Editorial, The Week in Review – Vote X

Analysis, Commentary, Opinion

09.26.2020

Vote X

There are thirty-eight days to go until the votes begin to be counted.

There are thirty-eight left on the calendar for us to take decisive action in determining the fate of our republic.

Stay vigilant in these remaining weeks and days.

Vote early, vote in person if you can. Check your ballot and ensure that all of the procedures outlined by your state have been followed, if you are mailing it in.

Vote the orange menace out!

The tyrant is losing and he knows it, he is getting increasingly desperate. He will employ more absurd and violent rhetoric, he engage increasingly dangerous activities, he will encourage his supporters, both in government and on the street to break the law and put our fellow American’s at risk to stir up chaos and generate the fog of war.

Look at what the governor of Florida has just done, with cases of COVID-19 rising across his state he has ordered that all businesses, restaurants and bars fully open. With thirty-eight days before the election the impact of this order will be felt on or about election day, it is a travesty.

Listen!

Forget about his Supreme Court pick, they are going to appoint her and she will be sworn in. Their hypocrisy notwithstanding, they have the political power to do it and they will. We can deal with that and deal with the abuse that the republicans have done to the federal courts after the election, first we must win, and win big.

Your voice is important, more now than ever, keep the conversation focused on Trump’s horrific failures, his inability to protect the American people from this virus, or even to understand the scope of the threat.

The economy in tatters, ten million unemployed, the rich getting richer, the poor being thrown of their homes, off of the insurance roles, American service men and women attacked and killed by the Russians.

Remind your friends and family of that, focus on the concrete examples of his criminality and negligence.

Vote!

 

Vote IX, Vote for the Notorious RBG – Editorial, The Week in Review

Analysis, Commentary, Opinion

09.19.2020

Vote IX, Vote for the Notorious RBG

What a sad turn of events for our beloved champion Ruth Bader Ginsburg, I am sad that she did not have the satisfaction of living long enough to see her place on the Supreme court filled by one of her protégés, or a jurist of like mind.

I am sad because it is known that she had some anxiety about this, and would likely have retired sooner if she had known that her replacement would have a similar philosophy and temperament to her own.

Alas, we are not the authors of our own fate, not the in the ultimate sense.

I will not take the time to lionize her, there is enough of that going on. But I will take the time to note this, her life is an example of a life well lived and of the American dream fulfilled.

As people who care about her legacy how do we respond to this, what action can we take and should we take in our public life.

Give no ground…that is what we should do.

Here is the truth, if the Republicans in the senate are unified there is nothing that can be done about Trump filling her seat.

They have the votes.

Mitch McConnell, Lindsey Graham and all of their ilk are raging hypocrites, we know it…Keep a spot light on it, but lets not waste time bemoaning the facts as they are.

As Nancy Pelosi says, we don’t agonize, we organize.

We have always known that this election would be about filling RBG’s seat on the Supreme Court.

If you were paying attention you would have known that the election in 2016 was about the same thing, and so here we are, the things that hang in the balance are: voting rights, police reform, a woman’s right to self-determination, who gets counted in the census, equal treatment under the law regardless of race, gender and sexual orientation, the Affordable Care Act, the question of whether corporations are to be treated like human beings, and whether are not the chief executive has the right to ignore the will of congress.

We have to use every tool at our disposal to challenge this, leave nothing on the table. We have to turn out the vote, win the presidency, win the senate, keep control of the house, control redistricting, and protect the American people from the worst most dishonest among us.

We have to promise our Republican neighbors that we will stack the courts, and impeach any justice that has lied before congress in their confirmation hearings, from the Supreme Court on down.

We have to take away the filibuster and seize firm control of the levers of power, we have to run those reprobates out of town.

Vote!

Vote VIII – Editorial, The Week in Review

Analysis, Commentary, Opinion

09.12.2020

Vote VIII

There are fifty-two days until election day, keep it cool and we will get through this together.

What do you say to people who try to tell you that Donald Trump is doing a good job, that they think he has good policies, and they believe we are better off now than we were four years ago?

Ask them to get specific; don’t let them off the hook.

Ask them about the response to the pandemic, ask them about his continuous and persistent misinformation campaign. Ask them how they feel about the fact that the United States of America has 4.25% of the global population but 25% of deaths due to coronavirus.

If Donald Trump would have taken real and decisive action, if he would have trusted the experts in his own administration instead of “playing it down” because he “likes to play it down,” and is still playing it down 1,000 people a day would not be dying from this virus.

Yesterday in Canada no one dies from the coronavirus.

Think about it. Ask that erstwhile Trump supporter to think about it.

Donald Trump, who is the fear-monger-in-chief said he “played it down,” because he didn’t want to create a panic. He withheld information from the American people that could have saved lives because he didn’t want to create a panic.

Who did he think would panic?

Not me, not almost everyone I know. We knew he was full of sh*t all along. We did what the scientists and our doctors were telling us to do: wear a mask, stay home keep distant.

No one panicked, but millions of Americans, tens of millions of Trump supporters ignored that advice, and now the economy is in tatters and the do nothing republicans in the senate and the White House are disinclined to do anything about it.

Ask whoever it is that thinks Donald Trump has good policies and is doing a good job, what is good about that.

Don’t let them off the hook, make them explain themselves, and don’t let them tell you that they are happy with him for appointing conservative judges to the federal bench.

Labor Day – A Reflection

Labor Day

Today is Labor Day, a great national holiday, a day set aside for the American worker and to celebrate the ordinary citizen.

This day is meant to honor laborers, it is a day to honor work. It is meant to be a day of rest, repose and respite, but this year it is a day that we must acknowledge our collective anxiety as there are twenty million Americans unemployed, out of work and uncertain of our future.

I spent most of my life working in the hospitality sector. Now I am self-employed but my clients are mostly restaurants, this year many of my friends and colleagues have had to shutter their businesses, close their doors, cut their hours, reduce their staff change their business model to account for the global pandemic COVID-19.  

There are millions of workers that have the day off this year who would rather be working. We have had too much time off, but the nation is not ready to reopen.

Our chief executive has abdicated the responsibility for managing this crises, preferring to pretend that it will go away on its own.

It will not.

Each of our fifty states has a different plan to handle the pandemic, some governors have followed the president’s example, abdicating their responsibility, putting it off on local governments at the county and municipality level. Some of these governors have taken even more draconian steps and signed orders that limit what local governments can do to protect their people and find a safe way to live, go to school, engage in commerce and move forward.

Today we count the number of dead at 190,000 and climbing.

On Memorial Day we were poised to cross the 100,000 threshold. Ninety thousand more Americans dies over the summer, and it did not have to be this way.

It does not have to be this way, but it will continue to be this way until we have leadership that acknowledges the scope of the emergency, and puts together a plan to manage the crises.

The economy will continue to struggle, the stock market notwithstanding, a million Americans will file new claims for unemployment every week, the unemployment rate will continue to hover around ten percent, Americans will not return to work for as long as the status quo remains the same.

The unemployed American worker needs relief. The House of representatives has passed a bill to provide. The Senate has opted not to address and the president is actively working against it.

We need the Hero’s act to pass to provide this relief, we need to keep those who are still working, working, we need it to help those who are not working return to work. We need it so that American families can keep a roof over their heads, keep the lights on, keep gas in the car, and keep food on the table

We need leadership, or we need a general strike!

Happy Labor Day my brothers and sisters, lets due the right thing!

Strike and Unite!

2020.09.07

Vote VII – Editorial, The Week in Review

Analysis, Commentary, Opinion

09.05.2020

Vote VII

There are fifty-nine days until election day, keep it cool and we will get through this.

This week, among a slew of despicable and nefarious statements that the orange menace made, one thing stands out. He is encouraging his voters to vote twice, to vote by mail, and then to vote in person.

Voting twice is illegal, it is a crime. Encouraging people to violate election laws is also a crime. There should be consequences, but there won’t be.

Be mindful of what the tyrant is trying to do, he wants to create the maximum amount of chaos on election day as possible, he wants that chaos to extend into the entire counting process, which could take days, and even weeks. He wants to sew as much confusion as possible, cast as much doubt on the vote count as possible, because he believes this will give him an opportunity to hang on to power.

Pay attention to this, and don’t let it fool you.

Prepare yourself and everyone you talk to for the inevitable, there will not be a clear winner of the election on election day. Trump will try to claim victory but his rationale for it will be hollow.

Research the election laws in your own state so that you are not surprised by the process.

Ensure that those responsible for managing your election and tallying the vote do so within the dictates of the law.

Be patient, its going to get ugly.

Prepare to organize, remember the 2000 recount in Florida. Republicans bussed in hundreds of angry white men to occupy the facilitates where the votes were being examined. They succeeded in shutting down the count.

We can’t let that happen.

We have to be prepared to respond.

John Ronald Reuel Tolkien – Author

I learned how to read novels by reading Tolkien.

 

My mother had a beautiful edition of The Hobbit, hard bound in a green case with gold leaf and gilt pages. There were lovely illustrations in the book, and maps drawn by the author himself.

 

I pulled it off the shelf when I was in the third grade and I read it. Then I read the Lord of the Rings, followed by the Silmarillion, his Unfinished Tales edited by his son Christopher, and then a biography of the man himself.

 

Before I began to read his other works, I began to re-read those books. I read them all, many times over: eight, nine, ten times.

 

I remember a sensation I had on my third time through the Silmarillion, I experienced a heightened sense of understanding that came to me because I had become a better reader. It wasn’t just that I was re-reading the same material, but my vocabulary had expanded and I was able to comprehend more of the material.

 

The picture was filling in and the world that Tolkien created was coming to life.

 

I added his smaller lesser known works to the corpus of material I consumed, when I was still in the seventh grade I read Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, and Beowulf. These works resonated with my other reading interests, such as the collected and various tales of King Arthur, they also put me in touch with the broader tradition of the Viking sagas.

 

Then I began to read books about Tolkien and Middle Earth written or compiled by other authors, The Tolkien Companion, the New Tolkien Companion, along with various encyclopedias, bestiaries and anthologies depicting the arms and armor of Middle Earth.

 

Reading Tolkien put the idea in my head that I wanted to be a writer. Reading his work over and over again gave me a deep appreciation for the care and the craft he put into the work of devising his fantasy world.

 

Through Tolkien I came to have an early appreciation for the power of myths, their malleability, and the potential that we have as creative people to fashion our own myths and communicate them to the broader world.

 

Through his writing Tolkien dramatized the basic conflicts he saw at work in our civilization, conflicts between the bucolic and pastoral life with the forces of industry that seemed to be destroying the planet, the disasters of modern warfare and the suffering they visit on the world.

 

The collected stories of Middle Earth are a form of social criticism that is more relevant than ever in the twenty-first century.

 

Tolkien 

 

Given First – 2020.09.02

RIP Chadwick Boseman – Editorial, The Week in Review

Analysis, Commentary, Opinion

08.29.2020

 

RIP Chadwick Boseman

 

I am a comic book fan.

 

I was in the Marvel camp, and the Avengers were my crew.

 

The Black Panther was an Avenger, but he was not in the regular part of the line-up. He came around when the team was in trouble, he would help them get out of jam.

 

He was a super-soldier, like Captain America, only different he powers came from another source, something ancient, something spiritual, something magic and African. He seemed to be the equal of Captain America in nearly every way, and Chadwick Boseman personified him perfectly.

 

I woke to the news of Mr. Boseman’s passing and it made me really sad.

 

Watching the news I saw a number of tributes to him and the sadness has not passed, it sticks around because Mr. Boseman did something unique through his portrayal of the Black Panther, something he did not achieve in his portrayal of Jackie Robinson, Thurgood Marshall and James Brown; in the persona of the Black Panther he became a living icon.

 

He appeared in four Marvel movies as T’Challa, first as prince then as king of the mythical African country of Wakanda. The movie, Black Panther became the first superhero movie to be nominated for best picture at the Academy Awards, it was nominated for a total of seven, and won three.

 

Chadwick Boseman’s portrayal of T’Challa was the reason (as far as I am concerned).

 

One of his co-stars referred to him as regal, and I absolutely agree. He was positively regal, he walked like a king, not like the head of some sick old dynasty, but as a leader a person of substance, confidence and compassion.

 

His work generated the movement hashtag Wakanda Forever, he inspired people, and he is already missed.

 

He was a born and raised in South Carolina, a graduate of Howard University, a husband and a hero.

 

Wakanda Forever!  

 

OIP

Saint Augustine of Hippo, Angelic Doctor of the Church

Augustine of Hippo is arguably the most influential Christian writer of all time, with the possible exception of Saint Paul whose epistles are the earliest Christian writings, and which delineated for the nascent church its primary creeds and basic beliefs concerning who Jesus was and why his life and death were meaningful to us.

 

It is possible that Augustine is more influential than Paul because Augustine’s interpretation of Paul’s letters have dominated Christian thought since his time.

 

Augustine’s life spanned the mid-fourth century to the mid-fifth century CE. He entered the Church just at the Christianity was completing its transformation into the official religion of the Empire, and the indispensable administrative apparatus of the same. Saint Augustine’s fixed that transformative process into the structures that we recognize today.

 

Augustine was midway through his career as a public servant before he converted to Christianity, entered the priesthood and was made a bishop.

 

All of which happened in rapid succession. It only took him four years to go from priest to bishop.

 

His mother was a Christian, but his father was not, and his father had wanted him to have a regular career in the traditional Roman mode of life. Augustine adhered to his father’s wishes for a time, but at the beginning of the fifth Century the Empire was in a process of conversion and all of the good jobs were going to Christians. Eventually he converted, only after becoming convinced that he would have a good career in the Church, and would only encounter dead ends outside of it.

 

His gambit paid off, they put him on the fast track to Bishop.

 

Augustine was a prolific writer, in the modern day he is most famous for his Confessions, and his magnum opus, The City of God.

 

He worked tirelessly against heretical groups like the Manicheans, the Pelagians and the Donatists.

 

He penned the controversial doctrine of creation ex nihillo, as apart of his seminal teaching on original sin. In addition to this, he gave the Church its teaching on sacramental theology, and he argued for the authority of the Church in all matters private and public.

 

His theology would dominate Christian thinking up until the scholastic period, but Saint Thomas Aquinas, the most influential of the scholastic theologians leans heavily on Augustine for nearly all of his views, which is to say that Augustine continued to exercise an indirect influence on the church as the preeminent standard of orthodoxy.

 

Scholastic theologians often deviated from the logic of Augustine, but on the occasion that they might draw a different conclusion from Augustine, they often ran afoul of the hierarchy.

 

By the time of the protestant reformation, both Martin Luther and John Calvin believed that their work represented a realignment of the church with Saint Augustine, and Saint Augustine’s theology continued to dominate protestant thinking.

 

In my own work, Saint Augustine stands as my principle opponent.

 

His doctrine of original sin, his doctrine of double predestination, his teaching that torture can be considered a form of charity if it brings someone to the point of conversion are anathema to the way, and represent a stark contradistinction to the life and ministry of Jesus.

 

Saint Augustine of Hippo has the title of Angelic Doctor of the Church, but he was a villain, he was brutal and cruel, and a hypocrite of the highest order. He should be read in that light.

 

Augustine

 

 

Given 2020.08.28

Dajian Huineng – The Sixth Ancestor of Zen

Huineng lived between the mid-seventh century and early eighth century CE. He is the author of the Platform Sutra and is the principle proponent of the doctrine of sudden enlightenment.

 

He was a Chinese Buddhist of the Southern Chan school, which became known as Zen Buddhism when it moved across the waters to Japan.

 

Huineng was a lay person, according to the legends which pertain to him, upon reading the Diamond Sutra he attained a state of perfect enlightenment and was able to expostulate his understanding of the teachings of the Buddha to Hongren, the Fifth Ancestor of Zen. Even though Huineng was considered to be an uneducated barbarian Hongren chose him as his successor over the monk who had been groomed to fulfil that role.

 

Huineng’s Platform Sutra recapitulates all the major teachings of Chan Buddhism including the Diamond Sutra, the Lotus Sutra and the Awakening of Faith in the Mahayana.

 

Huineng taught “no-thought” and the purity of the “unattached mind” which comes and goes freely, functioning fluently without any hindrance.

 

Be mindful!

 

The principle of “no-thought” does not mean that a person is not thinking, but that in the state of “no-though” the mind is a highly attentive to its immediate experience, unentangled by the exigencies of the past or the expectations of the future.

 

The state of ‘no-thought” is understood as a way of being, wherein the mind is open, non-conceptual, allowing the individual to experience reality directly, as it truly is.

 

Huineng criticized the formal understanding of Buddhism which suggests that the individual must devote themselves to a life of quiet contemplation, likening it to the same trap that the Gautama Siddhartha the Buddha sought to free people from when he taught them that they did not have to endure innumerable lifetimes and countless rebirths before they can be free from the wheel of life.

 

Huineng’s teaching on sudden enlightenment is a doctrine of liberation such as that taught by the Buddha when he instructed the people that they could experience immediate release by following the five-fold path.

 

The Buddha was a liberator and Huineng cast himself in the same mode.

Huineng taught this: When alive one keeps sitting without lying down. When dead, one lies without sitting up.

 

Observing that: In both cases, one is a set of stinking bones!

 

Asking the most important question: What has any of it to do with the great lesson of life?

 

When I was given my first Koan to meditate on, my teacher offered me the old cliché:

 

What is the sound of one hand clapping?

 

In the spirit of Huineng I understood the Koan to be meaningless and I replied: There is no sound.

 

He insisted that I answered to quickly, suggesting that I must meditate on the Koan further, which was unnecessary because in speaking from the immediacy of our experience we are able to understand that one hand does not clap.

 

HuiNeng 

 

Given First – 2020.08.28

Vote VI – Editorial, The Week in Review

Analysis, Commentary, Opinion

08.22.2020

 

Vote     VI

 

 

The stage is set on the race is on, there are seventy-three days to go until the general election.

 

It has been two days since the Democratic National Convention concluded, having played out remotely due to the material necessities imposed by the global pandemic, COVID-19.

 

Many media analysts have said that the web based teleconference style of the presentations played well with the viewer, the fact that there was no-big-stage, the absence of crowds, the lack of cheering and the endless prattle of the pundits allowed for a more conversational presentation of the case the Democratic Party is making for their candidates and their platform, for our candidates and our platform, then would have been possible in the standard format.

 

The speeches that were given were somber yet hopeful, personal and hard hitting, they successfully portrayed Joe Biden and Kamala Harris as the thoughtful intelligent human beings that they are…if you believe it.

 

Unfortunately, the self-styled “progressive” left, which I refer to as the fundamentalist-wing of the democratic party, they have taken no time at all to disparage the Biden/Harris ticket as not representing their interests, not in touch with the base (whatever that means).

 

They are unhappy that the spotlight has moved away from them, unhappy that the PARTY writ large is putting up the big tent in the hope of turning out a landslide victory against Donald Trump, Mitch McConnell and the rest of the treasonous traitors that make up the Republican Party.

 

All I can say is, STOP IT!

 

Stop talking about turning against Joe Biden the day after he becomes the President Elect, stop complaining about the former republicans, and Never-Trumpers who spoke at the DNC. Stop making the swing voters, whether they are traditional swing voters, or people who are going to shift party for the first, stop making them feel uncomfortable, they have come to the dance, let them in.

 

For the first time in their lives they are talking with us, with you, this is an opportunity for dialogue…take it.

 

Say your piece and listen, find common ground and hold it.

 

It is impossible to know what will happen seventy-three days from now, we may wake to find ourselves rejoicing, we may wake in a state of anxiety, we my wake to a state of despair, whatever it is that we are going to face lets face it together, with purpose and resolve.

 

Let me be clear…Your vote is so important, we need everyone to vote, to vote early, to ensure that your vote is counted, to stir your friends and family, to get them to the poles as well.

 

It is equally as important that everyday between now and then you spread the same message of hope and strength through unity of purpose.

 

Check yourself, and check those around you. Check the self-styled “progressives” if they won’t come along, tell them to keep quiet, the real change-agents are working now.

 

It is time to lead or follow, or get the hell out of the way.