‘Politics’ is Not a Dirty Word

Another day, another tragedy. Presently, it’s the Las Vegas massacre on my mind, or the recent terrorist attack in Edmonton. But depending when you’re reading this, I have sorry little doubt there will be some fresh new event to use for context. Nothing will be different if we use another example, so it doesn’t really matter anyways. Inevitably, you will be told that “this isn’t the time to get political.”

“Let’s not politicize this.”

“Can’t we just have a day to grieve?”

There are a million ways to say it, but it always boils down to the same idea—“Let’s not go using the government to solve problems…that’s not what they’re for.”

It happens after all the most political events. We are told not to get political, not to examine issues and causes. Just be sad.

Pray…if that’s your thing.

Just…don’t try to do anything about it.

They can’t afford real change. They won’t.

But ‘politics’ is not a dirty word, and must not be treated as such if there is ever to be any real progress in this sad world of ours. To turn any political discussion into a taboo subject is to actively waste the opportunity for learning and growth. Further, to claim that political discourse over a tragedy is disrespectful to the victims is not only unhelpful, it’s pigheadedly ignorant.

If we want to prevent tragedy, we must learn from those that occur, and improve our society to prevent future occurrences. That’s what politics is. Anything else—any claim of respect, or timing, or taboo is obstruction of politics. It isn’t kind-hearted, or even well-intentioned. It’s intellectual dishonesty, and in any such instance, you can be damn sure someone is being well paid to convince you that scoffing at the chance to fix things is somehow the moral high ground.

Yes, this is about informed gun control policies.

At least today.

It could also be about systemic racism.

Or police brutality.

Or climate change.

Or money in politics.

Or dozens of other important debates which have been put off for far too long.

These aren’t inappropriate subjects, and they are absolutely the business of politicians and citizens alike. What they are not, is the business of corporations and lobbyists, and yet those are the only ones who seem effective at turning it into their business—specifically, profit.

Shame on them, and shame on anyone who resorts to such hair-brained, nihilistic diversions as ‘let’s not make this political’.

Avoiding civil discourse creates a gap in our understandings, and feeds the ever-widening divide in our nation, and our world. It is uncouth to discuss who you vote for. It’s provocative to talk about the ecosystem during a hurricane. It begins to feel anti-social to make any attempt to discuss our world, when it should be incumbent upon every citizen to do so.

Sadly, when this happens, it usually quickly devolves into attacks like ‘snowflake’, ‘libtard’, ‘hack’, or ‘radical’. This inevitably kills any drive towards honest engagement, and prevents us from truly exploring our values and examining the facts to dream up a better world.

The truth of the matter is that at the end of the day, just about everything is political—especially if it has the potential to affect another living thing without their direct consent. That may seem like a heavy qualification, but there’s an easy litmus test to use for those of you too jaded to do your own research.

Is a great deal of money being spent to convince you something is none of your business?

If so, it’s probably directly affecting to you, your family, and the world you live in.

So, talk about it.

Scream if need be.

If that fails, act.

Make them hear you.

Leave them no choice.

You still have power—never forget that.

 

-Brad OH Inc.

 

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The Evocation Series- ‘Mirror Mirror’

Under the Green Desk Lamp…

The following post is part of ‘The Evocation Series’. Click Here for more information about the project, and to learn how to get involved yourself!

Blind Guardian- ‘Mirror Mirror’

Song Link

It’s a strange thing sometimes, to be a writer. Every once in a while, we must crawl out from our literary dens and take in the world around us. Like the groundhog portending the coming of spring we peek out, and a quick glimpse will usually suffice to fill us with sufficient terror and inspiration to send us scurrying back—loaded with ideas, and themes, and a terrible suspicion that the shock of venturing forth may simply not be worth it.

In the silence,

Words of wisdom.

I’ve seen the end of all,

Be aware the storm gets closer.

So, we settle into routine—reporting our fears and hopes from our places of silence and serenity. But what of the world without? The one we use to fuel our stories and mad speculations? As we create better, more hopeful worlds, what is left to those on the outside, living each day the sort of wild fantasies which we delegate to the domain of ink and paper?

Shall I leave my friends alone,

Hidden in my twilight hall?

I know the world is lost in fire,

Sure there is no way to turn it

Back to the old days.

There are moments of reprieve, no doubt. Short periods where the balance appears to be righting itself, and there seems to be some hope for the world. We can get lost in those moments. Still, the keen eye catches the small details, and it is clear, at the end of the day, that the hearts of humanity have not changed, and the course is still set for disaster.

Even though,

The storm calmed down.

The bitter end,

Is just a matter of time.

So, we create the heroes we need. We conjure them out of nothing and trap them with our words. We paint them clear as day—the honest men and women and hopeful children who could change this world in but a day if they were to unilaterally muster their passion for the purposes of decency and reinvention. They look good on those pages. Kind, beautiful, and utterly beyond our grasp.

Mirror Mirror on the wall,

True hope lies beyond the coast.

You’re a damned kind can’t you see,

That the winds will change?

In the end though, they are only stories after all.

-Brad OH Inc.

The Dangers of Dogmatic Thinking

People have had a lot of brilliant and noble ideas throughout the ages. The best of our intentions have—on our finest occasions—come through to provide us with incredible esoteric insights, high-minded ambitions, inspiring works of art, and other enlightened insights into the human soul and condition alike.

Then, we tend to wreck it all.

The legal system, for instance, is certainly a respectable and necessary structure for any society. Arguably, this system was created initially as a general system of laws, rights, consequences, and limitations on human behaviour with the intention of keeping the playing field even and the right to life and freedom secure. Laws were laid out to protect the sanctity of civilized existence, and the means to judge and enforce those laws were clearly defined.

So too with religion. While the source can be argued to death—and certainly has been—the foundation of most earthly religions is a set of considerations, principles, and inspiring examples of humanity’s spiritual potential. Most of these sacred texts address the nature of sin, self-control, love for one another, and other such entirely admirable ambitions.

So with such incredible aspirations, how does humanity continue to get it all so wrong?

Well, in short, we are creatures of habit. Worse yet, we adore taking shortcuts.

With most any system devised—and the two above are shining examples—we may reach fantastic heights in our state of being. But successive generations tend to skip out the hard work of exploring and understanding the nuance and reason behind such systems, and begin to rely on hard and fast rules instead.

These become mindless and dogmatic restrictions on human behaviour. More destructive still, they often become guided by a matter of precedent. Here, laws and religious tenets are continually reinterpreted to fit the needs of whoever is presently in charge of their interpretation. Then, these new bastardized definitions become the benchmark for further misinterpretation. The original good intentions are lost, and the guiding principles of law and religion alike quickly shift away from the nobility of human betterment, and become just another system of maintaining otherwise unjustifiable power structures.

In both scenarios, we see a series of great intentions written down in stone, then systematically misapplied, misinterpreted, and misused. Each new iteration of this misuse is then made sacrosanct, to be further abused and distorted. Eventually, we are left with none of the good effect, all of the high-minded self-righteousness, and very little of true grace or justice.

So what can we do to avoid these ever so common failings? Well, we can start by taking a very serious look at our own intentions. Growth and insight are never easy, and achieving any real sense of decency, grace, or virtue is seldom possible when taking the quickest path.

Without fail, the easy ways will lead to the most common of results, and with us people, that is seldom a respectable scenario. Rather, we must constantly consider the truth of our intentions. We must examine the reasons behind our needs and desires, and, rather than turning to dogmatic principles and knee-jerk reactions, we would do best to consider all angles, remind ourselves of the deepest principles we hold dear, and move forward not with expediency or—heaven forbid—righteous indignation, but simply with patience, love, and an ever-present sense of respect for our fellow humans.

This is what must surely lie at the root of all such systems after all, be they religion, law, or others. So to leave them out is a terrible oversight, liable to result in the enforcement of something else entirely.

-Brad OH Inc.

The Evocation Series- ‘Straight Time’

Under the Green Desk Lamp…

The following post is part of ‘The Evocation Series’. Click Here for more information about the project, and to learn how to get involved yourself!

Bruce Springsteen- ‘Straight Time’

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There is a precarious balance we all must face. It’s a struggle, whether conscious or not, to maintain the equilibrium between our compulsion for virtue and our desire for self-betterment. Certainly, these are not antithetical concepts, but the world can surely make them feel so at times.

In the darkness before dinner comes,
Sometimes I can feel the itch.

We all make sacrifices. With each effort to stay on whatever path seems best, we watch other opportunities slip away. Old friends, cherished memories, lost loves—all fade into the distant past, like fog giving way to morning light, we are left to what we have chosen, and must leave the rest behind.

But you get used to anything,
Sooner or later it becomes your life.

It works, for the most part. We go along our path, and we seldom pause to question it. We stick with what works, and slowly we close the door on all those other potentials—dreams on the wind; childish, silly things.

Seems you can’t get any more than half free,
I step out onto the front porch, and suck the cold air deep inside of me.

Then, there are those other times. Suddenly, all those forgotten potentials seem like just yesterday. The knot of conviction loosens, and those old fantasies feel so close to your grasp, it would take but the smallest slip to reach out and take hold. And at what cost, exactly?

If we’re lucky, we will never know.

Got a cold mind to go tripping cross that thin line,
I’m sick of doin’ straight time.

Push it down baby, bury it deep. A mind in turmoil is quick to question its course, to debate and dissect all the small decisions which have set us upon our present heading. But a placid mind, reassured by peace and comforted by contentment, may move past this unease, and with sufficient will and wisdom, will let those fleeting moments pass.

-Brad OH Inc.

The Evocation Series- ‘Nightfall’

Under the Green Desk Lamp…

The following post is part of ‘The Evocation Series’. Click Here for more information about the project, and to learn how to get involved yourself!

Blind Guardian- ‘Nightfall’

 Song Link

Arda, the world in which J.R.R. Tolkien’s Middle-Earth is set, was once a more beautiful and perfect place. The elves were invited West to the undying lands by the rulers of the land, the Valar, to join in the eternal bliss of the two trees. But jealousy and strife were sown by the Dark Lord Melkor, who destroyed the two trees of Valinor and set off a series of events which would leave the world forever changed.

All hope’s lost it can’t be undone

They’re wasted and gone.

Mourning, the elves sought desperately to return to the way things were, but found it impossible. Greed and pride prevented any solution, and the elves soon learned that there are some wounds too deep to heal, and that even the greatest of graces in their world were not beyond the taint of darkness.

The light she once brought in

Is gone forevermore.

But Fёanor, the king of the Noldor elves, could not accept this loss. For Melkor had also stolen the Silmarils, those three jewels created by Fёanor, which held within them the very light of the two trees. Fёanor was enraged by this transgression, and against the advice of the Valar swore a holy oath to retrieve them from Melkor at all cost.

The words of a banished king

“I swear revenge”.

This oath was unforgivable, and all the Noldor who followed Fёanor were banished forever from the undying lands of the Valar—doomed to toil eternally on their hopeless quest in the dark lands of Middle-Earth to the east. Some turned back, but others refused to see their kin march into doom unaided, and set out across the seas and ice to what fate might await them.

Never trust the northern winds

Never turn your back on friends.

What became of them? Well, they died. Over the centuries, almost to the last, they were slaughtered and watched their kingdoms burn and friends fall as the devastation of Melkor came to fruition. But their oath held them, and never could they return to the undying lands.

Nightfall

Quietly crept in and changed us all

Nightfall

Immortal land lies down in agony.

Loss can be a cruel thing indeed, and many of us in this world will see the things we hold dearest taken from us, devalued, or destroyed. But it is in these times when our faith in decency must be the most powerful. For to allow the sting of death and time to turn us away from what is good and enduring is the most painful loss of all.

-Brad OH Inc.

A Lament for Henry Wallace

purelyspeculationOver the past year, we’ve written a lot about Bernie Sanders, the former Presidential Candidate and self-avowed ‘Democratic Socialist’ who showed America that their policies may yet be guided by decency and virtue as opposed to greed and the dark lust for power. Bernie failed to gain the nomination, and as we look around now, we can see that the forces of decency are certainly in peril. But let us remember that there are and have been men and women throughout history who will fight the good fight. We needed them then, and we certainly need them in the years to come.

In the past too have we needed such brave and selfless leaders, and today we look back at just such a man from one of the most infamously precarious times in the history of the nation, if not the world. That man is Henry A. Wallace.

In these present days of uncertainty, many are the men and women who will appeal—with righteous indignation and furious intention—to higher powers or political extremes. Sadly, it is far fewer who are willing to be that example in the face of adversity and defiance.

Henry A. Wallace was just such a man.

Throughout his political career, he made an unending effort to turn the political tides towards decency and good sense—even when such qualities were considered subversive, if not outright treacherous.

Wallace served as VP under FDR during WWII, and was an outspoken supporter of New Deal Liberalism, as well as a more cordial approach to dealing with the potential threat of the Soviet Union. He was staunchly opposed to the atomic bomb, but eventually found himself thrown off the democratic ticket and disastrously replaced by Henry Truman. How much of the imperialist decline and wanton destruction to come may have been prevented had Wallace taken the presidency rather than Truman?

Undeterred, Wallace continued as a force of decency and moral rationality, founding the Progressive Party in 1946 as an effort to combat the hardline policies Truman was enacting against the Soviet Union. These efforts, if successful, may have warded off much of the violence and dissolution of the Cold War to come (Link).

Throughout his life, Wallace was driven by a steadfast compulsion towards rationality and good judgement, favouring fairness and open dialogue to judgement and oppression. He was fanatically anti-racist in a time when racism was considered the accepted norm, and a staunch anti-imperialist even as the USA became the world’s most imperialist nation.

Wallace was both practically, and metaphorically the antithesis of McCarthyism. Not only did he fight against it in practice, he represented the polar opposite of ideals. Where McCarthy pushed for labelling, hysteria, and rule by fear, Wallace encouraged sound judgement, tolerance, and foresight.

Needless to say, this stance, and Wallace himself, was not without fault. There are few people indeed who can make the best of judgements at all times, particularity without the best sources of information. In 1952, Wallace published ‘Where I was Wrong’, reflecting on his soft stance towards Stalin’s regime, offering apologies for some of his positions, and recanting any sympathies in light of the war-crimes he learned Stalin had committed. To err is human, but to own that error, apologize directly, and make amends is sufficient in itself to cast even the most talented and noble of people from the sullied echelons of public-esteem.

So, dear readers, let us take a moment to lament the failures and rejection of our friend Henry A. Wallace. Though flawed and moreover disgraced, he was a man led by noble ambitions, and ever loyal to the truth of his beliefs. This is not the mould for political success by any means, and it is a rare thing for a political figure to be so recklessly unconcerned with reputation. To focus instead on decency and virtue is the trait which perhaps will forever segregate the likes of Wallace and Sanders from the highest offices of the American political process, but we can all pray to see more of their kind soon.

Indeed, such people—in all walks of life—are the best hope we have.

-Brad OH Inc.

What Does America Have in Common with the WWE?

purelyspeculationOn March 23rd, 2001, the former World Wrestling Federation (WWF, now WWE) accomplished one of it’s greatest ambitions. It bought out its main competitor, World Championship Wrestling (WCW).

This was probably the greatest mistake they ever made.

With no significant competition left, the WWE lost any impetus to improve its product. With no legitimate runner-up, they were left to rest on their laurels rather than fighting to be the best. The quality of the product quickly diminished as the company focussed on preventing any upstart organizations from gaining traction, rather than working to continually improve their own product.

The company’s new focus soon became buying out other organizations and swallowing up emerging talent without any plans to utilize them effectively. They would eviscerate the potential competitors, without ever building on their own brand.

As a result, the WWE never again reached the same level of success or quality they had achieved during their long battle for ratings with the WCW, famously known as the ‘Monday Night Wars’.

In a lot of ways, this is eerily similar to the slow degradation of America after becoming the world’s leading superpower at the end of World War 2.

The following decades saw the nation engaging in a ‘Cold War’ with the Soviet Union—a long and precipitous crusade to invade and exploit weaker nations and spread ‘American Influence’, all while keeping the scary Communists away from valuable resources.

The entirety of the Cold War was—if one removes themselves from the wanton death and destruction—almost a comical mirror of the theatrical pantomimes so common in the wrestling world. It was the classic scenario of two main-eventers competing to see who could intimidate the other more. As the classic scene goes, the two big guys take turns landing finishing moves on hapless jobbers, staring nails through their true opponent without ever directly confronting them. The lower card workers are decimated, and the main eventers perceive their reputation to be bolstered by the damage done.

During this period of macho-posturing and international abuse, America was far more focussed on keeping other nations down than they were on improving themselves.  Military expenditures exploded, and infrastructure crumbled. This trend has continued into the present day, and America now is known more for its foreign meddling and military misuses than it is for the great beacon of freedom it still half-heartedly claims to be.

No longer were the old values of social-cohesion, public growth, quality education and accessible opportunity the hallmarks of American society—all were swept away under an authoritarian wave of bomb building and resource chasing.

Becoming a Superpower caused a huge shift in national identity. With it, America moved from the nation of freedom and growth to a nation of maintenance and control. The American Dream was accomplished, and the rot of its underlying idealism begun. Being a Superpower is among the worst and most damaging things to happen to America—and the resulting decay of values, social responsibility, and cultural identity is apt testament to that.

In the end, the downfall of the WWE and that of the United States both serve to teach us the same crucial lesson.

There is a very significant moral difference between competing to be on top by seeking to be the best, and defending your place at the top by actively damaging those below you.

If we focus on keeping others down rather than enriching ourselves, everyone loses, and in the end, someone is bound to topple the lame-duck façade your once proud empire has become—whether from outside, or from within.

-Brad OH Inc.