Inhumane Humanity

Of all the preposterous assumptions of humanity over humanity, nothing exceeds most of the criticisms made on the habits of the poor by the well-housed, well-warmed, and well-fed. --Herman Melville

Tuesday, January 06, 2015

The Front Porch


I was reminded, while reading “Life on a Colorado Farm” a couple days ago, just how much the country has changed in a few decades.   Conspicuous in its absence, the front porch; once the center piece of communities, it is becoming a rare sight as the older homes disappear behind time’s unforgiving hands.

The era is post World War II.  The economy is growing; the US dollar value is strong.  Jobs, paying good wages earned in the newly acquired union manufacturing sector, the rapidly expanding railways, and burgeoning government bureaucracies are increasing middle class wealth as never before in the nation.

Life is good; mom and dad no longer have to work sun-up to sun-down just to keep the family fed; they now have time for something very rare prior to this era – leisurely activities.
New technology is appearing daily.  New family traditions are being forged; the large dining rooms and tables where family members gather (always a required gathering) to eat their evening meals (be it supper or dinner) and interact, sometimes in reverence, most often raucous.

With five siblings, reverence is not typically on the evening menu in my family.  But, if it gets out of hand, we are often promised a different hand - one to the backside; a promise never broken.  The trick is always knowing precisely what “out of hand” is on any given evening.  Gauging moods is primary to survival.

On freezing winter nights, with bowls of popcorn in hand, we gather, enjoying the warm glow of the latest in high-tech heaters.
Humphrey
The nightly news with David Brinkley and Chet Huntley is just ending and (still keenly aware of the promises made at the supper table) we jockey for viewing positions in front of the new form of entertainment; the television.
RCA
[embed]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TLnBgUH77oA&list=PL33BAA33D96D5AE6E&index=7[/embed]
Yet, as important to new family life all this is, the front porch reigns king; a place for mom and dad to sit, sleepily watching the children and pets play in the yard.

Siting on their respective front porches, drawn outdoors by fresh spring air, everyone watches with trepidation as spring storms gather on the not so distant horizon.  In the now hidden line between earth and sky, lightening flashes momentarily illuminate the clouds, amplifying the anger within the mammoth, gray-black monsters, and distant thunder slowly makes its way to the spectators; muffled explosions warning us not to take lightly, the power and whims of Mother Nature in the plains states.

More than just an architectural element of appearance, the front porch is an extension of the home which has existed since early Colonialism in the Americas.  Certainly not entirely new, but they became a standard by which all homes were modeled in post American Civil War.  In the mid-19th Century, it was likely considered sheer insanity to build a house without one and it remained so for over one-hundred years after the War.

After all; who would want a house without a front porch?

Too hot indoors, the entire neighborhood lingers on and around their front porches, quietly pleading for a soft summer breeze to cool them in the stifling hot, humid afternoons.  As blue jays scream, and woodpeckers hammer the trees in the milder warmth of late summer evenings, all the fun begins experiencing brief moments of pain; thoughts of school tries to interrupt what’s truly important and they are pushed back into the perfect location within all childhood minds – the realm of now; only this moment is forever.

In the August heat, the front porch becomes even more of a focal point for family and neighbors as they seek the relative coolness of outdoors.  Relaxing while enjoying an ice tea, Dr. Pepper, or lemonade, the neighborhood is hypnotized by the deafening buzz of cicadas.

Those front porches served many roles; an open invitation into the lives of the home’s occupants; a place to welcome the mailman, paperboy and milkman delivering their goods, and even a place for the somewhat less welcome – Hoover, Jewel T, Encyclopedia Britannica, and Fuller Brush salesmen peddling their wares.

The front porch played a vital role in forming our communities.  Lives revolved around them; families still maintained their connection to the outdoors as in the days of farming, and they did so with the neighbors.  And, the neighborhood seemed to extend to corner grocery stores like my father’s, where I would, on most days, be found before and after school.

Winters are brutally cold in Oklahoma; bitter-cold wind constantly howls, blowing a chill through the body like an icy knife rattling the bones.  And, as if that isn’t enough to remind one it’s winter, invisible flying needles sting your skin the second you leave the protection of indoors.  Ice forms on everything; icicles hang from the Moon, the basement window sills, and virtually all that lies between.

Grocery deliveries to the customers in small, sleepy, Shawnee, Oklahoma were a losing battle with those brutal winters, but the embattled was quickly warmed away by siting on the open grates of yet another high-tech heater.
Parlor Heater
The hot seat was never to feel so good again.

Things were happening in this little grocery store; things only semi-related to selling groceries, but they were indeed magical. Intangible, maybe even approaching transcendental things, they were profoundly vital to the health of the community; of the nation.

Warming themselves using the same life-giving force I frequented, the mailman; bread, meat, and milk delivery men; truck drivers delivering canned goods and most enjoyable, the customers all gathered around the heater to talk, conduct business, and even to gossip.  Our front porch had extended itself to the corner grocery and beyond, to the neighborhoods from which each participant came.

I had no way of knowing it at the time, but I was witnessing a dying social phenomenon that would have, inarguably, a profound affect on not just families, but the entire nation.

Perhaps it’s inevitable; perhaps traditions are nothing more than temporary perceptions, changing with time.  Whatever they were, they're all but gone now; the large required gatherings around the supper table; front-porch days when families gathered and the corner grocery where all communed; all but vanished.

Large corporations soon steam-rolled all small mom and pop businesses; the corner grocery stores died, leaving shells of dilapidated buildings falling around their foundations; children began leaving, venturing to the cities to find work in those large corporations, leaving the neighborhoods to crumble to a likewise dwindling collection of antiques.

Old heaters, old communities; old people, slowly rusting into memories.

As families disperse and communities disappear, new technologies appear daily, and new family traditions are forged.

Houses no longer have front porches; moms, dads and children have migrated to the back yard, or into the house to stay.  Away from view and out of touch with even those in houses less than thirty feet away, we are strangers to our neighbors.  And to ourselves!

We no longer share ideas and discuss events; we no longer share life as a community.  Rather, with our new-found technology and isolationist sarcasm we “post” comments to one another’s writings on line, acidly attacking everyone who isn’t the preferred flavor of the day, all while maintaining anonymity behind an avatar and a pseudonym.

But for a few antiques, the front porch has vanished.  Gone with it are the parents and children socializing out in the open for all to enjoy and with which to grow.  Gone too, are the corner grocery stores; no more magical heaters benefiting from the extended front porch.

In an inescapable irony, mom and dad must now work longer hours, even multiple jobs, working sun-up to sun-down just to keep the family fed; a once treasured event has turned into something now very rare – leisurely activities.

Perhaps it’s inevitable.  But, then perhaps not.

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

IMAGINE A BETTER EDUCATION PROCESS

Social Contribution
All change requires, to use a worn out phrase a “paradigm shift.”  In order for America to rise again we need a change in focus at the very foundation and what better place to start than with the educational process in the U.S?

As for me, I think there’s far more to Shaw’s message than what we get on the first pass; “Youth is wasted on the young.”  I am completely convinced that the same is true for education, it is wasted on the young, not because they don’t want it or because they’re lazy, in the U.S. education is NOT education of the individual, rather a mass communal attempt to teach conformity in preparation for production and contribution to the GDP.

For those of us who have had an opportunity to carry on conversations with a person who has been educated in a country other than the US, the difference is not only noticeable, it’s stark.

And it’s not a simple matter of being better in the sciences, math, etc., it’s knowledge, literally of global proportions.  People in other countries understand the roles they play in the massive community of Earth and they understand it far beyond the warped perspectives we’re taught in our schools.

The United States IS NOT “the most important,” “the best,” “God’s chosen,” “the shining light of democracy."

Rather, we’re part of a picture much larger than “ME,” and until we educate our citizens for the sake of knowledge rather than production, we’ll remain isolationists and exceptionalists by design.

Firstly:  The extreme nationalism shoved down our throats should never enter the picture in our education, yet it permeates the very air we breathe from day one of our education. This is indoctrination of epic proportions NOT education.  Our history lessons are a comic book of fantasies, blinding us with hegemonic lenses so dark, we can't see beyond the noses that hold them to our eyes; our schools are bastions of political indoctrination absorbed through surreptitious, perhaps even sinister efforts.

Secondly, consider this:  Our educational system, as we see it today, was developed in conjunction with the Industrial Revolution.  Coincidence?  I think not!

Our system was designed to mass create producers to fill the frenzied development of factories.  It was the new tool for the corporate elite; mass amounts of human capital at their disposal.  People who were once very independent and self-sufficient, a type of people that DO NOT work well in factories, offices or production lines were available, almost free o charge.  Corporate American had a never-ending ocean of Orwellian robots, mass-produced to in turn mass-produce.

In the late 19th century when our current “system” of education was being developed, many very well educated people were adamantly opposed to the direction the system was being designed. 

Ralph Waldo Emerson, for example: “We learn nothing rightly until we learn the symbolical character of life….I believe that our own experience instructs us that the secret of Education lies in respecting the pupil. It is not for you to choose what he shall know, what he shall do. It is chosen and foreordained, and he only holds the key to his own secret. By your tampering and thwarting and too much governing he may be hindered from his end and kept out of his own. Respect the child. Wait and see the new product of Nature. Nature loves analogies, but not repetitions. Respect the child. Be not too much his parent. Trespass not on his solitude.”

Emerson understood the connection between successful, effective education and individual interests.  He feared, rightfully so, that we were heading down a path of mass production; an assembly line mass-producing Model Ts
model t 

rather than turning out Bugattis.
Bugatti-Veyron-Grand-Sport-Roadster-Vitesse-hdwallpapers (9) 

In the U.S., our propensity towards mediocrity is a harsh representation of our failed education (and it has NOTHING to do with failing teachers, but entirely a result of our system); our wide-spread intolerance, social stratification and the indifference as a result of that stratification are results of missing pieces of the knowledge puzzle, because we’re guided towards conformity and confusion rather than individualism and confidence.

Who truly enjoys “education” at a young age and why do we not enjoy it?

From day one, we are force-fed disconnected groups of “stuff.” We’re expected to digest that stuff from what the education bureaucracy assembles and in turn, we assemble what the bureaucracy wants, in factories, offices and assembly lines.

Many children are not predisposed to be assembly line workers, accountants, finance advisers, etc. yet they’re forced into a world of mass of producers, much in the way George Orwell envisioned in his novel 1984.  We have become exactly what he wrote of, an oligarchical, collectivist society with two interests in mind – produce and consume.

And the sad thing is, the vast majority of Americans don’t even realize that we are now his vision come to life.

I was a product of our “wonderful” educational system.  I learned absolutely nothing from school; until I was ready, in my mid 40s.  It was then that I understood the correlation between life and education and that education is not a means to an end or for production, but a means to a better world on the whole.

Connecting life’s experiences and an understanding of the purpose of education comes early for some and later for others, but in our system, we ignore the individual’s propensities and give him/her what we want them to have.  And how convenient it is that it fits so well into the game of the powered elite and the corporations in which we produce the wealth for them!

We don’t enjoy education because it is forced upon us in a manner that many, many children are not predisposed to learn or accept.  More on that subject in a bit.

Post-traumatic Stress Syndrome Disorder (PTSD)

We all know what that is by now; we all know that many combat veterans suffer from it; we know that people who have been subjected to horrific incidents suffer from it: 9-11, airliner crashes, tornadoes, hurricanes, earthquakes, etc., but there’s another cause of PTSD.

Posttraumatic stress disorder is far more prevalent than previously believed, and is often persistent. Progress in estimating age-at-onset distributions, cohort effects, and the conditional probabilities of PTSD from different types of trauma will require future epidemiological studies to assess PTSD for all lifetime traumas rather than for only a small number of retrospectively reported "most serious" traumas."

PTSD is not simply a symptom of “major trauma.”  Very often, people experience PTSD who are placed into situations for which they are not psychologically "wired' and that can include situations as seemingly benign as an artist forced into a highly structured, repetitive environment, i.e. processing the millions upon millions of parts for machines sold in mass across the world, or processing mail.

Getting the connection here?  Some people “go postal” because they cannot handle the stress of a highly structured and monotonous process when their propensity is towards a free-flow life.  And, we’ve all been down that road, mostly unknowingly so; school!

Soldiers are forced to act against the most basic human level of decency there is, to preserve life, by killing others and most often doing so without apparent reason in the individual’s mind and sadly, PTSD is often manifest as a result.

People are finding themselves trapped.  They're living "Groundhog Day," performing the routine of turning the alarm off at 6:30 AM, taking a piss, brushing our teeth, shaving, showering, dressing, grabbing a doughnut on the way to work, and punching the clock.

We perform repetitious, tedious, and mundane tasks for 8 to 10 hours; returning home to make an attempt towards some semblance of normalcy.

We have, possibly, a couple hours in the day left, all for us; two hours a day to try to be who we are.  If nothing else prevents that moment of freedom; only to restart the process over and over - experience the same routine day after day.

“Going postal” is simply PTSD manifest in violence.  It is almost always generated by the routines in which those who are not predisposed  for such, must participate in order to survive in a society built around mass production and consumption.

Gun violence, for example, is not just about guns, it’s about a serious social illness that is so prevalent in our culture that our culture is on the verge of destruction.

Why do sot many of us fail in and detest the educational system?

Regardless of who we are, or how we think and see the world, we’re forced into a highly structured, monotonous situation designed for one thing and one thing only – production.

An artist is forced to grasp algebra when all he/she wants to learn is how to be a better painter, sketcher or sculptor.  A philosopher is forced to learn how chemicals interact and a scientist is forced into literature, etc…..

I firmly believe that our very educational system is the root cause of our expanding social disorder, just as in Orwell’s 1984, we are rebelling against a society in which we no longer matter, against an unseen force - the oligarchy of the elite corporatist who needs producers; not individuals.

In John Taylor Gatto’s “The Seven Lesson School Teacher” he enumerates exactly what teachers do today:
  1. Teach confusion
  2. Reinforce class position
  3. Promote indifference
  4. Create emotional dependency
  5. Force intellectual dependency
  6. Instill provisional self-esteem
  7. Create paranoia
Everyone who reads this blog should read Gatto’s essay on this matter and you too will see the reason as clear as the air you wish you could breathe; our society is imploding upon itself and it’s not because we’re born to be violent, we’re taught to be violent through total disregard for our conscious selves, our metaphysical lives and it begins taking place the moment we walk through the hallowed doors of our educational institutions.

Can America rise again?

Certainly, but we must start at the very foundation and rebuild.  Simply placing Band-aids over the sore spots do nothing but hide them from view, they will remain sore regardless of how many Band-aids we apply.

Starting over is going to be a necessity and one very basic block of laying that new foundation is education.

Teaching children to contribute to the world in a manner that is best suited for them will ensure success, reduce violence and will surely make them better world citizens through understanding beyond our own borders.  Teaching one to be a human being of their natural choice is far simpler and much more valuable to society than forcing a human being to be an object of absolute obedience and conformity, blind to all but the needs of the "machine."

Education; REAL education teaches one how to contribute to the benefit of society using the natural talents possessed by the individual. 

IMAGINE!  What we could do if all our educational efforts went towards a better world rather than a fatter wallet.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DVg2EJvvlF8

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

THE KILLING MACHINE

Fear, with its icy claws, rakes your sweat-drenched body leaving in their wake raw, exposed nerves.

The cold, merciless, gaze pierces your mind; every breath feels utterly futile as your body consumes oxygen faster than your lungs can replace it.

The body that was once yours no longer obeys your commands; is this what it's like to die?

Fifteen centimeters from your face, cold steel imprisons you; the childhood monster in the closet has suddenly returned, grasping your legs with fists of iron and pinning your body to the table with its weight.

No escape; no room to move!  Only you can hear the screams of terror raging in your head.

As the cold, heartless machine envelopes you with its walls closing mercilessly around you, the horrendous sound of its metallic heartbeat increases in pace and power as it consumes you, choking the very life from your body, now frozen in absolute fear.

Two days ago you were admitted to the hospital with pneumonia and the MRI was ordered by your doctor.

You’ve had enough and finally find the power to scream out; "get me the hell out of this damned place, I can’t breath."

After what seems like a week, the radiology technician finally stops the machine and activates the table.

As your head clears the gray-black metal prison, your lungs inhale deeply, seeking relief; you suddenly realize, rather than the icy fear you felt inside the machine, you’re now burning hot; the fresh air cools and calms you.

Exhumation from the steel tomb!  A wave of relief you’ll never forget.



Fear, with its icy claws, rakes their sweat-drenched bodies leaving in their wake raw, exposed nerves.

The cold, merciless gaze pierces their minds; every breath feels utterly futile as their bodies consume oxygen faster than their lungs can replace it.

The bodies that were once theirs no longer obey their commands; is this what it's like to die?

Four square meters of cold steel imprisons them.  The childhood monster in the closet has suddenly returned, grasping their legs with fists of iron and pinning their bodies to the table with its weight.

No escape; no room to move!  Only they can hear the screams of terror raging in their heads.

As the cold, heartless machine envelopes them with its walls closing mercilessly around them, the horrendous sound of its metallic heartbeat increases in pace and power as it consumes them, choking the very life from their bodies, now frozen in absolute fear.

Arrests came months ago, for the crime of being black while walking through the neighborhood.

"Enough!"  Finally finding the power to scream out; "get me the hell out of this damned place, I can’t breath."

Months of humiliation and raw anxiety; the jailor finally stops the machine and activates the door.

As their heads clear the gray-black metal prison, their lungs inhale deeply, seeking relief; they suddenly realize, rather than the icy fear they felt inside the machine, they’re now burning hot; the fresh air does nothing to cool or calm them.

Panic rises like a well from within, choking them, killing them.

Exhumed from the grave, but relief will never arrive;  ever!

Rather, in a terrifying, endless nightmare; their oppression continues as the fear, with its icy claws, rakes their sweat-drenched bodies leaving in their wake raw, exposed nerves.

The cold, merciless gaze pierces their minds, every breath feeling utterly futile as their bodies consume oxygen faster than their lungs can replace it.

Relief for you!  Ever present horror for them!

This is what it must be like to die; being black in a sea of merciless white!  No escape; only they hear their screams of terror as the cold, indifferent, white killing machine removes their life’s blood.

Sunday, November 09, 2014

YOU DIDN'T VOTE? KEEP YOUR COMPLAINTS TO YOURSELF!

Didn't Vote?  Keep your hands complaints to yourself!



In the latest congressional flip, fourteen incumbent Democrats lost their seats to GOP challengers.

While it was not quite the clean-out I personally expected, it’s certainly a statement once again, that the electorate is dissatisfied with a seriously dysfunctional Congress.  After congressional approval ratings reached all-time lows; as low as 9 percent in Nov 2013 and a dismally low average of 15 percent over the past forty three months, I’m a bit surprised more incumbents weren't  rousted from their warm, cushy seats.


Trend: Do you approve or disapprove of the way Congress is handling its job?

These statistics don’t tell the entire story however.  Hidden in those numbers is a picture of electorate apathy and disenfranchisement that has haunted the US for decades.

These two numbers tell the rest; the rapidly increasing and now substantial majority of voters who refuse to be pigeon-holed into partisan dogma, the “independents” at 42 percent (compared to 25 percent GOP and 31 percent Democrats), and those who have simply given up on the process entirely. 

Some 59.7 million eligible voters in the country aren’t even registered to vote.

While 42 percent of the electorate now refuse to be pigeon-holed by partisanship, almost 30 percent of the eligible voter population have withdrawn entirely from our critically ill election process.

An excellent example of voter apathy lies in the story of Saira Blair, a very sharp 18-year-old GOP member who now holds a seat in the traditionally Democrat West Virginia House of Delegates.
Campaigning on a very conservative platform:
"It's time we stopped treating our citizens like terrorists and our terrorists like citizens," she says on her online issues statement. "I believe that life begins at conception ... I find it extremely hard to believe that given the choice any child would chose death over life, I know I certainly wouldn't."
A stellar example for the newest generation in the US, Ms. Blair has become the youngest politician in West Virginia history, and regardless of which side of the political aisle one resides, generous amounts of applause should be heaped upon Saira for her commitment, eagerness, aspirations, and most of all, her achievement.

Sadly, however, the rest of the nation doesn’t measure up, and her story exemplifies the election numbers of the entire nation.

The Sydney Morning Herald produced an interesting article about Ms. Blair, lauding her victory with 63 percent of the district’s vote.

Her victory is indeed impressive, especially considering her age and the fact that this is her first venture into the tough world of politics.  But, the impression is distorted, as are almost all election figures in the US.

In Australia, where voter participation rates hover around 81 percent, the author at the Herald may not understand the true significance of her 63 percent margin, a significance which stands out in a comparison of voter participation rates by country in 2012 wherein the US ranked last in a list of 58 countries.

Meanwhile, many in the US ignorantly boast; "we have the best democracy in the world.” Yet, 30 percent of the nation’s eligible voters aren’t even registered to vote, and of those who are registered, only 36.6 percent voted in the 2014 mid-term election.

An embarrassing 74 million out of the more than 206 million eligible voters, or 3 out of every 10, bothered to participate.

A dismal story indeed!

The district in which Ms. Blair was elected as a delegate to the West Virginia House, voter participation rates look very similar to those of the nation as a whole.  The district has a total of 18,000 registered voters and while no data on registered VS eligible voters by district are available, it’s likely the district will closely represent numbers similar to those of the state, or 37 percent of those eligible are registered.  An extrapolation gives us 48,649 eligible voters in Ms. Blair’s 59th District.

As awesome as her achievements are, Ms. Blair is now faced with governing her district from which 4994 votes of 48,649 eligible voters cast their votes, or 10 percent of her district’s constituents.

This is very concerning to me, for as much as we deride politicians, the job, if taken seriously and performed with integrity, isn’t an easy nine to five at Mc D’s.  I ask; just how difficult is that job going to be for such a hopeful youngster?  How disenchanted is she going to become if her first step is met with disillusioned and dissatisfied voters?  For, while 90 percent of them didn’t bother to vote, all will surely complain about her efforts.

The best of luck to Ms. Blair.

Friday, October 31, 2014

THE POLARIZED YOU AND ME

Image courtesy Wealthy Choices Network
There’s a huge problem with mainstream media today; we all know that. We're pummeled by influence-peddling in every mainstream media outlet in the nation.  So much so we can no longer trust, with even a modicum of certainty, what we’re reading.

You shouldn't even read and blindly accept what I'm writing here.

Yet, in our quest for alternatives, scrutiny takes on a whole new depth, for the “blurred” lines of the mainstream media are completely non-existent in the alternate universe of the Net.  In fact, it's clear that anyone can say just about anything their misguided little brains can conjure up.

Such vile, polarizing "reporting" can be found here in an article at Breitbart.

In less than five minutes, any reasonably intelligent individual can conduct a simple review of both the cafe and endowment program mentioned in the article.  Yet sadly, viewing the ensuing comments on the page, it becomes abundantly clear that few bother.

The blog has but one intent which is utterly impossible to miss; pure politically motivated horseshit, written at the expense of all credibility, sacrificing reader confidence in a lame attempt to defame John Kerry and his wife.

Politics as usual!

Manipulation of information in this manner, be it via blogs or mainstream media outlets, damages not only reader credibility, but the good reputation of Conflict Cafe and the contribution they in fact make to their community; and for what gain?

From Conflict Café’s Webpage:
"Each Conflict Kitchen iteration is augmented by events, performances, and discussions that seek to expand the engagement the public has with the culture, politics, and issues at stake within the focus country. The restaurant rotates identities every few months in relation to current geopolitical events."

Enclosing their meals in wrappers printed with quotes/statements from those living within the various highlighted cultures sparks discussions and debates.  In doing so, the cafe is light years beyond simply serving authentic ethnic cuisine.  Conflict Cafe uses the atmosphere and food to create outstanding educational opportunities through experiencing cultural diversity in personal interactions and food alike.

Extraordinarily popular in the Pittsburgh community, the restaurant has received rave reviews from many mainstream and alternative media outlets alike, including NBC, LA Times, Christian Monitor, BBC, NPR, PBS, Al Jazeera, and even the traditionally ultra-conservative Fox News.

Whether one of the many students from the neighboring University of Pittsburgh, or a retiree seeking to expand his or her knowledge of the cultures of the world, one could not find a more potent, exciting, and memorable way to learn.

This purported odious purveyor of evil and political treachery, Conflict Cafe, boasts 300 customers per day.

A very successful business venture from just about anyone’s perspective, Conflict Cafe is a wildly successful small business endeavor.  So much so, several conservative media outlets are praising it's efforts.

Did I fall asleep, awakening only to find myself in an alternate universe in which the ultra-conservative pundits find fault in a capitalist’s wet dream?

Apparently I'm not alone, for the cafe's contributions to the community have been so beneficial, it has even received recognition from one of the nation's largest food giants, Heinz Corporation.

Heinz offers endowments in support of southwestern Pennsylvania (the location of Conflict Café) businesses which improve educational and cultural diversity in southwest Pennsylvania.

And therein lies the contention; not only with the author at Breitbart, but other media outlets with similar political goals such as “The Jewish Press,” “The Washington Free Beacon.”

Oddly enough, even the ultra-conservative media outlet Fox News is joining the ranks of those praising their achievements.

In recognition of those same achievements, The Heinz Corporation, the heir to which is Kerry’s wife Terry Heinz Kerry, endowed Conflict Café with a $50K grant for its contribution to the community.

A far cry from the subversive picture painted by the outlets plastering the Net and newsstands with their attempts to manipulate the electorate.

My very good friend sent me this link “We are all confident idiots" not long ago and I can't think of a better scenario in which the phenomenon can be applied.

The world in which we live has become a vanilla milkshake of the extreme; a polarized nation in which the diversity required for civilization to flourish is very difficult to come by.  In fact; with the help of misinformation outlets, it is extraordinarily easy to be “confident idiots,” unwilling to consider anything but that with which we are comfortable.

It is here we see the problem with the polarized you and me.

Seeking comfort in our “expertise,” we accomplish little, but to darken the hegemonic lenses many prefer to wear and creating a homogenized world in which diversity is no longer tolerated.

Regardless of your political ideology, becoming a confident idiot is as easy as reading misleading information on the Net and accepting the comfort level found in similarity.

But, it's the last thing we should allow ourselves to do and be satisfied with.

As for me?  I love ethnic diversity, in communities and, as my ever-expanding waist will attest, food.



Photos courtesy of Conflict Cafe.

I wish you the best of luck.

Wednesday, October 01, 2014

Where do they take you?



Rusted, Steel, Silver and Gold Ribbons 
What is your adventure;
Where Do They Take You?

Rusted ribbons nestle
In forests hushed, but for
Whippoorwill’s song

Woodpecker’s drum,
Wind’s song in the tree tops,
Squirrel’s chatter and coyote's cry!

Where do they take you?
What’s at the end, around the bend
Between here and there for you?

A cold and dreary tour of summer’s end
Your passage on rails
From which to seek shelter ‘til trip’s conclusion?

Or of fires of golden aspen
And crimson maples
Emboldened by steel’s cool blue and gray,

With crows squawking amidst crisp air
Laden with a hint of winter’s presence
Thrilling and chilling your soul?
This way, or that?
What will be missed when
This is chosen or that is pursued?

Your directions split,
Decisions stalled, plans dismantled,
Judgments questioned?

Can you circle back for adventure renewed?
Or are alternatives banished
As choices are made?
 Do you peer over horizons
Devoid of color,
Replaced by shades of gray?

Or do you see a road filled with promise,
Explosions of ecstasy
In moments of intense curiosity

Amidst the awesomeness
Of open space, bewildering vastness
And freedom of direction?
 Are yours but frail tracks filled with stormy darkness,
Fear and desperation?
Yet another worrisome turn,
One after another?

Angry, jagged fingers, frightful thunder
Interrupting
Mundane and routine trails?

Or are you on an expedition of excitement,
Thrill and exhilaration
Of adrenaline instilled enthusiasm?

 
 Is darkness looming,
Signaling an end
To yet another day?

Or are there silver threads
Leading your golden
Trek with awe

Following Sol
As he guides you
Along his purple shores?

Once sentinels of energy
Keeping currents
On intended routes

Now, a half-concealed emerald gem
Between ribbons
Of roaming silver

Shattered jewels
Blue, green, amber and red
Provide color for the rocky trail
 


Cicadas singing in unison
Under a stifling sun
As brilliant white clouds

Glide lazily through thick
Humid air, a respite
From blistering rays

Cottonwood feathers floating slowly
Distracting thoughts
Of the void below

Track’s silver crowns
Glinting with Sol's rays
Creosote’s sweet aroma
And engine’s horn bellowing.

Cohort’s eyes wide
Hearts pounding
Against the dare

Senses sharpened, taking in all
As cool waters rush upwards, towards
The temerarious youth jumping from above

Ribbons of rust, steel,
Silver and gold,
Endless passages.

A ride
Of infinite discovery,
Of endearing moments;

Of squinting towards the searing sun,
Taking the opportunity
To change the ordinary into ribbons
of rainbows and adventure.