One moment of the Republican Convention put the election in a clearer light. It came with all the plausible deniability one would want.

Most of the way through his speech accepting the nomination, there was a strange moment on the South Lawn of the White House when the current President turned his back to the audience and took a moment to look at the White House. The transcript says this:

They want to defund the police while they have armed guards for themselves.  This November, we must turn the page forever on this failed political class.  The fact is I’m here --
-- what’s the name of that building?  
But I’ll say it differently.  The fact is we’re here, and they’re not.  
To me, one of the most beautiful buildings anywhere in the world, it’s not a building, it’s a home, as far as I’m concerned.  It’s not even a house; it’s a home.  It’s a wonderful place, with an incredible history.

After one more falsity and mischaracterization of the opposing party, with nary a transition, the reason for misusing the White House and other governmental places and procedures came clear — “The fact is I’m here.”  That’s all the justification seen to be needed. Presence and power are the only realities at play. You are either a winner or a loser. Winners get to do what they want; when they want. The rich get richer; the poor, poorer.

In looking at the White House, there was no need to speak the overt issue of this election —White Supremacy. People said to themselves, “It’s the White House; O, the White House.”

Doubling down on the power of presence, “The fact is we’re here, and they’re not.” At least one of those not here is the previous President, a “Black” man. The message is that the House has been restored to its original owner, if not the original builders.

To indicate the rightness of this, we are led to see that a man is king of his castle, his home. This “White” House is more than just a symbol; it is an emotional center worth defending with all available arms. This “home” locates any future threat of leaving it will be met with the greatest resistance.

“White” is the shine of a city on a hill. “House” and “Home”, property and identity, invest the city with energy to defend it even if such a defense will ruin the whole system’s general welfare. Rape of economic resources will parallel the rape of environmental resources of the last 300 years but at a much more rapid pace.

This aside put the whole election in perspective for me. There was no need to say “White Supremacy” aloud. It has been made clear that it is firmly set in people’s minds. Now it is doubly important to say aloud what has become the water we swim in, to articulate what is at stake. Democratic processes and traditions are always waxing and waning. Some are helpful (slow progress can glacially change, helpful to the extent change occurs), and some are not (majority wins, is not helpful). This, however, goes beyond political processes. In play is the willingness to express in every way possible, inhumanity, the supremacy of some — toward any other person, and the crucial context of other-than-human.


Others are one of the best self-diagnostic tools we know. Our first response and subsequent acts reveal ourselves to be primarily built of knee-jerks, both those hard-wired and those carefully and repeatedly taught by those around us. We also have the possibility of intentionally following the star of self-definition and generosity-to-a-fault. Sadist and saint may be the poles of what is revealed in any encounter with another—be they animal, vegetable, or mineral, and the various values we assign to any or all of such categories. [Note the difference between indicating said animal, vegetable, or mineral is a “they” or an “it.” This is likely to be one of the variables in your research.]

A week’s worth of charting our recognized encounters with others will give a beginning baseline. When we repeat the charting process 6-months later, we will be able to tell if our responses have shifted in one direction or another. Increasing welcome of an other and paranoia about them are two common variants.

Adding two additional charts will help clarify the limit of our consciousness—1) how a trusted other observes your interactions with others and, 2) their noting anything else that has drifted on by our recognition.

Also, a refrigerator chart, a place to note:

1) a recognized other,
2) our first inclination, and
3) any shift in that expectation.

The other may be a well-established adversary, a newly encountered other, or an old friend (remember your growing into friends—did you have a common enemy or a found place of commonality.

This charting process will help sharpen your opposition as well as your appreciation of the limits and gifts of some other. Allowing an other to be other will bring more opportunities to engage in John Lewis’, “good trouble” and ease a troubled mind into restorative rest. 


A window is
for looking through

silica and isinglass
give light not form

floated glass
shows many details

it can even keep
harmful rays at bay

the dirtier the window
the happier Windex® is

smog and pollution
raise their bottom line

clearer windows
are a capitalist plot

on R-values

to change windows
more frequently than needed

now we better see
our window on life

in looking through
we gaze upon


“Who was that masked catalyst?” This variant on the closing scene of Lone Ranger episodes holds a favorite mystery — the presence and effect of a catalyst.

Not being a chemist presents some difficulties in proceeding. I’m sure that my lay perspective mischaracterizes important considerations and is quite romanticized regarding the arrival, work, and parting of a transformative element.

There are dangers too great to number when taking a physical process and applying it to personal and social relationships. Foremost among them is a difficulty in imagining that the forces at work in beginning and stabilizing a change in relational or social status would remain unchanged.

While we can see the effect of money on changing the perceived status of an individual or group, we can posit that money continues to be money. Stories and studies suggest that outward changes in opportunities or their lack do not cover us, but reveal, whatever basic value system was held before money entered the scene.

The largest effect on persons or groups are perceived as individualized. History books generally go for large characters who have huge success or failure as they jump from war to war. The characteristics of such characters are etched in stone. Their nicknames are indicative of unchangeability.

These flashpoints of capital and leaders are too obvious in their presence to be catalysts for change. They are more a sign-of-a-change than the facilitator of such. Of more interest are the quiet, muffled, hinting folks who trust a different mechanism than straight-forward interference with on-going processes of change. A prophet or saint might be thought of as a living catalyst. Even then, the reports of their lives run well past what can be known, and hagiography enters on elephant feet.

Given their nature, the catalysts in my life may never be identified. Whoever they were—thanks.

Cleaner and Brighter

Everything dies, after all. 

Our interaction with this reality tends to wax and wane. The further we are from reality, the more we have invested in the denial or necessity of death. Narcissistically, it is only for others, and we can easily help them on their way. Depressively, it is the most significant possibility we can recognize through dark and blindered glasses.

In a somewhat reasonable time of awareness, we are capable of noting times and seasons of death. Mourning the loss of our own experience or the presence of another takes on the sense of a marker we can come to not only appreciate but celebrate. Noting a limit heightens the importance of relaxing into its arms. Such restrictions focus us on making the most of the opportunity at hand, bringing all we can to bear on behalf of those who may yet arrive if there are still seven generations to come—this is never guaranteed and always a statement of faith.

In the best of times and the worst of times, we are most enlivened when death is at our advisory table to lend its perspective. While it neither deserves the first or last word, it makes the conversation the richer and the decision cleaner and brighter.

Hexagonal Time

I often find myself using a formulation that plays with three stages of time — past, present, and future. Each plays their part in contrast to the others. Just as light has its wave and particle, time can be experienced in multiple fashions. Each formulation reveals another aspect ourself and our perception of the world around. Just as the Enneagram has its nine centers and internal relationship, time reveals six facets:

1. Past,
2. Transitioning past to present,
3. Present,
4. Transitioning present to future,
5. Future, and
6. Mystically, fantastically, located as once and coming.

Graphic representation of Hexagonal Time model

I find it helpful to visualize these as the sides of a hexagon (each with a spectrum of locations), rather than as six points tied to one another by lines.

It is the sixth side of non-specific appreciation of past and future, not shaped as a present, that opens this too easily self-contained model or attempted explanation of 42 (answer to the meaning of life). This open space welcomes a wild splash of the potential energy of past and future shaking loose from their moorings and tumbling unrestrained into the present, which geysers beyond its limit of comfort. This sixth location is not a place to live, but to open upon that which is beyond our current linear control of a call to a wild waving of hello.

Sometimes we imagine time as a river moving on to a next rapid or slough. It can flow from past to future in front of a bank of this present. It can also flow from future to past. Sometimes it may be a lake holding all moments (past and future) within its depths. Time can never be contained in any image and may sometimes be seen as air, now gusting, now calm, as it speeds by or drags. Or, temperature, heat becoming cold over time. Or, attitude. Or, ….

At question is how you interact with time. I’m still exploring and find this open hexagon to hold some interest for the moment and, perhaps, others to come. For now: may the past learn from the present, may the future inform the present, and the present slip between their boundaries — into joy.

As Well As

Do it
as well as
ever you can

allow others
to do as well as
ever they can

a living interface
is as difficult as
difficult can be

serving self
by serving others
is counter-intuitive

comes easily
as dominion

it’s me
and everything else
a wall never broken

maybe someday
a pale blue dot
may shift walls

until great whenever
our best bet
honors others

no over-functioning
will resolve


Action on behalf of life transforms both and actor and the recipient. Once any two parts of a system meet, a reciprocity is set up that also affects third and fourth parts because everything is connected even more deeply than gravity.

Such reciprocity requires a feedback loop if it is to lead to any best intention coming to pass. Without such an integrated response system, any action intended for good would be blind to actual consequences. Without feedback, there is only projection to go on. Essentially this projection says, “I intend good, therefore what I do is good.”

If an actor is serious, they engage the character they are going to enflesh. Without a coming to the table or stage to explore the beginning state of their relationship, the most facile of presentations will be declared “genius” by its portrayer. Without an on-going relationship between the actor and character, the play will have a short run. The most engaging character can’t redeem an incurious actor.

This beginning engagement is a step often skipped when the setting is not a drama about a character we empathize with and learn from. Suppose a manager or president is incurious about the health of employees or citizens because their bottom-line requires no brooking of maximum profit in the shortest amount of time. In that case, the physical, emotional, and psychological harm done to flesh-and-blood people by a distant decider will mean the company or nation will have a shorter run than might have been expected.

Sometimes all concerned are initially engaged, but over time feedback becomes irrelevant to those with the most power, even if gasped aloud, “I can’t breathe.” This is the fault of the decision-maker for thinking their knowledge, profit, and decision-making is more important than any other.

This is a good day to consider the limitation of one-sided intention and the humility of receiving feedback. Pay particular attention to the importance of negative feedback that will require energy to again modify your intention according to the reality of the life of another person and the earth—to exchange experiences, to engage basic empathy.


soon it’s going to rain
I can feel it

a breeze kicks up
the front arrives

a tip and a tap
on the canopy

we’d like to come in
will you welcome

we’ll come anyway
will you stay

a change in the wind
a deluge begins

a moment-ago’s tension
swept aside

branch bending breaking
root strengthening

all things considered
root and branch

face up

soon it’ll rain again
a soothing mist