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Here's Hoping
Hope is among the noblest of human capacities. It is also a source of great strength. I think you’ll agree, though, that its power should be reserved for only the most aspirational goals. Hope should be used to lift us toward the light rather than drag us further into the darkness.

Take, for instance, hoping that Donald Trump dies. Immediately, if possible. That does not seem to be an appropriate use of our precious capacity to hope. I suppose we might want him to keel over or prefer that he stop breathing, but hope should not accompany us on such journeys into the macabre.

There are some realms, however, in which we might find both a place to dream of better days and utter doom for Donald and the Republicans.

Let me explain. We don’t have to wish ill on anyone in order to hope for a Blue Wave. We might even imagine a Blue Tsunami that would sweep Democrats into power and usher in a new Age of Enlightenment. That is certainly something we can allow ourselves to hope for. A natural side effect of such a seismic shift, however, would also be the annihilation of the forces of evil who inhabit the GOP.

We don’t have to wish for Rand Paul to be swarmed by murder hornets or yearn for Ron Johnson to sit on a pungee stake or hanker for Mitch McConnell to be made into cat food. And yet, all those things could actually happen if we simply hope for the best. It’s the noble thing to do.

So please, hope for a better world. Aspire to something bigger than yourself. Pray for the greater good. Donald Trump might not die as a result, but with any luck he’ll spend the rest of his life in prison.

Let’s all hope, anyway.
Sad, Also Angry
The pandemic has already produced more than its share of human drama and will probably be responsible for a lot more before it’s done. These stories have been uniformly sad, of course. It’s hard to get anything but darkness from all that death and suffering.

There is still room, however, for anger. In fact, anger can easily become one's dominant emotional state. Spend a few moments listening to the gibberings of our president and you’ll feel what I mean. Then change the channel, please. You don’t need that in your life right now.

Other stories are worth paying attention to, however — even if they end up making you mad. One story in particular caught my eye recently. It features a regular guy from Texas named Tony Green. Tony had been a Trump supporter, and he was deeply suspicious about the pandemic. He thought it was a hoax perpetrated by the media, and liked to call it the Scamdemic. He finally got fed up with the limits that had been put on his life, and held a party in his home with five other family members.

That party proved to be a super-spreader event. Fourteen members of his family, including Tony himself, came down with COVID-19; two died. Let’s be clear that Tony loves all of those people. Apparently, he had an especially close relationship with his father-in-law, who was one of those who died. He is understandably shaken and remorseful about the tragedy he brought to his family. He knows now that he was thoughtless and foolish. He accepts that he is utterly responsible for what has happened.

I watched the interview he gave with Anderson Cooper. He was in genuine anguish over what he had done. I could feel his pain. I could empathize. But I could not sympathize. It doesn’t feel like I’m gloating or high on self-righteousness or denying this man’s humanity. I just can’t find the understanding within me to actually feel sorry for him.

He screwed up — badly. He made judgments about a very dangerous threat based on the shallowest grasp of the facts. A hoax? Really? How would such a hoax actually work? Through some giant conspiracy somehow kept secret from the rest of us? No, that is not how the world works. And for what purpose would this hoax be perpetrated? To diss Donald Trump? It’s almost too stupid to even say, much less actually believe and act on. If he had even tried for one moment to think independently about this very real danger, he would have realized that. But he didn’t because he left such thinking to others who couldn’t care less about his welfare or his loved ones’ Yes, it is his fault!

Despite his remorse, however, I’m not feeling sympathy. Anger is what I feel, anger at this bonehead and all the millions like him who smugly dismiss reality and callously ignore their duty to the rest of us. I have no patience for these fellow citizens of mine, even if they have confessed their sins and are doing penance for them. I am not impressed by their suffering.

I honestly hope that I will have room in me for that sympathy someday. But right now, it's just not there. It’s people like Tony Green — even now, in the depths of his sorrow — that are the problem. They were fine with all the lying, fine with their white supremacist fellow travelers, fine with the ugliness and dereliction and the consorting with our enemies. Their abuses have undermined democracy and given freedom a bad name.

Sorry, not sorry. Just angry.
Location, Location, Location
Like most people, we have a wireless phone in our house. It’s a genius invention if you ask me. Instead of being tied to one location — where we decided to put the phone jack — we can talk on the phone anywhere we want to, even outside. This may not mean much to you if you don’t own a landline, but for those of us still living in the twentieth century, it’s a wonder.

The upside of the old, tied-to-the-wall system was that you always knew where the phone was. Fortunately, wireless phone makers came up with another, perhaps even more wondrous invention: the locater.

You might be tempted to dismiss this capability as just another feature on yet another modern device, but think of it: a locater! It tells you where the phone is! By making it send a signal! Brilliant! I’m not ready to say the locater pushes fire out as the number one greatest invention of all time, but it certainly displaces the wheel as number two.

I understand that the locater might seem to be a rather simple technological feat, but remember that we are only at the earliest stage of this breakthrough. I challenge you to imagine where this potential explosion of human ingenuity might lead. We can certainly foresee similar devices that might help us find our keys, our remote, our glasses. Those should be relatively easy advances for this new technology, and are no doubt currently in development. But, for a moment, let us expand our minds beyond these mundane concerns and think big.

Wouldn’t it be great, for instance, if we could find, at last, the lost continent of Atlantis? The lost tribes of Israel? Or Jimmy Hoffa, for gosh sake! The possibilities are endless, really. We could find our lost youth, our lost innocence, or even (if we so desired) our lost virginity. And who wouldn’t want to know where, oh where, has my little dog gone? Nothing would be off the table — especially when you consider that there may never be another lost cause.

There is a lot of work to do before that happens, of course, but we’ll find someone to do it, I’m sure. Once we get the right technology.
My Angel
I’m starting to get a little worried about my friend. I’ve known her for a long time, but I don’t remember ever seeing her act like this before.

We watched The Equalizer together the other night. If you haven’t seen the movie, I will tell you that it stars Denzel Washington as an ex-CIA operative. Or something like that, anyway. It’s never exactly clear where he acquired all his skills at investigating people and then beating the tar out of them and eventually killing them. The killing is a big part of the movie, and although Denzel’s character seems to be a good-hearted and deeply philosophical guy, he is coldly methodical when engaged in one of his homicidal rampages.

It’s a pretty good revenge flick, as these things go. Denzel adds a dimension of internal suffering and dangerous cool that tends to leaven all the dreadful gore he produces. We’re not talking about the butt-stupid modes of retribution we might see in, say, Walker, Texas Ranger. But it’s plenty violent, and it tends to revel in the wackiness of the instrumentalities of its executions. Toward the end, for instance (spoiler alert), our hero dispatches the main bad guy with an industrial-sized staple gun. I will only say that this is a particularly ugly way to go. On the other hand, this dude really had it coming.

The thing is, my friend doesn’t usually like this brand of cinema. Normally, she is drawn to British costume dramas, and if she does watch the occasional mystery, she will switch it off if it turns excessively violent. That seems to have changed recently. After The Equalizer, we went right to The Equalizer 2.

As the bloody orgy of revenge continued in the sequel, I couldn’t help but notice that my friend seemed to find some kind of kinship with Denzel’s avenging angel. When I asked her about it, she said that she did, that it was satisfying to see evil pay dearly for its sins. “I hope,” she added, “that the same thing happens to the Republicans.”

I should note here that my friend (and bunkmate for the last thirty years) has been working very hard with Swing Left to change the balance of power in Washington, D.C. As we have gotten closer to November 3, her level of activism, along with everyone else’s on the left, has risen sharply. Also rising has been her contempt for Trump and his corrupt enablers on Capitol Hill. She really doesn’t like these guys, and she honestly feels that no fate is too awful for them. Hurled into vats of acid? Drawn and quartered? Disemboweled? No problemo.

This is not like her. She is the half of our partnership who can ordinarily be counted upon to counsel forgiveness, gentleness, and humanity. That person, at least for now, is gone. In her place I have my own avenging angel. She is right there with The Equalizer, dispensing (imaginary) justice without the slightest qualm — a remorseless, unstoppable killing machine.

I do miss the gentle, loving woman I used to live with, but I can wait for her to return. November 4 will be soon enough.
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Trump supporters are people who know what they believe.
~ JC, Bonny Doon