It’s not just the guns. It is something much, much worse. There are guns everywhere in the world, but only in the U.S. has there been an average of more than one mass shooting every day this year (274 days / 294 mass shootings). The something worse is that in the U.S. various factors have combined to cause American culture to lose sight of the most fundamental moral precept known to humankind. In the words of Jesus of Nazareth, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” In the words of philosopher Immanuel Kant, “You must never treat persons as things.” In the words of the Rastafarians, “I and I say I and I, instead of you and I, because the other is an I also.” And in the words of Confucius, “If you don’t want someone to do something to you then don’t do it to them,” which is of course, another way to state the Golden Rule, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” To put this as clearly as I can: if one loves and respects others as one loves and respects oneself then one does not murder, rape, cheat, manipulate, take advantage of, or otherwise violate that other; rather, one is as concerned with the physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, and financial well-being of the Other as with one’s own.
“Our lands are intertwined. Our histories are intertwined. Our fates are intertwined. Let us be partners.
“There are millions of people of good faith, vision, wisdom, compassion and courage in Palestine and Israel. We will put all of our energy into building peace and prosperity for the children of Israel and Palestine. We will work side by side and the welfare of each will be the greatest desire of the other. The success of each of us will be measured by the success of the other. All of our children will thrive. The entire desert will bloom. We will watch each others’ backs and help and support each other. We will trust. We will be stronger together than we ever were separately. We will live lives of safety, freedom, comfort, work, and spirituality. Continue reading
“You didn’t believe in me, in my literal existence, did you?” He asked.
“No I didn’t,” I replied. “I thought you were a way of talking about being human in the world.”
He laughed and said, “That’s the spirit! Good for you. There was no evidence or reason to believe otherwise. It’s what I would have thought myself.”
So I asked my question, “Why did you create rational people with free will then, when some of them would surely reach erroneous conclusions?”
“Dang,” I said, “so I was wrong. You exist and this is the afterlife.”
“Oh no,” He said, “you were right.”
Michelangelo, Creation of the Sun, Moon, and Plants
Star Child, Excerpt from concluding scene of Stanley Kubrick, 2001
The French Revolution began with the liberation of the Bastille prison by the citizens of Paris on July 14 1789.
For Lafayette, George Washington’s friend and compatriot. For Lady Liberty, beacon of freedom to millions. For the respect and refuge from racism you gave to African-American jazz musicians. For your sound advice even when our politicians would not hear it.
Merci mes amis.
Thank you, friends.
Liberté, égalité, fraternité.
Liberty, Equality, Brotherhood.
Nina Simone – I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel to be Free
African-American composer and vocalist Nina Simone lived the last 10 years of her life in Aix-in-Provence, France. Continue reading
When I left home at 19 I was emotionally stunted and pretty much devoid of social skills. Luckily I fell in with a loving and kind group of gay people who helped me grow up. They were all so quick-witted, and I wasn’t, that they called me their “straight man.” I learned many important and useful things. I share them freely. Don’t carry a wallet in your back pocket because it spoils the line of your jeans. Don’t put a sweater in the dryer. Swimmers have the best bodies. You must hang Christmas tree ornaments so they dangle freely and do not get caught up on other branches; similarly, you must hang the tinsel strand by strand rather than glopping it on. Continue reading
First, contrary to implications, there is nothing new, experimental, risky, or even medically interesting about the process of gender reassignment. That process has been refined for over 60 years, since before Christine Jorgensen went to Sweden in 1952. Today, the whole process is quite well understood and standardized, the psychological and behavioral indications, the drugs and hormones, the social and cosmetic aspects, the surgery. It is a straightforward medical matter for Ms. Jenner and her doctors. Continue reading
Lou Reed died yesterday and I cried today. I was thinking of something I wrote for a poetry slam after Bradley Nowell died, “When an artist dies, Satan smiles.” Upon reflection that seems suspiciously close to “I saw Satan laughing with delight / The day the music died.” It’s not that Lou Reed died. I hope he had a good passing. But he was an artist once. He brought something new into the world. In Ursula Le Guin’s book The Word for World is Forest, those who are bringing something new into the world are called gods—while they are bringing something new into the world–so someone might say, “I was a god then.” I have observed over the years that if an artist sees that something is worth doing, and that he can do it, he will do it, regardless of consequences. I think that is the difference between artists and entertainers; an entertainer worries about coming back tomorrow night. Maybe I cried for the price that artists pay. But, no, Vincent van Gogh has already reassured me about that. In his last letter to his brother Theo, Vincent said, “My own work, I am risking my life for it, and my reason has half-foundered because of it….that’s all right.” Maybe I cried for the wonder of a world “that hath such people in it,” or is it that it hath so few such people in it.
Do clothes make the man? For many years I made my living as a college professor. My classes were known for a high degree of activity, interactivity, creativity, and laughter. People brought their friends to see the show because I was not one of the professors who wore a suit and stood behind a podium and recited his lecture, or read it off the PowerPoints. Rather, I took part. I demonstrated the Buffalo Dance, ran the video camera, mixed the paint, moved the furniture, held the fire extinguisher, and whatever else needed to be done. For this kind of performance art, one needs clothes that are designed to facilitate movement, not those that are designed to restrict it. Think about it, suits were originally the mark of the ruling class, for precisely the opposite reason, to demonstrate that they were not required to do any physical work. Ease of movement was for the workers, and they wore clothes appropriate to their need to move unrestrainedly. So did I. Continue reading
I met Paul the first day I moved into the neighborhood. I was unloading the truck by myself and a burly fellow walked across the street and introduced himself as Paul; he asked if I needed any help unloading. I did, but Paul was wearing some kind of brace under his shirt. “No,” he said, “it’s not a back brace; it’s for something else.” After he helped me get the washer and dryer in the basement, we chatted briefly. I complimented him on his front yard garden; in addition to quantities of the normal vegetables, he had a peach tree with peaches on it. I had seen these in Georgia, I told him, but never so far north. We also talked about the heat and the growing season here. It used to be better, Paul said, but lately the weather had become increasingly erratic, with unnatural hot spells, even during the winter, and late freezes. Continue reading