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January 28, 2019 / philosophermouseofthehedge

The fence of pretense

Straight shadow lines on wall like a grid or fence (© image: copyrighted, all rights reserved, NO permissions granted)

Aligned even if dark. (© image)

If it had been LA or San Francisco, we’d all been lurching into the street to get away from tall buildings.

The rumbling got louder as thundering vibration rattled the knees.

Everyone was gazing down at the sidewalk about three feet in front of them – all walking and pretending everything was OK.

“Don’t turn your head, ” my friend ordered. Don’t make eye contact.”

The tanks – topped by military soldiers – commanded the street and went on.

A silent collective sigh from those on the sidewalk lined by shops. Shoulders relaxed as feet moved on.

Daily life in Franco’s Madrid took a little bit getting used to.

Heavily armed Guardia Civil in black military uniforms who stood on so many corners weren’t like the Buckingham Palace guards tourists pose with to take pictures.

These locked eyes on everyone. Evaluating. Judging.

They had the right to kill anyone any time with no questions asked. And they did.

Barbed wire spiraled around University.

You had to be careful which groups you were seen with.

You had to watch what you said and even more guarded about what you thought.

Call it a hands-on political science lesson: “Those that have the guns make the rules.”

Venezuelans are dealing with that. Backed by Cuban trained paramilitary and Russian paid security contractors/mercenaries, the military is wavering.

Others have, too – like China (Social Credit program), Cuba, Morocco (life style and partner choices), Russia, Mexican Drug Cartels (guns waved at drivers as 35 bodies dumped on major road)

Shadows. hand and parallel blocks (© image: copyrighted, all rights reserved, no permissions granted )

You have to hand it to parallels.(© image)

I ran into a Russian immigrant friend recently. She relayed a fellow countryman, a good veterinarian, had relocated near us. Everyone is always looking for a good vet. We ended up talking a bit.

“When I was little girl, ” she said in that throaty Russian accent, “one day I come home in school uniform. My mother looks at me and says ‘I will get you free. No one will tell you what to wear. No one will tell you what to think.’ “

She continued passionately, “We ran. It was brutal – very hard for a long time. We were refugees in camp.” A shiver stops her at this point – even after years – her eyes focused somewhere else for minute before she brushed memories aside.

“When we finally set foot on American soil, my mother she turns to me and says, ‘ I promised. I give you gift of freedom. No one can tell you what to say. What to think. Now we go and make life for ourselves.”

She’s plenty blunt about a lot of things. Feels she has earned the right and has perspective.

“I have coworker who complains about everything. All fault of other people.” Scorn is obvious in her voice. “I call her foolish child. I was born under Communism. I know. Here, nobody tells you where you live or you must do this job we decided. No one tells you what to wear, what you can say,  or what you must think.”

Or it was that way in the past: right to speak, right to believe, right of free association – and, other than kid’s school dress codes, freedom to follow fashion or not.

But rumblings aren’t isolated on computers anymore.

Call it a hands-on political science lesson.

Phil, the Philosopher Mouse of the Hedge

Hand reaching into shadows. (© image,: all rights reserved, copyrighted, NO permissions granted )

Difficult to grasp shadowy overreaching (© image)




Leave a Comment
  1. Kate Crimmins / Jan 28 2019 12:16 pm

    There are a lot of immigrants in my area with similar stories. They are great people and work hard. My grandparents emigrated too. I am forever grateful for all that she endured. She never again saw her parents. Makes me feel small when I complain that my coffee isn’t hot enough. Great post.

    Liked by 2 people

    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Jan 28 2019 5:11 pm

      Nothing like a military tank passing a few feet from you to think hard about stuff and what’s important. Hats do not rate as worthy flash points and reason for confrontation by comparison.
      My Russian friend stopped working for others last year and now runs a her own small business – and has an American flag indoors by her counter. She is quite a force – if picking sides, you’d want her with you.
      What’s the old saying, nothing is valued if it’s just handed to you without effort on your part – if there’s no cost. “…for all that she endured” – least we forget and neglect to impress that upon all that follow. Thanks for the astute comment

      Liked by 3 people

      • Kate Crimmins / Jan 29 2019 8:12 am

        Several decades ago, I flew into Athens airport. There was something going on it was full of soldiers with ominous looking machine guns. For me it was scary. For my traveling companions, they felt safer. It’s not at all like living with that but I remember my feeling clearly.


        • philosophermouseofthehedge / Jan 29 2019 8:51 am

          Travel abroad brings unexpected experiences. Remember when your parents saw you watching violence in other counties and your parents said things like “Don’t worry. It’s not like that here. We are so lucky”? What do parents tell worried kids now. Such a world. (Although I remember some Europeans sniffing, “Well, now they get to see what the rest of us live with on a daily basis” – which of course is true. No one here at that time would have ever thought that though.) Ruined travel confidence just about everywhere.

          Liked by 2 people

  2. Spinster / Jan 28 2019 6:06 pm

    Wow. Couldn’t have written (or said) this better myself. And don’t worry, Americans are no longer immune to this…

    Liked by 1 person

    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Jan 29 2019 1:13 pm

      Appreciate your confirmation. Travel is so important- real travel not on fancy cruise ships or clumps of shepherd/carefully guided bus tours of cohesive groups
      People used to say you were not educated if you only spoke one language and had never been outside the continental US (especially if never gone past 100 mile radius of your own home…how sad that exists). What happened? Thanks for joining in

      Liked by 1 person

  3. shoreacres / Jan 28 2019 10:09 pm

    This isn’t directly related to your post, but it’s hilarious. I just was scrolling through some comments on a post about the latest Apple software glitch — the one that lets Facetimers listen in to you even if you don’t accept the call (or whatever it is). A woman wrote, “Noah fence, but I ain’t no Facetimer anyhow.”
    It took me a full two or three minutes to figure out what a “Noah fence” might be. Our country’s doomed.

    More to the point: it’s beyond ironic that those who held up this man and this song as an anthem to freedom in the past today are the very people who would censor, bully, shame, and otherwise deny those with whom they disagree the right to their own thoughts and opinions. The amount of self-censorship taking place in the country today isn’t healthy. Where free discussion isn’t allowed, frustration builds.

    Liked by 3 people

    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Jan 29 2019 7:40 am

      Noah fence – I’ll never forget that one! (so many applications….)Article yesterday was discussing that English may be sliding as the dominant world language. So many with is as a first language can’t speak it well and with accuracy. (and there’s an AI post with how tech is pushing us more and more that way according to some real experts in IT/AI/sociologists – down right scary and Sci-fi)
      I know. Some not paying attention, some only sheeply following (cause they are busy), some manipulating the shallow – or what used to be said to be weak minded…Is it laziness?
      Free college? Seriously – so many have wasted and not taken advantage of free K-12 education….college debt? There’s real data on how many college students use student loans to pay for spring break and other “must have” items and luxuries for life outside of classrooms.
      Lack of solid factual knowledge and inflated sense of righteousness/.self worth is very dangerous.
      Thanks for the laugh and the comment

      Liked by 3 people

      • LordBeariOfBow / Jan 30 2019 7:35 pm

        Well as an Englishman I must confess that the way some Americans abuse our language I find to be quite offensive; they butcher it; not only in the spelling but mispronunciation and speech.

        Liked by 2 people

        • philosophermouseofthehedge / Jan 31 2019 7:32 am

          Not just the regional dialect …add in the education level now…last night as the local tv news anchor was talking about revising state legislation to allow alcohol to be sold on Sunday (don’t worry, you can buy beer after noon/church is out – sailors couldn’t sail on Sundays otherwise…)
          The banner “headline” across the bottom in big letters said “Blue La change”…it must be all in the less tuned to sounds ear? It’s called The Blue Laws….
          Doomed. Maybe Nature is doing us a favor and trying to put us out of our misery as we didn’t hold up to expectations like dinosaurs…. Asteroid Apophif next year, floods, volcanoes, climate….

          Liked by 1 person

          • LordBeariOfBow / Jan 31 2019 4:54 pm

            What has me worried is all those aliens out there in the Universe ; the ones I’ve seen in Star Wars and Trek they all speak English with an American accent, the Universe is doomed!

            Liked by 1 person

          • philosophermouseofthehedge / Jan 31 2019 6:05 pm

            Note to self: recruit more Brits for astronaut training. Our only hope to make sure intelligent life forms are out there….

            Liked by 1 person

          • LordBeariOfBow / Jan 31 2019 8:05 pm

            Not sure what Brits are, but I’m sure there would be plenty of Englishmen willing to sign on, can’t speak for the Scots, Irish or the Welsh though. 😈


          • philosophermouseofthehedge / Feb 1 2019 6:57 am

            HAHA – I was wondering if I could slip that one by. Thanks for the giggle. (Wonder if Fish and Chips travel well….seen astronaut ice cream, but those, hmmmm)


          • LordBeariOfBow / Feb 1 2019 4:55 pm

            I have a thing about Brits as you see. 🙂 I’ve never been to Scotland, Ireland or Wales. I like the Welsh can tolerate the Scots can’t stand the Irish, well those from Eire at any rate.
            As for fish & chips thats the one and only thing the English reign supreme in when it comes to fast food

            Liked by 1 person

          • philosophermouseofthehedge / Feb 1 2019 6:12 pm

            Ate that every chance I got the last time I was in London – no place makes it like that

            Liked by 1 person

          • LordBeariOfBow / Feb 7 2019 4:43 pm

            I left London and England at the end of February 1951, I never went back until 2005, when our children sent their mother and me on a round the world holiday to celebrate my 70th year.
            I went back to the street where I grew up, there was no-one there from the ‘old days’,
            I went to the fish and chip shop that we went to every Friday for as long as I can recall, even during the war years we had a fish & chips on a Friday night ( we weren’t catholics but my mother always aid the fish was always best on Fridays.
            The fish shop was completely unchanged exactly as it was more than 50 years earlier, probably had new cookers/fryers, but there was not the old cheerful cheeky cockney to greet me.
            It was a great big bloke with a beard and a turban, I left the shop and will never go back to England again.
            It is not the country I know and grew up in, in very hard, dangerous times, the air of fight and optimism, is not there,
            But I’ll always remain English

            Liked by 1 person

          • philosophermouseofthehedge / Feb 7 2019 5:39 pm

            Sounds like our old neighborhoods in the big city – buildings and trees look the same, but the inhabitants quite different…
            Maybe there’s remnants in the small towns/ out in the countryside where the transition may be happening, but not as fast.
            Glad to hear Australia is offering the displaced from South Africa special status and entry due to their now hostile homeland’s abuses. So sad – why isn’t the rest of the world saying anything? (sorry – it’s terrible). Australia may be one of the few remaining remnants of English traditions/culture. People better wake up.

            Liked by 1 person

          • LordBeariOfBow / Feb 7 2019 6:49 pm

            Not for much longer I’m afraid Phil; when I arrived in Australia in ’51 they were very much for King & Country; they’d stand and sing the national Anthem which at that time was the English God Save the King then later when it became Queen. But not any longer, since the advent of TV and the scrapping of the ‘White Australia ‘policy Australia is becoming more fond of and attached to the USA and drawing away from their heritage. Shame but that’s the way thing are. The old timers still have the old Australian ideals but the youngsters ; that’s the under 50’s don’t know and only mouth them without knowing or understanding.

            Liked by 1 person

          • philosophermouseofthehedge / Feb 7 2019 6:55 pm

            It’s not the America it used to be. Substituting US for where you say Australia, I could say practically the same. All goes back to the schools and current curriculum – without teaching solid history facts neutral of emotion and popular current political slants.
            Oh, well, Yo ho ho and a bottle of rum – carry on and keep fingers crossed.


    • Spinster / Jan 29 2019 1:36 pm

      “Noah fence”… Jesus F. Christ…

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Jane Dougherty / Jan 29 2019 6:19 am

    The pressure to conform is everywhere. Anyone who thinks they can do as they like is living in cloud cuckoo land. They have a wall around it to keep out disruptive elements.

    Liked by 2 people

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