That Man is a Success

When I was young – a teenager – my parents gave me the quotation below – framed – for the wall of my room. It has lived on in my mind for 40 years. I only wish that Emerson had made it gender-neutral, because I have known just as many admirable women as men, to whom its enlightenment applies.

While the day’s calamity for Trump may leave many of us feeling vindicated, outraged, or sickened, I also feel sad. So much that is beautiful and kind, gentle and true about human life is so often and so wantonly demeaned. It goes light years beyond the fact that he is no gentleman. Power is still consistently given to men who think people are possessions, that women and children, the poor, the sick and weak, the marginalized and the outcast, are subject to domination. That is sad, and it’s even sadder that some targets of their twisted, onanistic self-gratification seem to accept this, even to support this particular contemptible and toxic troglodyte.

We may not get another chance to teach such evil, insentient men – once and for all – that they are wrong. And to show the women and girls of America that they are awesome and equal, that their value in the world is intrinsic and inalienable. So no one has the right to grab them or bring them down.

Peace to you Reader, and to the women in your life who have taught you love and strength, intelligence, courage, and dignity.

 

That man is a success who has lived well, laughed often and loved much;
Who has gained the respect of intelligent men and the love of children;
Who has filled his niche and accomplished his task;
Who leaves the world better than he found it,
whether by an improved poppy or a perfect poem or a rescued soul;
Who never lacked appreciation of earth’s beauty or failed to express it;
Who looked for the best in others and gave the best he had
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Memorial

As we Americans once again commemorate our war dead, and pay respect to the families of those who “gave the last full measure of devotion,” I wonder:

Will we ever come to terms with the fact that many of their deaths were preventable?

They not only died for us, they died because of us and our pride, arrogance, and nationalist ego-centrism.

We Americans are sure that we can do anything we set our minds and collective will to do. Why not peace?

Why can’t we learn to treat other people with respect, and so to gain friends instead of making enemies? We are so hell bent in self-righteousness, so mired in fear of others – and so completely confused about who they are – that millions of us want a dictator in our highest office.

Our dead didn’t die so that America would be weak and terrified, but we are. After 9/11 we raised flags and were defiant and strong for a while, until Bush-Cheney told us to be terrorized, and so we were and so we remain.

History will not be kind about the fall of the American Empire. For 15 years we have declined into willful ignorance, the victims of fear and selfishness. Trump is the distillation of that consciousness.

We don’t deserve a new birth of freedom if we deny it to each other.

We don’t deserve safety unless we stand up for the refugees and give them refuge.

We are not worthy to consecrate a moment, let alone a day, in honor of our dead, until we pledge in our hearts and minds that no more shall die in vain.

 

The Internet is Forever

I read on a couple of blogs that UC Davis paid people to try to expunge the Net of all traces of the pepper spray incident that happened there in 2011. This seems ridiculously futile to me, but I like to play. So lest we forget, here are a couple of links to posts I wrote on another blog, on the day of that brutality.

Students Attacked by Cops at Davis

  • November 19, 2011

Open Letter to the Chancellor of UC Davis

  • November 19, 2011

“If you want to keep a secret, you must also hide it from yourself.”
― George Orwell, 1984

We have met the enemy…

No greater mistake can be made than to think that our institutions are fixed or may not be changed for the worse. … Increasing prosperity tends to breed indifference and to corrupt moral soundness. Glaring inequalities in condition create discontent and strain the democratic relation. The vicious are the willing, and the ignorant are unconscious instruments of political artifice. Selfishness and demagoguery take advantage of liberty. The selfish hand constantly seeks to control government, and every increase of governmental power, even to meet just needs, furnishes opportunity for abuse and stimulates the effort to bend it to improper uses. … The peril of this nation is not in any foreign foe! We, the people, are its power, its peril, and its hope!

– Charles Evans Hughes

Pogo_-_Earth_Day_1971_poster

Cuttlefish

The great enemy of clear language is insincerity. When there is a gap between one’s real and one’s declared aims, one turns … instinctively to long words and exhausted idioms, like a cuttlefish squirting out ink.

– George Orwell, whose birthday is today.

A cuttlefish looks like this.

I use the quote above to shoehorn my thoughts onto blog topic, but my favorite quote from Orwell is this passage from 1984:

To the future or to the past, to a time when thought is free, when men are different from one another and do not live alone — to a time when truth exists and what is done cannot be undone: From the age of uniformity, from the age of solitude, from the age of Big Brother, from the age of doublethink — greetings!

I sit here tonight look at those words again, amazed at how much Truth there is in them, and wondering if we have finally come to live in that age of doublethink.

Slavery is freedom. The climate is not changing. Guns keep us safe. Rich people create jobs. War is Peace. Immigration is hurting the economy. Iraq is Obama’s fault. Ignorance is strength.

I’ve been watching World War Z. It’s interesting to see what that silly zombie fad looks like with a big budget. …It is a metaphor of American politics, right?

“Until they become conscious they will never rebel, and until after they they have rebelled they cannot become conscious.” So for us, a zombie apocalypse is more likely than attaining government or, by, or for the people.

only human beings

I love this little video. It’s only a minute and a half long, with no puppies or cute kids. But it gives me hope.

Watch the Los Angeles City Council call for a constitutional amendment to reserve constitutional rights to living human beings.

Marginalia

marginalia (ˌmɑːdʒɪˈneɪlɪə)

pl n

notes in the margin of a book, manuscript, or letter*

Video: When Toys Take a Road Trip.

Video: Dog won’t leave his master’s grave.

News link with comment: Charges dropped against students at UC Davis.

Social comment: Cowards Among Us. Real men face the bullies and stand up for students.

Politics: Where does OWS go from here? (An email from filmmaker Michael Moore.)

* Content from my other blogs; i.e., what I do while I watch TV.

sic semper tyrannis

I received an email from a friend, expressing his dismay over the governance of our country. I have to agree. Again and again, lines of poetry come to mind; lines of the very poem from which this blog takes its epigraph:

    Turning and turning in the widening gyre
    The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
    Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
    Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
    The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
    The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
    The best lack all conviction, while the worst
    Are full of passionate intensity.

– W.B. Yeats, The Second Coming

Read the last 2 lines again to yourself, aloud.
Oh yes, so it goes in America these days.

next to of course god america i
love you land of the pilgrims and so forth

A Metaphor merit badge if you know the source of that quote off the tops of your tri-corner hat.

Anyway, I’ll share the thought with which I responded to my friend: to hell with governance. It has done us very little good, ever. Governance is good for building roads and starting wars. Meaningful, systemic, sustainable change doesn’t come from the top. And we should never doubt the talent of a few honest, committed people to bring change to life. Because that’s the only thing that ever has.

What we need now is leadership, not governance. If only we can get governance to stop brutally evicting leadership from the public parks, we’ll be on our way.

Actually, it’s better for the cause of progress if the police keep right on attacking and evicting, beating, teargasing, etc. As always in history, tyranny is the symbol and catalyst of the restoration of freedom.

Here’s a great short video to watch: A special comment from Keith Olbermann, 11.15.2011.

A Post About Nothing

I haven’t been watching the Republican debates, and I’ll tell you why.

As a poet, I have walked out beyond the farthest city light and looked into the darkness gathered there. I have stared long into the abyss, and the abyss stared back at me. I was nonplussed, and the abyss was wholly unimpressed.

The void is hard to avoid as it is. So I’ve had all the nothing I care to contemplate. 

Liberal and Conservative

Liberal and conservative are not mutually exclusive. They are not opposites.  Ford is not the opposite of Chevy, Coke is not fundamentally different than Pepsi. It’s all an illusion, a myth perpetrated by people who make a very good living getting other people to buy their brand – their product or their thinking.

Mac and PC are both computers. But didn’t Apple do a great job with it’s “I’m a Mac” ad campaign? Conflate the product with the buyer’s personal identity, and away you go.

Conservative and liberal are impulses, not states of Being. Two sides of the same pancake, no matter how thin you make it; two points on the same continuum of social thought, two knots on the same string. In fact, they work very well together, in any brain capable of holding two apparently contradictory thoughts at the same time, and admitting that both might be valid. But that doesn’t work if the brain’s thinking is being done by someone else.

Pelosi is not the opposite of Boehner, Obama is not the opposite of Romney, Bachman or Cain. These are all politicians trying to get hired or keep their jobs. Funny that some of them can’t relate to millions of their fellow Americans who are trying to do the same thing.

grailknightIn the end, somebody has to be hired to do the job, and it’s up to us to decide. Let’s hope we shake off this deep hypnotic state and learn to choose wisely.

So if Liberal is not the opposite of Conservative, what is? The opposite of each is the same: it’s indifference.