I must be getting old. The connection to Ted’s Head was screwed up…again
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Ted Sorta Great
I must be getting old. The connection to Ted’s Head was screwed up…again
Please go to tedshead.me or http//:tedsheadco.wordpress.com
Ted Sorta Great
Greta Garbo was one of the more illustrious movie stars who craved to be away from the madding crowd. She and others like Howard Hughes, Harrison Ford and even Tom Hanks have shunned the limelight. Most of them can afford to, but the rest of us like the mix of our fellow men and women in a variety of social situations. The spate of mass killings has brought this more to the fore. This gunman or that, appears to be a loner, detached from normal society, whatever that is. A kid in school who keeps to him or herself is considered a weirdo. Hermits, monks. Don’t they know what they are missing? Maybe.
We are social animals. It has been bred into us for sheer survival. Safety in numbers. Over time that defense alliance has given birth to conviviality. As we trust more, we open up and want to relate our experiences, philosophies and beliefs. We see threads of commonalty and that gives way to a sense of community.
This is how villages and cities and states are formed but hearkening back to that fear of the enemy we become somewhat closed to outsiders. We have our rules and if you want to stay here you better abide by them. Rural areas are notorious by being suspicious of outsiders. North, South, East, West all lay claim to their version of heaven.
The definition of community is all the people living in an area or a group or groups of people who share common interests. I would add, “ and seek the common good. Let’s talk silos if you will. The town splits into several churches or synagogues of religious belief. There might be club formed, be it Rotary, golf or tennis. People of different political views form parties. We keep getting more and more specific as to our wants and dislikes. And we keep parsing this thing called community almost to the point we are no longer one in any respect.
Enter the double edged sword of education. In the little red schoolhouse you didn’t really rock the boat or your mother would know it before you got home. As people started pursuing higher learning they started getting all sorts of crazy thoughts. The more the economically challenged or at least non elites, started learning about the complexities of the world, they began to ask why? Or better yet why not me?
Now you can call that democracy and I will buy it. You can also call it anarchy and I might be prone to agree with you on that also. As we become more exclusionary we go from selfless of the early days to when that good old thing called selfish takes its place. Everyone is fighting for a place at the table whether it be in thought or their pocketbook. In a strange way they want to be more exclusive or dare I say, alone.
There is a huge difference between being lonely and wanting to be alone. In the latter you just want a timeout from the rat race. You want to take a walk, read a book or sing in the shower without worrying about what people think. It is “you” time and very healthy.
Being lonely is a whole other thing. You want to be part of something but there is no way in. Just a smile or friendly hello would work wonders but they are nowhere to be found. You can be left out for your age, ethnicity, religion or political tenets. Your dress and your feelings are contrary to the local rules. Go back where you came from. You are not wanted here. You are too old or too radical for us. Sad but true.
Now most just accept their fate and try to make do. They eventually fade to black, Others sit and fester. Their rage against their fellow man or woman intensifies. They can go online and get really whipped up. In a strange way they are forming a new community. And then BOOM! And we all wonder why it happened. Small town or big city. Why didn’t we see this coming? Why couldn’t we fix it? How hard do we try?
Communities come in all sorts. It could be a family, a street or town. It could be a county, a state or a country. It could be at work or at play. We have common interests. What if we all thought not of our little burghs but a much bigger picture. We are all Americans. Do we really think that way? We are all members of the planet. Is that possible to even fathom?
In Flalaland Kathy and I live in a most unusual place. People are beyond welcoming and everyday it is easy to say hello to a dozen or more neighbors. Nobody really asks what you did or where you came from. Just nice to have you here. That feels good. Will that change over time? Good question. Will more and more new entrants want to have it their way or ours? Or is it possible the change will be gradual and God forbid for the best?
Solitude is good for the soul but many times tough to achieve. Our frenetic world wants us to be accessible 24/7. Every little thing requires our attention. We want to respond and micromanage. For me,I usually take a look at the cliff for the beauty beyond it rather than worry if I am going over it. It has worked so far for 77 years. Do I want to be alone? Hell no! But I worry all the time about those that have no other choice.
Ted The Great
Loneliness does not depend on how many friends or relationships you have. Loneliness depends entirely on the subjective quality of your relationships—on whether you feel emotionally and/or socially disconnected from those around you.
Smiling stimulates our brain’s reward mechanisms in a way that even chocolate, a well-regarded pleasure-inducer, cannot match. It is the best way to make a lonely person feel wanted.
Whenever you go to the gas station, store or restaurant, just say hello and mean it. You might have saved that person’s life or at worse made their day. Think about that.
I have just read a book by Marian Salzman, The New Megatrends. It was more than interesting but as I read I questioned her base assumptions and then went on to see if her postulations held true. I usually question veracity in everything. Not because I am not a naysayer but in today’s environment you have to be skeptical at best.
Rightly or wrongly I have always fought against conventional thinking. Right off the bat I am challenged by both sides. I am not a MENSA candidate but there are holes in so many beliefs. Without being overly dramatic I try to dig down and cut out the bullshit and see what is really going on. I am not alone but I am probably not of the majority.
Let’s go back to basics. I was born some 77 years ago. Strangely enough at that time and to this day I was not different than anybody else. I was a blank slate. The entire world population of 7.9 billion share 99.9% of the same DNA. That is both sobering and exciting. We weren’t born Republican or Democrat or Asian or European or even rich or poor. I was just a new human being plunked on this planet. Look out world!
As time went on I was either nurtured or abandoned. I was stimulated or set aside as a hood ornament. I was subject to love or abandonment. I was influenced by love and prejudice. I had an easy or a hard life. I was adjudged chosen or part of the refuse pile of life. I looked at life through a prism that was forced on me not chosen. I lived in Disneyworld or a ghetto and many times never knew of the other side. But it was who I was or at least who I was supposed to be.
That perception stays with people for decades if not their entire lives. Now you can say that is the way society works and you might be right. It just seems to me reality gets father and farther away from all points on the spectrum. We really are products of our environment which is fine but haven’t we built in a view of he world that is not in synch with what is really going on?
Reality is just what is happening at a given point of time. It is completely objective. As I love to say,It is what it is. I can look at an event through my different lenses and see it entirely differently than you. Who is right? In normal time we take look at things and say well it could be this or that. As the only saying goes, if you look at the right and left the truth is somewhere in the middle. We had biases but we could see some of the error of our ways.
That is out the window now. I would feel more comfortable with the extremes if they were based on fact or dare I say, reality. Sorry kids, the 2020 election was not stolen. Yet 60% of Republicans think it so. We cannot apply limitless funds to solve each and every problem but Democrats feel we haven’t even begun to open the nation’s vault.
On the right we say less government intervention and rules. Don’t worry but rely on the basic honesty of people. Right.. On the left we haven’t spent the initial COVID relief programs but we want more. Money is the solution to all our problems. 10 billion lost here or 50 billion there are just rounding problems. People, we have lost all sense of reality.
We cannot have an infrastructure that is crumbling but is encumbered by a myriad or rules and departments to oversee projects that have to be done now not years from now with resulting cost overruns. Yet we can’t cheat and lie on contracts and their fulfillment . We need flexibility but culpability.
We have spent trillions on programs to help the poor with minimal results. Yet at the same time we pontificate that these people just have to work hard and get ahead. Tragically all that money gets teachers who are not smart and incentivized but at the low end of the talent chain. Do you really think doctors and healthcare workers of a high caliber are going to use their talents to fix a screwed up system. Either side feel free to speak up if you think you have a handle on realty or is it really your perception of it?
Equality in pay and advancement is coming at a snail’s pace. You know it and I do too, that women and minorities have been placated at best with cries of progress. At the same time if there is to be equality it has to be demonstrated that the talent is there and not a required quota. For the upper 1% the rewards are absurd. That is not anti capitalism but a long look in the mirror.
We got problems right here in River City. As we go through life every one of us could be busted for DUI. We have had it easy. When things are rolling we can cite this statistic or that but it is all our way of feeling better about who we are. I love the life that I have but it is with a dose of sobriety. The haves have gone too far and the haven’ts want a free ride. Somewhere in between is the right answer.
The ending of the book revealed that we are all coming more and more into ourselves. The “ME” society is evident everywhere. Young and old. Every man or woman for themselves. Hyperbole? Look around you and not with your built in biases on either side but with a cold hard look at reality. Let me know if I have hit a nerve or totally missed the base.
Ted The Great
Jamie Dimon, Chairman and CEO of JP Morgan in his bid to receive $84.4 million in annual pay was voted down by 31% of the stockholders. The company said the vote mat not be binding. The stock is down 23% from its highs.
A policy analysis released by the Cato Institute in April shows that despite nearly $15 trillion in total welfare spending since President Lyndon Johnson began the “war on poverty” in 1964, the poverty rate in the United States has remained relatively constant.
U.S. health care spending grew 9.7 percent in 2020, reaching $4.1 trillion or $12,530 per person. As a share of the nation’s Gross Domestic spending was 18.7% of the national budget
Research shows that Facebook users engage with misinformation — which often takes the form of fake news — 70 million times per month on average. This is a decline from the 2016 peak of 200 million monthly fake news engagements, but still no small figure. On Twitter, people share false content 4 million to 6 million times per month, a figure that has not declined since the 2016 election.
There are numerous theories that question whether reality is possible. I think it is but would take massive amounts of soul searching to accomplish. I am just getting started
I have been trying hard over the past couple of weeks to take my little brain back up to 30,000 feet. The view is better up here and fault lines are more obvious. There was a great article in the Wall Street Journal this weekend that asked if history has some rhyme or reason to it or is it just a whole bunch of random events? Good question.
It seems that it was just a few years ago we were in the midst of globalization. I buy from here and sell to there.Little countries became important if for nothing more than cheap labor. Standards of living started getting to survival level. People were able to buy things they never thought they needed.
They became educated and more perceptive of the world around them. There was mobility. Life was good and going in a positive direction for most. That should continue and prosperity reigns.
True to form that was not good enough or fast enough for some. I want it all and I want it now. Nationalism creeps in. Trade, immigration, even education takes on an air of conflict. Supply chains and diplomacy are a mess. The two bit bully on the block tries to take a chunk of land while waving nukes at us. China and everyone else seems to be on sort of a mission to prove their standing in our world. Is all or any of this connected and inevitable?
We have made some incredible strides and catastrophic mistakes throughout history. As the world become more affluent more seek higher education and that breeds new ideas and creativity. Yet in our new Age of Enlightenment we trend more towards anarchy and polarization rather than a kinder gentler world. Is this the way it is supposed to be? Is this evolution of the body politic or just smashing atoms? Dunno.
Technology has made this a different ball game.Make no doubt that Google, Facebook, Twitter et al have made our brains very easy to get into. The algorithms automatically shape opinion in a subtle and robotic fashion. The left and right learn next to nothing about alternate or opposing views. We claim to be open minded but they are actually locked shut. We are at opposite ends of the spectrum because that is very profitable for so many.
The worst part is the anonymity of the spears and hatchets thrown. In a nanosecond my vitriol can destroy someone and have it “liked” or retweeted to thousands in a matter of seconds. No one can prove or disprove the allegations. We have perfected bots to the point where they can create cogent praise or defamation just by pressing a button.
How did we get here? I think a great part of this is our neglect of consequences or outcomes. I am stunned sometimes to see our military, three levers of government, medicine, education, corporations and even churches make some really boneheaded moves without realizing “what they have wrought”. You can ascribe this to a learning curve. I say it is blatant egoism and disregard. Irresponsible or criminal? Now we are getting to the good stuff.
We place great emphasis on brainpower and experience. Look at our bewildering response to COVID. Not good! Archbishops, cardinals, university presidents, corporate executives, coaches have fostered and extended sexual predation. A festering boil. Malfeasance at every level of the food chain. Government programs at all levels are plagued by theft and corruption. Does history teach us anything?
I am in awe of Valadymir Zelensky, a former comedian turned leader. Inexperienced in both the government and military he has put on some performance. Is he just lucky? I think not. He has proven one thing to the chagrin of many world leaders.
They are not as regal in both position and thinking as they thought they were. Nations and skeptics have sat on the sidelines and now are all getting on the Ukraine bandwagon. Bully for them. How original. I didn’t see a statesman or stateswoman in the lot. That is not taking shots but being brutally honest.
I guess what I am saying and have said before is that we have to take a long look at who we are as a nation and a world. Here we have to look at immigration and fix it. We have been trying for 35 years to no avail. Don’t snicker at that, but become nauseated. Our educational system is a wreck for a lack of a “Come to Jesus” meeting for all involved. Corporate boards and religious enclaves have to do away with the pomp and get their hands dirty. History is ripe with our foibles. They don’t overshadow but definitely compete with our accomplishments.
On the world stage we are never going to agree on a system that fits all. The UN was a nice idea that has now gone impotent. War crime tribunals are an exercise in futility if we don’t have the guts to enforce their judgments. Sadly, we all act in our own best interests. Let’s just admit it.
Where are we going? Don’t look to prognosticators to tell us. Look to ourselves and see if we want to make a difference or just enjoy the ride. Where that ride ends up depends on each and every one of us.
Ted The Great
Below is a chart of countries on the democracy spectrum. Pretty amazing.Most notable is the number of authoritarian regimes. Some people like it that way or don’t know any other way. The democracy numbers have declined.
|Type of regime||Score||Countries||Proportion of World population (%)|
|Full democracies||9.01–10.00 8.01–9.00||21||12.6%||6.4%|
|Flawed democracies||7.01–8.00 6.01–7.00||53||31.7%||39.3%|
|Hybrid regimes||5.01–6.00 4.01–5.00||34||20.4%||17.2%|
|Authoritarian regimes||3.01–4.00 0–3.00||59||35.3%||37.1%|
Predators can be anyone, including a family member, clergy colleague, coach or friend. According to The Pragmatic Parent, “90% of the time a predator is someone with a relationship to the victim and the family. On the outside, they have a great looking life and are well-liked by others.Much of the time someone definitely knows what is going on .
Smart is being curious. It is realizing what you don’t know. It is to be willing to adapt to changing circumstances. It is taking life’s lessons and changing our own lives and maybe a small part of the world
I have just had another birthday. The bigger the number it seems the more wistful one gets. You think about where you have been and more importantly how you are going to live your life from here on out. The temptation is to put your feet up and go on auto pilot. Somehow I am not quite ready for that…yet.
The world is a crazy place. Or should I say the world is constant, the inmates are crazy. I often think the mountains and trees and oceans, that have been there for millennia, must look at us and say,”What are those idiots thinking?”
You can get philosophical and question why we were put here? I truly believe we all play a part. The trick is finding out which one is best for you, whether we are talking loved ones, careers or just where we plant ourselves. It probably comes down to following your talents whatever they may be.
There are gazillions of books on how to find happiness. I have read a bunch of them. Then I had my Aha moment when I realized happiness is a somewhat transitory state. You capture a moment and think it can’t get any better. That can be an incredible sight, a stolen kiss, a glass of wine or even a promotion. You have found the perfect house, shot 78 or driven a very cool car in your driving loafers and smooth leather gloves. It doesn’t last forever.
Some feel you should act like this this every day and maybe they can. The term gratification, comes to mind. It is the pursuit of pleasure; sensual self-indulgence. You have earned it. You can do anything you want at any time and the cost is irrelevant. It is not just rich people but a poor soul who squanders their meager funds on something stupid.
Think about it for a second. We have the ability to go online, buy anything we want and have it delivered in a few hours or God forbid the next day. You put it on that magic piece of plastic and eat drink and be merry for we don’t have to pay for at least a month and then only a minimal sum. And all for that one euphoric moment when all your dreams come true and then, POOF, you are searching for another hit.
Now I am not claiming to be a monk and I definitely don’t want to be a killjoy. I have had my share of fun and games. But is it realistic or more importantly fulfilling to always be at the trough? My daughter as a young girl once pondered, “If you can have anything you want all at once, what is there to look forward to?” Out of the mouths of babes!
It has never become more evident that we define ourselves by things. Here in Flalaland the pace has picked up with the price of the houses. Tear down and build anew. Bentleys and Rolls are replacing the Beemers and Mercedes and our Volvo. Let it rip. Hey, go for it if it floats your boat, but what do you do for an encore?
Of course we ask ourselves are we or they happy? Maybe for a moment until we realize those new golf clubs aren’t going to produce low scores. New car smell goes away and sooner or later the kitchen you redid five years ago is somehow “dated”. Is there something more?
Enter stage left, a thing called serenity. Peace, calmness, tranquility. Yikes! Even the words sound soothing. Definition..the state of being calm, peaceful, and untroubled. Are you kidding me TTG? In today’s world? Have you lost your mind? Not quite yet.
I was at hospice a few weeks ago. I walked into a patient’s room and asked how she was doing? She said she was great. She was dying, knew it and ready to go. We had a fascinating chat for almost a half an hour. When I was going to leave I held her hand to thank her and noted how cold they were. She laughed and said,”Pretty soon, they are going to get a lot colder!” Kids, that is serenity !!!
The antithesis might be Putin. He has stolen billions and may be the richest guy in the world. He has yachts, mansions, and power of a sort. And yet he wants Ukraine. He is tortured and tormented by the has been USSR. This dude will never be happy. Do you know any Putins?
Simply put, you accept things as they are. Don’t get crazy whether things go wrong or they go right. It’s life. You can be happy and you can be sad. All part of the program. You can put yourself in happiness or harm’s way but a good deal of the time it is unavoidable. I am going to try to stop making life happen and maybe just take it as it comes.
I am hopefully good natured Irishman. I have a pretty good temper that I try not to show too often. I also think I understand emotions. I feel things deeply. The good and the bad. Maybe, just maybe I can round off the sharp edges and lower the distance between highs and lows. Serenity? I don’t think I would go that far but a taste of it now and then doesn’t hurt.
Ted The Great
It is difficult to quantify emotion. It is the worst utilization of algorithmic theory. How do we define happiness? The best guess is biological, observable or self reporting.
World’s 20 Happiest Countries
Look up serene in Goggle. You will get spas, hidden getaways, music, photographs. Ever wonder why they don’t have your house, car or bank? If you think about it ,a lot of those places for sereneness are free.
I must admit I am a little obsessed with the Russian invasion of Ukraine. The sheer brutality of the battle and the absurdity of the reasoning has gotten to my soul. In an age of information overload there are still those who can censor what you hear and don’t hear. You don’t know what is happening.For all our intellectual growth we are taking inhumanity to a new and sinister level.
The Ukrainians are beyond heroic. Before the second day of the invasion was over, the U.S embassy in Kyiv was beating feet out of there and offering president Zelinsky a free ride to safety. He laughed us off as he should have and asked for help not a hitchhike. Yet all of the nations are calculating where they are in the geopolitical sphere and how far they are willing to go.
The Ukrainians screwed us. We were waiting for the capitulation of some very brave souls. That would give us cover. We will accept their refugees and say what an evil person Putin is. Every move parsed for what it will look like to the enemy and making sure we don’t get our hands dirty. These peel have true grit. They have made this picture very complex.
I am sorry but my mood is emotional and at times irrational. Collateral damage is not a concept I can live with when it comes to women and kids. I don’t cow tow to bullies. This slug has been playing games with us for 30 years and countless administrations. We have looked into his soul, tried to befriend him and played the game of sanctions. Maybe they will work and maybe they won’t. We have drawn red lines only to have them washed away by the tears of victims.
But aside from all this is an incredible demonstration of defiance and belief by people in their homeland. We are talking about what was supposed to be one of the world’s great armies. Face to face the Russians have been beaten back. Their only counter is long range artillery as a scorched earth policy supposedly will bomb them back to the Stone Age. I think Putin already lives in one.
Grit is an amazing resource. Call it guts, bravery or whatever it enables people to garner a whole new set of resources to access in order to survive. You throw caution to the wind and probably for the very first time in your life you are willing to die for a cause. I wonder what would happen to me or us?
It’s great to say I would stand up but I have watched with a curious eye our reaction to a thing called COVID. I am seeing universities trying to create “safe” spaces. Helicopter moms…and dads, want to create a bubble around their children that is sanitized and fool proof. I think the fools are inside. We all want an Eden like existence.
I happened by the New York Times Magazine a few weeks ago and noted the cover teaser was “music to help us get through our difficult times”. Are you shitting me? On the front page were accounts of maternity hospitals and theaters being bombed, universities demolished and people without water, heat and food and these literati are teaching us to cope. Can we even relate? Reality and crises are out there but we have no idea.
This is not said with Irish or Catholic guilt but with a desire to get my own head figured out. Volunteering will get you on a different trajectory. I have told you all of my gig at a homeless shelter in Denver. Hospice is a passion for me. Not because I dig watching people die but because it is as close to humanity and my fellow man as I can get. Not admirable or heroic in any way but to truly give back.
Let’s face it. Most of us live in Disneyworld. Too many have forgotten where they came from. Many are jaded and look upon their lifestyle as a reward for all their hard work. Did you every work in a factory or a meat packing plant? Go over and teach class five days a week and then come home and get dinner? Nursing, cops, EMT’s, a mother with three jobs?.
I am not saying we have to walk around in sackcloth and ashes. I hope I am getting this right by not necessarily being accusatory as I am trying to slap me and you both in the face and say do we have even the slightest idea how lucky we are? Yeah we can thank whatever God we worship but deep down do we feel it? Is it even possible to understand what Ukrainians, Uighurs, Syrians, and poor people of America go through?
This war has hit us right smack in our living rooms but it is quickly fading to page four of our newspaper and page ten of our minds. It’s natural. We think we have it down and since there is not quick resolution we are ready to move on and let the armies and diplomats divide up the spoils. It’s the way it has always been.
It has been a beautiful day in Flalaland. I played golf and came home to hit the keyboard. My vitriol just started to rise and I decided to let it rip. Sorry about that. It’s what I do and this is really Ted’s Head right now. Old age is supposed to be some sort of freeway to wisdom. I must have taken the wrong exit. C’est la guerre!
Ted The Great
Just one. Below is a You Tube of a song we are singing for chorale. “Do You Hear the People Sing ?” From Les Miserables. Play it if you will. I wish it could be played from every radio and TV station in the free world. It is 2 and 1/2 minutes. Let me know if you think it fits.
The events of the last few weeks in Ukraine expose our soft underbelly on all sides of the world. Democracies and totalitarian regimes alike. We crave some sort of game plan and yet definition and acceptance is beyond elusive.
We had a presentation yesterday from a fellow member here in Flalaland in a series we call Foreign Policy. This one happened to be on Biden’s Agenda as it relates to the world but it would be folly to ascribe it to one man. This evolved more into a discussion on how we see ourselves in this contrast between democracy and totalitarianism. Not only what works but who wins?
I have had my doubts about democracy and its utility for a while now. Not the basic tenets of course, but its application in real life. All men and of course women are created equal and are able to express their opinion via the ballot box or elsewhere. In the US we have legislative elections every two years and a presidential one every four. This should indicate slight movements either right or left of center. How is that working out for you these days?
The dictator approach is much cleaner and simpler. You do it my way or else. No discussion. I know what I am doing and even if you have a better idea it will never see the light of day. We don’t vote on infrastructure or arming to the teeth. We just do it. Environmental, economic or psychological concerns? You have got to be kidding me?
Putin’s war is as much about the conflict of ideologies as bombs bursting in air. It is not the fight for territory but for your soul. He has seriously mistaken the backbone of the Ukrainian people as well as the free world. Will he succeed? Dunno. It depends on how fervent we really are and how good our memory is.
During the talk and my readings this week I find myself fascinated that one man can inflict all this carnage…in 2022. We are supposedly a more educated populace and yet we did not see this coming. Today we have Xi, Kim Jong Un, Maduro et alia looking to be not only a national but worldwide top dog. Have we forgotten about Hitler and Bonaparte, Stalin, the Csars and petty dictators throughout history? Our desire to play nice is admirable but look where it has gotten us? Look how we have fawned over these characters? Perhaps our desire for wealth has clouded our senses? In a lot of cases we have really given the store away. All in the name of diplomacy….and our own profit.
If you look at these dudes it is hubris, selfishness, arrogance, greed, and revenge all rolled into one. Maniacal or shrewd? Probably a little of both. Character flaws?
It depends on your beliefs. It sounds trite but we can look at them as villains or saviors and therein lies the struggle.
At this time we go back to their childhoods and find a bad parent or experience. For Putin he was a KGB agent exiled to rural Russia in a ridiculous farmhouse headquarters. He was a nobody. In a leaderless Russia, post breakup of the USSR, he ascended without many obstacles other than a drunken Yeltsin. By making all his buddies and enemies rich on the way up, he guaranteed their obeisance. The downfall of the Soviet Union was the perfect ploy to get the people to rally. I feel his paranoia of a European invasion to be as absurd as his propaganda. But it worked.
The bigger question in my mind is whether or not these guys are weird or is there a little something of them in many of us? Happy Days takes us back to a time of drive ins and neat lawns. People were well to do of a sort but not in the gaudy ostentatious realm of today. You had a nice house, got an education, a job and lived happily ever after. You might say there were standards of decency that covered a broad spectrum. What happened? Or better yet was that all just a facade?
Now some will say they never had it good and I understand and respect that. As some became more educated they became reluctant to accept their plight. They rose in stature, and wealth became a vague notion without limits. Now people of all walks of life wanted it all. Power was no longer in the hands of the few. And the few did not like it. They found their world order being turned upside down.
With a new cognoscenti and glitterati, they weren’t subtle but bold and brassy. Thoughts that were crazy and revolutionary in the 70’s and 80’s turned mainstream at the turn of the century. 9/11 was as much a total devastation of our senses as a statement of what our world was going to look like. We had a brief and almost euphoric unity exemplified by American flags and the singing of anthems. Then we got back to our own business and it became about me once again.
Instead of taking over countries we were taking over corporations. We were fortified by technology that grew exponentially, demonstrating incredible efficiency. The buck was beyond Almighty and we had new deity, We had our new commandments, We could claim to be in the best interest of our stockholders but if we are honest it was in the best interest of me.
We can argue a rising tide floats all ships. Fair enough. And yet we have started creating the unattainable for most and the middle class is a vague notion. In our own politics and industry we have our own petty dictators. Scorched earth is for the everyman. Come one TTG, get on board or be left behind. Whether it is Trump or Pelosi, or Diamon or Bezos, are we all drinking the Kool Aid? Perhaps we are creating a new world order of our own. Is this after deep thought or are we just going along for the ride? Thnk about it!
Ted The Great
Greed.. intense and selfish desire for something, especially wealth, power, or food.
Revenge.,,The action of inflicting hurt or harm on someone for an injury or wrong suffered at their hands.
Narcissism…Having or revealing an exaggerated sense of one’s own importance or abilities.
Selfish…lacking consideration for others; concerned chiefly with one’s own personal profit or pleasure.
I know none of us exemplify even a speck of these attributes…
Amazon has acquired over 100 companies over the years. Imagine if they were countries?
The 2021 edition of Freedom in the World, marked the 15th consecutive year of decline in global freedom. Of the 195 independent countries assessed by the report, 73 experienced aggregate score declines and just 28 made gains, the widest margin of its kind during the 15-year period. There are now 54 Not Free countries, accounting for 38 percent of the world’s population, the highest share since the decline began.
In my unending quest to find something reasonable in this wacky world, the phrase “Culture Wars” keeps popping up. Culture has a number of definitions from a sort of artistic class to a medium to grow bacteria. I am going with: The attitudes and behavior characteristic of a particular social group.
If you think about it, this presents decades if not centuries of thinking a certain way. You grew up rich or poor. A working family or elite. It can be your school or your church. It is our way of life or better yet how we grew up, if indeed we have done so.
It is part imbued and part acquired. Rarely does one think about how they got here. That is until they are threatened. The haves want to keep things just as they are and the have nots can’t wait to get out of their predicament. We construct breaking points from which we will not deviate such as abortion, racism, LGBTQ, and sexual freedom to name a few.
It goes beyond the definition of mere differences. People are adjudged good or evil.The enemy. These are not grey areas as a rule. No middle ground. Our religious history has been at the forefront of acceptable behavior for millennia. God of whatever sort says you have to act this way or you will not get to the promised land.That gives us orthodoxy and the ability to punish for transgressions. It has been that way for a long time.
Enter stage right, the secularists or progressives. They want to turn this comfy world upside down. The Enlightenment has given us permission to think outside the box. Maybe I am just as good or even better than your god. Perhaps we can have a new morality and the schism begins.
Traditionalists are scared to death. To defend themselves they may have to recite and justify their beliefs. Their ability to do so really depends on how well they learned them or even better yet how well they have internalized them.
Don’t panic yet kids. The progressives are in the same boat at the other end of the ocean. Rarely do they dig down to consider the outcomes of their beliefs. They just want a different world. But they are on a roll and people are listening to them. They too are scared to death that their day in court is fleeting and they better make the most of it. Their gains are precious to them. The nature of our society makes all this seem beyond critical. There is no turning back for either side.
There are poster children everywhere. The glitterati don’t do themselves any favors. Examples of greed and opulence are everywhere from the Mansions section of the WSJ to movie stars to captains of industry. The downtrodden are displayed for all the world to see from our borders to our barrios. Every week brings a new call for the righting of injustice. Both are valid but with a fair bit of theatrics.
You see there’s not much of a story without a villain on either side. We inflame people’s passion by personifying the crime. Politicians are the best at doing so. If you are for immigration we trot out the latest pictures of desperation at the border. If you are against it we show the mug shot of a rapist or killer who has an Hispanic name. We play each situation like an A flat. Both sides are maestros.
In our current state there is absolutely no room for negotiation. To do so would be a betrayal. Of what you say? The very foundations of our Constitution whether you are trying to enforce the electoral process or storming the Capitol in defense of freedom. Each has different interpretation. If we cannot try to find some sort of common ground of any sort, we are destined to fail and probably wind up in another Civil War. Hyperbole? I think not.
We are dealing with two separate and distinct cultures. Two entirely different ways of looking at life. And we all want our way to be the survivor. We are petrified that our side is going to become extinct. We have upped the stakes to the point where neither side can envision backing down.
Our cultures are the root cause of our divisiveness. Each side had strong and weak points to ponder. There is no known impartial arbiter to sort this out. We have to do it for ourselves and that is beyond difficult in our too busy world. We have to realize, and yes admit, which sides of our tenets make no sense whatsoever.
Studying and understanding our own culture as well as others will take deep diving and mature thinking. It is a lot sexier and visceral to shake your fist and curse some politician out rather than have an in-depth conversation. Social media with its implied anonymity and shoot from the hip repartees only add fuel to the fire. We need statespeople and they are few and far between.
What can we do? In simple conversations. In our everyday dealings. The snide remarks and innuendo have got to fade. The intransigence will get us nowhere. At least try to have the discussion or have the balls to speak up against insipid remarks of all sorts. Just listen if even for a moment.
If I sound at wits end, I am. I see this thing spiraling out of control. I hate war. You should too.
Ted The Great
We are now doubting our institutions will act in our best interests. It runs the gamut from business to government to religion to education.
The last president to be perceived as working in the country’s best interest was George H.W Bush. Many suggest we have to go back to a community level to achieve any progress.
Critical Race Theory
I could keep going on and on…….
Change is inevitable. Every day and every person is different. You can fight it or embrace it. Not easy..
We are the sum of our stories. The good, the bad and the ugly. What are yours?
It has been awhile since Ted’s Head has been forthcoming. I have started several times only to be distracted by what I had perceived as more important chores. I have been doing a lot of work on hospice, which is becoming more and more of a passion for me. Maybe just one place to put my energies.
I had another task at hand. Here in Flalaland we have a thing called “Foreign Policy”. We pick a topic, research it and present it to an audience that opts in. My topic was “Drug Policy and South America” The unique experience is studying something you know nothing about.
I dug into the research. I went down all sorts of rabbit holes. Man, I knew my subject backward and forward. I was ready to wow the crowd, tuned in on ZOOM. In truth, it was just short of a disaster.
A computer glitch made me scramble with 80+ viewers waiting patiently. When I finally got online I was out of step, scrambling to catch up. TTG was not so great. So be it.
The experience although humiliating was instructional. Did I set my expectations too high? Did I prepare for the ZOOM meeting properly? Was I as good as I thought I would be? Did I view my world with reality, rose colored glasses or doom and gloom.
This expectation thing is really quite interesting. I hope I go through my day not expecting the worst. I think I would really like to be thought of as a pragmatic optimist. And yes I do want to shoot in the 80’s in golf, be a decent hospice volunteer, or a decent husband and father. Do I make it? Who knows? My philosophy has always been, to hit high you have to aim high.
I see people every day for whom life sucks. The pessimist has low expectations so he or she is never disappointed. They tend to blame someone else for their problems. “I coulda been a contender ” is their mantra. I truly feel sorry for them. But who is right? Probably neither of us.
Don’t get me wrong. I am not opting for the dark side but in truth the realist is the winner. Sorry to say the vast majority of us are not. We all hope for something in the future. We all rue something in our past.
Mindfulness is all the rage. Yoga, meditation, Zen,Tao are all lofty ambitions. I have meditated and it is beyond cool. You shut off all the inner voices both pro and con and just drift. In theory this gives our poor old minds a rest from the everyday worries. Who wouldn’t love that? Unfortunately my local Buddhist monastery is booked full so I will have to exist on my own.
Psychologists describe explanatory styles. Do you feel like you can change your life or you have to live with what you got? Are events caused by you or an outside force? This all sounds a little wonky but if I can’t change the bad parts of my life, why even try?
25% of the way we feel is genetic or environmental. I will buy that especially in the case of abusive or supportive parenting. Yet the other 75% is learned or acquired. We all set a group of behaviors that work for us. Is your glass half full or half empty? It is not preordained.
As some of you know years ago I was diagnosed with clinical depression. It was sort of a happy on the outside and hurting on the outside thing. It wasn’t fun but I met it head-on. This thing called cognitive therapy showed me the error of my ways and a whole set of coping skills. And I still use them to this day.
The best part of the process was learning to like myself. I am who I am. I will make some people joyously happy and piss others off ad nauseam. I, in no way like the latter but it happens. I can try to hone down the edges but I gotta be me as Sammy Davis once sang. I can’t help but feel my best when I can be honest with you, warts and all. I am trying.
I beat myself up but only to try to get better. I try to be grateful for all I have and realistic about my abilities. If I am critical it is for self development not self degradation. I am just human and that for me is the Greatest Expectation of all.
Ted The Great
A noted psychologist claims,”Unrealistic expectations are actually premeditated resentment.” Interesting.
Oddly, many expectations are met or failed because of the judgment of others. We are social animals and want to be attractive and relevant.
Expectation: anticipation, contemplation, expectance, expectancy, prospect We have expectations for our health, financial results, relationships and achievements. We also have the same for our environment, politics, and common good.
Here in Flala Land, Christmas is just around the corner. Temps in the mid 80’s and no humidity. Top hat and a scarf as I belt out Noels are not exactly in the offing. But it is still that time of the year.
I got to wondering why we feel all good inside? Grouches smile even if grudgingly. You air out your billfold and give this one or that a few bucks for their service. You watch, It’s A Wonderful Life or Christmas Story. We are all Ralphies in a way. There is something that gets awakened.
I think it is the thought of giving. You love to put a smile on someone’s face. You search for the perfect gift or thought to be written. You do a good deed here and there. For those brief times it ain’t about me. I muse as to why we don’t feel that way all the time? By using too much of a good thing, would we lose it?
We are more cognizant of what it going on around us. Our antennae are up and our radars scan everywhere for that deep down feeling. I could give you twenty vignettes of things that happened this week that I hope would reach your heart. We realize that maybe we have been too cooped up in our own little worlds to see both tragedy and joy around us.
The divine Miss K and I went for a late leisurely lunch yesterday. The place was a pleasant new Italian bistro. As we sipped our white wine trying to be so cosmopolitan, there was a family across the way. One of the children was handicapped. After lunch, big brother picked him up and carried him out as they left laughing. In a strange way it felt good to see.
As we stared out in the parking lot there was a young woman and a gentleman who drove his electric wheel chair with a joystick he clutched with the only two fingers that worked. She opened the van and pushed him up the ramp with effort and yet ease. She had done this for years. She then picked up her baby in a carry seat that rested on the macadam. She had a pretty smile on her face. How do you do that?
Your feelings are a cross between guilt and gratitude. We enjoyed our pasta but the thought of these people lingered long after. Kathy and I talked a good while. I emailed my kids and old friends. I wanted to write my blog. There was just something in me I wanted to share. I hope I get it right.
While we were driving, Kathy blurted out that she wished people would listen to God. We are churchgoers, but not holy rollers so it came as a bit of a surprise. She plainly stated that if we adhered to the Ten Commandments, the world would be a pretty good place. I thought about that not as a theologian but as a human being.
This is not about proselytizing but trying to find a way in our crazy world. Forget about God but just think about,Do not kill, Do not lie, do not swear, Do not commit adultery,Do not rob. Geez Louise, just treat someone else as you would like to be treated. Do you want to be raped or shot at? Do you want to be taken advantage of or cheated ? Do you want to be looked at as a miserable human being just trying to make your way in the world? Is my color or status the only thing I have going for me in your eyes? Interesting thoughts.
I often think about what Christmas is like in all the crazy places we have visited. Europe, Asia, Australia, New Zealand. A little town in Tuscany or Amalfi.
Wimbeldon, where my son lived with is family for three years. Denver, Cleveland, Scottsdale and San Francisco. There is so much out there to be thoughtful of. Longtime friends and casual acquaintances. Thousands of people we have met in our lifetimes. Each and everyone distinct and yet so much a part of this thing we call civilization.
My final thought on this beautiful morning is about war. What TTG? You are a sicko. I hope not. We are battling COVID all over the planet. We want to quarantine and protect our turf. We are using syringes instead of missiles but aren’t they the same?
There are enemies everywhere and that is very sad. It could be Putin or Xi. It could be Delta or Omicron. It could be an immigrant that doesn’t speak our language. It could be a right winger or left of left liberal.
We are all at each other’s throats. Some call it capitalism. Some call it socialism. Some of us are running out of water. Some are starving. We all want to shrink back into our cocoons and make the world go away. Except at Christmastime, when we are all so cheery and welcoming and generous. It is the week before Christmas. Maybe we could just make it the week before next week. You know, keep this feeling going. Might not be a bad world after all.
Ted The Great.
AND A MERRY CHRISTMAS AND HAPPY HOLIDAYS TO ALL OF YOU!
Simple. I am the luckiest guy in the world. I looked it up in Wikpedia and below proves it !