A Letter to my Children

Dear Ethan and Kayla,

You may be wondering why you are receiving a letter from your father. Especially since we live together. I’m writing for one simple reason: I hope these words will last, as memories often fade. I intend to express my thoughts on the election, the world we live in and the world you will live in. Unfortunately, for me, I won’t be in that world. So, without further ado, my words of wisdom, give or take.

Everything you read is a lie, including this letter.

I say that without tongue firmly planted in cheek. Everything written is a lie and, therefore, everything you read is a lie. Perspective is both truth and a lie, for perspective is dependent upon the individual. Everything you read has been and forever will be written from a perspective. News articles, essays, blogs, columns, tweets, statuses, and little notes from those that love you are all biased and untrue. I may give you a card that says you are the best person that ever lived, but we all know that isn’t true. However, in my life it is.

I want you to keep that in mind as the days follow Tuesday’s election results. You will hear things, read things, see things that will form an opinion in your mind that might not necessarily be true. A new president has been elected. Half the people in this country did not vote for him. The other half did. Many will declare it an outrage, while others will declare it a celebration. They are neither right nor wrong. They just are. Losing never feels good. Some people lose gracefully and some lose terribly. The same goes for winners. Ignore them both.

The hard fact is that this election will have little bearing on you as an individual. There is the micro and the macro. The micro is the world you live in; the macro is the world everyone says you live in. A president attempts to impact a nation, not a neighborhood. The people define a nation, but a nation does not define a people.

What do we as individuals care about then? The economy. Presidents rarely influence the economy for the better, but they can, and most often will, influence negatively. We, as Americans, base our happiness on the economy. We are a nation of mores and right nows. The more we have and the faster we have it, the happier we are. That, my children, is the ugly American. But there is a beautiful American, too.

The beautiful American is the person who holds the door open for someone, who gives up his seat for a woman, who says please and thank you, who is gracious to the less fortunate, who says hello and goodbye, who gives time to others, who respects property, who is kind to strangers, to animals, to children, who aspires to be better than his former self, the self of yesterday, who is not rigid and square, but organic, round and pliable, who doesn’t lie, cheat or steal, who loves peace, but is willing to defend that peace, who understands not everyone is alike and that’s okay and that not everyone needs to be alike. This is the beautiful American and they are getting far and few between, I’m afraid.

There used to be a time when we lived our lives daily. There was a time when we checked in on our leaders every two years. We had lives to lead, friends to play with, work to be done, children to raise. We elected these individuals to lead and work on our behalf and we trusted them to do it. If they failed, then we voted them out of office. And that was enough. But now, everyone is living someone else’s life. I’m not talking about empathy, for empathy is important. I’m talking about consumption. We are consumed by the lives of others and, therefore, we forget how to live our own lives.

Many people lived miserable lives during the last eight years of President Obama’s terms. Not because he made them miserable, though the middle class suffered a blow, but because they sought misery at every turn. People on the right feared that he was going to take their guns, declare sharia law, declare martial law, jail those that disagree with him, never leave office and become a dictator. Those people weren’t just nuts, they were idiots.

People on the left were disappointed that President Obama didn’t do more. They were and are angry that he wasn’t liberal enough. Those people don’t have a basic understanding of civics, constitutional law, or decency. They, too, are idiots.

Rarely, if ever, does a president deliver on his promises. The campaigns are filled with rhetoric, used to fire up the base, and win votes of those on the fence. In other words, a presidential candidate lies. Yes, every promise is a lie. Not even a hope and a dream. They knowingly lie and we, as a people, know they are lying, but we get behind them anyway for the sake of our team, not realizing, of course, that we become one team when it’s over.

Being president is a series of negotiations, small victories, while trying to lessen the blow of defeats. A president that does not realize or care about that is often hated and does not last. Unless, of course, that president is good on camera. This is, after all, the cult of personality.

Donald Trump’s victory this week is not a blow to democracy, to the American people, to her spirit. It is democracy in action. The people that voted for him are not bigots. They do not hate people of color, sexual orientation, or gender. They do not want to kill liberals. They do not want to bomb the world. They are you and me. They are people that saw a chance for change, change they thought was needed, and they voted for the man they thought would do it. It was a blow to the status quo. To deny them their right to do so is un-American.

Are there bigots that voted for Trump? Yes. Just the same as there were bigots that voted for Obama; that voted for Clinton. Bigotry is not exclusive to a color of people. It is an ugly universal trait that often binds the hearts of many. This was not a whitewashing, as I’ve heard been said. Donald Trump took in less white votes than those that had gone before him. This was a classwashing. As more people join the ranks of the have nots, the angrier they become. The irony that Trump, a billionaire, was seen as a way to lead the charge in this class warfare is something people will study for years to come. But it wasn’t bigotry. It was fear of loss. As the middle class shrinks, that fear will grow and the only thing that stops that fear is the idea of more, good paying jobs, a platform Trump harped on for 18 months. And half of this country latched on to it. Whether he’ll deliver, we shall see.

You will hear that Trump is coming for you or a group of people. You will hear that people say that they are terrified of what will come; that they know they are not safe any longer. These people are egomaniacs. They are a liberal mirrored image of those that feared the same of Obama. They are insane.

Donald Trump is a businessman. He is not a politician. But he also doesn’t want to see America fail. He wants it to prosper. Remember, his money is tied up in the same stock market, the same economy. Failure is not an option. Unfortunately, he will also be learning on the job. That is the rub for not electing a politician. But it is not a reason to not support him. We should encourage our president to do the best job he can do. To wish upon him failure is for a passenger in a plane to wish failure upon the pilot. Mind boggling insanity.

We also have congress, our representatives. If our president is doing something we don’t like, we send in our congressional leaders. These men and woman are career politicians and they live and die by the vote. Therefore, they heed the advice and desires of their constituents. Otherwise, back to the private life they go!

So, my advice to you, my lovelies, is not to worry. Be a beautiful American. Do not give in to cynicism, to lies, to hatred or bigotry. America lives and dies on her street corners, in her neighborhoods, in the hearts and minds of her people; not in her president. We must not be selfish. We must understand that we are part of the great American experiment. Some day, this will all be gone, but that day is not today, nor is it tomorrow. Live your lives and not the lives of others. Don’t let it pass you by, because you won’t get a second chance.

All my love,

Dad

The Neutered Dogs of Society

Brass balls, balls of steel, big ones, they’re all gone. In fact, nobody has any balls anymore. You’ve been neutered by technology, by peer pressure, by industry standards, by political correctness, by pseudo-manners, by boundaries, by safe zones, by candy-shell egos and soft hearts. The world has kicked the sack of the last great bearer of balls and now you suffer. You suffer a milk-toast existence where no one takes chances.

You live mediocre lives, dredging out your being, nine to five, Monday through Friday, home in time for dinner and a show (primetime laugh tracks and editorial news), paying bills while hiding behind virtual selves on an imaginary planet fueled by fiber and bandwidth. You care less about the hot blood pumping through your veins and care more about the cold gigabytes streaming through your homes.

Tweets, statuses, selfies and snapchats, are today’s headline news for the faint of heart. The meme is a dullard’s propaganda and substance a waste of time. No one is a critic and everyone is a critic, but the criticism has no foundation. It’s meaningless and your words drown in the pouring rain, soaked with bitterness, disappointment and boredom. So, you play it safe and everyone you come in contact with plays it safe and nothing gets done, no great art, no great movements, no history, no future, no true love.

Having likes has taken precedence over admiration, real love, real friendship, real life. In an effort to connect, you’ve become more disconnected. You’ve become more opinionated in a virtual world that doesn’t care about opinions. You shout from your couches, but no one hears you. Real life passes by and you smile and wave to her, hoping she doesn’t stop to talk. And what about real life? She’s a bitch. She’s always been a bitch and she always will be. But she has to love you, because you love her. So, you walk on eggshells around her rather than forcing yourselves upon her, because that would be wrong. You are a neutered society, eunuchs no longer having the ability to create, to master, to live passionately. Woe to you oh lost tribes of the human race! Woe to your children, to your marriages, to your friendships, to your works, to your cultures, to your cities on hills and to the future! Ask not for whom the brass balls of history toll, they toll for thee.

 

Face the Book: An explanation

On February 1st, I announced to all my friends and family and acquaintances that I was shutting down my private Facebook page at the end of the month. However, I was keeping my public page, my professional page, active and if anyone wanted to stay informed or might possibly want to send me death threats, then they would have to like my professional page. Now some may say that this was just a way to get more people to like my page, which by the way is www.facebook.com/gwallisonjr. But they are wrong. This blog is a way to get people to do that, though. So, click the link above and join the party. I did, however, have some friends ask why I was shutting down my private page. And to put it plainly, it’s to save the work.

Many reasons went into this decision. Among them was the simple fact regarding privacy. I had grown tired of putting my life out there for display. I know that I didn’t have to, but in order to stay engaged and, dare I say, relevant, you have to put yourself out there. It was exhausting. Additionally, anyone could search or stumble across my page despite the privacy settings I had in place. If you were a friend of a friend, then you could possibly see just about everything pertaining to my life. That’s out there, man, and I wasn’t digging it.

But the absolute must do reason is the work. Social media is a great tool. It’s great for staying in touch with people around the world. It’s great for sharing life experiences. It’s great for promoting or selling. But it is also a trap.

I work in a peculiar vocation. I am a writer. I create worlds with words. I don’t paint. I don’t make films. I don’t dance. I don’t sing. I don’t play an instrument. I am a writer. Social media for other artists is a form of display. However, for the writer, it is a vacuum. It sucks the mojo from our souls, deflates the muse, arrests the spirit. Most of social media is made up of words and when I, as a writer, use my written words on something other than my art, I waste them. I just couldn’t do it anymore. I was robbing my own house.

I don’t mean to sound pretentious. I’m far too self-loathing to do that. But it is true that if you talk about it, you lose it. My thoughts, fears, observations, hatred, love, and anger belong on paper; not Facebook. And this is why I’m shutting down. To save the work.

The Force is real

When my son was five years old, my wife and I attempted to teach him how to ride a bike without training wheels. I say attempted because he was a hard case. My son had a flare for the dramatics. We called him the sheriff as he would consistently point out whatever you were doing wrong with a sort of Shakespearean rebuke of word and gesture. He was also bullheaded about everything, almost militant. But he was also a fun child, always wearing some sort of costume and forever in make believe. All this made a perfect dramatic soup, if you will. For example, when he were in a moment of despair, be it injury or mental anguish, he would dramatically toss his body upon the ground and cry out with such conviction you couldn’t help but applaud. So, there we were, attempting to teach him how to ride a bike minus the training wheels.

Naturally, the boy fell a few times. Nothing serious, a few minor drops. He was still on board with the idea of careening down a street with nothing but two wheels and steel underneath him. I kept encouraging him and telling him that there was freedom in bike riding, that all the kids in the neighborhood had bikes, and that it was the best thing he could ever do with his life. Then it happened. He biffed and he biffed hard. We’re talking dirt, gravel and grass. He flailed around like a dying fish, crying out his woes for humanity. His heart was a tiny Hindenburg bursting into flames, taking all his hopes and dreams with it. That was the end of it. He wanted nothing to do with bike riding ever again. It was stupid.

Revenge of the Sith

I introduced my son to Star Wars as early as possible. It was big when I was a boy and I looked forward to sharing it with him. He took to the magical world of Jedis and Siths and droids and Stormtroopers and Wookies with such little effort, it was as if he were born to be a fan. We wore out the VHS copies of the original trilogy and when the first two prequels came out on DVD, he devoured them. So, when Revenge of the Sith was released in theaters, it was a big deal. He was old enough to see Star Wars on the big screen for the first time. It was all he talked about. He couldn’t stand the wait. My son was in a constant pee pee dance. I’m not exaggerating. He would get so excited that I would have to ask him if he needed to go to the bathroom. He didn’t, but man, that’s an excitement I wish I still had. But, there was still the issue of the bike.

I don’t know about you, but I thought it almost criminal if my child didn’t know how to ride a bicycle. His sister could and she was the clumsiest little girl I’ve ever known. Yet, somehow, the concept escaped him. No, that’s not right. He understood the concept. What he had was a bad case of the can’ts.

He was held back by fear. You know the fear I’m talking about. The fear of injury, the fear of disappointment, the fear of people making fun of you, the fear of failure. This was a defining moment in his life and he didn’t even know it. And it was up to me to lead him through it. This was his hero’s journey, his reconciliation and acceptance off the power of the Force. This was his destiny. So, I did what any good dad would do. I told him that he couldn’t see Star Wars until he learned how to ride a bike.

This is one of my favorite memories of him as a little boy. Obviously, he was very upset by this new contingency and if he had a jury of his peers to argue before, I’m sure they would have rendered a favorable verdict on his behalf. But, alas, he was alone and I was a hard judge. The question “Why?” was asked repeatedly, as I recall. Also, it wasn’t fair, according to the sheriff. Eventually, he accepted his fate and with tears streaming down his face and wailing like a fire engine, this little boy rode his bike in a circle for a half-hour in the driveway, never falling not even once. Little did he realize how strong the Force was in him. I wish I would have videotaped it.

The Force is also strong in you. I think it was Henry Ford who said, “Whether you think you can or you think you can’t, you’re right.” Don’t ever let anyone tell you that you can’t. Not even you.