What Do We Deserve, To What Are We Entitled?

childhood complex trauma_Yesterday I sat with someone discussing a young man I once knew. He’d dealt with a lot – a psychologist might consider calling it ‘complex trauma’ during his formative years, and we were just beginning to get into what children deserve where I found myself grasping for a better word.

Fortunately, the meeting was cut short by someone else before I felt completely ignorant. Why had I not thought about this issue before? It’s not as if I don’t have enough nephews and nieces running around having children at this point. I even have gotten to the point where I’ve lost a nephew and most recently and sadly, a niece, to the inevitable.

There’s a lot of talk about what children deserve. There’s also plenty of talk about entitlement, used in the present day as a negative. There’s a weird space in between. We all believe that children should be given love, protection and safety, and an opportunity to grow – all of these things relative and varying to degree around the world.

The dictionary definition of deserve is related to being worthy of – and generally relates to having earned, or being worthy of. The dictionary definition of entitled contradicts itself in an interesting way. One definition of entitled is to have a right or legitimate claim to something, while the other contextual definition is the assumption that one has the innate right or claim to… stuff.

In modern popular usage, when someone’s entitled, it’s used as a synonym for being spoilt.

We have agreed upon human rights, as in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. We have The Convention of The Rights of the Child, so… do we deserve rights or are we entitled to them? There’s a dilemma in there, particularly because there is so much room for interpretation in any form of right.

A right to be loved? How does one assure that? To be protected? It can get very complicated very quickly with different interpretations even within one culture. Multiply that by the number of cultures in the world.

This is not to say that children should not be treated with love and care by any means. Most of us have an implicit understanding of this, be it through nature or nurture (likely both), but we really are not too great at explaining this when pressed on it, but where one child’s parents may shower them with gifts as their version of love, another child’s parents may not do that (and may not be able to!) so they show love in other ways, maybe. It’s not exact. And, frankly, it doesn’t help children as much as we would like.

Right now, it’s quite likely that within a kilometer radius of you, there’s some child that doesn’t have a home with love to go to – or if so, maybe it’s expressed in very negative ways. Once legal requirements are there for the parenting, a checklist of practical things being done for the child, whether it’s done with love or not is immaterial to a Court of Law because it’s about what you can prove, and only in extreme circumstances can one say that there is no love for a child.

It seems to me that there’s space for a lot of discussion on this because we all believe we know what a child deserves to some degree, but we can’t all agree on what that is aside from very vague things we call rights that some committee came up with and that I suspect most parents and children haven’t read.

A very strange thing, this.

The Hedgehog Picnics

hedgehogs around the fireAt least some readers will be familiar with Schopenhauer’s Hedgehog’s Dilemma, but those who aren’t it uses a metaphor of hedgehogs on a cold winter’s night pulling in their quills so that they can huddle closer together for warmth. Adversity gets people to pull their quills in, and when there isn’t adversity, they stick them right out again.

It’s been something I’ve been flipping around in my head for a long time. The problem with the comparison to humans is that we run around starting fires – some are for warmth, some aren’t and burn out of control.

When we build the fires for warmth, we gather around them like a campfire. Some stare at the fire, mesmerized, some put their backs to it and stare into the darkness so that they aren’t surprised by things that go bump in the darkness – some sit closer to the fire, some sit further back. Some get singed because they’re too close, too.
In the modern day, ‘fires’ are what we agree on. Common interests. Maybe sports. Maybe art. Maybe climbing mountains, or maybe sending around memes on social media.

And so the metaphor slowly falls away, but the basic idea that adversity causes people to come together is still there – and comfort tends to push people apart.

The Tyranny of Stuff.

A dead planetAs I mentioned in this post, I’m fiddling around with this world and have been researching a lot of what we know about Terra Conferti, or what some of us call Earth, and in particular, the history of the self-proclaimed dominant species on the planet, which we can shorten to ‘us’.

When there were significantly less of us, we wandered around the planet. It wasn’t necessarily a great life, but we migrated where we could find food, shelter, and when those things weren’t as good as somewhere else, we wandered off.

Nowadays, we pretend to deal with this wanderlust by going to hotels in other countries which, generally, are like hotels in any other country with some distinctive and sterilized things. Experiencing the way real people live in a country isn’t really in the offing except, perhaps, some eco-tourism.

Before the Agricultural Revolution, we wandered around, found food, had sex and probably got rained on a lot. The less lucky ones got snowed on. Everyone adapted to their general areas and environments, found traditional migration patterns they followed just like many other creatures. The agricultural revolution, though, meant large populations could be supported, and with those larger populations, we got to do nifty things like find places for stuff that we could have without carrying it around.

Some of that stuff allowed us to share generational knowledge, like twig technology. Some of it, maybe even most of it, is just useless stuff that we pay rent for with space that we pay for, one way or the other.

Where once we only carried what we needed to survive, we cling to things that we want. I’m not sure how much of that is progress, but it bears some scrutiny for any sentient species.

Tap, Tap, Tap.

Bloody writerIn an intimate moment, I’d mentioned to someone that I had finally gotten to writing again, that I had found a muse of sorts and that I was fleshing it out. They asked me how I felt about it, and I said…

“I hate writing.”

We laughed, and I was a bit surprised I’d said it. It’s not that I hate writing as people think of it, but by the time it comes to getting the idea out of my mind through my fingertips, or even vocalizing it in a way others understand, I find that aspect of writing the most taxing. I don’t think in words. I don’t imagine in words. I don’t know that anyone does. Maybe, because I haven’t done as much fictional writing, I simply haven’t grown the callouses to make the process less painful. I don’t know how true it is with other writers who do this sort of thing.

“There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed,” Hemingway once said. For me, the fun part is the imagining, the testing of ideas, the planning. But when it’s time to get it out and share it, it can be painful. And to be even close to original in a world full of the same stories written by different authors, it’s hard, at least for me. Sometimes the words roll out without conscious thought when you’re dealing with something people can readily understand, but to be original means taking people to places where they may not understand – to suspend belief sometimes, to get people to look at things differently, or simply to share a complex perspective as simply as possible.

And so, while I may not be posting much…

Tap, tap, tap…


QzfY9Ty6I have a cactus on the floor of beige tiles outside my condo, overlooking a valley of human encroachment into the hillsides. It’s not a pretty plant. It once was, or at least I thought it was when I got it.

I stuck it in a larger pot 4 years ago. I stopped watering it some time ago because I’m trying to figure out what to do with it. It’s miserable to deal with, dense, full of sharp needles. I’d call it a thicket, but I’m not sure if it’s one plant or many at this point.

Every now and then, I spit on it. Not out of concern for it growing brown and dead. It just thrives. So much water, it blooms an ugly little flower that has no scent. This much water, it drops it’s children all over. This much water, it grows. And for 4 years, without grooming, this has grown from a 2 inch wide groomed and potted cactus to a foot in diameter, hanging 2 inches over either side.

I just spit on it, partly because I don’t know what the hell to do with the thing.

I can’t throw it away, because then it would likely overtake the garbage dumps. I mean, it thrives. Hardship? You bet, it’s all in. Got any more? Please? You may not like how it looks, but the damned thing clings to life. I can’t help but be amazed.

It’s a bit like me, too. It grows when it has the opportunity, it fills the space around it as it has that opportunity, and it doesn’t need much to simply exist.

So I spit on it, not out of disgust, but out of respect. I imagine it will outlive me. Maybe it belongs on my grave, though I have always leaned toward cremation. Might take over a cemetery, though. I just don’t have it in me to throw it out. It might take over the world given the right conditions.

What Direction, Humanity?

_web Staring at chaosWhat if we’re all parts of one organism we call humanity? Like cells, but not. We’ve even managed to grow a nervous system which you’re using to read this now. Everyone wants to be the brain, and we like to speculate about things like collective intelligence when more often than not we see collective stupidity. There’s a reason that the intestines weigh more than the brain.

So, what’s the plan? As an organism, what are we doing? Aside form warring with other parts of ourselves and evolving structures, what, exactly, are we up to? At this point we just erode a planet, but to what end? We don’t have a plan.

As individuals we’re very busy, racing to and fro, but the almost all of what we produce is not what other species are too interested in. This is why the dolphins have not evolved feet; they do not want to see our great cities. Some primates stay in the trees and fling poo at us as we pass by. Some species just say, “screw it!” and go extinct, even as elephants wander around trying to reclaim territory from invaders who are just trying to sustain themselves.

Self-interest. We’re all pretty busy with self-interest, like all the other creatures on the planet. It’s a survival trait, it’s nothing to be ashamed of – we’ve come from a long line of self-interested people who somehow managed to procreate. Certainly, we help each other, but do we really? Does that farmer in India in that village really need to be having it out for some subsistence farming while facing our elephants?

Don’t get me wrong. It’s good to be productive members of society, but it also seems like we are just racing against each other all the time and as a species we don’t really have a direction. We have the people who have the most of what we’re told we should produce doing some pretty odd things that don’t really benefit us, like a car as space junk in the solar system. What other species does that?

“We’re going to expend all this energy to fling a car into space!” doesn’t seem like something myself or anyone else agreed to. I’m not saying I wouldn’t have approved had I been asked, but it’s not likely.

Allegedly the intent is to get people interested in space travel, though I’m not sure what the selling point of space travel to the old lady who just got home from Walmart with sore feet, which she has basic health insurance to help her with as long as she makes her co-pay. It’s a reality. Does that car, that costs more than she may make in 3 years, inspire her in Space travel, or does she wish she could live freely without her feet being sore all the damned time? Her grandson might be inspired, but he’s busy dodging gluten while stationary and staring at a flat screen.

“Grandma, they sent an electric car into space!”
That’s nice dear.”

Grandpa, who died of a heart attack on the way to the ground as he fell off that roofing project, would have been more practical had he been paying attention, “Well, that electric car spinning it’s wheels in space has no purpose!”, and promptly got back to making those, “Get off my lawn!” signs. He sold those as a side project so he could afford the co-pays on health insurance. Sadly, he could not invest in the future NFT disaster before he died otherwise he would have been noteworthy to his grandson for 15 seconds, between swipes.

Personally, I like the space exploration thing, but I’m writing here that it’s not the top priority for everyone. It’s not even my top priority, honestly. Hear me out.

Genetics has proven we’ve got loads of ancestors who loved two main things: Sex and Travel. Someone way back when whispered, “Go forth and prosper!”, and let me tell you we took that very seriously – so seriously that we’ve pretty much run out of spots on the planet. In fact, some people might even consider that this happened a while ago. There’s a clip of Sam Kinison cracking a joke about people who need food are living in a desert, which, on it’s face, is funny and should have people asking why people are living in those areas. Maybe they could move somewhere else, but now we have lines on the planet that restrict travel.

So what we have is a survival trait of being nomadic becoming a liability. The “stay put” gene, if there is one, is becoming dominant. As a society, we’re becoming conditioned to stay in certain places rather than wander – and that makes the idea that by the time those people in the desert can wander space they just might want to stay put since the idea of nomadism was finally extinct. After all, they’re in a desert without Netflix. You know there will be kids born.

What we’re deciding, really, is who gets to go exploring. The grandchildren of that farmer in India isn’t going to get a Willy Wonka ticket to get on that spaceship.

I don’t know where we’re going as a species, but I’m pretty sure where we’re not going.
I’ll now return you to your regularly scheduled life of productivity to whatever end.


aloneAlone, a single bit in a computer means nothing. It lacks context. It could be ‘1’ or ‘0’, there’s nothing in between unless we shave time so small we wouldn’t notice it with all but the most sensitive of instruments that we may not have built yet.
What gives this little piece of information context?

A grain of sand by itself, suspended in space, means nothing. It lacks context other than being a bit of silica. It is simply because it isn’t, and it is surrounded by “isn’ts”.
What gives that bit of sand context?

The answer to both questions, of course, is that we give these things context.
We’ve been wandering around the planet we stand on for millenia tossing out contexts on things we encounter like blessings from a deity, limited by what we understand. As our understanding increases, the contexts we give things change.

Contexts about the planet are pretty basic, revolving around whether the earth is shaking or not, whether it’s rainy or snowy, as examples. How we feel about that context sometimes creates narrative.

The sun being visible means daylight – and when the sun was supposed to be visible and wasn’t, it was clearly the work of some deity either to water the crops or to make it cold, perhaps wet, and nasty. Context becomes narrative in that way, and then narrative begins to give context.

“If we just sacrifice that good looking daughter of that guy I don’t like who got with that woman who didn’t give me the time of day… she’s a virgin, right?”

Then narrative gets used as context to provide narrative to provide false context.
And thus we have fake news.

The key is to define the appropriate context.

Unchanging Specks of Light

A sole creature sat on a lightly luminescent purple tree-ish structure, staring into the nothingness of a clear sky. Or so it seemed.
It was remembering. Remembering the first time it had stared up in the sky not on the lookout for predators, but just… looking. There were bright things out there, slivers of light that penetrated the lenses of his eyes. It had stared in wonder at what they were, wondering if they were friendly or not.

They moved slowly in a dance, but when it danced, they did nothing. Clearly they were not a danger. They just silently went by until the big light chased them all away, glaring down at the world in it’s disapproval for a very brief time. Then they would rally and come back, pushing the big light out of the way.

It had watched this many times since. The chill of the darkness had chased it’s evolution up these tree-ish things some time ago, where it was warmer just a bit but the wind could be blocked by the wide branches. Nothing bad came from those points of light, and nothing good, but they were a comfort.

They did not hurt it’s eyes as it picked the fruit, or as it notched it’s finger into the tree for sap. They did not allow the predators during the short day to find it during this time. They simply were.

And there is a comfort it found in something that just was. Unchanging specks of light.

Church of Frog.

Church of KermitA decade or so ago, I went for a Sunday breakfast at a place in New Smyrna Beach known for big portions of breakfasts. After the 8 mile hikes I was doing at the beach with dawn as my companion on one shoulder or the next, I’d change into a comfortable t-shirt and shorts with flip flops to beat the Church crowd.

I am not a part of the Church crowd. I never have been since I had a choice in the matter.
On this particular day, I was wearing my Kermit the Frog t-shirt.
I had run a bit late, and the Church crowd was coming in as I was leaving and that meant threading past the throngs of people waiting for the tables for their families. They’re always glad to see someone leave, I know, I’ve been on the other side.

A little boy looks up at me, seriously, “Did you wear that to Church?”, seriously, even a little ominously. His face demanded an answer, and I looked up at his parents who were looking at me about as confused as to what the next step should be.
“Yes, I did. But I go to a different Church. I go to the Church of Frog.”, I responded seriously, finding an opening and stepping past them as quickly as I could without looking like I was hurrying.
In the background, the young voice said – you can tell by the sound he was looking up – “Can we go to the Church of Frog?”
I sighed. I likely made it worse for everyone. But it was funny and makes for a good story.

This evening, looking back on it and thinking about all of this, I think those of my age group around the world who had access to television, were indeed indoctrinated into morals and values by a frog. By Kermit The Frog. And maybe that ‘Church of Frog’ thing isn’t so wrong. There were other deities that we were raised by on that television show, but Kermit was in charge even though most of the time it seemed he wasn’t.


15125228371_8d48671870_wWhen I woke up, it had the feel of a Saturday.

Not that Saturday after a hard week of work to come home and deal with responsibilities at home, like chores, or dealing with people you don’t like. That reminder of a drip here, a crack there, a place where there should be a shelf, a door creaking… things that need to be addressed which no one else would do. The toil of a Saturday.

It was like that childhood Saturday when you looked forward maybe to Saturday Morning Cartoons, and going outside for the entire day without adult supervision. That childhood Saturday evading adults to explore a friend’s tree-house, do reckless things on bicycles, catch insects, fish dirty magazines out of sewers, or play with that box of matches. A Saturday rife with experiences and glorious exploration, of risk being the reward.

And then I looked at my watch and it decided, this gift of digital technology meshed with software, that it was Thursday.

Tech isn’t all the marketing brochure said it would be in the 1980s.