The Ideology Trap

The powers that be are always and of necessity conservative.  They do not want change that might undermine their power. They have this pile of gold, and they are playing “King Of The Hill.” They’re suspicious of everyone.  They’re afraid we might find a way to take it away from them.

This type of mindset becomes a mental style, an overriding tendency to say “No.” So “no” is the default.  In the default world. It is preferable to keep people uninformed and uneducated.  Critical thinking, clear information would surely provoke objection to the hoarding of our nation’s wealth, to the directing of our nation’s domestic and foreign policies by those whose bottom line is profit, whose profit motives override all yother considerations, including the provision of quality goods and services. It’s been “let the buyer beware” for quite a long while now. But I remember a time when honesty was enforced legally, when quality was regulated and when monopolistic greed was against the law.

Our government has been co-opted. Our politicians are utterly dependant on large donors to fund their election campaigns. Much of the direct correspondence between donations and voting is public record. How many people ever wonder who or what their representatives are funded by?

The last thing the wealthy and their paid staff of elected officials want is an informed electorate. What they really and truly want is for us to be non-critical workers and consumers and easily led.

Above all, incapable of united action against them. They love to watch us fight with each other.

They fear that we will talk to each other, rather than “at” each other. Most of what goes on is competing monologues and as long as we are in opposition to each other, we can’t hurt their monopoly on money and power.  We never really hear each other’s stories. We label and we stop listening. Fragmented. Powerless.

But they went too far. The cat is out of the bag. The BP oil spill, the health care debate, the mid-term election and now the tax cuts for the rich. We all recognize there is a big problem here. We all feel violated. We all feel disenfranchised. Our votes get us nothing.  They are not legal tender.

The rich, represented by corporate lobbyists, industry PACs, and other interest groups, buy votes on both sides of the aisle, although it’s clear they have been more successful on the Republican side of the aisle. The Democrats still make some attempt to represent the not-rich populace, workers, children of workers, parents and grandparents of workers, the poor, the disabled, the non-rich mentally-ill or otherwise disadvantaged.  Immigrants,  especially if they are undocumented. Single mothers, gays, and of course old people.

We Americans disagree about lots of things. This is not our problem. It is just our human nature. That is why we vote. Consensus is a luxury we do not have. Representative government is a wonderful way to manage our grand diversity. What doesn’t work for us at all is the need to be right about our opinions. They are just opinions, after all.

But instead of enjoying our diversity, we tend to be righteous about our own opinions and we judge those who don’t agree with us as being “wrong.” Pretty quickly, we stop listening to those “wrong” people.

And that’s the Ideology Trap. Inside of our ideological positions,  we don’t have dialogues.  We have competing monologues.

But right now we have an issue that does not fit in the system of competing ideologies. We all have the same problem. We have it in common. With the exception of those who currently have control of the wealth.

For the rest of us, the other 98%, we have no money so we have no power.

This is not how it is supposed to be. We are supposed to have a voice. Our needs are supposed to matter. When politics became a rich man’s game, our days of having any say were numbered. 

So, we have come to an opening in the forest, a place where we can stand together. Now that we see it, we can talk to each other again. We have found common ground.

The question is, will we have the guts to stand up for ourselves and for each other? I want to believe we will.

The Scarcity Paradigm

40,000 people die every day from hunger-related causes. 25,000 of them are young children.  We could feed them all if we cut the military budget by 10%. If we cut it by 20%,we could provide medical care for all of them. If we cut our military budget by 30%, we could educate everyone on the planet.

This would not be happening if we did not believe there is not enough for everyone.  For example, I hear a lot of talk about the high cost of energy. Well okay, there may not be enough oil, but there is more than enough energy. There are lots of.untapped energy sources. 

It is time to refuse to believe the scarcity paradigm. Who’s with me?

Roseanne Lasater is” stillwalkn”

What I Miss About The Sixties

As I sat down to write these words, a pervasive nostalgia enfolded me like an embrace, and I had to wonder if there is anything I DON’T miss about the Sixties. But I’ll try to focus on the concerns that prompted this blog, and resist slipping into an autobiographical flashback.

So many things have changed, and yet some things persist. Instead of a spiral notebook and a cheap ballpoint pen, I’m writing this on my “smart phone” with my thumbs, and later I’ll post it on my blog, where it can and will be seen by unknown others…and I wonder, in this age of instant communication, why it is that we’re so fragmented,  so lacking in unity and so difficult to mobilize?

In the 60’s, we had no internet and no mobile phones, yet we turned out in unity of purpose, clarity of message and huge numbers. Something to ponder.

I tend to be auditory, so the first memory that arises is of the music. In the 60’s, music was our voice. We were always singing. Our politics were expressed in our songs. The songs of the Civil Rights Movement and the Anti-War Movement are still standards for human and economic activism. We listened to vinyl recordings in 45 and 33 rpms. We tuned in on transistor radios. The sound quality today is far superior, but where are the new protest songs?

We had an illegal war then and we have two illegal wars now. But back then we still had the draft. To suggest that i miss the draft would be a stretch, but I sincerely long for a mobilized younger generation with all my heart.

Whose brilliant and diabolic idea was it to eliminate the draft? It was a stroke of strategic genius. When fighting in a war is voluntary, resistance is limited to the returning veterans, the families of veterans whether or not they survive, and the established base of pacifists, always a small minority. Hopefully the cost of war will awaken resistance, now that the permanent war economy has turned against the American people.

In the 60’s there was more at stake for those who didn’t volunteer. It seemed at the time that peace was popular. Perhaps that was an illusion. But the traditional notion that war is good for the economy has backfired. The majority of Americans are not benefitting financially from the permanent war, and the decision-makers who watch safely from a distance will find it an increasingly hard sell to a populace that is watching its standard of living fall for the first time in memory.

The mainstream media assists in our innoculation from the horrors of war, which unfold on the other side of the world and affect people who don’t look like us, sound like us, or pray to the same deity as us. But returning soldiers are visibly underserved, underpaid, under cared for and living under bridges that are under-maintained. Soldiers are the new underclass, which makes sense in a volunteer army. The upper classes have better things to do and they don’t need enlistment bonuses or the GI Bill to pay for college.

But the 60’s were above all a time of optimism. We danced and sang with determined confidence that the world could and would be put right, and when all else failed the Supreme Court would always be there to rescue us from the forces of oppression.

We voluntarily gave up the American Dream. Today, I don’t think there is any illusion that it still exists.

Roseanne Lasater is” stillwalkn”


My siblings and I scattered to the far corners of this country as soon as we turned 18 and could legally escape from my parents, particularly my father. I was the second oldest of five. I left second. Matt enlisted and went to Vietnam to escape. My father hated Matt. More because my mother loved him above all others than because his birth caused their marriage and the early end of his education and dreams. He used to say whenever he threatened to leave, my mother got pregnant,  as ifhe had nothing to do with it. The truth was, he loved my mother until the day he died. He said all sorts of mean things when he was feeling mean or sorry for himself.

When I could no longer manage the abuses, I called my grandmother and she came to get me in minutes. My grandparents weren’t on good terms with my father. Who was? Nobody was, at least not for long.

He was charming and intelligent and did attract people to him, but eventually he always hurt them. Or offended them with his crude and vulgar preoccupation with ugly sex. I can remember a time when his specialty was S&M. He bragged that he would give the woman a real beating.

He used to edit 8mm pornographic movies on the dining room wall. That it might offend his children never crossed his mind. To this day, at 61, I still have a repulsion to pornography. Back when I was a parole officer in Toppenish I once opened the door of the state car and on the ground was a torn out page from a porno magazine.  I looked away as quickly as I could, but the upset lasted for hours.

He became a porn distributor when VCRs came into general use. For a time, he had customers all over the country. I’ve never gotten the whole story, but from what I did learn a woman stole all his money. He ended up broke.

Barbara went to her high school graduation with her bags packed and in her boyfriend’s car. She handed the revised cap and gown to my mother and said goodbye.  They never saw it coming. Pretty soon Barbara came to live with me in my little apartment near Brooklyn College where I was in my second year.

Vince enlisted,  which was probably the worst thing for him. He was never a good follower. He’s quite gifted as a rebel, however, which made his time in the service difficult.

Steve was still at home when my mother finally split from my father. The bond between them is still very strong.

My older brother molested me when we were growing up, and we have never made any progress mending our relationship,  mainly because he has turned out to be a lot like our father: vulgar, crude, devient and selfish. When I learned he molested at least one of his own daughters, I withdrew my previous previous overtures of forgiveness and siblinghood, blasted him with a diatribe that essentially called him to get on his knees and beg forgiveness from his daughters.  He responded with invective.

So now our father is dead. The man who abused us is gone. The ashes are in an urn at Steve’s and the discussion is what comes next?

I had a brief fantasy about the five of us going into the mountains with the urn and a good supply of whiskey or some other potent disinhibitor. We would all get drunk and unload our personal versions of growing up with Dad. We would laugh together and cry together. Catharsis. Shared catharsis. Just the five of us and possibly Mom. We all lived through that nightmare together. We would bring our father’s history to a close and together dispose of his ashes. Put it to rest. Find final closure together.

Silly me. We are as fractured, as splintered as ever. That bond that existed between us when we were children trying to survive together is apparently gone, that ship has sailed, and we can’t get it together even for a memorial service. We can’t cooperate enough to find a date when all of us can attend.

Roseanne Lasater is” stillwalkn”

From Issue To Movement

When an issue matures and becomes a movement, a multitude of leaders emerge from many sectors as constituencies converge to focus the rising energy on the issue. Suddenly what may have been a concern of a select group of informed and long-committed individuals becomes a popular groundswell.

New voices are heard and new ideas abound. It can be a raucous time. And what may have been an established program can be thrown into turmoil. Newcomers to the issue bring fresh insights and enthusiasm but may lack knowledge of the history and grasp of the complexities involved. They will likely be impatient with the old guard, whose caution and guidance can occur as putting on the brakes and slowing things down.

A measure of wisdom and tolerance is needed on all sides to guide progress and minimize conflict and misunderstanding. 

The old guard need to focus on disseminating information and mentoring newcomers. Leadership at this stage of expansion is primarily a supportive and inclusive effort. As time passes, a new cadre of informed leaders will begin to emerge, and established leaders from incoming groups and constituencies will form a new coalition.

If care has been taken to welcome newcomers and meet their needs for information and supportive guidance, the old guard will emerge stronger in the new and expanded movement.

Eventually a new visionary leader may emerge to lead the coalition forward. Leaders from early stages may need to yield some or their earlier authority as position and roles in the movement are redefined.

When an issue grows into a movement it ought to be cause for celebration.  Keeping the focus on shared values and goals can minimize the personal stresses as relationships evolve and roles shift.

I believe the issue of campaign finance and election reform is becoming a movement.  People from all parties and no party are pushing this issue to the forefront. Creating an effective and cohesive coalition must be the primary focus as diverse groups and individuals coalesce to become a viable political force.

I believe this issue can unite all citizens. Further, I believe that only a united citizenry can mobilize a movement capable of significant change. The powers that be would prefer we remain divided and fighting among ourselves.  Divided and contentious we are easily governed by those who currently hold power.  United we are a force that must be reckoned with. Together we can do anything.

The Non-Partisan League of Spokane provides a needed gathering place for all of us to meet and find common ground.

Roseanne Lasater is” stillwalkn”

What I Learned From My Dad

My Dad died recently and I’ve been contemplating his life and my relationship with him. In particular thinking about what I learned from being his kid. Dads are important role models for kids and mine was no exception.  Like most kids, I started life looking up to him and memorizing his every word and deed.

But quickly I learned to be very careful around my Dad. He was a dangerous man, especially if you were a little person. He yelled and he hit and most of the time was in a foul mood. At two, I hid under my bed when I heard him arriving home from work. This is probably my earliest memory. My brother and sister and I were always in trouble. We didn’t have to do anything. We were in trouble because we were alive. Our being alive was my father’s biggest complaint in life. All his troubles were due to this central fact. It was his view that we should not be alive and sometimes he seemed determined to correct this problem.

There are many stories I could tell to illustrate, but that’s not the topic of this blog. I mention it so that it will make sense when I say that my Dad was my role model for how NOT to live, how NOT to treat others.

He was a master of selfishness. “Take with both hands,” he advised us and “always get even.” “Don’t give anybody anything.” And one of my favorites, “It’s as easy to love a rich man as a poor one.” He was a fount of wisdom, my Dad.

It is fortunate for me that I didn’t believe him. I always knew he was dead wrong. Apparently this showed on my face, which he interpreted as “You think you’re smarter than me.” Naturally these words were a prelude to blows.

At the time, I denied it. But in retrospect, the truth is I did come to think I was smarter than him, though that didn’t seem like much. He was an angry, self-centered sex addict who beat his children and wife and was given to frquent fits of rage.

My father hated me, a fact he made abundantly clear in both word and deed. He also loved me, an emotion he expressed indirectly through inappropriate discussion of his sex life and sexual overtures, up to and including showing me pornography and telling me he wanted to rape me. Well, you get the general idea.

He harmed me in myriad ways physically,  emotionally and spiritually. Somehow he didn’t break me, though it was his declared intention, but I spent many years recovering from the bruises from his relentless blows.

As a young emancipated adult, I once predicted he would die all alone. And that’s pretty much how it went. Although my stepmom lasted almost to the end. But a year before he died, even she had to leave, like the rest of us, in self-defense.

He’d been on house arrest for several years due to sexually offending his female neighbors, all of them. She had to stay home and make sure he didn’t go out or talk to anyone.

A few years ago, I called on his birthday and asked what special thing he had planned to celebrate.  He said my stepmom was going to give him a blow job.

First she left him with a caregiver and didn’t check on him for ten months. When she did, he was filthy and so was the house. She called all of us, but none of us wanted to take on the job of caring for him, so she put him in a nursing home. He lasted three days before he’d sexually offended, and assaulted several other residents and they called the police to have him removed. Back and forth from the psych ward to the nursing home a few times. Then he had a seizure and died.

Problem solved.

Looking back, one thing that always amazed me was his stubborn insistence right to the end that he was right. Women wanted to be touched; all people are preoccupied with sex; you can tell children are sexually aroused because their crotches are warm; all brown-skinned women are prostitutes,  etc. He insisted we were lying when we said no to that kind of attention. He, alone among the throng of humanity who complained about his behavior and treatment of them, was being honest.

He had no friends.

So what did I learn from my father? Something about the folly of being right.

Roseanne Lasater is” stillwalkn”