Archive for March, 2010

East Jerusalem, a poem

March 13, 2010

You see
the man in the corner with the resolute eyes?
with the star for his emblem and a scar as his prize–
I hear
he drew a line in the sand between his ancient kin
and those other peoples up there in yerushalayim.
He’s there
with his settlement on the land, his eretz in the sand
and razored fence with guard-gate checkpoint plan.
It seems
he lives in a cage now,
like his grandfather in Dachau.
I hear
his mother called him Jacob and she thinks he hung the moon
but on the street they call him Ishmael, call him crazy as a loon.
I know
in the former times he had a dream, and that he wrestled with our God,
though nowadays it’s just surveillance schemes o’er sand and streets and sod.
Could be
requiring him to move’s like waiting for the hot sun to stand still,
so heated have the talks become, the rhetoric so shrill.
But if
ethnic crony segregation bows to democratic equality,
can the leopard lose his dogma spots, or the lion his mane identity?
Then when
hell freezes over and the leopard trades his spots,
its then the lion becomes a lamb, and Israel a melting pot.

Carey Rowland, author Glass half-Full

So make a deal! Trade abortion funding for a new health care system.

March 10, 2010

So Democrats, make a deal: trade abortion funding for a new health care system.
It’s a win/win situation for most citizens of the USA, including:
~uninsured Americans who will obtain coverage;
~insured Americans who will no longer have to accept their coverage being dropped when they get sick and “need it most.”
~Americans with pre-existing medical conditions who will be able to obtain insurance coverage when they “need it most.”
~American children yet unborn with pre-existing conditions that would preclude their entrance into life. They “need it most.”

Ev’body need a mama, justice, and a little encouragement now and then

March 9, 2010

“Good for you,” said Diane Rehm to her guest.

This encouragement she interjected as author Helen Simonson was recalling a decision that she and her husband had made years ago. Helen, the busy advertising executive, would interrupt her career and stay home to nurture their newborn child.

Helen, author of  the novel Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand, had understood that it was time to make a change—that the demands of helpless baby upon her new motherhood would create a full-time job for her, and a new role in life.

“What were we thinking?” she remembered, as if they suddenly realized the importance of motherhood. Her husband, busy bank executive who never got home ‘til after 8 pm, and she, busy advertising executive who never got home ‘til after 8, had planned for her to take a brief absence to have the baby. But then they decided that Helen would just be a mother for a long while.

And Diane said, “Good for you.”

These words encouraged me. My wife had chosen full-time motherhood years ago before launching her career as a nurse. We have never regretted that decision.

I heard this exchange as part of an interview on Diane Rehm’s show on NPR today, March 8.

A few hours later, I heard another gem of encouragement:

“…we’re go’nna make it…” Dr. Martin Luther King had said.

He had been speaking to (now Congressman) John Lewis as they sat in a home near Selma in 1965 during the events that surrounded Bloody Sunday and the civil rights march from Selma to Birmingham, Alabama. As  they listened expectantly to a televised announcement from Washington, President Lyndon Johnson had said:

“…and we shall, we shall overcome.”

And Dr. King had spoken his thoughts, “we’re gonna make it.” “John, we’re go’nna make it to Montgomery, and the voting acts will be passed.”

I heard this recollection on the radio from John Lewis as he recalled the events in an interview with Neil Conan on Talk of the Nation, NPR, today, March 8th.

Such a day was this  for profound utterances! An hour later I heard this:

“Andrew, keep your pants rolled up,” which was an exhortation shouted by a mother to her son from an open window. The 10-year-old son was playing an impromptu baseball game in an open area on this, the first warm day of 2010.

“Don’t sit on the ground,” shouted mama a few minutes later from her vigilant window parch. Because there was, you know, still snow on the ground.  These kids were playing baseball in patchy snow. Such is the power of imminent springtime to provoke pickup baseball.

“Go, go, go!” said his teammate to Andrew, as he knocked a grounder that stopped cold in the infield snow.

Like I said before,  ev’body need a mama, justice, and a little encouragement now and then.

the continuing saga of Jacob and Esau

March 6, 2010

A few millenia ago, Social Services was called in to mediate a domestic incident, but it didn’t work out. Here’s how it went down:
Jacob, the brainy one, lived by his wits and cerebral efforts. He was a mama’s boy.  Esau, the visceral one, lived by his strength and prowess. Daddy was so proud of him. When the younger Jacob obtained, by deceit, Father Isaac’s blessing–a heritage customarily given to the older son, discord ripped the family apart.
These are the words that Isaac had spoken over Jacob, believing that he addressed his older son Esau:
“Now may God give you of the dew of heaven,
and the fatness of the earth,
and an abundance of new wine;
May peoples serve you,
and nations bow down to you.
Cursed be those who curse you,
and blessed be those who bless you.”

When Esau discovered his brother’s trickery, he got mad. He beseeched his father to undo the blessing that had been inappropriately bestowed, but Isaac would not, and believed he could not.
Don’t ask me why. It was apparently some archaic principle relating to the power of patriarchal pronouncements. After this incident, as if things were not bad enough on the home front already, Isaac turned to Esau and said:
“Behold, away from the fertility of the earth shall be your dwelling,
and away from the dew of heaven from above.
By your sword you shall live,
and your brother  you shall serve;
But it shall come about when you become restless–that you will break his yoke from your neck.”

I don’t know how or why. But such is the history of the world, and I suppose, why George wrote while my guitar gently weeps.
Read ’em and weep. You too, Rachel, even as you weep for the children.

Torture

March 4, 2010

Torture is evil.
What, you don’t believe there is such a thing as evil? You think that everything that happens is just random, in the midst of a universe where evil and good do not exist except in the souls of naive humans who dream this stuff up?
Well, you’re wrong there. Believe me, torture is evil–wherever and whenever it is practiced, whether by KGB, CIA, or SLA.. It is never justified.
We in the civilized world have due process of law and trial by jury. You believe in evolution? This is it. Due process supplants torture as the genomically improved means for highly evolved humans  to establish truth in a world plagued by evil.
Is waterboarding evil? Yes.
Is torture evil when Jack Bauer does it?  No, because Jack Bauer doesn’t really exist. He’s just a character that some tv writers dreamed up.
But the implicit advocacy of torture in Jack’s character is evil.  And I say that being a fan of 24. But life ain’t simple and shit happens, and I’m confused by my own predilictions to be entertained by action shows with twisty plots and timely themes that take on our 21st century grappling with evil.
Torture is evil, spite of the fact that Jack Bauer seems to make good use of it. Don’t believe everything you see on tv.
Hamas men torturing their own comrades in a prison–that’s evil.  And that’s the depravity that Mosab Hassan Yousef discovered when he was in an Israeli jail. That revelation of evil to young Mosab drove him to the awareness that something is rotten in Hamas.  Something is rotten in the world.
Yes, Virginia, there is evil in the world.
And torture is it, among other things, like for instance concentration camps.