Saturday, 8 December 2018


These last many months I have thought a great deal about our responsibility for the things we read and for those words that we choose to pass on from our gathering of information. 

This introspection, a reflective looking inward, is being forced upon me primarily because of Donald Trump and his toxic comments on Twitter.


"Mike Pompeo is doing a great job, I am very proud of him. His predecessor, Rex Tillerson, didn’t have the mental capacity needed. He was dumb as a rock and I couldn’t get rid of him fast enough. He was lazy as hell."
PRESIDENT TRUMP, on his current and former secretaries of state.

This quote was included, in the large print you see above, in a New York Times newsletter I received this morning.

The internet, as well as reaching and connecting many millions of people and dispensing valuable information, has opened a huge chasm of differing viewpoints and comments from the ethereal to the divisive and toxic. The word, chasm, from the  Latin, chasma, and from the Greek, khasma ‘gaping hollow,’ evokes in me the frightening image of being in a deep hole or pit and trying to crawl up from its depth.

Why this dark image when I have seen and read glorious and positive stories on-line?  Stories of kindness and discovery; introduction to poets and artists; fact-finding and wisdom. And cartoons that make me laugh. On-line I find help towards understanding my camera and Google translations from Spanish into humorous English so I can read emails from my friends in Cuba.

For sensitive people in particular, the burr of negativity sticks, just as the burdock plant's prickly seeds stick to our clothing.

I know how the people we choose to be around is important to our well-being.  How the negativity of a person in our midst can pull us all down. And how, likewise, a  person's joy and consideration have a positive effect.  I am conscious of my effort to cultivate the friendships of those who elevate, and to move away from those who do not.

When Brian and I were in Cuba we were distant from all world news. No television, no internet, no communication at all outside of the personal day to day ones.

No tales of sorrow and bigotry. Of pain and unleashed anger. Of better than and less worthy.

In Havana I witnessed the kindness of people we met.  Not an easy life, to be sure, but as an outsider I appreciated how often people helped us figure out directions from our small map, often walking along with us. How we laughed together, unable to say in words what we meant, but noticing that it didn't really matter.

                         a tee shirt I brought to Havana....a perfect fit!

No "outside noise", as in negative news cycles, made it so much easier to access kind expressions from inside, from close to my heart. To notice parents' love for their children, older men and women sitting near a window observing life in the streets and to be able to smile and say"no thank you" to the multitude of bike taxis.

Yes, I did see the poverty in Cuba partly as a result of the American embargo. I saw too the young adults sitting on door steps, who seemed not to have work. I realize that I was a tourist/visitor who didn't know the stories behind the nearly 2,000 photographs I took.

But, in retrospect, I was healing from the American and Canadian news outlets.

I can escape again by returning to Cuba in the spring, but, as an ongoing filter, this isn't practical!

Just as responsible parents restrict their kids' screen time, so too do I need to limit mine.

I feel somewhat virtuous as I don't follow the news on television, but visiting on-line is no longer much different.  A half hour or more scrolling weighs me down. Where has the time gone and why am I not reading the books from the library and the three new ones from the Beacon Thrift store that sounded so fascinating just yesterday?

I've just scrolled through this month on my Facebook page.  I am trying to determine what grade to give myself.

When is sharing a truth okay and when is it best to be silent.

The entry (Dec 4) from Doctors Without Borders telling about being forced to stop their rescue boat from saving migrants in peril in the sea seems important to share. And, another post, saying that the IDF (Israel Defense Forces) announced that it had located a terror tunnel, constructed by Hezbollah, that extended 40 meters (131 feet) into Israel, also seems important for others to read.

I think that sharing information, whether on-line or in person, needs to be considered as carefully as measuring drops of a chemical into a test tube.

For me, Trump's tweet translates to acute toxicity.

Toxicity: The degree to which a substance (a toxin or poison) can harm humans or animals. Acute toxicity involves harmful effects in an organism through a single or short-term exposure.

The effects of Trump's produce absolutely nothing of positive value.  His hateful rhetoric benefits no one: not even the one who spews the dirt.

How can we ask our children to understand the pain of bullying and the harm hatefulness lays upon all of us, when the President of the United States belches forth these toxins.

Yet we must try. We must discipline ourselves, as well.