Our times – and lives – have changed. Irrevocably.

I used to look forward to my morning coffee, scanning FB to catch up with my friends from around the world. For the most part, we’re a self-selecting group, with compatible, yet not always identical, views on the world’s issues. We generally laugh, cry and shout on the same cues. If I haven’t liked or responded to a particular item you’ve posted it’s most likely because I’ve already seen it or it’s been buried by FB’s algorithm du jour. And I’m pretty sure that those of other persuasions have similar habits. As the caffeine hits my system I’m ready to move out into the world with news media and Twitter. I recognize and account for the strengths and weaknesses of the news media. Twitter exposes me to other views from other places. I think I’ve become pretty good at separating the loBOTomized shares from posts created by real people.

For many of you, even though it’s been a few years, I still hear your actual voices in many of your posts – recognizing the inflection, irony and satire that are easily lost on those who don’t share our common experience. I also see the uninformed, many times brutal, over-reactions of ignorant ideologues, to say nothing of trolls. No matter how much it hurts, and how infuriating it may be, don’t lose these valuable tools of language. Biblical stories and similar creation tales are reinforced with parables and metaphors, but there are those who take them literally. “The ignorant you’ll always have with you.” Believe me, I share your sorrow and astonishment that people can be so cruel, so short-sighted and selfish, so easily led by demagogues. I hope and pray that respect and tolerance are only temporarily in abeyance and not permanently consigned to history.

We need a place to share our outrage, our disgust, our disappointment. We’ve got to get it off our chests and into a public forum where it’s less toxic to our stomach acid and mental health. I think of it sort of like diluting pollution. One drop of poison in a lake isn’t toxic, but when we all fill that lake to where it’s nothing but a toxic stew, what’s left to drink?

So let’s see a few more puppies, whiskers on kittens, vacation photos and family reunions. In years past I really didn’t give a damn what you had for lunch. Now I’d like to know if you’re maintaining some semblance of normality in these abnormal times.

It’s sad to think that it may take some effort, but let’s find ways to balance the toxins of life with the joy of life. Even though the Churchill meme is false [He never said “what are we fighting for” about the arts], let’s make sure the arts and other things that balance our brains are important parts of our daily lives.

So please, share the good as well as the bad, the joy as well as the sorrow. We need to be here for each other’s need, to help replace the pain with determination, the sorrow with resolution, the exhaustion with adrenaline. But we can only do this if we can see visible hope and joy in our everyday lives and future, not in some hazily remembered past that glows brighter and better as our memories get longer and hazier.

We need to prioritize, we need to praise, we need to support all those who are kind and gentle. We need to replace the rage that’s infected the world.

March, make the news, dominate the news cycle, but then turn the attention into action – in local and regional ballot boxes, in the media, in all of life. Marginalize that minority who’s out-organized us in the past. Changing their attitudes, if at all possible, is a lifetime job. Changing their role in our lives is possible, now. To quote Joan Halifax, a Buddhist teacher and anthropologist, “Trump, we will exhaust you, as we resist your so-called reality every day, until you are driven from office.

But if you ignore or surrender all that brings joy to your life, he wins. Make time for yourself. Make time for beauty and love. Make time for gentleness and caring.  I’m planning to continue sharing my writing and photographing the beauty of life that makes it worth living. If I give these up, he’ll have won. And I’ll continue to grieve for what’s being done to our world. I’ll cycle through the all but one of the stages of grief for the civility that’s left our civilization. I will not embrace the acceptance stage.

I will never, ever accept what these ignorant, greedy, self-centered power-hungry bastards are doing to the world we all share.

No. Fucking. Way.

“He who fights with monsters should be careful lest he become a monster.”

Friedrich Nietzsche