The Lessons of History

FOR GOODNESS SAKE, READ HISTORY (Part One)

Ragtag Daily Prompt this morning: FURY
Word of the Day prompt: SUSTAIN
Fandango’s One-Word Challenge: EULOGY

Fury, Rage, and Free Press

Sue over at Crooked Creek has done reports on the new books about Donald Trump: TOO MUCH AND NEVER ENOUGH written by his niece, Mary L. Trump, and the other, RAGE, by Bob Woodward. I think Sue has done a great job of introducing the books lightly and fairly, without getting into personal opinions about the contents.

Stickler for accuracy that I am, I do object to the subtitle “…the world’s most dangerous man.” It sounds so sensational. No doubt he is one of the most powerful men on the planet but when I think of some dictators, money men, heads of organized crime and drug lords, I’m not so sure who should receive that title. But I’ll leave that where it is.

When I read these book reviews, my thought was: at least we live in a world of free speech. People have compared Donald Trump to Hitler, but there’s so much difference. Read about that history! If any writer wrote a news story calling Hitler a megalomaniac or tried to publish a book about Adolf Hitler, the most dangerous man on the planet (which he was, in his day) the journalist or author would have disappeared in the night and never been heard from again.

I have a book here written by a woman who was a girl in Nazi Germany. Her father, a loyal army officer who had serious misgivings about the whole regime, quietly got involved in a “Schindler’s List” type arrangement with a factory owner. When this was discovered he was arrested and secretly executed. Trump may not respond well to criticism but I’m not hearing anything about vocal Democrats being rounded up and quietly disposed of.

“The Worst Ever” Usually Means “I Haven’t Heard of Anything Else”

We live in a world of sensational superlatives. The media delights in them. “The worst pandemic in history”; “the biggest, the worse, the most devastating storm” ever. Climatic conditions like fires, droughts, hurricanes, are “the most calamitous,” “unsurvivable” and “portents of much worse to come.” Political races may be called “the most contentious” or “the most fateful decision ever.”

It’s rather thrilling to believe we actually live in an era of the worst ever. These days we seem to be surrounded by news and Facebook and Twitter working to sustain panic and fury. Many people are chanting some eulogy for the West — or America. I can’t predict whether things will get worse or better, but I do believe it would be great if more people were studying history.

Speaking of which, I’ve just started reading PROHIBITION: Thirteen Years that Changed America, by Edward Behr. Fascinating era!

Image by MabelAmber — Pixabay

The SQUISH Heard Round the World

“Online Outrage”

That’s the phrase that jumped out at me as I read an article online this morning. An American couple made a family decision, posted the fact on social media, and now face a storm of outrage from all over the world.
Then I read something else online and my muse immediately started to spin and weave the two stories together, finally giving me the odd title for this post.

Fellow blogger Judy-Dykstra Brown posted this morning about the hornworms that live on her Virginia creeper vine, hornworms being the larva of the hummingbird moth. We had a hummingbird moth visit our flowers one summer and I thought it was cute. Judy decided to move them elsewhere rather than leaving them to eat her vine or squishing them. I trust she won’t get a lot of online outrage from objectors. People’s reactions are unpredictable.

I Decide to SQUISH

Let’s say I decide to plant a garden and post the story of my efforts, essentially inviting the whole world to oversee my my project. Some people think I should put my garden in the east corner of my yard, near the trees to gain the benefit of their shade; some think I should put it in the other corner where there are no trees to rob the plants of moisture.

People in Timbuktu may have their ideas about what kind of fertilizer I should use. Gnu dung works best, or maybe antelope. People in Australia think I should lay in pipes for irrigation while Ontario gardeners tell me I should put in lots of drainage because in Ontario it rains so much a garden would be flooded unless it’s well drained. (Well, not quite, but you get my point. This isn’t Timbuktu, Australia or Ontario.)

So I grow my garden, posting online pictures of the resulting lush veggies. One day I find this caterpillar and do a video of it climbing on my pepper plant. Then I SQUISH it. Will I be subjected to online outrage by environmentalists? Will save-the-planet types vilify me on Facebook? Prairie bloggers may give me the thumbs-up and say, “Good for you. I hate those things!”

Because I’ve involved them, people in far-flung lands who know zilch about prairie pests or our ecology will still feel they have an investment in my decision. My followers in Timbuktu, Ontario, Brazil and Australia may denounce me online because I squished a worm. After all, am I not guilty of decimating the number of creatures on the planet and depriving some bird of its rightful diet? Facebook pages may decry my foolish decision.

Yes, this is a silly comparison, but when we invite people all over the globe to peek into our lives, we face consequences. People all over the world have two things in common: they have opinions and they like to give advice. It’s universal.

Social Media as International Opinion Poll

When we put our lives “out there” on television, Facebook, You-tube, and invite the whole world interact, it’s like inviting the global community to be our parents and older siblings. If they spend time following us, they will want to help us along. If we have difficult decisions to make, some of our followers will understand and support our choice, while others will disapprove – maybe even be insulted that we didn’t ask their advice. Get enough people involved and you may get a storm of online outrage.

The article I read tells how, through a foreign adoption agency, a couple adopted a toddler. Three years later, after dealing with various health and behavioral issues that have overwhelmed them and their other children, they’ve made the painful decision to surrender their child over to foster care. And a lot of readers think that’s terrible. “If it were me, I would never do that.”

While this isn’t an unheard of situation and other adoptive parents have faced the same dilemma – I heard of one case here in our province where the baby’s health issues proved more than the new parents could cope with – since this couple put their whole story on YouTube, they now have thousands of people criticizing their motives and their decision.

But my heart does go out to the couple, especially when I read that they’ve actually received death threats, even vicious threats to harm their other children, because of this decision. Seeing that, I had to shake my head. How can people get so involved in the life of complete strangers that they’ll go so far as the threaten the lives of people they’ve never met?

Peace of Mind Versus Media-Generated Outrage

Years back when Nicholas Sarkozy, Prime Minister of France, married Carla Bruni, an Italian singer and former supermodel, my French penpal wrote, “I hate him. I hate both of them.” I asked her, “Have you ever met them? “No, but I hate them.” Her feelings were 100% fueled by the media.

I understand how the media works and why. Competing with an audience steep in television dramas, they need sensational news. They need to – and want to – provoke strong emotions. Getting people emotionally involved in a story is what sells news and channels public opinion in the direction they want it to go. From what I can tell, the emotion the media does best is outrage. Journalists and reporters have proven very able to orchestrate news that will stir up public outrage.

But if I allow the media – or anyone else — to influence me to hate someone, I’d better not criticize the Germans who allowed Hitler to inflame them against the Jews. We all hate the havoc this one man wreaked, but cool common sense has to guide our feelings and actions, or we’ll be ripe for another type of Hitler to come along and use our hatred as his tool.

For myself, I don’t want to hate anybody. Not Trump…or Trudeau…or whoever. I may guess, but I can’t possibly know how they think, feel, react, or what their motives are. Also my own peace of mind is precious to me. Hate and outrage are draining. I like to know what’s going on in the world, but refuse to let my peace be shattered and emotions shredded by the actions of politicians. I may be concerned about different things our Prime Minister says and does, but I don’t hate him.

I’m saddened that a couple with initial good intentions have had to go through this devastating experience, but I can offer neither support nor censure, seeing I haven’t walked a mile in their shoes.

Books: DOGTRIPPING

Good morning everyone. The Ragtag Daily Prompt this morning CALM — which is the weather we’re having this morning. The calm before the snow we’re supposed to get this afternoon.

The Word of the Day prompt is QUEST — which is what I’ve been on.

You see, I’d just written a book review on Amazon and was ready to do the concluding sentence and an edit, but wondered if the author’s name ended with a T or a D. Well, somehow in my “quick-click-to-check” quest, I lost my multi-paragraph review, crafted so painstakingly, etc. 😦

ARRGH! Not so calmly, I searched through my browsing HISTORY, but my words had truly disappeared. So now that I’ve just spent an hour reviewing a book on Amazon, I’m going to post that, adding a few details, in lieu of writing anything else. I hope you all like dogs, as this couple had over thirty in their home at various times.

DOGTRIPPING by David Rosenfelt (with a T) is a long and winding account, but interesting overall.

As an animal lover, I enjoyed reading about this couple’s efforts to save dogs. Different times the writer touches on the sad fact that there are so many more dogs waiting for homes than people to adopt them; so many of these are finally put down. The same couple be said of cats. The Rosenfelts were especially interested in golden retrievers, but took in dogs of mixed breeds as well, usually animals in need of special care, and gave them a happy ending.

Though the book is about the move to Maine, the writer spends a lot of time on the buildup, hopping back and forth between arranging their move and describing the dogs they’ve rescue, their home setup, the people and rescue groups he’s met along the way, the special folks volunteering to make the trip with them. It gets long but I found it all interesting, though not exactly “intriguing” or “compelling.”

I commend him for the way he appreciates and praises his wife, Debbie, who can’t resist bringing home yet another unwanted dog — or two or three — if she ever visits a shelter. For the most part his self-depreciating humor and metaphors are amusing but I feel his wise-cracks about his helplessness on the journey are overdone; it sounds like everyone else worked and he staggered along behind — likely not true.

I’m glad the actual move came off so smoothly, without the disasters he was anticipating. I wish them and their pets an long and happy life in their new home, but their move to ME will bring tears to animal shelter workers in CA. Shelter workers in that area undoubtedly had the Rosenfelts’ phone number on their speed dials. 😉

Sunday Prompt

Good morning everyone — or at least it will be when you read this, as I’m scheduling it for 8am. I want to set this up tonight because I’m not certain we’ll have an internet connection in the morning.

In reality it’s just past midnight here and I’m up late having a hot drink, watching the snow blow over the garage roof, hearing our windows and the internet dish on the roof rattling. Yes, our spring-like weather from this afternoon has vanished and March is coming in with a lion-like howling blizzard here.

The Ragtag Daily Prompt for March 1st is STENTORIAN. I’ve chosen this word and hope bloggers will respond favorably to it. Here’s my tale, which I’ve written as a response to this prompt.

Takes All Kinds to Make a World

Though they were only thirteen months apart in age and could easily pass for twins, Royal and his brother Abner were two completely different natures. Folks who knew the family claimed that when the boys were growing up, young Roy, as everyone called him, talked and his younger brother listened. And when Roy was done voicing his opinion, Ab would put in a few sensible words at the end.

Roy’s stentorian voice is the talk of the town. He only has one volume, folks say, and that’s the loudest. Folks say when the family comes to town they can often hear Roy a mile away, giving orders to his youngsters. And if one of them misbehaves the whole town knows it. And you sure don’t want to be in the same room as him when he gets to discussing politics!

Livery stable owner Frank Tompkins says his horses get so nervous they started kicking in their stalls whenever they hear Roy’s angry tones roll across town. That might be an exaggeration, but Widow Smith maintains that he made Duke, her old horse, bolt one day. She claims she was driving by Roy’s farm when Roy came out of the barn and started roaring at one of his boys for some misdeed. Old Duke jerked his head back and ran like the wolves were after it. She barely managed to get him slowed down again. It’s a wonder she didn’t have a wreck!

Pete Brown said he sure hoped Roy never came around his barn at milking time. “My cows won’t let down their milk if they hear that trumpet of his.” Someone wondered how Roy got any milk from his own cows and another farmer explained that Roy left the milking to his wife and girls. They were all good with the dairy. “He wants his cream check, so he stays away from the barn when the women are milking.”

Opposites attract, you know, and Mrs Royal is a quiet, shy woman. Folks who get to know her say she’s rather hard of hearing. Maybe that helps. We wonder, though, if listening to him has made her deaf.

Mrs Abner, on the other hand, is never reluctant to speak her mind. Sometimes she seems a little impatient to have Ab hurry up and say his piece, but you can’t rush him. If you take the time to sit and wait while he mulls the matter over, he will come out with some pretty wise words.

“Takes all kinds to make a world,” they say. You just don’t think that two boys so opposite could come out of one family.

Whatnot Wednesday

Fellow blogger Biff has done another Whatnot Wednesday and invites other bloggers to respond by likewise posting a bit of misc trivia. Here’s my contribution. (To further reinforce my caution in this morning’s post about name-calling.)

A Belisha beacon, consists of a lamp with an amber globe sitting atop a tall black and white pole, marked pedestrian crossings in the United Kingdom and other countries historically influenced by Britain. The flashing light warns motorists to watch for pedestrians crossing.

It was named after Leslie Hore-Belisha, the Minister of Transport who in 1934 added beacons to pedestrian crossings. The first one became operational on July 4, 1935. These crossings were later painted in black and white stripes, and have become known as “zebra crossings.” Since then, Belisha beacons have been replaced by WALK signals for pedestrians.

Not long after Belisha beacons were set up in London the King and his Queen were enjoying a pleasant drive through the city in the royal limousine. They passed an intersection where one of these lights had been installed.

“Pull over,” King Edward instructed their chauffeur. “I want to test one of these crossings and see how well they actually work,” he told the Queen.

The chauffeur parked the car a short way down the street and the King got out. He walked back up the street to the crossing and about five minutes later he returned. As he climbed back into the car he was chuckling.

The Queen looked at him curiously and asked, “What’s so amusing?”

He grinned at her. “One of my loyal subjects just called me a doddering old fool.”

OFF WITH HIS HEAD!
the red queen

flexes her guillotine
toady or kneel

Appreciating the Good Things

Happy Thanksgiving to all our American neighbours!

Family
Gordon Johnson – Pixabay

I hope you’re all having a great day with family and friends, giving thanks for all the wonderful people and blessings in your lives today. Granted, there’s always something that could be better, but a whole lot of people in the world would gladly trade places with us here in North America. Which reminds me…

A Great Thanksgiving Day Read

Awhile back I read a really inspiring book and this is the perfect day to tell you about it. Stories to Remember is written by Dr Pedro Garcia, an educator who immigrated to the USA from Castro’s Cuba while still in his teens. He and his brother came first and their parents were able to join them later. They’ve made successful lives in the States and Dr Gracia really appreciates all the freedoms he’s enjoyed in his adopted homeland.

You could say he doesn’t see the trees for the forest. Rather than elaborating on all the malfeasance of current politicians, he focuses on the vast forest of freedom and opportunity that exists in the USA.

Some of his stories are from a Christian perspective; the majority are his personal experiences. He writes of coming to the American Midwest and making the country his home, also about his work as an educator in various cities. All the way through he points to the blessings and successes he’s enjoyed through the years. Delightfully upbeat, well worth reading.


Those of you who subscribe to Kindle Unlimited can read it for free.