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Friday, June 26, 2015

Scalia's "Giggery-Pokery", and Unadulterated Reactionary Bollocks

The Supreme Court's 6-3 rebuke of those whose sole agenda is to sabotage any real achievement of the first African-American POTUS has sent reactionary minds into a tornado-like tailspin that has them reaching into the bag of their linguistic antiquities for words to express their ideological angst. No one who has followed this Court had any doubts as to which side of the argument Justice Scalia and Justice Clarence Thomas would be bulwarks for. No one. The specter of extremely backward cultural bias has always been a fact of life that haunts the Court. Those who still hold the expectation that the highest Court of the land could be expected to be the vanguard of the highest principles of our common humanity need to be reminded of  The Dred Scott Decision... a decision that implicitly denied the humanity of black persons, and Plessy vs Ferguson ... a decision that legitimized state laws which institutionalized racism in the South.

It is no secret that there are those in our government who having lost two Presidential elections to Barack Hussein Obama and the Democrats, have resigned themselves to the prospects of preventing him from governing... Witness now head of the Senate Mitch McConnell of Kentucky. The eventually inevitable establishment of the Affordable Care Act as the law of the land is an achievement of this Presidency that puts a dagger through the political hearts of these reactionaries. Combine this with other rulings this week that raise the bar of Justice above the narrow economic and cultural interests of the American conservative establishment, and witness the expected mental/political implosion of  hypocrites. The usual verbiage of their semantic tool-sets come up short; and so they resort to the store of their old cultural bag of shit... Bullshit that is.

Scalia can't face the facts of his judicial/cultural ass-whooping, so in his pain and cultural anguish he resorts to his bag of cultural antiquities... "Giggery-pokery!" He screams. The linguists among us reveal the meaning of this bit of antiquity as :  a manipulative or slyly dishonest act – synonyms include “trickery” or “hocus-pocus”. According to Merriam-Webster, the word is thought to stem from the Scottish phrase joukery-pawkery, jock being "cheat" or "dodge" and pawk being to "trick." Between the rulings on Fair Housing, Marriage, and Obamacare; Conservatives in Congress and their servants on the Supreme Court have no constitutional place to hide from their own giggery-pokery.  For better or for worse we are a Nation of Laws. Not only that... We find ourselves in a cultural-political dynamic that continues to evolve in the direction of greater democracy.

The backwardness that Scalia and Thomas represent is being left in the tragic past in which it functioned to deny equal access to the blessings of Liberty. The days when people were denied the Rights to Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness ; and when we could expect such a denial to be backed up by the guardians of Justice must, and are passing.  The moral "trickery" that passed for Justice in those days is being called by its real name... Bull excrement... Or, in the antiquity of Justice Scalia, ... Bollocks! The reality we wrestle with in our judicial system is that the barbs through which the likes of Scalia  and Thomas voice their objections to progress, and the moral garbs in which they clothe those objections, are terribly soiled by the historically putrid waste of Justice denied. The work of Justice for All continues among us. This week we have good reasons to be enthusiastic about Hope and Change... Remember that? Those who were heralds for the death of this President's "legacy" spoke too soon.  Who Jah Bless, No man curse...

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Of Hate, and Fear, and Murder...

KKK
What sickness is it that inflames a man’s mind to the extent that he would praise Hitler? What is the source of the vain insanity that leads a person to the precipice of that bloody Hell where he sees his own survival only in terms of the annihilation of those he perceives as different? What is it that ails the racist, the white supremacist, the ethnic cleanser?
Look closely and see that whatever it is, is by no means empowering. Look closer and realize that the madness that drives the hater has its own self-destructive logic. The assumption of power that drives the victims of this existential asylum is just a delusion. Yes. Only a DELUSION. For it is not a sense of strength that drives the murderous inclinations of madmen, but a rather deep-seated sense of his own nonentity-ness. It is a neurosis… A wickedness that has its roots deep in the muck of a corrupted sense of “being”. It is that vile reasoning that his existence is only validated in the destruction of those he perceives as the reason for his own sense of powerlessness.
Yes. IT IS FEAR THAT DRIVES HATE. The permission to murder that the hater gives himself is really just a function of his own perceived impotence. True power is ALWAYS expressed in the tendency to empower others. The fearful finds and rationalizes his impotence in the convenient projection of his existential dilemma onto those who are superficially or culturally separable. It is a deep-seated and essentially primitive instinct. Like chicken of one color in a dominant group, they seek to resolve the perceived threats to their survival and dominance through the subjugation, and ultimately the destruction of an identifiably “different” minority. That minority, in their estimation, must not be allowed to thrive since their expressed fecundity is a threat to the cultural cockiness of the hater. And so the threatened “chicken” feels he must de-feather that minority. It is not a far step between de-feathering a thriving bird and taking its life. And so the hater becomes a murderer.
The Achilles heel of the white supremacist ideology is a progressively civilized society in which legal  consensus reigns. The hater ultimately depends on the inaction of society regarding his wickedness. He bets on the silence and/or complicity of a population that cowers in the face of uncivilized brute-force. A society and a world that agrees on progressively moral standards of Justice saw the demise of Adolf Hitler and his vile kind. That same impetus of Justice will inevitably be brought to bear against the moral and cultural deficiencies of the current and former “knights” of the KKK… And it is the children of those they have victimized who will administer the prevailing codes of Justice against them.
In the end, we must take responsibility for the environment that we create by the moral choices that we make. Whether we live with the torment of our hate and the virulence of our morally compromised choices or create together a culture in which we can all thrive despite our superficial differences is up to us. The climate of our coexistence is a function of the quality of the relationships that we generate. We can choose an atmosphere typified by the hopefulness of Spring, or suffer the discomforts and damages of the prolonged Summer of our discontent. 

Friday, June 19, 2015

No More Complicity With Evil

"In South Carolina, the roads that black people drive on are named for Confederate generals who fought to keep black people from being able to drive freely on that road, ... The Confederate flag flies over South Carolina, and the roads are named for Confederate generals." --- Jon Stewart

American politicians must stop pussyfooting around with the persistent evil called racism. Racism affects the American body politic like a sore that won't heal. It is an open wound that drains its putrid puss all over the face of a nation that refuses to come to terms with the fact that white supremacy and its aspirants continue to haunt our national life with the nasty venom of a corrupted humanity. There is no soft pedaling around this plague. There can be no biting our tongues when it comes to calling out this sickness. Those who continue to act as if this evil does not operate through individuals, groups , and institutions like our police forces, are essentially complicit in this crime against humanity.

The mass murder of people attending a Bible study in a church in South Carolina is not an isolated incident. It is part of a culture of evil that we witness in a spate of incidents ranging from the murder of Trayvon Martin in Florida, the indiscriminate killing of Mike Brown in Ferguson, the choking-to-death of an innocent man on the sidewalks of New York, the firing of eight bullets into the back of a fleeing man in South Carolina... All of which speak to the fact that even among law enforcement officers, black lives don't matter. Racists with murderous intentions look at these incidents as templates for their own depravity.

According to available FBI statistics, Black folk who make up just over thirteen percent of the population suffer over thirty three percent of the hate crimes committed in this country. The American media psyche is so warped that attempts to  conscientize the public to the nefarious nature of this reality are invariably characterized as "playing the race card". This is especially the case when the President and the Attorney General attempt to speak on this matter. Media whores with their own cultural and political agendas be damned. Screw them! This complicity with evil must be exposed for what it is. Approximately 620, 000 soldiers died in the effort to beat back the Confederacy. Those who wanted to maintain the racist status quo which sought to deny black folk the right to Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness were defeated.

The warped face of evil showed its face again in South Carolina this week. Expressing the fear that informs his hatred, a young white racist vented his corrupted nature on a group of innocent African Americans murdering nine... in a church. He wants to revive the Confederacy. He wants "to start a race war". His neurosis is a function of a festering sore... a rotting spirit... a corrupted humanity. He, like those he emulates, is a lost soul. I do not share his pain. I do not "forgive" him. He is destined to reap the bitter fruit of his labor. Those who share his twisted sense of being can go straight to hell with him.

As for those who continue to fly the flag of the Confederacy... those who hide behind their uniforms of brutality... those who apologize for the culture of hate... those demanding that we remain silent while they brutalize and murder us... For all of those ... Let me take liberties with a few lines from Capleton:
That day will come, when I shall see the wicked in the fire getting burned
That day will come, when they will try to escape and there will be nowhere to run
That day will come, when I shall see them surrender their bayonets and bullets and bombs... 
That day will come...

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

If Wishes Were Horses...

"The heights by great men reached and kept were not attained by sudden flight, but they while their companions slept, were toiling upward in the night." Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

We all admire greatness and the "larger than life" appeal of those who personify the extraordinary. The demonstration of great skill and ability in a particular craft is wonderful to behold; inspiring big dreams in many. We watch Michael Jordan and other great basketball players and envision ourselves dribbling,  rising up,  and putting the ball through that hoop with the same dynamic skill and elegance that made them heroes to us. The game becomes a metaphor for life... We "want to be like Mike". We dream of possessing that degree of skill and the praise and other rewards that come with it. We want the spotlight of recognition to shine on us and blaze a trail before us wherever we go. We desire greatness.

As a teenage student of the martial arts, I was inspired by the greatness of Bruce Lee. As I went to training each day, I came to appreciate the hard work and dedication that it takes to acquire the skills he demonstrated. The casual dreamer knows nothing about this. They see the flash and glamour surrounding the great practitioners, but they have no clue what the physical and spiritual demands of endurance are. Many long to execute a flying-reverse-turning-kick, but have no clue how it feels to be hit in the solar plexus.  "No pain, no gain" is more than rhythmic poetry... It is a reality of life.

My martial arts instructor was a no nonsense type whose apparently serious demeanor masked a wicked sense of humor. One evening a very enthusiastic young man came into the dojo declaring his intention to become a student of the fighting arts. He wanted "to learn how to fly" like some character he had just seen in a kung fu movie. Without any sympathy for his delusions of greatness my instructor pointed to the roof of the building next to our school and told him to climb up there and jump off. Not finding any facilitation of his unrealistic expectation, he left the dojo sulking... never to return.

Imitation is indeed the greatest form of flattery, and we live in a culture of consummate flatterers. Exploiting the lazy gullibility of those who want the accolades but not the hard work that goes into becoming skillful, many charlatans prosper among us. They want to, usually for a hefty price, teach us the "secrets of success". Many books are written and many seminars held by the many self proclaimed gurus who pretend to impart these secrets to the faithful while they separate them from their money. The secret of the gurus' success is the gullibility of those who would rather learn "secrets" than dedicate themselves to the arduous discipline that true achievement is built on. The path of dedication and industry is thus slighted for the far more traveled highway of deceitfulness.

The definition of a secret is : knowledge that is kept from all, except the privileged or initiated. The implication is that one has to be a part of a select society or group in order to be privy to the 'hidden things". The prospect of ordinary people accomplishing extraordinary things through dedication and hard work is thus replaced by a cult of exploited fascination in which the gullible fall prey to the wiles of skillful deceivers. How does Lebron James become the "King" of his craft? Was Michael Jordan born with the ability to fly? Are Barack and Michele Obama just lucky? Are Bill and Melinda Gates members of some secret society?  The answer to these questions is a resounding NO.  Do great writers have to work hard at their craft? Does great poetry require dedicated effort in addition to exceptional inspiration? The one thing that those who achieve greatness in their chosen areas of activity have in common is dedication coupled with industry. Talent alone does not guarantee success. Many talented persons fail... some spectacularly.

Those who have studied the matter tell us that it takes at least 10,000 hours...at minimum... to achieve mastery in any craft. In the achievement of greatness, there is no substitute for unrelenting effort. To be successful one must begin by debunking the idea that there is some magic formula that one can attach oneself to. We can dream... But then we must wake up and apply ourselves to the hard work that prepares us to accomplish extraordinary things. Hence the value of Longfellow's insight. Those who would excel find time to practice and perfect their craft, while those who only dream...sleep on. It is a truth well stated that if wishes were horses beggars would be expert equestrians.

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Defining Moments

I grew up amongst an agricultural people. As farmers, we developed a necessary understanding of the times and seasons of life. It was important for us to know when to plant and when to harvest. As a boy, I was always curious about how things grew; how one grain of corn, or one pea, or one head of yam could produce such abundant crops when properly cultivated. I found myself wondering what really happened after that grain was put into the ground.

Besides helping with the larger field that the family cultivated, we each had a little plot where we could plant something. At an early age I understood that my responsibility was to keep my plot free of weeds and other unproductive elements. I understood that a plant needed sunlight to grow. I understood that the ground had to be properly prepared before anything was planted, and that it would need to be maintained free of anything that would stifle the growth of our crops. As organic farmers, we shunned the use of pesticides and artificial fertilizers. We knew that these were bad for our food and for us. Our method was first to plant at the right times. Secondly, we ploughed back into the soil the dung of our domestic animals and unused or unuseable portions of the crop. These were great fertilizers... the only ones we used.

I knew about the importance of good sunlight, good deep soil, and proper care, but how did things actually grow...? What happened between the time we planted until that first stalk appeared?... I was very curious about this. It always seemed like things would grow overnight so one night I took a lantern and went into my little patch of land. I found a place to lay down close to where I had planted a head of yam. I was determined to actually see this thing grow. I was about to make a seminal discovery.

I put my lantern down and gently dug away the soil around the seedling that had been planted a couple of weeks prior. As I did, I discovered that the whole outer portion of that head of yam had seemingly withered away... kind of dried out, and in the middle of this dried-up outer shell was a life-filled new bulb sprouting from the old shell. Something was dying ...and something new was coming forth. I was filled with wonder and amazement. I realized in that moment that what we percieve in finite terms as death is just a transition to the infinite. Nothing ceases to be. Things go from one state of being to another.

The potential for renewal and abundance is a fact of life that many of us remain unaware of. Many among us are just not inquisitive enough. I remember the saying printed in the front one of my readers in elementary school that declared: "Interest is the soil in which intelligence and knowledge grows'. This was a defining moment in the evolution of my consciousness. I came to realize in that moment that we should have no fear of death. The old shell must necessarily fall away so that the new bulb within can come into being. I carefully covered that seedling, got up with my lantern, and headed back to bed. As I walked back to the house I became aware of the vast heavens above me with its multitude of stars. In that moment I thought to myself... there is so much we can learn from the simple things all around us that we take for granted every day.

Our lives are like seeds. Our abundance or lack thereof is a direct function of the process of our cultivation. How deep is the soil in which we find ourselves? How exposed are we to the sunlight that we need to grow? Are we surrounded by weeds that sabotage our growth? Are we putting the proper nourishment into ourselves... Or are we poisoning orselves? Are we putting into ourselves stuff that puffs us up but does not truly nourish us? . Are we wasting the reuseable resources that can enhance our productivity? These are just a few of the questions we must face as we examine our prospects for growth and further development. Our answers to these questions will define the degree of our prosperity in this world. One thing is certain, we will have no harvest where we have not labored... On the other hand, we will most certainly reap what we sow.