChristian…) world realized it was the blood, not the gay or the Black, HIV became public enemy #1.  And oh how the money flowed.

I’d refer you to the book, “And the Band Played On,” at the very least, if you want more information.

That is your appetizer to my thesis that all lives don’t actually matter.  Here comes the main, and entirely current, course.

Milo Yiannopoulos.

Misogynist, racist, transphobe, and, when quite convenient for the performance and bottom line, antisemite and Islamophobe.

And the very same power brokers about whom I wrote above, along with the now largely impotent mainstream media, defended his first amendment rights, glanced vaguely over the hate speech, and laughed at his bombastic absurdity.

Then, everyone “remembered” the child rape. The leaked audio is damning, but his appearance on The Joe Rogan Experience covered all of that territory…with Rogan challenging him along the way.

And in one day EVERYONE’S tune changed. Simon & Schuster was fine publishing his book with all of the previous behavior. But suddenly, the first amendment be damned. Even Breitbart, ground zero for the trollish, fear-mongering, outrage-generating white-supremacy machine that swept DJT into power, has now thrown dear Milo under the bus.

Why?

Because child rape means it could be their children.  Beautiful little white children.

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Misogyny? All in. (Pounds chest enthusiastically in an Alpha male assertion)

Racism? Well, we’re not where we are now without it, so yeah…keep that. (Just, don’t drop any N-bombs, K?  At least, not near a microphone.)

Transphobia? Sure, they’re weird and unnatural and shouldn’t be in my bathroom. (Is it a she or a he?  Ew, amiright?!)

Antisemitism? I have Jewish friends.  And go Israel and all. (But…They killed Jesus, right? And I love making Jew jokes.  So…sure.  First amendment.)

Islamaphobia? You mean I can’t even draw the prophet without a brown person coming to behead me in my back yard? (That’s what InfoWars told me.  Or was it Breitbart?  No, Fox and Friends.  Yeah, them.)

But child rape…can happen to our white children.

So Milo’s finally got to go. Not without us saying how we found him so amusing previously. Not without continuing to support his first amendment rights (?) to spew violently hateful speech at everyone we hate.

(But he’s gay right? And he’s dating a Black guy, so he can’t be a racist.)

I can overlook the gay thing because he is so homophobic and anti-woman.  But not child rape.

That…crosses the line.

==========

We rarely care about anything until it impacts, or could impact, OUR kind.

And there’s your problem again.  Racism, or any ism, is the false premise that one “kind” of human is unique from another “kind” of human, and in fact superior and more or less worthy of our concern.

So I’ll repeat.

All lives…don’t matter.

-G

Portrait of teenaged American hemophiliac Ryan White (1971 – 1990), Cicero, Indiana, April 21, 1988. White contracted AIDS during treatment for his hemophilia and became a spokesperson for AIDS and HIV awareness. (Photo by Taro Yamasaki/Time Life Pictures/Getty Images)