The Cycle

May the sunrise of your life be full of energy and high expectations

May the bright mid-day sun burn off troublesome clouds. May it give you clarity as you tackle life’s chores

May the afternoon shadows remind you of how much you have accomplished and not the burden of how much you have yet to do.

May the advancing twilight gently remind you that you have yet another day to tie up loose ends and make amends.

May the serenity of the moon and the darkness of the night quiet your mind and refresh your body in anticipation of the next sunrise and the challenges that lie ahead.

Greg Dunn

Why I get mistaken for a Trump supporter?

My profile is….

  • Angry….Old….Bald….White
  • Working class….Blue Collar
  • Worked 2 to 3 jobs concurrently for the last 30 years trying to make ends meet
  • Have not gone on a vacation (or even had a weekend off) during the last 30 years
  • I’m a few paychecks away from bankruptcy. I’ve experienced foreclosure and bankruptcy in the past and that specter is rearing its ugly head again.
  • I’m in good health (thankfully) but if this changes, bankruptcy is waiting in the wings.
  • Company health insurance requires astronomically high deductible (which resets annually). Every interaction with doctor, health insurer and pharmacy is an adversarial negotiation.
  • Kids college loan debt (Parent Plus Loans) is thru the roof. I might be age 100 before they get paid off. My college grad kids will be paying off their own loans (Stafford Subsidized/Unsubsidized) till they are middle age and I’m long gone.
  • House is on verge of condemnation. It will be paid off in a couple more years but it may collapse upon itself before that happens. Things break but no funds to fix them. I live in an astronomically high cost housing market. I have been paying well in excess of 60% of my gross family income keeping a roof over my head all of these years.

So I could blame Reaganomics, Clinton or Obama for my dire circumstances, but I don’t.

I could blindly follow Trump thinking that his Make America Great (and Great Again) will bring me to the promised land. Hell no, think again.

First of all, forget about politics and policy.

On a deeply personal level….

Would I want to spend an evening with him trash talking and name call anybody who dares to question him or hold a different opinion? Hell no.  

Would I turn my back on him trusting that he would not double cross me and refrain from throwing me under the bus as he has done with so many of his former advisors and employees? Hell no.

Would I allow any female member of my family or friend circle be left alone with him (especially after his documented locker room comment getting off the bus during his campaign). Hell no.

Would I stand by and allow him to berate and belittle just about every ethnic, religious and racial minority group as continuously documented in his speeches and incessant tweets. Hell no.

Would I remain friends with a person who continuously lies and contradicts himself, defying facts and remaining impervious to constructive criticism? Would I remain friends with someone who refuses to listen and never acknowledge that he is wrong or ever say “I’m sorry”.  Hell no.

So you see, if you strip away the politics and policy and just focus on the person, I can not bring myself to consider myself a Trump fan even though I fit the profile. Deep down we all make those visceral choices concerning who we trust and who qualifies as a friend whose company we enjoy. Trump does not pass that test and it makes me wonder how callous, untrustworthy, dismissive and downright ornery he would have to be before my counterparts would withdraw their support and exclaim “Enough is Enough”.It intrigues me that persons who are like me (culturally, economically, etc.) can overlook Trumps antics, ill-temperament, shallowness, impetuousness and character flaws while still saying “I’m with him”.

Am I a U.S. Patriot?

Can a liberal, progressive Democrat from CT be a PATRIOT ?????

Some people consider this an oxymoron but I say no. Here’s why….

  • I don’t drive around with a gigantic US flag in an oversized pick-up truck but I show my patriotism because …….
  • I have worked every weekend for the last 20+ years at a second job to support my family. More recently I have been working a 3rd and 4th job. As a PATRIOT, I do not buy this trickle down theory of giving tax breaks to the rich so that somehow a working class guy like me can benefit. Show me the money…I haven’t seen it yet.
  • I put four kids through college and am mentoring four kids to be decent, law abiding citizens. Proud to be Americans but more importantly appreciating their American birthright while remaining keenly aware of the trials and tribulations of those who suffer in third world hellholes and war ravaged lands.
  •  I have worked tirelessly in the fields of community development, affordable housing and more recently in mental health for the last 30+ years, so don’t tell me that I haven’t contributed to America. Me out of touch with reality …hardly since I live reality every day at work. 
  • I’m as aggressive as anybody else concerning terrorists (both foreign and domestic).   
  • Give me one hour alone  with a Bin Laden type character and see who emerges from that room. 
  • For that matter, give me one hour alone with the likes of Dylan 
    Roof of the Savannah Massacre, or Timothy McVeigh of the Oklahoma City bombing or Bernie Madoff of the Ponzi Scheme and see who emerges from that room.

Remember, I am an Irish-American and there is a reason that they call us the Fighting Irish.

  • I haven’t been target shooting or held a gun permit since my twenties. It’s time to start practicing again and renew that permit.
  • My ancestors were all Union soldiers. My father and all my uncles served in WW2. My father and most of my uncles were cops. Not a profession for the wimpy or faint of heart.  My great Aunt Kate was the first to hire an African-American driver for her moving company in the 1940’s, which was unheard of in those times. My late uncle Austin told stories of the time the Catholic Church was threatened to be burned down by an anti-Catholic, anti-Irish mobs in Providence RI until the parishioners surrounded the church armed with bats to protect it. My uncle Tom hired the first African American worker in a transportation union in RI much to the consternation of co-workers.  My wife got to visit Auschwitz in Poland when tracing her Polish roots and yes the Holocaust did exist for those idiots who spout the untruth that it did not exist.  

So…….

  • Don’t wave that rebel flag in my face. Put that rebel flag in a museum and include it in the curriculum of social studies classes  as part of American history not as a symbol of American hate.
  • Treat the KKK hood and the ISIS flag a symbols of terrorism and give these domestic and international symbols of terrorism no mercy and no quarter. 
  • Be intolerant of any felony immigrant but be equally intolerant of any “good old boy” American who commits any act of violence against  our fellow Americans. 
  • Support non-violent demonstration against injustice whether it be an infringement of our freedoms of the press, freedom of speech and freedom to assemble.  

So yes I am a PATRIOT, I am a New Englander, a progressive,  a liberal, a democrat. Proud of it all and ready to defend our freedoms in the tradition of my colonial ancestors.

Too Many Slogans Too Many Causes

There’re all good and well intentioned.  

Save the whale, the polar bear, the bay, the planet.

Cure the disease, feed the children, end the poverty, stop the crime.

Wear the seatbelt, don’t text and drive, don’t drink & drive.

And on and on….

Got me to thinking, when was the last time everybody (and I mean everybody) was on the same page.

I wasn’t around back then but my guess is that in WWII we had to defeat Hitler and the Emperor of Japan.  More recently, it was during the immediate aftermath of 911 that we experienced the same sense of solidarity. We were united in shock, sorrow and outrage but unlike WWII, there was no nation to attack, no capital to capture. The enemy was (and remains) Al Qaeda, an amorphous  enemy that mutates. The sense of solidarity disappeared when we took our eye off the ball to pursue Sadam Hussein in Iraq rather than Bin Laden in Afganistan/Pakistan.

So back to slogans and causes…What is the one thing we all could get behind?  Global warming/climate change might be a logical choice, a good start. After all we only have 1 planet and it affects us all both now and in the long term (if we chose to have a long term). The problem beyond the naysayers is that this issue it is not immediate and visceral. We are like the frogs in the pot of increasingly hot water not knowing that it’s time to jump out before the boiling point is reached.

As a history buff, this got me to thinking…When in history has everyone been on the same page. It seems that this happens when circumstances are so dire that there is no other choice. Examples include, the plague, all out wars, revolutions, famines, droughts, natural disasters, etc. When the lava is flowing down from the volcano and you are fleeing for your life, there is no time to contemplate noble causes. Might this be our fate with regard to climate change and global warming? That will certainly crystalize our focus but might it be too little, too late.

Back to a more optimistic perspective, why can’t we galvanize around what I call the “blizzard effect”. This is that time during a snowstorm when everyone is helping to shovel eachothers driveway and rescue stranded vehicles. So why can’t we be more consistently engaged in the communal mode during the blizzard effect. Probably because we do not collectively have the same sense of urgency and are all pursuing noble but disparate causes.

With the Thanksgiving holiday fast approaching,  it got me to thinking about how the pilgrims had to focus exclusively on staying alive and not starving. They cooperated with the Native Americans and thankfully the Native Americans cooperated with the pilgrims. Unity of purpose born of necessity coupled with cooperation and collaboration.

Ahh, the good old days of early America.  Fast forward a few years and the colonists were doing much better and guess what…now they are engaged in witchhunts (a term we all too frequently hear about today) and the burning of witches. Seems like the better off the colonists and early settlers got, the worse off it got for the Native Americans. Always interesting to see how uncooperative and downright ornery we get when our bellies get full and we loose focus.

Unity of purpose and empathy for others only seems to rear its head when staring into the face of extinction.

   Happy Thanksgiving to All

Common Ground

The SILLY SEASON is fast approaching.

The 2020 campaign for USA president in heating up.

Thanksgiving is just around the corner.

It’s that special bipolar time of year when the trenches between liberals and conservatives, democrats and republicans get dug deep. That special time when everybody’s talking and nobody’s listening. Nobody’s convincing.

The commuters are lined up along the train platform like birds on the wire. What are they thinking? Hard to tell since they no longer chirp.

Zombie drivers commute to work crawling forward for hours at sun up and sundown. What are they thinking? Hard to tell since the windows are up and the radios are on.

TV emits a bluish glow from every bedroom at night. What’s on? It doesn’t really matter. Very little stimulation of gray matter. 

Got me to thinking….When we strip away all that’s different between us….What do we fundamentally have in common. What is truly our Common Ground? When was the last time every man-woman-child was truly on the same page moving in the same direction?

I will be asking this question to everyone I meet in the run up to Thanksgiving in 2019 and the election in 2020. I’m looking forward to sharing results in an upcoming blog.

In the meantime, here is my humble reflection concerning what I consider to be the most fundamental Common Ground from which hopefully we all can agree:

The categories are 4:

  1. Work Ethic/Work Experience

I worked hard, so do you.

I pay bills, so do you.

I got educated, so did you.

I got life experience, so do you.

I respect what you do for work

I respect that you get up every day to do that work.

I would hope that you have the same respect for me concerning all of the above.

If you do not have this respect, then I guess we truly have nothing in common.

We have no other choice but to go our separate ways.

2. Wanting what’s best for our kids.

Deep down, let’s agree that we want our kids to be…

Healthy

Productive

Self-Sufficient

Morally grounded with a conscience that enables them to distinguish right from wrong

Let’s not get lost in the details as to whether they are liberal or conservative or what particular positions they may hold.

Let’s just agree that we want them to be known as “good people” like we want to be known as “good people” for ourselves.

If we can not agree on the above described base line, then I guess we will never agree and have no choice but to go our separate ways.

3. Life Experience

We all have experienced…

Joyful times

Sorrowful times

Bland, hum-drum times

Experiences that have shaped us for the better, worse and everything in between.

Each of us is the sum of what came before us.

I need to appreciate that for you and you need to value that for me.

If we cannot view each other within this context, it’s best that we travel different roads.

4. We all want to make money. Who could be against that?

Let’s not get caught up on the tax and spend details.

Let’s just focus on the common goal of making ends meet. That means the bare essentials of food, clothing, shelter. Let’s add health care in minimal terms of patching you up when you get sick and keeping you as comfortable as possible when there is no cure.

Let’s agree that everyone needs to feel productive, valuable for something and allowed to pursue happiness. Sound familiar? The pursuit of happiness is baked into the Bill of Rights. Nobody is guaranteed happiness, only the opportunity to pursue it.

So where do we go from Common Ground?

It’s not about the details of policies and budgeting choices. It’s all about what we fundamentally agree upon.

Without fundamental agreement, it’s best to agree to disagree and live in separate, parallel universes.

There may be some deal breakers that are so important to you and me that we can not co-exist even if we agree on basic common ground. We each will know those deal breakers when we see them. These will be those stances and philosophies that we find so abhorrent to eachother that we can not co-exist.

This break point occurs on the personal, professional and national level. It is comparable to paths chosen in the marital relationship: stay and stagnate or leave or stay and revive.

Stay and stagnate:

Co-exist living in separate, parallel universes being careful not to antagonize eachother or in worse case keep antagonizing eachother without breaking up. Doesn’t this sound like the current culture of the USA?

Leave:

Come to the realization that we really have nothing in common and that a national divorce is the only real alternative. How will you know when this point has been reached? It will be like when you attend a party and realize that you share nothing with the attendees, you are miserable and you must leave.

Stay and revive:

Hopefully this will be the path taken. Re-kindle relationships. Get back to the reason we got together in the first place. As a nation, be like that couple that shares goals, dreams and passions. Once again get on the same page and revive the excitement that we once had.

Now the hard part. The dilemma is how do we re-kindle that spark and keep the national love alive. No clear answer here but at least it could start with agreement on Common Ground.

Greg Dunn

Revise the American Dream

Time was……Better school…..Better Job….Bigger House

Now…Work 24/7 just to stay above the financial waterline

Must be a better way, a different angle.

What if……Enough people got together to purchase a property outright and collectively. Imagine what life would be without a mortgage?

What if….There were no car payments, no car loans? Instead get around by alternative means: mass transit (bus, train), walk, ride bike, electric powered bike, scooter, motorcycle, uber/lyft, car share (wheels when you need them) and if all else fails buy a vehicle but do it collectively as described above for property (working out some sort of schedule so everybody gets to drive the vehicle when they need it). Better yet, what if you actually lived near to where you worked thanks to T.O.D. (Transit Oriented Development)

What if….speaking of property and vehicles you purchased an RV or converted a large scale van (like a Mercedes Sprinter with a high roof clearance) and got to park relatively near to where you worked, thereby cutting down on commute time (and hit the road in your free time and actually got some enjoyment out of this relatively short life). Vehicle taxes certainly would be lower than real estate taxes and there would be no lawn to cut!

What if…..you attended a community college and then commuted from home to a state college. No college loans and work a part-time job (or maybe work-study gig)

What if…..you set aside 10% of your annual salary for a Health Savings Account (HSA) growing tax free every year and travelling with you no matter where you worked and presumably being used when you got older when statistically you became sicker. Presumably whatever amount of money that accumulated in this health insurance type 401K would come up short paying for whatever medical expenses that occur during your lifetime. But you did your part by contributing annually at 10% of your salary (a responsible, affordable proportion) and the government covered the balance of your medical costs. End result: you did your best to contribute and you did not die pennyless in bankruptcy just because you got ill.

What if….your health insurance rates went down if you demonstrated measurable improvements in your health status (i.e., lost weight, stopped smoking, lowered cholesterol, lowered blood pressure, started and maintained exercise). What if health insurance rates were structured like car insurance rates (drive fast, have accidents and speeding tickets, pay more).

What if….there was a place you could go to if you were at the end of your rope (literally and figuratively) in a hopeless situation with no foreseeable way out. This could be in terms of finances, physical health, mental health or all of the above. What if under the revised dream/paradigm you received more than the watered down conversation with an advisor (be they financial, mental, physical or all of the above). What if there was opportunity for 24/7, extended supervision (possibly in a residential setting) where you could get the longer term treatment, attitude adjustment and cleansing/re-setting that you needed. This is a costly and comprehensive proposal but it’s certainly preferable to the highly likely alternatives (suicide, mass shooter, spouse beater, addict, homeless, etc.)

What if…..self-sufficiency and sustainability became more important than pricy diplomas. What if schools taught survival skills (budgeting, self-defense, gardening, fixing cars/houses.

What if…keeping with the gardening theme, enough was produced on every plot of land that it necessitated the canning of produce to sustain throughout the winter (whether it was the climatic winter or a financial winter crisis). Shifting to a local, sustainable source of fruits/veggies would also be beneficial in terms of healthier eating and reduced dependence on meats which adversely impact global warming.

What if….dogs continued to provide a source of companionship but they were also trained to be loyal guardians, defenders in uncertain, dangerous times. Presumably speaking here about larger guard dogs (shepherds, rotties, Dobermans, bull terriers, airdale terriers).

What if…..small arms training for the law abiding added a sense of security at home and when travelling.

What if….cross-training became the norm rather than the exception in society. Talent swaps replaced the paying for services and the taking of expensive classes and certifications.

What if…..college athletic programs focused more on fitness for life rather than mega-stadiums and pandering to professional sports programs that by the way fail to compensate players who provide free professional level services. What if colleges shifted to “fitness & survival” rather than “profit, pride and exploitation”.

What if….everybody had more control over their destiny.

More businesses were employee owned. More profit sharing.

More housing cooperatives.

Neighborhoods became protected enclaves gated and maintained by inhabitants. Why should the rich be the only ones that have gated communities and a sense of security.

Means tested health insurance and medical care (including pharmaceuticals), so that nobody goes bankrupt just because they got sick.

In sum, why can’t the revised American Dream tilt more to….

Collectivity….Self-Sufficiency…..Self-Determination…Cooperation/Collaboration where we all “have eachothers back”

What a breath of fresh air that would be. To steal from the words of the late Louie Armstrong….”What A Wonderful World It Would Be”

It Happened Again…When Will It End?

And they bow their heads down low

No one knows which way to go

Many die but not near me

They contemplate, gesticulate, commiserate.

Wringing of their hands, firing of the gun

Bagpipes blare their sorrowful mourn

Amazing Grace played to the forlorn.

Church bells ring again, for whom the bell tolls

not yet for me, thank God not yet for me.

Guess I’ll go back to watching more TV.

My Blog Launch

Be yourself; Everyone else is already taken.

— Oscar Wilde.

This is the first post on my new blog. I’m just getting this new blog going, so stay tuned for more. Subscribe below to get notified when I post new updates.

As a newbie to blogging and writing I’m looking forward to any and all guidance, feedback, and mentorship. Reading is my passion and I hope to support other authors in any way I can.

About Me

From blank page to inspired writer.

With shaking hands I held my #2 pencil in third grade with nuns breathing down my neck ordering me to write something…anything. Fast-forward to the last fifteen years working as a mall cop, I finally became an inspired writer.

So many incidents including the good, the bad, and the ugly formed the bases of my first novel entitled, Mall Child.

The draft is completed, the editing is under way, and I’m on the hunt for feedback guidance and constructive criticism.