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Thursday, February 8, 2018

Winged - A Tribute to the World Champion Philadelphia Eagles


I …am an eagle
Watch me rise…
Beyond limiting horizons
I have set mine eyes…
And I…Will brace my wings
Against the wind
And rise…and rise…and rise

I…am an eagle
Watch mine eyes…
Surveying the dominion
Of yonder skies…
I have seen the world
Beyond the limits…
And I am determined
To find my place in it…

I am the eagle with omnipotent wings…
My strength is a wonder
To all lesser beings
Who have tried to detract
In all the ways they could…
But my life is a fact
They never understood”

I …am an eagle
Watch me rise…
Beyond limiting horizons
I have set mine eyes…
And I…Will brace my wings
Against the wind
And rise…and rise…and rise

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

The End... And The Beginning

Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing?
The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord, and against his anointed, saying, Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us.
He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh: the Lord shall have them in derision.
Then shall he speak unto them in his wrath, and vex them in his sore displeasure.
Yet have I set my king upon my holy hill of Zion. I will declare the decree: the Lord hath said unto me, Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee. Ask of me, and I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession. Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron; thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter's vessel.
Be wise now therefore, O ye kings: be instructed, ye judges of the earth. Serve the Lord with fear, and rejoice with trembling. Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and ye perish from the way, when his wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all they that put their trust in him. - Psalm 2

The establishment of a more just society will always have its detractors. They are usually those interested in keeping things the way they are. They want to do so because they can collateralize their existential insecurities by creating constant imbalances in the lives of others. Their hope is founded in the despair that they breed and cultivate in the life of others.

The prospects of a more equitable world threatens the system of things. And so there will be "rage" against those who seek, through just means, to bring about a more peaceful world. To maintain the status quo, those who want to benefit from it engage in sowing discord among peoples and nations. They do so in order to fill their coffers with the ill-gotten gains of conflict-generation. Their treasure chests are filled at the expense of the flag-draped coffins of those they trick into combat with their fraudulent calls to patriotism.

The establishment of Justice is by no means a parochial event. There is a whole world waiting to be redeemed. It is not the proffered endowment of any “chosen people”. The unrelenting objections and protestations of those who believe and act as if the World owes them preferential treatment will come back to haunt them. This will be the case because of the existential contradictions in their behavior. They ignore the evil tendencies in their own hearts, while they pursue their intentions to raid and steal their neighbors' vineyard as some kind of birthright. This vain  hypocrisy will not endure...

That day will come when the inherent contradictions in the behavior of  the unjust will cause derision and revulsion toward and among them. That day will come when they will be measured by the same judgement they pronounce against others. Against their loud and aggressive protestations, Justice shall prevail; and the "stone" that the builders refused, and berated, shall be its very foundation. The hegemony they assumed will be obliterated. In the end those who resist what is just and right will have to deal with the consequences of their own intransigence.

The just shall inherit the earth.

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Let Virtue Abound!

Ralph Waldo Emerson - in one of his many moments of clarity - reminds us that: The essence of greatness is the perception that virtue is enough”. This insight was as useful in his time as it is now; its veracity being the reason for its durability. In our time the preoccupation with greatness is a major indulgence of certain individuals, groups, and nations. Some want to become great, while some long to have again the greatness they claim has been lost over time via the dilution of cultural and political influences that they perceive as antithetical to their interests. 

At the very core of the assumptions that inform the concept of prominence implicit in the strident rhetoric that serves these interests, is a sense of selfhood that presumes supremacy over those who are seen as somehow inferior by virtue of certain specific cultural indices. Hidden among these are held prejudices about race, skin color, economic dominance, and gender. These prejudices serve to mask the existential insecurities of those who are shaken by the threat of being non-entities in a world where power is perceived in terms of the parading of opulence. That opulence historically is the result of a dynamic of exploitation; the entrenched disenfranchisement of the many by a few whose vices are rationalized by philosophical and institutional devices designed to propagate their interest.

Absent from the consideration of greatness are the deeper issues that cradle the essential viability of the human enterprise. Among these are sound values that underlay community. Ultimately there can be no greatness, individual or otherwise, in isolation. Gestalt makes a valid point - the whole is much more than the sum of its parts. United we stand. Divided we will fall. Any meaningful contemplation of greatness must include precepts that bring us together against the assault of a culture of selfishness. Chief among these precepts is Virtue.
Virtue is defined as: moral goodness; upright living; righteousness. All these values may be expressed as: doing to others as you would have them do to youVirtue challenges us to lift each other up in the face of circumstances that are down-pressing. Virtue is that light in the darkness. It warms the cold, comforts the afflicted, reassures the frightened, and shows the way to those who may be lost.
Virtue moves us toward each other. It makes us care in a culture where one person’s mis-step or misfortune is treated as nobody else’s concern. Virtue opens our eyes where it is more convenient to be blind. When we care, we align our lives with the cause of Justice. When we align our lives with the cause of justice, we find ourselves in solidarity with the purpose of working to liberate our fellowmen from all circumstances that are dehumanizing.
Virtue calls us to community... to a sense of personal and corporate accountability. This precept challenges us to let our light shine as a guide to others. Unlike the superficial platitudes of those who would exploit others for their own ends... Virtue reminds us that an authentic love is not a function of our simple-minded heroism. An authentic love... a virtuous love... is the real work that we must each do to save ourselves from the despair bred by dysfunctional living
If we would be great we must firmly and sincerely point the way to both communal and self-redemption. The cultivation of Virtue is absolutely necessary in each life. Virtuous living is liberating. It is expressed as a state of good health - in a State of good health. Virtue prioritizes Moral health... Physical health... Cultural health... Communal health... National well-being. 

Beyond the putrid rhetoric of a vain nationalism - Let Virtue abound!

Friday, December 22, 2017

A Season Of Hopefulness

Comes a time when the need to change the circumstances of your life will impose itself on your consciousness in a markedly undeniable way. You will know that moment as a new and forceful breath that fills up the stale chambers of your being. That enabling wind will lift you above the depressing old expectations that once informed your sense of being in the world in which you exist. And when that Arising comes to you, you will make a compact bundle of the things that mean the most to you. And you will gather around you those who have shared the experiences that shaped the now in which you find yourself. You will tell them that the time has come for you to pursue a different kind of future. It may be that some of them will want to trade the stale air that depresses them for the inspiration of that dynamic new gale that ruffles feathers and enables the wings that will lift you above and beyond the vale of despair.

Your life is yours. It is yours to lose. It is yours to save. It is yours to do something or nothing with. Ultimately no one else can occupy that space in eternity that you now inhabit. Accept that… know that this is true. Wake up from the slumber of unconsciousness that befalls so many. Open your eyes and train your senses for the challenges you must face as you become more and more aware of the circumstances that you now call your life. Is it what you want it to be? If not, why not? Be honest.

What are the aspirations that once energized you that have over time gone dormant? Where is the fire in your gut that once danced as a sparkle in your eyes? Like so many before you and around you, that fire may have been doused by the too many swallowed tears of mounting disappointments. Your primordial blaze may have succumbed to the many buckets of cold water poured on by those who seek to thrive by suppressing the aspirations of others. You may have gotten stuck in the mud of a sense of worthlessness cultivated by an overindulgence of your failings. You do not have to continue to wallow in that precarious existential state.

Your Moment Of Awakening comes, and when it does do not slight it as one more occasion of pipe-dreaming. Do not ignore your Epiphany by deferring the need to get up out of the bed of despair. Instead, adjust your position… determine to take up your bed and walk. Wake up and set your face against the place that locks you up and shuts you down. Make up your mind to leave behind you every influence that binds you to a future of hopelessness.

Beyond the state of bondage and despair that too many of us endure, lies The Land Of Promise… the promise of a more fulfilling life. Getting there will force you to confront daunting odds. There are “many rivers to cross”. There are discouraging voices calling you back to the deleterious ways that you must now discard; voices you must necessarily disregard. Yes, there are obstacles that will seem insurmountable that you must face and overcome. But you can… you must… and you, with the inspiration of a new vision of yourself, you will overcome those obstacles.

Your life is a promise to be fulfilled. Your dreams are possibilities to be explored. You have within you the power to become everything you believe you can be. Yes, beyond the state of bondage and despair lies the Land Of Promise. Beyond the disparaging critique of those who live to break others, lies the power of your possibilities… the boundlessness of your dreams.

Beyond the days of pain and grief lies a Season Of Hopefulness that only you can deny yourself through your own lack of faith. Faith… that ability to reach into the the future and touch the things you have hoped for. Faith… that focus on your life which allows you to grasp the significance of things you have not yet accomplished, but which you now must.

Arise! Get up out of the rut of complacency. Stand up and determine to find your footing despite the instability that has come to define your circumstances. You can part the “Red Sea” in your mind a thousand times, but your journey to a prosperous future will only begin when you actually get up and start doing the work that your better life demands. This moment is as good as any to embark on that journey into A Season Of Hopefulness.

Friday, November 3, 2017

Of Our Fears, Our Dogmas, and Our Fragile Existentialism

Some random thoughts on a recent flight...
The idea that we are free and are therefore ultimately responsible for the choices we make is a philosophical burden that few of us are prepared to assume. In a world in which it is sometimes convenient to believe that “what is to be will be”, we tend to cultivate a certain pathos around the reality that whatever is to be is up to us. I have come to believe this. Many of us declare a pre-determinism that assumes that our course in this life has been set, and there is nothing we can do about it. What is to be, will be. Period.
We can agree that there are some things we have little or no control over in our lives; but our fate and destiny are determined by the course that we ourselves set by each decision we make. There are people who will never set foot on an airplane because of their fear of flying. Like bungee jumping, and riding on the latest version of a wild roller coaster, they just wont do it. Our most awe-full phobias are fed by one decision after another not to do something…not to take those steps which will ultimately give us power over our irrationality.
In other contexts in our lives we parrot the dogma “practice makes perfect”, but we fail to see its implication for the “finishing” of ourselves with regards to our fears. Yes, the word “perfect” means “finished”, and it is an often stated fact that none of us are. We are impacted daily by the formative influences of the hands of experience. The perfection that life nudges us toward is a function of the steps we take to overcome our worries and our fears. Sometimes the nudges of reality are painful and unsettling, but they force us to look more clearly at the ground around our feet. They make us look again with more critical eyes at the assumptions in which we have anchored our expectations.
Our fears sabotage every aspect of our existence. They prevent one from asking for a deserved salary increase at the job one has done well for five, six, seven years. It is fear that causes an unhappy spouse not to declare to the world that his or her marriage is a miserable sham that should end. The desire to maintain the status quo at the expense of one’s fulfillment demands unreasonable self-sacrifice. We worry about outcomes that may never be because fear breeds irrationality. My existentialism says, if a thing is unreasonable it is wrong. There comes a moment when we are shaken by the need to right the ship of fear-filled living.
My thoughts go by like wisps of cirrus clouds. A multitude of “what ifs” find their way in and out of my mind despite the protestations of my rationalism. I eventually surrender to the moment, recognizing the reality that there are some possibilities that lay on the heap of fate which are out of my control. My mind goes back to something that Cypher Raige says to his son Kitai in the movie After Earth : Danger is very real. Fear is always a choice”.
I try for a moment to reconfigure the notion… Fear is a response to danger… . 
My reformulation sounds reasonable, it is congruent with what I have heard others conclude, but I chose to stick with Cypher Raige’s dogma…Fear is a choice. Something about this formulation engenders a sense of being in control. I identify with that. The thought appeals to something in the DNA of my personhood, so I let it soak in. It fleshes out my existentialism, fragile as it may be.

The Crass Symbiosis Between Parasites And Their Hosts

Parasites… they are an unmistakable reality of the ecology of our lives. A parasite is an organism that lives in or on another organism, its host, and benefits by deriving nutrients at that host's expense. They present as insects, and plants, … and as persons.

There comes a time in our lives - a season if you will - when we must, in order to survive and maximize our potentials, rid ourselves of those influences that are in fact impediments in our journey to our best selves. To that end it becomes necessary to realistically evaluate the factors in and around us that impact our lives - and that our lives impact - with a view to detaching from them where they have proven to be detrimental to our own growth and the growth of others.

On an intellectual level the deliberative act suggested here seems to be a no brainer. It makes all the sense in the world to separate ourselves from things and from persons that would jeopardize our safety, and the integrity of our being. In fact though, this is more easily said than done. Removing and destroying a tick or a fungus is one thing; separating ourselves from habits and persons that have become a part of our natural habitat is quite another.

We look around us and it is easy to see the organisms that attach themselves to the vegetation in our immediate environment. If we till the ground, or if we raise livestock, or if we have pets; the task of ridding our gardens and our animals of these parasites becomes obvious and necessary. There are fungi that attach themselves to plants and infuse them with destructive toxins. Ticks maim and degrade the animals they sink their tentacles into. As human beings we should educate ourselves and our loved ones about the threat that pathologies such as Lyme Disease pose to our health and well-being. The presence of head lice, which feed on human blood, is a scare that threatens the social viability of homes and larger institutions.

When we come to know the dangers posed by the organisms noted above, we are able to dispassionately dispatch them with practices and treatments that remove the threats they pose. Good enough. But what about those threats that look like us? What about the real human threats to our physical and emotional integrity that live and move and have their being in our daily lives? Well… let's just say the task of ridding ourselves of them is a much less dispassionate one. Truthfully speaking, this task can be so downright difficult, and the consequences so traumatic, that we defer necessary action in this regard indefinitely.

Non-human parasites are dependent for their existence on the organisms to which they attach themselves. On the other hand, the human sources of dysfunction in our lives exist in a kind of crass symbiosis with us that makes it difficult for many to identify them for the essential threat they represent. Instead of the unilateral dependency expressed in the relationship between a tick and its host; the human parasite in many instances is facilitated by a more complex interrelationship. The nature and extent of this complexity varies from relationship to relationship… from individual to individual; and is informed by the degree of neediness in each instance.

The word used to describe what I have called this crass symbiosis is codependency. Codependency is defined by mental health professionals as - “an emotional and behavioral condition that affects an individual's ability to have a healthy, mutually satisfying relationship. It is also known as “relationship addiction” because people with codependency often form or maintain relationships that are one-sided, emotionally destructive, and/or abusive.” Based on the evidence, I believe that it is not an exaggeration to remove all qualifiers and state that such relationships are destructive… period.

One can rid one’s self of ticks or lice and recover one’s health. You can rid a plant of the fungus that stunts its growth, and it will return to great health and productivity. The end of a co-dependent relationship on the other hand, can result in disastrous consequences for everyone involved in such relationships. Furthermore, the damage that can result is in certain instances not limited to those directly involved in these relationships; but is expressed in the collateral hurt/damage visited on those in close proximity to the intended target of the aggrieved. Getting rid of head lice is a very exact science that has little or no collateral carnage. Not so with a person with whom one has established a pathologically dysfunctional relationship.

Let us agree that relationships characterized by bilateral and unilateral dependencies are dangerous to the health and wellbeing of all those involved in such relationships. These pathological attachments have  their reasons for being in dynamics that range from emotional to economic neediness. Codependent relationships in many cases have their reason for being in a corrupted power dynamic in which control of other persons for whatever reason, is an expressed objective of those involved. Whether we facilitate and cultivate the dependence of others on us, or whether others attach themselves to us for reasons of convenience; the resulting dysfunction is just as deleterious.

A tragic consequence of such relationships is that persons end up in situations where they might feel they can't do without the other, or where the other feels that if they can't “have”  the object of their attachment no one else should. Both of these circumstances engender tragedies that play out in the social environment everyday. The husband or boyfriend kills the partner and children. The mother or wife poisons the former mate and murders the girlfriend. The many variations of these tragic dysfunctions play out in front of us almost daily.

As inconvenient as it may be, there comes a time when in the interest of the common good, and for our own sakes, we should evaluate our various relationships in an effort to identify and take remedial action regarding the dysfunctions in and around us. Our very lives may depend on that inconvenient analysis. At the very least, the possibilities of our growth and development beckon us to discover the truth about the deficiencies that ultimately undermine our own well-being, the wellbeing of others - and our very lives.

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Good vs Evil ... No Equivocation!

There are those among us who even now would salute Hitler; but they are in reality a fringe trying to survive against the moral tide of History. There are those who would resurrect the fascism of Mussolini; but they inevitably find themselves marginalized and eventually swept aside by the thrust toward a more equal society and a better world. The putrid stench of slavery lingers in the air we breathe. The Ku Klux Klan still lives among us despite the desperately vicious history they represent.

The forward march of History gains impetus when we identify and call Evil by its name… That which seeks to destroy the will to achieve the common good. The establishment of the common good is the goal of our civilization. It is a foundation of the kind of Peace which issues from the triumph of the forces of good over the presence of evil.

We understand civil society to be a function of the recognition of each other’s right to the pursuit of our highest human potential regardless of circumstances of race, gender, sexuality, religious persuasion, or the socio-economic circumstances of one’s birth. When we appropriate to each other as a human right the ability to thrive in ways that are non-obstructive to the strivings of our fellow persons, we regard that as a good thing.

To live at peace with each other by the establishment of equity among us is good. We know beyond equivocation that there have been, and that there remain among us persons and influences that do not share the values implicit in these notions. They foster in their own lives, and seek to foist upon others, the inequity that serves their twisted sense of being. They create misery. They are agents of chaos.

The heroes we celebrate in our individual and corporate lives are those who stood in firm opposition to the forces of evil. There must be no equivocation; those who represent the expression of evil must continue to bear the eternal rebuke reserved for them. They must either repent, or be relegated to the hell they would create for others.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Of Bogeymen and Saviors

Let us be clear about the profound immorality of those who love to use Karl Marx as the bogeyman in our time while they pay lip service to the life and work of a Nazarene named Jesus. Marx lived twice as long as Jesus and eventually died of pleurisy. While Marx was vilified by many for calling the workers of the world to unite, Jesus was murdered at age 33 for calling out the inequities of his day and those who perpetuated it. 

We can theologically sanitize his murder all we want... The fact is he was NAILED to a rough wooden cross, which he was forced to carry on his back to the hill where he would be further brutalized and allowed to hang on it till he was dead. His was the kind of fate that the theologian Bonhoeffer aptly described in his declaration that "when God calls a man, He bids him come and die." This for Bonhoeffer was "the cost of discipleship".

Those who have an interest in maintaining the status quo have never welcomed the voices that declare in favor of the poor and the disadvantaged. Christianity as we know it is a reflection of the prevailing moral values in our society.  In this context those who act out in contravention of those values are invariably isolated and targeted for elimination. The false equivalencies that we witness from the mouths of the servants of the status quo are nothing more than attempts to muddle the consciousness of those who are patrons of the daily discourse of charlatans "making a living".

And so the poor perish while political opportunists and their lackeys spook the people with their visions of the ghost of Marx. And for this "Jesus wept". 

The struggle continues...