Reflections on Divisions

There is a divide growing in the US larger than the Grand Canyon.The Grand Canyon is a spectacular natural wonder, whereas events leading up to the scope of this divide have been anything but. 

Quite literally, Americans have been cleaved along lines of those for Democracy, equality for all; those who are ‘pros,’ pro choice in every way. We support each other in the enjoyment of freedom in all its forms; we help those less fortunate without exception and generally pay our due in the hope that all might have the chance to simply live. 

Then there are those who blindly follow charismatic leaders, despite often dehumanizing actions and efforts to maintain a certain social order, class and gender segregation, and the established dominion of white male supremacy. I have asked myself many times why women, in particular would support this sort of person, the sort who openly brags about ‘grabbing them by the pussy’ and diminishes women of intelligence, empathy and of course color. The sort of person who would rob them of choice and even their own children. (The fiasco at the Mexican border has become a wretched second Berlin Wall.) Just because it hasn’t happened to them does not mean it is not happening. 

In the end, I must conclude that fear is the culprit. Fear of change, of losing their privilege, of being in unfamiliar territory with those different from themselves. Somehow these dear folks have lulled themselves into greater and greater actual peril by simply not wanting to think for themselves. By simply not doing their due diligence when it comes to what they espouse. Many are Christian, yet fail miserably at the very principles Jesus taught. These principles are ridiculously simple, yet are made complex enough that people believe they need someone (usually male) to interpret ‘the word of God’ for them. Do they not realize that too often this goes according to selfish motives and whims needed to control congregants and fill coffers? When these sorts of masses give, god bless them, it is too often role driven. Secure in their place in society (or so they imagine/assume), they are convinced their actions are benevolent toward often-distant people they support through comparatively meager donations motivated by needed tax breaks. The recipients are likewise grouped under labels: poor and victim leap to mind, yet their actual lives and personal histories are as far removed as outer space. Thus it is easy to label these others as welfare cases, leeches sucking blood out of a society just trying to move its privileged forward. The givers have not broken bread with these desperate factions of societies; have not listened to their stories nor experienced any sort of cultural diversity, first hand. 

Always one to support divergent views, I have found myself so alienated from those hypnotized by the current government as to not have much of anything remaining in common. If we were to get together, what on earth would we talk about? And so I am left to will them my best intentions, and call it good. I have no desire to listen to rationalizations and justifications for their behavior, as there simply are none that can account for exclusions and suppressions of ‘undesirables’ in the eyes of these few. We have no time to indulge ignorance anymore. Global warming is real, this is not open to dispute, listen to science or go back to the cave of ignorance at your peril. The Sixth Extinction is upon us, and we are in the throes of a massive pandemic that is not going anywhere soon. To turn a blind eye to these sorts of wake-up calls is to negate our responsibility as human beings toward the Collective, our sisters and brothers as well as all sentient beings and the environment we depend upon for our very existence.

None of us chose color or gender, we were all and equally born into this life, albeit into very different circumstances. Life is short. We are tiny, less than microscopic specks in a universe filled with wonder. To hold any sort of self importance in a day when sharing and collaborating to figure out how humans might continue occupying space on this amazing spinning ball called earth is truly all we have time to do. And it will require all our creativity, all our heart in order to accomplish a badly needed shift away from established consumerist, exclusionary practices. Opening our eyes to the realities of the time is not only preferable anymore, it is imperative. Be the change you want to see. And if that change has only to do with you and yours, it may be time to rethink priorities. Bless you all.

In the Clouds

Bring yourself, oh mortal, down
from strata high above,
perhaps we should remind you
that attention is not love;
It’s fine to think you’re welcome
here among us in our midst,
still, you might not care to hear
that you’re no better than the rest;

The boldness of your rally is
beyond what some can bear
while your brothers, sisters carry
all the stardust to your hair;
Let it twinkle deep inside you
so you know that you are blest,
while you eat and shit and suffer
in the galleys with the rest;

It gets lonely, I’d imagine,
you unable to decide
if those gathering around you
only jump on for the ride;
still, you yearn for fame and fortune
while the vacuum grows within
even thought at times you wonder
who’s the butterfly or pin;

On you ramble and you roll
exchanging favors for a smile,
and you know the jig gets hard
when you are dancing all the while;
never pausing, rarely stopping,
the insanity goes deep
and it fills you to the eyeballs
spreads like fungus on the creep;

Then the questions do provoke you
with self loathing and a jinx
when it strikes hard with a blight
you can’t endure like desert Sphinx;
that you’re drowning in delusion
feeling worthless to the core,
as your long-sought admiration
has reduced you to a whore;

Still, awash within the knowing
you’ll survive this, will endure
you await the dispensation
like some bounding, drooling cur;
let me say this with compassion
for your ignorance runs deep:
it’s time for pulling back the sword,
that journey is complete.

 

 

Of Cabbages and Kings

When first I met you, bright-eyed one,
brow creased, corners of that small mouth
turned down in concentration,
trying to understand the mind of God
as if I might help you do that;

None you sought failed in this,
not even those blue foggy mountain ridges
where eagles soared above scanty
treelines, altitude heady even as it slowed
your increasingly ragged breathing,
beloved four-footeds trotting by your side
uncomplaining, ranging wide and low
over earth’s most sacred ground;

Each conifer holds in her tangle of hair
enough wisdom to stack all the ancient
philosophers on a ship bound for nowhere
listing heavily, as may be, to one side,
while Mother Nature holds court
on the other, no comparison, try
as we might to capture a fragment
of enlightenment in this time capsule
known as life;

But you understand this now in your place
of refuge, don’t you, smiling from
that small sliver on the great wheel
of continuum, and all those bored games fade
into oblivion in the face
of the knowledge you have gained
since residing in that Great Beyond.

Body Politic

I worry in these times of tumultuous inequality,
masses awaiting what passes as wisdom,
poured liberally from the lips of the rich and famous
as if one’s financial status automatically confers erudition;

At the very least, living amidst the bizarre loosens folds
in grey matter focused on reaction over contemplation,
hypnotic numbness over long-term reflection, titillation
over absorption in the sweat-soaked trenches
of a technology-drenched deluge that,
like a flash-flood moving to channel the surge
before disappearing into a trickle, seeks
its inevitable end in the inane wasteland
of a desertified experiment in trial and terror.

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AMERICAN POLITIC

It is the job of some to do the work for all.
This I understand.
Yet I am left wondering about too many,
eyes averted from the truth, blinking
like newborns at the brilliance of the sun,
backing away into the shadows, scheming.

How to take back our humanity, discovery
a personal thing, willingness being key;
participate in the collective, even
from the sidelines, but join in, rather
than turning away in futility;

Each arrives prepared to express uniqueness, yet
for whatever reason, a loss of heart ensues,
futility slips into cracks in well maintained veneer,
mistaken for what’s real; in the meantime, stuck
in the mire of illusion that it’s somebody else’s fault.

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FIREWORKS

 

Tomorrow our nation will celebrate its roots and we ourselves will go in search of a fireworks display. Some of my fondest memories are of lying supine on velvety summer grass, gasping at vibrant hues exploding over my head. Hearing someone’s toddler gasping, Ooooh, wow! Ooooh, wow! over and over again. Watching the wonder on the faces of my young daughters whose delight is conflicted by the frightening noises surrounding them. Bundling everyone back into the car to wait interminably in traffic before making the journey home to the serenity of the woods and the lake.

For some, this day will carry a much different flavor in their hearts. It will be yet one more reminder, on the virtual tail of Memorial Day, of loved ones lost in battle. In my mind these losses are a tragic failure of an adolescent nation that still jumps to posturing rather than reflection, preferring aggression over conciliation.

Freedom isn’t free. Americans have all heard this, ad infinitum. But there are varying degrees of interpretation to the statement. While I’m thinking of the cost in time, energy and “face” while attempting to reconcile differing viewpoints in order to discover peaceful resolution, others have war on their minds. Freedom remains costly as long as innocent lives are at stake, and war ensures lives, innocent and otherwise, will always be held in the balance. Then there’s the more covert loss of innocence: that of too many eighteen year-old recruits with stars in their eyes and determination creasing tender brows, launching into battles they believe to be noble causes. Yet upon returning, few will tell you – those who can bring themselves to speak of experiences on the front lines – that glory was indeed beheld in the taking of towns and trembling human beings. Thus I remain wary and conflicted on national celebration days.

In Hawaii, locals simply love celebration because it means convening family and friends together to enjoy food and festivities and blessed days off work. I love this about the Hawaiian people. Never mind that this is a conquered kingdom; forgive and forget and gather the goodness of what really matters close to your heart. And so it is that we set out in search of fireworks – to join families and peaceful, joyous community who delight in sharing music and laughter and yes, the beauty of exploding lights in the sky. I count my blessings in the grace of living amidst such acceptance and aloha.

 

Yes, We Can!

It’s easy to extol the benefits of freedom if one has nothing much to lose. Harder minding that course when loss is both significant and sure. Concepts are helpful conceptually, but once we are old enough to recognize that certain themes seem to recur cyclically, we are less disposed to blindly cast our lot to the winds of change; more inclined to reflect and determine if we are about to commit the same errors yet again without benefit of the learning.

Knowing the extent to which we are liable for our own impact on the state of the world, it is difficult to stay with the pain and uncertainty of it, to remain centered in wholeness while encountering profound loss. And yet this is our challenge. Stay appeared more the cognomen of my mother’s generation. Stay, despite hardship, another’s substance abuse, in spite of one’s own emotional and physical wounding and utter loss of pleasure in any corner of life, stay. In marked contrast, my generation rebelled, some say rightly so, as we cultivated gratification at any cost; as we exhibited flagrant disregard in maintaining any sort of connection that smacked of self abnegation. Those who protested the Vietnam war and expatriated themselves did so with hardly a backward glance. Idealism reigned; freedom was ours for the claiming. We ran screaming from an impracticable past and the rest of the world noticed and took heart.

Not surprisingly, ours was precursor to the Me generation that followed. Pendulums swing. Now as we surf the long tidal wave of overdue; as it breaks onto shores, severing restrictive bonds especially pertaining to minorities – women, children, the dispossessed – we simultaneously face crises of global proportion. Our own government is corrupt and many social services past generations struggled to establish, including the sacred cow of Social Security, stand thigh deep in jeopardy. As a species on Planet Earth we are running perilously low in available resources, including food and water. Natural disasters further rattle the underpinnings of the collective. Developing nations are rapidly escalating their expansion, striving toward the template of “free” enterprise an adolescent nation created. In the end, who can be held accountable?

The best may yet lie before us, but certainly not without taking stock of what we have shaped and wrought upon the rhythms of the natural world. Denial or justification cannot replace honest soul-searching. We must begin, in earnest now, to actively model and implement sustainable change at a grass roots level. If we wait for our fractured government to make sweeping changes, if we infantilize ourselves before Big Daddy, we stand disempowered; helpless, hapless and ultimately hopeless. The world is watching, it hasn’t given up on us so much as we have given up on ourselves. Like lemmings off a cliff, we’ve been marching into blind chasms of overwhelm and despair. We throw our hands up when they are most needed to work at correcting our trajectory. Can we do it? I’m betting, with a little self accountability providing impetus, we can.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Concrete is heavy; iron is hard – but the grass will prevail.
  ~ Edward Abbey