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by on August 1, 2021


by Marco M. Pardi

I consider ethics to be an exclusively human concern with no super human authority behind it.” Albert Einstein. Letter to a Baptist pastor. 1953

All comments are welcome and will receive a reply. All previous posts are open for comment.

As Tonio ambled along among the pedestrians next to the street he again wondered if one could determine the country’s driving pattern by the pedestrian walking pattern. Do right side drivers walk on the right and left side drivers walk on the left? Back home some commented on his habitually slow walk. In answer, he cited injuries from a car accident. One which never happened. But those very few unfortunates who had seen him without clothes took the scars as confirmation of the accident. Which had never happened.

Much earlier that morning, after completing a clean SDR, he drifted into a small, empty park. Ahead was a pond and four benches in a row. As he passed a trash container he noted the chalked V on the side, the letter V to everyone else and the Roman numeral 5 for him. Subtracting the number for the day of the week he took off his book bag and settled on the first bench. From his bag, marked with the logo of the university sponsoring his research, he removed his camera and snapped a couple of pictures of the pond. Then he rose and moved to the third bench in the row and set his bag on the ground in front of him. Digging in his bag for another lens, he swept his hand up under the bench and retrieved the numbered key which had been taped there. He pushed it into a slit in the camera case lining.

Being a NOC, he could have no direct contact with embassy personnel and he had to enter the country clean. Therefore, his requested hardware, a Spetsnaz issue SR-1 Vektor using 9X21mm Gyurza body armor piercing ammunition, two extra magazines, and a Vektor specific suppressor had been sealed in a small university logo box and placed in a train station rental locker by an embassy based case officer.

The crowd of pedestrians was thinning as Tonio again contemplated the “national security” importance of his assignment, pushing back the intrusive thoughts of well connected policy makers for whom these executive actions brought financial benefits as well. Just then a little girl, seven or eight years old and reed thin, scampered past him. A few steps past him her skirt billowed as she suddenly squatted. He quickly scanned the oncoming pedestrians and the few windows and balconies facing him. Was she marking him?

Just as he concluded there were no shooters the girl leaped up and kept moving. Tonio came up on a bolus of brownish mucous where the girl had been. As he glanced at the evidence of illness he saw the problem: round, white worms wriggling in the sunlight. He flared with anger. The small ruling class of this country lived in opulent urban palaces, entertained in country dachas surrounded by armed guards, and little girls were sucked thin by worms they expelled on the streets. Unmindful of the discomfort, he quickened his pace toward the train station.


I consider myself to be a person who, generally, is slow to anger. That may be because, as I have said, I don’t have a fuse – I have a switch. Of course, this doesn’t mean I don’t get irritated. And, unfortunately some people confuse irritation with anger. My irritation shows; my anger does not. I have not tried to inventory what makes me angry. I eschew pedestrian psychology and the latest self-help and wellness fads. But I do know that some things affect me, even to the point of action. In fact, it could be said that writing this compendium of over 250 posts probably arises from a felt need to act, though I by no means intend to flog the reader.

In my Death & Dying classes, even when provided under the designation, Perspectives in Critical Thinking, I proposed that anger is a secondary emotion, arising as a reaction to something else. That something else is almost always Fear. And fear is rooted in the feeling that one is or will be unable to control the outcome of what is perceived to be a developing situation. We dread being rendered impotent and we lash out in what is labeled as anger. For example, I’ve often heard it said that people fear death. I respond, Be specific: People do not fear being dead; they fear getting dead. They fear a process over which they have lost control.

So, in everyday life what is there to fear? What is there that might trigger our anger? When witnessing a harmful process in motion that a person or non-human animal is unable to stop, such as a beating or even attempted killing I have a flash of fear for the victim which immediately triggers a level of anger that manifests in action. I experience true anger. Chief Dan George, a chief of the Tsleil-Waututh Nation, a Coast Salish band in the southeast area of the District of North Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, is quoted as saying: “A child does not question the wrongs of grown-ups. He suffers them.”

We can internalize that concept and apply it in many ways. I am angry when I read of the so-called Republican Party (in actuality, the American Fascist Party) placing their core value – greed – above the safety and health of our children in the face of the very real threat of Covid-19. Refusing to mandate masks in businesses and schools makes certain that, especially with the new Delta variant, more people will become seriously, even fatally ill and infect children in the process. The Party apparently fears economic downturn more than the long term damage to or fatal consequences for their own children. But we’ve known this for decades. This is the same group that has fought regulation of polluting industries, stalled enhanced safety measures in school buses and private vehicles, stopped common sense measures such as universal background checks for firearms purchases, and has attempted to void the Clean Air Act, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Occupational Safety and Health Agency, the Agency for Toxic Substance and Disease Registry, the Consumer Protection Bureau and numerous other programs and measures designed to ensure the opportunity for their own children to grow into health adults. And yet this same group wraps itself in the soiled robes of religion as it employs absolutely fallacious “science” to justify overturning a woman’s right to control her fertility, either through contraception of abortion. Why? Could it be because since the legalization of abortion the yearly statistics show overwhelmingly that abortions are the last resort of those women and families, especially minorities, that cannot afford a child, or another child. Keeping this population on the edge of outright destitution keeps them willing to accept working conditions and pay befitting third world countries. All in the name of staggering Greed.

Every time I read of some new assault on the environment, even as the evidence for impending disaster compounds every day, or some new attempt to render entire sectors of the population impotent, such as the Republican efforts across the United States to restrict voting to those who will vote for them I wonder, Do these people not have children? Do these people have special places they go to breathe clean air and drink safe water?

Not many years ago a famous, if uncomfortable question was common: “What did you do in the War, Daddy?” We are in a war. But this is a war like no war before it; this is a war in which we are shooting ourselves with ammunition made of stupidity and greed. Our younger children unquestioningly look to us with trust. Fortunately, many of our older children have seen the march of the lemmings and refuse to fall in line. I recently had the opportunity to speak with college and post-graduate students. They agreed that, even with their powerful and portable degrees, their basic plans were to be quickly adaptable in the coming face of accelerating and fundamental change. In other words, the plan was to have no plan they could not quickly change.

Of course, some say that through government spending we are leaving our descendants a legacy of insurmountable debt. If we continue to turn a blind eye to the current practices this will be true. If, on the other hand, we recognize Fascist practices for what they are we can reverse this. These practices surfaced with the Reagan administration’s attempt at “trickle down economics”, tax exemptions and subsidies to major corporations on the claim that these will generate jobs. There is zero proof any jobs were created; instead, the corporations re-invested in themselves, including the purchase of automation to further reduce the work force. And, of course, these corporations became major donors to keep the political party in power. This is a core principle of Fascism. Another example was the conversion of the federal retirement system from tax supported to a system in which tax money was invested in the stocks of hand picked major corporations and administered by an un-elected, unknown person picked by the administration to choose which corporations got the windfall. This was then used as the Federal Employee Retirement System (FERS). A core principle of Fascism, yet G. W. Bush attempted to do the same with Social Security. Closing the tax loopholes for the super rich and assessing fair and proper taxation on corporations will negate the development of “insurmountable debt”. But as long as Fascists remain in power the average citizen will pay the price for his own confinement. And Democracy will become a memory.

I’ve always thought “legacy” was something I could define, something I could point to as something I had achieved and could leave to my descendants. Apparently even that has changed. The legacy we are leaving to those who survive our rapacious stupidity is captured in one word: Uncertainty.

  1. Ray Rivers permalink

    The notion of financial debt occurred by government spending to improve the health and economic standing of a population needs to be seen in the context of environmental debt we continue to accumulate; that is the degradation of life support systems on the planet – the consequences of entropy if you will.


  2. Thank you, Ray. I completely agree. Many Americans recoil at the suggestion of “welfare”, crying out that this is “socialism”. They point to places like Venezuela while ignoring the Scandinavian countries. Not said is that the United States waged economic warfare against Venezuela while staying silent on Scandinavia. Of greater support to your point is that Scandinavia has been, and is leading on every indicator of benefit to their people and benefit to the environment. Still, Americans simply can’t grasp that. Mussolini summed up Fascism in one statement: “Fascism is corporatism”. The U.S. follows this philosophy by advocating that the people do well when the corporations do well. As the “wealth gap” explodes in the U.S. the people still don’t understand what is destroying them and the environment.


  3. Mike Stamm permalink

    “Fascism is corporatism” indeed; it is no accident that the media rely on the Dow Jones and the NASDAQ as its indicators of economic well-being, never mind the unalterable fact that we have a staggering disparity between the obscenely wealthy and the working poor. A DJ index of just under 35,000 simply MUST mean that all is right with the world, and we don’t need to change a thing. That kind of not-thinking has got us where we are today: in a nation afflicted with political paralysis and partisanship so extreme as to make any near-future hope of even partial reconciliation a fantasy. Anger is indeed often the result of fear…and I fear for this country. Those responsible for its current state are lucky that most, like me, are not willing to take the increasingly obvious step and eliminate them all from the world. I have no children, so my fears for the future involve no immediate personal stake, but I have relatives and friends who do have children, and they deserve far better than we are apparently willing to leave them. So it may be that we will see the not-very-distant day when they decide to take what they need, and be damned to those who would stand in the way.


    • Thanks very much, Mike. And, the public seems unaware that the market index is not a measure of how the economy is; it is a measure of how the economy is expected to do. In simple terms, it’s the projection of a fantasy – which can evaporate at a moment’s notice.

      I found it very telling that in the last election cycle Bernie Sanders, a self declared Democratic Socialist, had overwhelming support from the young, well educated voters. One can only hope they do not lose their enthusiasm over the next four years.


  4. I was hoping for another bit of Tonio; my only disappointment is that it was so short, and that it so vividly pointed out my own shortcomings as an author. More please.

    Meanwhile, the real point of this offering was well made. I have rarely known true anger, and when I did, it was frightening. I honestly think I might have done real damage to my child at one point if I had been able to see her through the red. Thank goodness it passed quickly, and never came back. I don’t remember what angered me, but will never forget the incident. What goes for anger now, my granddaughter used to call “flusteration”.

    Who knew that the world would ever be one in which “living on a fixed income” would be a happy statement. We don’t have a lot of money, but what we have is sure; something my children, and so many others within my acquaintance, can’t say. We have enough, and that’s good enough. I watch as others struggle with homelessness and food insecurity, and it makes me cry. Financial disparity has become the issue of the day, when those of us who would once have considered ourselves relatively poor are so much better off than our friends and family who struggle to keep roofs over their heads and food in their stomachs. I help where I can, but I spend a lot of time feeling completely helpless to make any real difference.


    • Thank you, Rose. As you know, I consider myself more a journalist than an author.To me, writing fiction is like composing music; I always wonder, Where did they get that? The breadth and the quality of your writings put me into a world often more real than my daily dimension, and I wonder how you led me there so well.

      In your comments you write of what is increasingly becoming the real America, and awakening from the fantasy we have been led to believe must compound the pain of trying to adjust and survive. I also try to help, in my own ways, while trying, like you, to not just give up.


  5. Dana permalink

    Marco, I really enjoyed the tradecraft in this passage about Tonio. But I do realize those in his profession know things about the world others do not. I’ve read this post every day since you shared it, and I’ve thought about the little girl many times with deep sadness.

    When I was in the third grade, my mother came home from work and told me about one of her less fortunate co-workers, a woman with a daughter around my age. Evidently they were really struggling financially and the girl had few toys. My mother asked me to gather some gently used clothes and toys of my own to donate to her. The pain I felt then at the idea of a child my age suffering still hurts as deeply today. I also felt rage at the injustice in the world – that some have so much, while others have so little.

    I too wonder about those who deny our climate catastrophe and seem not to worry at all about clean air and water for their children and grandchildren.


    • Thank you, Dana. Unfortunately, far more often in one Party’s administrations than others, there are unseen benefits which accrue to select members and their friends/donors. Tonio attempts to practice his profession by strict rules: First, never allow an assignment to become personal; Second, do not attempt to second guess. Still, remaining alive requires full and deep attention to detail and to possibilities and those lead to thoughts that are sometimes hard to suppress.

      You and I may have been very similar as children. Somehow, I always gravitated to the “odd man out”, the kid with a disability, a significant language difference,a racial difference, and kids who were on the edge of living on the streets. That only reinforced my own standing as an odd man out.


      • Dana permalink

        Marco, our childhood friends were very much alike.

        I agree about second guessing. I seem to work well in various types of crises, significantly when there could be imminent danger or risk to life. There is no time to second guess and something overtakes me. This has never failed me to my recollection.

        The future is rife with uncertainty. Although we must give it careful thought and consideration, I am also trying to be mindful without worrying too much about it. The next deadly virus may destroy us before we have done even more damage to this beautiful place.


        • Thank you, Dana. I agree that we are in for far worse. As the permafrost melts and releases paleo-viruses which have been dormant since before the evolution of Modern Man we will be overwhelmed by assaults against which we have no natural defense. Man made climate change will rearrange the landscape in basic and numerous ways.


  6. An addendum: When paleo-viruses are mentioned people often tend to think only of direct effects on people. However, in the years I worked in counter-terrorism I worked in CBRE: Chemical; Biological; Radiological; and, Environmental. For centuries the quest for something which would reduce or eliminate an opponent’s food supply was a dream of the military around the world. While the Agricultural Revolution has brought a vast array of food stuffs to our tables, the actual staples are relatively few and genetically narrow. Soaking fields in pesticides does not address viruses, especially viruses not seen in historic times.

    Think of the Great Potato Famine of the 1800’s, how many people starved and how many migrated to America. Think of how a virus affecting our few varieties of oats, wheat, or corn would affect not only our ability to feed our livestock but ultimately (and immediately) ourselves. The potential release of unknown viruses through warming of the permafrost is a potent possibility. As permafrost melts and dries it turns to fine dust which is picked up and carried worldwide by wind currents we cannot stop.

    Until humanity comes to think in concepts of holistic ecology we are increasing the grave danger to ourselves daily.


    • From Alex in Canada:
      “Holistic ecology” is the key. Stopping feeding livestock with an attendant increase of forest, grass and marsh cover would be an offsetting benefit. Only individuals and their personal connections would suffer if there were a major die off of humans. Among other species probably only dogs and maybe cats would miss us. The homogenous crops that humans nurture are not good for holistic ecology. alex


      • Thank you, Alex. I suspect whatever we do or don’t do we will see a dramatic narrowing of our food sources as climate patterns shift dramatically in the next few years.


    • Dana permalink

      Marco it seems you could almost write an entirely separate post about viruses and some of the catastrophic possibilities.

      Thanks for the addendum; it was educational and enlightening.


      • Thanks, Dana. Doug, below, provided more precise information. I do think we should not rule out the possibility of paleo-viral strains adversely affecting vegetation or, for that matter, animal life. Either way could be disastrous.


  7. Doug Harper permalink

    Marco, humans are attacked largely by bacteria and viruses with fungi running in a bad third place (there are still a few fungal diseases like Candida that can be an issue). Plants on the other hand are particularly vulnerable to fungal and bacterial diseases with viral pathogens a poor third. So I’m unlikely to get excited or fear paleological plant viruses.

    One of the causes of the Great Potato Famine was “late blight” cased by Phytophthora infestans, a fungus-like microorganism called an oomycete. Some suggest the English played a role too.


    • Thank you, Doug for your contribution of accurate and valuable information. I hope others will follow your example. We have too little informed exchange these days and resources such as you are too often unheard.


      • Doug Harper permalink

        It was fun responding, given my graduate work was plant pathology.


  8. jkent33 permalink

    Once again you successfully delivered an engaging and enlightening story filled with interesting thoughts. When I read others comments, I’m often lost in a sea of esoteric engagements. (I exclude Rose and Dana who keep things of a more common man theme.) I have ideas regarding all of what you write but I keep coming back to things that could pose serious consequences that directly impact me over my last remaining years.

    There are no shortages of thoughts and fears that daily prevail over me governing my conduct. The fear of becoming ill with no one to care for me in such a manner I would be comfortable, haunts me most of the time. Fear of lack of basic resources: such as money, shelter and food matters rule over me as well. Now for the one that lingers the longest is the big “A” that has unmercifully attacked many of my closest contacts.

    It is unwise to project oneself too far out, so I limit my fears and grave concerns to thoughts that I consider the most perilous and pernicious in nature. That is precisely right now the loss of our democracy to fascism. I’ve been both directly and indirectly involved in politics for as long as I can recall. So much so, I followed a pattern established by my ancestors who wound up in WVA, where I made my home as a younger man. But right now as I watch and read about politics, I sometimes have to pull away, reflecting on my innermost concerns and fears. Worse yet one of my oldest and closest and trusted political companion has fallen prey to those fears. His experience in politics runs deep because he served as a lobbyist for some big players in environmental issues. This experience filled him with first hand knowledge of the perils ahead regarding our democracy. He chose to quell these issues with what he felt was necessary. He had been using booze to soften the blows that lead to multiple strokes. Currently, his life is teetering in hospice with fewer and fewer days ahead.

    With fewer people to discuss these perils, I must admit I’m fearful to the point, I bury my head in frivolous activities to wile away the time. I know well this is a bit silly but worry leading to stress, that is far greater a danger. To illustrate my point, I bring up the editor of the The Daily Planet the fictitious newspaper in the Superman series we had as children. That would be Perry White the editor-in-chief of the Metropolis newspaper the Daily Planet who when facing disastrous consequences shouted out: “What a revolting development”!!

    I’m always available to hearing more and more about what your thoughts are on this growing threat to our democracy. So any words you have will find my ears open for more!


    • Thank you, Jerry. You are one among many experiencing the very painful awakening to the reality which underlies much of the “success” of this country. And, I know of several who, as you put it, “wile away the time” simply from a feeling of helplessness.

      As we write our thoughts now the newly emergent Fascist Party is active across the United States passing Draconian restrictions on voting to ensure their supporters outnumber the voters who truly represent the broad population of this country. As I write this the 2020 U.S. Census count, delayed by the Fascist Party’s many maneuvers to change the procedure, has emerged. It is clear it will be used to gerrymander and reshape districts which will strip other political parties of their vote power. That, too, is a core principle of Fascism, a charade of democracy. A real danger here is that the economic turmoil brought on by the Covid 19 virus will distract people from the water warming in the tank in which they are trying to stay afloat. Soon it could be too hot for them to do anything buy surrender and sink.

      I will try to continue presenting these ideas, though I realize that some readers of this column have probably found other ways to wile away the time.


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