Posts Tagged ‘death’

Liberty or. . . Death by Covid?

April 30, 2020

Some people have to work for a living.

This reality does not just go away. In the next few months, we will see every shade of compliance and non-compliance with pandemic prohibitions and practices.

In a free nation, we should get used to the fact that not everyone is in agreement about strategies to strike a balance between defeating Covid and preventing a new epidemic of poverty.

Remember too, strategies vary, state by state. It just so happens that the New York Covid epicenter is also the media capital of this continent. Stringent restrictions for defeating Covid have been admirably initiated and administered by Gov. Cuomo in New York State. Media mouths and talking heads headquartered in the Northeast reflect the urgency of that region’s life-or-death struggle with coronavirus.

New York — especially the City — is a special case due to the extreme density of population there and the widespread use of mass transit.

In other states, however, especially southern states in which mass transit is not as highly developed, population is more widely spread out. There is far more space already existing between people, towns, suburbs, institutions, retail outlets, public parks, etc. Governors in these states, including many in the west and southwest, will have— regarding their policy responses and timetable — more flexibility in their judgements. Every Governor, every public official is now involuntarily sucked into an unprecedented, massive public problem: how to balance public policies to accomplish the defeat of Covid vs. preserving what is left of economic viability.

The immensity of this epidemic’s destruction is unprecedented in the history of our nation . . . except perhaps the dire destruction and loss of life of the Civil War, and the 1918 wartime war against a flu epidemic.

Official responses in states with low population density will not be as extremely restrictive as in high-density states; nor will such prohibitions extend as far into the months ahead. Balancing Covid-control against this unexpected 1930’s-ish poverty wave will be no walk in the park. Our entire nation–indeed the whole world–has been blindsided by this epidemic.

As Governors and other officials respond according to their states’ respective needs, so will the citizens therein be reacting in a wide variety of strategies,with some citizens acting much more cooperatively in the public space than others.

Many Americans still take quite seriously the words of Patrick Henry in 1775:

“Give me liberty or give me death.”

LiborDeathPH

Liberty does not come cheaply. The cost is dear.  Back in the day. . . 1970ff, Crosby Stills Nash Young Gilmour sang out a dirgeful reflection of just what this life comes down to. . .

     https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U-Y0SMitMpk

“Find the cost of freedom, buried in the ground.”

Do not expect all the citizens of this free nation to agree on all the strategies for controlling Covid while preserving freedom. Many will die, but many will not. The best you can do is be an example in wearing your PPE and mask while ardently exhorting others to do so, for as long as this damned disease requires.

Let’s not forget, though, that freedom of assembly is a Constitutional right. Public declarations in that realm are not too be taken lightly. Ultimately such restrictions are subject to the 1st Amendment assurance of our shared liberty.

So don’t expect that all Americans will agree with the myriad of public prohibitions and practices that are provoked by the spread of this disease; do expect that you will hear about, read about, and surely encounter in public places . . . unmasked citizens who are not wearing the politically correct mask and/or PPE. Pshaw! on them.

Also, get used to the fact that our showman President is clueless when it comes to speaking publicly about this very large problem. In his public persona, the man is too obsessed with interpreting every development in terms of whether those persons are for him or against him. If you don’t like what he does, vote for Joe.

As for me, I don’t care who is President next year. I care about defending my family and our households against this disease, while upholding the freedoms we are entitled to as Americans.

We sincerely hope that whatever measures our President initiates, implements, advocates  . . . will effectively reinforce the efforts and precautions undertaken by all Americans to slap this dreaded disease back down into the ground.

Lean on your state .gov and local officials for guidance.

As for me and mine (my ICU nurse wife). . . we wear the mask and use hand sanitizer while visiting enclosed places in our Appalachian town.

And remember: not every masked person you meet is a bandit.

Glass Chimera 

I’m Convinced

April 12, 2020

There’s a lot be said, and much to be written, about how we got here, where we are headed, what we will endure, what we will enjoy, and why it all happens.

Of all the sages and great men and great women throughout the ages, I do  not know of one whose claim to truth—whose claim to know what he is talking about, and what our purpose is here— I do not know of one whose accomplishment can be more convincing than the prophet  who rose from the dead. There is not one man nor woman whose wisdom or feats can match  this one miraculous labor of love:

Being tortured to death, rising from death back into life, and then living to tell about it.

There is no treatise on truth, no explanation of existence nor spoken lecture on the meaning (or absence thereof) of life. There is no heroic feat, no dramatic rescue, no profound work of art—that can match or exceed personal victory over death itself.

So I’m going with the one who survived death: Jesus.

I’m not the only one. Take a look at history and you will see how many men, women and children have, over two thousand years, cast their lot in his direction.

Believe it, or not.

If you can’t agree with me now, just recall this testimony when you are, let’s say, one hour or one minute from your death. At that moment, consider carefully whether you will truly want to  reject the rescuing hand that is extended to you just after crossing . . .

Better yet: believe me now, that. . . that hand is gesturing for you now, because the gift of eternal life through faith is even more precious–and more lovingly beneficial to others– when it comes into full use during this present life of trouble, trial, and triumph.

EmptyTomb

King of Soul  

zombie time

April 11, 2020

About 2700 years ago, some obscure blogger posted this, although my translation is a little bit off:

DeadSeaC

He was despised and forsaken, a man of sorrows, living with the worst of all human feelings–he was, like, the guy you look away from while passing in the street.

We didn’t like him.

But somehow he carried the terrible weight of our pathetic existence; this God-forsaken wanderer was afflicted with the worst fate that any humans have ever inflicted on their-fellow-man.

As it turned out, we discriminated against him, pushed him down as if he were the lowest of the low. Even so, he didn’t raise a big stink about the maltreatment that was inflicted on him. He didn’t whine about the injustice that he ended up getting.

He got screwed-over like the worst of the worst, even though he had done nothing to deserve such a judgement.

I mean, he never hurt anybody, never raised his hand against any person; he was no bully. In fact, he told the truth about everything everywhere he went. He was known for it. In fact, that’s what got him into such deep shit. He was a truth-teller . . . didn’t sugarcoat anything.

He was, like, a good guy. Looking back on the whole damn torrent of events, it doesn’t make any sense. The events of that terrible time just escalated far beyond any reasonable justification for what they did to him.

I mean, if there’s a God in this universe, he just, like, didn’t care at all about the devolution of events that, like, seemed to conspired against this man.

His fate was cast with the common criminals, but some rich guy showed up to deal with the corpse.

Tomb

Go figure. I mean, it doesn’t make any sense to me. Sometime I wonder if anybody in this life ever gets what they deserve. The one-percenters get to set themselves up all high and mighty, while homeless folk just get shoved into the dead-end corners underneath freeways, and dumpster-diving and hitting people up for handouts on the street.

But this guy didn’t do any of that. I don’t think he even had a place to crash at night, although he was one of the smartest people I ever heard railing on the street about this God-forsaken planet that we’re trashing worser and worser every day that goes by.

Now that they’ve disposed of him, no tellin’ what’s gonna happen next.

Slab

I mean, it’s like zombie time, but we can’t even go see a dam movie any more. No more Saturday night at the movies for us. Who’d’ve thought you couldn’t even catch a flick on a Saturday night? What the hell is the world coming to? All the worst stuff is going viral, while the best are clueless. Who knew?

King of Soul

Getting old

October 10, 2019

Are you booting up a brave new world

or slogging in a new slave world?

You who would be brave or slave—

snickery snob or clueless knave?

Catching the new wave

or just trying to behave?

You filling your Capitalist bag,

or flying the Socialist flag?

Working for wages, or plotting for profits?

You dumbing down, or heeding the prophets?

Will you work as selective

or labor in a collective?

With more .gov or less?

destined for worst or best.

You protesting in public space,

or praying in private grace?

All things being equal,

are you satisfied or freakful?

Living as privileged  elite

or just dancing to the rabble beat?

Striving for the common or the proprietary?

will you eat fattening or dietary?

Or maybe you be in shadowland like me

wishing for what was instead of what will be.

Winds of change blow hot and cold;

Will you stay young, or like me, grow old?

Winds of change blow foul and fair;

Are you ready to turn to dust or air?

Winds of change are hard to read;

Can you face them without a creed?

Day of death casts us in the hole;

Will you fall to dust, or rise in soul?

Hollowc

Smoke

Death by War

May 26, 2019

I wrote a story about an American traveling through Europe in the spring/summer of 1937. In the novel, Smoke, which I published in 2015, young businessman Philip Morrow accepts an unusual errand, which takes him through London, halfway around the far side of France, then to Paris, and ultimately to arrive at a place called Flanders Field in Belgium.

At his specific Memorial battleground destination, Philip sees for the first time the final resting place of his father, a soldier of the American Expeditionary Force, who had died there in 1918 during the last week of World War I.  Philip had been eight years old in 1917 when he hugged his pa for the last time, then  beheld  his mother while she tearfully embraced her  husband, a mountaineer marksman named Clint.

In chapter 27 of Smoke, Philip arrives at the Memorial cemetery accompanied by a newfound friend, Mel, an old Frenchman who expresses his appreciation for Clint’s courageous sacrifice–given in his last full measure of devotion– for freedom, to defeat tyranny.

Clint’s total offering in 1918 was not the first, nor the last, to be put forth by millions of other soldiers since that time. In Washington DC, I snapped this photo of a newer Memorial–that one constructed for us to remember the dead of Vietnam.

VNMem (1)

We Americans do appreciate the families left behind.  Their sorrow and sacrifice is painfully precious; it  runs deep–deep as the blood that pumped through soldiering bodies alive with determination–blood that still streams through the beating hearts and minds of  us Americans and Allies.

Here’s my offering, from chapter 27 of Smoke:

       “How could this place have been a battlefield for a world war?”

‘The old Frenchman cast his eyes on the passing landscape, and seemed to join Philip in this musing. He answered slowly, “War is a terrible thing, an ugly thing. I did not fight in the war; I had already served my military duty, long before the Archduke was assassinated in Sarajevo and the whole damn world flew apart, like shrapnel. But I had many friends who fought here, and back there, where we just came from in my France, back there at the Somme, the Marne, Amiens. Our soldiers drove the Germans back across their fortified lines, the Hindenberg line they called it. By summer of 1918 the Germans were in full retreat, although it took them a hell of a long time, and rivers of spilt blood, to admit it. And so it all ended here. Those trenches, over there in France, that had been held and occupied for two hellish years by both armies, those muddy hellholes were finally left behind, vacated, and afterward . . . filled up again with the soil of France and Flanders and Belgium, and green grass was planted where warfare had formerly blasted its way out of the dark human soul and the dark humus of lowland dirt and now we see that grass, trimmed, manicured and growing so tidily around those rows of white crosses out there, most of them with some soldier’s name carved on them, many just unknown, anonymous, and how could this have happened? You might as well ask how could. . . a grain of sand get stuck in an oyster? And how could that oyster, in retaliation against that rough, alien irritant, then generate a pearl—such a beautiful thing, lustrous and white—coming forth in response to a small, alien presence that had taken up unwelcomed residence inside the creature’s own domain? The answer, my friend, is floating in the sea, blowing in the wind, growing green and strong from soil that once ran red with men’s blood.” ‘

“Now they were arriving at the battlefield. Jacques parked the car, leaned against the front fender, lit a cigarette. Mel and Philip walked through a stone arch, along a narrow, paved road lined with flowering linden trees, spring green with their large spadish leaves, sprinkled with small white blossoms. The sun was getting low behind them. Shadows of these trees had overtaken the narrow lane, turning it cooler than the surrounding fields, acres and acres neatly arranged with white crosses and gravestones, and continuous green, perfect grass between all. Having reached the end of the linden lane, the stepped slowly, reverently, along straight pathways, passing hundreds of silent graves on either side. The setting sun was still warm here, after their cool approach from beneath the trees.

“At length, they came to the row that Philip had been looking for, the one he had read about in the army guidebook, where his father’s grave was nested precisely and perpetually in its own place in eternity “. . .

King of Soul

The Beginning and the End

June 15, 2018

To go with the flow, or to go against it—that is the question.

Whether ’tis nobler to nurture the notion that mankind was innocent in some presumed condition of noble savagery—or to accept traditional religion that pronounces us guilty of offenses against Nature or against God.

If we are, or were, indeed, noble savages in our beginnings, why should we have taken on the disciplines and restrictions of religion—doctrines that judge us culpable of sin and thus in need of repair, salvation, or some kind of evolving perfection yet to be realized?

Hawaiians, for instance, who were alive here on the island of Kauai (I am wondering, as I write this on Kauai in 2018)—those Hawaiians who lived here in 1778 when Captain James Cook suddenly showed up with his fancy ship and his threatening weaponry, his magical gadgets, highly-trained crew, impressive use of language and documents, his tailored clothing and highly developed European culture—those relatively primitive people who first saw Capt. Cook’s two ships sail up to the mouth of the Waimea River . . .

CaptCook

Why should they have accepted his intrusion into their simple, primitive life?

To go with the flow, or to go against it—that was their question.

Would they go with the “arc of history” or resist it?

Did they eventually accept highly developed European culture to replace their traditional tribal existence? Did they accede to it out of submission, or out of necessity, or out of attraction to the new fancy stuff they saw? Were they conquered? Or were they taken by the hand and brought gently, Christian-like, into 18th-century civilization, and ultimately into 19th, 20th and 21st-century lifestyle?

Look around Hawaii today. What do you think?

They accepted it.

They went with the flow. One thing we know for sure about the so-called primitive Hawaiians of 1778: they knew how to go with the flow. They were here on this remote island in the middle of earth’s largest ocean, long before we technolified haoles were here, and they had arrived here at some earlier time because they knew how to make “the flow” of this life and the Pacific Ocean work for them.

So now, 2018, it is what it is. Hawaii, like every other place in our modern world, is what it is. Some may lament the demise of noble savagery that has been the result of Captain Cook’s intrusion into this paradisical (though deadly if you don’t know what you’re doing) island. Others may celebrate the entrance of the Hawaiians into modern life.

Some may come and some may go.

Captain Cook came. He left and came back again. The beginning of Captain James Cook’s Hawaii experience happened when his crew sailed their two ships to the mouth of the Waimea River— a river that flowed from mile-high Waialeale crater down to sea level at the southwest shore of Kauai.

Waimea1

He died in 1779, shot dead by an Hawaiian on the Big Island of Hawaii, at the other end of this island archipelago. His sudden demise came in the midst of dispute between some of his own crew members and the natives of Hawaii.

Many have lived and died since that time.

Two days ago, up on the other end of Kauai island, the northeast end, at a strand called Larsen’s Beach, we witnessed the life-end of another person, a contemporary. The man was a traveler from Pennsylvania. He had been snorkeling at a reef in unpredictable waters when the Ocean took hold of him.

A little while later, his flippers floated to shore. After we had witnessed a team of chance beach visitors (us), and then a couple of jet-skiing lifeguards from some other nearby beach, and then EMT guys flown in on a “bird,”—after we had witnessed all this collective noble attempt to coax life back into the snorkeler’s breathless lungs and heart, we saw his neon-green flippers float back to shore.

Flipper

Maybe he was going with the flow; maybe he was going against it; maybe he was fighting against the current, or maybe he was just going with that flow of life and death that eventually captures us all.

In my case, that flow will, in the long run, take me to death, and then resurrected life, as was demonstrated by Jesus.

Am I really going with the flow, you may ask, in joining the historical current of the Christian faith into which I was born?

Or am I going against the rational flow by subscribing to such an incredible prospect as life after death?

God only knows.

King of Soul

This thing’s all crossed up.

January 4, 2018

So now it’s come down to this:

a global schmobile electric hectic dyss-topia,

each faction nursing its own myopia

manifesting all the genetical heretical traits known to man,

in the clashes of history clashing again and again.

We’re racing down a  four-way street—

devolving in a  manic humanic socialistic beat

boiling in amped-up dead religion defeat

escalating in jihadi mahdi sunni shiite heat

leaving the deceased at a Roman soldier’s feet.

So now it’s come down to this:

That holy man lugged a rugged cross for you and me

exposing all our genetical heretical cruelty,

revealing our relentless senseless dysfunctionality

then abiding in the tomb for one, two, three. . .

Then by the light of that third day’s dawn

he’s shown us life’s insistence to go on and on,

whereby your assent to his demonstration

enables your ascent to his resurrection.

Now if that’s not enough simplicity

to provoke your complicity

Then feel the gravity

of our depravity

and the immensity

of his intensity

to dispense

eternal sense.

Hence,

It’s an old rugged cross, you see,

a stubborn damned thing

you cant kill his accomplishment there cuz he’s already been

beaten to death

you cant derail his train of believers cuz history

did already nail that good news

to an eternal signpost that is hewn

in the midnight star and the midday noon

at the crossroads of the old world and the new

to be seen by all the many and the few

at the intesection of ancient empires

at the apex of a million rising spires

you cant make it go away cuz its sign was forever staked

midway between Moses and Mohammed

a big blood-red light at the intersection of Torah and Q’ran,

a stopping point between Plato and Plutarch

the apogee of history’s arc

the fulfillment of the covenantal ark

the most convincing kabalistic spark

CrossC

and the greatest subject of great art

history’s liveliest encore part

world stage’s greatest curtain call

the rising to recover from our fall

an uprising  beyond Robespierre

a tragedy to provoke your tear

a word in every ear:

Death, where is your victory?

Nailed to a cross, you see,

by the light of that third day’s dawn

we continue on and on.

We were a fallen pawn

but only until that third day dawned.

Got it?

King of Soul

Their Last Full Measure of Devotion

May 28, 2017

In the novel King of Soul, which I have recently published, college students Donnie and Kevin take an impulsive road trip to Kevin’s home in Ohio. This happens in early May of 1970. While  on the road in Tennessee, they pick up Ed, a hitchhiker. Ed has been honorably discharged from military service in Vietnam only three weeks ago.  In chapter 23, we find  Donnie and Kevin accompanying Ed to a bar in Nashville:

       At the China Beach bar and grill in downtown Nashville, Donnie and Kevin tagged along while Ed linked up with a buddy of his from the war.

       Sled was a sort of hillbilly with a twist. His West Virginia upbringing had been traumatized in a snow-sledding accident that happened when he was ten years old. In a head-on collision with a pine tree, a low branch had penetrated his left cheek. A scar that resulted from the surgery gave the appearance of a question mark on the left side of his face. From his teen years onward, all John’s people called him “Sled” because of what had happened to him in a sledding accident when he was a kid.

       Ed and Sled had become friends at Fort Hood, Texas, before they both went to Vietnam. They were assigned to the same Company, but different platoons. On this particular evening , Sled and Ed were having beer and burgers as they celebrated the fact that they both had survived Vietnam. This was the first time they had seen each other since both were honorably discharged. Donnie and Kevin listened intently as Sled reported to Ed the account of how their CO, Lt. Gary, had fallen in battle only 11 months ago.

       Sled explained that, in a strategy to avoid group casualties, Lt. Gary had his men spread out as they were advancing down a jungle hillside.  Three dozen soldiers had distanced themselves from each  other, and each man was walking alone.  The radio man reported that an NVA encampment was below them, but the exact location had not yet been determined.

       Delta company was thus strung out for a mile or more. When their point guys reached the bottom, they caught sight of evidence of the enemy bunkers above them, up on the north side. Sergeant Charles halted his men at a covered spot.  He knew they were near the enemy because, he said, he could smell their rice cooking; but as he took a few steps to obtain a better view of the area in question,  suddenly he was struck with a bullet. It hit him in the abdomen;. Within seconds, an assault by automatic weapons erupted  somewhere northward and above them, with what sounded like AK-47 fire.

Sgt. Charles did not make it home alive from Vietnam.

On this Memorial Day, 2017, we remember Charles and the other 54,000 American soldiers who never got back here to taste the good life of the dear ole US of A. We appreciate that these men and women sacrificed their last full measure of devotion so that we we can live free.

VietMem2

King of Soul

March 14, 2017

March 14, 2017

Why the Diagonal, y’all?

TreeDiag

Because it’s the shortest distance

between two

points?

or

because what goes up must come

down?

or

to break up the conformism of these trunkated

lines?

or

because it

snowed?

or

because this old tree was just ready to begin its

fall?

DiagTree

or

because its time had come, y’all?

or

because that’s

all

she wrote

or

maybe it was just the final

call,

from seed to tall

from spring to fall.

It could happen to us

all,

y’all.

From seed to fall,

that’s all?

Prob’ly not,

I do believe.

SeedEating

You?

Glass half-Full

Tear me up.

March 7, 2017

FalnTre3

Tear me up, life,

just tear me up,

stomp on me if you want to

pick me up and throw me ‘cross the world.

I don’t care.

Go on now,

get on with it.

Watch me like a hawk,

and when I’m at my tenderest,

most vulnerable point,

pounce!

Take your best shot!

What you do not see

is the One who died for me.

His sacrifice has made all the difference,

and will yet again

when I rise with Him.

So just get along now.

Go find someone else to pick on.

You think I don’t see you.

But I do.

And I will.

IrisB2

Glass half-Full