Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Write Poetry


Poetry was always a part of my life, but never ever posted and declared. I expect that not all my poems will resonate with everybody equally, however having to declare my poem finished is exciting.

I Will Only Do This Once

I thought it would last forever,
Not realizing how long life would go on.
It seemed like a good idea at the time,
We didn’t know any better.  
Yet now, I think
I will only do this once, 
For as many times as needed.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Celebrate Openly

I do not sufficiently show my gratitude for being alive. What an off chance it all seems to be, what a lucky coincidence.  

I haven't yet  sufficiently expressed my appreciation for the beauty and wonderment of raw, wild nature.  

I need to celebrate more openly the pleasures of learning, of conducting research, of reading and writing, of painting a picture, of observing shapes, colors, designs and patterns of life.

Alain de Botton recently wrote about the importance of culture in helping us to develop traditions and rituals for celebrating life's meaning.  

Even in the most dire circumstances, life can be filled with spirit and grace. It can be celebrated. I have witnessed this while living in desolate rural areas and in densely populated urban areas, in villages suffering food scarcity, in places of war, and political unrest.  I have seen life celebrated in many languages and in various ways, through learning in educational institutions, museums and libraries, and in simple community rituals, showing it in the way they line up in meaningful ways on the sides of hills and deep into valleys. sharing traditions of language and culture and song.  

I see ritual and celebration in the way animal herds gallop, the way birds fly in flocks, the way fishes move in the waters.  I see celebration and meaning in cloud formations, and in the many stars that shine in the black night of the sea.

Susan Gubar wrote about ways of seeking the gift of grace by being receptive to a sense of beneficence or loving kindness.  This might be acquired many different ways such as engaging in quiet meditation, through dance or breathing and body exercise, by taking long walks in nature, bike riding, running alongside a road, or while painting a picture, making a craft or playing music,  in the simple act of appreciating literature and the arts.  

It may be felt in the results of a magnificent piece of research, or in the development of a new technology or in the discovery of a new way to do something.  All offer the need for morality, appreciation of spirituality and community; a feeling of grace. 

It may even be felt simply through the execution of routine acts of love and friendship such as a ritual sharing a glass of wine at sunset, or a cup of coffee while watching the sunrise, or hugging a child., patting a dog on the head.

Leaving it at this.  I say, I wish to learn to be positive about all people who celebrate life and who seek to understand its meaning whether they do it through cultural expression, education and learning, scientific discovery and/or religious practices.  






 

Saturday, November 26, 2016

A Scattered Approach to Dying



"When someone is cremated, can their ashes be strewn around?” I ask. 

“You can place them  anywhere you want” she replied, “after the death is registered.”

“Then in that case," I said, "Scatter some of my ashes into the winds.  Throw some under that apple tree in front of our cottage and drop the rest into the ocean. Don’t bury me anywhere.  I’m too claustrophobic."





Friday, November 18, 2016

Unfinished Official Business





I imagine the work left behind in my old office is still there, some of it piled in the corners, papers spilling over onto the floor, reports clogging up the bookshelves and stacked up in the hall closets, very little of it filed properly, but for some registered items.

Someone picked up the baton where I left off.  Like workers before me finding it always there, never ending, forever needing attention, filling up the desk, spilling onto the floors, clogging up the bookshelves.

The best part of the work day was that early moment in the morning when I took off my coat , sat down at my desk or my workbench and pondered what needed to be done, appreciating the morning quiet before the storm, the steady beat of rain drops on a metal roof,  thunder rolling across the sky, silent slushy winter snowstorm filling up the streets, causing much churning of ice water through guttered curbs, hurried runs for fresh cups of coffee and a sweet roll before the first early meeting.  Quick notes drawn up of ideas to be fleshed out in the coming months. Dreams sketched on chalkboards and paper, typed up in our computers, discussions with a colleague during an early phone call, commitments made, promises offered.

The worst part of the work day was the begrudging moments of administrative matters, pushing for decisions to be unreasonably made by 10am without exception, promptly reporting the irrational results on single sheets of paper and filing them endlessly in alphabetized folders, costing monies that might be better used on people needing real services, rather than to things mattering not at all, but to administration. I'm not sure they even remember why they asked it to be done anymore, once it is properly filed.

I see our results, those steel shards of war, crushed peoples, green phosphorous clogged waters, murderous politics, plague outbreaks, journalistic lies, top heavy unearned wealth.

Work everywhere lies strewn around in offices and on floors, stuck in files, cut into small strips to keep it secret.

It is unfinished. I am not sure that it is yet begun. 



Tuesday, November 15, 2016

How Long Must We Be Losers?

My vote won the popular vote, but lost the electoral vote. Perhaps your vote won the electoral vote and lost the popular vote.  In any case, we have a new president-elect.

It is neither simple nor easy for many of us to accept the results, especially since in this instance, the winner forcefully declared that the election was rigged and said he would decide after the election whether or not to accept the results. Now that he is sure that he has won, he accepts the results and no longer declares the election rigged.  


Upon what should our own acceptances of these election results depend?


In two previous presidential elections losers of the election declared that they intended to reject every proposal our newly elected President Obama would make.  They told the press that no matter what he proposed to Congress, they would reject it.  This was not just any one casually saying no to an acquaintance.  It was our elected officials of Congress saying no to our newly elected President, not based on evaluation of the proposals, but instead, upon sore losing.


What a shameful response to our democratic system and its process of checks and balances.


In this most recent election, Trump lost the popular vote.  But he won the electoral vote.

He won, but not overwhelmingly.
It seemed that he won by a lot, because so many pundits were wrong and had predicted his demise.

I have been listening to the barrage of explanations for the results of this election by pollsters, economist, journalists, comedians, congressmen, psychologists, psychiatrists, fortune tellers, winners, losers and bloggers.  I am neither pleased nor satisfied with any of the explanations.


I find them all wanting.


But most of all, I find arguments by the winners telling us to accept the results, wanting.  They are asking us to do what they did not. They did not embrace the man we previously elected, they refused his proposals, they ridiculed him, called him names, they lied about his citizenship and religious affiliation, they ridiculed his background his family, his ideas. They did all that they could to make our elected president seem fraudulent and illegitimate.  


It is most unfortunate that our newly elected president Trump participated in all this lying and negativity.


How does one stop a vicious back and forth response to previous sore losing?


There are ways and means that we have worked out to control hatred and violence when it brews in weak political systems.  We know how to manage it, to reduce its terrible force and damage.  There are alternatives to racism and sexism and brute force responses to ethnic rivalries that have been tried and worked. There are ways and means to stop the poor from being further shafted, to rein in the rich and powerful, to further develop and share infrastructure and services, to stop brutalizing our natural environment, to control outrageous behavior of banks and corporations. There are ways and means to manage corruption and crime, to flag liars.

We know how to do better.


This leaves me believing that this is not the time to capitulate.


It is now the time to clearly state our intentions to keep going, to be part of this great system we share, whether it is through peaceful demonstration or actively monitoring the actions of our newly elected officials. We must continue to be part of the debate.


Now is the time to work even harder to prevent our leaders from declaring war and bombing and attacking other countries with fake excuses, such as weapons of mass destruction that do not exist. Because we already know that this could happen. 


Let us not allow our leaders to weakly stand by when a huge natural calamity such as floods, fires, earthquakes, or dangerous infectious diseases erupt and threaten our very existence. Because we already know that this could happen. 


Let's be prepared with a good government plan and program to respond to it, to prevent it from becoming yet another highlight of our disaffection with each other. Because we already know that this could happen.


If a good idea is proposed, let's get behind it and support it, regardless of who proposed it.  And if it is a bad proposal, let's argue against it.


This is not the time to allow our people to become ravaged by conquerers who may argue that winners take all.  After all, parties win our elections.  They do not win our country.  


Our country is something we all share.  And we also share responsibility for monitoring our newly elected officials and ensuring that they implement government programs as we intend, through negotiations, compromise, using objective and fair implementation practices.


Let's get serious about serving a democratic government by learning more about what it takes to be one, and acting accordingly.




Tuesday, November 8, 2016

I Did Not Forget to Vote


Once upon a time there was a little girl.  And a little boy.  They heard about voting and wondered what it was.
So they asked their moms and dads,
"Mom, Dad, What does voting mean?  Why do you vote?"

Mom said, "It means to declare who you want to leaders of our country."


Dad said, "Voting is an activity where you boil your opinion down to 'yes' or 'no,' about every four years or so.  It simplifies things.  It balances power."


The other Mom said, "Voting is part of our constitution, it is an obligation.  It is like when I say, 'Eat your vegetables, it is good for you.'  Just trust me.  You need to vote.  It is good for you.


The other Dad said, "Ahh, just fagettt about it.  It doesn't make a twit of difference if you vote or not. The system is rigged. "


The little girl decided to vote.  The little boy did not.  Guess who won the election?



Wednesday, October 26, 2016

I Forgot to be Politically Active ENOUGH





Michael Moore recently put out a concerned CALL for action reminding us of the importance of voting.
We have the privilege of voting in privacy, and freely, and ONCE
and he reminded us of the power of our vote.

Of course,  many of us will remember to vote.

But his words also remind me that although voting is necessary it is not sufficient.
We, the people, must be more informed and more politically active,
look past our personal grievances, religious affiliations, ethnic identities and take on a bigger sphere of concerns.
We all lose when we aren't concerned about the WHOLE of our country.

This means reading articles and listening to people who disagree with us.
This means reaching out to others and listening to their grievances.
This means being informed and choosing effective candidates at
local, state and federal levels.
This means "We the People" and not big business or rich interests.
We, the voters insist on good governance.

Starting this year, I want to see our elected Congress act, 
making decisions and choosing actions,
not through refusals to meet or talk, saying "NO" to compromise.
I want our representatives to act positively, through 
debate, discussion, deliberation, negotiation, and decision.
I want them to act through compromise.

Whether it was the drawing up of our Constitution, 
or the struggle to agree on any Bill of Rights,
or whether it is a contemporary problem needing agreement, allowing us to govern and be governed, we must learn to negotiate.  

In diplomatic circles, it is often stated half jokingly, that it is not until the various groups are relatively equally unhappy with the proposed solutionsthat a compromise deal can be reached.

We all lose when there is 
NO discussion, NO debate, No negotiation, No compromise.
When there is no negotiation, there is stagnation and fighting.
We all think we are right.  But that is not enough.
We have to listen to other people's points of view and figure them into our decisions, to the best of our abilities.

We need balance in government using the deliberations of Congress, the White House and the Supreme Court, taking into consideration all of our people's votes. We need to agree to use the system, wholly and effectively, and respectfully. 

I want a balance of power through governance,
not through personal name-calling and ridicule
not through wealth, pay-offs, cronyism and corruption.
not through refusal to compromise,
not through cheating and lying.
I want it through discussion, deliberation, decision and compromise, of individuals representing all of us.

And I want it now.

JUST FOR FUN:


An Australian friend of mine sent me this performance of the haka,  a tradition of the New Zealand Maori tribe.

It is used when they challenge others.  
According to my friend, the polite thing is for the opposition is to watch and listen in respectful silence.  I hope you enjoy it.