Wednesday, December 31, 2008


A thought for 2009

I want to write something profound or at least uplifting. I want to render unto the internet some insight into where we have been and where we are going on the cusp of this new year. I want to and yet just right now I cannot. Outside the snowfall is beautiful and my city is quiet. Inside my concerns are petty and my capacity for big thinking about big issues has been taxed to the point of fatigue. So in lieu of philosophical punditry and eloquently phrased beneficence let me simply say to all of you this one thing.

I wish you love.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008


Say no to a Cheney clemency Christmas

I grow weary of sounding the same alarm over and over again; however the risk to the future of our nation if the actors in this ugly drama are not held to some level of accountability is too great to allow silence in this nearly eleventh hour. Simply, allowing them to get away with their crimes will leave stand a precedent that members of any future administration can cite as justification for their own overreaching power grabs and insistences that they are above the law. The danger of a runaway executive branch was supposed to have been ended with President Nixon and Watergate, then it resurfaced with Iran-Contra and now we are seeing the death throes of an entire administration that has been nothing but one seemingly endless exploitation of the office for personal gain at the expense of the American people and of America's good name. We cannot allow these people to trample the Constitution, the Geneva Convention, the American electoral process, the human and civil rights of thousands and then gleefully walk away with our money in their pockets and their victims' blood on our hands. We cannot allow this. They must be held accountable. They must be investigated. They must not be pardoned. Make your voice heard.

Thursday, December 04, 2008


Enjoy the festival days!

There was once a time when many mused, “Why can’t we behave all year long as we do at Christmas time?” Referring to the once common improvement in the general level of congeniality and human compassion expressed in many nations as midwinter and its associated Christian holiday approached. The sad thing is that we are beginning to see this idle wish come true… but in a through-the-looking-glass sort of fashion. Instead of our behavior being kinder, friendlier, more caring or at least polite the whole year round, our behavior during the “holiday season” is becoming just as insular, suspicious and rude as it is the balance of the year. Why you ask? Out of fear of retribution or rebuke. Yes, in a nation built of myriad cultures each with countless traditions and numerous holidays it has become increasingly acceptable to stand in the middle of the commercialized glitz-krieg of spinning flashing once meaningful symbols appropriated by corporate Kings Avarice and incongruously pretend that we have no holidays at all.

As creatures with the ability to learn from our experiences we are steadily dropping the holiday specific greeting from our shared American culture. Slap the hand offered and see if it is offered again. In an attempt to be more embracing (or frugal – one box of cards to cover a diverse social circle) or less controversial more universal expressions of good cheer have been sought. “Happy Holidays” is a fair generic, or perhaps a safer option might be “Enjoy the season,” but someone will inevitably have a problem with these as well although I decline to give them a head start by suggesting reasons.

So instead of trying to homogenize ourselves into an inescapable corner, let us step back for a moment and examine the idea that people are offended by someone wishing them a pleasant holiday which they happen not to celebrate in common. Why is this a bad thing? Only in this country could we turn the expression of good tidings into something despicable. The assumption is that the “well-wisher” is foisting their religion, culture, dogma, and or retail strategy upon a person who does not share them; let’s turn this around for a moment. What if within the tradition of the “well-wisher” the time of year in question is one festival and celebration, a time glowing with happy memories of childhood, of family and/or community, of spiritual joy or hedonist indulgence in the company of fond fellows? What if all of this good will they experience so seldom during the balance of the year is bubbling over and out of them to the point that they wish to share it with strangers? Why is this not brilliant? It is impossible to know what holidays a stranger may or may not celebrate so why not simply offer them the wish that you would like to receive relative to what you are celebrating. One can have a Happy Chanukah watching Christmas specials, a Merry Christmas going to the movies and eating Chinese food; the longest night of the year could be enjoyed drinking with companions or in quiet solitude, and Kwanzaa might happily be spent vacationing or shopping clearance sales.

The point is that when one is wishing another person well in holiday specific language one is not saying, “Be like me for there lays the only path to happiness.” What one is wishing the other person is good will, good times, joy. The well-wisher may be inspired by their own faith, culture or circumstance but that does not make that context a prerequisite of the hoped for outcome. Perhaps I am part of some naïve minority that has yet to join the ranks of those so suspicious of humanity that they autonomically attach dire imaginary conditions to every action originating outside their own heads… but I cannot believe that the average person is attempting an act of spiritual, cultural or intellectual imperialist expansionism and dogmatic repression when they wish someone any flavor of joyous holiday. It is not often enough that our hearts swell so much as to push us up and out of our ambulatory personal cocoons to see each other as fellow human beings and not merely obstacles and background noise. We are free in this country to celebrate or not whatever we wish (a fact we celebrate with yet another holiday on the opposite side of the calendar) but during this season, if not during all seasons, I ask that you consider celebrating the too few and too fleeting moments when regardless of affiliation or fealty we take a few seconds to be kind to one another in whatever imperfect and clumsily earnest ways we can muster.

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