Like everything else from this wretched administration, the family separation policy was a terrible idea, executed poorly. But the stakes are inordinately higher than with all the preceding bumbles and fumbles because actual children’s lives are at stake and in our hands, right now, every minute of every day.
Each day since the policy was introduced at the end of April, roughly 70 children have been ripped from their parents and taken to child prisons, not knowing when or whether they will see their loved ones ever again. Can you imagine your own babies/toddlers/kids experiencing this trauma?
While some may debate the conditions in the facilities, no one can deny that the children are deprived of the one thing they actually need: their parents, and that the experience will adversely affect them for the rest of their lives.
Truth is relative but facts are not. Donald Trump’s administration created this policy. And Donald Trump, with the stroke of a pen in his tiny hand will soon undo it now that he’s being forced to. But the damage is done to those children and the toxic environment for all immigrants, asylum seekers, naturalized citizens and people of color in America persists. I for one cannot wait to vote in November to rebuke the GOP, the gross old party of Trump.
It does not sting so much anymore. My Dad has been gone eight years. I healed, realized what the heck happened, and forgave. When the whole #MeToo thing happened Sarah Silverman wrote a piece asking if you can love someone who did bad things. I can relate to that. My Dad did some really shitty things. To himself and those he loved. He was a clinically depressed alcoholic whose antics hijacked my early adult life. His repressed, undealt with emotions led to escalating depression, addiction and eventually terminal cancer. Those around him were sucked into the vortex as those who love addicts always are. We wanted to help him, we couldn’t and in the process, we were forced to put our own lives and desires on hold.
Letting go of all that took a while. At first there was relief. Then the anger came. I was also so tired of only hearing the good stuff about him. My Dad was handsome, charismatic and funny and everybody loved him. But at home he was very moody and emotionally unpredictable. He was kind of a dick to my Mom which is never a good thing for a kid to see. And I resented his utter selfishness. But over the years I’ve come to accept and forgive him. He was doing the best he could. He had a crappy young life himself in many regards. He himself dealt with a home life marked by emotional unpredictability –a father with a serious gambling problem who was frequently MIA, and a stoic Irish mother who thought life was something to be endured. Despite all that he managed to be a pretty good Dad when we were little. Fun, loving, virtuous. Teaching me lessons about this and that. Always around, always ready with a joke, a hug and a smile. He loved music and shared his love of it every night playing new vinyl on his Yamaha sound system. The Beatles, Stevie Wonder, Earth Wind and Fire, Michael Jackson, Steely Dan, Paul Simon … the list goes on and on but those stand out. He was funny and had endless jokes and stories.
He was a spiritual guy with real curiosity about metaphysics, which was contrary to his strict cultural identity as an Irish Catholic from Washington Heights. He had a brief stint with Transcendental Meditation, and I remember him reading Dianetics (which was advertised on TV relentlessly in the 80s). Later on when I lived in the city post grad school, he and I would have dinner once a week after he came in for his therapy appointment. We had such fun nights. He was in a good phase – steady, hopeful and sober. He said that he regretted his career choices. That he stuck with the financial advisor gig because he felt he had to give us a stable life. But in his heart of hearts he wished he had pursued something creative – being an actor, singer, performer or even a history professor.
I believe that suppressing his ambitious, desires and feelings led to his deterioration later in life. Once he was no longer needed as a provider he became rootless, remorseful and sought refuge in the bottom of the bottle. Just as our adult lives were beginning and as my parents’ retirements laid ahead of them, my Dad’s drama took over.
For me, it is therapeutic to put it all out there and be honest with myself and others about what happened. It’s a sigh of relief. It’s what allows me to look back with love. He was a good man with good intentions. He was my father, he gave me life and so much more … my sense of fun, my independence, my healthy skepticism and love of family. I cherish him and am grateful he was my Dad.
A hundred times every day I remind myself that my inner and outer life are based on the labors of other men, living and dead, and that I must exert myself in order to give in the same measure as I have received and am still receiving.
ALBERT EINSTEIN, “The World as I See It,” Ideas and Opinions, trans. Sonja Bargmann, p. 8 (1954).
looking at all the madness in the world right now, i am constantly questioning whether i am doing enough. for my children and the world they are inheriting.
– is it enough to just provide material comfort and moral guidance to one’s own children?
– is it enough to just write checks to causes we say we support?
– do we not have a broader responsibility to all children and to the earth to work every day to create a better world?
The five niyamas, personal practices that relate to our inner world. They are: 1) Saucha: purity 2) Santosha: contentment 3) Tapas: self-discipline, training your senses 4) Svadhyaya: self-study, inner exploration 5) Ishvara Pranidhana: surrender (to God)
I recently picked up this book to delve a bit deeper. It is readable AND relatable. Excerpt:
“To be a bold person of truth is to constantly look for what we are not seeing and to expose ourselves to different views than the ones we hold sacred. What are you not seeing because you are seeing what you are seeing?”
Remember virtue, that quaint thing leaders used to strive for? (Or so we thought?) Moral excellence, not just material success? It’s a concept with a lot of history … and the version that’s always resonated with me the most is Aristotle’s version. From Spark Notes (because it’s just easy):
Aristotle is clear that we arrive at moral virtue primarily through practice and that the value of studying ethical texts such as the one he has written is limited.
This view makes sense when we consider that moral virtue is not essentially different from other forms of excellence as far as the Greeks are concerned. If we want to achieve excellence in rock climbing, for instance, it helps to study texts that show us how to improve our technique, but we can’t make any significant improvements except by getting on a rock wall and practicing.
Analogously, it helps to read texts like the Nicomachean Ethics to get a clearer understanding of moral virtue, but the only way to become more virtuous is through practice. We can only become more courageous by making a point of facing down our fears, and we can only become more patient by making a habit of controlling our anger.
Since practice, not study, is the key to becoming virtuous, Aristotle takes a strong interest in the education of the young. He perceives that there is only so much we can do to improve a nasty adult, and we can more easily mold virtuous youths by instilling the proper habits in them from a young age.
Meanwhile on Planet Earth circa 2018, here we are pondering just how much more human grotesquery can we tolerate … in the air, in the water, in public life, in politics, business and government. The mess is bewildering. It makes one want to recoil, withdraw and start anew. It’s like as a society we need to have a “Walden” moment. Some kind of resetting of values, expectations and most definitely, leadership.
Begin again to begin again. A new year. I am grateful for what I have, for those I love, for this moment in space and time.
2017 was a tough one. When someone you love dearly is in a life or death situation, it really drains you. To the point you are consumed with it, hemorrhaging into all aspects of your day to day. But you learn to fight back. To keep it in its place. To reclaim your peace. You don’t surrender to the old unhealed wounds that have been quiet for the few years prior. You steel yourself and you keep on keepin’ on. And eventually the crisis abates. And once again here you are. Such is life.
There is something cool about aging. You learn to trust the cycle. You learn that the low moment is as temporary as the high moment. And everything in between is the true stuff of life.
had a difficult talk with my kids first thing. reminded them of the tough times in history they’ve read and learned about. reinforced that we are here to take care of each other, respect each other, love each other. that we believe (talking ourselves into it as we said it) that america’s democracy will survive.
removed facebook app from my phone and did not visit the site today.
avoided TV with the exception of SURVIVOR (which the kids begged for and love to watch as a family) and clinton’s concession speech.
downloaded this book and began reading it on my dark, dreary, almost wordless morning commute to NYC. i plan to be reading a LOT over the next four years, and keeping my video/social intake to a healthy minimum. read a lot of think pieces and these 3 resonated the most:
5. I am blogging here again for the first time since Prince died. Facebook feels toxic. I am so tired of reading self righteous and – in many cases – intolerant rants about the election from both sides. If you don’t have a unique take on things, if you are not willing to pause and reflect and consider the possibility that the world does not revolve around your own field of vision, then please for the love of Goddess please, STFU.
now, that doesn’t mean i’m not horrified by this insanity, which forebodes the impending 4-year long assault on civil liberties, personal choice, free speech, freedom of worship and the physical world as we know it. But I refuse to be reduced to a state of singular obstructionism by a vile, self-serving plutocrat and his tragically misguided supporters. He’s here today but this too shall pass. As I always have, I will treat those I don’t understand in a civil manner and not demonize, dehumanize or belittle them.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all people are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
I so clearly remember the world stopping the first time I saw Prince perform. Saturday night 1983, 8 pm or thereabouts. Mom and Dad went out and left us with a sitter. We were watching Solid Gold in the family room on 51 Cherry Place. There was smoke, there were electric drums, and then he (she?) appeared. Stop the press, who (or what) is that? It was Prince was in all his glory. Oozing sexuality at a time I didn’t know what sex was. Flanked by his pretty-slash-bad looking compatriots (who would soon come to be referred to as “the Revolution”). The song was “1999.” The sound and spectacle were unlike anything my eight year old psyche had yet experienced. I held my Fisher Price tape recorder up to the TV set and captured the sound so I didn’t have to wait to hear it again on the radio. I was awestruck.
After that, my older brother Brian and I always seemed to own Prince’s albums on cassette. Not a lot of thought went into categorizing his style of music. He was just Prince: ruler of the radio and MTV. You loved seeing whatever he’d come up with next, and you generally hoped your parents wouldn’t walk in while you were watching one of his videos. #awkward I recall thinking “Diamonds & Pearls” was corny (it came out when I was 16 and hard core into Public Enemy, Ice Cube and the like…), but I got over it. There was an endless array to choose from in Prince’s repertoire. When I was deep into soul, funk and R&B in my college days, naturally his Purple majesty was very heavy in the rotation. Over time I also learned how influential he was on many of my favorite hip hop artists. Regardless of how you come to him, or what you think about him, if you want to get a party going, just put on some Prince.
In the Fall of 2001, I dressed as Purple Rain prince for Halloween. At the time I was living at home with my parents in NJ, commuting to NYC for work and hanging with friends in the city on the weekend. I had bought one of those cheap Party City purple pimp costumes just for the faux crushed velvet jacket. I had a frilly white collared blouse, purple pants, black pointy high-heeled boots, and my younger brother Kevin’s white electric guitar. I wore a curly black wig and drew on the facial hair with a black eye pencil. It was pretty impressive, if I do say so myself. (I did it BEFORE Dave Chappelle). My only regret is that I have no photographic evidence.
My adoration of Prince continued all through my thirties. And I bonded with others who had a shared love for his funkiness, his creativity, his sound. His 2007 Super Bowl performance was epic of course. And as people rediscovered Prince after that, I gloated in knowing I had loved him all along. A few years later in 2011, my girlfriends and I were at the concert at Madison Square Garden when he kicked Kim Kardashian off the stage. It was glorious (though even more glorious now, in retrospect).
In recent years, Prince had become somewhat of a meme. With his fro and his third eye girls and his Princestagram. Still cool, always cool. Nothing compared to him. Which also reminds me — Prince used phone lexicon before phone lexicon was a thing. “Nothing compares 2 U,” and others like that. Back then, it was actually pretty naughty/radical.
Now he’s gone and frustratingly I can’t access all those albums and hits I know and love backwards and forwards. He yanked his music from Pandora and Spotify, the two main ways I listen to music. I bought many of his albums over the years, but lost or otherwise just ditched my physical CDs. As for my old MP3s… they are on hard drives I no longer access, lost to the digital abyss.
At Yoga class on Sunday, as I knew he would, my radical hippie instructor spoke about Prince quite a bit. He played some of his more obscure tracks, and in the final chest opening pose he declared: “Lean back and open your heart to send some love out to the Purple One to ease his transition … in appreciation for all the joy he gave us.” It was a fitting tribute, and it made me happy. Lefsetz summed it up perfectly: “It’s such a shame our friendship had to end. But his music survives, as does his legend. Years from now his music and career will be studied, to see how someone listened to no one but himself but got it so right.”