I called and called, but you didn’t come!

Is there anything scarier?

Whether you were calling, or you were the person who failed to respond when someone needed help, being alone when you need help is one of the most universal fears.

That’s why we have baby minders, and elder minders; why I insisted that my husband take a walkie talkie with him (yeah, old tech) when he was working out of my hearing range after the time he was working on the foundation and a jack slipped leaving the house pressing on his chest. He couldn’t call loudly because he couldn’t get a breath and after a couple of hours managed to get the jack back under the floor joist and lift it off himself. Meanwhile I’d been happily bustling around the kitchen, cooking, cleaning, kid-minding, oblivious to the fact that my husband might have been dying only a hundred feet away. Even before that, when the kids were small and I was alone in the house watching them, I took to using the bathroom with the door open just in case of unexpected emergencies. We worry about each other. We want to be there.

It may be why we have cell phones, and keep them on all the time. I’m sure I’ve read stories where not being there and how that failure haunts a person for the rest of his or her life. It’s scary enough to know that you are on your own, although some people can live with that. The nearly mythological Mountain Man of America who was willing to accept that he could die if he had an accident sometimes makes us feel that we should all be so self-sufficient. But humans, generally, are tribal animals- we want others around us. The Daniel Boones who didn’t want to be able to see the smoke from his neighbor’s chimney are rare. We may not LIKE our neighbors, but at least they are there. If we knock on their door bleeding, they’ll take us in and call 911. If we call 911 and no one shows up withing minutes we feel that something has gone wrong with the system. (How many minutes probably depends on whether you live out in the boonies, as I do, or in the city, but that’s part of how we decide where to live.)

We may not reach out to others often, but it’s reassuring to know that they are there. This is the finding of many studies about “latch-key children”. When there’s a stay-at-home parent, the kid may return from school and go straight to his room, even resisting attempts at conversation. But when both parents are working, they feel abandoned. They want that unseen presence nearby, assuring that if they suddenly deign to grace Mom with a request for help with scheduling, or problems at school, that she’s there and will drop everything to prove that their welfare is the most important thing in her life. And mostly we do that, although sometimes stopping in the middle of one task means starting over and a great loss of time, because that emotional assurance of being “most important” is what builds self value in their child.

I have seen many rants on the internet about this generation being “delicate snowflakes” that can’t deal with the fact that they aren’t the center of the world. Perhaps it’s because the recent recession means that no one was there at home when they needed help and were ready to ask for it, and they internalized how cut off they are from the rest of humanity. Most parents must leave their kids alone in order to pay for their food, shelter, and other physical needs. Very few bosses put their employee’s welfare before profits. Very few political representatives put their constituent’s welfare before that of their campaign fund. But humanity didn’t survive because people ignored their family and neighbors when they needed help. In most levels of civilization people made sure they had the safety of numbers. We lived in large family groups, in villages, in neighborhoods; we depended on those around us, and being dependable for others was a prime virtue. Civilization is the result of people doing better because we share our resources (that includes time and emotional support as well as what we produce). We thrive not on independence, but interdependence. Even the mountain man found his inner peace from his interaction with nature, rather than with other humans. We must not disparage those who call for help, but provide it. This creates the safety net we call civilization.

Who will come when you call?

Making the kids eat their vegetables

I’m going to share a strange opinion for a parent. Don’t force your kid to eat vegetables.
I’m not saying don’t serve them vegetables, but don’t force them to finish something they find repellent.
Suppose you are one of the 40% to whom cilantro tastes like soap, and people who like cilantro were laughing at you. How would you feel?
I can remember my mother sitting for HOURS to get us to finish our vegetables. Turns out that most of them were overcooked (or just stuff like creamed corn, stewed tomatoes and other stuff I wouldn’t eat even now). But she didn’t know how to steam them. Her thought was put on hollandaise or another sauce to cover up the flavor. But overcooked brassicas taste sulpherous- and even now sometimes fresh peas or broccoli don’t taste good- usually at the end of the season.
Trust the taste buds. I remember once we had a party with swordfish and all the kids complained about it, but our parents forced us all to finish it, but later when the adults started eating theirs, it turned out that the fish had gone bad; they just assumed that we were being been fussy. (The worst phrase in my childhood was “no-thank-you helping. We were not allowed to refuse anything an adult wanted us to eat.)
I realized when MY taste changed when I was pregnant, and suddenly couldn’t eat things I knew I loved, that it has to do with personal chemistry. I suspect that kids may be like pregnant women and teens, and women during menopause- their chemistry makes the food taste different to them than to others. It can, and does, change suddenly and completely. The best way to create a non-fussy eater is to respect their bodily autonomy.
If they don’t like a food, teach them how to quietly remove it from their mouths. Adults aren’t forced to eat what they don’t like, but we’ve learned to be quiet and polite about just leaving it on our plates. If you teach your kids that they don’t have to eat something that disgusts them, they will be much more adventurous eaters, and will be more willing to try new foods, and even the same foods again later.
Again- it’s respecting bodily autonomy. You just have to offer them equally nutritious options, not sweets instead. I dealt with it by having salad and at least two vegetables, one a super vegetable, at every meal, and they only had to eat one.
BTW, in the same vein- have you ever had a burn on your hand and put it into hot water and discovered that water that would normal be fine for you was painful? Think about that when the kids say the water is too hot- their skin is new, like the new skin on your healing burn. No one can tell someone else what they are feeling.

Is being healthy privileged?

Both money and health are criteria on which so much hinges. I’m not sure that either is a “privilege” unless you think of privileges as being distributed by God or nature or something like that. I tend to think of privileges as being distributed by people who have control of the excess. Health, like Life and Liberty, are rights, but are not distributed evenly. Wealth is a construct of society, so I see it as a privilege, and that when one group hoards it, they are doing wrong. I don’t think anyone can give health to anyone else, although policies can keep people from health. (I’m thinking Flint, climate change and other forms of pollution stemming from counting profit as more important than hurting the health of the people in the community.) Regan deregulated a lot while insisting on only eating organic grass fed beef. That’s freaking abuse of privilege! OK, I guess I’ve talked myself into accepting that to a certain extent health can be “granted” or “with-held”, but again, like life and liberty, I think it’s a right, not a privilege. It’s just criminal to take it away from people. I’m going to need to keep thinking about this one and see where it goes.

Living in a Horror Movie

A friend recently wondered if we can ever get our country back to where we’d want it in our life-time.  I (and many friends) try to reduce the amount of news to which I expose myself, because it’s depressing and scary. (And I’m NOT diagnosed with any mental illness! How bad must it be for those who are?)
You can probably guess how I feel about tearing parents and children apart in order to motivate people who are actively trying to escape death in their own countries from trying to escape to a country that has traditionally been a land of peace, freedom and opportunity.
We have been the good guys. Now, like medieval nobility, we are so convinced of our virtue that we are failing to live up to the Chivalry that is supposed to describe us.
Trump pulling out of the UN Human Rights Council is SO typical. Almost no one noticed that Congress did, as they’ve been planning, dip into Social Security this week, the Supreme Court dealt a setback on trying to stop gerrymandering (as we all wonder how to stop current asshattery, people say “Vote”, but if they rig the voting, that won’t help). On the good news front, many states and all of Canada has legalized marijuana (so we can toke up and try to de-stress).
It’s hard not to get depressed since it’s becoming clear that there is a sizable portion of Americans who are more uncomfortable with what my friends would consider progress in human rights, people on my feed are wondering how we can make America back into what we thought it stood for. I do think there is hope. (Of course, I also thought that Sanders would beat Clinton and then Trump, so that’s a “for what it’s worth” sentiment.)
I see this as the last desperate pushback of the people who’ve been fighting civil rights, women’s rights, gender rights, religious rights, (basically Human Rights) for the last half century and are afraid that their world is at risk. They want a world where the man is “in charge” of his house, where if you’re a straight white Christian you don’t need to worry about anything other than the status quo. They are happy ignoring a status quo that dumps on those not in the privileged population. And if they aren’t seeing privileges (and they aren’t- at least they aren’t able to make ends meet by working hard), even though they are straight, white, hardworking, Christian males, they feel cheated! They figure that if we give equal rights to women, queers, Blacks, Jews, Muslims, Mexicans, and everyone else, doesn’t that mean that their already-difficult life is going to get worse? No wonder they’re scared! They believe that the only way to pay for helping the poor is taking it out of their pockets, and they don’t know enough to realize that isn’t how it works.
They figure if they could go back to the Ozzie and Harriet image of the 50s, they’ll be fine, and they want that first, before anyone else takes a piece of the American Pie.  Because they’ve seen that too many government programs run out when they ask for help (“We’ll put you on the waiting list…”). They believe that the money those programs have that isn’t enough to help them, must be either going to someone less deserving, or at very least, needs more money- which they think means more taxation.
But I have hope, because I know some psychology.  Any time someone is losing an argument, their last attempt to win is to threaten their opponent. We’ve been telling them to “just deal” with their discomfort around gays, and blacks and women who think they’re “as good as” them, and not helping them deal with those feelings. They feel bullied, and are thrilled to see us intellectual liberals have to suck it up when they act like asshats. We mustn’t lose sight of that. We have been making progress, and most people are a lot more comfortable with interracial and gay marriage, than they were, but it’s going to be decades before everyone who’s uncomfortable dies off.  I think the average liberal, educated person had become complacent, and thought we could just let things keep “going in the right direction” without actively working for it (the way we did in the 60s and 70s).
I believe that this resistance being shown by the terrified bigots who think that they have been given permission to bully women, people of color, (anyone different) is motivating a “silent majority” (to use the old phrase) of the liberal people who do believe in human rights, and, I hope,  getting them to put down their phones, and get off their arses to vote and protest and call, and put some effort into creating and supporting the world they want and expect. We have to be careful to not lash out at the frightened people because they are lashing out at us, but instead firmly not let them shout us down, until they gradually see that they are NOT worse off with universal health care, neighbors who are a different than they are, and multi-ethnic, multi-faith communities.
I totally believe that there are far more people who believe in kindness and human rights than in protecting the myth of white, male, Christian, straight supremacy, but they thought the fight had been won. This is the “jump scare” at the end of the horror movie.
And even when we get through this crisis, we have to remember that there can be a sequel.

What people influenced my spiritual practice?

Morgan Daimer asked on FB: Who are the three most influential people (dead or living) for your current spiritual practice? (She does this- collects information for her writing using social media. i think that’s cool.)
In one response she said she was looking for ‘interwoven influences’, and predictably I got longwinded. When done, I thought it might make a blog entry.

I am very inner and experience directed, mostly my pagan thinking has been influenced from authors- early ones being Mary Renault in King must Die, and Bach with Jonathan Livingston Seagull.
But the only people I interacted with face to face that I can clearly point to changing my spiritual practice are the ones who treated me rudely when I reached out to them, and thus turning me in other directions. I actively looked for contacts for witches and pagans in the 60s and 70s, even writing addresses from the backs of books and magazines. I subscribed to Green Egg, Circle, and a lot of xeroxed and even mimeographed newsletters. Before there was the internet, I corresponded with Leo Martello (Witches Against Religious Discrimination) and Olivia Robertson (Fellowship of Isis) because that’s the only way you could find people in those days. I still didn’t get very involved because they were too far away. I looked for locals, but they always seemed too self involved (like I wasn’t?). I found most Wiccan’s silly, and couldn’t bring myself to claim “perfect love and perfect trust’.  One example of what I considered rude was in 1975, my husband and I went to visit one woman from a public contact, and when I mentioned that it was the full moon (thinking we might join her in some activity), she excused her self, and left us sitting for an hour and a half (while she did some private devotion). Too many of the Heathens I’ve met have been reactionary (and misogynistic) which turned me off their traditions. I could go on, but I’ve never actually found a group where I didn’t like many or most of the individuals, but each group as a whole irritated me. At the same time, I’ve always wanted to join almost every organization I read about; ADF, CAW, the Troth, IONS, ARE, ASD, AMORC, etc.  because of the good things about them! Such ambivalence!

I think the biggest influence on my later life was one woman (one of Laurie Cabot’s “daughters”) who had a magic shop in Milford, NH briefly, and dismissively told me that it was impossible that Kate and Frank Dalton had assembled the guests they advertised for Craftwise (in I think 2000- on a Xeroxed sheet a witch friend shared with me). Contrarian that I am, that got my back up and I went to the con- discovering the whole world of pagan conferences. I met and chatted with Isaac Bonewits, Gavin & Yvonna Frost, Oberon & Morning Glory Zell, Janet & Stewart Ferrar & Gavin Bone, Lori Bruno, and the others. Luckily, I’ve never felt that “celebrities” were anything but people who happened to have had their reputation precede them, so I’ve always felt comfortable chatting with “big names”, when I encountered them. After years of conferences, I have comfortable acquaintance with many authors and speakers, and worry that I seem to be name dropping, but the big reason I’m comfortable approaching someone is that as a (small scale) writer I often wonder if what I sent out into the big world ever actually gets read, so when I meet another writer, I want to assure them that their words have reached someone, and thank them… and I often also want to discuss some point with them.

Can I name some individuals? I really admire “Auntie Shema” and what she’s doing at A Sacred Place, and what she’s doing, but it bothers me that she needs help I can’t give. I love and admire Raven Kaldera, who has taught me a lot about shamanism- and reassured me that I am not called to be one this lifetime. I enjoyed studying Huna with Serge Kahili King in Kuai’i, but I probably got more from reading all his books. I love the folk at Earth Spirit, but am not into ritual as they are. It was at Rites of Spring I met Kirk White, Orion Foxwood, and Margot Adler, who encouraged me to write the book (I have yet to finish doing the research on), which led me to spend years studying the development of the neo-pagan movement. Charles Butler who ran Ecumenicon, and Tom and Debby Sheeley who ran Etheracon became friends and taught me a lot about running cons as well as introducing me to lots of the other folks I know now.

I also think it’s worth mentioning something Elliot Shorter said back in the 80s, …that there were only 200 people in the world because you could go to the SCA, or a Science Fiction conference, or a pagan gathering and you’d run into the same people. So true! I’ve often known people through the SCA for years before I found out they were also pagans, or SF authors (Arwen/ Jane Sibley for example, Raven Kaldera, or Kami Landi who started ConVocation- I had no clue). If I hadn’t gone to Convocation, I wouldn’t have met Rod Cox and taught RúnValdr all over the East Coast.

I think that when you read a book someone has written, you begin to feel as if you know them, possibly more than you really do. That may contribute to my ease in approaching authors. At the same time, the same confidence that I know what I’ve experienced that gave me the confidence to recognize the reality of psychic experience and other-world entities helps me approach what they’ve written as not infallible. Extensive reading (especially academic) includes watching a groundbreaking new theory become discounted- or built upon.

In all honesty, I still remember being told when I was five that the deja vu I’d just experienced yellow rose of texas dresswas not possible and I was imagining it. I remember noticing how often when I concentrated on something I wanted that it happened. I remember watching mental television on a blank wall (about the same age), and I don’t remember, but am told I shocked my aunt-to-be on her first date with my uncle with the announcement she was going to marry him. Perhaps this is why I remember having confidence that what I experienced was real. Later I remember reading in a SF book about people being able to control their body temperature, and practicing until I could do it. I remember reading about OOBs and when I managed it, being embarrassed that I could be caught “undressed” (without my body on) and slamming back into it (I also remember catching my mother’s double in the kitchen once, but being more worried about being caught out of bed than seeing through her). Did people influence me? Yes, but mostly by motivating me to go my own way, because I already trusted myself, and I was a contrary little kid.

Thoughts on Suicide

Another Celebrity has committed suicide, so people are talking about suicide again.

That’s a good thing. People should talk about it because not talking is how we avoid thinking about it. Mostly people don’t talk or think about death if they can help it. Personally, I’m thrilled to know that death is there when my body is no longer a good vehicle for getting around in! Remember the story about Eos (Dawn) and Tithonus (a prince of Troy). She loved the young hansom musician and asked Zeus to make him immortal and forgot to ask forgot eternal youth. Eventually he shriveled up and became a cricket- (the sound he makes is him asking for death). We don’t keep a car around once it no longer works, and everything else in the universe is recycled, why would we think we wouldn’t be? Body back to the earth, soul back to wherever it came from. Death is not a tragedy.

The problem with suicide is that often it can be ducking out of life before you are meant to. My understanding of how it works is that if you have a problem and commit suicide, in your next life, you’ll have the same problem, lifetime after lifetime, until you learn how to deal with it. Essentially by killing yourself, you’ve given up your “time served” and have to start over again. If there’s a problem, work through it this time if you can.

Since I’m currently studying vampire mythology, what leapt to my mind is that in folklore, Vampires are what happens to the spirits of suicides: they come back as vampires. I think this reflects the survivors guilt of the people whose loved ones commit suicide. They always feel as if there is something they could have, and should have done to prevent it.  Maybe they could, maybe they couldn’t, but it is in the nature of people to feel hurt, abandoned, angry at someone who kills himself. The Catholic Church made it a mortal sin, and wouldn’t bury the body in consecrated ground- essentially barring them from the possibility of redemption (creating vampires). (Like in the movie The Mummy, where because the priest was so bad, they cursed him with incredible power. I miss the logic.)  I can understand the survivors guilt. The people who are left behind figure if they’d tried harder, they could have made them less miserable. Possibly. Possibly not.

If they are sick, you can’t cure the disease, can you? If they are suffering from mental illness, you can’t make them not mentally ill. If they are in pain, you probably can’t make the pain go away. If they are homeless, it’s highly unlikely you can have them move in with you without making your problems too much for you to deal with. If they can’t pay their bills, you probably can’t pay them for them. Are there ANY of their problems that you really could have fixed? No one can make anyone else happy. Sometimes we are happy when around other people, but you can’t give it to someone as a present. That’s not how it works. You may love your spouse, your children, your parents, you friends, but you can’t make them happy. That’s true when they’re alive and when they die, and you probably knew that already, because there are very few of us who haven’t tried to make someone happy. People make themselves crazy trying to fix other people’s lives. (Think about how crazy people get at Christmas trying to make themselves and others happy because they’re “supposed to be happy at Christmas”) That’s the wrong path to go down.

Another thing we often forget is that sometimes we (or they) don’t have any idea what makes us happy, or even if we ARE unhappy. Diseases are often things your body uses to give you a wake up call to tell you to change your life. In a study about what people who achieved remission from cancer had done to heal themselves, they had no treatment in common. However, they all had changed their lives- changed their job, gotten out of a marriage that wasn’t working, did something to make their lives different and more fulfilling. Often we don’t know just how unhappy we are because we have all the things we THINK we should have to make us happy. Ælfwine kept saying “My life was perfect, I just want my life back.” But after two years of cancer, chemo, hospitals, bone marrow transplant, Guillain-Barré, etc. he’d had lots of time to think and told me “I think I’d rather have gone through this than spend another day working back at Global.” Took him long enough (well, too long, apparently). Cancer is just slow suicide.
So I keep thinking about the people who decide to kill themselves. Maybe they don’t know why they feel that life isn’t worth living anymore. Sometimes they do know, but can’t think of a way to change the situation. Sometimes it’s an unbearable relationship that they don’t know how to get out of. Sometimes it’s debt that they don’t know how to deal with. This is where suicide lines can help. I remember hearing about a girl who had lost everything and called one, and was told about a food kitchen a few blocks away that she’d not known about. That’s the sort of thing where we CAN help. Sometimes we just don’t know what other people know that can help us. Often it’s only information that we are missing.

The tragic suicides are when there’s a fixable problem, a temporary one. Suicide numbers are going up recently, probably because problems seem harder to solve. Working hard can’t guarantee a living wage. Media concentrates on showing us the things that are going wrong in the world. From politics to the environment, it’s hard to feel that we have any control over our lives. So when the pain gets too great, being dead seems a much better option.

Is killing ourselves too available an option? Some of these “red flag” laws have shown results that when depressed people don’t have easy access to guns, gun suicides go down, and other suicides don’t go up. This indicates to me that some of the people who shoot themselves might well change their minds if they didn’t have access to the guns. (Perhaps they couldn’t figure out access to poisons.) One thing the Netherlands has seen when they provide suicide pills to terminal patients is that most of them are never taken. The people often express that just knowing that the option is in their control soothes their pain, so they can deal with it.

Another thing I heard during recent discussions is that when people are hospitalized and released, that’s the highest risk time for suicide. What to they expect? Suicide watch may prevent them from killing themselves while under watch, and it may remove them from the immediate stresses, but if you don’t fix what’s stressing them, why would you expect them to not have the same response when you put them back into it? If their life is going to hell, it’s probably not going to be better when they go back and whatever they’d been doing to keep it under control hasn’t been handled while they were gone. The mess is bigger, the people are more stressed, the bills are still accumulating, the deadlines are closer. This is not rocket science! If you want to help, FIX the things that are going wrong before dumping them back into the chaos (with an appointment to see someone next week to talk about how crappy their life is)! I wish they respect the people enough to accept that they’ve already tried to work on the problems, and what they’ve tried didn’t work. Look for things they HAVEN’t tried, give them resources they haven’t found. If you can’t think of anything they haven’t thought of, respect their despair.

Suffering is pain without hope. Hope isn’t a feeling you can tell someone to have, it’s what happens when a new possibility is given to you, whether a therapy or a source of income that you didn’t know about, or maybe just information showing that changing some of the bad things is possible. If they’ve exhausted all their options, and you can’t give them any, respect their choice to stop playing the game, fighting the fight, or whatever analogy you want to use. It’s not like they weren’t going to die at some point anyway. We all do. The tragedy is only when we die before we finish doing what we wanted to do with our lives.

You don’t get angry with the person who dies of cancer, don’t get angry with the person who dies of an overdose or other suicide because they can’t figure out how to fix their lives, to stop hurting. If there are problems you can help with, do it. As with allergies, maybe you will always be allergic, but sometimes you can keep the cumulative exposure down to a level where the symptoms don’t overwhelm you. Maybe if you can help with something, the world won’t seem so hopeless, and the misery won’t overwhelm them.  But remember, no one can make anyone else happy. But you may be able to help them not hurt as much, and that’s not bad.



Cosby Verdict and my Reaction

I don’t watch TV, and generally only listen to the radio in the car, so I only get news from the occasional post on facebook. Today I saw that Bill Cosby is going to jail for molesting women. I had heard, but not paid attention; I don’t pay attention to celebrity focused news. I read it anyway.
I did watch the Cosby show, at least the first few seasons, and way back when, I watched I Spy. But what Cosby was to me was the comedian. I think we had all his albums, Why is there Air? Is a very Funny Fellow, Right!, To Russell My Brother, whom I slept With.

Cosby was the guy who taught white America that we are all pretty much the same. We all get toothaches and somehow miss that Midol will relieve pain whether we’re male or female, we all lie to our wives about whether the water is too cold, our kids confuse us, thinking about Biblical stories as if the people were real makes them much more interesting… People are people, and I think that it’s a pity, but coming from an era of segregation, we didn’t know that.
Now he’s teaching us once again that color doesn’t matter. What matters is privilege. Not white privilege, obviously. But male privilege and especially privilege of money. He has money, and had a reputation as a “nice guy”. But apparently this nice guy didn’t seem to think that drugging women so he could use them sexually was wrong, and it angers him that many other people do.

My friends don’t expect him to go to jail. They figure he’s got the money to keep on with appeals until he dies. Or maybe he’ll go to one of those rich offenders “prisons” like Martha Stewart where he has restricted options, but certainly not the conditions of a kid put away for holding pot and “resisting arrest”. Money. Right. His lawyer claimed the women were making up the charges to get the attention. Other women are left traumatized- probably for the rest of their lives because PTSD is like that. I didn’t realize there was a statute of limitations on sexual assault.

But clearly when you are rich and famous you figure it’s OK to “grab ’em by the pussy”. I can think of someone else who’s going to be very offended when he comes to trial for his offenses. They don’t think they are doing anything wrong- and yet they know they are. They wouldn’t be offended if they didn’t. At the same time this is happening the Incel movement is making women aware that men feel violence is justified if they aren’t getting sex. We have horribly let our children down if they can grow up feeling that this sort of attitude is in any way normal or acceptable. We may be breaking down the male female barriers. But the privilege of money is going to be a LOT harder.


Badmouthing the Enlightenment

For many of us it is clear that reality consists of more than the physical world. In the 18th century “The Enlightenment” happened, and people decided that Science was what could be measured, and anything else was delusion or hoax. We make fun of those who turn their back on evidence because it doesn’t fit into their world view. They argue that if the evidence indicates [something magickal] is real, then the evidence must be flawed, because it can’t be real. In Monsters, John Michael Greer points out that scientist who believe in ESP do so because of the evidence, but those who don’t, believe despite the evidence because they don’t accept the reality. Science should argue that where the evidence points, is reality. If we don’t have the tools to measure it, perhaps we need to develop the right tools. I myself have been right there mocking those who deny the reality experienced by many people, “just because” it doesn’t fit in their world view. I feel we need to be comfortable with recognizing that we have holes in our awareness.

At the same time, it occurs to me that the 18th century was following on the heels of the 17th- the time of the great Witchcraft Hysteria. It probably clung to dependence on physical facts because of the clearly demonstrated risks of accepting “spectral evidence”. It may be that the current upswing in the freedom to publicly profess religiously based hatred has made that idea seem more clearly dangerous to me.  Just because someone fervently believes something does not mean that their belief should dictate law, or even support it when it goes against basic human rights of those who believe differently. Whether the Evangelical Religious Right or the Taliban (or the Puritans setting up their isolationist community in the New World), people’s rights to believe in the spirits with whom they commune should only be tolerated as long as it doesn’t hurt anyone else. This is how we decide whether someone is a Son of Sam or Elwood P Dowd (in Harvey). Are the things they see and we don’t telling them to hurt themselves or others? (I could compare the dottie aunts in Harvey to those in Arsenic and Old Lace.)

The thing is that if we let the people who are very sincere in their beliefs of the damage done by witches or Democratic Socialists, use those fears to harm people who are posing no real risk outside their own minds, our culture is in trouble.  As Harold Hill said in the Music Man, there needs to be something dangerous for him to save the town from. People in fear will follow those who claim to be able to save them whether from Immigrants, Jews, the Illuminati, or Vampires. I’m suddenly better able to sympathize with those who had seen a century or more of violence: Protestant against Catholic, Christian against Jew,… it became easy to blame it all on religion as a whole.

While in a small village it’s easy to accept that what everyone believes whether they can see it or not is simply real, when you get into larger groups and people believe in an assortment of things not everyone else experiences, it becomes easier to just dismiss everything everyone can’t see. Sadly, I think we can all think of things that we have evidence for that others can’t see.  But what is perceiving a spirit who’s there, and what’s an auditory hallucination? Again, I’m going to come back to- is what you see or hear helping you? Is it motivating you to hurt anyone else or yourself? I think it would be impossible to think that the philosophers of the 18th century were not reacting to the religiously based violence of the “early modern” era. Go ahead, believe whatever you want. But your belief doesn’t give you the right to make policy or attack your neighbors because “Jesus told you” to do so.

I think I’ll cut them some slack in the future (but I still believe in ghosts).


No New Normal for a while

Having gotten tired of the technical difficulties I experienced with the New Normal, I have ditched LiveParanormal, which had hosted it. Was it them? Was it the increased volume of people on the internet that had slowed it down? My computer? The server? Or maybe the hosts? I checked everything I could on my end, but what do I know about computers? Rob Szarek, the producer, assured me that it couldn’t be them or Blog Talk Radio, but then again, he did issue a blanket request to all hosts not to talk about the technical problems when they happened (I did tend to apologize when guests calls- or mine- were dropped), which leads me to believe that it wasn’t just my show. Frankly, in the past six months there was rarely a show where someone’s call wasn’t dropped, often mine. I discussed what to do when that happened with guests, rather than the content of the show, when getting ready for the program.

I still feel strange on a Wednesday evening when I am not rushing to be ready to do the show, and I miss talking to the guests about things one avoids talking about in general company. I hope I’ll be able to start again in a new venue, and soon. I thought I should mention because someone might be wondering.

The New Normal

My most frequent posts- next to each week’s letter, have been about the New Normal, but we are on hiatus. The tech issues have just gotten too frustrating. Could it be Blog Talk Radio? Could it be Live Paranormal? Could it be our computer connection? I don’t know. I don’t THINK it’s my computer, although I am becoming increasingly suspicious of the connection. We’d enjoyed high speed internet due to having the rich folks up the street that had it installed. I’m guessing that they have something better, so ours is suffering. Or maybe there are just more people on the line, more demand, so less flow for each of us.

It’s a rare day that we don’t have to reboot the modem a couple times, so that may be it. If so, I’ll have to find not just another venue for the show, but another carrier. I miss talking to the speakers on interesting topics, but really need to have a better way to do it- one where I’m not constantly having to call in because my call (the hosts) was dropped. I don’t understand these things, that’s why we have to pay to have someone else handle it for us. But at this point I do intend to start up again.

When I do, we may have it be part of CTCW- dedicated to our speakers- not that it wasn’t generally that already. At this point my only concern is losing the archived shows.