November Stats

(A day late, a dollar short.)

I was distracted by post-Thanksgiving cleaning and rest, and I forgot to make this update.  So, here’s a quick update on our debt repayment progress:

Student Loans 3.80% $22,490.06 $183.34 $0.00
Mortgage 3.50% $302,368.34 $2,259.03 $0.00
Total $324,858.40 $2,442.37 $0.00

Thanksgiving went pretty well – we hosted seven visitors, four of whom stayed the night and through lunch and a movie the next day.  We were able to send everyone who wanted leftovers home with whatever they wanted, and we had enough left over for ourselves that we’re still eating delicious Thanksgiving meals.  We have completely caught up on dishes, which is the best cleanup we’ve ever done; I’m very pleased.

I’m pretty drained, so I’ll cut it short, but I hope you all had a good Thanksgiving as well!


ttf vs zero sum

I haven’t posted recently because I’ve felt a need to write this post (and maybe the next one) before I continued with my usual motifs, but it’s been very hard to sit down and write this.  In fact, it’s been very hard to do much of anything recently.  I spent the first few days after the election barely able to get out of bed.

I have a lot that I want to say here, so this may get a bit long.

Trump’s America

If you haven’t been paying attention, Donald Trump won the race for president.  43% of eligible voters didn’t vote, and Donald Trump won the race for president.  Donald Trump, who is racist, sexist, a sexual predator, won the race for president.  Donald Trump, who the KKK think would make a great leader for our nation, won the race for president.

(I personally think that voting should be required, but maybe that’s just me.)

I do want to be clear here:  Trump’s hate-filled rhetoric isn’t why he won.  Many people voted for Trump based on issues other than these.  There are accountants who voted for Trump based solely on his tax plans, which are more advantageous for their clients.  Trump promised to drain the swamp in DC (though that’s apparently not so easy).

But here’s the thing:  Trump’s win served to validate all of the hateful white supremacists in the country.  Not just validate, but embolden.  Hate crimes immediately spiked in the US – a worse spike than the one after 9/11, even.  (We saw this sort of thing after the Brexit referendum as well.)

I think the people who are lashing out are scared, too.  They are scared that they are being left behind, and they are lashing out.  They’re angry.  They think life is a zero-sum game, and, if things are getting better for people who have historically had it tougher, things have to get worse for them.  And, in some ways, they’re right:  as we progress toward equality, these individuals will be less able to comfortably benefit from the oppression of others.  But I don’t think that means they have to be left behind, not if they don’t want to be.

Life is actually a co-op game.  It can get better for all of us at once, if we want it to.  We just have to realize that we can be kind to each other and help each other up.  We don’t need to fight each other; we need to work together to make a better world for everyone.  Then we all win.

Peace on earth, good will toward men, anyone?

But I Didn’t Mean For This To Happen

I believe you.  You voted on the issues that were important to you, and those issues were more important to your life than the lives, rights, and safety of Muslims, Jews, Blacks, Mexicans, the LGBTQ+ community, and women* – or you might not have even realized they were in such danger.  But here’s the thing:  the impact of your vote is more important than your intentions.  Hate is spreading because people feel comfortable to hate, because your vote helped Trump win.

If you’re serious that you don’t support the hate that is filling America after the results of the election, then it’s up to you to stand up to it.  Your issues won, and now it’s time to fight against the damage that came with them.  It’s not enough not to hate; you have to stand up to hate.  It’s not enough not to be part of the problem; you have to be part of the solution.

The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.
– Edmund Burke

* Don’t forget the environment!

So How Can I Help?

Great question.  There’s no benefit to be gleaned from sitting around being scared all the time.  We have to stand up against hatred wherever we find it.  But we’re not used to doing so.  (At least, I’m sure not!)  So, where do we start?

Call your elected officials and ask how they’re going to protect civil liberties during Trump’s presidency.  Demand that they oppose Steve Bannon‘s appointment.  Spend a few minutes a week making calls about important issues.

If you have the means, donate to organizations that help protect the marginalized.  Start with the ACLU, the Southern Poverty Law Center, and Planned Parenthood.  Branch out to additional groups if you can.  Consider establishing automatic monthly donations.

Protest.  March.  Make sure that the people making laws and policy know that this is important.

Calmly talk to people who don’t agree with you and try to make them understand.

Stop hate where you see it.  Help create safety for people who are being abused.  Make sure they know they are welcome and valued.  Document instances of harassment.

Work together.  Don’t let our differences get in the way of our similarities.

What Shouldn’t I Do?

Don’t suggest a wait-and-see approach.  Every day presents more alarming announcements.  Being alarmed and active is the right approach here, and it can save lives.

Don’t focus on how people are sharing their thoughts; focus on the message.  We’re angry, frustrated, and scared – and these are reasonable and informative emotions for us to have.

An Interpretive Elohai Netzor

I came across a prayer in a prayer book this evening, and I want to share it with you.  Not because I think you should pray (or even believe in a higher being), but because it resonated with me.

O Lord, guard my tongue from evil
And my lips from speaking guile;

Guard my heart from hatred
And my mind from harmful thoughts.

Help me to avoid shameful speech
As well a shameful silence.

May my words be messengers of Your will,
Humble in spirit, helpful in purpose,
Seeking justice, and pursuing peace.

O Lord, guard my spirit from weakness;
And my soul from gloom or despair.

Strengthen my worthy desires
That I may serve You, in joy, every day;
Thus may I reflect honor on Your holy name
In all that I say and do.

There are a couple parts of this prayer that seem really important right now:

Help me to avoid shameful speech
As well as shameful silence.

It’s incredibly important to stand up and speak out when bad things are happening around us.  Don’t look the other way.

O Lord, guard my spirit from weakness;
And my soul from gloom or despair.

I’ve certainly been feeling a lot of gloom and despair recently, and I’ll admit that I’m likely to feel more of it over the next months and years.  I’ve felt like all my plans mean nothing, and that I can’t count on the future right now.  I fear that I will have to give up everything I’ve accumulated – yes, it’s just stuff, but the reason it’s so hard to get rid of so much of it is because it’s stuff that means something to me – that I will have to give up everything I’ve accumulated because we will need to leave the country.  Not because I disagree with somebody’s politics, but because I fear for my safety and my future.  My parents were around my age when they left the USSR to come here.  I didn’t think I would ever have to do the same, but now I’m scared.

And I’ve never felt scared like this before.  I’ve lived a life of privilege, and I’ve felt scared for others, but never for myself, not because of who I am.  I’ve never felt hated for being Jewish until this week.  I’ve never felt hated by strangers.

In Conclusion

We have a lot of work to do to protect so very many people against so very many threats.  Welcome to the fight.

Tell no one

I’ve been talking to DW about financial independence for a while now, and she’s been great and supportive and approving.  But it wasn’t until my recent post about livingafi’s Job Experience series that she really got engaged and excited about it.  I gotta say, it’s been amazing to see her get so interested and involved!

(DW on left.  ttf with poor typing skills on right.)

I’ve been really grateful to livingafi for this change.

Since the last set of links went over so well, I’m sharing another set that I really enjoyed.  This one explores what it’s like to work toward financial independence, especially how the journey and arrival can affect your relationships:

If you’re anything like me, you really want to share your journey with others.  It’s such a profound, life-changing shift, and you see so many positives to your steadily-lessening consumption and steadily-growing financial stability that you want everyone to join in and reap the benefits!  Well, consider starting a blog instead.  After all: