Thursday, January 01, 2009

TIMESTAMP: January 1, 2009

Situation CRITICAL.

We, as a generic tradition, tend to make some kind of "defining" or "dividing" issue of January 1. And it occurred to me, today is January 1, so look what's changed. I'm back. Don't get excited (I should only wish ) but it won't be regularly.

First, Please..... all of you, deeply feel my warm thanks for your kind feedback and support when I was at a low and unpredictable period in my life. The cool thing is that I know you're the kind of people who know that your words make (and made) a difference . And you know that I know that. 'nuff said.

I'm back to doing a fair bit of TV gazing. And watching all the silly things about the hairstyle of the governor of illinois, and somehow why the string of letters n-e-g-r-o is offensive if written really close together like this---negro---(I wonder what makes a word "offensive"., and who gets to decide?), Sorta like drawing a cartoon of the Ahatollah, or stacking the Senate (we do it here in Canada, too, for any of my American friends who may read this...last week our Conservative Prime Minister appointed 18 Conservatives to fill empty seats (our senate is patronage appointments, purely the pm's decision...not elected like yours).

I could go on, but you all know the list. We're in deep dippy-do, and it's occured to me that we're all sorta sitting on the deck of the Titanic, watching this really cool piece of ice through our binoculars.

And so I thought, hmmmmmm.....

And then, yesterday I watched a bunch of the yakkinghead-experts shows summarizing the year for me.

And because the election was the big thing last year (Let Barack do the economy thing, OK) there was a lot of talk between party "strategists" and "advisors" about their strategies to win or lose or whatever.

And it just occured to me. We KNOW as a certainty that there is a very diverse difference of, allow me to call it "political views", throughout the country. That's a given, isn't it? We KNOW with equal certainty that in any confrontation of a win-lose scenario you will end up with a final solution that does not sit well with at least some of the people . So, there's something wrong with that solution, isn't there? There's still some level of dissatisfaction.

So my thinking went off in about 40 different directions, but eventually it all seemed to crystalize in "The man in the mirror". Why is so much energy, time, Television coverage (I could go on) spent on "Republican fighting Democrat". What;s the difference between 'em, anyway? Could I smell one if I passed him on the street. What difference does it make? Doesn't the label "American" sorta work as "one size fits all and we all have differing views to some degree". Then you could direct your energy to SOLVING the problems of those folks who said "Hey, what about us?", TAKING ADVANTAGE of the incredibly diverse views available to consider. The "best" solution is in there somewhere. I suppose in a way it's the old guns-vs-butter debate.

We always seem to be afraid of change. I know I was. Jesus, I was afraid to change my underwear in case someone saw me naked. Ok, so I exaggerate.

Let's think about this. Almost exactly half are currently "labelled" Democrat", and the other half, "Republican" (editorial subtle nested note # 1------and very soon there will be nearly 100% "Green" party).

So, why not have co-president's? One representing each point of view. Ya got EVERYONE covered. What if they can't agree, you ask? You're missing my point. They MUST agree. That's the job you've given them, and you are required to help solve the problems they are asked to face in your name.

And then I thought, no, we're still looking at it too shallowy. We're expecting gals and guys who are giving away 70 trillion dollars a couple times to companies making products that no one wants to buy to do things non-politically (they call it "in a bi-partisan way" in government speak) by POLITICIANS, fer gar's sake!.


Just like big car automakers are wanted now as much as blacksmith's and wagon-wheel makers are in the transportation industry, let's just get rid of (bypass) politicians. Who decided they should get to be in charge. A bunch of guys 400 YEARS ago, people. What did they know about today, huh?. How can we LET them give $700 trillion unaccounted and then when asked, the company says they won't reveal how it was/will be spent. HELLO??

Am I suggesting anarchy here? Perhaps it could be interpreted that way. There was a show on not long ago about various people who someone had chosen to call "hero" for whatever reason. It was positive and uplifting. It was the solution.

Look DEEPLY AND HONESTLY AT YOURSELF. We are all witnesses to a massive train crash, and are taking movies of the gory parts. Isn't there just SOMETHING,......ANYTHING you can do. There have to be two-simultaneous movements started. And they have to work together BUT in different directions. (Think of it as "ye take the high road and I'll take the low road, and I'll be in Scotland afore thee) or something like that. We take different routes .... we get to the same place.

WE THE PEOPLE should...MUST .... be able to take $700 billion to feed, cloth, educate, house, people. ALL PEOPLE.

That's where we stumble. That's where we fall. That's where we simply stand by and don't TAKE ON OUR POLITICIANS. They're running OUR business, not theirs. It's OUR JOB to KEEP reminding them of that. CONSTANTLY.

That;s where we refuse to face the reality that this planet can no longer sustain the human species as it exits (that's not a spelling mistake!) and is directing itself. It's truly a beautiful iceberg, isn't it?

PEACE (and while you may be pondering all that trifling I've been doing, think of this:

New Year's Eve is celebrated by EVERYONE all around the world, and seems to show that at least there is the CAPACITY for unity on "something". (The fact that wars are also being fought on New Year's doesn't change the reality that there is some kind of universal "New Year's" acknowledgment, even though some, for instance celebrate on totally different days (the Chinese, for instance) That proves the possibility, yes/no .... at least the POSSIBILITY. The problem is simply finding the various solutions needed for other problems as they occur, big and small ... but ALL, that's the key .... ALL are important, equally. I'm still trying to remember what the original intention of the United Nations was, and , for instance, how effective it was back in the days of, oh say, the Cuban missile crisis.



Monday, May 19, 2008

There May Be Hope Yet

"Count your smiles instead of your tears; Count your courage instead of your fears.” - anon

The secret of Happiness is Freedom, and the secret of Freedom, Courage.” - Thucydides

Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgment that something else is more important than fear.” - Ambrose Redmoon

Something to REALLY think about (stolen from Nichevo's site). You MUST check out this short video. There are true, honest and good people in the world after all. I just let myself forget that for a moment.

Video hyperlink here.


Friday, May 09, 2008

Turning Points

"A man must know his destiny… if he does not recognize it, then he is lost. By this I mean, once, twice, or at the very most, three times, fate will reach out and tap a man on the shoulder… if he has the imagination, he will turn around and fate will point out to him what fork in the road he should take, if he has the guts, he will take it.” - General George S. Patton

"They used us as an excuse to go mad and then blamed it on us. Gandhi says create and preserve the image of your choice. The image of my choice is not Beatle George - those who want that can go and see Wings. Why live in the past? Be here now.” - former group singer George Harrison of "The Beatles"

A lot of people are waiting for Martin Luther King or Mahatma Gandhi to come back -- but they are gone. We are it. It is up to us. It is up to you.” -Marian Wright Edelman

It is my belief that pretty much everyone has a few defining moments in their lives --- wedding days, first day of school, the best vacation ever, a career path chosen, a welcome hand extended. Everyone's is unique, of course, and some folks are obviously blessed with more of these moments than others are.

Over the past month or so, I have been doing some serious soul-searching, contemplating, planning what remains of the rest of my life, however long or short that should turn out to be, and for better or worse, I have reached the conclusion that it will no longer consist of me yelling "WORLD PEACE" from the rooftops, or demanding that "one person CAN and MUST make a difference". I will never again attempt to do the "anonymous good deed" or apply the "pay it forward" philosophy of life. I say this not because I want to be particularly mean, but because I was taken for the innocent sucker-fool in a big way last year...not just once, but THREE times, and it has been one of those major turning-points in my life that I referred to above (more discussion on this point, naming Shane among others, below).

And to be perfectly blunt, I no longer give a damn if the earth ends up as one environmental mess, garbage-strewn, covered with sick and dying babies and soldiers and birds and politicians and graft and greed and all those other things that it seems I've clearly been misjudging all my protected and unrealistic life, and as expressed as recurring themes in the past two-and-a-half years or so of this blog..

Why should I care about making (leaving) the world a better place for "our" kids....I don't have any kids or even descendants. No sweat off my gonads. Soldiers sign up knowing that they may be killed as a result of their job. So do telephone pole climbers, but no one sheds a tear or concern for them, and they don't make the local news when they shuffle off to their job, do they? So let the soldiers "die" if they think it's the noble thing to do; if they think, by doing so, they are somehow protecting my right to openly write this blog. Honor them in the name of "the country" if that's the politically appropriate thing to do, or if it's a conscience-cleansing process for you and/or the politicians who sent them there in the first place.

In the end, it doesn't matter one scintilla. We all die sometime...might as well die a hero, which, somewhat ironically, is identically the same philosophy that drives a young suicide bomber to do what he does in the name of Allah. Is it not a much greater sacrifice to die as a martyr for your religion than for some artificially drawn line in the sand that someone a couple hundred years ago thought would make something they'd call a "country" and invent things like "patriotism" and "flag-waving" and a "constitution" and "passports" and "custom stations" and "immigration laws" and all that stuff? We condemn them as committing acts of terror, though, not because they're brave to face death in the mouth, but because we don't understand how they could feel SO strongly for their religion that it would be a driving, overriding, compelling force in their lives, whereas, by and large, most of us consider it to be a Sunday-morning nuisance thing. Anticipating the argument that "they walk into crowded markets to "do their thing" and innocents die as a result, I simply ask "What's the current body count of "collateral damage" by "our side" in Iraq, Afghanistan and any other place of conflict?" I believe it's around 90,000, isn't it? Don't even start on the "torture" theme.

Centuries ago, white (Christian) man came to the shores of North America to calm the savage beast that roiled in the breast of every native american. And we treated them, in the name of Christianity, as shit. I remember as a kid, there was a building called "The ShingWak Home" that I was never allowed to ask about, and was never talked about, and CERTAINLY never allowed to go near, even on my bike. Turns out, it was one of the hundreds, perhaps thousands, of residential schools that the "Christians" forced native American kids to attend, ripping them from their families and lifestyles unwillingly, only to find themselves deeply abused, confused, grossly beaten and in some cases, disfigured, and afraid.

By nuns.

Only last week, a 5-year commission has been set up (headed by a native American judge) who intends to travel across the country letting the survivors tell their own stories of horror in their own words. Then there will be the "who-cares" lawyer-drafted, carefully-worded, cover-all-bases (read: CYA) official apology put into the record of the House of Commons, and then the several billions of dollars of restitution will be paid out.

Can anyone spell "R-O-M-A-N C-A-T-H-O-L-I-C P-R-I-E-S-T?.

Has anyone noticed the censorship that is not-so-slowly-creeping into our language now WAY beyond any thought of "political-correctness", so you don't alienate a particular race, religion, color, creed, handicap, mental ability, or sewing circle they belong to (or, more specifically, George Bush's extreme right-wing-religious coalition of nut-crackers)? The "secret police" (and don't kid yourself for a second, this blog is likely being monitored, and websites are shutting down by the thousands every day just because some folks happen to enjoy experiencing what God gave us --- the human body --- and others think it's something filthy and to be ignored? That these same "secret police" now have the right to break and enter into the private sanctuary of your home without a search warrant on the "suspicion" of illegal activity (mostly committed by middle Europeans, of course, all in the name of national security....what a joke! Are they not full citizens as you and I with all the same rights?). Why is there not civil riot at the least over just that if nothing else?

Can anyone spell B-O-S-T-O-N T-E-A P-A-R-T-Y?

Have we gotten that complacent?

Can any one spell M-c-C-A-R-T-H-Y-I-S-M?

My answer is a decided "Yes!", and so I'm joining the masses. I don't give a shit anymore. It's someone else's worry. I have enough of my own, thank you very much.

One of my insights over the past month of belly-button-gazing is just that. My 60 years of life have been literally stolen from me by the threat, or implied threat, that I'm trash, not worthy of the title "human being". Well, for those who think that way, I have just one (rather harsh) thing to say to you "Piss on you". Many in the past have said encouraging things to me about what a great and helpful person I am. Please trust and believe me in your heart when I say I honestly and truly appreciate that feedback (who doesn't thrive on the occasional pat on the head). Thing is, up until now, I've needed the impossible....I've needed more....I've needed approval from everybody. We're talking at two totally different planes of existence here.

I am gay. You know that many times over if you've been reading my blog. I truly acknowledge and thank you for allowing me to say that out loud and repeatedly in public. You have helped me peel off a thick layer of shame and disgust that has enveloped me all my life. I am kinky gay in that my body reacts with an extra "high", an "adrenaline rush" like a downhill skier or a racecar driver, or a tight-wire-rope walker, or the housekeeper expecting the wife's new boss for dinner, and hoping he's thought of everything, or a stage performer. This is the sort of thing I feel (most of you know's that "groin" feeling, magnified many times over) when I contemplate stimulants of bondage and leather (and weed, for that matter). They are all absolute, irrevocable signs of giving up control (i.e. experiencing "trust" and "love" in the truest sense).

I didn't ask for it, I just was dealt that card. I can hold it forever, which I've pretty much done up till now, fearing against all reasonable fear that somehow it will work against me and thus deny me any sense of human caring or I can play it, with daring and risk, as I'm doing here now. If that is disgusting to you, Stop reading. Go away. I don't need your opinion or input. Simple as that. One of the nurses attending me in the hospital a few months back, when I had been assigned him for his shift, and we were chatting,he told me he thought bondage was "pornographic" and changed assignments with another nurse when he found out so he wouldn't have to deal with me any more. It was his f**king job....on the psych ward no less!!

If I get "gay-bashed" to within an inch of my life (or worse yet, become another Matthew Shepard.....look it up if you don't understand the horrific reference), so-be-it. I have never felt the love enjoyed and the physical, emotional, mental and spiritual sharing of my body with that of another who loves me back in much the same way. I don't believe I have ever felt the emotion of "love" as most people mean it. (oh yeah, I say things like "I just love the job you did on re-modelling your kitchen", or "I love that photo you took with all the subtle shadows"), but I can't say, like my niece in Chicago said in front of a gathering of over 100 witnesses this past weekend, that she "loves" her new husband from her heart, till death do them part, and he hers.

I am bipolar; obviously I'd rather not be, but I am, so I'll live with it. The doctors keep guessing at which meds, how much and when I should take them, so I do. I have Menieres known cause... no known known cure. Obviously, I'd rather not have it, but I do, so I'll live with it. It's making me go deaf, 100% deaf in my left ear now, with about 70% left in my right. I'm told I have about 3 or 4 years left probably before I'm totally deaf. I throw up randomly, and get undescribably intense spinning/dizzy sessions lasting sometimes up to half an hour or more. Obviously, I have to be very careful of any impending signs, because I don't get a lot of warning, 30 seconds to a minute or two maybe. I always drive in the curb lane now in case I have to pull over in a hurry. I'd rather not have to do this, but I do. I'm not, and never have been, very strong physically. Up until now, I've blamed others for preventing me the opportunities, but that one's all my fault. I could have and can do something about it. I have never considered myself at all physically "attractive", but that's out of my hands and for others to judge. Besides, it's totally unimportant in the grand scheme of things. I even had the thought that if, for instance, teenagers laugh at me for wearing the wrong style of clothes for instance, at least they're laughing. That's gotta be good for something. .

That's my reality.

Can anyone spell L-O-O-K O-U-T F-O-R Y-O-U-R-S-E-L-F,
N-O O-N-E E-L-S-E W-I-L-L?

A political candidate can't use a single (truthful but not "political") word in his campaign (witness a week or so ago in Pennsylvania) without both the press and his opponent making it the major news item for a few days, not to mention that the word was sometimes intentionally and conveniently taken out of context to suit the speaker's needs. For God's sake, aren't there more important issues to deal with?

Peace, however you want to define or describe it, is an illusion, never be to be achieved, but, at best, hoped for by a few. Dreamers. Some people use their dreams as a motivator. I used to be one of those people, I think.

Suffering babies, and adults, will continue to be tortured and die in countries that we don't "control", not to mention the millions of our own citizens that we shamefully neglect while the politicians fly around the world for photo-ops and carefully pre-scripted meetings in multi-million dollar jets at our..MY...expense, spend TRILLIONS of our money....unaccounted for, largely....and I can't do a damn thing about it. I don't give a rat's ass anymore that you literally need to BUY political power now (witness the $18,000,000 (That's pronounced "million", folks) spent by Obama just for advertising in Pennsylvania a losing cause). Sure.....convincee me again what used to be a believable truth that "anyone can be President, son."

The following is one of the parts that I've debated long and hard including in this, partly explaining its delay in posting what will most likely be my final blog entry. I say that because it goes against everything I have tried to be, and am no longer willing (or perhaps selfish enough)to give the effort. But, perhaps out of selfishness, perhaps for that pat on the head, perhaps for balance in my life, I am going to give a partial list of things I've done and folks I've helped in the past.

You of course can put this list into any category you wish. The "new" me says it doesn't matter anymore to me what you think. Just what I think. Numero Uno. This is who I think I've been....who I've tried to be, at least. I am embarrassed, humiliated, shocked, appalled, disgusted, revolted, shamed by the price that three separate individuals have made me pay for my mistakes during this past year, but MUCH more significantly, for my life.The three are: David, Luc and Shane. They were the main driving factors beyhind my very serious attempt at suicide in February. I acknowledge that "the bad guys have won now, and I'm laying down my sword", but not at the expense of my life. No, that's mine to keep. They can take everything else.


The three "big" rip-offs that I suffered, endured and was totally and publically humiliated by during this past year, all the while being laughed at as a simpleton sucker undermined whatever fragile self-esteem I had built up.

1) David: The owner of the paint company who painted my house gave me a price, and after the job was complete, raised it by $2000, and asked for the extra "in cash". I knew as well as the next guy that he was simply avoiding taxes, and felt very uncomfortable doing it, but I did. I was a "mark" then. And I went against one of the few principles I've tried to lived by. I failed....knowingly and intentionally.

2) Luc: Two of the four kids that did the painting live very close by, and he, sometimes with one of his buddies, would come by every day for a toke. Simple-minded, pollyannic me believed him. I thought I could make a difference, slow and sure, with the kid. I truly thought I saw potential in him. I didn't discover till months later that he was just coming to also "help" himself to other things, mostly weed, to get him through the day, and that was the sole purpose of his visit. His friend, I found out, stole $100 among other things directly out of my wallet. I felt raped. Turns out, he laughs in my face and calls me a "sucker", adding that I am "exactly the type of easy sucker they prey on." Not an iota of remorse. I can't grasp that. And not a single penny reimbursed.

3) Shane: You all know about Shane. I posted a few vitriolic and negative entries awhile back when it became obvious he never had any intention of paying me back a dime of the several thousand I lent him. At his request, still being the simple-minded fool that I was, I acquiesced to his request and removed the blog entries that "offended" him. I got an e-mail from him directly after saying he would have a partial payment to me by Western Union by the Friday of that week, and was taking on extra assignments to make up the difference.

That has been the last I've heard from him, and if I recall, that was sometime back around Christmas, give or take.

One, okay....I made a bad judgement. Two....caution flag is careful you don't go overboard here. Three....intolerable. Especially when perpetrated by someone who has "worked" their way into your kindnesses. For that, I say collectively, "Piss on all three of you".

There is another, more historical side, however. This is the part I find difficult, because it betrays the original intent, but I want those three assholes named above to understand what they've destroyed, if they're capable of it, which I sincerely doubt. IF not, just to clear my conscience, and put my "whole exisitence" out there, and not just the crap.

This will BY NO MEANS be a complete list, but certainly representative. Also, it will primarily consist of monetary help, even though I have offered far more of my time (read "life") than money.

-I have paid for the tuition and fees of three single moms to go through our two-year program when I was teaching, because I could easily see their potential for success, but they couldn't get past the budget part without working 3 jobs, etc.
-I lent/gave $5000 to a friend who was struggling with a primarily-seasonal business she was trying to get off the ground, intending to help get her through her first "dry spot" as she got established. Unfortunately, she went bankrupt.
-I have paid for the airline tickets for I-don't-know-how-many family members and relatives to attend things like weddings, funerals, etc, when they couldn't afford it themselves (mostly the college-age ones!)
-I have paid for four airline tickets to strangers on the net whose buddy/loved one was shipping out for Iraq much earlier than first expected, and wanted to see them for what literally could possibly be "one last time", but they simply couldn't afford it. Three of them, BTW, wrote me awe-inspiring, jaw-dropping tributes after the fact.
-I have given hundreds of dollars to panhandlers in the streets over the years (I'll never pass one up if I have any coinage at all...and we have a $2 coin here in Canada now!). Often, instead, I'll take them into a close-by burger joint and get them a salad and burger or whatever...probably the first decent food they've had in days, and listened to their stories. Mostly very sad, abused, neglected, alcoholic, but the occasional one that stirs the soul in a positive way. Some are getting to know me! Now, though, I'll cross the street to avoid them.
-When I was teaching (20 years) I used to drive cross-country in the summertime (3 days), pick up my Mom, and then we'd make the "family tour" of visits (Mom never learned to drive). When it was over, I'd have a 3-day trip alone back across the prairies. I never turned down a hitchhiker, no matter what they "looked like", as long as I had room in the car. And I Never let them out of the car without at least a $20.00 bill sticking out of their jeans pocket for emergencies, food, whatever, including my address and phone number, and a standing invitation if they were ever in my neck of the woods and need a place to stay over for the night, well.... I got "thank you" notes from lots of them over the years. Only one came to stay overnight, though.
-One, in particular (I found out a few days after I had picked him up) was a 14-year-old (he could have passed for 19 or 20!) was on parole, had a warrant out for his arrest, and just wanted to get out of the province (Ontario) as fast as possible. (I found all this out much later). He was a lad of few words, but he kept "changing" his destination as we moved further west, until finally, we reached my hometown, and his story came flooding out of him like Niagara Falls. I almost had the feeling that he had been "testing" me for a couple days to see if I was someone he could truly trust and confide in." It was one of the common, tragic, beaten-by-parents and thrown out on his own type story. (by now he was headed to an uncle on the coast). Long story short, I had the police check me, a group of "concerned parents" checked me out, I flew his Mom out to meet me and check out my house (and took her in to talk to my lawyer once. He asked her to leave briefly at the end of the session, and said simply to me "The best thing for that lad right now is to keep him as far away from her as possible." I flew his uncle from the west coast (who also was gay) to "see" if I was a threat...he committed suicide about 4 months later, I spent 3 hours with my lawyer discussing all the repercussions (for which he didn't charge me one red cent). The upshot of it all was I had his parole transferred here, I got him enrolled in school, and I guess (subliminally, probably) tried to treat him as the son I never was and knew I'd never have.
He paid me what I consider to be one of the greatest compliments of my life when he said to me one day at breakfast (we did a lot of talking at breakfast!);" You know what's different about you, Rick, from all the others who have tried to help me? You're the only one who's doing something because it's not your job to do it." Eventually, unfortunately, things soured past the point of redemption (he was making "bombs" and the like in my basement, was not taking school seriously (missed much more than he attended) set fires on neighbour's lawns, you get the picture. I know a leopard can't change spots overnight, but reluctantly I eventually decided that I couldn't handle him, and sent him back home. He kept in touch regularly by letter, with no sense of bitterness, but more of at least trying, until he ended up in Juvie Hall, and I haven't heard from him since. I was down visiting a few weeks after I sent him back, and he invited me around to their "new" house, but the door to one of the bathrooms was closed, and he said "We're not looking in there. That's where my uncle killed himself yesterday".
It was a great 4 or 5 months I had with him. Did I make any difference? Only he knows, but I doubt it. Is it worth the effort? My answer now is a resounding "NO!"
-I put up 12...count em....12 students from an International Baccalaureate school based in B.C. who were travelling across the country,in my house when they were on a tight budget to get back home to Europe!) My nephew attended the school many years ago now, and assured them they'd all be they were, of course). (7 or 8 of them didn't speak very much English.
-I billeted 3 kids on the advance team for "Up With People" group a few years back because no one else wanted three guys for that length of time. One was from Germany, one Switzerland, and one Holland. I had them for 5 days, and could write an entire series of blogs just on that one experience, from white-water rafting and hot-air ballooning, to extensive community service, to helping an alcoholic fit his wheel chair in the trunk of a taxi on Whyte Avenue, a major thoroughfare here, with lots of unique shops and boutiques and cool drinking spots. As he was thanking them with a slur and a few tears, he mentioned it was his birthday and they instantly broke out singing an impromptu "Happy Birthday" right there. People just don't that sort of thing they? After that, a bit of a crowd gathered, and there was about a half hour impromptu concert right on the sidewalk until the police sent us on our way because people were starting to stand in the street, causing a danger. (We went pubbing every night with a bunch of the other kids, and I think there were a dozen or so this particular night).
-I paid for the books of a college student so she could continue her dream of getting her diploma. I got an invitation a couple days ago to her graduation. Honours Role. President's List. Not too shabby.
-I have made anonymous donations to funds set up to help kids who lose both parents in a car accident, or donated unused furniture and clothing to families burned or flooded out of theirs, or "Coats for Kids" r any of the other places I can give "things" to.
-I never left my office at the end of the day while I was teaching (20 years) until there were no more students waiting to ask a question, or seek help of some sort (any sort!)
-I always had a year-end student party at my place for each class that I had taught that year.
-I have bought and paid for Christmas presents for families with kids, knowing they couldn't afford them on their own, and left them on their doorstep anonymously on Christmas Eve.
-A few weeks back, I donated $600 to "American Idol Gives Back", figuring I'd put my money where my mouth is and feed the starving kids in Africa. In the meantime I'd reduce my food budget by $50 a month for the next year. So, I won't eat out quite as often, and I'll have the occasional frozen pizza instead of fresh, or mac & cheese instead of grilled steak on the Bar-B-Q. Is that a sacrifice? To some, maybe. Not to me. I'm not going to let it. I understand what "grace" before a meal is for now. It has meaning. It has human significance.

Perhaps that is a list of some significance to some of you. It isn't to me. I have one simple reason for saying that. THINGS are replaceable. PEOPLE are not. I have a shortage of PEOPLE in my life, and it's almost over. That saddens me when I dwell on it.

So, am I changed person, or just a confused, manic/depressive who is letting off some frustrated steam? I think the long delay in publishing this post may help answer that question. Who truly knows?

It truly has been a pleasure communicating with you....all of you, and while I may be back sometime, I doubt it. Bless you in whatever way you consider to be the most important and significant way that one human can give another.



Sunday, March 30, 2008

Some May Say That I'm A Dreamer, But .......

"Everyone likes to differentiate between business and consumers but I don't see the difference really. Most people are people. I get personal and business mail and I have one set of contacts from my life. I don't want to manage two sets. I want one view of my world." - Steve Ballmer

"This is really the fundamental question for all of us. How do you make a difference and what difference does it make? This has to be highly personal. The only thing you can change is you." - Martin Sheen

"I was reading the small book called " Islam ,by Ahmed Hulusi.

The more we open ourselves to each other, the more we see how close we really are.

On Page 55 he says, " Our brains mathematically construct objective reality by interpreting frequencies that are ultimately projections from another dimension, a deeper order of existence that is beyond both space and time

[small sidenote to this: strange and quirky as it may sound, this concept ties in very nicely to some of the concepts discussed in "Chaos Theory", which is currently being studied and investigated in hundreds of universities around the world. I personally find it very exciting and stimulating.]


"ISLAM - As I read that, I was thinking how I considered the possibility that UFO's were from inner space and not outer space.

They exist but can only be seen by those whose brain waves rise to a higher frequency. This sometimes happens all by itself.

Ahmed Hulusi presents Islam in a most interesting and enlightening way.

We truly are all one
" -(taken from the website )

[Truism, Platitude, Commonplace, Futility, Banal, Trite, Knee-jerk, Habit, Beaten Path, Second Nature, Prevalence, Convetionalism, Mode, Fashion, Worn-Out
......the list is virtually endless.

"You can't fight city hall."
"It's the back room boys and corporations that have all the power."
"Let someone else worry about it, I'll just take care of my own."
"It's someone else's problem....Lord knows, I've got enough of my own."
"We pay people to worry about things like that."
"Tokenism will get you nowhere."
"The good things never make it onto the news, so why bother."
"It's a lost cause, it won't be long now."
"It's simply "survival of the fittest, as it's always been."
"It's a self-determining method of world population growth."
"Who doesn't go to hockey games to see the fights instead of the game? Man, there's nothing sweeter than a good scrap, is there?"
"Look, men have been fighting men for centuries, and I certainly have no impact in affecting that trend."
"An uzi is a penile projection of a male's place in the pecking order of things."
"Goddammned peacenik, we're giving up our lives so you can say the things you say."
"Everyone wants peace....that's a non-sequitor. What's your point?"
"Look, be realistic here. What can just one anonymous person do?"
"Kill or be killed. That's what I say. All the goddammed gooks, pakis and wetnecks are already trying to take over the world. What then?"
"Revenge must be exacted. Iraq ( wasn't Iraq after all, but who cares about details) flew a couple airplanes into a couple of our buildings, and so we have no choice. An eye for an eye."
"Anyone who doesn't agree with me is screwed in the head."
"What a narrow-minded person you are."
"The United Nations is an out-dated joke."
.....the list is endless.

[I think this one may shock you a bit, folks. I agree with absolutely everything I've written up above. By that, I mean there are hundreds of thousands of people in virtually every country in the world who hold at least one of those views, or something closely related.

So, that makes me a stupid Don Quixote tilting at windmills, right?


I believe I am largely misunderstood, and therefore largely ignored whenever I start on one of these "thought-streams." All I ask is that you take a couple minutes and follow along with me if you feel like it. If you don't, that's obviously your choice (but re-read the third quote up above befor moving on to the next moment of your life.)

I'm simply trying an alternative, and I happened to pick the problem "Bring me World Peace", because it's one that a lot of people would likely get behind, at least cerebrally......but the issue is, ONLY cerebrally. "Yeah, I want World Peace. What time's the playoff game on?"

There's no way you, or I, or ten million people are going to bring about "world peace". First of all, I can almost guarantee that if you asked 100 people what they meant by it, you'd get 99 answers, and the 100th guy dropped dead before having a chance to express his view.

FACT: CONCLUSION: "World Peace" will NEVER be the same thing to all people.
CONCLUSION: Don't waste what lifetime you have left going after a useless, impossible "goal."

QUESTION: Ignoring everyone else's understanding of "World peace", is there anything I could do to "get there"? First question, though, is "Do I want to?". If you answer the second question "No", give up on "World Peace as a goal for cripeys sake. You have more important problems to attend to.


QUESTION: What is the most important PROBLEM facing me in my life right now (notice I didn't say "most important "THING", because you've probably already got that (food, clothing, shelter, family, friends, love....the list is endless)

QUESTION: Do I CARE to do anything to get rid of that problem, or at least make it "less onerous".?

If NO, live a happy and prosperous .....and EMPTY and UNFULFILLED and UN-GROWING life, my friend. Millions pick that option, it's nothing to be ashamed of. (Read the 3rd quote above again, though).

Here's the cruncher:......If YES, a) what's in my way of getting rid of it, b) can I get rid of it, c) do I need help getting rid of it, d) who can I get to help, and most important of all, e) will anyone else be hurt in the process of my solving my most immediate/important problem.

I personally believe, FUNDAMENTALLY, (and of course you don't have to agree partially or at all) that ANY and ALL ISSUES (I won't call them problems anymore) can be resolved on the back of the concept of TOLERANCE.

We're an intolerant world, an intolerant, greedy, biased, prejudiced species of animal. And because of that, we ARE DOOMED TO SELF-DESTRUCTION.

As soon as we can come to understand the difference between "Needs" and "Wants", we'll have a chance of turning the great ship "Mother earth" around. Until then, we're heading straight for the iceberg in the middle of the night, singing "Nearer My God To Thee" as we take in the night sky on the deck.

So I guess that's what I've come to realize with the life path that I've followed. I've observed that when I'm tolerant of others, and giving of "needs", my life is enriched, as is theirs. When I'm intolerant, rude or prejudiced towards another (as I have often been....I'm no saint!!) and am greedy enough to let my "wants" be more important than another's "needs", then I am no better than a beast, an animal, one unqualified to wear the label "Human".

Can enough people change in time?
The pessimist says "No".
The optimist says "Yes".

How many people turned off their lights at 8PM last night?
How many Rosa Parks, and Gandhis, and Mandellas and Kings are out there who are much more eloquent than I could ever hope to be?

FINAL QUESTION: What are you going to do about it TODAY to reduce your main issue....your personal one, not mine or your neighbour's....yours.

That becomes the only choice you have to make today. I hope and trust you make it wisely, but if it turns out not to work, back up and try something else (remember the ping pong ball from my last blog?)

(P.S. Just to set the air clear, based on a few comments left on my previous entry, I'm not a "pacificist" in the sense that I abhor violence when it's needed for protection (Matty's baseball bat example is a great example). I'm a pacifist when it comes to the needless hurting of other souls.)

(a poem by Trade Martin)

WAR MEANS death……,
WAR MEANS destruction……,
WAR MEANS fire……,
WAR MEANS bombing…..,
WAR MEANS sorrow…..
WAR MEANS turmoil…..,
WAR MEANS tears……,
WAR MEANS guns…..,
WAR MEANS blood…...,
WAR MEANS confusion….,
WAR MEANS explosions…..,
WAR MEANS mutilation……,
WAR MEANS sickness……,
WAR MEANS killing…..,
WAR MEANS occupation…..,
WAR MEANS loss……,
And lots more……,

But after one side…..,
Or the other side…..,
Has finally had enough….,
And lays down their arms
To surrender and give up…..,


….Trade Martin,2007.

Path Of Peace

(a poem by Paul Mc Cann)

Peace is an easy path to tread
Peace is where our fears are mislaid
Peace is beginning to restore
Peace for each man, woman and child
Peace for the troubled streets gone wild
Peace is for the old and the young
Peace in the end will overcome
Peace builds trust into a lifestyle
Peace is a friendly open hand
Peace is a place to understand
Peace in the end will overcome
Peace is for the old and the young
Peace is a legacy to leave
Peace is when we don't have to grieve
Peace is and end to all the hate
Peace is why we negotiate
Peace for all the victims of war

Paul McCann


Tuesday, March 25, 2008

War And Peace: In Song And In Poetry - Part 2

"For me, words are a form of action, capable of influencing change." - Ingrid Bengis

"Wars generally do not resolve the problems for which they are fought and therefore... prove ultimately futile." - Pope John Paul II

"As you reach your goals, set new ones. That is how you grow and become
a more powerful person
." - Les Brown

[First, thank you all so much for leaving your thoughtful comments on my previous blog. To me, it shows two things: first, at least five people are giving some level of thought to the issue (with a special thanks to Rositta for being a first-time commenter...much appreciated!), and second, it will never be possible to get eveyone to "agree" on "a solution" (although I'm sure we all knew that already. It would be naive and candy-cane-lane-dreaming to think otherwise). So does that mean we have only the two options as expressed by some of you? "I wish there would be peace, but I'm realistic enough to realize that there will always be war, so why fight it (pardon the pun!) So what the hell can I do about it? I sure can't stop the Iraq war, so what is the point of my blogs, anyway? Good question!!

The young teenager was helping her Mom get the Thanksgiving turkey ready for the family gathering and, as she always did with both the Christmas and Thanksgiving turkey, she carefully cut off the wings, and tucked them in the roaster down beside the bird. The young girl asked her Mom, "Howcum you always cut off the wings like that?" The mother thought about it a second, and answered, "Well, that's the way MY mother always did it." Persisting, the girl asked, "So why did SHE do it?" "I don't really know" came the response, but now you have me curious too. Let's call her and find out." So the appropriate call was made, the converstaion took place, and the results were the same ("Because Grandma always used to do it, and who's going to argue with Grandma's cooking!! But now you've got me curious, I'm going to phone her and find out." The call was made, the question asked, and the reply was "I never had a roasting pan big enough to take the whole bird without it hanging over the edges and dripping fat in the hot oven, so I chopped off its wings first."

Sometimes, we fight wars just because we always have. It clearly and obviously is a method that doesn't work to solve any problem it might have set out to accomplish, so again we're back to our black-and-white choice. What is ABSOLUTELY CRUCIAL is that we recognize that the "essence" of "war" changed in the early 1900's in World War I with the introduction of mustard gas as a weapon. It was the first weapon that murdered indiscriminately, and all we've done in the last century is continue to refine the concept, and become more immune to the inevitability of the results. Do I moan and groan and say I can do nothing, or do I get on the phone to Bush and order him to withdraw the troops immediately, and pass a law saying that no country can ever partake in a war again. Rather stupid, obviously. What we're missing is, there are a million other options available to each of us as individuals. Pick one that interests you and you're able to do.....then do it. That's all. Simple.

I wear this bracelet to remind me of this concept all the time, every day. Imagine that you are the "ball" at 2 minutes after noon, and your most bitter enemy (let's say the suicidal, murderous Taliban, for instance) are the ball at 2 minutes to noon. Well, as I see it, there are two ways of fusing those two into one (and I DON'T mean "same", I mean 'tolerant'. You can go to war, and attempt to jump the chasm between you, with 4000 soldiers (so far) dropping into the pit, 90,000 plus civilians going along with them, untold suffering and damage never to be restored, irreplaceable artifacts and manuscripts dating back centuries being lost in the process, or you can turn around and go the other way. (Perhaps that's what was meant biblically by "turning the other cheek..." Of course it won't happen this time, it may not even happen in Tibet, or any of the other 31 wars being fought today as you read this.

The following is a list (totalling 32) of some of the ongoing conflicts around the world: (list courtesy of Wikepedia)

Start of Conflict War/Conflict Location Death Toll

1948 Internal conflict in Burma Burma over 7,000
1964 Colombian Armed Conflict Colombia unknown
1967 Post-Six-Day War Israeli-Palestinian conflict (including al-Aqsa Intifada) West Bank, Gaza Strip and Israel unknown
1969 Communist and Islamic Insurgency in the Philippines (including OEF-P) Philippines est. 160,000 [1]
1975 Conflict in Laos involving the Hmong Laos 2,000 - 3,000
1980 Internal conflict in Peru Peru ~70,000[citation needed]
1983 Sri Lankan civil war Sri Lanka ~70,000 [2]
1984 Turkey-PKK conflict Kurdistan and Turkey unknown
1984 Free Papua Movement Western New Guinea unknown
1987 Second Ugandan Civil War Uganda ~12,000[citation needed]
1988 Somali Civil War (including 2006 War in Somalia) Somalia 300,000 - 400,000
1989 Kashmir conflict Kashmir unknown
1990 Casamance Conflict Senegal unknown
1992 Conflict in the Niger Delta (including Nigerian Oil Crisis) Nigeria unknown
1993 Ethnic conflict in Nagaland Nagaland, India unknown
1999 Second Chechen War North Caucasus, Russia 28,000 - 113,000[citation needed]
2001 War in Afghanistan Afghanistan 17,000 - 27,000[citation needed]
2002 Islamic insurgency in Algeria Algeria unknown
2003 Iraq War Iraq ~151,000 [3]
2003 Insurgency in Saudi Arabia Saudi Arabia 273
2003 Darfur conflict Sudan 200,000 - 400,000
2004 Balochistan conflict Balochistan, Pakistan unknown
2004 Waziristan War Waziristan, Pakistan 2,600 - 7,100[citation needed]
2004 South Thailand insurgency Pattani, Thailand ~2,500
2004 Naxalite (Maoist) insurgency in India Certain parts of India unknown
2005 War in Chad Chad ~1,400[citation needed]
2006 Mexican Drug War Mexico ~2700[citation needed]
2006 Fatah-Hamas conflict Gaza Strip, West Bank 265[citation needed]
2007 Second Tuareg Rebellion North Niger and Mali 56[citation needed]
2007 2007 Ogaden conflict Ogaden, Ethiopia ~1,500
2008 2008 unrest in Tibet TAR, Qinghai, Sichuan and Gansu, PRC ~10-100[citation needed]
2008 2008 invasion of Anjouan Comoros, Anjouan unknown

Do we care about the others?

As a matter of happenstance beyond my control, I happened to be born into a Christian home in a western democratic country. People the world over tend to become very attached to three major things, their family, their religion and their country. I am no longer a Christian. I simply can't square statements as simple as "Thou shalt not kill" or "God made man in his own image", or "Jesus loves you" when we certainly have no compunction to kill. God must have been a lonely, homeless, disease-ridden, selfish, bipolar, cancer-ridden, armless druggie, and Jesus must have been a fag. None of that matters, of course, because we all choose our own depth and point of view in matters of faith. I consider myself deeply spiritual, with a sacred, strange and compelling attraction to the Haida Indians of British Columbia. So much so, that I am most likely going to be getting the following as a tattoo on my arm very shortly.

But I digress. I have also just begun to read a book called "Eastern Religions for Dummies". In reality, I am totally ignorant of their beliefs, so how can I have any understanding? Look, I'm certainly not trying to brag here, or shove this stuff in your face. I'm just saying that there ARE things that you, as an individual, can do, if you choose to do so. The consequence is whatever we leave behind us for our kids to clean up tomorrow.

Just to emphasize, let me say once more.....for the time being, let the soldiers jump into the abyss on our behalf. In the meantime, turn around and do what you CAN do. Be imaginative. And here's the real true, workable all-inclusive secret to what I believe I'm saying. The bracelet I've shown you is only two-dimensional, implying that we all have to "be on the same page" to get anywhere. WRONG! We live in a multi-dimensional world.

Imagine a tennis ball, and make a random mark on it with a felt marker. Now, make a second mark just a fraction of an inch from the first one. Now, count the number of paths there are to get FROM that dot to the other one, and don't forget the shortcuts by cutting through the middle of the ball too. Nobody says your line has to be a straight one. Most likely, along the way, you're apt to pass someone else, who, by being "in the same place", implies that they pretty much share your views. Can you learn anything from them, or them from you? Do you want to walk together for a little while at least? Just have the goal of getting there, and then figure out how you're going to do it. How much time and energy are you willing to put into the effort? If it turns out not to work, take the "path less-travelled". Take the fork in the road and see where it takes you. What's the harm in trying. The answer to that is simple. We get exactly what we ask for and are willing to accept. Tough love, but that's what it's truly all about. Pick the path that appeals to your tastes and talents. I suppose what I'm saying may come across as arrogant. I'm simply trying to use myself as an example of a couple of the untold billions of things that could be done to move us from 2 minutes past noon to three minutes past, assuming the folks between two and three minutes past more or less share our same views. As you move further away from the "2 minutes past" position, you obviuosly will run into deeper intransigence, less understanding, more aggression, and the suicidal Taliban. You'll also no doubt run into the three thousand kids who died of Malaria today in southern Africa because they didn't have netting over their cots when they slept last night

An interesting juxtaposition as the 4000th soldier was murdered this weekend in Iraq.

Kill For Peace

Kill, kill, kill for peace
Kill, kill, kill for peace
Near or middle or very far east
Far or near or very middle east
Kill, kill, kill for peace
Kill, kill, kill for peace
If you don't like the people
or the way that they talk
If you don't like their manners
or they way that they walk,
Kill, kill, kill for peace
Kill, kill, kill for peace
If you don't kill them
then the Chinese will
If you don't want America
to play second fiddle,
Kill, kill, kill for peace
Kill, kill, kill for peace
If you let them live
they might support the Russians
If you let them live
they might love the Russians
Kill, kill, kill for peace
Kill, kill, kill for peace
(spoken) Kill 'em, kill 'em, strafe those gook creeps!
The only gook an
American can trust
Is a gook that's got
his yellow head bust.
Kill, kill, kill for peace
Kill, kill, kill for peace
Kill, kill, it'll
feel so good,
like my captain
said it should
Kill, kill, kill for peace
Kill, kill, kill for peace
Kill it will give
you a mental ease
kill it will give
you a big release
Kill, kill, kill for peace
Kill, kill, kill for peace
Kill, kill, kill for peace
Kill, kill, kill for peace

-Lyrics courtesy of The Fugs
from the song "Kill For Peace

Peace Now

Everybody is talkin' 'bout peace in the world
oh yeah
everybody is talkin' 'bout peace in the world
but ev'rytime I hear a hungry baby cry

I ask peace now show me your face.

Peace now
show me your face
Peace now
show me your face
Peace now
show me your face
Peace now
show me your face.

Can't you hear me:
Peace now
show me your face
Peace now
show me your face
Peace now
show me your face
Peace now
show me your face.

Everybody is talkin' 'bout freedom and life
oh yeah
Everybody is talkin' 'bout freedom and life
oh yeah
but ev'rytime I see the trouble 'round the world
I ask freedom show me your face.

show me your face...
Everybody is talkin' 'bout peace in the world
oh yeah
Everybody is talkin' 'bout peace in the world
oh yeah
but ev'rytime I see a young soldier die

I ask peace now show me your face.

-Lyrics courtesy of Udo Jauuml;rgens
from the somg titled "Peace Now"

PEACE, LOVE and pass it on......

  • I'm Evydense
  • From Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
  • And I'm tired of living in the shadow of narrow-mindedness and ignorance. So here's the fax, Jack! "The Bible contains six admonishments to homosexuals and three hundred and sixty-two admonishments to heterosexuals. That doesn't mean that God doesn't love heterosexuals. It's just that they need more supervision." - Lynne Lavner*** I'm confused; curious; satisfied; realistically resigned to being a frustrated idealist; usually at peace with myself, but not always. Amazed at how little I know, and wondering how much I need to understand.
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