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Bully Nation

Any time talk of secession comes up, many Americans are inclined to think back to that nasty period in our history: The War of Between the States (more commonly referred to by the uninitiated as The Civil War…which it was not—and I don’t just mean in a “ha-ha nothing civil about it” way, but BY DEFITION a “civil war” is when two powers fight over the control of one government. The American “Civil War” was nothing remotely like that. Calling it “civil war” was a calculated political move by Lincoln—a smart one, but a political move nonetheless) and automatically assume any talks of secession means war between north and south.

Even many Southerners today are quick to lambast the idea. I don’t know if this comes as a result of being whipped into submission once already, a fear of being perceived a racist, a fear of the federal government, a lack of knowledge or some combination thereof.

You want to know my theory?

Why thank you for asking…

I think it comes because of many American’s inherited ideals of the White Man’s Burden…or, if we modernize that: the need to control everyone else. Having taught ESL for several years and being friends with many of my former students, I see them post on various social media, and (when I can read them) they have no great love for the US—regardless of who is in the White House (I’m sorry all you Obamaites—the “world” doesn’t really like him that much better than the last guy despite what you’ve been told). And so that makes you wonder, what exactly is it that so many of them don’t like? To the poor of the world, the US is still the land of opportunity—well, it still represents that, even if it isn’t true. The truth is, they don’t like that we “police” the world.

And I don’t blame them. As much as I don’t want Iran to have nukes, why is it up to the United States to tell them they can’t? If Russia told us we couldn’t have something, we’d flip them the middle finger pretty quick because…well, we’re the US and that’s what we do. So why do we get to tell Iran what they can and can’t have?

Because we’re the bully nation.

Even with the current depressed state of the military, we have the world’s foremost military—hands down. He who holds the big stick makes the rules. So, we dictate to so many nations what they can and can’t do…not just because we can, but because we think we’re right.

And that brings us back to secession. As a nation we supported the breakup and secession of countries from Mother Russia; we supported the breakup of Yugoslavia; I imagine there are others of which I’m not aware. Why then, as a nation, do we refuse to allow “secession” to be part of the national discussion? It should be a very real part of the discussion. Secession doesn’t mean war. Russia still gets along fine with Ukraine and BeloRussia and Latvia. The US gets along just fine with Canada. There’s no reason to automatically assume that secession must be war, not at all.

Not long ago on Facebook, someone I don’t even know got violently mad about a secession comment I made. When I tried to get to the root of it, he basically said “because you can’t.” An old friend of mine, here on this blog some months ago could never answer the question “why do you care?” The truth is, they both think they know better than the people who talk secession…and therefore their will should be imposed on those with whom they disagree.

Just like a bully.

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In the Spirit of Thankfulness part 1

All these posts going every day on Facebook got me a bit in the thankful mood…but there was no way I was going to keep up with that. So, I offer, here in its entirety, my 30 days of thankfulness! So, I’m thankful for…

30 life! I don’t know that I’ve ever taken it for granted, but the recent scare made me consider it all the more.

29 my wife! (and just for all you snarky folks looking at the numbers—it isn’t a countdown or a count UP, it’s supposed to represent the 30 days of November!) She’s better to me than I deserve! I love you, BJ!

28 my job. In this messed up economy which only looks to get worse, I’m glad to be doing something I enjoy: teaching creative writing to (mostly) pretty motivated students.

27 my daughter. Even though I’ve tried to convince her to stay OUT of the arts because it’s the pathway to a lot of potential heartbreak, she’s multi-talented and incredibly smart, too…if she’ll just apply herself I have no doubt she’ll be incredibly successful(on both counts!).

26 having a roof over my head. Even though I’d really like to sell my house in Oxford so that I can get my family all back under one roof all the time, I know we’re fortunate to have a home with electricity and running water.

25 my son. Also incredibly talented (can you say FIRST CHAIR bay-bee!) and smart, I appreciate the fact that he’s just as happy geeking out with me playing war games as he is doing anything else.

24 my doctor. When we first moved to Oxford, Dr. Will Dabbs was just the kooky doctor we took the kids to see. Over time, however, he’s become my doctor and my friend…and I DO trust him with my life!

23 facebook. Yeah, yeah, I know. I can hear all the groans now. But I’m of the age that I can remember life before social media and there are a lot of names on my facebook “friend list” that I didn’t speak with that much and that now I get to at least keep up with them now and again. For writer-types who dwell in caves, it’s nice. And even though I hid EVERYONE during the last election season—that’s over and I can now enjoy posts again.

22 technology. I’m a technogeek, I admit it. I love technology. And even though I’ve fought (and still do) the idea of me carrying around a cellphone, I LIKE what they are capable of…I just don’t want to have to carry it around.

21 my parents. I’m blessed to have the best set of parents in the world. How they managed to allow me to continue to live in their house when I was a smart-aleck teenager, I’ll never know. I’m thankful for the way they raised me and for the values they taught me.

20 my church. When you move around as much as BJ and I have, it’s difficult to get “settled” with a church family. We’ve been fortunate, though, in that every place to which our names have been on the roles, they’ve welcomed us with open arms: FBC Muscle Shoals, FBC Loretto, FBC Piggott, Yellow Leaf BC, and FBC Oxford.

19 my books. Yeah, I know this sounds like a very materialistic thing…and maybe it is, but I’m still thankful for them (and for BJ allowing me to surround myself with them). Maybe it’s a writer thing, but I do love to—when I’m in “thinking” mode—to just sit back and take in the surroundings of my books, looking at the titles and recalling the emotions of the read or the particulars of it.

18 BCW. Or Byhalia Christian Writers Group. I was shocked by the lack of anything remotely faith-based in Oxford (aside from the Churches, of course) and really expected to find multiple writers group in Oxford…I mean, it’s OXFORD, the home of Billy Faulkner. Byhalia, Mississippi was the closest group I could find…and they treated me like a long lost brother. I don’t get to go as often as I’d like (for various reasons—one of which it’s an hour drive one way), but I know they remember me in their prayers—and how can one NOT be thankful for that?

17 my bed. Traveling makes you realize just how much you appreciate “your” stuff. And while BJ made me buy a mattress for the apartment in Florida, it’s still not “my bed.” And being a reenactor, I sleep on the ground every now and again. Yes, I’m very thankful for my bed.

16 Spalding. Yeah, one of my alma maters makes this list. It’s not that I am NOT thankful for the others—I am—but Spalding has that special place in my heart, mostly because, I think, the admin and faculty there have embraced the idea of nurturing the writer. It’s the first “hall of higher learning” that did NOT scoff at the body of comic work I have.

15 Spalding peeps. So, yeah, I can’t mention Spalding without mentioning my classmates/colleagues who helped make the program what it is…and ALSO embraced my comic geekiness, some of them even sharing that. There are lots of names I could mention, but the Devil Dawgs (don’t ask—long story) are deserving of special call-out for my thankfulness: Marjetta Geerling, Kat Shehata, Karin Goodwin, Rebekah J Harris, Mary Knight (one of my favorite Yankees!).

(so this is longer than what I thought it would be…to be continued)

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Facebook, Michael Jackson style

(with apologies to Michael Jackson. Please read to the tune of Thriller)

It’s close to midnight and something silly’s lurking on your screen

Next to your laptop, you wonder why you’re not asleep in bed

You almost scream but terror is your spouse rudely awakened

You ctrl/alt/delete as farmtown looks you right between the eyes

You’re paralyzed

You hear the door slam, and cast a wary eye up at the clock

You feel the cold hand, and think that she’s about to change the lock

You close your eyes and hope that she won’t even hear you breathing, dude.

But all the while, you hear her creeping up behind

You’re out of time

They’re out friend you, you haven’t seen that dude in 20 years

They will harass you, unless you learn how to click the ‘ignore’

Now is the time, to flip the pages of your high school yearbook, yeah

All through the night, I’ll save you from the endless search for friends

I’ll make you see

Cause this is facebook, facebook time

And no one’s gonna save you from the typos in your posts

You know it’s facebook, facebook time

You’re fighting sleep tonight writing a silly, stupid rhyme

Darkness falls across the land

The midnight hour is long past, man

Quizzes come from everyone

To label you the king of fun

Cause this is facebook, facebook time

You’ll get right in the bed after you take just one more quiz

Facebook, facebook time

You’d take a drink of coke but it has lost all of its fizz

The simplest games keep you transfixed

The odd way you get your kicks

And comments come from all friends

It’s not a way to make amends

And though you swear to go to bed

Your body moves not one bit

For no mere person can resist

The addiction of the facebook

Yes this is facebook, facebook time

Cause it’ll suck you in more than Myspace could ever try

Facebook, facebook time

So accept my friend request and be my

Facebook, farmtown, mobwars, buddy here tonight.

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