Thursday, October 06, 2022

A Window into Existence

Born into the scope of

sun and moon and stars and night

into mother’s sweet embrace

upon an ever-spinning and wondrous planet

servant to its parent star,

expelled from the womb of darkness

and transformation

in a state of sweet oblivion.



Born into the prospects for love and hunger

laughter and grief and

ceaseless adventure

with a unique genetic imprint

yet simply another member of

the human race – Homo sapiens.



Born into family and tribe and nation

yet forever alone with the

wonder and burden of self.



Born into a kaleidoscope of

emotions,

a labyrinth of escalating ideas,

the enigmatic world of dreams and

the wonder and enormity of

consciousness.



Born into

a living world,

a reality devoid of guarantees,

filled with the many textures

and surprising dimensions of

the unexpected.



Born into the living world

moving inexorably

along time’s arrow

tied to the cosmic symphony

ultimately destined to the finality of

the joy molecular.



Eventually to discover

there is no

singular solution to the

enigma of existence,

no one way to live a life,

no escape from

life’s ultimate conclusion,

no mysterious rescue,

no salvation from the

tenacious grip of reality

and the forward movement of time.



Ultimately to learn

the art of surrender

to the ultimate truth

that promises no alternative outcomes.



A magnificent and wildly haphazard

trajectory from birth

to death

within the rhapsody and dance

of the cosmos.

On occasion, my mind careens through my past and collides into the sweet and bitter taste of memories of friendships come and gone. Over the years I have experienced the deep loss associated with the death of many friends. The names that occur to me are Beatrice, Samiha, Najma, Warren, David, Bill, Chris, Robert, Nina, Noburu,  Philip, Michael, Robert, Frivold and others.

I imagine that they have all gathered, both living and dead, in one place as if summoned to a sumptuous feast filled with color, and light and erotic and sensory images of the fleeting past. At this gathering, I envision a continuous slideshow displayed on a big screen in an endless loop – you know the kind I am thinking of as on display in the memorials of the recently deceased. Such displays rarely if ever display the individuals involved not at their best and most gracious selves. At this imagined slideshow, there is no such inhibition.

All the beds slept in both luxurious and mundane with erstwhile partners. All the exquisite and banal couplings with organs engorged and engaged at the beckoning of love’s insatiable fever. All the anticipation realized or diminished. All the passion spent or eroded by circumstance. The dance and inherent rhythms of bodies in their thirst for both substance and pleasure.

All the friendships accumulated in idle remembrance and fond recollections over the years. The bond created with childhood friends on the block outside the tenement apartment (1E) in my Bronx neighborhood. Visions of sultry summer days with the neighborhood fire hydrant spewing its content, and the bitter cold of winter sequestered in our fortresses of snow and ice as we staged joyous assaults upon our manufactured enemies with our hastily made collections of snowball weaponry.

Friends and enemies intertwined within the web and matrix of all things past. All the intense conversations of youth; all terribly meaningful at the time, but more reminiscent of that self-absorption so characteristic of adolescence.

At this spontaneous banquet, the guests awaited an erudite statement of some significance from their host regarding why they were all summoned. With a great deal of embarrassment, I realized that I had nothing either cogent or significant to say to them. I was speechless. What I finally uttered was pathetically inadequate: I said, “You are all here by pure happenstance; how this came to happen is a mystery to me It seems to be the physical manifestation of one of my exotic thought dreams.” This comment was met by an agitated state of annoyance and confusion.

My dear friend Beatrice, who died many years ago at the young age of forty-one, was never one to mince her words, spoke out, “Are you kidding me, This is why I came out of my sweet repose!”

In a hurried attempt to rescue some semblance of respectability I then said, “Beatrice, I am sorry; I did not mean to offend. I have such fond memories of you. To all of you, my dearest friends, gathered here, my sincerest apologies. I just didn’t know what to say – I was overwhelmed by this amazing gathering. Since you are here, please enjoy yourselves.” For some reason, this pathetic explanation was considered plausible enough and the party continued. Many of those present had no connection whatsoever with anyone else. I did my best to introduce as many as I could to others. As a result, many stories were exchanged that provoked uninhibited laughter, surprise, amazement and sometime disbelief. It turned out to be a wonderful event.

I noted that of those in attendance, a preponderance were women. This reality reflected the fact that I have always felt more comfortable in the company of women than with those of the same gender. However, regardless of their sexual orientation, they were all kindred spirits to me. I have remained in contact with some of these friends, but many have moved on with their lives. I wonder about them and where there lives have taken them.

In life, we accumulate friends, lovers, companions, acquaintances and colleagues. The experiences that are associated with them are all stored in long-term memory – to be called upon later. In life, one is born into a family of one kind or another, a locality we recognize as place and a tribe or nation. Bundled with all of these intricate and interwoven facets are a particular language(s), culture and an unwritten code of acceptable behavior. In this way norms are established that are viewed as natural to young and innocent minds filled with enthusiasm and excitement in the mere and daunting prospect of living. It is only later in life that these imposed values are subjected to scrutiny and questioned within the elaborate matrix of the thinking brain.


Golden Moment

Outside in Early Morning

hours before dawn

camping on the oregon coast

full autumn moon

breaking free from the

embrace of tenacious clouds,

castes its light

upon my solitary figure

creating a multitude of shadows

everywhere.



A flood of clarity

fills my being

the subtleties and magnificence of

this wondrous convergence of

air and sky and the moon’s caress

upon the living world

awakens me.



As a creature bless with consciousness

transient and fallible

yet capable of understanding

the true nature of my

minuscule place within

the wondrous nature of the cosmos.



A golden moment

I want to share

with dearest Julia,

here we stand within

our brief sojourn

with reality

uncluttered

by the human propensity

for distraction.

Friday, July 15, 2022

Beauty and its Manifestations

 






Modern humans who are living in the world where reality itself has been manipulated and distorted by the imposition of an artificial and contrived environment have become disconnected from the intrinsic beauty of existence. This disconnect I believe is the source of much of the upheaval and apparent violent and destructive behavior of so many individuals.

There seems to be an unravelling of the social order. Turmoil, confusion and fear seems to have taken residence within the fabric of a society that has placed far too much emphasis on the individual at the expense of the common good. The dissonant nature of this kind of existence stripped of meaning has placed humanity on a collision course with a dystopic future.

Beauty can be found everywhere. It is everywhere apparent once the veil of the make-believe has been shattered. It is resident in every moment –

In the dance of sunlight in the morning sky,

in the infinite textures of light and shadow

that expose the diversity of the natural world,

within the myriad of expressions of the human face and

the wondrous wealth of life that permeates

this most incredible planet.


Beauty is resident within

every breath,

with the way the oceans greet the shoreline,

within the timber and rhythm of conversation,

the wondrous flight of birds,

the sheer power of storms,

the incessant pull of the moon and the

power of night,


Beauty encircles the day with

outstretched arms,

embraces the fiery displays

of sunset and starlight in

the dome of the evening sky.


Beauty reflects the symmetry

of the simplest flower,

swirling movement of rushing rivers

power of wind,

tempestuous seas,

belligerent volcanoes,

the many manifestations

of an active planet.


Beauty inspires the artist

to approach the awaiting easel,

visits the adventurer

through fantastic dreams,

sharpens the senses of

poets and musicians,

makes the world

sing.


Without beauty’s evident presence,

we are all lost

within a shallow and baren

existence.


Beauty is connection,

beauty is love,

beauty is the eternal hope

for sanity and grace

in a tormented human world.

Sunday, June 26, 2022

Religious Fundamentalism and Its Negative Impact upon Basic Human Freedoms in the United States Circa 2022

Religious Fundamentalism can be found in all of the world religions including, Islam, Christianity, Hinduism, Buddhism and Judaism. It is an extreme form of religious ideology in which the followers passionately believe that they embrace immutable truths and principles upon which not only their personal salvation depends, but also the fate of humanity.

As a consequence of this kind of irrational and highly charged thinking, overt intolerance of human behavior outside of the particular belief system comes to represent normative behavior. Those individuals within groups based upon fundamentalist principles necessarily adopt conformist attitudes and lifestyles and adhere to well-delineated sanctioned behaviors and societal roles. Within this myopic worldview there lies the concept of a people chosen specifically by god to embody his teachings. This concept is either implied or explicitly stated.

It is not unusual and often quite likely that ingrained thought patterns that embrace fundamentalist religious ideology lead to intolerance, aggression and violence towards those who hold differing beliefs – such individuals are invariably seen as a threat to the existence of the constricted universe in which true believers reside. This kind of hatred has its origin in fear.

Although those individuals who claim themselves to be Christian Fundamentalists do not in any way approach a majority of United States citizens, they seem to have gained an inordinate influence within the political arena and especially within the Republican Party. It is through the Republican Party operatives and through their influence within the Supreme Court that their constricted and highly repressive worldview is now being foisted upon the entire population.

This authoritarian-based worldview is predicated upon a system that seeks to actively suppress and undermine a woman’s inherent right to her own body and her reproductive system and that seeks to caste withering judgements upon consensual sexual behavior and sexual identity that deviates from a self-imposed norm they wish to apply to everyone. One of the guiding principles behind this kind of behavior especially in regard to women is that they have a clearly defined God-given purpose and, therefore, must never be allowed to deviate from that pre-determined role.

Another inherent aspect of this Christian Fundamentalist mentality is a belief in the inherently dominant role played by male of the species and the seldom-stated belief in the supremacy of the white race. This attitude was made especially clear after a highly intelligent and eloquent black man was chosen as President of the United States. This new reality was seen as shocking evidence that national attitudes were changing in a way that seriously threatened an entire universe of belief. Rather than finding a reasoned and intelligent pathway to acceptance, the choice was made to obstruct and undermine in any and every way possible. Rather than accommodate a changing world, the choice was to use whatever means possible to repress and thwart the movement of history. This strategy, of course, led the way to the rise of Donald Trump – clearly, a diseased personality that reflects and amplified these views and gives them credence while he holds none of them to his heart. These fundamentalist views are held so strongly that even democracy and the rule of law are no longer worthy of preservation if their dissolution is required to achieve the desired end as the violent assault on the Nation’s capital on January 6, 2021 clearly demonstrated.

Since the system of beliefs that is representative of the fabric of Christian Fundamentalist ideology is essentially delusional in nature, truth is not of any real significance and in the right environment and under the appropriate conditions the lie becomes the fundamental vehicle for both validation and control. The lie has been effectively used in a brazen attempt to undermine the peaceful transition of power in the last presidential election; to postulate that the global threat of climate change is, in fact, a well-engineered hoax; that science is not to be trusted and even individuals who dedicate their entire lives to the wellbeing and health of the nation like Dr. Fauci are to be construed as enemies of the people and that the deliberate termination of a newly fertilized human ovum while residing within a woman’s body well before the time it is, in fact, a viable human being is to be regarded as a murderous act.

The above represents my analysis of the horrific social and political circumstances we currently face. It must be remembered that the views encompassed by Christian Fundamentalism are not held by a majority of the nation’s population, and if our Democracy and the Rule of Law remain intact, we have the collective capacity to make our voices heard especially for the sake of future generations of Americans.

Tuesday, June 07, 2022

What is Patriotism

Currently, there seems to be a ineluctable rise of white supremacy and ultra-conservative posturing in this country. The proponents of the political philosophy that embodies these views, often claim themselves to be patriotic. This got me thinking about what patriotism actually is.

First, I would like to state categorically what it is not. Patriotism has little to do with boisterously showing and waving the flag. The flag is a symbol of the values that this country supposedly possesses – it has little to do with reality of life in the United States. This symbol is too often used to celebrate America’s military might, or to applaud bigotry and repression, or flaunt a sense of racial superiority on behalf of the white population.

Patriotism has little to do with the storming of the nation’s capital on Jan 6, 2021 in a vain attempt to thwart the peaceful transition of power following a national election.

Patriotism has nothing to do with the use of extraordinary and extralegal means to suppress the truth and encourage violence in the name of extremist ideologies that infect the body politic with distortion and unreality.

In my mind, patriotism is a mode of action that is motivated by the ideals upon which the Democratic Republic of the United States was founded. To be patriotic is to stand for freedom for all; to believe and practice the rule of law and support the democratic precepts of equal rights and equal opportunity for everyone; and to accept the basis of any true democracy - that being the right to vote and the rule of the majority while honoring the essential and substantial role of the minority in the democratic process. To be patriotic is reject the lie and support the truth. To be patriotic is to own up to the mistakes and excesses of the past and work towards a “more perfect union.”

Patriotism does not need to rely upon mere symbols, or play lip service to the democratic ideal. To be patriotic is to look toward the future and act in a way that preserves the fundamental precepts of our democratic system for future generations.

Sunday, May 29, 2022

At the Abyss

 

At the Abyss

Uvalde, Texas May 25, 2022

 

Nineteen children

barely adolescents

life evident in every step,

filled with

playful enthusiasm,

brimming with possibilities,

drinking in life through

every pour,

engaging every breath with

shimmering resolve,

the world the canvas

on which they painted

with vivid imagination and a

tapestry of color.

 

Suddenly and terribly negated

by the fiery discharge of a

cold metal gun,

bullets riddling through their young bodies

destroying hopes and idle dreams,

exhuberant ideas,

incipient joy and so many aspirations

terminated in an instant,

locked in the grip of absolute terror,

negating their future,

driving their families to the very edge

of corrosive despair,

turning off the light of existence

leaving a blackness steeped

in hollow silence.

 

Nineteen children

slaughtered by a young man

with madness in his brain,

delusional and beset by

the demons of explosive hatred and rage,

nameless passions unhinged and deadly.

 

The scope of this tragedy would not be

conceivable or even imagined

without weapons of such ferocity that

only a few moments intervened between

the living and the dead.

 

There is another madness present,

large, insidious and looming,

a madness resident within a social order

that formulated the idea that all

citizens have the right to be armed,

encouraged to be fearful and ever vigilant

prepared for violence and stoked with hate

for the sake of profit and greed,

for the sake of a

corrupt and deformed ideology.

 

A madness that pretends that

the corpses of children are

the price to be paid for a contrived

and ridiculous idea of freedom

devoid of any sanity,

empty of compassion,

dismissive of the common good.

 

A madness so cold that

it sees no need to

take such random and brutal

termination of young lives

to heart.

 

A madness infused with such stupidity

that it cannot see the

consequences of its own

barren and disastrous conclusions.

 

A madness that if unchecked

will bring only grief and

wreak havoc upon the future

for us all.

 

 

 

Friday, May 27, 2022

Gun Violence in America

 The children’s massacre at the Robb Elementary school in Uvalde, Texas is yet another example of the long and horrific litany of killings of innocents in this country facilitated and executed with the use of sophisticated weaponry so readily available to anyone. It cannot be ignored that this transpired in a state that proudly proclaims itself to have the most unrestricted environment in regard to gun ownership in the entire country. As a matter of fact the Governor of Texas recently signed into law the ability of individuals to purchase a handgun without any kind of licensing.

One can rationalize this disturbing national trend using the most creative sophistry or accept the view that gun ownership is constitutionally protected even though it is hard to envision that the nation’s founders ever thought that the sparse wording of the Second Amendment to the Constitution would be interpreted in a way that a “well regulated Militia” meant all citizens. No rational government would ever encourage such an idea. One can ignore the remarkable data regarding our standing in the world in regard to gun violence or fail to recognize the unavoidable reality that the scope and deadliness of these events are only made possible by the accessibility of sophisticated and deadly weaponry to all who wish to purchase them. One can refuse to envision the kind of future that will necessarily evolve in an environment in which everyone is armed and fearful and suspicious all the time.

The following illustrations are charts that expose the reality of our standing in the world in this regard.









The reality, (as shown above) however, is inescapable – the cumulative impact of these unprovoked and deadly killings of innocent individuals, especially children is having a devastating impact upon the national psyche.   We are, in fact, getting a startling glimpse of the unsustainable future that awaits us as a nation if we choose to ignore this undeniable reality.


Friday, May 13, 2022

Mother and Child

                        Across the boundaries of

arching time,

mothers have enshrouded their infants

with selfless love.

 

From first beginnings

descended from the ancient trees

forest primeval,

thrust into a world

mysterious and unforgiving

perilous rain storms

stalking resplendent earth

ice-bound cold

covering everything with

savage snowfall

descending.

 

Mothers seeking refuge

their infants clinging

breasts engorged

creating safe places

among the chaos.

 

Through the eons

civilizations taking shape

in the wilderness,

empires born

empires in the midst of

fiery dissolution

mothers prevail

giving birth

without fanfare

without justification

throughout the fitful generations

building the human kind

from bits of matter

into a human presence

across the boundaries of

arching time.