John Michael

Life Is a Sweet, Tender Bruise XIX

(cropped image by Joe Haupt, Creative Commons)

John Michael continues his series Life Is a Sweet, Tender Bruise, reflecting on life and people encountered, with two new stories about talk radio and pondering the effects of money.

 

Equal as Everybody

When I was on the streets in the south, a transistor radio was my primary friend and kept me connected to the human race for several years. I listened to a lot of talk radio. Morning shows were mostly about entertainment. But most of talk radio was, and I assume still is, dominated by sports and right-leaning politics.

Now, please bear with this until the end, because I want to make a point. I broke several radios listening to Sean Hannity because every time he had a liberal on the air, the liberal never got a word in edgewise.

One thing I noticed about Hannity and Rush Limbaugh both is that they honored and respected their mostly working-class call-in listeners, even when those call-in folks were not making a lot of sense.

Those two guys dominate talk radio for that very reason. Loyalty is considered a good trait, but not loyalty to a fault. Hannity and Limbaugh have loyal listeners because they are loyal to their listeners.

Democrats did not lose the election because Hillary was a bad candidate. They lost because Democrats disrespect and look down on working-class and military values.

Trump won by taking a page from the Hannity and Limbaugh playbook. When Trump was campaigning, I got the feeling he had a genuine affection and appreciation for the working class.

 

I broke several radios listening to Sean Hannity because every time he had a liberal on the air, the liberal never got a word in edgewise.

 

Liberals and the mainstream media listen to what Trumps says. They count up his lies, they count up what they consider to be his racist and misogynistic statements and chant, “We are better people.”

Trump’s followers look at what he does, like setting tariffs on foreign steel to get that industry going again. Like wiping out ISIS and stabilizing the Koreas. Like the increased GNP and the decreased unemployment. If Democrats seize control, they would be wise not to take action that would jeopardize these numbers.

I don’t think Trump is racist or misogynistic. What he does, and I am not sure it is a good thing, but it has been effective for him politically: he looks for weakness and exploits it. Insecure about your looks? He will call you ugly. Insecure about your smarts? He will call you stupid.

The environment under the Trump administration concerns me, as does the fact that he has done nothing to roll back government intercepting and storing all our communications. He also seems to be accumulating a formidable amount of power. Congress has done little or nothing to check the growth of Presidential power over the years and Trump is the cagiest of presidents we have seen in quite some time. And he seems to get bills through Congress better than most. My point is, Congress has not been the check on Presidential power it should have been for many years now, and it can only grow worse under Trump.

These are all things I have said before. The mainstream media has been relentless in its negative coverage of Trump. He brings a lot of that on himself. What he did not bring on himself, and what was played without mercy by the mainstream media, was the Russian Collusion story. Two years later, it has mostly gone away. But when Trump calls these folks “fake news,” that Russian story is why he is right.

Things may be shifting to the left again following the midterms. But if Democrats want to be effective at governing, they cannot ignore and belittle working-class people and their values.

How do I know liberals think they are better people? I was raised in that culture, have a master’s degree, and felt that way myself. I noticed on the streets, by and large, the only people helping me out were working-class people. Guys in trucks with bags of burgers and a five-dollar bill, and moms in station wagons with warm clothes and homemade meals.

American Workers build and maintain all the buildings and roads, make and serve all the restaurant food, and make all the hotel beds, make and manufacture everything from toilet paper to bullets to phones and clothing. They are as equal as everybody on God’s planet. They deserve to be heard and to be respected.

 

All My Day-to-Day Friends Are Homeless People

Life rolls on and it is funny what we hide from ourselves to fit into a family or culture, or what we hide as we pursue grand ideas about ourselves that may or may not be true.

These last couple of months, I have been in a healing crisis around money. What is a healing crisis? Well, let’s say you have a way of thinking about a subject, like money, and circumstances and new ideas and experience put pressure on those ideas to change. It is similar to what is called a paradigm shift. The old collapses and something new is born. This can happen easily, but for most I suspect it creates a certain amount of inner turmoil.

Or, let’s say you have been a self-hater or a woman-hater or a man-hater and you start to have some warm loving feelings toward yourself or towards another. Giving up that protective layer of hate can be scary and difficult.

Last night, I was journaling and was hit by a very emotional thought, I am afraid I will lose myself if I have money. A couple of weeks ago, I had the thought, I would rather die than have money.

 

What aspect of myself am I worried about losing if I do have money?

 

I came back in touch with my true self while living on the streets. After that, I have certainly been through a lot of ups and downs and healing crises, so to speak. But God’s presence was always near and I knew I had the capacity to love myself through whatever might unfold.

As my confidence grows, I am taking risks with my joys. I took some of my paintings up to the Prichard Art gallery in Moscow, just to hear what a curator might say. I could not have done that even a year or so ago. He was appreciative and had some good feedback on how to organize and look at my work.

I also hosted a local open mic for a couple of weeks. In the past, there would have been some major anxiety before and after the event. Worrying about how it was going to go and then worrying about how it had really gone and beating myself up for imagined defects. I must say, I was very comfortable with myself throughout.

Yet, all my day-to-day friends are homeless people. So, I am wondering, now that I have the confidence to start a business or make a movie or put together an album, do those things actually appeal to the heart?

What aspect of myself am I worried about losing if I do have money? Is it the friendships I have developed, the compassion that opened up to those courageous people still living on the streets? I am honestly not sure, but I will keep you posted.

 

John Michael

Hello, good people. I am rarely sure how to describe myself. If I say I am a Christian, many things may arise in your mind that ain't necessarily so. I was homeless for seven years and learned more about myself in that stretch of time than in any other segment of my life. I read the Bible a lot out there and came across a passage in Proverbs that has shaped my approach to life: "A man's pursuit is his kindness." I am well educated with a Master of Social Work degree and have worked a wide variety of jobs in my 52 years. None have lasted too long however. When I was homeless, the beauty of Texas wildflowers made me decide to want to live again. Along with kindness, beauty, play, and self-expression are life-guiding ideas. My shadow contains things like feeling sorry for myself, a truckload of defiance, a desperate need to please women, and no small amount of cruelty. A quote from Luke also has had a lasting effect on me: "For God is kind to the ungrateful and the evil." When I read that I thought, "Hell, I have got a fighting chance." I am here to tell you, you have a fighting chance as well. Besides Christianity, practicing Buddhist and Shamanic techniques inform my relationship to God and the world.

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