Editorial License

Rob Hammerton, music educator etc.

Take a Cup of Kindness -or- 2018, Your Performance Review is Today

Because I marinate in politics (news roundups, editorials, podcasts, the shootin’ works), I could very easily think that 2018 had been a ridiculous, corrupt, are-we-in-the-Matrix-or-something?, disaster of a year.

But if I just look over this way … perhaps a different story.

[] This year, my church gig is full (to overflowing) of interested and available brass and woodwind and string and guitarhead folks … not to mention a choir that became increasingly affable and chuckly as 2018 progressed. Not to be taken for granted.

[] This year, my work situation … well, let’s just say: not long after the date of the company holiday party was announced, more than one person asked me, “so, is your Mom coming to the party again this year?” — genuinely, without a shred of snark. Not to be taken for granted.

[] This year, in both of the aforementioned arenas, I work for grand and decent (manager-type) people. NOT to be taken for granted.

[] This year, I celebrated my 20th summer of (1) helping to make some quality children’s theatre happen, and (2) helping to teach drum majors how to flap their arms and such. In both cases, I feel like I’ve received far more benefit than I’ve offered. Great times had, great friends made. In a world where nothing lasts forever, these are a couple of activities which I’m starting to mindfully NOT take for granted, in the moments when I’m participating in them.

[] This year, two of the college marching bands with whom I am pleased to be associated in some way made themselves a big ol’ splash in Major Holiday Parades On Live Television this past year. One was celebrating Roses, and the other was celebrating … well, Deep-Frozen Philly Cheese Steak, I suppose.

[] This year, the good people who host my professional website and my blog have not closed either operation down for utter embarrassing lack of activity, even though they definitely should have. (At least the blog don’t cost money!)

[] This year, the house has not sprung a leak. The car has not pooped out. NOT to be taken for granted.

[] I have grand and glorious friends, both newly-made and lifelong. My social media feed is the sort that more people ought to have … calm, cool, collected, and thoughtful. (I do need to see more of them live and in-person, though. So, a New Year’s Resolution.)

[] Number One Niece and Nephew continue to become the kind of people who make a fella thrilled to be the Uncle. Talented, hard-working, smaht … and very, VERY funny.

[] Number One Sister remains the kind of sister you want to have. And I’m one of the lucky folks in the world who thinks that Number One Brother-in-Law is indeed Number One.

[] Mom’s still making a very strong case for Most Agile Octogenarian, and still has not only all her marbles but a few other people’s as well.

[] Oh, and a couple of projects began to develop this year that I will talk about some other time, when it’s appropriate. Vaguebooking is alive and well.

So, at least within my little echo-chamber-y bubble: this year, plenty good stuff, after all.

I do freely admit that as a straight white male, my in-built privilege makes it that much easier to think that life is that much easier. I may well be the last demographic that they come for.

Outside my bubble, there’s still a huge amount of work to do, before life is made that much easier for a great many people in the world. So … time to go get after it in 2019.

But worthwhile to recognize what’s going well, and try to amplify it. Hope you can say some version of the same, in this clearly insane world.

As the good Col. Potter said: “Here’s to the new year. May she be a damn sight better than the old one, and may we all be home before she’s over.”

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January 1, 2019 Posted by | current events | , , , | Leave a comment

Send A Message

[Ed. Note: I published this on my Facebook page tonight. I’ve heard too many cable-TV-news pundits gleefully point to polls which suggest that only a small percentage of young Americans will actually vote in the midterm elections tomorrow. I’d like to hope – after Parkland, after Kavanaugh, after children in cages, after a host of awful current events that seemed to awaken a great many American high-school and college students, over the last two years – that there are indeed a great wave of new voters who will end-run the corporate media’s bleatings and the various pollsters that only contact landline-based Americans, and give American representative government a well-deserved kick in the rear. May it be so.

[So here’s that Facebook piece, which I wrote while thinking of all the fine folks who have been students at the public schools and colleges and drum major clinics where I’ve taught, all of whom I’ve been able to watch, via social media, turn into people whom I’d trust to run this country.]

 

All right, my fine FB younger friends — a legion of wonderful people with whom I’ve had the pleasure of sharing a music classroom, or a rehearsal stage, or a high school or college football field, or a DMA parking lot: pull up a chair while I do my Wise Old Sage Of The Desert act.

I beg you. I mean it: I beg you — prove the pundits wrong tomorrow. There are people who go on the TV and pontificate because they’re paid to convince you that they know something about the world, who say that only a handful of young voters will actually engage in the political process. MAKE THEM EAT THEIR WORDS.

Forgive me, but I don’t think it’s hyperbole to suggest that tomorrow’s election — at the all levels, federal, state and local — boils down to a very simple idea:

Empathy vs. selfishness.

Regarding virtually every important issue facing our country right now — climate change, health care, gun violence, public education, women’s health and rights, rights of people of color, LGBTQ and transgender rights, freedom of (or from) religion, immigration (CHILDREN ARE STILL IN CAGES), the Supreme Court, simple human decency, and oh by the way Congressional oversight of this corrupt bunch of pirates masquerading as an executive branch …

… the current Congressional majority and many Republican-held state legislatures have consistently and repeatedly demonstrated BY THEIR ACTIONS an utter lack of human decency and empathy.

So vote them out tomorrow (if you haven’t early-voted already). Vote in such overwhelming numbers that Russian meddlers won’t matter, that voter-suppression schemes won’t matter, that the corporate media’s obsession with pretending that “both sides are equally horrible” … JUST WON’T MATTER.

And at this moment in history, I’m sorry, but it’s more important to vote within the context of the political system as it is, rather than as we wish it were. Which means, I’m sorry again, that independent candidates can’t help us in this election. Down the road, perhaps; but not tomorrow.

Mark Twain once said, not without cause, “I don’t belong to an organized political party. I am a Democrat.”

BUT … this time around, Democratic Party majorities in the US House and Senate are the only way to throw the brakes on this miserable Republican-Party-led executive branch (yeah, That Guy). The current Republican Party majorities in the House and Senate have, through their actions, proven themselves willfully incompetent at governmental oversight, and indeed at representative government at all.

So go to the polls. Stand in the lines when you have to. Send a message … to our elected officials, and to the rest of the world (most of which has quite honestly been watching us for the last two years with horror) — that we’re not going to just sit here and take it. That we’re not going to let selfishness win out over empathy.

If you ask me: vote blue. Vote Democratic. But in any case: vote.

My young friends, all of whom I’ve held in very high regard whenever I’ve had the privilege of enjoying your company … this is your golden opportunity, TOMORROW: to take this country back from the (mostly) rich old white guys who have used their control of the government to gather all the riches to themselves, right now — AND to work diligently to make life harder for everybody but themselves, both now and into the future.

Make the Women’s March and the Science March and the March For Our Lives and the Families Belong Together March seem like mere whispering tiny preludes.

VOTE.

November 5, 2018 Posted by | civil rights, current events, Facebook, government, news, politics, social media, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Rage

I could go on for seven, or seventeen, or seventy paragraphs specifically about yesterday’s Senate hearing.

I could quote the line from the movie “Bananas” about how these proceedings were “a travesty of a mockery of a sham of a mockery of a travesty of two mockeries of a sham” … but it would be a Woody Allen quote, and that may not be the top thing at this moment either.

So instead I’ll briefly summarize what I’ve read on my versions of Twitter and Facebook, about yesterday’s hearing.

 

In response to the Senate Judiciary Committee’s behavior and attitude toward each of the witnesses…

In response to Dr. Ford’s testimony…

In response to Judge Kavanaugh’s testimony…

In response to the comparison between the two…

In response to those testimonies, in the context of the life experiences and backgrounds of each of the witnesses…

In response to what it all said about where we are as a country, on the subject of abuse and assault and women and men…

What I’ve read in those social media posts has been horror and despair, yes.

But, in great measure: rage.

 

What to do with the rage?

At this moment, the only thing – the ONLY THING to do:

Focus that rage.

Channel that rage.

Carry that rage. In a specific direction.

Carry it into the voting booth.

Don’t assume that other people will do so.

Do it yourself.

Make your statement.

It might be our last chance to do so freely and fairly.

The Senate majority has displayed – boldly, without reservation, without hesitation, without shame — just exactly how much they care about their constituents who are women.

The amount of care they have displayed is zero.

The political party with which they are affiliated is the Republican Party.

As the Congressional majority, according to the Constitution, they decide what the Congress does or does not do; hears or does not hear; what policy it makes or does not make.

Do you want to see this change?

It is therefore simple.

Vote for anyone – ANYONE – affiliated with the Democratic Party.

In other times, I might have said “vote for anyone not affiliated with the Republican Party”, leaving the door open for third-party-candidate voting as a “protest vote”. But I don’t now, [1a] because it’s the way our political system is constructed in this moment, [1b] because in the short term that will not change, and [2] the foreign influences who wish to affect our elections (both via hacking and via social media public-opinion influencing) will promote third-party candidates as “protest votes”, because of course Both Sides Are Equally Bad.

Which has been proven, this week, in one Senate committee alone, to be not the case. Which party pushed for proper FBI investigations and which did not? Which party’s members hired a “female assistant” to ask questions of Dr. Ford because for various reasons they didn’t want to be seen asking those questions themselves? Which party’s committee membership was comprised exclusively of older white men and which did not?

Both sides are not equally bad. Both sides do not do it.

 

So, as the saying goes — Vote Blue No Matter Who.

That’s your protest vote.

Bring your friends. Bring their friends.

Vote.

Vote on Congressional races.

Vote on state legislature races.

Vote on stage gubernatorial races.

Vote on local races.

Vote in such overwhelming numbers that no Russian bot or election-machine hacker can have its intended effect.

Vote for Democratic-Party-affiliated candidates.

Where at all possible, vote for female Democratic-Party-affiliated candidates. And people of color.

But Vote Blue first and foremost.

Because the Red side has shown us, this week at the very least, who they are and what they believe in – and whom they don’t believe in. (Take five minutes, go to someplace like ballotpedia.org, do a little research, find out who they are.)

(In my home state of Massachusetts, the actual ballots don’t say which party any candidates are affiliated with; they just list their home addresses. Once, I got into the voting booth without having done the reading, as it were, and had no idea which parties were represented on the ballot. Never. Again.)

((And by the way, y’all – no matter what Fox News and right-wingers say, “Democrat” is a proper noun, NOT an perjorative adjective. Jackwagons.)

So vote.

Elections have consequences. We’ve seen this in the last two (or six) years with an awful connotation. We can see to it again, in a month or so, to a far better end.

 

Take the rage that has gone from fulminating and seething and roiling to exploding out of all our pores … and DO SOMETHING WITH IT.

Vote.

Vote Blue.

Vote Blue No Matter Who.

Carry the rage.

Focus the rage.

Use the rage. Save the Republic.

Vote. Tuesday, November 6.

Let ’em have it.

RAGE VOTE.

September 28, 2018 Posted by | current events, government, news, politics | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment