Poem: A Good Education

MJ Auditorium at Gardner

At the Middle School two driveways down the street,

Hollywood safari vans tote tipsy tourists and King of Pop-culture purists

to contemplate like jurists the Michael Jackson Auditorium, whose much-lauded eponym

was sleek and slim, and boyishly indiscreet.

At this school, Russian parents take parking spots and umbrage,

when their children start to bleat

about the Czech (or Slovak?) wreck teaching home ec with no respect for Moscow discotheques, who expects to check classwork bereft of facts about the colossal crime in Crimea carried out by the usual suspects.

To my American neighbors, it sounds like the indirect vivisection of Vladimir Putin’s next election. Dollars and cents, rubles and shekels.

Garbage cans moved. Emotions operatic. Blissful harmony, discordant static.

Who’s more entitled, the white men born between borders or the white men with connections to the Kremlin? No one’s starving. No one drives a Gremlin.

When the SUVs and minivans . . . → Read More: Poem: A Good Education

Deluded Warriors

whose propaganda is it anyway

Isn’t it hilarious how those crazy Islamic terrorists brainwash young recruits, transforming them from disillusioned urchins with no hope of bettering their miserable life into heartless suicide bombers doing “God’s work”? The boys are promised martyrdom and dozens of virgin lovers waiting for them in the hereafter. By killing as many of the enemy as possible when they explode, the pitifully bamboozled jihadis believe that they’re leaving this world better than they found it.

Ridiculous isn’t it?

Conversely, it’s not ridiculous at all to tell similar stories to our brave boys in uniform. The bad guys are dishonorable. Our good guys are honorable – and it’s an unmatched honor to serve your country, whether it costs a leg or a life. You can’t call it brainwashing or propaganda when what you’re feeding your youngsters is the unvarnished truth. That’s why most of us can say we “support the troops” with . . . → Read More: Deluded Warriors

Pavlov’s Dogs

lemur face

On a recent trip to Madagascar in search of wildlife in its natural habitat, we visited the magnificent Andasibe National Park, where a dozen species of lemur monkeys found nowhere else in the world make their home in the forest canopy. Viewing sifaka (“dancing lemurs”) normally seen only in captivity cavorting in the wild, leaping from branch to branch with an athleticism and grace touched by Terpsichore, moved us deeply. We felt reconnected to everything that modern life inexorably cleaves away. The best part was that our education and amusement didn’t come at the expense of another living creature’s freedom. We observed the lemurs — and the chameleons and birds and tree frogs — on their turf, on their terms. We were respectful guests.

One afternoon, however, we were mislead into visiting what had been billed as a conservatorship, a rehabilitation facility for lemurs. The place was called Lemur Island, . . . → Read More: Pavlov’s Dogs

Poem: What’s in There?

kid-with-cellphone2

You could say our addiction to convenience and comfort has been successfully repackaged as the highest end for our brilliant technological means.

Or, you could say that we’re in the grip of a nationwide plague. Of…A.D.D.

Or, you could say we’re simply a country of poorly developed adult minds with the collective attention span of squirrels during mating season.

Or, you could look up, my fellow fool – if you can tear yourself away from the sacred screen.

You’ll see discontented Americans waddling morosely to their cars, wondering why having more of everything hasn’t yet made them happier about anything.

No one smiles at me on the street, anymore. Yeah, that bond has been broken. We can’t look each other in the eye.

Because we’re all face-down in our palms, making marvelous use of the opposable thumbs God gave us and our fellow monkeys. They’re digging for grubs. We’re digging . . . → Read More: Poem: What’s in There?

We Don’t Negotiate With Terrorists

The Bad Guys

The Enemy Who Hates Our Freedoms has gotten unruly, crossing borders dreamed up by imperial empires. Impudent weeds with AK-47s and machetes impertinently raise their masked heads, taunting, braying, slashing American throats and luring the big bad bully into yet another unwinnable war. It’s time to mow the grass. Here we go. Again.

It’s been 13 years since the Bad Guys got our attention and, barely trying, won the War on Terror. They left us terrified and flummoxed and hysterical, perfectly prepared to plunder our treasury in exchange for the delusional belief that we would be more secure, that somehow – and this would all work itself out, we were assured – our drones and bombs and torture camps would eliminate the threat, not increase it.

Well, reader, you and your neighbors have spent trillions to feel better. You and your precious children are altogether safer today than ever before, . . . → Read More: We Don’t Negotiate With Terrorists

More Work, Less Money = Progress

income-inequality-gap

This year the United States economy recovered all of the jobs lost during the great Wall Street Recession.

But here’s the even better news: The newly created jobs pay an average of 23% less than the ones lost in the “downsizing.” According to a report issued by the United States Conference of Mayors based on 2012 Census data, higher-paying jobs in the construction and manufacturing sectors have been replaced by jobs in the lower-paying sectors of healthcare and hospitality.

It gets better. From 2005 to 2012, the analysis shows, the top 20% of earners were responsible for more than 60% of all income gains in our fine and fair republic. The bottom 40% enjoyed a 6.5% increase.

. . . → Read More: More Work, Less Money = Progress

Honoring Our Laborers

Laboring

As we make final preparations for the most solemn American holiday, Labor Day, our mind turns to ways that we, and perhaps all of us, can make Monday’s national celebration of workers into a perfect expression of how we all really feel about laborers.

Vegas, baby!

Disneyland?

Another less exalted way of honoring those of us who actually work is to take a small slice of time out of our vacation – thirty minutes maybe? – to ask ourselves a simple question: Why do I believe what I believe?

It’s a useful line of inquiry. Had the millions of Americans . . . → Read More: Honoring Our Laborers

News Quiz

News Quiz

Who said what?

“This act of violence shocks the conscience of the world.”

A) Eric Holder, on the Boston Marathon bombing.

B) Reverend Al Sharpton, on the slaying of another unarmed black man by American police.

C) Prime Minister David Cameron, on the downing of Malaysian Air #17.

D) None of the above.

“They are killing innocent, unarmed civilians in cowardly acts of violence. They abduct women and . . . → Read More: News Quiz

Encouraging Suicide Note

noose for death

I’m hoping something good will come of my early exit. So it won’t have been a big waste.

I’m optimistic, but I’m also realistic. Jesus Christ died for all our sins yet we find increasingly perverse ways to thank him and his Father. He just wanted us to love each other. That’s the challenging part for us, right?

You could say “some things never change.”

Or do they?

Will they?

That’s up to you. If you’re reading this, you’re one of the people who can change the world.

You won’t let my death be in vain.

If you think I’ve done a good thing for our world, if I’ve left the home nest a little better than I found it, a little more secure for everyone else, then I shall depart this planet with a humble request.

Honor my memory by loving each other.

Honor my “sacrifice” by taking care . . . → Read More: Encouraging Suicide Note

Additional Golden Rules

golden rule

The original Golden Rule — “treat others as you wish to be treated” — sounds fantastic in theory, but isn’t really possible to apply practically, as evidenced by the lives each of us lead. Or maybe it is being applied and is difficult to recognize. Maybe how people wish to be treated is “horribly,” which explains all the reciprocal cruelty and malice that comprises standard treatment.

Perhaps the Golden Rule is just too darned complicated, too nuanced, an ongoing invitation to misinterpretation. We need something simpler. More concrete. Less subjective.

Like these.

 

1) Be an encourager, not a discourager.

2) Make love — with everyone.

3) Be generous — with everything.

 

Maybe we should stop trying to treat others as we wish to be treated. Maybe it’s more important simply to be an encouraging, loving, generous person.

. . . → Read More: Additional Golden Rules