Sunday, July 31, 2016

Things falling apart

I’ve been struggling to keep dying OA meetings alive.  First there was a phone meeting that I kept alive for many years, tho a young man finally took it over for me.  Then there is a small meeting that I go to near my  home every week.  Sometimes there are only two or three. Sometimes I’m the only one.  We’re lucky when we get five people.

The Methodist Church where we have this meeting also is struggling.  The paint is peeling.  It seems like the number of people attending the service is not that much more than attend the OA meeting. 

This weekend I went to an SLAA meeting in the city, which used to be very large, but there were only 3 of us there and no chair, so I had to go get the key to get into the room, even tho I arrived late. 

That church, which is Catholic, seems to be struggling as well.  The toilet near our meeting room doesn’t stop flushing, for instance, even though I’ve reported it.

Why are things falling apart?

Some of it is changed religious beliefs.  How many people really identify theologically with Methodists any more?  I don’t know. 

With the Catholic Church, of course, we know there have been losses of money due to sexual abuse scandals. 

Another  thing is the Internet.  Everyone is glued to their electronic devices and doesn’t have time to go to in person events.  Also, on the Internet, they can find more exciting content: songs sung better, preachers who are more eloquent. 

Another thing is the loss of the great volunteer force, which was stay at home moms.  This force of able workers devoted themselves to many of our national institutions — especially churches.  They aren’t available any more.

As women’s “liberation” encouraged women to believe that working outside the home was liberating, the economy adjusted to the idea that families had two incomes.  Housing prices doubled, so that one person working could no longer afford a home.  It was like during the California gold rush, where prices went up so high that gold miners could get no profits off the gold that they found.

Now, working outside the home is no longer an option.  It’s mandatory for the financial security of the family. People no longer have the time and energy to do do those older things, like keep churches going.  Everyone’s working multiple jobs, just trying to stay afloat.

So now I’m thinking about Trump who speaks to people who think the country is falling apart and Obama who is saying that things are pretty good.  I guess in some sense both can be seen as true.

Still, what do I want to devote my energies to saving? 

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Just launching myself blythely into this controversy & expecting to be strafed.

Oh, so many thoughts.

I am seeing so much divisive finger pointing on the Internet where people of differing opinions accuse each other of nefarious conspiracies.  If you are a liberal, those conspiracies are headed up by the Koch brothers. If you are a conservative those conspiracies are headed up by George Soros.  Also, everyone is suddenly Hitler or a Nazi, if you don’t agree with them.

Unproven malicious gossip is taken as true.  Mainstream media is drowned out, because people can’t afford subscriptions — or the time to read a paid subscription.

And, into this maelstrom, comes the current crisis surrounding the killing of Afrimericans by white cops and the shooting of cops by a loony in Dallas.

I tend to think of myself as progressive.  I tend to take those views in many respects.

There’s this liberal cartoon

Then there's this conservative cartoon

I do find a certain appeal to the conservative cartoon.  An Afrimerican "friend" on FB accused me of sounding like a Nazi when I said there were some cultural issues about the difference between how Afrimericans respond to police and how Anglos do. I don't think that this is a legal issue exactly, unlike the author of the above cartoon.

Now these latest two shooting by cops did not show Afrimericans responding non-deferentially to cops.  But some of the earlier ones did.

Please  note I'm not saying that the anger management issues that cops have manifested in response to non-deferential behavior were justified.  I think cops should be trained not to respond to perceived rudeness with rage.  I think cops should be more professional than that.  On the other hand, it just really isn't prudent to be rude or talk back to a cop.  It just isn't. 

I do feel that Anglos like me (actually I'm only half Anglo) tend to be more timid and deferential in general.  I've even heard Afrimericans comment on that. 

Let me give you a couple of examples out of my life.

The first example occurred when my son was in second grade. 

I live in a school district that is about half Hispanic and half white, but there are very few African Americans, as we usually think about that term, tho the Hispanics often have some African ancestry.  I went to my son’s class and witnessed an African American boy put out in the hall.  He had been talking back to the teacher and would not stop.

Now the curious  thing about this was that this boy was not being nasty or disrespectful.  He was just talking to her pleasantly, as if they were in an ordinary conversation, ignoring the rest of the class. I didn’t think he was a bad kid at all, but somehow his behavior was not like that of the other kids — all of whom listened silently when the teacher spoke.

I felt that this was perhaps a cultural difference.  I notice, for instance, that Afrimericans are allowed to talk back in church, while Anglos are not supposed to.

The second example happened to me in NYC. 

I was walking along 34th street at night with a man I had just met at an event.  My companion was a very small, nerdy white man.  As we walked along, we encountered a rather seedy looking street preacher, also white, who was saying something about Christianity. I’m not quite sure what he was saying, but the fellow I was walking with chose to try to speak to the preacher.  I don’t remember what the comment was, but the street preacher went ballistic, showing himself to be dangerously unhinged.

The fellow I was walking with and I chose to try to walk briskly away from this lunatic, but he was screaming after us and seemed like he might try to follow us, which was a bit alarming. 

Another pedestrian went over and yelled at the lunatic and told him to quit bothering us.  This pedestrian was African American.  His intervention did seem to work as the lunatic stopped yelling at us.

On the one hand, I was grateful to the person who intervened to help us and thanked him.  On the other hand, I felt that this intervention might easily have backfired and resulted in a violent incident, and I doubted that an Anglo would have intervened in the same way.

In any case, I'm thinking that it might be good if school children were trained in how to respond to police, so that there would be consistency.  That might avoid some problems.  If everyone behaved consistently, the police might more easily distinguish people who were truly resisting arrest and dangerous from others.