Tuesday, January 26, 2010

The Supreme Court's
"Corporate Personhoods":
Treat The Felons Among Them
Like The Felons Among Real People

Betrayal of some sort often occurs before the final parting of ways.

Without a doubt in my mind, we can kiss We The People democracy goodbye. The Supreme Court ushered in a mega chapter of Corporate Rule with it's 5 to 4 decision last week to give personhood status to non-living entities. They may not be "natural persons", but they are now "legal persons".

Their track record of having our interests and that of the environment at heart is thin. Many, if not all, are multinationals, and many of them have already hurt us in more ways that can be counted.

Their flag, if they had one, would represent not country, but profit.

It isn't like they haven't already done more harm than good for us, but now they have the same rights as a citizen. Given that so many have committed felonies, I say they treat those ones like felons - strip away those new personhood rights, just like the trailer park thugs or ghetto gangstas who have been a menace to society.

Yep, if felons named Hank, Jose, and Ray-Ray can't influence an election, I want to know why should (you fill in the blank) be trusted with our democratic process.

As an ordinary American person, I don't write the fat paychecks for a powerful lobby group to influence the way our politicians votes on laws and regulations. The Fortune 500 does, to push laws and regulations that benefit their agendas, which are too often blind, deaf and dumb, not to mention criminal, to the needs and desires of the ordinary majority.

A child knows that a business is not a person, but somehow, these ultra pro-corporate Supreme Court Justices ignored that simple truth, just like lawmakers long ago ignored the truth that people with African ancestry were 100% human, not 3/5 human.

Thanks to last week's ruling, there are new "persons" occupying the planet, and now they have the same rights for unlimited corporate spending in elections that a real person does, except they never sleep.

What many of these "corporate personhoods" do determines the quality of our lives from the cradle to the grave, and they often exploit us. They are as bloodless as they are obsessed with the desire to profit by any means necessary - and that's where their lobbyists come in. They've been around a long time, so long that even our first President, George Washington, who loved democracy as though the concept were his lover, warned We The People about them.

It's official: the groundwork is laid for them to be our new masters.

By default, Democracy is also a "person" now, and with this new ruling in place, she will be only 3/5 human.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Serenity Is My Endgame

Warning: this is a very grim post, and probably the last one for a long time about my difficulty in parenting my lost young adult child.

I entered the office alone, because Xavier threw a last minute tantrum and refused to come. I was the first client of the day and sat alone in the reception area. My son's black psychiatrist came out, and his eyes looked resigned and a tad weary, even though it wasn't even 10 AM.

His first words were shocking, but in hindsight, unexpectedly validating.

He announced, "I am done with Xavier. I will not treat him anymore."

"Why?", I asked.

"I've been doing it too long, and am burned out from youth like him. They are stupid and refuse to change."

My mouth must have been hanging open from his raw honesty, because he continued talking.

"I read your email this morning on my Blackberry," he continued, "and I got very angry..."

Indeed, my son's shrink who had become a friend was utterly comfortable in unloading his feelings about Xavier and lost young brothas like him who have been given an infinite number of chances but blew them all, and treated others like dirt in the process.

This unfortunately sums up my son, who has sucked me dry of love, time, money, and resources, and given little in return. Oh, we've had some good times and great laughs over the years, but these have been short vacations from an otherwise one-sided living arrangement where I give and he takes.

His mind was poisoned years ago by the unavoidable, lowest fantasy elements of this pleasure-centered, get-something-for-nothing culture. He is the ghetto version of the Wall Street banksters; slick and deft at creating smoke and mirrors to confuse you to continue investing in him, and just as destructive.

My son and I are at the endgame now, just as our country is, and I am left financially depleted but not defeated. I walked away from a hugely lucrative job seven years ago to work part time and spend more time at home, taking the huge gamble that he would be worth it.

I was wrong.

On the other hand, my daughter benefited enormously from my presence. If a cruel, random event doesn't do a drive by on her life and dreams in the future, then I will know that at least she benefited.

Yesterday, Xavier actually tried to con me with a whole new game of bullshit.

"Ma," he said, "since you're pressed for money, I can help..."

In a flash, I know how cheap he is, so that was a lie right there to bait me into giving him permission to deal drugs, as well as an admission that he's back in the crazy life.

"I know someone who can set me up..."

"Stop. Right. There," I growled at him slowly. "Don't even think of dealing, and if I see any drugs in this house, I will flush them down the toilet."

"But Ma, the money is good..."

"And the jail time is long," I quickly countered. "Weren't you supposed to talk to your old boss about getting your old job back this weekend? What happened to that?"

I listened to the next lie roll off his tongue, thinking again of his psychiatrist who has given up working with juvenile delinquents and stupid-assed young men who consistently screw up their parents, girlfriends, kids, and play everyone for suckers, all for what they believe is the cool and easy life. So few avoid jail once they become entrenched, that it's pitiful.

His lips were still moving.

"You wouldn't turn it down if I handed money to you, would you?" he was now saying.

"I'd call the police," I said flatly.

He saw the truth in my eyes, and responded by looking angry.

My voice was deadly serious. "You need to stop whatever you've been doing the past two months...," I began to say.

"Ma, I'm not going to change..."

"Then remember this conversation when your baby on the way is calling someone else daddy because you're locked up."

He flinched, and walked away.

If he's back to using drugs again, those words, like all the thousands of others I've used on him since he was 13, won't make a difference.

I know this, not just intellectually but in my heart. It was broken for long time, but somehow, some way, for some reason, God healed it. Things were so bad that earlier this month I prayed for Him to give me the inner strength and calmness to get on with my life and to be happy again. My request to the Lord is similar to a modified Serenity Prayer from the 12-Step Program that I have taught my clients for over a decade:

Grant to me the serenity to accept
those who cannot be changed or helped;
courage to change and help
the one person who can,
and the wisdom to know
that person is me.

This is like what one of my readers said in the last post, and I'm paraphrasing from memory: "You can keep helping someone, but when it doesn't help, you aren't helping."

Yeah, I know that Xavier might do a turn around "one day" when the proverbial light bulb in his mind comes on. My own, however, has turned on and I realized that I need not tolerate the dark drama he brings to my life.

A sick family member who will not well himself (or herself) will infect the others with their illness of spirit. The cure for the ones who are fairly well and healthy is to detach. This begins in the mind, then the heart, and if and when possible, the body... in other words, to move on. It is a process that can take years, because love for the "sick" one, instead of nurturing, spreads the disease of spirit.

I personally can't think of anything harder than giving up on one's child, which for most, is tougher than walking away from a spouse.

My son's black psychiatrist has been grieving too, over giving up some of his patients. I have an intuition that he is not quite where I am yet in the self-healing process. Almost, but not quite.

You have to understand that when you love "your people", whether they're Black Americans, Irish Catholics, gays, etc., you not only try to save them from the external forces of bigotry that grind them down, but from themselves, because first and foremost, they are human beings.

This fact trumps race, religion and culture for the simple reason that there have always been those within any group who choose to live on the fringe and against their own best interests. For a black male psychiatrist to burn out and give up on a small but significant section of the black population - young black males who refuse to get their shit together - is painfully hard.

This culture, which is fantasy-driven, hedonistic, and at times, discriminatory, created many casualties. They are everywhere.

I am about a half dozen paychecks away (from a full time job I have yet to get) from a fresh start in a new place.

Until then, one casualty lives in my home.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

I Can Hardly Wait
For The Flowers To Bloom

Finally, I am rested enough to write and have a little time to do so. In the grand scheme of things, what I've been through pales in comparison to what the Haitian earthquake survivors and other traumatized peoples will endure in the months and years to come, and I remind myself of this fact.

Still, I have been tested. Walked through a hell-like abyss and am still climbing for safety out of it, all the while praying for guidance and to be brave when nothing but fear consumed me and hostility surrounded me.

Let's begin with my live-in-the-basement, under a rock landlord. That S.O.B. was my worse nightmare. I wrote about him three posts ago. Last week I came very close to filing a Peace Order, but was scared because he's so damned obsessed with having everything his way, which has all the hallmarks of irrationality, combined with what appears to be mania. Add his history of violence where he stabbed a former tenant or roommate seven years ago, and an underlying mental depression, and a fatal disease (he has lung cancer that is not being addressed because he lacks health care and falls in the cracks of being eligible for it), and one should pause before taking any dramatic action, because folks with nothing to lose and having this mentality often lack the emotional brakes to "not go postal".

Man oh man oh man, putting my intuition, faith and fate, totally in the hands of the Lord, was the biggest challenge I have ever had. I simply could not go through with this Peace Order. Even went to court last week and filled out the paperwork, but froze before submitting. Something kept telling me not to do it, at least not yet. Every single time I haven't listening to that inner voice, I have regretted it, so I listened.

Instead, I called the owner of the house. Predictably, she didn't want hear a dag-gone thing about the problems he's caused me. Well, his death threats got her attention, along with my learning of his past assault on some other unlucky person. She happens to be the best friend of his mother and knew him since he was a child, which made it very difficult to hear about this dark side of him.

I understand this so well having a son whom my mind's eye has seen for years as a little boy, blinding me for so long to the selfish, entitled, and destructive young adult he's become, who is also bipolar. Not "suffering from childhood trauma and moodiness" as I've lied to myself and to some degree, my readers, but bipolar. I still hate thinking of him this way; I like the old fashioned words and phrases better: selfish, overly-demanding, inconsiderate, immature, lazy, and lacking common sense. I like these because they address character flaws which the individual can change if motivated. In some people, like my son and my landlord, I suspect their problems have more to do with the bad habit of being bullies with a might makes right attitude than a true chemical imbalance in their brains.

This may still be true, even in the case of Rocco, my landlord. His mother's friend is like an aunt to him. She was shocked to learn of his behavior and past legal problems. Because she has a job that is indirectly tied in the police department, she could verify what I told her. This lady met with both of us, and to make a long story short, he's been acting civil since then.

You know why?

He doesn't want his mama to find out he's been an azzhole.

This is why I suspect he's not a true bipolar. They can't control their behavior under any circumstance, even when the cops are present. Oh, they might be a little crazy, but they ain't that crazy. Well, Rocco's pseudo-aunt served as the next best thing to a cop. It was, at least for now, a win-win situation. He's chilled out from stressing me out, and he gets to live without additional stuff being added to his rap sheet.

The odd thing about all of this unnecessary drama is that it chilled out my son. He not only knows that when I do move, probably in the Spring, he won't be coming with me and my daughter. He's on his own, for better or worse. He must believe me because he got back his old job and starts this weekend.

In addition, he's never, ever seen me so vulnerable and frightened as he did from just before Christmas until this past week. Instead of putting me through hell, he's been protective and scared to death that the landlord might snap.

It's weird though, that as soon as Rocco chilled out, Xavier got demanding. Bitch actually told me the other night when he came home and saw I'd made a salad for myself that in the future, I should automatically make one for him "just in case" he came home. I told him as long and hard as I've been working lately, he should have dinner ready for me.

The night before that, he was watching mixed martial arts (MMA) on tv, and yelled at me for walking past the tv set and demanded that I wait until commercial time. I told him he was acting like a sexist idiot, and he better not ever got-damn tell me or any woman some shit like that. He actually tried to argue the point and couldn't believe I was so "inconsiderate" and looked mad as hell doing it.

I blew him off with a wave of my hand. Eff him.

My late mother had several brothers and sisters. One, I'll call him Leon, lived with their mom until she passed away. He was cheap, too, and rarely lifted a finger to help my grandmother with anything. Only after Grandma died did he get married - to woman desperate for a husband. They were both in their early 50s, and she had been dating him for years. Had her own nicely furnished, small house. He moved in, and of course had no bills because her home was paid for.

The thing I remember most about Uncle Leon, beyond him being fairly invisible and no fun as a kid when I lived with Grandma on school days, were those visits to his new place. Aunt Maggie would have lots of good food prepared, and she stayed confined to the kitchen or dining room and would never walk past the tv set during a football game "because he'll get really mad".

I thought this quite strange and awful as a child, because my dad wasn't a thing like that. He rarely showed his temper, and I can count the number on one hand with fingers left over. I used to ask my mother why Grandma or his wife tolerated Leon's selfishness.

She said, "Grandma sees him as the weak one of the bunch."

"Why?", I asked, "he has a good paying job and a Cadillac."

"He's weak in other ways, I suppose."

In hindsight, Uncle Leon may have suffered from depression, but mostly, he was enabled to be cheap, ungiving, and dependent on his widowed mother who felt she needed a man around the house, despite him not being worth a damn.

So when my son, who coincidentally was born on the same day as Uncle Leon, made the same kind of demands like having his dinner ready and not walking past the TV set during his sports show, I knew he had reached a new and higher level of assholery.

This, combined with his behavior of acting like an entitled, sometimes abusive parasite since turning 18 three years ago, I knew once again that he's evolved into the kind of person I don't need in my life beyond an occasional let's meet for coffee and cake at Starbucks, and if I put up with this nonsense indefinitely, I would certainly end up like my grandmother - stuck living with a no count, good-for-nothing son until I'm ready for the afterlife.

I'd shoot myself in the head before I let that happen.

This is also exactly the kind of shit that daughters don't need to see their mother or grandmothers tolerate from an adult sibling of either gender, or from a boyfriend or husband. Thank God my stuff is tight when it comes to dating; but I've been a dumbazz role model as a mother; Xavier should been put out two or three years ago, but at least, now that he's 21, my mind can rest easy that I truly have done everything I could to save my son. After we move, it will be up to him to save himself. Like most of us, he can do it - if he truly wants to.

Otherwise I have been immersed in a very cool workforce program. Even when I leave, I still work, and work at finding a really good full time job. This, and the son and landlord issues, have been all-consuming; the only news I've learned about in three weeks is the earthquake in Haiti.

Thus, my apologies for disappearing in Blog Land, and thank each and every one of you for your comments and emails. I will cherish them always. That last post was too hard to respond to... so many thoughts and feelings with each comment. I'd soak them up like a sponge and think about them for days, and finding reassurance in the caring you sent to me.

Anyway, this work program is really helpful in getting extra work or for those who are unemployed. My resume has never looked better. The role playing for job interviews has been enormously helpful. Many of the clients also have solid work backgrounds but hard hit by the economic downturn, and there are also wonderful young people with little work experience or education but loads of smarts, determination, and personality. The deadbeats or insincere don't last very long, so I haven't seen many of them.

Although I hate needing any kind of temporary government assistance and have too much pride, I'm slowly accepting that I paid taxes for programs like this by working long and hard, full-time, for over 20 years and part-time for the past several years to better cope with Xavier's problems.

Finally, the smoke is clearing from the battles I've been through lately, and hopefully the worst is over. I see hints of blue and sunshine in this figurative sky in my mind, and think that God willing, 2010 will better.

I have always found pleasure in very simple things, and I can hardly wait for the flowers to bloom...