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When I was a boy
World was better spot.
What was so was so,
What was not was not.
Now I am a man;
World have changed a lot.
Some things nearly so,
Others nearly not.

There are times I almost think
I am not sure of what I absolutely know.
Very often find confusion
In conclusion I concluded long ago
In my head are many facts
that, as a student, I have studied to procure,
In my head are many facts..
Of which I wish I was more certain I was sure!

“Is a Puzzlement” from The King and I

I am confused (so what else is new). Of all the things I am confused about I am most recently confused about two labels that seem to get more press during the presidential election process.

Conservatism and liberalism. To some one is a blessing and the other is a curse. Some have no problem wearing one label with pride while demonizing anyone who dares to proclaim they are the “other.”

Dorothy never claimed to be either. And that’s where I stand. Not that I don’t have an opinion. I do. But my opinion  will not win me friends in either camp. To be honest, I have a very hard time stomaching a staunch conservative. They are like an immovable force.  They are so entrenched in  thinking that doesn’t make any sense. But they will go to their craves defending their ultra-conservative vision.

I also want to wretch when I see ultra left wing liberals trample any other viewpoint that does not support their own largely political positions.

I must add that (sometimes) conservatives have a valid point that actually makes sense. I also need to follow that up by saying (sometimes) liberals have a valid point that actually makes sense.

In my experience,some conservatives cling to beliefs without ever, ever being open minded enough to do some self-challenging. Thumping the Bible or some other ancient religious text is not the way to be open minded.

And then we have the liberals who (some) in my experience are selfish and childish people who don’t give a flying fuck about other people who are unwilling to trample any thing that even has a hint of being traditional.

Every day there is another issue that further divides us, another issue that forces some people to espouse either a conservative of liberal POV.

I can’t help but think that to be a conservative means saying NO to any and every thing that is out of their comfort zone. That also makes me think that to be a liberal means saying YES to any and every thing regardless of the consequences.

And…in my opinion staunch conservatives and dyed-in-the-wool liberals rarely care about what their counterparts think.  It seems it’s an all or nothing war and neither side is interested in prisoners like me who believe that everything is not black and white.

It reminds me of a scene in “Fiddler on the Roof” when one of the townspeople makes a claim and Tevye says to him “You’re right.” And then another person says just the opposite. Tevye says, “You’re right. In fact, you’re both right.”  A third man chimes in and says, “They can’t both be right.”

That’s when Tevye said “You know, you’re right, too.”

In my old age am I morphing into Tevye?

First posted five years ago, I thought it was worth re-posting because where we grew up remains with us no matter how old we get or where we go.

Along The Yellow Brick Road

The cost of gas is through the ceiling and airlines charge for baggage making leisure travel a bit expensive. But there’s one trip you can still take that doesn’t cost a dime…and hopefully you won’t need to carry any ‘baggage.’ It’s a trip down what is commonly called “memory lane.”

Destination for this trip: Lincoln Street, Seaford, NY 11783
The time: From 1953 to the mid sixties.

Lincoln Street was one of those new suburban developments meant to attract GIs from the boroughs  who wanted to raise their children in an idyllic location. I don’t know if Seaford qualifies for idyllic, but it was the closest thing to Norman Rockwell’s America you could ever find. Or at least that’s my opinion.

Consisting of mostly Cape Cods and a few split-levels (with a rumpus room), the denizens of Lincoln Street arrived in 1953, most with one or two kids five and…

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witch of the north.jpg

 

Past commencement speakers at Emerald University didn’t need introductions because they were all iconic figures. Even after Chancellor Green introduced me I could see a sea of puzzled faces asking the question, “Who is she?”

Well, I’ll tell you. I am the Good Witch of the North.

If you saw the movie, you didn’t see me, because my character didn’t make it to the silver screen. Whether the reason for my absence was financial or literary, Glinda did double duty, stealing whatever thunder I had for my brief appearance in L. Frank Baum’s book. .  If you read the book, you’ll remember I didn’t have a name.  All I had was a description:

“The little woman’s hat was pure white. It rose about a foot above her head and was pointed at the tip with little jingle bells which ran all across the brim and made a faint tinkling sound as she moved. She wore a puffy white gown that hung in pleats from her shoulders. Over it were sprinkled little stars and half moons that glistened in the sun like diamonds. The little woman’s face was covered with wrinkles, her eyes were the color of violets, her short curly hair was nearly all white, and she walked rather stiffly, but had a friendly, welcoming smile. ”

Despite such an innocuous characterization, my life mattered as does yours. With social media placing a heavy burden on your shoulders, the thought of being nameless in a selfie world is anathema to you. By the end of the day I can’t tell you how many new profile photos of freshly minted college grads will grace the pages of Face Book. It’s clearly an indication that we want the world to know we are here.

Being the host of a top rated cable talk show, appearing on the cover of some high profile business magazine, going viral, or selling an app for a gazillion dollars, might be what gets your adrenaline flowing. There’s nothing inherently wrong with any of those goals. But.

And by “but” I don’t mean a little “but.”  I mean the big “But” with one “t.” I have to add that in the event I get accused of making some a remark that can be taken the wrong way.

My role in Dorothy’s journey might not get the recognition I believe it deserves, but that really doesn’t matter.  What matters is that I was the one who came to Dorothy’s rescue after she dropped in on us in Oz. I not only welcomed her, I assured her that I was there to help her. When Dorothy told me she wanted to go home, I turned my white cap into a slate that told me to tell Dorothy to follow the Yellow Brick Road to Oz.

Being the least powerful of the four witches of Oz, I couldn’t join Dorothy on her journey, but I didn’t let her go off without me doing something that made all the difference. I placed a special kiss on her fore-head and told her “No one will dare injure a person who has been kissed by the Witch of the North.”

As scary as the deepest and darkest stretches of the Yellow Brick Road might have been, those stretches pale in comparison to the long road you are about to travel. And while I wish I could tell you that a kiss on your forehead will protect you from all the evil people who are out there waiting for you, I would be lying.

So what should you do?  How can you be assured that you will have a safe journey? The answer is as simple as it is complex. If you’ve yet to do it, you need to reach down deep and find your center. You need to align yourself with the spirit of goodness you were born with. You might have forgotten about this center, but it is there.

Don’t confuse this center with a GPS, because if you do, more likely than not it will keep “recalculating.” Your center is your internal compass. You will know in your heart if you are going off course as might be the case because in the end we are only human. But always remember being human should not be used as an excuse.

If you do happen to take a selfie today, take a long, hard look at it and ask yourself, is my face a reflection of the spirit that informs me and drive me, or is it a faceless face.

No matter where you go and no matter what you do, you will never be nameless, because the universe knows who you are.

authority

While I doubt my blog followers were waiting with baited breath (a weird expression if there ever was one) for me to conclude my tirade on power, here it is, the final installment on the subject.

Power can be terrible or great. It all depends on who holds the power, but in the real world there are more people who believe they have the authority to wield power…when in reality they are despicable human beings.

In the spirit of full disclosure I will be the first to admit I have a serious problem with authority primarily because 99% of the people in my life who have played the authority card are…assholes.

In my vast experience authority is a synonym of bullying. But it shouldn’t be that way. A random search for the definition yielded the following:

“the power to give orders or make decisions : the power or right to direct or control someone or something. : the confident quality of someone who knows a lot about something or who is respected or obeyed by other people.”

Most people who are in positions of authority believe it is all about the power to direct or control…with the emphasis on control.  Very few people in authority are people who are respected or obeyed by other people…with the emphasis not only on being respected outright but are “obeyed” because the individual is respected.

Authority is as much a gift bestowed on the few as it is a burden to be shouldered.

It literally pains me when I witness or hear about the continual misuse of authority. It angers me because people who have been victims of people who abuse their power and authority mainly because these victims have no recourse.

If there is a hell, I hope people who have abused their power and authority are used as kindling.

excalibur-12

Other than “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz,” one of my favorite books from childhood was T. H. White’s “The Sword in the Stone.” (I believe I first read it around the same time I read Baum’s “Wizard of Oz.) I believe I liked the book because it satisfied this urging I had for magical powers.

The sword in the stone, best known as “excalibur” aka sword, was a symbol of power in its purest form. Only a righteous individual could remove the sword from the stone. Rather than re-tell the story, suffice it to say that a young and innocent boy who went by the name of Wart at the time but would later be known as King Arthur, pulled the sword from the stone…a feat that no one else was able to accomplish.

As a King, the legendary Arthur was faced with the ultimate dialectic: Arthur asked himself the question “Does might make right, or does right make might?”  In this case the word “might” meant power.

The question is still valid today and continues to be hotly debated. Does the power wielded by a person, group, or nation make what it does…right? Or do the right actions made by a person, group or nation make it powerful?

There is no doubt in my mind that the world has chosen to use power to make right. Be it an individual or a group, having the power is everything. What we fail to grasp its the fact that power is fickle.  History tells us over and over again how people or nations who once wielded “great power” lost it.

Having power is a great responsibility.  Ultimately if it is misused it comes back to bite you on the ass. A parent who misuses his/her power as a parent will eventually lose the respect of his/her children. The same goes for a boss.

One of the questions surrounding power is not who wields it, but how did one acquire it. Did a person or nation wrestle the power away from another by “over-powering” them?  If the one who had the power in the first place was misusing it, then it could be viewed as a good thing if someone comes along and takes the power away. (I don’t know how often that happens.)

The real problem I have with power is that in my experience more often than not the person who has the power not only misuses it, but had NO RIGHT to it in the first place.

More on this in the next blog.

Oz the great and powerful

Taking a risk here by presenting the first of three blogs on a subject  that has been as much a thorn in my side as a spur to ride on and battle windmills. The subject has to do with power and authority.

To begin, take a stroll with me down the YBR and a brief walk through the dictionary.

In Baum’s novel, Oz introduces himself by saying “I am Oz the great and terrible.”

You might say what’s the big deal.  I say, it is a big deal.

In  common parlance the word terrible means “bad.” BUT, that was not the original meaning. The word terrible did not originally mean something that is bad, as in “that was a terrible movie.:  The origin of word is rooted in the Latin/French word “terre” which actual mean to “cause one to shiver” and is closer to our word for “terror.”

So…when Dorothy and her traveling companions met Oz, he was telling them he was a “terror” and he was as much “terrific” as he was “terrible.”

In the movie the big Green Man booms “I am Oz the great and powerful.”

Instead of saying he was “terrible,” he says he is “powerful.”  That’s a big difference because the word “power”  has Latin roots that mean “to posses the ability to act or do.” The word power also shares meaning with the word “potent.”

So…in the book Oz was a character whose main characteristic was “terror.”  It was the way he “ruled.”  In other words, he literally scared people into acting.  In the movie, Oz possessed the ability to get people to act.

In my opinion one who rules by terrorizing is a monster. One who rules from a power position can choose to be right, fair and just in using his/her power or use his/her power to dominate without any regard to the people subjected to this power.

Ruling from a power position raises another important question: Where does the power come from? How did the person with the power acquire it? (This will be the subject for the next blog.)

The one word common to the book and movie is “great.”

We all know what great means…or do we?  I think we toss the word around without any regard to what we should mean when we describe something as “great.”

The original meaning of the word great meant big in size or coarse. It also came to mean “grit.”

Simply put, the sense of something or someone being “great” but meaning warm, woolly and wonderful is wrong.

To wrap up this “lesson,” in the book Oz was a monster. In the movie he wasn’t so much a monster as he was scary.

What, you might wonder does this have to do with blogging on power and authority?  It is the foundation for a discussion on who has power and authority, how it is used…and more importantly, how it is mis-used.

 

 

 

earthcone

It only seems like yesterday that it was Earth Day and here it is again…and I haven’t done my Earth Day shopping yet!  Well, that’s life, but there is a reason to reflect on Earth Day because world opinion on the condition of planet earth, especially regarding global warming is such an issue.

I don’t recall any mention of Oz Day or Emerald warming on the YBR. Since there were no cars or other motor vehicles  in Oz, they didn’t have to worry about carbon emission problems.

Here on earth it’s a different story. Politics and science aside, it really should matter where you stand on global warming, even if it’s only to get you to think that for every action there is a equal reaction or something to that effect.  All of us need to be conscious of the earth’s fragile nature and be mindful of what we do…even something small like discarding trash correctly rather than litter.

Today I went out on our lawn and began the laborious process of riding it of dandelions.

dandelions

I hate doing it, but I realize if I don’t tend to the problem it is only going to get worse and before I know it the lawn will be covered with more dandelions.

In a metaphorical sense, dandelions are those issues or problems that appear in our lives and won’t go away unless we do something about them. Earth Day is the perfect day to take a long, hard and realistic look at our lawn. Is our  life covered with dandelions? If so, what should we do about it?

I think we need to take an inventory of our lives and see what impact those dandelions are having on our lives.  I believe most of our dandelions are the result of bad habits, those sometimes little things we do…or don’t do as the case might be…that are preventing us from living fuller lives.

While I don’t know if it is possible to rid our lives of all our dandelions, that’s no excuse for not doing something.

One of the things I suggest doing is weeding our lawns of all those people in our lives who are dandelions. You know, selfish people or those people that don’t bring anything positive to our lives.

If you happen to work for a dandelion and you can’t leave your job, you can protect yourself from being contaminated by not letting them have control over your inner life. Sure, they may treat you like dirt, but you have the same power Dorothy did in Oz. Mentally throw a bucket of water on them and see them melt.

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