Send this article to a friend:


Charles R. Dickens

All kind of quiet on the western front – at least the neighborhood is finally quiet.

Saturday night, a significant thunderstorm dumped just under 2 inches of rain in 45 minutes. I was awake writing my last article. The streets flooded, and the downpour moved a tremendous amount of debris into the cul de sac where I live. Some of the rocks were too big to drive over. Let’s just say that living in a hillside community has advantages and disadvantages.

The neighborhood was a hive of activity for the past couple of days. The sound of gas-powered chainsaws, chippers, and power blowers shattered the quiet like an attack of pissed-off dirt bikers.

I hate power blowers. Their purpose is to move things from one place to another, usually from your yard to the neighbors. They shred the quiet with an obnoxious drone. They belch two-cycle exhaust – a combination of gasoline and oil – into the air, leaving a heady aroma of fumes hanging in the humidity. The funk lingers like cheap perfume after a cocktail party. 

There are antique tools called a broom and rake; remember those? They are manual – meaning man powered – used to clean up debris. They are quiet, efficient, don’t pollute, and provide the added benefit of moderate exercise. I’d call that a fourfer, easily twice as good as a twofer. (look it up)

I’ll tell you what I do like. I like words like duplicitous. The root word is duplicity.

I think it describes America perfectly.

I characterize America with this simple sentence: “Do as I say, not as I do.”

It’s not just the country, but many citizens embody this sentiment. Funny how we learn duplicitous lessons but fail to learn simple things like applied economics, ethics, and civics.

Ain’t that America?

“Fork You.” – or something like that.

Several possibilities are available here, so choosing just one is a challenge. But as Yogi Berra said so eloquently – “When you come to a fork in the road, take it.”

My last article dealt with legal shenanigans and touched on multiple meanings created by ‘wordsmithing’ the laws and policies – they are written to create loopholes for crafty shysters, which includes politicians.

There’s another word I like – shysters. It was common in Hollywood detective movies from 1920 through 1940 to describe some lawyers. Unfortunately, it’s fallen from favor, but I plan to resurrect it, especially as it applies to politicians. It fits nicely, unlike OJ’s glove.

My article’s topic and title coalesced this morning as I read about another outrage for the incarceration of a Japanese citizen in Myanmar for protesting. I’m still struggling with the relevance to America, and then it hit me. More correctly, it’s tangled on the web of my curiosity. How could it be relevant to America? It isn’t, but it does underline our need to fix the world while we ignore fixing ourselves.

Parenthetical Note:

I see the Bible as an exceptional collection of wisdom. It is the inspired word of God in as much as we are all made in God’s image; He gave us this wisdom in multiple ways over the millennia. So it can be considered His Inspired Word.

‘So I looked, and behold, a pale horse. And the name of him who sat on it was Death . . .’’

Mathew 7:1-6 (or some variation of explanation)

“Do not judge, or you too will be judged.

“For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.

“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?

How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye?

You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”

“Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces.

There are easily hundreds of cliche parables, similes, and aphorisms on this subject, all pointing to the insight of this passage.

How can America tell any other country or individual how they should behave, guilty of that behavior themselves?

We demand that China cease its actions against the Uyghur population when America does the same thing against the Indigenous Americans, Hispanics, Blacks, Muslims, Italians, Irish, English, Germans, Czechs, Slavs, Russians, Indians, Asians, Japanese, Conservatives, Liberals, etc. I’m sure I forgot a few specific groups, but you should see the pattern here.

OK, so America isn’t stuffing these people into a gulag or torturing them. However, they are still second-class citizens in many cases, and there are other more nefarious ways to castigate them. But then, aren’t we all treated similarly? But you see, we’re not in the elite class.

America maintains that we are a melting pot, an amalgamation of ethnicities all living together voluntarily in harmony as a community of people building a better life for everyone. Pick a city, any city; now tell me we are not tribally aligned. Read the news and point to any story that does not include racial tension or the segregation of groups, or anti-American punishment.

Is America what you call a community in harmony?

Probably the most straightforward test would be American Politics. There are Democrats, Republicans, Libertarians, Conservatives, Liberals, Communists, Socialists, and 413 other registered parties – 420 in all. But when America selects its leaders, only two parties are publicly represented. Why?

And why do these parties fight for control of a country supposedly controlled by the people?

Could it be because we ceded control to them years ago?

Is it right to judge a person on appearance rather than character? That’s what this administration endorses. The entire premise is racist and supports apartheid. It’s ruined our military, as have the other moronic policies this regime sponsors, but that hasn’t halted our goose-stepping toward fascism.

America stands for liberty, as long as it doesn’t interfere with the objectives of those running the country. The government discovered ways to pervert freedom – it’s now selfish for any American to exercise the privileges they grant – rather than the rights guaranteed by the Constitution. It proves that our constitutional rights were only privileges all along. Privileges can be taken; rights unalienable.

The owners of America don’t care about the citizenry; they are most concerned with self-preservation and gain.

I have considered why we have never solved most of our problems. I’ve deduced that our owners don’t want them resolved. Why – you ask?

I’m still recovering from a knee replacement. There are still several areas that require attention. Some muscles had atrophied from lack of use. Others are so accustomed to misuse that they resist retraining. It’s a battle of will. It’s pretty painful to correct decades of muscle memory. It often requires more effort than I want to invest. My resolve is that I’ve come this far, and I’m not quitting – so I endeavor to persevere. Unlike me, America – most of you – gave up too easily, too quickly.

America is like a three-year-old toddler who demands continual sensory stimulation and is too easily distracted. There’s no focus.

The answer to the question above is that we’ve forgotten how to exercise our rights. We let them atrophy into benefits through lack of use. Like unused muscles, they withered away slowly until they were unrecognizable. Now that we need them, we discover that we traded them for temporary security for the TSA and the Patriot Act or bartered them for equity and comfort like welfare and social security.

We elect representatives based on popularity, not on substance. An endorsement from a past potentate carries more weight than character or platform. Political affiliations are more important than the good of the country. Americans mistake partisan politics for what’s beneficial for all.

Americans are selfish.

Selfishness is what duplicity has done to America. We watch as our leadership – those we emulate and imitate – exhibit these characteristics. We follow along like good little simians – monkey see, monkey do. If they can do it, so can we. We can’t reconcile the dichotomy, so we accept it and embrace it.

Grandpa Lonnie continually replied when I’d remark that everyone else does it – he’d say – if they jumped off a cliff into the river, would you do it?

His reply was intended to make me think. Thinking is a proficiency lost, misfiled in the American archives, just another anorexic skill.

Americans are easily led, therefore, easily deceived.

“There is some connection between dissatisfaction with oneself and a proneness to credulity. The urge to escape our real self is also an urge to escape the rational and the obvious. The refusal to see ourselves as we are develops a distaste for facts and cold logic. There is no hope for the frustrated in the actual and the possible. Salvation can come to them only from the miraculous, which seeps through a crack in the iron wall of inexorable reality. They ask to be deceived. What Stresemann said of the Germans is true of the frustrated in general: They pray not only for their daily bread but also for their daily illusion. The rule seems to be that those who find no difficulty deceiving themselves are easily deceived by others. They are easily persuaded and led.” Eric Hoffer

Americans bought the illusion that being here gifted them with bounty and the constitution granted rights. We bartered away those rights to purchase that bridge we call the American Dream. We presumed that everything was free and required no effort or attention, that simply being American was sufficient.

America forgot that nothing is free in this world, and when it seems free, you are the cost.

“For what avail the plow or sail, or land or life, if freedom fail.” – Emerson

P.S. ~ I was going to include payment, but I had already sealed the envelope.



Charles R. Dickens was born in 1951, is a veteran of the Vietnam, for which he volunteered, and the great-great grandson of the noted author, whose name he shares.

He is a fiercely proud American, who still believes this is the greatest country on the planet, with which we’ve lost control and certainly our direction. He grew up in moderate financial surrounding; were not rich by any stretch, but didn’t go hungry – his incredibly hard working father saw to that. As most from that era, he learned about life from his father, whose story would take too long to tell, other than to say that, he is also a fiercely proud American; a WWII and Korean war, veteran Marine.

Charlie was educated in the parochial system which, demanded that you actually learn something, and have capability to retain it before you advance. He attended several universities in pursuit of a bachelor’s degree, and chased the goose further to a master’s, and has retained some very definite ideas about education in this country.

In addition, Charlie is a professional (struggling) blues guitar and vocalist – a musician. This is his therapy career. Nothing brings him as much joy as playing music, and he wishes that he could make a living at it… maybe some day!

That’s Charlie… a proud, opinionated, and passionate American.

Send this article to a friend: