Wednesday, June 22, 2016

With Justice and Liberty for Whom?

It seems our country is running out of something that has been dwindling for the past few decades: common decency.

There's talk of "making America great again", but I don't see any intelligent plans to do so. All I see is a dangerously evil amount of disrespect and an absence of true political debate. This country, the entire planet in fact, is in danger of imploding. Yet, all we hear is which American party is to blame. We're so damned self-involved we fail to even acknowledge our relatively young country is overrun by a bunch of juveniles. It's terrifying that the world's most powerful country has descended into a state where ignorance is celebrated, propaganda is glorified, and the simple truth is anybody's guess.

This vile reality is evident in the smallest town councils, across every state and up to the highest levels of our, I repeat (what is supposed to be) OUR federal government. A country founded on the principle that "all men (and women) are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness", is now mired in ridiculous debate over what this statement, written in the simplest and most lovely language imaginable, actually means.

Let's begin with all of us being "equal". Well gee, are we? Evidently not. If you're gay, some say you're not deserving. I don't care who you're having sex with or who you love. It's not my business. Neither are my sexual habits any of yours. Come from another country (like ALL of our ancestors, save for the natives we displaced), you need to just go back there. Good grief. What color is your skin? Is your God the same as mine, or whatever collective group of the moment says is the TRUE God? My God surely looks entirely different than yours, but does that mean mine is all wrong? It bears arguing that there could only be one true deity, yet there are at least seven billion (and counting) visions of Him or Her. People point to the one religious text they firmly believe is the "true word", yet the most popular were written long before the human brain could understand the most basic principles of our own universe. Science had not begun to explain how life even exists; the Earth was flat and water was just water rather than a combination of two hydrogen particles mixed with oxygen. So if we're "equal", why do we constantly belittle those whose faith differs from our own? Why would God make us so different if for no other reason than we learn from one another?

Our judicial system is unjustly weighted. The most severe punishment is meted upon those who have the least; those with obscene wealth truly get away with murder. Wages remain woefully behind each increase in our cost of living, yet we elect people whose main goal is to keep us wanting more. We vilify those who cannot "keep up". Instead of helping those with mental illness, we'd rather spend the money on military excursions into civilizations which have been at war for millennia; isn't it probable they will continue in spite of our interference? When our soldiers come home, there's no money to help them fight the demons our war-mongering has created. There always seems to be however, enough money for the rich to keep getting more while we make do with less. Yet when we argue for our own cause, we're blamed for creating "class warfare". Isn't this ironic?

In any economy, equality is non-existent. There are those who have, and others who do not. There is very little in between. We are worker bees who slave to serve whichever queen rules the hive. Our lives are a constant struggle, even though we convince ourselves "happiness" exists in precious slivers of time. This is not to say we cannot be happy, but that which is good and lovely seems in short supply for many people. Amazingly, if someone professes to be joyful, their reasons are scrutinized, criticized and often scorned. For this reason, I prefer to jealously guard my happiness. It is spontaneous, and I choose to savor it as that sip of a fine wine saved for a special occasion. Nobody can taste it but I; your taste buds aren't the same as mine, nor are your neural responses to pleasure. We're individually unique, save for our strangely similar DNA.

If my desire to be happy includes the ingestion of certain naturally-occurring substances, shouldn't it be my right to do so? If it doesn't interfere with the peaceful existence of another, put someone in danger, or alter the collective homeostasis, what business is it of (my) government to prohibit it? I believe in your right to believe as you do, without any interference or argument from me. Why then, is it so important to you that I conform to your belief system? Isn't this denying my freedom? Must we always believe we're right even though logic denies it?

Politics is a nasty game. I have dear friends with whom I heartily disagree politically. However, we have learned to respect our differences. Our similarities and also our differences work concurrently to draw us closer. Over the past decade especially, I've learned it's not important to be right; it's more so to be true. Sure, I've lost some "friends" over politics, but those who would dismiss me because we differ are still not invaluable, because they too have taught me lessons. My respect and fondness for those who love me in spite of myself is immeasurable. You who read this might not agree with every post, but your presence alone honors me.

Writing has enabled me to communicate with people worldwide. While certain differences are said to separate us, we share commonalities and aspire to find peace within. Underneath our skin, we're the same color. Within our souls lies the ability to love, or to hate. Philosophers have long argued origin and causality of these two similar emotions, yet the former seems less evident than the latter. Whenever I've felt so much anger toward another as to feel hatred, it has been too hard to live with. In every case, when I let go of the anger, a feeling of peace returns. In this moment, I've had to drop  the stone, for I too have been guilty of causing the rift; if I throw this stone in anger it could easily boomerang back towards me in atonement for my own sins.

Perhaps I'm still seeing life through the optimistic eyes of a child. Companionship and fun are infinitely more preferable to arguments and defensive behavior. I still believe we each have the power to be kind to one another. If I ever lose my love for people, this staple of my being, it would be said I died of self-induced pride.

Humanity's greatest moments were conceived of compromise and humility. If we don't reclaim these traits soon, our failures will overshadow our achievements. And that, my friends, would truly suck.

Monday, June 13, 2016

They Stole Our Bus!

Two 15-year-olds are accused of recently stealing a bus out of the Center Garage. Hard to believe? Perhaps, if you don't work for TriMet.

Many times I've walked into the yard, thinking how easy it would be for some fool to take off in a bus. When it happened, I could only shake my head in amazement the boneheads didn't get injured. Instead of immediately reacting to this with a blog post, I thought it would be interesting to see how it played out over the past two weeks; I'm glad I waited, but irritated at the outcome.

So far, management has blamed operators as being the main cause for this happening, which is out of line and insulting. Not a word from them about their own role, except they are "investigating" and studying how to keep it from happening again. Oh, come on folks. Without going into detail, since management would hang me for doing so, let's just say the blame is on the wrong foot. People trip when they wear their shoes incorrectly, and in this case, our management has also tied them together.

Frankly, I think it's irresponsible of me to list the many ways our management fails to secure our huge transit system's assets. My blog doesn't inform the public how to drive the beast, but TM loves to teach people (and brag about it on media outlets) how to drive buses. As another blogger brother of mine has pointed out, there are videos online which give too much information on how to drive a bus. However, I cannot stress enough how foolish these kids were to try such a stunt.

I learned how to drive a car by watching my father. When I was 10. Granted, I didn't possess critical problem-solving skills to drive safely, but the basics are fairly simple. A teenager watching a bus driver would quickly figure some things out on their own. The finer points require months of training by professionals and sometimes years of experience to master.

Considering a 15-year-old is hardly comfortable driving a standard vehicle, it's amazing they had the balls to steal a bus. Of course, they smashed it up a bit trying to maneuver it out of the yard, but they actually made it five miles down the road before police could stop them. It's simply amazing they didn't kill some other motorist(s) or themselves. Of course, they're probably going to brag about it for a lifetime, but someday they'll realize it was simply a foolish, ultra-dangerous stunt.

What I'm worried about is in the aftermath, it will happen again and somebody will be hurt or killed. Our management has a bad habit of blaming its operators for everything from its own financial blunders to lack of security and many things in between. A strong and effective leader would accept responsibility rather than throwing the blame on the worker bees. Sure, perhaps we could all do better keeping our properties secure. But it takes proper framework, organization, and leadership. An honorable response to this fiasco would include a resignation of an embarrassed manager; instead operators were treated to a memo blaming us for "training" those responsible.

It's obvious somebody tripped here, but it wasn't us. We know which shoe fits on each foot, but some manager clumsily tried to lodge his in our collective derrières. Sorry pal, you missed.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Checking In...

Hello Faithful Reader,

No, I haven't dropped into a sinkhole, although I've felt like it lately. It's just been a busy month at home and on the job. Instead of writing just to write (like I'm doing here, it would seem), I've been working on the book and thinking of new post ideas to torture you with.

New signup began Sunday, so that's a busy time too. I have to drive my new routes for a few weeks to learn quirks and creaks in the schedules, meet the regulars, and figure out where the bubbles in the paddle are (if they exist at all).

I was very sad to hear about Muhammad Ali's passing. As a kid, I watched him devastate his opponents and piss off his detractors. He was poetry in motion, and every kid wanted to "float like a butterfly and sting like a bee". Although he could be a bit overboard in his self-promotion, it wasn't boasting; he truly was The Greatest.

Thanks for your patience. I'll be back soon with a real post. Promise.