I became insane with long intervals of horrible sanity.
Edgar Allen Poe
The trouble with fighting for human freedom is that one spends most of one's time defending scoundrels. For it is against scoundrels that oppressive laws are first aimed, and oppression must be stopped at the beginning if it is to be stopped at all.
- H. L. Mencken
Many people would sooner die than think; In fact, they do so
What I have been telling you, from alpha to omega, what is the one great thing the sigil taught me — that everything in life is miraculous. For the sigil taught me that it rests within the power of each of us to awaken at will from a dragging nightmare of life made up of unimportant tasks and tedious useless little habits, to see life as it really is, and to rejoice in its exquisite wonderfulness. If the sigil were proved to be the top of a tomato-can, it would not alter that big fact, nor my fixed faith. No Harrowby, the common names we call things by do not matter — except to show how very dull we are ...
-James Branch Cabell
January 23, 2017 - 12:15 p.m.
I wimped out last night and did not go see, Eddie Barbash, Sam Reider, and Justin Poindexter, celebrate Django Reinhardt at Barbés in Brooklyn. It would have taken me two hours to get there and I just couldn't face that yesterday. It's all perspective, I know people that won't travel an hour for a concert and I'm disappointed in myself for not traveling two. It was also a matter of saving money. I could save the cost of the concert and dinner out. I can't afford it or I'd go see them tonight at Dizzy's on Columbus Circle, Monday Nights with WBGO: The Spirit of Django. If I could afford it I'd go no matter the weather.
As a consolation prize I made my ultimate comfort food, hot dogs and French fries. I can remember not liking pizza, I was very young, but I can't remember not liking hot dogs and fries. The hot dogs were Hebrew National, not my usual Nathans. It's my second favorite brand. The fries were of course hand cut. I don't do frozen fries.
My plan was to make the Facebook events for John Platt's On Your Radar but that meant opening emails and I had a relapse of my email anxiety. The best thing of the day is that I used techniques I learned in therapy, and developed on my own and finally overcame it. First, I posted about it on Facebook. Putting it out to the world helps relieve some of the anxiety. Then I got encouragement from friends. And then I meditated. I do my own version of it. I should try guided meditation from YouTube as I loved it when I was in the partial hospitalization program. Instead I wing it, personalized for me. I shut my eyes. I did not turn off the music I was listening to. I tensed then relaxed ever muscle starting at the head and moved down to my feet. That is something I learned in the program as I did what I think is the most important part, the deep diaphragm breathing. Then I go to the part that's my own. I look at the inside of my eyelids. Close your eyes; you don't see nothing. If the room you are in is light, you'll see it shining through your eyelids. Even if it's totally dark your mind will fill in the empty spaces. I focus on that, it cuts out everything else. The universe becomes the space between my eyes and my eyelids.
It also helps that my psychiatrist said that meditation is what used to be called biofeedback. That, appeals to my rationalist side. It also reminds me that I did all this as a kid when I first learned about it. I'd work on lowering my heartrate. I'd feel my pulse and it worked. That's the whole idea, to shut down the fight or flight protocol.
It worked, I started slowly then ripped through the rest of the emails and downloaded the materials I needed. I'll make the events today. I was going to go shopping but there is a nor'easter and going out does not appeal to me. I checked and found that I had some chicken breasts in the house. I'll make one of those for dinner. Tomorrow I'm going into the City to protest at the New York Senator's office. It's to urge them to fight Trump's cabinet picks. I'm sure they will anyway but we need to keep the opposition movement alive. I did not feel up to doing the training phone call from MoveOn.org. I'm proud of Brianne, she did it. Marching one day is not going to change the world.
Now to change gears to stern lecturing. I cannot believe that people are discussing if it's right to punch a Nazi. First off Richard Spencer is not a Nazi. He's a horrible bigoted white supremacist but unless someone self-identifies as one, do not call someone a Nazi who is not sending people to death camps. But that's not my biggest problem with this. Even if he were a Nazi how did we reach the point where we need to debate if violence that isn't in self-defense or the defense of others is right? Don't say it is self-defense. Punching him protects nobody, if anything it endangers others. It will justify unprovoked violence by his allies. No, at least be honest with yourself, punching a Nazi is about making yourself feel good and violence for pleasure is simply wrong, always. It is not just wrong for others, it is wrong for yourself. It corrupts your soul. If Martin Luther King were here what do you think he'd have to say. Could you tell him that you punched a Nazi and not feel shame?
Think about any fantasy about someone who was hurt being trained. The mentor always teaches him or her to control their anger and not give in to it. Let's talk geek to geek. The Emperor wants Luke to give into his anger and kill Darth Vader. He'd be losing his lieutenant but he knew that it would convert Luke to the Dark Side. What would Yoda think? How about Dumbledore or Giles? Bilbo wouldn't even kill Gollum, neither would Frodo, and eventually Sam. The good guys don't hurt others out of anger. Aren't you one of the good guys?
I know the appeal of violence. I have the fantasies of beating those who spread hate and those that block the doors of subway cars. Fantasies are fine, just keep them in your head.
I understand that you are afraid. I understand that you are angry. I'm afraid, I'm angry. But violence makes others afraid, and others angry, then they turn to violence. Once it's accepted as the solution to problems who do you think has the most to lose? It's those that feel the most threatened by the Spencers of the world. It's those that society marginalizes.
I don't want to have to talk to you about this again. Violence is the last refuge of the incompetent. Let's leave the punching to the racists, bigots, homophobes, and xenophobes. We're on the side of peace, love, and understanding.
I'm now going to do one of the best things to combat anger, fill my belly. I haven't had grits ala Horvendile in a while. I think I'll go that way and feel peaceful.
Sasha Papernik and the Rest of Us are Descendents of Immigrants - January 29, 2017
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