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April 2020:

The Turn of the Screw


“I already know you’re screwing me. Don’t expect me to help you with it.”


That nearly ribald statement was one that I made several years ago to my Dear Daughter as she neared the completion of her Master’s Degree in the Classics. Our discussion had focused upon the nasty treatment of her, and her fellow students, by a vainglorious ogress in charge of curriculum at a university in the northeast. Those bailiwicks and regions Dear Mother knows only too well.


I received a laugh from Dear Daughter, and a thank you. She related the statement to her college compatriots who were, indeed, in need of a sharp-tongued parent.

It used to be that getting the shiv or being shafted involved a one-on-one betrayal. Nowadays, the perpetrator of the foul deed is so ineptly incompetent that the Victim is expected to assist in her own victimization, a social ritual that I guess begins In the Home. I wouldn’t know. I didn’t become a fighter by handing over my personal power to anyone, at least not willingly.


There are times when I look at the slavish ways in which people chain themselves to idiotic behavior and self-sabotaging, and I have to cut some slack to the Moron Media and their callous taunts of humanity. There really is a lot of stupidity going on out there. I’ve done my best over the course of many years to avoid it, escape it, or otherwise pretend it does not exist. This approach to certain avenues of life is not always in my best interest. Sometimes I am downright stupid about stupidity.

When a person has to be told to leave disinfectant on a germ-ridden surface more than 20 seconds so that the micro-bug-zapper does its job, I am nonplussed. The scene in the classic 1965 film Dr. Zhivago suffies: Disinfectant: Use it.


Then there are the clueless Americans who float from one crisis to the next, never really understanding what caused the first crisis, or the second, or the 25th. Those lamebrains have always been with us, but for some bizarre reason, instead of dealing with the Crisis, they foment in front of the Camera every time! Methinks the Crisis Hound and the Camera are umbilically tied.

By the time that any politician gets his or her grubby hands on anything, that thing is heading for the slaughter-house. Parasites and politicians are interchangeable terms. And the people who clamor the most for political “action” (because action demands doing, and the Politician is adept only at not-doing) — they fail to understand that the Political Class has almost ceased to exist in this nation where politics was once a contact sport.


It’s not the corruption endemic (to the point of an epidemic) in the political class that has killed the Political Party; it’s the incessant incompetence that drove a stake through the heartless creatures. Focus-group polling of the 1990s degenerated into group-screwing of the 2010s, and now we are all in this mess together, whether we like it or not!

The ever-dividing-and-coalescing and then imploding interest groups and identity-groups are now in dire need of help with their own victimization. They are forever on the prowl for new troops in their dwindling supply chain of funding. The more martyrs the better!


Ergo, the Enemy is always there — with that red hat that incites riots. Or a tee-shirt that tears into civility. Or maybe even a smile that implies something very insidious. There is no snake-in-the-grass like a happy young fellow, eating a cheeseburger!


How long can the eternal furor persist among those free enough to feel any furor at all? Does the rage ensure you’re alive? Cannot the heart beat for love just as much as for hate?

Or is the habit too ingrained, that vile desire to blame others for your own madness? Miracles can, and do, happen. Turning away from anger can actually turn the page of your life, toward the blessedness of belief in tomorrow.


Where I live, the sun rises and the sun sets, and in between are those days of our lives. Please don’t waste them with words of malice, and myriad worries, and warped misgivings — about the things for which you ought not give a hoot.


When was the last time you looked outside and marveled at the fine soft scarlet plumage on the little bird who has cheerfully, and hopefully, come to call on the railing of your back porch?


His eye is on the sparrow, and on you too.


Toss the bête noire over the cliff, and in the ditch. Start living your life, free of the turn of the screw.