Strange Bedfellows – Chapter 2 – Maria’s Walk

Abstract drawing of a meandering line, ending in a scribble of panic
Maria’s Walk

Chapter 2

But one day, things changed. Their maid, Maria, arrived in the morning at her regular time to clean their condo. After waxing the black-and-white tile dining room floor, dusting the glass shelves and tabletops, rearranging cushions on the couch, love seat, and side chairs, vacuuming their brilliant white pile carpets, polishing their heavy, ornate silverware, and washing windows, she headed into the bedroom. She collected stray piles of dirty clothes to launder or dry-clean, rearranged scattered items on the dressers, and turned to the bed to straighten it.

But when she pulled down the covers, between the black satin sheets, she found the rotting corpse of an old, shriveled woman. Skin stretched tight across bones, cheeks sharp, teeth bared, pelvis and ribs angular beneath copper-colored, paper-thin hide, the body’s sparse silvery hair fell from the scalp, and the stink of decay filled the room.

Maria stumbled back in shock. With a shriek, she turned and fled the apartment, barely able to close the door behind her.

When Paul and Christina arrived home later that night, they noticed nothing unusual. Engrossed in the last twelve hours of their own experiences―politics at Paul’s work, and the new show Christina was opening in less than a week―they mixed their customary drinks and compared notes on their demanding workdays.

Looking up from her glass, Christina noticed the vacuum cleaner was still out, leaning in a corner of the living room. With a sniff and a resolution to give Maria a good talking-to, she replaced it in the utility closet, and went back to her husband. As she passed through the dining area, she saw the silverware had been polished, but not put away; forks, knives, and spoons lay scattered across the glass dining room table, gleaming dully under the dimmed chandelier. Christina replaced the tableware in its case, her lips pursed, adding this infraction to her mental list of reprimands for Maria. This maid had been with them for years, but lately she’d lost some of her attention to detail. Leaving lights on when she left the apartment, forgetting to unload clean clothes from the dryer, leaving the television volume turned up when she shut it off… This laxness was starting to wear on Christina’s patience.

Returning to the living room, she took the second drink her husband held out to her, and sipped. As the martini burned in her throat, she scented something―rank, bitter, sickly sweet, almost unnoticeable, but not entirely.

“This is the last straw,” Christina said indignantly, swallowing hard and shaking her head as Paul noticed the smell, too. “We simply have to find some more reliable domestic help.”

Cocktails in hand, husband and wife sniffed their way through their home, checking under cupboards and behind furniture for the source of the smell. Both agreed that Maria had probably brought some dead animal with her from her run-down neighborhood… perhaps she’d left it for them out of spite. They hadn’t raised her hourly wage in some time, and lately she’d been more sullen than usual. It was only out of charity, they’d kept her this long. She needed them more than they needed her. But still, her attitude had deteriorated in the past months. With mounting indignation, they made their way slowly around the apartment, until they stood in front of their bedroom.

With measured pace, Paul walked the perimeter of the room, checking under the chest of drawers and behind the dressing screen for the source of the smell. He set his drink on Christina’s vanity table and poked his head underneath; perhaps some food had fallen behind there and had taken weeks, even months, to go bad.

Hands on hips, Christina surveyed the room, nostrils flared. Everything appeared to be in place―except the laundry, which lay in a heap in the middle of the floor. The smell couldn’t be coming from there, she thought. Their dirty clothes usually smelled better than Maria’s clean ones. She could see nothing. But this room was the obvious source of the odor. Scanning the room, sipping her martini, her gaze eventually rested on the bed―a tangled mess of sheets and blankets. Incensed, she strode towards it and pulled hard at the covers.

Christina screamed. In his haste to get up, Paul smashed his head against the underside of the vanity, and stumbled woozily to his wife’s side. She stood ashen and shaking beside the bed, her quivering hand clutching the edge of the sheet. When he reached her side, Paul recoiled, his stomach churning.

It was a horrible sight―the corpse of an old, old woman, hair white and sparse, falling from a bony skull, skin pulled tight back from a skeletal face, grey teeth grimacing between shriveled lips in the light from the city outside. Flat remnants of breasts lay on a sharply bony ribcage, and the abdomen was sunken between pelvic bones stabbing upwards through the parchment-like flesh. An unholy stench rose from the body, leathery and emaciated, rotting and covered with a fine, grey dust.

“Oh, God―” Paul choked back a wave of nausea. Christina stood motionless, frozen with terror. “When we get hold of that maid―” he muttered, prying the covers from his wife’s hand, gingerly pulling the blankets over the body.

Beside him, his wife swooned, her hand clamped over her mouth. She reached for his arm and steadied herself, then staggered to the bathroom. She barely made it to the toilet in time. The martinis and late lunch she’d gobbled in a rush that afternoon spewed into the toilet bowl, as she heaved and heaved till there was nothing left in her stomach.

What horrible thing had they done to Maria? Christina wondered, her gut churning and her head pounding. What could they possibly have done to deserve this?
Paul’s stomach heaved suddenly, and he staggered to the kitchen where he vomited violently into the sink.

If this was Maria’s idea of a joke, he thought angrily, she could find work elsewhere. Was this some kind of snake-handler’s vendetta? A voodoo trick, maybe? He thought back over the past months. What had possessed Maria to do this to them? Was it the pay? Had one of his competitors at work paid her to do this? He knew he had enemies―they both did―but what monster could have put her up to such a thing?

“Honestly,” Christina snorted. She threw open the door, stalked through the dressing area, and burst into the master suite. Paul followed, muttering about the “unwashed masses.”

 

Strange Bedfellows – Chapter 1.3 – The View from their Window

abstract image of many houses in rows, flanked by distant jungle
The View from their Window

Chapter 1 – Continued

They lacked for nothing, and they indulged every whim with matter-of-fact entitlement. If Christina saw a piece of jewelry she liked, she bought it. If Paul found a designer suit that struck his fancy, he purchased it. If either of them discovered an expensive trinket that piqued their interest, they acquired it. When they were hungry, they ate as much as they pleased of whatever cuisine they desired. When their car ceased to be fashionable, they traded it in for another. When they spilled wine on a piece of furniture, they had the whole suite replaced. If anyone got in Paul’s way at work, he used his professional influence to have them removed from his path. When Christina decided she needed more money, she adjusted her prices and secretly kept the extra profit for herself. Their lives overflowed with an uninhibited, entitled abundance which they increasingly took for granted, and all their friends affirmed their right to take as much as they chose from the world around them.

Yet for all they had, it was never enough. They were intent on acquiring even more.

Each day, they sallied forth from their high-rise condo into the world of commercial enterprise which compliantly awaited their bidding. Each day, both Paul and Christina spent long hours at their jobs―he, behind a desk or in board rooms, she, walking clients through her gallery, showing what style and magic could be had from indigenous imagination and traditions, or meeting with artists anxiously seeking a venue for their work. Late in the evening, they headed home for drinks and dinner. Some nights, they dined on takeout in front of the television, work papers spread about them on the floor. Other nights, they donned their finest evening wear and attended posh, paparazzi-spangled social affairs with politically connected business associates and the pillars of the community they called friends. The only sign of limitation in their lives was that they had no driver, yet, and their car was a mid-sized (albeit, luxury) sedan. But soon enough, they had every confidence, their Mercedes would be replaced by a town car―like those of the silver-haired lords and ladies of the city―and a hired man, not Paul, would chauffeur them to the fêtes.

In return for the intense ardor of their daily lives and their devotion to keeping up appearances, they were richly rewarded with social and professional advancement. Mastery of their universe was well worth every 18-hour workday, followed by long evenings of paperwork or parties. Like others in their social milieu, they paid little attention to politics, unless it directly affected their social or professional positions, and they paid even less attention to the implications (moral or social) of their work. They were eagerly and intentionally devoid of any ethically responsible impulse, and they considered social consciousness the bastard child of the morally invasive Church. Their only profession of faith was that those who had less than they, had been somehow remiss in their socio-economic or karmic obligations, to live such meager lives. Those who had less, they believed, were either lazy or stupid and had earned their low station in life. Everyone, they believed, got exactly what they deserved.

Paul and Christina had it all, and they assumed they deserved no less.

You say you want a revolution? Think about your long game

Excerpt from War At Home
Image content: Limited by their upbringing, social position, and isolation from older radical traditions, 1960s activists were unable to make the connections and changes required to build movements strong enough to survive and eventually win structural change in the United States. Middle-class students did not sufficiently ally with working and poor people. Too few white activists accepted third world leadership of multi-racial alliances. Too many men refused to practice genuine gender equality. Originally motivated by goals of quick reforms, 1960s activists were ill-prepared for the long-term struggles in which they found themselves. Overly dependent on media-oriented superstars and one-shot dramatic actions, they failed to develop stable organizations, accountable leader ship, and strategic perspective. Creatures of the culture they so despised, they often lacked the patience to sustain tedious grassroots work and painstaking analysis of actual social conditions. They found it hard to accept the slow, uneven pace of personal and political change.

I’m working my way through posting excerpts of Strange Bedfellows on this site. The book seems even more apropos now, than ever before, so I’m working my way through it. I hope people will come to understand the underlying message that transcends the story itself. There’s a lot in there. I’ve had 25+ years to think about it, and trust me, I don’t waste time thinking about stuff that has no purpose.

Since the election, there’s been a tremendous amount of dismay, cries for justice, and demands to know “How Can This Happen?”

I’m about as dismayed by anyone, along with not-suprised-at-all. The side of this country that’s come out in the months leading up to the election, and then in the immediate aftermath (hate crimes surged 6%, especially attacks on Muslims, with 300 incidents of harassment or intimidation reported in the seven days following Donald Trump’s election – source Southern Poverty Law Center). Seven days, people. That’s a week.

There’s been a palpable change in the atmosphere. I’m not one to be alarmist, or call out people who stereotypically seem inclined to mis-behave towards others not like themselves (that would be straight, white, middle-class men). But on my conference calls at work, I notice a different tone in the discussions. Men who used to take their turn in the conversations are now dominating. And the way they dominate has changed, as well. Their tone is more imperious, while the things they have to offer are somehow less sophisticated than before.

Then again, maybe they’re just having bad days. Maybe they’re nervous, along with all of us, and that’s how they work it out. I tend to give people the benefit of the doubt. Plus, I’m more sensitive these days, than usual. (Aren’t we all?)

But something feels different.

It feels like we’ve regressed.

Now, mind you, I’m not one of these pie-in-the-sky Obama’s-presidency-made-it-all-better kind of libbral. I’ve never believed we live in a post-racial America. Impossible, is what comes to mind, when I hear people suggest that. It’s hard for me to trust the professed open-mindedness of privileged and entitled individuals, no matter how well-meaning they may be, no matter how closely they may hew to the more genuine side of that fine line that separates “PC” behavior from true consideration and respect for others different from themselves.  It takes a lot to earn my queer trust, my intermittently disabled confidence, my inherently marginalized regard.

Maybe I’m just too cynical. I’ve been battin’ around on this planet for 50-odd years, and maybe my experiences have hardened me. I’ve seen a lot of positive change in the past decades, but I must admit, I don’t expect much. Not from the mainstream, no matter how its members may cast themselves in ally roles in the grand screenplay of my life. People become strangely aloof, when they risk losing something they prize, just because they’re seen with you. Most of all, I’ve been suspect of the supposed normalization of same-sex marriage, nationwide. It’s one thing for my current home state of Massachusetts to legalize and recognize my 26-year committed, monogamous relationship (i.e., allow me to visit my partner in the hospital and help make critical healthcare decisions for her, as well as let me transfer along to her the finances she’s helped me build). But expecting the law of the land to win over the rest of the bright-red country, and warm the cockles of the hearts of the heartland… Yeah, not so much.

Don’t get me wrong. I want to believe. I want to know to the marrow of my bones that people can and will choose dignity over disgrace, and that they truly are capable of change. And I was starting to believe — just a little bit more — when all the polls showed Hillary Clinton well in the lead, and everyone was pretty much taking for granted that she was going to win over her opponent.

But now this. Now the results of the election — which, if you’re paying attention, are so suspect that they bar even the faintest appearance of legitimacy. We were hacked. Repeatedly. And not just during the November election time. For months, it’s been going on. Our national security authorities have said so. Cybersecurity experts say so. And the results from the digital voting machines in counties that had no paper backups don’t even resemble the results of counties next door which had paper ballots as well.

Why are we surprised that the results came out so different than 96.875% of the official pollsters predicted? Why are we surprised at the suggestion we might have been hacked? Why would we doubt it? It just seems so obvious to me. And yet, the disbelief and denial have flowed like rancid milk from a carton dropped on the kitchen floor after it was left in the fridge during a 2-week power cut. Following that disbelief and denial about the kind of world we live in has come a steady stream of calls for normalization from all sides.

People who still believe that “love trumps hate” — and who don’t seem to get that giving your opponent airtime by using his name in your #1 slogan is not a great way to diminish his impact.

People who just want to accept things as they are and move on.

People who can’t fathom just how bad things can get for this country, thanks to the events of this month, and who can’t wrap their minds around the idea that America’s democracy – of all places – could fall to a fascist coup.

People who want to make the best of things, build bridges, find the good in whatever situation comes.

People who don’t want to rock the boat — and end up on somebody’s list that gets them “disappeared”.

In moments like this, I despair. Because this is really nothing other than realpolitik, plain and simple — the cold, hard facts of political practicalities, and what happens when you ignore them. And so many reactions after that obvious travesty of an election result have treated it like it was a final sentence. A done deal.

People, this is not over. The Electoral College still has to vote. Heck, our popular election  was really just an indicator of which way the Electors should vote. There’s no guarantee they’re going to give it to Trump, though it wouldn’t surprise me if they caved and did just that. On top of it all, there are untold numbers of existing and potential legal suits to raise against the prematurely-declared “President-Elect”, despite the insipid sycophanty of people who only a few weeks ago were questioning the mental health of that individual.

My point is, we’re way too quick to just cave. We’ve come a long way from the original settlers (who were no saints, themselves), to the political hothouse flowers we are today. I would imagine the earth above our founding fathers’ (and mothers’) graves is mighty churned up, right about now.

What’s happened to us? Are we really that weak, really that brittle, really that passive, that all it takes is a surprising show of strength (about things which we had every reason to expect)? Why so timid? Why so quick to roll over? It’s like in the quote above, from the online book WAR AT HOME: Covert Action Against U.S. Activists and What We Can Do About It, our progressives simply doesn’t seem to have what it takes to stand up and fight for themselves — or the rest of us — or to even realize that it takes more than eight years of an African-American president to prove America is over its backwards ways.

Thing is, we just can’t seem to figure out how to instill lasting change in our world. Especially from the left. We have some wins, and we shout “Hooray! All better now!” and urge everyone who’s still smarting from the burn of institutionalized racism, sexism, classism, and bigotry of all kinds, to just move on. Deal with it. See? We’re so much more evolved now.

Except we’re not. Not even close. We’ve managed to plaster over the cracks in the structurally unsound lath and whitewash the walls, but the cracks are still there, and the house is still shaky. We’ve managed to make some symbolic gestures that show how much cooler we are with people of color, disabled folks, queers, women, and so forth, and we know how to talk in terms that don’t instantly offend. But the underlying foundation of all this… bullshit… well, that hasn’t actually changed.

And so we find ourselves back in the same goddamned situation as before — only each time, it seems worse. And it is worse. Because while you were celebrating our post-racial world and congratulating yourself for reading writers of color, the KKK was still demonstrating in Lancaster, PA. Disabled folks (especially non-whites) were still getting shot and killed by police officers. Shooters were still stalking law-enforcement and executing them. And no, the Recession is not over. Not by a long shot.

You want a revolution? Then quit talking. Look to the long game. See the ways in which you can extend the significant changes throughout your life. And for God’s sake, don’t just do it because all of a sudden, you got scared or intimidated or had a wake-up call… and then forget all about it, when you start to feel better about yourself and your choices.

Change isn’t something you can instigate, and then leave to flourish on its own. It takes work, it takes commitment, it’s a fucking boring slog much of the time, and thankless most of the time… and unless we keep after it, it cannot last.

So, enough of the wailing and gnashing of teeth. Whatever caused this shit-show, it didn’t just happen overnight. And it’s not going away anytime soon.

What are you going to do about it?

Strange Bedfellows – Chapter 1.2 – Christina

Abstract drawing of nested squares and criss-crossing lines
Christina

Chapter I – continued

Christina was dark, as well, with long, luxurious tresses that fell over her strong shoulders, almost to her full hips. Her sense of style was less conservative than her husband’s, favoring bright colors and prints, but it was no less expensive. Her gaze was as shrewd as his, and she made no attempt to mask her wits. She ran her own chic “primitive art” gallery and made a handsome living from inflating prices to tap her wealthy clientèle. She passed along little, if any, of the profits to “her” artists.

Together, the couple earned a lot, and their status reflected it. They were well-established amongst the “haves,” and untroubled by the existence and experiences of the “have-nots.” Their social circle consisted of some of the wealthiest and most powerful citizenry, whose favor earned them entrance to all the right parties, all the best clubs.

Their home was in a high-rise in the center of a teeming metropolis, towering above urban squalor that stretched out for miles in all directions. By day, the gray city streets seethed with life that became progressively poorer, the farther they led from the city center, till they terminated in the abject human misery of cardboard-box slums crowded up around steaming, smoking garbage dumps. By night, the brilliant glow of peacock-proud neon bathed the streets in a surreal, electrified mix of optimism, oblivion, and desperation.

With one of the most exclusive addresses in the city, nestled in the safety of privilege’s embrace, their condominium was filled with only the finest furnishings, appliances, and artwork. With its deep pile carpet, immaculate white divan, matching side chairs and Ottoman, and glistening glass-and-metal bookcases and tables holding all their finest collectibles, they were surrounded with spotless, serene luxury high above the throbbing city below. At night, the wide windows of their living room showed no filth in the streets, no beggars or cripples or whores… only miles of light stretching out in every direction far below, masking pain and misery with light and action, thrilling them with the promise of easy conquest.

 

Strange Bedfellows – Chapter 1 – Paul

black and white abstract drawing - triangle with squiggly lines and another triangle in the center
Paul

Chapter I

One night I had a dream…

I dreamed of a young husband and wife in their mid-30’s who were privileged upper-class professionals, approaching the high points of their careers. Paul and Christina were beautiful young hopefuls, maturing into accomplished adults, poised and graceful in ways that come easiest to the well-fed, well-dressed and well-connected.

Paul was a tall, dark, calculating man with handsome, chiseled features and wavy hair that he kept cut short to compliment his conservative designer clothing. His tastes ran to the conventional, but always with a flair of expensive, exclusive opulence. He worked for a land development company which made its vast fortunes from razing thousands upon thousands of acres of forest in remote regions of their country. The corporation made a fortune selling the raw materials that came from the forests and leasing the cleared land at cut-throat prices to ranchers for beef grazing.

Strange Bedfellows – A tale for times of change

strange bedfellows cover
Strange Bedfellows – more pertinent now, than ever. Click to Buy the book.

In honor of this latest election cycle, and the ostensible results therefrom, I’m going to be re-posting my book Strange Bedfellows in serial format. Excerpts will appear on a regular basis, together with some discussion of what’s really happening behind the scenes.

At first blush, the story looks like a dire warning against mindless ways of life that threaten our planetary survival. (Some would say, “Yawn…“)

But the more closely you look at it, the more it’s clear that it’s not just an eco-friendly lecture, but rather a study in how we try to change… how we fail… and what can go awry when we don’t make the effort to actually create sustainable changes in our world.

There are a ton of lessons in that dream I had, over 25 years ago. And they stick with me, year after year, through one situation after another. Personally, I think it should be required reading for anyone thinking they need to make changes in their life — because it calls out the ways that we really do sabotage ourselves. And it points to where we can — and should — focus our attention, so that the changes we seek actually stick.

You can buy the book here ($9.95 + s/h), or you can follow along over the coming weeks, as I post the excerpts. Either way, it’s a story all of us should pay attention to. Because it’s true.

Change for Good – Beyond the four-year altar-call

churchEvery four years, we’re treated to talk about change during the presidential elections. Everybody makes the case about why change is either needed, or not. And everybody has plenty to say about the new policies everyone else is proposing.

Who doesn’t want change? I certainly do. Good Lord, yes. I think you’d have to be either asleep or on very good drugs, to not desire at least some change in the world. If you’re just mildly paying attention, you’re aware of at least one or two (or two million) things that could use some improvement.

And all the political candidates have some pretty persuasive points. I’m in the unfortunate situation, where I can see the reason for every candidate’s platform. I can’t just discount them and call them “crazy” — because at a basic, human level, I understand them.  Of course, understanding where they’re coming from doesn’t mean I agree with them — not in the least. But I do understand their perspectives, and I completely understand exactly why they and their supporters feel the way they do.

There’s one thing that eludes me, however — and that’s why anyone thinks that the change that’s most needed is going to come from on high, via a presidential candidate, when the “boots on the ground” are still hewing to the same-old-same-old. Seriously, we seem to collectively think that having a new butt in the seat of the Oval Office is going to steer the ship of state in some magically transformative direction… and meanwhile, all the folks down on the benches in the galley are rowing in the same old direction. Or not rowing at all — chances are, they’re on their smartphones.

What part of this makes sense? None of it, from where I’m sitting.

For the last four years — and all the four-year periods prior to the last election — the American public has done a fantastic job of avoiding making pretty much any personal investment in systemic change. We’ve enthusiastically pointed fingers and called names (we’ve got that down to a science), but what have we really — truly — done to actually bring about the changes we believe will save us all? Hell, we haven’t even bothered to more fully understand the issues we all face, collectively. We’re so busy snarking away on Facebook and tweeting our discontent, that any chance of in-depth discussion is, well, non-existent.

And no, watching a late-night current events discussion show does not count. Nor does having the political landscape explained to you by the pundit of your choice, as you nod in agreement.

None of that counts. Emoting is not effecting change. Reacting is not acting. Tweeting and posting is not social activism. And, sorry, flashmobs don’t count. Even if they are posted to YouTube and go viral.

What actually counts, is action. Doing something about your beliefs and values in a substantive, consistent way. You need to do the small, boring, unimpressive, personally costly, utterly transformative things each and every day, whether or not somebody is watching, whether or not it gets attention in social media and tons of likes. And guess what — it doesn’t count in an election year. Anybody can do or believe in sh*t in an election year. Just about everybody does. Anybody can gravitate to a political line and jump on board the party boat, every four years. Who doesn’t?

Watching all the political/ideological hullabaloo, this time of year, is like watching an altar call, when you see intransigent repeat offenders making their way to the front of the revival tent to have all their transgressions wiped clean… just like they’ve done regularly, as long as you’ve known them. And based on past experience and observation, there’s a pretty good chance they’re going right back to their evil ways, as soon as the glow of the revival wears off.

Same thing happens each election year. People get all up in arms and holier-than-thou and righteous and what-not… so-so-so sure that their candidate is The Cure for All That Ails Us. They’re true believers, and they support their candidates in word and deed. Then the election comes. Maybe they win, maybe they lose. But whatever the outcome, once the dust has settled and the new POTUS has their butt in the Oval Office seat, we all go back to business as usual.

And we spend another four years of habitual oblivion, racking up yet more reasons to be outraged and desperate, the next time around.

Considering how much more dire each subsequent election becomes, with “more than ever riding on the outcome”, it’s hard for me to take anyone’s burning political convictions seriously. Where’s all that social traction or that same devoted fervor when it’s NOT an election year.  It’s nowhere to be found. Who writes to Congress? Who even calls their representative? (Signing an online petition doesn’t count, by the way, because the recipients often completely disregard them, because they’re so easy to fudge.) It’s all hands-off in the general population, and then we bitch and complain about how lobbyists have taken over our government. Lobbyists and special interests didn’t “take over” anything — they stepped into a gaping void that we’ve all created… and invited them into by turning a blind eye.

We rarely bother to really understand the full spectrum of the issues we face — we just hew to proposals floated by our candidates. Who among the believers that “big banks must be dismantled” understands the impact that would have on the pensions of countless retired schoolteachers? Or union members? Or other folks who have worked long and hard, and who rely on that pension to make ends meet? Who among the proponents of deporting all the “illegals” understands what impact that would have on the economy — or how their own constant craving for low prices drives the underground economy of undocumented labor? Who among the backers of a strong military understands how our long-standing foreign policies and global economic interdependencies contribute to ongoing strife that locks us in a perpetual state of policing and military intervention on behalf of more countries than just our own? And who among those who long for a return to Christian values, realize how vulnerable they are making themselves — because there are so many different flavors of Christian values, and many of those values have been used for centuries by Christians to disenfranchise and kill other Christians, with full religious justification?

We have no collective grasp of the full scope of the issues and challenges that we face as a nation, together. But to us, that’s not the problem — the real problem, apparently, is that other people just don’t agree with us.

All the ballyhoo, all the drama.  It’s both entertaining and annoying. Because seriously, people, who is actually willing to put their money where their mouth is and take action by themselves, instead of looking to some national leader to point them in the right direction? Where’s the action, outside of election years, that backs up your commitment to change? People want energy independence, but they can’t do without their electronic devices and creature comforts. People want clean water for Flint, but they’d rather have cheap cars from Detroit. People want to protect the earth, but they can’t be bothered to separate out their recycling, or cut back on their driving. People want their kids to grow up in a safer world, but they won’t weigh in with their elected representatives on how to make that happen. People want gun rights, but they don’t want to learn how to responsibly and effectively use a firearm, so they don’t kill innocent bystanders.

We want our lives customized and personalized. Screw what that does to the environment. Never mind the expensively toxic bricks that Prius batteries are. We get save gas and look all the more eco-friendly. Never mind the haz-mat incidents waiting to happen when we throw away those new fluorescent light bulbs. They’re easy to come by and they save us money. New iPhone! Woo hoo! Never mind the massive buildings in China housing thousands upon thousands of workers, some of whom leap to their deaths out of desperation. That has nothing to do with us. It’s just sad. Here, let me share that on Facebook or Tweet a 😦 about it.

All this election year talk is just that — talk. For all the outrage and insults, within weeks after the election results are in, the vast majority of people will drop championing the issues and retreat to their social media corners, snarking about oversimplifications from the safety of the interwebs. They’ll say plenty — especially if they’ve “lost” the election — but will they actually do anything? For all the talk about values and the need for change, where’s the action to back it up… especially on an ordinary everyday basis? Where’s the direct contact with our dreaded Congress, to tell them what we actually want and need? Where’s the choice to forego creature comforts for the sake of preserving what we really care about?

Where indeed?

If you really want change, you need to act like it. And if I don’t see it outside of election years, then nothing you can say is going to convince me that you are serious about your political platform. Or that your candidate is a serious contender to actually lead.


Much of my thinking about change was influenced by a dream I had over 20 years ago. It’s now published as Strange Bedfellows –  a story about how we change … and don’t. Get the book here.

An epic tale of change – what drives it… and more

Strange Bedfellows - get your copy here
Strange Bedfellows – get your copy here

Everything is going great for Paul and Christina. Their careers are fast-tracking them to success, and their future prospects are excellent. They take what they desire and live life to the fullest. Everyone and everything around them reinforces their entitlement, and they have no reason to question their right to do what they please, when they please, to whomever they please.

But in the blink of an eye, everything they’ve worked so hard for is at risk. What will they do, when a grisly guest appears out of nowhere? Will they have the courage to make the changes necessary to save themselves from a horrible fate they have helped to create?

Strange Bedfellows is a cautionary tale for our times, a retelling of an epic, intricately detailed dream I received in 1992. This is a story of truth and consequence… entitlement and impoverishment… conscious choice and change… and the hazards of being motivated solely by self-centered fear and short-sighted ignorance.

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