Humpty Dumpty’s Reign

Humpty Dumpty’s Reign

Humpty Dumpty crowned himself king
He said “It really don’t mean a thing!
Cuz you’ve been serfs for years
So forget all your fears
And keep pretending freedom will ring.”

Humpty Dumpty wanted a wall,
And to get it, he had the actual gall
To shout “Let’s get the ball rollin’!”
And try to use capital stolen
From people who have no will left to stall

Humpty Dumpty spewed out his lies,
Never hearing the people’s painful cries
“It’s as if they’re already dead,
So I’ll ignore the sounds in my head,
And continue to crush them like flies.”

Humpty Dumpty’s fall from grace
Will leave a nation with a big empty space
You can bet the men of power have met
To choose and pull out a new puppet
Thus continuing the system of control apace.

Copyright 2018, Kat Micari

Democracy, An American Novel Review

I just finished reading Democracy, An American Novel by Henry Adams last night, and it was a fascinating read for several reasons. The history behind it’s publications is really interesting. Henry Adams published it in 1880 anonymously, and his publisher didn’t release his authorship until after his death even though the novel became popular.

It deals with the corruption of politicians and lobby groups in Washington D.C., which goes to show you that nothing much has changed over the several centuries of this “great experiment” of a nation, and includes some absolutely delicious quotes like “…a government of the people, by the people, for the Senate…” and “No representative government can long be much better or much worse than the society it represents. Purify society and you purify government.”. It gives some remarkable insight into both the male and female positions in society during the 19th century, and those who were “in” society and those who were not. You can read the Wikipedia entry here and get the book for free over at Project Gutenberg (both of which take donations and if you have a few bucks to spare at the end of the year, I would suggest either as worthy causes since they are the depository of so much free information).

I got two very big things out of this book for myself. Firstly, the main suitor of our heroine, a Senator Ratcliffe, honestly thinks he is behaving the only way he can in the corrupt world of politics, and he also honestly thinks he loves the widow Mrs. Lee as far as any self-serving narcissist can, and Henry Adams neither makes apologies nor condones his (or any other character’s for that matter) behavior during the course of the book. Ratcliffe operates in the only way he knows how to operate in the only game he knows how to play, even though it is repugnant and reprehensible in many ways. Apply this to a lot of the people who are not only allowing evil to operate in this world but encouraging it because it allows them to feel some semblance of power and privilege to do so. Many of them don’t know better. It doesn’t excuse the behavior, nor should the general population allow such behavior to happen, but knowing that they don’t know better provides us common folk with some clues on how to correct the problems, if enough of us ever stand up and start trying to. Secondly, Mrs. Lee almost gets trapped in a kind of savior complex in trying to “save” Ratcliffe from his lower instincts and thus help influence a change in the overall machinations of D.C., but she realizes that this wouldn’t happen and it would be her character that would change and be destroyed in the filth of the political atmosphere, a kind of textbook narcissist/empath relationship played out on a grander scale. This is important for those of us who do want to change things to keep in mind as we go about our work.

Some might read this novel and despair at the impossibility of real change ever happening, considering the distance between then and now and yet the similarities in corruption. But I really do feel like this period of time we’re in now is a necessary purging. We can’t hide from the filth anymore, nor should we, so our options now are to drown in it or to clean it up, personally and collectively.

Anyway, a random but timely quick read, and I recommend this book if you like witty, sarcastic 19th century literature.

The Hatred and Fear Behind Bigotry

I wound up in a comment chain last week that was attached to an editorial cartoon and a bigot was attempting to put forth “logical” arguments for taking a pro-white stance on all matters (it’s evidently all a matter of tribalism, and whites who are for equality have just been brainwashed to think this way, y’all). Because of course, everything comes down to self-interest in our me-first world, and people can’t possibly have empathy toward every human being because to do so is unnatural. And in the midst of his very long-winded though actually well-thought out in a closed loop way arguments was the statement that what other races want is the destruction of the white race. Complete annihilation. He used the word genocide somewhere in there as well. And said that all that is wanted is for people to break into tribes again, and if the white tribe just happens to have a bigger slice than all the other tribes combined, it was natural selection, etc.

It suddenly dawned on me why it is so difficult to get through to bigots. They are literally afraid of becoming not just obsolete, not just losing power, but of losing EVERYTHING. They are walking around full of hate because in essence they’re concerned that their pure-blooded great granddaughter may not have the option of a purely white man to reproduce with. Which is such a crazy fear to me, because these are also generally the people who don’t give a crap about the environment, which is also important for their great granddaughter, nor are they particular concerned about investing back into either the population or the infrastructure of our country, which again seems kind of important for future generations. The kind of mental gymnastics that has to be done to justify clinging to these fears is astounding, honestly.

As far as the tribal aspects go, there are hereditary traits we carry. There are also personal preferences we all have, as far as who we want to mate with and what makes us comfortable. For example, I am attracted to men. I find women the more beautiful of the two genders from an artistic/aesthetic viewpoint, but definitely am biologically attracted to men. When it comes to potential mates, though, I have to be connected mentally. If there’s no stimulation in the mind, there isn’t going to be any stimulation for me anywhere else, if you know what I mean.  But here’s a good measure of whether something is a personal preference and whether something is a prejudice – it’s a prejudice if you dehumanize anyone who doesn’t meet your preference, or if you want your preferences put onto everyone in the society you live and get angry when society doesn’t live up to your personal preferences.

So maybe yes, tribalism worked for us when we were just starting to come into groups. But to think that it still serves a purpose is so short-sighted. It is giving in to the scarcity mindset that those really in control put on us. It’s us or them but the only people really winning are those above it all pushing the buttons.

Realizing how deep the fear runs will change my approach when I’m forced into interactions with bigoted people in the future. I won’t tolerate the actions taken out of fear, but I will come from a place of sympathy toward the fear and division that runs deep inside. And I will use my white privilege to engage these people when I can and attempt to educate them on the way we’re all interconnected and convince them to lay aside the fear that is at the root of their hatred. I probably won’t break through to many, but maybe I can to a few.

America Image – Creative Commons License

postcard-front

Here is the redone illustration created for postcard size. I am granting this a CC-BY licensing, so if you want to print out your own postcards or flyers or use this for what you will, have at it.

My postcards will be ordered tonight for my Write-to-a-politician gathering. My friend who is an artist AND a scientist has created a science-friendly postcard that I will be printing as well, and I hope to get a good turnout when I schedule this event (probably early March by the time things ship). And my suggestion of a workshop at our local domestic abuse shelter got positive feedback and has been forward to the pertinent person in the organization, so my efforts for getting involved are progressing.

My new job got pushed back a week due to complications in the life of the shop owner. I am getting a little nervous but glad to have an extra week at home with the baby and take advantage of the extra time to get some smaller projects done. Life is what it is, right?

“I don’t want to live in my father’s house no more…”

The lyrics to Arcade Fire’s Windowsill have spoken to me since hearing the album Neon Bible for the first time years ago. Actually, that whole album is thought-provoking in many ways. But it was this song that came to my mind waking up after the election in the United States last month.

I’ve always been a floater socially. I know that’s a jump in topics, but stick with me because there is a point. In high school, I had friends and acquaintances in a lot of different groups, without truly belonging to any one group. It made me feel both alienated in some ways and free in others, because I never concerned myself with dressing or acting a certain way to fit in. And for someone getting over the scars of being bullied in the years leading up to high school, it felt safer to not dig in too deep anywhere. Sure, there were feelings of isolation sometimes, of never fitting in, of loneliness, but I was also given the opportunity to notice the similarities between individuals in different groups. We all struggle for the same things in life, and we’re all struggling for them alongside each other. And it would be far easier if we reached out a hand to help each other rather than hope that an entire group of people ceases to exist. That way leads to disaster for everyone.

I’m not entirely sure what the answer is. How can you help heal cognitive dissonance in a massive number of people? How do you help them to realize how much they are manipulated by various systems in such a way that doesn’t alienate them? It seems a herculean task, but a necessary one.

So despite my initial response, I am not leaving “my father’s house”, either physically or mentally. I intend to remain and do the work needed to build the society we could be living in. I intend to engage as much as possible with this time we find ourselves in. As part of that, I will start to blog about some ideas I have but don’t really have the knowledge to implement, and maybe some of you will be able to chime in, and maybe ideas can become realities.

Here are the full lyrics. Gives me goosebumps to read them.

I don’t wanna hear the noises on tv
I don’t want the salesmen coming after me
I don’t wanna live in my father’s house no more
I don’t want it faster, I don’t want it free
I don’t wanna show you what they done to me
I don’t wanna live in my father’s house no more
I don’t wanna choose black or blue
I don’t wanna see what they done to you
I don’t wanna live in my father’s house no more
Because the tide is high
And it’s rising still
And I don’t wanna see it at my windowsill
Don’t wanna give ’em my name and address
Don’t wanna see what happens next
Don’t wanna live in my father’s house no more
Don’t wanna live with my father’s debt
You can’t forgive what you can’t forget
Don’t wanna live in my father’s house no more
Don’t wanna fight in a holy war
Don’t want the salesmen knocking at my door
I don’t wanna live in america no more
Because the tide is high
And it’s rising still
And I don’t wanna see it at my windowsill
I don’t wanna see it at my windowsill
I don’t wanna see it at my windowsill
I don’t wanna see it at my windowsill
Mtv, what have you done to me?
Save my soul, set me free!
Set me free! what have you done to me?
I can’t breathe! I can’t see!
World war iii
When are you coming for me?
Been kicking up sparks
We set the flames free
The windows are locked now
So what’ll it be?
A house on fire, a rising sea?
Why is the night so still?
Why did I take the pill?
Because I don’t wanna see it at my windowsill!

Windowsill from Neon Bible
By Arcade Fire

Helping Inner City Students Dream and Create Amidst the Violence of Their Daily Lives

Last week into this one, I was in six different inner city elementary schools through my employer with a major arts initiative. It was a hectic whirlwind of a week, but the end result was that most of the students (with only a handful pulled out for bad behavior) each got to have an individual moment of attention from half their school and from us, with their final projects each getting praise. I was a “guest artist” coming in, and I was wowed by some of the final results. I picked out specific design elements that were impressive whenever possible, and praised the overall project when I couldn’t. And the kids lit up. They soaked all that attention up like sponges. They had created something, and that creation was getting positive attention, something that many of them don’t have.

There were so many that I wanted to take home and give them a bath, a good meal, and clean clothes. So many that I could sense the fragility behind their swagger. So many that met my eyes with a soulful gaze. All at various stages of putting their walls up. All at various stages of losing trust in adults, in themselves.

And during this week, the videos from Spring Valley High School emerged, and people crawled out of the woodwork to support the officer’s violent actions against a child 1/3 of his size. Again, people preaching compliance towards a system rife with abuse, preaching we should all “respect” officers because of the badges they carry and the dangerous job they have, and I am ashamed to say that I once said the same not because of any respect toward them but because I wanted the general population to stay safe. But no, this action is not ever okay, especially not in a classroom setting. If any adult man had touched a daughter of mine like that, I would be in jail because my revenge on him would have been swift and merciless and he would no longer have any balls because they would have been shoved down his throat after being ripped off by my bare hands, and I don’t care how rude she was to him. But no daughter of mine would get treated like that by an officer of the law because my husband and I aren’t black.

That people think this action is okay because she didn’t comply with this officer is so wrong. I’ve seen people using it as a tool to complain about millennials yet again and their rude upbringing, lumping the childhood of the inner city child with those in the suburbs, and it is not the case at all. Last week, while at one of the schools, someone was shot on the street less than a block away and the school had to go into a safety drill. This week, on the last day, one of our people noticed two men going after each other with baseball bats just as school was letting out, again only a block away. The children live in this. The parents that struggle to raise them and love them live in this. Having that level of stress, those cortisol levels raised in the brain all the time do terrible things to you. Add a difficulty in getting proper nutrition and being in an education system that’s run like a prison most of the time, is it any wonder that they act the way they do? Beyond that though, how can so many still be in denial about America slipping into a police state? How can so many willingly hand their power over to others? I don’t understand the mindset at all.

I’m glad we were able to do what we did in the schools. Maybe getting them in touch with their creative sides will give them a means to escape the reality of their lives, will give them goals and dreams to work toward to hopefully break the cycle of poverty and abuse. That positive connection to adults may be enough for some of them. But not all. And that hurts.

Crumbs – a poem

I think I’ll just post this every November on Election Day until it no longer is relevant.

Crumbs

We squabble over crumbs on the floor
While the big pile of money… oops… food
Sits on the table just out of our reach.
We eat self-help slogans,
Never acknowledging that this game
Of life is rigged against us.
Sound bites offer little sustenance.
We dance as the puppet masters
Pull the strings.
We follow the magician’s
Sleight of hand
And allow ourselves to be astounded
By the misdirection.
We obsess with details,
Refusing to ever see the big picture.
And we are amazed that we remain
Forever hungry.

From The Little Book of Insurrection or the Poetry of My Discontent
Copyright 2013, Kat Micari

Our Abusive Relationship with the Police

The general population of the United States is in an abusive relationship with the police force. It varies city by city and state by state, but it is a nationwide problem.

I realized the direct parallel while watching the video from Sandra Bland’s arrest.

While watching the video, I could hear the voices of many of my relatives in the back of my head. “Why didn’t she just comply? Why did she have to say “fuck”? Why did she antagonize him?” And it sounded exactly like the victim-blaming that still happens in many issues of domestic violence. “Why did she provoke him?” But this kind of thinking is really dangerous. Sandra Bland knew her rights, and she stuck up for them, and she probably died for them. And this is just one case, and it goes for both men and women in their interaction with officers who are supposed to be upholding the law.

And if you think that you are safe because you are white and middle or upper class, because you only break the law a little bit when it suits you, and because you grovel whenever you do come in a contact with an officer with a gun, then you are wrong. It is only a matter of time, because people with a gun and without a conscious, people who think they are above the law, people who think they deserve the perks they get, people who feel they have something to prove even when it crosses the line into violating the rights of others will not stop their actions. Maybe you’ll just be crossing a street somewhere at the wrong place or time, or they’ll get your house number mixed up with someone else in your neighborhood suspected of dealing drugs, or a neighbor will report a supposed domestic situation and they’ll come and kill your dog. Your status in this society is worth little to them, except for the fact at this point it’s a little harder to shut you up if they do cross the line. But with the growing wealth disparity, that is rapidly becoming a null point.

I still remember seeing my father completely change character when he was pulled over for a traffic infraction, and then again when we were working various summer festivals and a group of sheriffs would come over. (Married sheriffs who were asking the 19 year old girls working behind the counter for my dad to come out and party with them after their shift, by the way.) He would become completely servile and ingratiating, and when I asked him why after the first time I witnessed him doing this, he told me “You always respect someone with a gun.” We’ve come to a point in our society that that kind of thinking won’t fly. You can respect someone with a gun the way you would respect a dangerous or rabid animal, but until we all start being more vocal about the rights for every citizen in this country, we are going to see all of our lives grow more dangerous daily. And that is a travesty.

America – a poem

Copyright 2013, Kat Micari

  Copyright 2013, Kat Micari

I am America
Sick and writhing
Obsessed with health
Rotting from within

I am America
Sliced and diced
Corpulent and uncaring
Numb to the core of my being

I am America
Selling the dream
Stretched to the limit
Listen to the proclamation

I am America
Static blocks all sound
Who knows what to do?
The wrong people are killed

I am America
I am the masses
A loud voice
Heard by no one

I am America
From sea to polluted sea
One nation, incorporated,
With lies and injustice
For all.

Copyright 2013, Kat Micari
From The Little Book of Insurrection, or the Poetry of My Discontent

Seems appropriate to post this with what’s been happening lately.

The Destruction of a Child

I went into an inner city elementary school last week with several people from my work as part of an arts initiative, and I witnessed something very troubling to me. While in the midst of working with a kindergarten class, in a somewhat chaotic situation, one of the teacher aides began yelling and berating a little boy who had started crying. This boy was sitting in his seat, sobbing, and the teacher aide kept going “Stop crying! You have nothing to cry about! Do you want to be taken out of here? Stop crying right now!” I felt like I had been punched in the stomach, as I was continuing to work with the other children, and all of the children surrounding this one stopped smiling and immediately blank faced, not making eye contact, not betraying a single emotion themselves. None of the other teacher aides interceded, and finally the nasty aide pulled the boy out of the room and got him to calm down and brought him back.

I had to walk away. I wanted so badly to slap the lady, to scream at her that she was causing possibly irreparable damage to a potentially already damaged child, not to mention the effect on the rest of the kids, but I was a guest to the school. And, had I done that, who knows what effect that would have had on the students? As soon as I knew I could speak, I did tell one of the people from our organization that is in that school on a regular basis, and she said “Well, we don’t know that situation. It could be a child that just cries for attention. We don’t know what’s going on and can’t judge.” So we went about our business and left. But all I could think is that even if a child is ‘just crying for attention’, it means that something is wrong somewhere, and shouldn’t a little effort be made to find out what was wrong? Maybe he was scared, or had to go to the bathroom, or has some undiagnosed SPD issues. It could be anything, and screaming at him isn’t helping him in the least.

The faces of the other children were what did me in. The total shutting down at such a young age. How often have they had their sense of “I am” destroyed in their short lives by those that are supposed to be caring for and instructing them? How many times have they been told not to speak or show emotion or disrupt what is going on around them? And how many more times can they take such treatment before they permanently shut down? And while I can’t help but have empathy for the aide, who is probably only repeating a cycle that was done to her, or maybe is just too run down with working against the odds in a neighborhood like that with so little resources, or who knows what, I can’t condone the treatment to those students. It is detrimental to all of us in society to allow these cycles to continue.

If I worship anything in this life beyond a generic “higher power”, it is the divine potential we each carry within us, the spark of creation and possibility that exists in our minds and souls. I think this is why I love young children so much. Up until sometime between age 5 and 8, their minds are so open to everything, so willing to soak in life and experience things on both a micro and macro level, and all of their possible future selves coexist in their beings. Then, at some point, the possible future selves get whittled down by outside forces and we become solidified into who we will become and breaking out of those walls grows very difficult. So when I see someone who is supposedly an authority over a young child abusing the position and not treating their responsibilities with care, it is a polluting of something sacred to me. And it hurts. A lot.

At the very least, everyone in the class, including the sobbing boy, enjoyed the work we did and got to be active participants in the program. They got to experience something they’ve never experienced before, and with a little encouragement and praise, they were beaming and excited. And maybe what we presented will be something that will get at least a handful of them through their difficult young lives and able to pull themselves out of the cycle they are currently trapped in. But my heart grieves for the ones that are lost already.