Race And Political Posturing

B4C0A454-579E-47EC-B306-E76CD25BDF24Everybody’s scared for their ass. There aren’t too many people ready to die for racism. They’ll kill for racism but they won’t die for racism. — Florynce R. Kennedy

To write about the world, it is sometimes necessary for me to retreat from it, to place myself outside the daily conflicts of living on this planet. I view the world from a small dwelling three hundred yards from the South Pacific, from a room of my own, from the window in front of my writing table, I look out. Except for the occasional trip into town, if life doesn’t walk, fly, crawl or drive within this one hundred eighty degree perspective, for me, it does not happen. A narrow view of the world? Perhaps, but a focused view of the world in front of me. The only world that is important. A world where my life is in harmony, where all facets of my being work together in the creation of this existence I live. Unless, of course I happen to read the newspaper on line and learn of something outside of my world which causes my blood to boil to the point where I must confront it even if it lies outside the realm of my front window view.

The article responsible was an editorial in the New York Times by Charles M. Blow, The G.O.P.’sBlack PeoplePlatform. I found the serenity of my world blown apart once again by the ignorance of politicians on the subject of Black citizens of America.  The last time I took pen in hand around such atrocities was six years ago. A few of the quotations from Mr. Blow’s article are repeated below. Thank you Charles.

Rick Santorum, campaigning in Iowa, said,

I don’t want to make Black people’s lives better by giving them somebody else’s money. I want to give them the opportunity to go out and earn the money.

Newton Leroy Gingrich in New Hampshire said, 

I’m prepared, if the N.A.A.C.P. invites me, I’ll go to their convention and talk about why the African-American community should demand paychecks and not be satisfied with food stamps.

An Open Letter To Mr. Santorum and Mr. Gingrich

I doubt either of the you has even spoken to a Black person within the last sixty days let alone the last six years. And how is it possible for you to fix your mouths in such a way to say the stupid things you do and hope not to get caught? How quickly you back peddle on your own statements but it has all been recorded, dummies. The world knows exactly what you said. Politicians count on people not being tuned in or caring what they say and the truth is we don’t care what you say for the most part, you are politicians afterall, but that you are ignorant enough to tell lies is an outrage against our humanity and our intelligence. Not only as Black Americans but as Americans, period.

The G.O.P. before Trump and now under his shadow seems to have adopted the words of Joseph Goebbels,* a German Nazi politician and Reich Minister of Propaganda of Nazi Germany from 1933 to 1945 and one of Adolf Hitler‘s close associates and most devoted followers. He was known for his skills in public speaking and his deep, virulent antisemitism, who proclaimed:

Make the lie big, keep it simple, keep saying it and eventually they will believe it.

You rely on all Americans to have a short attention span because of the amount of information we are bombarded with on a daily basis but what about your attention spans. The economic, industrial and agriculture position of America was established on the backs of black slaves. Did you forget that Mr. Santorum and Mr. Gingrich? Then expanded upon by cheap immigration labor. When labor fought back for suitable wages and working hours, America, land of the wealthy, sent jobs overseas where cheap labor was still possible. Each time that cheap labor force rebels, the jobs are moved to another country where cheap labor is readily available because of government restrictions against workers organizing, as in Indonesia.

But before either of you dare say another thing about Black people living on “somebody else’s money” or “satisfied with food stamps,” things neither of you know anything about. Before you spread more outrageous lies to the people of America, look at the facts available from your own government statistics office. The breakdown of welfare by race is:

Breakdown of AFDC, Aide to Families with Dependent Children, in US. White 38.8 percent, Black 39.8 percent, Hispanic 15.7 percent, Asian 2.4 percent, other 3.3 percent.

This information is from your own government accounting office but you still rather spread lies over truth and focus on a particular group for political clout. No wonder the American public has loss faith in Congress, the government, and the politicians who were elected to represent us. You don’t even take responsibility for the lies you spread and the biggest liar is Donald Trump. Racism is still alive and rampant in America today. Why don’t you talk about that? Start with yourselves and your president.

*Source Information Wikipedia.

O’ To Be Human

B4C0A454-579E-47EC-B306-E76CD25BDF24I am not sure if my being human was a choice, an accident, or predetermined by fate but I am grateful in either case for the gift of life in this human form. I needed these years and experiences to understand why I am here. As much as I identify with aspects of the spiritual, being here now, is in fact all about the body. I was given this body so I might experience the sensations, the senses absent in the spiritual. In pure spirit no separation exists, so senses are unnecessary.

With this body, I can touch. I can share its healing power when needed, its softness when desired. I can feel the wind, the warmth of the sun. I can outline my lover’s body, touch and be touched.

With this body, I can smell. The red flowers of the pepper tree, made more fragrant by the rain, its scent of concentrated pepper filling my nostrils. The rich steamy clouds of spice tea floating around my room.

With this body, I can taste life in every morsel of food. Its sweetness, its saltiness, its bitterness. Every bud is capable of a thousand different sensations. I sample as many as I can.

With this body, I can hear the cries of “justice for all.” I can hear the voice on the radio singing of a “brighter day.” My lover’s deep tones when the sex is “moan out loud good.”

With this body, I can see the colors of a rainbow, the “bone white full moon.” The faces of other life. I can witness the emotions of being human, the expressions of pain, sorrow, and joy.

Beyond this body exists the unifying gel of all life, energy. No senses exist and the only sensation, although the term is inadequate, is that of essence, although there is no consciousness of this sensation. There is no other to be sensed. There is no memory, or recanting of lifetimes. No knowledge of experience. No memory of having lived.

There are those who will be remembered because of their impact upon humankind. They will be read about in history books as leaders, tyrants, explorers, humanitarians, but gone are those who remember them as son, daughter, father, mother, or friend.

All sensation, all senses are lost in the body’s death. The energy of the body continues to exist, but without form, without an individual identity. Life is a celebration of having lived in this human form and mourned as an ending of that existence. Only those who remember me will know that I had ever lived. Only they can bare witness to whether or not I changed the world or had any impact at all.

“So tell me, what it is you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” — Mary Oliver

Moments

FCF38573-2929-4C13-B491-12CD9E788FD0If I could master just one art,
it would be the art of letting go:
of people I have known and loved,
of places I’ve traveled to and lived
of sunsets and full moons I’ve witnessed.
I would let go of this moment
as quickly as it appears,
faster if I could.
I would let go of things I wished for and
especially those wishes which came true.
I’d carry nothing from this moment
into the next.
For each moment
would have but one life,
never preceded by a memory
never, ever, followed by a wish.

Loneliness And The Solitude Of Aging

B4C0A454-579E-47EC-B306-E76CD25BDF24Solitude is a choice, but loneliness creeps into your life like a dark storm cloud releasing its thunder and lightening into the essence of one’s being. It feels like bombs exploding overhead while depression and self pity sprinkle down in an endless shower of gloomy days and nights without any relief. I can have many friends and still experience solitude but loneliness is the absence of friends and family with whom one can communicate. Loneliness makes everything and everyone invisible. Nothing else exists outside its self contained bubble.

I have often written about solitude in these pages and how it fulfills my need for creative and private time, but I have only experienced loneliness three times in my life. First when I lost Kathleen. That was the most miserable time of my existence. I did not want to cope with life, nor did I know how to cope with a condition I had never experienced before. I spent many days without ever getting out of bed. All the plans and dreams we created died with her in the river that afternoon. For the eighteen months of our relationship we were inseparable. After her death, I was lost.

Many individuals came to my support, even people I did not know but I was still alone. They offered condolences, support groups, and the names of grief counselors. Grief and loneliness, I learned are often companions. My mother asked me to turn to god but god had already forsaken me. These recommendations were all possible methods for getting out of the deep well of funk I found myself in, but the loneliness was too demanding. It had taken over my life like a disease. No helping hands or rope were long enough to reach me. This feeling of being totally alone in the world lasted for almost a year before I was able to surface and breathe again.

The second time I experienced loneliness was when both my parents died within a few months of one another. Although the loss was devastating, the loneliness was not as deep nor as severe as before. We know our parents will one day die, but there is no way to prepare. The loneliness this time was different. It was centered on the realization that the number of people who have known me all my life was dwindling. The only living person remaining who had known me all my life was a brother with whom I have no connection other than blood.

The loneliness was short lived, maybe one or two months following my mother’s death. She had always been the rock of the family. She was the one I knew I could always turn to to sort out my confusion. I now had no one I could call at anytime of the day or night. There was no longer her voice of comfort, but she had prepared me for life as best she could. The lessons she taught me and my previous experience were what got me through this second period of loneliness.

And my third encounter with loneliness is right now. This current period of loneliness is different from the previous two in as much as there is no grief involved except for perhaps the grief over my own impending death if one can grieve for oneself. This loneliness is the loneliness of growing old and the ending of a blood line. The ending of the bloodline of my great grandfather’s name.

From a strictly biological perspective, our only true purpose in life is to reproduce our kind. Every life form on the planet does this during its allotted time between life and death. (Three days for the fruit fly, and some seventy odd years for humans) My brother and I both fulfilled that purpose. We both brought daughters into this world. The family name however will cease to exist when we are gone.

Until now I had never thought about this situation, but it does carry with it a certain weight of loneliness, although not the deep well of loss experienced after Kathleen’s death, nor the type of loneliness following the death of my parents. It is, however loneliness. It is the ending of my family’s history under my great-grandfather’s name.

My dear friend Karen recently shared her joy when the family welcomed their first male grandchild after five female grandchildren. As I read her announcement, the empty, hollow feeling of loneliness creeped into my being again. I realized the feeling almost immediately having experienced it twice before. Loneliness takes on many forms and appears on many different levels. I did not expect nor anticipate it would enter me in this manner.

For most of my life I have chosen solitude over the companionship of family and friends. I am, and have always been a loner. I have no regrets regarding this choice in my life.

The words of Albert Einstein perhaps describe my situation best.

I am a horse for single harness, not cut out for tandem or teamwork. I have never belonged wholeheartedly to country or state, to my circle of friends, or even to my family. These ties have always been accompanied by a vague aloofness and the wish to withdraw into myself increases with the years. Such isolation is bitter, but I do not regret being cut off from the understanding and sympathy of other men. I lose something by it to be sure, but I am compensated for it in being rendered independent of the customs, opinions and prejudices of others, and I am not tempted to rest my peace of mind upon such shifting foundations.

A rather harsh reality but true of my life. As I age and approach my own death, I find more easily the solitude I fought to have in my youth. This is perhaps because I have fewer friends and family members left on this floating sphere to influence my life in any way. I am not sure why, but solitude has always been my choice. I find with aging it becomes almost a natural element of my life on its own. At the same time that solitude has become my norm, I find myself consciously working to keep loneliness at bay.

Simplicity

B4C0A454-579E-47EC-B306-E76CD25BDF24The smaller you live (materially-speaking), the bigger you can live (creatively-speaking). — Elizabeth Gilbert

I wish I had known these word earlier in my life, but then I would not have had the experiences to make the words valid. Living a small simple life provides me the freedom to live my life the way I choose to live, and a foundation now based upon simplicity keeps that bond strong.

I have not always lived in this manner. For a good part of my early life I lived rather high on the hog. Part of this was due to my own views of life and part of it was due to my wanting to please others, my wife and my ego. I lived a life I enjoyed at the time only because I thought it was the way things were meant to be. I played the game of keeping up with the Jones without even knowing them.

The change came about suddenly. I found myself in perpetual debt paying for a life I could not afford and working in a job I did not like in order to try to pay for that life. My life had become full of stuff and the maintenance and use of that stuff was costing me more than I could afford in both time and money. Yea, I liked going skiing on the weekends, attending tennis camps during the summers, and membership in the local health club, but it all came at a cost I could not afford. I was living the champagne life on less than a beer budget.

When I left my corporate job, I gave away all the stuff I had accumulated, paid off my bills, and started over from scratch. Before every purchase, I would calculate the numbers of hours I had to work for that item. Was a television or car worth the number of hours I had to work to pay for it? No! became a more familiar word in my vocabulary. I found I did not need or even want those things which filled my previous life anymore. I rode a bike. I worked at a job I loved in a bookstore. Those material things which at one time defined me were no longer a part of my life.

I found myself with free time for the first time since I graduated from college. I discovered things I was interested in doing rather than doing things because everyone else was doing them and because I thought they gave me a certain status. I stopped caring what other people thought and stopped worrying about their judgements. In simplifying my life I found the time and space for my creative energy to be born and more important, I shed all the masks I had worn and found myself sitting quietly alone waiting to be discovered.

Listening

FCF38573-2929-4C13-B491-12CD9E788FD0First to my mother’s heart beat as
I floated in her mixture of embryonic fluids.
What else was there for me to do, but
listen in amazement to the surroundings of my new self.
To witness sound while my closed eyes waited to open.

I listened to the voices of other children from whom
I was an outcast as their scorn and laughter made
their way to my large, ever perceptive ears
because I spoke with a lazy tongue.
I listened to the untamed sounds making their journey
through the breath, beating, and strings of instruments,
coming out as harmonies and melodies even to untrained ears.
I listened to the grief, tears, sorrows and joys of a changing life,
to the voices of others telling me how to live,
to my own, telling me not to follow their advice.

I listened to the sounds of a thousand crickets from a single
source, echoing off the wind in a room above the ocean bluff.
I listened to the bicycle wheels spinning beneath me
while I peddled hundred of miles in all directions.
I listened to the sea lapping and roaring against the shore
To the pelicans flying overhead, flapping and coasting,
diving into and feasting from the sea’s bounty.
I listened to the silent beauty of sunsets, the rising of full moons,
and the shooting of stars across the black night sky.

I listened to the purrs of kittens and the barking of dogs,
to my own ecstatic breathing after we made love.
I listened to the voice comforting me when I felt troubled,
giving aid and guidance when I was lost.
I listened to my own heart beating and missed it only
once on that day, a year ago, when it stopped.
I have been listening my entire life.

Now I wish to speak.

They Just Don’t Understand Me

B4C0A454-579E-47EC-B306-E76CD25BDF24I am an Aries in Western astrology. A triple fire sign with sun in Aries, moon in Leo, and rising sign in Sagittarius. There is very little earth and no water in my chart, mostly fire and air. Therefore there are no conficting elements. In Chinese astrology, I am the Rat. A creature who enjoys being on the outside looking in, as the outside acords me a clearer view into the inner workings of a particular situation or problem. On the Meyers-Briggs Personality chart I am an INFP, roughly three percent of the population at large. I am introverted, quiet and reserved, intuitive, feeling, and perceptive. I prefer being alone or interacting with a select group of close friends to large groups. I rely upon intuition, and I am generally focused on the big picture more than the minor details. I am meticulous about things and people I care about. The decisions in my life are made based upon my personal feelings more than what might be called objective information, and although I was a philosophy major in college, my decisions are based on personal values more so than logic. In tarot, I am the Fool, the card without a number or in some decks the zero card. I am a soul in search of experience.

So in summary, I am an Aries Rat INFP Zero Fool. Does not sound too great does it and yet these interpretations summarize to some extent my personality, who I am by definition using these tools.

The closest I have ever come to a tribal identity were the two years I lived at Esalen. There was a connection with the people with whom I worked and lived that I had not previously encountered nor have I experienced since. And yet I left Esalen because I felt my individual identity suffered there. I have no national identity. I no longer identify with America as my homeland because of its racist policies and practices toward Black Americans and other minority groups around the world. I no longer have a family identity and although I am Black, I no longer have an identity based upon race as I did during my rebellious years in college. I feel a kinship with Black Ecuadorians but because their experiences are different, I do not know if they feel a similar kinship with me. The only identity I still process is my identity as an individual which denies all the tools used to establish personality traits which by their very nature are general at best.

I do not know that I will ever be understood. My extroverted friends throw surprise parties for me when I would rather spend the day in silent retreat. They want to surround me with people when I would rather be alone. They try to make me like themselves rather than accepting the stark reality that I am different. They are energized by groups while I find groups draining of my energy because they require too much attention. They find it diffcult to accept the fact I love my solitude because they are unable to spend time alone. They require almost constant entertainment. They want to fix or change me when I require neither fixing or changing. I have accepted the truth that as an Aries Rat INFP Zero Fool, I may never be understood by my fellow humans except for those who share similar traits, and that to me is perfectly okay.