The United States of Trump – Part 1

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My name is Michael Donald Trump.  I am eleven years old today.  It is the year 2100 YOL.  My father is getting ready for church services.  We are going to have a birthday party for me after church today.  My father, sister and I go to church every week from 7 AM until 12 PM.  My mother must get there early as she helps with the baking for the lunch after church and also sings in the choir.  Every Wednesday night, I go to Bible school for three hours.  My older sister is 13 but on Wednesday nights she goes to homemakers’ school where she learns things like cooking, cleaning and how to take care of a baby.  She has reached the age where the District Executive will select a husband for her and in the next year she will be married and leave home.

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My school is run by the Evangelical Church of Trump.  Our Evangelical Church Leader is a Senior Executive in the Local Republican Party.  At school, we learn a great deal about Trump History, taxes, Republicanism, Americanism and other subjects.  The teachers are very strict and any messing around will get you a night in the stocks.  After school, I am bused to the local mining operation to help the workers with some of their chores.  Every student in the UST (United States of Trump) must contribute back to the community.  If the local Work Commander thinks we have done a good job, we are allowed to play sports on the weekend.  We can choose from baseball, football, hockey or golf.  No other sports are allowed.

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My father works at the mines.  He went to the same school and church that we now go to.  Every community is allowed only one church and one school.  My mother stays home.  She is a good mom, but the Local Work Commander says that she is not pulling her weight in the community.  He says that she has only had two children and it is expected that every mother will have at least five children.  My mom says that she is trying but it is not her fault.  One of my siblings died at childbirth or so I was told.  There is a rumor that she was sent to the Default Clinic because she was born with a genetic birth defect.  My mom has been warned to keep trying and that there are penalties for non-compliance.

I have a grandfather and grandmother on my Father’s side who are local representatives for the Republican Party.  There is only one party in the UST.  Our Supreme Chief Executive Officer abolished all other parties many years ago.  He argued that it is too confusing for people to have more than one party and that all we really need is one party to see that people keep order and do what they are supposed to do.

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I am not allowed to talk to my grandfather or grandmother on my mother’s side because they have been labeled as descendants of heretics and state enemies.  The story I have been told is that many years ago when then President D. J. Trump was in the process of becoming Supreme Chief Executive Officer, my great grandfather on my mother’s side joined an opposition group of liars and cheats who were called Democrats.  They did everything they could to block President Trump from becoming Supreme Chief Executive Officer for life.  But President Trump labeled the Democrats as terrorists and they were ruthlessly sought out and either executed or deported to Siberia.

Our Evangelical Church Leader has taught us that things really started to become great in the United States of Trump once the Trump family was installed for life.  In order to become a Supreme CEO, you must belong to the Trump family by birth.  Leadership in our country is based on a strict sequence of hereditary seniority.

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Once President Trump became Supreme Leader, he started to remove all the rapists and criminals from our country.  First, all people of African descent were exported back to Africa.  Then he sent all Asian people back to their homes in China, Vietnam, Korea and Japan.  After he finished the Great Border Wall, he sent all the rapists and thieves back to Mexico.  During this time, he also had to deal with the radical terrorists who were called Democrats.  With the help of the Army and Marines he was finally able to eliminate this terrorist group.

President Trump then had his title changed to Supreme CEO.  In his honor, the Republican Party changed the name of the United States of America to the United States of Trump.  His birthday is now a national holiday.  He eliminated several other holidays like Martin Luther King Day, Presidents Day and Washington’s Birthday.  We have had many other changes in the country.

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The Equal Rights Amendment was abolished, and women were able to regain their rightful place in the home as mothers and home makers.  Abortion was banned and all women were to be married to a man.  Every woman was expected to contribute at least five children to the UST.  Some women were against this, but they were deported to Siberia and eventually the opposition fell in line.  Gays and other sexual deviants were outlawed and any lascivious behavior on the part of sexual deviants was deemed a crime against the state and subject to strict prison sentences and public whippings.

All libraries, radio stations, tv stations, and schools underwent what Supreme CEO Trump called a radical reorganization.  Millions of books were eliminated.  Now all book authors must be approved by the Republican Party to ensure that they will comply with the facts and truth as known.  PBS, SNL and NPR were closed down.  The Washington Post and Time Magazine were sold to the Central Republican Party.  All local schools were taken over by Republican Evangelicals who oversaw a major revision of curriculum and textbooks.  We were told that all false facts and lies would be eliminated from the school system and that we would be educated only in the truth.

All non-Christian religions were banned, and an Executive Order was issued that stated all religions must teach strict Evangelical Republicanism as defined by the central Party headquarters.  The Ten Commandments were installed in every court in the UST and the calendar was changed from CE or Common Era to YOL which stands for in the Year of Our Lord.  Only men could be ministers and churches must adhere to the truth as defined by the Central Republican Party.  A minister or church leader must also be ordained by the Local Republican Party.

Oh, you may wonder if I am related to the Trump family, but genetically the answer is no.  However, several years ago, an executive order was released that all families would carry the last name of Trump and all male children must have the middle name of Donald.  My father could pick any first name for his male children, but the middle and last names were to be in honor of the Greatest Leader in the History of the United States of Trump.

There is more to this story so come back next week and find out what happens to young Michael Donald Trump.

“The one indisputable reality of dictatorship is that dissent, insult, and malevolent language do not go unpunished if it is allowed at all.” — Ferdinand Marcos

Down a River of Time

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I have the following story to share with you as we enter this new year.  I wrote this blog about four years ago.

Karen and I make the trip twice a year between our homes in Wisconsin and Arizona to follow the sun.  While driving back to Wisconsin from Arizona, we were listening to classical music on Public Radio when they said they were going to play a piece called “Down a River of Time.”  Both Karen and I noted the title and almost simultaneously said: “that would make a wonderful metaphor for a blog.”  Since many of my blogs deal with metaphors, (Do you remember the difference between an analogy, a simile and a metaphor?) I thought it would be a good subject for the New Year.  If you want to listen to the music while you read this short blog (Click on the link:  Down a River of Time).  You will probably enjoy the music more than my blog.

twisty-riversThe most obvious metaphor for this topic is that we are all on a River of Time.  Some of us are on long rivers, some of us on short rivers.  Some of our rivers are very rocky.   Some of our rivers are very shallow and rapid.  Some of us are on rivers that are deep and wide.  A lucky few of us may live our lives on rivers that are very tranquil and wild-riverplacid.  Most likely though, most of us will live on rivers with many twists and turns that will suddenly go from peaceful and placid to wild and rough.  We will all no doubt eventually have unexpected obstacles that arise causing some of us to suddenly capsize.  Those of us who are lucky will find our way back into the boat.  Many will not be so lucky.

placid-riverIf you have spent your life on a wide tranquil river, it would be very difficult for you to appreciate anyone coming from a rough whitewater style river.  The converse is also true.  Maybe that is why it is difficult to walk in anyone else’s shoes.  We are all on different rivers and it is hard to understand the perspective of someone whose river is one we have never paddled.  At this point, you might say:  “Well, I disagree, life is simply one vast river and we all have rocks and logs and rapids to manage.”  Maybe so.

with-kidsWhen we are very young, our parents do the paddling for us.  As we become teenagers we decide we want to paddle alone.  We want our independence.  Some of us go to school to learn how to paddle and navigate.  Learning a language will help those who want to navigate foreign rivers.  Circumstances or choice will eventually force many of us to leave our first river and go far away to try a new river.  The bold among us will switch rivers many times in their life and continually attempt more challenging ones.

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As we get older, the paddling gets harder and we may need to rely on others for help to paddle.  We can no longer do it by ourselves anymore.  The paddling continues to become more difficult with each passing year.  Eventually, there will come a day when we are too old to paddle at all.  At this point, we will have to depend entirely on someone to do the paddling for us.  Some of us will have a difficult time letting go of the paddling chores.  It is not easy to navigate a river that takes us from dependence to independence and back to dependency again.

Time for Questions:

You might ask yourself today what kind of a river are you on now?  What kinds of rivers have you navigated in the past?  Have you had many rocky or obstacle strewn stretches in your river?  Have you ever capsized but managed to get back in?  Do you have a lifejacket in the boat with you?  Are you paddling solo or do you have a partner?  Have you become a better paddler over the years? If not, why?  What will it take for you to continue down the River of Time and continue having fun and enjoying the ride?

Life if just beginning.

“Have you also learned that secret from the river; that there is no such thing as time?” That the river is everywhere at the same time, at the source and at the mouth, at the waterfall, at the ferry, at the current, in the ocean and in the mountains, everywhere and that the present only exists for it, not the shadow of the past nor the shadow of the future.”
― Hermann HesseSiddhartha

Down a River of Time

Here is a blog from three years ago that I still like very much. Hope you enjoy it. It did not get many readers so I doubt many of you have read it.

Aging Capriciously

Happy New Year to all and may 2017 be a year of more peace, justice, health and happiness for the world.

life-passes

I have the following story to share with you as we enter 2017.  Karen and I make the trip twice a year between Wisconsin and Arizona to follow the sun.  While driving back to Wisconsin from Arizona, we were listening to classical music on Public Radio when they said they were going to play a piece called “Down a River of Time.”  Both Karen and I noted the title and almost simultaneously said: “that would make a wonderful metaphor for a blog.”  Since many of my blogs deal with metaphors, (Do you remember the difference between an analogy, a simile and a metaphor?) I thought it would be a good subject for the New Year.  If you want to listen to the music while you…

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My Four Best of Everything:  – Part 3         

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This is Part 3 of my four best of everything.  In this final part, I would like to share with you my four favorite ideas.

For those of you who missed Part 1 and Part 2, this was my introduction.

This week I am doing what I call my four best of everything.  Everything that matters to me anyway.  Perhaps I should say it is my four favorites of everything that I admire in the literary world because best is such a qualitative term.  There may be little difference between the word favorite and the word best, however, using the term best is more provocative and usually ends up in arguments or debates.  Since I do not want to be judgmental, I will use the term favorites in the text of this blog.

I am sure that each of you reading this will have some ideas concerning your favorites in these areas.  I invite you to put your ideas or thoughts concerning your favorites in my comment sections.  The more ideas you have the better.  Don’t be shy.  Use any language you want to share your ideas with the rest of the world.  Let us know what you like and why you like it.  Plenty of room in the blogosphere.

My Four Favorite Ideas:

internal-coverIf you think about the ideas or premises or nostrums that guide your life, you will soon notice that we have many ideas that along our journey we have adopted.  The sources of these ideas are vast.  Fairy tales and children’s stories give us ideas such as “A stitch in time saves nine” or the “The race does not always go to the swift” or “Those who do not plan ahead may starve in the winter.”  Many of our ideas about living no come from our parents and family.  My mother used to say such things as “Ignorance is bliss” and “If you give them enough rope, they will hang themselves.”  My father was fond of saying “Believe nothing of what you hear and only half of what you see.”  He also used to like to say, “You have nothing to fear from the dead, only the living.”  These two later beliefs have guided a great deal of my life.

As we grow up and go to school, leave home and get a job, we no doubt pick up more ideas that we will covertly and sometimes overtly use to guide our lives.  By guiding, I mean we will use these ideas to make choices that impact the direction of our lives.  One of the many ideas that I carry in my brain came from Dr. George Box of the University of Wisconsin.  He said, “All models are wrong, some are useful.”  This premise has guided much of my working life.  I have used this Box’s thought when consulting to find a more productive way of addressing organizational changes that are needed in a client’s business.

However, since this blog is about the best or at least my favorites, I need to start discussing my four favorite ideas.  There is no particular relevance to the following order.

There is No Truth:

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Obviously, if you accept my truth, then it poses a paradox.  How can this be true if there is no truth?  But in many ways, that is the nature of most truths.  They are paradoxical.  If they are relative, they are not always true which is a contradiction.  If they are absolute, there are usually exceptions that can be found which makes them false.  What a dilemma!  From the time we are born we are taught to say the truth, speak the truth, search for the truth, but we are all liars.  We don’t know what the truth is and there are many times we would not say it if we did.

If someone came to your front door and said, “Is your mother home, I want to kill her”, what would you tell them?  Would you admit that she was home, if she was?  I doubt it.  We all say we want the truth, but the fact is that many of us will never find the truth because (As our leaders believe) and as Jack Nicholson said, “You can’t handle the truth.”

A friend of mine explained his version of the truth to me several years ago.  He said “Imagine a bookshelf with five shelves.  On the bottom shelf, I put things that people tell me that are opinions and unsubstantiated or uncorroborated pieces of information.  As time goes by and I find more evidence in support of this so called “truth”, I will move the bit of information to the 4th shelf.  Each time I get more evidence it goes up a shelf.  On the top shelf, I have things that I believe are true beyond a ‘reasonable’ but not absolute doubt.  For the time being, I accept the top shelf ideas as true, but I hold out the possibility that I will later find some bit of evidence that invalidates even this Top Shelf truth.”  I like this model of truth.  Let me give you an example of how it plays out for me.

About two months ago, I came across an article that said “In 30 years, all beef and diary farms will be dead.  Things of the past.”  Living in Wisconsin, I was astonished by this bit of information.  I did not put much credibility into the idea.  Given my predilection for cheese, steak and butter I could not reasonably accept any truth to this idea.  Nevertheless, I put it on the bottom shelf of my “Truth Bookcase.”  A few weeks later, I was attending the Annual Nobel Conference at Gustavus Adolphus in Minnesota. This past year it dealt with the environment and global changes to it.  I was surprised when one of the speakers echoed the same idea that I had heard a few weeks ago.  Namely that diary and beef farms would in twenty or thirty years mostly be a thing of the past.  I moved this thought up a shelf.  Two days ago, I was reading the local newspaper and they had an article about diary farms in Wisconsin.  According to this article, ten percent or 800 diary farms in Wisconsin went out of business this past year and there was no sign that the trend would not continue.  I was astounded. I had no idea that the diary industry was so shaky.  I moved the original idea that at least diary if not the beef industry would be gone in thirty years up another shelf.  Two shelves to go.

Thus, truth becomes a process. It is not a final goal.  There is no final absolute truth.  It is a nominal, like in quality improvement that we can never reach.  We can only get closer and closer, but we can never reach a truth that is God like.  The truth that humans can know will never be infallible.

Everything Will Change:

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This idea seems so obvious that I almost ashamed to list it as one of my favorites.  Nevertheless, I keep having to remind myself that “This too will pass.”  Life is a stream of events and even if Santayana was right in that “Those who forget the past are condemned to repeat it”, there is still nothing in the past that will ever be recreated exactly as it happened one hundred or one thousand years ago.  Heraclitus was also right when he said, “You never step in the same river twice.”

All is change.  If we could see the atoms of time that surround us, I am sure that we would see a stream of “time” atoms that are flowing like a river with swift currents and eddies and backwaters.  This is the flow of time and the river of change.  Sometimes going backwards but inevitably surging forward and sweeping everything out of its way.

We poor humans are caught up in this river and we must do our best to keep from drowning.  We are swept along like so much flotsam.  The river of time that we are in is invisible to the naked eye, but this does not stop it from changing the lives of those swept along by its currents.  Every day, we deal with new events while the old events keep playing out.  A continuous series of changes.  New wars, new disasters, new diseases, new horrors all mixed in with new ideas, new joys, new births, new technologies, new celebrations.

There are those who we say are “stuck in the past.”  The good old days never die for many.  We see the sad efforts that many have to hold onto the past or to “Make America Great Again.”  Why, can’t things just be like the were when I was a kid?  Movies were twenty-five cents and a bag of popcorn was ten cents.  The good guys were good guys and the bad guys were bad.  Police officers walked the streets and helped people in need.  It was happy days.

African Americans were denied voting rights and the basic liberties as stated in the constitution.  A women’s place was in the kitchen and a man was the undisputed king of home.  White people won all the wars they started, and Indians stayed on the reservation.  Mexicans came over to pick tomatoes and then went back home.  A child’s place was to be seen and not heard and the World Series was the greatest sporting event in the world that only White Americans played.  Oh my!  What ever happened to the good old days.

You Can’t Take It with You:

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Who says I can’t take it with me?  I sure as hell am going to try.  Like Pharaoh, I am going to build a big mausoleum and I am going to put my house, motorcycles, cars, rings, watches, shoes, clothes, wife, kids and anything else I own right beside me when I die.  I am going to collect the biggest batch of things that the world has ever seen, and I am going to have it all buried with me.  Isn’t that what life is all about?  Collecting stuff, collecting things.  Shopping for more stuff and more things until we drop dead.

Maybe I am getting carried away here a bit.  Of course, I can’t take it with me.  Pharaoh might have had it buried with him, but it did not take the tomb raiders long to take it back.  Maybe you can get something that can’t be taken away?  A building named after you.  An airport or street named after you.  A testimonial placed somewhere in your honor.

Alas, people are fickle.   Buildings get torn down.  Name places change with the whims of those in power.  There are only so many airports and streets and there are millions of people clamoring to have their names in places that they think will insure their posterity.   You can’t even take fame with you.  In a hundred years or so no one will remember who you were.

One of the famous tropes among baby boomers is remembering where they were when JFK died. I once asked one of my freshmen college classes this same question and to my astonishment got blank looks.  I could not believe it when one of them said, “Who was JFK?”  Who will remember you when you die?  Maybe your wife and a few friends assuming they outlive you.  So what can you take with you?  Fame, fortune, power, money?  What did Marc Anthony in Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar say: “The Evil that men do lives after them; the good is oft interred with their bones.”  There is nothing on this earth that you can take with you.  There is nothing that will outlive the entropy and erosion that will destroy all the mightiest monuments that have ever been built.  Everything else is an illusion that you take with your to your grave but that is as far as it will go.

Love is the Only Real Purpose in Life:

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You can spend your life looking for its meaning or you can spend your life trying to find its purpose.  Your search will uncover many ideas but none of them will ever suffice.  Nothing will satisfy your quest until you realize that love is the only purpose a human life exists for.  Every prophet who ever existed recognized this simple truth.  Love is the only thing that gives life meaning and purpose.  It is so simple that it escapes many of us.

We look for purpose and meaning in our work, our jobs, our acquisitions, our accomplishments, our credentials and our status, but none of these give us happiness.  The only satisfaction we get in life is from loving others.  The individual who does not know love for others lives a lonely unhappy life.  Love is the power that makes life worth living.  As Jackie Wilson sang in his song Higher and Higher: “You know your love, keeps on lifting me higher and higher.”

I sometimes think love is one of life’s great mysteries.  I have spent a great deal of my life asking the question “What is love?”  I am 73 years old and I am still puzzled as to what love really is.  Is love the same as passion?  Is love good sex?  Is love caring for someone else?  Is love simply wishing no harm for anyone else?  Does love need reciprocity?

People use the term love for many things.  I love my car.  I love my dog.  I love my Nikes.  I love you.  I love him.  I love her.  I love everybody!  Jesus said that love was more than just words.  Love exists in the doing.  How do I show my love for others?  “Greater love has no one than this, that they will lay down their life for another.” – John 15:13.   Do I need to die for someone else to show true love?

I don’t believe that loving things is love.  I don’t think loving my car or my Nikes is true love.  For that matter, I do not think that loving my life is true love or even that loving my wife is true love.  I think true love is a more intangible quality that we can only approximate.  To know true love is to be a lover in a more universal sense.  True love seems most evident during a crisis.  I think that the people who stayed behind on the Titanic to let others have a seat in the lifeboats were true lovers.  I think Harriet Tubman (who ran the underground railroad) was a true lover.  I think Martin Luther King was a true lover.  Lovers are not perfect people by any means, but they know that life is more than just loving oneself or even another single individual.

Let’s be clear here.  I love my wife and I love my sister, but does that make me a true lover?  Not necessarily.  What if I love my wife and sister but I hate immigrants?  What if I love you but I hate Black people or Latino people or people who belong to another religion or another country?  To know true love one cannot hate anyone.  Today we hear a vocal minority decrying “haters.”  However, these same people hate Democrats, liberals, Non-Christians, Gays, immigrants and minorities.  They may love Trump, McConnell, Nunes, Christians and Republicans but they are more haters than lovers.  Jesus did not say “Only love those who are related to you or whom you like.”  He did not say that you can pick and choose who you love.

Love is the most important journey of our lives.  To find true love is to find a love for the world both in concrete and abstract terms.  It is to love globally as well as locally.  It is to love non-kin as well as kin.  It is to love the rich as well as the poor.  It is to love the sick as well as the healthy.  It is to love Democrats as well as Republicans.  Probably no task is more difficult, but no task has more promise for humanity and for our own souls.

Well, this concludes my best of everything series.  In Part 1, I covered some of my book preferences.  In Part 2, I covered more literary ground and in this final Part 3, I have covered some of the ideas that I think are my favorite guides for trying to live a good life.  I am certainly no exemplar of any of these ideas.  I journey down the path and get stuck in some bogs.  On other days, I take a wrong turn.  I often hesitate when I should be charging forward.  On some days, I even go backwards.  My life has regrets, recriminations and misgivings that would fill an NFL stadium.  I know right from wrong and still too often choose the wrong.  But one of my other guides is “do not kill the message because you don’t like the messenger.”  You may need to find your own guides, but you won’t go wrong with any of the four that I have described in this blog.  Try them and let me know what you think.

 

 

 

 

 

My Four Best of Everything:  – Part 2         

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I started this blog two weeks ago and became sidetracked what with Trumps possible impeachment and all.  Alas, my dreams did not come true.

In Part 1, I listed my four favorite fiction writers and my four favorite non-fiction writers with an explanation of how and why I picked each of them.  In Part 2, I am going to list my four favorite writings.  I will finish in Part 3 with my 4 favorite ideas.

For those of you who missed Part 1, this was my introduction.

This week I am doing what I call my four best of everything.  Everything that matters to me anyway.  Perhaps I should say it is my four favorites of everything I admire in the literary world because best is such a qualitative term.  There may be little difference between the word favorite and the word best, however, using the term best is more provocative and usually ends up in arguments or debates.  Since I do not want to be judgmental, I will use the term favorites in the text of this blog.

I am sure that each of you reading this will have some ideas concerning your favorites in these areas.  I invite you to put your ideas or thoughts concerning your favorites in my comment sections.  The more ideas you have the better.  Don’t be shy.  Use any language you want to share your ideas with the rest of the world.  Let us know what you like and why you like it.  Plenty of room in the blogosphere.

My Four Favorite Writings:

Ecclesiastes: 

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Was the author of this bible book being a nihilist, a skeptic or an idealist?  I think it will depend on your own interpretation.  For me, the message of this book is summed up in four words “Vanity, all is vanity.”  We are driven by vanity and ego.  Our society relishes fame, fortune and power.  Those who have them, guard them jealously.  Those who don’t will fight and die for them.  And what are the results of this obsession?

Famous people hide from those that made them famous because they can no longer live a public life.  In many cases, they are hunted by nutcases who believe that they can be famous by an association with the famous no matter what kind of a bizarre twist it might involve.  The death of John Lennon comes to my mind as I write these words.  Often fame itself is fleeting and the aftermath can be a feeling of abandonment, loneliness and worthlessness.  Witness the number of famous people who take their own lives.

Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.  The quest for power destroys the soul of the power holder.  Power becomes an end in itself rather than a means to obtain some good.  We can see this problem when we look at the US Congress.  The power that these congressmen hold is all too often corrupted by their desire to hold on to this power regardless of the moral and ethical conundrums such desire involves.

Fortune hunters think that they can achieve happiness by becoming millionaires or billionaires.  Many see wealth as a pathway to freedom without realizing the chains that wealth forges for them.  The following refrain that Porgy sings in Porky and Bess sums this up very well:

De folks wid plenty o’ plenty

Got a lock an dey door

‘Fraid somebody’s a-goin’ to rob ’em

While dey’s out a-makin’ more

What for?

Porgy had the sun and the moon and the deep blue sea and that was plenty of nuttin for Porgy.  Porgy exemplified the wisdom that is at the core of Ecclesiastes.

Martin Luther King’s “I have a Dream Speech”:

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The only other speech that comes close to this one is Dr. King’s famous Eulogy speech.  The passion, cadence, rhyming, metaphors and ideology embodied in his “I have a Dream Speech” is matched by no other that I can think of.  Even more remarkable is that a large portion of this speech was impromptu.  Dr. King did not write all of this speech before he gave it.  Someone mentioned that he should tell them about his dream and he then went into the most memorable part of his speech.

“I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”

Dr. King goes on to describe many more parts of his dream.  Each one is spellbinding in that they speak to the possibilities that one day racism may no longer darken the doorsteps of American life.  I never get tired of hearing this speech because it embodies the hope that we can all live together some day as brothers and sisters and not race haters.

Jesus’s “Sermon on the Mount”:

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Jesus was a revolutionary and a radical.  He died for his beliefs that righteousness and justice and mercy and peace should not be tied to status and power.  In each of the eight beatitudes that he gave on the mount is the idea that you cannot buy your way into heaven.  We will be judged on the mercy and compassion that we show to others and not on how big our house is or how many diplomas we have.  I often wonder why some Christians are so determined to plant the 10 Commandments on public lawns, but I have yet to find one that wants to plant even one of the following eight beatitudes:

  • Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
  • Blessed are they who mourn, for they will be comforted.
  • Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the land.
  • Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be satisfied.
  • Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.
  • Blessed are the clean of heart, for they will see God.
  • Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.
  • Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Ryūnosuke Akutagawa’s “In a Grove”:        

4941topRash

This story was the basis for the film Rashomon by the great Japanese filmmaker Akira Kurosawa.  It demonstrates what is perhaps one of the most important and often most ignored of all psychological concepts.  What we have increasingly realized is that different people see things very differently.  The idea that absolute facts exist beyond the minds of human beings is put into question by what has been called the Rashomon Effect.  Seeing is not always believing and sometimes believing is seeing.

The validity and reliability of eyewitnesses is an example of the “Rashomon Effect.”  Clarence Darrow knew how unreliable eyewitnesses were and even said “There is nothing as unreliable as an eyewitness.”  In this story, a tale of rape and murder unfolds.  A perpetrator is captured and put on trial.  Each “eyewitness” tells a very different story in terms of what happened.  This is significant to the fate of the defendant since the difference between murder and self-defense is acquittal and the same judgment will apply to the difference between consensual sex and rape.

Death row has been populated with about 1 in 25 people who were judged guilty on the basis of an eyewitness or some “indisputable” piece of evidence that turned out not to be so indisputable.  (A study, published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences determined that at least 4% of people on death row were and are likely innocent.)  Since 1973, more than 165 people who had been wrongly convicted and sentenced have been exonerated. The next time you think you have the facts or are quite certain of something because of what you heard or saw, you should think twice.

I hope you have enjoyed or at least found my list of favorite writings interesting.  I will follow up with Part 3 which will deal with my four favorite “Ideas.”  Until then, try singing the following song when you are feeling down or unhappy and substitute your “favorite things.”

“My Favorite Things” by Rodgers and Hammerstein

Raindrops on roses

And whiskers on kittens

Bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens

Brown paper packages tied up with strings

These are a few of my favorite things

 

Cream-colored ponies and crisp apple strudels

Doorbells and sleigh bells

And schnitzel with noodles

Wild geese that fly with the moon on their wings

These are a few of my favorite things

 

Girls in white dresses with blue satin sashes

Snowflakes that stay on my nose and eyelashes

Silver-white winters that melt into springs

These are a few of my favorite things

 

When the dog bites

When the bee stings

When I’m feeling sad

I simply remember my favorite things

And then I don’t feel so bad.

Pity the Nation: the handwriting was on the wall

This is a wonderful blog post from Ms. Jane Fritz whom I regard as one of the best bloggers on the Internet. Be sure to visit her site which she calls Robby Robyn’s Journey. Her posts are always interesting and well written and thought provoking.

Robby Robin's Journey

In 1933, writer Kahlil Gibran’s poem “Pity the Nation” was published posthumously in the book The Garden of the Prophet. In 1933. This poem has inspired several important writers over the years, including American poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti.

In 2006 Ferlinghetti published his version of Gibran’s Pity the Nation. In 2016. Fourteen years ago. Its prescience is beyond sobering. He clearly saw what many of us were blind to.

PITY THE NATION
(After Khalil Gibran)

Pity the nation whose people are sheep
And whose shepherds mislead them
Pity the nation whose leaders are liars
Whose sages are silenced
And whose bigots haunt the airwaves
Pity the nation that raises not its voice
Except to praise conquerors
And acclaim the bully as hero
And aims to rule the world
By force and by torture
Pity the nation that knows
No other language but its own
And no other culture…

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The Impeachment Song by D. J. Chump

chump

Listen up now all my loyal fans and supporters.  I just wrote the greatest song that’s ever been written.  It’s in honor of the greatest event to ever happen in the history of America.  It will take place later this week.  You all know what it is, so I won’t bother you with the details.  It’s going to be great though.

Now, I need to have you all sing this song in honor of me.  Everybody must join in.  No slackers or wusses.  We will start on the right.  As a matter of fact, we will start and end on the right.  No Democrats, liberals, homos, blacks, Mexicans, Reformist Jews, college professors, disabled, Chinese, Japanese or any other Asians, immigrants, Arabs and of course no Muslims are allowed.  Poor people only if you voted for me.  So, sing out loud please.

Song to the Tune of “Hey, Hey, We’re the Monkeys by the Monkeys

reb

Hey, Hey, I’m a Republican Politician,
I’ve got no morals, I’ve got no ethics,
All I care about is getting reelected.

Hey, Hey, Donald Trump’s my man,
And I’ll stick by him as long as I can.
We all know he’s got a great defense,
Cause nothing he can do will ever rise to the level of an Impeachable Offense.

TA7YGWO3F5EELAY3RDZNSNS5MY

Hey, Hey, I’m a Right-Wing Bigot and Fascist,
I don’t like Mexicans, I don’t like blacks and I don’t like Jews,
I guess it’s time to grab a brew.

Hey, Hey, Donald Trump’s my man,
And I’ll stick by him as long as I can.
We all know he’s got a great defense,
Cause nothing he can do will ever rise to the level of an Impeachable Offense.

golden-calf

Hey, Hey, I’m an Evangelical Christian,
I only vote for those against abortion,
Can’t have any uppity women getting out of the kitchen.

Hey, Hey, Donald Trump’s my man,
And I’ll stick by him as long as I can.
We all know he’s got a great defense,
Cause nothing he can do will ever rise to the level of an Impeachable Offense.

greedy

Hey, Hey, I’m a rich fat cat who hates all taxes, I pay as little as I can,
I hide my true dividends and earnings,
You guessed it, in my offshore banking.

Hey, Hey, Donald Trump’s my man,
And I’ll stick by him as long as I can.
We all know he’s got a great defense,
Cause nothing he can do will ever rise to the level of an Impeachable Offense.

Democracy passes into despotism. — Plato

 

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