Category Archives: Serious

Poem for Eustace St. Meeting

In this time of such turbulence and strife
We come into the Silence and here reclaim our life

The powers of the world outside may be deeply shaken
But here, within, the Spirit quietly awakens

And when the touch of Light has eased our pain
We can re-emerge to face the World again

(written at Eustace St. Friends Meeting, Dublin, 5 March 2017)

How It Ends for Donald

Dear Donald,

I have seen your end. It’s not pretty.

It happens at a rally, of course. One of those rallies that you love so much, that feed the gaping hunger in your soul. You are on a roll, and they’re loving it, they’re eating it up, you can tell them anything, promise them anything, ask them to do anything…

But then you slip. You get carried away by the moment, by the intoxicating power. Something comes out of your mouth that you didn’t expect. Something that breaks the spell. The roaring cheer that you expect doesn’t come. Instead, there is silence – an awful, awkward, painful … silence.

You look to your advisors, but they are staring at you, mouths agape. That wasn’t in the script, their faces tell you. You weren’t supposed to go there, not yet, it’s still too soon…

But you went there. And now the crowd is turning.

What happens next seems to be in slow motion. The Secret Service men come to surround you, guns drawn, faces grim, but it’s too late. The crowd has every exit covered. They swarm over the stage like a tsunami, bodies climbing over bodies, the faces that moments before were radiant with adoration now twisted into masks of betrayal and rage. They reach for you, grab at you, yank on your arms, clutch your pants, your feet… and the last thing you hear as you are lifted over their heads, as you feel your joints and tendons giving way, your fine clothes tearing, your heart exploding, is their chant:

“FAKER… FAKER… FAKER…”

Image

Three Americas

three-americas

VOTE WITH YOUR FEET…?

December 10, 2016…

Does anyone still have any questions or doubts about what is about to happen to us here in the USA? About the kind of historical moment at which we have finally arrived?

After the election, there was a certain amount of hopeful “let’s give him a chance” rhetoric – but Trump’s Cabinet choices and public statements soon made the absurdity of such optimism very clear.

To be sure, there is one small glimmer of hope on the horizon: the idea that the Electoral College may actually fulfill the function for which the Founding Fathers designed it, and deny Trump the Presidency. (The recent news about possible Russian intervention in the election may make this possibility more likely.)

But I’m not betting on that. Nor do I expect the Sweet Meteor of Death to come to our rescue.

[UPDATE (Dec. 20, 2016): Sure enough, by all reports the Electoral College has failed. So far, so has the Sweet Meteor of Death.]

[Further update (January 6, 2017): Congress, despite attempted objections, has certified the Electoral College results. Still no sign of the Sweet Meteor of Death, either.]

So the question becomes: what, exactly, do we intend to do about the situation?

This is a matter of individual conscience, of course, and all sorts of suggestions are being put forward, from passive acceptance to guerrilla resistance. The experience of pre-WWII Germany is being examined and re-examined for clues and guidance, but the differences between the rise of Nazism and the rise of Trumpism are significant enough to render such comparisons less than useful.

Here are some of the options suggested so far:

(There are many more of these kinds of articles out there. As I find more, I’ll add them to the list… or comment below with links to similar articles you have found.)

So one can stay and fight, in whatever way, whatever that means to you – or one can flee. I’m suggesting the latter, and I seriously think that others might want to consider the possibility. As the saying goes: “Vote with your feet.”

vote-feet

Now, for myself, I should say that at this point I’m not planning on moving permanently – but I am going to go on an extended trip abroad, six months to a year, maybe more. (I’m heading to Europe to see if I can help with refugee assistance in some way.) I’m thinking that might be enough time for things to sort themselves out.

It’s a privileged option, I know. Not everyone has this choice. The only reason I can even consider it is because I just became old enough to draw funds from my woefully inadequate “retirement” money.

But more folks might be able to pull off a miniaturized version – namely, a symbolic crossing of the border on Inauguration Day, as a protest against the installation of The Donald. (Or as I like to call it, the “Dysauguration.”) Just find your nearest border crossing, and be there by 11 AM Eastern time on January 20, 2017. crowd-control

We would then cross over just before the Oath of Office is administered, and then stay for the rest of the day (or perhaps longer) before crossing back over to take up the fight.

A large enough crowd showing up at one or more of these sites, even if they cross over for only a few hours, would send a powerful message of non-support to the incoming Administration.

If you’re not near a border but you are near the coast, consider a one-day boat trip into international waters. Or maybe turn the occasion into a brief vacation to the Bahamas. Let’s create a large enough blip in border-crossing statistics to give Donald the clear signal that not everyone is ecstatic about his enthronement.

So, what do you say? See you at the Border?

 

 

 

THE PEACE AND JUSTICE FILES: A SLIGHTLY BETTER WORLD

My column for December 2016…

When we lived in Pittsburgh some 25 years ago, I stood in for St. Nicholas at a couple of corporate Christmas parties.Fake-bearded and properly pillowed (I was thinner then, and clean-shaven), I’d wander from table to table, inviting folks to share their holiday wishes. Rather than extravagant desires for Porsches and diamonds, I was gratified – and a little surprised, frankly – to hear folks express instead a general sense of contentment, and gratitude for their health, their families, and their friends.

I’d had some training from a temp agency that provided Santas to the various department stores around town. (They called their training program the “University of Santa Claus.”) There were a few basic rules – simple enough when you hear them, but not necessarily what you might think of yourself. I’ll share some of them here for any of you who might find yourselves doing Santa duty this year:

  • Keep a twinkle in your eye at all times.
  • Never let loose with a big “HO, HO, HO!!” – you might startle or even terrify a small child. Restrained chuckles will work just fine.
  • If a child does start crying, sympathize with them and gently return them to their adult – your attempts to make them stop will usually just make matters worse. You’re bigger than life, after all, and maybe a little intimidating, despite your twinkle. Keeping your good cheer about you, tell the adult the child may return ”whenever they’re ready.”
  • Never ask about a child’s “parents” – after all, you don’t know what their situation is.
  • Always refer to yourself as “Santa,” not “I” or “me” – for example, “Come talk to Santa!” or “What would you like to ask Santa today?”
  • And most importantly: NEVER promise ANYTHING – the best response is some variation on “Hmmm. Santa will see what he can do.”

So what would I say if Santa aimed his twinkly gaze at me and asked, “So, Skip – come tell Santa what you’d like this year”?

All I want for Christmas…? Well, I can’t say I’m content, exactly, though I am certainly grateful for the many blessings I’ve had in my life so far. There’s just one thing I’d wish for:

A slightly better world.

Liberals are sometimes criticized for harboring utopian beliefs in the “perfectibility” of humankind. It’s a theological and philosophical debate that goes all the way back to ancient Greece, and I’m certainly not going to try to rehash it all here. But our imperfectibility, I’d argue, while pretty obvious, is also no excuse for not trying to make things better… even if only slightly.

Let there be a slightly better world …

  • where it isn’t quite so easy to cause harm
  • where people are a little less reckless with themselves and each other
  • where facts have a bit more power than demagogues
  • where jerks don’t get rewarded just for being jerks
  • where simple kindness is the default choice
  • where it’s harder to make profit from war
  • where we have learned the meaning of “enough” and “too much”
  • where love is always natural and hate is always a disease
  • where we better understand the actual costs of things
  • where the laughter of children outweighs any item on any balance sheet

I hope that’s not too much to ask for … oh yes, I know: Santa will see what he can do.

Happy Holidays to you, whatever your path – and best of luck to us all in 2017.

Plutocracy Resolution

Things being what they are, I think the time has come for someone to bring forward the following resolution, or something like it, on the floors of the House and Senate:

CONCURRENT RESOLUTION
recognizing Plutocracy, not Democracy, as the guiding principle of the Government of the United States of America.

WHEREAS, a 2014 Princeton study has shown that the USA is not a democracy, but a plutocratic oligarchy; and

WHEREAS, former President Jimmy Carter has stated that America has become “now an oligarchy”; and

WHEREAS, over 50% of the members of Congress are millionaires, as opposed to 3.5% of the American public; and

WHEREAS, years of effort to create and enforce meaningful campaign finance reforms have been mostly fruitless; and

WHEREAS, the Supreme Court has done its best to render such reforms moot anyway, through its rulings in Citizens United v. FEC and other cases; and

WHEREAS, let’s face it, wealthy donors get our attention much more easily than our less-endowed constituents; and

WHEREAS, the American people seem to have given their tacit approval to the whole arrangement by repeatedly re-electing most of us; and

WHEREAS, it will be a cold day in Hell before we here in Congress would actually do something about a system from which we profit so handsomely; now,

THEREFORE, we, the House of Representatives, the Senate concurring, do officially declare and establish what everyone knows to be the truth, that Plutocracy, not Democracy, is the underlying and governing principle of the Federal Government of the United States of America.

eros vs isis (2015)

Now listen:
you wanna beat them?
really?
you really wanna beat them?
here’s how you defeat them,
those joyless sexless lifeless brainless idiots
those black-flagged lickers of Kalishnikovs
those bastards who confuse “giving head”
and decapitation:
here’s how you beat them, god damn it:
you beat them
with every mindless grunting spurt
with every beautiful joyful squirt
with every cry of “oh yes oh my god YES”
you drop a bunkerbuster on their heads
more powerful than a dozen cruise missiles
you wanna beat them
you wanna drive them insane
then you hit that dance floor
you grab that hot hunk of flesh from the shadows
the one that makes your knees quiver
and say DO IT TO ME NOW
you wanna send them scurrying
you wanna tell them that they don’t mean shit
then you refuse to play their game
you refuse to call off the party
you refuse to gird your loins
no, thrust your loins into their terrified faces
they cannot handle the fierceness of your desire
they will try to detonate your love
but you will pull them in
into helpless ecstasy