Living in the 21st Century

Two years ago today, I promised weekly posts as a contrast to 45 until he was out of office. I did not believe that two years later he would still be perched on his obscene and life-destructive dead branch.

This post could perhaps be seen not as a contrast, however, I truly mean it to be, and to draw attention to what has always been what this country has cared about with the hope that hope can be resurrected.

>>Joy alert: Following this post is a list of absolutely wonderful news, on the publishing front, of new works that can sustain you, fascinate, illuminate, educate in the most humane ways, and offer experiences you perhaps have not had. So either skip past the post first for joy, or know the joy awaits.<<

Over the past seven months I have learned what it’s like to be a campaign manager (through the woman I get to be the husband to — Julie) for a candidate with full integrity and also what it’s like to be a full supporter of four other candidates who carry what today has become too often an anachronism–that same integrity. And then to watch them lose to five candidates who revealed their lack of integrity by barely showing up, or accepting hundreds of thousands of dollars from you-know-who so that they can continue to dismantle democracy and replace it with their oligarchy.

I have also learned what it’s like to be a helpless spouse who tries to do and say the right thing when there is no right thing to say or do. Sometimes I think it’s the curse we men carry who don’t blurt out the old “cheer up,” “get on with it,” “look on the bright side,” “some others won,” “we’re making advances in what matters” gene.

Last night here we watched our five local candidates, who both act on what they care about and have real plans (for accessible health care, budgeting to benefit those in need, safe water, reliable infrastructure, schools that give teachers salaries and classroom sizes that enable students to not only learn, but also become themselves rather than cogs in the machine that enable those who have no need to work to continue to have no need to work, the destruction of the planet, and more) LOSE to candidates who didn’t even campaign.

Imagine this, the people who WON refused to show up for forums. When asked by the press to answer questions for print, they didn’t. They accepted hundreds of thousands of dollars from dark and corporate PACs — willing to have their corporate patrons tell them what to say and how to legislate. They lied outright about our candidates, which seems to be accepted practice under 45. They didn’t need to connect with anyone except tycoons, megachurches, gun fetishists, and any organization willing to tell their audiences, “vote for _______ or else.”

The people who gave five, ten, fifty, a hundred dollars to Julie’s candidates gave because they knew these candidates would work for what matters.

Those who backed the winners sustained their own selfish agenda. The winners oh so often say they care about us–with a smug simulacrum of honesty. However, that’s all: “I care.” The record shows they haven’t yet acted on this obfuscated word.

Let’s face it. The business of America is business.

I prefer the New Testament woman with only a few shekels who gave them all away.

I am staring now at my dogs, for whom this day is just another day. I want to be my dogs.

Living in the 21st Century

Long before there was this day
another day came. Maybe it rained
or there was a little sunlight. People

got up and did what they always do.
Birds sang and the cats wanted out,
or in. You and I weren’t here,

but the world didn’t know. Trees
grew and nobody noticed. Someone
was cruel. Someone else

tried not to be. Maybe the weather
shifted unexpectedly and plans
had to be changed. This morning

we watched our day begin. We
wondered if it would be good,
wondered if it would rain.

–Jack Ridl

Published in Broken Symmetry, Wayne State University Press


1. Greg Rappleye’s collection, Tropical Landscape with Ten Hummingbirds has been released by Dos Madres Press. That’s the same press that published David James’s moving if god were gentle. Leslie Harrison, finalist for the National Book Award for Poetry, says “The core of the book is a series of poems about the life and paintings of Martin Johnson Heade, and the poems, like the paintings, are intricate, gorgeous, and deeply, quietly felt. In range and scope this book is unique.”

2. Gayle Boss’s All Creation Waits: The Advent Mystery of New Beginnings, with stunning woodcuts by David G. Klein, has been published by Paraclete Press. Obviously this is a book for the Advent, Christmas, and Holiday Season. Richard Rohr writes, “Adapting to the dark and cold [each of the beautiful creatures in this book] announce…that through every dark door the creating Love of the universe waits.” And the late Brian Doyle, author of Chicago: A Novel, wrote “A wonderfully refreshing sidelong book that makes you stop and think and ponder and consider and contemplate and see not only Advent but your entire blessed life with new eyes.”

3. Jim Hanson’s 137 page — yes 137 page — poem About Florence has been published. Jim gave a recent reading of the entire collection, all composed in blank verse. He noted that there was an intermission.

All three collections can be ordered in the usual ways, found in area bookstores, or by contacting the authors.

AND–Mark Hiskes’s collection Standing with Alyosha has been accepted for publication, also by Dos Madres Press. Dos Madres recognizes these close-by, remarkable poets, all of whom know one another. What a joy!

And–a new weekly online publication has been created by Reka Jellema and Kathleen Schenk: Holland Weekly! It welcomes all writings about Holland and the area. As the editors point out, “It’s a new kind of journalism!” Check it out. I really think you’ll be delighted. Do consider contributing.

Alas I wasn’t able to attend the reading at Central Michigan University by honored German poet Eva Christina Zeller who follows these posts and has become an online friend. Eva lives in the same city of Tübingen, Germany, as dear friend Norbert Kraas. It was Norbert who introduced me to Christian Zaschke. The world is smaller than it feels.


38 thoughts on “Living in the 21st Century

  1. And the right poem, yes the right poem…to get putting one foot in front of the other and keep on keeping on. Ad others before is have done. As others I pray after us will keep on doing.

    Thank you – for the gift of this poem – today…this day…


    • It means soooo much that you understand its relation to the commentary
      If anyone has taught us how to do that it is lovingly kind you.

  2. Jack,

    I’m reading this as our cat Pierre is curled comfortably in a chair, in my office, sleeping and dreaming his cat dreams. Life is good, he is loved, he is warm, his belly is full. Does it get better than this?

    I’m saddened by the outcome of our local elections, that is for certain, but overall encouraged with the House’s new arrivals. I think we just have to take it a baby step at a time, and keep that compass focused on our goals.

    45 is already taking steps to take our democracy down with the firing of Sessions, but we will not let that happen. This will be a fight! It will get ugly, if it isn’t already.

    I feel like lying down next to Pierre’s chair and dreaming his dreams,and focus on the wonderfulness of my life, for I have much to be grateful for too.


    • I agree.
      What hurts is seeing these good people who lost hurting. Kinda like after
      one of my father’s games when he lost. I really didn’t care much about
      the game being won or lost. It was seeing him hurting that stayed with me.

  3. Hi Jack,
    I can totally understand your frustration and anger.
    What I´m wondering (watching what´s going on in your country from the other side of the Atlantic) is, who is to blame more, the unethical, arrogant behaving, money taking winners OR the people who voted nevertheless for them in a number that let them win? I think you have to reach out to those people and try to open their eyes and change their minds. (Blaming candidates will only strengthen the support from their base.) Otherwise 2020 will be a repetition of 2018.
    All the best

    • Thanks for this advice.
      Have only to say that I and we have tried and tried to
      change their minds; however, they vote the party as a religion
      rather than consider studying candidates.
      Ya know what I mean?

      • I know.
        It`s very sad that politics become more and more an ideology and people loose the openness/willingness to listen to other people and reflect a different opinion.
        And the most concerning thing is, that this behaviour is not limited to the US. We see similar happening in Europe as well.

      • Yes, I was just reading about these things happening in Europe. And of course, 45 is there
        stirring up more hate. Sad it is. Very very sad.

  4. Thank you, Jack. Powerful & important words. I can only twist & turn at night and utter a modified refrain from the 60’s Hell no, He Must Go!

  5. Oh, dear Jack. Sounds like parts of the corner of Michigan where you live is like most of Alabama, where we now live. I told myself, “Maybe we can make a difference.” No, we cannot. It’s too overwhelming, we are too outnumbered.
    Sending hugs to you and Julie. Miss you both. – Sue

  6. and on this day, like any other day, we woke to the news of yet – another- mass shooting. The sun is still shining, the leaves are still falling, Charlie-dog is out chasing squirrels…the sun, the trees, the dog…they are blissfully unaware. We are living in a nightmare that seems to have no end! As always, I cherish your words!

    • Susan, your response ripped its passionate way right off the
      screen and sent my chair rolling back. AND I’M GLAD AND GRATEFUL~!

  7. I feel sad, it’s a bad day for America and a bad for the world. The only thing we can do is, to talk to people who are fond of 45 and show them what 45 will do for them in the future. It will be an ugly future, bad for all good-informed and bad-informed people. God bless America and let faint 45 away..

    • Wolfgang,
      Please know how much your compassionate message means to me and others.
      We try. Believe me we try to talk to those who can’t see what is and could happen.
      Today another mass killing. When we talk with them, they spit out words so vile I
      would not want another to hear them. They react. They have permission. Witness
      what 45 did yesterday at the Press conference. He is now using even those to
      give permission to the violent, those so filled with hate that trying to talk
      WITH. not to, them is impossible. And so we hope it’s not always going to
      be impossible.

  8. hello Jack —

    thanks for the plug.

    I was down about the local candidates too. I wrote a letter to Matt telling him how much I appreciated what he had done — best results ever for anyone opposing Fred — and hoping that we will continue to hear more of his public policy ideas. In the Twp, at least, we had success with our four replacement candidates.

    As far as I know, Damien Jarzembowski and I were the only Democrats who had ever been members of the Township Board. And now there are four (though Bill Wester is a DINO, really). I wish them the best. It’s not an easy job, but I know they’ll do their best.

    Jim H

    • How good to hear from you, Jim. In fact last night at a gathering you were
      celebrated by Elinor White. She and Michael think the world of you.
      I really ache for Matt. Can there be better souls than his, than Garn’s,
      Christie’s, Mark’s? How can one pry “them” away from a party as a religion and
      have them look, really look at the moral centers of those running?

  9. What I’d say to Julie:

    1) thank you for what you did 2) quote Casablanca:

    > RICK: Don’t you sometimes wonder if it’s worth all this? I mean, what you’re fighting for. > > LASZLO: We might as well question why we breathe. If we stop breathing, we’ll die. If we stop fighting our enemies, the world will die.



  10. Deep breaths. Thanks for the reminder that sometimes as much as we try to fix we just have to be. And be mournful (and maybe to tell my inner Pollyanna to shut up for a bit). Thankful for fighters like you, like Julie.

    • Oh good heavens, never ever abandon your inner Pollyanna. She’s the one who
      keeps light shining within it all.
      We’re thankful for YOU!!!!!

  11. I am sad that Garnet Lewis did not win. I met her at a Progressives’ rally in GR and was so impressed that I sent in a donation, even though she was not running in my district. I am thrilled that we have two Democratic women who will be representing northeast Grand Rapids in Lansing. Winnie Brinks and Rachel Hood ran great, informative campaigns here. Please let Julie know her efforts are appreciated.

    • Oh my, Linda, this will mean so much to Julie and to Garn.
      They don’t give up; they’ll never give up.
      Thank you soooooo much!

  12. We live in the 6th Congressional District of Indiana and Greg Pence (Mike Pence’s brother) ran the same type of campaign and won, I wonder what they are hiding.

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