Almost to the Top

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I never admitted to myself that I have a “Bucket List”.  I just thought of it as a bunch of stuff I’d like to do if I ever had the chance.  You know cool stuff, scuba diving in Hawaii; snorkeling in the Bahamas; sky diving just about anywhere.  I’ve been in denial of my impending demise for 50 years.  You can’t have a bucket list if you don’t expect to kick the bucket.  Right?  OK, over my denial now.  I have a bucket list and it grows every year, things I want to do or experience.

There is this need inside, to be filled with wonder at the world.  Holding a new born child and letting your heart open to all the joy and pain that will come from loving them.  Seeing the sun rise over oceans and mountains, to see it burst from a molten sky in the desert.  Watch that same sun set, winking away the last moments of the day and surrendering to the night.  I have been so far out in the desert that the earth seemed closer to the stars, and the millions of stars that we never see became clear.  Go rafting and see the clear green water of an underground river joining the brown-gray of the river you’re on.  The water is so cold that they won’t blend together for a while.

I checked another one off my list this year.  A trip to Japan to walk up Mount Fuji.  You can’t see the mountain for the hills.  Fuji-San is so massive, you can’t see it when you’re standing on it.  If you look up, you may see a few hundred meters then it either fades from sight or gets hidden by fog.  As you climb you will pass through cloud layers that block everything else from view.  When you come around a spur, the clouds are gone and the valley opens up below you, so far away that your brain doesn’t understand size and distance.  You can only make this climb in the summer unless you have special gear and training. In the middle of August, it was cold close to the top.

I only made it close to the summit.  Our group had to turn around One hundred-Twenty meter from the top.  A Tsunami was passing by out at sea and the winds were dangerous, added to the rain and trail it was a little to much.  Squeaking along in plastic rain pants, the cold, thin air and slashing rain in the early morning before the sun rise was exhausting.  Our group lost half it’s number to fatigue or altitude sickness just over half way.  Bullet climbers, trying to race up Fuji would be laying on the side of the trail, gasping with cans of oxygen laying empty beside them.  I repeated the hated mantras of my training: “Slow and steady”, “One step, one breath”, “You don’t have to get there first, just get there”.  I was the oldest in the group, except for one of the trail guides, who insisted on smoking at every stop (bastard).

As I looked at the kids, twenty years younger or more, I realized I had something they didn’t.  Endurance.  Not the physical strength of my youth that would have driven me faster.  Not the stamina that would have allowed me to make the trek with little or no rest.  The endurance of a lifetime of trying and succeeding and failing and trying again.  Pushing myself to the limit only to find the limit was in my head and I could do more.

I think that’s what a Bucket List is, a list of life time challenges that we throw ourselves at to see if we can still succeed.  Sitting here, I have decided that I need to go back to Japan and try the climb again.  I can’t beat Fuji-San, but I can see what he sees from the top.

A World of Competition

I was thinking of one of the more famous questions of our time; “Can’t we all just get along?”

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Rodney King’s question from 1992 and thinking of the riots of then and today resonate with this question.  As in 1992, the point of the riots and protests doesn’t seem to be social justice as much as childish rage and retribution for perceived slights.  Race bating in the media and giving credence to false claims of institutional racism, false, being statements that are not sustained by statistical proofs, provoke riotous responses.  Criminal activity is excused away as justifiable outrage and allowed by politicians with confusing agendas.

Among the many things that confuse me in this argument is the belief that, somehow, everyone is supposed to be able to compete and succeed.  I admit that society and government are unnatural.  There is nothing fundamental in the right to survive.  The space ship Earth is not a gentle, nurturing,  cooperative womb for all to thrive and grow.  Even plants seek to destroy other plants by depriving them of  light, water and nutrients.  The mighty oak poisons the ground around it to prevent being crowded by competition.    In destroying their competitors, killing them and recycling their dead bodies, they improve their own chance for survival.  The weak do not survive.

We have a new type of weed in our society.  Well, not new, just something we have ignored long enough that it has become a threat to our survival.  It chokes individualism out with intolerance, while screaming that we must accept others views without judgement.  The same voices tell me that I am responsible for the ignorance and racism of today and hundreds of years ago.  I am ordered to ignore facts that are inconvenient, not allowed to refute lies with proof.  I am being choked and pushed.  Reasonable discourse is almost impossible because conversations leap to ludicrous in an instant.

Dinner conversation.

“I wonder how long it’s going to take Trump to violate the Constitution?” 
“Well, he won’t be the first.  It’s pretty much guaranteed in one way or another. Since Lincoln tossed it out the window, the Constitution is just a suggestion.  Look at Obama Care.”
“Oh, my god!  Really?!  I suppose you think we should go back to owning slaves and letting women die because they can’t get mammograms.”  Notice the sharp left turn there at the end. 

Yes, even defending ourselves is now a form of oppression and racism.  How dare you shoot someone breaking into your home?  Did you know that they were there to hurt you?  Maybe all they wanted to do was burglarize your home.  Stealing is the only way for some people to make money.  He didn’t have to die just because he was robbing a store.  It reminds me of weeds in the garden.  Choking out the good and productive plants, stealing from the useful.  They need to be pulled, destroyed.  The stifling liberalism of those who are “tolerant and open minded” try desperately to choke out different ideas or opinions.  Even becoming more aggressive as days pass and the world ignores them.

These arguments remind me of another socialist party.  They were also interested in the greater good of the people, providing for those who couldn’t provide for themselves.  Who use violence to intimidate and silence anyone who disagreed with them.  It was all for the greater good, unless you were different, had different ethics, standards, morality, religion.

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By the way; Nazism means National Socialism.  Remember that when you decide which side of the argument should be wearing swastikas.

 

Micro-Aggression

Apparently, I am capable of offending people with words.  Not intentional offense or insulting phrases or titles, just words.  Not even words taken in context but simply as the listener wishes to interpret them.  When I arrive at work with less caffeine than the recommended daily dose, and grumble, “morning” to a coworker.  I am a rude person who doesn’t know how to talk to people.  Hours later, I sit in the supervisor’s  office for an intervention.   “Let me get this straight. I tried to be social, I wasn’t nice enough?”

“That’s the wrong way to look at this.  It’s not just what you say, but how you say it that effects others.”

“So, I should just ignore them?  I was trying to be polite, but that doesn’t matter?”

“Micro-aggression can create a hostile work environment.  If it is not addressed, we could be sued.  They can file an EEO complaint.  Look, just try to be nicer.”

“Lieutenant, we’re supposed to be cops.  If they can’t take harsh language, they need to find another job.”  (Note:  This conversation was edited for language content and expletive, because I still needed more coffee.)

Seriously!  I sat through a four hour lecture on micro-aggression last week.  While we have riots going on, officers are being attacked, spit on, hit with bottles and generally abused and told NOT TO RESPOND.  I had a class on micro-aggression.  Here is the funny part, the passive aggressive response of sicking the boss on me for being impolite…is micro-aggression.  I learned that in the class.  When I pointed it out, it was explained that the other person didn’t feel strong enough to confront me personally and needed intervention.  That is what made it aggressive on my part.

Maybe what we need is a color code system to identify our level of susceptibility to harsh words.

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White – Please don’t look to hard, long or aggressively.

Pink – Sensitive in specific ares.  SEE ADDITIONAL color code list to determine unsafe areas.  Just assume that if you do not agree with every politically correct view and cause, you’re wrong.

Green – Generally resilient, occasionally touchy.  Just a normal person who is not trying to be offended by everything that they don’t agree with.  May snap back or take a swing.

Blue – Not offended by much.  Gallows humor and sick jokes are funny and will probably be repeated.  Will take limited abuse and not care.  If offended will retaliate with appropriate, limited force.  You probably deserved it.

Black – If you can offend this person, you are really trying.  If you manage to succeed, be prepared to be punched, kicked, stabbed, shot or monkey stomped. You deserved it.

I’m fairly sure my insensitive response is another example of my insensitivity.  I don’t care.  Next week, I’m going back to work with a bunch of people who wear blue shirts and black pants (see color codes).  We will attempt to protect a group of people who say they are open minded, but refuse to accept that others have the right to disagree with them, who will often attack anyone who disagrees with them, and then cry about the aggressive behavior of others.  WTF?