I still believe that people are really good at heart.”
Sunday, January 23, 2011
I still believe that people are really good at heart.”
Monday, January 17, 2011
Prior to the game, the Jets, led by irrepressible coach Rex Ryan, got into the faces of the New England Patriots, trashed-talking about their ability to conquer the golden boys of winter. Fans and press alike tsk-tsked the team's antics as bad form, unseemly, and guaranteed to augur a humiliating defeat. For good measure, the Patriots stoically disciplined their own Wes Welker for similar poor conduct, sending a clear message that they would not tolerate such unsportsmanlike behavior.
I recall when my hometown Eagles taunted the Patriots before the Superbowl. They were also roundly criticized, but, unlike Ryan, they bowed to that criticism, conceding that trash-talk had no place within a civilized game like football. Maybe there was also a bit of fear that the Eagles' bravado would rile an already worthy opponent, inflaming it into an unstoppable force. The Eagles lost, but I always wondered if they would have stood a better chance had they reared up and claimed their right to talk smack in a game that is roundly recognized as a war simulation.
Because, the Jets stood way up on their hind legs, got in the faces of their opponent, backed each other up in the face of disapproval, and won. They embraced their bravado and made it a necessary ingredient to their victory.
Sure, their is a bright line between acting up and criminal offenses, because there's a difference between conduct that annoys (excessive end-zone celebrations anyone?) and conduct that harms (helmet-to-helmet - ugh!). But, maybe we need to test the limits more often in this free society of ours. Maybe we need to question more regulations and tenets and decrees. Maybe we need to toss off the sheep's clothing that swaddles us. Maybe, in a society increasingly weighed down by rules of conduct for which no one can remember the genesis, what we need is a little more misbehavin'.
Wednesday, January 12, 2011
|Philadelphia Mural Arts Project BRIDGE Mural (47th and Chestnut Street)|
I find myself sighing a lot recently. Yes, so dramatic, but so necessary, so relevant, so purge-pregnant.
Not like us.
Sunday, January 9, 2011
I am an eternal, unapologetic optimist.
Oh, my faith can be shaken when enough dark clouds move in. I can see the evil in people, and the best-laid plan gone awry. I don't sit in the dirt on the prairie, refusing to acknowledge that the wheels have gone off the wagon. I get it. Bad shit happens. Sometimes bad shit happens for an extended period of time - centuries even of ill intent, unfairness, exploitation and down-right evil. And for some pretty suspect reasons, if you ask me.
But, call me Pollyanna because it doesn't take more than a whisper-thin ray of light shining through the dark clouds before I see a path to the good. Hope bubbles to the surface, the wind fills the sails, and we got a ballgame folks. Go Team Light!
So, I must be feeling a bit out of sorts, this morning because I am not feeling the light about Sudan's upcoming vote for independence. Today, the mostly Christian people of Southern Sudan are voting to secede from the mostly Muslim northern seat of power in a bid for independence and dignity. But, there are masses of billowing, roiling dark clouds in the sky over that African nation, and I am having a hard time locating that sliver of light.
Here is yet another people taken over and reorganized by a steady stream of invaders. A people blocked from development by a government eager to maintain control of oil. A people persecuted and tortured by their own government -- featuring an administration that denies providing material support to the gangs and slavers who happen to fall on the right side of the power and religious divide. A people who watch their sons forced to join an enemy army and kill or be killed, and who watch their daughters be raped.
And, we in the US and other western nations say we support this independence movement, but is it freedom or oil that drives us? I fear it is the latter. And, when your rich uncle offers to protect you from abusive parents while fingering the family silver you have to wonder why he stopped by. So, I am having a difficult time imagining how a sliver of light can find a space to shine in Sudan.
But maybe the Southern Sudanese have enough vision for hope. Over the next 6 days, they will participate in their vote for independence. They will brave tricks and threats (or acts) of violence, and vote for the right to chart their own national course. I hope they succeed. Then I hope they are able to hold off the coup-mongers and the First World predatory lenders and the all-purpose corrupt and faithless long enough to build a foundation from which to grow a nation.
I hope the light shines bright and strong to part the darkness.
Friday, January 7, 2011
Now the snow is falling this early Friday morning.
And since we, the people of Southeastern PA simply cannot remember how to drive in the snow from one storm to the next, the first sirens are wailing.
And the plows are running to and fro.
And my neighbor is cursing in that mild way of his.
And the snow keeps falling as if no one has anywhere to go.
And me? I will drink my coffee, munch on a pumpkin muffin, and wait for the morning rush to pass ...
Tuesday, January 4, 2011
Photo: Swedish Yogini
My, but we’re a big-winded species.
From the first man who expressed himself with a look or grunt or drawing in the dirt, we have embraced communication as the holy faculty of humanity. Our ability to communicate allows us to share information, establish relationships, to build community and develop culture. It supports our survival and drives prosperity. Freedom of expression is the cherished liberty of the lucky, and one of the first casualties of the disenfranchised. To possess the capacity to express oneself and to be understood is a blessing.
But, God, sometimes we don’t know when to shut up.
It doesn’t matter if it is a cave painting (did you really need to draw 17 horses?) or email (I don’t care-delete. I don’t care-delete. I don’t care …), we have so much to say, and want everyone to hear it. Of course it’s important. Of course y’all want to know. And, as the channels become more sophisticated and less labor intensive, we have the opportunity to go tell it on the mountain. Loudly.
How many people will see my cave painting? Five? Okay, I’ll draw a dozen more telling it over the fire. Wouldn’t it be terrific if I turned it into a poem? More entertaining with a Greek chorus? I could cut a wider swathe with a printing press – Think of the numbers! Teletype, email, discussion board, blog – Facebook! My God, it’s Communication Nirvana! And, they’ll tell their friends – a thousand mountaintops!
So much talk. So much opinion. So much air. And not all for the good.
We educate, but we also gossip. We enlighten one moment and mislead the next. We manipulate and flatter, castigate and condemn. We assassinate characters as often as we redeem them. We lie. We read about the best and the worst of us. And, guess which we find the most compelling? We know what’s constructive and destructive in what we say. We say it anyway.
And in our net-centric, smartphone-enabled world, we say it farther and faster than ever before. We’re surrounded. To all the paper that ever was, add all the transmissions from radio and television, plus all the e-communication created in the last hour, and you have to make a real effort to evade the voices clamoring for attention.
But you can do it if you want to. Just disconnect. Yes, dis - connect. It’s an act of will against that human imperative to commune, but go for it. Go for a walk in the cold, dark night. Just you and the voice in your head. Tell it to shut up. Look up to the sky where the stars sparkle around the first sliver of the new moon. Resist the urge to comment. Exhale. Watch your breathe rise in a cloud of silent smoke and disappear into thin air.
Sunday, January 2, 2011
Another New Year.
Another chance to start anew.
We say our goodbyes to the old year like an friend - or enemy - departing on a train headed west.
We breathe. We tell ourselves that now is the time for a fresh start. Time to give up bad habits. To cultivate good ones. To make friends. To embrace family. To be more productive, more healthy, more loving and giving. To be the better/stronger/faster 'us' we've always wanted to be. The calendar turns over, and here is one more opportunity to reinvent ourselves.
But aren't those opportunities always with us?
Every time we wake up, aren't we starting anew in some sense? Every time we leave the house, step forward, begin something, every time we pause and reconsider, aren't we reinventing some portion of ourselves, our lives, our world views?
That is, if we want to.
If we want to, we can make a habit of examining the old, keeping the valuable, and shedding the outmoded like dry skin. Over and over again, we can look at each day and step and meeting on the road as an opportunity for new-ness. Almost as if we had a sun to rise every 24 hours, awakening us with a fresh new morning, we too can rise with the expectation that at some time during this day there will be a chance to experience something new.
Tough prospect, this constant review and reinvention, huh? Who has the time and energy - or inclination - for that?
But yesterday, you said, you said, you said: "It's a New Year for a New Me!"
So why is January 2nd less new-worthy than January 1st?