Monday, May 28, 2018

America, 2018: The Whole Truth

There is much to celebrate in America. Yes, that I know, and for all the good and all the great, I give thanks.

Some would call attention only to the good and to the great, but that's not enough for emotional or political health. We have to face the stark realities of a mixed story, filled with sorrow, blood, violence and death.

We have to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, to free ourselves from the current divide pulling us apart, and giving rise to instincts and behavior originating, not in the heart of a human being, but in what's left of our reptilian brain.

We are:

A land of genocide and slavery.
   A land of lynchings and Jim Crow.
      A land of Trails of Tears.
         A land of internments and prisons.
            A land fraught with fear of the other,
A land of Sacco and Vanzetti, and Ethel and Julius Rosenberg, and Joe McCarthy.
   A land of manic religion and self-righteousness, full of Jesus-talk and devoid of his Spirit.
      A land of military might and industrial power.
         A land ripping to shreds the earth, fouling air and water, and grabbing the money.
            A land where politicians are bought and sold with ease by the NRA.
A land where a president (in name only) has a child's mind and a vindictive personality disorder, and 36 percent of the population think he's terrific.

Until America can face these realties, the divide will continue to grow, and the cancer eating away at our soul will intensify, because a land cannot long survive on half-truths and lies; a nation that cannot tell the truth about itself will not stand the test of time.

The Lord of History is kind and patient, but not endlessly so. The annals of time are replete with failed histories, great and storied nations that ran aground and sunk on the rocks of falsehood and dissimulation.

It hurts to tell the truth, but it's a hurt unto humility and healing and hope.

Monday, May 21, 2018

FDR, the New Deal, and the GOP

It was FDR and the New Deal that made America Great, that took us through the Depression, wrote labor laws, won the war and gave us the middle class.

All along the way, FDR understood the plight of working America and the hatred held in the heart of the Ruling Class for the worker.

Now, with a Supreme Court in its pocket and a Congress more than happy to kick the American Worker in the teeth, the GOP is dismantling what made America Great. We are on our way to making America Ugly Again. Hoover just rose from the grave and said to the Supreme Court and to the GOP: "Well done, good and faithful servants."

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Ugly Capitalism

Capitalism pits everyone against everyone else, in the quest for wellbeing, happiness, safety and a variety of other and similar private interests; ultimately inducing a blindness to the larger community and its needs, the needs of the poor (who are then labeled as "losers"), all the while diminishing critical elements of human nature: viz., altruism, sacrifice, and mercy. 

There is, of course, no "economic system" pure and blameless; where there is money, property, and capital, of any kind, there will be a race to grab as much as one can. In the very nature of any such race, some will, for a million different reasons, mostly the luck of the draw, end up with more, and it's the more that allows them to further game the system and tilt the board to again further their private interests, until we end up with the ugly 1% who dominate the game completely.

Yet, some systems mitigate the worst instincts of our reptilian brain, and I'd offer that democratic socialism is one such system, combining the strength of a healthy competition, the race to get somewhere, and the discipline of paying attention to the larger community and its needs, the common good, which may well require one to put a damper on private interests for the sake of the long-term wellbeing of the environment and society. 

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

There Is Another America

There is another America.*
One gracious and kind.
Wise and giving.

With leaders who care.
And schools that excel.
And churches filled with hope.

Churches and mosques and temples.
Gatherings of those who care and love.
Who believe in God, or the gods, or the universe.

A land of vision and sorrow.
Sorrow for the buffalo.
And Indigenous Peoples.

Sorrow for slavery.
And sorrow for our greed.
And sorrow for our hideous ambitions.

And vision, too.
The undying vision of liberty, welcome and inclusion.
The vision of peace and wellbeing.

With strong government to keep in check:
The worst of our financial impulses.
To promote the sharing of wealth.

Women and men of integrity.
To walk the halls of congress.
And sit upon the bench.

To enact the common good.
To defend it's reach and breadth.
To build up and make good.

For all its people.
And all its creatures.
All the trees and all the birds.

Yes, there is another America.
It's my America.
And yours, too.

Let freedom ring.
Let truth be told.
Let our beloved Statue of Liberty be proud.

Of the America we are.
The America we must be.
The America of which we sing:

O beautiful for spacious skies,
For amber waves of grain,
For purple mountain majesties
Above the fruited plain!
America! America!
God shed His grace on thee,
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!

*Inspired by Kay Boyle's 1953 essay in "The Nation," "Farewell to Europe" ... from her book, "Words that Must be Said Somehow" ...

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Who Needs to Own a Gun?

Who needs to own a gun?
Who needs a gun case?
Let's talk hunters.

How about popup gun rentals?
When hunting season opens.

Like fireworks stands.
For the Fourth.

Like car rental agencies.

A hunter can rent a gun for the season.
Selecting from a wide range of bang-bangs.
Along with ammo.
And insurance.

And have the gun at home for the season.
When hunting season ends.
The gun is returned.
End of the deal.

As for practice.
Gun ranges ... with guns to use.
For a fee, of course.
Shoot away to sharpen the eye.
Rent the same weapon to get a feel for it.

And when hunting season opens, rent the same weapon.
From the popup?

Who needs to own a gun?

Thursday, February 15, 2018

On Moral Revolutions

Appiah, Kwame Anthony, in his fine book, "The Honor Code," writes of moral revolutions that changed the world ... when people, who once accepted and defended certain practices, came to understand how shameful these practices were, and though some always remain loyal, the practices were outlawed and ultimately removed from society.

The practices he examines are 1) Dueling in England, 2) the binding of women's feet in China, 3) the Atlantic slave trade, and 4) various "wars" against women.

I think our "love of guns" fits these parameters, and I'm quire sure that at some distant date, Americans will come to see just how shameful gun ownership is because it's NOT simply a matter of owning a gun, but a whole world of myth and religion and power and pride and money behind it.

It is the LOVE of guns that dishonors us, and it's the ceaseless defense of it, with lies that distort the reality of what the prevalence of guns are doing to our society, and silly, adolescent, stories about self-defense and "saving our families," and "the only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun."

There will be a time when Americans hang their heads in shame that we embraced such foolishness.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Never Blame the Gun

Blame the shooter.
Blame his parents.
Blame the bullies.
Blame the school:
Teachers, principal.
And the janitors.

Blame the godless liberals.
Blame Obama, and Hillary, too.
Blame the full moon.
Blame demons and werewolves.
Ors and goblins.

Blame the absence of prayer in our schools.
Blame the absence of Bible reading.

Blame movies.
Blame video games.
Blame God.

But, for heaven's sake.
Never, ever, blame the gun.

And the mindless NRA.
And all the gun-loving toadies.
Who believe in Gun Almighty.

Blame everyone, blame anyone.
Blame, Blame, Blame.
Blah, Blah, Blah.

But, never, ever.
Blame the gun.