Since the beginning of my blog career, I have wanted to write the following piece. I have tossed it around in my brain over and over again but was not able to get a clear vision of how to write this. It is a bit philosophical, so many of you may fall off before you get to the end, but that’s life. Here goes!
Whenever I see crazy things happening in our world, I try to step back to observe it from a larger view. Let’s consider the latest crazy thing that has happened, the high school shooting in Florida. Of course, this is not the first, nor will it be the last, so get ready for the copycats who have some kind of ax to grind or who are just plain out-to-lunch. Let’s not look at the numbing details of this sad event but see it as if we are watching from outer space or maybe in the sterile environment of a movie theater. Here is what you would see: a large industrial country that has been taken over by mega-corporations, that have secured the vote of most elected officials with the constant flow of money into their wallets, and very decadent wealthy upper class, with a large portion of the remaining population surviving day-to-day. The environment is struggling due to the non-stop pollution of air, land and water. Much of the population is convinced that they can continue to abuse Mother Earth without consequences. Alcohol, nicotine, heroin, marijuana, opioids are just some of the drugs of choice people use to help them manage the everyday stresses of our society. Countries that made their wealth on the backs of underpaid immigrants have now decided that those immigrants are bad people and so should be sent back to their native countries. Governments have become unresponsive to the needs of the common man. Many young people raised in this chaotic environment feel unconnected, unchallenged and helpless. A large portion of people have made themselves feel more secure with the purchase of large arsenals of guns. Technology has outstripped human understanding of the effect all of this is having on human behavior, especially on youth!
Overall, we see a world in chaos, always on the brink of war, with many of its inhabitants malnourished and over populated, and suffering from the long-term effects of industrial chemicals in the food chain, air and water. What is staggering is the almost total denial of the environmental direction our world is taking! There are many who are decrying the consequences of our reckless action, but we have inappropriate names for them, like ‘tree huggers” or “greenie” while so many laugh at their scary predictions.
So, back to the problem of the killings. Outrageous actions are merely the expression of the frustrations that run through our society. These people who randomly take their own life or the lives of their fellow-man are generally lonely, disconnected, angry and most often have a deplorable sense of their own self-worth. So, viewing this reckless behavior from a distance lets you see these events as small aberrations in the complex flow of people, materials and ideas. This does not make them any less horrific, but allows one to analyze the events with less emotional response. What is it in our society that leads our acquaintances and neighbors to turn into these monsters capable of these terrible behaviors?
If one wishes to study a society, one must look at it in its entirety. I believe that sports provide a window to the state of our world and have come to the conclusion that football is one small example of how our society functions. Almost all the terminology of football is war-based. Words like offense and defense are words commonly used in war. Games are often referred to as wars between two teams. Blitz is taken from the German word blitzkrieg which is a high-speed force to break the opposition’s line. Oftentimes a pass is referred to as a bomb. Linemen are often said to be in the trenches, a reference to ground warfare. Kickoff teams are often called suicide squads. End around is a play designed to outflank the defense. a common term in land wars. The basic concept of lining two groups up against each other and then competing (fighting as in ice hockey) until one team is victorious, is nothing more than a microcosm of war.
How about the commercials we watch? Try to listen to TV commercials from a distance. Their primary focus is sex appeal. According to the advertisers you must wear the right clothes, eat the right food, use the best drugs, drive the fastest car or purchase any number of products to increase you self-worth. The latest word in advertising is “Brain Hacking” which is pretty scary stuff. We now have the ability to basically hack human brains with technology! Do the words BRAVE NEW WORLD or 1984 come to mind?
Last on my list of issues facing our culture is emerging telephone technology. In the future, I think we may see this as a turning point in history. Already sociologists are studying the immense effect that cell phones are having on our youth. Here are some of the effects we are already witnessing: increased tendonitis of the back, neck and hands, stress and fatigue, sleep loss, auto wrecks, anxiety, electromagnetic induced cancer, cyber bullying and a decreased sexual activity (you decide if this is bad).
Many of the shootings are perpetrated by adolescents. There’s no wonder, with the stress we place on them. In the past we cherished the ‘wonder years’ where we grew up without the constant drumbeat of society that engulfs our very thought. We played in the woods, watched Father Knows Best or enjoyed a board game. Now we play video games in which we witness and even take part in countless horrible deaths in a relatively short time or watch a TV show saturated with sex and violence Our youth witness inappropriate sexual situations long before their brains are ready for it. We encourage our youth to play organized sports that reward over-aggressiveness with praise and trophies.
I realize that I have been all over the map with this piece, but it is all demonstrably connected. Everything I have discussed and many that I have not are essential features of our society. WE ARE A HYPER-VIOLENT SOCIETY! From a distance we would see that guns are merely the tools of a violent society. Up close it is a violent, destructive tool that gives the owner the power over life and death. We are witnessing this every time we have to suffer through one of these terrible events. Even though I see our society as the root cause of our problems, I see the need to place controls over the types of guns, the number of guns and the mental state of who owns them! Just as we placed controls over who drives a car, we must change our laws to restrict the ownership of lethal weapons to the degree it is possible. We have a most difficult road ahead and some large corporations are going to fight us every step of the way. It is up to us, every one of us, to demand that we go in the right direction, where human life is placed above profit or power. We face a very uncertain future with respect to violence in our society. For our children and our grandchildren and their children, we must succeed!
This is a difficult problem to address. There are many variables to consider: economic levels, parent level of education, local job availability, family income, remoteness of an area, just to name some of the obvious considerations. West Virginia has always ranked low in national student achievement statistics. At times we have hovered around 50th in teacher salaries and occasionally we have made into the low 40″s in national rankings. Regardless, we have always been near the bottom of the list.
The question that must be addressed is the substandard wages that our state pays it teachers. This is a vicious cycle that seems hard to escape. For years the state relied on the coal industry to provide enough tax base to at least keep the budget balanced, but today the use of coal is decreasing and mechanization has reduced the need for coal miners thus reducing the tax base for the state. The brainiacs that we elected keep reducing taxes and the end result is financial chaos, which is where we are now I do not see a good end to this situation. The teachers are underpaid, the state has no money, they refuse to raise taxes on the few corporations and the people keep voting these substandard individuals into office. West Virginia is bought and sold by the resource and energy industries and they have a lot to say in the form of political contributions to these dunces in office.
Wow, where can this possibly go? This is like a boat approaching a waterfall! This has no good possible outcomes. If the teachers suddenly grow a backbone and stand up for their profession and the students of West Virginia, I have no idea what the legislature will or can do. I can not even make a guess as to the outcome of this game of chicken. The teachers have tolerated low wages and decreasing healthcare benefits for so long, they are at the end of their rope. Stay tuned for what will, in the end, be in a whimper as teachers scurry back to their classrooms or a battle of epic proportions if they stand up to the state government. I am rooting for the teachers but I would not place any money bets.
50. Mississippi: $42,043
49. Oklahoma: $42,647
48. South Dakota: $43,200
47. North Carolina: $43,587
46. Arizona: $43,800
46. West Virginia: $45,477
I have resisted writing about the ongoing insanity that we call politics but I cannot resist this. I want to be in print so I can say, “I told you so” after it is all over. Here is what is going to happen according to my magic crystal ball… Since fortune telling is a relatively expensive service, I will make this quick.
- Mueller’s investigation will continue to issue indictments that are closer to the president.
- As the investigation gets closer, republicans will panic and try to remove Trump from office before the midterms at which time they may loose control of the house and senate. This action is due to the fact that the speaker of the house is currently a republican and third in line to be president. In the case the president and vice president are removed or resign from office, constitutional procedure will place the speaker of the house in office.
- Democrats will successfully drag their feet in hopes that they will win control of the house and senate.
- The mid term election will be held and democrats will take control of at least the senate and maybe the house.
- Democrats will immediately begin impeachment procedures which will be successful.
- Trump, seeing the handwriting on the wall will resign.
- With democrats being in charge, the democratic speaker of the house will move into the presidency.
- Trump supporters, consisting of white supremacists, ultra right wingers, Breitbart followers, NRA members and many other right wing groups will fill the streets protesting the removal of Trump. Violence will break out…That’s as far as I can see ahead for now.
That will be $20.00
Make checks payable to Cosmic Charley’s Psychic services
I’m home, after a week of being on the Bahamian seas aboard what is called a clipper ship. Dorothy and I flew to Nassau where we boarded the Liberty Clipper along with her crew of nine and 13 other anxious passengers. The next morning we set sail from Nassau for the high seas on our 125 foot clipper. We were housed in our tiny cabin in the foremost section of the ship. The room was so small that we had to take turns getting out of the bunk beds and the bathroom served as both a shower and toilet, which proved to be interesting. Several times I accidentally turned the shower on watering myself down. But we did not board the Liberty for a luxury cruise in the Bahamas, we boarded her for a trip into the past, for an authentic journey on a real sailing clipper, and that is what we got!
Captaining our ship was, kid you not, Captain Noah. He was a true man of the sea and the enjoyment he displayed as the sails unfurled and the ship lurched forward in the crystal clear Bahamian waters made it clear that he was truly in his own heaven. His excitement was infectious and we lowly landlubbers all gathered to lift the huge sails whenever he asked. As we headed out of our harbor, our starboard view was filled with the decadent monstrosity, Atlantis, on Paradise Island, which represented everything we 15 passengers and crew were trying to escape. Slowly, as we cleared the harbor under motor power, the towering monument, a pinnacle of American vacations, drifted out of sight, and the beauty of the sea unfolded before us. There are no words that adequately describe the beauty of the island waters. The aqua blue water is so clear that the bottom seemed within reach and the ever-changing sand lines were as clearly visible as the lines on my hand. The gentle wind caressed us as we raised the sails and began what for many of us was our maiden voyage on a tall ship.
Along with the enjoyment of sailing across the seas, there were many other things to do and see. The amazing cave in which we snorkeled was filled with fish of every imaginable color and size. They seemed to enjoy coming up and looking into our mask, eerie. The iguana island was inhabited with thousands and thousands of these funny looking lizards from a few inches to over a foot long. They were anxious to see us because it is a custom to feed these strange-looking creatures. One of the many hikes Dorothy and I took was a short hike across the island from the mild Bahamian sea to the angry Atlantic ocean in little more than a couple hundred yards. Many times we swam in the pristine waters often heading out to open waters until we felt the currents pulling us seaward, at which time we headed back in. Of course everyone gathered for meal time. The meals were fantastic and there was always more food than we could eat! We had steak, shrimp, pork chops ( I noticed one of the pigs was missing from pig island…just kidding) and one evening we even had lobster tails!
The days that followed were filled with wonder and amazement as we visited many small, uninhabited islands and explored their many secrets. As we walked these old island trails it was impossible not to wonder who had been here before and where the treasure was hidden, but the treasure was not hidden, it was all around us in the rocks, the trees, the water, the blue sky and the wonderful clean air that filled our lungs. There are no words that can explain the feeling of standing on a desolate beach with the sand in your toes and the water lapping the shore along with the gentle warm breeze tossing your hair about. I am sure that I was on a trip that many folks spend their life dreaming of and never take the time to actually do. The feeling that I was given a gift from some higher power seems to be the only explanation I can come to grips with. According to Captain Noah, there are about ten of these clippers of varying sizes working up and down the east coast, one of which he plans to own someday. It struck me that when they are gone, the history of these magnificent ships will be lost forever. This will truly be a loss for all of us.
These cute guys were on what I will call “Pig Island”. They were dropped off years ago and flourished, with a little help from curious passers-by who kept them supplied with plenty of food.
I hope I inspire some of you to write this on your bucket list! It was an incredible trip and something that will be with me for a long time.
Aye captain, let’s head out to sea! You can learn more about this at libertyclipper.com.