034 – The Constitution and People

Written 7 Jan 2021

Let’s put aside “right” and “wrong” for a moment. Many of us in the world, especially in the USA, are concerned for the events in Washington D.C. at the Capital on 6-7 January, 2021. It is a concern that has been growing over the years and isn’t played out in it’s entirety, yet. It could be a long two weeks before Mr. Biden takes on the immense power of the Presidency.

The USA is scarcely unique in having the fundamental issues of transfer of power come up: it’s been happening for thousands of years in virtually every known type of civilization. There is an oft-repeated phrase from numerous sources either as a quotation or a paraphrase: “Those who fail to learn from history are condemned to repeat it.” With humility, I’m not sure that is correct. Even if we learn, we are condemned to repeat it. Why? Because all of this involves humans. We can come up with Constitutions and other ways to deal with differing opinions about either how a government operates, and who is “right” about how to do it, or who is in power, but we have never been able to get everyone to agree on it. Probably never will.

In this case, enough (but not all) people in responsible positions (eventually) came up with the political will and personal courage to follow the guidelines they took an oath to protect, and it has (so far) seen us through one of the most, if not the most, serious challenges ever faced by our government in the USA. Some well meaning leaders took positions that I personally disagree with, but if they followed their oaths, and the Constitution they swore to uphold, I can defend them. That those guidelines exist is a tribute to the people who created the U.S. Constitution, and the country. It was not, and still isn’t, an easy task.

The American Constitution isn’t perfect – far from it – but it was put together by people just like you and me who decided to really care and discourse, and compromise, and take reasoned and collaborative action to fix perceived problems and set up for the future. In the USA we tend to deify the Founding Fathers responsible for this document (much to our detriment in my opinion). They were fallible humans just like us. But they did it.

One fascinating book about the specific events of the 1770 “Boston Massacre” and John Adam’s defense of the British defendants gives some insight as to the facts of the situation in the United States prior to the Declaration of Independence as opposed to the often mischaracterized historical “stories”. These factors were strongly considered in creating the U.S. Constitution. The event in Boston was in some ways similar to what just transpired in Washington. (If you choose to think I make a direct comparison, you do me, and your evaluative skills, an injustice.) I strongly recommend John Adams Under Fire: The Founding Father’s Fight for Justice in the Boston Massacre by Dan Abrams. It is informative and valuable and reads like a good novel. How do responsible and informed people deal with the often irresponsible actions of those governed?

A second, more contemporary, perspective is the book/play What the Constitution Means to Me by Heidi Schreck. It is a very readable and even handed discussion of how the Constitution affects our lives, today, in very personal ways, and discusses why we should care and what we can do about it.

Lest you are left with the impression that I am hiding behind discussions and objectivity as supplied by someone else, I personally hope that the persons holding the offices designated in Article 25 of the U.S. Constitution take action – NOW – and remove Mr. Trump from office, immediately. My desire for this is based on the rational fears of what he could do in the next two weeks as confirmed by his history so far.

You are welcome to leave comments pro and con of course, but I would hope that you take some time to read at least some of each of the two referenced works so you can make a more informed decision about what you feel should result from the situation we find ourselves in – not just the citizens/voters of the USA, but citizens of the world. An informed discourse is the only – the ONLY – hope for a reasoned future and the success of experiments in democracy. Make no mistake – it is still an experiment and it will fail if we do not take our responsibilities seriously.

033 – And another thing

Written: 2 January 2021

I am really struggling. Big time. I want to post more on this blog – the really way down deep kind of want. But it clearly hasn’t happened as yet. And it’s me. – nothing but me – that gets in the way.

Fundamentally (I think) the desire to make WITWIA.COM something much better than it currently is comes from wanting to connect with people who read it – by and large my friends, past friends, and acquaintances. It is not only great whenever I do talk or write with you, but it avoids the pernicious guilt I feel by NOT doing it! I have emails that are months old and still highlighted for me to reply. I’m so sorry.

While there are no reliable statistics easily at hand, I’m pretty sure (that is sarcasm) I’m not the only one that doesn’t stay in touch as much as I’d like. It’s not very consoling to be part of a crowd, however.

Also, maybe I can make a few new friends from people that bump into this blog and feel like responding because they relate to something here and want to connect, themselves. That would be really nice, and consider yourself encouraged if you fall into that category.

Getting started as a “writer” is hard or I’d do it better. (Doh) And at this stage in my life I want to continue to gain new skills, to take on the unusual (to me). I want to decide to change and do something about it, not just talk about it. Having a tendency to be judgmental, I am especially adroit at turning that tendency against myself which makes this whole process more complicated and slows it down.

And – as I am doing right now (damn it!) – I get immersed in rabbit holes very easily. Having a facile mind makes life in general very interesting, and also creates real hurdles to being expressive AND succinct. I’ve never been great at reining it in.

My imagination says this is already boring, but I’m going to persist and edit this down – it remains to be seen whether or not this sentence makes it through the revisions. But I WILL get it out, today! I can’t improve unless there is something “out there” to improve!

Part of the block that shows up about writing is that I have so MUCH to say! It all gets jammed up and ends up getting in the way of letting anything through. But others do it, so I will too. HOW is the operative question.

When my daughter was about 10-12 years old, maybe younger – I took her to the local library in Venice California and attended a lecture from Ray Bradbury who lived nearby to our great fortune. One of the things I remember him saying was that writing doesn’t get easier, he just wanted it very much and basically got addicted to writing. And he was GOOD at it! There’s probably something to pay attention to there. (‘Ya think?”) He always claimed he wrote 1000 words a day since he was twelve. (point of reference, this blog posting is 1194 words – I counted just before I published it. Well, MS Word counted.) I thought that was a LOT – until I Googled “how many words per day to good writers write?” Sheesh! Yes, I have set a goal – but I’m not tellin’! Announcing it makes it about performance or promises and I just want to change my skills and interests.

A friend who is a writer (professional) recently told me to start by being clear on what I wanted to say. That seems to be very useful advice – we’ll see how well it works on this first blog since he mentioned it. (Thanks, Roger. Let me know.)

At any rate – here goes, again. At least I’m going to put this “out there” and worry about getting it right later. Please forgive my ineptitude and encourage me anyway!

The challenge of writing would come up anywhere – it’s not unique to my experiences of being in Africa. Living in this small town is a lot like living in a small town anywhere except with more sand, oryx, jackals, ostriches and hyenas in decreasing order of exposure. But they are all here – plus a lot more. While I could write years’ worth of daily blogs about living in Africa, my purpose at this point is to talk about who I’m becoming, what I’m planning, and how writing fits into it.

Of course one of the reasons I want to develop this blog, and my skills in writing, is to add interest and purpose to my proposed trip starting some time in 2021. Details (such as they are) in a future blog. But I plan/hope to take freighters, trains, and avoid aircraft whenever possible. Airliners go too fast and too high to see what’s going on around me. At 71 I’m hoping to depart on a “voyage of discovery”, and of celebration. I mean what the hell – I can, so why wouldn’t I?

Very few goals have been established for this proposed trip, but one of them is to spend a month or two in California and see a lot more of my daughter. (No worries kiddo, not every day and not for a solid two months!) But when I leave I want my boat off of my life’s plate. I lived aboard that 42 foot (13 meter) sailboat for the vast majority of 25 years, and it worked really well for me. But that life is behind me. All of my “stuff” (For some fun, google “George Carlin on stuff”.) is stored on the boat and is inconsequential except for memorabilia and heritage materials I want to give to my daughter. I have everything I need here at my two bedroom home in Oranjemund. Actually more than I need.

There is a practical interest in writing also. It is strangely not difficult for me to “admit” (state is more accurate) that I’m getting older and my body just won’t do what it used to do. Writing seems a logical choice for staying engaged and challenged, and is within my physical limitations – at least at this point! And I’m hardly the first one to think of this! Lots of precedents. If “they” can do it, so can I.

So – I’m off, and you’re invited to go with me as I plan, dream, think, possibly grieve at appropriate moments, and generally try to make sense of my place in the world as I live in it now. Don’t forget there are 30+ posts before this one with a bit of history (albeit poorly documented) of my almost six years in Namibia so far. I have hopes for the next six years, or more.

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