Ethical Reading

The largest effect on political division would come from a wide-spread — might one say, universal — revisiting of ethical reading and viewing. The skills needed to address writing and visual/aural presentations would go a long way to appreciating differing view-points on models of a current economy or present governance.

Among the first signs that a political conversation has broadened from the location of an individual within an economic or governance structure to a question of how things are working for those most disadvantaged within the current ways of operating is if those concerns occur across more than one generation. Multigenerational exile from participation in the levers of power indicates there is a structural weakness that, historically, will always grow and contribute to the downfall of any present organization of interlocking systems. The very attempt to stabilize a present moment increasingly endangers it over time.

To lift us from our current camps, there needs to be an acknowledgment that there is value in other ways to experience human life and life other-than-human. If the setting of another story or treatise cannot be affirmed as carrying a valid, even if a strange-to-us way of engaging the pitfalls and foibles of the everyday, we will soon end up with the Great Either/Or — where my Either is required to abolish your Or.

When we can’t trust the narrator or even a trickster narrator, there is no going further. When a reader has no curiosity about the characters and plot, that whole world is put out mind, placed in our personal landfill with no hope of becoming compost for nurturing intellect and relational growth.

Ethical reading and views are critical in an age of revisionist history, alternative facts that aren’t, and fear-based decisions in either economic or governmental settings.

Wanted: Partnership Story

For the moment, presuming Mark’s gospel was written in the aftermath of the Roman re-occupation of Palestine/Israel and its scorched-earth policy attended its army’s march to sack and salt Jerusalem and, along the way, untold numbers of Galileans and Judeans were enslaved or killed—what new gospel is now needed, in a time of another American pre-civil war, that will surface a common point of healing, lest we simply change one empire for yet another?

This long-winded sentence (if that is what it is) sets a challenge large enough to ask about our enthrallment with bigger barns and how Mammon’s material blessings keep stopping a larger honoring of each gift brought by a human or other-than-human experience.

What is the usual calculus we do to set artificial limits on what is real and easily shunted into categories of irrelevance, invisibility, and worthlessness?

If such becomes discernible, able to be turned to a story without an artificial pausing point that blocks its flow, there will be an even more difficult question of assisting one another through consistent disciplines that change our DNA from genetic survivalism to mutual appreciation and individual satisfaction. Included in this is how to evaluate and deal with mutations—some of which run counter to either or both communal and individual expressions of thankfulness and purpose, some of which are not immediately discernable.

What partnership story (rather than that of a single hero) will assist us in countering an intentional rush to civil war so insisted upon by some while dreaded by others who have no analysis or strategy to deal with the drumbeat of division and malice.

Garbage

garbage out
can only be checked
by the amount
and quality
of garbage in

sewer systems and landfills
are downstream
measures of economic
ratios imposed
on the discounted

so much output
reveals how much
input is hidden
from view
and never nourishes

economic diets
need to see
their empty calories
from dirty coal
to polluting plastic

Worth dying for

Authorities choose self over the well-being of others. Even when enhancing the lives of others, they bolster their own situation. No term limit or seeming eternal rule seems to change this dynamic. If I’m going to do good for you, I need to be in charge of you.

I am intrigued by models of consensus-building that attempt to the power-of-one out of the equation. Even so, peers (like children of all ages) do have rankings as individuals press the limits of group dynamics to favor them. Such rankings need to be defended from those below and tested regarding those yet above. Consensus is not exempt from manipulation. Even here, conspiracy stories arise to justify what currently is and to filter progress for the advantage of those presently enjoying whatever size perquisite they might have.

Whether the working paradigm is a divine-right, majority-rules, or some form of consensus, authority, like gravity, always needs to be a part of the equation.

A choice between harder and softer authorities is constantly being voted on by actual votes or the economic/intellectual system currently in vogue. It doesn’t matter if we are facing an autocrat of one persuasion of another, dictator of government, religion, or home. School and work bring their own rankings, as do any peer group (intra- or inter-group).

To work outside of a recognized authority is dangerous, as well as oddly satisfying. A question in this is—Is mutual care is worth dying for? Particularly when the evidence is overwhelming that, in short-run games, cheaters are the team to bet on.

Perchance

sitting outside
to think
perchance
to write
a clear sky
and pleasant breeze
are not sufficient
as defense
against one neighbor
weed-whacking his dirt
another mowing dry grass
while road noise
especially garbage trucks
a persistent crow
children playing
half-a-block away
coordinate their attack
only starting to write
Japanese fine lines
on smooth 32# paper
to capture an imagination
curious where
such lines will lead
with sufficient intrigue
to join ancient
Archimedes
in dismissing
a military coup
intent on physical force
over physics force
to travel where
none have yet been
today’s curiosity

Open Fate

Open Fate is one of those conjoined polarities inviting us to take a firm stand between them. More often, we take a stand on one side or the other. When open, we set ourselves as an individual with agency, resistant to conformation. When acknowledging fate, we recognize everyone is trapped by questions of survival and the persistence of earlier tapes and current peers.

Living with both, or between, leads us toward the responsibility to respond to the factuality of experience stripped of explanations. Such responsiveness recognizes our context is beyond a mirror that places our self in the center of every picture. Our openness finds structural economics and COVID-19 constraints forever rising to confront our imaginaries. Regarding fate, it is far less implacable than a convenient excuse for present failures to act and previously failed actions.

Attending to a responsibility to respond to experiences put us in a position of presenting fate with possibilities it had attempted to seal off. Such a presentation is more than an opinion essay or “white paper” that mansplains an irrelevant detail. Our response includes shaking sense into a resistant and distant other. This holds a danger to ourself by strengthening the defensiveness of an immoveable force and wearing ourself out or receiving the consequence of being crushed by the powers that be. It also holds the danger of creating a revolution in which many are lost when traditional markers are simply destroyed rather than reconstructed.

Open to experiences, open to responsiveness and persistence—we honor a larger context while reshaping it.

Trust Hope

Hope is forever bumping up against impossibilities. Hope trusts the current horizon is not the end of its sight. This begins to put hope into the realm of the eternal (that beyond), and, to that extent, moves us away from hope that activates action in the present. An eternal hope that crosses impossibilities also exempts it from placing a bet on an intermediate deed. Such implementation builds a small hillock from which to better view what is held as unconditional, irreducible. Acting is to be done in light of this height — presuming a will-to-act, will bring an ethical response to a particular moment.

In a chaotic setting, such as that intended by a current federal administration, there is no one grand gesture, including voting, sabotage, or coup, that will resolve an endemic hyper-individualism. In the face of matters only resolvable in a common setting, the injured are the only ones who can accountably surface and implement a reset.

Hope asks a more prosaic question: “What will I do as an act-of-mercy in the context of someone’s being pushed out-of-kilter by an individual decision or that of a larger structural/cultural blind-spot?” Greed cuts a larger than needed swath and, vampire-like, does not show up in any mirror. There is no recognition of collateral effects, only the shortest possible term of profit.

Consciously acting from a non-negotiable view that all are worthy, blind-spots are to be engaged — individually, structurally, and culturally. Trust but verify; hope but act.

Wind Chime

wind
tickles
a chime
tinkling
one of five
related tones
one
a glissando
unable
to catch
a breath
the central
clapper
dances
returns
to rest
repeats
without
repeating
within
how blessed
one lone
tink
initiates
a breeze
needing refreshment
we pray
the chime
to stir up
a breeze
of such
magic
we fall
prey
reversing
order
to chaos
invoking
sympathy
for
post-human
biological
limits
to be
surpassed
my mere
music
no
anthropology
needed nor
asked
no
deus ex
explained

Dear Leader

I was struck by the closing of Sen. Tim Scott’s speech at the Republican Convention. Where one would expect a liturgical refrain expecting “God” to “Bless” “America” (at least the already entitled), Tim added a line, “…and, Father, please continue blessing the United States of America.

A case can certainly be made that “Father” is merely a synonym for “God.” But it is at the center of a well-known model of the strong, autocratic leader and has political overtones.

After a speech/apology for the sitting authority-in-chief, invoking the “Father” language made it all too easy to connect with the standard Fascist trope of “Fatherland.” There is no reason to think this was accidental.

I take it this was not a slip of the tongue but a deliberate introduction of the current President as more than an officeholder eternal incarnation of the office itself. This identification is so close that the term “Father” preempts the office.

“Father,” as in “head of the family” (or nation), demands that “Father Knows Best,” without any of the irony in the TV show from days of yore. This is a political position that equates to “Leader” (as Füher or Duce) have meant in past eruptions of fascism. “Father” or “Leader” is not a “President” or presider over a process; an administer of policy. Father/Leader is a return to the Divine-Right of Kings.

Is this too paranoid a response in the midst of a disjointed moment? Is this an anticipation of giving the One Ring to one desiring, grasping creature blinded by such an external, precious power to comfort its own lack of a sense of preciousness/worth of its own?

Only time will tell whether this is a last gasp of patriarchal religion or a doubling down. Keep your ear open.

Prime Time

-

naturally

length width
bound area

add in height
and there is
weight of volume

from there we find mystery
wrapped in time and universes
felt in stars and constellations
string tied around and between
chalked on floors for safety

with great luck a taste of heaven
bubbles up with new sinews of courage
to offset a trust in inside tips
leading to loss for the house wins
a better bet invests in another’s house
the stronger the commons the stronger all
heavens place is firmly located right here