Traversing the Land of Fanatics, Part I

“If we’ve been bamboozled long enough, we tend to reject any evidence of the bamboozle. We’re no longer interested in finding out the truth.” — Carl Sagan, The Demon-Haunted World

You can listen to me read this essay HERE

“One of the saddest lessons of history is this: If we’ve been bamboozled long enough, we tend to reject any evidence of the bamboozle. We’re no longer interested in finding out the truth. The bamboozle has captured us. It’s simply too painful to acknowledge, even to ourselves, that we’ve been taken. Once you give a charlatan power over you, you almost never get it back.” — Carl Sagan, The Demon-Haunted World.

You can read or listen to the entire essay here: https://khmezek.substack.com/p/traversing-the-land-of-fanatics-part

The world is becoming increasingly dark and dangerous. Ruled by fanatics demanding unquestioning loyalty.

Wait. This is supposed to be my inspirational essay! Oh, and next month, these essays will be reserved for paying subscribers (just have to include that here).

Okay, I will get around to the inspiration, trust me. That’s why it is in two parts.

I want to talk about babies and birth and death and life in-between, and somewhere along the way there will be inspiration. Because nothing is simple! Did you know that Planned Parenthood keeps aborted babies alive to harvest their brains and organs? To harvest their tissue. Did you know that the BBC reported in 2006 on newborn babies being stolen in Ukraine for their organs? That will come in part two.

Let me start with a personal story.

I rarely drive a car. Mostly I walk and run everywhere. I started this habit back in the 1980s when I lived between London and Slovenia, which was then part of communist Yugoslavia. I didn’t have a car in those days, so I didn’t have a choice. Rain, snow or shine, if I needed to go to the market, or do anything, I walked. At that time, I was in a nightmarish marriage to a Yugoslavian “pop star” and I didn’t know how to get out of it.

I’m an artist and my husband got me a gig illustrating his friend, Cliff Richard’s “I’m No Hero” album cover—do you know who he is? Back in those days, he was the European Elvis Presley. A huge star. I was just out of college and didn’t have a lot of confidence in my ability as an artist, but my husband said I should do it, and so I did. One day, my husband came home and when he saw my progress, he grew enraged. Thinking I wasn’t doing it well enough, and his reputation was on the line, he punched me in the face and broke my nose. I cleaned up the mess, as I always did, and kept working on the painting. What other choice did I have? I had been raised to finish what I started and that’s what I did.

The irony is that I was painting a picture of Cliff wearing boxing gloves, fighting a hulking opponent. So, while my face swelled, and my eyes turned black and blue, I painted. Somehow, I finished and Cliff, and the marketing company were pleased. I think it’s a horrible album cover. They would never know the suffering that I had gone through while painting that scene of the little guy overcoming the powerful against all odds.

That was when I first started running. I knew I had to do something to change my situation, for my own sake and for the sake of my daughter. Every day, no matter what, I put on an old pair of sneakers, went out the door and ran in Kensington Gardens. I was skinny as a stick and at first, I could hardly run a block. Slowly and surely, I gained strength. I set reasonable goals and made sure I achieved them. Eventually I grew strong enough to leave my husband with my four-year-old daughter. Once I got back to Los Angeles, I started training in martials arts, and then Eskrima, boxing and kickboxing, fighting full contact. I vowed that never again would I allow myself to be abused by any man—or woman, or anyone.

I know the world of the elite and I know the world of the street and I can say I prefer the street. I came to love that view in all its stark reality. Running through the streets of London and through the villages of what was then communist Yugoslavia, people looked at me like I was some kind of crazed alien. Nobody was running like that in those days. Living in Luxor, Egypt at the start of the pandemic, I did the same. Children started running after me. Once a boy on a donkey raced me. Even the girls, shy and giggling, started to run after me. It’s not easy breaking the mold and bringing a new perspective to a community, but how else will we ever change imbedded ways?

In Phoenix I walk and run for miles, encountering all sorts of characters along the way. Homeless, sometimes out of their minds people, pushing their carts piled high with their only possessions. Kids on skateboards, earnest bicycle riders. I’ve helped any number of people in wheelchairs to cross the road when they couldn’t make it before the light changed. You learn compassion on the streets. Many times, I’ve asked myself what it’s like to be those people who somehow lost their way, unable to struggle any higher when they have sunk so low? No, not everyone can “pull themselves up by their bootstraps.” But we all need a helping hand sometimes.

You can read or listen to the entire essay here: https://khmezek.substack.com/p/traversing-the-land-of-fanatics-part

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