Church of the Epiphany has continuously helped those most in need
Rollbacks, Extortion, Shortages----What do we do?
In a time of new frustration and vexation, it's easy to succomb to all kinds of acting out. Maybe that is why the Triad has decided to raise once "settled" issues. Over the past week, we've seen a new "contest" over the right for women to have abortion, and a new cry and hue over Republicans wanting to roll-back Affordable Health Care Act.
The strange and incomprehensible thing is that this comes amid the Democratic insistence for mandatory COVID-19 screenings, mandatory vaccinations, mandatory Green Passes. The only opt out for people not wanting to take these precautions is mandatory self-quarantine, being fired from work, or being kicked out from school.
Worse is a new "wokism" agenda that creates very strong pressure (think Title IX funds and other government measures) to adopt the new agendas of inclusionism. It has infuriorated many parents who would rather not subject their pre-school children to sex-education, facing their race-guiltiness, or peering at their genitals.
The extortion end is as I just mentioned---threat of withholding funding. This is happened in churches all over the United States which pretty much marched according to the National and World Council of Churches "wokeness leadership." But this also includes all media as well as many professional organizations. Even the American Society of Civil Engineers has jumped aboard.
Even as an Asian minority advocate, it is shocking to suddenly see the number of ads, number of magazine editorial positions, number of writers, and auxillary staff who are---and not just by quota---now African-American. Given that for many decades, Civil Engineering magazine was one of the most difficult in its acceptance criteria for publishing, very selective on which project or study to accept for display, it is surprising to see the new "wokeness."
To even things out, a new editorial criteria---probably written into their editor's manual---is a mania for requiring anyone interviewed to affix ALL their certificates titles behind their proper names, meaning someone will have about six abbreviations listed behind him/her/it, which makes for a very uncomfortable reading. The magazine is already incredibly doused dry with a mania for Guinness Book of World Records recitation of impressive facts, figures, dollars, machinery, tons, size, volume, under budget, minimum time, safety record, innovation, savings, profit, technology, corporations, but now, there is heavier emphasis on lots of continuing education, degrees, certificates, and in short, a mania for careerism. In one safe interview, a female-engineer admitted her greatest hobby outside of work was watching the Boston Red Sox. A very safe hobby, indeed, and for which she would never be fired---unlike if she said she were a madhatter poet or novelist. But for the rest, an atmosphere of overly succinct, clipped up provisioning of information ---and brow-beating---reminds one of the word "gaslighting"---sort of how mainstream media also now mostly operates. That is just my opinion, of course.
Of course, homophilia has always been a sort of quiet in-the-closet kind of thing at various engineering and technology firms. This even becomes default where the "man conquers nature" theme predominates in many civil engineering companies. But now LBGTQIA+ is acceptable anywhere. It can even make it difficult if you are "trying to screen people out" on the basis of "sexual orientation" even if only for self-protection. Add in the splashes of color and no wonder that a year or so ago the ASCE national convention was held in Las Vegas, NV----well, maybe they took a trip to Lake Mead to inspect the intakes---more on that later.
Gratefully, I have ceased pretty much to contemplate on that in terms of personal interest for some time, and it is admittedly partially due to becoming post-menopausal after receiving radiation treatment for cancer therapy. One's hormones drop, and with it, gradually, even the hot-flashes have subsided. A sort of fatigue does tend to arise in its place...middle-age makes you rethink life, to be sure.
Even for a mild-tempered person, it is a challenge to navigate and negotiate all the changes internally and externally. In America, it's a given that Red or Blue, the pendulum pretty much will swing pretty far right or pretty far left. Although the same groups are marching in a neoliberal, free-market democracy direction, something that has allowed third and second world nations to rise, stringent measures remain in place in the States, because irregardless of the low unemployment statistics, the truth is quite different----everyone knows this. Some years ago, in another article prepared for APAforProgress, my research indicated that the real unemployment rate, before the Covid crisis, was over 18%, and so if you factor in all the people who are underemployed today, the current rate may as well be about 25% at least.
As a progressive, I can't say liar outright. I read the Red-side of course, and accept that there is a lot of corruption involved with this war in Ukraine---and that the President and his son had been involved there since 2014. There are even videos that this son purposely produced, perhaps for the sake of exoneration, displaying his addictions. Unlike the average citizen who would be jailed, he is now in a state of permanent rehab, with security or secret service guarding him while he creates "first-rate" art pieces in his new career as an "artist." Whatever.
The most pressing problems are occurring because as even foreign vloggers are pointing out, a rise in gas prices faster than inflationary rises means that many more small businesses may go under. That will quash the recovery from Covid. Catherine Austin-Fitts even goes so far as to speculate that "It's not a turndown, it's a take-down"---what the big-picture is from the world elite standpoint. She essentially says that from the point of the Bilderbergs, taking down the middle-class will be profitable because all that will remain are the megacorporations----Walmart, Amazon, Target, Microsoft, etc.----who can weather the inflationary storms.
A shrinking middle-class, no matter how the government states it, means fewer jobs, more underemployment, greater competition or cheating or nepotism for what remains, and higher barriers in achievement (except for the Title IX hiring quotas). So what only requires a high-school-degree to actually design a smart weather station network, DIY home appliances, solar farming, or whatever will now "officially encourage a Ph.D. in engineering" for acceptance in peer-reviewed magazines.
In other words, as the Libertarians see it, the 1%'s desire for governmental or world centralization with fewer benefits for the masses necessitates and enables a parallel growth in technocratic surveillance and monitoring to make sure that we all conform. Meanwhile, the shots or RNA-doped fruits and vegetables will ensure that our glasses only see "GREEN" just like the citizens in the Wizard of Oz did.
SO WHAT ARE WE DO DO? WHAT CAN WE DO?
Voting means nothing. Our voices go unheard. Acting out, unless you are LBGTQIA+ and a person of the right color, will tag you as an insurrectionist. And the society has admittedly become outright heathenish. Whether it is spirit-dinners, pagan festivals, Voo-Doo jewelry, freemasonry tattoos, the city has become a jungle for signifyng trendy tribal stripes. This is the leopard that Dante encounters early in his saga in the Divine Comedy.
Our society, centered around right vs. wrong, black vs. white, is by design breeding divisiveness with the only centrist theme being consumerism. That is the point of the rollbacks, extortion, and shortages----we will be at one another's throats before thinking to peer into our own American Soul. Is there anything else there besides a black hole? One is reminded of a recent NASA revelation that at the center of our galaxy might very well be evidence of a black-hole. Will the word "black" be contested anywhere it's used? Maybe we need to rename the hole, so it doesn't sound "racist." That kind of shallow, straw-man, vein of thought now derails any scholarly discussion, test-scoring, admissions criteria, last-man-in-space, etc.
One thing I am consistently reminded of in the middle of all this harmfulness is that of one vignette in the Journey to the West (Monkey) saga. Sanzang and his pilgrims are travelling across the river of pregnant waters, and he and Pig become pregnant. The first principle of Buddhism is Ahimsa, do-no-harm, yet in this tale, Monkey finds and provides the precious mountain water allowing the fetus to be eliminated from his bowels.
So being from a Catholic background, the first thing we think is why this is allowed? It turns out that although it is not encouraged, it is okay to eliminate the unborn fetus, especially if it will interfere with one's spirituality. Here, Sanzang was on a special mission from Emporer Taizang to fetch Buddhist scriptures from India, scriptures that would enable a full Mass for the Dead----people who died prematurely---in the underworld. To appease those ghosts, to allow them to rest and prepare for the next reincarnation was more important than bearing children.
But even if one is not on such an important mission, the whole ideal of individual rights, of the First Amendment and Declaration of Independence, is freedom to express (and the Word is Action even in the Bible), should preserve for women the right to abort an unwanted fetus. Of course in the age of "wokism" it is now called into question (read Ketanji Jackson Brown, J.D. who famously stated that she cannot tell what a woman is) perhaps, what kind of woman has that right?
No wonder according to identity politics, I can rightly (and some, such as Senator Elizabeth Warren are doing just this) claim to be a part-black, LGBTQIA+ person, to spin the tale that I qualify for a certain Title IX hiring quota or grant. Whether anyone would believe me is another question----rather doubtful as the judging is for the benefit of name, fame, or gain, not actually for gaining entrance, say, to the Woodley Park National Zoo.
Ahimsa can be applied to oneself to avoid harm for oneself. We are not trained anymore to think in spiritual terms of protecting oneself for spiritual benefit, for promoting individual tolerance, for advancing on the path towards truthfulness. The same values are found among the Maronites---there are beautiful lectures by Walking the Holy Land tour guides, Andre and Tony Moubarak, on Aramaic prayers.
In order to face the difficult trials of the end times---I know the term is debatable---some people would say all older people think in terms of the end times---but I am referencing the transhuman agenda of forcing humans to become dependent upon technology for everything---the very first most important thing is to fortify ourselves spiritually. It is what got me through the most difficult times in life. My brother helped me in a time of horrible transition during the 90s, and I want to thank him, but he won't communicate with me anymore. So has my sister, my mom, my other brother, and even my dad. I want to thank the Church of the Epiphany minister who smiled at me even when I was in tears and waiting to be admitted into Patricia Handy House for homeless women. I want to thank so many other people, even if there were bumpy roads to travel upon----they often wish you weren't there, for instance.
In a glance back, a flash-back as it were, I often wonder what would have happened if I remained where I was in California. The fact is that the school system was very nice to me---the teachers and teaching system is really by and large very dependable and friendly. I would have or should have tried very hard for a TA position but evidently was not interested enough. Now that system has been decimated by Covid---the rebound will not be enough to allow even 3/4 of the people laid off to return.
But one of the things that kept holding me back, and I must be honest here, was the very fact of my background in civil engineering. It was not as if I had some kind of crime that I committed---no and this is obvious from other records. It was the fact that from various working experiences, the engineering culture was, in my experience, quite repressive and vindictive especially in cultural and conformity expectations. The overriding mission demands that one embrace capitalism to the core or at least be willing to live in the dark and follow orders like a soldier. If the owners of the company are wheeling and dealing, if they are using their small planes to do some "additional work" or if they are cheating or wasting money, nobody should say anything. And everyone is supposed to love company parties.
Even today, once they let you go, once you leave the company, unless it is for a better position, there is an open shaming and blaming which takes place. If it is a large corporation, such as a county government, the bad-mouthing, reasonable or unreasonable, spills over to all kinds of places, to all kinds of people, even the county public library staff. A huge shadow of false-consciousness forces you to look behind, even when you have taken huge strides forward.
When I wrote those tales of survival, of victimhood, to help me move away, I was not imagining, and some would recognize this, but others would try to shrug it off, as if somehow the victim is complicit. Anytime someone is victimized or gaslighted in bully workplaces, it is akin to being raped. I say this now in the 21st century, and it is an acceptable thing to say, otherwise I might not write it out like I can do now.
The Asian response has always been somewhat along the lines of conform, obey, be decent, work harder, become better qualified. When I try to explain that this does not always work, that one must be assertive, the old-school types will not understand me at all. Then I point out how the other minorities, namely African-Americans, are not afraid to act out, scream, file lawsuits, use mass-action. I mean, they really can be mouthy and loud, and it seems they are even promoted---they do not face the backlash that normal employees would have, and especially Asians.
Here are a few points that I must try and reconsider though. First, ASCE has for many decades made a point of excluding African-Americans. I even pointed that out to the staff at one point for some reason or other, probably in the interest of combatting bigotry and bullying. Second, African-American rise-up is specific to their racial identity. Good or bad, those identity politics do not connote transfer for other minority races. We can hold it against them or not, that the push against the glass ceiling only benefits themselves. Third, no hard feelings. For every one African-American making it in engineering, becoming "successful," there are likely a 9/10 who did not. It's a very competitive field because of the upping of the middle-class ante. ASCE claims there's a shortage, that salaries are higher than ever. But the truth is there has ALWAYS been a shortage in engineers---even before I graduated from college there was that myth of shortage and high pay.
If you ever notice how plentiful the hiring ads are for mechanical engineers, that may be the real picture. Maybe one mechanical engineer is hired for a small company manufacturing tools. At a larger company, maybe a handful of engineers and the rest technicians. On board a cargo ship probably only one mechanical engineer. The hiring ratio is based on economics, and the more automated our society has become, the less the hiring of professionals. To this add the penchant now for private-public partnerships or contracting out A/E work of all types. Even when that drives up the costs, it presumably saves on the hiring and retention of in-house staff. I have absolutely no doubt that the days of design rooms full of road-design technicians are now numbered---the A/E technocracy is demanding that.
But strangely one has to ask who remains in place? Often the managers themselves are complicit in ensuring that whatever is on the agenda takes place. Thus if the agenda includes several rounds of environmental reviews (benefiting environmental consultants) or long battles of eminent domain (to ensure that millions are doled out to county lawyers fighting for high speed rail) or increased privatization ensuring that the manager has a hatchet job over the engineers, the manager who does what is told will remain in place no matter what.
It's never been easy in engineering. It's why a healthy fraction of civil engineers would rather work in construction, branch out into related technical fields, or drift from project to project. It's why even now, I personally know of several African-American male engineers who opted to teach school instead. Of the African-American female engineers---there was one in my graduating class---everyone was making fun of her for being near term pregnant while taking courses. Turns out maybe what she was doing made sense---it would be easier for her to justify a hiring with a little one she was being forced to care for---especially on her own.
So here is my prayer from the Lead, Kindly Light prayer book from June 25th:
Christ Displayed in Our Life
Consider how great a profession of faith, and yet a profession how unconscious and modest, arises from the mere ordinary manner in which any strict Christian lives. Let this thought be a satisfaction to uneasy minds, which fear lest they are not confessing Christ, yet dread to display.
Your life displays Christ without intending it. You cannot help it. Your words and deeds will show in the long run where your treasure is, and your heart.
----Profession without Ostentation