A Call to Celebrate Sanity

Robert Bly is one of my favorite poets. He has shared the top of my list since probably 1985. I love his poems. I love his delivery. I cherish his sanity. It is so with all of those who inform our lives.

Have we agreed to so many wars that we can’t
Escape from silence?

Watch and listen to this.


What is it about the ones whose lives are meaningful to us? What do they have that we need, and need to emulate? I propose that we are seeking clarity, a sense of our place and time, perhaps a tesseract to who we’ll be and to those who’ve raised us up.

I’ve always loved the first sentence in the anonymous book, The Way of a Pilgrim. “I am by the grace of God a Christian man, by my acts a great sinner.” That’s clarity.

My grandfather used to tell me, “stay in the boat,” and that was clarity.

John F. Kennedy said,

We are not afraid to entrust the American people with unpleasant facts, foreign ideas, alien philosophies, and competitive values. For a nation that is afraid to let its people judge the truth and falsehood in an open market is a nation that is afraid of its people.

The passage of a half century has turned that inside out. It’s not that the government is afraid to let us see the truth. It’s that the people are afraid to face it. We are a nation afraid of each other, not to even mention everybody else. We are afraid of the religions of our neighbors. And fear is not the opposite of courage. Indifference is the opposite of courage. Fear is the opposite of clarity, of truth, of sanity.

I am a Christian, not afraid of Muslims, or Jews, Buddhists, or Hindi. I love them and wish them peace. I’m not even afraid of the Westboro Baptist Church, though it makes me sick and I promise you it is no real church at all. I know this by a simple shibboleth: there is nothing in what they do or say that points toward Christ.

This week we have, many of us, been fixated on the personal implosion of a man who has lost his mind. Meanwhile, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of this group of audacious lunatics, whose greatest and most ardently held tenet of faith is that they’ve figured out who and what God hates. Those people are insane. They have forgotten the face of love.

There are two things I know about God. First, that there is a God and I’m not Him. Second, that God is love.

With that I invite you, gentle reader, to join me in a search for simple clarity, whatever it looks like to you. Let’s choose one word, then another, and put them in their order. Let’s remember the faces of our loved ones, thankful that someone held our hand when we cried, hopeful for someone to do it again when we die. Because another favorite poet, William Stafford, had this moment of clarity:

Your good dogs, some things that they hear
they don’t really want you to know —
it’s too grim or ethereal.

And sometimes when they look in the fire
they see time going on and someone alone,
but they don’t say anything.


“Congressmen who willfully take action during wartime that damage morale and undermine the military are saboteurs, and should be arrested, exiled or hanged.”
— Rep. Don Young of Alaska, in debate on this week’s non-binding resolution.

This is anti-patriotism. It’s un-American, anti-American, subversive rhetoric. We have to find it in the weedchoked and fetid hollows where it lives, and drag it out where our children can get a look at it, before it dies of exposure to clean air and sunlight.

Look kids, you have to be careful of men like this. They hate the truth, they do not love our freedoms. They are afraid of the democratic process because it sometimes unearths truth. They love war and death, and the sight of our armies rolling over people they consider inferior. For pity sake, don’t repeat our mistakes; stop electing asshats like this.

lies hatched in hell

That’s what my grandmother used to call it when someone told an especially malicious whopper.

Today we read this news from Minnesota:

A St. Paul man charged with snapping the necks of 10 puppies last summer could become the first Minnesotan ever banned from pet ownership for life.

Kimanie Carter, 20, pleaded guilty Wednesday to a felony charge of mistreating animals. Under a plea agreement, Carter will face up to 12 months in jail, will undergo behavior counseling and be prohibited from owning a companion animal for life.

Knowing me as you do, and how more than anything I hate cruelty to animals and children, you can predict my reaction. You might expect me to say that a year in this prison – where said lowlife waste of biology currently sits for shooting someone with a BB gun – is far too little. And it is. You might expect me to cheer an order barring him from ever owning a pet, and I do.

But I’m thinking about how, all through the process of his arrest, arraignment, trial, etc., everybody told him the truth. He was read his rights, and his public defender explained the procedures. The judge made sure he understood his position, and he made an informed decision on his plea.

I have a friend back east whose grandson, for reasons passing understanding, recently enlisted in the US Marines. He has just signed up, hasn’t even reported for duty yet, and already the Marines have lied to his face about the training school he was promised he would attend.

What kind of society have we brewed from the fetid mists of human misadventure, in which excrescence like a puppykiller gets due process of law, and a law-abiding young man who volunteers to serve can’t even get a square deal? To paraphrase Confucius, this just isn’t good enough.

Don’t let me forget the kicker:

Police say Carter killed the 2-week-old pit-bull mixes and threw them in a trash bin either because they weren’t purebreds or as a way to threaten his girlfriend. Witnesses said he threatened to do the same thing to his girlfriend if she didn’t give him a ride.

At the risk of pushing this post over the top, letting it drop with a loud thump and slamming the lid, I happen to know where we can find this guy a big empty dumpster all his own.