In this you can make for yourself a wonderful world

Having been thoroughly beaten up by your own concerns of reputation, there comes a time where you must no longer live only in the eyes of your fellow man, but live for you.

I have lived in various lands and mingled with various people and with me now is a shield which fends off all comers from my inner peace.  It is something earned with experience and missing in youth (unless egregiously optimistic).  The protection  may amount to “easy-come, easy-go”, but it is more from the subjective perspective.  It is a freedom earned with trial by fire, and an honor bestowed on one from above.

The ability to love, without possessing; the ability to perform to your best, without concern for excellence; the ability to forgive as human and harmless, what society may nonetheless despise – in this you can make for yourself a wonderful world, even should your past experience be grim.

Viva Barcelona

It has always been the will of the people to live free, but the enemy to such aspirations is elusive.  Should it be that one try to connect with the people and they, by hint and suggestion, are turned against as one who seeks to subvert their good spirits and intentions, then it is – from my first hand experience – the people providing the hint and suggestion who wish to subvert what is good and not the subject of accusation all.  It is the hint and suggestion from the social troll who will end the world in economic ice.  Their malice cold, as revenge is wont to be.

People talk, and that holds not for one group or the other, but it is easier to control the talk if you mascaraed as ‘of the people’ though you are against all that is open and good.  But in some places hidden malice cannot win.  The networks too intertwined, and you are free to be – not this that or the other – but just free to be.

Trolls Abound

It is not easy to let yourself off the leash.  Trolls abound, it seems the safer bet to mince your words beyond recognition.  But it does not do justice to your sentiment if you are so refined.  The process of hashing and rehashing takes something out of your expression which you don’t really know was there, once it is gone.  This is the rhythm of life – it shines through in words without conditions and is lost in words finely tuned.

That said, words finely tuned can be pithy and more beautiful than their unrefined counterparts, but something may still be lost in beauty.  It is this organic and genuine expression which is often missing in my own words, far too often, and I cannot blame it on anything but fear.

I do not say to you: “let yourself go”.  The task of being a writer is as much knowing what not to say as it is knowing what to say.  But it is fair that in our fear of saying too much, we either occlude the truth beyond recognition or say nothing at all, and that, for a writer, is a shame far beyond not expressing things beautifully.

Barcelona and the New Republic

In the Spanish civil war, the Communists and the Capitalists sided with one another against the Fascists.  The Fascists won, and led to a repressive regime that lived in relative peace without freedom until the death of Franco.  Spain, as a result, did not see the subsequent battle between the Communists and Capitalists, which was to define the latter half of the 20th century. They lived in a bubble of needs met and few aspirations attained, with true liberty – religion not least among them – thwarted.

But Franco did not stop the positioning.  He had to, after all, meet with every man’s fate and die.  And so the cold war lived in muted form, to the satisfaction of those who run cold – the communists – as opposed to those who run hot – the capitalists.  But in certain places the dream of the republic lived.  It would come to live in the hearts of former communists as well as capitalists, as the fate of a government of central command was realized in the USSR, not only Spain.

There are still those inclined to socialism, and sometimes they are in the right.  Nevertheless, the will of the people is freedom – civil and economic – and there is no place in the world where this will is stronger than in Barcelona.  Catalonia has been reluctantly paying dues and homage to Madrid for too long, and it is time for Madrid to realize that they really ought to be more like Barcelona.  I have been here for a short time, and I can tell the city is alive and open unlike any I’ve seen.  Despite occasional opposing forces at play, it is a city ready to shine to the world.  Madrid, you should play along – you have something to learn and gain.

Implicit Coordination

It happens everyday, but not least in the highest reaches of government.  In the highest reaches of government, people are quick to clean their hands of any potential wrong doing with a turn of phrase.  The matter does not have to be complicated.  If I am a diplomat and I say that we don’t like X, and if you do Y, we will do Z, this only constitutes a threat if the other side does not like Z and it is not to your advantage that they do Y.  But if you say it like that, your hands are washed of whatever wrong was done with Y, and if you do Z given Y, you can effectively establish trust – all under the guise of whatever protection Z feigns to provide (e.g. xyz=(Ukraine,Syria,Economy).

Matters are not as cut and dried as national broadcasts would like, and in relations, both domestic and foreign, such implicit agreements are the norm rather than the exception.  Still I cannot but beg to maintain that if there is to be integrity to the system – and if our leaders are to know the first as well as the last thing as to what is going on – then we need a system of coordination which is forthright and does not save face for the sake of future votes, protecting against future spin, and living in a reality of appearances which cannot be sustained given a more intelligent populous.

I am not less a MAN for that. But I am less a man, sure. Because I’m just a man, sadly.

Should I think you have nothing to say, it is because I am self-centered.  Or maybe it is because you have said things in the past which do not make sense.  Or maybe it is because you say things again, which I have already heard.  It is perhaps because what you say is frivolous, and I tread on higher ground.

It would all be very interesting, but perhaps I find you unattractive.  I am not only self-centered.  I am superficial too.  As a writer it is words which should excite and not how or who.  But I will say that should I choose (and off the record), I choose a beautiful woman’s casual charade to cold comfort of philosophers.  I am not less a MAN for that.  But I am less a man, sure.  Because I’m just a man, sadly.

It is sadly indeed, for in every communication their is a life behind the words.  A life to empathize with, for it is a life you could have led.  To not reflect in those moments, on what your life could have been, and allow yourself to be struck with boredom – that is self-centeredness – and it is worth fighting that.

And still it is so much easier when you are beautiful to look at.

Why Treating the Mentally Ill as Suspects is Counter Productive

The mentally ill need care, not suspicion. Yet a visit with your therapist can occasionally feel like an interrogation as they try to cover their backs from the unknown. And it’s not like their performance goes undetected. The mentally ill are simultaneously some of the smartest people in the world; though they may be treated as minds of inconsequential validity, rest assured that they are observant and capable of unwanted inference. How to treat such talent while protecting society – that is a very difficult balance.

The foremost indicator of future violence is past violence, but all too often people are buried under suspicion without any past violence at all. Should there be a need to put someone under suspicion for their condition, it must be the result of an evaluation done without suspicion, since suspicion on the part of the doctor leads to fear on the part of the patient, which leads to suspicion on the part of the system. Once there is suspicion on the part of the system, it is often too late for a patient to lead a normal life, for they will face an uphill battle for most of their lives.

It is a fact that mass shootings put more power in the hands of psychiatrists, and these psychiatrists are not blind to the scrutiny they will face if – albeit a remote possibility – a terrorist slips their grasp. But we should not ignore the fact that mass shootings make up a relatively insignificant portion of the death rate, despite their sensationalism, and a far greater number of lives are lost to scrutiny than death by bullet – though their stories remain untold.

My Visit With The Pope

My spiritual encounter with Pope Francis was circumstantial. I had decided to fly to DC because Frontier had 58$ tickets from Chicago and I managed to find an airbnb which was not gouging me. My accommodations turned out quite nice and I had a rather fine time on H street the night before, carousing with a fellow airbnb’er. The result was that I awoke far too late to get in line at 4am with the rest of the Papal viewers who sought out prime real estate for the brief appearance around the White House (the ellipse parade). In fact, I simply woke up and walked an hour and a half to arrive at a gate where people had congregated and within 3 minutes, The Pope showed up, and I saw him – albeit a block away – in all his celebrity excitement. My timing made me wonder if perhaps everything did happen for a reason – and this happy condition lasted well into the afternoon.

It was 2:45pm when I decided maybe I should really go to the Papal Mass at the Basilica after all. I had no tickets, but I hopped a cab and arrived an hour before mass was to start. Things looked promising as there was a designated gate at which all the fellow derelicts without tickets were supposed to grovel to get in. I waited there as people behind me of finer stock were picked from the crowd by secret service and escorted to the ticketing area. The rest of us humbly petitioned for entry well past the start of mass, when the TSA looking folks at the gate communicated to us that under secret service orders, we were not to be allowed into the mass. For all my impetus to call the lowly masses to arms and rebel against The Man in the name of a Pope of The People, I quietly resigned and continued my tour of H street bars, because everything did happen for a reason… I’m Catholic afterall, and not Baptist.

The Objectification of Women

By this is typically meant the process by which a woman is evaluated based on their appearance, but to say that this is the objectification of women is to ignore the fact that if one is evaluated based on metrics of almost any sort, then they have been ‘objectified’ and this socially acceptable form of objectification even has a prestigious business name: Human Capital Management.

The real problems with objectification are not with evaluating people based on their appearance, which is a set of characteristics subject to objectification as well as any other. The real problem is treating people as capital, and that is just business. How to reconcile the need to objectify people while treating them as loving, feeling, breathing individuals, generally – that is our problem – and it applies to Vegas strippers as well as CEOs.

It used to be the men who treated people as capital in business, and women were a balance who treated people as loving, feeling individuals at home. Now it is an afront to women if they are not treated as human capital like everyone else, and you are ‘setting women back’ if you are a woman who does not treat people as capital in turn. Ahh progress.

This is not to say that women have no place in business, but it is to say that society has lost some of that balance, and men need to begin to treat people more as loving, feeling individuals to help regain it – Women, we need your help, so don’t lose your touch.

From the Heavy Hand to the Guiding Touch

It was not so long ago that students complained of bloody knuckles from the ruler. This type of treatment was more the norm than the exception in eliciting Catholic guilt, and it did not stop and end at nuns trying to teach mathematics. The heavy hand extended rather clearly – among the initiated – to the pulpit and even prayer, in advance of the rebirth.

We are not fully reborn of course, but there is something to be said for Pope Francis’ light guiding touch that has made the wait and persistence of faith worth it. No longer do I feel quite so guilty for enjoying myself in ways visceral but victimless, should I also pay respect to what is truly good. No longer do I feel the need to hide from authority because they are bound to only see things in the light of what could go wrong as opposed to what could go right. A God merciful to the good of heart, despite a love of life – I have been waiting for it all my life and it is here.

Tomorrow it does not matter if I see the Pope, though I happen to be in D. C. I have already seen the good done in the faces of those estranged from faith and The Church. We have a Pope respectful of humanity and the human condition, in the face of historical demands made in the name of God, though not always true to His spirit. It is a good time to be a Catholic, and a good time for the world to rethink faith.