Regular readers of this weekly exercise know too well that I am distractible. I have what some call divergent thinking. I am so right-brained I have to do left-brain exercises every morning before I dare walk and think at the same time.
An ability to do mind cartwheels and twirl about in imagination is a great thing and deserves to be protected from the scorn of rigid, unimaginative school teachers. Psychologists who say the ability to think divergently is as valuable as the ability to think convergently are right.
But I think it’s still always good to keep in mind fundamental questions and goals and needs, as a guide to the best utilization of your fine knack for spotting squirrels and shiny things.
Why am I in this maze at all? It’s always good to ponder that question. Am I getting closer to cheese? Could I escape, slay the experimenter and find allies who will join with me to form a rat army to conquer the world?
To summarize the past 10 days or so: North Korea threatened to fire four missiles toward Guam. Plans to remove a statue of Robert E. Lee in Virginia were protested by armed neo-Nazis, members of the KKK and White supremacists carrying torches. Protesters counter-protested the neo-Nazis. One of the neo-Nazis murdered one of the counter-protesters and injured many others. Trump blamed many sides. North Korea said it would put the missile launch on hold. Trump said violence is bad even when committed by well-meaning neo-Nazis and White supremacists, who legitimately want to keep the statue up. Trump said Kim Jong-un was right to “back down.” Trump then led us to a discussion as to why were the counter-protesters so violent, and that they shouldn’t have been there in the first place because they didn’t have a permit.
Times when I require a permit to protest people threatening the peace with guns and torches: never.
Times when anyone can claim to be peaceful protesters just because they have a permit, in spite of marching with guns and lit torches: never.
Times when marching with guns and lit torches is justified to save a monument you want saved: never.
What is the fundamental issue in all this? Violence and the threat of violence to achieve political ends. Focus, focus, focus.
These Confederate statues and monuments and the Fremont statue of Lenin are not the fundamental issue. They are the squirrels and the shiny things, of which there are many. They are tokens of power, not the power itself. They are notches in the belts of the power wielders, who want to display their victories.
That’s why I am totally unimpressed by Mayor Murray’s announcement that we should down the statue of Lenin and the confederate memorial at Lake View Cemetery. What on Earth is that supposed to prove?
We don’t let neo-Nazis tell us what Confederate memorials we can or can’t take down, and we’ll prove it by taking down this one. And, oh yeah, we’re also more powerful than the armies of Seattle’s ex-Bolsheviks who still love Lenin statues. Pulling his statue down will show them who’s boss in this city. We can do this, thus we are victorious.
Return to reality. North Korea is threatening war as much now as ever. The fact that the threatened action is “on hold” just means the gun is still pointed at us. Marchers threatening violence are terrorists by definition. The neo-Nazis, White supremacists and KKK, marching with torches, and everyone who abetted them by joining their march were terrorists. The counter-protesters were protesting terrorism as it was happening.
Meanwhile there are squirrels and shiny things galore loose in this city. The Seattle Times once again expressed the view, in an editorial, that RV campers don’t need freedom to park unhampered, they just need “permanent shelter.” (I guess they couldn’t bring themselves to say “permanent inadequate housing.”)
Jeez, why didn’t I see all that bright, shiny permanent shelter just sitting there nestled on that hillside over there?
I didn’t see it because it’s imaginary! But it sure is a distracting invention of the imagination isn’t it? It always comes back, time and again, to derail discussions about homelessness into fantasies.
Dr. Wes Browning is a one time a math professor and three times homeless. He has been involved with Real Change since he supplied the art for the first cover in November of 1994. This is his regular humor column, Adventures in Irony.
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