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In Entertainment, history, National News, News Media, Opinion, Politics, Religion, sociology on November 20, 2017 at 9:10 am

Academy Award-winning actor Tom Hanks was just honored with the National Archives Foundation Records of Achievement award. During the presentation event, he commented on the current state of American politics.

“People are upset about what’s going on today. They’re furious, they’re frustrated, they’re worked up,” Hanks said. “If you’re concerned about what’s going on today, read history and figure out what to do because it’s all right there,” Hanks spoke with hope for our country’s future and noted that what is needed today is dialogue, not destruction.

It’s unlikely anyone to the right will ever listen to a “Hollywood” type, but what Hanks said is absolutely accurate. The solutions to today’s problems may very well be found in the conflicts of the past. Often, history simply repeats itself in a different time and location. Every situation that has every arisen throughout human history has one common denominator – people.

Most social, religious and political conflicts in America are caused by a lack of knowledge, an ignorance that is either innate or self-imposed. Without an understanding of the person standing next to you, his trials and tribulations, his background and motivation, it is impossible to identify with him and that leads to conflict.

Taking the time to compare today’s issues with similar situations in the past might help better manage current conflicts and find possible solutions because we know how they were finally resolved. Obviously, we should be investigating any negative outcomes, like war or civil unrest, to see how they can be avoided.

How many times do people say, “Wow, if I’d only known then what I know now?” An insight apparently lacking in President Donald Trump’s character. If he would look backward he’d learn that there were several other presidents that faced the same kinds of situations and resistance. Herbert Hoover, for example, was, like Trump, a terrible communicator.

A closeup of the word HISTORY engraved on a war memorial.

President on the eve of the Great Depression, Hoover was seen by many as mean and uncaring as the economy collapsed because of his rigid adherence to conservative principals. While he made efforts to lower taxes and create public works projects that would help with jobs, he refused any sort of outright relief programs.

As a result, the economy sank even deeper into depression and the shanty towns where people were forced to live after losing everything were nicknamed Hoovervilles, in his “honor.” Hoover is largely regarded, though often not by his conservative disciples, as one of the worst presidents in U.S. history. And Trump is on the road to the same end if he doesn’t learn from the past. Then again, it doesn’t seem like anyone who leans to the right these days is interested in facts unless they directly refute a democrat.

Trying to enact policy just because it defies the opposition seems to be how politics on both sides of the aisle runs today. At this point, no one at the legislative level cares about those of us down here in the real world, this kind of historical ignorance is simply ego and one-upsmanship.

You hear it every day in the news media. Some politician on the left will say something and everyone on the right refutes it, just because it came from the other side.

Imagine this exchange one sunny afternoon on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives. “The sky is blue,” declares a Republican senator one day, stating a fact – something kind of new to him. While across the aisle, his Democrat opponent pops up from her seat and defiantly exclaims, “That’s a lie! It’s green!”

And it continues indefinitely, back and forth, with charts, graphs, testimony from non-blue-sky believers, and on and on. But neither will ever back down because to do so is weak, and the ego must remain intact, regardless of how idiotic they sound. Just resisting any other ideas but your party line is not only ignorant but potentially destructive.

The point is that we could solve a great many problems in modern politics if we just consider how history shows we dealt with some of the same kinds of people and issues. As poet and philosopher George Santayana said, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”

Gery L. Deer is an independent columnist and business writer. More at gerydeer.com.

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Coping with the Big “C”

In Economy, Health, Opinion, psychology, Science, Technology, Uncategorized on November 20, 2017 at 9:06 am

Deer In Headlines
By Gery L. Deer

According to the statistics, more than 14 million people are living with cancer today in the United States. Something like 39 percent of all men and women will be diagnosed with some form of cancer in their lifetime. It wouldn’t be much of a stretch to call “cancer,” on the whole, an epidemic.

Every day we’re flooded with “awareness” messages and celebrity pleas for donations to this cancer group or the other. But will there ever be a cure? And how do victims, and families, cope with the stress that comes with the realization of a cancer diagnosis?

First, let’s discuss the possibilities of a cure. For any organization to state, emphatically, that they’re working on a cure for “cancer” is a bit misleading. Cancer comes in many forms. Every research group must focus its attention on one specific type to formulate treatment and potential cures. And research is expensive.

There are countless organizations dedicated to raising funds for research but, unfortunately, that’s probably all it will be. Without sounding like the dark heart in the room, cancer is a huge cash cow to research labs and big pharma. There’s far more money in treating the disease than there ever would be a cure. It might sound cynical, but it would be naive to think there wasn’t some of that kind of thinking at play here.

But what of those who are already affected, how are patients coping with it? Each stage of the journey through cancer care brings about its own set of emotional responses. Granted, a great deal of the initial response depends on how serious the cancer is – not that there is a kind that isn’t. A good prognosis will make the impact a bit less difficult to handle.

Most patients are angry at first, experiencing a level of, “why me?” There’s some denial, more anger, and finally acceptance in some fashion. Dealing with that emotional roller coaster can be incredibly difficult for people, not just the patient but family and friends as well.

What we are told to do by the experts is to look for ways to cope with it in our own way. They first suggest you try to learn as much as you can about the diagnosis, what type of cancer it is and how it is treated. But be aware – it might seem frightening because the information is often provided out of context for the individual situation.

It’s also suggested that you express your feelings about it. Too many times we try to put on a brave face for family or friends and never really let it all out. It’s not only healthy, emotionally, to exercise those feelings, it can help the healing process.

Taking care of yourself through proper diet, exercise, maintaining your regular routines as much as possible can also help. As human beings, we need normality to function. Try to keep as much of it in your day-to-day life as possible as you move through your treatment.

Participating in support groups and talking with others who have shared your experience can be beneficial as well. There’s nothing more frightening than the unknown. When someone shares their experience with you, and knowledge can help ease fear.

We’re also directed to do our best to focus on what we can control in the situation, rather than worrying about what we can’t. Worrying only wastes energy and creates its own stress.

I recently met a woman who, during her treatment for breast cancer, a professional artist who painted stones from the hospital parking lot. Each stone represented how she felt after each treatment, all 33 of them. She made a full recovery but insists the practice helped her focus and have something within her control that also allowed her to deal with her feelings.

No one can say how they’d react to a cancer diagnosis. But, knowing you’re not alone can really help. If you or someone you know is dealing with cancer, no matter what the prognosis, be as positive as you can, and don’t miss out on a minute of life in the process.

Gery L. Deer is an independent columnist and business writer. Deer In Headlines is syndicated by GLD Enterprises Communications, Ltd. More at GeryDeer.com.

Sexual assault is a societal problem.

In Crime, Entertainment, Health, National News, Opinion, psychology, Religion, sociology, Uncategorized on November 6, 2017 at 8:29 am

Deer In Headlines
By Gery L. Deer

The continued exposure of alleged sexual assault and mistreatment of women within the entertainment industry have shaken some pillars of the Hollywood elite. But exactly what good will come from the heightened media attention? More to the point, since nothing about this problem seems much of a secret, why aren’t we addressing this issue in other industries with as much vigor?

A couple of weeks ago I was involved in a discussion about the idea that Hollywood’s misogynistic, casting-couch culture will likely never change. In case you’re not aware, the term “casting couch” refers to the practice whereby actors or actresses are awarded a part in a production in return for granting sexual favors to whoever is in charge. That could be a producer, casting director, agent, whatever the situation.

Harvey Weinstein has become the poster boy for Hollywood’s misogynistic culture. But he is certainly not alone.
(Photo by Ray Tamarra/GC Images courtesy Variety)

Because the entertainment industry is, even now, dominated by men, this despicable practice has largely been perpetrated on women. These men promise stardom, fame, and prey on lifelong dreams for a few minutes of repugnant self-gratification.

Cultural change within an organization, or an industry, is not so much different from that of a society. There is a status quo that has developed over time, fueled largely by the ambitions of people hoping to succeed and by those already at the top who abuse their power for nefarious gain.

It’s a struggle between the powerless, trying to achieve some level of status, and the powerful, who already have it and may not have achieved it solely on merit, but by largely more devious means. As the floodgates of these allegations began to break down, more women – and men – came forward.

Although this issue should be about decency and civil rights, it has, of course, also turned political. Many of the women coming forward have been labeled publicity hounds and opportunists, primarily by conservative media. While there is certainly some measure of that going on, who can say what is real and what is unscrupulous? Only by investigating each situation can the truth come out and to not do so would be an incredible injustice.

Additionally, the entertainment industry is certainly not the only one where this kind of atmosphere is prominent. Every business has its unspoken norms, with the same stigmas attached to coming forward.

Mistreatment of women is a society-wide problem, with no isolated industry or socioeconomic group. And, while these issues tend to involve women being the subject of the abuse or misconduct, it can happen between anyone in a position of power and a subordinate or a person who feels they are required to accept such behavior because of their status. Unfortunately, we may never know the broad-reaching effects of this issue, especially when so much goes unreported or unprosecuted.

Very few of the well-documented cases within the Catholic church over the years have seen justice. It’s sickening to think that the church has so much power as to avoid the prosecution of potentially hundreds of priests who have spent years sexually abusing young boys. You’d think that the faithful would want to end abuse of any kind, but religion often plays a major role in perpetuating the oppression of women.

Many faiths persist in the subjugation of women to lower status than men, keeping them in positions of service. Young girls are taught to be fruitful and multiply and have as many children as possible to increase the congregation to better serve their god. It is one of the prime duties under the doctrine of their beliefs.

This is a disgusting level of abuse that no one seems to even want to discuss, let alone change. And, because this speaks directly to ignorance and misogyny so prevalent within the Bible-belt following of the conservative right, nothing will be done while they are in power.

Sexual assault and harassment are known and accepted practices in virtually every industry throughout the country. From entertainment to sports and government to big business, the exploitation and mistreatment of women (or others in a subordinate position) is a national, social problem. Society, as a whole, must work to end the stigma surrounding this issue and provide support and justice for those who come forward.

Gery L. Deer is an independent columnist and business writer. More at deerinheadlines.com