09 April 2017

Followup about the Response to Rabbi David Godis' Article

This is an addendum to the article which can be found in the archive, at left, of 26 February 2016, entitled "Major American Jewish Leader Changes His Mind about Israel".

Although Rabbi David M. Gordis is a highly respected person within any American community, that hasn't stopped the ideological political zionists from, in their own words, dumping "disingenuous gobbledygook" on him because of his article.  I can't say how much BS was dumped on him because of it, but I will comment, here, on one article as an example, and provide a link to it.

There is a 15 July 2016 article online entitled "Israel and American Liberal Jewry: The Real Reasons for the Rift" by Martin Sherman.  The ludicrous comments would almost be funny if they weren't intended to be so denigrating.. 

Approximately a third of the way into the article after bemoaning who he tells us are the  miguided Jewish youth of America, he gets to work on "perverse" Godis with this bit of whimsy:

"[. . .] the moronic — and often self-contradictory — lament by David Gordis [. . .] as to Israel’s alleged moral degradation [. . .]"

Then under the heading of "Totally detached from fact & reason" we find another zionist lump of coal: [Any use by me of the singualr term "zionism" on my part refers to the stategic movement that is ideological political zionism.] 
"[. . .] Gordis then goes on to elaborate on his abstruse indictment of Israel today  [. . .]"

Next, an even more illustrative zionist lump of coal:
"[. . .]  Then in a wild diatribe, totally divorced from any semblance of reality, he blares: [. . .]"

"[. . .] This is merely a small sampling of how intellectually dishonest the derogatory drivel of Israel’s “liberal” detractors has become. [. . .]"

And another
"[. . .] This narcissistic hypocrisy was aptly exposed in a perceptive piece in a Washington Post blog by David Bernstein, professor of Law at George Mason University. [. . .]"
Sherman then he goes on to quote Bernstein who falsely suggests Israeli Arabs are living the good life.  That may be true compared to their brothers and sisters in occupied Palestinian Territoty (oPT), but it is not true compared to Jewish Israelis.

Then we get to the heading "Beneath the disingenuous gobbledygook" where he finally comments about Israel occupying Palestinian Territories, where he wants to firmly trounce "disenchanted 'liberal' Jews" who denigrate Israel because of "Israel's interaction with the Palestinian-Arabs across the pre-1967 Green line (a.k.a. the 'Occupation')"

"Interaction"? And he isn't joking.  Please. Not wanting to call the occupation what it is, an occupation, does not make Israel's "interaction" with Palestinians in oPT (like instances of genocide in Gaza) any less criminal.  But of course his purpose is to criticize Gordis' for speaking the mild truth he did speak, which did not include comments about the Gaza genocides.

Then Sherman moves on another flight of fancy with:
"[. . .] wildly irrational in terms of its internal logic [. . .]"

Another doozy from Sherman "[. . .] unswerving doctrinaire zeal “liberals” cling to the perilous prescription of touting tyranny  [. . .]" as his article segways into seemingly putting Godis in the position of carrying the banner for the parade of "American Jewish liberals" he repeated trots out to criticize, without identifying any by name, of course - other than to suggest they are American Jewish youth.

And of course he would be remiss if he didn't trots out this one: 
"[. . .] But if US 'liberal' Jews frown upon the coercive measures that Israel is compelled to use against the Palestinian-Arabs, were they to apply the same criteria to their own country, they would have good reason to feel even more disenchanted.  [. . .]" which is the launching into  of a verbal attack on U.S. - for doing Israel's evil in the region (without saying as much, of course), as if he doesn't know that a the reality of the zionist problem the American Jews he finds faults with, actually recognize.

Then under the heading of "Expose and inform", as he nears the end, he shows us that he wants to keep his credibility as an ideological political zionist, by trotting  out the obligatory poor Israel card which he does with this passage: 
"[. . .] Sadly, Israel has done inexcusably little to harness the facts to rebuff the attacks on its democratic credentials and has allowed imperative coercive actions to ensure the security of its civilians against an implacable foe, to be portrayed as racist brutality. [. . .]"

Who can not refrain from a brief chuckle at the foolish, predictable irony of his infuriating words that lose touch with reality?  Of course, there is not only "little" done by Israel, but absolutely nothing Israel can credibly say or do to make its actions any less "brutally racist" against it's unarmed "implacable foe" which repeatedly results in Israel's  "imperative coercive actions" primarily in the form of attacks on the most vulnerable - the women and children, and very young children, who Israel allows settlers and soldiers to harass, hurt, maim, and kill, jail and torture, all in the name of its lawless alleged "democracy", and "security".

Then in conclusion Sherman, too, criticizes Israel - by saying Israel does not fulfill its "obligation to aid pro-Israel advocacy on university campuses".   Well let's hope that trend continues.  It is likely too because some University campuses have become more astute about identifying blatant bigotry than they once were, after their students made an issue of the actuality of Israel's shenanigans being bigoted, lawless, murder (including by American citizens who are also Israelis living in illegal settlements in oPT - a can of worms most avoid with a 10 foot pole, but shouldn't).  Thus University campuses are no longer as tolerant of the prevaricated, twisted-truth hasbara pro-Israel advocates want to spout on their campuses in efforts to justify  Israel's criminality. 

So, needless to say, there have been unpleastant reverberations from the ideological political zionists in the form of vicious efforts to give Gordis grief because he had the courage to mildly, I repeat "mildly", point out the problem of the Israeli government's ideology of political zionism even though he didn't label it as such.  I hope do those who have cheered on David Gordis' change of mind and heart about Israel's criminal duplicitous ways have chosen to be there for him as his support system to fend off the zionist BS.

The Matter of "Territorial Imperative"

"MEANWHILE : Does Territoriality Drive Human Aggression?The question is the title of a 14 April 1999 article by Steven Levingston (@SteveLevingston) and International Herald Tribune (the genealogy, DNA, evolution of IHT), posted online at the New York Times opinion page.   It is worth reading,, currently, because it addresses an always pertinent issue.

Anyone who has a problem understanding the current pertinence might try substituting, "Syria" (or Iraq, or Palestine) for "Kosovo", and substituting "the M.E." region for "the Balkans".  Or "Sudan" (or Rwanda) and the region of "East Africa" could be substituted; or Viet-Nam (or Korea) and "SE Asia"; "Afghanistan" and "NW Asia"; "Germany" and "Europe";  . . . the list goes on.  Most are sure to find at least one conflict of familiarity to substitute, if necessary, because of it having occurred during a time of paying attention to the interrelated global complexities of the causes and effects of armed conflicts.

But, first consider if there is an answer to the question "does territoriality drive human aggression".   I think we can consider it to be an easy and simple answer - that being "yes". 

Does anyone really imagine that territoriality does not still drive human aggression?  Unfortunately, there is paltry evidence to suggest otherwise.  Co-existing peacefully by sharing space and resources, equitably (repeat - EQUITABLY), remains the lesson to be learned by our species.  Many species of animals have clearly learned the lesson but, demonstrably, the human species has not.

When herds of the human species want to increase the contiguous extent of their territory, with the intent of increasing the space and resources which they control, they do so with the intent of subjugating or annihilating the inhabitants.  The lawlessness of refusing to respect the rights of others as much as our own rights, is visible at all levels from local bullying to global conflict.  

Clearly, human herds have yet to learn how to co-exist equitably and peacefully.  However, it is not as if human herds are unaware of how to do so.  Instead, simply put, it is a matter of a willful disregard for other herds (including non-human species) which embraces the intent of either subjugating them, as the "merciful" option no matter the extent of it's cruelty, or annihilating them through short-term genocides (most often deadly armed attacks of many types), and/or long-term genocides which in addition to short-term instances of genocide also embrace a larger variety of slower means
to the same end. (often many forms of health-eroding deprivation and/or pollution).

Demonstrably, many of the human herds find it to their advantage to "divide and conquer" by fomenting unrest as a way of encouraging resident herds to annihilate one another.   Then they swoop in to make the territory their own by subjugation and/or annihilation of it's remaining inhabitants.  Of course when resident herds call on other herds from outside their regions, it complicates matters by making acquisition more of a gamble for the herd wanting to expand control of adjacent territory.  It creates a paradox which, over time, could potentially result in a much larger prize of more territory , or, instead, a potential loss of much more than the territory of immediate interest. 

Acquiring territory is always a very high-stakes gamble.   Gambling is another weakness of human herds which seem unsatisfied with enough, or in mathematical terms with being "equal to".  Instead they want "more than" solely for the purpose of personal exploitation intended to result in wealth by control of, and limiting of other herds' access to resources.  Clearly, 
co-existing peacefully by sharing spaces and resources, equitably, without doing so because of either subjugation or annihilation, remains the lesson our entire human species still needs to demonstrate has been learned and is being successfully applied.

Regardless of the claims of some human herds who believe they are civilized and/or religiously motivated in their subjugating and annihilating endeavors, subjugation and annihilation  are neither civilized, nor religious in the sense of being spiritually enlightened and evolved.  Neither subjugating nor annihilating is the way to demonstrate that the lesson has been learned of co-existing peacefully by equitably sharing space and resources, regardless of any justification used as an excuse for using them as the means to a desired end.

The passage of time, in terms of millennia, in which the same problems continue occurring, seemingly indicates there are resistant problems that plague our species.  Consider those of our species who demand recognition as leaders for the purpose of acquiring the power of decision making for other individuals, collectively.  They do not take a turn serving for the purpose of fostering peaceful coexistence between and among herds but, instead, compete viciously to further the goals of their own personal greed at the expense of whatever human herds they believe they can succeed at scapegoating.  Greed - t
hat problem, alone, indicates our species has a resistance to learning anything that interferes with the addiction to greed.  As such, the human species does not seem to be nearly as intelligent as it likes to imagine it is.

leaders in government whose self-interest is their over-riding reason for being recognized as leaders, along with their appointed side-kicks, and the elected leaders who are tasked to represent constituent needs, are all often given too much power as leaders.  Too many are willing to give up their own power of personal decision-making, as individuals and as members of their herds even when, as individuals, we are all recognized by agreed upon law as being empowered to provide input which must be considered in the decision making processes at all levels of government.  Simply put, our laws entitle us to contribute our opinions to government decision-making but too many of us don't do it. 
Not accepting the right and responsibility of self-governing by contributing to decision-making - that problem, alone, indicates a resistance to learning why free-will is acknowledged as empowering individuals to contribute to collective decision making.  As such, the human species does not seem to be nearly as intelligent as it likes to imagine it is. 

The article reminds us there is much work for everyone to do when it comes to the as yet unsolved problem of territorial imperative.  Once more, if there is a problem understanding the current pertinence of the 1999 article, then simply substitute a conflict and region of familiarity.  Because, the foundational problem is simply a matter of the same repetitive problems of unfettered human weaknesses often motivated by greed coupled with the weakness of clinging to sacred ignorance, which are occurring within the same region - our home our planet - throughout the decades, centuries, and millennia during which time the various herds of our species have had ample opportunity to truly thrive by learning to co-exist together, equitably.  What does it say about collective human intelligence when, after untold millennia, human herds continue to fail in that respect?

12 March 2017

"A White House Devoid of Integrity"

"A White House Devoid of Integrity" is the title of an article published in "Time" this year.  The article is dated 17 January - a few days before the recent inauguration (click here to read it) .

Now that nearly two months have passed with a new president, now that our legislative bodies are again in session, questions arise.  Is the situation really as bad as the article suggests?  More to the point, as the title suggests, is our president devoid of integrity?  Or is the question exaggeration and harsh critical opinion, perhaps voters remorse, understatement, or simply good healthy skepticism?  Will it get worse before we decide?  And make no mistake, it is our job as citizens, every one of us, to OBJECTIVELY decide about everything government is supposed to be up to, equitably, on behalf of we, the people - and not supposed to be up to at unconscionable cost to we the people.  That means it is our job to pay attention and educate ourselves about process so that when we question and advise we know who to talk to with as much brevity as possible, in effective ways armed not simply with opinions but with necessary facts . . . like specific concepts accompanied by facts that substantiate our opinions; like bill titles, numbers, and passages in question.

Part of our job as citizens is to put the skids on those in government, at whatever levels of government they are found, when they do not represent the integrity of our nation, state, county, and town.  I want to point out that more local levels of government, like city and county, though on a smaller scale, are complex because of the need to balance local decision-making between meeting the needs of the people, and being in accordance with the pertinent regulations and laws of all higher levels of government.  So we all have a big responsibility, at several levels, as people who are empowered to self-govern.  Self-governing means being part of the decision making process. 

Those of us who have taken the oath as part of our job, to defend our federal Constitution against foreign AND domestic tom-foolery that has reached the level of "enemy" attitude and behavior, took it as a serious lifetime commitment.  Given that elected and appointed government officials take that oath, it is our job as citizens to remind them of that responsibility especially when our nation's stated values, principles, and ideals are threatened, and worse misrepresented.  It is our job - be the threat by those outside our nation, by those inside our nation, or, sometimes, by those who serve in government when they choose to first serve their own self-interests, or a foreign nation's interest, or corporate interests, before equitably serving the basic needs of we, the people - ALL of us.

President Obama impressed upon a whole new younger generation or two of Americans, the value and importance of becoming involved in political process as the advisors to government which it is our responsibility as citizens, to be.  Learning how to do so effectively, by using the system to evolve the system is an ongoing process that requires patience, perseverance, and the acquiring of detailed knowledge about the issues we are willing to take on.  No one can take on every issue.  But if we all do as well as possible in our advocating for issues we can and do take on, then we can have faith in ourselves and our fellow citizens to have our entire nation's best interests in mind and at heart. 

Part of doing as well as possible is the persistent follow-up of making government officials accountable to us about what we have advised.  That means we need to thank them when they do take our advice, and we need to make them accountable to us when they do NOT take our advice.   To do so is to educate them and to be educated by them.  Only those folks in government who are willing to be educated by we, the people, their constituents, are worthy to serve us in the offices to which we elect them.  That means when those you advise do not represent your wishes, then it is your obligation to yourself and everyone else, to find out from them why they have not.  To do so is part of the ongoing debate which is also supposed to exist between the constituents and those we elect.  Everyone learns something which contributes to more satisfactory decision making.  It is part of the process of win-win compromise and good governing. 

Remember - good government it is not a competition with a winning side and a losing side, as political party leadership tries to lead us to believe.  We need to remind those in office of the bottom line which is that although political parties owe allegiance to those they agree to promotes as candidates, it is not the party to whom the elected owe their allegiance.  They owe it to we, the people - ALL of us. 

Remember, also, that we do not elect folks to make our decisions for us.  We elect them to make decisions on our behalves.  The not so fine line of difference is that when decisions are made on our behalves, we have been part of the process that enables our legislators to be able to do their jobs of representing our needs.  Talk to any legislator and almost all of them will say they need and want more citizen participation.  Without it they can not make informed decisions which reflect the needs of their constituents.  Without it the risk is that our elected officials will represent what the lobbyists request who are paid by large corporate, industrial, and professional organizations to promote their special interests in preference to the needs of the constituents. 

Good government is a process of civil debate, often length civil debate when all those who should be involved in it are involved in it.  It is designed to accommodate ONLY a win-win scenario which meets the needs of all Americans, equally.  Our job, collectively, as citizens, is for each one of us to to make the governing process happen as it should.  It is not the work of the faint-hearted nor the apathetic.  It is the work of responsible American citizens who stand up to be counted as such.

10 March 2017

Revamping the Affordable Care Act

Currently our legislative bodies are once again addressing the structure of the system of health care in our nation.  But they should be addressing the collective health of our nation of which the structure of health care is a part.  So if they  are going to take the time and make the effort to address the inadequate structure of the system of health care, then why don't they simply choose to do it right, and get to work on  presenting a not-for-profit single-payer national system of health care to which all have equal access?  In the long run it would be much more cost effective all the way around, and our entire nation would, collectively, be much healthier.

Revamping the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is like putting lipstick on a pig.  Don't get me wrong, ACA is better than what we had, but a far cry from what we need.  What we need is not what the current efforts to revamp ACA are dedicated to trying to produce.

Watching Speaker Ryan on C-SPAN, as he speaks from a health insurance industry perspective, he is doing his best "used car salesman" pressure tactic routine, the revamping of the Affordable Care Act.  In doing so he makes it abundantly clear that he buys hook, line, and sinker into the "old=sick" risk pool stereotype.  One has to wonder if those are the expectations Speaker Ryan has for himself in old age.

The old=sick conundrum was a pet peeve of mine long before I could be categorized as old! Why? Because it goes without saying that along with life style choices, taking good care of health throughout life, including successfully navigating through pollutants (in air, water, soil, food; industrial pollutants, insecticide, radionuclides, etc.) makes a good BIG difference in the amount of health care that might NOT be needed for medical conditions which might NOT manifest in later years . . . unless there is a cumulative over-burden of pollutants, exacerbated by unhealthy life style choices (including nutrition). 

Not all retirement aged folks are health insurance liabilities simply because of being elders!  These days the health effects of pollutants cumulate so quickly that young=sick too - like childhood obesity from poor nutrition (and polluted food and water), outgassing from furniture and carpets, chemicals in fabric softener, pesticide residue on everything, not only from growing and harvesting of produce, but also absorbed by and through packaging because of insecticide gas used by shippers (often
naphthalene which is very evident from the clinging "moth ball" odor). Then there is the myriad of inoculations, so many all at once, which in some cases have proven to cause medical conditions which never should have been unforeseen had there been adequate research.  Add to that serious medical conditions from industrial pollutants in which category we should also put at least some pharmaceuticals. 

And of course there is pollution from wheeled vehicles, also airplanes and rockets said to produce much more than that of wheeled vehicles, which brings us also to the effects of pollutants on climate.  That is a whole additional issue, also related to health issues thus the structure of our health care system.  The list of pollutants goes on.  Many of today's pollutants did not exist or were not polluting the environment of my own rural Grandparents when they were growing up and when they were raising their children.  Consider that in 4-5 generations since 1900 the variety and number of environmental pollutants has increased exponentially.  Pollution from coal burning is one of the few that has been reduced.  Government is not efficiently monitoring, outlawing, and enforcing policies which minimize the problems.  And worse some of the dangerous chemicals that have been outlawed are in use again, like DDT. 

Pollution really does increasingly effect everyone's health in negative ways - if not immediately, then cumulatively later in life.  One effective way to spend less on health care all the way around is to reduce and get rid of pollutants, especially "hidden" pollutants that are in everyone's environment over which we, the people, should take more control.  It is we, the people, versus government sanctioned polluters . . . and currently we, the people, are batting zero because we are not persistently asking questions until we get appropriate answers from our legislative bodies at all levels of government, who are not supposed to be representing corporate needs in preference to the needs of we, the people.  The polluters vs people game is "fixed", currently, and will remain so until we, the people, persist in speaking up about the problems.

It is simple common sense that pollutants cumulate and eventually lead to health problems.   It takes diligent work, including acquiring personal knowledge, to detox as we go through life, because until serious medical conditions manifest the "illness industry" wants to do little or nothing other than provide pharmaceuticals for symptoms which in many cases increases the pollutant load in a body, some pharmaceuticals creating side effects and medical conditions as bad as, or worse than the symptoms for which they were prescribed.   Those who have helplessly experienced the "illness industry" journey through life of loved ones, know exactly of what I speak!  

Worse, the medical insurance industry masquerading as health care refuses to cover holistic health approaches that deal with treating health problems more naturally when possible, and preventing health problems while creating and maintaining optimal health, at far less cost because holistic care can minimize the likelihood of serious medical conditions developing.  Simply put, no health care system is adequate without also covering cost effective holistic approaches to healing and maintaining good health.  But neither original ACA nor revamped ACA do that.  It is doubtful at this point that the single payer system we need to establish would embrace holistic health.  Although there is some movement in the direction of embracing and teaching integrative medicine at medical schools, we do not see that dimension of care reflected in any legislative discussions about what ACA provides.  Instead we see "the system" in our own nation as the  problem it is.   Compared to other nations it has become a for-profit institutionalized illness industry from which the insurance and pharmaceutical industries profit, and in doing so it leaves many patient needs unmet while it limits the adequate exercising of health care professionals' skills and abilities. 

Health, Education, and Welfare used to be a government department. And it certainly is the work of government to set and enforce minimal standards regarding all three, throughout the nation.  But for many decades government has been falling short in it's responsibility for all three.  Is it any wonder the department no longer exists as an umbrella for these three standard setting and enforcing areas of government policy?  Again,
currently our legislative bodies are once again addressing the structure of the system of health care in our nation.  But they should be addressing the collective health of our nation of which the structure of health care is a part.   So if they  are going to take the time and make the effort to address the inadequate structure of the system of health care, then why don't they simply choose to do it right, and get to work on  presenting a not-for-profit single-payer national system of health care to which all have equal access?  In the long run it would be much more cost effective all the way around, and our entire nation would, collectively, be much healthier.

We, the people, need to be asking where the profits from the exorbitant costs of the current system are going.  Even with insurance, dealing with a major health issue leaves people in bankruptcy.  Part of the problem is that people pay for convenience.  But, when did we become a nation of people who pay every cost for health care set by insurance companies that is asked of us, without question?  We pay without question because the more affluent among us can and because it is convenient - at least more convenient and less time consuming than questioning rising costs and the quality of health care.  Throw more money at it and it will improve, is the mantra.  Get more money and ask for more money, is the mantra in response.  It has become a vicious circle because the unquestioned costs become unquestionable costs of convenience for the more affluent.   And costs continue to increase for all as access to care decreases so that unless we do evolve to a not-for-profit single payer national health care system, a large majority of Americans will be left without access to even basic health care.  Because, it will simply not be affordable and because it does not adequately meet patient needs, but instead meets the needs of those who monetarily profit from the system as it is.  Who is profiting from the exorbitant cost associated with the system of health care?  Let's follow the money and find the problems.

One more time,
currently our legislative bodies are once again addressing the structure of the system of health care in our nation.  But they should be addressing the collective health of our nation of which the structure of health care is a part - a big part.   So if our elected legislators  are going to take the time and make the effort to address the inadequate structure of the system of health care, then why don't they simply choose to do it right, and get to work on  presenting a not-for-profit single-payer national system of health care to which all have equal access?  In the long run it would be much more cost effective all the way around, and our entire nation would, collectively, be much healthier which is what we all deserve.

05 January 2017

Remembering Grandpa and Waxing Lyrical about the Past

Recently a cousin’s daughter posted a somewhat stunning profile photo of herself on Facebook.  As I briefly puzzled over what it was about that particular photo which drew and kept my attention, I realized she looked like a little imp turned into a fairy-tale princess at her wedding . . . a simple circlet of tiny twinkling pink and blue lights on her head  - the entire photo a lavender hue.  It was definitely a Fairy-tale Princess photo, but more than that.  Had she been playing with their children when the photo was taken?  Perhaps.  Perhaps not.  I have not asked.

Many of us  remember the stories of fairy tale Princes and Princesses from childhood.  These days the children may be more likely to remember fairy tale movies instead. But they are the stories we all really, really, really wanted to believe were real, even though we knew the fantasy in them was not.  Even so, we learned the good lessons they were intended to teach.  “They sunk beneath our wisdom like a stone” so that what we remember seems only to be the fantasy of the fairy-tale which we knew to be just that - fantasy.  The young woman, and little girl who I simultaneously saw in the photo might be living her fairy tale.  She could easily fit into her favorite fairy tale as a heroine of her story.   Perhaps it was the Lavender hue together with the circlet of tiny pink and blue lights?   Lavender is clearly her color.  However, because it is not simply any photo, because she is family, looking at the photo, again, for whatever reason there is something about the photo that leads me to recognize her great-grandpa Lloyd in her countenance - which has been captured in the photograph as an improved upon  Mona Lisa look and moment.  I find myself looking at her photo as her great grand father’s, great-grand daughter thus one of  the little princesses in his life, along with his daughters and  granddaughters - and all the little princes too, one of which being from whom she descends

That is how we in the preceding generation felt with our Grandparents - like little princes and princesses . . . at least most of the time.  They seemed to know, understand, respect, and be able to skillfully guide us into our growing individuality much easier than our parents were able to do.  They were Grandchild Whispers!  Thus is the nature of Grandparents who do not have a more limited perspective of being unable to see the forest for the trees at times, as most parents experience to some extent (more so with the oldest child, or with the new territory of a special needs child).  

Looking at my cousin’s fairy-tale princess photo (to be precise, first cousin once removed) was like seeing the faces of those who we love in children . . .  something we observe, frequently, in young children as they are growing so quickly their first few years.   But Grandpa was gone before any of the Greats, of which she is one, came along.   I wish they all could have known him.  The spouses of cousins and siblings didn’t know him either.   He was gone before they became part of the family, before some of the grandchildren, and long before any of the great grand children arrived.  Remembering, almost is like a fairy-tale from long long ago; a fairy tale - not because life was easy then and all good which is the resolution of the best fairy tales, but because the good is what we choose to bring forward in life and reproduce to the best of our abilities in our own lives and the lives of others.

My most vivid memories of these Grandparents remain from early elementary school age.  Lloyd Oliver Gossage - a Medic in WWI - was the oldest of three children; two boys and a girl.  Grandpa and Grandma married on Valentines Day 1921.  Grandma was the oldest of 10 children.   I was the oldest granddaughter of, eventually, six granddaughters, and as such also the fourth grandchild, of 15, nine being grandsons.  The fairy tale princess who is the star of this story is the second child of the third grandchild.  Her father was born 8 months and 1 day before me; his brother 8 months and 1 day after me.  It is as if our births within the family reflected the unique bond of our parents.  That bond existed, in part, simply because of family but also because, of the six children my Aunt was the first daughter.  I always felt a special bond with her too.  She truly loved children, and was very much an extension of her father’s qualities and love.   My Dad was the first child, and enough older to truly enjoy the arrival of a first baby sister as the fourth child in the family.  He was very protective of her through out their lives - of all the girls actually, more so when growing up than of his brothers who were closer in age - together a trio of rowdy, rambunctious boys, when allowed to be.

When I was in early elementary school Grandpa taught me how to milk a cow ;) as he probably taught all six of his children at some point in time, and later, his grandchildren.  Grandpa Lloyd was a quiet, steady, gentle presence, soft-spoken, no one kinder, a heart full of love  - and love for the outdoors.  Is that how all the cousins and his children knew and remember him?  I suspect so.  It is certainly how I knew and remember him.  The outdoors and Grandma were his home - the home he loved with an immeasurable breadth and depth.  When he was at rest inside from all the day’s work outside, rain or shine, hot or cold,  he would read.   Rarely was Grandpa without a book, or newspaper, or a professional periodical in his hands, while inside - even with the cacophony produced on the occasions when all the grown children and the grandchildren were able to congregate at holiday times.  Even on those occasions Grandpa was always a place of stillness in the exciting and chaotic vortex a passel of children will create, and in which they thrive until it exhausts them, or those around them who send them outside to play!   I don't know for sure, but it is an educated guess, for many reasons, that it was probably Grandpa who spent the most time reading to their young children when they were pre-school age - reading out loud to them exactly what he was reading for himself.  And it was probably Grandma who treated them to a fantasy children's story now and again. 

Grandpa was born in Marathon County Wisconsin just prior to the start of the 20th century that being very late in the 1800s, then raised by a widowed father near Lake Coeur d’Alene, from around about the age of 10 years old, onward.  His Wisconsin Grandfather had lost an arm, the result of an injury as an Ohio soldier during the Civil War.   His father, Great Grandpa Robert, had migrated with his young family from Wisconsin before Grandpa was 10 years old, via Montana where he had owned land in the mining district, before settling in the mining district of the panhandle of Idaho.  Grandma’s family had arrived to the region from Minnesota where she was born, when she was eight years old. 

Grandpa knew weather, and climate, inside out.  Of course I only realized this in much later years at which point I since have been in awe of his near genius expertise in that respect, same as  I am in awe of that seemingly natural ability in the ancestors of many in whom that skill was a necessary survival skill that had been developed.  I continue to  also be in awe of the descendants of these folks who choose to carry on with the same tradition and the embodying of that skill.  It is becoming a far less common skill than it once was, the wisdom of which passes seamlessly, and almost unrecognized as such, from one generation to the next.  

Grandpa was also a realist (so was Grandma) with his head in the clouds and his feet on the ground - always a serene countenance who as an adult brought a wonderful dimension of the cosmos to reality for those in his life.   I learned from watching him how to roll a perfect cigarette (though I never needed to do much calling on that skill ;) )  From observation, I found years later that I too had what seemed an inborn skill for the rolling of a perfect cigarette.  Grandpa kept a red metal can of Velveteen tobacco the size and shape of his shirt pocket, in his shirt pocket.  He was not a constant smoker.  When he smoked it was an event predicated by skillfully removing exactly the correct amount of tobacco from the red container, placing it on the carefully held paper in exactly the right place, then proceeding as if by magic to create a cigarette.   He smoked  actual tobacco without modern day pollutants and additives, thus never suffered from damage to the lungs for that reason, nor because of excessive smoking. 

I also learned from watching him how to correctly fell a tree in the woods,  and decades later did so correctly (although a small trunk not destined to be cut into lumber, and not in the woods).  I did it correctly though because of remembering how he did it.   Grandpa was also an Aquarius, as was Grandma.  As such, when discipline was necessary, it was the imposing of expansive limits as learning experiences, rather than the cruelly punishing and isolating limits of discipline superimposed by some adults.  That does not mean they did not get angry if required.  I’m sure their children could tell many tales of their own experiences.  I have experienced Grandma being a force of nature when it was necessary, but not in a harmful way when discipline was necessary.  I never experienced Grandpa being in “angry force of nature” mode.

No one could produce a meal like Grandma could - from start to finish - on the wood burning range; everything ready on time and cooked to perfection.   From a young girl's perspective it was truly a production which was an awesome sight to behold. Smooth as clock work, no wasted time, no extraneous tasks, no wasted motion - she seemed to effortlessly coordinate and manipulate time, perfectly, and in doing so created a fluidic gracefully choreographed counterpoint “dance” of sorts in coordination with the required tasks.  She truly was a sight to behold while preparing dinner.  And dinner at Grandma's was always a blessing. 

From watching and “helping” Grandma I learned to make butter, cottage cheese, and Apple Butter while still early elementary school age.  No one's homemade bread was better - especially with a slather of butter and a little sprinkling of sugar, as a treat; or sometimes Apple Butter if the previous year's store of Apple Butter in the cellar had not yet been depleted.  Grandma made it from fruit the size of walnuts  produced by the small Crab Apple "orchard", consisting of a few trees out behind the barn.  

And I remember from having been very young, taking a nap on their bed which was covered with a quilt. Grandma told me she made it from all the clothes they had worn out which were too full of holes or too thread bare in spots, that it was not possible to resize them for the younger children, thus they become unusable as clothes or cleaning rags, and instead became the fabric of the quilt.  I truly loved that quilt - all the life and love it embodied as their immediate family’s history in the way that only some quilts do.   The squares weren't more than three inches across with the foundation inside being an old worn blanket, first restored to pristine cleanliness, then becoming the inside foundation of that quilt.  It was a “real” quilt . . . the kind that is tufted together securely from one side through the blanket to the other side, with a tightly secured knot of yarn at each apex of each of the seemingly endless squares.   I am not the only Grandchild to have fallen asleep on under that quilt while trying to count the squares!   It was a very sturdy warm quilt which it was impossible to imagine would ever cease to exist.   I was always determined to make a similar quilt from old worn out clothes . . . and still am. 

I used to feel so sad for all of the newer and younger extended family who had never had the opportunity and experience of knowing Grandpa in his tangible, corporeal form - and the life Grandpa and Grandma had made together for their family.   By having done so they contributed their love to all the grandchildren, yet to be born grandchildren, and additions to the family in the future by marriage, thus also the great grands who would arrive in their own time . . . ad infinitum into the future, long after our grandparents were gone.  

I feel so very fortunate and grateful to have experienced only the good there was to know, even though I knew of many of their difficulties.  The strong love is what lives on.  I have learned in my own many decades as an adult that it is the good, only the good, which ushers in and becomes a part of the life force of each subsequent generation whether or not we are able to identify it's origin.  That does not mean we do not learn about the difficulties, heartbreaks, and sorrows of the generations before us, which are also a part of us in a unique way so that we feel an amount of empathetic emotional pain to our depths about it and because of it.  That too is an inheritance of individuals in subsequent generations.  

What it does means is that the priceless treasures which help us to rise above and move beyond difficulties were also passed on to all of us from our ancestors.  Whether or not their environments enabled their abilities to transcend their difficulties, we also inherited the resilience and love that our ancestors needed and worked hard to find, create, and recreate so they could try to move forward to  provide for their families and experience as much good in life as possible, however difficult it was at the time to do so.  When we understand, thus tap into that love and resilience as our birthright, it becomes a part of us, an ever expanding inclusive love and resiliency that is a treasure from our ancestors, to all their descendants, in their own times, to improve upon and increase as we each embody it in our lives, whether or not those ancestors were gone before our time, and whether or not we knew them or knew of them. 

Everyone on this earthly sojourn has so many ancestors to be proud of for a variety of reasons regardless of whatever difficulties and injustices those ancestors experienced or may have caused, in life.  Whatever their errors they are not ours to account for, understand, yes - condone and account for, no.  Their sustaining treasure through the ages, given to us to make our own, is their genuine love which we add to, each in his or her turn, so that it grows exponentially as it moves into the future with the arrival of subsequent generations.  And that love reaches us from a from a point of origin we have in common that is at least as old as the dawn of humanity.   It is a palpable part of the reality of every person on earth, with the potential to extend far into the future from the momentum we provide when we embrace the inheritance of that love, ourselves.

I saw Grandpa in the face of my cousin’s daughter.   I saw him as her Great Grandpa.  Wow.  So why did that bring a tear of joy?  First, undoubtedly, because she did not ever have the opportunity to sit on his lap and be held by him and read to by him, while he was living.  Secondly, because I saw only the young carefree child her Great Grandpa  would have held on his lap and read to until she wriggled around enough to be set free to run outside and play, even though at the same time I have a present awareness of the heartache she has experienced in her life.   And perhaps because, in part, it is also the season of the year to put aside dwelling on the difficulties we experience, and instead reminisce about all that has been good and will continue to be good in our lives as we move into a New Year.   But what produced that tear, initially, was an unexpected glimpse of Grandpa peeking out through my cousin's photograph.  

Whatever anyone else may have seen in my cousin's fairy tale photo, and whomever else anyone may have seen in her countenance, I saw in it, and in her, generations of our ancestors extended from the past as far into the present as the children she is raising.  And who knows for sure where, from there?   It reminded me that as family, and as importantly the human family, we experience our grandparents, some times great grand parents too, being focal points who actively provide a continuity of love, as part of a universal fractal process from the past into the future; a legacy process emanating from all previous generations and  continuing on through all descendants into the future.  It is the same universal process of which everyone is a part in their earthly sojourn.  It is the job of each of us to do justice to those before us by doing our part to improve upon and expand the range of that perfect love from the distant past with which we have all been blessed.