When Lines Blur between Reality and Fiction

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“With these Hands — Wonder” http://carol-allen-anfinsen.pixels.com 

Most People seek the truth. They want to believe in what is real; what is factual. But the media has long given up on gathering facts and are now focused on distortion and white lies. They’ve become promoters of their own personal ideology and political bias, and are focused on manipulating truth. Many participants take words out of context and turn conviction into lies. They prevent their audiences from getting an objective viewpoint or in hearing both sides.

Now unabashedly the FBI and the Justice Department have begun to skirt the law. Even the Supreme Court is ignoring their allegiance to the Constitution and the people dishonoring their positions and personal honor in order to promote an agenda that is underhandedly dark and holds serious repercussions for the future of this nation.

Remember when a handshake was not only respected in a contract or agreement, but engraved in stone because people considered their word sacrosanct and lawful? Now we can no longer trust our leaders who we thought were held to a higher standard. As a matter of fact, most of us don’t trust anyone. We’re afraid of a sales call, of identity theft, of scammers that assault us day and night.

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(Front yard blooms)

Those elected to power are mainly concerned with their own careers. In their personal view and thinking “the ends justify the means.” Their allegiance to the electorate whom they serve no longer matters. How did we sink so low? What has caused this fall of national character into the murky abyss of slime where right and wrong have been muddied in a grab for power?

Prior to her husband’s election as President of the United State, Michelle Obama said “I’m ashamed of my Country.”  After almost eight years of Obama leadership, I can say in return “I’m not only ashamed of my country, I fear for its future.”

We have become a Godless people more concerned with our personal pleasures than in our own honesty and integrity. The decline in American values is evident. We have turned honorable men and women into puppets of the state. Our greed for power has tainted our judgment. Our leaders have become dictators, and our loyal servants have become dishonest politicians grubbing for position and control.

The heart of America is rotting from the core. There are a few glimmers of hope. When a crisis emerges, we still stand together. When people die, we are there to give compassion and support. But even in the midst of this, we are divided. We ignore crime and the law in favor of prejudice and popular opinion. Many segments of the population have become a mob mentality. It doesn’t matter what the laws say, they break it. If they don’t like the outcome, they stand against the enforcers who have pledged to keep us safe. In turn, lawbreakers are shielded by their leaders and mob violence is often encouraged and allowed.

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(These young armadillos visited us early one morning.)

Both political correctness and designated “hate speech” are becoming a law unto themselves setting a dangerous precedent in overruling existing Constitutional law. As a result, people are becoming afraid of spontaneous speech or of expressing an opinion. Free speech is being set on its ear by self-appointed enforcers who label someone’s opinion as prejudiced or hateful. Recently some university students uttered “I hate the first amendment. We don’t want these people (those with opposing views) on our campus.”

These students are too young to remember Hitler and his brutal regime when hate speech was lauded and opposing opinions were stifled. Our Founding Fathers must be quaking in their boots in fear that all they worked so hard to achieve is being destroyed.

We have one of the most important elections in our time coming up in November. Will we disregard what history can teach us? Will we put our personal stamp, our thumb print, in support of lawlessness, dishonesty and Godlessness? Or will we uphold the principles that made America great for all people and not just the few in power?

This division we now feel in our country did not come from the ground up, but from the top down. Good leaders inspire the best in their followers. They lead by example and truth. The chaos in our country and the world has been allowed to happen. The Middle East has been blown apart by incompetence and falsehoods.

Socialism and totalitarianism are not the answer. You just have to examine their roots and results to understand their automatic downfall. Freedom isn’t lawlessness or pitting one group of people against another. Class warfare is a communist tactic. Morally it is bribery with the intent of getting what you want.

Freedom isn’t free just because you want it to be so. Freedom is the result of sacrifice, honor, and hard work. If you’re not up to it, someone else may be and the result is your neck under the boot of oppression. Please friends, vote judiciously and prayerfully.

 

Control – Oh, the Power it Wields!

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Two paintings from my “With These Hands” series: “Hope” on the left, and “Wonder” on the right. Oil on acrylic underpainting (mixed media)

Human nature is embarrassingly obvious. Whoever possesses the power is in control. Politicians seize it in the guise of helping the electorate; but instead, they vote themselves better health care, bigger raises, and huge pensions for retirement income.

They change the laws to suit their contributors. They vote out term limits so they can keep getting re-elected using the same lies they did when they first got elected. If the people in the states they represent feel like they’re getting the benefits, they grant them power for another term.

Today the establishment elite are afraid of losing that power. In their efforts to gain control, they are using lies and corruption to create a climate for take-over. Will the people allow it? In this “government of the people” are the elites once again trying to deceive in order to regain what for them is almost lost?

The whole affair makes me sick to my stomach. Because I support Trump, I’m tired of being told I’m not smart, I’m stupid, I’m a “far right loon” or worse. And this does not come from the democrats, but from the party I have supported not only with my votes, but with my money.

Many are backing off because they shun the labels the media and the establishment sling at them. So rather than be called an ignoramus for following Trump “the clown,” they fall in line behind the establishment candidates. Cowards! If we cease to stand for what we believe and blindly follow behind the demagogues who are beholden to their lobbyists and donors and not to “we the people,” America is lost.

If Donald Trump wins the delegate votes, isn’t it unconstitutional to try to take them away from him after the people have spoken? Romney thinks he has the power to take them away. If he is the shadow candidate, he not only won’t win, Hillary will get the nomination.

The “Rhinos” don’t care who wins as long as they can keep feeding at the trough courtesy of John Q. Public. But surprise! The more they sling mud at the Trump campaign, the more followers he obtains and this has the establishment in an angry frenzy of desperation. Poor little Marco thinks he has a shot at being President, but he’s only a pawn in the game to push Romney to the head of the pack.

The same power struggle happens in marriage. The one who has financial control, usually holds the winning hand. Sometimes money is withheld in order to manipulate or hurt. At other times the power may be used in the bedroom to withhold sex or affection. Power is often used to intimidate, embarrass, or belittle. Weak people are more likely to use this power to hurt others. The perpetrators may be male or female.

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The third in the “With These Hands” series: “Love” all available at http://carol-allen-anfinsen.pixels.com

Greed and selfishness are at the center of all power disputes. Facts are distorted. Reputations are sullied. Self-respect and self-esteem are both destroyed. There are no winners. But in this election year, it is not a game. It’s a matter of life and death. Our country is so saddled by debt it is already on the verge of collapse. Our Constitution is in shreds. Our precious rights and liberties are being eroded to the point of no return and both parties are guilty of their destruction.

You can’t afford to be ignorant when you vote. Study the issues. Read both sides of an argument and determine the facts. If you don’t really care then please don’t vote. The right to vote was earned by someone else’s blood and tears. Some even lost their lives in preserving freedom. At this critical juncture in American history you can’t afford to sit this one out. Remember the saying: “absolute power corrupts absolutely.” We must keep the power with the people.

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“First Daffodil” the hope of Spring.

A Flawed Foundation Weakens the Structure

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“The Perfect Ending” 24 x 18 acrylic on canvas

As I enter the back entrance to my complex, I see cars backed up on both sides of the intersection to the elementary school. Turn signals blink for left on one side and right on the other.  I squeeze past, not with irritation, but empathy. Bus drivers in our area have been negligent putting children at risk and in harm’s way. Parents are simply protecting their prized possessions and trying to keep them safe.

When my own children were spread out between elementary, middle school and high school, I never worried that they would arrive at their destination or return home in the evening. Their bus drivers were long-standing employees that almost everyone knew. I rode the bus myself on field trips and extracurricular activities. The school system and the transportation were institutions we knew that we could depend upon.

“Beach Buddies” oil on 20 x 16 canvas

A whole lot has happened since then. Another school shooting blares across my T.V. screen. A small college town in Oregon this time. What has happened to our once safe nation? Why are the things we have trusted and relied on for ages now vulnerable and exposed to this treacherous form of evil?

I think back to my own upbringing in a similar small college town humorously called “happy valley,” where nothing serious ever went wrong and people seldom locked their doors. It wasn’t because we were “gun free” I can tell you that! We were a Western community, living in the shadows of the Wasatch Mountains. Almost every family owned guns.

In fall and winter there was deer hunting. Families depended on the hunt for food to put in their freezers. Hunting was not simply a sport, it was a necessity. My father and my uncle managed to stock our freezer with pheasant, deer, fish, and other game. My aunt and her husband supplied us with chicken which ran freely in their yard.

In spite of the fact that people owned guns, there was never any violence. Accidental shootings were rare. Sometimes a hunter who forgot to wear a red shirt may have been glazed on the first day of hunting season. What has changed since that long ago time?

  • We have more people in our country, a larger population.
  • Many of them come from foreign countries where this kind of violence is normal.
  • We no longer confine people who may put others at risk.
  • Mental health is ignored and safeguards are not in place.
  • We no longer value human life.
  • Moral depravity has become accepted.
  • Honesty is for “other people.”
  • Deviant behavior is no longer frowned upon.
  • Anti-gun lobbyists try to keep the lawful from owning guns.
  • Criminals manage to skirt the law and obtain them anyway.

One of the first things Hitler did when he came to power was to confiscate all guns. They were needed for the “Resistance” and to protect Germany. When some people complained about what Hitler was doing in their country, they were arrested and jailed. They had no means of escape or protection.

“With these Hands — Wonder” oil on 20 x 16 canvas

The Second Amendment to our Constitution protects this kind of obfuscation for this very reason. Should tyranny come to power, the people would have no means to defend themselves or to preserve their freedom.

Governments, businesses, corporations work carefully to build a solid infrastructure to support their entities through the highs and lows of success or in downturns. Like solid blocks, this foundation provides a strong footing from which to build.

Some would say America’s ground is crumbling; yet, they seem surprised? Have we not ignored the very values that made this country strong in the first place? We’ve pushed the envelope perhaps beyond the point of no return. Once freedom is gone, it is gone forever. Unless we can remember and restore what made America great in the first place, we will never get it back.

Run Your Laps Every Day – Reach for the Stars not the Dazzle of Fool’s Gold

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“Namesake” 24×18 acrylic on canvas

My oldest daughter ran track as did her younger brother. I remember the grueling contests, the aching muscles, and the near collapse after a race, the throwing up afterward, the dark side of competition all for the ribbons, the glory, the win.

Running gets in your blood. It drives you. My daughter could run miles on the steam of anger leaving from our house and traveling for sympathy to see her friend in another county; a different city.

I watched them both compete and admired their persistence. Peer pressure helped, but the adrenaline rush after a track meet was addictive.

I tried it a few times at the YMCA. The track was the diameter of the building. I ran around and around, and around. 15 laps equaled one mile. I did a lot of counting (and forgetting), and counting again. My “round” trip was tedious and boring. My goal wasn’t to win. I was competing against myself. The end game was to lose 10 pounds. I didn’t last long enough.

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“With These Hands — Hope” Oil on acrylic under painting; 16×20 canvas

I discovered that the difference between success and failure, for me, was being outdoors. I knew where to walk and just how long I needed to go. I used my car to gauge the distance. I started with five miles, then ten. After a few weeks, the pounds started to melt away. Exercise is much easier than counting calories, and more fun.

Every athlete, every runner knows you have to put in the time. It’s no different with any other skill or profession. Time equals distance, equals gain. “No pain, no gain;” you’ve heard it a million times.

The difference between success and failure is often as simple as this. One person spends his or her time vegging out in front of the “Boob Tube” while the other one does the laps, the practice, and the work to improve his or her skills or business.

One person reads books related to their interests and dreams, and another would rather spend his time making things with his hands. If either develops a skill and a driving interest, they have a shot at success.

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Open Book” 20×16 Oil on acrylic under painting; Original SOLD, but prints are available.

What is success? Does it mean money? Does it mean having all the toys and whistles? Or does it simply mean doing something that rewards you with fulfillment, satisfaction and a decent living? Of course, the answers are unique to each individual. But I guarantee that if you were in a devastating tornado or a destructive hurricane, you’d probably say what most people on T.V. say in the aftermath:

“These are just things. We can replace things. But my family – thank God they’re all alive!”

If you haven’t yet discovered what you’re willing to live or to die for, you haven’t really lived. If there is nothing on this earth for which you are willing to sacrifice your time, effort, and devotion to besides yourself, you haven’t really loved.

Many people can’t understand faith or a belief in something greater than themselves. Without a guiding force it is easy to get caught up in the moment and waste your time on quick gratification or cheap thrills. A guiding force or higher power can help you resist that which hinders your growth and success. A deep inner peace can empower you to run your laps, every day, until you reach the heights of your potential. It costs nothing, but it will change your life forever.

First Impressions are not always Accurate

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I planted my “potted” Peace Plant in the yard. Doing Well!

I have a friend who is very persnickety about what she eats and how it is presented and served. She keeps waiters and waitresses on the run. Friends and fellow diners are sometimes embarrassed or offended.

I was dining with one of the latter who mentioned our friend’s behavior with disdain until she was served a dish that wasn’t quite to her liking. She called the waiter over and asked for extra sauce complaining about the dry noodles.  After the waiter left, she looked at me and we both laughed realizing the tables had been turned. “Now who do I sound like?” she said, feeling apologetic.

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One exquisite bloom!

Have you ever changed your mind about someone after you got to know them? When I first met my fuss-budget friend, I was put off. I was wearing a suit jacket that belonged to my mother; it was one of the few things I had left from her. The coat was tweed with a black velvet collar. As far as I knew, it was still in fashion.  Long before we really knew each other my friend said “I had a jacket like that years ago (with the emphasis on years.)” I took it as an insult.

From then on I would look the other direction when she walked my way. She had done the same thing to me when I tried to get to know her. This went on between us for some time, until she went out of her way to change things.

I soon learned that she wasn’t the stand-offish rude person I thought she was. In fact, to those who took the time to get to know her, they discovered that she was a true friend; one who would bend over backwards for you and delight in spending time with you.

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First impressions are rarely correct. We often assume things about others that are simply not true. We scratch the surface, make our judgment calls and then go about our merry way missing out on what could have been.

There are simple people who are easy to know and love, but also easily forgotten. And then there are complex people who have many sides to their personality. They usually require patience and some digging to get to know them well, but it’s worth it.

The Neptunes -- Octoband

The Neptunes — Octoband

People who are deep, interesting and multifaceted often turn into lasting friends that stay connected. All types of people can bring laughter and fun into your life. They can also teach us about ourselves and help us to become better for having known them.

The most successful television sitcoms are about ordinary people like you and me and the funny things we say and do just being ourselves. Authentic down to earth people we can relate to. They become endearing to us because they are us.

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The Neptunes — Trumpeteers

Remember that the next time you pass someone over because they’re not “your type.” How can you possibly know at first glance?

A broad range of friends can enlarge your heart, enrich your life, and change your perspective to a more positive point of view.

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The Neptunes — “Golden Girls”