Posted by: johnhourihan | January 4, 2017

Resolutions at 70

I haven’t spent a lot of time on New Year’s resolutions in the past, but this year I am 70. I am the age where 30 year olds believe we have gone around the bend when we warn them about the roads they are on. I figure I have fifteen or twenty years left, so this year I do have a few resolutions. I will spend more time with my wife enjoying whatever we can enjoy. She is a special woman and I am lucky to have her. I will stay in touch with my grandchildren whenever their parents allow it to be possible. I have decided that I will no longer be a part of any organized religion until all the hungry children in the world are fed. It seems with the money in the churches, mosques, temples and other castles of high piety this should have been possible years ago. I will be proud of my two children, talk about them a lot and visit them when I can. I will pay more attention to my brothers and sisters, the only people who truly know my life first hand. I will sweep from my life all those who have not done a good thing, no matter how small, for me or my wife in the past ten years. After my life and everything I have lived through, I don’t like being talked down to by anyone especially children, so if you feel it is your position to “put me in my place,” to talk down to me because I am old, don’t talk at all. I won’t be listening.
This year, 2017, I am 70, but before you talk to or about this doddering old man please remember I was 10 years old and poor, I was a fast driving, girl chasing street kid at 16, I was a 20 year old fighting a war and trying ot keep my friends off drugs, I was a 30 year old Irish Catholic raising a family in a WASP town were I graduated from high school, I was a teacher, a journalist, a coach and a 50 year old divorcee, I was a 60 year old benefactor to all those who needed help and who now don’t quite remember that decade, and now I am 70. If all you see is an old man, you are a fool. My most important new year’s resolution is to remind you all that anything you do now, we old people did first and did it better. You should be listening to our advice. There is only one thing young people today have done that we never did.
We never elected an idiot to be president. You did.

Posted by: johnhourihan | January 2, 2017

being a human is more important than the economy

I cringe every time I hear a loved one say, “The bottom line is the economy.” After seven decades of life, I know this to be untrue. The bottom line is how we treat each other regardless of money. It always has been, always will be, so I cringe when a loved one says it is OK that our president makes fun of disabled people, red lined his buildings to prevent minorities from getting homes, evacuated disabled vets from his buildings because he didn’t like how they looked, wants to discriminate against anyone who is not Christian, wants to quiet the media, wants to treat those who speak against him as “enemies” of the state, as long as he makes us more money. Humanity is the bottom line, not the economy.

Posted by: johnhourihan | December 30, 2016

Make America Great Again

Wouldn’t it be nice if, when President elect Trump says, “Make America Great Again,” he means to bring it back to a time when a man didn’t kick someone when they were down, a man’s word was his bond something as good as a signed contract, when a man who was down on his luck could “put it on the cuff” to feed his family, when more affluent people felt it was a privilege to help feed those who were less fortunate, when doctors billed patients according to their ability to pay, when the pews of a church were filled on Sunday with good Christians, when a man’s worth was not decided by the content of his bank account or the color of his skin, when Christians were people who were happy to clothe the naked, feed the hungry, heal the sick, and do it without judging those they helped, when the arbitrary boundaries between countries did not give us an excuse to hate or kill, when money was still the root of all evil and having a lot of it did not make you a good man or woman, when we trusted those in our government to try to do what was right, and when white supremacists and other racists were looked down on as people who were stupid and didn’t know any better. Wouldn’t it be nice if that was a time he was shooting for? But I really don’t think any of that is on his time-warp radar. I think it might be a bit more realistic. I think he means back to a time when there were no unions or civil rights laws, or women’s rights laws, or any regulations on industry. I believe he means to a time when the government didn’t step in to help those who were being worked to death and not being paid enough money to feed a family, back to a time when our fathers could red-line entire cities and towns to make sure the neighborhood didn’t go to Hell, and back to a time when we could invade smaller countries because we could, and under-paid migrant workers were the lifeblood of corporate farms, and back to a time when those who complained about any of it could be legally silenced with bullying, a time when women knew their place, barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen with their mouths shut, and minorities knew their place in the back of the bus, and anyone but affluent white men could be certain that “those laws don’t apply to us.” In short, back to a time when we had “liberty and justice for some white people.”
I’m afraid those who voted for Mr. Trump may have felt the first part of this was the goal. It never was. The second part is. And now you are beginning to understand.

Posted by: johnhourihan | December 30, 2016

We are living doublethink

For those of you who aren’t sure what just happened that led to our current situation of Donald Trump poised to pounce on the White House and grab it by the pussy, let me explain.
“His mind slid away into the labyrinthian world of doublethink. To know and not to know, to be conscious of complete truthfulness while telling carefully constructed lies, to hold simultaneously two opinions which cancelled out, knowing them to be contradictory and believing both of them, to use logic against logic, to repudiate morality while laying claim to it, to believe that democracy was impossible and that the Party was the guardian of democracy, to forget whatever it was necessary to forget, then to draw it back into memory again at the moment when it was needed, and then promptly forget it again, and above all to apply the same process to the process itself.” – 1984, George Orwell
Don’t be so confused, we have been warned about it several times in history. It is just now becoming reality because you voted it in, and are now asking us to “give it a chance.”

Posted by: johnhourihan | December 30, 2016

We need to have a rebirth of humanism

It seems we are all familiar with 1984. We haven’t listened to it. We are just familiar with it. But what we should be familiar with is an afterword written by renowned psychoanalyst Erich Fromm. Fromm points out that Orwell never said his world was “bound” to come, but his work was one of warning, “showing where we are headed for unless we succeed in a renaissance of the spirit of humanism and dignity.”
He says that it is Orwell’s intention that our new form of managerial industrialism, in which man builds machines that act like men and develops men who act like machines, is conducive to an era of dehumanization and complete alienation, in which men are transformed into things and become appendices to the process of production and consumption.”
But this we pay no attention to. As long as our bank accounts go up and our taxes go down we don’t much care if people are starving, losing their individuality and becoming bereft of every human quality that has made us human. Faith, hope, love and individuality such as in the world of 1984.
Donald Trump has shown by his recent actions and his promises during the election that he is about to bring to us a world that is just that, and his followers say, “Give him a chance” because he may make us money.
Are you insane?

Posted by: johnhourihan | December 7, 2016

What the hell happened to us?

A young woman close to me, but of a different generation, asked me recently, “What the hell ever happened to you?”
She didn’t mean me personally of course. She meant my generation. You remember the ones who went to war in Indo-China and the ones who took to the streets to bring us home. It was a generation who believed all men are created equal, and sit-ins, beginning at a Woolworth’s lunch counter in 1960, started a movement toward that end, and in 1961 the “Freedom Riders” took to the highways to bust black oppression by whites in the South. It was a generation who believed in civil rights and made the government pass a Civil Rights Act in 1964. It was a generation of young people who despised the treatment of black people and forced through protests the Voting Rights Act of 1965. In 1968 Johnson took a hint from the people and signed the Civil Rights Act of 1968, prohibiting discrimination in the sale, rental, and financing of housing. It was a generation who abhorred war and made the government end its war in Vietnam. It was a generation that hated the corruption in the White House and made a corrupt vice president and a criminal president quit. We were a generation who believed in a woman’s right to have control of her own body, and in 1973 we prodded a Supreme Court to vote in Roe v. Wade, and young women stopped dying in the alleys from illegal abortions. We helped build a culture in which each took care of himself or herself and helped those who couldn’t.
As she said it, I wondered what we would have done about Standing Rock, about Steve Bannon, about Jeff Sessions, about Mike Pence and Donald Trump. I wondered what we would do about the current attack on women’s rights and the rights of black men in the cities. I wonder if our immigrant workers, documented and undocumented would find their own Caesar Chavez. I wondered what will happen in the next four years.
I remember a story by Jack London, To Build A Fire. It is about a man and his dog, freezing in the snow. The man tries several times to light a fire, but each time the cold winds extinguish his efforts. Finally he builds a good campfire and the snow on a branch high above lets its snow melt and drop putting out the fire. The dog walks slowly away and the man decides to just sit back and freeze, having tried to build so many fires and then watching them all fail one by one and then facing the final assault, tired and old.
I wonder if my generation has just decided that we have lost. I hope not. We are mostly retired now, and maybe we should be doing what we did the last time we were out of work. You remember, we changed the world.

Posted by: johnhourihan | October 6, 2016

God doesn’t want to be used in this election

Mike Pence is a man of God. He is a good Christian. He wants his religion to be the driving force behind his politics. Seventy percent of what he told us in the Vice Presidential debate were lies. Seems he is breaking a few commandments, like the one that says Thou shalt not Lie, and the one that says Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor, and of course the one that says not to take the name of the Lord in vain. Of course he is only taking the name of the Lord to get votes so I guess that is OK. Mike Pence is not really a man of God. He is a politician who is lying to you. If you are a good Christian please do this. Don’t just believe Trump and Pence about who is religious and who is not. Ask God directly for a sign. I’m am pretty sure that sign won’t be a Trump/Pence sign. It might be more “Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and to God the things that are God’s” I’m pretty sure God would want to keep politics out of religion and religion out of politics. Here’s a hint; choose the people who are lying the least and vote for them. Here’s another hint; the color is blue.

Posted by: johnhourihan | August 29, 2016

We Should Take Donald Trump at His Word

Shouldn’t we take Trump at his word when he says he “doesn’t have a racist bone” in his body? I think we should.
Take him at his word when he calls supporters who beat senseless a homeless man because he was Latino, “passionate.”
Take him at his word when he condoned the beating of a Black Lives Matter protester by Trump supporters, and when he says “I’ll pay the court costs.”
Take him at his word when he bought full page advertising in a New York newspaper to push for the conviction of five black teenagers in the beating of a woman in Central Park. He called them “murderers” before the trial and told people it was OK to hate them. They were convicted; then years later DNA proved they were innocent.
Take him at his word when he made fun of the color of the skin of Native Americans, members of the Mashantucket Pequot Nation, when they wanted to start a casino in Connecticut. Even though we all know that intermarriage throughout the years has produced Native Americans of every color, he just had to say, in an attempt to block the casino, “They don’t look like Indians to me,” he laughed. “They don’t look like Indians to Indians.”
Take him at his word when he puts an article in front of the words “Hispanic” “African American” “Jews” thereby lumping all members of a group into one entity and stripping them of their individuality; “The Hispanics” “The blacks” “The Jews.”
Take him at his word when he says the first black president must be “from Kenya” and sends investigators to Hawaii (where the president was born) to prove it. It can’t be proven and he says the investigators are “surprised” by what they are finding.
Take him at his word when he tells his staff at an Atlantic City casino to get the black employees off the floor because one of his gamblers didn’t like them. He was fined by the New Jersey Casino Control Commission $200,000 for this.
Take him at his word when he calls his African-American employees “lazy,” and says he “hates … black guys counting my money.” He says he wants “short guys with Yarmulkes” doing that.
Take him at his word when he refused to hire black people for his riverboat casino on Lake Michigan.
Take him at his word for refusing to rent to people of color in New York City.
Take him at his word when he attacked a gold star mother because she was also a Muslim, by saying she probably “wasn’t allowed” to speak.
Take him at his word when he said an Indiana-born judge couldn’t do his job fairly because “he is a Mexican.”
Take him at his word when he refused to condemn white supremacists who are campaigning for him.
Take him at his word when he shared with his supporters online a star of David he took from an anti- Semetic, white-supremacist website.
And take him at his word when he hires to run his campaign a man whose ex-wife says he chose his daughter’s school because he “didn’t want my daughter to go to school with Jews.”
Yes. I guess we should take him at his word.
He is a racist and a bigot.

Posted by: johnhourihan | August 14, 2016

To poor people who want to vote for Trump

Maybe poor white families are right in wanting to vote for Trump. Let’s see. You are a 47 year old white man living with your wife, your twenty-year-old son and your 15 year-old-daughter. You have worked in the factory for 30 years. You get weekends off and two weeks vacation a year. You have seniority so a lot of people have to be laid off before you. Your wife works at WalMart. Your son’s wife works as the payroll clerk at a construction company. You are all covered by the Affordable Care Act. Your mother lives on her own paying for elderly housing with one-third of her Social Security check and is covered by Medicare. Your son’s wife makes $50 a week after she pays day care.
Voting for Trump will do this for you according to what he has said he will do if elected and what he has always done in his business endeavors.
He will put up trade tariffs and, since Chinese goods will now cost as much as American made goods, WalMart will close stores and lay off people to make up the difference. Your wife loses her job, and since there will be no minimum wage all she will be able to get is a job at a fast food place for $3 an hour. American goods will also go up and people like Trump will get even richer since they will not have to pay taxes.
Your daughter will get a tax break on daycare at the end of the year. Of course you will have to pay for the daycare up front, but since there will be no work for construction companies building our infrastructure your hours will be cut. You will have no recourse because unions have been busted. Your son will be drafted because we will be at war on several fronts and your daughter in law will come live with you with their baby.
Your mother’s Social Security will be cut by a third and privatized Medicare will become so difficult to negotiate your mother will get sicker and sicker because she doesn’t know where to get health care, and of course the Affordable Care Act will be repealed and we will go back to insurance companies telling you when and where you can go to the doctor. When she gets too sick your mother will move in with you. You, your wife, your daughter, your daughter in law and your mother will all scrounge just to hold onto your house and buy food. And if your son gets wounded in the war he will come home to you without any veterans benefits. And without the Americans with Disabilities Act he will not be able to get a job and if he decides to sell trinkets for money to pay the bills Trump will have him removed from the streets because he doesn’t look right.
You want to tell me why you think it is a good idea to vote for Donald Trump? Is it that he tells it like it is? Is it the wall? Is it his promise to invade everyone? He has already told you what he will do. Pay attention or don’t vote. You are going to hurt yourself and your family.

Posted by: johnhourihan | August 13, 2016

The most tolerant generation

Tolerance, acceptance, discrimination – I heard recently that this is the most tolerant generation we have ever seen. I believe it is true, but is that really a good thing? Is it possible that tolerance is just an easy way out? To tolerate, to put up with, the differences means we don’t have to accept the differences, we just put up with them. It is more difficult to accept our differences, since there are then decisions to be made. Who and what do we accept and not accept? Who and what do we discriminate against? We tolerate because we have made discrimination a bad word, when in fact we all discriminate and we should. We should discriminate between right and wrong, between good and evil. To just tolerate our differences is easy. To accept our differences means we have to perform the difficult personal task of deciding what we think is right and wrong, good and evil. Then we have to choose, and then be personally responsible for our choices. To just tolerate is the easy way out.

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