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We are no more Vikings…

November 10, 2018

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I wander these limitless moonkissed fields,

forged by my youth, tangled in love,

the enormity of death…

How to salvage one’s life, to

not merely drift on to the end?

Coyotes

and wolves still call

for this moon, azure and soft,

to give reason to their restless passions.

Our dog, alert, loyal, steps out in front, growls

softly as he scans the wooded horizon,

ready to die, if that is what it takes.

But we are no more Vikings,

come looking to rape and pillage.

I pat him softly between his ears

and we turn for home,

the moon on our face

the field awash in midnight daisies,

floating at our knees.

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It starts now…

November 7, 2018

It’s the first morning after the midterms – an election that pulled America back – a bit – from the brink – and my Facebook feed is already filled with posts from people and organizations and political stumpers looking for revenge on Trump and the Republican Party.

It quickly becomes evident that many people do not know the difference between being a Democrat and being a Progressive.

The small-minded petty party politics calling for revenge is little difference than the great 16th century Italian political battles between the Red Hats and the White Hats (yes, that is what these political groups identified as).

Image may contain: one or more people and textIn case you have missed the recent news, the best computer projections suggest we have only a decade remaining to turn the planet’s environmental crisis around (if we even can at this point). 70% of the world’s forests have been destroyed, and humans have killed off 60% of all wildlife on the planet in the last 50 years.

This is no time for revenge. Unless, of course, you are happy with the planet deteriorating into some sort of Mad Max dystopian hellscape.

Party politics, has always been for those inclined to the small-minded, the easily corruptible, the closet fascist. Party politics leads to exclusivity, fear-mongering, violence against the Other.

Now is the time for real progressives to step forward.

Everywhere I look – rural or urban – people are hungering for solutions that transcend party politics. Especially now that we have entered a stage of capitalism when the extraordinary contradictions of capital are foregrounding themselves – increased poverty, increased concentration of wealth into fewer and fewer hands, environmentally unsustainable resource extraction.

For too long the human species has moved along with the emotional IQ of middle school pre-adolescents. We were allowed to do so because the world was an ever-expanding gift that we could take for granted.

But we now know we live in a closed system. There are no new continents with vast ranges of virgin forests pumping oxygen into the air while removing carbon. There are no new untouched oceans teeming with fish.

All of the true Progressives who were elected last night need to realize that it is time to push for a bigger political picture – one that focuses on environmental sustainability, implementing solutions to current environmental crisis, building legislation that works for everyone – regardless of race, gender, class, sexual identity.

Just do it!

 

this Chicago morn…

November 4, 2018

The great change is upon us on mornings like this.

The Mexican mothers walk to mass, their shoulders stooped against the incessant wind, the fallen leaves – red, yellow, orange – swirling at their feet.

I watch the women pass below, sitting as I am at the window, the wind whistling like a league of wraiths on the corners of our apartment. Reminding me, on this early November day, of the cold and bitter season to come.

My wife, in the chair opposite, reading Kierkegaard for a class, amuses me with anecdotes on his reflections of how stupid and boring the world has become. (1843)

Briefly, I wonder what he would think of what the world has become in the intervening 170 odd years. But I doubt he would see much change, rather, there would only be a shrug of the shoulders, same as it ever was.

The weather heaves mightily against our windows, the people heave against each other, winter will come, followed by spring.

Everything changes, yet it is but an instant from Kierkegaard’s lament on the boring stupidity of the political situation.

A particularly violent shriek of wind wakens the cat from his slumber on the desk and he watches, in his dosing, as the yellow birch bends and dances in the wind.

I watch as autumn leaves are being shredded from the trees and fly about like great flakes of snow.

The rain begins, wind-driven, it taps heavily against the panes. It is a good day for a pot of soup and homemade bread I think to myself.

Borges, Kierkegaard, soup, slumbering cats, a chair by the window.

All we need is a lighthouse lamp, a means of pointing out the way, to a safe harbor, on these feckless wind-lusting days.

Vote!

November 3, 2018

A photo from the campaign - COURTESY OF JOHN SCHREINER

time to sweep the roaches back under the rug…

November 2, 2018

https://www.cnn.com/2018/10/28/americas/brazil-election/index.html

The hard thing to accept is not only that democracies degenerate to the point where fascists use the democratic process to come to power, but that so many people desire it to happen – and will use letter bombs, mass killings, and other forms of violence to achieve their ends.

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/oct/31/jair-bolsonaro-brazil-indigenous-tribes-mining-logging

Each generation of pacifists, moderates, common sense types are as surprised as any other previous generation who lived through similar mutually destructive times.

Lao Tzu, 3,000 years ago, warned against following the tyrants. 2,500 years ago¬†Plato warned how democracies degenerate and what happens when the fascists take over. Jeremy Bentham deplored the violence and legal slavery of the 1700’s. George Orwell pleaded with the British government to stop the advancement of a Europe-wide war (WWI) – ten years before World War One broke out.

It is a bitter pill to swallow – to realize that so many people are so easily duped into racists nationalism – a nationalism that always ends in economic collapse and mass domestic violence.

Image result for karl menninger man against himselfKarl Menninger, the influential mid-20th century psychologist wrote – at length – about the psycho-sexual breakdown that many men were prone to that led to an over-compensation in violence and sexual assault.

Only a high functioning public education system and an impartial judicial system, he argued, could keep such destructive tendencies in check.

It should come as no surprise that America’s public education system is now ranked 48th in the world, and as the recent Kavanaugh debacle illustrated, the appointment of a Supreme Court Justice is anything but impartial. Or just.

White middle class America is waking up to a the same realization that Aboriginal, African American, the LGBTQ community, the poor, and many women have always known: fascist tendencies – the intolerance of the Other – the different Other – has always coursed through America’s veins.

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The National Memorial for Peace and Justice – the “lynching memorial” – recently opened in Montgomery, Alabama

Lynchings, church bombings, homophobic violence, workplace sexual harassment, rape, economic marginalization are as old as the nation.

American foreign policy openly intervened to destroy various democratic processes around the world. Wherever American economic interests dominated – oil in the middle east; fruit production in Central America; mining in Africa – pro-American fascist leaders were always preferred over the democratic process. Henry Kissinger bragged about American interference in countries were the democratic process was overthrown.

Image result for inevitable revolutions lafeberIt is a bitter pill to think that America is on course to reverting to the violence of the 1960’s. It is even harder to accept that America’s democracy maybe entering its worse crisis since the Great Depression, or in the years leading up to the Civil War. The fascism that America pointed outward, onto the world, now points in, on itself.

We are not there, yet.

To throw one’s hands in the air and say “what’s to be done?” is to give in to the larger destructive forces – to go down without so much as a struggle.

Nihilism is deeply embedded in human nature – too many of us easily succumb – too many of us will turn away, pretend it’s not happening, or that it is happening to someone else.

Voting is one of the few non-violent options we have to keep fascism at bay.

Yes, too many so-called liberal leaders have sold out to money and power – the DNC continues to be rife with corrupt geriatrics who are more interested in padding their own pockets as they are in turning the country around – but the progressive grassroots is coming back to life.

The masses may not yet be truly revolutionary – but it is awakening to the political realities that are afoot.

Climate change and the disparate realities of late-stage capitalism are moving wide swaths of the population to the edges of existence.

An equitable re-distribution of sustainable resources are still on the table. There is still space for a non-violent alternative to Trump and fascism.

The options before us are non-violent change that includes all people – regardless of differences; or, increasing violence, intolerance, and a reactionary government whose sole purpose will be maintaining the unsustainable status quo where 1% of the population has more wealth than the other 99% of the population.

You have to vote.

And you have to vote wisely.

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Supreme Court upholds law restricting Aboriginal people from voting who do not have a street address (all reserves are post box addresses only)

basic economics…

November 1, 2018

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Poets, keeping back the dark light of day…

October 24, 2018

https://www.nybooks.com/articles/2018/11/08/adrienne-rich-inventing-new-ways-to-be/?utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Fighting%20to%20vote%20Adrienne%20Rich%20dads%20in%20space&utm_content=Fighting%20to%20vote%20Adrienne%20Rich%20dads%20in%20space+CID_c5fc1e51c1791f480cbdab3c22288842&utm_source=Newsletter&utm_term=Inventing%20New%20Ways%20to%20Be

At my age, I’d rather thought I had no cockles left – but warm my heart they did today when I discovered a nice and small thing.

Image result for adrienne rich essential essaysIn our increasingly mad world slow-motion hurdling itself into the arms of some form of modern day fascism, where too many Republican politicians seem to have all come out of some form of idiot school for bullies, and too many Democrats are kept under the thumb of an out-of-touch DNC hierarchy more interested in maintaining the neoliberal status quo than affecting any real change – I happened upon a NYT essay reviewing two books by the poet Adrienne Rich (the link above).

Now, to be honest, I know diddly about poetry – I blame a rural 1960-1970 public school system who had English teachers who had barely heard of Pierre Berton and Farley Mowat to expose us to something so highfalutin as poetry. So, I have picked my poetry up in drips and drabs.

Image result for adrienne richI had never heard of Adrienne Rich until today. Long story short she was one of the most important writers of the ’60’s and ’70’s and remained important until her death in 2012.

I was especially taken by some of her essays on understanding the impact of patriarchy in her essays and immediately went into the Chicago Public Library system to track down her collected essays.

Chipublib.org has 5 copies of Essential Essays: Culture, Politics, and the Art of Poetry and they are all already signed out. It is estimated that being 5th in the hold line means that it will be available in 4-6 weeks.

Four to six weeks for the writings of a poet in 2018 America. Amazing!

Who are these fellow Chicagoans out there who are settled into their rooms reading this poet?

I want to meet them. Have a beer with them.

Like the 1930’s, I fear the world is struggling to keep itself from falling into the darkness of ignorance, intolerance, and blind nationalism again.

The dark drums of fascism beat, as the wind shifts to the north; a cold harsh reality is soon to be upon us.

Yet, there are still those out there reading poets who choose to shine a light on our darker secrets.

I have to say. It warmed the cockles.