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Saturday, June 8, 2019

A CERTAIN KIND OF LOVE (IS IT ALL WE NEED?)

"Pride is the deadliest of the Seven Deadly Sins. Ask the Lord to humble you."
So say some clerics and others among the wise.
Now let's pause and ask, what do we generally associate with being humbled? Some great loss or series of losses that puts our pride in the dust? Tell the truth, y'all. How many of us think that's what humbling means?
Personally, my greatest humbling comes with the realization, sinking in below the neck, that I really am LOVED. My dear wife actually believes I really rock and acts accordingly. And when someone 'with skin', to use a four-year-old's expression, loves you and yet knows your imperfections--when this is truly a love between equals--I know of nothing more humbling than that to anyone with half a conscience. And God's love for us becomes all the plainer thereby as well. For many of us who are Christians, realizing the depths of God's Love in Jesus brings forth such a humbled mindset. At least I think it ought to. And this is what the breaking of patriarchy can lead to more of: love between equals.
Love between us and animals and/or children is a great and good thing too, but it's not between equals. And no reader of mine who is a parent cannot know how quickly the worshipful expression in a small child's eyes becomes the skeptical look of a pre-teen and then the mixed looks of teenagers. There's a lot to go through before THAT'S between adults more or less, not so? That is, for those who can reach that point.
I have to wonder: is this something of which patriarchy's defenders are deathly afraid? Do they disbelieve in such love to the extent that they'll die with their false prides (and likely take most of us with them) rather than open themselves to such love? Maybe this is really the heart of the question, but anyone with different ideas is more than welcome to say otherwise. Just argue civilly and to the point; that's all I ask.

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

NO LONGER A JOKE

A dialogue from Hamlet:

It was that very day that young Hamlet was born, he that is mad, and sent into England.

Ay, marry, why was he sent into England?

Why, because he was mad, a' shall recover his wits there, or, if a' do not, 'tis no great matter there.


Why?

'Twill not be seen in him there; there the [people] are as mad as he.

These lines used to elicit roars of laughter from English audiences. I both hope and fear that might not be the case right now.
On my dad's side of the family, I am largely of English descent. And when I say English, that is exactly what I mean. I do not use 'British' and 'English' interchangeably and if I hear any of y'all doing so, I'll put you right about that right quick.
I used to be very happy to be of English descent. I revel in our language that is, for me, both native and ancestral. I am very proud to be one of the people that taught much of the world that transitions of power need not be bloody (except perhaps verbally) and who insisted through centuries that all are under the law, even the king. Rex non debit sub homini esse, sed sub deo et lege. The king is below no one, but below God and the law. And I confess to a certain amount of guilty pride in being one of a people of empire-builders, even while I know 1) native and Celtic auxiliaries did a good chunk of that building, 2) we English have acted in ways contradicting our ideals often enough as to be a byword for hypocrisy among our Scots, French and, sometimes, our German neighbors (big whup, right?) and 3) the whole notion of empire-building is under severe, hostile, and at least partially justified scrutiny these days. But I invite the scrutinizers to ask themselves: how sincere are you? Some of you may be doing no more than virtue-signalling, or you might be Noble Savage freaks (and I have less use only for open or covert racists and other bigots than for both of you)--or you might just be sore losers or their descendants. Japan still calls itself an 'empire'; not so? Just an example to make the point.
Being a lifelong student of history has left me with, among other things, an interesting array of pictures which certain songs bring up. Images brought up by two songs in particular seem relevant here: when I hear Bennie And The Jets, my mind dredges up pictures of the 1897 Diamond Jubilee of Victoria's reign. That was in large part a celebration of Empire with which most of our newspapers heartily concurred at the time. And the long version of Light My Fire gives me a taste of how being 'part of the action' in pre-war London a little more than a century ago must have felt, when it was the center of an Empire and, at least, debatably, the center of the globe!
But I'm afraid I also need to tell at least half my cousins back across the Pond that this is 2019, not 1913. The Empire is not about to reassemble itself; even the Commonwealth shows no sign of becoming more cohesive around you. The 'good' kids (we, and maybe Ireland, might be seen as the 'bad' kids here)--Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and, debatably, South Africa and India--are all grown up with lives very much of their own. You have done your part in shrinking the globe and making it one; it is too late to repeal the history of the last seventy years or so.
Right now a serious donnybrook appears to be happening over your way over Brexit. If an heir of those onetime ragtag rebels can suggest something, please have a do-over of that--and this time, please vote to reverse it! A hard Brexit will put you at the mercy of the madman currently usurping the White House by occupying it and too many of you seem determined to bring about exactly that! Many of you who think you lost your jobs because of Brussels probably lost them because of the reeking greed of your bosses in fact but which was labelled 'Market Forces'. That is, the owners concluded they could fatten their pockets more by building elsewhere! If you're surprised, then shame on you for all the labor-struggle history many of you seem to have forgotten.
Is the EU not democratic enough for you? OK, I get that, but work within it in order to democratize it further! Put the 'exceptionalism' aside awhile and link up with French, Germans, Italians, Beneluxers and others who feel the whole thing is too top-down as opposed to bottom-up and start working to CHANGE that!! Can't that be done more effectively from within than from outside? Seems to make sense to this Sassenach, anyhow!
If you carry Brexit through, you are most likely to wind up a sorry satrap to us here. Not something I want to see anymore than you do. Rethink, re-vote--and return. If you do, the above lines might produce rollicking laughter among you again.
London was, debatably at least, once the world's effective capital. Inside the EU, it can and will still be a great European center and maybe a world center. Outside, its destiny will be a certain Jethro Tull album. Guess which one I mean. And the above lines will be a bitter joke for at least the rest of our days.

Sunday, February 17, 2019

IN FAVOR OF STRIVING WITH GOD

For some time, these thoughts have been taking shape, helped by this memory, this quotation, this idea and that notion.
Within the bounds of those who are, or claim to be, 'spiritual' people there's a division which cuts across traditional religious lines. On one side are those for whom, like myself, faith is a process which works through doubt and is thereby deepened and strengthened. This is sometimes a quiet, but always a robust, faith as measured by these criteria: such a robust, living faith welcomes questions, can answer criticisms cogently, gives mockery a pitying smile and spurns any state's efforts to 'strengthen' it.
On the other side are those whose 'faith' seems to be chiefly based on the denigration of others on any basis handy, be it 'race', ethnicity, recited creed, sex or sexual orientation, not to mention economic class. This in and of itself is enough to mark such a 'faith' as dry, brittle and moribund. It seeks with desperation to squelch questions, criticisms and mockeries even to the point of begging the state to help shore up its shell. Their adherents seem to associate bliss with not having to think a whole lot--or at least are told to believe this by their clerics, whether imams or priests. This by itself flies in God's Face--the God which we are commanded to love with all our mind as well as heart, soul and strength. Switching off one's mind is the opposite of this and leads in turn to walling off one's heart to be shared only within Our Group, by whatever other name it may be called.
As a Christian myself, I am instructed to use the life of Jesus as a 'lens' through which to read Scripture. I don't know what 'lenses' Jews or Muslims may so use for theirs although I can't help reflecting that Spinoza was a lens-grinder. Maybe for them it's on more of an individual basis, but this much I do know: such lenses have to be crafted for growth of each of us with and towards God. No one ever did Islam a greater injury than the fool who said some eight centuries ago that 'The gates of ijtihad are now closed.' 'Lenses' built with the intention of blinding or bullying people into submission cannot be of God but are of the Enemy!
Those with a living faith eagerly grasp at the idea of being able to become children of, and eventually co-creators of, God's Realm. Those without such a faith usually have difficulty with this notion and wind up committing one of two mistakes. Either they conclude only We are God's True Children OR they say, 'God does not need children. We are his slaves.' Can such a God be all that Merciful and Compassionate? Seriously, Worst of all, sometimes they can say one and act out the other.
Well, it IS true that God does not need children. But with God, His needs (He has none) are not the point. But God wants us to be able to become His children and help Him create His Realm here on Earth! Is this not what a God Who is Love would want for all of us? We all need to do some serious re-examinations of our various faiths and practices and see what helps us grow in heart, mind and soul in our faiths--and what does the opposite! Get rid of what stunts such growth and nourish that which encourages it, wherever we find each item.
This is deep matter, so don't be afraid to dive into it as often as each of y'all needs to. Blessings to all of my readers!

Thursday, January 3, 2019

TO THE POLITICALLY DISENGAGED

This post is primarily for those who have, for whatever reason, disengaged from the political process and the corresponding functions — especially that of voting.
Now, I know that many, indeed a dangerously growing number of you, are simply too tired and otherwise taxed to take much if any notice of politics. While I, having worked as a caterer, can certainly understand this, even to you I must repeat: elections have consequences. And the consequences of the last election are at work making, or at least aiming to make, your already-difficult lives even harder. I can understand that, between worrying about your own health and the disaster a serious illness would be and the need to hold down two (more?) jobs or keep that tiny business going simply to feed the kids and make sure they stay safe at school, you feel there isn’t enough of you to be a real citizen instead of a mere subject, a helot, a serf to the criminally and obscenely wealthy. I suggest you start thinking again about politics, even if you can only do so during your commutes either in a car or on public transportation. Start with how hardly anyone — IF anyone — speaks for you. Then ponder what you might be able to do under current circumstances. It might be as small a thing as a potluck or a cookout with neighbors on a day off where you can all seriously talk about how you and many others like you might actually participate in active change for the better. Take it step by careful step; I don’t want y’all neglecting family (including pets) or anything else you cherish for ‘bigger things’. I’m all for doing ‘small things with great love’ as a recently canonized saint put it.
Now, to those who have disengaged for less urgent reasons, here come my sternest words. You, without the pressure of necessity and under the illusion that politics is extraneous to ‘real life’, have chosen to degrade yourselves from citizens to subjects. And by so doing, you may have also become a fit instrument to degrade others into subjection as well. Maybe most of you are more ‘I-do-my-thing-you-do-your-thing’ types, but if you are, tell me this: when a wannabe despot says to you, “You ain’t doing your thing no more; all of you WILL do MY thing and ONLY my thing.”, what will you do then?
 I suggest you take serious stock to see whether you’ve lost the habit of common action either for certain improvements OR, perhaps more importantly, against internal threats that come disguised — that is, they’re not dark-skinned with black berets or shades. Nothing has brought me closer to despair than to see how many breaches of rights, how much blatant and unapologetic corruption it takes to get y’all to grab the nearest pitchforks, torches or whatever else may be at hand!!
The two main parties are NOT all the same and at least one still has an active wing for real change! I wanna know, what will it take to get y’all to step up to the level of citizens and TAKE PART?! I can certainly understand it if big money and the corruption that comes with it has disgusted you; that’s the basic reason I didn’t go into politics in the 1980s — I could see where the incessant begging for money was going even then!
I’m making myself a candidate for President of the United States with an entirely different campaign. This campaign will be largely online and I won’t be asking for ANY money if I can avoid it. For this campaign, the process is a big part of the point. If you support my platform (to which there will be a link at the end of this post) and like the idea of an entirely differently-engineered campaign, you can share this post along with an earlier one titled Is This Really Such A Loony Idea? with as many others as possible. Find out when the earliest date is to begin collecting signatures to be on the 2020 ballot (and how many are necessary in your state) and then get going on collecting them! I’m conflicted whether or not to be part of a primary or go in as an independent, but time will tell.
As the great Athenian statesman Pericles said two and a half millennia ago, “You may not be interested in politics, but politics is interested in you.” Politics are a condition of human life and Jane Goodall has told us our nearest cousins the chimpanzees also practice politics. That’s right; google it for yourself. If you don’t want to be pushed round by politics then push back — now.
Here’s the link to my current platform — and don’t feel shy about suggesting additions or revisions either. Only one thing anyone needs to give up in this campaign: hate.
http://nopartyline.blogspot.com/2011/06/to-all-my-fellow-americans-especially.html

IS THIS REALLY SUCH A LOONY IDEA?

One morning last October, I read a pair of columns with which I couldn’t agree more. One was by Jim Sleeper and was basically a rant about the spinelessness of most powerful Democrats. This column and another one by Charles Blow which I read this morning have my mental wheels moving. Allow me to quote Jim Sleeper’s last paragraph immediately below and then proceed to my main topic.
“Until and unless Democrats are forced by well organized movements to challenge the regime of casino-like financing, predatory lending and consumer-bamboozling that they’ve done so much to sustain under the falsely compensatory drapery of United Colors of Benetton “diversity,” the true and urgent claims of #MeToo and Black Lives Matter will always lose to the belligerence of the Brett Kavanaughs and the bitter resentments of the less “entitled” politically incorrect.”
Maybe ‘guerrilla’ political campaigns are a way to do this. I’m thinking harder than ever about launching a ‘stealth’ campaign for president (and encouraging others to do likewise for Congress and state legislatures if and when necessary) which , I hope, can also prove to be an end run around big money. There’ll be a link to my current ‘platform’. at the bottom of this post. What I want to do is share the platform with the clear understanding that the overriding job for all of us must be ‘save the planet’. Some concerns at least appear more urgent, but none are longer range. And in order to tackle longer-range concerns than we’re generally doing now, anyone who runs for office under this platform has to have at least two, maybe three, essential traits:
1) The ability to listen without an ‘override’ style
2) A strong sense of themselves quite apart from being politically powerful persons
3) An understanding that there ARE rule-or-ruin groups and individuals (like patriarchalists, fossil-fuel billionaires and Islamists, to use three examples) and they MUST be dealt with very sternly indeed across the board!
Since I have neither the means nor the time to travel, I will ask political friends and allies in all the states if they’d circulate petitions to put me, and anyone running for other offices, on the ballot there. I’m not even sure they need to let me know; maybe I too should be surprised in November 2020.
You may think this a quite loony idea; well and good. But just let it simmer and imagine ‘stealth’ campaigns using low-cost communications and making an end run round big money by people who won’t feel themselves non-entities without more power than the rest of us! And imagine the MSM caught entirely, or almost entirely, by surprise on Election Day — but this time for something really good!
I admit to having no political experience but I have watched and studied politics for half a century (since I was almost 12). I also know a good deal of history, geography, theology and the Bible. I also itch to throw the ‘religious’ Right off the ground I see them as having usurped. In any case, my observations and knowledge dwarfs the current usurper — yeah, not like that’s too difficult, I know.
If, after mulling this over, this appeals to you, please share it with those who you know to be political allies in each state so we can get things rolling. Let’s make this a campaign where the people can say, “We did it ourselves.” Another post, more to the disengaged, will follow hard upon this.

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

STRATEGY ON 'MONDAY MORNING' AND ONWARD!

OK, everyone. We won a sizable victory last night, but now is not the time to rest on laurels by any means!
I suggest we're in a position like that of the Allies in September 1914 after the First Battle of the Marne (the 'miracle' of the Marne battle). We haven't won the war but just that battle: we have saved Paris from the Hun.
Let's be thankful that last night turned out to be analogous to September 1914 and not to June 1940 by all means but let's also remember that First Marne determined no more than that World War I would continue. Our enemies (and, yes, I use that term as, by whom and, more importantly, WHAT they've supported and continue to support they make themselves our enemies and the enemies of the best things in our common country) will retrench. They are still strong, still a host mighty in battle and still with utterly no scruples what they do to either take power and wealth or to hold on to it. We need mimic them only in pulling no punches, but they supply us with so much material we needn't lie about a thing; just lose no time in throwing all THEIR lies back in their teeth, exposing ALL their hypocrisies, hammering home the ramifications of everything THEY want for everyone and, also, marshalling images dear to most of us except maybe the hardcore racists. Remember the 7-9 million people who voted for Obama twice and then fell for Trump: we need to welcome them back. Don't waste time with trying to curry favor with those who, consciously or unconsciously, are ruled by their bigotries. Continue organizing, teaching and engaging people who have (and, mostly, not without good reason) grown disenchanted with the whole business of politics. Continue teaching others how to tell truth from lies and continue learning more of that ourselves. Some of you may need to ask yourselves if you've fallen for anything coming from Pallywood. It isn't that hard to swipe uniforms and weapons that at least look 'Israeli'. But that's all on that for now. The main point is, the war continues. Let's be thankful we won this battle (although I ACHE at losing four Southern elections--two gubernatorial and two senatorial--by whiskers even while I'm heartened our people only lost BY whiskers!) and prepare for the next ones, starting right now. Again: continue organizing, teaching and engaging! That's the best preparation for the coming fights!
God bless y'all; God save the United States and enable us to build democracy anew and extend its practice further than ever before!

Sunday, September 30, 2018

THE THREE 'LEGS' OF REAL MANHOOD

I don't know if this administration is one of the last kicks of white male patriarchy, aka white male assholery, or whether it's a serious comeback. I want to believe the former! But in any case, I suggest that such assholery is the absolute negation of what I understand to be REAL manhood. And in this post I'll say a bit about what I understand to be the three legs of the tripod of true manhood.
1) INTEGRITY: Your habit is to speak what you have seen to be true and just. You speak out against bullies and speak out against those who bully others before yourself. If possible, settle the hash of such rotters yourself. But understand having your ignorance be made plain is NOT bullying you; then it befits you to ask questions as to what you may be missing! In NO CASE do you lie to a woman in order to lie with her or try to inebriate her to the same end! And remember: real men apologize if they've done wrong or have made mistakes. It's the overgrown frat BOYS who can't or won't do so! You make a habit of the truth--NEVER of lies!!
2) RESPONSIBILITY. You make a decision and abide the consequences. Real men may and should seek to mitigate the ill effects of a bad decision (especially to others) but don't make excuses--and learn the difference between excuses and real explanation! Acknowledge your part in mistakes without varnish. Again, real men apologize and do what they can to make real amends to others affected by such decisions. You do not build yourself up by tearing down others; rather when you build up others who are struggling you may find you build up yourself as well!
3) COURTESY. Unless someone has already shown his/her assholery already, let your language be civil and courteous to all--to a janitor as to a judge. The flip side of this is making it clear, when faced with assholery, that's what's happening.
A real man does NOT allow his hormones to overrun someone else's stated boundaries but rather is master enough over his hormones even to the point of being able to halt them like braking a car just in time. But if you feel you're being dishonestly 'played with', especially by a girl or woman, civilly take your leave and GO. If they want to know why, tell them. If they still try to snow you, then leave. If they genuinely try to apologize or explain honestly, feel free to reconsider. Otherwise, withdraw! Take differences of race, ethnicity, orientation, etc., in stride and do what you can to bridge such gaps. This is done usually by careful listening and asking of questions with a frank acknowledgement of your own ignorance in the matter at hand.
This may be the beginning of something larger; I don't know if I'll have more to say on this matter, but suffice it for me to say: three things, and only ALL these three things together, make a man out of a boy, overgrown or otherwise: INTEGRITY, RESPONSIBILITY and COURTESY!