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Friday, April 20, 2018

4-20

LEGALIZE IT
By Peter Tosh

Legalize it 
Don't criticize it
Legalize it, yeah yeah
And I will advertise it
Some call it tamjee
Some call it the weed
Some call it marijuana
Some of them call it ganja
Never mind, got to legalize it 
And don't criticize it
Legalize it, yeah yeah
And I will advertise it
Singers smoke it, 
And players of instrument, too
Legalize it, yeah yeah
That's the best thing you can do
Doctors smoke it
Nurses smoke it
Judges smoke it
Even lawyer, too
So you've got to legalize it
And it don't criticize it
Legalize it, yeah yeah
And I will advertise it
It's good for the flu
Good for asthma
Good for tuberculosis
Even numara thrombosis
Go to legalize it 
Don't criticize it
Legalize it, yeah yeah
And I will advertise it
Birds eat it
Ants love it
Fowls eat it
Goats love to play with it
So you've got to legalize it
And it don't criticize it
Legalize it, yeah yeah
And I will advertise it
Keep on telling you legalize it
And don't, don't, don't criticize it

Friday, April 13, 2018

IS THE FATE OF ICARUS AWAITING DONALD TRUMP AND HIS ENABLERS?


In Greek mythology Icarus is the son of the master craftsman Daedalus, the creator of the Labyrinth in Crete. Having fallen out of grace with King Minos of Crete, Daedalus was imprisoned in a tower. With Icarus' complicity he hatched a plan to escape from Crete by means of wings that Daedalus constructed from feathers and wax. In preparation for the execution of their plan of escape Daedalus warns Icarus first of complacency and then of hubris, asking that he neither fly too high or too low, so the sea's dampness would not clog his wings or the sun's heat melt them. Icarus ignored his father's instructions not to fly too near the sun. When the wax in his wings melted he fell out of the sky into the sea and drowned.

 Daedalus is to Icarus what the Republican Party is to Donald Trump... his daddy. The GOP finds itself in a place of potential political isolation given its cultivation of a labyrinth of bigotry aided by demographic gerrymandering. In desperation they have embraced this offspring of their own bigotry in hopes of escaping from the tower of isolation to which an ever-changing society has them relegated. 

All considered, Donald Trump's ascendance to the leadership of the Republican Party is in essence the ultimate expression of a politically incestuous relationship. Some have deemed the ongoing drama of his dismantling of Republican ideals as poetic justice. He is the chicken that the GOP hatched after seven years of roosting with their backward, obstructionist Tea Party cousins. 


The leaders of the Republican Party, such as they are, now find themselves in the awkward position of desperately wishing they had aborted this unfortunate hybrid of their own bigoted over-indulgence. They are now powerless in this regard, since to denounce him now would create the kind of inter-party schism that could very well result in the end the GOP as we know it. I am led here to take liberties with a line from a hymn by the English poet and hymnodist William Cowper,  a line inspired by the Old Testament prophet Isaiah's profound query: "Can a mother's tender care cease toward the child she bear?"... I ask:


Can the Grand Ole Party's tender care cease toward this bombastic hybrid of the bigoted conservatism that they have bred and cultivated?


We are witnessing what is without doubt a painful existential moment for the Republican Party. When they look at Trump's face, when they listen to the scurrilous bleatings emanating from his foul mouth, when they are forced to face the reality that his history as an amoral entity contradicts every principle they claim to hold dear; to say he is an embarrassment of major proportions would be an understatement. They would probably love to snuff out his political breath, or put a cork in his outrageous mouth, but it is too late. 


Short of breaking his proverbial wings with the blunt force of some kind of constitutional maneuver... the 25th Amendment comes to mind, they are helpless. Today's GOP is at the mercy of Trump's ignorance and bluster. They are left to cringe in embarrassment at his bombastic Tweets and his other half-literate utterings; and so they daily twist themselves into rhetorical pretzels in their attempts to account for his demonstrated idiocy. 

The GOP is now left to tend to its own self-inflicted wounds. the coming departure of  an apparently spineless Speaker Paul Ryan reveals the extent of the painful predicament they face.


For Trump's part, the true nature and potential of his ascendance is about to be revealed. The country and the world now waits with baited breath for the findings of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation. The prospect of having his wings clipped by a Grand Ole Party that for the most part now regards him with unbridled disgust is one thing. Finding out that his rise to political prominence has largely been a function of the superficial nature of our political and media culture; and that he may well be the Trojan horse of a hostile foreign power will be quite another. We may yet find out why he appears so genuinely incredulous that he rose to the top of what was quite a political heap. 

Trump's proximity to the luster of the nation's highest office is apparently quite thrilling to him. He now occupies that sacred space. Like the son of Daedalus, he is all fired up about his rise to unexpected heights.  He had no problem negotiating his way through the GOP's grossly ill-conceived political labyrinth, but he is discovering, quite to his chagrin, that maintaining his ascendance in the hot lights of the nations scrutiny is quite another matter. Hell, he seems to be daily warming to the fact that he is woefully ill-equipped for the challenge he now faces.


Like Icarus, Donald Trump is discovering that flying too close to the sun with wings unsuitably engineered, has certain inherent risks. He employed a by any means necessary approach to rising above his fellow inmates in the institutional circumstance he found himself in. But now The Donald is discovering that the feathers enabling his political flight are fixed by wax... the wax of his Party's hypocrisy...the wax of a sensationalist media culture...the wax of his own gross unpreparedness...the wax of ignorance, hatred, and bigotry, that he so willingly exploits. 

His is quite a dilemma. The fate of Icarus more than likely awaits Trump. As he is always eager to remind us ... the election is over. The country now has to endure his unconventional approach to leadership.  He now stumbles forward,  egged on by the morally incoherent doting of his selected enablers - led by sycophants at Fox News. 


Some were led to expect more, but in characteristically Trumpian manner, we are being treated to... and unsettled by a remarkable lessening of the American Presidency with him occupying the Oval Office. He must now continuously face the unrelenting glare of public and media scrutiny, and it is now painfully obvious that he is woefully unprepared for the bright lights of a meaningful presidency. If Mr Bombastic is lucky he may land in another one of those TV reality dramas... much diminished of course, but with the ability to rehabilitate his unwieldy ego and his financial future. 

Icarus was not so lucky... he fell into the sea and drowned, leaving his father to bitterly lament his own craft. The coming departure of an unprecedented number of GOP congresspersons may be an indication of a catastrophe-in-the-making for the Republican Party. Beyond the anticipated meltdown of their leader, lets wait to see what lamentations proceed from their next autopsy.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

BLACK FLAMES THAT BURNED IN MY ANCESTORS' BLOOD

In The Circle Of My Fire... 

( Poetry... words that will become flesh in the lives of those who lynched and burned my brothers and sisters, and those who maintain the prisons that seek to keep us enslaved ) 

Judge and jury sitting scared…
Prosecutors trembling in electric chairs…
Here I am…Sitting in the dark court of my mind
Strumming the chords of my accusers’ fears
The anger in me turns to fire…
Black flames that burned in my ancestors’ blood
Burning…Blazing… I have become a blasting inferno
Of purple-hearted flames…
Sitting here with a callused glare
Melting the shield of those who dare…
Who dare to confine…And judge me


They sit in the sty of their own degradation
Breathing the stench of a putrid self-righteousness…
Tense with anticipation undefined…
Anxious to know what’s on my mind… they shuffle…
As I sit still…breathing slow full breaths
Thinking dark red thoughts
Making them wait…for a certain uncertain fate


A circle of flames from the hell of my hate now surrounds my adversaries…
Fanned by their own generic fears ...It singes them inside out
Conforming to my wishes that they should be afraid… Sore afraid
Until they tremble at the edge of their own outer limits
I do not care about their screams… Nor their tears
For it is their fear I want to indulge…
It is not their hurt I seek…
Just to break them... Not to make them crawl…
But to change their minds
And burn down every illusion that they have built
About their superiority…
About their right
To rule
Me


I train my flames to lick their lies
I make them live…In the circle of my fire…
I…make them live…In the circle of my fire



Tuesday, April 3, 2018

PUT AWAY THE HEAVY COATS

In the real world in which we live it gets very cold sometimes. Not just in winter, but in the many and varied times and spaces of our numerous relationships. For our own protection, and to maintain our good health, it becomes necessary to cultivate spaces of warmth and comfort for ourselves; and to dress our souls in the kind of physical, emotional, spiritual, and cultural attire that protects us from the pervasive risks of our challenging life environment.

"Coming in from the cold" is not just something we do in the chronological period between Fall and Spring; it should be, and becomes a part of protecting ourselves from the debilitating chill of those kairotic interludes in our day to day life experiences. Indeed there are times in our politics, in our culture, in our families, in our intimacies, in the many and varied circumstances that make up the totality of our existence - when we are forced to recognize and deal with the real discomforts of being in this world.

But we can't live with any real sense of joy in a perpetually clothed, or an unrelenting threat-prevention mode. There comes a time when to truly live we must unfold our arms, disrobe,  and let our guard down. This is not to temporarily or otherwise deny the real threats around us as evolving persons in an ever-evolving environment. Those threats always exist. Despite them however, we must eventually let our guard down in recognition of the fact that to survive and fulfill our sacred obligation to multiply ourselves in all the essential ways, we have to at some point make ourselves available to being embraced ...and to be embracers of others.

To truly live it is necessary to engage with passion in that bountifulness of being that affirms the wholeness of our humanity. This is what  allows us to be prolific in accordance with those creative expectations that make our hearts race and that enliven minds. Our heavy coats and other protective gear get in the way of that vitally creative process.

And so, as with the coming of Spring with its potential for birth and rebirth and renewal, we must shed the obstructive camouflages that keep us isolated, and that stunt the possibilities for growth and its consequential fruitfulness. This new season beckons us to live into the blossoming that portends that fruitfulness. We accommodate that beckoning by opening our minds and hearts and our very being to the possibilities of both a chronological and a kairotic season of abundance.

A SEASON FOR RE-IMAGINING OUR LIVES

In the world around us, and within ourselves, Spring brings an essence-enhancing newness to the experience of being. It is the recurring oasis in the desert of our existence; at once a season and a place of reinvigoration.

This season of resurgence reminds us that dormancy is not death. It entreats us to take a break from the labors that consume us so that we may find the wherewithal to rise again in an inspired newness of being. The difference between those who live into the newness of being that marks this season and those who don’t, is a consciousness of the essential variety of the times of our lives.

The consciousness of the essential variety of our lives opens our eyes to the opportunities inherent in the challenges of our continued evolution. It fuels the courage we need to embrace the toppling of the status quo in our experiences. To paraphrase a well known piece of wisdom: it teaches us that there is indeed a time to sow, and a time to reap; a time to build up, and a time to tear down; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; a time to die, and a time to be born again; a time to hold on to old things, and a time to let go of such things.

Spring challenges us to reimagine ourselves. We are moved by the breath of fresh air  that comes with this new season to take inventory of ourselves and our lives with a view to the creation of new spaces in which to grow. We are summoned by the promises of another “resurrection” to reconceive ourselves… to see our lives beyond the currency of the contents of our minds and the burdens thereof. The rebirth that calls us forward into a new sense of ourselves is enhanced, among other things, by the unlimiting of our imagination, and the empowerment that can come with the appropriate stewardship of a new sense of Freedom.

Beyond the accrued contents of your mind - with all its joys and sorrows; with all its taught liberties and constraints; beyond the superimposed duties and burdens that we have come to assume in our day to day grind - we have a most sacred duty to recreate ourselves in ways that liberate us from the many influences that would limit our potential.

Our liberation is a work that we must assume. The saving of your life is a mission that only you can accomplish for yourself. It is work that demands a fundamental  reconception of who you are, and the cultivation of a vision of life that is in sync with the reality that we are an essential part of the circle of life. It will only happen when you live into the truth that your destiny is your responsibility; and that your ultimate responsibility is to make the world better by being a better person. It is this consciousness of a connectedness of being that will free us from the disaster of that trite individualism that corrupts our attempts at community.

Many of us spend our lives waiting for a “savior” to deliver us from our corrupted way of being. We want to expiate our many transgressions through someone else’s “sacrifice”, when, truth be told, what we really need is the innate courage to speak the truth to ourselves about our own complacency… about our own lack of the courage to redeem ourselves by taking control of our lives.
Everyday… every new season... has dormant within it the seeds of a new and more righteous us; an us yet unimagined. To awaken each day is to affirm with our every breath the promise of a uniquely more abundant life. Each new sunrise lights the way to a future beyond the horizons that circumscribe and artificially limit our view of life and the world.

Beyond every frustration with which we are confronted on our life journey is a truth tugging at the very core of who we are. It is a truth more potent than the next high, more exhilarating than the contents of the next bottle of whatever, more lasting than the promises of the next injection of poison. That truth is: We should genuinely desire to be better persons in each and every aspect of our lives. If that is not your truth then you are living in a bad dream. Time to wake up.
Our histories should inform us, not define us. Our experiences can serve us by reminding us of the ways and processes that can make us better, instead of scaring us into complacency. The past with all its stored wisdoms and follies can point the way to other possibilities as we re-envision our way forward in our lives.

We must never make the mistake of believing that we are limited to what we have been, or what we have done. We must cultivate the fortitude to rise above the things that have been done to us. We must also work against the tendency in ourselves to hurt others. It is through this process that we will find our salvation… and the wonderful possibilities of our common humanity.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

SONGS OF FREEDOM

The stark socio/political impressions that inspired the pen and voice of  activist-artist Bob Dylan, who recently was a recipient of a Nobel Prize, are still with us. Those impressions led him to pen such anthems as:

Blowin’ in the Wind

‘’How many roads must a man walk down
Before you call him a man?
How many seas must a white dove sail
Before she sleeps in the sand?
Yes, and how many times must the cannonballs fly
Before they’re forever banned?

The answer, my friend, is blowin in the wind
The answer is blowin in the wind”

And …

A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall

“Oh, what did you meet my blue-eyed son ?
Who did you meet, my darling young one?
I met a young child beside a dead pony
I met a white man who walked a black dog
I met a young woman whose body was burning
I met a young girl, she gave me a rainbow
I met one man who was wounded in love
I met another man who was wounded in hatred
And it’s a hard, it’s a hard, it’s a hard, it’s a hard
And it’s a hard rain’s a-gonna fall”.

The season of Rock and Roll evolved into the season of Rap and Reggae… Reggae, a sound that has its origins in the shared dynamic syncopation of our heartbeats… This season mobilized a strident uprising against racism and apartheid, against wars and rumors of wars, against economic vampires and their bloodsucking ways… It shook the foundations of the System of Oppression from Jamaica to Rome to London to Paris to Washington to South Africa to Mozambique. This season spoke with an unmistakable force in the voice of prophetic luminaries like Robert Nesta Marley and the Wailers… A force felt in the well-fired architecture of renditions of:

Babylon System

‘We refuse to be
What you wanted us to be;
We are what we are:
That’s the way it’s going to be. You don’t know!
You can’t educate I
For no equal opportunity:
Talkin’ ’bout my freedom,
People freedom and liberty!
Yeah, we’ve been trodding on the winepress much too long:
Rebel, rebel!”

And…

War

“Until the philosophy
Which holds one race superior and another
Inferior
Is finally
And permanently
Discredited
And abandoned
Everywhere is war
Me say war
That until there are no longer
First class and second class citizens of any nation
Until the color of a man’s skin
Is of no more significance than the color of his eyes
Me say war”

Are you listening?
Are ... You ...  Skanking ...?



THE ROCKING OF OUR BOATS... A NECESSARY DISCOMFORT

The tension between who we are and who we must become in order to realize our fullest human potential is real. That tension is, for many, a source of great physical, emotional, and spiritual trauma.

The demands of growth and change can seem overwhelming, but to maintain our health and sustain our general well-being we must at some point make a determination to meet them. This process is without doubt uncomfortable, since it involves our breaking out of old ways into new ways of being and behaving. Some of us recognize and embrace the change that grows us; while some of us will have that change forced upon us in the very midst of our unwillingness.

Over the course of our lives, and from one generation to another, we develop a certain vested interest in keeping things stable. We do not like change. We work on the establishment of a certain status quo in our personal and communal experiences, and we invest substantial material and intellectual resources in its maintenance. We become comfortable with the ways we establish, and we resist any attempt to breach the walls that surround those ways. To keep those walls up we foster certain self-serving dogmas… We demand that others not rock our boats… And why?…  Well… We do not want our boats to be rocked! Simple. No more questions. That. Is. It.

Well, as for the no more questions part… Not so simple. For better or for worse, the rocking of boats is an inevitable fact of life in the very fluid course of our dynamic reality. The challenges of our existence are not just omnipresent and inevitable; they are necessary. They enliven us by stirring our creative juices. These challenges come and go like day and night. They are as present and as essential as Oxygen in the air we breathe. They are at once as certain, and as unpredictable as the wind. And, when they come, they demand that we make adjustments in both the perceptions and the practices of our lives.

Thursday, March 8, 2018

REMEMBER MALALA

Remember Malala?

“Malala Yousafzai was born on July 12, 1997, in Mingora, Pakistan. As a child, she became an advocate for girls’ education, which resulted in the Taliban issuing a death threat against her. On October 9, 2012, a gunman shot Malala when she was traveling home from school. She survived, and has continued to speak out on the importance of education. She was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize in 2013. In 2014, she was nominated again and won, becoming the youngest person to receive the Nobel Peace Prize… “ ~From her biography

All of us, female, male, and those who find themselves in the challenging position of not being able to declare for either side of the gender equation must speak with our own words about our own lives. We must articulate our aspirations with the force of our own breaths. This is the great challenge of our existence. It is a challenge that we must own in the face of every circumstance that seeks to define who we are and what we can become. And when we have lived up to that challenge we must then become the voice of those who cannot speak. We must stand up for those who cannot stand. We must insist on equal treatment for our fellow beings who depend on us because they suffer disadvantages and disabilities that make them unable to do so for themselves.

In a world that has tended to encode the “law of the jungle” as our modus operandi, we continue to witness the use of tradition and religion to express the imbalance that is a fact of our communal experiences. In too many of our “villages” the “strong” continue to inflict their will on those they can use force to victimize. It is in this kind of world that a girl can be shot in her head for pursuing an education that does not limit her to the roles that some men have carved out for her. It is in this kind of world that girls and women are raped and sold into slavery to satisfy the fundamentalist delusions of those who have not sorted out their existential insecurities. The rest of us must not stand by and allow this lunacy. We must face this madness with resolve. We cannot ignore the cries of the disadvantaged, nor can we remain in our safe enclaves while our fellow human beings are subjected to the unspeakable horrors of a culture of vile ignorance.

The great challenge of our time is not just the building of civil societies. That work must be enhanced by our insistence on the encoding of Justice in our laws. Justice is a function of Equality… the state of being equal, especially in status, rights, and opportunity. This then is not just a work that must be pursued in Pakistan and other places afar off. The work of Justice must be done on our own doorsteps, in our own homes, and community, and nation. The areas of concern are many. They include the arenas of race and gender. Just wages. Equal access to every opportunity for betterment. Equal pay for equal work. The right to vote of every citizen must be guaranteed.

Those who seek to deny others these basic human rights are in fact not better than the men who shot this young woman in her head. It is time to stand with courage against every brute who lives by denying others their just claim to Life,  Liberty,  and the Pursuit of Happiness.

Starbucks recently announced it is partnering with the Malala Fund to improve the lives of at least 250,000 women and girls from all over the Globe. And we should all say an ongoing “Amen!” to efforts such as this.