Do as I Say, Not as I Do

“Do as I say, not as I do”, an old parental refrain we kids hated.  I assume kids still do although they seem so much different than we were.  Of course, Plato made the same refrain two and a half millennia ago.

It’s a pretty day high in the central range of the Colombian Andes from which I view ugly developments far way, but which may all too soon impact us all.  The situation today is not the result of sudden, unpredictable events.  Rather, it’s as though the Trojan seeress Cassandra had returned to once again prophecy while no one cared or listened.  The mad leading the mad to our mutual perdition.  Kind of like what Simon and Garfunkel described when they recorded Ian Campbell’s desperately beautiful but horribly sad song, “The Sun is Burning”:

The sun is burning in the sky; strands of clouds go slowly drifting by; in the park the lazy bees are joining in the flowers among the trees; and the sun burns in the sky. 

Now the sun is in the West; little kids go home to take their rest; and the couples in the park are holding hands and waiting for the dark.  And the sun is in the West. 

Now the sun is sinking low; children playing know it’s time to go.  High above a spot appears, a little blossom blooms and then draws near.  And the sun is sinking low.

Now the sun has come to earth.  Shrouded in a mushroom cloud of death.  Death comes in a blinding flash of hellish heat and leaves a smear of ash.  And the sun has come to earth.

Now the sun has disappeared.  All is darkness, anger, pain and fear. Twisted sightless wrecks of men go groping on their knees and cry in pain.  And the sun has disappeared

Since the overthrow of progressives and liberals in the Democratic Party as a result of the Clinton coup of 1992, and the resulting consolidation of the neoconservative-neoliberal Deep State in the United States, the European Union and NATO (now spread substantially outside of its original borders and actively engaged in offensive rather than defensive operations), a number of countries have been dismembered by that unholy alliance.  They include Palestine, Yugoslavia, Libya and Syria, while others have been invaded and conquered totally (Iraq and Afghanistan), at least temporarily.  In the case of both Iraq and Afghanistan, involuntary dismemberment were seriously considered.  In addition, the Soviet Union was, of course, dismembered, but with a promise that NATO would not move in to fill the vacuum, a vacuous promise.  Each such disaster involved serious violations of international law, which was shown to be little more than an aspiration and the United Nations Charter just an illusion. 

The shoe now seems snuggly ensconced on the other foot, something totally predictable based on the “what’s good for the goose is good for the gander” school of geopolitics.

One wonders why it is almost always the Democratic Party in the United States that leads us into major wars (major characterized by tens of thousands of United States casualties):  World War I, World War II, the Cold War, Korea and Vietnam?  And also into other wars, wars that while to us may not seem major, to the countries we’ve destroyed are devastating, wars like the “interventions into Libya and Syria.  Not that they’re not backed by the GOP (although it is frequently the GOP that inherits the aftermath).  And that of course does not include countless coups throughout the Western Hemisphere, Middle East and Africa orchestrated by the boys from the “Company” (as some call the Central Intelligence Agency and its myriad progeny).  Today, it seems that we in what we call “the West” are being led by two stooges the Keystone Cops would not accept, the United States’ Joe Biden and the United Kingdom’s Boris Johnson, but there are plenty of bit players in the European Union as well.  And of course, there’s the Ukraine’s own autocrat, Volodymyr Zelenskyy.  On the other side sits Vladimir Putin, apparently holding all the cards and playing chess while Biden, Johnson et. al., play checkers.  And on the other side of the world, with another deck of cards at the ready, sits Xi Jinping.

This morning a close and admired friend and Citadel classmate posted a message on Facebook comparing the Russian recognition of the breakaway Donetsk and Lugansk Peoples’ Republics to Hitler’s forays into formerly German territories lost as a result of the Entente’s victory in World War I, a resemblance which, as a very loyal member of the United States’ Democratic Party, he has not noted with respect to the comparable, earlier situations described above.  Of course, not all actions that bear some aspects in common are analogous.  Hmmm, unless maybe they are.

A bit of context:

The situation in the Ukraine did not start yesterday but rather in 2014 when the United States, the European Union and NATO orchestrate a coup d’état in the Ukraine, overthrowing a democratically elected pro-Russian president and installing a puppet government tied to their interests, ironically, in the name of democracy and the elimination of corruption.  If that was the goal, it’s been an utter failure.  Autocracy rather than democracy remains the rule in the Ukraine with opposition media shut down and opposition leaders imprisoned.  On the other hand (think sleight of hand) corruption, always endemic in the Ukraine, is at least now shared with the families of Western leaders (think Hunter Biden).  The 2014 Ukrainian coup d’état was rejected in the Crimea and in the eastern parts of the Ukraine bordering the Russian federation.  There, two regions declared independence, the Donetsk and Lugansk Peoples’ Republics.  After a plebiscite overwhelmingly in favor of union with the Russian Federation, the Crimea returned to the status it held prior to its administrative separation from Russia during the middle of the last century.  The situations in the Donetsk and Lugansk Peoples’ Republics, however, were not so easily resolved.

Until yesterday, the declarations of independence by the Donetsk and Lugansk Peoples’ Republics were not formally recognized anywhere.  One wonders what the United States’ founding fathers would think of that, especially Thomas Jefferson, author of the former British colonies’ declaration of independence.  The Russian Federation, until yesterday, insisted that the controversy be settled through negotiation and implementation of settlement proposals agreed to by the Ukraine and the leaders of the Donetsk and Lugansk Peoples’ Republics in 2015 under the mediation of France, Germany and the Russian Federation, the so called Minsk Agreements.  However, rather than implementing such agreements (which called for a Ukrainian federation with autonomy for the Donetsk and Lugansk regions), Ukrainian government forces, supplemented by highly armed semi-independent anti-Russian militias, have occupied a majority of the disputed territories from which constant low key attacks have been continuously launched against the separatist forces and their civilian populations.  No military forces of the Donetsk and Lugansk Peoples’ Republics have engaged in military activities outside the borders of such regions although they frequently exchange fire with occupying Ukrainian and militia forces.

During the current domestic political crisis being suffered by the administrations in power in the United States and the United Kingdom, Ukrainian forces and the related semi-independent anti-Russian militias have been reinforced with substantial military armaments through NATO, the European Union, the United States and the United Kingdom, and such armaments have been supplemented by a constant barrage of anti-Russian propaganda to the effect that the Russian Federation was about to invade and conquer the Ukraine and murder and imprison its anti-Russian leaders.  Apparently it was hoped that an international crisis could ameliorate the tenuous domestic political climate in both countries, and it certainly would not hurt Emmanuel Jean-Michel Frédéric Macron’s prospects in the pending French presidential election.  In the Ukraine itself, the situation was mare tenuous and confusing.  On the one hand, the Ukrainian government sought to distance itself from such propaganda, while on the other, the semi-independent anti-Russian militias fully bought into it and this past week dramatically increased their military activities against the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Lugansk Peoples’ Republics. 

The consequences have proven completely predictable.  Baiting the bear on a consistent basis and crying wolf incessantly led to a self-fulfilling prophecy.  The Russian Federation has, following in a very limited manner the example set by the United States and NATO in the dismemberment of Yugoslavia, recognized the independence of the Donetsk and Lugansk Peoples’ Republics and entered into related mutual defense treaties.  Unlike NATO in the former Yugoslavia however, it is not bombarding Kiev and the other parts of the Ukraine, but that may occur in the not too distant future, depending on how carefully reactions are measured.  While the world’s financial markets are generally down, armament industry stocks and gold are flying high, as are oil futures.

The echoes of the summer of 2014 sound all too clearly and things may quickly spiral out of hand, especially given the stupidity and cupidity of the current power mad United States administration and its puppets in Europe.  There is a worst case scenario that I hope is improbable.  But as in the tumbling dominos of the myriad military alliances that characterized Europe at the beginning of the First World War (some secret and some open), our world presents a bizarre mirror image of that sad season.  One mostly orchestrated by the United States which continuously forms alliances and understanding with a large number of countries (against the wishes of most of their citizens) seeking to contain the Russian Federation and the Peoples’ Republic of China, such alliances now supplemented by de facto economic warfare through “economic sanctions” against a host of countries deemed “enemies”.  In addition to the two super powers referenced above, such “enemies” include the Islamic Republic of Iran, Syria, Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua.  It reminds me of a clumsy waiter trying to bring a huge pile of dishes to the kitchen, while snickering customers stretch their legs to try and trip her.  Only we’re the plates.

Prospects for another world war, to some extent, depend on a mirror image situation on the other side of the planet, the unresolved issue of the estranged Chinese province of Taiwan.  That issue is always threatening to blossom into an inferno, more so now that the United States deems the Peoples’ Republic as serious a threat to its economic primacy as the Russian Federation poses to hegemony in Europe, but it is only simmering at present.  That could change very quickly and that, in my opinion, depends on whether or not the Peoples’ Republic of China, the Russian Federation’s de facto ally, recognizes the independence of the Donetsk and Lugansk Peoples’ Republics and then, whether in retaliation, the United States and its allies recognize the independence of Taiwan.  That would almost certainly lead to an invasion of Taiwan by the Peoples’ Republic forcefully reintegrating Taiwan into the Chinese state, somewhat the opposite of what is occurring in the Ukraine.

One would assume Western leaders would not be so abysmally stupid as to make that scenario possible but the hubris of current leaders may be worse than that of Kaiser Wilhelm, Tsar Nicholas, H. H. Asquith, Raymond Poincaré and, of course, the duplicitous Woodrow Wilson. 

The situation in the Ukraine is regretful on many fronts, all instigated by the unholy alliance of the governments of the United States, the European Union and NATO (much to the detriment of their people and to the people of the Ukraine).  These include the 2014 Maiden Coup, the refusal of the Ukraine to implement the Minsk Agreements, the abuse of economic sanctions against the Russia Federation and other countries outlawed under the Charter of the United Nations, their constant penchant for foreign intervention and NATO’s disregard for promises made to the Soviet Union with respect to German unification and NATO expansion when the Warsaw Pact was dissolved.  They have brought us to the brink of disaster.  That is as obvious today as the then pending disaster should have been in the summer of 2014, but perhaps nothing was really learned from the War to End all Wars and its sequel, the Second World War, and its sequel, the Cold War, and its sequel, the War on Terror, and its sequel, the Second Cold War, other than perhaps, how to utterly and constantly distort the truth and to pervert journalism, and how to make trillions of dollars for the military industrial complex against which Ike warned us almost sixty-two years ago.

So, here we are, nervously listening to shoes dropping, geese berating ganders and immature adults crying wolf, as the world turns.  Not a very comfortable place in which to find ourselves.  “The Sun is Burning” is a beautiful song with horrifying lyrics.  The same year that it was recorded by Simon and Garfunkel, 1964, the Democratic Party’s National Committee, on behalf of the Lyndon Johnson presidential campaign, produced and played, on one occasion, a political advertisement perhaps inspired by that song, the so called daisy girl ad[1].  It featured a little girl playing with a daisy in a field, then suddenly consumed in a nuclear explosion.  The ad was massively successful and changed advertising history.  Unfortunately, it was utterly hypocritical as the Johnson administration shortly thereafter orchestrated the infamous Vietnam War. 

Perhaps it’s time to take Pete Seeger’s anthem, “When Will they ever Learn” (also known as “Where Have all the Flowers Gone) and Bob Dylan’s “Blowing in the Wind” seriously.  Perhaps it’s time to change the bellicose world order before we, as humans, are unable to change anything again.
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© Guillermo Calvo Mahé; Manizales, 2022; all rights reserved.  Please feel free to share with appropriate attribution.

Guillermo (“Bill”) Calvo Mahé (a sometime poet) is a writer, political commentator and academic currently residing in the Republic of Colombia (although he has primarily lived in the United States of America of which he is also a citizen).  Until 2017 he chaired the political science, government and international relations programs at the Universidad Autónoma de Manizales.  He is currently a strategic analyst employed by Qest Consulting Group, Inc.  He has academic degrees in political science (the Citadel), law (St. John’s University), international legal studies (New York University) and translation and linguistic studies (the University of Florida’s Center for Latin American Studies).  He can be contacted at guillermo.calvo.mahe@gmail.com and much of his writing is available through his blog at http://www.guillermocalvo.com.


[1] See the following Wikipedia article on point at Daisy (advertisement) – Wikipedia.

Of Happy Days, Intellectual Property and Real Choices

As we watch endless reruns on cable, I wonder how they’re selected.  The choices get worse every year.  For some time, television for me has been pretty much limited to news and sports, well, what passes for “news” and after the recent NFL Pro Bowl, something all too similar is happening to sports.  Perhaps this is how “dark ages” start.

Of course, our travails with entertainment are the least of our problems.  Today’s problems seem not only existentially dangerous but seemingly irresolvable.  Plato thought pretty much the same two and a half millennia ago.  “The more things change, the more they stay the same”, but do they have to?  Let’s start on a light and superficial note, but one that illustrates our quandary.

To many of us, today’s television programs and movies are insipid, politically motivated, politically correct drivel, but, omnipresent insipid, politically motivated, politically correct drivel.  Choice, other than abstention, is pretty much non-existent despite the vast quantities of great material produced during the second half of the 20th century.  How many of us would love to binge watch “All in the Family” or “Sanford & Son” or “Welcome Back Kotter” or “Different Strokes” or “Happy Days” or “Whats Happening” or “WKRP in Cincinnati” or “The Jeffersons” or “Night Court” or “Julia” or “The Wonder Years” or “The Jamie Fox Show” or “The Courtship of Eddie’s Father” or “Martin”?  And going back even further, “The Ozzie and Harriet Show” or “I love Lucy” or “Amos and Andy” or “Father Knows Best” or “My Three Sons”.  The examples are legion!

Admittedly, sitcoms are not a high art form but the programs cited and many others were entertaining and a relief from the stress of daily life rather than superficially disguised demands that we criticize ourselves and our ancestors into oblivion for not having been born perfect.  Damn Eve and her apples (hmmm, that may be resundant)!  We enjoyed those old sitcoms and would enjoy them still, if we could, if they were available.  But as in politics, our choices are all too few; filtered for us for incomprehensible purposes other than that perhaps, entertainment is not about our own preferences but an effective behavioral means of manipulation.  Initially to sell products but now, for social control.

A primary tool for the exercise of social as well as economic and political control is the abuse of intellectual property rights.  The concept of intellectual property is sound (albeit ironically totally contrary to capitalist theory).  Its purported goal is to reward creators for their efforts and thus incentivize innovation.  Of course, the “benefits generally go to investors and corporate executives rather than to creators.  In any event, the “warehousing” of intellectual property, whether in the field of entertainment or other fields (such as technology, energy, transportation, etc.) has exactly the opposite effect.  Indeed, the abuse of intellectual property rights forces consumers to acquire inferior products at inflated prices, all too frequently designed for accelerated obsolescence.

How can something so antisocial exist in a democracy?

Well, the truth is that it couldn’t, and there’s the rub. 

The concept of democracy (like the concept of capitalism where the market purportedly makes the decisions) is a ruse and exists in name only.  It is no more than a way to placate us and to fool us into thinking that we have control over our own lives when, to an objective observer, it would be obvious that we don’t.  Just as government supported monopolies deprive us of choice in all markets, political parties (political monopolies) filter out the leaders we deserve and would chose if given the chance at least as efficiently as do autocratic dictatorships, something a student in a Comparative Politics class I taught once pointed out to me when we were covering governance in contemporary Iran.  Constitutions should be the vehicles that resolve the tensions between liberty, democracy and minority rights but instead, they create the organic anomalies that protect the ability of elites to govern us all, as though they possessed Sauron’s One Ring. 

Perhaps they do.  I can almost hear the echoes of “One ring to rule them all, one ring to find them, one ring to bring them all, and in the darkness bind them; in the Land of Mordor where the shadows lie.”

How is it that nowhere (other than perhaps tiny Iceland and once upon a short time ago, some of the Nordic countries) is there a country where the citizenry takes its political obligations (not political rights) seriously enough to have a serious shot at attaining (rather than fruitlessly pursuing) happiness?  How is it that being able to control the right of others to make their own decisions became a higher priority for us collectively than enjoying our individual autonomy?  Is there no way out of the incoherent social mess we’ve permitted others to force us to endure?

Strange that the foregoing is so aptly illustrated by the entertainment we watch, not having a viable option to enjoy the entertainment we would prefer, had we the option.  The reality is that there are numerous answers to all the socioeconomic problems that we face: to inequity, inequality, injustice, impunity, poverty, etc., had we the collective will to demand their selection and to participate in their implementation.  Instead, we seemingly live in a world as controlled and manipulated as the one presented in the Matrix series of movies; and most of us know it, at least most of the time.  Unfortunately we tend to forget all semblance of reality during electoral cycles when most of us apparently lose our collective minds under an avalanche of electoral posters, electoral ads and dire warnings of existentially greater evils.  And we do so time after time after time, ad nauseaum

If only the fury and disdain for our political, social and economic leaders that we feel during the years in which elections are not held could be preserved, then we could make make a difference, ….

We do have effective options, elections may be one, although there are serious doubts as to whether legitimate elections are still a viable option, but there are always mass boycotts.  Boycotts of all products sold directly and indirectly by mass media advertisers, whether in print, through social media, on television, etc.  Interestingly, in response to a question from a former student as to how to identify corrupt politicians during an electoral cycle I replied that those with the most posters and most commercials were in all likely hood, the most corrupt.  The same seems true of most advertisers.  How much more productive would it be for us, and for our communities if we prioritized local purchasing from family businesses?

Ahhh …. Oh Happy Days!
_______

© Guillermo Calvo Mahé; Manizales, 2022; all rights reserved.  Please feel free to share with appropriate attribution.

Guillermo (“Bill”) Calvo Mahé (a sometime poet) is a writer, political commentator and academic currently residing in the Republic of Colombia (although he has primarily lived in the United States of America of which he is also a citizen).  Until 2017 he chaired the political science, government and international relations programs at the Universidad Autónoma de Manizales.  He is currently a strategic analyst employed by Qest Consulting Group, Inc.  He has academic degrees in political science (the Citadel), law (St. John’s University), international legal studies (New York University) and translation and linguistic studies (the University of Florida’s Center for Latin American Studies).  He can be contacted at guillermo.calvo.mahe@gmail.com and much of his writing is available through his blog at http://www.guillermocalvo.com.

Reflections on our Tortured Political Realities

It’s 2022.  February. 

The world is (as has come to be the norm) on the brink of war, with many small conflagrations keeping munitions industry investors busy counting their profits.  Massive demonstrations lauded by the corporate media from January of 2017 until January of 2021 are now anathema, despicable and unjustifiable traitorous insurrections.  Those who believe that abortion is a right because our bodies are ours to do with as we will now demand that others consume medications they oppose, … well, just because.  Political incoherence reigns; truth is irrelevant, hypocrisy has become an art form.  In the United States we are more polarized than at any time since the Civil War.  The Chinese curse “may you live in interesting times” is clearly in place.

But: … who are we and how did we get where we find ourselves?  Who or what is responsible?  How likely are we to survive as a civil society?

A fundamental analysis may be a good place to start answering these existential questions.  As a political analyst, writer, academic and historian, it seems to me that a starting point is exploring the fundamental philosophical tensions that impact our sociopolitical decision making process and that starts with the dual nature each of us shares: we are both individuals and members of concentric rings of collectives, and the stress we place on one or the other of such natures is a dividing point.  It seems obvious that reconciliation of both aspects of our nature, when possible, is the best policy.  Both our autonomy as individuals and the collaboration required to participate in groups need to be respected in order for collaborative concepts such as the economy, the family, government, religion, education, etc. to function.  But what happens when one or the other aspects of our nature conflict in a manner that cannot be resolved and one has to be prioritized over the other?

To collectivists on what has arbitrarily come to be defined as the left wing of the political spectrum, as the fictional character Spock noted, “the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few); individualists on the right disagree by favoring individual rights.  Of course, there are those who react rather than philosophize and to whom logical consistency is irrelevant.  Some of those can be classified as a center comprised of a conglomeration of the apathetic and those who have no fixed values but are conflict averse (a good thing).  Unfortunately; a dangerous second group, a tiny minority, is comprised of a non-ideological but immensely powerful social cancer that has come to be referred to as a Deep State. 

One form of Deep State or another exists everywhere and has probably always existed.  There is a political theory that posits that humans are always ruled by an elite minority.  Elite theory is superficially dealt with in Wikipedia where, in very general terms, it is defined as: “… a theory of the state that … posits that a small minority, consisting of members of the economic elite and policy-planning networks, holds the most power—and that this power is independent of democratic elections.”  As with most articles in Wikipedia, it is subject to manipulation and its accuracy is not assured, but as a broad outline and starting point for research, it is at least adequate.  In essence, Elite Theory claims that democracy is at best an illusion and a tool used by elites to manipulate the vast majority into actions of benefit primarily to the small group of dedicated individuals, families and professions who have attained and will not relinquish economic, social and political power.  That certainly seems to the society in which we find ourselves; however, because it is so one sided that the gap between the wealthy and everyone else is increasing exponentially (see Piketty, Tomas [2013, English translation 2014], “Capital in the Twenty-First Century”, Harvard University Press, ISBN 978-0674430006), a populist counter reaction has been building and had a very direct impact on the United States presidential election in 2016, from both the left (the Democratic Party’s so called Sanderistas) and on the right (the GOP’s Tea Party).  The right wing populist victory threw the Deep State into a panic, forcing it to reveal itself in order to stage a “soft coup” with the assistance of the Democratic Party, traditionalist Republicans, the corporate media and the newly emergent elite controlled social media platforms, and to impose authoritarian methods in the United States and elsewhere, including large scale censorship in order to prevent a recurrence.  Left wing populists, led, in the Democratic Party by Tulsi Gabbard, were successfully contained with the assistance of perceived populist leaders like Bernie sanders and Elizabeth Warren who proved all too willing to work with Deep State elites to derail their own populist revolt.

With the essential assistance of the corporate media and social media platform censorship, Deep State elitists were able to manipulate the Covid 19 pandemic to assume unprecedented control by strategically sabotaging the world economy through socioeconomic lockdowns and medical mandates as well as by divisive social polarization that set the population to bickering over historical events rather than populist solutions to current socioeconomic crises, with race, nationality, gender, sexual orientation and religion all used to distract the electorate while concurrently, protecting elite investments in the profitable armaments industry by aggravating international tensions keeping the world on the brink of war, both is a series of local conflicts and the threat of major power nuclear confrontation.  But right wing populist resistance, overcome in the United States through media control and electoral gimmicks during the 2018 and 2020 elections, seems to have recovered enough to significantly impact United States congressional elections set for November of this year.  Left wing populists, on the other hand, with the exception of followers of Tulsi Gabbard and perhaps Dennis Kucinich, seem quiescent, and are being driven by elitist manipulation into support of the Deep State, of censorship and of restraints on civil liberties, all policies which they have traditionally opposed and abhorred.  They are now the “woke”, Cancel Culture warriors, the thought police of whom George Orwell wrote in the late 1940s.  Ironically, the elites’ best friends.

It remains to be seen whether those on the “center” will prove as gullible as those on the populist left, as gullible as Abraham Lincoln once noted when he reflected that “you can fool all of the People some of the time and some of the People all of the time” or, whether even the apathetic center is fed up enough to bring the third part of that quotation into play: “but you can’t fool all of the People all of the time”.

It is interesting that right wing and left wing populists, while disagreeing as to policies, have a great deal in common and have usually been able to coexist, with the assistance of the apathetic and disinterested center.  But not now, not today.  Not when orchestrated polarization by Deep State elites have manipulated them into dysfunction through use of illusory issues, especially abortion and gun control now supplemented by racism, xenophobia and misogyny, issues not meant to be solved but rather, exacerbated for fun and profit.  That is where we stand today, a day in February 2022. 

Assuming that the electoral process has not been completely compromised through legislation and rules designed to facilitate electoral fraud, perhaps we may once again catch a glimpse of a populist wave this November.  Unfortunately, one thing seems sure, elitist Deep Staters will not just sit back and watch, and in the long term, their faith in the usual disinterest of the vast majority of the citizenry in political matters which keeps them from participating as candidates and from even voting, is likely to return the elites to power (should it again be temporarily wrested from them), keeping the rest of us in chains, sometimes velvet but all too often in shades of stainless steel. 

Exactly what happened with the socioeconomic revolts in 1776, 1789, 1848 and of course, in the nineteen-sixties!

Most children have beautiful smiles, at least until they are taught to hate.  I wonder what kind of people the children born since 2019 will grow into given that hate has been converted into a virtue, given that they have experienced their socially formative years, in large part, in politically imposed isolation, with education limited, with playgrounds closed?

Children tend to be resilient, after all, they survive, even in Yemen and Afghanistan, at least if they’re not killed by drones.  Will humankind perhaps have learned that calumny and ridicule and censorship do not change hearts, by the time they’re grown?
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© Guillermo Calvo Mahé; Manizales, 2022; all rights reserved.  Please feel free to share with appropriate attribution.

Guillermo (“Bill”) Calvo Mahé (a sometime poet) is a writer, political commentator and academic currently residing in the Republic of Colombia (although he has primarily lived in the United States of America of which he is also a citizen).  Until 2017 he chaired the political science, government and international relations programs at the Universidad Autónoma de Manizales.  He is currently a strategic analyst employed by Qest Consulting Group, Inc.  He has academic degrees in political science (the Citadel), law (St. John’s University), international legal studies (New York University) and translation and linguistic studies (the University of Florida’s Center for Latin American Studies).  He can be contacted at guillermo.calvo.mahe@gmail.com and much of his writing is available through his blog at http://www.guillermocalvo.com

Unrequiteable

The unique resonance one soul feels for another now tinged with pain. 

A strange blend. 

Not altogether unpleasant. 

Perhaps like shadows and light or sweet and sour, or the odor of perspiration during intimacy, but distant, unattainable, as though alpha was enamored of omega, infinitely apart yet only a shadow away. 

A romance that never really started but whose echoes can never end.
_______

© Guillermo Calvo Mahé; Manizales, 2022; all rights reserved.  Please feel free to share with appropriate attribution.

Guillermo (“Bill”) Calvo Mahé (a sometime poet) is a writer, political commentator and academic currently residing in the Republic of Colombia (although he has primarily lived in the United States of America of which he is also a citizen).  Until 2017 he chaired the political science, government and international relations programs at the Universidad Autónoma de Manizales.  He is currently a strategic analyst employed by Qest Consulting Group, Inc.  He has academic degrees in political science (the Citadel), law (St. John’s University), international legal studies (New York University) and translation and linguistic studies (the University of Florida’s Center for Latin American Studies).  He can be contacted at guillermo.calvo.mahe@gmail.com and much of his writing is available through his blog at http://www.guillermocalvo.com.

Of Circles and Singularities and Love and Life

Circles, in some aspects, seem the perfect shape, but they also represent closed systems, at least when considered alone.  Spheres add dimension.  And groups of spheres, almost infinite groups of spheres, well that is a very different thing.  Groups of spheres seem to surround us, from micro, sub atomic structures to the shapes of ever expanding universes.  We humans, and perhaps other biological entities, seem trapped in the middle, although, the gift of volition would seem to impact the concept of a closed system, a flaw in the predestination that geometry and mathematics and physics seem to imply.  It is interesting to speculate on whether or not there was any volition inherent in the transition from singularity into everything which eventually evolved.  That might, to some extent, explain the imperfections in that first great conflagration.  Of course, that could imply a demiurge and, to be honest, demiurges are currently out of fashion.

Circes are symbols as well as archetypes, especially when configured in groups.  And while the potential configuration of circles is infinite the classification of their configurations are not.  They can be singularities (theoretically), solitary circles, groups of solitaries, concentric, overlapping, intersecting, and combinations of the foregoing.  As combinations they represent the fascinating possibilities inherent in chaos where all that can be, “is”, and is simultaneously notwithstanding inherent contradictions.

As archetypes, concentric circles represent hierarchies, authoritarian systems, each level encompassing a prior level around a singularity in the middle.  Overlapping circles represent interactions among some groups of circles without a hierarchy and without a centric singularity, and, intersecting circles represent interaction among all members of a group, without a hierarchy but with a common nucleus: circles interacting around a central axis with a portion of their circumferences overlaying, generating a small shared area, one that they occupy in common while the rest reflects a sort of independence.  The latter variant represents very special things to me on a number of levels.  The ideal blend of intimacy and independence in intimate interpersonal relationships, or the ideal relationship among social groups with shared values but also, with treasured differences; the antithesis of the revered melting pot concept much more accurately reflecting the ideal in a multicultural society and a multinational state.  No one’s values superimposed over those of others even as important values are shared.

Ideals are such frustrating things though, they posit idealized solutions to intractable problems: unstoppable forces crashing into immovable objects, but with the hope that faith can indeed move mountains.  Somewhere in chaos, in the multiverse posited by the variant of string theory that encompasses eleven, rather than ten dimensions, where everything that can happen happens somewhere or some-when, idealized solutions function but not here, not now.

It is very sad that in today’s polarized world where purported progressives have exchanged almost all of their values in a quest for perpetual power, the balance in my vision of intersecting circles is being brutalized and the quest for individuality, for harmonious liberty, for tolerance and mutual respect is being savaged.  It’s as though an intellectual pandemic infected many of the people who once shared my values and my goals and turned them into negative mirror images of what they once were.  Inexplicably, at least to me, metaphorically their quest seems to involve converting intersecting circles into concentric circles, and then, into singularities, reversing the tolerance-for-difference humankind once seemed determined to attain into Orwellian conformism.

I recall the hope and love inherent during the chaotic nineteen-sixties, a blend of incoherent emotions demanding change, demanding an end to bellicosity at every level; and end to war; an end to racism, xenophobia and misogyny; an end to intolerance; an end to inequity and injustice, but endings to be attained through empathy and love rather than conflict, conquest and suppression.  We lost our way though, and flower children became politicians and entrepreneurs and journalists, and instead of great writers, many became great publicists, enamored with the apparent magic of the tools behavioral psychology made available, tools that, like the mythical philosopher’s stone, permitted almost total manipulation of feelings and beliefs.  And truth became irrelevant, a merely relative concept; and rhetoric became a divinity at whose feet, amidst the sounds of silence, we became that against which we once railed.

As we changed we propagated and, under the leadership and guidance of many us who for diverse reasons, like Luke Skywalker, aka Darth Vader turned to the dark side, much of our progeny became more and more incoherent, incongruent, vitriolic, violent and intolerant.  Slogans replaced goals and to them, the changes in the present we so need, required that the historical past be destroyed and replaced: in essence, that our historical mirrors be exchanged for discordant pseudo-art: visual as well as vocal, cinematographic, etc.  To them, censorship, rather than the evil we once believed it to be, ought to be imposed in the name of security from discordant opinions, as though rather than the music of the orbs, only a single unending, unwavering, invariable note should be permitted to exist, and that what it lacked in terms of diversity, should be replaced with volume.

In essence, in this temporal instant, in this corner of the multiverse, we are experiencing a battle of discordant circular configurations, perhaps a battle between the armies of chaos (intersecting and overlapping circles, the good guys) and the armies of the concentric circles seeking the singularity we once were, singularity which provides security through the absence of choices and the absence of opinions but which, in the end, crushes us all.
______

© Guillermo Calvo Mahé; Manizales, 2022; all rights reserved.  Please feel free to share with appropriate attribution.

Guillermo (“Bill”) Calvo Mahé (a sometime poet) is a writer, political commentator and academic currently residing in the Republic of Colombia (although he has primarily lived in the United States of America of which he is also a citizen).  Until 2017 he chaired the political science, government and international relations programs at the Universidad Autónoma de Manizales.  He is currently a strategic analyst employed by Qest Consulting Group, Inc.  He has academic degrees in political science (the Citadel), law (St. John’s University), international legal studies (New York University) and translation and linguistic studies (the University of Florida’s Center for Latin American Studies).  He can be contacted at guillermo.calvo.mahe@gmail.com and much of his writing is available through his blog at http://www.guillermocalvo.com.

An Estranged Father’s Optimistic Refrain

The concept of family is, at best, in transition, at worse, just a memory.  Its permanence is surely, in most cases, passé.  While the plight of mothers is often articulated, that of fathers, especially fathers left behind, is virtually ignored.  But some of us still manage to salvage the essence of what might have been.

My relationship with my three sons is strained at best, perhaps in some instances non-existent, but that is the present and recent past.  The more distant past is beautiful from my perspective, and remains, not only vivid, but healthy and alive:  I visit it frequently and its vibrant joy is not dissipated or diminished thereby.  It is seemingly unquenchable, a cornucopia molded through long days and arduous nights in frequently difficult times but with yields too beautiful to adequately describe. 

Living in the past is often criticized but to me that seems to be criticizing fulfillment of the fruits of one’s past sacrifices.  Streams of images of my three sons as they were growing are always nearby, images preserved when hope that everything would turn out positively was more than a mere possibility, as long as I persevered.  All I could ever want was inchoate and seemingly assured. 

It has not turned out that way, not the way I hoped and expected, at least not for me, but the impetus of those joyous times is the wind in today’s sails, echoing with fragrances and mirages of what was and what might have been.  So, rather than dwelling on what is, I revel in what was, insisting that having been real, the past is also permanent and that the love created there may be more than enough to see me through.

And that is true for so many, many, many fathers, most of whom believe that

No matter what,

It was all worthwhile.
_______

© Guillermo Calvo Mahé; Manizales, 2022; all rights reserved.  Please feel free to share with appropriate attribution.

Guillermo (“Bill”) Calvo Mahé (a sometime poet) is a writer, political commentator and academic currently residing in the Republic of Colombia (although he has primarily lived in the United States of America of which he is also a citizen).  Until 2017 he chaired the political science, government and international relations programs at the Universidad Autónoma de Manizales.  He is currently a strategic analyst employed by Qest Consulting Group, Inc.  He has academic degrees in political science (the Citadel), law (St. John’s University), international legal studies (New York University) and translation and linguistic studies (the University of Florida’s Center for Latin American Studies).  He can be contacted at guillermo.calvo.mahe@gmail.com and much of his writing is available through his blog at http://www.guillermocalvo.com.

Confused Reflections as another Solstice Passes By

“Poignant with loss”.

The phrase resonates. 

Not in the sense of self-pity but perhaps a bit melodramatic.  Can one just as easily be poignant with joy?

Birth is the beginning of death and every gain is also the beginning of a corresponding loss.  A full life, one worth living, one where one has truly plumbed the depths and heights of feeling, one full of useful errors, is full of both loss and joy.  With vulnerability, dominion and confusion in equal measures.  With un-chainable emotions carefully balanced, control lost and regained and lost again.

For a very long time, most of my life really, the twin solstices have been poignant.  More so since I became estranged from my sons.  They are flying on their own, free to make their own mistakes and learn their own lessons.  To be deceived and perhaps enlightened as well.  To make their own joys and suffer their own sorrows.  To betray and be betrayed.  To accumulate and share experiences with their own, unique families.  The permanence for which I hoped proved transitory but in my life, transition has been the only constant.

Perhaps the poignancy I feel so often but more strongly during the solstices has to do with how often I’ve moved, starting when I was around two.  Back then, the constant change of situs was not yet impactful, at least not consciously so, but as I started school at five and changed schools at least once every year until I was fifteen, the changes become more and more difficult.  Friends were made each year only to be quickly lost.  That taught me how to make friends easily but also not to count on them.  Sadly, separations became easier and easier to bear until the seemed almost inconsequential, regardless of how strong bonds had once seemed.

That changed for a while when at the age of fifteen I became a “cadet”, first at the Eastern Military Academy in Huntington, New York, and then at the Citadel, the Military College of South Carolina.  Seven solid years of building bonds with schoolmates, ties which have persevered for decade after decade.  Then a return to Eastern as a faculty member; nine more years during which the nature of evolving bonds changed.  Bonding was no longer, for the most part, with peers, but rather, with my own pupils, young off-white tabulas almost rasas whom I sought to mentor.  Apparently I’d grown and passed through several rites of passage.  Some of those students have remained in my life, albeit at a distance, for more than half a century.

Fifteen was memorable for other reasons too.  I’d always had a crush on some girl or other but before I attained that lofty age, they rarely knew (I wonder though whether any suspected what I felt).  That changed.  I started developing intimate ties with young ladies, ties I rarely handled well.  Relationships seemed a game then.  I had so much to learn and they had so much to teach, all too frequently bittersweet.  Especially at this time of year.  Julia Iglesias (my favorite singer) singing “To All the Girls I’ve Loved Before” has come to have a special meaning for me, but one more often than not tinged with regrets.  Seemingly, perhaps I stayed fifteen for way too long.  I’m still in touch with some lost loves, but not many.  However, looking back, many more of them have stayed in my heart. 

As it is for all of us eventually, as time slipped by, I lost precious family members and then classmates and students and friends and perhaps former lovers as well.  The other side of the veil becomes more and more crowded so much faster now.  Losses of places and people accumulate in profound pools of nostalgia weaving melancholy tapestries in shades of gray and the colors in rainbows fade.  Melancholy becomes a place, one I visit as accumulated memories croon siren songs and I brood on things I’d change.  Things that once seemed so right but now seem as though they might have been mistakes.  Mistakes I’d correct, … if only I could.

So many people have touched my life.  So many have shared sadness and happiness, ecstasy and despair.  Others have merely crossed my path for an instant.  I recall people I should have met, people who I saw in passing without a shared word and who immediately moved on but who I’ve never forgotten and wish I’d gotten to know.  Roads not taken are always more plentiful than the paths we’ve trod and who knows where they might have led.

Hopefully I’ve grown wiser but wisdom is strange.  It’s an imperfect mirror with distorted reflections and more and more unanswered, perhaps unanswerable, questions.  Time alone doesn’t make one wise but perhaps it makes us more sage than we once were.  Mistakes overcome bring wisdom, and mistakes, I’ve had my share.  And not too few to mention.  My way was not always the best.

This season is not only about gift giving and festivities but more importantly, it has always also been a time for reflection and introspection.  A time to ponder how we’ve become who we are.  As we age, some of us become less egocentric and our contemplation expands to the collectives of which we’re a part, to our future as a species.  Those of us who study history professionally but by some miracle at least try to do so objectively, at some point realize that truth is more than just elusive.  We come to realize that our own memories are at best an imperfect motley, an indecipherable collage, and that our collective memory tends to be even worse.  What we call history, what we pass on to our progeny, is not only usually inaccurate but all too often cynically scored, liveried in beautiful music and soaring rhetoric designed to mold us into sated sheep and lyrical lemmings easily misled.  To our collective detriment.  Apparently, as we age, we become cynics, although the wise among us may attain that status sooner.

Things seemed so much easier to understand when I was very young, so many things seemed so clear, so obvious.  Faith made belief easy.  God was in his Heaven with Père Noel at his side taking notes.  Fantasy seemed as likely to be true as what passed for reality.  Truth and justice were tangible rather than imagined.  One once among us, a Prince of Peace, had ascended to sit at the right hand of his father and certainly would never take sides in wars where we slaughtered each other in his Holy name.  But then faith became more and more elusive and harsh “realities” slowly took its place, purported sanity replacing benevolent chaos.

Like so many others, I wonder: “do we lose cognitive capacity as we pass from the magic era of early childhood into the realm of knowledge acquired”?  Is accumulated wisdom the antithesis of infancy’s faith or are we each a unique melding of instinct and pain, knowledge and joy, deception and rejection, unable to really communicate with anyone or anything else, even with the people we were and those we’ll become?

What a depressing thought!

Can’t we be both unreservedly alone and completely connected with everyone and everything that’s ever been?  Quantically linked since before eternity was conceived, when everything was part of the primordial proto quark?  After all, once upon a time, every part of what we are was joined together at the starting gate of a Big Bang, before we became Magellanic Clouds and then stars and rays of light.  And isn’t light both an isolated particle and a collective wave?

Confused reflections as another solstice passes by.
_______

© Guillermo Calvo Mahé; Manizales, 2021; all rights reserved.  Please feel free to share with appropriate attribution.

Guillermo (“Bill”) Calvo Mahé (a sometime poet) is a writer, political commentator and academic currently residing in the Republic of Colombia (although he has primarily lived in the United States of America of which he is also a citizen).  Until 2017 he chaired the political science, government and international relations programs at the Universidad Autónoma de Manizales.  He is currently a strategic analyst employed by Qest Consulting Group, Inc.  He has academic degrees in political science (the Citadel), law (St. John’s University), international legal studies (New York University) and translation and linguistic studies (the University of Florida’s Center for Latin American Studies).  He can be contacted at guillermo.calvo.mahe@gmail.com and much of his writing is available through his blog at http://www.guillermocalvo.com.

Uncomfortable Reflections on the Demise of Clan Cuomo

I loved Mario Cuomo, one of my professors during the Watergate Era, as ethical as he was objective and honest and at the time, apparently apolitical although an emerging leader in the New York City Democratic Party.  He pointed out to us that what Richard Nixon was being tarred and feathered for was no different to the conduct of his predecessors throughout the twentieth century, but that notwithstanding that reality, it was past time for meaningful reform.  Every one of his classes was a lesson in ethics, although the topic was much more mundane, “legal research and writing”.

His sons were as different as possible from their father.  The odious and formerly mighty second generation Cuomo Clan appears to have fallen.  That is my translation of an article that appeared on Sunday, December 5, 2021 in Aljazeera entitled “CNN fires Chris Cuomo over role in brother’s harassment scandal: Veteran news anchor fired for helping defend brother”.  I prefer foreign sources with respect to news about the United States since the United States corporate media is, and perhaps always has been, completely unreliable.  But the news has even spread to the corporate media which, for so long did what it could to obfuscate it.

I am obviously not a fan of the Cuomo brothers, in fact, I’ve despised them since many of us believed that their early misconduct and lack of ethics caused their father, one of my heroes, to decide not to run for the presidency in 1992, giving us Bill Clinton instead, a man much more similar to them in every way than was their father Mario.  I am also certainly not in favor of sexual abuse of any kind.  Still, there are aspects to the reactions to the Cuomo scandals that I find troubling.  My own included.

Unlike Bill Clinton and (according to Tara Reade) Joe Biden and others, Andrew Cuomo was not married when he engaged in the pseudo-sexual activities that laid him low and, as a human being, was seemingly free to seek mutually agreeable intimate interactions.  The problem is that when one attains substantial success, potential intimate interactions too often involve imbalances of power that make mutuality difficult to discern, and that is now frowned upon although evolutionary theory, as enforced by nature, suggests that sexual interactions that favor the more powerful are not only healthy but essential for biological progress.  But we have, as a society (or as groups of societies) diverged from the path of survival of the fittest enforced by nature, we have diverged in many, perhaps most ways, believing that we are morally superior to nature and thus know better. 

I cannot deny that I frequently feel the same way.  Nature’s dictates are now anathema in many ways.  For example, when it comes to dealing with those who suffer physical or mental impairments, it is unthinkable to cast them aside hoping for their demise as do other biological entities and even our recent ancestors.  Indeed, the age restrictions we place on sexual activity contradict not only our own history but evolutionary mechanisms: i.e., nature sets the onset of menses in women and ejaculatory capacity in men but we disagree with the logical conclusions such physical changes imply.  That was not always the case.  The allegedly virgin Mary was purportedly impregnated by an agent of the divine before she attained her first dozen years, an event we still incongruously celebrate at this time of year.  We also refuse to recognize nature’s indicia of adulthood by depriving our young of equal rights as to most things before they attain an age that recent society has arbitrarily set, but set in a clearly incoherent manner.  Young men and now young women are old enough to die for their countries but not to either consume alcohol or to vote.  How logical are our social deviations from nature’s suggestions? 

We are an incoherent species! 

Consider the reality that nouveaux-puritanical-sexual-mores are now most espoused among those who believe themselves most environmentally conscious and most attuned to nature.  Odd dichotomies we seem unwilling to study lest the contradictions involved make us uncomfortable.  They certainly make me uncomfortable.  I am completed committed to concepts of equity, equality and justice that we as humans have created and made priorities but which are utterly irrelevant to nature.  But I am also very drawn to nature’s inherent wisdom.  Thus, I have no answers, and I know I have no answers.  But I do not ignore the questions raised.  I have plenty of questions.  Unfortunately, modern society has devolved into competing camps of know-it-alls unwilling to consider competing perspectives, all opponents being vile and evil.

Given that, at least indirectly, Andrew Cuomo´s dilemma is a topic of this article, it is appropriate to consider our current confusion about all matters sexual, a legacy of all three major Abrahamic Religions.  The obvious consequences of our incoherent, contradictory and polarized sexual mores (so confusing that they do not actually qualify any more as social mores) are that, today, interactions between genders have become morally divorced from nature’s dictates but not from nature’s instincts, leaving us confused and polarized.  As the purportedly “woke” tear down social institutions leaving us without replacements (perhaps a necessary evolutionary phase in the social subsystem with which we replace nature’s tendencies), some of us need to carefully and objectively analyze the situation and suggest functioning alternatives in place of platitudes.  But today, anyone making such suggestions is likely to be deemed an abomination.  Science fiction author Robert Heinlein did so in his latter novels but I admit that while I found his libertarian leaning social premises and suggested postulates logical, I concurrently found them emotionally troubling.  They made me feel as though I’d become a biological oxymoron; kind of like the character Vinnie Barbarino in the old “Welcome Back Kotter” sitcom when he would lament: “I’m so confused!!!!”  I feel that way too.

But enough about Andrew and the unnatural evolution of current sexual “mores”, more frequently acknowledged in their violation than in their acquiescence.  Turning to Chris, his unpardonable socio-civic sin was daring to seek to defend his brother.  I despise Chris Cuomo finding him to be a dishonest hypocrite and worthless human being (except perhaps, for his willingness to put himself at some sort of risk to defend his brother).  Defense of a family member, until recently a sacred attribute of brotherhood (and sisterhood, and parenthood, etc.), has now been declared anathema if it clashes with newly imposed elitist mores which at least so far, seem as dysfunctional as those initially discussed above.  Interfamily dysfunctionality is not new, it is always present in civil wars and family strife, but it has not previously been generally accepted as a requirement, at least outside of totalitarian societies where the state trumped everything (no allusion to the former president intended) and tattle-on-your-family was the rule (think, perhaps, of Stalinist Russia or Nazi Germany).  Is that really what we want today for ourselves and for our children?  For our relationships with our friends?

There is a great deal of pleasure in seeing the fall of those who have attained the heights unfairly, in unmerited fashion, who have attained social and civic heights by abusing family ties and then pontificating to us, something that seems a rule of nature among descendants of men and woman who have scaled the heights and attained success on their own, fighting and scratching to climb every wrung of the socio-civic-economic ladder.  That is most glaringly the story of the Kennedy Clan in recent history, but also of the Cuomos.  Still, while their fall may be appropriate, sometimes the reasons for their fall are not justified.  Society rarely cares.  There is satisfaction in finally getting them, of having them suffer their due, of tripping them up on their high wire acts, of ending their manipulating of “the system” to attain de facto impunity, who cares how.  The beloved “Al Capone gambit”,

But perhaps we should care. 

Perhaps we have to care if we really want to replace the transformational “law of the jungle” system that nature has bequeathed us with a just world, one where equity is probable and equality attainable.

Something we ought to at least contemplate.
_______

© Guillermo Calvo Mahé; Manizales, 2021; all rights reserved.  Please feel free to share with appropriate attribution.

Guillermo (“Bill”) Calvo Mahé (a sometime poet) is a writer, political commentator and academic currently residing in the Republic of Colombia (although he has primarily lived in the United States of America of which he is also a citizen).  Until 2017 he chaired the political science, government and international relations programs at the Universidad Autónoma de Manizales.  He is currently a strategic analyst employed by Qest Consulting Group, Inc.  He has academic degrees in political science (the Citadel), law (St. John’s University), international legal studies (New York University) and translation and linguistic studies (the University of Florida’s Center for Latin American Studies).  He can be contacted at guillermo.calvo.mahe@gmail.com and much of his writing is available through his blog at http://www.guillermocalvo.com.

Marina and Teddy and Mom and Pop: a Christmas Carol of Our Own

The aroma of melancholy and nostalgia subtly scent the air and echoes faintly sing as memories flow.

I remember Thanksgiving and Christmas when it was Teddy, Marina and me (in inverse chronological order), and, of course, Mom and Pop.  “Pop” was my stepfather with whom I lived from ages six through fifteen (when he and my mother separated).  Nonetheless, he remained in our lives until he passed away suddenly when I was a few months shy of twenty-six.  He was about to turn sixty I think.

I remember Thanksgiving and Christmas especially in New York; especially during the morning watching the Macy’s Christmas Parade on our small black and white television set with Santa bringing up the rear and sometimes, if it had snowed, I remember making angels’ wings on a common lawn in our small apartment in Queens Village (overlooking Hillside Boulevard).  It was on 215th street as I recall.  I was happy there, at least for a bit; good friends quickly made, especially Bobby, the Italian kid from across the street, then all too quickly gone, as usual.  We moved a lot.  But back then there was always my sister Marina and my brother Teddy, and my Mom and Pop and me.

I remember Thanksgiving as the start of a special season, one featuring various festivals of light, a season which was, then, for me, flavored with introspection and speculation on the nature of the Prince of Peace, the one I so loved and admired way back then.  Then, when I was so blissfully innocent (at least some of the time).  And I remember optimism and hope, and a general feeling of delightful wellbeing, not realizing that we were not all that well off but feeling that we were.  We were all together then; but not for long. 

Those days, like so much else, lasted until about 1961 when the world changed.  The Pope, Pius X I think, purportedly read the last Fatima prophecy and I went off to boarding school (I don’t think the two events were connected, although, who knows), a military prep school, a wonderful place in its own light, and many new adventures began, not all happy but rarely sad.  I remember the gloomy thanksgiving in 1963, when for a second, the world was united in shock, but then, a few months later, the 1964 World’s Fair, and the 20th anniversary of D Day, and then, college, but a very different college experience than most.

And of course, the “police action in Vietnam.  Wars are bad so we didn’t have them after World War II, just like we’ve had a Defense Department rather than a Department of War since 1947.  I recall Simon and Garfunkel’s devastating version of Silent Night; actually, devastation was everywhere but so was change and optimism, even in the face of the Democratic Party’s display of fascism, American style in 1968.  Flower power, and love-ins, and miniskirts and long, long legs slowly fading into the same old us.

Months have merged into years and years into decades.  I’ve met so many people and been so many places.  Made so many mistakes but learned from most.  It’s been a very full and very complex life, one with numerous starts after barely realized ends, as though I’ve been at least five or six very different people, each living in different epochs, in different contexts with different settings and different casts.  Social changes accelerated at a dizzying pace in some aspects but not at all in others.  Some changes were essential and positive but too many now seem just illusory, ugly, even malign.  Right became wrong and then right again, and then, … who knows.  I’ve seen a country that adopted me as I did it dissolve into bickering, polarized factions with the wealthiest, even more that usually, astronomically increasing what they have at the expense of the impoverished many.  I’ve seen our bravest and most noble destroyed in useless foreign adventures and then, all too often, cast aside when some managed to return home.  I’ve seen hope replaced by resignation, but with all that and through it all, I’ve seen a beautiful People still prepared to give thanks for whatever they have.  In fact, those with the least are often the ones who most sincerely continue to believe in the magic season at the end of the year.

Today, I think of a marriage once so bright gone bad and miss Billy and Alex and Edward, now living lives of their own without me but at least together.  And I think of all the wonderful women I’ve known intimately but who just didn’t work out, and as always, I wish most of them the best.  I recall a dazzlingly beautiful young woman who once introduced herself to me as “Diana, as in the goddess, not Diane” and I remember the lyrics “all day, all night Marianne, down by the seashore, sifting sand” and I’m grateful and amazed that some of us are, from a distance, somehow still in touch and every once in a while, still speculating about might have beens.

Places as well as people have treasured places in my heart.  I think of Miami and Miami Beach and of Central Beach Elementary and Biscayne Elementary and of Hellen Mansfield and Maryanne Bass.  I think of Charlotte and Wesley Heights Elementary, an awesome place with great friends, albeit, as usual, only for a season or two.  And then I think of New York and Charleston and then, New York again; and of Fort Lauderdale and Hendersonville and Ocala.  All among the too many places I’ve called home.  I miss them all, now back in Manizales where I began, but I sometimes wonder for how long.  This holiday season marks the start of my 15th year here.

I’ve attended almost too many schools to count, usually briefly, until that fateful 1961 when I enrolled in the Eastern Military Academy college preparatory school, a fabulous castle where I’d spend almost twelve years, first as a student but eventually as a faculty member too.  And of course, the Citadel, the Military College of South Carolina, is emblazoned in my soul, I think of it daily and even after more than half a century, interact with beloved former classmates and friends, and fellow alumni.

Even before those halcyon days in New York though, before the good old USA, I remember how once upon a time, in another continent to the South, one I now once again call home, my grandmother and my two aunts, and an all too interesting uncle remained, at least for a while. 

What a ride life’s been and it still has such a long way to go.  A seventh version of me now cohabits with Natalia and sometimes with Dalia and Maia, her teenage daughters, and with Maria Elena her mother, and with Caro her sister and Jose Jesus her father and Edwin and Odair, her brothers, and with all my Mahe cousins and with all the friends and colleagues and students I’ve made during the past fourteen years. 

During this season I nostalgically recall Jimmy Stewart at Christmas reevaluating his values and Ingrid Bergman as a Christmas story nun, and Bing Crosby and Bob Hope on the road, and Abbot and Costello, and the Three Stooges with Officer Joe Bolton (before police officers were perceived of as swine) and I recall meeting Perry Cuomo at Eddie Kowalski’s house where his pretty cousin Bonnie, now gone, enthralled us all. 

But I come back to Marina and Teddy, and Pop and Mom. And a very young and optimistic version of me delighting in white Christmases and decorations and Christmas carols, and even in ghosts of Christmases past and present and future, and of Tiny Tim (the original one, not the one tripping through the tulips with a ukulele) wishing us a Merry Christmas,

One and all.
_______

© Guillermo Calvo Mahé; Manizales, 2021; all rights reserved.  Please feel free to share with appropriate attribution.

Guillermo (“Bill”) Calvo Mahé (a sometime poet) is a writer, political commentator and academic currently residing in the Republic of Colombia (although he has primarily lived in the United States of America of which he is also a citizen).  Until 2017 he chaired the political science, government and international relations programs at the Universidad Autónoma de Manizales.  He is currently a strategic analyst employed by Qest Consulting Group, Inc.  He has academic degrees in political science (the Citadel), law (St. John’s University), international legal studies (New York University) and translation and linguistic studies (the University of Florida’s Center for Latin American Studies).  He can be contacted at guillermo.calvo.mahe@gmail.com and much of his writing is available through his blog at http://www.guillermocalvo.com.

Not as much for which to be Thankful as One Might Hope

A Real Progressives Dilemma

It is amazing how, in just eleven months, the Democratic Party has managed to utterly demolish the prospect for attainment of progressive causes such as racial, religious, ethnic and gender tolerance and acceptance, for minimizing discrimination, for more humane and effective criminal justice policies geared towards redemption, for international peace and collaboration, for a more equitable sharing of our economic bounty.  Of course, that Deep State tool could not have accomplished such disasters for real progressives without the idiotic “woke”, without Identity Politics and of course, without the decrepit but hypocritical corporate media. 

No conservatives could have done as much harm to the popular attitudes and perceptions towards progressive causes than what’s been done by ludicrous pseudo-liberals-in-name only demanding ludicrously incongruous and unworkable policies; policies such as supporting looting and arson and mayhem and murder for its own sake, just for the fun of it; trying to make heroes of the worst our minorities have to offer while seeking to erase historical memorials from which we might have learned; and, attacking and prosecuting real political protest from people who honestly believe, whether they’re right or wrong, that the last federal elections were “stolen” (and this after their Russiagate fraud).

During the American Revolution, there was a show tune popular among the British troops fighting in the “colonies” which was played by military bands at their surrender at Yorktown.  It was appropriately entitled “The World Turned Upside Down”.  That is the Bizarro World in which we live and if current trends are any sign, the next elections at all levels will set progressive causes such as publicly financed health care and education for all, a real welfare system (you know, as in “Provide for the Common Welfare” as promised by those rabidly socialist Founding Fathers at the Constitutional Convention), a non-politicized judiciary, reasonable regulation of firearms, etc., back at least a decade. 

It is no wonder Tulsi Gabbard, the only decent major Democratic Party figure, is so often beside herself bemoaning the insanity of her political party.  It is a price we will all pay, but most especially the most vulnerable among us, those most in need of our wisdom and understanding and of a world were equity, justice and equality reign and where corruption and impunity are anathema …. rather than the rule.

Our Deep State masters are obviously beside themselves with joy. 

That’s all they really wanted.
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© Guillermo Calvo Mahé; Manizales, 2021; all rights reserved.  Please feel free to share with appropriate attribution.

Guillermo (“Bill”) Calvo Mahé (a sometime poet) is a writer, political commentator and academic currently residing in the Republic of Colombia (although he has primarily lived in the United States of America of which he is also a citizen).  Until 2017 he chaired the political science, government and international relations programs at the Universidad Autónoma de Manizales.  He is currently a strategic analyst employed by Qest Consulting Group, Inc.  He has academic degrees in political science (the Citadel), law (St. John’s University), international legal studies (New York University) and translation and linguistic studies (the University of Florida’s Center for Latin American Studies).  He can be contacted at guillermo.calvo.mahe@gmail.com and much of his writing is available through his blog at http://www.guillermocalvo.com.