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.”
“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?”
“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 - 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.