About luckyotter

Recovering from C-PTSD due to narcissistic abuse from childhood. I was married to a sociopathic narcissist for 20 years. Proud INFJ, Enneagram type 4w5. Animal lover, music lover, cat mom, unapologetic geek, fan of the absurd, progressive Christian, mom to 2 Millennials, mental illness stigma activist, passionate anti-Trumper. #RESISTANCE

Dominator vs. nurturing cultures.

This article from Raw Story is probably the best essay I’ve read this year.   The subject matter reminds me of the Daniel Quinn novel, Ishmael, in which the protagonist must weigh the pros and cons of a  dominator culture and an egalitarian earth culture.

The title is a bit misleading since the article doesn’t focus just on the increasing brutality of the rulers of crumbling empires, although ruthlessness and brutality is certainly a feature of “Empire” (dominator cultures), especially when the rulers fear they are losing power.

History Shows That as Empires Crumble, the Ruling Elites Become Ever More Ruthless

Advertisements

Spring in the mountains.

These three gorgeous pictures capture the Blue Ridge in April.   These photos were taken from about 3,000 feet.

I wasn’t lucky enough to get the flowering dogwoods or many other flowering trees (most have turned green by now).

springtrees1

springtrees2

springtrees3

Postwar prosperity, socialism, and empathy: what do they have to do with each other?

worldhigheststandard

Republicans have a new tactic they’re using to turn people away from Democratic candidates who would like to see New Deal style social programs implemented or enhanced:   they’re using the scare word “socialism.”

I don’t really understand how that word became such a sore point for so many Republicans.  We’re not talking about Stalin-style socialism, which was really communism: a far left form of authoritarianism.   Hitler’s “national socialist” party (Nazi Party) wasn’t socialist at all; it was fascist.   But Republicans trot out these examples  when they try to explain why socialism is so bad.

Democratic socialism and happiness.

Democratic socialism (or social democracy) is the type of government in  western and central Europe and most of the advanced industrialized countries.   The Scandinavian countries, which are the most socialist in terms of benefits to the people (and high tax rates on the rich),  also happen to have the highest happiness indices.   Finland is #1 in terms of overall happiness; Denmark is #2, and so on.

But what about freedom?   Contrary to what many people think,  people in these countries are extremely free (much more so than Americans), but there is less freedom (meaning more restrictions and laws) on corporations, which is the way things should be in a moral society.

happinessindex

All of these countries are prosperous, with little poverty, long lifespans, superior health, and high education levels.  Even the poorest working people are paid a wage they can live modestly on, and even support a family on.   People in these countries also have a lot more time to spend traveling, learning new skills, go to college or graduate school (which are free or low cost), or just enjoy life.   They have weeks’ more more vacation time than Americans do, and long maternity leaves.   Their life expectancy is higher than ours, and their infant mortality is lower.

Single payer healthcare vs. private health insurance. 

In these advanced democracies, people don’t have to worry about going bankrupt should they become sick, or dying from preventable illnesses for lack of healthcare.   And since healthcare isn’t connected to employment, losing one’s job doesn’t mean you lose your health insurance.   Private insurance companies’ motive isn’t for you to be healthy or get well; in fact, they have a vested interest in keeping you sick (Big Pharma makes more money) and denying your claims.   Your insurance company can deny a claim for a lifesaving but expensive procedure as “medically unnecessary” because a less effective procedure is cheaper for them.

Compare this to government funded (single payer) healthcare, whose motive isn’t to make a profit for some bigwig insurance company CEO, but to have a healthy and productive society.  People pay taxes and everyone benefits.  Republicans love to talk about the long wait times, but that is a myth.   They are no longer than wait times here in America, and no one is ever denied care.   Single payer aims to keep people healthy so the society is happy and productive, not rake in profits off of illness, a practice which is immoral.  Why do we have to have a middleman whose primary motive is to drive a wedge between people and their right (yes, I did say “right”) to good health?

“Oh, but I can keep my doctor!”
Really?  Maybe, but maybe not. If your doctor is “out of network,” you may be paying out of pocket to see that doctor, or your claim could be denied.  Single payer healthcare would ensure you’d be able to see any doctor you want as long as they were qualified to practice, and there would be no or very little cost to you.   So that argument is bullshit.

People should be able to live their lives without having to worry about dying or going bankrupt because they get sick.   In America, if you get sick, your life could be turned upside down or even ruined.  Too, even if you have good company health insurance, if you get a long term illness such as cancer, you could be let go from your job, and lose your insurance anyway, when you most need it.  And don’t forget about those lifetime caps (which the GOP wants to bring back, along with preexisting conditions).

So if single payer (government funded) healthcare is so much better and most countries opted for it a long time ago and aren’t exactly clamoring to have an insane, unworkable, wasteful, unaffordable, profit oriented, confusing clusterfuck of a healthcare system like ours,  why haven’t we adopted it?

Because “socialism.”

Why are we so afraid of socialism?

Many Americans (especially Republicans) are terrified of socialism.   I think they don’t understand what socialism actually is.  They think it’s communism, or Naziism, or fascism, or something to do with the old Soviet Union and the Cold War.

Democratic socialism (or social democracy) is a system of government in which there is a free market and capitalism, but unlike our system, there are regulations and laws that keep corporations from exploiting the people.    People in social democracies are actually more free to start businesses of their own, because they don’t have to worry about being without healthcare while their fledgling business is first getting established.  People also earn more (and get unemployment benefits, and sometimes even a guaranteed minimum income) so they are more likely to have the capital to start a business of their own.   In America, most people are slaves to their jobs, and can’t leave because they can’t afford to lose their healthcare or paycheck.   They also have no protections from employers who want to exploit them due to “right to work” laws that  benefit the employer, not the worker; and the busting up of unions, which used to protect workers from exploitive employers and guarantee a living wage.

Postwar prosperity and socialism.

Most people would agree that America’s most prosperous  years were the two decades following the end of World War II ended.    Conservatives love to wax nostalgic about the Fifties in particular: a time when families were strong and women stayed home and raised children while the men worked.   If women worked, they were usually teachers, nurses, librarians, or secretaries.  While there were always nonconformists and  outliers (such as the Beatniks), most Americans lived this cookie cutter lifestyle.   Crime was generally low, and the gap between the richest and poorest was narrower than it had ever been before, or has been since.

While women didn’t have as many choices as they would later on, and people of color had few rights (that wouldn’t change until the civil rights movement), for most, life was prosperous and America became the envy of the free world and eventually the most powerful nation on earth.    Americans’ new prosperity and our national wealth would not have been possible without the new social programs the New Deal created: social security, Medicare, public schools, Eisenhower’s Interstate Highway System, and the GI bill, which helped young veterans and military workers purchase homes.  Although single payer healthcare never got off the ground (it was on the table from FDR through Nixon, but for various reasons never became law), healthcare wasn’t generally very expensive compared to what people earned.    Most people could easily afford to see a doctor and private health insurance was not expensive (and was provided by almost every employer, which it no longer is).

1956republican

Returning to the “Good Old Days.”

It always floors me when Republicans wax nostalgic over how great the 1950s were. They always forget one of the main reasons we were prosperous (and the reason why families were able to live on just one income, allowing women to stay home and take care of the house and kids) was because there was a lot more socialism.  In fact, capitalism works best when leavened with a little (or even more than a little) socialism.  Franklin D. Roosevelt knew this, and it was his socialist policies, including his support for unions that helped build a strong middle class, that brought us out of the Great Depression and into the prosperity of the postwar era.   Most Republicans in the 1950s and 1960s agreed these policies and programs were desirable.   The Republican Platform of 1956 (pictured above) is to the left of even the current Democratic platform.    As a nation, we have moved so far to the right we have become almost a fascist state.

Today,  Republicans refuse to acknowledge the role socialism played in the “good old days” they yearn for so much.  They seem to think that to go back to the simpler times of the 1950s, we must have laws that restrict women’s access to reproductive healthcare including access to birth control.  Four states just passed the “heartbeat bill” which effectively bans abortion after six weeks (in Ohio, it just became law), when most women don’t even know they’re pregnant.   They think that forcing women to carry every pregnancy to term (even if her life is in danger or in cases of rape and incest), and enacting “religious freedom” laws (which are actually the opposite of freedom)  that allow discrimination against groups ultraconservative evangelicals don’t like (LGBTQ or Muslims, for example) will magically bring back an era they idealize.

Oppressing women, people of color, and other marginalized groups will not bring us back to the postwar years.   Instead, it will bring us back to the Gilded Age (a time of great inequality, robber barons, and grinding poverty and early death for most people), or even earlier than that.  The bottom line is that people who think this way care only about controlling women and keeping people of color “in their place.”   They don’t care about prosperity or a good life for most.

If we are ever to get back to the kind of prosperity we enjoyed in the 1950s and 1960s, we have to get over our fear of socialism, and expand beneficial government programs such as Medicare, Social Security, the public school system, infrastructure, and other public works that benefit the common good.  We need to introduce single payer healthcare like other developed countries did decades ago.   We need to bring back unions which protect workers and their families.

Finally, we need to raise taxes on the rich.  In the 1950s, the rich were taxed at 90%!   That sounds excessive, but it really isn’t.  A wealthy person will still be rich even if most of their wealth is paid through taxes to benefit the community.  In an ethical and empathetic society, the wealthy don’t mind paying taxes for the common good.   Rich people in other countries don’t mind.   We never used to either.   When the rich don’t pay their fair share of taxes, they don’t create new jobs, as we are told they do.    Instead, they buy back their own stocks, and they can literally buy politicians and political parties whose agenda benefits them the most.  Inequality increases, and everyone else’s quality of life declines.  Fascism begins to creep in.

Our empathy deficit.

At its core, the problem with America is a severe empathy deficit.  Greed and selfishness got the upper hand due to Reagan’s policies and tax breaks for the wealthy in the 1980s. Those who benefited the most and became rich (or richer) liked their newfound wealth so much they wanted more.  And more, and more, and more.   Demonizing the poor (and later, even the middle class) became a way to rationalize their insatiable greed, and to do so, they had to sacrifice empathy.   The utter heartlessness and cruelty of Trump’s America is the end result.

I’ll take democratic socialism any day over the kleptocratic near-fascist state we are now living in.   But democratic socialism (and really, any kind of democracy) requires empathy and a desire to contribute to the greater good.  We need to get back to that.  The lack of empathy is anathema to life and could lead to the end of humanity, not just the end of America.

*****

Further reading:

The Benefits of Socialism

Narcissism and sadism.

Image

sadism

Things I Don’t Relate To

Fran Nowve has some things to say about my recent post about how a furry I never met helped me cope with the prospect of my own death. I don’t agree with everything she says in her post, but it’s certainly an interesting commentary.

I was rather aghast at the story about the middle aged father of seven who identifies as a six year old girl and got himself “adopted” so he can live out his fantasy.  Of course he is an adult who has the right to do whatever he wants as long as he’s hurting no one, but what about the family he left behind?

I’m sorry, but I think that’s much weirder than being a furry. I’ve never known a furry who actually identified as the animal they were depicting (it’s not like being transgender or anything). I know a bit about the furry community because of my son, and for most of them, it’s just a fun hobby and a way for shy or awkward young people to socialize and/or explore the performing arts behind the safety of a mask. Dancing is a big thing in the furry community.  Some of them outgrow furry, and emerge with more self confidence and skills they can then parlay into careers in the arts.

Although there is a subset of furries who have a sexual fetish about dressing up as cartoon animals, most just do it for fun. It’s really no different from a Star Trek convention, and in fact this hobby grew out of the scifi community.   But due to an old episode of the crime show CSI, in which a furry turned out to be a serial sex killer, furries have gained a negative reputation.  It’s time to set the record straight.

That being said, there are some people in this world who do some very weird things, both harmless and harmful. I don’t even know what to think about the man who identifies as a little girl.   It’s one thing to be transgender, but identifying as a six year old seems beyond the pale to me.

People are strange.

Comments are closed here.  Please comment on the original post.

CLUSTER B

…and yet,

furries-500x333My friend, Lucky Otter, doesn’t believe I’m a psychopath. Yet, I never “felt” more psychopathic than I did reading her latest blog, A furry that I never met helped me conquer my fear of death. Her son is what is known as a “furry.” I had never heard of them until Lucky blogged about her son. I’m sorry, Lucky. I just can’t relate to this phenomenon.

dogbomb1The furry who helped her overcome her fear of death, Tony Barrett, aka “Dogbomb,” is pictured on the blog I linked to above. His face is what I can only call “creepy.” He has what I would call “a kick me face.” Furries wear animal costumes which look like pajamas with fake fur and a head mask. What I find most off-putting is the way they almost all look like “animals” you would see in kids’ cartoons. They are unbearably CUTE.

View original post 669 more words

Sunday meditation.

Image

roseoflima

A furry I never met helped me conquer my fear of death.

Video

dogbomb1

Tony Barrett, aka “Dogbomb”

On the morning of April 5th, a beloved, longtime member of the furry community, Tony Barrett, aka “Dogbomb,” who had been diagnosed with ALS ( amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease) over a year earlier, made the difficult decision to end his own life via physician assisted suicide (he lives in Arizona, where assisted suicide is legal for sufferers of terminal illnesses).

ALS is 100 percent fatal, and “Dogbomb” (as I will be referring to him here) had been experiencing a rapid decline in his quality of life. He was having difficulty walking, and even breathing and swallowing. ALS is a devastating and disfiguring disease that currently has no cure. It normally kills within a few years (2 to 10 years being average), although in rare cases, it can take much longer (astrophysicist Stephen Hawking was first diagnosed with ALS in 1963, and he didn’t succumb to it for 55 years!)

I never met Dogbomb, but he’s a member of the same furry community my son has been active in since about 2009. He’s evidently hugely popular within the community because of his positive, upbeat attitude, even in the face of such a devastating diagnosis and grim prognosis. Since Dogbomb was first diagnosed in early 2018, he has organized marches and walks to raise funds for ALS research and has become a huge inspiration to people both within and outside of the furry community. He’s older than most of his fellow furries, who tend to be mostly Millennials, and has taken on a kind of older brother or mentoring role to many of them, who are in turn inspired by his love of life, enthusiasm, positive attitude, and passion for activities that help find a cure for ALS.

That’s enough background.  I read Dogbomb’s story on Twitter the other night completely by accident, and then I stumbled on this short animation created by one of Dogbomb’s close friends (“Jib Kodi”), made just after Dogbomb publicly announced he would be ending his life. I don’t think there’s any need to explain what this video means, other than that it’s about the power of friendship and the furry community’s unwavering support as Dogbomb commences his journey out of this world and into the next. Notice the “Run to Fight ALS” shirts some of the characters are wearing.

 

This little animation made me totally lose it for almost an hour. Not just a few tears, but full blown sobbing. This wasn’t actually unpleasant at all, but cathartic. Like a good emotional enema, I felt like my soul had been cleansed.

Later, I tried to figure out why I had reacted so intensely. I didn’t know this man, I never fought ALS or knew anyone who had, I’m not a member of the furry community, and yet…this little video grabbed my heart, turned it inside out, and twisted it hard!

For years I’ve been terrified of dying. Not just the suffering and pain that often precedes death, but a fear of death itself. It’s really a fear of the unknown. No matter how strong one’s faith, no one knows for certain what will happen after they die. I don’t have all that many years left, maybe two or three decades at most. Maybe less than that. My fear of death, rather than dissipating as I grow older as it seems to do for most people, has intensified. This is a real problem, since death isn’t something that I can avoid. I can delay it, but one day it’s going to happen whether I want it to or not.

dogbomb3

Dogbomb’s Twitter icon (artist unknown)

Dogbomb was a man who, though not very old, did not fear death. He stared his own mortality in the face and said fuck you to it, and then grabbed its icy hand and told it some jokes. Dogbomb was a man who I have been told always smiled at everyone, and was always willing to listen to others’ troubles, even when he had much worse problems of his own and knew his illness was terminal.

Rather than sink into self pity, crawl into his bed, and wait for death to take him, he stayed active, organized events and marches to raise funds to find cures and new treatments for the disease that was killing him. He got countless others involved and did a lot of good for sufferers of ALS. At the very least, he gave them hope and inspired them.

And finally, he decided he was going to die his own way, not ALS’s way. He died willingly in a loving and supportive environment among his closest family and friends. If dying joyfully is a thing, Dogbomb did it.

And now, after being so inspired and moved by Dogbomb’s story, I can finally understand those who say that death can be a beautiful and uplifting thing, a beginning rather than an end, the start of a new journey — and not something dark and morbid that we should fear.  For someone with ALS or another painful or physically crippling disease, death also means freedom for a soul that had been  trapped in what had become nothing more than a burdensome flesh prison.

Dogbomb wrote one last tweet on the morning of his death:

“Dogbomb has left the building. I love y’all!”

dogbomb2

Screenshot of Dogbomb riding into the sunset from an animation by Jib Kodi

I can’t say my fear of death is cured, but I’m getting there. Dogbomb’s beautiful life of service to others, and courageous (and joyful) passing has helped me with that.

Here is where you can make a donation to the ALS Association.

*****

Further reading:

My Son is “Furry” — Got a Problem With That?  (posted 9/20/14)

Fear of Death

The Ultimate Dissociative Experience

Early spring drive.

springdrive2

I needed a day to unwind and de-stress, so I decided to take my new car out for a spin, because it was such a gorgeous spring day, and this is my favorite time of year.

Has anyone noticed the colors on the some of the trees in spring are the exact same colors you see in the fall?   The reason for that is the chlorophyll, the substance which turns the leaves green so they can make their own food from sunlight, hasn’t kicked in yet.  In the fall, the leaves stop making chlorophyll when they no longer need to make their own food.   The photo above and immediately below show the fall-like colors.

springdrive1

Is it early spring or late fall? It’s hard to tell here.

I drove all the way to Sunburst, a beautiful spot near Lake Logan which has a campground, a swimming hole, and a fast moving stream.    In the summer, this is a great place to cool off (the water in the swimming hole is crystal clear with a slight greenish tint, surprisingly deep, and cold)  but right now, it’s fishing season.   I didn’t fish, but I sat on one of the big boulders and just took in the sights and sounds, and let the stress leave my body and mind.

springdrive4.jpg

springdrive5

Fishing in Sunburst, NC

springdrive3

Sunburst Swimming Hole

On the man who sold me my car.

hondurans

Honduran family traveling in a caravan to the US border

The man who sold me my car today (a 2012 gunmetal gray Toyota Corolla that runs like a brand new car in case you’re interested) was from Honduras. There was a Honduran flag displayed on the wall over his desk, and there were framed pictures of his children, who looked so much like many of the migrant children we have been seeing at the border.

All I could think was, “I hope they don’t deport you and I hope they don’t take your kids away.”   He was a pleasant and hardworking man with a family.  Why would our government be rounding up people like him?  And yet here we are.

2019 America.  How far we have fallen.    Lady Liberty should be shrouded until this crisis our president has created is over, or given back to the French.   We don’t deserve her.   Her welcoming lamp and the poem at her feet promising refuse and comfort to the “tired, poor, huddled masses yearning to breathe free” has become false advertising.

 

Extremism, Fundamentalism, Islamism and Jihadism – Understanding the Difference

Far right Christian extremism is no different from Islamic extremism. The religion used is merely a cultural vehicle used to push a harsh, authoritarian political agenda, which always dismisses or condemns education, art, and science, and subjugates or oppresses women, gays, and other vulnerable groups.   Inflicting a particular religious dogma on the population is intended to keep the people in line and suppress questioning and dissent.

Nothing good has ever resulted from the mixing of religion and politics. It has led to more wars, suffering and cruelty than anything else.
The separation of church and state does not seek to eliminate religion from people’s lives: it allows people the right to worship as they choose, and it prevents the inevitable political tyranny that results when one set of beliefs is forced on the people and informs the country’s constitution and laws, as it does in Muslim majority countries that practice Sharia Law and may do here in America if dominionists have their way and rewrite the constitution to suit their set of religious beliefs.

While reading this article, imagine replacing the words Islamism and Islamic extremism with far right Christian extremism or dominionism/reconstructionism and the article would be no less true.  The agenda, goals and methods are exactly the same.   Both believe that oppression and domination over others is God’s/Allah’s will  and that certain individuals have been chosen by God/Allah to carry out his will by any means necessary.  Both subscribe to a heirarchical, patriarchal view of humanity, in which certain men chosen by God must be obeyed without question.

There is no compromise or reasoning with extremists.  They are always right, because God/Allah has told them so.  If you disagree, you will be demonized as rebellious to God or an infidel.

disorderedworld

Although several Muslim countries are democracies – including most notably Indonesia, the world’s largest Muslim majority nation – arguments about the incompatibility of Islam and democracy continue. On the one hand, research reveals a positive correlation between the proportion of a country’s population that is Muslim and its propensity toward authoritarianism. On the other hand, analysis of the World Values Survey, find that “surprisingly similar attitudes toward democracy are found in the West and the Islamic world.” While debates about the compatibility of Islam and democracy in general continue, the specific political ideology of islamism is an extreme, fundamentalist, political ideology that is vehemently opposed to the basic tenets of democracy.  

View original post 864 more words