October 2007

Apocalyptic Overload

The California fires put me over the top.  If Al Quaeda hit America now, we’d go into a collective funk.  It’s a “at our wits end” sort of malaise.  If you’ve half a brain, you’re out-of-sorts about how we could’ve arrived here.  How could we be living the absolute highest on the hog kind of lives (relatively & literally speaking) yet feel such dis ease?

The Fornia-Fires is the dot in the exclamation point. It’s the glaciers melting.  It’s the greening of Greenland.  It’s a known future of dead polar bears and trillions in debt for a horrible, crazy war.  It’s dead sons for no reasons.  It’s dead sons for bad decisions.

It’s if America does everything right environmentally, it’s totally negated by just a few dozen of the new coal-fired, pollutant sputing power plants (out of the hundreds) China’s bringing on line.  Bees are dying.

It’s shabby television.  It’s congressmen foot-tapping on our futures with bloated, unbalanced budgets.  It’s the tiresome Religious Right insisting that America is about truth, not freedom.  It’s about putting God first, but Mother Earth could stand a little reverence and adulation.

Sure, go ahead, respect Dad, but love your Mother, too.  If metaphors are what-cha need.

It’s a goofy world that has us spending billions on security yet where’s our sense of security.  It’s Blackwater.  What is that?  Blackwater! America awards its security to hell’s agent on earth? Why not Deathwatch, Inc.?

It’s mindless sabre-rattling, the relentless drum beat for more mayhem, it’s a cowed media, it’s an oblivious public that thinks history doesn’t happen to them. It’s our political leadership that isn’t rising to the times. Where’s our Roosevelt?

It’s, why can’t we get off this race thing?  Why is any American ever hanging ropes (nooses) for any of us?  Who the hell cares what someone’s skin color is, her sexual preferences, whether they’ve been saved or not or if they want or don’t want to be married?  My gawd, isn’t your own personal life so “rich and full” that humbleness alone would keep you from every being prescriptive about such matters?  But the truth, Chris, the truth!

Yea, keep your truth to yourself.  Try that on for a while.

It’s Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity and Bill O’Reilly pouring the craziest nonsense imaginable into maybe 25% of America’s noggins. Lest you forget, these men are entertainers first. These men juggle the “truth” for amusement at great personal profit.  And, America suffers.

It’s knowing. We’re the first generation of human beings to know exactly how lethal we are to the planet. Mother Dearest.  Let alone to one another.  There is so much sadness associated, for me, with that awareness.

It’s that Connecticut doctor’s family, the mother and two daughters who were stalked, raped and lit on fire in their own home while the good farther was bound and gagged in the kitchen.  I saw pictures of these women.  They had such light in their faces, such happiness and joy that you wonder, “How could this occur!  What is the point of that?”

Lit on fire.  Our children. Our lives.  Our homes. Our states.  Our world is on fire. But mostly it’s that damn war of the President’s.  It colors everything.  2.4 trillion dollars of projected debt.  Bush took America to war (to fight this generation’s Nazis) and put it on the card.  Uh, waiter, put this on my grandchild’s back. No? Oh, yes, of course, around their necks.

My part of the debt is $8k.  So is yours on a per capita basis. It’s a staggering amount of money.  It could have solved America’s homeless problem. Funded Medicare. You pick a program.  Fixed our infrastructure.  Nearly all of it.

How many dead now?  Closing in on 4,000.  And, the actual wounded?  If the debt is staggering, the loss of body parts (and minds and spirits) is beyond tragic, made more so by the how (deceit) and why (ignorance and hubris) we came to be in Iraq.

Of tainted courts and tainted products. Of lost jobs and homeless souls. Of drying rivers and burning forests. Of decimated cities and impoverished ghettos. Of corrupting lobbyists and corrupted congressman.  Of scapegoated aliens.  And on, and on and on.

Of an American future of unrelenting Neo-Con terror and failing infrastructure. Of fear. Of a Balkanized, South Africanized America where them that gots, get. Of mediocre leadership and spineless opposition.

Today, this moment I’ve got the Apocalyptic Overload Blues.  The Americanized edition.

But you can dance to that, too.  Might as well.

Yet, what did Emily D. say, “Hope” is the thing with feathers . . . and never stops — at all —


Reach Jepson at:Jepson@MEDIAmerica.US


For America’s Daughters

Social science affirms that a woman’s place in society marks the level of civilization.
                                                                                                  Elizabeth Cady Stanton

I still don’t completely understand why the Equal Rights Amendment was never made into law. It’s baffling to me. Why would the land of the free say to its women, “Yea, but . . .”

Sure you’re equal to men but gosh, if we make it the law of the land, my gawd, you women will use men’s toilets. You remember that one don’t you, uni-toilets and all that that implies? For you youngsters out there, that was one of the arguments against passing the ERA (Equal Rights Amendment). Shared toilet facilities. Smells doesn’t it?

Other arguments against supporting the ERA included military service, reproductive rights and workplace hiring. The issue made prominent a particularly repulsive woman by the name of Phyllis Schlafly. If you didn’t live through those times (the 1970s), you have no idea how this woman turned stomachs. She still does. I do not understand why Americans don’t universally support equality of opportunity for women. Totally inexplicable. Good for the gander, good for the goose stuff. Don’t-cha see! Don’t-cha know!

Ironic to me, Ms. Schlafly lived the “feminist” dream of the independent life yet somehow she found the Equal Rights Amendment troubling. Somehow incorporating equality of the sexes into law was unnecessary for her. As if history is not an illuminating record of the inexorable subjugation of women. “Oh, that, but if women are treated equally, my gawd, the next thing you know, they’ll want reproductive control of their own bodies. And, toilets!  We’ll have to share toilets!!”

Too funny, except it’s not. And now we have Hillary Clinton running for the presidency.

America’s Righteous Right cannot stand Hillary Clinton. It is so acerbic their distaste for the woman, yet I am hard-put to understand why. I make a point of asking nearly everyone I encounter, “Who’ya liking for president?” I don’t typically hang with the brain dead, oh, excuse me, conservative Republicans, so I’m not getting their pious views. I have to rely on political polls to determine whom Republicans prefer. But they are already running against Hillary, all the Republican candidates.

In the best Paul Revere tradition, Republicans are uniformly bleating, “A woman is coming! A woman is coming!”

My gawd, Hillary proposed healthcare reform in the 1990s! That’s one. She once said she wasn’t going to stay home and bake cookies!! (Much Republican hand wringing, gnashing of teeth and pulling of hair over that one.) That’s two. And she didn’t leave Bill when he was a particularly bad boy. That’s three!

And, you’re out. Oh, and I suppose Hillary is scorned because she has the temerity to think that being free in American means a woman actually controlling her own body. Such cheek. Such gall. She’s some nerve, thinking women are equal. Where does she get off thinking women can think for themselves? Doesn’t she know her place?

Interesting to me are the polls showing black women supporting Hillary over Obama. This illustrates, to me, black women find their sex more limiting than their skin color. (That and a number think Obama will be assassinated if nominated. How sad a commentary on America is that?)

My objection to Hillary is over her vote giving our “Unelected Child” carte blanche to invade Iraq. Bad, bad, bad decision! She did it because she wanted to be elected President and felt she had to appear “tough.” She got it wrong. Tough is fine, smart (wise) is better.

Democrat objections to Hillary (not mine) are that she appears too controlled, too on-script, too calculating. That she wants the presidency so much, she’ll sublimate her “true” self in order to achieve it. That her approach is one of “triangulation” and somehow that is bad. I’ve never understood how figuring things out and working the odds to your advantage is inherently wrong. Yes, principles matter. You always start from “the” ideal.

What I want for my daughter, for all daughters is a safe world where women are free to achieve all their human potential. Period. Unequivocally.

To the degree that electing a woman to the highest office in the world, arguably the most powerful office in history, if electing Hillary Clinton as President of the United States cements/confirms America’s commitment of equality to its daughters, I unabashedly shout, “You go, Girl!”

Reach Jepson at: Jepson@MEDIAmerica.US


Complicit In Violence

I asked a Burmese why women, after centuries of following their men, now walk ahead?  He said there were many unexploded land mines since the war.  Robert Mueller

When I look upon the world, at the near universal practice of violence against women, I wonder to myself, “Am I capable of violence against women?”

Is it merely one of those, “There but for the grace of God, go I.”   Under what circumstances would, could Chris Jepson participate in violence against mothers and daughters and sisters?  It appears to be such a common phenomena (historically and currently) that it begs the question, “Why?”

Why do Congolese men today systematically rape entire villages of females from grandmothers to infants?  Rape them so brutally, their insides literally fall out.  To rape three year old infants, leaving their internal organs ravaged, punctured and if they live, forced to use colonoscopy bags their remaining days.  Destroyed physically.  And, psychologically mutilated.  Why?

Why would whole religions evolve that consider women as property or secondary or little more than breeding stock?  Oh, you say, Islam is bad.  Actually, I was referring to Christianity.  What did the West’s God proclaim?  “To the woman He said, “I will greatly multiply your pain in child bearing; in pain you shall bring forth your children yet your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you.”  (Genesis 3:16) And that’s just in the beginning.  The Bible and Koran are rife with such misogynistic revulsion.

What kind of craziness is that?  If God willingly inflicts pain and hardship on women, why not men?

Where does the license come from that says we can do “things” to women that, if regularly done to men, would have men gun shopping tomorrow?

Oh, you say, a society doesn’t oppress and harm women, it is individuals.  Wrong!  Wrong!  Wrong!

And nowhere does it manifest it self more plainly than abortion laws.  A just released global study on abortion found that abortion rates are similar in countries where it is legal and in countries where it is not.  The study suggests that outlawing abortion does little to deter women from seeking the procedure.

Furthermore, abortion is safe where it is legal and dangerous where it is outlawed.  It is estimated that 67,000 women worldwide die yearly from complications associated with abortions, most from nations where abortion is illegal.

We think it is okay to institutionalize repressive laws against women (here and around the world) because “we” know best what is right for women.  As my dad often said, “Who died and made you Pope?”   Ha.  That dad.

Why don’t we pass laws limiting the right of men to vote?  What?  Place restrictions on men because of their sex?   You’d restrict something as fundamental as a man’s right to vote?

Well, put your thinking caps on folks and imagine telling a woman she really doesn’t control her own body.  Wrap your minds around that for second.  For thirty or so years, every woman’s uterus will become state property.

Men, ask your self this.  Which would you sooner give up, your right to vote or your testicles?  Uh, uh, uh.

But that is what we’d require of America’s women if abortion were ever again outlawed.  Sorry girl, you were born a woman and, alas, you know what that means—ward of the state.  It’s for your own good.  Don’t-cha know.

Yet, even if that would occur, abortion rates would remain constant and women would die.

Thus, institutionalizing violence against women.

In 1968, I was sitting in my college student union playing bridge.  My girlfriend came in and asked a favor.  Would I go with her and two other women to a small Missouri town and verbally confront a doctor who had illegally performed an abortion on one of her friends. And, now he refused to see her.  She’d been heavily bleeding for two days.  I said, “What?”

Believe me when I tell you, I was just getting this “sex” thing down and now I was being asked to involve myself in a messy outcome, none of it of my own making.  “Do what,” I asked?

So, properly tutored, I identified myself to the doctor as a concerned brother (laughable in light of the circumstances) and implied this could have unfortunate outcomes for all involved. It worked.  Last thing this scuz ball wanted was any light shined on him.  Think: overturned rock and cockroach.

History has not been fair to women, all things considered.  Men have brutally oppressed them (In the beginning . . .) and the last thing we need is a return, in democratic America, to a day when violence against women is again institutionalized.

To answer my earlier question, could I behave in such ways?  If my country oppresses women, am I not complicit?

To ensure freedom for women, Support Planned Parenthood of Central Florida at 407.246.1788.

Reach Jepson at: Jepson@MEDIAmerica.US


Dimmed Down!

On divining our future.  Haruspicy is this week’s word, kids. I’m not a superstitious kind of guy, unless, of course, my superstitions conform to my preconceived notions. Ha!  Ain’t that true of all of us, though?

I was reading Sunday’s New York Time’s review of Arthur Schlesinger Jr’s new, posthumously published, book titled, “Journals: 1952-2000.”  Reviewer Maureen Dowd pulled out the following quote by Schlesinger on Jimmy Carter.  Schlesinger, “could not bring himself to vote for a man who believes that Adam and Eve once existed and that Eve was literally made out of Adam’s rib.”   That’s Jimmy Carter.

I genuinely like and admire Carter.  I actually voted, however, for Ford (in 1976) because I didn’t want what I thought, at the time, was a “Bible Thumper” sitting in the Oval Office.  “Can we all pray now,” if’n you know what I mean.  But Carter didn’t turnout like that.  Blessedly so?  Hmmm?

All things being equal (which they seldom are) I’ll vote for the intelligence, resolve and principle’s candidate over the intelligence, resolve, principle’s and “God is my co-pilot” candidate.

I want my candidates more grounded, so to speak.  More concerned with this world than the “next.”  More supportive of diversity of approach than to uniformity (conformity) of thought. More scientific and rational in thought.  More interested in saving America than in saving souls.  Or, in ever combining the two.

Combine religion with national purpose and historically, you end with ill-begotten Crusades, tragedy and sorrow and exactly what we have in Iraq.  Do we praise the Lord now, President Bush?

Mythologist Joseph Campbell summed-up well our challenge, “Participate joyfully in the sorrows of the world.”

And is there anything more sorrowful at the moment than the George Bush administration?  I know this annoys the Conservative faithful no end but George Bush has been the most sorrowful thing to hit America since the Second World War.

This is the deal I have with my country. This is my take on what it means to be an American.

And, this is acknowledging a number of facts, too.  Let’s review a few.  The conquest of the New World by 15th century Europe resulted in the total annihilation of native populations.  For all intents and purposes.

American slavery resulted in something as horrible as the German Holocaust.  In my opinion. The subsequent 100 years after Lincoln’s emancipation of the slaves were an abomination, as well.

A vast number of “smaller injustices” could also be chronicled.  Aside: I frequently benchmark human behavior the following way, that is, how bad was (is) it?  And, at the extreme of human abomination (behavior) is having been a guard at Auschwitz.  Yes, I am a relativist.  And, I practice situational ethics.  Bad Chrissy!

Again, recognizing and acknowledging American history, our ancestors (as well as, us, today) have participated in abominable behavior that reflects poorly on us as a nation and as an ideal.

But!!!!!  We have an ideal that is a watershed moment in human history.  America, as an expressed experiment (ideal), is pledged (in my opinion) to keep on, keeping on!  Sure, we blow it.  We wrongly invade countries with horrible repercussions.  We humiliate and harm our own people.  We forsake our helpless.  America is more than shopping excursions and brand labels.

America is about freedom, not about truth.  That is our ideal.  That is America.  We have the freedom to get it right, to change, to renew, to say, “Damn, were we (as a people) ever dumb! Wrong!”  To Jim Crow our black citizens.  To relegate (return) Europe’s Jews to Hitler’s death camps because we had enough Jews in America.

To war for war’s sake.  That’s George Bush’s Iraq war.  It is only understood in that context.  It is a war for war’s sake.

And shame on us for having participated. Shame.

Why do I love America?  Freedom!  What does it mean to be an American?  Freedom!  It means we have the freedom to change what ails us as a nation.  Have we been bad? Been had? Yes. Have we been stupid?  Yes. Colossally so!  Can we be better?  YES!

Compared to the historical experience of other nations, then and now, America remains a bright beacon to the planet.  We’ve been dimmed, however.  (By the dim.  Ha!). Dimmed down!!  Not to be confused with Dumbed Down!  Hmmm?  Maybe they are interchangeable.

Dimmed & Dumb!”  You’ve lived it!  Now see it!  See the upcoming movie of the tragic and farcical George Bush Administration.  See Alfred E. Newman’s unforgettable  “rendition” of the President!   See George stirringly evoke God for his Crusade.  See God on vacation (in bucolic Ursa Minor Dwarf).

Aside: That’s my theory on what must have happened during the Holocaust.  One Manhattan too many.  Zzzzzzzz.

The Bush administration is enough to get you humbly, down on your knees, praying for deliverance.  From.

Jimmy, I’ll take your prayers.


Reach Jepson at: Jepson@MEDIAmerica.US


Sister Sublime

For there is no friend like a sister.

                                         Christina Rossetti

I was nearly bigger than my youngest sister Sandra the moment I was born. And she was four years older!  I have a photo of the two of us with me sitting on her lap.  She’s beaming while hugging me.  As if saying, “Look what Mother gave me!”  I’m maybe a year old.  It’s comical.  I’m obviously the baby but my legs and torso appear so much larger than hers.  She seems dwarfed.  But we’re smiling. Always smiling.

I’ve led a “blessed” life.  And, my sister is a big part of that good fortune. I was actually provided two phenomenal sisters.  My oldest sister Susan was big part of my life, too.  She died a decade ago at the age of 54 of aggressive brain cancer.  Such sorrow is life.

I’m thinking of having a life-size cardboard blow-up made of her.  Every time family gathers I’ll include Susan in the mix and she’ll once again light up my photos with her effervescence.  Susan loved a good party.

Whenever I am with Sandra, we say, “We wish Toody were here.”  She is actually.  I can vividly reconstruct specific times with both sisters.  In 1955 my father eagerly gave up his law practice to become a mink rancher.  He moved his family from the city to the country and, for all intents and purposes, my two older sisters became my faithful comrades in adventure.  It was a different time.  Children were expected to entertain themselves and, boy, did we!

For miles in any direction, we’d set off on foot (eventually horse), exploring rivers and streams and abandoned Depression-day farmhouses and cemeteries.  For several years we were our own best company.  We’d be outside in the dead of winter, in 20 degree below zero temperatures just fiddling, fooling around on frozen creeks. For hours!  We’d dig retreats out of the huge banks of drifted snow to escape the bitter winds.  It was a marvelous time.

Many of my memories revolve around playing cards. By the time I was age six, I could hold my own in Hearts, which was our game of preference.  Four players is the ideal but three is all that is necessary. Everyone had to be getting along.  Anyone feeling particularly put upon could “nix” playing cards.  “C’mon, play some cards!”  It kept the alliances from becoming too set.  Sisters against the brother.  Youngest against the oldest.  Oldest and youngest (Susan & me) against the “most precious”  (Sandra).

Our parents were so involved with their lives and their marriage that we children were wisely left to our own devices in sorting out sibling injustice.

A great example of justice was the time I cunningly held Sandra’s horse in the back of the barn. She had to wade through a barnyard of liquidy cow manure, a foot deep, to fetch her horse.  She wailed on me.  To no avail.  By the time I was seven, any physical advantage she might have had was long gone. I laughed.

Sandra was more devious than I, however. She was the clever one.  The next day she asked if I wanted to see something really, really neat?  “Oh, you bet!”  I couldn’t wait.

She took me to a tree that had a bird nest in it.  She told me to reach up and put my hand in it.  She kept insisting I keep it there a long, long time.  When I eventually looked at my hand, it was covered with black, creepy-crawly licey-like bugs that were scooting up my wrist, sucking my blood.  I cried.  She laughed.

I never struck my sister.  I actually pushed her once.  Only once.  A few years off the farm, back in the city, I was teasing one of our cats and Sandra “womped” on me for doing it.  Right as I pushed her, my father walked through the door.  It became very clear, very fast that I was to never, ever again be even slightly aggressive with my sister.  Dad had a real way with words.  He was right.

Sister Sandra was the first to welcome me into my teen years proclaiming a great six years ahead for me when I turned 13. And when I turned 16 she announced in the kitchen to everyone that I was, “Sweet 16 and never been kissed.”  Ha! Ha! And true.

I remember having to hang around on the front porch as some poor slob of a suitor (unsuitable to Sandra, however) came a courting, trying to woo her.  She begged me to be there for her.  I felt for the guy. It was awkward but I did it.

Decades later my best friend Ron Jones said to me, “Your sister was hotter than hot.  She was the most beautiful thing going!”  I knew that, not the hotter than hot stuff but the most beautiful thing going, for sure.

And so she remains.  And, am I ever the lucky one!

It was soooo good to see you, Sister.

Reach Jepson at: Jepson@Mediamerica.US