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I might have to print this one off to remind me the next time I get ragey and want to respond accordingly.

Also this: “I want America to be something like what so many have been duped into thinking it always has been.” Me too.

So good, as usual.

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Thank you, Sara. I just feel like shit when I feel like I've acted like an asshole. Plus I know it disappoints my mom, so....

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We're trying to make America great finally, not "again"...

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Jan 16, 2021Liked by Chris La Tray

Not to make light but the thing to do is buy yourself a high bias TDK cassette, make a copy of Ronnie James Dio’s Holy Diver album or Ozzy’s Diary of a Madman, pop it in the deck of your beat ass Nova (Vega, Cutlass, Dart, etc), drive out to the remnants of the pulp plant, and bang your mullet until your head hurts. You will feel nothing but love in your heart afterward. Peace.

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Ronnie James Dio's singing > everyone else.

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Agreed. Sounds like the perfect recipe.

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Jan 16, 2021Liked by Chris La Tray

Just give me one thing that I can hold on to

To believe in this living is just a hard way to go.

JP, an Nashville 21st century Japanese hermit poet

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Perfect.

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Jan 16, 2021Liked by Chris La Tray

You're right that clever snark isn't likely to convince the people who don't agree with you that you're right. It very well might help the people who do agree with you feel less alone, though.

I guess there's a stages of grieving process we're all going through about the Montana elections. Our candidates -- Steve and Mike, Bryce and Shane, Raph and Kathleen, Melissa and Monica -- are not only good and decent folks, their superior qualifications for the posts really were obvious. And yet, a whole lot of people seem to have been obsessed with a junior congresswoman from New York City, and to be really flipped out by the BLM protests over the summer. Now I'm sure that for plenty of those people this is because they cannot bring themselves all the way around to recognizing the justice of the BLM cause, and the toxicity of white supremacy. For number of others, though, it doesn't seem to be as much about BLM itself, but about the disorder and property destruction wrought mostly by people who are not core members of the BLM movement. Fear and outrage. Those folks will hopefully be reachable, as their anger subsides, and as they see that austerity punishes nearly everyone, not just the people they are mad at.

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That is what is so damn frustrating. Montana had a GREAT lineup of options this year, and now we're about to get unlicensed concealed carry everywhere. I can hardly stand it.

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I'm with you. We got to watch Wisconsin and Kansas destroy themselves by electing similar people, and now we get to do the same thing. It's infuriating. Which makes your post that much more important. It reminds me to dig deeper. Fighting at these same levels isn't getting us anywhere.

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I'm still trying to figure out what happened here, though I think your points cover a lot of it. The whole socialism I think was incredibly damaging. I got plenty of texts about how Bullock, etc., were going to drag America into some evil chimeric socialist fantasy. I had a lot of satisfaction in texting back corrections but the message clearly got through to many. We had amazing candidates. And yet even Elsie Arntzen got reelected!

I live in the Flathead, and the number of people I know who've never left the valley, much less the state, is astounding. It's very easy to persuade them that hyped-up news snippets they see on Fox about riots in cities are a portend of disastrous things to come. I hope the fever will subside.

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I used to argue with strangers and acquaintances online, and when I realized I was spending head time away from the computer composing my witty/reasoned responses to them I knew it was time to stop. There are some folks who will never change, no matter what we say. But there are many decent people out there who will hopefully reflect on the current state of the Republican party and reject the radicalism that has taken over. Perhaps once Biden is in office and they start to see some positive change in their own lives, the folks more towards the center will have a change of heart. I can hope, I suppose, but there is so much work to do.

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"When I realized I was spending head time away from the computer composing my witty/reasoned responses to them I knew it was time to stop."

THIS. You friggin' nailed it.

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Jan 16, 2021Liked by Chris La Tray

This conveys all the mixed feelings it may be possible to have about last week's madness. I do not like that rage comes up in me in response to rage! But I'm afraid that compassion is just not an option for me--I'm empty there in the face of these men. The challenge for me is simply not to rage. As you said, that energy needs to be translated into love. NOT for the perpetrators, but for those in reach and in need. Mahalo for writing this!

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For me, compassion tends to be the target and I hit everything BUT it.

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I really like what you've said here. I've been feeling a lot of outrage over last week's events as more and more news comes out about what went on. The perpetrators and their most rabid supporters will not be changed by anything I could possibly say, whether it be an angry outburst or well-reasoned argument. Finding a place to redirect my angry energy towards something with positive impact is the key.

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Jan 17, 2021Liked by Chris La Tray

Well stated. Again. Reminds me of a quote which may well be attributed to Lao Tzu (I can't seem to find it, but that's a good source to go with), that states (somewhat like this) "When confronted with unkindness I return it with kindness, that way I know kindness exists in the world." Same could be expressed about anger, hatred, etc. (the quote may well go on in this manner), but the unkindness/kindness thing has always stuck with me, even if I can't/don't always follow through on it.

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Listening to podcasts wherein poets are interviewed helps me find some peace about “everything” going on right now. Not so much acceptance of presented situations, per se, but a peace within myself, a finding of beauty in the world, in MY world, so that all the fuckiness just don’t matter. I care, but, yet, I cannot save the world. So I find peace within and hope it radiates outward.

Sitting in my sauna right now, listening to poet Nicki Giovanni. Wish everyone could join me but there ain’t much room with me and my doggie herein.....

Peace, Chris. Always good to read you.

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I wonder if in some ways many of us who have never actually lived through war or upheaval are beginning to understand the determined yet non-rage-y commitment many in previous generations had to fighting injustice. I love that Japanese poem (really nothing is ever new under the sun, is it?), and this post reminded me somehow of Svetlana Alexeivitch's book The Unwomanly Face of War. And also of a wonderful essay I read some years ago about epistemic bubbles and echo chambers, and how you can never persuade people within those existences to change their minds based on facts; you can only keep open a space for them to come to when they want to escape the bubble or echo.

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Jan 16, 2021Liked by Chris La Tray

Perfect. Thank you Chris. ‘I’m ready for the fight, but I want it to be quiet and immovable. Subversive and unmistakable.‘

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Thank you, Cora.

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I love that line, too.

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Jan 16, 2021Liked by Chris La Tray

...”there has to be a place for them when they atone.” Yes.

I’ve been wanting to read your thoughts on all this nonsense. You didn’t disappoint. ❤️❤️❤️

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This reminds me of the book I’m reading right now, The Book of Delights by Ross Gay. I don’t want to be angry, I want to be kind and spread that kindness to my community.

Always nice to have a little piece of tranquility in my inbox.

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I love The Book of Delights. Ross Gay is a gift.

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Hi Chris, on the topic of people being redeemable or not: try reading Che Guevara's Reminiscences of the Cuban Revolutionary War. It's really well written: you'd enjoy it.

Tiny ragtag, poorly trained guerrilla unit gets inured to battle and slowly gathers adherents among the peasants in the mountains of Cuba... and deals with reactionaries, traitors, and a US-backed imperialist army along the way. There was an important urban movement at the time as well with whom they coordinated and without whose powerful presence the revolution would not have succeeded.

The revolutionaries learned over time to focus their attention on those who genuinely seemed interested in supporting them and not to suffer the others, although there are several anecdotes when people should not have been cut as much slack as they were.

Sounds harsh and scary, but let's face it: what they want to do with us is harsher and scarier.

A good number of last week's erstwhile putschists were petty bourgeois (small business owners) rather than working class. That's why they could afford the day(s) off. Now, several leftist revolutionary theorists have said that some petty bourgeois can be mobilized alongside the working class (meaning workers paid and unpaid and people who can't work). So there's some hope for them too. But, too often, they choose to hang their flag with the great white sharks.

(Small business owner here, btw... but I won't be hanging my flag with those who would gladly exploit me any time soon.)

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Thanks for this. I definitely know plenty of the "petty bourgeois" here in Missoula; small business owners who have been as radicalized by all of this as I have. It's going to take all of us, right?

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That's good to hear... and yes, all of us.

A lot of people (like me) go out on their own because capitalist workplaces, even the pretty ones with the high paid workers and fancy snacks, are essentially day jail.

I think my parents' generation (silent / "greatest") knew this in their bones. Not sure about boomers and younger overall: the propaganda has become more insidious with time. Anne Helen Petersen writes a lot in this area.

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This was really good to read right now. Thanks, Chris. I'm trying to be hopeful, but it's tough to realize you aren't aggrieved without leaving the group that keeps telling you that you should be furious. And there's a lot of money in that industry.

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BIG money, yes. I think you probably do a pretty good job though, Thomas.

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Jan 18, 2021Liked by Chris La Tray

Writing from afar (Europe, France) I can say I was mesmerized by the live videos of people invading the Capitol. Really, it felt like watching a dystopian book come to life. WHen I was a kid, like most of us in Europe, we saw the US as some kind of fantastic country offering freedom all kinds of possibilities, for everyone. Then I learned about what happened really to the Natives, the slaves and so on. I wrote an essay for my master on US foreing policy, and that's when I stopped admiring the country altogether.

Now, my sentiment is that I'd never want to live there. I don't mean to say that Europe is such a paradise, it is not, but the laws you have on abortion, guns and the like, the weight of religion, are just terrifying to me, as a woman and as a mother. And it pains me so much to write those words.

What I am most afraid of, is that what's going on in the US eventually reaches us (lots of new rigourous laws "pro-life" and anti-LGBTQ in Poland for example). Almost always. And there are QAnon supporters in Europe already. Sometimes, I hope Brexit will open people's eyes as to the consequences of hatred and populism (well, let's call it fascism, because that's what it is). But I am not very optimistic.

It is soothing to the heart of this reader to feel that there are indeed some people out there who do want to do good, who feel that compassion is not weakness. I have stopped completely going on Facebook, I just keep my account active for Messenger, because so many of my friends are there. I go to Twitter for work, and I get to read people like you, people from other countries I would never meet or know otherwise. But there also, I see a lot of violence, disinformation and sometimes it is just so easy to despair of the human race, isn't it?

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Caroline, thank you. The perception of this country from people around the world, while certainly earned, bums me out. There are some good people here. We just need to get off our asses.

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Jan 18, 2021Liked by Chris La Tray

Of course there are some good people, everywhere! No less in the US than anywhere else. As you say: we need to get off our collective asses.

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Jan 17, 2021Liked by Chris La Tray

Chris, this is tough work and I admire you so much for sticking with it—because that’s what you’re doing and it takes a lot of courage. It never gets easy, I don’t think, but at some point compassion becomes its own reward. It’s hard seeing anyone’s anger on Twitter but the thing is, we get a chance to practice compassion, and lord knows it needs practice. Even ten years ago I would have smirked at that but it’s true. I love how you tie music in. It’s fascinating to me to consider how music mirrors the times..or is a precursor to events. Obsessed as I still am with “my” music at that age (Dead and all things sixties peace and love), I can still listen to “yours” and drop deeper into myself. I vaguely remember when Cum on Feel the Noize was a guilty pleasure. 😇

Absolutely superb writing once again. Many thanks.

Mary

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Thank you, Mary.

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