what is our world doing to me?

I’d ask each of you to ask the question:   What is our world and culture doing to me?   Is it making me more human or less human?

I recently watched the excellent and possibly most aggressive film Ingmar Bergman ever directed.   It’s called SHAME.  Even though the setting is an imagined Civil War it is a reflection of his thoughts and feelings about WWII and the Vietnam War.   It is one of the better anti-war films because it graphically shows what happens to “third parties” in a conflict (i.e. not the principal players) On the Criterion Collection edition DVD there is an interview with Bergman’s muse at-the-time,  Liv Ullman.   She recounts what Bergman said at the time:

“He said, ‘What we have to be aware of for ourselves is coldness, indifference, looking down at other people, lack of contact with other people….'”

I love that quote and I think it is a perfect thing for us to meditate on in these times in which we live, where there is rapidly rising partisanship, greater ideological divides and an onslaught of excessive blame, cruel judgement, harsh criticism, hatred, lies and extremism in every format (even advertisements – I’m thinking of a weed killer commercial where a woman shouts “Kill em ALL”).  And when extremism is presented as humorous or justified as mocking and we laugh – we add to the problem and become insensitive.  We need to THINK and think critically about what we consume in media and advertisements.    It’s easy to get caught up in all the reporting about this and that twitter feud but as we do we also become more emotionally trapped by that.   We begin to choose sides.   We are blind to the fact about how that is slowly stripping away our humanity.   We cease to see people, who disagree with us, as human.   We desire to see them treated as the animals we perceive in their reported and confessed behavior.  It’s the old trap:   An eye for an eye and tooth for a tooth……  Before you know we become the animals ourselves.

 

So how do we rise above?   And even though I don’t identify as Christian anymore – I’ve always loved Jesus Christ and am amazed that religious people (especially in America), who seek positions of power in their religion and in politics, fail to see that what they seek is what killed their Savior to begin with.   It was not the Jews (as a race) who killed Christ it was religion and politics.   Politics because of Roman leadership that refused to get involved and handed Christ over to the religious leaders; it was then religious moral high-mindedness, protectionism and fear that finished the job.  Both politicians and religious leaders wanted to maintain control of the people and how did they do that?  They killed love.

So back to my question how do we rise above it?  First we need to come down to earth.   How do we stop ourselves from becoming the thing we hate?  I think the answer lies in Bergman’s quote.   We need to remain warm in our observations of others and realize that those in the news, twitter, facebook, youtube or whatever other outlet that allows their dehumanizing hate to be vomited out into the world,  are still human.   Human in spite of the latest outrage.  We NEED to find a way to see them as human beings that are worth saving.   We need to reach out to hear them, understand them and meet them part way.    If we criticize them and ridicule them, judge them, shame them and embarrass them we do nothing to win them over.  We only become more like them and when we realize that – then shame sets in and we are filled with shame and self-loathing.  Lost in a cycle we can see no way out of.  It takes someone to step outside the self-perpetuating cycle and say, “Wait….   I’m sorry,  while I disagree with what you are saying or how your are expressing it I’d like to hear more about why you feel that way and see if there’s a way we can work through it together.”   And when they say something you disagree with ask them, “Why do you think that will work or how will that help the situation?”  There is NOT one way to do things.

That sets the stage for dialog – it’s the beginning of change.  We cease to be lost in the coldness of our own defenses.   When we stop the polemicizing and start listening to other peoples stores we cease to be trapped by the indifference we feel toward others.  We stop looking down on others and take steps to heal the contact, the bond between us that makes us uniquely human.  We stop defining the other person as “them” or “the other”.  We also need to stop being offended by criticism.  Remember offense is something you take = it’s not given to you.   Accept criticism and respond lovingly and appropriately.   And if you give criticism and the other person is offended you can be the salve, the healing balm with a simple “I’m sorry, I did not mean to offend I was just trying to express what I feel.  Why does that offend you?”

So are you tired of the “ball of confusion” that perpetuates modern society?

If you are, I dare you seek out difference and find a way to meet it and meet with it. You can rise above it all. WE can rise above it all.  When we help others rise up – especially those who are different with different ideologies, beliefs, moral centers, values ….. when we help others we help ourselves.  I dare you.  Will you dare?  You might be surprised who will come along.

RISE UP

STAY HUMAN – “All I want to do is stay human with you…..”

It’s not going to happen unless we (you and I) make it happen.
BE THE CHANGE

BLACK AS NIGHT “I believe in the good things coming…”

Pass it on.  Link this post to your blog, tweet it to everyone!

What Happened To My Country? (this messy slam poem)

What Happened To My Country?

(5/2019)
What happened to my country?
I feel like an alien in my own land
where everything old is new again
old arguments
new context
the earth is flat
we never landed on the moon
the return of nazism returns and
white supremacy, nationalism, dictators
abortion rights
suppression of the press
the end of free speech
power of the gun
more walls fewer bridges
tiki torches over electricity
more bombast less wisdom
voter suppression
denial, deny everything
forcing yes by saying no
lie, lie, lie like there’s no tomorrow
the holocaust never happened
domestic terrorism rules the day
a normality of school shootings
armed teachers
corporate kings keep half of America
addicted to opioids
never once asking if they should
they knew they could earn a ton of dough
from the drug trade
so they would
act now apologize later
Is this the death of America or just democracy?
the all-you-can-eat
brimstone and treacle buffet

Every moral notion I’ve EVER had
is being crushed by
the people who taught me
everyone has their religion but no one believes
religion is politicized, weaponized and bastardized
everyone is talking
no one is listening
technology moves forward
while humanity falls
faster backward

Where are the lovers the haters have killed?
we pray for ourselves by cursing others
we pray for our kind and curse differences
as if only we matter
sameness perpetuates division
diversity has become a word
to bring attention to our differences
not the things that unite us

Everyone wants to be Goliath
the bigger the better
determined to change history
but they forgot David won the war
believing they can turn back the clock
moving forward in the delusion of progress
taking a life synonymous with birth
the rights of the living aborted for
the rights of the unborn, the nonhuman,
the corporate, the government, the powerful
the dog serves its master
the worm serves the fish
and the pigs shit everywhere

America, where is your
o, beautiful for spacious skies?
when did the battle hymn of the republic change?
Now we only trample through the vineyard
where we grow our own grapes of wrath
and prepare to loose the lightning
of our own swift sword
beating the drum to war
unnecessarily we forgot the
beauty of the lilies and
Christ irrelevant born
forget about his glory transfiguration
it’s just you and me

(sung) Glory, glory hallelujah
Glory, glory hallelujah
glory, glory hallelujah
only the lie is marching on

America America
God shed his
onward christian soldiers
white privilege freedom thieves
now crown your good
white brotherhood
from sea to shining sea
and Jesus doesn’t love the children
all the children of the world
red and yellow, black and white
white are precious in his sight
that’s not the way the fucking songs go!

Hopefully artificial intelligence
will be ‘cause actual intelligence
seems to be the victim of extinction
let there be peace on earth
and let it begin with
someone else

FUCK! FUCK! FUCK!
God will not intervene!
even God wouldn’t deny the freewill
that humanity denies each other
God knows no borders
yet the rich and powerful use God
to force crisis borne of political expediency,
build walls and wage wars

Protect the money
grow the money
protect the money
grow the money
say it with me
protect the money, grow the money!

there is no happy ending here
man may have been made in the image of God but
God is still an extra-terrestrial alien creator
killed by its own creation
just as humanity will be killed by technology
the thing it creates
there is no rapture
the second coming came and went
it’s hard to imagine heaven
when all we create is hell
God damned humanity and
only humanity can save itself

I’m sorry if you were hoping for
words of encouragement
words of hope
words of inspiration
this vessel has been emptied and
washed clean
ready for a new beginning
let it begin
let the day begin!

On second thought
I think I’ll leave it empty for awhile

The Players Song

Players Song

what you lookin’ at?
what you laughin’ at?
what you makin’ fun of?

the end has come
lights gone down
crowds are gone
strides across
this sawdust clown

baggy pants
dirty shirt
worn out shoes
treading through
another broken town

hotel room
lonely bulb
peeling paint
dingy and dank
inhabited mold drown

what you lookin’ at?
what you laughin’ at?
what you makin’ fun of?

the naked man
in the bathtub
smokes a cigar
wearing the painted
face of a clown

milky surface
soapy water
shimmers like diamonds
one deep breath
he’s sliding down
what you lookin’ at?
what you laughin’ at?
what you makin’ fun of?

warm wet meditation
wraps up the man
mind quiet, at peace
distant thunder smoking
cigar lifeline

rising up
paint-stained flesh
reveals the man
washed renewed naked
suffering reality frown

what you lookin’ at?
what you laughin’ at?
what you makin’ fun of?

I don’t remember when I wrote this – possibly 2013-2014. But I only recorded it recently.

White Supremacy?

White Supremacy

Forgive me if I do not take your hand
White hand
Leprous hand
White as snow
You sound like help and look like death

Forgive me if I do not take your hand
White hand, leprous hand, white as snow
your heart is too close to the skin
you cannot see what I see
Your deformity prevents you
from feeling the pain you cause

Forgive me if I do not take your hand
White hand, leprous hand, white as snow
I see the disease you bring
Hidden among your so-called gifts
Your virtues tainted by
The supremacy of your unclean hand

Forgive me if I do not take your hand
White hand, leprous hand, white as snow
The diseased heart has spread to the hand
You build your gated communities, armed fortresses
Of wealth, leper colonies, prisons of your own making
Separating you from a whole world of wonder

Forgive me if I do not take your hand
White hand, leprous hand, white as snow
You seek to unify YOUR family
By separating ours… mine
You burn bridges and build walls
Usurper of truth, teller of lies

Forgive me if I do not take your hand
White hand, leprous hand, white as snow
The lesions of your thinking
Discolored by the deafening roar of hatred, intolerance & FEAR
I could feel sorry for you
If it were not for the swift kick
Of your Jackboot and the Searing heat of your tiki torch

Forgive me if I do not take your hand
White hand, leprous hand, white as snow
The prophesy has foretold
You will starve, you will lose all you had,
You will die by your own white hand
And when there is no more white
Who will be left to dig your grave?

Forgive me if I do not take your hand
White hand
Leprous hand
White as snow.

haiku on spring flowers

In brush strokes
Spring flowers white, yellow
Daffodils

+++++++++++++++++++++

Spring grows warm
Magnolia trees bloom
Not for long

+++++++++++++++++++

Spring flowers
Temporal beauty
One moment

4 haiku on aging

Daily progress
with pain in every step
These “golden years”

+++++++++++++++++++

Unable to sit
Unease prevents stillness
My restless legs

+++++++++++++++++++

Time goes faster
Losing track of days
One more bare limb

+++++++++++++++++++

Once, clarity
of a happy, sad youth –
memory fades

I was born….

I WAS BORN

I was born in 1960. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  I will turn 60 in 2020.
I turned 20 in 1980. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  I will turn 80 in 2040.
I turned 40 in the year 2000. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

All of my present has been
neurotically ricocheting
back and forth between
my past and my future.

I turned 40 in the year 2000.
When I turn 00
I will return to
what I was
before I was born

At peace.
At home.
In total oneness with
existence and nonexistence.

Night Rain

Night Rain

Splashes and Rivulets.
The rain dances then flows
washing, cleansing the
streets and sidewalks
by lamplight
while the city sleeps.

The sins of Winter
washed into the gutter and
time moves slowly.
I stare impatient
by the window
waiting for repentant Spring.