Sunday, December 4, 2016

A Post Election Look At Ecotopia [1]

Back in June 2012 I posted two articles on my LifeCentering blog about the development of an Utopian Society composed of the states of Washington, Oregon and Northern California.  A recent post by one of my FB friends brought the book to mind again so I looked up the two articles.  I found them to be personally relevant to things many of us feel post 2016 election.  Do not quickly dismiss these articles.  I encourage you to join me in a trip back to 2012.  See if you fit into the picture on any level.

[1] “Ecotopia” by Ernest Callenbach, Banyan Tree Books

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Post Election November 9, 2016

Walt Kelly, cartoonist and author of the widely heralded comic strip, POGO, may have best said it.  And since I have no words of my own, I share these.

We have met the enemy and he is us."

Perhaps more than any other words written by Kelly, it perfectly sums up his attitude towards the foibles of mankind and the nature of the human condition.
The quote was a parody of a message sent in 1813 from U.S. Navy Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry to Army General William Henry Harrison after his victory in the Battle of Lake Erie, stating, "We have met the enemy, and they are ours." It first appeared in a lengthier form in "A Word to the Fore", the foreword of the book The Pogo Papers, first published in 1953. Since the strips reprinted in Papers included the first appearances of Mole and Simple J. Malarkey, beginning Kelly's attacks on McCarthyism, Kelly used the foreword to defend his actions:

“Traces of nobility, gentleness and courage persist in all people, do what we will to stamp out the trend. So, too, do those characteristics which are ugly. It is just unfortunate that in the clumsy hands of a cartoonist all traits become ridiculous, leading to a certain amount of self-conscious expostulation and the desire to join battle. There is no need to sally forth, for it remains true that those things which make us human are, curiously enough, always close at hand. Resolve then, that on this very ground, with small flags waving and tinny blasts on tiny trumpets, we shall meet the enemy, and not only may he be ours, he may be us. Forward!”—Walt Kelly, June 1953

So, there you have it.  We have elected a new President.  Can we change from being “enemies” to being friends.  We should find that out very soon.

Credits:  Except for the first and last paragraph of this post, the material and cartoon were in the Wikipedia biographical sketch of Walt Kelly.

By Source, Fair use,

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Still Alive After All These Years!

Like millions of other people around the world, I have a Facebook account.  Also like millions of other people, my exchanges on Facebook comprise my primary means of communication with friends, old and new.

While writing has never been my primary career, there is hardly a time since my first “professional” job as a minister in 1960 that I have not written on a regular basis.  At first the writing was primarily sermon summaries, newsletters and special bulletins.  Over my many years writing has become my way of living and contributing to the stream of ideas that move through all of us in one way or another.  I now am the principal author of three web logs (blogs).  Each blog was developed to serve a particular need to comment on some facet of the lives we live today—personal, social/political and lately, alternative dimensions of consciousness.

Imagine, if you can, my surprise at finding on Facebook a fresh comment on an article I wrote two years ago for my LifeCentering blog.  It was titled, “The Journey of Being Alive.”  It was about my discovery that I had become an observer of life rather than an actor.  I realized that after 20 years of living alone I had become quite isolated and insulated from doing things, anything!

As I read and then re-read the article several times considering the words and the implications of observing life rather than living life, I could not help but acknowledge how easy it has become to stay on the sidelines.  I do not write articles as often, but using Facebook I comment often, much to the dismay of some I suppose, since it is mostly social/political commentary.  It is not always pleasant.

We are living in the most rancorous and angry times I have seen in my 81 years.  I do not remember such volatility in the responses to the Vietnam War.   It is true that the physical aggressiveness then may have been more present than what we see today.  However, today’s volatility is much more immediate and widespread due to the fact that anyone can Tweet, post, write a blog, photograph and post events, etc. There is a high level of engagement, much of it hateful and negative.  Lost in this kind of engagement is the fact that there is also a larger number of persons actually coming together to act to bring about change.  Observers still observe.  Writers still write.  But the times are demanding actors, initiators, doers. 

It is difficult not to see that social interaction is getting out of hand, encouraged in large part by the current candidates for the Office of President of the United States.  It is almost impossible to believe that someone like Donald Trump could actually be rallying thousands of people who support his message aggressively.  Unfortunately, the same can be said regarding Hillary Clinton. 

As for me, I do not seem to be motivated to do much beyond comment.  To feel this way would appear to negate the conclusions reached in my original article from 2014.  Is it enough to be an opinion writer?  Is the attempt to inspire others to become involved in the society we share together enough?  I cannot honestly answer that question.  I sometimes feel guilty about writing rather than walking a picket line or knocking on doors to get out the vote.  However, long ago I knew that I was not the person whose calling was demonstrating in the streets or engaging physically in the struggle for change.  I think, I consider the facts as I discover them, I share the philosophical conclusions I reach.  That is what I do.  You are not required to agree with my conclusions or my particular philosophy of life.  If you end up thinking in a slightly different way, or if you see other possibilities for change, of if you find that you are led to be in the streets demonstrating for what you believe as a result of something I have written, then I have served a purpose.

Regardless of what you do, or don’t do, or what I may do or not do, change is coming.  It has been coming for a long time.  I personally believe there is a strong possibility that it will be disruptive in a manner we have not seen since the Revolutionary War or the Civil War. Oddly, the same issues are at stake:  freedom from what some consider as an illegitimate governance (as in the King of England); freedom from slavery (Civil Rights for all individuals and groups); and a desire for a country and a government that is truly representative and responsive to its constituencies.  Except for Native Americans, we have all come here from somewhere else. We all are part of the fabric that has always made this a great nation.  If we are to "make America great again" it will be by coming together in harmony, mutual respect, and acceptance of the unique cultures we each contribute.

I am still alive after all these years of my personal history.  I expect to be alive for a little more history.  I continue to make new friends and think about ideas in new ways. I will probably continue to write about it.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

It Won’t Be The Same Anymore

Sunday morning, 7:00 – 8:30 AM, just will not be the same anymore now that Charles Osgood is retiring from “CBS Sunday Morning,” after 22 years as host.

I have been a listener to this outstanding program since long before Charles took over the reins from Charles Kuralt.  On the rare occasions that I overslept and missed the opening, or heaven forbid if I missed even more of the program, I would rush, still in my pjs to catch whatever I could.  Yes, even before COFFEE!  Since the advent of modern coffee makers, I would set mine on automatic so the coffee was waiting for me upon arising.

I cannot begin to tell you the range of emotional satisfaction that the stories each Sunday morning had for me.  “News” was the least of what a listener would hear.  A brief news opening, but after that, only rich and meaningful stories would unfold. It was almost impossible to not enjoy seeing and hearing little known facts about some part of the world or some population, or some special person.

There was something for everyone and I could not help but find myself drawn into some special part of the program every Sunday morning.  This morning the hour and a half was a retrospective of the 22 years of broadcasting hosted by “Charlie.”  I could remember almost all of the features recounted. 

Jane Pauley is scheduled to be the new hostess of the program.  Although I like Ms. Pauley, it just will not be the same.  I expect the quality of the programming to continue to be top notch and I will be there every Sunday morning as long as I am able to get out of bed. Maybe you would like to join me and the millions who follow “CBS Sunday Morning.”

Until then, as Charles would always sign off:  “I’ll see you on the radio.”

So long for now, Charlie!

Sunday, August 28, 2016

The Trashing of America

I try to take a 30 – 60 minute walk every morning on days I do not have my fitness class.  I find my brain working overtime on a variety of ideas that come to me along the way.  Sometimes they are such that I hope I will still have them fresh in my mind by the time I get home so I can write them down.  Most times, though, they are gone by then.

Today was one of the days my thoughts stayed with me.  I had gone over and over them until they seemed set in form.  What struck me today, and it often has, is the amount of litter—trash—that I see along the streets and walkways.

Years ago, when I was director of youth education for my national church headquarters, one of my responsibilities was the organization of an annual teenage youth conference for about 350 young folks from all over the country.  In one of those conferences I met a young man who was from another country participating in an exchange program.  One day as we were talking he mentioned to me his disappointment in finding so much litter in “America the Beautiful.”  He said that in his country he would be castigated for simply spitting on the sidewalk.  Regardless of what other conditions might be discussed about issues in his country, the point stuck with me through the years.  It seems far too easy for Americans, especially young people, though not they alone, to simply drop trash where they stand.

It occurred to me as I walked along past the middle school, the small park and the aquatic center on my way to the path through the woods along Rickreal Creek, that even if we had trash barrels every 50 feet, there would be those who still would drop their candy wrappers, pop cans and bottles—beer cans in some cases—right on the spot.  This morning I even saw a plastic bag of dog poop that an owner has obviously picked up and bagged.  I wonder who is supposed to take care of it.  Maybe mom is coming by later, like she does picking up after others in the home regularly.  I doubt it.

I suppose one could find all kinds of reasons we do not seem to care as much for the way we treat our country.  The National Parks Service has been running advertisements during this year of celebrating the history of our national parks, showing the tons of garbage left in the parks by visitors each year.  Granted this is not necessarily litter, but it is garbage.  The tag line in the ad is “We are what we leave behind.”  Cannot be said much clearer than that.

Among the many things I was taught as a child was to NOT leave litter behind me.  I wrapped used gum in the original wrapper or other paper and disposed of it appropriately, carrying it home in my pocket, if necessary.  Pop bottles were collected and redeemed at the grocery store.  (This was before the many litter laws encouraging recycling.)  Besides the cleanup that was accomplished, I always had pocket money, an incentive for my actions.  I suppose I could take a bag with me to hold litter that I find along my walks.  I do pick up things that I find close to garbage cans that someone couldn’t take the two steps to toss in the can.

So, the long and the short of the story is that we could be doing a much better job of keeping our streets and byways free of litter and trash.  Lady Bird Johnson, wife of former President, Lyndon Johnson, took on the mission of beautifying our roadways by planting flowers.  We all get to enjoy that beauty. 

What’s that I hear?  Oh, its just mom’s footsteps heading out to pick up after the rest of us who dropped our trash on the spot.  Thanks, mom!