Monday, January 1, 2018

Happy 2018!


 
Here’s a quick look back at the events of this past, long, strange year.

·         Russia. The investigation of Russian election influence and possible collusion with the Trump campaign continues. Never has the metaphor of the Russian nesting dolls been more apropos. The more you look, the more they may find.

·         “I Can’t Keep Quiet” became the anthem of this movement, sung by Milck at the Women’s March in January 2017. https://youtu.be/zLvIw8J8sWE

·         #MeToo was named Person of the Year by Time, as more and more women are emboldened to speak out, and not stay quiet, and let the world know that women’s rights are not up for grabs. So very disappointing, the revelations of such unbecoming behavior by men, tolerated and accepted by our culture. So disappointed in former Senator Al Franken. I officially rescind my invitation to him to be my running mate in the 2020 election.

·         Tax Plan. The Republican majority House and Senate have passed their tax plan, and President Trump has signed it. It may be years before we realize its full extent and impact. Yes, of course, there will be a little bump in the economy, as more money makes its way into people’s wallets, and then people turn around and spend it, given what good consumers we all are.

·         The Affordable Care Act is in critical condition, especially given that the tax plan peels back the healthcare mandate. Yes, it was unpopular, because healthy people don’t like having to pay into and participate in health insurance they don’t expect to ever need, just so that sick people can have access to health insurance. Yet, for the system to work, to be economically viable, there needs to be a larger pool of healthy participants. The problem is that any “healthy” person can suddenly slip and slide right into the “sick” pool in the blink of an eye. It’s as the song lyrics go, “We’re all one phone call from our knees.”   https://youtu.be/EMRXXBGotnw

At the end of the day, we are not purely a capitalist economy. If that were true, there would be no social security or unemployment, or welfare of any sort. That would all be left in the hands of philanthropists, churches, and charities. It’s really capitalism, asterisk, footnote, with a heart, a soul, and compassion for those who need a leg up, a safety net for the weakest and most vulnerable in our society, the ill, the weak, children and elderly. They say a society will be judged by how it treats them.  

History will be our judge.  

On the bright side, there are things to be thankful for:

·         The Space Station crew of astronauts returned safely in September. Despite all the turmoil down here, I imagine our planet still looked just as serene as ever from above.

“From Great Heights,” a great song delivered by The Postal Service.

·         The confrontations between North Korea and the rest of the world have not escalated into full-blown nuclear warfare. Yet. Another song by The Postal Service, “We Will Be Silhouettes.” https://youtu.be/0rKC7ElkTUQ

Heading into the New Year, we can only hope for better days.

“Better Days,” by the Goo Goo Dolls.

It’s also a time for fresh starts - whether it’s going to the gym, or opening a gym, taking on that big new promotion at work, or taking on that next big project at home – It’s Time to Begin!

“It’s Time,” by Imagine Dragons.

 
Happy 2018!

 
Post-Script
As promised, here are the links to the audio from the radio shows that chronicled this most-unusual year. The link to the first blog in the series is also provided.

December 2016: The Elephant in the Room
https://soundcloud.com/rosemary-schmidt-673577789/election-take2-schmidthappens20161204


January 2017: Democracy
https://soundcloud.com/rosemary-schmidt-673577789/democracy-schmidthappens20170109-1855

February 2017: Alternative Theories
https://soundcloud.com/rosemary-schmidt-673577789/schmidthapppens20170215-febshow

March 2017: Motivations
https://soundcloud.com/rosemary-schmidt-673577789/schmidthappens20170312-marchshow-motivations

April 2017: Dharma & Our Purpose Here (or: Bannon & The Beast)
https://soundcloud.com/rosemary-schmidt-673577789/schmidthappens20170417-aprilshow-bannondharma

May 2017: The 38 Percent (There is Lightness in the Darkness)
https://soundcloud.com/rosemary-schmidt-673577789/schmidthappens20170531-may2017-38percent-take2-20170531-1937
 

Bonus Track: The October 2016 Demo Tape
https://soundcloud.com/rosemary-schmidt-673577789/schmidthappens20161030

 
Songs For The Season:
Music from our local favorite, Gilly (Guilherme) Assuncao: https://youtu.be/oDsAnX78lOY

Coming Next:
Let it snow!  

Mark Your Calendar:
·         January 2018: Summit Fitness in Framingham opens! Stay tuned for details.
·         February 17, 2018: Poetry night at the Bull Run Inn Restaurant in Shirley, MA. Please be sure to reserve your ticket, and e-mail the organizers if you’d like to read your poetry. Again, it is not a slam, but instead a simple sharing of humanity. “Words Change Everything.”

 “Even more than bread, we now need poetry, in a time when it seems that it is not needed at all.”

~Leopold Staff
Sometimes we need both bread & poetry!


References

Ueland, Brenda. 1938. (The Estate of Brenda Ueland. 1987) If You Want to Write: A Book About Art, Independence and Spirit. Graywolf Press: Minneapolis, MN.

© 2018 Rosemary A. Schmidt
Rose Schmidt is the author of “Go Forward, Support! The Rugby of Life” (Gainline Press 2004). The views expressed herein are solely those of the author, and do not reflect the views of any other agency or organization. Use of individual quotes with proper citation and attribution, within the limits of fair use, is permitted. If you would like to request permission to use or reprint any of the content on the site, please contact me. Twitter: Rosebud@GainlineRS


Mission Statement: To Educate, Inform, Entertain, Inspire, and Open Minds. (E.I.E.I.O.M.)

 

 
P.O. Box 1166, Watertown, MA 02471

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Last Friday


We walked into Russo’s market last weekend to be greeted by the sound of music. At first, we thought they just had the volume turned up on their sound system, but then we saw there were live performers set up, giving a holiday concert there, between the lemons and poinsettias.
 


For the last song, they called up their own, Gilly, who works in the deli, to sing “Time to Say Goodbye.” Here’s the best recording of that performance I’ve found (Sunday, Dec. 17th, 2017): 

 
The crowd stilled and drew near, stopped by the beauty and depth of feeling entrained in his voice, reverberating across the wooden rafters. Every soul in the room stopped, so touched. Sometimes you just walk into something or someone and you just know – this is special. Like the day you first met your spouse. Or opened your eyes to a new day in a new town. Chills, tears, goosebumps.  

His story has now been covered by local news, national news, TV, radio, and newspaper, and of course social media.  


Here’s the deal:

Last Friday, Guilherme (Gilly) Assuncao was a deli guy. Originally from Brazil, just 23 years old, he moved to Boston recently, having started as a dishwasher at Russo’s about six months ago. Last Friday, the owners were preparing for a holiday concert the next day, and were setting up the sound system. Gilly offered to help with the sound check. They asked if he could sing. So stunned by his voice, they added him to the bill for their holiday concert. The rest is now history.

What a difference a week can make. He’s not just an amazing singer, but humble and kind. His dream is to go to Berklee School of Music, and pursue a career in music. Someone has even started a GoFundMe page:


Since hearing Gilly sing last weekend, my mind has been spinning on overtime processing this.

First, it just feels like one of those sudden, surprise, magical, miracles of the season, where anything can happen.

Second, on another level, this serves as an inspiring reminder to look for, see and believe in the possibility within each individual, and really see them. When we look at someone, do we see only what is before us, who they are today, or do we have the vision to see what may be within, and what they may become, if offered the right opportunities, and the right platform or stage, literally and metaphorically? It’s only a little jump, to quote the lyrics from Joan Osborne’s song:

What if God was one of us
Just a stranger on the bus
Trying to make his way home?

What if God is in each and every one of us, every stranger on every bus?

When we say “Namaste,” or “the light in me honors the light in you,” can we really imagine and see that light, both within ourselves and in each other?

I’ll make a third even wilder leap.
 
Last Friday, who knew that Gilly, who worked in the deli, might have the voice of an angel?
 
And who knew what the future would hold for the tiny baby, born in a humble manger, on a night just like tonight, so many years ago?
 
Merry Christmas!
 
And to all a good night!
 

Post-Script
One of the greatest books about writing is by Brenda Ueland, titled If You Want to Write. Published in 1938, it still rings just as true today. A couple of quotes from Brenda:

“Everybody is talented, original, and has something important to say.”

“For when you come to think of it, the only way to love a person is not, as the stereotyped Christian notion is, to coddle them and bring them soup when they are sick, but by listening to them and seeing and believing in the god, in the poet, in them. For by doing this, you keep the god and poet alive and make it flourish.”

May we see all the many miracles, gods and poets, surrounding us everyday, if we only have eyes to see them!

And, yes, of course we had to get our picture taken w/ Gilly. I feel fortunate that we even happened to walk in when we did to hear him sing.

 


 

Songs For The Season:

“Better Days,” by the Goo Goo Dolls.
https://youtu.be/nOp4NAq6EHI

“Don’t Tell Me You Don’t Like Christmas,” by the Careless Sons.
https://youtu.be/yQpNe82_Ab4

 
Coming Next:
A post for the New Year, reflecting on 2017. Plus, links to the blogs and radio shows that chronicled this highly unusual period in our country’s history.  


Mark Your Calendar:
·         February 17, 2018: Poetry night at the Bull Run Inn Restaurant in Shirley, MA. Please be sure to reserve your ticket, and e-mail the organizers if you’d like to read your poetry. Again, it is not a slam, but instead a simple sharing of humanity. “Words Change Everything.”

 “Even more than bread, we now need poetry, in a time when it seems that it is not needed at all.”

~Leopold Staff
Sometimes we need both poetry & bread!


References

Ueland, Brenda. 1938. (The Estate of Brenda Ueland. 1987) If You Want to Write: A Book About Art, Independence and Spirit. Graywolf Press: Minneapolis, MN.

© 2017 Rosemary A. Schmidt
Rose Schmidt is the author of “Go Forward, Support! The Rugby of Life” (Gainline Press 2004). The views expressed herein are solely those of the author, and do not reflect the views of any other agency or organization. Use of individual quotes with proper citation and attribution, within the limits of fair use, is permitted. If you would like to request permission to use or reprint any of the content on the site, please contact me. Twitter: Rosebud@GainlineRS

Mission Statement: To Educate, Inform, Entertain, Inspire, and Open Minds. (E.I.E.I.O.M.)

 

P.O. Box 1166, Watertown, MA 02471
 

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Poets & Philosophers: A Tale of Two Towns


This is again a little bit of a break from politics, exploring instead poetry and philosophy, and weaving it all back into the fabric of current events.

July turned out to be a tale of two towns, and their poets and philosophers.

First, Concord celebrated the 200th birthday of Henry David Thoreau, with cake and speeches at his birthplace, Thoreau Farm, on July 12th, and many other events at various locations over the course of the month. There were literally bus-loads of Thoreau-vians who converged on Concord in July.




The only event I made it to was the birthday celebration at his birthplace, Thoreau Farm. (Did I mention there was going to be cake?) The US Postal Service also unveiled a commemorative stamp in his honor, and historian, Richard Smith, who portrays HDT at Walden Pond was also in attendance.

Cake - need I say more?

Historian Richard Smith, as Henry David Thoreau.


 
The room where Henry David Thoreau was born.
While attending, buying some stamps, and having cake, I figured it might not be the best time to confess that I have never actually read one of his books. I think I started Walden once, and never got past page three, because I felt like I was reading someone else’s shopping list, as he paid so much for so many pounds of nails, etc. If I had more patience, I would have learned about his relationship – reverence – for nature. He was probably our nation’s first environmentalist.

His most famous works – Walden and Civil Disobedience – strike me as all the more relevant now, 200 years later. I will have to add them to my summer reading list. Some quotes from his essays on Civil Disobedience apply equally well to modern times. Here’s an example of one I grabbed off www.goodreads.com that spoke to me, but check it out for yourself.


“I wish my countrymen to consider, that whatever the human law may be, neither an individual nor a nation can ever commit the least act of injustice against the obscurest individual, without having to pay the penalty for it. A government which deliberately enacts injustice, and persists in it, will at length ever become the laughing-stock of the world.” 

Yes, you can see that this led my thoughts back to President Trump, and his fixation with repealing the Affordable Care Act, building a border wall, suddenly trying to ban transgender people from serving in the military (via a tweet). His staff in the Department of Justice have filed a brief arguing that LGBT employees are not protected by the Civil Rights Act, reversing the Obama era decision that covered sexual orientation.


Yes, when he needs to rally his core 38% fan base (or is it 33% now?), all he has to do is take a few low blows at their easiest targets. Bullying is on the rise, is it any wonder? The license to hate has been unleashed and empowered, as evidenced by the Alt-Right/KKK rally in Charlottesville, Virginia Saturday, August 12th. It reminded me of something Idgie Threadgoode said in the movie, Fried Green Tomatoes:

“When they go marchin’ in those stupid parades, how come they don’t have sense to change their shoes?"

The hoods are off. Unashamed, they parade their hatred. American democracy has reached a new low. It’s heartbreaking. Meanwhile, the saber rattling continues between Trump and North Korea, and the Russian web of collusion continues to spin. These are difficult times, and so I am reminded again of the quote by Polish poet, Leopold Staff, when he was living in the Warsaw Ghetto, another time when hate was unleashed:

“Even more than bread, we now need poetry, in a time when it seems that it is not needed at all.”

~Leopold Staff

Sometimes we need both bread & poetry!

 
The weekend of July 15th took me to another gathering of modern-day poets and philosophers in the quiet country shire of Shirley, at the Bull Run Restaurant, which has been “serving the tired, thirsty traveler since 1740.” Curved, arching plaster walls, the smell of old wood, the creak of sloped floors, tilting stairs, it is like walking through a door into the past. Called, “Words Change Everything,” the poetry night came about very organically, through a conversation between neighbors, a carpenter and an inn keeper, Kristie Connolly and Alison Tocci. When Kristie pitched the idea for a poetry night at the inn, Alison liked it right away: “We’re all about the arts here.” 

Here’s a really nice article by Anne O’Connor that gives the full back story on how this event came to be.


If you build it, they will come, and come they did. The show sold out, and 16 poets signed up to read their verse to a full house. But not to be slammed. While there was a three-person panel of jurors, headed up by poet and Professor Doug Holder, scoring was done silently and the winners announced at the end of the night. It was a far more humane way to expose one’s heart on one’s sleeve, with no fear of harsh judgment or comparative scoring. The organizers had succeeded in creating the perfect environment for everyone to just sit back and appreciate the shared humanity, in a safe, comfortable, encouraging setting.

One of the greatest books about writing is by Brenda Ueland, titled If You Want to Write. Published in 1938, it still rings just as true today. A couple of quotes from Brenda:

“Everybody is talented, original and has something important to say.”

“For when you come to think of it, the only way to love a person is not, as the stereotyped Christian notion is, to coddle them and bring them soup when they are sick, but by listening to them and seeing and believing in the god, in the poet, in them. For by doing this, you keep the god and poet alive and make it flourish.”

Into such a warm and welcoming environment, after dinner and a welcome from Alison Tocci, an introduction and reading by Doug Holder, came the first poet, called up to the stage to read.
 
Kristie Connolly (L)
 
 
 
Alison Tocci, Bull Run Inn Keeper


Poet, Professor Doug Holder
 
  



















The poets were women and men, students, housewives, everyday people, young and old, ranging in age from not-yet-eighteen to over eighty.  And each one had a part of their soul to share, just five minutes, but pure essence, fire from their heart, observations on everything, death, beauty, hope, light, darkness, regret, capturing just a moment, like a fly in amber, or a crystal inside a geode. Each poet was a surprise. It was like Christmas morning, each poem getting unwrapped by a nervous elf standing at the microphone, notebook in hand, voice sometimes quivering, and sometimes bold, thundering loud, vibrating right off the rafters, just about knocking me off my chair.  
 
There was the teenager’s poem about people’s inability to unplug and connect, the hair stylist who saw the glimpse of something special in one of her clients, and perhaps my favorite, the apple orchard worker, reflecting on the death of a friend, and sharing his appreciation for the pure beauty of the orchards in spring.

It was like sitting back with a bag of Bertie Bott’s Every Flavour Jelly Beans. Just looking at the exterior, no way to know what would be inside, each one a sacred mystery, a god and poet, a burst of unexpected flavors, unfolding and exploding, like a firework, lighting up the night sky, giving some light within the darkness.

Bravo!

Get your tickets now – the next poetry night at the Bull Run is Saturday, October 7th!
 

Post-Script

Also in July was the Favorite Poem Project’s Summer Poetry Institute in Boston, started by Boston University Professor Robert Pinsky (Wickersham, 2017), bringing K-12 teachers together to explore how to better inspire students’ appreciation for poetry. Professor Pinsky was quoted as saying, “You don’t have to understand everything, if you’re having a good time.”


The difference is that the Favorite Poem Project is about reading poems written by others, and not original works, which in a way, by focusing on the work of others, denies or at least downplays the possibility that we, too, might be poets, and instead implies that poetry is written only by special people. Or, maybe they were just sidestepping any copyright issues.

I like to go back to Brenda Ueland’s quote instead:

“Everybody is talented, original and has something important to say.”

See and believe in the god and poet in one another!

Later in July, we dropped by Thoreau Farm for a little tour. In the backyard, they have added a replica of his cabin in the woods. It looks like something you could pick up at the Home Depot garden center. Our tour guide tells us, while Henry David Thoreau has been characterized as a loner, he was really far more social than we give him credit. In his cabin, he had three chairs: one for solitude, one for friendship, and one for society.
 

Three chairs at a friend's house (not Thoreau's cabin).
 
Maybe that’s just another way to say three’s a crowd! It sounds like he actually really enjoyed entertaining guests at his cabin. These one-on-one-on-one interactions form the very threads of the fabric of society. It really is more about our society than any one individual, even President Donald Trump. Once again, Trump is simply a reflection of our society, a symptom of the underlying disease.

1.    The real problem is the society that President Trump reflects. 

2.    All the chaos is a dangerous distraction.

And now we are witnessing day-to-day brinksmanship, and serious discussion about the potential for nuclear war. I thought all of this had been put to rest years ago in the movie War Games. Maybe some folks missed the show. We need to all get along.

In a certain twist of irony, the Bull Run sits in Shirley, a town abandoned by the closure of Fort Devens, which originally opened one hundred years ago in 1917, as Camp Devens for training soldiers before they were sent off to fight in World War I. One hundred years of fighting wars, and what have we learned?
 

Songs For The Day:

“Budapest” by George Ezra:
https://youtu.be/Cy0pwZnQlyM

Or maybe you’ll like this version better:
https://youtu.be/VHrLPs3_1Fs

“It’s the End of the World,” by R.E.M.:
https://youtu.be/Z0GFRcFm-aY

“Closer to Love,” by Mat Kearney:
https://youtu.be/h0CzCQFKORM

“We’re all one phone call from our knees.”

Indigo Girls: “Prince of Darkness.”
https://youtu.be/fY9-98tkfvg

“My place is of the sun and this place is of the dark…”
“Someone’s got his finger on the button in some room…”
 

Mark your calendars:

·         October 7, 2017: Poetry night at the Bull Run in Shirley, MA. Please be sure to reserve your ticket, and e-mail the organizers if you’d like to read your poetry. Guest speaker will be Emily Pineau. Again, it is not a slam, but instead a simple sharing of humanity.   


 “Even more than bread, we now need poetry, in a time when it seems that it is not needed at all.”

~Leopold Staff

Sometimes we need both poetry & bread!

·         October 8-15, 2017: HUBweek 2017 in Boston, various locations https://hubweek.org/

·         October 14, 2017: Walk For Education, United Negro College Fund (UNCF) http://give.uncf.org/site/TR?fr_id=2492&pg=entry

 

For further reflection on the concept of “opportunity inequality,” please visit my past blogs on Business and Baseball, the Diversity Question, Katrina, and Immigrants:

Business & Baseball: A Conversation with Jack Welch and John Henry, Moderated by Brian McGrory

 

Business & Baseball - Part 2: The Diversity Question

 

For more on opportunity inequality – Katrina: Ten Years Gone

 

We Are All Immigrants


 

Coming Next:

I might put all the radio show links together, in sequence, in a future post, so that readers/listeners can find them a little more easily and listen to the shows in order. Together, the six radio shows document this highly unusual time in our country’s history.  

As always, comments and suggestions are welcome!
 

About WBCA-LP 102.9 FM Boston & Schmidt Happens:

WBCA is a community radio station sponsored by the Boston Neighborhood Network, and is on the air from 6 PM to 2 AM each night. Jumana Hashim is a current member of Beantown Women’s Rugby Club, while Rosemary, aka Rosebud, Schmidt has been retired a few years.  

We are taking a little break from the radio show over the summer, but we plan to be back on the air soon. I’ll continue to post blogs as topics come up. Maybe we’ll even talk about something other than politics this fall, such as matters pertaining to public health: health insurance and the Affordable Health Care Act, concussions, stress, water quality, antibiotics, the microbiome, nutritional supplements, and diet.
 

References

Anderson, Leslie. 2017. Concord prepares to celebrate Thoreau’s 200th Birthday. Boston Globe. July 9, 2017.


Feurer, Alan. 2017. Justice Department says rights law doesn’t protect gays. The New York Times. July 27, 2017.


O’Connor, Anne. Poetry on the menu at historic Bull Run. Nashoba Valley Voice. July 3, 2017.


Sobey, Rick. 2017. In Concord, a Thoreau-ly historical birthday bash. Lowell Sun. July 13, 2017.


Ueland, Brenda. 1938. (The Estate of Brenda Ueland. 1987) If You Want to Write: A Book About Art, Independence and Spirit. Graywolf Press: Minneapolis, MN.

Wickersham, Joan. 2017. ‘Poetry is a basic human pleasure.’ Boston Globe. July 28, 2017.


 
© 2017 Rosemary A. Schmidt
Rose Schmidt is the author of “Go Forward, Support! The Rugby of Life” (Gainline Press 2004). The views expressed herein are solely those of the author, and do not reflect the views of any other agency or organization. Use of individual quotes with proper citation and attribution, within the limits of fair use, is permitted. If you would like to request permission to use or reprint any of the content on the site, please contact me. Twitter: Rosebud@GainlineRS

Mission Statement: To Educate, Inform, Entertain, Inspire, and Open Minds. (E.I.E.I.O.M.)
 

 

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Happy Father’s Day & Independence Day


This is a little bit of a non-sequitur, reflecting on Father’s Day & Independence Day, and weaving both into the fabric of current events.

I was driving to work one morning in early in June, on one of the last of those chilly gray rainy days, temps hovering in the 40s to 50s, but the weather was predicted to break, the sun would come out and we’d finally be in the 70s. I was wearing my camel brown L.L Bean barn coat, and thought I could probably leave it in the car once I got to work, since I wouldn’t need it at the end of the day. What’s the worst that might happen, I thought, but the coat might get a little more faded by the sun, which would only lend it an even more authentic, weathered and worn look. I had to chuckle at myself, though, given that the barn coat has never seen even one day in a barn. 
 












It’s ironic how, despite (or maybe in spite of) all the plastic, glass and steel modernity we are surrounded by, we still crave the organic, the natural, weathered barn board, the distressed look, white-washed ship-lap, the distressed look, flannel, lace, leather, and yes, old barn coats. Stuff that is real. Fleece that resembles wool. A simpler, truer, more genuine time. Real.  

This is the battle of contradictions being waged inside each of us. We are both animals, operating at a very primal, instinctual level, and evolved, logical, intelligent beings.  

It’s funny how primal it is, buried and stored deep in the animal part of our animal brain. How the smell of wood smoke might be both alarming, a sign of fire, and yet also calming, reassuring, speaking of comfort, warmth, food, company.  A heavy rainstorm likewise, a baby can’t sleep, at some deep instinctive level recognizing the threat rain and thunderstorms can bring, yet can also be soothing, refreshing, replenishing a life need.  

These contradictions also play out at Father’s Day, just peruse the card aisle, and you’ll see all the mixed expectations for fathers, and men in general, in our society. They’re expected to be rough and tough, rugged, “manly men,” as well as caring, nurturing, loving, providers, caretakers, and teachers. Sensitive, but still tough.  

No wonder it is so confusing for men – the expectations keep changing, and the world expects it all. Men who can be masculine, but yet still sensitive and caring.  

Believe it or not, there are even organizations devoted to promoting boys’ and men’s equal rights. One such organization is called Parity, in the UK. It’s an interesting argument that even within the most privileged class (white men), that some may still feel pressured or let down by society’s expectations.  

This thread ties back into the model presented by Professor George Lakoff that there are two ways that people view the world: those who come from and expect nurturing father figures (loving, caring providers) and those who expect the authoritarian head of the family (as in the movie, “Footloose”). Professor Lakoff would argue that the current schism dividing US society today is due to the conflict between these two opposed frames of reference. Those who believe in the nurturing father figure would promote a Government that takes care of its people, all of its people, even or especially the weakest and most vulnerable in the population, providing safety nets, and structures to take care of those who would be otherwise left behind.  

Those who believe in the authoritarian father figure would promote a Government that lays out the rules, and then gives people the freedom to care their own path, fend for themselves, literally, sink or swim. Tough love, no hand-outs. Confident.  

Recall, from a prior post, that the fastest way to de-motivate a white man in the US is to tell them that their success depends on the success of a team and multiple interdependencies. Culturally/socially, white men in the US are spurred on by the concept, the ideal, of rugged individualism, and making it on their own. This is not a fundamental truth about human nature; just our current culture. Other cultures put greater emphasis on teamwork, and that’s what they find motivating. We are perhaps in the midst of a cultural revolution, or evolution, that has spun off two polar opposite views of the world.  

We celebrate Independence Day, after all, not Interdependence Day.  

It’s not too difficult to figure out that the nurturing model reflects the Democrats, and the authoritarian, the Republicans. What’s shocking and fascinating and distressing is how powerful the message can be when it comes from a strong man. With a deep voice.  

I recall attending a workshop on Assertive Communication for women many years ago; so long ago that some of the other attendees worked at the store still known then as Bread & Circus. One of the most surprising things we learned: studies show that people (both men and women) find messages delivered in a deep tone of voice more credible. The deeper the voice, the more believable. At the workshop, we were actually advised to think of the word “aluminum” before we began speaking, because it prompts you to start talking at a deeper tone, and be heard more effectively. 

I’m going to make a little bit of a leap, and suggest there may even be a correlation between Lakoff’s model and music. In general, country music tends to be associated with red states, and what do you tend to hear more often in country songs? Really deep voices.  

But I digress. 

The horrible, crazy irony is that we all probably want things both ways: Governments that provide safe infrastructure, and safety nets, and yet allow individual freedom to pursue happiness and associate with whomever we choose. And we as a society probably want men to be strong yet sensitive, manly but partners in parenting. There are even studies that might show that women are attracted to different types of men depending on where they are in their menstrual cycle. Damn hormones!  

The funny thing is that men are also victims or benefactors of their hormones. In the recent article by Therese Huston in The New York Times, she shares the results of a study showing that heightened testosterone levels might lead to overconfidence. The irony of course, is that more confidence usually has only helped in getting ahead in the world. Reference prior blog about the great confidence gap (“Challenge Yourself,” January 27, 2015).  


However, as pointed out in Ms. Huston’s article, there are times when overconfidence in your position could have dire consequences, as increased levels of testosterone are also associated with a decrease in reasoning power. Just when a man’s reasoning is impaired, he may feel most confident in his opinion. The article is worth a read, given the scrutiny women have been subjected to because of hormones. Egads, when Hillary almost passed out, she was probably just having a hot flash.  


Anyway, it brings us full circle around to the question – are we human, intellectual beings capable of compassion, empathy and logical, rational thought; or are we really just highly-evolved animals, still just the products of our biology?

Or, most probably, both?   

 

Post-Script
Only in recent years have I found my Dad to be a surprising, oddly comforting source of counsel, and all of his old sayings seem to ring truer with each year: 

Food, clothing, and shelter.
When the going gets tough, the tough get going.
When the tough get going…
Be nice.

Stay out of debt.
Don’t be a slave to the lender.
Don’t live for the love of money, but for what it can do for people.
Be nice.

On Thursday, June 29, 2017, social media, the press and politicians lit up, reacting to President Donald Trump’s tweets mocking the cable news anchors, Mr. Joe Scarborough and Ms. Mika Brzezinski, probably reacting to their jests at his expense, about his fake Times magazine covers on the previous morning. Practically everyone came out of the woodwork, coming to Mika’s and Joe’s defense, calling Trump a bully, and telling him to stop tweeting, as his messages are unbecoming and do not honor the dignity of the office. Finally, but why now, I ask? Think about how many other people he has mocked and bullied: the news reporter with a disability, politicians’ wives, practically all women, Senator McCain, an honorable man, a Veteran, and a former Prisoner of War. For whatever reason, this is the line in the sand that has been drawn, and now finally everyone is outraged.  

Two key points: 

#1  The real problem is the society that President Trump reflects. It is just as Mr. Harold Ford said on Morning Joe the next morning, that the real problem is our society, the Trump supporters who still see nothing wrong with what he is doing (see my previous post about the 38%). President Trump in a way is just a symptom of the larger problem; the root cause is the disease in our society fostering and promoting such a hateful, misogynistic, uncaring, racist, sexist leader. It feels like we are in the last chapter of the book, The Lord of the Flies, and the savages have taken over, the conch is lost or broken, except that there are no grown-ups landing on our shore to save us, and restore order and civility.   

#2  This is a dangerous distraction. These petty fights and constant chaos are a dangerous distraction to the serious business of governance and engaging as a world power on a global stage. May I remind everyone that a little-known leader in Afghanistan quietly declared war on the United States during a previous distraction in the White House, while we watched the day-to-day enquiry into shenanigans mildly resembling an adult version of the board game, Clue: Bill Clinton, with a White House Intern, in the closet, with a cigar. While we were busy debating the precise definition of a sexual relationship, Osama Bin Laden declared war on us, and no one noticed or paid attention. It was page six news, literally. I remember that. 

Afghanistan. Prior to 9/11, a country I had not thought about since grade school, when at practically every Sunday Mass, from fifth grade on, Father Jackson would include prayers for Af-uh-ghan-is-tan, somehow making it into a five-syllable word, yet never taking advantage of that teaching moment to talk about why we were praying for Af-uh-ghan-is-tan, or the people there, or even what we were praying for, what might be our desired outcome. 

Father Jackson was a severe figure, towering over us, and he kind of scared us. Maybe he was mean. Yet, his meanness offered the possibility for a small moment of kindness. One time in class, a student who was normally one of the really well-behaved kids did something a little out of character, and said or did something while Father Jackson’s back was turned, and he spun around asking who did that? One of the perpetually bad boys spoke up, and took the rap for the “good kid.” It was just one more thing the “bad kid” was going to get yelled at for; it would have up-ended the world for the “good kid.” And, funny how it is, that this, THIS is what we remember, these little ironies, dramas, and tragedies that stay with us, playing over and over again, and these small acts of kindness, at its most basic, simple, fundamental level, how we can help people. I would like to remind everyone that the Office of the President of the United States is still, always, and foremost that of a public servant, working for the best interest of the people.   

If President Trump got upset about getting teased about the fake magazine covers, he should have considered another response: own it and have a good laugh at himself. Admit he had the magazine covers made up, as a joke; thought it would be fun.  

Yes, Mika and Joe were making fun of Trump. Yes, Trump was mean. 

Everyone just needs to stop.  

Stop. 

Stop the pettiness, the humor has passed, and there are so many much larger issues that need our attention: health care, jobs, retraining the workforce for the new economy (the old manufacturing jobs are not coming back, coal is over), North Korea, chemical weapons in Syria, Mosul, ISIS, refugees, Russian hacking of our energy networks, and of course, Af-uh-ghan-is-tan. 

Hope everyone had a Happy Father’s Day & a Happy 4th of July! 

Be kind! 
 

Dedication
This blog is dedicated to Mr. Peter Leckie, a member of Parity, who passed away in early June. He was a gentle soul and will be missed.

 

Songs For The Day:
 
“Hands,” by Jewel. “Only kindness matters in the end.”

An ode to the sensitive man: “Too Much Saturn,” by Francis Dunnery.

Asking the question, “Are We Human, or Are We Dancer,” are The Killers.
 

For all those dealing with loss, two songs:
“In The Sun,” by Joseph Arthur, performed by Chris Martin and Michael Stipe.

Lastly, “Afterglow,” by INXS, urging those left behind, to live on.

Get the theme – kindness, humanity, and finding our way. Together.  

Happy Belated Father’s Day!

Happy Independence Day!

Happy Interdependence Day, too!
 

Aluminum!

 

Mark your calendars:

·       July 15 – Poets needed! First-ever Poetry Night, “Words Change Everything,” will be held at the Bull Run Restaurant in Shirley, MA. For details: https://tickets.bullrunrestaurant.com/eventperformances.asp?evt=771 

If you’re planning to read a poem, be sure to click the link on this webpage to e-mail the organizers: https://tickets.bullrunrestaurant.com/ 

Here’s a nice article w/ a little more of the back story on how this event came to be. http://www.nashobavalleyvoice.com/ci_31112408/poetry-menu-at-historic-bull-run 

As it has been said: 

“Even more than bread, we now need poetry, in a time when it seems that it is not needed at all.”

~Leopold Staff
Sometimes we need poetry & bread! 

·         HUBweek 2017 in Boston, various locations, October 8 – 15, 2017 https://hubweek.org/

·         Walk For Education, United Negro College Fund (UNCF), October 14, 2017

 
Coming Next:
I might put all the radio show links together, in sequence, in a future post, so that readers/listeners can find them a little more easily and listen to the shows in order. Together, the six shows document this highly historic time, attempting to make sense of these strange and difficult times in our country.  

As always, comments and suggestions are always welcome! 

See you in September!  

 

About WBCA-LP 102.9 FM Boston & Schmidt Happens:
WBCA is a community radio station sponsored by the Boston Neighborhood Network, and is on the air from 6 PM to 2 AM each night. Jumana Hashim is a current member of Beantown Women’s Rugby Club, while Rosemary, aka Rosebud, Schmidt has been retired a few years.    

We are taking a little break from the radio show over the summer, but we hope to be back on the air in September. I’ll post blogs as topics come up. Maybe we’ll even talk about something other than politics this fall, such as matters pertaining to public health: health insurance and the Affordable Health Care Act, concussions, stress, water quality, antibiotics, the microbiome, nutritional supplements, and diet.  

 

References 

Huston, Therese. Men can be so Hormonal. The New York Times. June 24, 2017.

Lakoff, George. 2017. George Lakoff: Trump Tweets, Press Leaps. Vox Populi.

Merullo, Roland. 2017. In defense of the white male. Boston Globe. July 3, 2017.
https://www.bostonglobe.com/opinion/2017/07/02/defense-white-male/Me9UoUrcPbcljxRkPFlXAP/story.html

O’Connor, Anne. Poetry on the menu at historic Bull Run. Nashoba Valley Voice. July 3, 2017.
http://www.nashobavalleyvoice.com/ci_31112408/poetry-menu-at-historic-bull-run

Velez, Yamil, and Howard Lavine. 2017. Racial Diversity and the Dynamics of Authoritarianism. The Journal of Politics. April 2017.

White, Daphne. 2017. Berkeley author George Lakoff says, ‘Don’t underestimate Trump.’ Berkeleyside.com. May 2, 2017.

 

© 2017 Rosemary A. Schmidt
Rose Schmidt is the author of “Go Forward, Support! The Rugby of Life” (Gainline Press 2004). The views expressed herein are solely those of the author, and do not reflect the views of any other agency or organization. Use of individual quotes with proper citation and attribution, within the limits of fair use, is permitted. If you would like to request permission to use or reprint any of the content on the site, please contact me via Twitter: Rosebud@GainlineRS

 
Mission Statement: To Educate, Inform, Entertain, Inspire, and Open Minds. (E.I.E.I.O.M.)