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Monday, July 4, 2011

Our better world

I want to wake in a better place.

Why is it that I can no longer remember what it was like to open morning eyes and not step out from some nightmare landscape? I remember a time when the sun lit the beginnings of my day. I remember moments of perfect timeless peace – everything accomplished behind me, and so much time in front that I felt almost immortal. I remember those times, but I no longer remember what it felt like.
How did we come to this place, where every piece of news is mean and dark-spirited? So many people seem so lost and the only answers we get from our country’s leaders are distortions, half-truths and often, just lies.

It would be nice to live again in summer of our youth, where sand and salt wind and the calls of gulls reminded you every moment that you were forever alive and free.

Instead the news reports scream about higher and higher job losses, continual scams and scandals, natural and unnatural disasters and the horrors we would visit upon each other. Alarmists use a debunked global climate change as reasons to keep stealing from the people. Massive corporations seem suspiciously involved in tremendous webs of corruption and monumental amounts of taxpayer money have sifted into hidden places while lawmakers benefit. States are going bankrupt, promises are broken and new taxes and laws threaten to drown the people still barely afloat in a drowning economy.

So where is our better place?

Like some kind of never-never land, it all seems to be just beyond the starlight – always promised and hoped for, but never realized. Like the carefree years of our youth, our better, stronger country seems beyond our reach and looks to only reside in our memories or our imagination.

But there is always a road back from the hard places. Redemption is just beyond our belief in our selves, and our own powerful creativity and ingenuity. We can find clarity and purpose and beauty if we discard fear and the eventual anger and hate it spawns. We can become the shining city again, but we must stop the push for greater regulation and government control of our lives’ smallest details.

I know the place where the sun still warms our future. We can wake there and we can walk there and we can feel the breeze of liberty on our faces. I imagine we will see each other in that golden light, and we will nod and smile knowingly. We will talk about the times when things were hard and dark, but we won’t be able to remember what it felt like. We’ll laugh when we speak  and we’ll know that our children and grandchildren are going to grow up in a better world than we did; that they will be happy and secure and filled with truth and compassion.

We created it once - and walked barefoot there - in a time of pinball and cotton candy. Tall ships once gathered to celebrate our country's centennial. We will never see that again in our lifetime - but someone will. And perhaps their generation will see a country where flags fly proudly in front of almost every home. Their community will once again be whole and not fractured. Their world will be a place where compassion and love always wins - and where belief and honor do not need to be questioned.

It is the place where war is unnecessary and sadness, horror, sickness and hunger is lessened and maybe eliminated forever. It’s the place where we can meet old friends and know that each passing day promises we may meet new ones. It is a place of heroes.

I want so bad, to continue to believe in our noble home of the brave.

I want to wake to a better place. And if I do, I’ll wait for you, and we’ll walk there together.

-We the People

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Death panel


One hundred peaceful protestors were blocked from FDA offices Tuesday in an attempt to protest the removal of a vital breast cancer treatment drug from its’ approval lists – an action which would make treatment with the drug impossible for all but society’s elite.

It is one of the first and most complete examples of a “death panel” in operation.

The scene in front of the FDA complex highlighted the continued slip of America from a republic into something resembling a police state. The protestors clad in pink, carried signs  - those facing them carried weapons and were clad in combat uniforms.

The leader of the group, who’s wife is battling cancer, continued to repeat through a bullhorn, “we will obey the law.”

And yet, stone-faced, the Homeland Security detachment faced them – finally allowing one of them through to speak to officials after he obeyed requirements to set down his sign and bullhorn.

The process of withdrawing approval for the drug Avastin is called “unlabeling.” By unlabeling the drug, insurance companies are relieved of their obligation to pay for treatment. So, even though people suffering from cancer have paid high premiums for the coverage, with the help of the FDA, the rules can be changed, and the expensive treatments will be witdrawn.

Those who would have been saved by the drug will face terrible deaths in one of the first examples of administrative government-approved killings.

I have a couple simple questions for the reader: First, why face the group of 100 regular citizens with an overwhelming, fully armed police force and demand that the leader of the protest put down his sign and communications and come in alone? Second – and more importantly; how far does one go in “obeying the law,” when to do so means nearly certain death at the hands of the “law?”

It would seem people have become very good at obeying commands from faceless corporate and government commanders and commandos, but are less able to see how much has been taken from them – and do something real about it.

Until, of course, they take everything away – and then, it no longer matters.

Wednesday, the FDA panel convened to consider the unlabeling, ruled In-favor of it – a decision which if given final approval by the FDA Commissioner, will give insurance companies a big fat paycheck – blood-money for the death of untold numbers of Americans.

One last request of the reader: Define evil.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Pride and shame

I once served in the Honor Guard for the 501st Tactical Missile Wing. This was a unit based at the famous Greenham Common in Britain. Our duty was to deliver 96 nuclear cruise missiles to Russia in the event the Cold War became hot.

It didn’t.

One day, the base was called to a briefing to discuss the end of the mission – and a new beginning without the threat of the Soviet Union. There were maybe a thousand people filling a massive building. The Honor Guard had been asked to bring the room to attention. That task was probably more appropriate for the Master Sergeant in charge of the Guard – but he passed it to me. I guess I had a loud mouth. I was a little nervous. The sound from the room was deafening – people talking and laughing and at first, no one noticed as I walked down the center of the room, posted, and carried out the order.

In a split second, everything stopped and everyone came to attention. I did an about-face and walked out – and the U.S. and RAF Commanders came in.

I remember a feeling of pride. We had accomplished an amazing mission. In some small way at least, the threat of our mobile system may have forced the hand and hastened the collapse of the Communist government. And there were other “moments” during the final years of the 501st: There was Eisenhower Day, when I marched the American Flag in a color guard, down the center of Newbury. I had bought new boots for this specific day – straight out of the box and completely unblemished, they were peeling the back of my heels off my feet and filling with blood. I was aware of the situation, but much more aware of the old British men in black suits, lining the streets as we passed, their chests decorated with medals from a long-ago war, where we, the Americans came to the assistance of Britain. Together, our countries had won a war, which saved a world. My color guard performed perfectly that afternoon.

“Pride” is too small a word to cover such a feeling on a day like that.

So to hear of Associations in America, taking veterans to court for flying U.S. flags in their front yard – it infuriates me. A good writer should be objective and impartial. I am afraid, today, I cannot be a good writer.

Today I read about a 77-year-old veteran of Vietnam, who has been told by the homeowner association that the U.S. flag flying in his front yard, violates the rules of the property. This is occurring right now in Macedonia, Ohio. Apparently, there are not enough patriots there in that town to stomp mudholes in the idiots that make up the Association’s board.

Yesterday I read about another Homeowner’s Association in Evans, Georgia, which withdrew approval for a house to be built for a seriously wounded veteran to be erected by the national organization “Homes for our Troops." The house, which was to be specially adapted for SFC Sean Gittens was initially blocked because the association wanted a second story, as well as 700 square feet added to the plan. SFC Gittens was left paralyzed and unable to speak as a result of an aneurism linked to traumatic brain injury resulting from multiple concussive traumas during his Iraq service from April 2007 to April 2008.

As of June 24th, however, after continued heat, the Association in the way of Gittens’  new home, folded under the pressure, asking for more shutters and other architectural changes, but not the additional floor space. The family hasn’t yet responded back.

In absolute fury over both these situations, I can only say that it is precisely these sorts of things, which diminish all of us. Are some silly neighborhood rules worth more than the history and majesty of the U.S. Flag? Are these effete snobs, which make up these organizations, worth even one man such as SFC Gittens? Where were they – and what were they doing, when Gittens was serving the country?

What a source of pride – America.

What a source of shame.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

What do you see?


Look at the sky and clouds on a perfect day.
Somewhere else, that same view resonates like a kind of emotion, deep within another soul on the other side of the world.

But in our day-to-night lives we can’t see that.

Vibration in sound, familiar to so many, is unfamiliar when thought of as existing inside someone else. Sight and sound and even belief seem so obvious to us when we see ourselves in dreams and life, all the time accepting the lie that each of these things is separate. And that makes us alone.

And still we can’t see that.

Lay on your back in the cool grass as a child and look up at the sky – let memory take you there even now. Such peace connected to such longing. What shapes do great winds and water make in their wrestling, somewhere so far above you? Your skin tingles against the green and the Earth presses up against you and through you. From the void, solar winds and cosmic stuff so ancient it can remember creation itself,, move so fast, through everything. They don’t even know you are there, but they carry through the vast reaches and the clouds and the droplets so far above – with hopes to someday be rain - and having seen so much of the universe, they still become part of us, and we are connected to everything.

And we don’t see that.

The strata of stone and bone and lost civilizations beneath us hide impossible knowledge, and the stars, so far away can be our friends, even though they hide from us during the day. Somewhere else, in a different philosophy, they are friends too. We appear to each other – but we cannot see beyond the surface, and so only ever see color and shape and the lies of skin and clothes and unfamiliar faces. It is easier to believe in the fiction of a world in revolution around us, than to feel the alien texture of connection – and we certainly don’t want to see that; especially reflected within ourselves.

But we kill and cut and bleed and grasp for more – and we name all these things, as if by naming them we can give them order and reason and control.

Half a world away a child can’t sleep because she is too hungry – and down the street someone who was once relied upon to die for you if necessary – lays dying finally, in some forgettable room where so  many others have left this world without seeing the sky one last time. They can’t eat even though they are hungry, and they know even that won’t last – there’s a kindness there they can finally understand. No one will come to see them. Across the street someone has been given a final date – and another street over, someone has been given a different kind of date; and dread is their common thread.

And so many certainly don’t want to see any of that.

Squeeze your hands in that distant memory. Feel the Earth give way beneath your fingers, understanding the connection, perhaps – or in a moment, allowing a kind of gift. But that gift is connected through the sunlight and air and cloud and back again to other hearts and minds in so many distant places, you would never be able to speak their names. Yet the stuff of ancient peoples and even older things forgotten fills our hands, cool against the skin and we can almost feel a tear willing itself into being.

I talked to a woman once in Africa. She was a doctor, but so many had died, filling her hands with their fading  heat, her soul had eroded. So many mysteries were gone for her – so many hopes now replaced by oblivion’s comfort. She couldn’t imagine anything else because for her, the sky was only something she had to walk under on the way to hear more screams, smell more blood and witness more death.

She couldn’t see anything else anymore.

What is the greater despair? Is it more terrible that it seems like nothing can be done for the lost and tired? Or is the greater horror that so many of us could do so much – and refuse – instead focusing our short lives on the purposeless continuance of hate and hurt.

We can cut each other down to make ourselves seem bigger for just a moment – or we can recognize the infinite connections being made even now without us, and reaching out, become more than ourselves. We can leave our mark or we can become more than that. Sound and shape and touch all resonate in a shared world waiting just beyond each of us – and we don’t have to be alone. Tie your destiny to that of someone else and you together, become greater than you could standing alone. Add a third and a fourth and eventually we can all reach a greater destiny beyond the breeze and the clouds and the shores of that distant sea in which our world – a tiny island, is much less than a speck.

We can reach beyond all of it.

And today I wondered if anyone could see any of that.


Friday, June 10, 2011

The VA health care system - from a veteran's perspective

Back when I was a newspaper reporter, I considered the work to be sacred in a way.

Work as a real reporter is not the sensationalized headline hunting, self-promoting disgrace it has devolved into these days. A real reporter reports the truth and attempts to be unbiased – actually goes to great lengths to be unbiased. A real reporter covers the news and provides information others cannot get access to. A real reporter is a prize fighter, often without any prize (and usually without much of a salary).

But that’s about the responsibility involved in the job. I want to talk to you about the glory of the thing.

The glory of reporting is that, while you may sometimes feel like Don Qixote de la Mancha, you are not always simply “tilting at windmills.” On occasion, the windmills get their ass kicked.

I lived for that moment. I didn’t like to hurt people, but where there was an injustice which could not be addressed any other way … in fact, where the long arm of the law wasn’t long enough – I could reach the sucker. And when I got to them – with training and experience in a variety of fields, they felt like they’d been truly touched.

And so, I would like to introduce to you a concept, which is due:  This is the unveiling of a new blog.  Those veterans out there are going to like this – especially New Mexico veterans.

I am about to begin a new blog dedicated to the review of VA services from the perspective of a New Mexico veteran. For those who work at the Veteran’s Hospital in Albuquerque, New Mexico, get ready. You’re going to love me even more than you do now.

I will make a regular report on initiatives made by the New Mexico VA Health Care System – and the response to these initiatives by veterans in the hallways and waiting rooms of the hospital complex. I will draw on my own experiences for this, but I will try to keep the reporting on those experiences unbiased. Where possible, I will provide you names and offices and phone numbers for sources. Where possible, I will give individuals the opportunity to respond to my articles. But, in the end, you will have a ground-level view of how a veteran’s medical facility treats soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines returning or returned from the battlefields of the world.

You will often be disgusted by what you see and read here. And you will no doubt also experience the entire gamut of other emotions. Because those who knew me as a reporter and news editor of a daily, knew one thing for certain: there was no escape. If you deserved a look by me or the other reporters, it would be hard and uncompromising – and it would be fair. Good things happen in many of these places as well as the bad things.

I know why this kind of thing is not often done. On the one hand, it is often the case that the doctors, nurses and administrators who work there really are doing their best. They are in a high-stress job and aren’t often appreciated or thanked. But they do get their share of difficult patients. On the other hand, people fear reprisals. Veterans are often very sick and their injuries are serious. Private insurance typically will not cover their chronic service-connected conditions – and the VA is the only chance they’ve got, to lead a halfway normal life. They don’t need a massive organization of nameless, faceless administrators and functionaries descending on them like locusts. They are scared.

I am not.

I am a former USAF sergeant and a graduate of the Defense Information School, trained in Public Affairs. I am a better PA person than the character they have working for them. I am a reporter, editor and author. And I am a traditional martial art teacher of 20 years experience.

I will tell you folks who treat veterans poorly in my backyard, quite simply now, what is coming for you – it is what I promised to insect politicians and their like when I began writing the Jolly Rogers a few years ago…

My wrath may not seem real from your lofty positions. You may feel yourselves to be untouchable, but make no mistake I am coming for you.

I am coming for you all.

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The blog about the VA health care system from a veteran’s perspective will be announced here on the Jolly Rogers, when it is set up. Watch for it. As there are  further developments, I will report on them here until that new site is up and running.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Eugenics


Eugenics.

If ever there was a subject you might wish to keep relegated to the pages of paperback sci-fi, this is it. It should be in a special dictionary, where it can’t run the chance of infecting other words, more wholesome – or just not as horrible to contemplate. One might imagine this word accompanying others, such as genocide, rape, etc., into the pages of a black book with even blacker pages.

Maybe then, with our language purged, the concepts would not be so easy to access. But I know that is wishful, fanciful thinking. In the real world, monsters don’t need a vocabulary. They just do what they do best – and in the best outcomes, we catch them and electrocute them… like bugs in that blue lit zapper on your back porch.

Killers, unrepentant terrorists, homicidal maniacs – skin-walkers of every description – and we know the names of the big ones: Pol Pot, Hitler, Stalin, Bin Laden – so many, we couldn’t list them all if we tried. Still, we put them down like the rabid creatures they are, when we find them – usually.

Of course, if the skin-walkers are discovered nestled happily within our own government, then the hand-wringing begins. But that process of political correct mumbling only starts after the damage has been long done – either by shuffling minions including lawmakers, lawyers, judges, doctors, police officers, city and county administrators … basically everybody you are told to trust and believe, and obey.

To hell with them – that’s my sentiment.

They just didn’t all make it there. Consider North Carolina.  This is a state chock full of lovely museums and attractions, like the NC Museum of Natural Sciences, featuring this month, an art gallery of watercolor paintings, and a soon-to-be-displayed exhibit on expanding oceans.

Or you may enjoy the Morehead Planetarium and Science Center! Get your tickets to learn about the “power of the telescope!” There’s just hundreds of places to visit and enjoy yourself, including American History Vacation packages and other wonders.

I wouldn’t recommend a permanent move, however. Their historical lessons will likely not include something from the past 40 years – and I wouldn’t bother checking on this at the NC Children’s Museum, because you won’t find much evidence of it there. Unless you look for that which is not there at all – specifically 7600 children who would now be adults, their children, and their children’s children. And you won’t see anything anywhere about the accomplishments of those kids, because they were never born.

No they weren’t aborted. That’s not the subject of this article. These children were simply never born. That is because from the 1920s to the 1970s, North Carolina had the legal authority to forcefully sterilize members of its’ population. Sure, it was done by Hitler – but apparently he didn’t do it right, because following WWII, North Carolina really picked up the pace sterilizing white women at first, because they were on welfare – and later, black women as they became part of the welfare system. But males were also targeted, and the reasoning was what you would expect of insects with little regard for human life:  “you wouldn’t expect a moron to run a train or a feeble-minded women to teach school – you wouldn’t want the state to grat drivers’ licenses to mental defectives…” reads a pamphlet published to promote the program. The capper: “Yet each day the feeble-minded and mentally defective are entrusted with the most important and far reaching job of all … parenthood.”

More than 7500 people were forcibly sterilized in North Carolina. They received an apology from former Governor Mike Easley in 2002.  Easley was born in 1950 – during the time period in which the eugenics program was in full swing.  Those who received their apology in 2002, basically received it from one of the babies who escaped the culling.

None of the victims of the State ever received any compensation for their empty lives. Only 39 percent of them are still alive. Later this month, those remaining victims will be asked to speak to a “governor’s task force” regarding compensation.

How do you compensate for something like that?
What do you give those people back that you haven’t already stolen from them? And what apology will be heard, by the dead and the unborn?

I imagine those who instituted the program and pushed it into high-gear after WWII – they are likely all beyond justice.

I hope they’re getting forked right alongside Hitler.

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Proponents of eugenics are currently within the federal government. Obama's science advisor John P. Holdren has called for a "Planetary Regime" of totalitarian population control measures in his book "Ecomeasures," published in 1977 - years after Eugenics ended in North Carolina. Apparently, he doesn't think the program of Hitler and North Carolina, went far enough, either. Holdren's leading notion in the book called for adding "infertility drugs" to water supplies; his runner-up... require women to apply for licenses to have children.


Saturday, June 4, 2011

The power of dreams

I understand at the genetic level the need to revolt. My genetic make-up comes from a people who are good at it.

Still, it is disheartening to read the word, as written by modern-day Americans and friends, in response to the perceived – and often very real – dismissal and disdain shown by our elected officials for those who elected them. The response is almost universal now amongst regular folks everywhere … “remove these pretenders from office before they can do any more harm.”

I cannot disagree with the reasoning, but I do disagree with the common reasoned solution.

The question really is: what you believe? And it really is that simple. Consider history.

From 1929 to 1933, the United States was in the throes of the Great Depression. Simultaneously, massive errors in farming practices and natural weather patterns produced the Dust Bowl – and brought devastation to the western U.S. This all occurred during a time when just a decade previous, the “Spanish” Influenza killed 50 million people worldwide. Within that same timeframe, the end of the “Great War” saw approximately 38 million dead. By 1929, despite a bull market leading up to the depression, the crash still occurred, as well as everything that went with it, there was little reason to hope. In fact, the median for education amongst adults living during the 30s was 8.1 years of school. Only about five percent of U.S. youth had ever seen the inside of a college. Less than 40 percent had completed High School.

Life was dark, much seemed hopeless and beyond the control of man. In many places, people were resorting to anything, for just a little bit of hope. Organized crime flourished – violence, strikes and corruption increased, as did racially motivated killings.

What was needed was not greater control and more grasping for power, but simply, a strength of belief.

January 7, 1929, newspapers carried a new comic strip. Comic strips were very popular due to the literacy level of the average citizen. In this case, the strip was something John Flint Dille had been planning for some time, but which finally came to life with the illustrations of Frank Paul. The story had already begun in 1928 in the August edition of Amazing Stories, as written by Phillip Nowlan., including in the title, the word “Armageddon.”

The comic strip Dille had wanted to produce for some time was all about a single purpose: Produce hope … give people something to believe in. The prologue described a man who had just left the air service after a World War, and through an accident in his new civilian job, became accidentally entombed in a mine – only to awake in the year 2429. This simple prologue was of course, the beginning of a name, which would become known around the world … “Buck Rogers.”

Consider this: What kind of hope do you have for the future? How do you think the next year will develop? What do you think will happen to the United States if we have to suffer through another year of a chief executive’s vacationing, golfing, and systematic disassembly of the economy? What results can we expect with further regulation, further control of people’s day-to-day lives?

If we call the America we currently live in, “Orwellian,” then what hope do we have of escape and rebirth? Remember, this … our society is nowhere near as troubled as that of the generation of the Great Depression. We just need something to catch a glimpse beyond the horizon. We need something to believe in.

The miracles depicted in Buck Rogers include rockets, flying machines, television, two-way video communication, cell phones, digital displays – and many other current conveniences. The truth of the power of the convictions which birthed these things was not found in the adult population of that time – but rather the children. By 1929, the comic was everywhere, featuring not just the resourceful Buck Rogers, but the brilliant scientist, Dr. Huer and the courageous and beautiful companion, Wilma Deering.

Children loved it. It became the longest running comic strip in American history – and that’s the real answer to our country’s current predicament – and the way to escape the feeling of despair, which is fueling anxiety across the nation.

We need the children to get all of us there.

Any adult today is fairly irrelevant if they are not doing their part to inspire and encourage the children and teens around them. Because, like the time of the Great Depression, our days of darkness will not be numbered in a year or two or three – and it will not be a civil project or free money, or war, or any other such scheme which will give us new life and new purpose. As adults, we simply do not have the time necessary to create the beautiful thing which is even now, just out of sight and out of reach. But even if we do, the future belongs to someone else.

It will be the children, who having been stoked on the hopes and possibilities and beliefs of our time, will create the next great world of wonder and growth and development. Their capabilities and talents and truth will create even greater inspiration, if we only help them to get there.

It is this simple: as long as we can find the strength to believe in those children and their imagination, we may someday live in a new kind of world. I see that place sometimes in my rare good sleeps, as a crystalline world in which the best, noblest parts of humankind meet a newly imagined frontier of science, religion, art, renewal, rebirth and most of all …

…. dreams.

We can get there. But only if you believe.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Charlatans


I used to wonder about charlatans.

As a traditional martial art teacher, you see a lot of them. They pop up like weeds in what once was a pristine lawn of real, trained, professionals. The result is, of course, people learn and promote junk technique, and will get themselves and others hurt, trying to perform this stuff in the real world.

These days, there is a new breed of this phony. They wrap themselves in ambiguity, innuendo – or even go so far as to wrap themselves in a uniform.  Then they show up at community events.

It’s no longer cool enough to be a martial artist – now, these maggots have to be SEALS.

A recent “Thank You Soldiers” tribute in Thousand Oaks, California drew some meatball named Salhem Dreasden, replete in a Naval officer’s uniform complete with a trident. Of course, he was a fake, but he’s not alone.

A friend of mine relentlessly pursued the true history of a guy claiming to be a professional martial art teacher and – you guessed it –a SEAL. He is neither thing, but has managed to convince members of the press, a local law enforcement community – and many others, simply because no one looked closely enough.

My perspective: he was apparently compensating for something.

It’s everywhere – and it’s going to get worse.

I once visited a martial arts school where they gathered around in a comfortable circle at the end of practice and exchanged lovely stories about how compassionate and forgiving and gentle, etc., their original teachers were. I don’t know if they did this to determine my background – or if they do that kind of stroking regularly there, but when asked, I gave them the truth:

My training was painful, is still ongoing after decades – as I will always view myself as a student – and my teachers were anything but compassionate. They were hard men who scared the crap out of me, and to this day, I am very careful when I am on the mat with them. Practices were a slice of Hell. Earning my 1st Dan (first degree black belt) was the culmination of a decade of work, and one of the greatest honors of my life. Bones broke, joints dislocated, and I did all of it in a foreign country while serving in the Air Force with the 501st Tactical Missile Wing. Look it up – a nuclear missile system, which helped bring an end to the Cold War.

The practices were hard and uncompromising. I’d pay real money to be that young and do all of it again.

Of course, the greatest single honor of my life was finding my wife and knowing my children. Following that – I was fortunate to serve in the U.S. military. I was a Sergeant. I was no one important. I served with people who were important - they were great men and women back then – and would become greater in time. The military was often hard and uncompromising.

I loved it and would give away a lot just to wear the uniform one more time. And although I often dream of it - that will never happen.

But what is guaranteed to happen is this: Today or tomorrow, I’ll bump into an alleged 10th Degree such-and-such at the grocery store, or online. I’ll get to hear bullshit stories from some dweeb who is so insecure, he has to fabricate a background. They are like lint or pillballs, I can’t keep them off of me – away from me. I have been coated in these creatures for decades.

I know how sick it makes me feel. And I know how disgusted it makes others feel, but I have to wonder what that says about us as a people? Are so many people so insignificant – so worthless – that they have to become a lie?

They can – of course – never be reached for comment.

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For the fakes, I have this to say:            Grow a pair. 

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Why we cry

Watch the sun go down and you have to hope it will come up again tomorrow.

That’s the reason, it is said, that seagulls cry – because they see the sun sinking and believe the night will be eternal. Coyotes cry for a much different reason, according to many Indian tribes.

And no one knows why whales cry.

Humans cry for so many reasons, there aren’t names for them all. But sometimes, they cry for the same reasons as seagulls – the end of the world really does happen every day. For someone, somewhere, an accident, illness or just the weight of the years piled upon them, pulls them away from the world we know, into a place no one has ever returned from.

Look out at the night sky and see the stars. Whatever your viewpoint, the vastness of the great ocean of black is only made more real by those tiny points of light. One native American tribe attributes those lights to an accident – a cosmic splash of flowers from a great bag – flowers the creator had intended to place in perfect patterns, so the creatures of the world would always know he was real.

We often suffer through doomsday claims and for some, a countdown and expectation of something perfect and complete, just around the edge of night. Yet we are still here, imperfect with our wishes and hopes and cruelties and crimes.

We remain here to continue in our days, knowing that another sunset is coming. And in all of the moments between the time we open our eyes in the morning and close them at day’s end, we somehow lose sight of the truth that each breath we take, represents a moment in which somewhere else, the world is ending – or at least changing irrevocably for someone else. And of course in that same moment the world is beginning – being born, in every sense that is possible.

On an antique table in a corner of my house is an ancient tooth – not of a whale, but certainly something as large as a whale, that cut through the black of the sea 186 million years ago. The eyes of that creature looked upon a very different Earth. In the time it lived, there were no people yet, but the Earth was already ancient. It swam through the crush of a universe no mind can comprehend.

Time is the greatest mystery and immensity of all. We are lost, trying to stay afloat in its’ waves and currents. But nothing can tread those waters forever. No matter how fearsome or how beautiful a thing is, the truth remains. We know it when we are young, and one incredible day we feel somehow the miracle that we have slowed or stopped everything. In that youth we can stop time, but when we are old, we are only time travelers, remembering better days and trying to forget the days which haunt us. Backward and forward – lives played like some kind of worn film, flickering and crackling – eventually giving way to silence.

Perhaps all the tears shed over the millennia, are simply a reflection of these truths: The sun rises and sets and may indeed do so again tomorrow – but the moment we are experiencing right now; that simple spark amidst an eternal fire – is an opportunity to be greater than we were a moment ago, an hour, a day - a lifetime.

If everyone did everything they could to make the world a better place, we would see a day in which no one would fear the night. Hope and compassion would be real - not just words, and we would all know the truth the Creator wanted us to see in the stars.

Perhaps we would even know the meaning of the songs of whales and wolves and the music of a perfect afternoon in an unforgettable place.

We can get there from here, but politics and intolerance, hate and all the ignorance and stupidity we would visit upon each other – all has to be gathered and left to dry and bleach in the sun, until it all shrivels and dries, and is carried away in softness.

Somewhere the sun is going down – and somewhere else a sliver of golden light cuts across the horizon.

The only true mystery remaining is what you will do with this single moment.

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