Pride and Governments

I’ve done a lot of thinking over the years about systems of government and I’ve come to one conclusion: they ALL fail to one extent or another. Why do they fail? There’s a myriad of reasons; surely, some are specific to the form of government being examined, and some are shared equally across the board.

One of the major reasons, a “shared” one, is because governments are instituted and administered by human beings. Humans are subject to whims, view the world through the lens of their own personal experiences, and are susceptible to a “mob mentality” because we seek approval long before we seek authenticity or truth. That’s human nature. We are also prone to greed from the moment we take our first breath, which is why we have to be taught to share.

Like it or not, we are all animals. We seek to survive and to further the species. Communities are formed because somewhere along the evolutionary scale we learned that we do better if we work together, and have a better chance of survival over the long run by having the collective pool certain resources and build a life as a dependable unit.

Governments are an extension of that primal need to assure survival. Systems seek to organize and manage societies of people with different beliefs, backgrounds, abilities and agendas. It was a bit more manageable when populations were not so connected and not nearly as numerous as they are now. (How the hell do you “govern” a billion people in one nation? Answer: you don’t. More on that another time.)

Laws have been passed to try and limit the violence we subject each other too or the wrongs and trespasses we commit, but laws cannot take away our greed, our narcissism, our thrill at succeeding even if it means stepping on the heads of the people that give you a lift up. I’ve always believed that we cannot legislate racial tolerance, for example. We can try and institute hate crimes as a deterrence to violence but we cannot turn a skinhead away from the concept of white power or the perceived dangers of a multiracial community.

So, I don’t believe in governments of any kind- at least, not as the answer to our problems. I identify as a Social Democrat (or Democratic Socialist, take your pick) because: 1) I believe in Democracy, with all my heart (if only we lived in one) and 2) I believe in things like work collectives and employee owned and operated businesses, and communal gardens and barter/trade systems of commerce. And I’m certainly not afraid to identify myself in that way. In fact, I believe that is the best course we can take, globally, as a species. I believe the directive to Love Thy Neighbor and all our wishes for Goodwill Unto Men is best demonstrated by a cultural norm that includes collective efforts, collective problem solving and collective sharing. Yes, I do.

Now, I’ve done a lot of typing… let’s see who’s had the interest or the stamina to read this all the way through and share their thoughts- respectfully, of course.
Cheers!

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What Will Never Be Known

She shuffles flat footed on her clunky feet, trousers dragging at the back
a leash in one hand attached to one round white poodle. Tail wagging
following every step she takes, every step an adventure. One hand pushes
the shopping cart which contains one big floppy bag which contains
what people in cars passing by will never know. She moves it
a few feet forward. Shuffles back, and one hand picks up a large suitcase
lugs it forward. Shuffles back and the tail still wags and follows, still
an adventure. Two hands struggle with an over sized suitcase, with filthy clothes
piled on top like a colorful hat to crown the head of a boxy woman
in black at church. Shuffles back, and forth. Back and forth. Back and forth
until all of her worldly belongings are under the concrete awning. The rain
comes down as erratically as the spit from a 5 year old on a ball field. Diana,
the grey haired lady introduces Miss Daisy, whose eyes are bright
and whose tongue is red and waving at me. The tight curls on her back are sparse
and her skin is pink but her little feet find my shins in greeting. Devotion comes
in all sizes. Diana said the Motel 6 man discriminates against women with signs
at the side of the road. Said the woman tried to kill her. She told the motel man,
“Call District 2 police.” Diana called District 2 police. Said the cop told her,
“Keep your sign, Diana. You just keep your sign.” Twenty bucks
might get her a cab to where some other motel man might let her in.
Another twenty and she starts to cry. Wipes her face and her eyes
on the front of her shirt. Waves to me. Miss Daisy follows her every step,
into a wilderness where bobcats prowl and wildflowers grow, into the place
where loan sharks swim with their razor sharp fins in the midst of this concrete jungle,
on the fringe of this cow town city.

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Half The Woman

I don’t remember if I said goodbye to you at all. I was away, so far
and living the dream, a sordid tale, the novella you would abhor. You,
who had the sweetest heart in later years, your thick glasses
blowing up your eyes into enormous moons to witness the travesty.
I did not witness the Mass, I did not go to the grave site, I did not
mourn with my mother. She lost you and I did not mourn. I lost you,
and I did not mourn. Forgive me, please. Born a fool, known a fool, and yet
you loved me, prayed for me in the darkness and the quiet of the faithful night.
Could you ever know how I remember you with such heavy heart and mourn
for you so deeply now? Decades it’s taken me, decades since you’ve been gone.
I won’t forget, I never have.
You taught me to count, to pronounce those words so full of consonants.
There was no molding here, this was life that traversed an ocean, this was
life that knew no borders, this was a wish upon a very distant star.
If I could thank you (did I ever?) now I would. Sweet and strong, you were
my champion, my teacher, my soulful song. I would be a worthy human being
were I half the woman you shared with the world. I fear I am barely half
the woman you were, one quarter the woman that sprang from your loins.
And yet, I strive, full of hope and determination – the legacy
of the pioneering heart.

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Ted Talk: Andrew Solomon: Love, no matter what

Please take the time to watch this. It is inspirational.

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Live

the way you think you should.

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Wistful Recollections and Candid Confessions

As a child I wished that the people around me understood me.
As a teenager I wished that I understood myself.
As a young adult I wished that I understood the world.
As a middle aged woman I finally understood that it was all up to me.
All of it.
I had help along the way, of course…
A priest who, while I was having a very public personal crisis, fell asleep on the couch after drinking too much whiskey with my father, and who, through his ineptitude, affirmed for me that I was, like it or not, on my own.
A high school art teacher who despised me and my work, and another high school art teacher who liked my work. (My thanks to both of you.)
A total stranger who soothed me while I wept uncontrollably on a curb on Sea Cliff Avenue, and kept repeating to me that it was okay. I finally believed her enough to get up and walk away.
A sister in law who had the guts to say to me, “When are you going to stop blaming your parents for everything?”
A friend who said to me, “You have a chip on your shoulder the size of Gibraltar; when the fuck are you going to lighten up?”
Numerous people who told me, “You wanna play, you gotta pay.”
An ex lover who told me to get into therapy because she couldn’t possibly be the source of my happiness in life.
Trungpa Rinpoche who came up with the concept of “idiot compassion” and laid out the dangers of being an enabler and of being enabled in a fresh way.
Todd Rundgren who kept me believing that there really is a Love of the Common Man, and Jackson Browne who convinced me that it was important to sit “thinking about Everyman”.
Joni Mitchell who taught me that a woman could be clever and brave and outspoken and intelligent and articulate (and also play a mean Jazz guitar).
A few former employers who assured me that I really should work for myself because I definitely don’t like being told what to do.
My father who taught me to have principles and be steadfast in upholding them.
My mother who showed me that gentleness is strength.
And somewhere, deep inside me, I helped myself along the way. I found the woman of my dreams and the good sense to not sabotage that relationship.
And finally, my numerous furry friends over the years have shown me what unconditional love really looks like- so, in a sense they trained me.

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Some Bright Day

So many have gone now, and taken small chunks out of my heart. I dream about them
sometimes, and smile upon the memory, and sadden at the reality.
Could it be that we shall meet again on some bright day? Each have walked
this crooked road at different bends with me. I shall raise a glass
to all of our bitter smiles and our sweet tears. Goodnight and joy be to you all.

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Sand Dancing

My heart seeks the deep grey sea, gulls flying and screaming, shells jamming their smooth edges between my toes. Grasses swaying in a humid breeze and sand dancing
a waltz with the tide.
That horizon there, is a meeting I will never know, could only dream about. The sickle moon hanging above my head, sending only a small shiver across the face of the water. Fishes sleep.
At the bottom of the ocean there are creatures that dwell in darkness. Do they see so much more than me?

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Jugular

The lion kills for life, and life is rarely grateful. We will hold fast our fingers
clasped tight like kites were flying, like the cracks in boulders held our weight.
Do you see heart there in the thin shadows? Do you see flames in the fleeing clouds?
Will the saltwater support you or the lava entomb you where you stand?
The fragile wing and barely blinking eye of the swallow awaits your answer,
bring it to her
on a gentle breeze in the soft light of a morning sun. A seed flies with you,
another willing victim of the wind. The sand burs embed deeply in the paw
of the huntress. Will you remove it with your teeth, your neck bent and smooth
like alabaster, the jugular pulsing like a neon sign? Will you then pray for peace?
Could it be that the stars ripple with your every breath?

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Mallets Made Of Glass

And what good could it do you to forge your anvil made of iron
with your muscles bulging and your sweat blotting patterns
in the concrete below your arm? The mallet is made of glass, you fool
and so your insistence goes with it. Push the Replay button now.
Try again tomorrow. Build a bridge and a looking glass.
First fortify your clarity and turn it into art. Weld it to your heart.

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