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Beware of Charisma

2 Feb

Search engines are funny this way. Type the word ‘charisma’ and look at the images that come up. Hundreds of beautiful, sexy faces. Poised. Posed. Perfected. All of them female, in the search results I just came up with. When in fact, the charisma that you really need to educate yourself about, to protect yourself from manipulators, are men.

All men. Mostly white. Turned off already? Go ahead, dismiss this idea. But if you read headlines, watch television, get hooked into true crime stories, you won’t escape it. The overwhelming stories that capture us are these…

James Warren Jones (May 13, 1931 – November 18, 1978) was an American religious cult leader who, along with his inner circle, initiated and was responsible for a mass suicide and mass murder in JonestownGuyana. [Thanks, Wikipedia. Make a donation.]

David Koresh

Charles Manson

Ted Bundy

And as memory serves just about every story I have ever seen on American Greed, where some innocent person who was merely trying to do what they’ve seen wealthy people do to increase their financial security–invested their life savings, some of them in order to pay for chemotherapy, some of them because they don’t have enough to retire and hope to double their money–scammed and lost everything: charisma. Often it’s a white man, often he weasels his way into a position of trust, like a pastor or just some guy at church who looks successful and what has he got? Charisma.

What is charisma? What are we talking about here? Charm. Charmers. Smooth-talking, fast-talking, dazzlers.

This rainy Saturday morning I got up and turned on Netflix to pass the time while the medicine kicked in to rid me of a headache, and I landed on a true crime story, a new release. Abducted In Plain Sight. Have you seen this? Can you believe it? It’s easy to dismiss these people with “bonkers, just bonkers” as I saw some folks do, mentioning it on Twitter, but this shit happens! A lot!

Right now in America, Trump (note the title of this blog) has got millions of people up in arms, hysterical over caravans and worried over nothing to the point they’re willing to go along with tearing babies out of their mother’s arms and locking children in cages. This is real, this is happening, in America–the country that formerly was a leading nation in the progressive march against human rights violators! People are freaking out that farm hands, housekeepers, cooks, landscapers, and other ordinary people willing to perform manual labor that–face it, most of our kids with their smartphones and dreams of college degrees won’t even consider applying to do–people looking for work are coming here, like they have for decades and centuries, and oh no! It’s a national emergency!

Let’s add another charismatic white male name to the list:  Hitler. How did that happen?

Oh, and this name, let’s not forget Stalin, who sent his military to the Ukraine, took their crops, and starved millions to death. It bears repeating: Millions. Starved. To death. This is no mere Wikipedia page, this is a widely documented, historical fact that, unfortunately, most Americans never have learned because Americans hate history, especially World History. But check it out, and maybe you’ll understand better why some people are a little concerned about the implications of what Mueller has been dispatched to investigate and why.

Maybe we should not be so worried about who picks our fruit or cleans our cheap motels. Maybe we should be more concerned about men like Jeffrey Epstein and those who pardoned him.

Maybe we should be more concerned about what churches are doing to protect themselves and the families who seek sanctuary in God from men like Dennis Rader and predators who seek out positions of trust, like Larry Nassar, and how many priests were nailed in The Boston Globe Spotlight?

Maybe as you start to consider all of these stories, all of these true crimes, all of the facts, you will have a deeper understanding and appreciation for the #MeToo phenomenon and why so many women were voted into positions of trust this past year.

We have a lot of work to do. And maybe it will help us all to protect ourselves and our families better if we get it through our heads that many millions of people have been harmed by charismatic white men.

Mattis Too?

21 Dec

Honestly, though, another one bites the dust?

Okay, here’s the thing.  For years I have wondered out loud if maybe, just maybe, it would not be in the best interests of sane people everywhere for America to get out of the Middle East and let the people on that continent figure it out however they please.

Seriously, folks. I am not for or against Trump in this regard. I have always been a pacifist. I have always hated war. I have long asked, “Why are our children fighting their civil war?”

Why were we in Vietnam? Why didn’t we leave sooner? Watch this, it’s truly eye-opening: The Vietnam War by Ken Burns.  It’s on a few channels, including Netflix right now.

I am bothered by the resignation of Secretary of Defense Mattis. I am deeply troubled that a President tweets military plans while we have boots on the ground in hot regions.

On the one hand, I am thankful to Mattis.  On the other, I am, like Nancy, more than a little shaken by it. Then again, we are all always dying anyway, right? Eventually the sun will expand and swallow the Earth. Even if we get the DNA off this planet, the universe is a pretty chaotic prospect in the long run.

But for now, maybe we should all take a moment to communicate clearly, respectfully, and honestly how we feel today, to https://www.whitehouse.gov/contact/ and to our representatives. It’s not too late for a 231-year-old democracy to pull itself together.

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America is getting educated like never before

18 Nov
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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Nobody has ever seen anything like this.  If it weren’t for this bad actor, this very rude and terrible reality show host, America would have continued to snooze comfortably in its democratic cradle.  America is getting educated like never before.

 

person using black blood pressure monitor

 

During the Obama era, comedians had to work harder to find material to make people laugh.

 

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Gone were the years of ridiculous speeches like Mission Accomplished.

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Gone was the era of  outrage over an illicit blow job.

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Gone was the era of  Iran-Contra hypocrites occupying the office of Commander in Chief.

Gone were the failures of deregulation

 

 

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The Obama years were relatively ethical, diplomatic, and reassuring for logical, rational beings who are not offended when two consenting adults want to make a commitment to take care of each other.

During the Obama administration, women impregnated by rapists or perverse uncles enjoyed the minimal relief of being free to limit the violence done to them without risk of jail, bleeding out, or permanent damage caused by infection.  During the Obama era, innocent survivors of gross violence would not be punished with nine months of torture.

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Photo by Carlos Herrero on Pexels.com

Never mind all that boring stuff.  The important thing today is that the Trump brand is educating America.  Never before have television news reporters had so many opportunities to enlighten voters on the real-time applications of the U.S. Constitution.  We are learning more about what our founders built because the limits of presidential power are being tested daily by a greedy power broker.  That will be the legacy of the Trump administration and the failure of the Republican majority of 2017-2018.  constitution-1486010_1280We The People have learned more about the meaning of Checks and Balances than we ever would have if we had not experienced seeing what happens when you allow an authoritarian-loving, sociopathic, narcissistic, fake billionaire to become the head of the Executive Branch.

The Purple Wave of November 2018 demonstrates the newly educated voter.  Keep up the good work, Free Press.

Winner:  Democracy

Loser: Tyranny

Again.

 

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No longer a fan

30 May

Yesterday morning when I heard the news that Roseanne Barr was in trouble for a controversial tweet, my initial thought was, “Again?” Then I heard the tweet and I wanted to vomit. “That’s hideous,” instantly came out of my mouth. That is beyond disgusting. That’s not even funny. It is racist and I hope she doesn’t get away with it.”

Within hours, I felt the relief of ABC’s decency. They fired her, they canceled her show. Thank you!

There was and is no question in my mind that the now infamous comment is racist. Nobody convinced me of that. Nobody has to tell me when a comment is racist, it is obvious. When you comment about a black woman’s appearance and compare her to apes, no matter how much you are in denial, you are a racist. No decent person who is conscious of the suffering of African Americans since their ancestors were ripped from their homes, sold like property, examined like horses, tortured into submission, denigrated as sub-human…no decent, intelligent person who has an ounce of empathy and is mindful of the suffering of people of color, to this day, their unique struggle…it is truly impossible to imagine for a split second that it’s funny to say such a hideous thing.

I was a fan of Roseanne. No more. She is in jail for verbally lynching a decent person and terrifying millions of children who already have to contend with more than their fair share of fear.

No forgiveness. No free pass. I won’t watch anything with her in it because black lives do matter to me more than white humor.

It was a pleasure to burn.

19 May

shilohyouthrevivalcenters3-1I was a high school sophomore enamored with the ideals of the Jesus People Movement when Fahrenheit 451 first appeared on a reading list in my literature class. I did not even take a peek at it. Instead, I made a special request and was granted permission to read the Bible. Between the age of 15 and 18, I read only the Bible. Based on personal experience I dare say that most people who say they believe it is the word of God have never read it cover to cover. (That is not a judgment, it is a challenge.) I studied every chapter and verse from Genesis to Revelations, individually and within a study group, three times.

From January 1974 to March 1976, I lived in a truly Christ-like commune as a member of the Shiloh Youth Revival Center house in Salt Lake City. We worked regular jobs, pooled our money, ministered to the poor, fed the homeless and gave as many as we could a place to sleep and bathe; some of us were still attending high school while we worked part-time and served the local community. Every evening after supper we gathered in the living room, sang contemporary gospel songs, read the Bible together, and our pastor would lead a discussion about its application to our modern lives as disciples of Jesus. We had no television or radio and we never went to a movie during the years I lived there. For fun, we went camping in the Wasatch Range.

I left Shiloh because they would not let me marry when and whom I chose. A particular pastor, who had a particular opinion about the man who asked me to marry him, issued an ultimatum: break off the engagement or leave. I chose to leave. Shiloh had not been cult-like until that ultimatum. No one else had been prohibited from marrying and continuing to fellowship as a member of Shiloh. It was utterly unfair and unreasonable.

The marriage was a disaster, as we had no support system and my husband suffered PTSD (he was a Vietnam combat veteran). At the time, the world was ignorant of PTSD, our veterans and other survivors of long periods of traumatic events were stigmatized and ostracized. We did not stand a chance. Marijuana was illegal, he was using it to self medicate, he was arrested, and it all spiraled down from there.

mv5bzmm1zgjkzdgtnzblns00yjkyltk3ngetztixmgvkmtk2yjg1xkeyxkfqcgdeqxvymtmxodk2otu-_v1_sy1000_sx675_al_Fast forward, this is all about Fahrenheit 451, how luminous the plot, how succinctly told (I love minimalism), and why today I eagerly count the hours to watch a new movie based on Ray Bradbury’s stunning novel.

First of all, I was recognized as a writer by multiple teachers in middle school and high school, including the teacher who granted permission to me to read only the Bible instead of his reading list–the government’s reading list–the list from the School Board. To this day, I appreciate his respect for my personal faith and choice, knowing that he personally disagreed with the value of my choice.you-must-stay-drunk-on-writing That very same teacher, Mr. Forrest at Murray High School, told me, based on my written reports about what I was reading and creative writing exercises, “you have a gift…never stop writing.” It was not the first time a teacher used these words to encourage me to exercise a natural talent that otherwise would have fallen by the wayside. In reality, it is a gift and a curse. But Ray Bradbury discovered that we must “stay drunk on writing so reality cannot destroy you.” This is absolutely true for me. When I stop writing, anxiety slowly causes my mind to stagnate and slip into darkness.

Decades after my refusal to read that book, I decided of my own volition that it was high time I find out what all the fuss was about–why is that particular novel on reading lists in schools across the nation? What’s the big deal? And so I opened my mind and heart, and then I opened the book to the first chapter. As my eyes fell upon the first sentence, it quite stole my breath.

It was a pleasure to burn.

Think about that. The first sentence of the first chapter sets the tone and reveals instantly the storyteller’s style. The first sentence is the bait, it must urge the reader on to the next sentence. If this is not the best first sentence ever written, I beg you to tell me a better one.

It was a pleasure to burn.

A curiosity bomb explodes with six little words. Five one-syllable words and one common yet delicious two-syllable word. I bow to Mr. Bradbury! Wow.

Of course I had to read more! I finished the novel voraciously and then I felt stupid and ashamed of myself for refusing to even look at it as a child. And yet, that one adult who had the power to force me to read it declined that approach. Instead, he allowed my own natural curiosity to guide me on what to feed my head. I was not ready for it at age 15. I was myself a recent survivor of trauma–sexual assault, which I kept secret. I was in survival mode, protecting myself from outside influences, turning to faith for healing and serenity.

In 2012 after Ray Bradbury’s death, I finally read the book. Soon after, I watched a movie adaptation. The book was far better than the 1966 movie. I hope the 2018 movie is a much better adaptation, and I hope it will shake people to the core. Too many of us are half-conscious.

“But you can’t make people listen. They have to come round in their own time, wondering what happened and why the world blew up around them. It can’t last.”
― Ray BradburyFahrenheit 451

Here’s the thing: It is not about books.

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Why I Advocate for Medical Marijuana

22 Mar

medicalmarijuanaI write this here today for my teenage granddaughters.  Advocating for medical marijuana to be legal in the world is important to me because:

1) My best friend Patty successfully avoided opioid addiction by using marijuana for pain management.

2) My daughter–your mother–was referred to a CBD clinic by her oncologist and it helped.

3) I watched a documentary series called Weediquette, in particular the “Stoned Vets” episode about relieving PTSD symptoms so our wounded warriors can function better at home–something I personally care about because your momma’s daddy, my first husband, M. Arndt, suffered tremendously from PTSD.  He was arrested for possession of marijuana, which triggered the crisis that tore us apart.

4) In 2016, I stopped using Zoloft and started using medical marijuana to calm my nerves.  I have struggled in ignorance with depression most of my life.  In 1993, I was diagnosed with PTSD, and started using Zoloft to treat the constant anxiety I felt because of many traumatic experiences that happened to me, starting in childhood, in my teen years, and into my life as a young adult.  Finally, when your Uncle Keath nearly died in the womb but was born three months early, and for 73 days I visited him in the NICU and witnessed horrors happen to other families too, it changed me forever.

5) Research and reports of cases about babies and seizure control–cases where placebo effect cannot explain away results–have further convinced me.

These are the core reasons I follow and read news such as this Forbes article about the U.S. Congress proposing a bill to protect medical marijuana from Jeff Sessions.

First, I want to talk about why Jeff Sessions’ name appears in the title.  Sessions hates marijuana and refuses to see any medicinal value, even though it has been scientifically proven effective in treating seizures and many other problems.  Marijuana is currently listed as a Schedule 1 Controlled Substance.  That means, according to federal law, nobody has the right to use marijuana for any reason at all.  Even if their doctor prescribes it–it is illegal to prescribe it, it is illegal to research it, it is illegal to grow it, distribute, or use it.  “But Gramma Carmels,” you might say, “it has been legalized in many states!”  True.  Voters in many states have moved to legalize it for medical use, but it is still breaking a federal law and can be prosecuted in a federal court by a federal law enforcement agent, such as a U.S. Attorney–the public servants whose focus and priorities are directed by Sessions.

Sessions, as the U.S. Attorney General, could have decided to let it be, to let the states’ laws rule in their land, but instead, he has declared war on medical marijuana.  He is actively trying to enforce the federal law banning all marijuana use, disregarding the U.S. Constitution’s provision for States Rights.  What makes that especially wrong is that Sessions, in other matters of law and order, has been an advocate for States Rights–when it comes to matters he personally favors, but when it comes to medical marijuana, he tramples on States Rights.  That is a classic example of hypocrisy–saying you are for something and your actions say the opposite.  He is either for States Rights or he is not.

The reason this matters is that, as long as marijuana remains on the Schedule 1 list, universities and scientists in America cannot study it.  That may be too simple or too broad a statement, but basically that is the fundamental problem.  In order to really get the research needed to discover and prove all of the potential medical uses, marijuana must be removed from the Schedule 1 list.  Until that happens, we are relying on the research of the international community, and fortunately, countries like Israel and Germany are leading the way.

I hope this helps to provide some light as you make up your own mind about how to vote for your future.

Gramma Carmels

Carma is an American poet and author, publishing a variety of ebooks under her maiden name, C.Y. Dillon, and under Carma Chan to honor her Chinese stepdad. Her grandkids call her Gramma Carmels.