Poem: “What Good Will It Do?”

In today’s news, Jamal Khashoggi, a Saudi Arabian journalist, disappeared after entering the Saudi embassy in Istanbul. It is now reported that he was killed for the stories he routinely wrote criticizing his home country’s government. When it was proposed to President Donald Trump that the United States should cease selling weapons to the Saudi Arabian government, the leader of the free world responded, “What good will that do us?”

My answer? We would no longer be accepting blood money from a repressive regime. We would no longer be upholding a bully. We would no longer be endorsing their human rights violations. 

We would no longer be guilty by association. 

What Good Will It Do?

By Michelle Garren Flye

 

What good will it do?

Sticking your neck out,

Standing up to a bully,

Being courageous.

What good does it do me?

If I refuse to befriend the “strong”

That will make me weak.

 

What good will it do?

Who says I have to help

When others are down?

Got my own life to live.

What benefit is there?

Right and wrong don’t mean

A thing when you’re on top.

 

It’ll do me no good

To give you a handout.

Sure it’s tough all over.

Get a grip on yourself.

There’s nothing in it for me.

Helping others is just a game

Invented by bleeding hearts.

 

“The cost of freedom is always high, but Americans have always paid it. And one path we shall never choose, and that is the path of surrender or submission.” –President John F. Kennedy

 

 

Alpha vs. Beta vs. Who Cares?

adult blur bouquet boy

Who is the perfect hero? Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

If you’ve been reading my blog or my books for very long, you know I have concerns about both the past and the future of the romance genre. I don’t like where romance is now. I think in today’s world we as romance authors need to be promoting more positive themes than are all too often featured in many of today’s romances. We need to move away from tropes that can be harmful to women, refuse to romanticize what shouldn’t be glorified. Today’s woman grows ever stronger and more independent. Our literature should reflect that.

With that in mind, and with a thank you to fellow writer Jennifer Macaire for inspiring this column with a Facebook discussion, I want to address the heroes of our romances. We insist on calling them alpha or beta. But is that really fair, either? Have you ever really met a truly alpha male? I imagine he’d be built like 1980s Arnold Schwarzenegger, have the grooming habits of Bradley Cooper (uh-huh, sounding good, right?)…and the attitude of Donald Trump (that went bad real fast). He’d fool around without care for your feelings. He’d take what he wanted (or what he could get) and figure you liked it. The entire world would center around him.

Now tell me you wouldn’t punch that guy in the face rather than look at him.

So alphas are out. They suck. Other than their confidence and good looks, anyway. Which leaves us with betas. Now beta males, they’re something special. They are sweet and kind and considerate. They commit wholeheartedly to their relationships. They bring you flowers and write you poetry. They can be good-looking and nicely groomed, too, but they’re not as concerned about appearances. They have a great sense of humor. A full-on beta male would be a total dreamboat, right? Except maybe a little too attached to his mom. And his sister. Because beta males usually have very strong women in their lives, and they might not be able to do anything without the approval of those females.

Add that to the protective attitudes mom and sis have for their boy and you might not want to stick it out. Even if the poetry is good.

My point is, a full alpha or a full beta male is not going to be super attractive, at least not in the long run. And romance is about happily-ever-after, right? So a really good romance hero tends to be a mix of the two. Alpha confidence and looks, beta manners and kindness. And looks. This is fantasy, after all. You might as well have the whole package.

How to Save a Boiling Frog

The day after Donald Trump’s election was a tough one for me. Like many, I had believed it was a done deal. President Hillary Clinton was supposed to be a thing. I was supposed to wake to a better, brighter tomorrow.

I hadn’t slept much. Before I went to bed, I knew it wasn’t going to happen. I saw it in the stunned faces of the broadcast journalists who just hours before had been crowing jubilantly about Hillary’s chances. But now we all knew different.

America had done the unthinkable. America had elected a man who, by all accounts of every expert the media could conjure—economists, politicians, career military men, four-star generals, the intelligence community and even psychiatrists—according to every last one of these “experts”, this man was not fit to lead.

And yet.

I got up at my normal time, though it certainly seemed as though life should have come to a halt. I nearly cried when I looked into my daughter’s eyes that morning. But I didn’t. I let them all go to school and I sat down in my office and began searching for hope on the news sites I’d haunted for months. It couldn’t be real. But it was.

Throughout the day, I cried, I cursed, I thought of friends who would be affected by this man who somehow had been elected to the highest office of the land. What would happen to gay marriage, to the right to choose, to the environment? Oh dear God, what kind of world would I be sending my oldest into in just a year and a half? How could I protect my family from this?

And how had it even happened? How could the world be so different from what I’d believed it was?

I know now that the same thoughts were going on in the minds of many men and women throughout the nation.

As the days and weeks wore on and the inevitable became obvious to all of us, we turned rebellious. The popular vote count grew more and more disparate in favor of Hillary Clinton. Donald J. Trump didn’t win that election. We had pulled it off. Hillary won. She won among educated voters in populous areas. The problem was, she didn’t win among rural voters in states where voters were more spread out. Trump won those. Hillary won in Charlotte and Raleigh in my own state of North Carolina—but the state turned red anyway because she didn’t carry my less-populated county and many of the other mostly rural counties in my state.

Rebellion built and carried us through the inauguration. We laughed at the man who we not-so-affectionately dubbed “45” when he claimed his crowd at the inauguration was the biggest ever. We posted pictures of the record-making crowds who turned out for the historic Women’s March next to the pitiful crowd of supporters who gathered to cheer the president they had elected.

For my part, I marched. I mailed postcards. I called senators and wrote senators and I raved on Facebook and Twitter, just as I’d done for months before the election.

And in spite of this, 45 began the onslaught on my country that I’d anticipated. He appointed unqualified people to posts they should have been disqualified for. He rolled back environmental protections and, in June, pulled the United States from the Paris Climate Accord. At various times throughout his first year, 45 insulted and/or angered Australia, Mexico, Great Britain, The Netherlands, Spain, Sweden and the entire continent of Africa. Germany, France and Canada have expressed distrust for his ability to make the right decisions.

Our closest friends and allies do not trust our president.

But that’s not all. Through Twitter, 45 has continuously needled the U.S. intelligence community, the U.S. Department of Justice, Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, his own Secretary of State and Attorney General, members of Congress, and, especially, the media. His lack of faith and knowledge of what truly makes America great has revealed itself time and again and each time I thought, Surely, this time the American people will have had enough. Surely Congress will act and we’ll be rid of this despot.

And each time, I was proved wrong.

Meanwhile, day-to-day life continued. I went back to writing about happy things. Love, romance—fantasies that lifted me out of the carnage I saw 45 wreaking on our government. And I found that as day-to-day life settled in and we were dragged from crisis to crisis—North Korea, the media, the Russia investigation, white supremacists, the Islamic State, North Korea, the media, immigration, mass shootings, climate change, Twitter wars, racist obscenities in the Oval Office, repeated denials and alternative facts—it all became a comfortable blur as I adapted to living in a world of turmoil.

And then, three days ago, while our nation celebrated 45’s one-year anniversary in office with massive protests against him—the government shut down. And suddenly, despite the constant shouting about who is to blame, there was relative silence from 45…and I realized something.

We the People are in huge trouble. We’re like the frog in the pot of water whose temperature has been turned up so gradually he cooks before he realizes he needs to escape. The media has been so busy bombarding us with so much information about so many scandals and crises, we’ve grown numb to it. We’re cooking slowly, but we’re not going to realize it until it’s too late.

And so I pray for some ice to be added to our pot to delay the inevitable just long enough. A Congress that proves it can unite to face down evil. (I’ve seen glimmerings of hope here, though not enough.) A midterm election that Democrats somehow manage to sweep. Or—the iceberg it seems absurd to pray for because if we hit it, who knows what will happen to our democracy—Robert Mueller’s investigation turning up the smoking gun that finally brings down 45’s evil, autocratic regime.

No matter how we cast our ballots, we’re all cooking in the same pot. And unless we all jump out of it together, we’re most likely going to need that iceberg to save the boiling frog.

My latest poem: “Twisting Hate” (for 45)

Twisting Hate
By Michelle Garren Flye

Twisting words to kick the wounded.

Twisting hate to bind us all.

Twisting rope into a noose.

Without love or truth, you maul.

We’re twisting in the wind,

Left to hang without liberty.

Twisting, hanging, longing…

For the return of sanity.

How steep is the high road?

Was it really just a week ago?
 
I took a picture of my daughter on election night. Her face is lit with hope and belief that our country could unite under a woman president. That we could cross that threshold into a new era. She’s holding two American flags. I can’t look at that picture without tears in my eyes, because I remember the look on her face the next morning when I told her who our president-elect was. Resigned disappointment.
 
I know why that resigned disappointment bothers me so much. It’s because that’s an adult expression, and I saw it on my nine-year-old daughter’s face. Acceptance when you really want to scream and shout, but you know you have to move on with life in the face of disillusionment.
 
For the past week, I’ve been torn. I half want to go burn Trump in effigy, but the other, cursedly practical half of me knows that’s the wrong thing to do. I want to protest and scream and shout, but I know it’ll do about as much good—and probably look like—a toddler in the middle of a toy section who’s been denied a bauble she particularly wants.
 
I wanted Hillary Clinton to be our president. I wanted it with all my heart. I wanted our country to vote for tolerance and inclusion and love.
 
I didn’t get that.
 
I got President-elect Trump, and the idea fills me with dread. But I’m still not going to say he’s not my president. I’m not going to move to Canada. I’m not going to burn the flag. What I’m going to do is stay informed, read the news, know what he’s doing and what it means for our country. If he institutes policies I don’t agree with, I will protest those policies. And in two years, I will vote again. And two years after that, I will vote again.
 
Persistence in the face of disappointment is what’s called for here. My nine-year-old knows that. I hope the rest of the country gets it too.
 
#GoHigh #StrongerTogether #LoveTrumpsHate

What’s the use of being an optimist if you can’t just decide it’s gonna be OK?

I’m a glass half-full kinda gal. I had hoped to wake my daughter up this morning to the news that we have the first ever woman president. I couldn’t do that, and part of my heart is broken because of it.

Still, there’s what’s left of the water in the glass. How do I call it? I’m choosing half full.

This is an opportunity for us as a nation. There are a whole lot of things we can do with these election results and the coming four years. We now know we are a nation divided. Let’s start filling in that chasm. And here’s what we can fill it with: Hope.

Don’t lose hope. Whether you’re gay, straight, white, black, Hispanic, female or male, educated or not, we’re all Americans and more than half of us voted against Donald Trump. Not enough and not in the right places, but those people are out there. Those voters are out there, and that means there’s hope, and that’s a good base to build anything on.

Grab a shovel, Americans. That great divide the media has been talking about is bigger than we thought, and it’s our job to fill it in. Whether you’re on the winning side or not, we’ve got work to do, and it’ll go a lot faster if we all dig in together.

And once we’re done, let’s meet in the middle and go from there.

The Case Against Donald J. Trump for President, as seen by a housewife, mother, writer and believer in human rights

NOTE: I’ve decided this will probably be the last political post I write during this election season. (Did I hear cheering?) Seriously, this is sucking the life out of me, endangering my relationships with people I care about, and eating up time I need to be devoting to my more enjoyable writing. So here goes. Please read.
The Case Against Donald J. Trump for President, as seen by a housewife, mother, writer and believer in human rights
This might very well be the last time I personally post against Donald J. Trump until after the election. I say might because I don’t have a looking glass that allows me to see the future. If, between now and November 8, Donald Trump does something else to enrage me, all bets are off. But lacking that, I’m going to leave it at this.
Here’s my case:
1. Donald Trump is not a successful businessman. In 1995 he lost $916 million and since then he has acknowledged he has paid no taxes. He’s declared bankruptcy four times, and he’s destroyed many small businesses by not paying or by paying less than agreed upon.
2. Donald Trump is dangerously unstable. He’s proven this time and again, inciting crowds to violence, dismantling teleprompters at his speeches, giving in to anger randomly. This weekend he was so angry about his portrayal on Saturday Night Live, he called for it to be canceled. This is not the behavior of an adult, let alone a man who wants to be our president.
3. Donald Trump is a climate denier. In the face of indisputable scientific proof, he says climate change does not exist. This flies in the face of science and the beliefs and desires of the rest of the world, and shows a total disregard for the well-being of other life.
4. Donald Trump is an amoral man. Yeah, I know. Most Trump supporters don’t believe there are any Christians on the Left side of politics, but I’m here to tell you, believing in gay marriage, a woman’s right to choose abortion, and that it’s our duty to welcome desperate refugees from another country into ours hasn’t come between me and my God. He tells me daily to be brave and stick to my convictions. My convictions are that Donald Trump has said and done things that other people would not be able to get away with. He doesn’t think the rules of society apply to him, and that is a dangerous trait in a president.
5. Donald Trump is a coward. His entire foreign policy is based on building walls around our country, pushing the “others” out and locking us in. This is not only impossible in today’s world, it is inadvisable. Tomorrow’s president needs to be a leader who can help us develop beneficial bonds between countries, not push our allies away.
6. Donald Trump has no notion of what our Constitution says or how to support it. He’s already threatened freedom of religion and freedom of the press. His support for human rights violations are well-documented. As such, he is totally unqualified to be president.
I plan to vote for Hillary Clinton. She’s not my first choice for Democratic nominee, but between Trump and Clinton, Clinton wins, hands down. I am hopeful that this election will result in stronger third parties for the next round. With so many varied opinions and feelings in the U.S. today, it is ridiculous that we end up with only two to choose from. However, I am unwilling to chance a Trump presidency on a gamble on a third party nominee this time around. So here’s my case for HRC:
1. Hillary Clinton is the single most prepared candidate for the office of president in the history of the United States. She’s worked her way through the ranks, advocating for children, women, and the less fortunate during her years as an attorney, First Lady of Arkansas, First Lady of the United States, U.S. Senator and Secretary of State.
2. Hillary Clinton has definite policies and plans to capitalize on the nation’s current upward trend in jobs and economy.
3. Hillary Clinton will continue President Obama’s work to save our planet from the threat of global warming.
4. Hillary Clinton supports gun control. She doesn’t want to take anyone’s guns away, but she does want to make it more difficult to get one for people who shouldn’t have one. If you’re a convicted felon, an abusive spouse, mentally ill or a terrorist, you’re probably out of luck under her plan, but other than that, just relax already. Nobody’s gonna be prying anyone’s beloved firearms out of their cold dead hands. Promise.
5. Hillary Clinton has shown herself to have an even temperament in the face of strong opposition. This is a necessary trait in a president.
6. Finally, Hillary Clinton will strengthen our ties with our allies, do her best to improve relations with nations that don’t trust us, and act with strength and bravery when it is required of her. She is well respected by other countries who remember her from her years as Secretary of State, putting her in a good position to step directly into the Oval Office, ready to do the job from Day 1.
So there it is. Can you make as good a case for Trump and against Clinton using actual facts? Feel free to do so. But remember, I will challenge any half-truths, hearsay, or unsubstantiated claims. Do not use Benghazi (lacking additional evidence, that has been laid to rest), emails (even the new ones Russia obtained for Trump haven’t done more than embarrass HRC), and please don’t send me articles from sources that contain the words shoebat or endoftimes.
#StopTrump #StrongerTogether #ImWithHer