We all walk ancientrails. Welcome to the journey.

I Care

Lughnasa                                                                            Harvest (new) Moon

20170919_170415

Yesterday, after Ruth’s cross country meet, Kate and I drove over to a Vietnamese restaurant we like on Federal Avenue. A Jeep ahead of us had a full size flag flying from a flagpole attached to the back bumper. It read “American Truckers.” When we got closer at a stoplight, I noticed this strange juxtaposition of bucolic pastime and outright hate speech. It was chilling to me that someone would find, purchase, then choose to display on their rear window such a message.  As DJT might say, Sad!

 

Being in community

Lughnasa                                                                  Eclipse Moon

ancient-scholarI’ve not written about politics here for awhile. A welcome relief to both me and, I suspect, you, the reader. My political energies have become subdued, mostly as I decided to turn my focus to reimagining work, Jennie’s Dead, Ovid and Beth Evergreen. That feels right to me now, though the news pings me daily. What are you going to do about Charlottesville? What are you going to do about climate change? What are you going to do about Korea? What are you going to do about electing a new representative to the Colorado House of Representatives? Of course I know I can do nothing about them alone, the nature of politics is communal, so the choice is to remain isolated.

Beth Evergreen has absorbed my communal energy. Tara Saltzman, director of education for Beth Evergreen, wrote in a note about the bee-oriented hike up Mt. Pennsylvania, “Being Jewish is being in community.” I feel that. I’m part of the community there, doing my part, glad not to be a leader. They accept me, a peculiar offshoot of the Christian and UU ministry, a pagan.

Camus one-cannot-be-happy-in-exile-or-in-oblivion-one-cannot-always-be-a-stranger-i-want-to-albert-camus-123-46-22Next Tuesday those worlds, the political and the Jewish communal, conflict because I volunteered to set up for the adult education events all year, Tuesdays with Morim. At the same time at Grow Your Own, a nearby wine bar cum music venue, Tammy Story, a candidate for the Colorado House is going to speak to the Conifer Alliance for Action. Her opponent, Tim Neville, doesn’t believe education should be public among other strange notions. I’m going to set up chairs and tables at the synagogue.

577407_10151223800114776_1644126159_nTrump is still there, of course. Over the course of the last couple of weeks he’s given aide and comfort to white supremacists and neo-nazis, pardoned a sheriff who broke the law and engaged in inhumane treatment of immigrants. He also made Hurricane Harvey a campaign event. He’s a child, maybe 8 or 9, going off instinct, refusing history and decency. He is the greatest test our democracy has faced in my lifetime, more dangerous to our national fabric than the war in Vietnam and the Cold War. He must be challenged, over and over again, until he final slinks away into the dark place from whence he came. I’m glad there are many engaged in doing just that. I’ll do my part here from time to time, but that’s the balance of my political work for now.

 

 

American Values

Lughnasa                                                                         Kate’s Moon

Indiana_Klan_percentageThe alt-right and Charlottesville, Virginia. Many said this violence doesn’t represent American values. Horsepuckey, as we used to say.

In Alexandria, Indiana, my hometown, we had full-sheeted KKK folk handing out membership applications near the Curve pizza place. In my era the John Birch society was big, its Get US out of the UN billboards in highly visible evidence. There were also the Minutemen, an early militia movement.

Just north of Alexandria about 20 miles is Marion, Indiana where my father worked for several years. A notorious lynching occurred there in 1930. Strangely, years later in St. Paul, Minnesota I made friends with Clarence Davis whose ancestor was one of those lynched.

I can extend this circle of hate to Elwood, Indiana, 7 miles to the west, which had, in my memory, signs that read, No Niggers In Town After Sundown, taken down only after the 1964 civil rights act.

What’s really unnerving is that this was a microcosm, I know these things because I grew up in this general area. Take other 20 mile diameter circles and lay them down over the rest of Indiana, of Illinois, of Iowa, certainly of the south. You could find similar histories, each with their own marks of this violent and oh so American overbelly.

 

 

Fire and Fury. Big, big trouble.

Lughnasa                                                                               Kate’s Moon

My family’s Asian pivot began decades ago when Mary went to an Indiana University campus in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. She’s still in Asia, though now for a long time in Singapore, thirty years or so later. Brother Mark began teaching English as a second language and worked in Taiwan, then in Thailand and Cambodia. He was in Southeast Asia over twenty years and still considers Bangkok his refuge, if not his home. In 1981 Raeone and I welcomed a four-pound, four-ounce baby boy into our home from Calcutta, India. That boy turns 36 this fall. In 2016, after a year long deployment in Korea, Joseph married SeoAh, a native born Korean he met in a coffee shop in Seoul.

SeoAh’s family lives in the south of Korea near Gwangju. Better, I thought, than being in Seoul under the current circumstances, but Joseph says no. He knows far better than I do. This means that all the saber rattling going on between two tyrants with low impulse control is personal. We have family literally in the way of any outbreak of violence.

 

 

 

Baked In

Lughnasa                                                                      Kate’s Moon

earth first“Earth rapidly is approaching the point where the amount of warming locked in by human pollution exceeds the limits nations set last year at the international climate meeting in Paris, according to government-backed research unveiled Monday.

The planet faces “committed warming” by 2.7 degrees before 2100 if fossil fuels are burned at current rates for another 15 years, the scientists based in Colorado and Germany determined.”   Denver Post 7/31/2017

When I took a serious Climate Change MOOC three years ago, the scientists who taught in the course referred to this committed warming as baked in. It was clear three years ago that the attempt to limit warming to 2 degrees would fail for two reasons. One, that amount is baked in by the amount of CO2 already in the atmosphere. Second, the rate of emissions continues to grow overall, not stabilize or decline.*

dark ecologySo there is not only the Donald to wreak havoc with the future, but the already emitted carbon dioxide and other gases like methane.

Yes, we need to make clear to any who will listen that these are the facts, not the fake news of our current government or self-interested fossil fuel barons. And, yes, we need to work toward as much mitigation of emissions and their effects as we can. But. We also need to face the coming changes as they will be and, even, as they probably will be, worse than we imagine.

This means taking a doubled view into the world with us. The first view sees what we can do now as necessary, as critical, yet realizes the messiness of global politics is not going to push over the line to sensible policy. The second view absorbs the first and sees the future clearly rather than through solar powered/wind energized eyes. It’s going to be bad, probably not too bad for those of us with less than thirty years to go in our remaining lifespan, but for our children and their children? Bad, trending to worse.

beltane2017gorbachevHow can we work now to help them be resilient, proactive in their adaptive strategies? How can we work now to help them develop psychological/spiritual tools for coping with the cultural stresses that are inevitable? We cannot brush away the bad effects by magical thinking. Oh, the world will catch on and act in time. No, it won’t and it hasn’t. We need sober work on how to live with changed weather, increased heat, moving targets for animals and crops in terms of altered seasons, the disruptions of sea level rise, spread of insect borne diseases and the like.

This doubled view, pragmatic when looking at the long run, yet hopeful enough to maintain action in the short term, is critical so that we do what we can now, yet plan realistically for our next generation’s life.

*“The annual growth rate has increased since record keeping began in 1960 from just under 1 ppm in the 1960s to more than 2.4 ppm through the first half of the 2010s. The past two years have set a record for the fastest annual growth rate on record.”  Climate Central.org

Less Angry

Midsommar                                                                 Kate’s Moon

johari windowOn the last night of kabbalah a classmate, Cece, chose for her presentation an exercise involving the Johari window. She had this model (illustration) with blank quadrants for each of us. We filled in 3-6 adjectives in the hidden self quadrant, then passed the paper to our left and others added adjectives in the open self quadrant.

It’s a powerful exercise when done in a safe setting. It was powerful here even though many of us had only the other 5 nights of our kabbalah class as baselines for our observations. The information other people give us about ourselves is key to life in groups, but most of the time the feedback involves glances, body language, or indirect observations. Getting direct information about how others see us can increase intimacy and trust. Not to mention that it’s just interesting.

PEACE DYERToo long introduction to the point. One of the others in the group wrote on my sheet, less angry. There were four people in the class who know me from the mussar class on Thursday afternoon and probably remember my agitation after the 2016 election. I was not and am not a happy U.S. citizen, but something has changed for me. I’m not sure what changed, but I am less angry, though I hadn’t realized it.

I did surprise myself a couple of weekends ago when we were in Glenwood Springs with Lonnie and Stefan. Over lunch they both expressed understandable and referented anger at Trump, at the decline of civility, at the danger facing our democracy. “He meets the definition of a fascist.” Stefan said.

“An election can fix most of what’s being done in Washington right now,” I replied. Stefan had quoted an Italian friend from Florence who said, “We had ours (Berlusconi) and know you have yours.” I agreed with that, going on, “Yes, the nativist and alt-right type movements are strong on the continent, but France just turned them back. And, Hillary won the popular vote here.”

peace“Well, what does that mean?” Lonnie asked, “The system elected Trump.” “The electoral college, yes.” I said, “But more people, some 3 million more, rejected him. He does not have a mandate.”

I think the gridlock and deadlock in D.C. right now reflects that rejection. We are a divided people, yes, but we’ve been divided before. We’re still the strongest economy in the world though by some measures China is catching up. Point is, I was voicing a don’t panic, don’t despair attitude toward our current political mess. I agree with the analysis that Trump is a disaster for our country. There’s no question that he and the Republicans are trying to take us to places as a people that are despicable and mean. True that.

But my anger at all of this has been tempered over the last couple of months. I’m just not as reactive. And I like feeling this way. My analysis has not changed, at least not much. I still view both parties as agents of a rapacious capitalism that creates false gods, false gods on whose altars their worshippers would sacrifice the very lives of our citizens. Just look at the idea of “reforming” Obamacare by gutting Medicaid.  With Medicaid expenditures out of the way, their plan goes, draconian tax cuts for the wealthy won’t break the Federal budget. Evil.

soul-mate-heartI still believe that if you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem. But for me, how to be part of the solution has changed, I think. Long, long ago I realized that my anger toward my father, whether justified or not, was hurting only me. Not him. I set it aside. Somehow the same realization occurred to me about politics and only recently. So, I set that anger aside, too.

Now the question for me is how to be part of the solution. I’ve always had a straight line approach to radical politics. Join up with others, focus on an issue at the root of a social ill and work until something good happens. It’s a strategy that has worked for me over and over since the mid-1960’s. I’m moving in a different direction now.

beautifulThis is in part a third phase change. The angry young radical has aged. I can see the finish line from here and want to make the time before my death as fruitful, loving and creative as I can. Anger interferes. I want to write, to spend time with Kate and Jon and Ruth and Gabe and Joe and Seoah, with friends at Beth Evergreen, friends from Minnesota, Mark and Mary. I want to study Latin, kabbalah, China, art. I want to hike in the mountains, travel this state, see the solar eclipse. Obsessing over the insults to our body politic just doesn’t seem useful to me right now.

spiritual-enlightenment-spiritualityLiving well is a political statement I need to make. Politics, in other words, though crucial to our common life, is not the only component of a life well lived and should not be allowed to interfere with the very goal of politics itself: a decent life for all. In my case I’ve often allowed that interference and right now I’m saying enough. The priority for me, now, is this smaller life, the domestic and semi-public life of family and learning and creativity. Feels calmer, more livable, more age appropriate.

 

Independence from DJT

Midsommar                                                                    Most Heat Moon

trumpYesterday was the fourth of July. Our September 16th, viewed from Mexico. Our July 1st, from the northerly perspective of Canada. A day to launch an almost-ICBM from Pyongyang. A day not long after our President, OUR PRESIDENT, released on Twitter a video of himself wrestling, during a WWF event, another person whose head had been replaced by the CNN logo. I can’t believe I just wrote that. I can’t believe I’ve seen the video. I can’t believe DJT is in the Whitehouse.

Sigh. Yes, I can. That’s worse, actually, than disbelief. Disbelief holds out hope that incredulity might synch up with reality. Belief, in fact not even belief, but empirical observation shows that DJT did in fact post such a video and I’ve seen it. He is, too, actually in the Whitehouse, in the Oval Office, behind the desk where President’s sit, his long red tie brushing the floor, his floppy comb over shedding wispy blond hair and flakes of orange self-tanning lotion falling with them. In our Whitehouse. In our Oval Office.

Declaration of Independance

Declaration of Independence

On our Independence Day. Question. How do we get independence from him? And his minions. I know how. Elections. But, can the Democratic party pull off a win in the 2018 elections? Hell, I don’t know. And, more importantly, the 2020 election. Don’t know.

Sitting here on Shadow Mountain, with a beautiful blue sky framing Black Mountain, I’m far away from Washington, D.C. in miles and in altitude. And attitude. A benefit of this distance is no Beltway Fever. I can still see the United States from here, looking toward the humid east, the cold north, the hot dry south and the intermountain West. The mountains defy politics. They stand tall against the arrogance of politics, a granite wall solid, lasting. The cold drifts down from the pole, cooling the overheated rhetoric. The West retains its contradictory spirit of liberty, wide-open spaces and corporate overlords. The south. Well. Perhaps Trump could go unprotected by sunscreen to Arizona.

20170701_094556We are more than our government. We are a nation of vast reaches, landscapes that fire imaginations around the world. We are a nation of immigrants, a nation to which immigrants from that same world still desire to come, even if the xenophobic, chauvinistic politicians infesting Washington try to make us undesirable. We are a nation of hopers and dreamers in spite of the dreamkillers on Pennsylvania Avenue.

Yes, we can lose all this to demagogues and mean-spirited fundamentalist ideologues. But I don’t think we will. Perhaps that’s the nostalgia of an old man for the country of his youth. Perhaps. Except the country of his youth exuded sexual repression, feared communism, had sundown laws, treated women like chattel and children. This country, the one now dominated by fearful men who would like to return to just that time, has seen clear advances in the treatment of women, people of color, various sexual preferences. It is, too, a nation whose economy links it in trade to most nations of the world. So, change is not only possible, it has happened in my lifetime and will, I know, happen again in my lifetime.

Throw the bums out.

 

 

With the Wrong People In It

Midsommar                                                                       Most Heat Moon

imagesJuly is the hottest month, on average, on Shadow Mountain, hence the Most Heat Moon. Yet, this morning the temperature is 38 degrees. Admittedly we’re still in June, but June is hardly the heart of fall. I’m loving the cooler weather, but I feel for the folks experiencing record heat, especially those with inadequate cooling options.

Can you imagine being in a senior citizen high rise with a poorly functioning air conditioner? Or, in an apartment in L.A. or Chicago or New York or Dallas or Atlanta with only fans to keep you cool? In neighborhoods where crime makes you keep your windows closed for safety reasons. Now, take away health insurance, even inadequate health insurance. Hell is city living for the poor in Trump America, only with the wrong people in it.

 

 

Us, not them

Beltane                                                                            Moon of the Summer Solstice

Minnesota remains my home, even as I acclimate to a second home in the Rockies. I’ll always be proud and relieved that Minnesota political culture exists and includes this familiar strain, captured in a song about mining near the Boundary Waters Canoe Area. This was the culture I wish had been heard in the Castile trial.

Hmm. I love the smell of irony in the morning.

Beltane                                                                Moon of the Summer Solstice

Rattled by shooting, lawmakers want more personal protection

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