Let’s talk about those executive orders…

So, I have been studying the executive orders Trump signed for a while today and I think the wording in most publications is taken directly from one source that loves legal jargon and phrasing that doesn’t tell what the policies are really about. I have broken them down as best as I can and please let me know if there are any facts (you know, the non-alternative kind) I messed up or missed. I will edit accordingly. Facts are facts. (Note: I did this as an education for myself. Hopefully I can share what I learned with you so that we are all informed as best as we can be.)

1. The “Mexico City Policy” aka “The Global Gag Rule” (key issue: federal funding of international organizations who promote or provide abortions) – Pay attention to this one because I really had to dig to figure out what exactly he was signing away. This policy has flip-flopped between presidents since Reagan introduced it in the 80s. Republicans want it in place (arguing that abortion should not be promoted and, as an extent of that, provided) but when a Democrat takes office, the policy is switched over (or so has been the case with Clinton and Obama). Bustle explained it pretty well, “So, the choice they are given is give up federal money, but not be able to provide the potentially life-saving services needed by the populations they exist to aid, or have the freedom to operate how they choose, but significantly decrease their budgets.” (Full article https://www.bustle.com/p/what-is-the-mexico-city-policy-thi…)

2. The Trans-Pacific Partnership (key issue: (in general) would open up a free trade route between 12 nations. The United States does have a say in this, but Congress already said no. A large portion of the partnership would involve the cutting of tariffs (taxes for importing and exporting goods). However, the larger issue – and this is the part of it that Trump’s admin. probably really didn’t like – was that it opens up the doors for job losses in certain industries on U.S. soil. For example, why have our own manufacturers of goods if we can get the same thing *for free* from Japan? It sparks a whole debate over whether or not we as a nation should value free trade or whether or not we should make everything in the United States (allowing more jobs to open and for the U.S.’s economy to become more independent). Critics of Trump’s order note that China may use this to their advantage, creating new routes and policies that could further their hold over the world economy. It is a definite battle of pros and cons.

3. The third I am listing is actually the second order he signed. I haven’t read too much about it but the words, “federal government” and “hiring freeze” were used before he signed them. That one pretty much speaks for itself, although it is unclear, so far, as to which facets that will affect.

Thank you for reading. Again, let me know if you have any other information to provide.

– E

On Death

Death is nothing new to me, although this year has presented to me the cold truth about the entire concept. It is strange, isn’t it, to view death as a concept? But it is one, while also being a fact of life. Some may roll their eyes and say that death is not a part of life, but I believe it is, for it is through life that we witness and come to understand death.

Only one thing can be compared with death, and that is life.

We have the ability to reflect on the deaths of others. It is a gift to be alive, but, at times, the ability of sentience seems to be a curse, especially in the face of news regarding the slaughtering of hundreds, and the quiet slipping aways of those we have deemed worthy of the crown of celebrity.

I write this on the day of my reflection on the death of Carrie Fisher. While I have seen her in a limited number of films, I understand that she inhabited a spirit of varying mediums. On the day of her death, I became aware of her place in the literary community. Her work has been described, albeit in this case briefly, as a voice in the genre of memoir, self-deprecation, and writing on mental illness. While I knew of her experiences with bipolar disorder and use of drugs, I did not know to what extent she had expressed knowledge of these subjects.

It amazed and interested me, in the hours following the news of her death, that there were but a few posts about Ms. Fisher’s involvement in the conversation about mental illness in the midst of hundreds of articles about her place in the canon of Star Wars. The posts about her personal work came later. That, of course, is not a problem, per se. The concept of celebrity is an interesting one. How does one effectively honor anyone, for that matter? Is it possible to understand every action of a person you, most likely, have never met? How well do you know those that you have?

On a different note, a more critical one, the concept and ensuing conversation of mental illness is one that takes precedence in niche forms of expression. To the general public, it is still something to be hidden. We see it everywhere, but are truly unaware of its manifestations, its causes, and effects.

It is difficult to imagine a world where ignorance is more revealing than knowledge. It is not easy to admit that we, in our nature, are not knowledgeable about everything.

Death has touched the lives of those I know, those I will never meet, and those I do not yet know. Earlier this year, a group of people I knew mainly in high school lost a close friend. Her name was Amy. I, along with a friend and several others close to her, attended her wake. Numbed – perhaps from anxiety, or from the sheer vividness -, I witnessed the grief of those I had once known to be nearly entirely happy. In high school, the good outperformed the bad, even its darkest manifestations. Amy’s death was one that affected me wholeheartedly. Perhaps it is was witnessing the reactions of those I knew were close to her. Perhaps it was seeing her once in life and once more, in person, in death. I was touched by the testimonial confessions which arose from those who came to honor her. I pray for their strength and respect their resolve, their posterity.

The shooting in Orlando left a dark impression on my heart. I probably will never view certain things the same way again. I do not have the stomach to envision the horrors of that night too much. It brings to mind all of the horrors of the past 20 years – the years my generation were born to witness. I have vague memories of 9/11. I have memories of reacting to the various shootings and attacks that have occurred throughout our country, and in many others. The number of souls gathered this year was tremendous.

I have become more aware than ever about death itself, as a concept… or perhaps as a fact. I do not believe we are properly trained to deal with death, or to talk about it, and I view the grieving process as a beautiful, mysterious thing.

This year has made me thankful for all I have and for all of the lives of which I am a part. I do my best to take none of it for granted, for I see how delicate life is, and how easily the path of life is ended.

Be thankful, not just on holidays, for all of the gifts of life. But also, even in these times, be thankful for the knowledge of death. It has humbled me and allowed me to see through different eyes.

I am saddened by the losses experienced by all. However, this is not the end.

Happy, almost, New Year.

Erik Parshall

‘Bait’

When I see you,
I fear for you,
Bait on the line,
At the end of their hook.
I watch you try
To get away
But they
Always catch you.
And sometimes you tell me that you like it,
But I know when you lie,
For how unlike you it is,
To be alright
With no say
In your control.

So let’s remove them,
Send them back to the water.
Perhaps then they’ll respect you,
And see you as their daughter.

But monsters hide in the woodwork
In the trees and the walls,
With blood and bones,
And I wonder at it all,
Are we safer when we sleep alone?

I can’t and don’t want to hear anymore,
No tones.

“In The Distance” 

Or was that just my mind,
Playing tricks on me again,
Begging me to remember the
Version of the world
In which I experience my life?
I am at a loss.
Am I that afraid that we might never get better?…

…That everything ugly survives,
and justice struggles to breathe?
What am I afraid of,
That made the honking horn I heard
In the distance,
Sound utterly familiar,
And cold?

Minding of the Soul, a poem for #Orlando

A country,
United as one,
Even with the pain
Of tragedy
On the minds of every individual.
There is no escaping the wrath,
For even children,
Blind to these atrocities,
Will one day learn of them.
Violence,
This hate we know,
Rebounds and reverberates,
Through these harrowed events
We will one day call History.
The mind is a cruel weapon,
Perhaps one of the cruelest,
For out of metal comes action,
And from hate,
The urge to take a soul,
As victim.
We are united as one,
But the sun I see today
Is one that many now cannot.
Today I fear the future
And try to understand the past,
The past that is only twelve hours old.
We grasp the fear,
And try to analyze the pain,
And then hold close
The thoughts of yesterday.

#Orlando