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A December Night. December 13, 2010

Posted by littlebangtheory in Love and Death.
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It’s snowing, or approximating snow as it does in these parts.  The darkness outside the kitchen window is populated by fleeting visions of white, whirling, driven, then gone like thoughts, to be replaced by others doing different dances, now fast and frantic, then slow and lazy, drifting aimlessly earthward before catching a gust and getting gone.

The wind rises, pours past like a rushing river, a torrent of souls bound for who-knows-where, each fleck and flake bursting into existence and as suddenly vanishing, taking its moment in time with it, never to return.

Out beyond the kitchen window prayer flags beat themselves to shreds, giving up ghosts of frayed filaments for the old folks with no living friends, the working Joes with no jobs, the children whose futures are as dusty and hungry and pointless as their pasts.

Inside, the quavering whistle of the singing tea-pot reels me back from the beyond, back to the now of the night, the need for another log in the wood stove, the realization of just how blessed my penny-counting life is in a world where warmth in winter is a fabled commodity.

I’m grateful for the cold, and grateful that it’s out there.

Empathy, Compassion and the American Dream November 7, 2007

Posted by littlebangtheory in music, Politics and Society.
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Why is it that some people care so deeply about others, about their pain and suffering, about the loss of their children to war or pestilence, about their lives perched on the edge of poverty, their broken hearts teetering on the precipice of despair, their helpless minds torn and damaged?

And other people, sometimes other poor people but more often people with so much more to be thankful for, just don’t seem to care?

How can people with comfortable houses and secure jobs and kids with Full Dental and trust funds legislate against helping the needy?

How can people who claim to be Christians expect to go to Heaven when they fight increases in the minimum wage, espouse the disenfranchisement of minorities, deny health care to children of the working poor?

It beats me.

It beats me down.

Because it’s right there in our Founding Documents, in our Declaration of Independence, that “All men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness...”

Poverty and sickness and despair are not “Happiness.”

Yet we have virtually the entire cadre of Elected Republicandom voting to disenfranchise the poor and enrich the wealthy, and at the same time waving flags and swearing on Bibles and claiming to have inherited their moral authority from Our Man Jesus.

I was taught that Jesus ministered to the poor.

I was taught that Jesus wants us to treat “the least” of our Brothers and Sisters as we would want to be treated ourselves.

And whether or not you believe in the Divinity of Jesus, the moral rectitude of his teachings is one hell of a hard act to follow.

Maybe that’s why so many Americans are failing so miserably at doing so.

Perhaps being short on resources and having to count my pennies makes me a bit more aware of the struggles of those with less, but the specter of poverty in America breaks my heart.

I’ve been trying to learn a song by Patty Griffin called “Poor Man’s House,” as a beautiful reminder of what it feels like to be poor. I know most of the words, but when I get to the lines,

God pays attention to every little skinny cheek,

So count you ribs and say a prayer and get to sleep.

There’s nothing louder to God’s ears than a poor man’s sorrow;

Your Daddy’s poor today, and he will be poor tomorrow.

Yeah, it’s a Poor Man’s House,”

I choke up; I just can’t seem to sing through the tears.

I found a version of this, sung by Nancy, on YouTube but it was dubbed over video clips from Battle Star Galactica (!)

So here’s a nicely done cover by one Leesha Harvey.

Hope you find it meaningful.

Two Americas September 3, 2007

Posted by littlebangtheory in Politics and Society.
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Most of you who read this humble blog live on the same continent as I do, speak the same primary language as I do, and either benefit from or struggle against the same government as I do (inarticulate, but you get my drift.) We tend to think this means that we all live in the same country.

But we don’t.

And the reason we don’t all live in the same country is that we’re either victims of or beneficiaries of the most pervasive and unassailable “-ism” of all: Economic Classism.

Must be nice:


Not so much:


The excellent progressive program Alternative Radio , which I listen to regularly on WAMC out of Albany, New York, recently aired a rebroadcast of a lecture given by Michael Parenti in Arcata, CA in 2006. His talk, entitled “Race, Gender and Class Struggle” added salient facts and details to my thin but gnawing knowledge regarding one of the most disturbing aspects of our culture and society, that being that the working people of the world are but grist for the merciless mill of the Filthy Fucking Rich (hereinafter referred to as “the FFR.”)

Mr. Parenti began his talk by noting that, even as we struggle for parity in regard to gender and race issues, we hold fast to the notion that “class” in America is a non-issue. India, we learn as children, has a rigid caste system; if you’re born a Dirty Dog, you’ll die a Dirty Dog. But in America, God bless our little egalitarian hearts, we learn at a tender age about Horatio Alger’s sunny jaunt from rags to riches, or more currently, about Po White Trash Little Billy Clinton’s ascendancy to The Throne.

So why, if we all have an equal shot at The American Dream, do we see such economic disparity among us? The average American CEO makes about $42,000 a day. I know many college educated Americans (including Yours Truly) who would be ecstatic to earn that much in a year.

Consider the properties pictured above, they being only a few miles apart. In one case we have a huge country home with a Garage Mahal, immaculate stables and finely bred horses; in the other, an unfinished dream which doubtless shelters exponentially more wasps than children, surrounded by rusting treasures on blocks. Who do you imagine works harder for their piece of paradise, the folks who peruse the trades for the best investments-du-jour or the people with the bloody knuckles, busted nails and bad teeth who eke out an existence salvaging parts from the cast-offs of the more fortunate?

Here’s another disparate pairing of American Dreams:


Acres of beautifully manicured lawns and gardens, with a subtly landscaped babbling brook and a guest house I lack the pedigree to occupy for one stinking night; and this nearby hovel


…where a very old man lives alone, brilliant and fascinating by all accounts, but long since too feeble to take care of his little piece of heaven.

How the hell do we, as Americans, let this happen? What induces us to buy the lie that everything’s copacetic, while our grandparents live in uninsured squalor even as the better-heeled dine on endangered species?

The concept of class equality touted as the prevailing paradigm in America The Beautiful is a sorry illusion. As Michael Parenti states so eloquently, the very concept of “class” is irreconcilable with the idea of “equality.” “Class” presupposes a paradigm of servant and master, slave and slave owner, serf and Feudal Lord.

But while even the most despotic Feudal Lords recognized the symbiotic nature of their relationship to the pitiful masses who tilled their land and tended their herds, our current day Lords and Masters seem to care not at all for the men and women whose labors generate their fortunes. Gone is the concept of noblesse oblige, of a moral responsibility to the unwashed masses tied to an understanding of where one’s food comes from. Today, if the Lord neglects his field hands, the Global Economy will provide uncounted Chinese or Indian or Malaysian replacements. Today, if an old man outlives his productiveness, he’s considered an economic liability rather than a repository of the wisdom of a long life’s learnings.

Today, We The People sit transfixed in front of the Electric Soma as our children’s futures are sold to the highest bidder.

I don’t know how to fix this. I only know that I’m acutely aware that it’s happening, and that most of us either aren’t even vaguely aware of it or have been too neutered by our mass media to believe we can effect a change in this sorry status quo.

I for one intend to not go quietly into the blades of the International Harvester, to not wave cheerily as Ross Perot’s “giant sucking sound” blows my children’s futures away to a distant shore. I intend to go kicking and screaming for the whole world to hear, “Look! Look up there! It’s not the ten percent at the bottom who are sucking you dry, stealing your retirement, denying you health care! Its the FFR at the top, the one percent, the Money Changers in the Temple of your Dreams, the few amongst all the people in the Ancient World who moved Jesus to violence, the few amongst all the people in the Modern World who are benefiting from the rape of your brothers and sisters, your friends and neighbors, your parents, your children, you!”

I’m inviting you to join me in this last-ditch effort to make a difference, to take the penultimate step with me, to find a street corner, a coffee shop, an editorial page, a blog, a mountain top from which to spread the word, to swing the lantern, One If By Land, to wake the sleeping giant, to open its eyes, to make it see The Truth through the fog of obfuscations and lies.

Failing this, our last stand will be violent and bloody, and the Best will be the first to perish.

Pray that we will be heard and believed.