Chronicles in Ordinary Time 196: “But let us begin…”

“On Jan. 17, 1961, President Dwight Eisenhower gave the nation a dire warning about what he described as a threat to democratic government.

“In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex,” he said in his farewell address. “The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.“”

https://www.npr.org/2011/01/17/132942244/ikes-warning-of-military-expansion-50-years-later

Under current law, VA recognizes the following wartime periods to determine eligibility for VA Pension benefits:
Vietnam era (February 28, 1961 – May 7, 1975 for Veterans who served in the Republic of Vietnam during that period; otherwise August 5, 1964 – May 7, 1975)
Gulf War (August 2, 1990 – through a future date to be set by law or Presidential Proclamation)  aka Endless War.

Fifteen official years without war, since the official end to the Korean Conflict; unofficially, soldiers during the years of the Korean Conflict were volunteering for duty in Vietnam. When our national budget includes a large amount of barely audited funding for the military, the machine must be fed. The monster that is War must have its food.

For those keeping score, that is nearly 700 million dollars in 22 hours.

https://www.nationalpriorities.org/cost-of/?redirect=cow

We declared war on Poverty; poverty won.
We declared war on Drugs; drugs won.
We declared war on Terrorism; terrorism is winning.
Perhaps we should declare war on Peace and Prosperity. We don’t do war well. We haven’t won in a long time; but Government doesn’t seem to understand this.

John F. Kennedy was sworn in as the 35th president at noon on January 20, 1961. In his inaugural address, he spoke of the need for all Americans to be active citizens, famously saying: “Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country.” He asked the nations of the world to join together to fight what he called the “common enemies of man: tyranny, poverty, disease, and war itself.” He added:
“All this will not be finished in the first one hundred days. Nor will it be finished in the first one thousand days, nor in the life of this Administration, nor even perhaps in our lifetime on this planet. But let us begin.” In closing, he expanded on his desire for greater internationalism: “Finally, whether you are citizens of America or citizens of the world, ask of us here the same high standards of strength and sacrifice which we ask of you.”

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_F._Kennedy#1960_presidential_election

They killed him.
In the span of five years, they killed 5 champions of liberty, 5 champions of Civil Rights.
I don’t know who ‘they’ were; one can find conspiracy theorists all over the internet; grassy knolls, CIA, Mafia, segregationists. The Military Industrial Complex.
What strikes me now was the lack of outrage. Five assassinations of public figures in five years; no protests that I can recall. I’m sure there were protests in other parts of the country; just not in Portland.

I was eleven in 1963 when JFK was killed; I remember where I was standing when I heard. I was in high school in 1968, pondering why the murder of Bobby Kennedy could affect so many students in my school.
I grew up in a white Conservative society. My parents never, to my memory, made racist comments. Other family members made racist comments. I knew racism existed, I think; but it did not really exist in my intentionally small world. I knew some Asian kids in school, acquaintances with whom I spoke. The Black students in my high school were mostly involved in sports, which has never had interest for me; and they were in different classes.
I did not have a conversation with an African American student until my 4th year of college. One has to understand that I had joined Sherlock in his self-description of “high-functioning sociopath”—early in my life; I didn’t like very many people. I was surrounded by people but being surrounded did not imply that I needed to go out of my way to meet them.

Faith entered my life in my third year of college; I began following an itinerant rabbi who claimed to be the Creator of the Universe. He was murdered; He came back; and said that we can, too. That rabbi broke many of the Traditions that the right-wing, conservative arm of Judaism considered to be more important than the people they were supposed to serve.
They killed Him, too.

“The temperature in Anchorage, Alaska, soared to 90 degrees Fahrenheit on Thursday [7/4], shattering the city’s all-time record-high temperature by 5 degrees. The previous record of 85 degrees Fahrenheit was set in 1969. It also shattered the daily record of 77 degrees for the Fourth of July, which had stood since 1999. Records in Anchorage date back to 1952.
The average temperatures in Anchorage in July are in the 60s.”

This small person has entered our lives. What do I tell him about the world he is entering? Do I tell him about all of the people in government that are more concerned about keeping their jobs than they are about addressing climate change?

He has pink skin; and he is the most recent descendant of the immigrants in my family that arrived in this country when the 20th Century was young. They came from northern latitudes, rather than southern latitudes. People who uprooted their lives to make a new start in a country across the ocean. My northern ancestors were no different from the southern immigrants trying to make a new start in our northern country. My ancestors did not speak English when they arrived; they probably learned from their children, who learned all sorts of English in schools. My grandparents had never seen a brown-skinned person in their lives, prior to coming to America.

Would my grandmother cross the ocean with her three daughters, to join her husband and brother-in-law, if she knew that her daughters would be housed in cages, to be fed on bologna sandwiches and sleeping on a concrete floor? To have no clothing changes; to the 8- and 6-year old sisters possibly being enlisted to take care of infants separated from their mothers, living in their own excrement?
I honestly don’t know. I never talked with my grandparents about the early days of their life here, and the life they left. However, the country seems to have had a larger number of compassionate people, who weren’t that far from the boat themselves. No self-respecting adult would allow the conditions currently existing at our Southern border. The President and his staff lie about the conditions there; all one needs to do is read the report published by the Inspector General of Homeland Security. The child abuse is documented; IT IS NOT FAKE NEWS. It simply is news the President does not like to hear.

“Finally, whether you are citizens of America or citizens of the world, ask of us here the same high standards of strength and sacrifice which we ask of you.”

In these times of shameless public behavior and wanton selfishness, I have to remind myself that we still live in a world of Unexplored Possibilities. Every human on this planet has within their power the ability to become someone new, simply [but not easily] by changing the way we think. Each of us carries Unexplored Possibilities in our DNA. This is a gift from our Creator.

In the years ahead, we may have to re-examine the way we look at national boundaries. There are still vast parts of our planet that are largely uninhabitable, because of extreme temperatures that may diminish as the earth warms, and the waters rise; these areas may become habitable. People may have to learn to tolerate differences, rather than deny the existence of differences. America is a land of Immigrants; Immigrants who slaughtered the Indigenous population. America has a nasty history, when it comes to brown-skinned people. Nationalism may not work when the world is losing the war against Climate Change.

Here in Oregon there are a large amount of businesses that depend upon fossil fuels for their existence. Their profit margins are too small to buy new equipment. The reality is that reducing the individual carbon footprints of the developed world will come at great cost. The alternative is death.

We will all need to change the way we think, in order to live at peace with each other…

 

Lord, in Your mercy, hear our prayers.

 

  • Illustration Tip #19: Work for Hire

A reminder, once again, that I am not sharing ideas that will make you a successful illustrator; I do not consider myself to be a successful illustrator, but I have drawings in a museum and have won several awards—three this year. I am not able to support myself by my illustration work. In the past, I supported myself by my work as an architectural consultant. When I turned 65 and began collecting Social Security, I thought I could finally give up my marketing of myself in that fashion—I’m really tired of dealing with bureaucrats. This was not one of my better ideas. Consulting pays far more than illustrating/graphic design.

For years I trolled Craigslist daily, across the country, looking for projects I could theoretically do well. It is pointless to offer to do work that you think you might be able to do well. If you do not succeed, you’ve lost the opportunity to work for the client again.

Performing well for a client does not guarantee that you will get hired by that client in the future. When I started this gig, I assumed that it would work like construction works—if you find a subcontractor who works well, and performs well, they are at the top of the list for a future project. I haven’t experienced this happening in graphic design and illustrating.

Work for Hire. It sucks. However, it pays at least as well as bagging groceries at your local store. I find the creation of images to be far more interesting than bagging groceries. All work is worthwhile work, if you treat it this way. The client is almost always right, even if it costs you time and effort. I’ve never had a dissatisfied client, to my knowledge; the way I insured this record is that I did not charge people for completed work, if they were not satisfied with the deliverables. I do not put that statement in writing; I don’t usually inform the client of this intention at the beginning. I don’t want to get ripped off. I also do not want a bad reputation as an illustrator.

In my experience, it is necessary to have a ‘day job’—something that can pay the bills. When I was in college and had to choose a major that was different than my intention, because I picked the wrong school, I could not see the point in majoring in ‘starving artist’—so I picked Architecture. Never planned to be one.

Work for Hire projects usually don’t have the potential to be ‘the next big thing’. People hire vendors [as a graphic designer/illustrator, you are a vendor] from a classified ad because they aren’t willing to pay for work at industry-standard rates. Based on my experience, you’ll never have enough time to do the work you want to do. Lose sleep.

I created a folder in my computers called, Service Provider Samples. Everything that I’ve produced, that I like, goes into that file. I have the folder subdivided into Graphic, Logos, Technical and Videos. I created ‘standard’ email templates to use for responding to client searches. Sometimes the email includes images, sometimes they simply direct the potential client to my website, or to a ‘samples’ file on my web server.

I frequently modified existing images so that they would be more like the description of the image the client was searching for.

The reality is that I create a specific style of image. A style that used to be popular, when dinosaurs ruled the earth. I created images that were self-expression. I don’t do whimsy, I don’t do surrealism, I don’t do abstract. I do realism. That is how my brain works. I admire people who do other styles. I can copy the image that isn’t me; but I can’t create it. Twenty years ago, I may have been more flexible. Early in my career I painted, using acrylics. I learned to make digital images that are similar to the acrylic paintings I painted. Now the only tool I have confidence in is my mouse. I probably can still draw; the reality is that I haven’t gotten up the nerve. My degenerative polyneuropathy has flare-ups every two years, and I lose some more neurons.

Clients often do not really know what they want. They may say that they know what they want, but when I provide them with what they told me they wanted, it turns out that they weren’t nearly as sure about the end result as they thought.

Having talent isn’t enough. You also need patience and tenacity. As with many character traits, you only gain experience in a certain quality by learning your shortcomings, often painfully.

 

 

 

 

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