And Here We Are…

The U.S. presidential election stunned a lot of my friends.  It stunned me.  There was no way I could see an openly xenophobic, racist, and misogynistic candidate actually being elected the President of the United States.  Indeed, that is exactly what has happened.  It is a small salve, to me, that he did not win the popular vote.  But it is equally sobering that the vote shows a very polarized nation.  And now we have to wait and see what happens, like the rest of the world.

I pondered this election for many a sleepless night and have a few thoughts I’d like to share with you.  I’ve been voting since 1972.  I’ve watched a lot of elections.  I actually remember elections as far back as Johnson vs. Goldwater in ’64.  But this has been one of the craziest elections I’ve ever seen. Being an armchair amateur of U.S. politics and elections, I will attempt to write about what I see, in retrospect, that might help explain what we’ve all just witnessed.  Perhaps it will bring solace and hope.  Perhaps not.  Either way, take it with a grain of salt.

Without further adieu, here are my thoughts:

  1. Hillary (and her hubby Bill) couldn’t escape the baggage of the now forgotten Democratic Leadership Council which proposed a “Third Way” of mixing conservative and liberal ideas together to create a new economy that would offer benefits to business and workers back in the late 80’s to early 90’s. This was the beginning of the Corporate-Friendly Democratic Party.
  2. The move toward corporations for support of Democratic goals changed the Democratic goals, as evidenced first by NAFTA, and the embracing of free trade agreements.
  3. The move toward big money for funding campaigns made the corporations, celebrities, and other rich folks much more influential in setting priorities for the Democratic party. Worse still, the voices of the working class were eventually ignored while the leadership chased dollars of the rich and famous.
  4. The free trade agreements decimated factories, which decimated the working class.
  5. The free trade agreements required concessions from labor to keep their factories open, which again decimated the working class.
  6. The rise of automation had an incalculable effect on the working class.
  7. And the love of money, celebrity, and status became the Democratic Party’s, the Clinton’s, and Obama’s eventual downfall due in large part to the plight of the working class not being addressed.
  8. Have we all forgotten that Obama, when in the Rust Belt some years ago, mentioned how the folks there, the working class who were no longer working, “cling” to their guns and their bibles? Well, what else did they have?
  9. And no one can forget Hillary’s “deplorables” statement because, while partially true, it also was aimed, again, squarely at working class whites. (Nothing like kicking ‘em while they’re down.)
  10. The Democratic Party leaders embraced corporate crony capitalism with the goal of bettering all citizens. I have no doubt they believed this was the best way.
  11. But in so doing, the Party left its roots behind: the working class.
  12. Working class whites rebelled. They gave into fear and hate of that which is different. For they had 35 years of continued economic erosion.
  13. Working class people of color are rebelling due to the Democratic Party not keeping it’s promises to create better lives for all people who have not known economic opportunity.

And here we are.

Hillary, who makes more in a speech than I do in several years, trying to convince voters, and the working class, that she cares about them. I believe she does. But her ties to corporate influence, celebrities, and rich folk appeared more important than issues of the working class.

Obama tried. But he too was consumed by his own “celebrity” status and loved coming to my city, Los Angeles, for fundraisers. Gawd, he and Hillary and myriad other Democratic leaders flew in to L.A. so often to raise money from the rich and famous that it became a running joke every time traffic was jammed on the 405 freeway!

Would that they had spent more time flying in to Pennsylvania, Alabama, Mississippi, and Ohio to commiserate with the working class as often as they went to fundraisers. Just to let them know they care and they are trying.

I’m sure Democratic leadership cares. But then again, I think Republican leadership cares. But I’m also sure they didn’t try very hard to address the issues of the working class.

To me that’s the lesson. Jettison the corporate fundraising, the corporate approach to influence, and get back to your roots, the Working Class, now!

If not, we’re all in for a very rough ride from a charlatan who took advantage of human suffering without having a lick of sense on how to alleviate it.

But hope is not lost.  Perseverance and patience are the order of the day.  Human kindness is still the biggest salve on the planet for bettering ourselves and resolving issues.  Don’t forget, behind all these phobias that are now being expressed; behind the bullying and the hate speech are people who are basically fearful, not knowing their place in society, and in the future.  They’d rather “burn it down” than face an unknown future.  That’s what they’ve told us, in my opinion.  Give them hope.  Give them an economy that does allow them to provide for themselves and those they love.  And, finally, give them compassion even when it is very difficult to do so.  It is our only way forward.

(Clarification: I am not a member of any political party)

14980778_10154005654456179_171732286570441751_n

Editor’s Post: Just Get Through It… [helen]

I’ve been recovering from a chest cold and have had opportunity to do a lot of reading, and sharing articles I find that seem valuable or just plain quirky.  (Ed. note: I have a quirky sense of humor.  Be warned)

This season can be hard on a lot of people who find themselves alone.  Please remember that you just have to get through the holidays.  You don’t need a major victory or a feeling of euphoria.  Just-get-through-it.  The odds are likely, if you look around, there are a lot of people just “getting through” the holidays during these difficult times.

Remember, misery loves company, and sometimes being in the company of others might be a misery in and of itself!  Especially when we’re not exactly firing on all cylinders.

If you don’t feel happy, that’s fine.  If you don’t want to celebrate, that’s fine too.  And if you’d just like to curl up with a good book, film, or a favorite dark chocolate latte, then treat yourself.

One thing is true, no matter the holiday:  If you won’t take on the nurturing and care of yourself, then who will?

The implication can go a bit further, by the way.  If you don’t want to take care of yourself and nurture yourself, then don’t expect others to want to take care of you either.

Attitude shows.  It bleeds right off of us.

Hang in there.  It will eventually get better.  

(IF you want it to get better… and don’t be surprised if you have to strive like hell to make it better for yourself and others.)

Sometimes we just have to get through the fog and haze to see that.

helen

A Transition Story: The High School


by Helen Hill LMFT


It was a long time ago, and yet I remember it like it was yesterday. I prepared as best that I could. For three months I worked with the director of Human Resources to ensure that my “transition” (aka “sex change”) would go as smoothly as possible at the school district.

You see, this was back in the time when there was no legal protection about gender in the workplace. They could have fired me immediately. Thankfully, the school district chose to keep me employed. Since I was their first transsexual, I would be under a magnifying glass. If I screwed up, as the director said, “no one will save your arse.” Being 40 years old and facing myself was scary enough. Letting others see me as well, for who I am, was beyond scary.

If not for my therapist, I’m not sure how well this would have gone. I love her for that. She saved my life. She inspired me.

Those who needed to know were informed. Since I worked with nearly 700 people at the area schools that meant the principals and the direct reports who work with me needed to be informed. On D-day, after preparation and meetings, Helen showed up for work.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Approximately three months had passed since D-day when a voice-mail was left on my phone asking for help from one of the high schools. Now this particular high school was very tech savvy and did not require much help at all. But when they did call, it was always important, and urgent. I drove over to the high school and walked into the administration building.

Within moments I was surrounded by the staff. The tension was so thick “you could cut it with a knife.” I was not allowed to go do my job. A crowd was building. In the background was one of the staff administrators on the phone. What I would learn later is that she had called my boss and said, “Please come get David Hill. He showed up in drag!”

It seemed like forever, but which was probably no more than a couple of minutes, and it dawned on me that the staff did not know about my “transition.” At this point I was fighting back tears and shaking. I said to the very discombobulated colleagues, “You don’t know, do you?” “Know what?” replied one. Their principal failed to inform them. I then gave them the 30 second spiel of my decision and my transition.

Taking a breath I said to the assembled staff, “Now, please, I’d like to go do my job.” And like the parting of the Red Sea, the staff opened a path and let me through.

After I finished I returned to my car and bawled my eyes out.  I may have cried for well over 20 minutes.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

You see, it wasn’t whether or not people were good or bad; it was a question of what they knew and had been prepared to contemplate and deal with an employee making a huge change in their life that would also effect them.  The principal had not done his job.  It was left to me to take people who were confused and afraid and to allay their confusion and their fears.  It was the most difficult thing I had ever done.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

But don’t miss the point of this story.  The point of this story is NOT to stop transition. The point of this story is NOT to stop being honest.  The point of this story is to PREPARE those you care about, are employed with, or otherwise interact with in your daily life, as much as possible.  Because TRANSITION goes so much better when people are PREPARED!

If you hide your life, then when people are confronted with the truth, they might react as anyone would; with surprise and confusion.  But if you prepare people, then you will find out how INCREDIBLY good people can be; how they can rise to the humanity one may have thought not possible.  It is indeed possible.

I believe, and it has been proven to me time and again, that people are good when give the chance, when informed, and when not surprised.  Their capacity for compassion, empathy, and acceptance are far more than you would ever think possible.

But are you willing to trust them that they can accept you?

Are you willing to trust that you can accept yourself?

-h .