Resist

There’s a whisper growing louder
(Have you heard?) –
Voices lost now being found
Sweeping up the scattered words,

Whipped by robust winds –
They are landing in the streets.
Upon people of all walks of life
They’ve found a pulsing beat

The heartbeat of America
A promise to deliver
As immigrants and native souls
Create a human river.

Words splatter over painted signs,
And rise from voices strong
Of dedicated people
Who sing their country’s song –

They sing of lofty principles
Inscribed on fragile paper,
By men of foresight long ago
Lest they dissipate like vapor.

These words are seared upon the hearts
Of freedom loving folk,
We are all created equal
And won’t accept the yoke

Of stubborn inequality,
Of silencing our voices.
Remember soon the season comes
When we renew our choices.

Until then we claim these words,
We use them as our tools,
Of building our foundation
That precludes your silly rules.

We stand together strong and proud
And raise collective fists
Declaring our autonomy
And pledging to resist.


Join us. https://www.indivisibleguide.com/

A New Day

It’s a new day, America.

I watched our new president’s inauguration speech this morning on YouTube/PBS. Being the stubborn person I am, I refused to watch it live and increase any potential ratings. As I watched, and you must watch to get the full effect, I started hearing ominous background music in my head, the kind that comes at the start of The Hunger Games or any other movie where you know the politician in charge is up to no good and you’re all going to be screwed.

The gist? We’re going to make America great again, damn it. How are we going to do it? Well, with police and military, protectionism and patriotism (read nationalism). In this speech we found out that the blood of all patriots is the same color regardless of the color of their skin. (Do I need to add that the blood of everyone else in the world is also the same color? Such rhetoric.) We’re going to end the “carnage” of inner city drugs and gangs and make sure Americans are first.

I don’t know about you, but I found the use blood and carnage in an inauguration speech horrifying, especially given the tone. This is not your Obama hope and inclusion speech.

America, I fear there are dark days ahead. Women will march tomorrow in solidarity, sending a message that our voices count to a man who claims to be for us, the people, but has a penchant for sexual assault and misogyny. And it won’t just be women marching, but the men in our lives who support us. We won’t be silenced.

But I imagine they will try.

One part of the president’s speech rankled me.

At the bedrock of our politics will be a total allegiance to the United States of America and through our loyalty to our country, we will rediscover our loyalty to each other. When you open your heart to patriotism, there is no room for prejudice.

I consider myself a patriotic person. I am not a flag-waver, singing “Proud to be and American” at the top of my lungs. I’m a quiet patriot. If you come after my country, I will be there to defend it through words or whatever implement I have on hand. But I understand that in our country, there is room for dissenting views. That’s the essence of the First Amendment. What will constitute a “total allegiance” to the USA, and who will decide what loyalty to our country means? For example, to me, loyalty to our country means honoring the free press and the constitutional amendments. It also means working with the system and not refusing to even hear a supreme court nomination. It means listening to our intelligence community and giving credence to the work they risk their lives to provide. I imagine under the Trump administration, “total allegiance” will take on a more sinister tone of agreement with the powers that be. I hope I’m wrong.

Our allegiance is to the United States of America, to its institutions and its Constitution, an ideal put to paper that we must defend against all enemies, foreign and domestic. Yet we must be very clear about what that threat is. Burning a flag is deplorable, but not a threat to the greatness of the United States. Clamping down free speech is.

It’s a new day, America, a day to ask yourself if you are willing to risk exposure and speak up against any and all attempts to destroy our freedoms? Stand up. Speak up. Don’t risk losing those rights.

They’re Here

Mercilessly they came,
Gnashing their teeth,
War whoops televised over broadcast news.

Slyly they came,
With a wink and a nod,
Manipulating words and ideas through the airwaves.

Smugly they came,
Tweeting their way into power,
Lambasting the good and worthy throughout the internet.

Slowly they rose,
Climbing on the willing backs
Of those already bent from daily pressures none of them would ever face.

And a chant rang out,
“Lock her up” and “Build that wall,”
Inoculations activating a hard shell of resistance…

To ideas…

To community…

To differences.

Joyfully they came,
Looting and pillaging their aim,
As the shining city on the hill sat vacuously waiting.


In response to The Daily Post’s prompt: Pillage

Seeping In

We’ve had a week to percolate
A thousand words to navigate,
It’s up to us to find the truth
That’s hidden in the voting booth;
Cryptic meetings, cracking code
May lead us down a dark, dark road
A small machine that stands alone
While Sally goes to get the phone,
A small adjustment, just a smidge
Is all it takes to burn that bridge.
Now exit polls don’t match results,
But we can take this; we’re adults.
Concessions speech that asks for peace,
And hope, and for a wide release.
We split, and while a segment cheers
Others must confront their fears,
Voices raised in deep despair,
Asking, how can this be fair?
How can a campaign run on blame
By a man who gained his fame
Through TV shows and business fails
Be asked to hoist the country’s sails?
A man who counsels with our foe.
Who knows where this whole thing may go?
But wait! you cry, Hold up! It’s good.
He’s our president. You should
Accept him now. Give him a chance.
To nothing give a backward glance,
Not to the stories where he proclaimed
Our president moot; a crowd inflamed.
Where’s that form?” He asked for years,
A plea that fell on willing ears
Of people who’d been trained to follow
News” that to the rest rang hollow.
Words we’d never heard before
Came crashing through that campaign door,
Pussy grabbing; at fever pitch
Lock her up,” and Trump that Bitch
If we don’t like the way this goes
It’s rigged, the 2A folks will show
The rest of you. We’ll right a wrong
With a seething, stewing, angry throng
Those emails proved that she was bad,
He takes to Twitter, says it’s sad.
You listened, voted, made your choice
And now the people raise their voice.
Which at present they are guaranteed,
As to the future, we shall see.
Appointments from the alt-right crowd –
Don’t normalize. We must get loud.
A son-in-law who must know all,
Now give your congressman a call.
Your civic duty doesn’t stop
Once you make your ballot drop.
Make donations, join a group,
By all means stay within the loop,
Democracy means do your part
And fight for your rights with all your heart.


Here’s a throwback to a great speech by a great American.

Hope. Change. Unity.

Good words. Let’s not forget them, though the times seem dark.

 

Look to our Leaders

Dear Middle America,

I know your heart. I live on an arteriole of your productive farming and logging community. I am surrounded by people whose families are still reeling from mill shutdowns and farmers who scoff at the idea of a 40 hour workweek. I feel your pain. My community has been hurt by changes in our world. Spotted owl stew is still being offered up on the metaphorical menu. I hear your voice. You feel drowned out. You want the country of your grandparents back. Nostalgia is a sweet feeling. It’s the feeling I get when I look back on pictures of my kids and smile at the good old day. But we can’t go back. What we had is gone, morphed, changed, and its up to us to morph and change with it.

Sincerely,
A Fellow American

Maybe in the America of today we identify with the wrong metaphor. The idea of our country being a melting pot originated with a play of the same name in 1908. But it’s a flawed metaphor. It creates the illusion that our identities can be melted down and fused with others. That doesn’t accurately define what this country is. Maybe our country could be better described as a tapestry of rich, intertwined threads. We should exercise care in tugging on those threads, lest the whole fabric of America unravel.

We are a country of immigrants. Some of us came here by choice, some by force. Some of us were original inhabitants of this land and must be wearing a very ironic smile at the talk of taking our country back. Yet here we are, all converging on this point in time together. In light of all of this, maybe it’s time for a little history lesson.

Throughout our short history we have accepted many to our shores. In the early days of our country, citizenship was granted to “free white people” of “good moral character” with a two year residency requirement. That was changed under Adams to fifteen years and back to five under Jefferson. It’s important to remember that during this time forced immigration was occurring due to the slave trade with no prospect of citizenship to this addition to the American population.

As the years passes, our United States was flooded with wave after wave of immigrants fleeing crop failures, social unrest, industrialization, religious intolerance, pogroms, and poverty. Laws were created to admit some and deny admittance to others. Fears that our country would be undermined and taken over by the Germans, the Catholics, and the Eastern Europeans were very real. But has this happened? Have we become an arm of Germany? Has the Pope wrested control of our nation? Or have we have taken these immigrants in and incorporated them into the tapestry of America? Today the descendents of such immigrants are our professors and policemen, judges and farmers, inventors and data entry clerks, though many of their grandparents and great-grandparents began as laborers and domestics who themselves endured the ire of the citizenry. Immigration laws have changed over the years, but what hasn’t changed is the vision of America as a place where people go to belong, where their thread can be woven into history, where their children have a chance to join the great American experiment. (And who among us in not included in the “they?”)

This election has brought a lot of ugliness to the surface. People who don’t look like that handful of pilgrims fleeing religious persecution who landed at Plymouth Rock so long ago, people who are second or third generation Americans are left reeling as they are told to go back where they came from. Even in my relatively sheltered existence, the truth of the Trump effect is hitting home. People who just days ago fit into the American tapestry are looking around, wondering just who they can trust, and it’s up to many of us to hold the fabric of our collective identity together with safety pins. Just try searching the hashtag #Trumpeffect on Twitter to see what many of the people who share this country are experiencing after this election. It’s vile. The KKK is having an outright victory parade. These are dark days. How far have we sunk as a country that any of this would be okay?

News outlets are reporting that this past election had the lowest voter turnout in two decades. The nature of the election may have caused some to sit it out thinking they couldn’t stomach their choices. I’ve heard people say they couldn’t vote for Hillary because she sounded shrill or because they didn’t want to see a woman in charge. This saddens me to no end. I cringe to think that Trump’s speeches inspired the hateful supporters who were shouting “lock her up” and who threatened to exercise their second amendment rights if their candidate was not elected. Some of those people are the ones decrying the current exercise of the first.

For those of you who are watching the #notmypresident protests unfold and are crying foul, those of you who, like me, believe in the peaceful transfer of power, look at who you’ve elected. Look closely. Play devil’s advocate for a moment and consider the arguments of the other side. Think of the possibility that you’ve been hoodwinked, that maybe the version of reality that’s been trotted out before you is not what you’re going to get.

If you are one of the many who wanted to be heard, to whom this was a protest vote in and of itself, we hear you. Let me offer this: Instead of a man who has a history of lies and evasion, who has manipulated the election, who will probably never again be seen wearing a baseball cap, who hasn’t released his tax returns… instead of this man, look to the true leaders of the common man. Bernie Sanders has a history of standing up for us, the people. Look it up. He’s still here, fighting for us. Look to Michael Moore, who predicted this win not because he supports Trump, but because he’s had his finger on the pulse of downtrodden middle America for a long, long time. I’m going to argue that we can’t have a top-down approach at this point in our country. The top has been compromised, including Donald Trump.

We are shaking the tapestry of America by exercising our first amendment right to protest. Like the flag unfurling in a tempest, it ripples and roils. When the storm dies down, we must ensure it remains intact.

I’ll leave you with the whole sonnet written by Emma Lazarus that graces the base of the Statue of Liberty:

New Colossus

statue of liberty poem

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

Let’s not let it come to this:


Photo credit: On Location in Los Angeles via Foter.com / CC BY-NC-ND

Patriotism or Nationalism

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Wow. This has been quite a year, one that’s challenged my faith in my system of government, a beloved system created by brilliant men who thought out most what-if situations and installed checks and balances on absolute power. I love my country. I have never felt that flag-waving was a good expression of this patriotism. Instead, I read, I educate myself, and I vote. I claim my 1st amendment right to speak without fear of reprisal. I worship in a way that is true to my heart.

Like everyone else, I have my ideas about what makes this country great and what makes this country work best for the majority of people. I commit to respecting your difference of opinion and speaking out in a reasoned way against those who disagree with me, which is increasingly hard to do. Though soft in structure, the brain and heart can be incredibly rigid. I am aware that my voice is small in this echo chamber. My 1/325,000,000 of a say in the running of this great country is not worth losing friendships and family relationships over. Still…

I am reeling from the election of Donald Trump. I am flabbergasted by the response to the election by Paul Ryan, who claimed a mandate. I am worried because we have an obstructionist GOP who now have their hands on the reins and have spent the past 240 days not doing their job of even considering Merrick Garland as a Supreme Court justice. What we are witnessing right now is a party arguably at their worst in recent history making a huge power grab by co-0pting all of our checks and balances. Did the Founding Fathers anticipate this? Did they anticipate the GOP shutting off the security feature on voting machines that would record an image of each ballot as it went through? Did they anticipate the GOP purging the rolls of people they claim are double-registered, thereby depriving many fellow citizens of a voice? Did they anticipate the GOP gerrymandering or manipulating polling places to make it logistically difficult for certain populations of voters to cast a ballot?

There is much more going on in this country than the drama that has made headlines over the past few months. There is a more insidious movement to shut down dissenting voices and to grab power in a way that makes it more difficult for it to change hands again. This should worry us all. I contacted my senator this morning. I will continue to look into what I can do to preserve our democracy in the face of a Trump presidency. What will you do?

Democracy is not a spectator sport.


In response to The Daily Post’s prompt: Or 

Shut Up and Listen


Photo credit: Kitt O’Malley via Foter.com / CC BY

I’m walking through life with a heavy heart these days. If it’s not one thing, it’s another. Terrorism. Brutality. Hate. Division. It’s hard not to think that this is the end – of tolerance, of brotherhood, of America, of humanity. The assassination of police officers in Dallas, Texas last night had me mourning from my rural Oregon hometown, but even before that, the video of the latest police shooting of Philando Castile yesterday left me heartbroken. Still, to watch officers hustle protesters to safety while they ran toward danger was something we needed to see. Most police officers are not bad cops.

White America, what they say is true. We cannot comprehend the extent of what is called white privilege. I grew up in this privilege. I lived in a relatively safe area. My dad grew up poor, but that didn’t stop him from entering the military or going to college. It didn’t dictate where he eventually lived or how accepted he would be by his neighbors. He was able to give us all of the things this experience offers. Safety. Accessibility to jobs and education. The ability to walk most areas without being questioned.

I married into a Mexican family and was shocked at the treatment of my relatives and continue to be shocked at the racism and xenophobia even some of my acquaintances thoughtlessly throw out on social media. Don’t they understand that when they spout racist comments, they land on my children, who incidentally are friends of their children, where they burn like acid rain?

My husband also grew up poor. He came to the US and got permanent residency. He worked his way up, and I mean worked. He learned the language. He learned business skills. He never took government assistance and always gives to those in need. He coached soccer for our son’s team and was loved by the other parents for his kind heart and egalitarian spirit. Yet he is still discriminated against because he’s Mexican. One time we called the sheriff because someone had thrown a rock through our car window, and the sheriff asked him for his social security number. Really? I can honestly say that’s not happened to me before.

To be white in America gives us an instant in. We don’t have to prove ourselves, at least not with other whites.

Part of my life experience was going to college in Portland. I went to a mostly white school, but I was friends with a couple of African-American students there, one of whom became one of my best friends. (Cliche, but true in my case.) We had countless late night conversations about our experiences and worldviews. I was welcomed into their homes and their neighborhoods. I was respected as a friend and not looked at with suspicion, yet if you’ve ever been the standout white person in a non-white world, it’s an otherworldly experience. I gained insight into how my friends might have felt, the inability to blend in or fly under the radar in the group. What if that group didn’t respect you? What if you were looked at with suspicion? My mind began to be opened because I was willing to listen.

I saw, through my friend, many instances of discrimination and the reaction of white people, the dismissal of the feelings of inadequacy that accompanied it. Oh, people aren’t really racist anymore. You’re just imagining it. Yet the fact that she and I could go places together and have very different experiences was telling. It opened my eyes. Yes, racism still exists in America. Yes, we still need to fight together to combat it.

My husband continues to plow forward with his stellar attitude, treating people with kindness and winning some over in the process, but I see him when he comes home. It’s exhausting. It’s like being a missionary to the masses. He’s selling his heritage, his culture, to people who want to send it all back and build a wall to keep it out. He’s the person who makes white Americans think that maybe Mexicans aren’t so bad after all. Ask yourself why he has to convert them in the first place.

Are there people who genuinely accept my husband or anyone in his family as part of the human race without labeling them as part of the Mexican race? Sure, but they are few and far between. It’s a sad reality, but it’s our reality, and so we soldier on. What else can we do?

I think it’s really important for white America to be quiet for a moment and listen. Mothers are telling us that they have to teach their sons to walk on eggshells or they might be killed by police. Killed. By the people who are charged with protecting us from one another. I cannot even imagine having to go there with my three boys.

But I hear them.

When my eldest moved out on his own, he was a darker skinned (Latino genes) young American man driving a beat up old van. He was stopped by the police a number of times, but because we live in a relatively quiet place that’s all it was, a routine stop. However, because he had these experiences, it’s not a stretch for me to extrapolate and imagine how it might go down for an African American male in a beat-up car, or on the street, or walking in the dark, to be stopped and questioned, and when you stop and question someone, doesn’t that imply that the suspicion is already there? And when you are suspicious, doesn’t that heighten your state of alert?

Police are human. They have a dangerous job. They never know what they might encounter when they walk up to that car door, whether it will be a gun-toting, anti-authority sovereign citizen, a drug dealer, a meth-impaired driver, or a law-abiding citizen like you or me. I wouldn’t want their job, never knowing what I was up against. I don’t think holding them all accountable for the quick trigger finger of a few is the answer. Assassinating them certainly isn’t. Police are human beings, and as such are like anyone else in any other job. There are some really good, dedicated public servants, and there are some jerks, who unfortunately are reflecting on the whole system at this moment.

So, let’s all take a moment to really listen to one another. Only then can we come up with solutions.

Don’t let darkness win.


My heart goes out to all of the victims and their families on both sides. Thank you to the many, many LEOs who truly make a positive difference in our world.

Disappointment is the New Drive

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “______ is the new ______.”

Click over to your favorite blog, and pick out the 4th and 14th words (that aren’t “the” or “an”). Drop them into this phrase: “_____ is the new _____.” There’s your post title. Now write!

As I write this post, I am watching a live feed of the Shell icebreaker Fennica trying to get past Greenpeace activists who are hanging like trapeze artists off the St. John’s Bridge in Portland. Kayakers are scrambling to the river to block the ship. They are willing to risk life and limb for a cause they believe in. They feel the risk of drilling in the arctic warrants this action. While many of us wouldn’t be willing to put our lives on the line, we agree in spirit.

And just yesterday the internet blew up in outrage over the killing of Cecil, a favorite lion of a park in Zimbabwe. From reports I read, it seems he was lured out of the park where a dentist, who paid $55,000 for the opportunity, shot him. (People, you are paying too much for your dental work.) People are crying foul. Tens of thousands of people are showing solidarity in response to this action.

But it took an event to provoke a reaction.

Whatever your opinion on either issue, or any other issue for that matter, it seems to me that blocking the stone before it starts rolling downhill is an easier option. It just requires knowing what stones are primed to roll.

It is with a heavy heart that I watch the arctic drilling scenario occur. People who don’t live in the Pacific Northwest may not understand how much we treasure our natural areas and our fisheries. The potential for ecological disaster here is high. Many of us are not willing to sell out to big oil money, yet somehow this has been thrust upon us.

Don’t wait for things to happen. Get involved. Contact your representatives. There are people in our government who are making decisions that not only affect us, but will affect the lives of our children and grandchildren. Hold them accountable for their decisions. They work for us.

My reference is from my daughter’s blog, Growing Monteverde. She is currently traveling in Costa Rica, a country, by the way, which has rigorous environmental standards and has banned hunting. 

What Price for Happiness?

I recently answered a writing prompt that asked writers to imagine winning a billion dollars in the lottery. In reality, if I won a that much, I would probably be so stressed out by the magnitude of change in income that I would do nothing.

At least for a while.

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Beginning balance: $1,000,000,000

When the thought of winning money goes through my mind, part of me wants to be magnanimous and give some of it away. I’ve always had the dream to have the Oprah experience, pointing at people and shouting “You get a car! You get a car! You get a car” while everyone stands and applauds my generosity.

But who would I give it to? Family? I like the idea of giving everyone in the family a set amount. They would still resent me, but I would be off the hook with my own conscience. They would be on their own to figure out what to do with the money. I have a large family. Approximating 150 aunts, uncles, in-laws, siblings, children, etc., I could give each member ten thousand dollars and still have $998,500,000 left to figure out what to do with.

Remaining balance: $998,500,000

What if I were to spread it equally to everyone who is alive in the world today? The population meter is whirring upwards at breakneck speed, but at the time of this post it’s roughly 7,331,000,000. Doing my calculations, I would be able to give everyone in the world 14 cents. That’s not much, and it won’t make much of a difference even to the poorest of the world. In Afghanistan, it won’t even buy a loaf of bread. So that idea is out. How about dividing it equally among my fellow Americans? There are roughly 321,375,000 of us as of this posting. Each person would receive $3.11. Enough for a loaf of bread. On sale.

What if I decided I wanted to keep it, to become a “billionaire” and hobnob with the wealthy? I would still be snubbed by Donald Trump (but honestly, who isn’t?) whose net worth is estimated to be 4 billion. How about having lunch with Bill Gates, currently the richest man in America, who’s net worth is 79 times my new found wealth? Would he turn up his nose at me in the same way people who make over 100,000 dollars a year turn up their nose at people in poverty? The poverty level sits at about $25,000 for a family of four. That’s only a four-fold difference. Multiply that times times 20 and you’ll get the income disparity between the now-rich me and Bill Gates. Sorry, Bill, but Warren Buffet seems more approachable, and he is slightly less rich, at $72,000,000,000, although the difference between his wealth and Bill Gates is still seven times my new net worth.

So I’ll give up on the idea of entering the social realm of the über rich. I’m not really that into excess, anyway.

There’s the nagging feeling that I should invest at least some of it. I could invest $990,000,000 and still live very comfortably on my remaining 8,500,000. (Remember, I gave some to family.) I won’t even go into the stress of trying to figure the investment scenario out. I would have to use some of my remaining money on spa treatments and retreats just to recover.

Remaining balance: $8,500,000 (and that’s just because I cheated by shelving 99% of the cash.)

How many of us, when presented with the idea of coming into large sums of money, say they would like to travel? I am not alone in this desire. Yet my idea of travel is to experience the place as authentically as possible. That being said, my one change would be to upgrade those darn airline seats! First class, baby. No more being the last one on the plane, cramming my carry-on in the remaining space and my legs in the “space” between seats. In fact, I could probably buy my own plane and have an excellent pilot on retainer. (My immune system might suffer without having to exercise itself against all of those recirculated airplane germs.)

As far as location goes, I see no reason to travel if you go somewhere to experience the same things you would at home. I like to mingle with the locals, try the mom and pop eateries, and strengthen the local economy by taking home-grown tours. No all-inclusives for me. No high rise resort, gated-community living. To me that takes the richness out of life, and what’s the point of monetary riches if the emotional and psychological living becomes bland? You can only play so much tennis and drink so many mai-tais in an infinity pool. Every smile you are greeted with as you interact within a community creates an imprint on the heart and mind. Everyone you meet as a fellow traveler experiencing the world on a shoestring budget, all of the comparing and contrasting the local life to life at home, all of the ideologies mixed at local pubs and all of the shared experiences challenge long held beliefs and cause us to grow and change. These things are what strengthen our world and what create compassion for other people’s struggles and commonality with their joys. So I would travel the same way I travel now, but more often. I could budget $12,000 a year for the next ten years to travel and be completely satisfied. (Without the private plane.)

Remaining balance: $8,380,000 

I would give some of it away. Is there anyone who wouldn’t? I would support the Nature Conservancy in their efforts to shore up important ecological areas around the world. I would add to the Children’s Eternal Rainforest and their important reforestation efforts in the cloud forest of Monteverde, Costa Rica. Emergency response organizations and children’s hospitals could always do with an influx of cash, so they would get a slice of the pie. I would create scholarships for highly motivated high school students to attend college. Honestly, the power to give back would be the greatest gift of so much money. If I gave 150 charities $10,000 each, I would still have an unimaginable amount of money in my pocket. Remember the bulk of the money is still tied up in investments, assuming my financial planner hasn’t run off with it. I’m just whittling down my measly budget of $8,500,000.

Remaining balance: $6,880,000

I would pay off my parents’ mortgage and make sure their health care needs were taken care of. I would like to say I would provide homes for my kids, but the struggle to create a home has such value that I don’t want to deprive them of that. I would make sure they had access to a top-notch education. Top private universities cost about $60,000 a year including room and board. I have 4 kids. That’s $960,000 total for undergraduate studies. If they want to go to grad school, that’s another $45,000 per year. I still have a little of my mad money to spend.

Remaining balance: $5,435,000 

When you are used to living on a shoestring budget, spending money like this doesn’t come easy.

For myself and my comfort level, I would buy a nice, modest-size, quality house in a nice location by the water in the Pacific Northwest. I would make sure it’s equipped with the latest environmentally friendly upgrades, like solar power and a wind turbine. (It gets windy up here.) I could get something on the water in the San Juan Islands for around a million. (But then I’d probably need a boat.)

Remaining balance: $4,435,000

I could go on and on, trying to spend the remaining one percent of my billion dollars, but you’ve probably already stopped reading. What this exercise points out is what an incredible amount one billion actually is. While it’s fun to play “what if,” it’s sobering to think that some people actually have their hands on this kind of money. Some will use it for good, creating foundations and supporting community building. Some will use it for themselves, walling themselves off from the commoners like you and me. Some will use it to promote themselves and their agenda, which to me is the most frightening use of money of all, because then we all become pawns in their private game of power.

I’m not a billionaire, but I’ve always believed the old adage that the pen is mightier than the sword, or, in this case, the pocketbook. Money drives forces. It gets things done in the world. It greases palms. It buys elections. It subsidizes media, and filters the news on both sides of the spectrum. Critical thinking skills can not be purchased, but they can be snuffed out with the creation of enough mindless television shows and time wasting games. I won’t ever win even a million dollars in the lottery. I have more chance of being struck by lightning, dying in a plane crash (must rethink the whole travel thing), or hitting a deer while driving in Hawaii. I do have a real chance of having my country taken over by people who have the money to purchase air time, to manipulate the media, and to promote their agendas, most of which do not match mine. What power remains for us, the non-billionaires, is the power of the vote, and that power only works if people are educated enough not to be swayed by propaganda.


I originally wrote this when I first started blogging 8 months ago. It was an interesting exercise in financial relativity.