Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Negligent Erosion


The erosion of the Natural Treasury of The United States and the Resulting Danger:

As a lad growing up in the 1950s I played in the creek with my cousins on my grandfather's farm. We removed our shoes and traversed up and down the creek looking for water moccasins to kill, swatting a "apple bugs" who could run on top of the water and generally had a ball in the clean cool water. When we were thirsty, we reached down into the running stream and scooped up the cool water to quench our thirst....because we could. The water was clean and OK to drink. I would be afraid to drink from that same creek today.

The Environmental Protection Agency was created by Republican President Richard Nixon in 1970 to fix national pollution control standards, guidelines, and to monitor and enforce them. The Congress passed the Clean Air Act in 1970, the Clean Water Act in 1972, and 10 other major statutes of law in force today to control uranium mill tailings; ocean dumping; safe drinking water; insecticides, fungicides, and other hazardous elements.

So why could it be dangerous to drink untreated water from the creek I played in as a child? ...especially since we have so many laws to prevent its pollution and a major federal agency to control it. Answer: We have placed business interests above the welfare and health of the citizens of the US. You see its not that we do not have the laws...its that we refuse to enforce the laws we have and we have allowed business interests to have too much influence through bribery and influence peddling. All three branches of the US government are guilty of allowing this tragedy of the loss of the health and safety of Americans. 

We have been willing to spend trillions of dollars on defense spending but unwilling to spend the minimum required to control the pollution of our environment. The present Presidential Administration is doing its best to dismantle the EPA with the assistance of the Republican Congress and to defund the enforcement of our environmental laws. Their ears are tuned to listen to business interests first and foremost which is a blatant form of bribery!

The land we took from the Natives was rich. Natural and healthy. We have filled it with pollution. We are and will in untold ways pay for our lack of stewardship of the land...like it says in the gospel, "...to whom much is given, much shall be required..." So were you partially responsible for this tragedy by making your voting choices...voting for those who were so ready to put their business above your own health. You voted against your own welfare...perhaps against your own life!

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Making Sense of It All?

Understanding the American political scene of 2016-17 is a bewildering prospect. The following opinion will be of little consequence to anyone. But...here's the attempt to make some sense of it all.

The Grand Experiment of 1776 and the democratic Republic in North America thus begun has failed....its political philosophy having been stated in the Declaration of Independence and its legal basis having been written in The Constitution of the United States. It is obvious that we have abandoned our stated philosophy, and we have left the purpose of the Constitution far behind us. We have allowed the government to evolve into a political system which principally resembles a Fascist State.

Perhaps the following analogy will help convey the reasoning behind this conclusion...

A few hundred years ago after the dawning of the great enlightenment, many individuals were known by their profession: wheel right, cobbler, tinker, mason, baker, etc. Generally a cobbler made a pair of shoes or repaired shoes and earned for himself the value of his labor in some direct form. He earned value for value his labor and it belonged to him. When the industrial revolution came along and labor became a commodity individuals were forced to sell their labor to industrial enterprises but had little control as to the value assigned to their labor. The worker had to take the value which was offered or live in poverty. Since his labor was worth much more than he was paid, the remaining value was turned into profit for the industry which used his labor. Nothing basically wrong with that...except that the worker had no control over the amount of value assigned to his labor. That basic system has been in affect fro several hundred years and still is.

There is a basic flaw in this system which created a social injustice among the working class. That is the levers of power in the system belong entirely in the hands of the owners of the industry (capital). Very little power is in the hands of the worker (labor). This flaw has been accepted as normal and unavoidable. It has allowed Capital the freedom to create grievous abuses in the workplace and to expand these abuses even to the point of the creation of an international slave trade and the use of human slaves both historically and in the present time to maximize the profits of capital. It included inhumane practices like child labor, dangerous working conditions, even deadly work environments, with no provisions for loss of life or limb. Depending on where one travels, these same practices can still be found occurring now in our time in parts of the world.

This economic system is called Capitalism.

There is a mostly buried history of an era where the common people of the world fought back against this theft of personal power over ones own body and ones own labor. Various labor unions were formed and political organizations were formed to present a united resistance to the abuses of Capital. During certain historical periods Labor gained power and were successful in obtaining a more equatable compensation for their work. But in recent years in the United States, Capital has gained the upper hand in this struggle by fighting labor unions and laws benefiting Labor by political bribery to repeal laws and practices which gave clout to Labor. They have also been successful in getting new laws passed which severely limit the ability of Labor to regain its power to bargain for fair treatment of workers. Thousands of workers find themselves in the position of being unable to sustain a living on the wages they receive for their work. This is a political situation and it has crated the consequences that the United States has evolved into a fascist state. As a nation over several hundred years we built the most thriving booming economic juggernaut the world has ever witnessed. We became the richest nation in history through capitalism. But somewhere along the way we allowed Capital to totally dominate the media and the people in government and began to equate democracy with capitalism as one and the same. Capital developed the idea that if anyone in the world believed in an economic system which was different from capitalism and actually attempted to practice a different economic system they were enemies of democracy. It meant that if a government promoted any form of socialism we labeled them communists even if their socialist government was the democratic choice of the people of the nation in question.

An example of how that worked is: some sovereign nations with democratic governments created the policy that the natural resources of that nation were a part of the common property which belonged to the people and the people of that nation deserved a larger share of that value than just having a job which made international Capital richer and richer. The international Capitalists loathe this "nationalization" of a countries resources. It is their view that the worlds resources are "up for grabs" for those who are powerful enough to exploit them and profit from that exploitation.

The United States evolved into a nation , a government, which places the utmost importance on the promotion of capitalism and made that the number one purpose of government. It meant that we wished to pressure all other nations into the same economic system which we practiced. In fact the US created intentional organizations which promoted our economic system around the various countries of the world and placed enormous economic pressure on their governments to cooperate by allowing US companies to exploit resources both natural and Labor as if their nations were our own nation. These organizations include the International Monetary Fund, and the World Bank. The strategy is to get the other nations in debt by granting loans while demanding changes in their domestic laws which benefit international corporations for profit. The US appointed ourselves as the economic world police force, putting down communism and socialism militarily. All for greater and greater profits for our massive world corporations.

Anyone who knows our historical documents, know that we "say" we believe the purpose of government is to "preserve" basic human rights as is stated in the Declaration of Independence, but we have pushed that purpose aside in order to promote capitalism both at home and around the world.We have said to the world, "If you do not practice our economic model, you are not truly a democracy." This perspective dominated our domestic policies and our foreign policy. This perspective has grown to dominate all three branches of the American government. Preservation of our inalienable rights has fallen far behind the other "more important" purposes of government.

If you wish to either question or debate this thesis, here is this first of many many other possible proofs that we began in the beginning to place profits above human rights when we struck the issue of human slavery from the first draft of the Declaration of Independence. This is what was protested and removed: (speaking of King George III of England, a passage critical of the international slave trade in 1776) "He has waged cruel war against human nature itself, violating its most sacred rights of life and liberty in the persons of a distant people who never offended him, captivating and carrying them into slavery in another hemisphere or to incur miserable death in their transportation thither. This piratical warfare, the opprobrium of infidel powers, is the warfare of the Christian King of Great Britain. Determined to keep open a market where Men should be bought and sold,...."  This passage was written by an individual who owned more than 200 human beings who posses no trace of personal freedom and dignity, Thomas Jefferson. This is a perfect example of how we have rationalized our emphasis on profits and greed and have consistently spoke from both sides of our mouths while claiming the high moral ground and that we the "shining city on a hill for all to follow and emulate".

The United States chose profits over human rights. We started early in our history toward fascism. We have now arrived at the station.


Friday, July 24, 2015

Pursuit of Happiness: Could this be dangerous?

We humans are a happy lot...not so much. When we look around we can see who is happy and who is not. My dogs are happy. We have four of them. Each one has its own kind of happiness. Some are happier than others. The least intelligent is much more happy than the smartest one. Animals have a simple happiness which humans cannot easily posses. We become gradually burdened down with this wonderful consciousness. This accumulation of all things human.

Most children are happy, sort of, say from toddler age to middle school. Adults, adolescents, various persons of deprived social status are happy periodically...when they are tipsy, or at a party, or engaged with their friends and social group. Some of us are not happy very much at all. In fact we are kind of negative. (This is a real dirty word. If you want to put someone down, just say they are negative...that'll fix 'em.)

Have you ever noticed that babies "learn" to be happy. At birth they mostly feel hunger, and pain but not much else for a while. Often though, they learn to laugh before they even learn a word, like "Mama". And the parents are so very delighted when baby does laugh...wow, that's a happy baby! These babies keep growing and they keep learning happiness, family, friends, toys, kittys, doggies, ice cream, candy. Wow this is fun! Its fun to play and mess with video games, this is the life. So baring tragedy, childhood is usually a very happy thing.

Then Mommy and Daddy say you have to go to school to get smart. Try to be at the head of the class. There's lots of competition so you have to study when you want to do other things like video games. So little irritations start popping up. You run into a bad bully at school, you have teachers who are strict and everything begins to tense up. Mommy insist that you join lots of extra curricular activities and the competition increases and the tension notches up. Uh oh, I'm not so happy about some of this! (I am beginning to learn unhappiness). Seems like the smarter we get the unhappier we get. Is it true that ignorance is bliss? Should we remain uneducated so we can have some happiness?

Knowledge is cumulative. When the child learns that some day he will die, that never leaves him. And when the teacher who is responsible teaches about how the environment is being destroyed and there are too many people in the world and that a very large number of people are very poor and do not have enough food, the knowledge of all these things begins to accumulate. If this little person who is in the process of becoming a mature person and a citizen of the world, does not close his eyes and his ears, he will learn a whole world of disturbing things which accumulate inside and it becomes a burden. He learns and is actually "taught" that there are a whole lot of people in the world who are "bad" and not to be trusted! We learn the fear which accompanies human intelligence.

So it becomes NORMAL and natural that fear builds up in a person and tends to destroy the happiness which was seemingly a birth right of childhood! We thought that the American Dream was a statement of substance: an inalienable right,"...life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness."

This is when we learn to lie to ourselves...so as to preserve some of the happiness which was so delightful in our youth. We build fantasies and dreams. We convince ourselves that we can be happy in the future. We dream of the great things and fun thing we will do. "Not to worry, we can create some happiness and life will be good again." This can go on for a life time and we never realize that we are mostly living in the past on the great things we did and we are living in the future on the great things we will do and all the great things we will learn, and all the money we will make, then we will be happy! But we do not so much realize that the ONLY thing we actually have is now the eternal present. We tend to not live in today. Our mind is elsewhere. We are living on dreams.

Not saying that dreams are not good to have. Because a dream can never come true if one has never had a dream.

So the things we learn in life tend to be mostly the things which reduce our happiness, destroying the innocence of childhood, replacing it with the morbid reality of eventual death. When my father died, my sister Carolyn and I had to go through all the remaining possessions. Our brother Paul had been dead 23 years. Mother had been dead 7 years. What was left of our beautiful family was in boxes of photos and records. In the bottom of Dad's file cabinet I found a group of house plans. These house plans were all the homes they had ever built or dreamed of building. They were there in my hands. It included the plan of the last home. A thought took over my mind, here in my hands are all the dreams that my parents had ever had or would have. They are all gone...all spent.

Since we can't "unlearn" the things which destroy our happiness, perhaps we could learn how to be happy with a different focus. Joshua Foa Dienstag speaks of a "well educated conscience". Could we teach ourselves to be happy again? Perhaps American education; the philosophy of it, has emphasized the wrong thing. From grammar school through college education, the philosophy of education should be aimed at preparing human beings for life not just for being smart and making money. Perhaps our American "education" is deficient in ethics and soul. Its the greedy who wish to live in a world without ethics and compassion! At every level we should teach our next generations music, art, literature, theater, and philosophy. Being just a math whiz, or science and computer whiz is not near enough. A more responsible education can build a sense humor and a sense of heroism in the face of the reality of living the life of a human being who is conscious of the past, the present, and the future and all the frightening realities they contain. If the gift of consciousness makes it difficult to be happy, perhaps we should just accept that fact and be heroes; just laugh about it. Dienstag quotes Leopardi in saying, "laughter is no less proper and peculiar to man than reason is." He adds, "we(humans) do not only laugh out of pleasure, but just as often, out of pain". A heroic attitude about life can arise from what seem to be ashes when we think as Dienstag suggests when he quotes Rousseau's famous challenge,"Live, and be great and unhappy"!

Modern man has come to believe in a series of ideas as the way to live a happy life: a good education, obtaining wealth and possessions, and living in a political system which provides complete freedom. But it's obvious that we have not been successful; the pursuit of happiness as we have defined it isn't working. We've been ignoring some realities. Perhaps we can as individuals teach ourselves a focus which will bring the answer,"yes" to this question, "Is life worth living?".












Saturday, February 28, 2015

Predicament



Here we sit early in the 21st century surveying the predicament of the human race. One could say that perhaps we have 10,000 times over the ability to solve problems than did our ancestors who were crossing the threshold from hunter gatherers to horticulture and animal husbandry. Today we can rely on thousands of years of progress in science, mathematics, and general knowledge to assist us in solving human problems. Yet the question persists, "with this increase in knowledge has there been progress in the character of human beings?

Our discouragement about this question is well founded and can be easily traced over the last few hundred years in which great catastrophes occurred initiated by humans. We passed through phases where various discoveries and dramatic jumps in knowledge and understanding brought a reservoir of optimism causing great expectations for mankind...only to have our hopes dashed with man-made interventions of suffering and death on a massive scale. And that loss not just of human loss but the entire planet upon which we live. Whats more the losses suffered and which now are occurring were and are exacerbated by the very forward leaps in science, technology, and knowledge which have always been interpreted as positive steps but have proved to create greater and greater destruction, loss of all forms of life and greater suffering. It appears that what we assumed were advances, what we considered to be human progress has not brought what we expected but the opposite!

History records what appeared to be break throughs and with them expectations of progress. For three fourths of recorded history nations ruled by monarchs were strongly influenced by religions, especially the Roman Church and Islam. Coming on the heels of the Renaissance and the Enlightenment in Europe, control of the state by the Church was gradually broken followed by the removal of the absolute power of kings. These events were precipitated by scientific discoveries and technological advances. These advances in philosophy, knowledge and science brought on the demand eventually for fundamental change in forms of government. Political power began shifting into the hands of citizens in the form of democracy. Did this "progress" improve the moral quality of human existence? ...more fairness, more justice, more ethical behavior? Was civilization on the way to becomeing utopian?

Eventually the clamor for democratic government modeled on the experiments of the Greeks and the Romans bore fruit. A republic was formed in America followed by a republic in France. Again the world began to think that great things were in store for humans at last with democratic government breaking out around the world. The American republic came to be known as "the great experiment in liberty". The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin was translated into many languages and was read through out the world and still is today. Americans more than any other peoples considered that their government, the United States was a model for all countries through out the world for good or ill. That belief still persists.

However when we look at the dark side of the same past several centuries we see an ever increasing scope in the use of war and violence between nations and at present the violence transcends national boundaries. This has been accompanied by periods of religious violence; the Spanish Inquisition, persecution of "infidel" Jews, burning hundreds of "witches", the 30 years war, the beheading of two monarchs: England and France, and the opening of the age of colonialism which accompanied by the beginning of massive exploitation of the worlds natural resources and the exploitation of humanity as virtual slaves or actual ones.

How have the nations of democracy fared? The democracy founded in England with Parliament was dissolved by Oliver Cromwell who became the Puritan dictator of England. The republic founded in America was soiled with the blight of human slavery and a civil war to free them and the ethnic cleansing of the natives of North America. The republic founded in France led eventually to the take over of Napoleon,the Napoleonic wars, and the seating of Napoleon as Emperor. All this gives credence to the question as to whether this "progress" was forward or backward.

The last half of the 19th century brought forth the establishment of the Industrial Revolution, first in England with the first "free trade" economy where human life young and old was worth a pittance and humans were but cogs on the wheels of industry to be ground into dust. The weak were rejected, ejected and forgotten. This industrial triumph was followed by a European arms race and the First World War in which more than 20 million solders lost their lives and the combined death toll for soldiers and civilians was about 40 million with no logical or discernible reason. At the end of WWI Germans were starving and no animals were left to plow the fields to grow food. This was followed by the Great World Wide Depression, the rise of the National Socialist Party in Germany and World War Two in which 50 million people lost their lives.

These are just facts...which could hardly be used to support the idea of "human progress".

To this present day we are overwhelmed by global problems of every sort from over population to over fishing the oceans to destruction of the worlds forests to turning the globe into a great receptacle of garbage and poisons of every description. The weight of a population of more than seven billion and the industry to supply them with their every desire has polluted the air, land and sea. We have global warming and radio active poisoning around the world: Chernobyl,Fukushima and other places including the US, Russia, Iraq and elsewhere.

Does this describe a world of rational beings?...who have the unique ability among other living things to anticipate the future...even predict it? Did we fail to see ahead or did we not give a shit because there were riches to be had? Is that what our American forefathers did when they took the land of North America as they wished , killing off the inhabitants and with the free labor of slaves proceeded to wring out the riches of the land?...lay the railroads, establish a moving frontier, build cities, ply the rivers, and provide "free" land for the homesteader? Is this the only way to provide jobs through exploitation? Rape the land and it inhabitants for a booming economy of lust for gold and land? Some would say these events of American history were in the mind of God in the form of "manifest destiny"?

Creating a man-made world filled with problems has been a tortuous journey and the path of least resistance. Will we abandon these problems to our mother the earth then fade away? When we consider our alter selves how does the scales of justice balance upon reflection? Is there actually any such thing as "human progress"? Have the recent centuries, millennia proved the expected progressive evolution of human character? The answer to these questions seems fearful and somber. Opening our eyes, seeing and contemplating the world as it has become...under the hand of man is the first step in becoming what we hope to be...facing the truth. If we care about the human race and the planet which produced us, we must learn from the past, anticipate a better future and be what we must be one day at a time. We must expect the best of our selves and of those around us. We have followed our alter selves too often.

"...Our knowledge is a torch of smoky pine
That lights the pathway but one step ahead
Across a void of mystery and dread..."
Santayana




















































Saturday, October 4, 2014

Big Will Sitton

My Grandaddy was known as "Big Will Sitton, born in 1888. He was in his teens before he laid eyes on an automobile. When he learned to drive a car as opposed to driving a team of horses, there were no paved roads just muddy ones. So he developed the habit of not wanting to stop his vehicle. If you stopped you were stuck in the mud. He consequently ran lots of stop signs his entire life. The process of Grandaddy's driving is where I learned a lot of "cuss" words. Everyone was always in his way and were often "damn fools" for gittin' in his way...and the SOBs ought to by god be took out and hanged. My earliest preschool memories of him include being placed up on the seat of his wagon as he worked the barbed wire fence line with the team of horses setting posts...building fence. He put me down on the ground and showed me a nettle, warning me of its painful sting. In East Texas they were called "bull nettles". Sure enough I got into one and got stung. I cried and complained. So Grandaddy said,"pee on it!"...which I proceeded to do right away. He said, "feel better now?" I said, "uh huh", shaking my head up and down. Will Sitton was born a few miles from Lindale, Texas in Smith County. For a few years he was a contractor rebuilding oil well pumps in one of the early Texas oil fields near Burkburnett,Texas, Wichita County discovered in 1912. He made enough money to pay cash for 105 acres of land in northern Smith County of the S.M. Grace survey. The price was $800 and in doing so in 1921, he reclaimed some of the original land purchased in the 1800s by Sittons and later lost in a tax sale on the steps of the county courthouse. His pump rebuilding business involved the use of a specially trained team of horses who obeyed his voice commands as the pump was pulled from the depths one sucker rod at a time. Forward and back by voice command as Grandaddy disassembled the rods. Upon finally getting the pump to the surface, he disassembled it and rebuilding it followed by placing it back into the hole in the ground in the same manner. Paying cash for 105 acres of land in 1921 was quite of feat for a man who was a farmer because the Great Depression of the 1930s came early for farmers...it came in the 1920s for them. They had supplied WWI and Europe with the food to fight the war and recovery but when the war ended, food production for the war and it's aftermath soon stopped causing the price of farm products to fall drastically, setting the stage for the crash of the stock market in 1929. That's when the Lindale State Bank failed in Lindale, Texas and my other Grandfather, Pete Malone lost all the money he had. I was somewhat inspired by country life and farm animals so as a senior in high school in Tyler, Texas I participated in vocational agriculture and was a member of the FFA. I bought two 2yr. old heifers. One was a Guernsey and when she calved the calf died and I had to learn how to milk quickly. Each morning I was up quite early and drove from Tyler to Lindale to milk my cow. Big Will also milked his cow so we waded through the morning dew together to milk. After the job was done, my Grannie Margaret Amy Mason Sitton, strained the fresh milk and had breakfast on the table ready for my Grandad and I to sit down for breakfast. ...hot biscuits, cane syrup, black berry jelly, eggs, sausage...every morning, then back to Tyler for school. Looking back those mornings seem like a treasure...how many teens would have had such a thing of value to later day dream about? Back to an earlier memory, pre-school age, I remember the Sitton hog killing. It usually was a frosty cold October morning. Grandad's Sitton cousins came to help; three or four pairs of extra hands for the hard work. A wood fire was built under a metal barrel of water. The action took place under a massive oak tree close to the hog pen, to which a block and tackle was attached on a very large overhanging limb. The hog were killed and bled out very quickly and hoisted up above the hot water and dipped to clean and soften the skin. This was followed by a lot of scraping and dipping. The hog was then gutted and the head removed. Grandad chopped and sawed the hog in half from rear to front with his ax and hand saw. They raised very fat hogs in those days (1940s) so as to render the fat to make lard for house hold use in the kitchen. This cooperative activity was standard for people who were "self reliant". Favors were always reciprocated. The daughter of one of those cousins, Ruby Sitton Robertson, recently deceased, told me "Will Sitton was always ready to help anyone who asked for a hand to get things done. He often robbed bee hives for people." Another early memory was of a family gathering at the home place. I think it was just after WWII and all the sons and inlaws were home from the war. The atmosphere was festive. It so happen that a lone horse wandered up the long drive way from the dirt road, a horse no one recognized just a stray. One of the men came up with a devilish idea to get the horse to go back home. The idea was put in action and got instant results. An empty gallon can with a few rocks inside was tied to the horses tail and a quick slap came down on the horses rear. The noise of the can with the rocks sent the poor horse into a full run jumping and kicking in an unsuccessful attempt to rid himself of the can. We watched as the horse ran down the long lane, turned right and ran over the RR, up the hill and out of site still at a kicking run. The group of men laughed themselve to loosing their breath. They bent over slapping their thighs and had faces tortured with uncontrolled laughter. It seemed like a group of Indians dancing around. I smile as I play the memory in my head! Only one of those men is alive today. It seems like such a long time ago and my heart feels heavy. A lump comes up in my throat with longing for the innocence of my childhood. It was not a very nice thing to do to a poor lost animal...but I did not know that at the time. Isn't it amazing...all the memories that die with every person who walks through that garden wall? Hog killin. Cow milking. horse can kicking

Monday, September 29, 2014

America is Not a Country, It's a Business

A government which functions on the basis of Democracy means that ordinary people are involved in decision making as opposed to decisions made by fiat by the elite. This broad inclusion of participation should be the only requisite for open debate and discussion. The expressed opinion of ordinary people does count. Yes, there are certainly dangers of taking action based on the latest opinion poll! But the danger of rule by the effete is just as great if not a greater danger. It was alleged from the beginning that a republican form of government would deliver the result of "government by the People", thus eliminating the dictatorial nature of a tyrannical government. But after an experiment in government of more than 200 years, is democratic republican government what we now have? No it is not. The experiment has failed by evolution toward the side of tyranny. One of the most influential Founding Fathers was Alexander Hamilton and in his commentary on the new Constitution presented in The Federalist No. 11, there may be revealed one of the major reasons for the disastrous erosion of the power and influence of the common people on the government which in modern times rules their lives. Hamilton was in a position as the first Secretary of the Treasure to put his ideas of economics into reality and in so doing to precurse the history of the United States. The perfect example of this is the issue of slavery. During the formation and deliberation of the Declaration of Independence some members of the Continental Congress were against allowing slavery to continue and others were for it. The issue was put off; slavery was continued based on economic reasons. The moral issue of slavery was postponed until The American Civil War based on economics. Economics and industry has always been the strong suit for the United States. What a massive commercial, industrial, and economic juggernaut we became. The question is "has this strong suit of capitalism become the weak suit for the original inalienable rights we tried to establish in the course of human history? We have granted the balance of power to economics and commerce over human rights! The Founding Fathers, gentry that they were, were somewhat fearful of pure democracy. Using the term populists, or populism, they considered such democracy unstable and conducive to insurrection,they anticipated a deadlocked government disabled by extreme passions. Observing the events of the French Revolution would lend some credence to these views. The French Revolution ushered in a temporary tyranny of the new French Citizen and executed so many without the benefit of due process. Shying away from pure democracy they chose the republican form. In a similar way the evolution of the republican form under the guidance of American business interests has stolen the power of the populace and and awarded that power to American business, commerce, and industry. The scales are tipped. The People are at a loss. The power of voting for representatives has been relinquished into the hands of those who have the money to buy it. With the last line of the movie, "Killing Them Softly", Brad Pitt says, "America is not a Country, it's a business".

Sunday, December 22, 2013

A World Which Did Not Exist

Winter solstice 2013. My thoughts go back to Christmas 1945 or 1946. I had perfect parents and perfect grandparents. They met every need but added so much more above the necessities of life. I was just a child of 3 or 4 years. On Christmas morning(now-a-days I do not spell that with a capital C) I awoke to a beautiful electric train all set up on the wood floor in front of the gas space heater which I still have in my garage almost 70 years later. The train was all metal, perfect in every detail. Its whistle sounded so real like the massive steam engines which thundered past our back door at all hours of the night shaking the ground as we tried to sleep. There on a side track one train would wait on the other to pass while it hissed and blasted steam in a night shattering game of waiting. When it was finally clear to go, the monster would begin a rhythmic series of massive blast of steam and slowly increase its rhythm eventually fading into the night. The idea of Santa Claus was so magical and exhilarating...he brought me a toy train. Mother and Dad poured their essence into making my sister and I happy. I can still see the single strand of tree lights with heavy cord, large bulbs all of which seemed to last 20 years or more. We were allowed to put the lead based "icicles" on the tree...the presents under the tree were off limits. It seems that was the year my uncle Ken came back from the Navy and the war in the Pacific to reunite with his bride, my aunt Helen at our home. He was laden with gifts which he purchased from the Japanese in Tokyo, Japan. For me he brought a tiny Japanese camera which would fit into the palm of my small hand.It had real film and took real pictures. For my sister there was a hand painted picture of her on a silk roll painted by a Japanese artist from a black and white snap shot. The colors were vivid, the lips so red like the lips of a Geisha. I remember one other gift which I never considered to be good because I was terrified of chief Wahoo, a carved coconut with a fearsome glare on his face. His angry eyes were embedded seashells with great black pupils on bulging white eyes. His face was painted in warpaint, bearing his teeth in a menacing grimace. At his ears hung long dangling sea shells. It seemed I could see his fearsome face even in the dark and could never sleep in the same room. I would never enter the room without a tight grip on Mother's hand. Looking back it seems that I grew up sheltered from the hardships and the sorrows of life. I knew mostly joy and laughter...with out want, because in one way or another I was always in the grip of my Mother's or my Daddy's hand...and looking back, I realize, now that they are all gone, that world only existed in my mind and my oblivion was nothing like the reality of the rest of the world in 1945. More than 50 million people were killed in WWII, including more than 300,000 American service men and women. Millions across the globe were left with scars which I never laid eyes on. Radiation burns, wounds of war, combat fatigue, empty chairs at the dining table. I grew into the 1950s and 60s. Safe neighborhoods, walking to school, then bicycling, lots of guys in the neighborhood, sharing an idyllic life in the perfect post-war family nor really realizing that negro children in my town Tyler Texas, didn't have it so great. There was a public swimming pool 5 blocks from my house where no Negroes came. I hardly noticed. There were no Negroes in any of my schools. I became of age, got a license and a car. When I joined the military service in 1960, for the first time in my life the people in charge said, "there will be no discrimination regarding race or creed". I slept in a bunk next to Negroes and ate with them at the chow hall. When I later enrolled in college, there were just a few black students, from foreign countries. One of those students was a black man from Nigeria in his early 30s. Three slash marks on each cheek...of royal blood. In Nigeria he had been a school principal, a Baptist minister, a father of three children who with his wife waited for his return. He was a product of Southern Baptist missionary work there and came to East Texas for college. He was however not welcome at any Southern Baptist church in Harrison county Texas because he was black and was told to go to the local black churches. He visited and slept in my home, ate at my table. His name was Benjamin Adawoosi. It's been almost 50 years. No...the world I thought existed did not. Gradually over time I have become a skeptic.Some people call me a pessimist because I have become someone who insists on facing realities. I am so dissatisfied with reality because I believe that people can actually choose to be good and to do good. There are lots of people doing good...it just seems that they are not the ones in charge. I believe that democracy would work if we actually tried it. Eventually it will be tried...in the work place. That's where it will do the most good; businesses owned and controlled by the people who work there. Practicing democracy at work. Winter Solstice 2013