Friday, September 14, 2012

The Ballad of Mitt

The Ballad of Mitt

Once their was a serious candidate for president.
Push by a bunch buffoons in the Primary,
he had to accept many political positions of silliness.

When finally bumped off the last fool, a Political hack from PA,
he though he could shake his crumpling image clean.
Etch-a-sketch, it was not to be. His numbers started to shrink.

So, he pick a man of reputed honesty to help shore up his base.
But the wonder boy revealed to be nothing the another political
hack that told whoppers sub-three hours long. Any bump

soon disappeared. His London gaff made him a joke to Englishmen
 near and far, who call him Mitt the Twit for their chortles.
The states continue turning blue or pink, even Georgia.

Foxnews has done at it can. The teapot has warped,
left too long on the stove. The man, Matt must make
another road. His millions made it Bainful to watch.

The pressure is on. He needs to debate his way
back in. Yet, darn, no matter how hard he shakes,
the foot taste remains; the stupid thing does not clear.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

The Price of Fame



Last week was the penny drive for the Guild School.Strange the effect of media. Before we agreed to have our son on billboards, TV and the Internet, people unknown to us would come by and give us their unwanted advice as a way of saying Hello. One guy came up to us as we waited for a table and the first thing he said was,

"My wife works with kids in Africa who look like monsters."

He kept looking at my son. My son's left eye blinded him to seeing what I saw, which is a happy bright kid. He saw a monster. I looked into his eyes and I too saw a monster. I could dismiss this as a one of, but unfortunately it had become a common event in our lives. I remember as my child was playing with another running up and down, when the other child stopped and stared. My son, only two, stopped and said that he had brain surgery. He knew what to say from hearing his parents explain over and over to the many people who think that A) the had the right to comment on my son's eye (which is okay if a little annoying) and B) offer advice about how best to handle his condition (never okay to over unsolicited advice as if your moment of reflection would solve a problem we have been living with for over two years) to C) extraordinary bad spiritual advice. (People read JOB for God sake. Job's friends gave the same advice you think I need to hear and God did not look kindly upon it.)

Enough of that. What surprise me was how TV and Media turn my son into a little celebrity in Spokane. He was on billboards, milk cartons, posters. You had to work hard to avoid his face. Suddenly, people saw past his eye. People did come up to us, but to thank him and take pictures with him. He ate it up.

They also noticed his spirit, his smile and how cute he was. It transform how people see him. Many times we look at media as damaging, in our case it has work as the opposite. Below are pictures of him through out his day at the Penny Drive.







Thursday, April 19, 2012

My Spokane Bus riding adventures continue, though I am not sure what to make of this one. As I boarded the bus near my work, I go to the back of the bus and find a seat close to the back row. The part of the bus is sparse of people, just three of us. Myself, and two men sitting in the back row at opposite ends.

One with a jet black wavy hair styled much like Farrah Fawcett had in the late seventies. His herringbone jacket hung loosely on his Ichabod Crane frame. He has very delicate movements as he reads Nietzsche’s  Will to Power in the form of a borrowed library book. His face is thoseof the deep lined in the faces of the middle age men who are the corrupters in French coming of age movies.

The other’s a bit of a slob. An over sized double x T-shirt  struggles  to contain the man’s planet round belly. He accessories with red over sized basketball shorts. His thinning grey hair makes his age hard to determine his age, anywhere from mid-thirties to early sixties. Though not prone to gambling, if I had to place a stake, I would go with early forties. In other words, the two men are contemporaries, but seemly worlds apart.
The Ichabob Crane with black curls reads his book, while other looks like he is asleep. I only casually notice the two. I lose myself in the ocean of my thoughts. I think about my son, my wife, the NBA game tonight, how tired I am, Thinking Fast and slow, the bookl I am currently reading, my work, my writing... the usual drifting iceberg of thoughts that dominate a tired man from work. I look every so often a catch a glimpse of the unberthin uberman in training. He seems to turn forcefully at regular intervals at the other man. He seems to grow agitated. He then turns to the slob and says,
“Would you please no do that.”
“What?”
“Look, stop jerking off on the bus. It’s disgusting.”
“I am sorry.”
“Just stop it.”
“I am sorry.”
Ding, the signal for a requested stop interrupts their exchange. The bus stops for a young woman starts.
“Masterbater,  you aught to got to jail for that. It just disgusting.”The Herringbone jacket wearing man says. 
“I am sorry.”
“Get off the bus. Now.”
“What, Its not my stop.”
“Get off or I am calling the police. You asshole. Do you want me too?”
“No.”
“Then, get your ugly off now. Now.”
“I am going”
The bus starts to pull away.
“Bus driver, stop and let the masterbater, off.”
Bus then stops with a jerk.
“I am going.” The slob gathers quickly his stuff.  He shuffles off, like a doe within the hunter's gaze.
The other guy screams, “Masterbater. Masterbater. Masterbater.”

The bus driver say little about the encounter, but he says the bus camera caught it on film. The bus driver leads the uberthin uberman to conclude that the police would be called and the slob hunted down for jail time. Mostly, I thought the bus driver said this to placate the moral outrage of the Nietzschean.
The exchange left me curious about both men. While the slob was complete inappropriate, the other surprised me in how his moral indignation and anger grew with each passing moment. He was first tentative request that built like a Beethoven symphony to end to shouts of masterbater. The crescendo ending with a cymbol clashing scream.

The power dynamic was interesting to see. The Nietzschean kept growing in his demands until he forced the slob off the bus. But he wanted more. He enjoyed his power and his thirst for power flowed from moral superiority. The Bus driver did not care about the drama on the back of his bus. My guess was that he had seen worse and just wanted the drama to pass.

Moral superiority has its own power. Self righteousness is usually tied to being hypocrit, but what to do when the act is, indeed,  morally repugnant? The Nietzschean had every right to ask not to be around such vulgarities. Yet, his anger seemed to boil over from another place.

Also, what about this say about that human reflex for cruelty? The slob already agreed to leave, but in the morality and power forming in the uberangry man, it was not enough. There was a need in him to hurt the slob. I don't know what could have answered this moral outrage mixed with anger. There was a will to power building in one and a sulking away in the other. Yet, both are really powerless in their world.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Come closer... I have a secret


 I just posted this review of Frank Warren's project of posting secrets.  The point of my post is that we all need a place that is both safe and honest to reveal ourselves before the world.Below is Frank's Ted Talk.



Come closer, I have a secret. I have heard this many times in my life, and yet it is still the hook that gets us to move closer. We all have this need to go beyond the social masks of daily living. Learn the Grocery Clerk is praying that her niece will heal fills us with compassion. Knowing that a former pastor has an elicit affair with Wendy's, the triple bacon cheeseburger, not the girl makes understand his fear of being devoured by his church job.

We all have this drive to move beyond the social mask to discover the real person buried in secrets. I think about the King of Kitsch, the painter of light, the deceased Thomas Kinkade. I reread Susan Orleans New Yorker profile and I felt sad for the man. Lost was the mask of the man, the Christian crusader against the vulgarities of Modern Art and its minions of art critics, the master marketer of ugly in the form of cute paintings, the wildly successful business owner, and even his trademarked painter of light moniker. The thirst of the man remained to the end. He chose the poison of alcohol that could never quench his need for dignity. The secrets of the man will come out and those who hate his art will mock, those who love his art will mourn. Yet, in many ways he was the artist of his generation. His art was about money. His success was about money. Mammon leaves no place to stand honestly before the world.Mammon destroys the power of confession.


Tuesday, April 10, 2012

The Two Economies, David Brooks and his dreams of red Velvet Swings

David Brook’s interesting essay on what he sees as the two economies forming in our country. The first is marked by efficiency and the second the old economy based on the middle class. He glorifies the new economy and then claims it for the Republicans.

The Republicans are ones, he leaps in dance of hope and irrationality, that embrace the new Economy and that we have to adjust our values to this new economic reality. Privatize, deregulate, and shrink the government. Newt, as the man of Apple iphones and lunar colonies, makes that most perfect image of the Republican men of the future economy. These values that conservatives like David Brooks hold dear, and have since the days of Eugenics, he identifies as the values of the new economy.  Get out of our way, Dems, the future is coming.

The old economy belongs to the Democrats who have yet come to grips with the loss of what has been. Conservatives are the new leaders in this brave new world of more productivity in machine and software (created by some people who went to college on the Government dime.) The Middle class will disappear and it is best to acknowledge this and more, the unencumbered by facts Mr. Brooks states. He even starts with saying President Obama’s promise of doubling exports in the next five years may be obtainable. He then goes on to steal the accomplishment for his Republican values.

I wonder if he even noticed the contradiction within his own article. He says that the boom in exports by the US is being fueled by the growth of the global middle class in country like China, India and places that, and let this sink in, reject the exact values that Mr. Brooks says is the future of the Global markets. Somehow they did it despite nit be drown in Ayn Rand ideology..

Mr. Brooks, it seems that the rest of the global economy has yet to receive the conservative memo. Though  Brits have and their economy has been shrinking. Why does this new vision of the conservatives look more like the Guilded Age than the 21st century? How are we to compete when the conservatives led by the never bothered by facts, Rep Paul Ryan, whose new budget would gut the funding for science and education. Who will be creating the new software? Certainly not Americans if the Republicans get their way.

Yes, Mr. Brook is right that there is a new economy forming. We will have to learn to do things differently, but returning to the economic principles that led to the boom and bust of a hundred and fifty years ago is not the way. It did not work in the industrial age, and it will not work in the globalization age. In the age of the internet, we have to have more than ideas from the steam engine days. Sorry Mr, Brooks but go sell crazy somewhere else.

Theosis


Theosis - An Easter Experience 


My hands shadow the world
in their movement before the light.
The light, my hands, and the blocked
light are connected, like the plastic
Easter eggs filled with chocolate.

God on a cross. God dead.
God in the garden, weaken
by the returning life. Jesus
called Mary, keeping the tears
though making the different.

I type on a computer, as close
to them as a my own toenails,
and as far away as Hubble
telescope photo. Right brain
disengages and I float along
like a cracker in vat of red wine.

Speaking of Hubble, the eye bates
and eternity passes.  The tomb empties
the blood dries to liquid. In the origamy
fold of time, I pop up, then
disappear like stain glass duffusing
the everlasting and only once moment.

He rises to the point of life.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Exercises Kindness, Justice and Righteousness on EARTH, for in these I delight



I wrote during the whole Health Care debate about the need for providing health care for our poor. Surprising to people, I wrote as a committed Christian. I wrote that health care was not only a good thing to do, but a Biblical mandate. It was also more than a political or theological parlor game; I had come up close to the Health Care crisis through my son’s condition and his brain surgery at the age of one. When I wrote that we pay the most for health care of any country in the world and receive the 32nd best health care in the world, I knew this from my own personal story. We had to work hard to get him the care he needed. A patchwork law now known as Obamacare did pass, and it is an improvement from what came before, thought certainly not a cure for what ails our health care system. It is a step in the right direction. My son will need this coverage in the long run as with his condition, he will have to coverage. When he gets older, the old system would have left him in the wind of non-coverage because of preexisting condition.
Now, as many predicted, the law is before the court to be decided on whether the law is constitutional. Clearly, through former precedents and its covering one sixth of the economy, it is within the constitutional guidelines and covered by the commercial clause. The judges looking to vote against it seem to look for any and all reasons to declare it unconstitutional. The question now rests with a Supreme Court judges who may not even have the patience to read the law before deciding on whether our founding document allows for our representatives to provide for the general welfare in the medial realm. The ominous question of Judge Scalia about being expected to read the law he was asked to pass judgment not on its merits, clearly that is beyond what the framers thought Supreme Courts reach and would be an act of gross judicial activism, but whether it is allowable by the US Constitution.
The strangeness of saying that our Constitution allows for the forced sterilization of its citizens, Buck v Bell, simply for being judged imbeciles (a judgment based on a hatred of the poor). Yet, providing basic Health Care for those same citizens could be thought of as unconstitutional. This rather speaks to the unseemly aspect of American history and culture, the running thread of hating our poor, which is a spiritual crisis within our culture. One look at the recently passed Ryan budget and one can see that the hatred of the poor continues  even if we think we have move beyond Buck v. Bell.
I believe that the Bible is clear (through the Torah, Leviticus , minor prophets, and Jesus) how a society treats its poor reveals its level of oppression and God’s judgment. Can anyone seriously look at Joel, Micah and Jesus own words and think that we actually care about the poor? What will Americans boast about: our riches and wealth? Will we boast of our science and knowledge? Jeremiah, the prophet tells, us God wants us to boast our exercising kindness, justice and righteousness on EARTH, for in these are what God delights in. (Jer 9:24) Many Christians called me a socialist for believing that my faith teaches the taking care of the poor. Again, for me this not a left verse right issue, rather it is the perspective of my son and the millions of other that do not have a voice. My son is now the face for his school’s donation drive. Look at his joy and answer him why the US constitution does not allow for his general welfare and his general pursuit of happiness. Tell me how this is not a spiritual issue.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Cool Being An Unstable Condition

Cool Being An Unstable Condition
on the commute home

The woman, budding young in her kelly green,
purple and yellow striped tights, accessorized
by light pink kakis, grimaces in deep silence

from her day. Perched up on the moving
bus, she waits for her stop. She pulls the cord.
The bell dings. Red light shines stop. The war

between her clothes and her expression
draws me into speculation, a mathematical
mystic masking my moments of coming home.

She occupies her age of uncertainty
with an armor of a clown. Amour waits her,
she hopes behind long rectangular black

glasses, accented by plastic diamonds.
Her hair, the color of dusty prairie dogs
dodging the gunsights of men, limps

on her neck. I remember the time I chose
to wear shirts with flowers as a marker of my
identity. I was her age, the tip of adulthood.

Fitting in by attempting to stand out,
the curse of the young and the unsure.
Black Eye patches, Reebok tennis shirts,

Fedoras, my signposts of the hurricane
of doubt I worked through to find
the illusive. Standing out to fit in. What a tool

I must have seemed, though my peers
failed to notice for their similar outfits.
My cousin Daniel dress like a stripper,

complete with burgundy tearaway chaps.
Another friend, who later dated Sandra Bullocks,
the movie star, took to wearing for a time,

a velvet cape. The better to be hip and ahead
of the curve. I remembered how he practiced
to perfect the lighting of cheap cardboard

matches with one hand. He went on to live
his minor rock and roll dream of not exactly
fame, just stories of brushes with celebrities.

Cool being an unstable condition.

That is the truth we laugh at finding yellowing
photos of the young, or notice the young redoing
the search of fitting in by standing out.

She walks off the bus. The others move on. I write
of times long past echoed in the present. If you
stand on a edge of a canyon and shout out,

your might hear your voice returning
to you, sounding just a little more hallow
than when it left you moments before.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Be happy

Here is a riddle.

Ask most people what they want out of life and what do they answer? Happiness!
It’s common both in the amount of times you hear it and in how mundane the answer is, like some beauty pageant contestant claiming holding hands will bring universal utopia. We know behind her smile hides a person who would spite her competition to win the crown given the chance. Like most contrarians, I had a problem with the simple answer, happiness. Most people find happy people annoying and false. A roomful of happy people feels strange and a bit like there should be an organ playing black notes while in the backroom are brain-sucking-out machines making these people happy. Yet, many of us claim that is what we what for out lives.

I think, in the tyranny of my mind, about this as my 2-year son rides a scooter bike down the halls of Ronald McDonald House. I am part of a ministry group that goes there one a month to serve a dinner to families with children in the hospital. I do it out of gratitude because of our stay at the Ronald McDonald House in Seattle during my son’s brain surgery almost two years ago. For more than a year my son has been going with us when we serve. He brings fun. He has fun, it’s his gift.

So, here was my son, with joy on his face, flying through the hallways as we finished cleaning up. Happiness doesn’t come close to describing his emotion.  The mystery for me was identifying what emotion my son was showing. His tiny legs push and pump. He smiles and laughs as he goes. Most everyone who sees him becomes filled with his same emotion. Unlike happiness, his mystery emotion spreads.

I say most because there is one boy, the same age as my son, who is distraught. It is his scooter and he wants it back. I, the parent, step in and give the boy his scooter back. My son complains, and, much to his credit, complies. Then, he and I, father and son, go off to play with another toy. We both soon regain that sense of love, beyond happiness, in our playing together and being together. What was my son’s emotion?
If this is not happiness, then what is it? I think about what happiness is. Happiness is an industry. There is no shortage of books, seminars and techniques promising to make you happy. There’s a plethora drugs that promises to push sadness into an unreal well of happiness. The word’s root betrays it. Dig to the bottom of it, and you find the word happy comes from the Old English word ‘hap’ that translates into ‘luck.’ Luck, a force beyond us, sweeps in and carries us away into la la land.

Luck and happiness depend on circumstances. Win the lottery, then you are happy.  Most of us won’t win the lottery. We, as such, remain unhappy. We’re unhappy because Lady Luck coughed in our faces. Yes we still shell out our money and play the numbers on the fortune cookie.  Happiness is luck. My son dancing does not depend on anything but his act. Scooter or no scooter, he finds joy.

Lucky people do annoy us. Landing a job because you were at the right place at the right time. To add to this, lucky people are unaware of their good fortune. They think it comes from their hard work, and gives them license to lecture the rest of us on how to be happy. Lucky people play a zero sum game. In the luck game some win, some lose. Yet, as my son pedaled and giggled, those who saw him were not annoyed but joined in his joy.

But happiness is unstable. I was happy because I got a raise, but then the next week I found out that my son had been diagnosed with a serious condition that requires brain surgery. The winds of fortune are fickle. Whatever my son felt, this emotion, was resilient. When I took him off the scooter to return it he only momentarily stopped his joy to whine of protest, then it was back to finding something to wonder about. Happy people are fickle. My son was filled with something else, but what to call it?

Wisawa Szymborska/Wikipedia
The next morning I found my answer on the radio. Wislawa Szymborska, a great polish poet died. I love her poetry. As I heard the tribute to her, I followed her words down to answer to my riddle. I found my son’s world and a deep spiritual truth. Follow. Her poems are a celebration of life that can be best understood by the word delight. Delight. That was it. Delight is finding the constant light of simply being alive. Szymborska’s poems always found delight with the world. Delight spreads like it does when my son dances. When we go to feed parents who have a child in the hospital, we are delighted to be with them. To find delight in the world is beyond being happy, it is to bring wonder and awe to the everyday, and everyday there is enough that happens to fill thousands of nights worth of wonder.
I said a prayer of thanks for Szymborska’s life. I left for work delighted by my discovery.
Her poem, “Nothing Twice,” brings it home. I encourage you to read it
here.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

The Tragedy and Triumph of Polish Poetry

Here is a riddle.

Ask most people what they want out of life and they answer? Happy!

Common both in the amount of times you hear it and in how mundane the answer is, like some beauty pageant contestant claiming holding hands will bring universal utopia. We know behind her fake smile hides a person who would spite her competition to win the crown given the chance. Like most contrarians, I had a problem with the simple answer, happy. Most people find happy people annoying and false. A roomful of happy people feels strange and a bit like there should an organ playing black notes while in the backroom are brain sucking out machines making these people happy. Yet, many of us claim that is what we what for out lives.

I think, the tyranny of my mind, about this as my two year son rides a scooter bike down the halls of Ronald McDonald house. I am part of a Ministry group that goes down one a month to serve a dinner once a month to families with children in the hospital. I do it out of gratitude for our stay at the Ronald McDonald House in Seattle during my son’s brain surgery almost two years ago. My son has been going with us as we serve for more than a year. He brings fun. He has fun, his gift.

So, here was my son, with joy on his face, flying through the hallways as we finished cleaning up. Happy doesn’t come near describing his emotion.  The mystery for me was what was the emotion that my son showed? His tiny legs push and pump. He smiles and laughs as he goes. Most of the everyone who sees him becomes filled with his same emotion. His emotion, unlike happiness, spread.

I say most because there is one boy, same age as my son, who is distraught. It is his scooter and he wants it back. I, the parent, step in and give the boy his scooter back. My son complains, and, much to his credit, complies. Then, he and I, father and son. go off to play with another toy. We both soon regain that sense of love, beyond happiness, in our playing together and being together. What was my son’s emotion?

So, if this is not happiness, then what is it? I think about what happiness is. Happiness is an industry. There is no shortage of books, seminars and techniques promising to make you happy. There a whole shelf full of drugs that promises one pop and pop goes the sadness into an unreal well of happiness. The word’s root betrays it. Dig to the bottom of it, and you find the word happy comes from the Old English word hap that translates into luck. Luck, a force beyond us, sweeps in and carries us away into lala land.

Luck and happiness depends on circumstances. Win the lottery, then you are happy.  Most of us won’t win the lottery, whether a biological, monetary or socially. We, as such, remain unhappy, unhappy because Lady Luck coughed in our faces. Hence, the industry that promises to make us happy. We shell out our money and play the numbers on the fortune cookie.  Happiness is luck. My son dancing does not depend on anything but his act. Scooter or no scooter he finds joy.

Lucky people do annoy us. Winning a job because you were at the right place at the right time and more importantly you had the right parent, makes them gloat and the rest of us resentful. Add to this that lucky people are unaware their good fortune is, that, good fortune. They think it comes from their hard work, and this giving them license to lecture the rest of us on how to be happy. Lucky people play a zero sum game. In the luck game: some win, some lose. Yet, as my son pedaled and giggled, those who saw him were not annoyed but joined in his joy.

Finally and most damning as a life’s goal, happiness is unstable. I am be happy because I got a raise, but then next week I find that my son has been diagnosed with a serious condition that requires brain surgery. The winds of fortune are fickle. Whatever my son felt this emotion was resilant. I took him off the scooter to return it. He only momentarily stop his joy for a whine of protest, then it was back to finding something to wonder about. Happy people are fickle. My son was filled with something else, but what to call it

The next morning found my answer on the radio. Wislawa Szymborska,, the great polish poet died. I love her poetry. As I heard the tribute to her, I followed her words down to answer to my riddle. I found my son’s world and a deep spiritual truth. Follow. Her poems are a celebration of life that can be best understood by the word delight. Delight, that was it. Delight, finding the always there light of simply being alive. Her poems always found delight with the world. Delight spreads as it did as my son dances. When we go to feed parents who have a child in the hospital, we are delighted to be with them. To find delight in the world is beyond being happy, it is to bring wonder and awe to the everyday, and everyday there is enough happens to fill a thousand nights worth of wonder.

I said a prayer of thanks for Wislawa Szymborska’s life. I left for work delighted by my discovery.

Nothing Twice   
by Wislawa Szymborska
translated by Clare Cavanagh and Stanislaw Baranczak

Nothing can ever happen twice.
In consequence, the sorry fact is
that we arrive here improvised
and leave without the chance to practice.

Even if there is no one dumber,
if you're the planet's biggest dunce,
you can't repeat the class in summer:
this course is only offered once.

No day copies yesterday,
no two nights will teach what bliss is
in precisely the same way,
with precisely the same kisses.

One day, perhaps some idle tongue
mentions your name by accident:
I feel as if a rose were flung
into the room, all hue and scent.

The next day, though you're here with me,
I can't help looking at the clock:
A rose? A rose? What could that be?
Is it a flower or a rock?

Why do we treat the fleeting day
with so much needless fear and sorrow?
It's in its nature not to stay:
Today is always gone tomorrow.

With smiles and kisses, we prefer
to seek accord beneath our star,
although we're different (we concur)
just as two drops of water are.