H2O Man's Journal
Member since: Mon Dec 29, 2003, 07:49 PM
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This will be my first OP on DU’s GD: Primaries forum during the 2016 contest. Like previous primary contests, the current one too often seems the source a lot of nonsense, than can get in the way of meaningful discussions. Add to that, this: the topic that I am writing about was the source of some debate between myself and my younger son.
So, let’s start with something that everyone here can agree upon: Donald Trump will never be president. I doubt that he has not entered the republican primary contest because he believes that he will be the republican nominee.
Now, maybe he hopes that there is some tiny chance. But only late at night, moments before he drifts into unconsciousness, does that thought enter his mind. Thus, the question: why did he enter?
My son says it is for the most obvious of reasons -- to get his name in the news, and to use that profile for some future capitalist venture. Fame and money, nothing more, nothing less.
I disagree. I think that Trump dislikes the Bush family -- likely in large part due to financial interests -- and is looking to damage Jeb Bush in the republican primaries. In a sense, what he is doing is similar to Ross Perot in 1992.
My son does not believe that Trump has the intellectual or emotional capacity to play such a role. I think that his public image is largely an act. Running in the primaries is part of that act, and damaging Jb Bush may well help him financially. But I think knee-capping Jeb is his primary motivation.
Your opinion, please?
Posted by H2O Man | Sat Jul 4, 2015, 10:04 AM (38 replies)
“During an eighteen-month period in 1971 and 1972, the FBI reported more than 2,500 bombings on U.S. soil, nearly 5 a day.”
-- Bryan Burrough; Days of Rage; Penguin Press; 2015; page 5.
One of my birthday gifts this year was the new book by Bryan Burrough about “America’s Radical Underground, The FBI, and the Forgotten Age of Revolutionary Violence” (subtitle from front cover). The 550-page book is well-researched, including the author’s extensive interviews with people from the “underground” and retired federal investigators. It actually offers far more information about many of the violent incidents and participants than any previous book on the general topic. Indeed, it may contain more “new” information than the sum-total of the previous books.
Burrough seems an unlikely an author on this subject. As a former reporter for The Wall Street Journal, his focus tended to be finance. However, one of his five previous books -- “Public Enemies” -- was about organized crime and the formation of the FBI. Although I have found one factual error so far (not a huge one), the author definitely takes an objective approach to recording the events of the late 1960s-’70s.
Still, I find myself questioning the timing of this book: was the author perhaps influenced by the right-wing attacks upon Senator Obama in 2008, regarding his association with Bill Ayers? Though it was well-documented that Barack Obama knew Ayers casually, at best, the right-wing -- and the corporate media -- attempted to smear the Democratic presidential candidate with ugly “guilt by association” tactics.
Perhaps that is merely something that political activists of a certain age are sensitive about: I have met, and had casual friendships with, a few of those mentioned in the book. Even when I first ran for something as low-key as the local school board, one principal assisted in my tea party opponent’s campaign, telling people that I am a “wild-eyed radical” and “nothing but trouble.” Maybe he believed that, but I’m also the parent of two of the best behaved, highest achieving students in the district’s history.
It may be that the author recognized that he had an opportunity to interview people who: felt comfortable, with the passage of time, to address issues that quite frankly have never been fully documented; and are reaching the age where they won’t likely live that much longer. Strike while the iron is hot, but has also cooled off, so to speak.
I suspect that many rational individuals, on all sides of the social-political spectrum, believed at the end of 1968 that this country was experiencing revolutionary dynamics. More, the majority of individuals identified with, and acted as part of a group ….and group dynamics tend to be less stable, in important ways, than individual behaviors. The tensions between groups -- be it Democrats vs. republicans, male vs. female, young vs. old, white vs. non-white -- were tearing American society apart at the seams.
Rubin Carter used to tell me that a wise man learns from others’ mistakes; most of us have to learn from our own errors; and that fools -- well, they just never learn. So, looking back now, it is easy for me to say that attempting to create a more just society by using violence was a foolish tactic. However, based upon my own value system, it was wrong, even if it had achieved some temporary gain (which it really didn’t). The violence committed by the left was not somehow more moral or pure than the violence committed by the right-wing thugs. Yet, I can understand how some people, caught up in the madness of that era, believed they could actually use violent tactics for good purposes.
The group from the left that has become most closely identified with “violence” in that era was the Weatherman/ Weather Underground. However, they were hardly the only “leftist” group that would use violent tactics. It is interesting to note -- though I’m unsure if the author speaks to this, as I haven’t finished the book -- that the use of violence frequently made groups easier targets for infiltration and disruption, than those committed to non-violence. The exception would be the Weather Underground; They were a very small, tightly-knit group. Only one police informant was able to penetrate their group, and it was more of the Weatherman, than the later Weather Underground.
There has been a tendency to romanticize some of these groups. Frequently, the attribute that they sought to damage “the machine,” but not human beings, is incorrectly applied to them. When a group is small and closely-knit, such as the Weather Underground, relatively little information has been made public over the years. As a result, people often made things up -- for example, Richard Nixon had paranoid ideas about the Weather Underground, which in and of itself could create support among young folks.
Having President Nixon and FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover obsessed with catching them; releasing revolutionary manifestos; and even robbing banks (one has to put this in the context of coming after the powerful 1967 “Bonnie and Clyde” movie): all of this began to build appeal, at various levels, among those who were growing frustrated by the seeming inability of the anti-war protest marches, etc, to not only end the war in Vietnam, but to bring about much-needed changes in the social fabric.
However, even if one accepts the right of a population to use violence to expel a foreign colonizer -- for example, the fight in Vietnam -- those same potential dynamics simply did not exist inside the United States. It is also important to understand that ending the war in Vietnam was not the primary focus of the various violent groups of that era -- although it certainly was a related factor -- but, rather, the central issue was racism in the United States. (The numerous arsons aimed at ROTC buildings on campuses across the country were perhaps inspired by the Weather Underground, but were not organized, group efforts.) In fact, the Weather Underground tended to look down upon the “hippies” and the peace movement at first, and would only later attempt to gain from their resources.
From a sociological viewpoint -- including from the book’s documentation, as well as life experience and related education -- journeying down the paths of violence in the US included several common features. First, as noted, it made various groups easier to infiltrate and disrupt. Second, and extremely important, it created circumstances where potentially great leadership was killed (the police murder of Fred Hampton being an example); next, it allows for the most violent to rise to positions of authority (including the sincere and insincere); and, of course, it justified the most harsh retaliation against not only those groups, but anyone that the public associates with them (Kent State).
It may all seem like ancient history now, especially to young folks. But there are some definite connections. An great example, and one that I’ve documented on DU:GD numerous times over the years, is that the domestic intelligence program that the Nixon administration created, known as the Huston Plan, was the exact model used by the Cheney administration for its Patriot Act. The only difference is today’s greater computer technology.
On the eve of the national holiday celebrating the Declaration of Independence, its troubling to note the many, many similarities between that era, and today. From the foreign wars, to the anti-social diseases of racism and sexism, we really have not made nearly enough progress in the last 40 years. The social Novocain that saturates our national consciousness tends to be prescribed by doctors, rather than distributed by local dealers; it numbs, rather than expands, our thoughts and feelings. And the enormity of the “machine” discourages far too many good people from actually attempting to create and institute change.
Yet our culture is speeding headlong to a Townhouse ending -- environmentally and more -- and so it is vital that individuals dedicate (and re-dedicate) themselves to becoming agents of peaceful change. It must include everything from the most obvious -- voting -- to becoming organized in non-violent confrontations with social injustice.
Happy 4th of July!
Posted by H2O Man | Fri Jul 3, 2015, 01:52 PM (15 replies)
By all appearances, it was as dead as a door knob. A lot of cherry trees die young around here, especially if they have to compete with other soft- or hardwoods. They are jealous of sunlight, as old farmers say. This one had seemed pretty healthy until last summer. But now, all of the branches I can see look lifeless.
The tree must be about 40 feet tall, but it isn’t very big around. Likely better to have my son use a bow saw to cut it up. I’m running out of dead trees for him to chop or saw, to increase his already explosive punching-power in the ring. His favorite is black locus, because it is so hard; I like that it grows back as fast as he cuts it. It can grow from the spreading roots that connect a groove, or from the seeds found in the bean-pods.
As I slowly get closer, I see that something has knocked several of the bird-feeders to the ground. I assume it’s likely the deer that I see out here every morning, and most evenings. Even the humming bird feeders are on the ground. As I pick them up, and re-fill the feeders, Kelly goes to the pond’s edge for a drink. Seconds later, I see him shaking his head violently: he has a mid-sized water snake.
I sit on the bench, and watch Kelly gather both halves of the snake, and carry them away as if they are a wonderful treasure. I have a speech to compose for Thursday evening, to a group that has been inviting me back since I spoke there two years ago. At that time, I spoke about the cultural contributions of the Irish immigrants in the northeast, during the 1800s and 1900s. On Thursday, I’ll speak about 12,000 years of Indian history, in the same region.
As I sit and create an outline in my mind -- much needed, as I can babble on and on -- I watch one bird-feeder in particular. Among others, two woodpeckers keep landing, picking out food, and flying to the cherry tree. Over and over again. One of the two keeps placing the food into a hole on the side of the tree, that I cannot see clearly from where I am. However, as I look closely at the tree, I notice that several of the higher branches do have leaves.
Trees are one of the most interesting life-forms on earth, in my humble opinion. In more recent times, the field of “green” psychology has documented the benefits of human interaction with trees. I think this is a giggle, in part because all of our ancestors knew these things, and also because a few blockheads have attempted to insult/ belittle me by calling me a “tree-hugger.”
As I watch the woodpeckers carrying on their duties non-stop, I think about how trees have been used in mythology over time. Trees have also played, in various ways, parts of a number of ceremonies that human beings have participated in for a long, long time. I think that the image of the Acacia’s umbrella is implanted in some part of the collective human memory. It’s interesting to me that most of the nicest farmers’ fields in our region will have one tree growing alone.
Clearly, thinking about trees as I watch the woodpeckers is distracting me from what I set out to do here. But that’s okay. For whatever reason, I remember the old George Washington story, about chopping down the cherry tree as a youth. And that connects with the thought that Thursday is mighty close to the 4th of July.
While the US Constitution was greatly influenced by the political philosophy of the Haudenosaunee (Six Nations Iroquois Confederacy), the Declaration of Independence has stronger roots in some of the then-current European influences. It was a powerful statement at the time, and it would inspire people around the globe in the centuries that followed. It is, by definition, an amazing call to revolution.
Maybe, in a very real sense, it has become similar to the cherry tree. While some of its opening lines are familiar to most citizens, I doubt that many people have actually read the document recently. The document is something held behind glass in a museum, and its meaning is dead -- or almost dead -- in our culture. Yet, every so often, we see a branch sprout -- a recent example being the beautiful Occupy movement.
The obscene commercialization of the 4th of July is so toxic, that it requires no in-depth discussion here. But the very idea of the 1% capitalizing on it, at a time when our society is becoming a feudal estate for them, should repulse everyone. Which is not to say that I am in any way opposed to picnics and celebrations ….rather, I think these should include time to reflect on what the “holiday” is about.
That the men who declared the United States a free nation were imperfect should not sidetrack us. Rather, the intent of the expressed concepts should be applied to our current state of affairs. This includes focusing on our resources -- including those presented by later revolutionaries, with Martin Luther King, Jr., being the most significant. I say that not only because of my beliefs about the moral superiority of non-violence, but even more so, only a non-violent revolutionary movement has any chance of success.
Today’s “royalty” has little, if any, hesitancy as far as using violence to protect their interests. The idea that any external or internal enemy will overthrow them is unrealistic. But nonviolence, while admittedly often slow in getting positive results, is the way to go. And that’s what I’ll be thinking about over the holiday weekend.
Posted by H2O Man | Tue Jun 30, 2015, 05:21 PM (10 replies)
I am very happy that the rule of law was upheld by the US Supreme Court, in its decision on marriage equality. It is definitely a step in the right position. Progress towards social justice enriches the entire nation, and especially those who have had this most basic of human rights denied for far too long.
The dissenting opinions provide un-needed evidence of exactly what type of self-righteous thug would appoint themselves to be capable of deciding for adult human beings who they can or cannot love. They represent a strain of diseased thinking that, even if it can’t be fully cured any time soon, can be marginalized so that the risks of it damaging healthy people’s lives -- or spreading unchecked -- will be a thing of the past. Thus, it is, of course, not the final step that we must take.
Malcolm X used to say that if you stick a knife nine inches into a person’s back, the act of pulling it out six inches does not represent true “progress.” It is only after the knife is removed, and healing takes place, that there is actual progress.
This decision removes one of the knives our society has plunged into people’s backs. We still must work to heal the damage. And that includes a full awareness of the pockets of infection that still poison our society.
Today is a great day. Celebrate it!
Posted by H2O Man | Fri Jun 26, 2015, 10:34 AM (14 replies)
“For all roads to wisdom must first pass through the valleys of doubt.”
-- Rubin “Hurricane” Carter; letter to H2O Man; 1974
A couple days back, I posted an essay about shame -- about how some folks attempt to use guilt to manipulate others’ choices in politics. We see far too much of that on this forum, both on an individual and group level. There is a third sibling of emotion that may be worth our consideration: doubt.
Obviously, “doubt” isn’t limited to things political. Nor, for that matter, is it always an internal function ….a person might doubt that Bernie Sanders or Hillary Clinton would win the general election. But, for sake of conversation, let’s focus on the internal aspects of doubt.
The human brain is hard-wired in such a way, that doubt is an experience common to almost everyone. The exception would be the psychopath, a reality that should assure those who tend to suffer from self-doubt that they are okay. We tend to doubt ourselves in three general areas: the past, the present, and the future.
Did I do the right thing? Am I making the right choice? And, which of these is the best option for me to take tomorrow?
Yesterday, my Little Sister visited me. She was accompanied by her twin sons, who just turned five. (She was, for a time, my sister-in-law; however, we were extraordinarily close, even before she met my brother.) She had “rescued” an aggressive, ill-tempered rooster the day before, that her neighbors left when they moved. It had attacked her husband in the morning, and they didn’t want it around the boys. So, of course, I took it.
As we watched the boys exploring the pond, we talked about life. Some events in her recent experience have seemed less-than-perfect. She said that she sometimes questions if her earlier life was “wasted.” If she should have done this, or not done that. The type of self-doubt that we all feel, from time to time. The types of things that, while standing inside the subjectivity of the picture frame, one needs to discuss with some trusted person who has the objectivity that comes from being outside of that frame. And is this not exactly what a big brother is for?
We were near my lodge at the time. She used to do sweats, years ago, and said that she really should start doing them again. I asked why? “To deal with some of life’s frustrations and hardships.” Right: the ceremony (or, ceremonies) there are not limited to those who are “perfect.” They are for human beings. And to show us that all that we have done, and all we have endured and survived, has brought us to the exact point we are at now. And that is exactly what we require, in order to prepare us for what we are today, and what we can be tomorrow. And there ain’t no doubt about that.
The worst type of doubt that any of us deal with -- and most of us will, to some extent, at some time(s) -- is questioning if we have value? Is our life worth-while? Do we have worth? These are among the deepest and darkest of those valleys of which Rubin spoke.
For those who experience this type of doubt, the answer is “yes.” You matter. You are a worthy, individual spark of the universal energy force. By definition, you have unique value.
Any one who has attempted to convince you otherwise is lying. It may have been your parents, a teacher, an ex-lover, a boss at work, a person on television, or even yourself. But it’s a lie. For, as Rubin wrote a few lines later, in that same letter from the near total darkness of solitary confinement: “Everything under the sun is exactly as it should be ….or it wouldn’t be.”
When one realizes that -- truly grasps it in their brain and heart -- then they can deal with today. They can even venture into the “wild west” of DU:GD, during presidential primary season, and be confident enough to simply state their opinion, express their values, and refrain from getting caught up in the foolish arguing that is all too common here.
Peace to all of you here today. And wish this old man luck: I’m preparing to go back on tour with public speaking. This afternoon, I’ll be speaking to mental health professionals about avoiding “burn out.” Next week, I’ll be speaking in a nearby city about the Indian history of central New York State. It’s a start.
Posted by H2O Man | Fri Jun 26, 2015, 09:30 AM (10 replies)
Today marks the anniversary of the beginning of a US military campaign, know as The Battle of the Little Bighorn. The violent conflict took place on June 25-26, 1876, along the Little Bighorn River in Montana Territory.
Those two days in American history are still important today. They provide lessons in several important areas: the US’s relationship with, and treatment of, Native American nations; the horrors of war; the identifying of one person as “public enemy #1,“ and the creation of a legend to scare the public; and who are, or should be, actually respected as “heroes” in our culture’s history.
There are a number of outstanding books on this tragic event. The two that I most recommend are: “A Terrible Glory,” by James Donovan (Back Bay Books; 2008); and “Crazy Horse and Custer,” by Stephen Ambrose (Meridian; 1975). There are a dozen others that are of high quality, but these two are, in my opinion, the most essential for understanding what happened, and why.
Posted by H2O Man | Thu Jun 25, 2015, 10:12 AM (3 replies)
“We cannot grow when we are in shame, and we can’t use shame to change ourselves or others.” -- Brene’ Brown
One of the human dynamics which has no meaningful place in discussions about the 2016 Democratic presidential primary contest is shame. Yet, almost every single day, we can find several OP/threads that imply those who think a certain way, or have different values, are not only “wrong,” but are betraying the party/ nation. Indeed, we see attempts to assign “guilt” and “shame” for sincerely held political beliefs.
There is not a monopoly on this. Far too much of it can be attributed to the supporters of the two top Democratic candidates. And, at its very best, it is convincing evidence that the person who attempts to assign such guilt has so shallow a position, that they are without anything meaningful to support their position.
Guilt and shame are, as Erich Fromm taught, associated with separation from the group. These emotions should rightfully belong to those who commit offenses -- usually violent -- against other individuals or groups …..the very people who, like George W. Bush, lack the capacity to experience them. It’s not the type of emotion that should be inflicted upon a toddler who soils his pants; a student who fails an important test at school; or an adult who loves another adult of the same sex.
It’s been abused in our society for far too long. It gets abused by too many adults interacting with children, and on the larger scale, by organized religion -- highlighted by those times a judgmental “religious” belief has been written into law in this country. It is the stuff of intolerance. And, as Gandhi taught, intolerance betrays a want of faith in one’s cause.
There are community members who are making solid cases for the candidate they support. It’s silly to point fingers and say, “You’re wrong to support him/her, because a vote for him/her is a vote for a republican.” That’s simply not true: Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton are both Democrats, with enough history to rationally compare the two. The Democratic Party -- and this forum -- includes a wide range of people. There is zero benefit accrued by attempting to make someone feel they aren’t part of it.
It would be too easy to assign blame on “trolls,” political agents, and other paid employees. It would also be inaccurate. Most of the people who are stirring the pot are good people. They are sincere in their efforts to voice their opinion. They get carried away, not because they are “bad,” but because not only does American culture appear t be saturated in guilt (in one way or another), but presidential primaries on DU:GD have not traditionally been pillow fights. It’s easy to have hostility rise quickly, to reach the level achieved in the last argument, when confronting an old opponent.
There are also numerous calm, rational contributors to the discussions. They don’t always get attention. But they are there. It’s funny, speaking of attempts to make people feel disconnected to the larger group ….we often see someone say, “Yeah, but DU doesn’t reflect the ‘real world’.” Or, say that no one could be seriously influenced, let alone have their mind changed, just by conversing here on DU. Baloney. There are men and women here who have influenced my thinking a great deal. In some cases, to change my opinion. But, more often, they add to my knowledge and understanding of various topics. I know others who feel the same way. If you haven’t learned -- and grown -- from experience here, it is more a statement about you. Because there is certainly a large reservoir of knowledge and personal experience to be found among this community.
Posted by H2O Man | Wed Jun 24, 2015, 06:42 PM (10 replies)
Strength vs. Power: What is Behind Them
National Geographic: “What is the greatest power?”
Tadodaho Leon Shenandoah: “I myself have no power. It’s the people behind me who have the power. Real power comes from the Creator. It’s in His hands. But if you’re asking about strength, not power, than I can say that the greatest strength is gentleness.”
Sometimes when I read a number of OP/threads on DU:GD, I imagine this forum as a model of the human brain. Various forum members make contributions that I apply to various sections of that brain, including from the most evolved layers that distinguish our species from all of our relatives on earth. Others contribute thoughts or feelings that I attribute to the various other sections, right down to the bulb of our brain’s stem.
When that joyous season we call “the presidential primaries” come around, it is if they “waking brain” and the “sleeping brain” (highly technical terms, I know) are both turned on and highly active, both simultaneously and at the same time (one descriptive term for each level). The tensions between the two are charged by the various electrical impulses that energize the forum/brain.
Often, one section of the community will say, “But DU does not represent the United States electorate.” I say, “Thank goodness!” Could you imagine if we were condemned to spend time inside a republican party brain? Yikes! Far more pleasurable to be here.
Even in this DU brain, we note that some segments, or sub-systems, are convinced that they are the “real” form of high consciousness, and thus attempt to silence what they view as annoying thoughts that keep popping up. Thus, we see that a lot of the primary debates tend to be less about the individual candidate, and more about the individual(s) behind them. And that’s good, for we should know who supports what candidate, and why.
In fact, when we are deciding upon who will be president, we should consider who is behind their campaigns, and why.
Onondaga Chief Paul Waterman: “It’s hard for people from one culture to really understand another. There’s a site in West Virginia, where I have been asked to rebury 664 remains. But they are held in an Ohio museum. The people in Ohio asked me why I want to rebury people in West Virginia. And here I was wondering why they want to dig them up?
“I’m not sure everything can be explained. Some things you either understand, or you just don’t. Maybe the goal should be to teach respect for other people, even if you don’t fully understand them.”
When I read something on DU:GD, no matter if I agree or disagree with it, I tend to try to assign it to some reference point -- or, “file” -- in my brain. Frequently, I’m able to do that with some degree of accuracy. I “know” some people here, and am familiar enough with certain topics, that I am comfortable in doing that. I assume that I know what they are “really saying.” The problem in doing that -- both here and in real life -- is that sometimes I’m wrong. That’s part of being human, of course; the only people who honestly believe they approach every person and topic with a completely open mind are those incapable of being fully honest with themselves.
No matter if I am fully correct, totally incorrect, or somewhere in that wide range found in between, I have the constant option of having respect for the other person ….if not his or her opinion or actions. That, of course, can be difficult. Sometimes, very difficult -- for example, there are some issues that I think are really clear-cut, and that strike an emotional reaction. Usually, these are issues in which a person’s opinion is closely related to actions that cause some type of injury to others. These can range from people who attempt to justify violence -- from adults who hit kids, to those who advocate war -- to those who seek financial profit from engaging in the destruction of the living environment. “Fracking,” for example, poisons the water that sustains life on earth.
Yet there are many areas where disagreements are not so clearly defined, where there is not only one “correct” answer, or where there really isn’t a “wrong” answer. Thus, because other forum members have had different life-experiences than me, they are going to process some of the same information as me in a very different way. They have different “files” or reference points built into their gray matter. We all do, and that’s a good thing.
Recently, while discussing an area where I have disagreement -- strong disagreement -- with a small group of people who live in my area, my younger son reminded me of something. He said that I have to remember that most people did not grow up with mentors such as Leon Shenandoah, Paul Waterman, or Rubin Carter. Much less all three. So the chances of them viewing the issues in the same way, were rather small. And that even if I was convinced that I was 100% correct, I needed to listen closely to those other people. That I might even learn something.
Posted by H2O Man | Tue Jun 23, 2015, 03:02 PM (56 replies)
There are three good boxing cards on television tonight. The best fight, at least on paper, is the Broner vs Porter bout.
In the afternoon-evening, I'll be hanging out with Marvis Frazier and Larry Holmes. There is a good chance that they'll be here tonight, to watch the fights. That said, if any of you are interested, come on over!
Posted by H2O Man | Sat Jun 20, 2015, 09:52 AM (4 replies)
“God, whose law it is that he who learns must suffer. And even in our sleep pain that cannot forget falls drop by drop upon the heart, and in our despair, against our will, comes wisdom to us by the awful grace of God.” -- Aeschylus
As the shock wears off, and the horror begins to settle in, it is human nature to try to “make sense” of the brutal murder of nine human beings in a church setting. We can see evidence of this on the television news, or on this forum. People express their views of guns, racism, if this was a hate crime and/or terrorism, the concept of “evil,“ other heinous murderers, and issues of mental illness. These are all valid issue to consider; discussing them can be helpful in coming to terms with this latest tragedy.
There are layers in our society that are dealing with this awful pain. My first concern, of course, is for the family members who lost a loved one. Then, like the ripples on a pond, going outward, the friends, neighbors, community members, and associates stretching across the country. And I do worry about this country -- the decay that we are witnessing, and how mindless violence so often targets Good People -- that my generation is handing down to the next.
I know the pain that this incident causes for so many people across this great land.
Even now, eight months after an off-duty law enforcement officer shot and seriously wounded my cousin, and killed his son, it is common for my cousin to tell me that he keeps reviewing the incident, and trying to make sense of it. He got a package of legal documents in the mail, which always serves to upset him; I drove down, and took them with me, to add to the growing file. I read through them yesterday morning, and there is nothing there that we have to respond to.
It’s difficult for me to sit down: the day before, I was in the lead as my dog Kelly and I took an early morning walk out to the pond; a tree that broke off in the night’s storm blocked our path, and as I prepared to climb over it, Kelly dashed up behind me, and jumped off my back, over the tree. While that was an amazing example of canine athleticism, it left me as limp as a damp rag, hanging across the tree’s trunk.
So I stood and looked out a window. There was a light rain coming down, though not enough to discourage a humming bird from drinking at some of the Rosa rugosa rubras (hedge roses). Few things in the Natural World fascinate me more than humming birds. In my mind’s eye, this wonderful creature was carrying on its duties, in between Aeschylus’s drops.
The next thing my eyes focused upon surprised me: a doe’s head stuck out from the hedge roses. She was about eight feet away from my window. For the past several years, although my dogs bark at literally anything else -- or, sometimes, nothing at all -- they pay little if any attention to the deer around here. She tilted her beautiful head, listened for a moment, and then began trimming my roses for me.
There is violence in the Natural World, and at times, it can seem cruel. But there is no “evil.” I have been in physical pain since Kelly flattened me, for example, but he meant my old bones no harm. A small-to-medium snapping turtle has taken up residence in my pond, and I will have to move it, as I am not in favor of it de-populating the schools of fish. (It has quickly learned to approach me when I feed the fish, and I wouldn’t mind if it only consumed fish food. But as much respect as I have for snapping turtles, I would prefer it live elsewhere. I am, at this point, too old to go in the pond to catch it -- they are much more difficult to handle in the water, especially if the dig into the mud -- and so I’ve brought my fishing net out. The turtle knows how to avoid it, thus far!)
I do believe that there is “evil,” though I do not subscribe to the belief if a demon with a red tail, horns, and a pitch-fork. I think it is an entirely human dynamic. I think it often involves groups of people -- though not necessarily at what I consider a conscious level. It can be found in the behaviors of an individual from that group. For example, I consider Dick Cheney to be evil; I do not consider his level of consciousness to be significantly higher than that of a snapping turtle -- and I am not attempting to be humorous in saying that. I view both as organic machines, though obviously, Cheney’s brain has a few more layers of gray matter.
Somewhere in that gray matter, human beings can hold the potential to do inhumane things. A sub-group gets associated with others who commit what, on the surface, appear to be similar crimes, in terms of utter brutality. Hence, we read some sincere people refer to this latest thug as being the same as Adam Lanza. While there are similarities, which may even include relationships with parents and family members, Lanza had much more evident signs of a serious and persistent axis 1 mental illness. Likewise, this fellow has been compared to Charles Manson; while both professed interest in sparking a “race war,” and had raging inferiority complexes, there aren’t many other significant similarities. And this turd is also being compared to Tim McVeigh; again, while both are correctly identified as terrorists, there are not other significant similarities.
What does overlap in all these instances -- including the hundreds and thousands of other, less well-known case like my cousin’s -- is that a bitter, angry man rode the energies of hatred -- his own, and his followers -- and committed violent crimes that killed and maimed innocent people.
There seems to be a lot of hatred in the United States these days. Too much, in fact. By no coincident, the levels of violence seem to rise at the same pace and level. I try not to “hate.” I do believe in forgiveness. Yet, being human, it is very hard for me to forgive the swine that shot my cousin and his son. I’m okay with my not being there, so long as I do not hate him. For, as my Good Friend, the “Hurricane” that transformed into Dr. Rubin Carter told me, “If you hate, you are a murderer.”
Posted by H2O Man | Fri Jun 19, 2015, 05:36 PM (27 replies)