OXYMORONS

I have a number of friends that identify politically with conservatism, some of them people of color. My posts inevitably generate contentiousness and their disapproval. I’m now prepping a role for a play I’ll soon perform which engages the lives of black men, some of whom lived thru the times of segregation and our struggle for civil rights. The play questions who we have become and how we now think.

Black conservatism has always seemed a contradictory system of belief to me. Let me qualify that. Black Republicanism today feels conflicted to me. I can understand embracing certain principles of economic thinking, the qualities of entrepreneurship, independence, self-reliance. Suppose you were Vegan. And you learned that Hitler was reputedly also Vegan. You might acknowledge you shared an affinity…but I would not expect you to embrace Nazism. Today’s Republican party is a melange of aspirations (largely rejected by mainstream America), including religious intolerance, anti-governmental bias, tax policies that reward the wealthy and further challenge an already struggling middle class, regulatory free fire zones and a host of intentions that will disadvantage minorities. So I ask myself, why are my contemporaries of color, (born on 3rd base, thanks to our forefathers), so willing to join the cause of people who do not regard them with favor? They may invite you to sit at their table, they may include you among “their black friends”…but many will NEVER regard you as a peer, as an equal. And you must know that.

A character in my play says, “Scratch the surface of a black man with money, and you’ll discover a Republican every time.” I’ve noticed that, among some successful athletes…and many Europeans of all races (taxed FAR more onerously than us), chose to relocate to Monte Carlo and other tax havens…but this an economic rather than a political choice. I ask friends for their take on just why a modern person of color would willingly choose to align themselves with a political party, consisting of many who think and will willingly say the word ‘nigger’, out loud. Some friends suggest self-hatred, an underlying disapproval of their own people, their own culture, themselves. That would be an understandable result of existing in a country with our racial history…and even our present realities, improved tho they are.

I can remember a Randy Newman lyric from the album Good Ole Boys, “Honey, I ain’t a Negro, I’m a millionaire…” As tho race is transcended by wealth. And maybe that is the underlying carrot, since a multitude of poor whites vote against their own self-interest. Many Republican women would seem to vote against their own self-interest as well. Do they express contempt for their own gender by doing so?

RIDING THE HORSE IN THE DIRECTION HE IS GOING

Throughout my life I believe The Universe has offered me guidance…tho I was not always tuned in. I strongly believe in the presence and utility of intuition; I try to listen to my instincts.

Years ago, training to be a paratrooper, our first jump was scheduled for Friday the 13th of December, at 1300 hrs, on a C-130. I was in the 13th stick and I counted: I was the 13th man. I felt more fear that day than on any day in combat. I sensed my death. The winds came up in Georgia and all jumps were cancelled.

19 years ago, I drove to California City up past Edwards AFB early one weekend. It was my birthday and I took the skydiving course. Prepped, dressed and ready, I waited…and waited. The California winds came up and all jumps were cancelled. I drove home.

This past weekend, I flew to Florida to celebrate a friends 80th birthday, planning to finally make my first sky dive. The Florida winds came up and our jumps were cancelled. I flew home.

Here’s some good investment advice: In your 20′s and 30′s and 40′s, scale in to positions, consistently. Over time, you will enjoy watching your money grow. In your 50′s and older however, realize you may not have the time to recover from market fluctuations. You will be stressed. Fixed income instruments are probably your best bets…and you’ll sleep better.

I’m not likely at this point in my life to ever become an avid skydiver. That’s a younger mans game; I arrived a little too late…but I’ve had my fun. I’m gonna accept that there are other ways, more responsible ways (for me, at least) to challenge myself.

Universe: I got it. Thanks.

SICK PUPPY

Read the account below. I’m not that fragile, I’ve seen some pretty horrific things in my time here. But I read this and ask myself, “Who IS this kid and how did he become so wretchedly twisted?” He’s not a Dickensian runaway from the workhouse, he’s not an orphan from Bosnia or Fallujah or Palestine or the Congo. He had a home. He had parents. He’s a white kid in America. How does this happen?

If we’re gonna take credit for the good our children accomplish in our society, then we also have to own our misfits. Is he missing an empathy gene, is he a sociopath, is he possessed by a demon, is he chemically imbalanced, has he been abused…or is he a byproduct of the coarser elements of our culture?

Many of us have, to varying degrees, adapted to the accelerating pace of modern technology. Younger people have grown up in it, it IS their reality. If I know what is moral and what is not, then I can probably watch a movie or a video or play a game that satirizes morality and not be altered. Maybe it amuses me, because it is so contrary to reality. But for those that lack any fundamental ethical center, such input defines their values and regard for others.

David Letterman and Howard Stern were something new to us, perhaps so successful because they WERE different. But when edgy and counter-culture become culture and snark and snobbish contempt for others become the norm, when EVERYONE is too cool for the room, who’s left in the room?

Honey Booboo and Duck Hunters, Talk Soup and Tosh.O, TMZ and Excess Hollywood and a host of other daily fare legitimize our self-serving contempt, they validate it. So I believe that this kid is just one of many unformed citizens, lacking in character, thirsting for relevance, unable to distinguish between famous and notorious.
Bloomberg would outlaw outsized soft drinks because they contribute to obesity. I think we’d better put Rand or Brookings to work on analyzing the influences of popular culture on contemporary civility. This isn’t the difference between You’re Welcome and No Problem. This is the difference between being wary of someone and being in fear for your life.

www.cleveland.com
T.J. Lane will spend the rest of his life in prison for the shooting rampage in Chardon High School on Feb. 27, 2012.