Tag: peace

This Evil Bitch Commie Is Full Of Ideas

my street at night

This past couple of weeks have been pretty intense. What with High School starting for Max (and he’s begun growing a shadow mustache!) and the events in Ferguson Missouri and us suddenly having higher rent to pay that is not affordable requiring me to concentrate hard on how to revamp my Etsy shop and make extra income and finding out my mom probably needs another surgery and my step mother* commenting on my blog (deleted), and of course the middle east situation continuing, and people everywhere being complete and utter assholes to each other.

I have a lot of thoughts about the situation in Ferguson. I’ve heard some really disgusting racist things being spewed and people showing just how sick inside they really are.

I was called an evil bitch commie because I confronted a man who doesn’t think black people are even human beings. I know, if someone is saying something like that they are already so far down the crazy-shoot there’s no retrieving their reason, I shouldn’t have commented. But it’s really hard to stand by and say nothing when people say such awful things.

The trick is to speak up in situations where it will actually help someone out or be useful in some way and to avoid engaging with people who are already diseased in their body and soul.

I’m going to say right now that I think if you are a police officer you are never in the right shooting an unarmed person of any race. I don’t give a shit if they’re 8 feet tall and charge you. Your job is to deal with dangerous people on a daily basis in the least harmful way possible. It doesn’t matter what a suspect’s character is, what matters is that you, as a police officer, have the tools to diffuse aggression without lethal force. If you are too scared to deal with people bigger than you and more aggressive than you – you without shooting them – you do not belong in a police uniform.

I will also say that police departments are quite possibly failing in their training if officers believe that the merest threat of harm to them warrants firing their gun.

Of those things I am absolutely clear.

I get that if someone open fires on a police officer that the officer may need to fire back to protect themselves and bystanders. But there have been plenty of instances where people fired on cops and the cops did not fire back. Happened in my own city more than once. Instances where an officer with a gun pointed at them apprehended the person pointing the weapon and took them into custody without firing so much as a single shot. That’s good policing.

So this whole Michael Brown killing was bad from the start to finish. If Michael Brown accosted Wilson physically, as is claimed, and then ran away – Wilson did not need to shoot him. He should have run after him and used his skills to take him down and cuff him.  He should have called for back up and run after him. Brown had no weapon. NO WEAPON. And once Brown was running away, Wilson was not in danger anymore. No fatal force needed.

That’s bad training at the very least but what it definitely looks like, confirmed by the entire department’s handling of the situation, is that Wilson didn’t care about the life of Michael Brown and acted in an unconscionable way.  That’s a bad shoot.

I don’t actually believe that Police officers should be allowed to use lethal force when threatened. They are threatened all the time, depending on where they work sometimes they are threatened daily. The nature of their job is dangerous, they go into the force knowing they are taking on a dangerous job and being given weapons and the power to apprehend citizens merely on suspicion means they need to be held to a higher level of integrity than the average person.

I don’t think cops should carry guns. I think they shouldn’t carry any lethal weapons at all. But living in a country in love with lethal weapons I know that that will never happen. It’s too bad.

If I believed in God at all I would have to believe that firearms are the tools of Satan.

Those are just a few random thoughts right now. Not an organized essay on what’s going on in Ferguson. So don’t treat it like one. The situation is unbelievable from beginning to end.

That entire police force needs to go on trial for their suppression of constitutional rights of the citizens protesting and those trying to report on the events. They need to be fired and replaced and trained better to deal with both apprehending unarmed (AND ARMED) suspects and protests.

That police department has behaved shamefully.

No, I don’t think the looting that’s happened is okay. But don’t let the looters  be confused with the peaceful protesters. They are not the same people and if the police force wasn’t 100% concentrating on suppressing the citizen’s right to peaceful protest and shooting them with rubber bullets and gassing them – maybe they could have actually quelled the looting and jailed looters.

It’s been a tense two weeks. Our country is like one big castle of dry rot surrounded  by lit matches. It would take so little to destroy us right now. We spend billions of dollars arming the entire world when we should be de-arming everyone and rebuilding our economy on manufacturing and inventions. We are, in my opinion, the most evil country in the world with the way we have armed both allies and enemies with every way to kill other humans under the sun since the early eighties. We have trained the armies of dictators and then trained their enemies too while they’re not paying attention.

The United States is the single largest firearms pimp of the entire world. We stand for war, killing, aggression, invading, and weaponizing.

I want us to stand for innovation, peace, great education, quality manufactured goods, and civil rights equality for all citizens. That’s a United States I would be proud of. That’s a United States I will stand up for and whose flag I –

Nope. I’ll never be a flag flyer.

The answers to how to fix our economy and country are already there in front of us but few people are brave enough to let go of their old ways of dealing with conflict. Few are brave enough to put down their weapons. Weapons are the most cowardly way to deal with ANY conflict. Cowards shoot. Cowards swing axes. Cowards punch people.

Bravery is confronting adversaries without weapons. Being willing to come together and come up with nonviolent solutions. Bravery is knowing you will be hurt in the fight but refusing to fight back.

The weakest and most cowardly people of all are those that wear masks to hide their identity while harming others. If you belong to the Klu Klux Klan you are the weakest and most cowardly of all human beings. You are even beneath snipers who shoot from hidden vantage points and at some distance. You are the lowest of the low.

Hang on, I might be wrong about that.

Those who hide their hate and poison behind corporate law might not be as low as the KKK but they are more dangerous than little boys wearing silly dunce-cones and calling themselves “knights”.

I’m tired. I’m really tired of all the hate and the shooting and the aggression and the ugly and the wars and the rapes and the trampling of peaceful people.

I am redesigning my Etsy store right now to make it into Cricket’s world. I have my salve listed and soon I’ll be listing lip balms and first aid kits. I’m also working on other things. I hope to create a really fun and cool post apocalyptic themed shop. I need to concentrate on creating to keep my spirits up. To keep my hope going. Redesigning my shop has inspired me to dig back into book 2 of Cricket and Grey. I guess I needed a really long  break and to give myself permission to step away if I need to. To take the pressure off. Making things that Cricket and Julie might make is incredibly enjoyable.

I’m not taking my eye off of what’s happening in Ferguson – my heart is with Michael Brown’s family and community. My heart is with social justice, but my actions need to be rooted in creating and making and writing. Things that generate ideas which are what we need more than weapons in this world. Ideas.

So today I’m working on an apron made from a used men’s shirt and I’m excited. I think I’ll dig into Cricket and Grey for some light editing of the second chapter later on.

Peace. Especially to those people who don’t even know when they’re being assholes. Peace to everyone.



*The Israeli one, not the Scottish one.

You are Your Enemy and Your Enemy is You

the NYC brooch

Privilege has become one of the dirtiest words but I don’t feel like sharing my thoughts on it right now.

There are so many skirmishes in progress at every hour of the day.  Between people and government.  Between governments and governments.  Between men and women.  Between conservatives and liberals.  Between religion and atheism.  Between religion and religion.  Between race and race.  Between straight and gay.  Between rich and poor.  Between lower class and middle class.  Between middle class and upper class.  Between lower class and upper class.  Between nationality and nationality.  Between sisters and brothers.  Between mothers and fathers.  Between haves and have nots.  Between mental health and mental illness.  Between old and young.  Between parents and children.  Between education and ignorance.  Between us and them.  Between you and me.

It needs to stop.  All this fighting hurts my head.  It hurts all of us.

All of us.

The deep irony being that my mental illness draws lines between me and everyone else all the time without any intention on my part.  And I spend so much time trying to rip the walls down only to find that other people build them almost as fast as me with about as much intention.

What I live with inside myself is never going away.  It isn’t there because of anything I want for myself or those around me*.

The hardest part of my mental illness is controlling the urge to turn everything against myself.  Self harm is the only way I’ve ever known how to control pain, anger, discomfort, exclusion, loneliness, and fear.  Not just my own, but everyone else’s too.  When people I love are hurting in any way I want to absorb their pain and kill it inside myself.  When people are angry with me I want to hurt myself.  When I see animals being abused and I feel rage against the abusers and there’s nowhere for that rage to go and nothing I can do, I internalize it and try to cannibalize it.

Lately I’ve been getting pulled down by overwhelming negative stimulus from the media and from all the people I know and the biggest mouthpiece for this is facebook.  I’m tired of listening to people drawing bigger lines between us and them every day.  I’m tired of everyone being the constant watchdogs for right and wrong in the world where really they’re just pointing out the wrong and not embracing the right.

Everyone is saying “Listen!” and I took it to heart and I’ve been listening a lot, to a lot of people.  No one wants to be invisible.  No one wants to be ignored.  I’m listening hard every day and I’ve come to this conclusion:

Crusading of any kind makes people blind in dangerous ways.  Crusading of any kind inevitably turns angry and evil and becomes a way to bludgeon anyone who isn’t just like you.

The only way good change is possible is when the listening goes both ways.  When we try to find what we all have in common instead of pointing swords at destroying the apparently insurmountable differences between us.

I am constantly being reminded of how different I am and the only reason I can still be in this world is because I have learned to connect with people over the things we have in common.  That’s where compassion and empathy grow.  That’s where healing is possible.  That’s where bridges are built between disparate populations.  I may struggle constantly with myself and my place in the world but I also find the most peace in sharing my struggles with people who live in the same shadows I do.  And I find the most peace with people who have lived completely differently from me by understanding that no matter how different we are from each other – we all have universal things in common.  I look for those.

I don’t know the best way to speak to people who are different from myself but I always try to speak from my truth and listen for theirs.  We’ve got things connecting us.  All of us do.  I don’t give a shit if you look different from me or speak differently from me or come from somewhere different.  I know you’ve experienced heartache.  I know you’ve lost things dear to you no matter how much money you have or how much privilege or how much you’ve lived without.  There are some things we’ve all experienced no matter how different we are in other ways.

That’s the only way forward.  You want a revolution or do you want peace?  Because right now it feels like everyone I know is taking up arms whether literally or metaphorically and I know where it’s leading.  The only way forward is by seeing yourself in everyone around you no matter how hard that is.

I’ve been struggling harder lately against my instinctual need to hoard all the hurt of the world and break it down in my own body.  But all the hurt in the world is bigger than the ocean and wider and longer than all the human lives that created it.

I know that this self harm, this pain absorbing quality is not healthy.  Feeling angry at others but turning it inward to myself is unhealthy.  This is mental illness.  Feeling anger at others and bending it back into myself is not healthy.  Feeling devastated by pain that isn’t even my own isn’t healthy.  I can’t filter it out.

Maybe it’s also what allows me to see myself in my enemies.  To see that there aren’t a whole lot of true enemies in the world besides ourselves.

One thing’s for sure – if everyone had the same pain absorbing quality that I do, there would be no war.  You would see yourself and your family in your enemies’ faces and when they were hurt you’d feel their pain in your own body.  You wouldn’t be able to trick yourself into believing that the people you’re bombing are bad.  You’d see that killing other people’s children in political or religious wars is exactly the same as slaughtering your own and there is no way you would lift a gun against anyone.

Everything is personal to people like me.

The deep irony that it keeps us outside most circles of humans.  In a way that they can’t always tell but I always feel.

Listening is one of the most important things we can do.  Listen to each other.  I was about to say I don’t have a choice but to listen to people because I can’t shut their voices out of my head but that’s not really true.  I can choose to isolate myself completely and allow myself to become agoraphobic.  I can choose to shut out absolutely all outside stimuli to the point where the world’s voices only enter my head in the general hum like hearing the hum of a room full of partying people through a closed door.  You can’t pick out specific conversations though you can’t stop hearing their buzz.  I can choose to go completely off-line.  I can choose not to read any news stories as I have done in the past, back before the internet found ways of shoving them at me all day long.  For four years I worked for an online network and I couldn’t shut out people’s opinions because my job was to read them on blogs.  Now I have a huge network of genuine online friends and a valuable support system that comes with the price of exposure to the whole world’s pain and anger.  So I can choose to cut myself off or I can choose to continue to struggle harder with my mental illness which is exacerbated by such exposure.

I have a choice.  It’s not a nice choice.  That’s often the case.  It’s not a set of choices I think are all that great.  But I DO have a choice.  If I choose to protect myself mentally then I will also expose myself more strongly for what I am.  Agoraphobia is a much more obvious manifestation of people like me, it outs you 100%.  I have isolated myself in some ways already by never going to parties or concerts or shows or large gatherings but I still walk the world appearing to be mostly normal.  If I completely shut myself off from the things that exacerbate my mental illness then I also lose all my camouflage.

For now I think the best way to create better protection without shutting myself off completely is to not engage in any social media until the afternoon.  I need to wake up earlier and write for at least 5 hours a day before letting anyone else’s voices into my head.  All it does is paralyze me.

I’m going to start by waking myself up early tomorrow and spend the first 5 hours writing.  Then I’ll do something around the house like my dishes or cleaning the bathroom.  Then I’ll let myself check in with my online people.  Just in time for my kid to come home and need me so I can’t focus on other people’s shit.

It’s worth a shot.  My psychologist told me that anything I do to that helps me function better in this world that doesn’t hurt other people is not a crutch but a tool to better mental health.  I’m not ready to cut myself off from the mixed blessing of my online life or my physical every day world, but if I end up having to do it, I’ll be in good company I’ll never meet.

Get it?

Special note: this post is not about  a single bad day or a bad period.  This isn’t about a mental illness flare-up.  Things are really good in my life right now.  This is what I experience on a regular basis.  This is normal for me.  I just don’t express it very often because it makes me as uncomfortable as it makes other people.  It isn’t something that can be fixed, either.  I don’t need or want pity and I don’t need help.  I know how to ask for help when there’s something anyone can do.  The one good thing about saying all this stuff out loud, and why I do it, is that every now and then someone hears me who desperately needs to know they aren’t the only one like them.  That makes it worth the discomfort every single time. 

*That is the only lie in this post.  I DO kind of wish you all had to experience exactly what I do.

What about Khalid Sheikh Mohammed?

The true poverty of my nation is revealed to me in its rejoicing in the assassination of a suspected terrorist, Osama Bin Laden.  While I don’t doubt for a second that he was a dangerous person and quite possibly really was the “mastermind” behind the 9/11 attack on the Twin Towers, we never proved it.  He got no trial.  Giving criminals, and suspected criminals, the benefit of a trial is the hallmark of my nation’s imagined superiority over all other nations.  We have a bloated sense of pride that we are a nation of just and fair laws and that freedom is protected through these laws.  While Osama may have had something to do with the 9/11 attacks, there is a man being held in Guantanamo Bay who actually claims to have masterminded the attacks himself.  I think it’s suspicious that at first Osama claimed not to have been responsible for the attacks but apparently said that if he had, he would not hesitate to claim it.  It wasn’t until at least a year later that those tapes were released in which he took credit for 9/11, sort of.

Here’s what bothers the shit out of me: many people have taken credit for crimes they did not commit.  Many criminals have denied any responsibility for crimes that it was then proven beyond a reasonable doubt that they DID commit.  A confession, or a semi-confession (having just read his “admission” I have to say it was pretty questionable) is not proof.  Burden of proof is on the accusers and the proper place to make a case is in a court of law.

I believe that all human beings, no matter how evil they may be, deserve a fair trial.  Period.  I am hearing people say that we are right to have killed Osama in our secret ambush because ten years ago he resisted arrest.  Resisting arrest is a) not proof of guilt (you really think we were ever going to give Osama a fair trial?  And you think he didn’t know that?) and b) does not give us the right to kill the person resisting unless that person is attempting to kill the arresting officers.  Which, maybe he was.  I am sure this is what is being fed to the masses right now.  I no longer believe much of what our government tells us, especially not what is piped through our outrageously biased media.

The big question I have is: what about Khalid Sheikh Mohammed? This dude actually claims he is the mastermind.  Yet he languishes without a trial in a prison that should have been shut down years ago because we are TORTURING PEOPLE IN IT.  (Something I consider to be un-American).  He’s not dead.  We didn’t kill him without proof. What are we waiting for?  If we’re so eager to hang Osama’s head on the gate of American hell, why are the American people not also clamoring for this other man to be killed?  I do know from the reports I read that he will not go through a trial here in the US.  He will be tried by the military in Guantanamo.  President Obama trusts them to give him a fair trial.  Really?  I find that ridiculous.  If anyone wanted any person possibly connected with the 9/11 attacks to have fair trial they would be tried here in the US.  Where we can all see what’s going on.  They still might not have a fair trial, what with all the Islam hatred here, but at least they would have a better chance at one if it’s conducted in public.

Meanwhile, we are fighting three wars.  Three wars we can’t afford.  We can’t afford to fight wars for any reason.   We are a bankrupt nation.  All us little people are feeling the bite pretty seriously.  Our wars are plunging us deeper and deeper into the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression.

We assassinated a man yesterday to appease the American need for revenge.  People are cheering and hootin’ and hollerin’ and partying their assess off for such a triumph.  I will not rejoice in anyone’s death, least of all a person accused and killed without a fair trial, without any trial at all.  Everyone is happy because they hold Osama responsible for the civilian deaths of 3,000 people.  But we’re responsible, both directly and indirectly for the deaths of 100,000 Iraqi civilians:

Iraq Body Count

100, 598

By entering into war with Iraq under the dubious (false) claim that we had to protect our country against non-existent weapons of mass destruction (remember- that was a scandal- most Americans have long since forgotten) we have become complicit in escalating a war that wasn’t ours to fight.  We’ve killed many of those Iraqi civilians (the Iraq body count only includes the women, children, and non-combatant men who have been killed both by us as well as by the opposition)  If we had never entered that war that shocking number would be much smaller, and we wouldn’t have any responsibility for it.

Here’s how many US soldiers have died in this war:

4, 287

We have lost very little in comparison.  And as far as just the Iraq war is concerned, we have lost no civilians to it.  Unless you include the original 3,000 who died in the twin towers attack, though a friend has pointed out to me that our reason for going to war on Iraq was not related to the attack on 9/11.  Ask how many Americans connect them in their minds?

When will we consider this war “won”?  Do we have an actual concrete achievable directive that doesn’t involve “when we put someone in power that we can use as a puppet”?  How many more Iraqi civilians need to die for us to feel “safe” enough to leave? How many more need to die before we feel our work is done?  Every second we’re there, every second the number of Iraqi civilian deaths goes up we are creating fresh enemies.  Every second we stay there we are making ourselves, our whole country (as well as those of our allies) less and less safe.

I call that a hell of a lot of wasted lives.  Just because most of them are Arabs and Islamic does not make their lives worth less than American lives.  They are paying very heavily and we have that blood on our hands.  What are we going to do to make amends to those hundred thousand non-combatants?  How will we apologize for our part in that slaughter of human lives and the oppression we’ve been imposing on their living people.

I’m tired.  I’m depressed.  I have been fighting with myself for two weeks after a close friend expressed terrible disappointment in my revocation of my allegiance to my country.  I  have thought long and hard about it.  She believes it is dishonorable to take my allegiance away.  I explained that it is obviously nothing more than me expressing my chagrin and disappointment and disgust in my country, but she felt it was still a dire thing to do.  Yet I believe that a country should earn the allegiance of its people through its actions and its merit.  I don’t think allegiance is something that should be automatically granted, yet as a citizen born here I never was asked to give it.  It is assumed that this is what I owe it for being born here, though I didn’t ask to be born here.   Automatic allegiance is what you expect of a Monarchy or a dictatorship.  My country is very proud of its status as a just, fair, and Democratic nation – yet nothing it has done in my lifetime has shown itself to be deserving of that pride.  In my lifetime we have been war mongers, power grabbers, ignoring both national and international law, doing whatever the fuck we want and then being surprised when the rest of the world retaliates.  We have allowed our government to erode our civil liberties, allowed the president to declare war without the agreement of congress (something that is supposed to provide one of those famous “checks and balances” that are in our constitution to prevent rash actions) (thank you G.W. Bush), we have continually robbed the coffers of our already poorly funded public education (and then complained that the public school system is broken) and we have allowed our healthcare industry and other enormous corporate interests to rob this country’s people of basic needs… so what, may I ask, has my country done to deserve my allegiance?

My freedom.  Well, I have enjoyed a degree of freedom in my life that people in other countries have not.  That is something I don’t actually take for granted, believe it or not, but the cost for that ever diminishing freedom is excessively high and I, for one, can’t afford it.  I also can’t stomach the hypocrisy of a nation that claims to be all about human rights and in our own country we make sure people get a fair trial and don’t sit around in prisons without actual charges and supposedly we don’t torture people for confessions… no, when we want to do that we simply keep people offshore where we don’t technically  have to abide by US law.  It taints us all that Guantanamo Bay is still in operation.  If I pledge allegiance to this country then I am complicit in all it does because allegiance is loyalty, it’s a form of solidarity and agreement.  It means that all the lies my government tells to convince itself it has a right to invade three middle-eastern countries are also my lies.  It means that assasinating suspected terrorists is blood on my head because I am behind my country.

I think in all countries are bound to disappoint from time to time, and pledging allegiance means supporting your country even when you don’t agree with it.  No country is perfect.  No country is without its heinous war criminals (NO, not even the US), no country is free from humanitarian scandals or from the oppression of other people.  Just ask Scottish people how much they love having lost to the English.  Scottish people are not English people and England uses them as a testing ground for laws and other fun things.  My point is that I’m not naive, I don’t expect my country to be remotely perfect.  In fact, I was, for many years, a staunch supporter of the ideals of my country and was able to forgive its many problems and contradictions.  The problem is that over time my country has simply continued to rack up its crimes against the world, its crimes of gluttony, power seeking, oppression of other countries, bigotry of non-Christian based countries, its lies are stacked so high we are buried in a tomb of them we can’t crawl out of – and I am simply, finally, not able to sit back and knowingly be complicit in its crimes and its lies.

If my country was a person I would call it a heinous criminal who has perpetrated unforgivable crimes against humanity.  I would insist it be charged and given a trial at which all other nations in the world may submit their own evidence.  If my country could get a fair trial and then be made to pay for its crimes by being disallowed to fight any wars (as we did to Japan and Germany) then perhaps it could come clean and start fresh, build up some good karma, do some soul searching, and take to heart the words of Martin Luther King, Jr. :

“The ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a descending spiral, begetting the very thing it seeks to destroy. Instead of diminishing evil, it multiplies it. Through violence you may murder the liar, but you cannot murder the lie, nor establish the truth. Through violence you may murder the hater, but you do not murder hate. In fact, violence merely increases hate. So it goes. … Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.”
-Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

My country must earn my allegiance, but in the meantime I will live here, (because I have to), and I will endeavor to see the better side of it (probably meaning not engaging in any political reading for a long time) and shut myself away here in my little tower of peace and meditate on what my country could become if it took the pole out of its ass, its head out of the sand, and put its weapons down for good.  I doubt very much that my country will even try to become better than it is because it thinks it is doing God’s work and believes itself to be above all other countries- you can’t become better if you already think you’re the best, but I will hold out what scrap of hope I can muster that it still has enough goodness in it to improve and heal.

What I want is peace.  What I want is to see an actual effort at disarmament.  Our own disarmament.  I want to see my country stop spilling other people’s blood and come home, see how we can learn to create power that doesn’t create toxic waste or depend on drilling through, and destroying, other natural resources and landscapes.  I want to see people evolve, learn to not care what names other people give “God” or how many they have.  I want to see people look for commonalities in experience, learn to appreciate each other’s differences.  It isn’t that I believe in a utopia, I most certainly am too much of a pessimist to believe in actual world peace- but I want to see people actually try for it.  Because right now we’re not even trying.  I want to see my country turn inwards and fix it’s incredible tears and burns deep in its collective consciousness.  I want to see people here thrive through our own ingenuity and resources.  I want to see my country educate itself, spend time reading some philosophy, learning some real history, learn to use their critical thinking skills.  I want my country to rise from its massive ignorance and become what I think we’re capable of becoming as a nation.  We won’t do that until we stop spilling blood.

I have some major healing to do of my own now and a really fierce depression to pull myself out of.  I will go out and do something in the garden today, plant some food, which I consider a life affirming activity, and while I go and repair my deep disappointments in both my country and myself, I offer you this last thing to read.  My friend Blaize posted this on Facebook and it says, more eloquently than I could have, what I really feel about the death of Osama Bin Laden, and it was this post that reminded me of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s inspiring and gorgeous words about violence:

Rest In Peace

Lux Aeterna: celebrating spring on Easter Sunday

Today Jesus has riz from the tomb (after having hung on a cross to die slowly).  And having rotten tomatoes thrown at him*.  Or maybe rotten medlars.  I can never quite get over just how grisly this tale is and how early children are told all this truly violent and disturbing stuff.  It’s Easter Sunday.  I’m not questioning Christianity at this moment.  That’s not what’s really on my mind.

We don’t celebrate Easter religiously.  We celebrate it as the beginning of spring, the awakening of the dormant earth into wild colorful activity.  This morning we all sat in the living room eating questionable (but tasty) Safeway pastries (because I am too busy drying nettles and drinking beer to prepare sweet doughs the night before… plus I don’t know how to make pastries like everyone else) and watched Max open his Easter surprises which don’t come in a basket because we don’t have a surfeit of baskets lying around and we don’t any of us hanker for more baskets.  His surprises are arranged in a paper mache oval box I covered with vintage magazine pages.  I asked him if he minded not getting the actual basket and he said “Why would I?” and I said “Because that’s what most kids get on Easter.” and he informed me that he likes the way I (uh, the bunny?) present his Easter treats.

While he gorged himself on candy we discussed Easter from our personal family perspective which is a funny combination of Atheist (because we really don’t believe in any god at all) and paganism (enjoying the mysteries and beauty of nature, but still without any deity).  We discussed the beginning of time from an evolutionary perspective including the evidence that shows that all mankind was most likely descended from Africans.  Black people.  Poor Glenn Beck.  Personally I don’t think it materially matters what continent or what race we all descended from but I do enjoy the idea that we all come from Africans.  We discussed how seeing the world from a scientific/anthropological perspective means that our view of the origins of everything evolve as new information is uncovered.  I think that’s magical in its own way.  That nature is a puzzle, full of secrets, full of mysteries and just like religion, science can never answer it all.  Humans can never know everything in the universe.  Faith answers our questions by saying that either “God made it” (end of discussion) or “God doesn’t mean for us to know everything.”

Easter isn’t about zombies or faith or Messiahs for me and my family.  Even in my family we have different thoughts about this day.  What’s important, I think, is that everyone is allowed to have their own meaning, and worship in their own way.  Like all seasonal holidays Easter is celebrated under different names in many different faiths.  I think the unifying message through all of them is this:

It’s a damn fine thing to get through the winter, alive, and to see the plants bud out with promise of sustenance to come.

We’re listening to the album Lux Aeterna by Morten Laurisden.  It’s so beautiful and peaceful it makes me feel completely at peace.  It makes me wish that all religions would stop obsessing over other religions.  I wish that everyone may keep their faiths, not die for their faiths which is nothing but a waste, and let others keep their faiths, and not kill for their faiths.

All this fighting, oppression, and killing over religion is deeply ironic.  Deeply sad.  Deeply wasteful.

I reserve the right to make fun of all beliefs, all faiths, all ideologies, mine included.  I reserve the right to question all beliefs, all faiths, all ideologies, mine included.  But I also have no desire or ambition to hurt**, to quell, or to destroy what I don’t believe in.

So this morning I am wishing everyone a meaningful beginning to spring whether it be from a Pagan, Muslim, Christian, Atheist, Buddhist, Hindu, or Agnostic perspective.

*Which is obviously an impossibility worse than rising from a tomb after being dead for three days and pushing a giant rock out of your way to get out, because tomatoes are out of season in early spring.  I’m pretty sure this is even true of the Mediterranean desert.  So it was more likely to have been rotten lemons.

**My questioning, my joking may be offensive to some but it is not meant to be.  I can’t control how people take it, I can only know in what spirit I say things.

Keeper of the Wasps

Am I nothing more than a flower child raised naked in the garden of eden as my parents angelically saw me in a pot-haze?  Or am I something solid against the noise of earth with clothes on and a voice?  I don’t know.  I see the pictures, the halo of daisy chains and bare  baby limbs frolicking across an impossible green Berkeley lawn, but I can’t connect the dots to the present.

In spite of this I keep returning to the soil.  Again and again it’s what confirms my humanity.

Maybe it’s ridiculous that I save the wasps that collect inside my window.  Maybe it’s ridiculous that I don’t eat meat, something that started as the way I was raised and became the alliance I have with myself and nature.  Maybe it’s naive to try so hard to keep the flame of peace lit against all hope, against all probability.  Maybe all the tiny numbers don’t count.  Maybe each of us is less than n0thing in the big scope of things.

I don’t know.

I have nine yellow jackets sleeping in three huddled groups in my windowsill.  I feel as though I’ve tucked them in for the night.  I won’t kill them.  Not even if they sting me.  I’m not saying I haven’t killed some.  I killed one last week and in the skirmish I sunk a staple all the way into my finger.  Instant karma.

I don’t care if you can’t see why I should save them.  Maybe you just haven’t had a conversation with them yet.  Maybe you’re allergic to their stings, enough to make anyone intolerant.  What I do I do because it’s what right between me and the planet.

I tucked nine wasps in for the night and tomorrow I will gather them up and shove them back onto the breeze that brought them to me.  I am not angry for the sting of the wasp.  I am not angry for the bite of the snake.  I am not hateful for the scratches of the feral cat.  I can live at peace with these things.

What of the feral bite of the human?

Bring me your faith, your color, your gender, your affiliation, your political party, your sexual orientation.  Bring it and I will find a way not t0 kill you.  Not to hate you.  Not to oppress you.  You, no matter your allegiance, you are not that different than me.  Not that different from everything I love.

Even if I want to call you an ass.  I am also an ass.

What we all want is hope.  Maybe our ideals are different and our dreams are different colors.  But we want love.  We want safety for our children.  We want prosperity.  No one on earth doesn’t wish for that.  Not if they’re being honest.

I have become the keeper of the wasps.

It’s a queer honor I accept without reservations.

They sleep and tell me I should sleep too.

I am you.  You are me.  We are mirrors.

You must sleep now.

Dream of peace.

American Dissident

We started bombing Libya today.  Excuse me, apparently we’re helping the Allies “protect” the Libyan dissidents of Gadhafi’s dictatorship.

We’re still in Afghanistan.  We’re still in Iraq.  And now we’re going to lend a hand to the civil war in progress in Libya?  Is there no limit to our Democratic benevolence?  Is there no end to our humanitarian efforts?

While people in our own country are stripping every penny they can from everything that has the potential to make our country rise above our brutish gun-toting violent and ignorant reputation (education and support for the arts are a stupid waste of time) we’re spending all those pennies to kill people.  We have all kinds of reasons.  We’re told it’s all so complex.  We can’t pull out of the Middle East because we owe it to them to stay.  Maybe they’ll develop nuclear bombs while we’re too busy teaching our children the fine art of critical thinking, something we’ve never been known for, and then we’ll wish we’d never left.

I am so angry.   I am so heart-sick for the world.  I don’t want to be associated with a country bent on encouraging ignorance in its people and on self destruction.  We’re like Rome before it fell.  We’re like Britain before it lost India.  If we had any wisdom at all (and we don’t) we’d look at history, we’d see our future written clearly and uncompromisingly in the history of the world.

We are not a smart government.  We are not a smart country.  We doggedly hold onto our own propaganda and get drunk off the company line turning our eyes from the stark reality of war.  We sanitize our news so we don’t have to count the bodies we’re stacking in the attic.  We tell ourselves it’s okay to murder people if they might eventually someday pose a threat to us even if it isn’t obvious right now… all we need is possibility.  We tell ourselves that God approves of us throwing down dictators and ignore that Jesus disagrees with his father and tells us that we should turn the other cheek.  We pride ourselves on being a nation of “moral” people who believe in God.*

We’re like the billionaire with the stacks of gold credit cards and an industry built on fragile (now more radio-active than ever) air.  We spend and spend and spend.  Then the bills pour in and we rob the poor to pay the rich (rob the kids to pay the parents) and stave off the creditors for a little while and, satisfied with our diamonds and AKs, we party on as though we’ll always have a bottomless pit of money.  Eventually we discover the bank is on our doorstep and we hawk the furs and the espresso machines and apologize for our gross excesses while applying for more credit cards with foreign banks.

Then one day there’s no more credit.  Everyone figures out the scam.  Bankruptcy is the only outcome.  Vulnerability.  Nothing to back you up.  No savings.  No medical.  No bandaids.  No refinancing.  No mercy.

I’m bankrupt.  I have no credit cards.  When bad shit happens I’ll have only my wits and my skin to get me through crisis.  If I can’t afford a crisis then I’ll have to pay for it with my blood cause there aint no money in the coffers.  This is my country right now.  We are the same.  Except that I have a conscience.  My country has none.

What business do we have pretending to be the fairy godmother of capitalistic democracy?  We can’t afford to give our people decent health care for free, what business do we have fighting wars in three countries?  We value freedom for ourselves but we really don’t give a shit if anyone else has it.  The line is that we’ll help anyone fight for the kind of freedom we have but really we’re fighting so we can tell everyone else what to do which isn’t really freedom.

If we don’t stop starting civil wars in other countries and stop wedging ourselves in the civil wars others have started on their own behalf then we’ll have our own civil war.  The last time we had one of those was devastating.  It was nasty.  It was bloody.   And the South has never forgiven the North for winning.  They’re still flying their own flags for god’s sake.

Just yesterday I got word that Max got a place in the charter school we wanted to get him into because we think it’s just the kind of school where our unconventional son can thrive.  When I heard we were bombing Libya my first thought was “This will erode education in this country even more and the first schools to fold will be charter schools.”

What is great about this country?  That I can say what I want about it without being detained indefinitely without a formal charge?  We have places set up where we can get around that annoying and inconvenient freedom.  All they have to do is suspect you of anti-patriotism.

If you’re not for us you’re against us.

I’m an American Dissident.  If I could move to Canada I’d do it in a heartbeat.  I’m done with my country in my heart.

The worst thing I can say of myself today is that I’m American.

I’d really like to say I’m Canadian.  I’d like to say I’m Norwegian.  I’d like to say I’m French.

The big irony is that my father is a Canadian citizen.  The big irony is that I’m a quarter Norwegian.  My father has Norwegian citizenship.  I’m also part French.  My father doesn’t have French citizenship.  That’s small comfort.  How did I end up having to be stuck with an American citizenship and not enough money to be an expat?

I’m so ashamed of being American and I’ve been ashamed for so many years now that even though I don’t have the freedom to leave my country I abandon it in my conscience.  I am not my country.  I belong to no country.  My passport can say what it will, I belong nowhere.

Until my country starts giving a shit about education and health care and stops being obsessed with the second amendment I belong to no country.

I renounce all government.  I renounce all borders.

Peace is the only way to enlightenment.  Nonviolence is the only way to righteousness.

My freedom is no freedom worth having if the only way I can keep it is to sanction the killing of other people.

The cost is too high.  The American conscience is as bankrupt as the American budget.


*Well, obviously I’m not one of those people.