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

Independence Day – A Holiday Reflection

I have always loved the fourth of July; the mid-summer holiday, the nostalgic look back at the victories of the Continental Soldiers, the American revolutionaries who threw off the yoke of tyranny and the oppression of kings.

 

I loved it.

 

I loved it uncritically as a child.

 

I loved it without thought or question, and a part of me still does.

 

As I grew older and learned more about the real history of the revolutionary war, the real politics of the founders, the philosophies that drove them, the numerous ways in which they were morally and ethically compromised (compromised is too light of a word), compromised by war mongering and profiteering, compromised by slave-holding and the exclusion of women from governance; compromised by religious intolerance and a greed that drove them against the First People, as I learned more about these historical-truths it became self-evident that the nation was founded on a carefully balanced set of ideals that the founders themselves did not have the courage to live up to.

 

America was founded on a compact of lies.

 

The preamble to the constitution states that all people are created equal, that all people inherently possess rights which we cannot be separated from, the foremost of which are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

 

We hold these truths to be self-evident that these rights are inalienable, or so we are told. We are told that these rights do not derive from government, they derive from God, the creator of the universe, God the creator of every person in it, these rights do not belong to us because we are Americans, they belong to us because we are human beings and the American purpose is to defend those rights, both within our borders and around the world.

 

We have only ever paid lip service to these ideals. It was never more than wishful thinking, and today within our own borders we are trampling all over these rights, rights which belong to everyone, including, the immigrant and the alien among us, including our black and brown skinned sisters and brothers, including the working poor, and the homeless and everyone struggling to get by.

 

Instead of welcoming and protecting and sheltering the poor and the disenfranchised who have come to us for asylum, we are imprisoning them, denying them due process, dehumanizing them, abusing them, and it is breaking my heart.

 

Instead of protecting and serving the citizenry we are paying huge sums of money to police forces that kill the people with gross prejudice and criminal discrimination.

 

We have always failed to live up to our ideals.

 

The expression of these self-evident truths in the Declaration of Independence, and its codification in law in the United States Constitution and the Bill of Rights, did not at the same time abolish the institutions of slavery, give women the right to own land, to vote and other modes of self-determination, neither did it not outlaw wars of aggression against the sovereign nations of the First People. These self-evident truths, these inalienable rights, did not prevent the United States of America from entering a campaign of genocide and extermination against them.

 

The founders applied these principles to themselves and their “peers,” they used those principles to justify their separation from the dominion of the kings of England, they used these principles to protect their property after the War of Independence had been won, but they refused to extend these principles to everyone within the aegis of American power; we continue to live with those failures today.

 

The 4th of July is Independence Day, it is a day to celebrate our freedom, and our victory in the Revolutionary War, there is much to celebrate in that.

 

I am a veteran, I know that war and battle create many opportunities for selflessness and displays of courage that most human beings cannot help but admire and applaud, even though the antecedents of war and the causes of conflict are always unjust, morally vacant and abhorrent.

 

Always and without exception war represents a failure of human beings to live up to the purpose we were created for.

 

In my heart, I want to celebrate the revolutionaries, their courage, the flag which unifies us as a nation, but I find it difficult. The story of America, beginning on July 4th, is one that has many bright moments, but we are foolish, cold-hearted and ignorant if we do not at the same time recognize the millions of slaves who built our first cities, who farmed the plantations, who established our first industries and the millions of people belonging to sovereign nations that we crushed in our westward expansion, starving and killing them without mercy, displacing them, outlawing their religion and customs, erasing their languages.

 

I find it difficult.

 

Who among us, knowing that history, finds it easy?

 

You would have to be a monster to be unmoved by the tragedies that ensued after the signing of our Declaration.

 

Yesterday Donald Trump held a political rally at Mount Rushmore, a sacred site that was stolen from the First People and carved up into a monument to honor a group of men, who may have been brilliant and wise and courageous, but who were also deeply flawed and guilty of the worst crimes against humanity

 

Donald Trump did it to exacerbate the racial tension that has griped the country in the fourth year of his presidency. He held it there like a cartoon villain, bankrupt and with no good reason to continue, he did it to stroke his ego to cover up the blemish of his incompetence at handling the worst public health crises the country has ever seen.

 

The 4th of July should be a time of soul searching and deep reflection and community, forget about the flag waving and jingoism.

 

Ask yourself what it means to be an American; immigrant, refugee, stolen people, enslaved people, conquered people, vanquished people, and the revolutionary. We are the descendants of them all, the immigrant, the refugee, the stolen, the enslaved, the conquered, the vanquished; we are their children and grandchildren and great grandchildren…we are one people with a common history, and a common set of ideals we should be continuously striving to live up to.

 

We are a great nation, if and only if we remember it all.

 

4th of July

 

Given – 2020.07.04

Given 1st – 2016.07.04

Memorial Day – A Reflection

Memorial Day is a day set aside for reflection, a day meant for us to honor our fallen dead.

The meaning of Memorial Day has changed a great deal since it was founded. At its inception, the day was set aside to honor the African-American soldiers who fought and died in the Civil War, both our soldiers who were born-free, as well as those who were former slaves; men and women, mothers and fathers, sons and daughters who gave everything they had to keep the United States of America whole, and to make it a free nation.

Memorial Day was established to honor those who died for an America which they only dreamed could exist. They died for these United States, for a vision of it that they prayed for, but was not yet real; they got something different, they got this reality, an America that is still in a state of becoming, one that is more or less just, depending on where you are born, what color your skin is, what class you belong to.

Those men and women died for us, for good or ill, they died for us. They died for promises that went un-realized, they died for a dream deferred, as our poet Langston Hughes wrote of the African-American experience in his poem Harlem(1) :

What happens to a dream deferred?

Does it dry up
like a raisin in the sun?
Or fester like a sore—
And then run?
Does it stink like rotten meat?
Or crust and sugar over—
like a syrupy sweet?

Maybe it just sags
like a heavy load.

Or does it explode?

We have yet to repay those good people, we have yet to fulfill their hopes for the America they dreamt of; America, daughter of liberty, America the true and good, America the arbiter of justice, an America that could be if we pursue the dream of her, and exercise the will to make it so.

Now, we honor our dead on this day; our soldiers and sailors and airmen, our police and firefighters; we honor them.

We are too frequently called upon to honor children, children who stand in the way of gunfire to protect their classmates, who had to pay for it with their lives.

We must honor them and their sacrifice, all of them who died upholding our most cherished values, we honor them in recognition of the fact that we are one people descended from many nationalities and ethnicities, and that we each come into the world with the absolute right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, and that all other rights are subordinate to these.

This year we are called upon to honor all of our citizens who have spent their lives, giving it to public service. We honor our teachers and the good works of our ordinary citizens, of our friends and neighbors, we honor the sacrifice of everyone, known and unknown, and those yet to come.

We must honor the 100,000 Amricans and more who have perished from a deadly coronavirus we call COVID-19, and we must honor the doctors and nurses, the EMTs and paramedics, the orderlies and custodians who are charged to risk their lives and give their lives to care for them.

On this day of all days, do not make the mistake of thinking that it is our service women and men who keep us free.

It has been at least sixty years since America faced an “existential” threat from a foreign power.

We are not kept free through armed conflict.

We do not face such an existential threat from beyond our borders and shores right now; not from Iran, not from North Korea, not from Russia, not from China or anywhere.

The real threat we face is from ourselves, we face an existential threat of ignorance, short-sightedness and greed.

We stand in our own way; we, and we alone who can protect us from ourselves.

Our apathy and selfishness, our prejudice and hatred, our gluttony and cowardice, these are the most dangerous forces aligned against us, these are the forces that threaten our freedom. They are more deadly than any other worldly power, these are the forces which have gone unchecked by our elected representatives, even encouraged by our President and his criminal regime that are killing our fellow Americans in numbers greater than the last five decades of armed conflict.
It is shameful and terrifying.

To honor our fallen dead, you must do your part to keep us free. You must participate in our democracy.

Vote, stay informed, organize, build alliances and collaborate.

Our collective failure as citizens of the Unites States has allowed a criminal, autocratic, demagogue to hold power in the White House, allowed the Supreme Court to state that corporations are to be treated as people, and money regarded as free speech, while those same justices have told ordinary American’s that their right to free speech does not include the right to be heard, and that our right to vote does not include the guarantee that our votes will be counted.

This rank cynicism is more dangerous to our lives and freedom than any rag tag group of militants half way around the world, more dangerous than immigrants looking for a better life on our side of the border we share, people who are only seeking the same thing as my own forebears did when they came here a little over a hundred years ago.

Honor our fallen dead. Not with cards and flowers and barbeques (but do those things because they are good), honor them by standing up to racism and bigotry, to religious zealotry and corporate greed, to scientific ignorance and xenophobia, to corruption in our public officials in our highest offices, and to the notion that the right to keep and bear arms does not include our responsibility to regulate them.

Honor them by participating in public discourse. Do not lose heart, and do not give up.

Honor them by wearing a face mask when you go out in public, by practicing social distancing, and by supporting your neighbors in the weeks and months and years ahead, as we rebuild our country in the hopes of achieving the dream that is still being deferred.

Stand up, and be counted!

We must rebuild America and reform our institutions; we must do this for the sake of all Americans and all future generations.

We must take responsibility for our live and freedom.

We will have nothing to protect if we let apathy and ignorance, selfishness ad gluttony provide a vector for a virus that cannot distinguish between borders and political parties.

Honor the fallen, in this way.

Participate!

Jay P. Botten, Veteran, U.S.N., Hospital Corps, 1990 – 1994

(1) Langston Hughes, “Harlem” from The Collected Works of Langston Hughes. Copyright © 2002 by Langston Hughes. Reprinted by permission of Harold Ober Associates, Inc.369th_15th_New_York_large

 

Earth Day is my Birthday

All of our eggs are in one basket, I have said it before.

We live here, all of us-all-together and we have no place else to go.

The world is a big place and it can take a lot of damage, but the ecosystems we depend on are specialized and fragile. The world itself will survive many things that we individually and our bio-systems collectively cannot.

We are in peril, and that has never been more obvious to our generation than right now, in the era of COVID-19.

We are responsible for the care of this world. It is a sacred obligation, we have been charged with its care by our holy books, and more importantly under the aegis of common sense.

We are responsible for and to each other, we live together in this common-wheel.

The care of the world is a categorical imperative; if we do not care for it, the world may just shrug us off, or shrug just enough that a calamity will ensue that will alter our future destiny forever, changing our cultures, our languages, even our DNA.

Listen!

There are natural disasters pending, they are built into the structure of the planet, into the thinness of the mantle, and in conjunction with the heat emanating from deep within our planet’s core.

There are massive volcanoes, and there is continental drift, the geological forces at work just below our feet could easily destroy us all.

If we allow it.

There are calamities heading our way from outer-space, celestial bodies sailing through the ether, already on a collision course with Earth. There are asteroids and comments that we will collide with us, if we are unable to work cooperatively to change their course, these certain eventualities will overwhelm us. They are baked in, such disasters are existential threats.

Foreseeable events also represent opportunities for the advancement of science, and the unification of humanity. Given enough time, it is possible that we could even harness the power of the greatest volcanoes, turn their destructive energies to the benefit of humankind, or move the near Earth objects that threaten us from our path, capture them for their mineral wealth.

We need time, but more than that we need a willingness to understand these challenges, and rise to them.

We face other threats right now, immediate threats, viral pandemics, and threats of our own making.

We are changing the climate, the planet is warming.

Our oceans are becoming acidic, we are changing their salinity.

We are filling our atmosphere with toxins.

Glaciers are melting, sea levels are rising

We are polluting our freshwater lakes, rivers, and streams.

We are losing topsoil, our forests and our coral reefs.

Our stewardship is failing.

We are divided, against each other…by greed which drives a short sighted political mindset, seeking and succeeding at turning people against their long-term interests.

Politicians and their wealthy patrons, silence and undermine our scientists, they cast doubt on any field of inquiry which might lead to a curtailment of their industrial enterprises, or their short-term profits.

They treat the Earth and all of its resources like it is a grab-bag full of goodies, opened for them to plunder, like children with a big stick whacking at a piñata.

Those in the most powerful positions treat the rest of us the same way, we are not people to them, we are assets, expendables. You can hear their spokespeople cajoling their followers right now, attempting to convince them that “saving” the “economy” is worth the cost of millions of lives, our children and our grandparents, our brothers and sisters, our mothers and fathers, husbands and wives.
They are actively trying to convince us that we should accept the risk, like buying into a lottery, blithely ignoring the statistics that suggest the virus, if left unchecked, will kill between one and three percent of us.

They would sacrifice millions and millions of lives for their “economy”.

Our stewardship is failing.

We are failing.

It is Earth Day 2020, and all of our eggs are in one basket, the basket is fragile, and there is no other.

Earth Day is my Birthday.

04.22.2020

Easter – A Holiday Reflection

When I was a child Easter always came in conjunction with a week off from school; Spring Break we called it, and we still do.

Spring Break always came with Eastertide, but in the public schools we were not allowed to call it Easter Break, on account on account of the separation between church and state, a separation that we are wise to maintain.

I am not sure when it happened, but at some point those conventions began to change, school boards stopped planning the spring break to coincide with the Christian holiday.

Maybe this was due to a sensitivity that had begun to develop in the broader culture, or a desire to cohere more closely to such constitutionally required demarcations, or maybe it was just because the Easter festivities follow an erratic cycle, because it does not follow the solar calendar.

Easter, like Passover, follows Selene, the wandering Titaness, the silvery-moon.

Sometimes Easter comes as late as my birthday, April 22nd, Earth Day, other times it is as early as my sister Raney’s birthday, March 28th.

In the years when Easter fell on our birthday we were able to experience the sense of being overlooked that other kids feel whose birthdays fall on holidays like Christmas or New Year’s Eve, Thanksgiving, the Fourth of July or Halloween.

In one sense Easter is all-about the palette of pastels, donning spring garments, hats and dresses for the ladies, pressed suits for the boys, it is about greening lawns and budding trees, and it is about hard-boiled eggs died with bright colors and then hidden around the house. It is about jelly beans and chocolates and other candies.

There is an Easter feast, ham being the most common thing we put on the table in America.

For many people Easter has little to do with the commemoration of the risen Christ, which is at the root of the holiday. Jesus, the new lawgiver leading the people to a new promised land in a new Passove, leading the poor and downtrodden to a world beyond the veil of time and space, one that is free of pain and anguish.

When we were young my brothers and sisters and I would always watch the Cecil B. De Mill epic, The Ten Commandments, featuring Charlton Heston as Moses, and we watched him transform from prince to exile as he discovered his identity and lead his people away from a life of bondage.

It was a tradition that more clearly connected the Christian holiday to its Jewish roots than any sermon I ever heard in church.

My family rarely went to church on Easter, we hardly ever went to church at all.

For many folks, Easter marks the equinox, a celebration of the change in the arc of the sun, the angle of light, the change from the dark days of winter, to the bright days of spring.

The Christian tradition is a celebration of the risen Christ, it is a celebration of the power of life over death, and the expectation of summer, the season of planting and of hope for the future.

This Easter came at the median, falling just about in the middle of its shifting arc.

This Easter is different from any other Easter that has come before as the whole world experience a devastating pandemic, and we are all shuttered in our homes.

In America twenty-thousand people have died from it in a matter of weeks.

Church bells are ringing above empty halls. Families dine with one another by teleconference.

This Easter, as with every Easter since the murder of Jesus, there is good reason to mourn the terrible state of humanity, and some reason to hope for its betterment.

It is a day that we can ask ourselves how best we can return to life?

How can we be restored in ourselves, in our families, in our communities, and how we can share that hope with the world.

Blessings, and peace be upon you…may the force be with you, always!

b8cc6991a17a4f120bc6cb83163f826e

The Feast of Saint Patrick – Patron Saint of Ireland

Saint_St_Patrick_Enlightener_of_Ireland_Hand-Painted_Orthodox_Icon_2_2Today is the feast of Saint Patrick, today we celebrate his sainthood, and the ascendance to heaven of a British man, of Roman heritage, who lived sometime between the fourth and fifth centuries CE.

Patrick is the Patron Saint of Ireland, but he was not Irish at all, he was a Roman of the Patrician class, from a family of rank, and privilege.

Patrick (Patricius) is credited with converting the people of Erin to faith in the Universal Church, the Apostolic Church of Jesus Christ, in so doing he separated the Celtic people from their Gaelic traditions, and subordinated them to the Catholic Church in Rome.

It is no wonder that he was named a saint for this, Patricius.

He won with the Word what could not be accomplished by through war, by sword and spear, by fire and blood.

It should be noted that Saint Patrick has never been canonized, or even beatified not by any Pope. Therefore Patrick is not officially a Saint of the Catholic Church, and nevertheless, he is recognized in the annals of the Saints of the Church of England, I hope that all my Irish kinfolk appreciate the irony of this.

It is worthy of song.

History tells us that Patrick was a humble man, a rare quality for those of rank. History also tells us that he proofed the plan of spreading the faith by converting Irish chieftains first. Patrick was a politician of great skill. Every missionary who followed him, emulated this method.

He spread the faith, he established churches and he earned the rank of Apostle, by popular acclamation.

History tells us that his mother was a relative of Saint Martin of Tours, the patron Saint of Soldiers, Saint Martin of the Sword whose biography was written by Pope Saint Gregory the Great, but we know that was a work of pure fiction. Saint Martin never lived, even so, his story gave license for Christians to become soldiers, to serve in the army, and as such it brought the Roman legions into the fold.

Patrick was said to have had “heroic piety,” praying day and night, in the mountains and the woods, he prayed through the rain, and through storms of snow and ice, he should be the patron saint of post men if this were true, but then again…all hagiographies are lies.

His story tells us that he spent six years as a captive and servant to a Celtic Chieftain, the Druid named Milchu in Dalriada, where he mastered the language of the common folk and learned all of their stories.

However, if you appreciate history you will know that it is much more likely that he fled his home to wander abroad in order to escape the duties that were expected of him as the son of a nobleman. Such departures were common in his time, they were referred to as the “flight of the curiales.” Patrick was no captive at all, he was a boy running from his responsibilities.

Rather than being taken captive it is more likely that he paid for asylum in Milchu’s house, and that he paid for the services of tutors to help him learn the language.

The Druids were great teachers and oral historians that much is true.

The story of his escape (if it was in fact an escape from servitude), and subsequent journey were of his own account. He cast the entire experience in dramatic, even biblical terms, they served both to cover up his crime of abnegation, and also to establish his fame.

It is said that Patrick escaped from Milchu and then fled to the mainland of Europe where he entered the priesthood and became a missionary. On his return to Ireland however, the first place he went was to his former home in Dalriada. Where, after some period of conflict with his former captor (or patron) and the affectation of some miracles on Patrick’s part, Milchu immolated himself to make way for the upstart, throwing himself on a fire after burning the collected scrolls and mysteries of his people.

This event may be seen in metaphorical terms as Milchu offering himself as a human sacrifice, at the foundation of the church in Ireland.

That’s how Patrick wrote it.

In reality. the whole episode denotes the ritual destruction of the Celtic people in favor of the ascending Romano-British invaders.

On Easter Sunday, 433 a conflict of will ensued between Patrick and the Celtic Arch-Druid Lochru, historians mythologized it as a battle of divine forces like the contest between Moses and the Egyptians, or Elijah and priests of Baal, and it ended with Saint Patrick magically hurling Lochru into the air, and breaking him to pieces on a sharp rock.

It was another ritual murder at the foundation of the Irish Church, another human sacrifice to be sure. There is no other way to read this, it was a good old-fashioned Roman slaughter.

On a side note, while speaking of his vaunted magic powers, not to be outdone by Jesus, this same Patrick was said to have been able to raise the dead.

It should be noted the Columbanus, who was the most significant representative of the Irish Catholic Church after the Dark Ages, who lived and wrote and sent missionaries from Ireland to Continental Europe, building Churches and founding religious communities, makes no mention of Saint Patrick in his writing, not once, not anywhere, Columbanus tells us that the Church in Ireland was founded by a man named Palladius.

The entire legend of Saint Patrick is little more than a myth designed to subordinate the Irish heart to a British noble of Roman descent, and a fictitious one at that.

Be mindful when you celebrate Saint Patrick’s Day!
Revised 2020.03.17

Given First 2018.03.17

Presidents Day – Presidents Speak for Themselves, a Reflection

Presidents Speak for Themselves
A Reflection
Presidents are human beings.

They have all been men (so far), flawed men, everyone who has ever held the office, has been flawed. Some have had heroic attributes. All of them have had craven moments.

There have only been forty-four of them, until now, now we are living through the chaotic and criminal presidency of the 45th.

A couple of other presidents have barely made it into office, only a handful have won the office while failing to earn the popular vote, the 45th is one of them.

The forty-third was appointed by the Supreme Court, it was the first time that ever happened. Nevertheless, all of our presidents have legitimately held the office…until now.

Today the occupant of the oval office, the forty-fifth person to do so Is Donald J. Trump. When he took the oath of office I was prepared to accept him, even though he lost the popular vote. I was prepared to accept him, but I quickly realized that I could not, because there is certain intrigue surrounding his victory that has tainted it for all time. There was foreign interference by the Russians, the conspiracy of his campaign to collude with them and defraud the people of the United States. There was other domestic malfeasance such as; voter suppression, and other shadow campaigns, by actual candidates, and run by anonymous groups on social media platforms that took from the majority of the people the candidate that they preferred.

I was prepared to accept him, just as I had accepted Regan, and Bush who were also elected to the highest office, without my support, or my enthusiasm, or my vote.

I accepted them because I believed that they would uphold the rule of law (even though plenty of illegal things were done during their administration, done in their name and in the name of the American people).

Despite the flaws of those Presidents I believed they would support the American system, the separation of powers, the separation of Church and State, the freedom of the press, and an independent judiciary.

By and large, they did.

The forty-fifth president has not, and will not.

Donald Trump is seeking to undermine the courts, at every turn. He actively undermines our institutions and works to undermine the rule of law. He continues to solicit foreign interference in our elections, and he has turned the instruments of law enforcement against his political rivals.

He dismantles our alliances, pulling out of treaties, starting trade wars, usurping the powers of Congress, and lying through his teeth, to the American people, about what he is doing and what his motives are.

His has declared National Emergency so that he can manage his political problem. He has assumed emergency powers, this is the path to a dictatorship.

This weekend he referred to himself as our king.

He must be stopped.

Consider George Washington, did you know that the city of Cincinnati was named after him. Cincinnati was named after Washington, in his day our first President was affectionately called “The Modern Cincinnatus,” a Roman general from the time of the Early Republic, (c. 519 – c. 430 BCE), who was granted emergency powers by the Senate of Rome, twice, so that he could defend the Republic. He was given the title Imperator and given supreme authority, and on both occasions, upon the resolution of his mission, he laid that power down.

In the same way George Washington set the standards for all future presidents, by refusing to be called anything other than Mr. President, eschewing such titles as Highness, Majesty, Excellency. He served two terms, then he laid down the gauntlet of power, suggesting that to hold power longer would lead the country to an imperial presidency.

Forty-five presidencies later, we are faced with the criminal and corrupt regime of Donald J. Trump.

It is the duty of any person who has ever sworn the oath to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States, to oppose this man and his criminal regime right now.
He has called the free press an enemy of the people.

This kind of rhetoric makes him a threat to the Republic. The power of his office makes him a threat to humankind

Donald Trump should listen to the words of these presidents, and we should listen to him. We should take seriously the things he says and does in our name.

The words of the presidents:

1st George Washington (Two Terms)
“If men are to be precluded from offering their sentiments on a matter…reason is of no use to us; the freedom of speech may be taken away, and dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep, to the slaughter.”
A Real President – April 30, 1789 – March 4th, 1797

2nd John Adams
“The liberty of the press is essential to the security of the state.”
A Real President – March 4th, 1797 – March 4th, 1801

3rd Thomas Jefferson (Two Terms)
“The only security of all is in a free press. The force of public opinion cannot be resisted when permitted freely to be expressed. The agitation it produces must be submitted to. It is necessary, to keep the waters pure.”
A Real President – March 4th, 1801 – March 4th, 1809

4th James Madison (Two Terms)
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”
A Real President – March 4, 1809 – March 4th, 1817

5th James Monroe (Two Terms and Last of the Founders)
“Free people seldom intrigue together; because there is no motive for it. Between the leaders however of a free people, and the neighboring monarchs, such intrigues have often taken place, and always will take place, whilst liberty is odious to monarchs, and men can be found base enough to betray her.”
A Real President – March 4, 1817 – March 4th, 1825

6th John Quincy Adams (Lost the Popular Vote)
“The freedom of the press should be inviolate.”
President – March 4, 1825 – March 4th, 1829

7th Andrew Jackson (Two Terms)
“As long as our government is administered for the good of the people, and is regulated by their will; as long as it secures to us the rights of persons and of property, liberty of conscience, and of the press, it will be worth defending.”
March 4th, 1829 – March 4th, 1837

8th Martin Van Buren
“There is a power in public opinion in this country – and I thank God for it: for it is the most honest and best of all powers – which will not tolerate an incompetent or unworthy man to hold in his weak or wicked hands the lives and fortunes of his fellow-citizens.”:
A Real President – March 4th, 1837 – March 4th, 1841

9th William Henry Harrison
“There is no part of the means placed in the hands of the Executive which might be used with greater effect for unhallowed purposes than the control of the public press. The maxim which our ancestors derived from the mother country that “the freedom of the press is the great bulwark of civil and religious liberty” is one of the most precious legacies which they have left us. We have learned, too, from our own as well as the experience of other countries, that golden shackles, by whomsoever or by whatever pretense imposed, are as fatal to it as the iron bonds of despotism. The presses in the necessary employment of the Government should never be used “to clear the guilty or to varnish crime.” A decent and manly examination of the acts of the Government should be not only tolerated, but encouraged.”
A Real President – March 4th, 1841 – April 4th, 1841

10th John Tyler
“The guaranty of religious freedom, of the freedom of the press, of the liberty of speech, of the trial by jury, of the habeas corpus…will be enjoyed by millions yet unborn…”
A Real President – April 4th, 1841 – March 4th, 1845

11th James K. Polk
”Thank God, under our Constitution there was no connection between Church and State, and that in my action as President of the United States I recognized no distinction of creeds in my appointments office.”
A Real President – March 4th, 1845 – March 4th, 1849

12th Zachary Taylor
“As American freemen, we cannot but sympathize in all efforts to extend the blessings of civil and political liberty, but at the same time, we are warned by the admonitions of history and the voice of our own beloved Washington to abstain from entangling alliances with foreign nations.”
A Real President – March 4th, 1849 – July 9th, 1849

13th Millard Fillmore
“The law is the only sure protection of the weak, and the only efficient restraint upon the strong.”
“Church and state should be separate, not only in form, but fact – religion and politics should not be mingled.”
A Real President – July 9th, 1850 – March 4th, 1853

14th Franklin Pierce
“While men inhabiting different parts of this vast continent cannot be expected to hold the same opinions, they can unite in a common objective and sustain common principles.”
A Real President – March 4th, 1853 – March 4th, 1857

15th James Buchanan
“The country is indebted for the clause prohibiting Congress from passing any law respecting an establishment of religion or abridging the freedom of speech or of the press or of the right of petition. To this we are also indebted for the bill of rights which secures the people against any abuse of power by the Federal Government.”
A Real President – March 4th, 1857 – March 4th, 1861
16th Abraham Lincoln (Assassinated, Ended Slavery)
“Whenever this effect shall be produced among us; whenever the vicious portion of [our] population shall be permitted to gather in bands of hundreds and thousands, and burn churches, ravage and rob provision stores, throw printing-presses into rivers, shoot editors, and hang and burn obnoxious persons at pleasure and with impunity, depend upon it, this government cannot last. By such things the feelings of the best citizens will become more or less alienated from it, and thus it will be left without friends, or with too few, and those few too weak to make their friendship effectual. At such a time, and under such circumstances, men of sufficient talent and ambition will not be wanting to seize the opportunity, strike the blow, and overturn that fair fabric which for the last half century has been the fondest hope of the lovers of freedom throughout the world.”
A Real President – March 4th, 1861 – April 15th, 1865

17th Andrew Johnson (Impeached)
“Notwithstanding a mendacious press; notwithstanding a subsidized gang of hirelings who have not ceased to traduce me, I have discharged all my official duties and fulfilled my pledges.”
Impeached President – April 15th, 1865 – March 4th, 1869

18th Ulysses S. Grant (Two Terms)
“Let us labor to add all needful guarantees for the more perfect security of free thought, free speech, and free press, pure morals, unfettered religious sentiments, and of equal rights and privileges to all men, irrespective of nationality, color, or religion.”
A Real President – March 4th, 1869 – March 4th, 1877

19th Rutherford B. Hayes (Lost the Popular Vote)
“I am not liked as a President by the politicians in office, in the press, or in Congress. But I am content to abide the judgment the sober second thought of the people.”
“But at the basis of all prosperity, for that as well as for every other part of the country, lies the improvement of the intellectual and moral condition of the people. Universal suffrage should rest upon universal education. To this end, liberal and permanent provision should be made for the support of free schools by the State governments, and, if need be, supplemented by legitimate aid from national authority.”
President – March 4th, 1877 – March 4th, 1881

20th James A. Garfield (Assassinated)
“In the long, fierce struggle for freedom of opinion, the press, like the Church, counted its martyrs by thousands.”
A Real President – March 4th, 1881 – September, 1881

21st Chester A. Arthur
“If it were not for the reporters, I would tell you the truth.”
A Real President – September 19th, 1881 – March 4th, 1885

22nd and 24th Grover Cleveland (Elected Twice, Serving Two Non-consecutive Terms)
“Officeholders are the agents of the people, not their masters. Not only is their time and labor due to the government, but they should scrupulously avoid in their political action, as well as in the discharge of their official duty, offending by a display of obtrusive partisanship their neighbors who have relations with them as public officials.”
A Real President – March 4th, 1885 – March 4th, 1889, March 4th, 1893 – March 4th, 1897

23rd Benjamin Harrison (Lost the Popular Vote)
“God forbid that the day should ever come when, in the American mind, the thought of man as a ‘consumer’ shall submerge the old American thought of man as a creature of God, endowed with ‘unalienable rights’.”
President – March 4th, 1889 – March 4th, 1893

25th William McKinley (Assassinated)
“Equality of rights must prevail, and our laws be always and everywhere respected and obeyed. We may have failed in the discharge of our full duty as citizens of the great Republic, but it is consoling and encouraging to realize that free speech, a free press, free thought, free schools, the free and unmolested right of religious liberty and worship, and free and fair elections are dearer and more universally enjoyed to-day than ever before. These guaranties must be sacredly preserved and wisely strengthened. The constituted authorities must be cheerfully and vigorously upheld.”
A Real President – March 4th, 1897 – September 14th, 1901

26th Theodore Roosevelt (Two Terms)
“To announce that there must be no criticism of the President, or that we are to stand by the President, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public.”
A Real President – September 19th, 1901 – March 4th, 1909

27th William Howard Taft
“The intoxication of power rapidly sobers off in the knowledge of its restrictions and under the prompt reminder of an ever-present and not always considerate press, as well as the kindly suggestions that not infrequently come from Congress.”
A Real President – March 4th, 1909 – March 4th, 1913

28th Woodrow Wilson (Oversaw the end of Women’s Sufferage)
“Publicity is one of the purifying elements of politics. Nothing checks all the bad practices of politics like public exposure.”
A Real President – March 4th, 1913 – March 4th 1921

29th Warren G. Harding
“We must not abridge the freedom of speech, the freedom of press, or the freedom of assembly because there is no promise in repression.”
A Real President – March 4th, 1921 – August 2nd, 1923

30th Calvin Coolidge
“The freedom of the human mind is recognized in the right to free speech and free press. The public schools have made education possible for all and ignorance a disgrace.”
A Real President – August 2nd, 1923 – March 4th, 1929

31st Herbert Hoover
“Absolute freedom of the press to discuss public questions is a foundation stone of American liberty.”
A Real President – March 4th, 1929 – March 4th, 1933

32nd Franklin D. Roosevelt (Four Terms)
“Freedom of conscience, of education, or speech, of assembly are among the very fundamentals of democracy and all of them would be nullified should freedom of the press ever be successfully challenged.”
A Real President – March 4th, 1933 – April 12th, 1945

33rd Harry S. Truman (Two Terms)
“Once a government is committed to the principle of silencing the voice of opposition, it has only one way to go, and that is down the path of increasingly repressive measures, until it becomes a source of terror to all its citizens and creates a country where everyone lives in fear.”
A Real President – April 12th, 1945 – January 20th, 1953

34th Dwight D. Eisenhower (Two Terms – Hero of the Second World War)
“Censorship, in my opinion, is a stupid and shallow way of approaching the solution to any problem. Though sometimes necessary, as witness a professional and technical secret that may have a bearing upon the welfare and very safety of this country, we should be very careful in the way we apply it, because in censorship always lurks the very great danger of working to the disadvantage of the American nation.”
A Real President – January 20th, 1953 – January 20th, 1961

35th John F. Kennedy (Assassinated)
“Without debate, without criticism, no Administration and no country can succeed-and no republic can survive. That is why the Athenian law-maker Solon decreed it a crime for any citizen to shrink from controversy. And that is why our press was protected by the First Amendment–the only business in America specifically protected by the Constitution–not primarily to amuse and entertain, not to emphasize the trivial and the sentimental, not to simply “give the public what it wants”–but to inform, to arouse, to reflect, to state our dangers and our opportunities, to indicate our crises and our choices, to lead, mold, educate and sometimes even anger public opinion.”
A Real President – January 20th, 1961 – November 22nd, 1963
36th Lyndon B. Johnson (Two Terms, Passed the Civil Rights Act)
“Democracy is a constant tension between truth and half-truth and, in the arsenal of truth, there is no greater weapon than fact.”
A Real President – November 22nd, 1963 – January 20th 1969

37th Richard Nixon (Two Terms, Resigned)
“You won’t have Nixon to kick around anymore, because, gentlemen, this is my last press conference.” ~ Last press conference before resignation…
Resigned the Presidency amid Charges of Corruption and Obstruction of Justice
January 20th, 1969 – August 9th, 1974

38th Gerald Ford (Un-elected)
“I believe in the first amendment and the absolute necessity of a free press.”
President – August 9th, 1974 – January 20th 1977

39th Jimmy Carter
“When people are intimidated about having their own opinions, oppression is at hand.”
“We live in a time of transition, an uneasy era which is likely to endure for the rest of this century. During the period we may be tempted to abandon some of the time-honored principles and commitments which have been proven during the difficult times of past generations. We must never yield to this temptation. Our American values are not luxuries, but necessities – not the salt in our bread, but the bread itself.”
A Real President – January 20th, 1977 – January 20th, 1981

40th Ronald Reagan (Two Terms)
“The First Amendment was not written to protect people and their laws from religious values. It was written to protect those values from government tyranny.”
A Real President – January 20th, 1981 – January 20th, 1989

41st George H. W. Bush
We know what works: Freedom works. We know what’s right: Freedom is right. We know how to secure a more just and prosperous life for man on Earth: through free markets, free speech, free elections, and the exercise of free will unhampered by the state.”
A Real President – January 20th, 1989 – January 20th, 1993

42nd Bill Clinton (Two Terms, Impeached but not Removed)
“The road to tyranny, we must never forget, begins with the destruction of the truth.”
A Real President – January 20th, 1993 – January 20th, 2001

43rd George W. Bush (Two Terms, Lost the Popular Vote in the First)
“I consider the media to be indispensable to democracy…that we need the media to hold people like me to account. I mean, power can be very addictive and it can be corrosive and it’s important for the media to call to account people who abuse their power, whether it be here or elsewhere.”
A Real President – January 20th, 2001 – January, 20th 2009

44th Barack Obama (Two Terms)
“We have to uphold a free press and freedom of speech — because, in the end, lies and misinformation are no match for the truth.”
A Real President – January 20th, 2009 – January 20th, 2017

45th Donald Trump (Lost the Popular Vote, Elected with the Aid of a Foreign Adversary, Impeached but not Removed)
“The FAKE NEWS media (failing @nytimes, @NBCNews, AABC, @CBS, @CNN) is not my enemy, it is the enemy of the American People!”
A Fake President, Failing – January 20th, 2017 – One year and one month in, and it cannot be over soon enough.

These words speak for themselves. One of these quotes is not like the others.

The despot uttered it should be removed from office, not because he made this statement, but for this sentiment and his many other crimes.

Vote him out of office, it is the only way to save the Republic.

Remember This:
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”
– U.S. Constitution, First Amendment

Saint Valentine’s Day

Jennifer is she
Bright as a morning in May
Sensual and sweet

A light in the dark
My warming breeze in winter
February’s love

Freckles, and green eyes
Her flashing smile lights my heart
As the sun in spring

Clear as the bright stream
Swift as the rising moon, cool
In the evening

She listens to me
Sheltering my hopes, and dreams
Believing in me

She is strong, and fierce
I lean on her when I’m tired
And she carries me

Six years of loving
Kind and caring Valentine
Jennifer is she

Martin Luther King Day 2020 – Monday, January 20th

Today we celebrate the life and work of the Reverend Doctor, Martin Luther King Jr., a man who fulfilled the role of prophet in our time, as a voice of conscience, and like so many prophets before him he was killed for speaking the truth.

Martin Luther King was a prophet, not in the sense that he saw the future (though he did), that is not what a prophet does. A prophet is not a seer, or an augurer. He was not a prophet in the sense that he had a unique channel to God, the creator of the universe, or that God spoke to him in a privileged way.

God speaks to all of us in the same way, and that is one of the things that the Reverend Doctor spoke to us about, the responsibility we all have to listen to the demands of our conscience when we here it speaking to our hearts.

Martin Luther King had no more and no less access to supernatural powers than any of us, what made him different was that he chose to listen.

He listened to the voice of God that speaks to each and every one of us. He heard the voice of God and he responded to the call by cleaving to the message and sharing it with the world.

He loved mercy, he worked for justice and he walk humbly, as an example to us all.

There are many memes circulating today of the good Reverend Doctor, memes like the picture I have pasted at the beginning of this essay.

Today we are given countless opportunities to reflect on his likeness, to consider his words, to reflect on their meaning and on the life of an American Saint (if there ever was one), and we are wise to do so.

We are wise to remember the man, Martin Luther King Jr., a rare person whose measure exceeded the ordinary flaws that make us all human, he lived beyond them.

Martin Luther King Jr. transcended even death, though he was taken by the assassin’s bullet. He lives now in our collective consciousness, our collective conscience, in our global psyche, speaking to us from the dimension of myth; a human being who was more than human, a child of God, a man overflowing with grace and wisdom, sharing its cup so that upon drinking we may aspire to do the same.

He spoke truth to power, and offered hope to the powerless, and he was murdered for it.

He was once considered by the director of the F.B.I. to be the most dangerous man in America, and from that status he became our most beloved hero, the prime exemplar of what it means to be an American.

He was beaten and arrested dozens of times for the crime of seeking justice.

His life was threatened daily. His reputation was smeared without regard for the truth, or appreciation for his selfless works.

He was killed for his efforts, shot down, but not destroyed.

He was, and continues to be an example to us all.

Our prophet, The Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King Jr. still points the way, lighting the long journey that still lies ahead of us, a journey toward justice that will not be denied.

mlk

New Year’s Day 2020 – A Holiday Reflection

Today is a day of beginnings.

A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.

A beginning is the time for taking the most delicate care that the balances are correct, the Princess Irulan said, in her biography of Muad’Dib

A small miscalculation at the outset, a subtle deviation from the plan, will cause you to miss your mark by a wide margin. It may cause you to never reach your end, or to end in a place you never intended to be.

Great care must be taken at the beginning.

Be mindful of your aim.

Today it is a day of resolutions.

Doing is being, is what Ray Bradbury said:

To have done is not enough.
You cannot lie about, and lie about the things you might just do someday.
But do, and win the game.

Great things are accomplished (and by great I mean great on any scale; socially, professionally, personally, spiritually, privately), great things are arrived at, built, discovered, in a series of small, regular and consistent steps.

With the steady application of effort, we can learn to do, and we can do just about anything.

Resolve to do something; be resolute.

Know this, if life is a river, it is a confluence of contradictions.

The process is just as important as the goal.

The archer is not only concerned with the object of her aim, but with the drawing of her bow, with the tension in the string and movement of her goal.

We must be prepared.

2020 marks the end of an era in American vision and the American experiment. The assault on truth, and the understanding of what truth is has finally undone its relevance to the social order.

It is doubtful that we can return to it.

Like the beast in the Book of Revelation, we have turned power over to the father of lies.

In 2020 we will put the liar on trial for abusing his power, for conspiring with our adversaries, he will be acquitted by his allies, and they will all lie some more, in the hope of continuing their grip on power.

We may hope for the future of America’s promise, and the extension of the promise to the whole world, but all we may have is hope…

Compassion, accountability, charity, honesty, integrity to call for these things is to speak to the wind, we hear them like voices crying out in the wilderness, lost in the din of madness.

Today is the first day, it is a day for unity and finding common purpose.

We will need to stand together if we are going to put an end to the madness, but our house is divided.

Today is the first day, it is a day for unity and finding common purpose.

We will need to stand together and support one another if we are going to advance the common good, but our house is divided, and those who are seeking to step up as champions, to lead the charge against destroyer are tearing each other down and lying to make themselves heard.

We are undone.