• Category Archives US History
  • The Great White Whale

    The Mountain Summer Moon

    Wednesday gratefuls: Brakes. Stevinson Toyota. CBE annual meeting. CBE history. Rocky Mountain Cancer Care. Tomorrow. Shirley Waste. Rolling, Rolling, Rolling. The trash containers. Sounds like Thunder. Rain yesterday. Great workout. Faster. 2X resistance. Farmer’s carry added. A short trip to the hallucination store. Great Sol, steady friend.

    Sparks of Joy and Awe: New front brake pads for Ruby

    One brief shining: Knife cutting through tape, flattening cardboard, cleaning out the trash compactor, that ritual of this American life-trash day-requires plastic bins, plastic bags, throwaway plastic, lots of cardboard since we’ve disaggregated receiving docks, turning our front porches into the truck bays of used to be stores, dispersing the burden from corporate trash bins to local residences and local landfills.

     

    Got in 105 minutes of exercise yesterday. With 40 minutes on Sunday that means I only need another 5 to hit my weekly goal of 150 minutes of moderate exercise. Beginning to move faster these days so I’m up in the cardio zone more and more. Started doing a farmer’s carry to improve my grip strength. If Anthony Hopkins can stay fit at 86, why can’t I?

    Cousin Diane has an every other day jog from her home on Lucky Street to Folsom and onto Bernal Heights Park. Buddy Mark and his wife Elizabeth have memberships at Lifetime Fitness, same as my old gym in Coon Rapids, Minnesota. Alan hits the elliptical and the weights every morning at the Spire Condominiums where he lives in downtown Denver. Marilyn does jazzercise at 77. Exercise moves the needle on health span. Worth the effort.

     

    American Renaissance II:

    Been thinking about this more and more. Realized last night that the gang who put I heart the constitution stickers on their cars, who fly American flags from the beds of pickup trucks, who venerate the “founders”, who focus on the second amendment as God’s gift to domestic terrorism have a truncated version of American history. Stuck they are (thanks, Yoda) on a faux legalistic path from the first colonies right down to the streets of Washington, D.C. and January 6th. The history that matters to them is rebellion, not revolution. The golden tablets handed down to Wynken, Blynken, and Nod guide them towards. What? Amurica? A land of guns, liberty, and Christian white folks handed back the reins.

    Where in their journey is Rip Van Winkle? The Knickerbockers? The Scarlet Letter. Thanatopsis. Thoreau. Emerson. Mary Fuller. Emily Dickinson. Herman Melville.

    Perhaps we can see our time as a hunt for the great White whale. Will it bind us as a nation to its watery flanks, entangling us in harpoons and ropes, sending us all on a Nantucket sleigh ride? Will the great White whale then dive and take us, like Ahab, to a deep ocean grave? Seems possible to me.

    We need a fuller, richer understanding of the time when this country came to be. Not only about systems of governance. No. There was poetry. Literature. Broad discourse on the rights of human beings. Benjamin Franklin. How can we lift up the complex, messy, beautiful reality of pre and post revolution early America?

     


  • American Renaissance II

    The Mountain Summer Moon

    Phnom Penh Park Hornbills

    Tuesday gratefuls: The steady string of twists and other plot surprises. Poor Milwaukee. Joanne and I. All these years we’ve worked. Both shake head. Sushi. Evergreen. Yesterday’s afternoon rain. United Healthcare. A James Bond villain in American corporate clothing. Life with cancer. Flonase. An allergy season from heaven. So far. The Hornbills of Phnom Penh. Thanks, Mark.

    Sparks of Joy and Awe: Wild neighbors everywhere

    One brief shining: Went into Nana Sushi in Evergreen right across from the main fire station in the same spot where Thai 101 was a few years back; saw Joanne and she asked would I rather go back to the booths, yes I would because I could put my hearing aid to the wall well when we got back there she told me she’d been sitting in the front because it was easier for her to get up. Dueling infirmities.

     

    Beginning to feel reality slipping away. The shots in Pennsylvania. His fist raised in the oh so ironic Fight, Fight, Fight. Him entering the convention in profile with a large bandage on his right ear. The polls. That documents case for now disappeared. Presidential immunity. Project 2025. As if a thumb has been pressed on the flow of events in my (our) United States of America, tilting them toward putting this guy and his gang of anti-law, anti-constitution, anti-immigration, anti people of color, anti gay and lesbian, anti climate change in power. That’s the reality slipping away. As if a long string of no that can’t be rights has direction and purpose.

    As the wags say though. It isn’t over until it’s over. We still don’t know what the next chapters of the political thriller we’re living in have to offer. Things could change. Couldn’t they?

     

    Let’s talk instead about Ruth’s frog. A tattoo on her right upper arm. She asked for ideas for names. I suggested Twain. You know, Calaveras County. Which BTW is an event that continues to this day. I found this cute picture on the Calaveras County Website.

    Perhaps there is a route through the potential dismal and painful years. An American literary and artistic renaissance. American Renaissance II. A celebration of American art and artists, locally and nationally. Organized readings, classes in person and on zoom, museum exhibitions. Poetry contests. Prizes for new art and artists. A way to remind ourselves of the history of our national spirit. And of our national spirit itself. An oh so important task right now.

    When the Ancient Brothers discussed what they’d do with a quarter of a billion dollar windfall, the last thing I offered involved creating a think tank for the advancement of the liberal arts outside the academy. This could be a big idea. A way to counterpunch. With Emerson and Whitman. Twain and Bierce. Dickinson and Sontag. Oates and Morrison. Copland and Gershwin. Bierstadt and Hopper. Cage and Davis. Monk and Coltrane. Piercy and Hughes.

    I like this idea. Come at them from the side rather than head on. Perhaps defuse defensiveness? This one stays in the hopper. Soft power.


  • Sad to say these things

    The Mountain Summer Moon

    Monday gratefuls: Joanne. Veronica. The Ancient Brothers. Bill at his family reunion in Door County. Avivah Zornberg, a profound commentator on the Torah. 45 and his lucky ear. Biden, elder statesman. This strange, oh so strange, year. Being alive. Hawai’i for Christmas? Murdoch on base. My sweet son and Seoah. Rich. Susan. Tom. Diane. Marilyn.

    Sparks of Joy and Awe: Friends

    One brief shining: The day dawned as Mother Earth spun round to expose us to the life sustaining Light while giving others the blessings of rest and cooler temperatures, the night calming, dark, a time of sleep; Great Sol remains steadfast, always ready to share the benefits of nuclear fusion, protons joining protons, creating helium and sustaining life on Mother Earth.

     

    This cosmic dance of night and day, ready protons in the enormous heat and pressure of Great Sol’s core, our Planet’s orbit, all moving as our galaxy moves, as our local cluster moves, as the universe changes shape, motions constant and the only true state of matter and energy, change, becoming, never still or static or just there. We amuse ourselves with Zeno’s Paradox. You know the one, where the arrow cannot land because it always has half the distance to its target to travel. But this world doesn’t know the strictures of logic, it only knows the demands of novelty, of the forward pull of Whitehead’s creative advance into novelty.

    This One which encompasses this one and that one and the one here and the one all way out there in the most distant galaxy never settles into a steady state but rolls and roils with death, decay, nuclear fusion, breathing and hearts beating, births, the growth and development of life from entity to entity until the last syllable of recorded time. Here’s the Big Surprise! It will, too, last beyond that syllable to transform into what must come next.

    Ok. Enough of that.

     

    Just a moment: The drums have not been silent for years now. The paradiddle of constant political estrangement drowns out the sounds of normal political discourse. In the broader sense I agree with Biden’s call to lower the temperature of our political discourse. We need a more studied, less volatile approach to politics both local and national. Yes, we do.

    However. The reality. One party to those politics wants to drag the nation back to the 19th century when Jim Crow reigned, wants to elevate our national interest over against all others, wants to ruin our electoral process in so many ways, a real dagger at the heart of democracy. Or, should I say, a real bullet from an AR-15.

    I do not see how compromise is possible with racists, America firsters, with those who find authoritarians like Putin and Oban, even Kim Jong Un, men who should be praised and emulated. How is compromise possible with one whose flaunting of our legal system would be beaten down if he were not a candidate for President? And, if successful in his candidacy, who could distort and actively alter that same legal system?

    I am sorry to say these things. I am sad to be in a position where they are my truth. But they are.

    Judge Dismisses Classified Documents Case Against Trump. NYT. 7/15/2024. Only moments after I finished this post.

     


  • Election 2024: the Novel. Another Twist.

    The Mountain Summer Moon

    Sunday gratefuls: The novelist has thrown yet another Big Twist into this election year. Trump’s ear. Oh, my. Red Flag warning today. Red Flag in the day, attention must pay. Numbers. Zornberg’s Bewilderment. Reading. Mitch Rapp. Another week of 150 plus minutes exercise. Radiation consult this Thursday. My son. Seoah. Murdoch. Hawai’i.

    Sparks of Joy and Awe: My son

    One brief shining: Handed in my Powerball ticket, a big winner, over a quarter of a billion dollars, Tom’s challenge, what are those first moments like, how do I feel, what do I do, the Ancient Brothers topic for this morning, an American, so American, fantasy, yet one with a Rorschach template for our real values.

     

    Gotta admit. I didn’t see a registered Republican recent high school student using his no doubt legally obtained AR-15 assault rifle to fire eight shots at 45. That one photograph with blood around his mouth. I thought to myself, no way this can get any weirder. Wrong, so wrong. Gobsmacked. Forehead slapped. Mind scrambled.

    No thriller writer would have this much chutzpah. The irony way too obvious. The twist, after the debate and the Supreme Court ruling on immunity, and the felony convictions, and the money damages in the cover up trial and the E. Jean Carroll verdict. Too much. I mean, come on. Is that believable?

    It is a page turner though. What will happen next? Russian interference? Chinese interference? Maybe a black hole selectively absorbing only those citizens with way more red than necessary in their fashion statements? Each day a different aspect of the democratic process comes under attack from those seemingly interested in a quasi-king instead of a head of the third equal branch of our Federal Government.

    At 77 this is almost more excitement than I can handle. Normally a bit breathless here at 8,800 feet, now I’m attached to an oxygen concentrator.

    There are as well all those polls showing the orange one ahead in the swing states, the battleground states, while kind Old Joe dithers. And Kamala Harris runs without running. Democrats dither along with Joe. Somebody has to show decisiveness. Let’s turn this damned election upside down and inside out. Elect a Democrat.

     

    Just a moment: Here’s the thing. Revelation. A musty old idea. Communication from the other side, eh? Or, maybe from this or that multiverse? Could be God? Always, and I want to lean on this hard, Always, human mediated. Even miracles only become miraculous when reported and confirmed by some human who experienced them. The implication? All of our religious reveries, our sacred writings, our tales of Jesus and Moses and Zoroaster and Shiva and Lao Tze, all within the human experience. What is resurrection but a tale told by a human?

    No, this is not a definitive argument against revelation per se. All I can confidently say is that we don’t know it unless someone told us or we experienced it and are the ones doing the telling. Same thing could be said, I suppose, for science. Only the results of experiments by humans, evaluated and reported by humans.

     


  • Uncle Sam

    Summer and the 2% crescent of the Bar Mitzvah Moon

    Thursday gratefuls: Irv, Paul, Tom. Rich. Joan. Jamie. Tara. Talking politics under the starlight with Rich. Rescheduling with Joan. Tara today. Driving in the dark. Going to bed really late. This July 4th, 2024 life. Dreams that may come. Joe Biden. The New York Times. Newspapers. Printer’s ink. Justifying the galleys. Linotype machines. Letter presses.

    Sparks of Joy and Awe: Journalism

    One brief shining: A dull steady drone, quiet yet woeful, persistent, challenges my hearing since I cannot locate the source which increases and decreases according to the position of my head, clamoring for all the attention I would rather devote to writing, in the background yet pushing itself into the foreground. Acchh.

     

    Wednesday. A busy day. Up sticks. Shema. Back exercises. Write Ancientrails. Over to Evergreen Medical for my Prolia shot. Back to Conifer, Aspen Perks for breakfast, pickup flannel shirts at the dry cleaners, ready for storage, back home to Leo. Get Leo’s stuff together for his Dad’s afternoon arrival. Read. Watch a little TV. Shower. Order from Beau Jo’s to pick up on the way to CBE. MVP. Then, a half-hour with Rich on the Supreme Court, Joe Biden and our hapless nation. In the parking lot, a warm Mountain summer night with a clear field of stars. Home around 10:30 pm. 2 hours past my usual bedtime. Oi. A little THC.

    Then up at 7:30. For the life that happens on July 4th, 2024.

    Happy birthday, Uncle Sam! Speech. Speech.

    Thank you. Thank you. No. Really. Thank you. (puts hands out, palms down. In response the crowd quiets.)

    I know. I know. This has not been democracy’s finest year. Anywhere. Except maybe Britain. A bit of a nod to India, too. Otherwise the forces of autocracy and prejudice, of chauvinistic religion have proved ascendant. Yes. I read the newspapers, too. Online of course.

    (crowd laughs)

    So. What to say. A time of peril for our government and its authority granted by the citizens of our nation. Raising the President above the law? That’s not an American idea. Remember King George? The divine right of Kings? No citizen, no matter what their title or station is above the law. I’ve said that over and over since the founding. A hard lesson, one that may seem too hard to some. But to me? Essential. Sine qua non.

    And on that divine right business. Who knows about divinity and what it wants or who it wants to lead? That’s why we established a government of the people, by the people, for the people so help us the non-intrusive god of the Deists who wrote our constitution. Now many of our citizens, in defiance of that bedrock principle, want to put so-called Christian values as superior, as national values. They even want me to preside over a Christian nation.

    No. I will not. I’m agnostic myself. Not to mention the Jews, Hindus, Buddhists, Muslims, Sikh’s, Jains, Taoists, atheists, humanists and who knows how many others. We are a quilt, a tapestry, not a pristine white altar cloth.

    Enough of that. I’m headed to Coney Island for a hot dog and some fireworks. Enjoy the 4th.

     


  • Rise Up from the Grave

    Summer and the waning of the Bar Mitzvah Moon

    Wednesday gratefuls: Shirley Waste. Cool morning. Another quiet day on Shadow Mountain. Prolia for my bones. Leo. Being a Dog. The story of Gilgamesh and the great Cedar Forest.The New York Botanical Garden. Botany. Horticulture. Bees. Honey. Gardens. Andover. My ninja weeder, Kate. Vince. Evergreen Medical Center. Sue Bradshaw. Cancer.

    Sparks of Joy and Awe: Assertiveness

    One brief shining: Hit the treadmill for 20 minutes, a set of resistance work, another 15 minutes on the treadmill, another set of resistance, 10 minutes on the treadmill, a long and tough session with Leo occasionally hovering over my face, licking it, telling me, what a good boy you are human.

    How bout that Supreme Court, eh? A sudden shift in the substantive matters of our democracy. A strange and unwarranted granting of legal shields for the President. A gutting of the regulatory power of Federal agencies. Validating a cruel Oregon law against the homeless. Saying yes to the NRA in a First Amendment case. And so on.

    Marry that series of rulings with the most important Presidential debate ever. See the confusing fallout from Biden’s performance. Giving aid and comfort to the MAGA camp and their long-tied, short-witted Jim Jones. Try to imagine what’s going to happen now. Hard to do. For me at least. 2024 will be remembered, there is no doubt at all. And it’s only half over. With an election still to come.

    There’s a gospel hymn, Ain’t No Grave*. Some of the lyrics: Ain’t no grave can keep my body down, when that trumpet sounds I will rise up from the ground. I’m beginning to have the same feeling about the death of my America. There ain’t no far-right that can keep my body politic down. When that Anthem plays, we’ll rise up from the ground.

    You see my heart, my lev knows that the politics of fear and cruelty, of laissez faire attitudes toward the predations of capitalism, of the unholy consolidation of power by far-right ideologues does not reflect either the purpose of our nation or the opinions of most of its citizens. We will be known now by whether we roll over, lay back in the grave or rise up.

    I will not look for land in Costa Rica. I will not stop voting or agitating. I will not retire from the arena. I will not let the course of this change go unchallenged. My voice will be small since my life has Herme’s Pilgrimage as its main focus now, but my voice will never go silent. I will rise up from the grave of the America I once knew and fought for all my life.

    A while back I mentioned the Storm Before the Calm by George Friedman, put in my hand by buddy Tom Crane. His talk of cyclical rather than linear pulses in our national economy and political life sees a vast change starting over the next 4 to 5 years. What’s happening right now has some characteristics of his work. He sees all this as an upheaval leading to a renewed and refreshed American democracy. May it be so.

     

    *

     


  • I’ve seen Fire and I’ve seen Rain

    Summer and the Bar Mitzvah Moon

    Sunday gratefuls: Shabbat. Leo. Luke in Jacksonville. Ginny and Janice. The Blackbird. Kittredge. In case of flash flood climb to safety. Black Mountain Drive to Brook Forest Drive. Down the hill to Evergreen. Passing a green Arapaho National Forest. Full Streams thanks to recent Rain. Seeing individual Trees like the Ponderosa growing alone on the side of a Cliff.

    Sparks of Joy and Awe: Rain

    One brief shining: Leo sleeps on the rug next to the computer, dreaming of Luke and bones and tennis balls with squeakers in them while I hit first this key then that, glancing up to spend a bit of time with my Lodgepole Companion, looking past them to Black Mountain and beyond to the milky gray of a Cloud resting above it, wondering if that means yet more Rain.

     

    We have had Rain. Seems like more than average though I can’t find data to support that. Hoping for a healthy Monsoon season which usually starts in July. Afternoon Rains. Whatever combination of precipitation types that keep our wildfire risk low.

    The Cloudy weather we’ve had on occasion over the last couple of weeks reminded me of an early problem I had with Colorado. Too many Sunny days. I missed good ole Midwestern gloomy, overcast weather. Weather that meant I needed to stay inside. Read. Write. Cook. Sunny days meant I needed to be outside, enjoying the limited moments of great weather. Which meant. I constantly felt like I needed to go outside, not dither around inside. So much so that I longed for a stormy week loaded with Thunderheads and pelting rain.

    Over that now. Except. When it’s Cloudy and Rainy. Then I revert to Midwest nostalgia, remembering Rainy days curled up in a chair reading. The world of the moment subsumed by the world of the text.

     

    Just a moment: Yeah. He should step away. Too much confirmation of stereotypes and GOP talking points about his capacity. Yes, I believe he can still do the job. But I don’t see him or Democratic chances in November recovering from the debate debacle. We need to win this election. It matters and we all know it. If Biden can’t win, we need someone who can.

     

    Friend Tom Crane found this. It had a profound affect on me as I watched it.

    “About 12 seconds into this video, something unusual happens. The Earth begins to rise. Never seen by humans before, the rise of the Earth over the limb of the Moon occurred about 55.5 years ago and surprised and amazed the crew of Apollo 8. The crew immediately scrambled to take still images of the stunning vista caused by Apollo 8‘s orbit around the Moon. The featured video is a modern reconstruction of the event as it would have looked were it recorded with a modern movie camera…”  Astronomy Picture of the Day


  • New Harmony. Fireflies.

    Summer and the Bar Mitzvah Moon

    Shabbat gratefuls: The Billy Joel/Paul Simon shabbat. Veronica. Tom. Paul. Joan. Irv. Kaddish. Yahrzeits. Numbers. Parsha Beha’alotcha. Lisa. The James Webb. The Hubble. Euclid. The context provided by the Cosmos. Storm Before the Calm. Election year 2024. The June 22, 2024 life. Mezuzahs. Orion. Betelgeuse. Rigel. Vega. Polaris. Arcturus.

    Sparks of Joy and Awe: Our magnificent, short, wonderful life

    One brief shining: Each summer the ceiling fan in my bedroom makes sleep possible, yet it refused to turn on, so I called Altitude Electric who sent hipster bearded Karsten; no bueno, no bueno, he said to the work of the previous electrician who installed this fan, as he pulled its main body out of the ceiling and sparks flew, tripping the breaker.

     

    Home. This and that. Ceiling fan that doesn’t work. Grass needed cutting for Fire mitigation. Marina calling to ask how my roof was doing. Mini-split filters need cleaning. You know.

     

    Rappite Buildings, New Harmony***

    On some long ago trip back to Indiana I made a brief stop in New Harmony. It sits north of Evansville in the far southern part of the state and far enough west to be on the Wabash River with Illinois on the opposite bank.

    Whoa. What a place. Founded by Rappites, followers of a German Christian theosophist* and pietist, George Rapp, the Harmonist Society created three model communities, two in Pennsylvania and one in Indiana, now New Harmony. They held goods in common and were so successful in their business endeavors that Rapp sold Harmony, Indiana to Robert Owen, a Welsh industrialist. Rapp felt their secular success was compromising their religious mission.

    Rapp moved the Harmonists back to Pennsylvania while Owen found a number of scientists, artists and educators who left Philadelphia on a riverboat, bound for New Harmony. It became known as the Boatload of Knowledge. Owen was a utopian who wanted to create a socialist society in his New Harmony experiment. The experiment failed, but not before the United States Geological Survey was founded.

    Roofless church gate

    In its latter day existence New Harmony has become a conference center, an open air museum with buildings from the Rapp and Owen eras preserved. It includes, too, a large labyrinth created by the Harmonists.

    Phillip Johnson’s roofless church, a non-denominational walled compound, stands across the street from the Red Geranium Restaurant. Behind the Red Geranium lies Paul Tillich Park, the burial site of one of the twentieth centuries most prominent Christian theologians.

    There is a short street that runs between the roofless church and Paul Tillich Park. One evening on a subsequent visit to New Harmony I left the Red Geranium at dusk after a tasty dinner. Strolling I went into Paul Tillich Park, read some of the inscribed boulders, left the Park and continued down the road. It didn’t go much further until it entered a grove of Maple and Oak and Beech Trees which arched over it.

    Tillich Grave Site

    Fireflies. Thousands of them. Lit the arched space over the road, giving it depth and wonder. My then immersion into Celtic lore meant I could only see this as an entrance to the Otherworld. Walking towards the grove, I imagined myself coming out in Faery where time passes differently and returning years later to a changed New Harmony.

    Instead I chose to stop and enjoy this amazing sight.

     

     

     

    *Christian theosophy, also known as Boehmian theosophy and theosophy, refers to a range of positions within Christianity that focus on the attainment of direct, unmediated knowledge of the nature of divinity and the origin and purpose of the universe. Wiki

    **Philadelphia Academy of Sciences…President William Maclure, “father of American geology,” had gathered (members of the Academy) them all aboard the keelboat Philantropist [they used the French spelling]: scientists, artists, musicians, and educators, some bringing along their students, and all were eager to settle in Robert Owen’s New Harmony community on the Indiana frontier. JSTOR

    ***By Leepaxton at en.wikipedia, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=9065488

     

     


  • Memorial Day

    Beltane and the Shadow Mountain Moon

    Monday gratefuls: Cool night. Memorial Day. Decoration Day. Parades. School’s over and summer starts. The World. Its many Wild Neighbors. Mountains. Lakes. Ponds. Tides. Tidal Pools. Forests. Trees. Plains. Rivers. Streams. Creeks. Meadows. Valleys. Cultures. Long evolution. Its oneness. Its holiness. Its sacred nature. Our Hullian needs. Our need for fulfillment and satisfaction.

    Sparks of Joy and Awe: Warriors

    One brief shining: Those parades when heat softened the asphalt on Harrison Street so it could accept treads laid down by the tank from the National Guard Armory, when the guys carrying the colors insisted on wearing their old uniforms, pale stretched skin showing where the buttons held, only just, when last year’s homecoming queen sat prim and straight on the folded convertible top of an impeccably restored 1957 Chevy, when we would stand along the parade route enthralled.

     

    Memorial day. Mom and Dad. Veterans of WWII. Uncle Riley, too. That generation that gave so much. War. A human horror engaged too often for too little reason. Though WWII was not one of those. To have had that great world spasm followed by the never finished Korean War and the unnecessary Vietnam War, then Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya has sullied the warrior class, making them too often pawns of geopolitical maneuvering by oligarchs, dictators, and short sighted politicians.

    Yet. They persist. Often frustrated and hemmed in by those who misunderstand their role. As I once did. Warriors and priests. Old, old roles in human cultures around the globe. Both often abused. Both in my immediate family.

    Easy to forget the purpose of the Lt. Col. who is my son. The USAF. Defense. Not offense. Oaths taken to defend the U.S. against all enemies domestic and foreign. Obedience to civilian authority delivered through the Commander in Chief, the President.

    The military does not define who the enemies are. That’s a civilian responsibility. Often lacking in both reason and ethical justification, yes. But it is the civilian authority who aims and then empowers our military. Only then can they engage.

    Warriors place themselves in harms way to defend their tribe, their people, their nation. This is an ancient and honorable role. Indigenous people in the U.S., in spite of their history, sign up in disproportionate numbers because the warrior class holds such high esteem in their cultures.

    Yes, war is terrible and often, perhaps most often, wrong. That is, engaged not for defense but for seizing land, control of another people, for vengeance. For reasons of profit and misguided fears. For this last think the domino effect.

    The warriors themselves continue on. Learning, training, readying themselves for what might be, for what even they hope may never be. Yet when called they will respond and respond with all that they have.

    I’m not thrilled to have a warrior son. Though I recognize the selflessness of his choice. And the values which led him to choose service to country. I wish he could have become a social worker, a lawyer, a physician. He was pre-med before turning to the Air Force after 9/11.

    Yet over the years I’ve come to appreciate the sacrifice in life-style, income, and personal freedom. I’ve met many of his colleagues and to a person they are warriors, too. Global politics are anarchic and still ruled by might makes right in the minds of many. We need a military, citizens willing to defend us.

    They are who we honor today. Especially those who died as a result of their service.

    All year after the parade we would drive over those tank treads, hardened into a feature of our main street. The slight rumble would remind us.


  • Old Self Surfaces

    Beltane and the Shadow Mountain Moon

    Sunday gratefuls: Ancient Brothers. Socrates Cafe. Irv. A cool night for sleeping. Candles. Rituals. Sabbath. Writing. Hanukah. Yahrzeit. Kate, always Kate. Politics. Justice. A just society. Could happen. My Lodgepole Companion waving their Branches, soaking up Great Sol. Presidents. Politicians. Self-driving cars. Teslas. Electric cars. The old kind. Change.

    Sparks of Joy and Awe: Electric cars

    One brief shining: Whoo, boy, every once in a while I put my foot in and forget to take it right back out, like yesterday at the Socrates Cafe when I, much to my surprise, felt a need to defend the reality of injustice and collective effort to remedy it, not my best foot to put in for the first time I showed up in person.

     

    Underneath it all I’m still a pretty unreconstructed ’60’s radical. The establishment has the power, oligarchs and millionaire politicians make policy that fits their needs and fail to address the systemic nature of racism, sexism, classism, ageism, and the Great Work itself. The only way to alter systemic problems lies in the realm of politics, something even the MAGA folks seem to intuit. But not the folks at the Socrates Cafe.

    This self, this radical self, mostly lies quiet these polarized days. Painfully gained higher emotional intelligence signals me when a situation will not be made better by my political analysis. And they are many. Something I often failed to notice in my working days. Yesterday though.

    All my mussar work, all my realization of appropriate venues for political discourse got shunted aside when the majority of folks in the group took up the position that there is no such thing as right or wrong, justice is always personal and contextual, by which they seemed to mean relative to a specific, interpersonal situation.

    I’m not used to having to defend the fact of injustice. Skin color for some was irrelevant. (Everybody was white.) It’s not possible to know the positive or negative effect of remedying injustice. (I have some empathy for this perspective, yet it’s an action killer.) Slavery didn’t matter. There was just nothing you could do unless you did it personally.

    Acting justly in interpersonal situations? Of course. A minimum as far I’m concerned. Yet. Imagining that even the golden rule will change systemic, historical imbalances in our culture is naive at best and a form of denial at worst.

    These folks all knew each other and have been doing this Socratic cafe twice a month since 2003. Afraid I violated their group norms. Didn’t mean to. But justice is a flash point issue for me.

    All began because my question was chosen. The method is this: whoever has a question writes it in on an index card and turns it in. Jannel reads the questions through once. Then, the one who wrote the question explains how they came to it. After those explanations, yesterday there were six submitted questions, a show of hands votes each question up or down. 15 people in attendance. My question was: Is a just society possible? The consensus, btw, was a resounding no.