Making Sense of the Nonsensical

Hello from my office,

It has been a long day, but that is typical for Monday, but today has seemed longer than usual. I think it is because I am more worn out that I would like to admit. I think it is because I do not seem to have the stamina I once had. I think it is because I have become more dependent on B12 shots and other medications that I wish I was. I am trying to figure out how to get out of that spiral. I do need to get my shot this week and I know there is more sense to that than a lack of sense. When a certain part of your intestinal track is the only place you readily absorb B complex vitamins, and you no longer have that part of your anatomy, you are dependent on something more to help you out. For me, that has become shots. While the shot in an of itself is not that difficult, it is that I need to schedule them out and I did at least get them approved for a year in advance. There are also the regular blood tests and the vitamins that I must manage in other ways because my insides have been so altered. This past week I had to get reloaded on vitamins, prescriptions, and other necessities that characterize my basic life. I have to admit this past year has been something that has pushed my generally optimistic outlook on how all of this is managed. About a year ago I wrote about the complexity that was becoming more and more clear. Hydration is something most of us generally take for granted; while I have known this is not something I can do, I was certainly not ready for how extreme my awareness of that need would become.

I had worked on this blog a couple of times, but for some reason by various writing tools did not synchronize, so I have lost a significant amount of what I wrote, but somehow the title I originally created still seems more apropos than ever. During the past couple of weeks at most every level, there seems to be more “truth is stranger than fiction” than one could ever hope to experience. From a 60 Minutes show, where a porn star alleges she slept with the President (and there are more than a dozen other women who claim some sort of encounter with him) to daily stories of chaos at the White House, even if we are to offer some benefit of the doubt, there is little more than can be said that it is exceedingly embarrassing for our country. Even if there is some embellishment of the accounts, after his infamous taped comments, it seems unlikely that he is a choir boy in all of this. I read an article just today where it noted that more than half the country believes the President to be liar. So much for credibility. It is stunning to me that anyone can find the scads of scandal palatable. One of my students noted that the press has been incredibly unfair to President Trump. Even if I am empathetic to that claim at all, and maybe there is a jot or tittle, he has done very little to mitigate their contempt. In fact, I believe he thrives on all this discontent. Not any way to run the country. After vowing to make Mexico to pay for his “beautiful wall,” today I read that President Trump is floating the idea of having the military to pay for it. First of all, that would certainly go back on one of his signature promises of his campaign. Of course, former Mexican President Vincente Fox stated emphatically that would not happen. Over the past weekend, on another tweeting tirade, which seems to be a regular event. What seems to be lacking here is the Constitutional difficulty moving money from a military budget would cause to come up with an estimated $15-25 billion dollars is beyond what he can constitutionally spend without Congressional authorization. And you cannot just take billions earmarked in one budget and move it wherever you want. This is not the Trump Organization. It is the United States.

The second issue, which always causes an avalanche of emotion is the entire 2nd Amendment conversation, which is at least a foundational pillar of the past week’s latest march in Washington, D.C. and mirroring marches around the globe. The March for Our Lives, with estimates of 1.2-2.0 million people in the capitol alone,  makes it one of the larger protests in our history. What I do believe is most significant is that it was initiated by high school students who are saying enough is enough. It was also interesting in it was the largest youth-led protest since Vietnam. That personally gives me some hope. Again, however, I struggle with some of the backlash, and as a somewhat native Iowan, there is a United States Representative from there that continually frightens me. His bigoted vitriol should frighten more than merely his legislative district. The bigger issue here is we cannot seem to come together in most anything that has fractured us currently. I believe that the 2016 election demonstrated beyond anything most imagined how bigoted, sexist, racist, and economically how extremely discriminatory we are. That has come out in the responses toward some of the students who have stood up to say enough. We seem to allow professional athletes to do all sort of atrocious things (and I know some will argue this because there has been some change in that), but we will question the passion of 14-18 year olds and accuse them of not being genuine. Please?? Between a photoshopped picture of her tearing up the Constitution to disparaging her wearing a Cuban flag, though she is of Cuban descent, and a plethora of other criticisms, people seem to focus the entire movement on simply a 2nd Amendment struggle. If you are uncertain of some of this, please see the following article: https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/us/parkland-students-find-themselves-targets-of-lies-and-personal-attacks/ar-BBKMqbL?ocid=spartanntp_edu.

It is also interesting that former Supreme Court Justice, John Paul Stevens noted that the 2nd Amendment should be repealed. That will fire some people up beyond belief and there is certainly an irony that students calling for an end to gun violence would now be referred to as Nazis. Alex Jones, a conservative talk host whose methods of journalism have seemed to create much more division than anything positive, has spliced together images of Emma Gonzalez and David Hogg with Nazi war images and distributed it, arguing authoritarianism is always about youth marches. Since when does protesting for the safety of people get automatically pushed toward Nazism, but singling out all the various groups that are paramount to “the other” that our President did during the campaign or continues to do with yet another ban on transgender people in the military is not, or should not be equated to that Adolph Hitler convinced the German population to do to the Jews. Again, I am asking for a little common sense here. For a State Representative in Minnesota to refer to David Hogg as Supreme Leader Hogg  and speak about Hitler’s comments about youth, and then beg they not be connected is disingenuous at best, and plain out despicable more than likely. Again, the underlying principle here is about civility and decorum. While I do not have any specifics about the protest, there is something to be said when this protest had co-protests occurring simultaneously around the entire world. That says, in a fundamental way, that this was about so much more than a 2nd Amendment. It was about creating safe spaces and about saying what is has become almost a norm rather than an exception needs to stop. We should not be at the point where somehow a mass shooting is just another day in the life of the country. We should be outraged. We should realize that the level of killing on our city streets and our country outpaces most of the world (if not all of it), and I know I could look it up, but the very fact that I believe we are in this dubious position says enough. One of my colleague has spoken out rather vociferously against this violence with the passion she exhibits for most parts of her life. While I am not sure I am always comfortable with the degree of pathos that accompanies her arguments, I do not disagree with where she stands or the argument she presents, an argument that is deeply thought through and an argument that is based on logic and the most fundamental of our founding principles. She is under some pretty extensive pressure from a variety of fronts to stand down, but as much as I am not sure she considers audience as much as I might, her audience certainly does not seem to understand her, most in terms of the degree of pathos (logos or ethos for that matter) she brings, and they certainly do not understand the deontology of her position. My picture that is at the top of this post has a two-fold purpose. First, we are struggling to stay in, or find, spring. Second, there is not a snowball’s chance my colleague will be intimidated to the point she will back down.

Then there are simply the things you can plan and plan, but the best laid plans do go awry. I took my car in for the annual inspection. In spite of the other car issues, somehow, I had a leaking radiator. I hate car repairs. In fact, this is the longest I have owned a car for a while. Fortunately, when I purchased this one, I had also purchased an extended warranty. It certainly made 100s of dollars difference. I must say that the dealership I have worked with for 9 years here in Bloomsburg has been quite good in terms of service. As I finally finish this post, it has once again taken me longer than planned. It is now about 4:30 a.m. on an Easter morning, an April Fools’ Day. I do not remember an Easter and the prankster’s day aligning when I was a pastor, but one of my seminary classmates and I were noting it in a Facebook message yesterday. People who proclaimed the resurrection were certainly called fools beginning that first Easer morning. More than one person has spoken about what has been called the folly of the cross. The role of the church in society has certainly changed in my lifetime, and certainly the acceleration of the change has grown since I left the parish as a pastor. This past week, as I held student conferences for my rhetoric class, One of my students who is looking at Friedrich Nietzsche, as a rhetorician, stated that at least 50% of the students today or probably atheists. I’m not sure I agree with that, although I do believe probably a much higher degree are, than when I was in college, strong agnostics. I am not sure I find Nietzsche that sensical, but then again as my title suggests there is little sensical at the present time. During the past months I have listened to so much that makes little sense, either logically or emotionally, as someone who grew up where I did (in Northwest Iowa) has taken a much different path than I would. Yet, that is the profound complexity of free will. It is not about making sense; it is about merely doing as one’s own peculiar psyche sees fit. There is little sense to it often times, but then again sense is seldom common, and that seems more true today than ever before. To those who celebrate this most significant day in the church calendar, Blessed Easter; to my Jewish colleges and friends, I know you celebrated Passover on Friday and shalom on this most holy day. It is that tradition that I post my somewhat obligatory trailer or song, though the issue is a different one in the Jewish mindset, but it should be the mindset of all. In our non-sensical world perhaps we need more atonement and forgiveness for our seemingly inexhaustible ability to offend one another.

 

Thanks as always for reading.

Dr. Martin

Author:

I am a professor at Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania and the director of and Professional and Technical Writing minor, a 24 credit certificate for non-degree seeking people, and now a concentration in Professional Writing and Digital Rhetoric. We work closely to move students into a 4+1 Masters Program with Instructional Technology. I love my work and I am content with what life has handed me. I merely try to make a difference for others by what I share, write, or ponder through my words.

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