America

A Letter To Washington

On March 28th, 2019, Will Boswell, a sophomore at the University of Colorado-Colorado Springs, wrote a letter to the late American president, George Washington. His letter aimed to detail current changes in American society, as well as to compare these changes and their effects to Washington’s original vision for America. 

Dear President Washington, 

My name is Will Boswell, and I hope this letter reaches you well.

I’m an American citizen, and that should mean quite a lot to you. Let me add that it is 2019, and I am an American citizen. Despite previous attempts by the British to regain their colonies, we have prevailed, and oh, we’re friends with them now. We’re friends with most of the world, and as a matter of fact, we assist them with their many problems. Some have called us the ‘World Police,’ and the label’s not far off from the truth. That may surprise you, so I’ll throw in another surprise: the United States of America is a world ‘superpower,’ much like the British Empire.

You’re brimming with questions, I understand, but I think you should know I’m only nineteen. I know a bit about some things, but on others, I know too little. America isn’t as open to public knowledge as it used to be; we’ve become more secretive in our practices. In a way, it’s both necessary and frightening. What many see as governmental overreach is interpreted by others as necessary to preserving our liberties. Put simply, this is no small country, as you originally created it; in fact, as expressed before, it is a large superpower, this status coming with numerous foundational changes.

One of the largest changes, to you, may be that in 2008, we elected our first black president, Barack Obama, signaling an incredible alteration of the American perception toward minority citizens. Diversity has come a long way in our country—and what comes to mind are such watershed moments as the 1917 Women’s Suffrage Movement and the abolition of slavery in 1865. Our fourteenth president, Abraham Lincoln, abolished it by way of the Constitution, and this, among other reasons, caused his assassination. It was an unfortunate end to a true American patriot, a man I’m sure you would have greatly respected.

There’s too much to explain in so short a time, so I’ll get to my main points. Mr. President, America has changed. You can interpret that however you want to, and I hope you’ll understand my saying on some days that I feel as if no one listened to you. Due to your slave-holding past, many  American citizens elect to listen to neither you nor your compatriots. You are all a part of a racist past, and while I acknowledge it as wrong, I also believe it’s important to separate the different qualities of a person before judging them according to the values of the time. I mean no disrespect to you, sir, grateful for what you did for this country, but our country’s values, along with our perception of historical figures, have changed—and they have changed for the better.

Aside from this small unification, our country is more divided than ever before. Politics has grown even more distasteful, neither side particularly appealing to the American public. Domestic terrorists have brought the battlefield to our schools and churches, concerts and clubs, gunning down innocent civilians for reasons we can hardly comprehend. As I write this, another shooting has occurred in which four people have been shot, one of them dead, at a synagogue of all places. The American public itself fights over the pettiest issues and at times, it’s as though we can’t compromise on any one thing.

This must hurt you to hear these things, but as you well know, no nation is without its battles. Of these problems, some may become trivial in the future, and some may linger on, challenging new generations to rediscover the national principles forgotten by previous ones. I feel that’s the story of America: a nation where values are constantly taken up and put down, new ones intervening on behalf of the ever-insistent vox populi striving after the solutions and meanings that, though not always the best, are the right ones for the time. It is that America you fought for, and it is that America we will continue to fight for, so long as we have a reason to.

 The United States has come a long way in over two hundred years. I live in the twenty-first century, and I am a college student at the University of Colorado-Colorado Springs. I’ve witnessed hundreds of changes in my short lifetime, looking to create a few myself, and more are taking place minute by minute. I am astounded at the amount of ways society shifts, and people surprise. 

With our Founding Fathers, a nation awoke, and without them, a nation perseveres. It is not for me to say where our focus will shift next, but I can hope it is in a good direction. We can survive anything that is thrown at us, rest assured of that.

May you rest in peace.

Think daily,

A Southpaw

ID 11695975 © Christian De Grandmaison | Dreamstime.com

An Antidote For Myopia

From time to time, I wonder why I see so many flags flying in the streets. Neighborhoods, institutions, shopping malls; all of them have at least one flag flapping on a pole–if it’s a location for social gatherings, it’ll have another one placed distinctly on a wall, or on another, smaller pole close to the ceiling. People notice them in that familiar manner so especial to drive-by landmarks and panhandlers, considering them for a moment before proceeding on with life. It’s no biggie. It’s a flag. It’s the flag hoisted above them so repeatedly it has little significance other than as “The Object Particular To This Here Pole.” There’s no blame to pass around for the dismissive attitude, as it’s the expected attitude. To think otherwise is to refuse observational surrender, not letting the flag be a symbol unique in its repeated mental onslaught: a national reminder.

Forgetfulness always arrives unwanted, the houseguest to which somebody neglects to not pass an invitation. We wander through life, dreading it and preparing ourselves for its eventual appearance on our doorstep. A slovenly figure, it plops on the porch, trench hat muddied and strode upon by the more abusive few; it has nothing to tell us, as it turns out, and apologizes for any undue intrusion into our “well-off” [spoken in a low murmur] lives. It leaves, and despite the sun’s summer preference, it gives way to hard rain, and forgetfulness raises the face we never see and lets [he lets it] the drops stream across whatever features dare settle into that mystery. Every time, it breaks us–the pain, that is, so sorrowful, and we feel ashamed for not offering a drink, a place to rest. The figure is familiar; we do know him, after all, but for one reason or another, we cannot remember his name.

We succumb to absent-mindedness. Despite our safeguards, we never expect the unexpected: a paradox in itself, as if we daily battle the inevitable. Wandering leads to intrigue and nostalgia, yet it also falls prey to soreness and fatigue. Exhaustion besets the best of us, and we sleep on our feet, still moving, still seeing. Objects are blurs, concepts even more abstract than before. At a time, we fought and found and lived; now all we do is flounder. We are for the world’s taking, its curiosities our binding chains.

We walk and walk and walk some more on roads tarred in tears. Our stride grows lanky, made up of the antique movements inner clockwork deems sufficient ’till breakage–and it emerges without a whistle, gears a-busting, spindles spun to sputters, the clock-face punched out of its trappings and clapping a cold floor. Destruction. Nothing else remains in our minds. Near dark, close to oblivion, yet from out of the spiritual withdrawal flutters a flag, colorful and grand. It beckons us, and we remember.

Think daily,

A Southpaw

R.I.P Freedom of Speech.

This is a sad story. It’s not sad in a bittersweet, melancholy sense; it’s a tragedy in the making, Shakespearean platitudes abound. We’ve not reached the ending, and I doubt we’re halfway through the plot. Here is the beginning of something gravely upsetting, the Death of Freedom of Speech.

This just in, optimists claim the world is perfect, and the rest of us skim over the headline and sip our coffee. Television’s a mockery of itself, the once bold horizon pressed flat against its blank, unchanging face. The teacher is no more than a microphone to amplify the safe stuff, the okay stuff, and all the students doze off to repetitive drones.

I don’t get out much, bit of a hermit. The world comes to me through media: vast blocs of interrelated events, actions, and contradictions. Sometimes I watch to know what’s going on, and sometimes I refuse to let myself be propagandized. It depends on my mood. CNN, CBS, FOX, ABC; I’ve seen the lot of them, surprised at how, in the scope of things, little a role they play in this tragedy. Media doesn’t create our darkest visions–it merely reinforces them. They encompass a large portion of the story, don’t get me wrong, but one right hasn’t the jurisdiction to restrict another. Both toe a line disintegrating before our eyes, and despite the media’s notoriety, there’s time for their story later.

Freedom of speech is defined as “the right to express any opinions without censorship or restraint.” Well, now, have we not a consistent, time-honored tradition of censoring the strange and unorthodox perspectives? A rhetorical question, hope you caught it. As for restraint, no examples should be necessary, but I’ll oblige: any opinion contrary to the widely held popular beliefs. These days, we call it, ‘the wrong side of history,’ or ‘hate speech,’ and I want to expand on the last term. Hate speech has come into the limelight recently, only because we feel we need to redefine it, and through redefinition reach restriction. Although it’s not as simple in practice, in theory, we take the phrase ‘hate speech,’ remove ‘hate,’ and examine it as such. It’s what rights guarantee. It’s what rights protect. It’s what rights allow.

If to speak freely is to speak without constraint, then regular discourse is in a state of perpetual imprisonment.

We claim to be for all rights, save when those rights infringe upon our strongly held beliefs. That conviction is both our greatest strength and weakness, as it builds our character, yet often builds it too high. Online, we view ourselves as Judge, Jury, and Executioner, engaging in Internet trials too aggressive to be practiced in actual society, too artificial to fit anything but the digital world.

We’re far from perfect people, and we desperately attempt to attain perfection through trial-and-error. Some things work out, and others have unfortunate outcomes. ‘It’s the way the world goes’, say the pessimists, but when the world goes one way, we should, by all means, go the other.

This is a sad story. This is a tragedy. This does not have to be the end.

Think daily,

A Southpaw

A Tale Without An Ending

It’s starting to look as though the 2019 Government Shutdown may become the longest in American history, two days away from surpassing the Clinton Administration’s 1995-96 Shutdown. This gives rise to two interpretive facts: one, the stakes on which it rests are monumental in our modern context, and two, this Shutdown may or may not be a satisfying conclusion to a conflict–and an overall story–so raucous on its onset.

Rewind to 2018, back to the beginning where the immigration issue, crisis, whatever you want to call it, hit the fan when multiple migrant caravans began making their way towards Mexico and the United States. Due to many factors, among them the Midterm Elections, it became a largely covered story spanning several weeks. These caravans dispersed, many participants, I believe, settling in Mexico, their government offering asylum, and others coming to the U.S-Mexico Border. Many entanglements occurred, a few of a violent nature the U.S media covered assiduously–and as soon as the Midterm Elections had ended, the caravan stories were dropped as fast as they’d appeared.

Large stakes, widely reported, yet something felt incomplete. In a story format, there’d been an abrupt beginning, a rousing middle, but it had no resolution. The conflict was apparently simple. An assemblage of migrants had left their countries in an attempt to gain access to better conditions in Mexico and the United States, and they’d not chosen to do so through legal ports of entry. It featured key players (main characters), and it threw in some moral questions for citizens to ponder as they went about their lives. A tale without an ending: no going full-circle, and hardly a cute “The End,” or “Fin.”

Things went relatively silent from thereon, and by things, I’m referring to the immigration news. Although, admittedly, the media never relinquished its hold over those stories and kept them undercover in case of future relevance. They released sizable chunks every other week, but as Kenny Rogers said, “you gotta know when to hold ’em.” The conflict died down, the story itself settling into an awkward lump on the floor of General American Reception, (G.A.R), the Twitter megaphone no longer a valid mouthpiece.

Onward to 2019, then, and we have in our grasps an almost tangible ending, at least we believe we do. If we’re following the classic style, every story needs an ending, but say we look through a journalist’s lenses and pick up their pen, then it’s a universal fact not all of those stories have endings. For that matter, those existing aren’t happy ones. Through a series of inevitable arguments and debates, a Lady Justice encounter transpires, and we’re tasked to ask ourselves whether it’s far more right or wrong to snatch at the fastest available ending and label it under increasingly complex synonyms for “happy” and “sad.”

We know how the Clinton Shutdown ended, but that doesn’t mean we know how the Trump Shutdown will end. A great quality of stories (traditional ones, that is) is their finite answers to proposed questions. Ambiguity has little place in the world of fables and fairytales, a sharp knock to reality. What’s not often so praised in those categories is the desire to explore, to innovate, look beyond the printed words; and I suppose what this whole situation comes down to is the question of whether we want to close this storybook once and for all, or leave one sentence unwritten and return to it when the inspiration again strikes us.

Think daily,

A Southpaw

Division, The Disease Afflicting America.

The Year TWO THOUSAND-And-EIGHTEEN, An Insight:

I believe there’s a disease in America, and I believe this country’s been sick with it for the last thirty or so years. It’s not a contagious disease, mind you, nor is it an acute type. This particular disease is chronic, and most importantly, it’s confined solely to America. We’ve  tried treating it with all sorts of fantastic medicines and social revitalizations; what we’re unfortunately not realizing, I believe, quickly enough is the ineffectiveness of these so-called “cures.”

I call it, Division, Latin Name: divisiona americo, and it’s a systemic ailment. It’s not confined to New Hampshire or Texas or Ohio or California or Wyoming or Rhode Island or Kentucky. It’s nation-wide, and let me tell you, when something this critical has such a  wide-reaching net, then it’s difficult to immediately diagnose its symptoms. Doctors (not necessarily all MD) have worked tirelessly over the many decades to isolate a possible weakness, some kink in its mechanistic armor. Division has no cure. Its symptoms are wildly inconsistent, and they pop up in the least expected occasions, EX: rallies, fairs, supermarkets, restaurants, the office building at which everyone seems reasonably peaceful and similar-minded. Division is hard to detect. It is both airborne and seaborne, and its greatest (and strongest) form of transportation, Socially Spread. No expected resolution is anywhere in sight, and millions and millions of American citizens are either contracting it, or they’re in slight fear of being affected by Division.

Division spread itself over America a number of years ago, and at this current moment, it’s at one of its highest peaks in over eleven years. Citizens who contract Division are defined by the following symptoms:

  • Unaccepting of other people’s opinions.
  • Agressive diatribes against one another.
  • Rhetoric, with the sole purpose of angering other citizens.
  • Over-exaggeration of extremely rare instances of the previous three symptoms.
  • Cruel, bully-like actions used to serve self-interests.
  • Violent outbursts, otherwise defined as Mass Shootings.

As you can see, there’s several symptoms of varying intensity. Citizens rarely experience all of them, only one or two–and it will be an extremely unfortunate day when all citizens experience all symptoms, which, by statistics and common sense, is 99% impossible. That doesn’t mean Division isn’t a relevant issue; in fact, it’s tearing America apart. If any other diseases wanted to afflict American citizens, there’d be no greater time than now, and it’d take a long time to find a cure to them.

Division by itself is quite harmless; in fact, it’s only as bad as it is because American citizens continue to spread it. Talk about not washing your hands, these people aren’t following all the regulatory Health Guidelines of resting up and finding ways to lessen the effects of their ailments. It won’t be long before WHO sets up a National Quarantine and declares Division an epidemic; they may be already working towards such actions as we speak.

To those in foreign countries around the world, Division may seem a trifle compared to your much more significant issues, but here, it’s a large problem, and no one is willing to step up and find ways to combat it. If no one does something about it, it may spread and grow, becoming more than America can handle. Then what? Then what?

As long as Division continues its harsh reign, many of its symptoms will ingratiate themselves further into places of American society, possibly the rest of the world–although, the latter is unlikely.  It’s no wonder, then, that millions of American citizens currently suffer from Division and its ravaging effects. People are content in their sickness; they see no problem in it–and therein, as Hamlet might say, lies the rub.

Think daily,

A Southpaw

Photo Credit: iStock.

 

 

 

Our Second Anniversary–A Few Words.

How is everyone tonight? Maybe you’re a bit average, and maybe you’re above average: excellent or enthusiastic or terrific, all those fancy words that lost their meaning the tenth time they were used.

I am doing well; in fact, this long hiatus has done me some good. I am nearly finished with the first draft of my third novel, Society, At Large, and I have got to tell you, it’s one hell of a book. I’m proud of it, as I hope many others will be after publication.

Sophomore year of college, too. Who’d have figured? Comes up so fast, life does, as I’m sure many of you know. Done many things. Met many people. Written many words. Thought about–I’ve thought about quite a bit, much of it good, some of it obsessive.

I’ve learned about the current politics of the U.S.A. Y’know, Donald Trump and Kim-Jong Un; my, that was one historical meeting, wasn’t it? Politics, to me, are so interesting because, with politics, there’s never a clear answer to anything. There’s dozens of factors to consider, people to talk to, and tasks to delegate before making a decision. I question why anyone in their right mind would want to involve themselves in that crazy world seemingly separate from our own.

I’ve noticed they appear everywhere, politics do, especially at college. You can be sitting in the lunchroom, chowing down on a pizza, and hear someone discoursing on the pros and cons of America’s economical situation. I dunno much about the economy, still learning about it; however, I have my friend Adam Smith to help me out. He has one book, but I’ve heard it’s a killer.

What’s my point here? Am I attempting to sketch out the previous events of my life in uncoordinated fashion? Am I reaching for some truth I can’t ever find in life, but which I hunt down so ruthlessly in words? Is EVERYTHING for the sake of, what, a few views and likes? Put it like that, and it makes it sound like a social scam, a ruse I’m putting up for no known reason. Deception is a word that comes to mind, but–

I don’t know.

I don’t know why I do this, why I continue to do it. Call it energy or life blood, either way, it’s not a matter easily settled in a couple short discussions. At the tip of my tongue every time, it feels like, escaping me, and I never find out the truth. It’s always gone before I reach it.

Thoughts of A Southpaw’s 2-Year Anniversary was at the beginning of this month. I missed it, but I’m making up for it now. This anniversary somehow means more to me than the first. I can’t imagine why it would, but as I said, the truth escapes me when I need it most.

This year was interesting. It was fun, and it was sad. It was exciting, and it was depressing. I discovered many things about myself I wouldn’t have, had I not taken a break. There’s so much I want to say and do, make some change in the world, and writing makes feel like I can accomplish all of that and more.

People can talk about empty promises and holding themselves accountable, and they can be absolutely bullshitting everyone. Only I know if I’m doing that, and I don’t think I am. Writing is my power, and I’m learning how to wield it as I grow older. Above all, I see writing as a tool that when used in capable hands, can make ripples in the waters of the world, be they of good or disastrous intent. It depends solely on the person holding the pen.

Perhaps the truth will always escape me. It’ll scurry away whenever I’m close to catching it, and despite my best attempts to stop, I’ll keep going. We all desire some truth, some ideal we hold ourselves to. Don’t be ashamed of it; rather, be proud of your drive and intellect, your spirit and action. Grab it by its collar and shout in its ear, “I’m coming for you!” Feel it shrivel at your will. Whatever power it holds over you is no greater than the power within yourself, that power you control, that you display.

It’s taken me some time to figure that out for myself, and I can only hope it doesn’t take as long for you.

Years will come, and they will go, but time will always remain within your power.

Think daily,

A Southpaw

 

Photo Credit: Emily Lotka

What Has Become Of The World?

I woke up late today. Had gotten in at 11:00 the night before, exhausted from work; and so I slept until about 9:00.

When I woke up, the first thing I did was reach for my phone, which was lying beside my bed, and I looked at the screen to see a News update. The tagline that caught my attention was–Worst Mass Shooting in U.S History.

I studied it. Las Vegas? Monterey Bay? Why would someone want attack Las Vegas?

So, confused, I went upstairs and switched on the news; of course, the events were breaking on every local and national news channel. The information piled up, and the overall feeling I received was grim.

50 or more people killed, and at least 500 more injured. One shooter, aiming from a window on the 32nd floor.

A thought came to me: University of Texas.

That tragedy happened before I was born, but I knew enough about it to draw eerie parallels between both of these incidents.

I thought, “What if this guy’s like Charles Whitman? What if his life just went to complete shit, and all he could think to do was take out his frustrations on these hundreds of innocent lives?”

What if?

For close to thirty minutes, I watched the live coverage, listening to the reports of the concert goers, most of them barely able to talk; and when they were, it was through tears.

A report that hit me was from a woman who claimed she had had a feeling that something was going to happen at the concert.

How dark must our society have become that when we attend these large public events, one of our primary fears is, “What if there’s a shooter?” or “What if I, or someone I know, dies here tonight?”

Fear is now unfortunately an integral aspect of living life.

I mean, hell, I go to some concerts, even circuses, and I just get this ominous feeling.

However, just because we’re afraid doesn’t mean we have to let the fear win.

I think, as humans, we can overcome anything. We’ve survived God knows how many horrors this world has thrown our way–and yet…we always find a way to come out on top and persevere.

We are Americans, after all. That’s gotta count for something.

The best remedy to any tragedy, I think, is to let it out–let your emotions, your griefs, be heard, because as long as that sadness–that total obliteration of knowing what’s going to happen next–is pent up inside you, then it will never stop haunting you.

To those affected by the events in Las Vegas, the previous night might not ever stop being as real as it is to you right now, and that’s okay–so long as you yourself are okay, and are persevering amid darkness.

Stay strong, America.

Think daily,

A Southpaw

 

 

Oh, America…

Ah, what the hell. Independence Day is tomorrow, and this blog will end up saying I posted this on the Fourth of July, so why not celebrate the American Spirit in the grandest  way possible?

Through song!

No, no, I won’t subject you to that horror. It’s enough of a pain on the people around me to hear this voice that the angels threw into the refuse pile to rot and grow moldy; although, I can confess that the mold has not yet set in. I am guessing it happens sometime soon, however–but what do I know?

Oh, America, you big, fat blueberry pie, you. Actually, would we be more suited to a pecan or an apple? As I understand it, blueberry is far too limiting: why, those things are dangerous! Didn’t you hear how Little Jack Horner got all bloated–it’s because he ate a bunch of blueberry pies.

What a fat-ass; seriously, kid, watch the pies! I’m pretty sure R.L Stine wrote a Goosebumps book about them, and you know how those end.

You know, we can do whatever we want to do here in America. That’s what I like about it.  You can be an old man in a wheelchair scanning the porn films in a record store–yes, I saw this, but not on Independence Day–or you could stand nude in the middle of Central Park because you’re practicing natural yoga. It is to be noted; however, if you do stand nude in the middle of Central Park–this I did not see–you are liable to be arrested, for the sake of those innocent animals trapped in the zoo, forced to watch you try on your birthday suit.

Oh, America, you nudist, pornographic nation of total independence, except for these clarifications:

  • Four Big Macs stacked on top of each other for your consumption
  • Human food for cats–yes, dogs have their own brand of greasy goodies
  • Recess for high schoolers and college students
  • Christmas EVERYDAY
  • Pets using bathrooms
  • Triple rainbows

Ahem. Point made.

  • Making invalid points

Am I giving America too much of a bad rap? I mean, if you want to me to rap even better–

No? All right. I’ll cut the crap, despite how gross that sounds.

America is a splendid country. There is much fertile land to be had here in the great plains and cities and oceans and canyons of the U.S.A, and much has been cultivated in the years since its birth, but the real question is: who was the father?

Okay, I’m sorry, won’t happen again.

America, sweet, sweet America, with your chocolate fountains and your jelly/ creme-filled/caramel/all different kinds of cereal donuts, your beauty has made my heart soar–that might also be my blood sugar rising…

I tease for fun, only for fun, dear America, and if you wish I can express to you in better words than I can write, rather what I can pour from my gut–and, no, it’s not vomit–and spew out to you in chunks–uh, I mean verses.

Oh, say, can you see, by the rising of the diabetes infested sun–

Think daily,

A Southpaw