When We Get Back to Normal!

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When we get back to normal.  When everything is like it used to be.  When things are like they were in the good old days.  The good old days when things were normal.  Happy days when father knew best, and bad kids were expelled from school for chewing gum.

But we are not normal now.  We are in a quandary for normal.  We pray for normal.  We look around each corner for normal.  But we cannot find normal.  We talk about the new normal but even that is a myth.  We are now post-normal.  We have never been normal, and we probably will never be normal.

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First smog in the sixties.  Then water pollution in the seventies.  Globalization in the eighties.  A new century with mega storms, wildfires, water shortages, power outages and unprecedented heat spells.  If normal was not elusive enough, in 2020 we get a virus that to date has killed almost 4 million people worldwide.  A little bug that is about 50 nm in size.  A nanometer is one billionth of a meter.  You could put 20 million corona virus side to side and still have room left over on a yardstick.  Has anybody ever asked a coronavirus when things will return to normal?

Just on the outside chance that we do get back to normal, what will it look like?  A vision please, for without a vision, it is said that people will perish.

women-taking-em-back-to-the-kitchen-vi-cine-center-51302934When we get back to normal, two parent families will again reign supreme.  Mom will stay home to cook, while dad goes to work.  There will be no trans-people.  Girls will stick to cheerleading and let the boys play the sports.  Contraceptives will be banned, and no one will dream of getting an abortion.  Priests and ministers will be male, and gay people will disappear.  Everyone in America will go back to being good Christians.

When we get back to normal, people will die of natural causes like alcoholism and tobacco smoking.  Viruses will become a thing of the past as huge walls setup around our borders will prevent any bugs from infecting Americans.  Health care will be readily available to rich people and make certain that the wealthier you are the longer you will live.  Poor people will do the shitty jobs in America and die earlier since they will not be able to afford quality health care.

When we get back to normal, Black people, Latinos, Native Americans, and Asian/Pacific Island people will be put into their place so that White people can rule again without challenge.  Only White people will be able to hold office.  Police forces will be given more power to dispense arbitrary justice in minority communities thereby ensuring that minorities do not get too uppity.  White people will be allowed to immigrate to the USA but people from other countries will be given strict orders to stay home.

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When we get back to normal, we will double the size of the defense budget and start a war someplace so that we can test our new arsenals out.  We will try to select enemies who are too weak to really put up much fight.  Our military will be the pride of America, and no one will have the audacity to stand up to it.  Drones will eliminate American casualties and reporters will be prohibited from counting enemy dead.

When we get back to normal, schools will be places where children are taught patriotism and how to fit into the workplace.  Colleges will establish quotas limiting the number of minorities who can enter.  Businesses will be given more tax breaks so that the rich can become richer.  We will spread a great deal of propaganda emphasizing the theory of trickle down.  Poor people will be persuaded to be patient until unfathomable wealth eventually comes down to them.

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When we get back to normal, scientists, Intellectuals, democrats, anti-gun people, liberals, writers, reporters, and teachers espousing critical thinking will be shunned.  Anyone promoting facts and logic over emotions and intuition will be silenced by fines or stiff jail sentences.

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I forgot to add that the Ten Commandments, Confederate Flag, and statues of Confederate heroes will be taken out of storage and placed on the lawn of every state capital in the USA.  Laws will be passed to make sure that people stand for the Flag and kneel for the Cross.  Of course, that is if things get back to normal again.

Do you still want things to get back to normal again?

Optimist, Pessimist or Realist

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Are you an optimist, pessimist, or realist?  I have a good friend who always says that he leans towards being a “guy whose glass is half-full.”  I guess he is a pessimist.  I know I am married to an optimist, because whenever I say anything negative about anyone, she will provide a contrasting optimistic perspective.  I tend to believe that I lean towards pessimism.  I like to think that I am a realist.  When someone asks me if my glass is half-full or half-empty my answer will depend on whether my glass is being filled up or emptied.  Nevertheless, I suspect many would find that my blogs reflect a rather negative view of life and humanity.

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Climate Change:

Pessimist: “The end is near; the end is near.  We have destroyed the world with carbon pollution, and it is too late to do anything about it.  Nature magazine published a study which shows that Global Warming stated as early as 1830 CE.”

Optimist: “There is still time to do something about climate change.  Humanity has faced disasters before, and we always overcome them.  They thought that we would destroy ourselves with nuclear weapons, but we learned to use other strategies to deal with our differences.”

Realist: “Maybe we have just been lucky.”

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Corrupt Government:

Pessimist:  Politicians since the days of Plato and Socrates have always been corrupt.  There is no such thing as an honest politician.  Lying comes naturally to all politicians and the truth is only an inconvenience for most of them.  Politicians have become worse and worse over the years in terms of lacking morality and ethics.  They will always do what is expedient and they are all amoral.”

Optimist: “How can you make such a blanket generalization?  There have been many good politicians and many or them are very honest and moral.  Look at Marcus Aurelius, Rómulo Betancourt, Thomas Sankara, Nelson Mandela, Lee Kuan Yew, Jimmy Carter, and Muhammadu Buhari.  These men were all honest leaders who fought for the welfare of their people and did it selflessly.  They were capable, incorruptible leaders who made a real difference in the lives of their followers.

Realist: “You win some and you lose some.  On the whole, it would seem that we have more leaders like Trump than we do leaders like Gandhi.”

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Education:

Pessimist: “Pouring money into education is a waste of time.  Kids are learning less today than they did in the early days of public education.  Half the kids in school are bored.  Teacher turnover is at an all time high and classrooms are chaotic.  Parents do not support teacher discipline anymore.  Schools have become jails for most students who would rather be home.  Kids today do not see the value in education because parents do not.  Schools are just factories for the more privileged to come out and get the high paying jobs in society while the rest of the pack will work for Walmart or McDonalds.”

Optimist: “We live in a more educated society today then even twenty years ago.  Education has been responsible for raising the standard of living the world over.  People are living longer than ever because of scientific advances in hygiene, medicine, and public health.  Without education, we would still be dying in our mid-forties instead of in our mid-seventies.  Kids today learn different things then when we were in school.  They are more visually literate, and computers have been a new tool that students today are using to change the world for the better.”

Realist: “We seem to take two steps forward and one back.  For every pro about education today, there is a con.  For every pro about technology there is a con.  We need to have a broader perspective on change that will enable us to embrace new ideas and let go of old ideas that no longer work.”  We simply keep adding pages to school textbooks without taking any out.”

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I could go on and on with examples of the quite different outlooks that life provides us.  Who is right?  I doubt that we will ever really know.  Many of the old sayings exist to provide us with some direction on how to live.  A friend of mine tried to convince me that writing should be positive and inspirational.  His motto was, “You catch more flies with sugar than with vinegar.”  According to my friend, people will ignore writing that is too dismal and negative.  It is his opinion that writers should provide a path forward to growth and development.  I told another friend the other day that “hope without action is hopeless.”  It is not enough to just hope for change, you need to do something about it.  I like to think that my writings provide a path forward.

Nevertheless, we are all familiar with the concept of being too “Pollyannish.”  Someone who is too Pollyannish always sees the positive in everything.  Pushing the envelope on optimism they become extremists who see a bright spot in every dark endeavor.  We sometimes refer to these people as wearing “rose colored” glasses.  A realist would argue that sometimes a bright spot does not exist.

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My writing instructor, Dr. Wedin informed our class a few weeks ago that the story of Pollyanna, a 1913 novel written by American author Eleanor H. Porter, has been grossly misrepresented.  In common usage, a Pollyannish person is someone who is too unrealistic about life and its difficulties.  I decided to watch one of the many movies based on the novel and found a quite different interpretation of young Miss Pollyanna.  One that I assume was more in line with the novel.  In the movie, Pollyanna is a young girl who faces her share of joys and unhappiness.  However, remembering what her father told her, she always tries to find a bright spot in life regardless of how difficult things may be going for her.  Pollyanna’s philosophy of life centers on what she calls “The Glad Game,” an optimistic and positive attitude she learned from her father.

As a man who has leaned strongly towards pessimism for most of my life, I found myself admiring Pollyanna’s attitude and efforts.  They say pessimists live longer lives but optimists live happier lives.  There is something about pessimism that wears one down and tires others out.  Friends, family, spouses, siblings, and children all have a difficult time being around someone who is relentlessly pessimistic.  Just as hope without action is useless, pessimism without a plan to change things is depressing, gloomy and dreary.  Would you rather be around a pessimist or an optimist?

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But what about our third choice?  Would you want to choose a realist for a life partner?  Is this the Golden Mean that the Greeks worshipped?  I think not.  The problem with being a so-called realist is twofold.  The first problem is that realism must be based on a foundation of facts and evidence.  Herein, you can immediately understand the problem.  It is difficult if not impossible to obtain evidence that will prove irrefutable and reliable.  Life is full of lies, half-truths, unsubstantiated facts and impossible to find evidence.

The second problem with realism is that it is not useful without a path forward or some means of making sense out of reality.  Knowing reality is meaningless if you cannot do something about it.  Finding the best path forward always involves a number of decisions that go beyond the facts.  For instance, if I decide that my car needs a new engine, will it be more cost effective to purchase a replacement engine or buy a new car?  You might be able to work out an equation to make this decision, but I guarantee you that there will be several unknowns in your equation.  Every unknown impacts the outcome of your decision making.  Then of course, there are what we call “unintended consequences.”  Charting the unknown, even realists must go into mysterious territory.

So we arrive back to where we started.  Would you rather be an optimist, pessimist, or realist?  I would love to hear your comments on this question.  Please feel free to send me a reply.

Only send optimistic comments though.  😊

The Alien from Outer Space – Captured in Utah

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As they walked into the large conference room, they saw the alien standing in the middle of the room.  It was about seven feet tall and about 3 feet in diameter.  The alien had what looked like four branches coming off a main trunk and four branches upon which the main trunk was balancing.  The bottom branches were probably legs and the top branches were waving in the air and might have been arms.  No head was apparent on the alien and it was impossible to tell if it had any particular gender.

QVNIMTE2NDI3MjA2The color of its trunk was somewhere between blue and green as its hues ebbed and flowed.  One minute it looked blue and the next minute it looked green.  The most striking feature of all was in the middle of its trunk about five feet above the floor.  It had a large round eye about 9 inches in diameter.  There was no mistaking it as an eye since it included a large red pupil, a green cornea, and a yellow sclera.  The pupil was about two inches wide and the cornea was about four inches wide.  The eye seemed to follow every movement in the room and when you looked at it, the alien seemed to be able to look right through you as though it was reading your mind.

I was surrounded by news reporters, army officers, soldiers with guns at rest and what were obviously many government officials.  This was what the human race had been waiting for.  An alien had been captured and was going to speak to the world.  I had been brought to this well guarded room in Washington D.C. after I had agreed to speak about my purpose in visiting a planet they called Earth.  The major tv networks had all been alerted and were on deck to broadcast whatever the I had to say to the entire world.  News reports said over two billion people had found some way to listen to my talk.

I calmly surveyed the inhabitants of this room who were only a small part of the inhabitants of this planet.  I had been surveying them for 100,000 years but they were not aware of this fact.  They soon would be.  I looked out over the gathering with some amusement.  Shichak is the name that I chose to use with these humans.  They would never have been able to pronounce my real name.  But my name is unimportant.  What is important is what I have to say to the inhabitants of Earth.  At my other visits to Earth, I always observed for some weeks than returned to my home planet.  This time I did not fly away.  My captors did not realize it, but I came to this room entirely voluntarily.  I could have destroyed all of them and a great deal of their planet with a single twist of my antenna.  I chose to stay until I had delivered my message.

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My spacecraft which could travel at warp drive speeds between the galaxies had encountered some minor difficulties.  I had intended to land briefly and repair the ship.  After landing in a remote area of Utah, my ship had been seen by a local paramilitary group which surrounded the space craft.  They threatened to open fire with some high-powered projectiles unless I came out of the craft.  Years earlier I would have ignored them, but I sensed that the weapons they had could do some serious damage to my ship.  I had been seen many times before, but I had quickly opened an invisibility cloak and returned to space.  This time would be different.  After making my decision, I left the vessel to deliver a message to this species that I was certain would surprise and astound them.

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In less than 24 hours, my captors had taken me from the Utah forest to a police station in Monroe, Utah, to a government office in Provo, Utah and to an Army base in Bluffdale, Utah.  It was not only my appearance which surprised all who met me but even more surprising to them was the fact that I spoke perfect English.  I have the ability to speak the language fluently of any species on the planet Earth or any other planet in the universe.

At each site that I was taken to, I indicated that I would only talk to the President of the United States of America.  Finally, I was put under heavy guard and taken in a military cargo plane to Washington D.C.  During my trip, I had been passed up the line from privates to colonels to generals to Army secretaries and finally to this room where the President of the United States of America and the rest of the world waited to hear what I had to say.

It was time to speak.  The President had arrived with his staff and were seated.  I made some bugle like sounds to get everyone’s attention.  They were quite surprised but quieted right down.

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I spoke, “I did not come to your planet on a mission of peace.  Neither did I come on a mission of aggression.  I come as an observer.  I have been observing you for nearly 100,000 years.  I have made many trips to your planet.  Several times in the past, my ship has been spotted by your people.  One other time, I was forced to land and effect some repairs.  My ships have varied in size and shape from ovoid to saucer shaped.”

“I come from a planet my people call Zanist.  It is 7,000 light years away in another galaxy.  Our planet is over twenty billion years old.  Our people refer to themselves as Zanes.  As you calculate your lifespan, the average life of a Zane is about 200,000 earth years.”

“The sun that heats our solar system is dying.  It has been dying for many years.  We developed interstellar travel capabilities nearly a million years ago.  When we realized that our planet was doomed, our leaders decided that we should seek out another planet to inhabit.  Many scouts were sent out to find a new home for our people.  I found your planet over 100,000 years ago.  It was perfect for us except for the fact that a new species was quickly evolving, and you were that species.  We were not sure whether you would survive.  Many other species on your planet have rose up only to disappear in a few centuries.”

“We have what you would call a prime directive.  We do not interfere with the development of a sentient species.  Many on our planet were not sure that humans were sentient.  It was evident from early observations that you were brutal and cruel to other species as well as each other.  Nevertheless, our ethics prevented us from interfering with your development.”

“I was selected to monitor your planet in the event that you did not survive or that you annihilated yourselves.  This latter possibility seemed the most likely given your aggressive tendencies.  I returned after the ice age to find that you had managed to survive.  I watched many battles over the years where I thought you might destroy each other: the Three Kingdom Wars, the Mongolian Wars, the European Wars and two World Wars.”

“Finally, with your development of nuclear weapons, we were sure that you would self-annihilate.  We were quite surprised when you did not.  With my observations on this latest visit, I think it might be close to the end for your species.  Your current disasters due to your destruction of your environment, global warming, and climate change will be your death knell.  Your planet will survive but your species will probably not.  I take no joy in this observation.  My role is simply to observe and to report when your planet will be ready for us to occupy.”

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“We will be able to fix your planet and return it to its former healthy state.  We could tell you how to do this, but it would be a waste of time.  It is apparent that you understand what you need to do but you lack the desire or will power to do it.”

“That is all I have to say.  I am returning to my planet.”

As I spoke these words, I observed one of the military people talking to several of his subordinates.  I could read his mind and see that he was intent on preventing me from leaving.  It was his intention to place me in some sort of a cell.

Milley-talk“You have taken my space craft to one of your many military bases.  Some of you wish to stop me from leaving.  That is impossible.  I have no desire to harm any of you.   I have already repaired my vessel and it is back in orbit.  I will go to my ship.  Perhaps you will see me again in the future if you survive.  I doubt it.  Goodbye.”

“Beam me up Scotty.”  A little phrase I learned from my visits to the planet Earth.

The alien’s colors gave off a burst of blinding light forcing all the participants to close their eyes.  When the gathering opened their eyes, the alien was gone.  A grave like silence blanketed the room.  Reporters, government officials, military people and the President of the United States of America were all speechless.  The first words that everyone at the gathering heard were, “Does anyone know what’s for lunch?”

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