Categories
journalism Social Media social statement

My Story on Cancel Culture Published in the Spokesman

I had the honor this month of being the guest columnist in the Faith and Values section of the Spokesman-Review, the main newspaper of the city of Spokane, Washington.   The story may be found online here, and a verbatim transcript is below.  

CaptureWhat is cancel culture? In a nutshell, it’s a subculture that consists of people who have eliminated other people from their lives, based on perceptions of their having behaved inappropriately. Those who perform these eliminations also encourage others to eliminate them as well, on the grounds that their offenses are irredeemable, and so no one should have to tolerate them.

None of us particularly relish the futility of arguing against someone’s egregious conduct. But the problems with advocating such a full-fledged “cancellation” of another human being are ultimately more serious than those which arise from that person’s unacceptable behavior in the first place.

On October 29, speaking at an Obama Foundation event, the former president declared: “Among certain young people, and this is accelerated by social media, there is this sense sometimes of: ‘The way of me making change is to be as judgmental as possible about other people’ and that’s enough.”

That’s not activism,” Obama went on. “That’s not bringing about change. If all you’re doing is casting stones, you’re probably not going to get that far.”

It’s interesting that Obama stresses how this phenomenon is propelled by social media. I’ve often been aghast at what people get away with on social media that they couldn’t do in their real, non-wired lives – such as block someone from a group and still participate in that group. In real life, this wouldn’t be possible. You’d either attend the group or not. You wouldn’t be able to simply render yourself invisible to somebody you don’t want to deal with.

But when it comes to cancel culture, people come close to doing just that. Those who have been “cancelled” are not only blocked on social media, but in every aspect of their lives. From that moment on, there is no prospect for redemption on the part of the offenders. They are like condemned buildings, destroyed by the wrecking ball. And who has condemned them? Fallible human beings, who may later find themselves condemned as well.

What about the First Amendment? An open debate over difficult differences is a touchstone of democracy. As Obama said in a speech to college students, as early as 2015: “Anybody who comes to speak to you and you disagree with, you should have an argument with them, but you shouldn’t silence them by saying you can’t come because I’m too sensitive to hear what you have to say.”

What is at the root of such a twisted culture? In a certain light, it can be seen as just another instance of our human urge to seek personal glory at the expense of the greater good. When someone succeeds in calling out an adversary, of course that person feels exalted. As Obama explained: “If I tweet or hashtag about how you didn’t do something right or used the wrong verb, then I can sit back and feel pretty good about myself.”

The idea of removing others from our sight is not something that serves humanity on the whole. It’s self-serving. And it’s been around for a long time. People used to be “banished” in the Middle Ages. Even today, how often do we walk past scores of homeless people on the sidewalks, and act as though they don’t exist?

In my view, we could all open our eyes just a little bit more, and start doing the small things for others that will gradually help us to rebuild a broken society. If we don’t, historically speaking, something will happen to open our eyes for us. And those events have not normally been very pretty.

Please donate to Eden in Babylon.
A little bit goes a long, long way.

Categories
Christianity gratitude journalism running

Gratitude List 1385

This week’s gratitude list is from last Thursday morning, the 16th.  

1. Slept 6 hrs from 9 till 3, deeply w/dreams.

2. I’m gettting to read Proverbs 16 (my favorite chapter) this morning, with 16:7, my favorite verse.

3. My piece on Cancel Culture is being published in The Spokesman.  I have to edit out 300 words to meet their requirements, and it’s due tomorrow. But I can do it. It’s a priority, as The Spokesman is the major newspaper of the 2nd largest city in the State of Washington.

4. It dawned on me during Bible Project that I would probably think more clearly and have less anxiety if I ate a little more properly.   So I resolved to start with eight forms of food that I read are good for people with ADHD in that they adjust dopamine levels in the brain: milk, eggs, fish, strawberries, apples, bananas, almonds and dark chocolate.

5. Ran 1.2 miles from the church to my landlord’s office to Ace Hardware in spikes & street clothes in 24F weather with the wind on my back, nice brisk run. Ran/walked 1.8 back against the wind, since Ace couldn’t copy my mail key and I had to go to the locksmith in the mall on 3rd Street. Good exercise. (Gives “running errands” a new meaning.)

6. Looks like it’s 31F degrees and less snow on ground. I can probably do a significant run this morning, yesterday’s jaunt being a warm-up.

7. Good Folger’s coffee at my own home out of my own Black & Decker coffee maker. Grateful for this place and for the amazing way it came together without my having to pay a deposit or them runing a credit or background chack, thanks be to God and Young Paul, the college graduate whose lease I took over.  Grateful to finally be no longer surrounded by tweakers, in life.

8. Got my daughter’s youtube of her song “Sparrows” from the open mike at the Starry Plough, a work of genius.

9. Got the Street Spirit check and 3 complimentary papers, along with a Happy New Years and a thank you from the editor-in-chief.  Also, John C. paid me the $10 he owed me on a Suspended CD, so I made $35, which ought to cover the utilities bill.

10. Excited about my theology group tonight, which will be on Martin Luther King and Gandhi. I’ve got three writing deadlines before Friday, and this will be a welcome restbit. God is Good.

Please donate to Eden in Babylon.
A little bit goes a long, long way.

 

Categories
Christianity gratitude journalism Piano

Gratitude List 1365

(1) Slept a huge lot of hours for the second night in a row, didn’t even keep track.  Got up at 8:30 feeling like I can probably pull about five all-nighters in a row if I want to, and get all kinds of stuff done.  Thank God for sleep, when it happens.

(2) Walked into town in the snow after realizing there was no coffee left in the cupboard, and had some interesting peaceful thoughts.

(3) First cup of free Pikes Peak coffee at the Courtyard Cafe went down swimmingly during a pleasant conversation with a guy I like named Bill.  Didn’t know he had written editorials for the local newspaper for years.

(4) It’s uncanny how many people I meet randomly these days turn out to be journalists, columnists, reporters, editors, etc.  

(5) Decided it was about time I learned something about economics, so I spent several hours last night researching Adam Smith, supply-side economics, laissez-faire capitalism, and so forth.  What I want to express is: thank God for the Internet.  What in some ways could be our biggest bane is in many ways our biggest asset.  

(6) The new music minister took me out to lunch after church yesterday, and we had a nice conversation.  He is interested in having the Praise Team present the worship song I wrote.   He seems a nice young man, and I gave him a free Suspended CD in return.  

(7) I could conceivably be depressed over many things right now, but I woke up in one piece and healthy and fit, still having escaped serious injury or physical disease throughout all my days.   Life is keeping me around for some reason — that much is clear.

(8) There’s no reason for me not to remain open to new possibilities; and that prayer I prayed the other day on campus was surely heard.   Lord knows I prayed it loud enough.

(9) “The times they are a’changin’.” — Bob Dylan 

(10) God is Good.  

Please donate to Eden in Babylon.
A little bit goes a long, long way.  

 

Categories
Christianity gratitude Homelessness journalism Social Media

Gratitude List 1354

This one’s from Thursday morning.  

1. Slept about 8 hrs from 11:30 till 7:30 am.

2. Snow all about, very beautiful.

3. Echo called early, having also gotten up at 7:30.  She seems well, and I’m glad.  I’ve spoken with her in fact two times today, for which I’m thankful.

4. Also got a chance to talk with Nick.

5. Making progress toward submitting my 2nd column for Tracy.  I am connecting together themes of social media / pleasure-seeking to the creation of Cancel Culture, and then how homeless people have been cancelled by society.

6. Got another compliment, it was from Nick G., the ‘Palouse Pundit,’ it was on my Homelessness Taught Me Gratitude piece, he said it was good writing.  At the end, he said: “Keep writing!”  He himself is reputable, a retired philosophy professor, spent several years with the Maharishi in India.

7. Seneca made me a quad espresso and gave me a day old scone, even though I only paid for a doppio.

8. Took a brisk three mile walk in the snow, wherein all errands were accomplished.

9. This includes having gotten my levothyroxine, of which Dr. M. has how given me a 90 day supply at 137 micrograms / day.

10. Nice to be inside on a snowy day.   God is Good.

Please donate to Eden in Babylon.
A little bit goes a long, long way.  

 

Categories
Christianity gratitude journalism prayer running

Gratitude List 1343

This one’s from Saturday afternoon.   Apparently, I’d had a rough morning, and decided at some point to count my blessings and begin anew.  

1. Am feeling decidedly better.  Starting the day over.  

2. Ran about 2 miles (aborting the 3 mile course when I got tired, and walking back home).

3. Listened to all of Suspended at the round table.   I think my edits are fine now, and also it sounds a lot better conceptually than it did last night.   People will either like it or hate it, but I doubt they’ll think I don’t know what I’m doing.

4. Gave a CD to this guy, the trumpet teacher, whom I saw immediately after I finished listening.   Moments later, at the Co-Op, this fellow the Math professor gave me some cash for one, and this other man the German professor told me he would pay for one if I could figure out how to put it online.

5. Ran into this fellow who writes for the Daily News and we exchanged numbers.   He’s very bright, and knows a lot about journalism, too.  Reminds me, I ran into the journalism professor the other night, who had already read my commentary, since he subscribes to that site.  He said: “Good work!”  Thankful for all this newfound focus on journalism and on getting my stories published.  It’s been a pleasantly unexpected turn of events throughout my brief retirement.

6. I finally decided to approach K. about my reservations regarding the Theology group, and we wound up having a nice long conversation.   A very nice and extremely erudite man.

7. K. also assured me not to be intimidated by all these professors and people with degrees, despite my lack of a higher education.  He said I’m on the same intellectual level as most of the professors anyway.

8. Said two really great prayers while I was running.  Actually one of them was of the magnitude of the heavily answered prayer I prayed in July 2016 outside the Sequoia station.   It was the second time it’s ever happened — I don’t want to say what the content of the prayer was — but when I prayed it, the words were given me with clear conviction, and as I looked into the sky, I “felt” that those words were heard.

9. Shaun also was helpful last night in that we delineated that I prayed in anger for a certain thing to happen, and it happened, and my anger was assuaged.  Now is the time to pray in Gratitude to make good use of that which has happened, for this is the blessing of God, though I’d asked for it in anger.

10. Asking myself “what’s next?” always works, even if the answer is silence.   God is Good.

Please donate to Eden in Babylon.
A little bit goes a long, long way.  

 

Categories
God gratitude journalism Piano running

Gratitude List 1329

1. Sleep was unusually sound between about 11 & 5, six hours. I already feel better than I did at any point yesterday. Thankful for the power of a good night’s sleep.

2. Made it through the day yesterday without having to spend any of my daily $6 allowance. So today I have $12 to work with. I’ve noticed that the process of diligently budgeting very small amounts of money is joyful. When I succeed at creating a reasonable way to use the small amount, and when I succeed at adhering to that plan, I receive a sense of peace in my spirit.

3. Thankful for my friend Danielle. I just got a little frustrated when once again I couldn’t find my beanie.  After an anxious, futile search for it, I called and asked her to pray I would find it, then found it five seconds later underneath a towel on the bathroom floor.

4. Having made the decision to confine my involvement with the Center to three hours of volunteering on Tuesdays and a single recovery meeting on Fridays, I’m taking joy in seeking more order in my world. 

5. Had an idea for me and Paul to do an All Christmas show, and improvise Christmas tunes over long jams, and make it a sing-a-long when we get back to the “A” part, and have Dave do the sound, kinda like the All Beatles show we did last summer. Everybody thought it was a great idea, and we’re setting it up for some night in December.

6. Having been asked to write commentary for this news site, I got a great start on my first story over the weekend. Looking forward to turning in a draft today or tomorrow.

7. Meditated for twenty minutes last night. This is the first time I’ve gone three days in a row. Next step is to have the meditation occur at a regular time of the day.

8. Am coming up with other techniques to make my life less erratic and easier on the people around me. One is that I removed a few people from my phone contacts — not that I don’t want to have contact with them, but that I have a tendency to contact them impulsively. Now, I will have to look up their phone numbers, and in the time it takes to do that, I often realize that my call would have been an “impulse buzz,” possibly disturbing on the other end. 

9. Got to talk with my friend Holly from California last night, and we’re going to make this a regular Sunday night thing. Also looking forward to talking with Nick at noon (also in California).  Thankful for long-term, good friends in this life, and for the sudden inspiration to do the song California Dreamin’ for my Friday piano post.

10. Today’s my day to run. Having gotten back into it, I’ve run every other day for the past eight days. Have done 4 miles, 2 1/2 miles, 3 miles and 3 miles, in that order. Haven’t been uptight when running either. Thankful that at my age, I still have two strong legs and a good set of lungs.  God is Good.

Please donate to Eden in Babylon.
A little bit goes a long, long way.

 

Categories
gratitude journalism mental health Musical Theatre running

Gratitude List 1321

(1) It’s another new day full of unique hope and promise, even if I didn’t sleep a wink last night.   God’s morning is still made up of beauty and full of wonder.

(2) My friend Holly called from California, and we had a nice catch-up.  I like Sunday evening conversations, and I think we might make it a regular thing.

(3) On Saturday I had an amazing four mile run out of the blue, though I’d not run for three weeks.  Thankful for the gift of long distance running.   It’s a large part of the reason why I’m still alive.

(4) I was kinda down last night when I suddenly got an email from a retired columnist whom I’ve known for many years, someone whom I admire.  We shared ideas as to what to do with our respective retirements.  It was lovely, and my spirits were lifted thereafter.

(5) By the way, I’m retired now.   I was “disabled” and deemed “legally incompetent” for a few years prior to my 66th birthday; but once I turned 66, I got a letter saying I was now “retired” and could therefore work all I want.  Nice to know that my entire incompetence vanished overnight.  (I even got twenty five more bucks a month out of the deal.)

(6) To each their own.  Some people take the pills.   Some people run the miles.   I prefer the latter myself.   Neurodivergent and PROUD.  

(7) You wanna see my antidepressant of choice?  Voilà :

Capture.JPG

(8) On suspicion I might have morphed into an Extrovert, I took a personality test that showed these results:

Introvert    38%       Moderate preference of Introversion over Extraversion
iNtuitive     22%       Slight preference of Intuition over Sensing
Feeling        34%       Moderate preference of Feeling over Thinking
Judging       9%         Slight preference of Judging over Perceiving

Looks like I’m coming out of my shell a little bit, and I’m glad.  I can be a social butterfly for a season before I give up and climb back into it.  

(9) I keep noticing that wonderful things tend to happen unexpectedly whenever my mind takes me to a new low.   

(10) For all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world.   There’s a lot of wonder out there — we just need to look for it in the right places.  God is Wonderful.

Please donate to Eden in Babylon.
A little bit goes a long, long way.  

 

Categories
Christianity fitness gratitude journalism Playwriting

Gratitude List 1307

1. Slept from about midnight till 7, pretty solidly.

2. I’ve noticed I haven’t been spacing things out lately gathering my stuff up to leave the house.   Also, always remembering to deal first with the power cord, I haven’t been leaving it at home lately, or elsewhere around town.   Grateful for this, and also for that I live in this present town, where absent-mindedness is not generally met with theft, as it was in so many other places where I’ve lived.  

3. Just read all of Proverbs 28.  Noticed I wasn’t resistant to reading first, as is often the case in the morning (when, as yesterday, I just want to start writing right away).   28:1 is one of my favorites and one of the few I have memorized.   I noticed 28:13 as applying to me recently.

4. I wasn’t angry when I awoke this morning, unlike yesterday.   I also had no problem not going to the computer right off the bat, but very methodically packed up all my things.

5. Finished the Vocal Score last night and did touch-ups on the script.   Should be submitted for registration with the Copyright Office by this afternoon.   I feel released of this burden — enough is enough.   Besides, what did Leonardo say?

Davinci Quotes On Art. QuotesGram

6. Very thankful to have finally “abandoned” my Art.

7. The thought that arose me out of bed this morning was that of journalism, and how it’s a bright new field in a bright new life.   Then, when I got to the cafe, I opened my email to a note from Tracy Simmons, who has put up my bio and picture on her news site, right at the top of her list.  (Now all I have to do is write something.)

8. Morning coffee is waking me well.

9. Grateful for my ongoing physical health and fitness, thus far.

10. It’s a beautiful brisk morning in the town where I was born.   God is Good.

 

Please donate to Eden in Babylon.
A little bit goes a long, long way.  

 

Categories
gratitude Homelessness journalism running

Gratitude List 1295

This one’s from yesterday afternoon, immediately after waking up from a kick-ass nap.

1. Slept another 2 1/2 hours between 1:45 pm & 4:15.   (Not sure if I mentioned, but I took a 2-3 hr nap yesterday as well, after the 8 hours of sleep already).

2. Sleeping a lot lately is indicative of beginning a New Season in Life.    Gotta get a Good Night’s Sleep before starting the New Day.

3. I don’t think meeting Tracy Simmons at a U.I. event last week was a chance encounter.  She wrote saying my web site was “impressive” and asked me to submit some samples of my columns for consideration for her independent news site.  I also read her story in the Wall Street Journal.    I agree with her completely: the key to restoration is embracing, not forgetting, the past.     

4. Proverbs 25:28.   Wisdom.

5. Meaningful vivid dreams.

6. I got this huge rush of freedom-intertwined-with-privacy as soon as I walked through the front door this afternoon and thereafter flopped down exhausted.  It had happened so many times when I lived outdoors and was lucky enough to get a hotel room for a night, how could I forget the hugeness of the double blessing?  It’s not to be abused.  It’s my castle, and I shall build a moat around it.

7. Tom R. let me have his Mortimer Adler book Ten Philosophical Mistakes to use for Norman’s philosophy class.   Looking at it now, bringing back memories.

8. Did the whole wash yesterday.

9. Sold an Abandon CD to Ed S.

10. This coffee is great.   Running four miles now.   

Please donate to Eden in Babylon.
A little bit goes a long, long way.  

 

Categories
Artist Composer journalism Musical Theatre Playwriting

An Open Letter to the Community

Sun, 13 Oct 2019 8:17:54 PM -0700
From: Andy Pope
To: Heart of the Arts
Subject: An Open Letter to the Community

To Whom It May Concern:

I’m sensing from everybody’s non-response that everybody thinks I am making a mistake.  If so, everybody is wrong.

Nobody but me is in my head and my body when the peak of unmanageable anxiety strikes.  Why should I risk running out of the church screaming after throwing all my messed up attempts at organizing my work onto the floor?  True, you guys are tolerant.  True, my friend the church secretary was right when she said that very few people would have done what she did afterwards, which was to pick up everything and sort it back together after I threw an apparent tantrum.  But nobody but me is inside my head and my body.  Nobody but me knows that the “tantrum” is an effect of uncontrollable levels of anxiety that are solely produced by a failed attempt to manage vibrations from multiple human entities while trying to focus on the single task of vocal-directing for musical theatre as I always used to be able to do so prior to the Summer of 2017.

I know what you all are thinking. You’re thinking that Opportunity has knocked. You’re thinking that here’s a way for me to “give back” and make a contribution to the community. Well! I would make a much stronger contribution to the community if I sat here at home and finished the vocal score — which is nearly done, honestly, just a few glitches to correct — until it was in such a condition that somebody of the calibre of [Name Withheld] could interpret and direct it (if he wanted to) and somebody of the caliber of [Name Withheld] could actually play it. And they don’t have the problem dealing with the panoroma of discontinuous non-myopic autistic dyslexic blah blah blah that I do. I know everybody else is a nice person and tolerant and a good Christian but if so, why is everybody making me suffer?

It’s because nobody understands the autism spectrum, you all think it’s a moral problem, and the notion that I personally do not have any God-given desire to interact, other than in a superficial way, with any other human being again -let alone two or three or more — is unfathomable to all you social animals.  I’m an Autistic Artist and I Need My Space.

Now about the Summer of 2017. I was already speeding up the tempos before I lost the church job. But I could still VD – I just could. I remember one time taking over a Choir rehearsal and doing it. It was musical theatre style as per high school students as per my experience but the fact was I could do it. I tried the same thing last year, with my own music even, and I could NOT do it. It had to have been what happened throughout the summer of 2017 at the Friendship Apartments.  It hasn’t happened since then — but it left its mark.  PTSD is real.  You guys have gotta grasp that I’m not just whining.

I failed to help my ex-wife, I failed to help my daughter, I failed at vocal-directing my own show last Summer, and I will fail at everything I set out to do henceforth if I don’t wholeheartedly go about doing the one thing I seem to be doing right, which is write.(Other than a play a piano, and that sure isn’t making the O.G. any money. Not in this neck, and not without a car, and I’ll be damned if I try to start driving again after 15 years. Can any of you even imagine it? I’d wipe out on the first day.)

Mortimer J. Adler - Wikipedia
Mortimer Adler

To me this is a no-brainer. Now I’ve been trying to read Mortimer Adler and my reading of even the Prologue was hounded by these thoughts as-yet-unexpressed, so I have expressed them. Hopefully this has not been at the expense of the health of any of the recipients. Anyway this is easy reading and engaging compared to most Philosophy.  I think his thought is very important. I wish my daughter would read it — but this is not about my daughter. It’s about my musical and the heart failure I will have if I re-enter the exact same stress that I couldn’t handle last Summer.

We don’t have a Stage Manager. We don’t truly have a Vocal Director who can handle this score. We don’t have a rehearsal accompanist. All we have is a playwright trying to do five people’s jobs. We don’t even have but four people committed in the cast! How can I pull this thing off with only Kelsey and the Three Girls? It is not possible. I will just be going through the same junk as last Summer.

I’ve already talked to Dave and the deal is off. This show will be produced when it’s good and ready and not a moment before. I am not Superman.

Yes, scoring a piano-vocal score will take forever. Maybe I can find a piano-playing music student with perfect pitch and send them the recordings.  They’ll probably need to get paid.  And that’s another story!  But somebody has to sometime give the O.G. a break, I’m sixty-six, I’m retired, I want to write at home and live a quiet life.  I didn’t write a musical so as to get all wrapped up in its production and have the same kind of nervous breakdown that caused me to become homeless in the first place in 2004.  I do not need to become homeless again.

I wrote a musical so I could make a needed statement to America on an important issue using a medium with which I have a wealth of experience.  My role should be restricted to an occasional show-up at a production staff meeting and a show-up on Opening Night with a date.

Seriously,

Andy

P.S. And this weird idea floating around town that I’m supposed to have a lady friend or some kind of wife or girlfriend has got to be the most preposterous proposal ever propounded. Talk about adding stress to stress!  You guys act like I was born yesterday.  Really!

Please donate to Eden in Babylon.
A little bit goes a long, long way.