Monday, May 20, 2019


This is a link to a short rallying session from Richard Grannon when you're feeling down and can't quite put your finger on what's the matter.

It's not really "deep" or surprising -- just common sense.  But sometimes you need that.  Anyway, Grannon is so lively and so direct, that it cheers a person up just to watch him for five minutes.

Part of what's slowing me down is realizing the things I've done wrong in life -- little moments of regret more than big watershed changes of heart -- which is a natural response to having done the best you could all your life, but never being quite good enough to keep from making a mistake now and then.  Is anyone ever that good?  But I was such an earnest little girl, so focused on being what everyone assured me was virtue, that it's an arrow in my heart every time I really blunder badly.

Has there ever been another time when the "rules" changed so swiftly and completely?  What was admired is now often deplored.  Supporting worthy men was once admired -- now it's being a pushover, being used.  Self-sacrifice -- for my mother -- was a primary virtue but now it's a mental health deficit.

What saves me is something like what saves Grannon, a form of narcissism that I used to call "autosalvation."  I had a seminary classmate who always skidded up to the edge of destruction, then veered off before the suffering began.  The last I heard of him, he called me up unexpectedly.  "Oh, you haven't died yet!" was his charming first line.  He loses churches, marriages and businesses, and got thrown out of Meadville/Lombard but was picked up by the U of C Div School.  Still he has a lovely house in a fine place and still has prestige. His problem was that his most recent girl friend had announced that he was too old for her and had left.  He and I are the same age, but I'm too old for him, too.  He must have been desperate for another woman to save him.  I said, "You're really into this entitled old white man thing, aren't you?"  The end.  But I regret being so harsh. I resent that he never pays any price.  Is that a fault?

When I begin to feel badly about someone I told off when we were in the fourth grade, or about some kid I was supposed to teach to read but didn't, or a time I actually cheated on a college test (it was about botany and couldn't remember the name of the plant) but wasn't caught --  in short, a cascade of trivia most people would ignore, I think I was congratulating myself on how scrupulous I am to even notice all those shortcomings.  Well, that itself IS a shortcoming, hoarding mistakes like that.  It's amazing how vivid they are.

I could blame my mother if that weren't so commonplace.  I mean, I still remember the tone of her voice after some high school event where I was sworn into something --  Honor Society or Brownies.  "Why did you let your thumb stick out to the side at an angle when you put your hand up?" she demanded as though instead I'd actually thrown a moonie of my bottom to the crowd.  I mean, it's funny, isn't it?  The lack of proportion, the inability to filter out such remarks.  My solution was bad: I never went with her in the car or on a walk because as soon as we were alone together, she'd begin on me.  She had so hoped that I'd be exemplary.  But why did she think scolding questions would fix the problem?

I came through most of the time but, as my father often said, "That's what we expect from you.  You're the oldest and you're a girl, so you SHOULD be better than anyone else."  I wondered who laid that on him.  Surely not his mild and thoughtful parents!  His cranky old grandfather, the impossible-to-please Archibald?  (I can't believe anyone named a baby that!)  On my mother's side it was clear that her Irish via Kentucky father was to blame.  He was a mischievous man with a streak of mean.

As Trump begins to disintegrate and we begin to re-normalize progressive ethics -- like protecting children, punishing sadists, managing money honestly, not screwing around -- there will be a lot of guilt and regret among thinking people.  Those who are clear about it, make their changes open and justified, repent sincerely, won't have a problem, but there are going to be some people who have cost themselves and those they love a price far beyond what is tolerable.  Some will deserve what they get.  Those who come off best will be those who do the Saint Paul thing right now, though it will cost them, not least in terms of power and reputation.  it's still better than public trial and years in jail. 

When I am most horrified is when it becomes clear that so many previous presidents have also taken huge amounts of money to favor crooks, lied to the public, started wars of convenience, and committed pencil deaths (by manipulating funding) over and over.  It's clear that if you compare Trump with Jimmy Carter, well, there IS no comparison.  But if you compare Trump to Nixon or even the Bushes, it's clear that the high standards of theory were lowering to practical and self-interest bottomless limits.

Good thing we wrote down the proper way to do things in the Constitution and all the Rules of Law.  Otherwise, since honor and justice are unknown and disregarded, we might not remember how it was supposed to be.  Certainly, the notion of what is proper sexual behavior is no longer even practical.  The morass of law/stigma/emotion/fantasy is such a mess that a person hardly knows how to proceed.  Where do you start?  It doesn't even square up with intention.  The most shocking bit of rhetoric I've seen was the idea that if batter-dipped and deep-fat-fried, a tiny bit of flesh like a six-week embryo could be eaten in a plate of shrimp without noticing.

This is a real actual 6-week human embryo
 that has been aborted.

Aauuuuggghhh.  Micro-cannibalism.  I'm glad I was so careful not to get pregnant.  But there are still all these cats, as opinionated as my mother and more vulnerable than fried shrimp.  Every time someone says fondly. "fur babies", I cringe.

So what must we do to save ourselves in a time of regret, blame and possibly punishment -- falling short in the past with no chance or remediation.  Grannnon says "start with your soma -- your body."  You can get to the big moralities better later.

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