Sunday, September 28, 2008

Rant #1

David and Goliath or China & USA vs the Earth

1. Picture the well-known image of the earth as seen from space with the
three hands of a clock superimposed upon it and it is 11:40 PM ( the hands
are the blades of a wind turbine) and below it the footprints of my boys,
Cole and Skyler with a larger C, carbon, encircling this world view and the
number 6 below it all.

2. Fear and loathing at the edge of the abyss of Gorge Bush's asshole
can be seen well now because the truth is a flashlight as big as the
sun. This administration and those that preceded it since Ronny the
Raygunner ramped up the deficit are now asking for and are receiving a
blank check to bail out the GOP in the name of the 1934 Gold Act. This
week they propose to spend 1.3 trillion (read a growing 11.3 trillion deficit)
and it will become 54 trillion soon. They privatized wealth with Phil Gramm
the ultimate "whiner" and his cohorts McPain and McImpailem. My sons
Cole Waters Lloyd and Skyler Danton Lloyd and their classmates will be
expected to pay for this with inflated dollars worth pennies on the dollar.

3. The world's CO2 balance hit the tipping point last week and the Arctic
polar ice cap might melt completely next summer because the military
industrial complex has burned down the biosphere in the name of
capitalism. The generals are pointing their blood-stained fingers to
"OTHERS" when asked which one is to be held accountable.

4. There is no shovel big enough to dig away the bullshit that has piled
up at the door of the oval office and if there were there's no place enormous
enough to contain it while it rots away our trust. "RUST NEVER SLEEPS"
and this administration is as corrosive as battery acid on a doorknob.

5. What kind of poultice can absorb the pathetic lies of Dick, Gorge
and his minions other than a bonfire of gigantic proportions in the
oven of deceit formed by adobes made of their excreta. A great magnifying
glass should be aimed at the furnace powered by the "sun's dawning light"
if our flag is still there.

6. Rovian Machiavellian tunes are being played at the funeral of the
GOP on a violin bowed by Gorge's shaking hands and drops of his
panicking sweat fall on the trembling strings while Rome burns and
Iraqi children starve on a soup made of empty promises of salvation
in the name of a Democracy dripping with foreign debt.

You are in my thoughts when I say to others that it is in "AMERICA THE
STOLEN" that we live!

Very truly my dear friend we are in a pickle jar full of vile piss and
cucumbers grown by the greediest rascals this beautiful world has ever
known. I hope that an old POW who has been in the governments
employ since he was a boy and a creationist den mother with a
moose gun who can see Russia through her scopes have just enough
time to place all their toes and fingers up enough of the appropriate
openings to shut up and look in the oil slick to see the dim light of truth,
then shut up and go home to their respective shelters!

Gary Lloyd
Los Angeles, CA
USA 2008
Artist and father

Rant #2

I’m a U.S. citizen who can’t take it anymore. I live in a state of gut-churning rage every day, and I am not alone. It’s gotten so bad that I’m hoping to wake up one morning to the news that McCain is dead of cancer, and Sarah Palin has been run over by a snowmobile. This is a terrible state to be in, and it began with Bush stealing the election, the complicit acts of the Supreme Court that allowed it, and I don’t need to tell you what has gone on since then. I am a disenfranchised citizen. I am in a state of constant affront over the political process. And, I cannot fathom how anyone with a thimbleful of common sense can support John McCain and Sarah Palin if they don’t want a repeat of the last eight years. But this is the problem: people do. And I see no good reason, not one.

How do people get like this? No grasp of the emotional factors that drive their judgment, for one thing. Poor critical thinking skills. From where I stand, and it’s not a friendly place, support of Palin can only be a product of denial. Denial is the engine that fuels emotional and intellectual ignorance and makes an insecure public vulnerable to manipulation. Denial always favors fiction over truth, because truth always challenges our beliefs. And while the emotional tolerance for that scenario may be low for all of us, it is close to nil for the fearful and poorly informed. This is no surprise. It's also no surprise, either, that it's core to most Republican thinking and policymaking; it's the sand under the so-called conservative foundation. Republican operatives exploit every aspect of illiteracy. Is it because denial makes them as emotionally challenged as their hoped-for constituents? As right-wing politicos pray, and then prey upon the weakness in the American character that turns us infantile in the face of fictional notions of righteous authority above and outside ourselves, do they also praise their God for the perverse cynicism that makes this possible, or are they so far gone that they can’t see the harm they do?

Democrats are far from perfect, and also responsible for the pain we’re in, but they are not an army of bold-faced liars. Progressive thinking has always been more tolerant of differences. Maybe it's time to end that tolerance, since peace is neither understood, nor valued by ultra right wing types. Maybe it's time to get tough. Maybe it's time to use force in every legitimate way possible to make the religious/political right wing accountable for the damage they've done and continue to do. Maybe it’s time to create laws that allow us to throw polluted Justices off the Supreme Court and prosecute Presidents who get us into unjust wars and enhance their executive privilege at the expense of the Constitution.

For decades now, the media has eroded the boundary between substance and appearance, on TV especially where news is entertainment and “reality” shows are king. Can we no longer tell the difference between what’s real and what isn’t? Have we created a mob of mindless consumers so undermined by the every-seven-minutes advertising assault on sustainable thinking that the ability to create honest values out of real facts no longer exists? McCain/Palin supporters don't seem to get even the most basic of differences. They’re like anorexics looking into the mirror--what they see isn’t there, but they believe it is. Does a social form of mental disease explain why they can't see through the lies, distortions, manipulations, disinformation, misrepresentations or whatever else McCain’s tactics call forth from its Rove-infested cellar? Or are they gung ho for the whole package? Have deceit and delusion so become the American way of life that we no longer care about making informed decisions for the common good? It's been terrifying to watch the disintegration of democracy over the last eight years fueled by reactionary attitudes. It provokes despair to witness the relentless dumbing down of the average person to the point where education and intelligence and critical thinking are no longer respected, but are spat upon as form of "elitism."

Who do these right-wing bullies think the founders of our democratic (and now failing) experiment were? One of the "guys"?! Like Rush Limbaugh or Rupert Murdoch? Like Bush? Cheney or Rove? All of them are despicable failures as guardians of freedom and democracy. No, our founders were extraordinary, gifted men, despite their flaws. They read books (what a concept!). They thought deeply about generations down the road. They cared, and not about wealth. They actually knew the meaning of things. They knew HOW to think, how to mix heart and mind, which is why we HAVE a Constitution and a Bill of Rights.

Hello? Can you imagine today's administration and most (not all) the greedy prevaricating eunuchs in Congress coming up with the Constitution? They can't find their way out of the toilet. They are the toilet, mired as they are in a morass of their own making. Instead of standing up for principles that took a revolution to create, they wallow in the greased vat of collective delusion that passes for contemporary American culture, and applaud the duplicitous front men serving propaganda machines like Fox News. They make the crap and then spin it into a confection of diluted sound bites, defying us to call it what it is. This is not just pathetic; it's disastrous. It's beyond sad; it's tragedy happening before our eyes. It gave us Bush. It's turning us into a fascist nation. I want to weep.

All of it comes down with such self-righteousness, dressed up as it is in the fake “spiritual” garb that’s always been used to hide misogyny and the covert dislike of children. A so-called "pro-lifer" like Palin, for instance, won’t admit that it’s not life she worships--the actual life of a mother and child--but the fantasy of life. And what is that, but a concept manufactured to keep women and children poor, and dependent on a so-called “authority” that feels threatened by another’s freely chosen well being? Palin has no respect or concern for what living life means for someone else. The magical fetus trumps all, but on what authority? Hers? An ancient text’s, written by men? How does an unwanted child’s suffering become irrelevant, or the agony of an ill-equipped mother who must care for it become less important than a fetus--who, if born, will depend upon her? Morphing cells are sacred but breathing humans are not? This is cynical and arrogant. But "pro-life" is not about caring any more than it’s about life; it’s pious hypocrisy. It’s about lying in the face of facts. It’s about people like McCain and Palin who strut their moral insufficiencies inside a fetal bubble of deception, avoiding questions because serious inquiry is “hostile.” It's about the fear that drives the need to control someone else's experience. This is totalitarianism, and it’s rising in the United States, wrapped in a flag, just as it did in Nazi Germany. Imagine for a moment the dinner tables of the early '30s where "good” Germans sliced their wurst and politely declined to discuss the fate of their Jewish colleagues, burying their heads in a trough of rationalized prejudice until it was too late. Is this where we are today: “no way am I votin’ for a nigger,” or “did’ya hear? Obama is the anti-Christ”?

People like McCain/Palin who want to control the intimate lives of others are dishonest thinkers. They hide from the truth that they have neither cultivated, nor paid the dues that generate personal moral authority. Such authority is not automatically conferred in a prison camp, despite what torture may teach about one’s tolerance for mental and physical suffering, any more than it is conferred in a jail, or our inmates would be our wisest citizens. You don’t find it in an airplane flying over the snowpack shooting helpless wolves that can’t escape your gunsight. Personal moral authority comes from challenging the things that are hardest to see: one’s cultural upbringing and the unexamined family ties that bind, much of which has been brain washing since birth--a brain washing that is designed to convince the child that it can't/mustn't judge for itself, that to do that is to think outside the box, which is a dangerous and seditious act. People who do not question these things do not live authentic moral lives; they live fearful and vicarious ones, dependent upon someone else's “powerful voice” to guide them, whether it comes from a Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Hindu, Mormon, military, political, or whatever infantilizing belief system that satisfies our perpetual need to find illusory comfort in the face of stark universal realities, like death and our cosmic unimportance. Who wants to tolerate the possibility that we may only be important to ourselves, and that our survival might depend on understanding this? People who can't live without being told what to do or how to think can’t tell truth from fiction. They remain undeveloped children. They can’t see that their breath is enough to clear a space in the world. Fear drives them to legislate others, because they know nothing about what it takes to successfully govern themselves. They have never learned how take the measure of personal weakness and shame, which is the only road to compassion and empathy. They are the U.S. version of the Taliban, and they are in our midst. Yes, I am judging them. They are dangerous; they are emotionally and intellectually dishonest, and they need to be stopped.

A person like Sarah Palin who goes so far as to punish the woman victimized by rape or incest by demanding that she bear a child who carries the marks of those acts is not a competent nor a compassionate thinker. To remove the option of choice from such a victim is to victimize her twice and then to victimize the child forced to be born. Is this a leader we want? Do we want HER finger on the trigger? A retrograde female who rejects all the evidence that proves evolution and disproves the wishful thinking that drives creationism? Who is she going to listen to when she denies science while living the effects of its proofs every day as she downloads messages from a satellite or turns on the lights? God? This is the banal and self-serving argument of religious right freaks who are no strangers to grandiosity. Yeah, we know what God wants! Sure we do. Think Bush. We’re going to support a woman who claims she'll break the glass ceiling while she bans books and charges her town's rape victims for their rape tests at $1000 a pop? What sort of woman is this? Not a woman for women--or for children. But totalitarian minds know no gender, and they like to hide out inside ignorant and fearful crowds. They avoid public scrutiny, because the emperor's new clothes are no clothes at all.

Break the ceiling?! How can you break a ceiling if it’s been dropped into your food dish? But Palin is no pitbull. At least dogs have heart and can hunt without a gun. She's the lipstick. She's the dangerous superficial flash that McCain grabbed to shore up his failing campaign, and any woman (or man) who falls for that irresponsible scam deserves exactly what he or she will inevitably get. Trouble is it will also get my children and yours. She cares so much about hers that she risked her pregnancy for 24 hours before stemming a leak in her amniotic sac--if that’s her child at all (care to take a DNA test, Sarah, to quell speculation?). Yep, sweet Sarah is on the up and up and surely has a lot to teach us. She lied about it, poor thing, but she did get the road built to nowhere for $29 million. And what about nasty Putin rearing his head in the airspace over Alaska? The damage he could do! I mean, who can question her foreign policy credentials what with Russia on one side of Alaska and Canada on the other? Yep, no way around it, Sarah Palin is the pick of the kitty litter. With a little voodoo and laying on of hands, who knows how far she’ll go—maybe straight out of town, like her witch hunting pastor’s last victim. We could get lucky.

A vote for McCain/Palin is a vote against the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. It’s pissing on the graves of those who fought to establish and preserve democracy: Washington, Jefferson, Adams, Lincoln, and every serviceman in the two World Wars, not to mention those who were unnecessarily lost in the unjust wars of Vietnam, and now Iraq. To vote for dishonest and incompetent thinkers is a cynical breach of respect. It not only dishonors the dead, but it dishonors those who will die tomorrow, next week, next month, until this disgraceful war is brought to an end. The only way forward is to swallow our false pride and admit how ignorant we have been, how wrong, and how much work lies ahead to make things right. A vote for McCain/Palin will not take us down that road; it will put our nation and the world at even greater risk.

Are we up to the task of emotional realignment, or are we so far gone as a people that we can only behave as victims of our upbringing and our disintegrating culture? Will our choice be marked by a willful and shameful lack of awareness based on denial? Or, do we have the collective internal strength to ask the hard questions and take on the painful answers?

The McCain/Palin vote is a vote for self-destruction, for the abandonment of children generations out who will suffer the consequences, and the ruin of a nation. One can only hope that the American people will come to see this, and choose to leave their sexist/racist illiterate hearts outside the polling booth.

Rant #3

My friend Carly forwarded this one from Matt Taibbi, writing in the latest Rolling Stone.


"Here's the thing about Americans. You can send their kids off by
the thousands to get their balls blown off in foreign lands for no
reason at all, saddle them with billions in debt year after
congressional year while they spend their winters cheerfully
watching game shows and football, pull the rug out from under their
mortgages, and leave them living off their credit cards and their
Wal-Mart salaries while you move their jobs to China and Bangalore.

"And none of it matters, so long as you remember a few months before
Election Day to offer them a two-bit caricature culled from some
cutting-room-floor episode of Roseanne as part of your presidential
ticket. And if she's a good enough likeness of a loudmouthed Middle
American archetype, as Sarah Palin is, John Q. Public will drop his
giant sized bag of Doritos in gratitude, wipe the sizzlin' picante
dust from his lips and rush to the booth to vote for her. Not
because it makes sense, or because it has a chance of improving his
life or anyone else's, but simply because it appeals to the
low-humming narcissism that substitutes for his personality, because
that image on TV reminds him of the mean brainless slob he sees in
the mirror every morning.

"Sarah Palin is a symbol of everything that is wrong with the modern
United States. As a representative of our political system, she's a
new low in reptilian villainy, the ultimate cynical masterwork of
puppeteers like Karl Rove. But more than that, she is a horrifying
symbol of how little we ask for in return for the total surrender of
our political power. Not only is Sarah Palin a fraud, she's the
tawdriest, most half-assed fraud imaginable, 20 floors below the
lowest common denominator, a character too dumb even for daytime TV
– and this country is going to eat her up, cheering every step of
the way. All because most Americans no longer have the energy to do
anything but lie back and allow ourselves to be jacked off by the
calculating thieves who run this grasping consumer paradise we call
a nation."

Monday, June 16, 2008

The Accidental Dharma of Teaching

Gary at Buddha Space writes:

Being a teacher gives many opportunities for what might be called accidental Dharma to arise. Every time one stands in front of a class of students, whether they are adults, teenagers, primary children or kindergarten kids, the chances are that if something will go wrong, it will. One might think that only the more mature children and adults have the wit to catch on to one’s lesser errors, but that’s simply not the case. Little kids can be surprisingly perceptive at sniffing out a teacher’s foul up; once, I instructed some preschoolers on how to say the date in English, only to be told I was one day out!

Being an English language teacher holds its own dangers for mistakes to occur. Misspelling a word on a board as one is rushing to write out several sentences as quickly as possible will nearly always be spotted by some pupil or another, who takes the greatest pleasure in interrogating the teacher over the slip up. The way to get around this is to make light of it, even thanking or rewarding the student for their efforts. Students seem to appreciate a teacher with a sense of humor who’s able to laugh at his or her own mistakes. I recall teaching the use of ‘an’ before words beginning with a vowel, and then in the next lesson saying, “A apple”! (Something I’m prone to do – I don’t know if this is typical of the Southwest English dialect that I speak or whether it’s just me!)

Dropping things, asking questions from the wrong part of a text book, (involuntary) blowing off, tripping up, and forgetting to use some kind of mouth freshener are all mistakes that can result in ritual humiliation for the proud teacher. But here’s the thing about all this: I love it! All these accidents can be vehicles to travel the distance between teacher and student, making the teacher appear more human, and thereby more friendly and more accessible.

Accidental Dharma can be the best kind of Dharma: natural, of the cuff, unexpected, challenging and in the end transforming. It can turn a boring lesson into an entertaining one, it can reveal hidden perceptiveness in the most surprising students, and it can improve the teaching techniques of many a teacher. That a man who was once so shy he couldn’t speak in front of more than three people at a time now relishes in making a fool of himself in front of a class of giggling pupils is testament to this.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Left Brain, Right Brain

Talk about gifts wrapped in shit! Here's one for the ages. In case readers missed it, I'd truly recommend clicking on this link to Jill Bolte Taylor's TED talk about her stroke, and the extraordinary gift she received as a result. It's an 18-minute video, but WELL WORTH the investment of time.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Out of the Ashes...

Thanks to Conceição for sending me this link to a Yad Vashem site which tells the holocaust story of Irena Sendler for Accidental Dharma. A true inspiration...

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Scar Tissue

With thanks to Angela at Reality Testing

About twelve years ago, when I first began speaking in coherent sentences about my childhood, someone very wise suggested that there would come a day when I would realize that my mother really did do her best to parent me well. I nearly ripped this person's face off then, and I might have, had I any money to pay my bail.

But, I remember his words today because this is what I know: he was right, and the day has come.

It occured to me long ago that I didn't have to take my parents' treatment of me personally. I used to struggle with this, because they treated my sister so differently. She was not abused less--just differently--and as a result of this, I came to see my abuse as something that was cooked up special, just for me, because clearly, there was something particularly unpleasant about the fact of my existence.

Abuse makes narcissists of us all, you know. When Anne Lammot referred to herself as the "piece of shit that the world revolves around" I totally related. This is what happens when people take time out of their regularly scheduled lives to pound the crap out of you in any way physical, psychological, or sexual. You begin to think you are different and somehow special. Special in a not-so-good-way, but special nonetheless. It's taken almost four decades now, but I'm beginning to understand that I wasn't special. I was just there.

"You know," my father once told me, "dogs are just like kids. You always ruin your first one."

My father owned show dogs. They always finished first. Internationally.

As you might imagine, this little adage of his really used to bother me quite a bit, given the fact that I was his first-born. Now, I see it as his only admission of guilt. His only attempt to take responsibility. My father hates himself for what he did to me when I was young. This is why he stopped looking at me eventually. It's why he stopped treating me like his daughter.

It was nothing that I did. It was what he did.

And when my mother began silencing me? Locking me away? Tearing me down? Threatening to leave?

It was still all about what he did.

I'll bet she couldn't handle "taking care of me." She couldn't bear to look at me. I know this.

But none of that was my fault. I just represented a truth she couldn't bear to witness.

The abuse was really nothing personal. I was instrument, that's all, and anyone who might have been born to them in my place or time would have received the same treatment. I don't think it was my fault (as much) anymore, and I certainly don't think that I deserved any of it. In a sick sort of way, it was all just a matter of being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

When children are young, they are often warned that lying begets lying. I can remember my mother telling me how one lie leads to another. I've shared this insight with my own girls. I'm sure that some of you have done the same. But when I think of the history of my family, the truth of that wisdom just takes my breath away. The destruction of my family truly began with one small lie.

My father crossed over a line that he should not have crossed over when I was very young. And one small untruth was told in order to conceal the facts. This lie gave birth to other lies, and they provided a distance between himself and my mother where continued abuse could unfold. By the time my mother was beyond denial, so much had happened that protecting me would have subjected her to an incredible amount of judgment and quite possibly, legal ramifications.

So, she did what she could to make it better: she taught me how to lie to myself, and she put a wedge between my father and I. And then she gave him another baby, so he could start fresh again. Clean slate.

You only ruin the first one.

I see how it happened, now, and it doesn't hurt nearly as much as it used to.

And Wendy--what you said--I know that this is true.

I think I'm at that point of letting go now, and there is sadness in that. I know that many of you understand this. Everyone has grief, and that's where I'm at.

I am so grateful to be walking forward, toward my bright, shiny future. I really am. It's just that every so often, I look back over my shoulder, hoping beyond hope that the mom I wanted might be there, and every time I do this, my heart still breaks a little when I realize that she isn't. I don't know how long I'll do this. Maybe forever. That would be okay. She's my mom. And he's my dad. But that's the stuff of another post.

Here is the real tragedy that I have yet to overcome: she hides from me and from the truth because she doesn't think I would ever forgive her. She is destroying herself bit by bit every single day because she hates herself for what she has done and for what she has failed to do.

All I ever needed was to know for certain that she would do the right thing now. But the fact is, my mother can't do what's right. She won't do what's right. She has remained an accomplice for all of these years, turning a blind eye when my father hurt me, and turning a blind eye when he went on to hurt God only knows how many other people. So she sits in silence with her self-loathing and goes about the business of slowly killing herself.

And because of this, she'll never know that I forgave her long ago.

So, this is sad.

But you know what? Sad is okay. Sad is way better than crazy any day.

And I'm so grateful for the fact that some of you know precisely what I mean.

Thank you.