Friday, January 28

Liberty or Death

“I spent my whole life not knowing what I want out of it, just chasing my tail. Now for the first time I know exactly what I want and who... that's the damnable misery of it.”

Can you guess who said this?

1. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger having a heart to heart with Eunice Shriver a few weeks before his marriage to Maria.

2. Confession made by Will to Jack about Grace on the season finale of the television sitcom, “Will and Grace.”

3. Conversation between GWB and Tony Blair overheard in the men’s room of the UN.

4. A comment made by Doc Holiday (Val Kilmer) in the movie, “Tombstone.”

Here is the answer.

And, here is a good article written by Robert Parry about the insanity of King George the II. *Sigh*

Keep praying, please.

Saturday, January 22

Better Human Intelligence is Needed!

Last Tuesday, I turned on the television to check the weather. Two CNN reporters were talking about a recent on-air interview with GWB. I then watched as correspondent, John King, asked President Bush to tell him what he considers his highest priority over the next four years.

"Human intelligence, the ability to get inside somebody's mind, the ability to read somebody's mail, the ability to listen to somebody's phone call -- that somebody being the enemy," Bush said.

The pause between the first part of the sentence and GWB's last five words was so long, King actually gulped while I gasped. Bush's little throw-away explanation of "somebody" was supposed to reassure King and people like me, I think, but I'm still unsettled and unsure about his meaning. (Link to info.)

My "human intelligence" wonders about three things: who does GWB consider "the enemy" today, who will be considered his enemy tomorrow, and what methods will he condone to pry open these minds?

I suspect that the "detainees" and "enemy combatants in Guantanamo and other more secret places are GWB's guinea pigs in his quest for knowing the mind of the enemy. Unfortunately for them and for anyone else that wanders into the cross-hairs of his "human intelligence" gathering sights, the torture tactics of interrogators are gaining ascendancy in the Bush administration's arsenal and more benign, monitoring programs, like the touted but failed FBI, Carnivore, sniffing program are being junked.

If you scan the newspapers and internet today, there are articles reporting that the Bush administration and its lawyers, abhor torture. They point to the scape goat Army reservist "ringleaders" as the "masterminds" behind the Abu Ghraib torture scandals. These are plain people. They may be sadistic and cruel but hardly the kind of people who would sit around and try to figure out the fastest and most bloodless way to "get inside the mind of the enemy." Bush and Rumsfeld hired corporate goons, CACI and Titan, to work up some strategies. By "privatizing" our armed forces, it's clear to me that the chain of command, accountability, SOP, morals and conscience of our military operations slip in and out of some very large cracks and become virtually impossible to track. When elected officials like Barbara Boxer ask our leaders if they knew or even now know about torturing people in US custody, they pass the buck back and forth as if this event is a sideshow shell game.

How can anyone support the cruelty of Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo? Don't they know what our government is doing in our name. Or, do they figure, "Hey! The terrorists aren't attacking us anymore so whatever Bush is doing is working. I'll just ignore the problem and focus on the hundreds of drug and junk food ads on TV for a while." Meanwhile, people who want the world to know that they do not condone the torture of "detainees" - many of whom are completely innocent, can't even get a paid ad published in the NY Times! .

Friday, January 21

Clear Skies

I ignored the GWB inauguration extravaganza by turning off my television. It's been really, really nice!

I disagree with the slight majority in this country that pushes an agenda of aggression to win freedom from terror. I'm disheartened that our leaders use the desperate hatred and chaos of September 11, 2001, as the foundation upon which their policies and actions are based. They wage war to win peace. Look again at the previous five words. Can this be true?

Are these prevalent opinions and ideas true?

#1. Pacifism is at best misguided and at worst a threat to security.

What about Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr.? Didn't they both prove that non-violence is stronger than violence. Does war work for the millions of people in Iran, Iraq, and North Korea who have been lumped into an axis of "evil." Aren't they simply trying to survive day to day? Does waging war on these people foster real democracy and choice?

#2. The truth of the "human condition" is violence and aggression.

Isn't the truth of the human condition free will? My observation is that the majority of people choose to love their families, their neighborhoods, their communities and their countries. They choose to live in peace and work toward prosperity. Where does this false view of humanity come from? Is it perpetuated by our entertainment and news media's fixation and profit from anything that is killed, diseased or perverted. What would happen if we simply choose not to support this dark view. What would happen if we turn off the TV if it offends. Or, cancel our newspaper subscription if we can't find enough facts or focus on what's important to us. What if we exercised our freedom of choice when putting things into our mind? Would love prevail or would violence?

#3. Freedom and equality have limits and need restrictions.

Why? I suppose those that accept ideas #1 and #2 may find this idea valid, so there is one answer.

#4. The past and future are more important that the present. (e.g., Bush inauguration speech. ".., At this second gathering, our duties are defined not by the words I use, but by the history we have seen together.")

Are each of us more secure now that GWB has expanded an already massive bureaucracy that analyzes the past, monitors the present, and plans for the future? For those people trapped in the WTC on September 11, 2001, no bureaucracy saved them. All they had at that moment was their inner strength and their connection to each other. Do you think they gave the US government and terrorism one precious second of thought? Interviews with survivors always reveal that the person thought about his or her "loved ones." They may have felt terror, but the only real thing in their life at that moment was love.

#5. Times are so difficult and confusing, someone else's opinions and feelings are more valid than my own.

If I let myself believe in items 1, 2, 3, and 4, I'd probably believe in #5. Whew! Glad I do not believe in them.

There are many things I know to be true, not because someone in authority or someone I respect has told me about them. The things that are true to me are clearly felt, impersonal, demonstrated by "cause and effect", and present right here and now.

The five ideas above feel false. They are based on fear. They perpetuate the hatred caused by the negative actions of the past and discount the good that came from these actions. My observations lead me to believe that Good + good = more good. Good + bad = Nothing. Bad + bad = more bad.

I guess the only variable in all of these equations is the definition of "good." If one comes from a place of love, the definition of "good" is pretty close to feeling loved. If one comes from a place of fear, then what is the definition of "good?" Is it feeling feared? Hmmmm.

Clearly, feeling loved is preferrable to feeling feared, right? I guess that's the judgment call America is dealing with right now.

Tuesday, January 18

It's A Beautiful Day!

This is the fourth day of sunshine in Southern California and every soggy thing is finally dried out. It's wonderful.

Monday, January 17


What would his position be on the Afghanistan and Iraq wars against "terror." I know he would choose peace over bloodshed. He would advocate personal, one-on-one, hard work over technocratic bunker bombs. One of his greatest speeches, "Loving Your Enemies," clearly outlines the tedious, difficult and ultimately successful way to deal with those that hate and harm.

What would his position be on the Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo prisoner rights and torture scandals? I bet he'd hold a light up to the U.S. justice system and its treatment of US prisoners. He'd examine the source not the symptom of the problem.

What would his position be on gay marriage and gay lifestyles? I bet he'd examine U.S. culture itself and help us discover why a civil ceremony uniting two people so that they may receive civil and legal rights causes such a furor. He'd find a way to look at the issue and strip it of the hate and fear so prevalent in our culture and point the way toward the love and unity inherent in marriage.

What would his position be on the future of America. I believe he would continue to work toward his vision of America, warts and all, as expressed in his speech, "The American Dream."

"..,So yes, the dream has been shattered, (Amen) and I have had my nightmarish experiences, but I tell you this morning once more that I haven’t lost the faith. (No, sir) I still have a dream (A dream, Yes, sir) that one day all of God’s children will have food and clothing and material well-being for their bodies, culture and education for their minds, and freedom for their spirits. (Yes)"

May all beings know love and peace!

Wednesday, January 12

Kindness. Is it Overrated?

"This is my simple religion. There is no need for temples; no need for complicated philosophy. Our own brain, our own heart is our temple; the philosophy is kindness. "
- Dalai Lama

I read a comment on a message board today that dismissed the world's response to the Indian Ocean tsunami victims as racist (?). According to this guy and others like him, the world was ambivalent about assisting the victims of the terrible Iranian earthquake last year and have been slow to help the victims of the ten-year, Sudanese civil war.

So, if Americans, especially, show any caring or kindness to the tsunami victims today, it's because the devastation is in prime tourist areas. His logic implies that American kindness is bogus and overrated because we don't show the same level of caring for all disaster victims. I suppose he either doesn't realize or doesn't care that Somalia is black African and receiving US aid and Indonesia is 82% Muslim and is receiving US aid which disproves his racist arguments. He also conveniently overlooks the fact that the US regularly sends aid to places like the Sudan and Iran who often don't want to accept it.

I really don't know why I'm wasting brain cells on what this knucklehead says or thinks. I didn't realize that there is an "opposing view" about kindness!

Some say that kindness is love in action. Everyone agrees that acts of kindness will make a better world (hmmm, except a few knuckleheads, I guess). I am learning that holding out a helping hand to strangers, or smiling at a repulsive person, or giving time and attention to a difficult knucklehead is rewarding for me first, and hopefully to others. I never used to extend myself or be kind unless I got something in return. There were always conditions on giving and I was disappointed or discouraged pretty often.

Then I discovered unconditional love. I am learning to do things for others without strings attached, without judgment. I am learning to look for the things that I have in common with people I meet or seek to meet. I am learning to focus on the love I have for myself and how it transforms everything. I am learning that if I focus on love, the fear that disconnects me from everyone and everything loses its power.

I just realized that I am connected to knucklehead, and he's actually a pretty good teacher. It's because of him, that I refocused on the concept of kindness and that's a really good thing.

Sunday, January 9

Ugly Backyard Blues....

My backyard is ugly. The picture above attests to this fact and if I posted a picture of it today, it would look ugly and flooded. It's been very rainy for the past couple of weeks and all I can think of is getting out in that back yard and digging.

One of my annual resolutions is to create a "meditation area or garden" in my back yard and the wet soil would be easy to excavate and rearrange. I am so unused to bad weather that I've become slightly stir crazy and am thinking about buying rain boots, slickers, and other rain gear just so I can dig up my back yard. Whew! I must get a grip. Maybe I should go to a tanning salon or "gasp" the gym and purge my system of these crazy thoughts.

I have discovered some cool outdoor things though. One of the best ideas is a "Rubbersidewalk." A company in Gardena, Calif recycles old tires and makes pavers that work really well as city sidewalks. The benefit of these things is that they are more flexible and absorbent so tree roots don't do as much damage. They also make pavers for home use, too.

I've been shopping around for slate and natural stone and these pavers cost about the same. Slate is much better looking and is equally durable, but I like the recycle idea a lot.

Hmmm, wonder if the army surplus store has rain gear?

Tuesday, January 4

Wires and Weather Vanes

I took this photo on December 21, the morning of the Winter Solstice. It's a view of my neighbor's static weather vane. It always points southeast. I suppose they installed it to give their garage a certain countrified look and aren't concerned with which way the wind blows.

It was cold and clear on this morning and the sun was just rising. Normally, birds sit on these wires and keep the weather vane goose company, but they were all in the trees, puffed up and trying to keep warm. I wondered how many voices were in the wires at this early hour and smiled at the small, floaty cloud as it made its way above the urban wilderness out to the sea.

This day is the shortest of the whole year and every day after it is longer, filled with more light until the summer solstice. Not long after my peaceful interlude in the back yard, it began to rain, gently at first and it hasn't stopped.

It's now January 4, 2005, and last night there was rain, lightning, thunder and hail. For people in other parts of the world, hail is no big deal, but in Los Angeles, it's rare and wonderful. When I lived in Kansas City and lived with the daily violence of real weather (e.g., thunderstorms, ice storms, snow, tornadoes), I never lost the wonder and and respect for it. Weather is cause and effect. It's impersonal and true. It's the power of the universe made manifest.

This morning, I checked a couple of message boards to see if I missed anything interesting over the holidays, and one thread titled, "Why do you think God did this..", caught my attention. The thread is about the Indian Ocean earthquake/tsunami tragedy. It's large and contains fairly ignorant responses (e.g., tired references to "the french", slurs against christians, slurs against atheists, slurs against anything that breathes) but early on a "newbie" posted a response that resonates with me.

".., My take on it is that sh*t happens, good and bad, and all I can do is my best to avoid the bad and help as best I can when it happens anyway. Sometimes there's just nobody to blame, though human nature is to look for somebody - god or mother nature in this case... does blaming someone change the outcome? No. So what's the point?"

That's the response of a survivor to a question posed by a victim. This tragedy brings out the victims in the world. People who want to wallow in blame, shame and regret. People who create separation when unity is the answer to their prayers or whines. People are the only beings who buy into this false consciousness. All other beings accept their environment, the activities and events around them and find the will and the way to survive.

Thinking about this prompted me to revisit the song, "Within You Without You" by George Harrison.

"..,When you've seen beyond yourself
then you may find, peace of mind,
is waiting there.

And the time will come
when you see we're all one,
and life flows within you and without you."

May all beings know love and peace.