#MeToo And Men

Personally, I’ve always valued reason and truth, even if it hurt, and as a result have always tried to reflect on the nature and motives of my actions. As a man, the #MeToo Movement has given me a lot to reflect on to say the least.

When I first began reading articles and accounts from women about rape culture and toxic masculinity I’ll admit to feeling a little defensive at times, but that happens when you’re confronted with new information, or perspectives, that challenge your established worldview and the perception of your own actions.

This defensiveness, a natural psychological response, differed from the response I feel when reading information that challenges my worldview, but is outrageously and demonstrably false. This was the mild defensiveness brought about by valid points, solid arguments, and a lot of very depressing numbers that you’d rather not have to incorporate into your existing perception of the world, but you have to because facts.

Also though, my physical build is rather feminine; I’d rather talk about sci-fi, or philosophy than about the game; I prefer wine to beer, or shots; and have never really been a “typical” guy, so it wasn’t very difficult for me to accept what I’d read and hence only the mild defensiveness. However, it seems that in part, the reason some men react so virulently is because it challenges a core part of their identity and they’ve never know anything else other than what we now call toxic masculinity.

Often, I’ll read an account of sexual assault and the perpetrator doesn’t remember, or didn’t realize they’d done anything wrong.  Not men like Brock Turner, or Brett Kavanagh, but men that are ashamed when they learn the impact of their actions. I believe for many men that’s because they think rape is something that only happens in dark alleys and that that’s really the only kind of sexual assault. Kirstin Gillibrand, a Senator I generally like and usually agree with said “I think when we start having to talk about the differences between sexual assault and sexual harassment and unwanted groping you are having the wrong conversation. You need to draw a line in the sand and say none of it is O.K. None of it is acceptable.” I agree with the second half of her statement, but not the first. It’s an important conversation we need to have because a lot of men have no idea their behavior is inappropriate, they’re just doing what our culture has told them to do since they were born. If they were lucky they didn’t have abstinence only sex-ed, but even so those classes don’t always cover consent, let alone how verbal consent isn’t really consent if it’s coerced, or if there’s some other power dynamic in play and things like that. Ignorance isn’t an excuse, but if we don’t have the conversations we need to have it certainly won’t get any better.

If you’re reading this, or other feminist related articles and find yourself becoming defensive try to work past it and continue reading, listen. If you’re becoming defensive because you recognize some behaviors as sexual harassment, assault, or rape then the best advice I can give is apologize without the expectation of forgiveness, earnestly change, and teach your sons better.

 

~D.T. Kukulkan~

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A Humble Kingdom In The Void

For some time now I’ve considered and been intending to write daily journal entries, not just as a written collection of memories for posterity’s sake, but for my writing’s sake: the desire to be a writer, or more accurately a published author, remains as one of the few points of consistency  in my life albeit with waxing and waning intensity. Furtherly, writing itself has always managed to help me collect and organize my thoughts in a more cohesive way than internal dialogue alone. And since it’s something I have the ability to do well, at least compared to my ability to do math, it’s one of the small things I can do to try and influence the world, hopefully for the better.

Recently I’ve been thinking about the stories of our lives; the stories that we tell ourselves about who we are versus what we can measure to be “the truth.” For instance, we know that as humans we have flawed psychological reasoning: cognitive dissonance; confirmation bias; inaccurate heuristics; errors in, and the pliability of, memories; selective memory, and literally dozens of others. Along with fallacious logic, optical illusions, and the fact we can only observe 4%-5% of what actually exists -and even most of that is empty space- we can’t say we know much of anything with certainty. Some of our flaws are psychological self-defense mechanisms, meaning that, in some ways, we’re essentially hardwired to interpret reality incorrectly. These stories about ourselves are likely just as incorrect, but does that matter? And is it even healthy to undermine those stories in the name of “truth?”

While self-reflection is important and at times can be devastating yet necessary, a constant barrage of self-criticism and existential dread of the void and meaninglessness of being a bunch of cognitively deficient, naked apes that still figuratively and occasionally literally fling their shit at each other while drifting through cosmic infinity can be just as devastating, if not more so. Besides, the fact that nothing inherently has meaning of grand significance means we decide what has importance. So if at all possible, focus on your story and becoming a better character, focus more on creating meaning rather than finding it.

To pretty good effect, I’ve been trying this myself. So what’s my story?  Turns out I was destined to become a king! My story starts when I was born. As the sun burned it’s last day in Cancer and into Leo – the most regal of the Zodiac signs- my parents merely picked a name they liked, unaware of its origin, or the meaning of my surname, yet interestingly enough, my name (not my pseudonym) can be translated as “Little God of Justice” which is a remarkable coincidence and certainly sounds kingly. On occasion, I also survived circumstances that not everyone does. And there are of course people and actions that, had any one of them been different, would likely led me somewhere else entirely. I don’t know if I’d call all that fate, but I know many people who absolutely would.

I also began asking myself “What would a king do?” and not the kind of entitled, spoiled, let-them-eat-cake sort of king. They would get things done, they’d make time for self-care, if writing existed as one of their goals then they would write, and they would actively engage their plans for bettering the future.

Next, I did what any aspiring king would do and began recruiting people to my cause and though we’re limited in number and scope, in a short amount of time we’ve built a total of four garden beds at two locations for the Royal Multi-location Urban Farming Cooperative which has been a rewarding experience by itself: starting everything from seeds, gathering the wood and actually constructing the raised beds. We also have a constitution, a modest treasury, and long term goals with plans for achieving them.

We don’t have a castle, dragons, or gold and perhaps we may never reach our long term goals, but we’re staying active; we’re building an alternative to the mythical American Dream, a multi-location intentional community; we’re creating fond memories with good people and enjoying fresh produce which is likely more than we’d have done otherwise, it certainly is for me.  We’re creating light in the darkness and that’s not bad thing.

 

~Justonius Rex~

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The World Can Be Better Than This: Part II – The Future

Fortunately for the powers that be, one of the most effective methods for tearing down their old world and casting it into dust of history is building our new one. It’s also the most important. Anger, even justified, may spark a movement, but it cannot sustain a revolution; it cannot build a better world and it cannot give us any hope for the future.

What would this future look like? How would we even go about getting there?

Given the unique and absurd nature of the world and especially our country at present and given that we are essentially living in a hybrid oligarchical-feudal-capitalist-fascist police state it may be the best time to try something that sounds kind of crazy – and given the circumstances of our political climate and the incipient mass extinction we literally have nothing to lose and everything to gain.

So, I’m building a Kingdom! It sounds like a joke, but so did Donald Trump being president.

We’ll have a humble start, but big things have small beginnings.

Already we have written a constitution and it begins with a declaration rights instead of tacking them on the end because any nation, or self-governing society, is not a business where the bottom line is about profit, the bottom line is about the wellbeing of its people.

We have a modest treasury which helped finance the construction of the Royal Multi-Locational Urban Farming Cooperative.

We’re creating a small forge and gathering aluminum cans to cast into artwork.

We can search craigslist curb-alerts and drive around on trash day to collect supplies ranging from pallets and scrap wood for building future garden beds, or other projects to furniture we can sell at a yard sale. We’ll get free materials, free products to sell, and be reducing waste.

I personally enjoy creating art and writing. As such I’ve created websites, an Etsy, and Facebook pages for both my art and writing. Writing has the dual purposes of potentially providing revenue and at the same time generating awareness whatever we deem worthy of attention. I’m also contributing a percentage of my earnings towards our Royal Treasury to fund various projects including investing in the small businesses of others.

We have expeditions and quests to plan, monuments to build, festivals and feasts to celebrate, political calls and writing campaigns to do, businesses to expand, survival skills to learn, and history to make!

Our long term goal is to save enough money to purchase a sizeable amount of land and create a fully sustainable intentional community. People have already done similar things in other places and academics are finally saying local cooperative living is the future: they’re economical, they’re essentially self-sustaining, they can help fight climate change and even be beneficial for the local ecology.

Ideally we’ll have a community where we produce food in our back yards and larger permaculture forests; where all our electricity and energy needs are provided by solar panels, or perhaps shingles and windows by then; where there’s a well-equipped school that caters to different intelligences and learning styles; where the cost of medical needs are taken care of already by everyone’s shared contribution; where water isn’t tainted with lead and soil is rich, and a community where we can live a life we don’t need a vacation from.

~Justonius Rex~

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The World Can Be Better Than This: Part I

A few years ago one of our family dogs got sick. Her name was Sugar, she was a Bijon Frize, she could steal and drink your coffee without spilling it, and she was one of my best friends. We took her to the vet and after some tests found out she needed to have surgery. She was an older dog when she got sick, but could have lived for a few more years after getting better. Unfortunately after the surgery she didn’t stay better for very long. She had gotten some kind of infection that wasn’t going away with regular antibiotics. The vet couldn’t be sure what it was without more tests. My mother spent a small fortune on that surgery and these tests, which weren’t even guaranteed to find the answer, were also expensive as would have been further treatment. It wasn’t long after her surgery she got real sick again, she wouldn’t eat, or drink, she couldn’t get off the bed.  So we took her for her last car ride. And there we were with a dead dog and getting even fewer groceries. I think that was the first time I ever saw my mom cry.

There’s also my grandmother, Dorothy. I used to think we were never that close, but I’ve come to realize I had merely come to know some of my other relatives better and kind of took her for granted. I mean she’d helped take care of us, especially when we were younger; I remember her at all the birthdays and cookouts and I remember she loved to take us out to eat when she came to visit, nothing fancy, usually just the food court at the mall, or something like that. She had always mixed up people’s names, my mom and her siblings confirm as much and I can also recall her driving not exactly being the best, so it was no surprise when she mixed up names and had more difficulty driving.  But eventually she started saying she could see these dogs in the wooded area outside her apartment complex. No one else could see them and no could find anything in the woods, maybe a weird rock, or a wayward hoodie, that could look like a dog. They shortly became ghost dogs and demon dogs trying to get into her apartment. As terrifying as demon dogs must have been, she took the advice of her kids and upon seeing the dogs again to tell them they’re not real and to go away and it worked. When she started a fire while cooking, no one wanted to put her in a home, but it became increasingly difficult and expensive to deliver her microwavable and prepared foods.

She’s now been to a few. The first one was terrible: they could not keep track of any paper work, or financial information; it smelled like urine on her entire floor because they kept soiled laundry in basket in a hallway closet; they kept several residents requiring more intense physical care on the same floor ill-equipped to care for those residents; my grandmother’s clothes and belonging would routinely go missing; and when she was moved and my mom and aunt went to pick up her what remained of her clothes and belongings they found them in plastic trash bags in a shed outside. And almost everything was ruined because mice nested inside. The one she’s at now is better, but it’s far from an ideal environment for anyone. She looks like a ghost, pale and gaunt. You can’t really have a conversation with her; she doesn’t make sense and can’t hear well enough even when the staff hasn’t lost the hearing aids, or dentures for that matter. She does not know what day it is, she didn’t recognize one of my cousins, and she didn’t recognize me the last time I saw her.

I also have friends who have lost parents to preventable illnesses, friends who stand to be homeless because of inherited debt and I struggle to fathom how they go about their lives in a state other than constant stress and sorrow.

So much of this suffering was preventable, so much of it could have been mollified, and so many lives could have been lived more fully before their inevitable conclusions. It could have been different because we live in a post scarcity world – although you wouldn’t know it by looking around. There is enough food, water, shelter, medicines, for literally everyone and yet somehow it all becomes more expensive and harder to get.

For generations now, politicians and bankers have parasitically drained the wealth from people and nations while exploiting natural resources into such ruin that the species itself may face oblivion. As we face that oblivion now, they will hold on with tightening chains to keep together their crumbling world at our expense until we have nothing left to expend. There are no other choices than for all of us to die in their decaying world, or we can build and live in our new one.

So think of your families and loved ones remember while we work ourselves to an early grave to keep the lights going and food on the table, never really being more than broken leg away from out of the job and out on the streets there are ill-made men sitting on luxury super yachts and drinking champagne worth more than what we make in month. While we break the bank for gas, insurance, and car maintenance they have a collection sitting in a private garage.  And while we bury our dead they shit in golden toilets that they paid for with the profits from our hard work, and the hard work of our parents and grandparents. The anger and outrage here does not stem from petty jealousy, but from injustice so wide spread it’s considered the natural and immutable order of the world. It is not natural, nor is it immutable; it is an obscenity against nature and goodness itself.

Chains of debt are more efficient than iron shackles could ever be: keeping us dependent on preforming tasks and selling our time to rich men to make them richer.  And if we ever want justice, if we even want to just survive the sixth mass extinction, then with urgency and agency we must begin building our new world and tearing down their old one.

~Justonius Rex~

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Obligatory Update

The function of this blog seems to always be changing, or at least vague and multifaceted. It’s served as an online journal of sorts, a writing portfolio, and just a general platform for my voice – which itself changes. For the foreseeable future, rather than try to hammer down a specific niche, I’ll embrace the current and various underlying themes.

As the time stamps on any post will show, it’s been some time since I’ve written anything. Actually, that’s not true, it’s been a while since I’ve posted anything, but I have done some writing and lots of rewriting.  So this here is just a summary of goings on as of late.

Perhaps most notably though would have to be the change in my general mood.  Some time ago I removed a number of posts because I loathed the voice used in writing and it came from a very different place – a much darker and depression saturated place. Since that time my mood has continued to improve and with that improvement finally comes more agency to make even more. While I’m by no means “cured” of anxiety and depression, everything’s easier because it turns out when you don’t have to use all your remaining energy and will power to get out of bed and brush your teeth there’s a lot more you can get done during the day.

As the country and world’s respective moods worsened mine started to get better (just weird timing).But it feels like I’ve always been in crisis mode and now other people have to catch up. My neurons have an endless supply of crises to fire off at instead of only the intermittent crises during the last administration. However, that’s probably just coincidence given that most people react to the incessant barrage of bad news and almost daily constitutional crises oppositely by exhibiting an increase in depressive symptoms. Regardless, it compels me to write and better myself which in turn will not just make the world a better place, but grant me increased agency to continue making it better.

Perhaps you’re wondering how bettered my mood, or how I got the upper hand over my own neurons. Well, while I intend to write more about my various projects and such that helped me, they may not work for everyone. But, if I had to distil it all into a single sentence, or tweet: “The main thing is to just keep trying and to keep trying new things until something seems to help. “

 

~D.T. Kukulkan~

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Holocaust By Attrition

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Plenty of people have compared Trump to Hitler, including me, but we’re not saying he’s currently equivalent to Hitler in the arena of mass murder. What we are saying is his rise to power resembles that of Hitler’s and other autocratic shitlords: a charismatic speaker scapegoating ethnic minorities coupled with a rise of populist nationalism under the guise supporting “law and order” and other bullshit that plays well. We’re saying Trump is probably just as warped and potentially dangerous as Hitler – though, and this is important, in somewhat different ways.

2017 and the 1930’s are very different times as are the modern United States and pre-Nazi Germany, so if the proverbial shit and fan scenario played out it would probably look different too. While we did round up Japanese Americans and it’s even been cited as a “precedent” by a Trump surrogate, in the age of instant communication and social media an executive action like that would be struck down by a judge before the ink dries and even without judicial intervention more than a few states would simply not comply. That’s not to say it’s impossible, just unlikely. But given a national security crisis like a terrorist attack the administration might have a viable avenue to try.

But Trump and Republicans are doing a lot of other things like cracking down on immigration by stepping up ICE raids. Rounding up “illegal” immigrants might sound great to some, but in practice not only is it super dickish to kick out decent, hard-working people, they deport Americans citizens regularly because it’s an entirely flawed system – it’s barely a real system at all. Conveniently, those are some of the exact type of people that have no place in Trump’s America.

However, it probably wont be through explicit and overt aggression by  the government that kill and imprison people. Congress and certain Trump appointees are attempting to legalize discrimination under self-righteous labels of “religious freedom” and “school choice,” which would allow businesses and schools to just opt out of accepting anyone who doesn’t meet their religious beliefs, or some other arbitrary standards. They’ve also decided that cutting virtually everything in the budget that’s not the military: this includes education, infrastructure investments, health and human services, the justice department, departments in charge of safety regulations, it’s literally almost everything – even fucking Meals on Wheels. And all the while that they’re doing this and trying to take away health insurance for tens of millions Americans, they’ll be giving tax breaks to themselves and corporate sponsors.

What we’ll be left with is a country with fewer social safety nets; increasing costs and barriers to education of decreasing quality which will surely give a boost to the school-to-prison pipeline; increasing water and food contamination akin to Flint thanks to no infrastructure investments and the slashing of safety regulations; unaffordable health insurance options; increased sentences for non-violent drug offenders if Jeff Sessions and private prison industry have their way, and the list goes on. The proposed Republican “healthcare” bill would potentially kill tens of thousands of people a year alone. Contaminated food and drinking water will certainly add to that number as will rising levels of poverty because of fewer social programs, a lack of quality education, rising costs, and falling wages.

These cuts and policy proposals will impact the poorest Americans and disproportionately hurt the elderly and people of color. Make no mistake, these cuts will ruin and take lives, it wont be the spectacle of evil like the Nazis with concentration camps and firing squads, but an insidious, silent rot slowly eating away the final remnants of the American Dream.

~D.T. Kukulkan~

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Betsy DeVos Against The World?

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Recently, one of the most questionable nominees in the Trump Cabinet gained the limited support necessary to be confirmed as Secretary of Education. The Senate vote resulted in 50-50 split, but Mike Pence fulfilling his duty as Vice President broke the tie and Betsy DeVos became confirmed as Secretary of Education.

She nearly lost the candidacy due to the lack of knowledge of what the job of Secretary of Education entailed. No Democrats, or Independents voted  in favor of DeVos and even two Republicans broke party lines to vote against DeVos. Senator Al Franken from Minnesota, during the over-night Senate protest before the nomination of DeVos, stated that she did not know what the job entailed as she gave him no real solution to fix the problems that are facing the Department of Education. Our own Rhode Island Senators Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse went over the countless emails and letters that were sent to them to oppose Betsy Devos. Senator Bernie Sanders from Vermont, and former Democratic Presidential Candidate, called out Devos’ family for funding Republicans with millions of dollars over the years which may be the real reason she was nominated to occupy an office in which she is unqualified to hold.

Although she won, the fight is far from over. DeVos has already has faced major challenges with the public and people have taken to the streets to oppose her. Protestors even managed to block DeVos from entering a school in D.C. to express their dissatisfaction with her confirmation. On other occasions, DeVos was met with opposition on Twitter. The tweets commonly remarked on the Secretary of Education’s inability to understand how the department works. However, many Conservatives, especially on the Far-Right, have stated that she will give more choice when it comes to parents deciding where their kids should go to school. The choices will include public, private, charter, and religious Schools. Although this seems as a good option, the concerns over privatizing education raises major concerns for Democrats.

Whatever the Republican Party and Donald Trump see in DeVos, many Americans including some Trump supporters do not support DeVos. Betsy DeVos has broken the record of receiving the least number of votes to be confirmed as Secretary of Education. This historic “tragedy,” or success in the eyes of many Conservatives, will inevitably lead to further issues between the two parties during the upcoming 2018. And if DeVos doesn’t fulfill her role in protecting education, the Senate and the House may end up looking very different. But in the end, only history will decide if Betsy DeVos will be remembered as an underdog succeeding despite her clear limitations, or as the worst, least qualified candidate to ever become Secretary of Education.

~Stephen Nelson~

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