TOP OF THE TOWN ‑ So much water has flowed under the bridge in my lifetime. There is no use telling you that we are in dangerous times for democracy to continue in our country. Our highest court has been stacked against the majority of Americans, so has the election systems in various states and the Republican Party has been hijacked into authoritarianism and as the minority in Congress is acting as a blockade against everything good for our country. That party gains control after the November mid-term elections, which seems likely, we will be in a blooming dictatorship, although I can’t understand how anybody would want to be governed by a dictatorship that has no rules other than those that keeps it in power. But a portion of the population seems bent on destroying itself by voting against its self-interests. So as I wait for the disaster to come, I am going to peacefully look back at my life. I didn’t know it at the time, but I was born and spent my first 14 years living in a rural area of New York State that is beautiful and peaceful. It still is that way. What I didn’t know, it is a bastion of Republicanism. My mother, who passed when I was 12 at the age of 48, was a die-hard Republican. My father was a die-hard Democrat. They coexisted lovingly because in that time frame the country wasn’t divided into love and hate as it is now, thanks, to 45. I remember the scrap iron drives to help the war effort in the 1940s. I tried to help, but don’t remember if I achieved much. As I told one of my former school classmates within the past year after he strongly stressed he was conservative. I said I was   conservative in some of my values. But as the brother next to me, nearly three years older, said recently on a phone call, “How did you become so liberal?” as if being liberal, or conservative, for that matter is something to be ashamed of. As I have said a thousand times (at least), social media platforms are killing us. You and I can say anything we would not say face to face on them. We can express our deepest emotions, our darkest fears, and to many it can come across as real. We can lie our butt off and enough people will believe it that it creates a divide that can’t be bridged. It often seems one-sided in that liberals are attacked as a dangerous enemy. Conservatism has risen to be a weapon to use in attacking schools, abortion, protestors, black and browns, immigration, border protection, Democrats, liberals, the poor, Social Security, Medicare, healthcare, and generally anything that moves outside of conservatism, including the loud refrain that “You won’t take our guns from us.” No, of course we won’t. We will let you kill more elementary children and then offer sympathy and prayers. God must be reeling in Heaven from so many requests of prayer for those kids who have been slaughtered and continue to be slaughtered. To be fair, guns just don’t belong to conservatives. It’s just that conservatives are often far-right extremists with a militia name like Proud Boys, or as I call them Cowardly Boys. Now the Supreme Court is tilting toward the far-right and to the year 1820. Soon slavery and lynching will be declared legal by the Supremes and the South will be called the legitimate government of the United States, led by Texas, of course. I dream in my more quiet moments of the time when I prowled in bare feet the foothills of the Alleghenies, the waters of the Allegheny and the hot asphalt of back roads where the only noise was the sun blistering the hay that would soon be mowed and baled and heaved by hands into haymows. The quiet on such youthful adventures was overwhelming. Just my thoughts and the pain of bubbling asphalt burning the bottom of my feet was the only things I had to contend with. Oh yes, the hawks circling above me wondering if I was dinner or a threat. No worry, I wouldn’t harm you, I silently told them as I watch them circle higher and higher. My second oldest brother (6 years older) warned me not to touch his motor bike while he was gone to boot camp for the Air Force in Mississippi. I circled that bike in our garage for several weeks like a hawk, wondering if it was my escape from the sizzling asphalt on my feet or a punch in the mouth for touching it. I decided to gamble that the punch wouldn’t hurt as much as the burning hot asphalt and nervously took the bike, started it and rode away to peaceful bliss. No punches were thrown, just a severe verbal dress down when our now uniformed brother returned on leave from Mississippi. I don’t remember what he said because downed out in his words were the memory of riding down those back roads, listening to the hay talking to me and the Hawks soaring above me, watching but letting me be. So peaceful, no hate thrown at me from a social media post probably from somebody who hasn’t left his folks basement in weeks, so much love as a small breeze brushed against my sweaty forehead and the road ahead empty of barricades and protestors as my brother’s motorbike drove me like I was in heaven on wheels. That is it for today. Stay safe. It’s going to be hot this weekend (June 25-27).

Be well pal.

Be careful out there.

Have a great day.

You are loved.