Crack That Whip

Why are kids today, seemingly more rebellious and angry than their parents?  Some say it is because there is less corporal punishment.

Could it be that parents that were spanked got the message.  The message that life has no meaning, so do what I say just because.

How does a kid’s brain embrace, make sense of, the behavior toward them by the persons that are supposed to love them the most?

They apparently do not—at least not undamaged.

Almost daily we see kids walk into schools and commit suicide by cop, and this is supposed to be because of lack of proper whippings?  Perhaps the jig is up, and the Kool-Aid of religion, money and joining the rat-race is just not enough meaning anymore.  Was it ever?

It seems a plea for help from the abuse, neglect, bullying—and yes, even the whippings.

Charles Buell

Crazy About You

Lets start with the premise that we are all a bit crazy.  We don’t like the word mental illness, but isn’t that the truth of it, that we are in fact all a bit mentally ill?

The question is more about where on the spectrum do we fall between the Dalai Lama and Ted Bundy.

Mental illness is the human condition. It is likely a mix of nurture and genetics. We (most of us hopefully) get to wrestle with these demons our whole lives as we attempt to minimize the consequences to those around us.

If we are lucky, we all spend our lives recovering from “something”–often multiple things.  Sometimes we even use things to help us cope only to find out later we have to recover from them too. Sometimes, tragically, we die before we even become aware there is anything to recover from.

I am sure you can find things to add to the inadequate list below of things we all recover from (or don’t):

      • religion
      • belief
      • narcissism (some argue this one cannot be recovered from—lets see if we can prove that wrong)
      • conspiracy theories
      • social media
      • fear
      • parents
      • rape
      • war
      • any one of 100 addictions
      • physical abuse
      • mental abuse
      • toxic relationships
      • loss of a child
      • loss of a spouse
      • loss of a parent
      • divorce
      • marriage
      • sex
      • prejudice
      • racism
      • guilt
      • money
      • poverty
      • capitalism
      • prison
      • torture
      • murder
      • slavery
      • school
      • fashion
      • diet
      • cancer
      • work
      • pop music
      • coffee

It is one of the rules you did not get at birth:  “you will not live long enough to recover from everything.”

Sometimes it seems we cannot control the damage we do to others.  While there might not be any conscious malice involved, it does not change the fact that we all inflict our illness on others as we are all affected by the illnesses of others.  It is probably another symptom of illness to think this can be avoided.

As parents, the best we can hope for is that we give our children the tools (or they are lucky enough to pick them up elsewhere) to recover from our “gifts” and they in turn pass on different ones to their kids and for them to their kids.

The evolution of humanity seems like a stream of institutionalized illness that struggles with whether the pendulum swings toward the Dalai Lama and Neil deGrasse Tyson or the likes of Donald Trump and Ted Bundy.

“Choice” is a rudder we can use to steer this crazy ship.  When we deliberately make choices that support our inner Bundy instead of our inner Lama, we take steps backward instead of forward.

Sometimes it amounts to choosing the best of a collection of bad choices.

We all, in the course of our lives, make lots of poor choices countered by good choices and at no point can one reliably state where the pendulum has taken them. It is what it is, is no consolation.

We long for the black and white when all there is is grey.

It is even normal to assume that what we choose is the correct choice–even when it clearly is not.  It would be unusual for us to actually ask the question, “is this a move toward Lama or Bundy?” That would just seem silly.  We prefer to “wing it” and assume that if one can think it, it must be true. Trusting what one thinks without first putting it under the microscope is perhaps just another state of dis-ease.  Regardless, our thinking all too often just gives us some new adventure to recover from.

To the degree there is confusion, we create imaginary friends to get us through the night.

"There are so many things in the dark to be afraid of that are not there." The Movie Jamestown

We create God.  We create the Easter Bunny, Santa Claus, the tooth fairy, and/or Donald Trump.  We get desperate and think if we can force others share our kind of illness, we will all seem healthy (normal) in our agreement.   We all get to wave the same flag.  This is fascism—a clear move away from the Lama toward the Bundy. It is merely a mask.

A masquerade.

A human charade.

What masks are we willing to rip off?

Charles Buell


The Cows Still Need Milking in the Morning

One learns a lot of life lessons when one grows up on a farm.  You learn about how critters get born, how they get made (forget the stork thing), and how they die—some even taste good.  You were hit in the face almost on a daily basis with “how things work,” and conversely “how things didn’t work.”

 moocowOne of the basic things that I learned was that while there were some differences between the days of the week, there were always things that had to be done regardless of the day of the week or year—even on Sunday and Christmas.  The cows had to be milked twice a day, the cows had to be fed twice a day, and the cow manure had to be shoveled every day.  The chicken’s eggs had to be gathered every day, and they also had to be fed and watered every day.  Of course there were many other things that you had better get done every day—but these were the essentials—especially the milking part.

There was no malarkey about the electricity going out or the generator not starting—if you had one.  THEY STILL HAD TO BE MILKED.  If that meant milking all 60 by hand—that was just the way it was.  By the time you let the cows in the barn at milking time they were often already leaking all over the place.  You see, cows make milk non-stop, 24/7—they don’t put the equipment in idol while you go golfing or to the Bahamas.  If you didn’t milk them they could actually get sick and die—I don’t think they would ever actually explode—but it sure seemed like they were ready to sometimes (look out Monte Python).

It is this type of work ethic that stayed with me my whole life.

It was why then, as it is now, New Year’s Eve was not all that much different than any other night—you still had to get up at 4:30am to milk the cows.

It is for these reasons I have always been a little perplexed by all the fuss that is made over New Year’s and the making of New Year’s resolutions and game plans for the future.  On the farm what would that look like?  Trying to figure out how to get the cows to milk only once a day but at the same production rate?  On the farm you did everything 100% or you didn’t eat in the winter, stay warm in the winter etc.  Every day of the year, every hour of the day, was spent working to figure out how to do everything faster and more efficiently—WHILE YOU WERE WORKING AT 100%—it was a way of life not something you wrote on a piece of paper and then forgot about.

On the farm you found your fun in what you were doing—or in the precious moments in between.  You learned to take full advantage of those moments and savored them.  There were no “required” 10 minute breaks every hour—or paid vacations—although vacations and summer camp did happen when it was opportune to do so.  These adventures had to be carefully choreographed to fit into the overall farm plan.  There was no making a “plan” to over-ride the “farm plan”—and god forbid if anyone got sick or injured.  That is why farm families were so big in the old days—they made full use of their “precious moments” 😉 and they needed the bodies—pretty simple really.  How is that for a game plan?

I guess I have always been a bit envious of people that got into New Year’s celebrations.

The sheer will and stamina that it takes to stay up way past my bed time to ring in the New Year has always amazed me.  The ability to down drink after drink and still get oneself home seemed impressive as well.

For me, since my farm days, New Year’s Eve has almost always been about doing whatever it takes to stay at home and avoid all the madness that I was never man enough to handle anyway.

It has become a tradition in our home to do a movie marathon around a theme as a way to end the old year.  It had no “reason” other than something to do to avoid all the drunk drivers and other lunatics out and about—and still allow me to go about business as usual the next morning.  One year it was the Planet of the Apes movies—another year it was Star Wars—-another year it was the trilogy: Three Colors: Blue, White and Red.

I have noticed that as the years go by it becomes more and more difficult to watch more than three movies in a row, but last night we did make it to midnight—but it was by reading a book though, as the sounds of fireworks went off all around us—plus the cows needed milking in the morning.

Happy New Year to you all—may all of your cows get milked, twice a day, all year long.

Charles Buell

Making Sadness Great Again

I think if you wanted to pinpoint a time in history when this country made a wrong choice and started down a narrow road to self-destruction (evidenced by the limp impotence of both the Republican Party and the Democratic Party), when would it be?  It might have been when we added “In God We Trust,” to money, and when we added “One Nation Under God,” to the pledge of allegiance.

The original version of the pledge, written in 1892 by Socialist Francis Bellamy, was far more inclusive than today’s watered down version.

And look at that date–1892!  How the heck was anyone patriotic before then?  While its creation was aimed at dealing with a perceived threat to all things American, and to consolidate white Anglo-Saxon Protestant American values, at face value, it seemed innocent enough. 

It sounds like deja vu with what is happening today.  It was an attempt to deal with the influx of people with “other backgrounds and religions.” Sound familiar?  Like today, it put aside notions of equality and justice for all.

This change clearly goes against the very notion of separation of church and state and has resulted in our elections today more than occasionally being more about protecting a few dominant religious groups than in protecting the rights of all human beings, or even all U.S. human beings. And of course the first “real” Americans did not figure into this equation at all.

Government cannot function serving two masters–it is either for everyone or for the few.

The founding fathers appeared to have been right about this, and it seems they were far smarter than the fear mongers who brought about the changes in the 1950’s.

Most of the founding fathers might not recognize what we have become today.

When we vote for a person because they are most likely going to promote or support our own personal religious views or agendas we are not keeping church and state properly separate and we are ultimately supporting divisiveness–regardless that we tell ourselves our  intentions are well meaning.

If we see protection of other’s rights, as an affront to our own rights, we could likely benefit from revisiting the validity of our own beliefs.

Religious issues have no place in politics beyond making sure those rights of religion and personal choice remain protected.

The fact we might not “like” some of the choices others make, or that those choices go against our own personal beliefs, or that it might mean we must share some of what is on our plate, is not sufficient reason to abandon a constitution that protects those choices.

This is especially true when we attempt to create specific courts that might be more friendly to our own personal views.

Sometimes we must grit our teeth for the common good.

As soon as we use regulation to promote any religion or religious belief we kill freedom of religion and personal choice.

As soon as we use regulation to control someone else’s freedom of religion or belief, we essentially agree to have our own beliefs or religion regulated.

It is a given that no candidate for public office is on the ballot blemish free—they are all, versions or reflections of ourselves—although Mr. Trump is arguably (even to those who voted for him) a tumid aberration of ourselves.

The one we vote for should be the one who has the “highest likelihood” of moving us toward a fair, free and just world.

They should be the one that has the “best-chance” of moving us away from special interests whether they be religious, political, personal or corporate.

The ones we should avoid are the ones that promise to promote our own personal beliefs and agendas in spite of negating the needs of others.

Currently the system provides almost no candidates from either camp that fits the bill.

We have come to a time where our choices will result in almost imperceptible improvement, at a time when our choices arguably matter the most.

We have come to a time when people have the illusion of thinking for themselves when they are  merely being swayed by the bling of fake news, junk misinformation and blatant disinformation–including memes with absolutely no basis in fact.

So many of the issues we wrestle with today would be easily resolved if religion and personal interest were removed from the equation.  It is the elephant in the room that is sitting on us all and no one can escape its weight.

The loss of separation of church and state—such a nuisance to becoming a fair, free and just world.

This is a great sadness, becoming greater under our watch.  How can we let this happen?


Charles Buell