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Sunday, December 27, 2015

Becoming

WHEN I free myself of childhood dreams…
When I let go of adult schemes…
When naiveté no longer appeals to me…
And ambition is stored with other vanities…
Then…I will become

When fear no longer in me abides…
And I let Id... Ego... Superego..., slide
And I no more need to fit the mold
And let my destiny unfold…
Then I will…my heart being still…become

I can only be
What God has purposed for my life…
And I will only see the tree
That bears the fruit
Which enrich my days…
When I am
What I am
And always was
And can be nothing else…

When I am…that I am…
I have become.

From: Roy Alexander Graham's: “In My Element.” Figtree Books


Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Let Your Light Shine... Every day.

Let us strive to keep alive that season when we celebrate the hope that we may all coexist peacefully. Let us not remove from our consciousness that time when we seek, through gift-giving, and family/communal get-togethers, to lift each other out of the circumstances of despair that tend to envelope our lives from time to time in the course of the year. That time of coming together to celebrate community as we cast off the loneliness that depresses so many, deserves to be kept alive every day. Regardless of our religious affiliations, or lack thereof, we are all affected by the spirit of a season of compassion that enlivens us beyond any particular holiday. 
 The fact that some persons are overcome by the absence of meaningful lives and relationships is an ongoing reality. That is where we come in. We are called to constantly reflect on how our lives can make a positive difference in those other lives daily. We are reminded in the never-ending season of compassion, of our duty to shine our “light” into the “dark” places where others stumble and some fall. We are all called to be more virtuous.
Virtue is defined as: moral goodness; upright living; righteousness. It is the conduct of our lives in accordance with principles of Righteousness. It is doing to others as you would have them do to you. Virtue challenges us to lift each other up in the face of circumstances that are depressing. Virtue is that light in the darkness that warms the cold, comforts the afflicted, reassures the frightened, and points the way to those who may be lost. Let your light shine... Every day.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Playing Now: Birds Of A Feather... A Trumped-Up Media Production

American mainstream media can't help itself. Their salacious preoccupation with the prototypical carnival barker in our midst provides them with an extended opportunity to make some more mullah...money. That is their business. That is their highest priority. That of course is Donald J. Trump's goal also. The Media as we know it is primarily an entertainment complex. If you are looking for uplifting, meaningful analysis you won't find it here. If what you long for are intelligent conversations about issues affecting our corporate life... Forget about it. What you will find is content drawn from the primal pit of our collective experience. Slime and more slime.  Sex. Violence. Hate. Bigotry. Stuff that appeals to the basest of our sensibilities. Survival stuff. Conflict generation stuff. They thrive on the exploitation of our collective insecurities. Every story is formulated to be resolved via the kind of mayhem that leaves our antagonists in bloody little bits and pieces. What passes for political discourse on any network is nothing more than predictable partisan banter. What passes for conversation is nothing more that a contrived rhetorical con. It's all a terribly shameful farce.

As for Trump, the star of the current media con job, the man is in the business of rigging the game so he can achieve the "deal" of the moment. Nothing complicated about that. He is a noted casino magnate, and that is what casino moguls do. They rig the game. He is effectively a part of the "show" being produced by our entertainment complex. For this monied antagonist the American political landscape is just a piece of real estate to be exploited and eventually flipped for a quick profit. The hopes and dreams of those who seek to be tenants in this fools paradise are just props he is using to dress it up so he can pawn it off to the next political charlatan. A candidate for President of the United States of America? This is a terrible hoax, one being perpetrated to maximize its entertainment value. As has been stated elsewhere, Donald Trump has no fluency in any of the issues that an aspirant to the highest office in the land must command. He has a snowball's chance in hell of being POTUS. This is all a game to him, and one that he is mastering to the chagrin of the Republican Party. They are fainting in their tents in the GOP. But this is the chicken they have hatched after seven years of roosting with the TeaParty. That chicken has come home, and is indiscriminately defecating all over everything they claim to represent.

Even if those cheering him on had the existential clarity to discern his real intentions, they might still follow after him with that disconcerting fealty that vassals show their feudal lord. For these "tenants" of that fool's paradise; to be is to be like, and to be like... is to be like Trump. Yes. They actually want to emulate his lack of virtue. They parrot his ugly bluster as if they were demonstrating fluency in a second language. They cheer his arrogance as if it will add some luster to their dull lives. They flex their ignorance as if it were proof of some philosophical dominance. Never mind the fact that he is as disdainful of them as he seems to be of everyone else; they just long to be near him so that they can breathe in the air that he breathes out... Foul and poisonous though it may be. As disgustingly deficient as their lives may be, they are like him... fear-filled, hateful bigots. Birds of a feather flock together. Even those whose plumage appears more illustrious than the rest.

As Americans we must definitively express our revulsion at the crass bigotry of this character. That has now become our civic duty as a people who cherish the rule of law and decency. For better or for worse the rest of the world is watching this Trumped-Up production. And to most observers this is not in the least entertaining. The twenty five percent of the world's population that are Muslims do not find Mr Trump's antics to be a laughing matter. Those wanting to do us harm for one reason or other are finding enough hurtful content in this clown's performance to potentiate their already volatile inclinations. Our neighbors to the South are definitely NOT entertained. There is something hate-inspiring in being lumped in as rapists, drug mules, and murderers; when most immigrants are just in search of a better life for themselves and their families. No nation is without faults, but the Russians, Iranians, and the Chinese, must be giving undue extra thought to being villainized in the minds of the not so sophisticated among the American public.

Make no mistake about it, the show being put on by Donald J. Trump will have consequences beyond the theater of American political life. These consequences, intended or unintended, have the potential to bring harm to all of us. That is the reason we must now lift our voices in rebuke of a circus that is no longer entertaining. The cheering on of Trump's vile braggadocio must now end. It is time for Donald Trump to pack up his act and exit this stage.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

The Season of Giving

As we approach what is usually a very hectic time of the year, let us take a moment to reflect, and look forward to how we can engage the lives and relationships around us in meaningful ways in the days ahead. The stresses of finding the right gift for someone and the joy of receiving a longed-for wish can enliven us, moving us from fatigue to a sense of fulfillment. On the other hand, the head-shaking blandness of getting something as redundant as a tie... or another pair of sock... or sweater that we do not need or want, can leave us with feelings of emptiness. Just picking something for the sake of picking something to give can leave us exhausted to say the least. Every year we swear that we are not going to go crazy ‘doing this thing again". And every year, to some degree, we all do. I have told my friends, my children, my co-workers, that instead of buying me stuff that I am sure I don’t need; they should instead  find someone who is in need, and give them something for me. For the most part they do not listen, and I understand. I suppose we all want to feel that we have done our duty.
This has always been, and maybe still is, a season of complex emotions. There is a genuine need to reach out and touch someone. There is a need to be touched ourselves.  We want to share the love that in many cases has gone untold, or is dormant in our chests and in our stomachs, or that has sort of become sub-conscious. Our love often goes underground in our lives, waiting for a time and place to be expressed. All too often that time is usually when one of us is about to have our physical remains placed beneath the ground... Unfortunately. This then is a season when we become acutely aware of the many significant others around us, and of the impact that our presence makes in each other’s lives.
This is also a time when some become acutely aware of their loneliness. In the midst of all our merry making, the increase in the number of suicides this time of year is a critical reminder to us of how absent we are in the world of someone who really needs us.  In the very midst of great abundance, there is a desperate poverty that afflicts many. The Good News we can all share is that in fact we, none of us, need to feel abandoned to the destiny of hopelessness that is implied in our existential  poverty. Hope for our world comes in the form of the God in us that is Love. It is this God that became incarnate in the life of the Christ that we should be celebrating all year long. The Christ who comes to comfort the afflicted, heal the broken-hearted, set the captive free, and declare that the time is now when Love can be that light in the darkest corners of our existence.
Everything that we need is to be found in a world balanced through Justice.  Love is the infinite resource of that world. The God of infinite resources comes to us in all our circumstances of need. Our needs vary. Some of us need some things. Some of us need something more. The God who is Love calls us to shelter the homeless, feed the hungry, clothe the naked, comfort the widow and the fatherless, speak the Word of healing and wholeness to those in prison, liberate the oppressed and the oppressor… The gifts of the God who is Love are tailored to our individual needs.  Love gives His/Her gifts indiscriminately to us in accordance with the circumstances of our poverty. 
So as we make a big deal of our efforts in what has essentially become an orgy of commercialism, let us not forget the reason for the season. The caroling will go away. We will take down the lights. And if we are not clear about that reason, we return to the ‘being absent’ in each other’s lives that really is our standard. In the end it is not the things that we purchase with money that matter most, but our continued loving/caring presence in each other’s lives. It is how we continue be with one another down the various roads of life. It is the crucial matter of how we continue to do right by each other when no bells are ringing.
Let us rediscover the spirit of generosity this season. Let's not restrict that generosity to those we know, and to whom we are somehow related. Let us reach out and touch someone who is in need... Anyone. And let us remember that the greatest gift we can give in this Season of Giving ... is the gift of a Love that endures.