We Are The Ones We Have Been Waiting For..*

*From Alice Walker’s blog, on the occasion of the events of November 4, 2008

We not only are the ones we have
been waiting for, we’re all we’ve got. Pray all day and all night for the next month, send your miracle-seed donations to whatever shyster television evangelist you choose, or otherwise passively wait for something supernatural from the sky to occur to solve your financial problems. Write angry letters to the editor of your shrinking daily newspaper, call the offices of your congressional representative weekly, go on strike, organize a boycott, find somebody to sue, or sit around the cafe and make jokes about people who for whatever reason- color, age, gender, sexual preference, nationality- are not as good as you and bring their financial problems on themselves and it’s just not fair because now they’re going to be helped and you’re not and God knows you’ve worked hard and you really are a victim: of bankers, Jews, Socialists, Obama, William Ayers, that guy who kills turkeys in Alaska, the CEO of GM, Affirmative Action, and/or global warming, Big Oil, gay guys who want to get married, gay women who believe in evolution, et.al., et.al., etc., and so forth . Do those things; hand the responsibility for your individual fix and our collective predicament over to some thing or some one outside yourself and begin the long slow descent into madness then death, while watching TV and waiting waiting waiting for what once was to be again..

Or..

We can start new philosophical, spiritual, and even legal balls rolling that will culminate one day in a very different set of economic attitudes. And those new attitudes are not an option; they are a necessity. An economic system based on perpetual growth is a Ponzi Scheme Supreme. It will fall, as all top-heavy things do. (read Genesis 11, about the Tower of Babel..it’s an old, old too oft-ignored story.) The American economic system of 2006 was bound to fail!! The fact that it is so amazingly easy to see that now is exactly the reason we can’t be tempted to return to it.

We need new thinking. It probably won’t be fun as we have been prone for too many myopic years to define fun: i.e., “Hey kids, let’s go the mall!” or, “Wow! Look how much our house is worth! We can retire early!” or “Just put it on the credit card.”

Nor will the new thinking we must undertake be able to have the old assumptions of unlimited natural resources, unlimited and willing labor, and an always expandable world market to be constructed upon. In fact, if we hear ideas based on those presumptions, we can know- even without being an economist- that they are wrong.

Here are some things I think MUST be thought about, reconsidered, redacted, discussed, argued about, and then allowed to evolve. These are just a few things and I’ll write more about each and add to the list as well. I hope you’ll talk about things like these in your circles of influence, too- in honest and open ways and in full knowledge that this is a New Creation we are part of..which is both scary AND exciting, isn’t it?

1. We must focus locally and in smaller ways, in every way we can. Interestingly, building “up” is a way to do both (think Manhattan). Walking more, sharing tasks, making do with 1 car instead of 2 or 2 instead of 3 won’t be options one day. The ‘New Marketplace’ will be the hub of the New Community, and for the sake of local employment we should not listen to any proposals by Walmart or any other large corporation to run those Marketplaces!

2. Speaking of Corporations, let’s not, as much as possible. Theirs is a legal status which must be redefined as we move this country from Corporate Socialism with their attendant strangleholds to something far more humane- something really strange and wonderful and new: small businesses, in real competition. (wow, what a concept!)

3. Everything I say about Corporations I say about Big Unions, too. It’s time to rethink everything no matter what color your collar is. Blue collars don’t automatically make you into a working class saint, and white ones don’t mean you’re a bourgeois sonofabitch.

Bottom line: Big has proven to be a hazardous concept, generally speaking. Small must b demonstrated to be the cool new kid on the block that everyone wants to be friends with, because small can give life. Big sucks life away. As someone’s grandpa used to say, “Put that it in your pipe and smoke it.” Really.

4. Here’s something else we should be allowed, if we choose to, to put in our pipes and smoke: hemp. Marijuana. There is a huge industry waiting to be begun in the growing, processing, transportation, selling, and taxing of hemp. Marijuana. It’s a multi-billion dollar industry that exists already but doesn’t raise a single taxable nickel while most of the proceeds flow south. Legalizing hemp (marijuana) would ease our prison costs, allow huge fiber industries to begin (Rule: If you’re going to buy hemp fiber, you’re going to process it in the USofA, ok? Good. We understand each other.)

Are you shocked? At a preacher saying this- at any good American saying such a thing? Well, get over it. I’d much rather have my kids (or your kids) passing a pipe around a circle of munchie-hungry friends, than slamming down Dos Equus and Grey Goose in a bar 10 miles from home, while some guy in the corner over there is getting alcohol-angry and is about to rage on the girl who is about to vomit on the kid who is dying alone and silently under the table of alcohol poisoning.

And anyway, it’s the prison building corporations and the alcohol distribution corporations who really don’t want the hemp industry to take off in the U.S. That speaks volumes, doesn’t it? (Ok, now..pass the Cheetohs, wouldja, and the chips and the bean dip, and where’s that cake? [Just Kidddiiinnnggg!!!])

5. Barter, trading. I’ll mow your yard this year for you if you’ll allow us to pick from your apple and pecan trees. I’ll paint your house in return for piano lessons for my kid. I’ll keep your pickup running if you’ll help replace my furnace. I’ll trade you my TV for your extra lawnmower. I’ll give you 2 pickups of wood for a calf. I’ll trade my extra room to you for janitorial work at the store.

You see what I’m saying. I know you do. It’s how people all over the world lived for tens of thousands of years but it’s a way of life most Westerners have put behind them. It became easier to hand people money rather than friendship or time. Behind the security fences there are people who need you. And you need them. Don’t wait until you or they are hungry to make introductions. (Ask the elders among us- the veterans of the Depression- if that last statement makes any sense; they will assure you it does.)

6. Death. No, I don’t want to talk about it. The trouble is, nobody wants to talk about it, so we continue to treat it as if it’s something that can be denied, put off, or foiled. We make absolute fools of ourselves with the massive amounts of money we spend to gain a few years of uncomfortable life at the end of our life. This is a huge subject that is very much a part of any discussion of a new economy, a New Community. And I’ll have more to say.

OK, that’s a start. Discuss amongst yourselves. Just don’t spend a moment humming “The Way We Were” or wishing you could have a conversation with your stockbroker like you used to have in the late 90’s. Those days really are gone. Kaput. Fini. The saviors we were hoping for never arrived. We really are all we’ve got; we really are the ones we’ve been waiting for.

Cool, yes?

(and yes, there are a myriad of other subjects in the new economy- all things green, for instance, cottage industries, family and community gardens, and on and on. But w’ve all got to start somewhere. These are the places I chose to begin.)

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Sully Sullenberger, Katie Couric, the U.S.A: that was the week that was..

“That Was the Week That Was” was an NBC satirical newsmagazine which was broadcast in 1964-65. The chorus of show’s theme song:

That was the week that was, it’s over let it go.                                                    Oh what a week that was,                                                                                    That was the week that was!

Now, insert the word “Country” where the word “Week” was. That’s what I’m talking about, and Sully and Katie are part of it. And Obama’s doomed economic plan, the Republican’s doomed-to-hell economic plan, the suburbs, GM, Thomas Kincaid “paintings”, and many churches, among many other iconic and traditional things and ways of life in America.   That was the country that was.      

Hang with me here; it will all come together a few paragraphs from now.

1. This may seem like it has nothing to with anything here, but it does in a huge way, and that’s why I list it first:

Sully Sullenberger, pilot of U.S. Airways Flight 1549, and the man who successfully landed a disabled jet on the Hudson River last month, is NOT a hero. He IS one heck of a pilot- seasoned, calm, utterly professional, highly skilled, and a real asset to his profession, his race, his family, his community, and his nation. The other 154 passengers on Flight 1549, and their families, love him very much. But he is not a hero. He was doing the job he had trained for and practiced and he did it very, very well. (I’m convinced, after hearing Sullenberger speak several times, that he would agree with everything I’ve just said.)

But media types began the “hero” labeling  immediately, with hopes that hero worship at the glass and plastic home altars would follow. And we, the media sheep, believe our shepherds, and begin genuflecting. Katie bragged at some dinner last night about how she “won” Sully’s first network interview from the other networks.

Two sub-points here, call them 1a and 1b. Ok, 1a: Television stories need exclamation points at the end of as many sentences as possible! They need heroes, not boringly competent people. Just as they need berserk monkeys, octo-moms, and Kim Jong-il. Television demands words writ simply and large and images drawn in bright, shiny colors. They need heroes  and more of them, so they manufacture them by finding individuals who are extremely competent at their jobs, or who play football well, or who are under six years old but know how to dial 9-1-1 when necessary, or who are a dog that barks and alerts firemen to an unconscious child, or who are a cop and gets shot. The media needs these people because I guess we (the American consumer) need them, too. People who watch X-treme Games, or Jackass, or Real Time Videos of Real People Being Injured are beyond staying tuned in through the commercials for a report on anything resembling normalcy. Who wants to see great golf tee shots when they can see a wrestler fall heroically from a high-lift into the turnbuckles, to his death?

1b. Katie, nobody outside an extremely small circle of network insiders gives a rat’s rear about who got the interview first, when, or ever. Nobody except the fellow word-spitting clowns on the local news desk remember, care, or wanted to know in the first place who “broke” a particular  news item. It, like 99.9% of everything, doesn’t matter!  It matters only when you’re part of a culture that believes everything must be won, or lost; that believes for everything that goes wrong or merely not right, there is someone/something to blame; and that believes winning (whatever the game is) is all that ultimately counts.

2. Just as we need bigger-than-life heroes so we may sate our need to vicariously tickle our egos, we have also- being good Americans- sought for too long, that which is too large and too much. For two decades, the suburbs have been growing absurdly fast, filling with homeowners mesmerized by the 300 cubic feet of empty overhead space in the dramatic entryways of crazily huge homes sitting on zero-lot lines, available for nothing down and a first year ARM of only 2%! We have bought cars that are too large, pets that are too expensive, clothes that are too quickly out of fashion, computers that are too old at six months, too pricey college educations that are no longer worth a million extra dollars over a lifetime (as high school guidance once mouthed without critical thinking), too expensive tickets to too many sporting events, concerts, and too many meals out because we’re too busy to stay home and cook, and now the whole too-high hill of too-high hopes is falling. In avalanche fashion.

Jenga! Jenga! Jenga! We’ve been playing a game of pile-’em-as-high-as-you-can, and while there are lots of criminals, we are all guilty. The pile had to fall. The money I made with IPOs in the 1990s- money made without my doing a single thing!- was part of the fall. The credit I’ve used to buy things I didn’t really need, or didn’t really need to replace- that was part of the fall, too. Sure it’s easy to shout red-faced and angry at the Enron parasites and the human cancer Madoff, but I in my tiny way added to the mess of Jenga tiles now covering the table and the floor, spilling out the front door, and out onto the street. I helped make the mess and you did, too, and there is one more huge mistake we can make together, if we let the traditional people-with-answers come up with the answers we desperately need; namely, this:

We can pick up the pieces and start trying to build them back up again, just like they were. 

In normal life situations, cleaning up the mess and starting over would be the right thing to do- in some cases, perhaps even the heroic thing to do! But normalcy as we knew it, as we may soon be pining for it, as we may demand it from a selfish, narrow, screw you standpoint, normalcy is gone for the rest of our lives. (That’s a prophetic statement on my part- a statement born of feelings, guesses, and some basic understandings of human behavior and spirituality; it is not a statement born of formal economic training or knowledge. It’s a statement born of eyes wide open, rather than one formed with mind tight shut.)

I’m afraid the stimulus package has been written and fueled by too many people who believe we can make the country that was into the country that is, again. Even those who oppose the stimulus package are opposing it with a set of tools fashioned with Americo-centric blueprints drawn by social Darwinists who were sitting on natural resources that would never run out, with a great labor supply of people who would always be happy with what they were paid,  and who considered the whole world to be an American franchise.

That was the country that was, remember that. It’s over- let it go! It was bound to fall, and has. We- literally- can spend the rest of our lives bemoaning, regretting, blaming, and finally dying unhappily. Or we can begin to rebuild, like the pioneers whose blood flows in all of us who are Americans. It can be similar to what was, and probably must be. But it cannot be the same. We cannot merely build a new economic Petri dish in which new Enron and Madoff bacterial slime might grow.

Oh, what a country that was…!

(I’ve got some ideas, incidentally, which I’ll write about here in the next day or two. Those ideas, your ideas, our ideas, are what we must start discussing, sharing, modifying, and bringing into being..we must plant seeds of trees we will never eat the the fruit of ! Some of us may even have the opportunity to be real heroes in doing so [the unheralded, self-sacrificing kind]. Go ahead, break that news!)

A Religious New Year’s Resolution

I wish sometimes, I really do..I wish I could slip into a 24 hour emotional coma where Bowl Games were important to me, where I cared for just a little while about what kind of car I drive, or what Jennifer Anniston thinks about anything.

I would like to breathe, just for a little while- long enough to gather strength against the endless soul-bruising I feel condemned at times to live within- I would like to breathe the foreign air of “I just don’t give a damn.” I would like to be able knock a beer (as the phrase is put in hard-drinking, easy-thinking circles) and know that it would stop the world long enough for me to go to sleep one night without a single nagging needle of over-extended empathy jabbing at my heart.

I would like to experience a whole day someday, a day that would enable me to remember what it was like to not have stories like these from this day acid-raining on my parade:

For Kurdish Girls, An Ancient, Painful Ritual of Circumcision

and

Egyptian Girl Kept As Slave in California Home

These two headlines happen to be fueled by Islam. It would be just as easy on another day to find such stories of cruelty, intolerance, or mythologically-based stupidity rising from Christianity, Hinduism, or Judaism. (If you doubt that statement, and don’t have the ability or skills to go Googling for yourself, message me and I’ll send some examples your way. At this moment, I don’t have the emotional wherewithal to subject myself to more such UTTER, AWFUL, DEHUMANIZING, GODDAMNING, DESPICABLE crap being dispensed incessantly by those who keep the gods of their foul fantasies trapped in the uncritical, unthinking, and unevolved confines of their reptilian, always reactive imaginations.)

Despite overwhelming evidence indicating otherwise, each of us really do have the kingdom of heaven beating somewhere in our beings aching, wanting, striving to find expression in the environments, large and small, in which we each find ourselves.  I also believe that each of us has the ability to cause that kingdom-of -heaven reality to be present and evident for the benefit of ourselves and others when we are aware of its presence in us.

And I dislike to admit it, but I must: that presence may best be found and understood by examining that which makes us most uncomfortable. In other words- for me- it is the boundary-pushing kingdom of heaven in me that makes me want to retreat at times, from it. I’d rather watch a football game and be excited by it, than contemplate the horror of a nine-year-old girl being hacked on because..because.. because NOBODY KNOWS WHY!!!  (“We don’t know why we do it, but we will never stop because Islam and our elders require it,” says the mother of a little girl whose clitoris has just been cut off.)

The only thing I know to do is to do something- something, anything, each day, in however many days I might have, to expose, fight, ridicule, or- God,help me-  stand between religious cruelty and its victims. I can bitch, whine, or tilt at windmills, or I can do something.  I can look the other way, pretend my wishes of paragraph #1 have been granted, or stop exposing myself to that which pains me most poignantly, or I can make some tiny difference which- like a seed- may grow.

Therefore, I choose (and promise), beginning today, to do one thing each day to chink at the foundations of religion. I’d rather spread Doubt, than Blind Obedience. I’d rather make an ass of myself doing some thing, than not be noticed at all, doing nothing at all, causing not a single fissure in the landscape of a world where, because of the misogynist dogma of  fear-created gods, there are still little girls..

screaming.

God, damn religion too. Amen.

The Problem, Whatever It Is..

It really is true, but I needed to elaborate on it- for myself. Feel free to read over my shoulder. Tell yourself, as often as is necessary, whatever this, at the moment, is:

This, too, shall pass..

And indeed it shall:

~from the immediate corners of consciousness where- now- it jostles jaggedly, by the moment, by the half-moment, seeking a position but finding only juxtaposition.

~from the aching, angry forefront of lobotomical lamentations and synaptical sorrows.

~from the emotional heat which causes embers thought to be cold to flare again in the white and searing heat of memory, and memory of memory.

This, too, shall pass..

And indeed it shall:

~as unexpected crises are confronted, and what is imperative right now becomes an afterthought to what the newest right now is clamoring.

~as the sharp and focused particulars- each letter, each syllable, each raised eyebrow- of these moments in time become the faded pastel memories of yesterday, last month, and several years ago (no one remembers exactly when..)

~as the persons involved are ripped, or fade, from our stories, and as their circumstances, as their reactivity and proactivity waxes, and wains, and is washed away by new calendar pages, new ticking-tocking of the world’s clocks, and new birthdays, seasons, before there are..no more.

This, too, shall pass..

And indeed it shall:

~when, over a millennium, not too many millennia away, glacial sheets like geographical snow plows push down and across whole continents and Stockholm, then London, then Madrid; and Montreal, then New York, then Washington are scrapped from their rebar and concrete moorings before the great cliffs of ice.

~ when the shards of the Museum of Modern Art, Lincoln Center, the Library of Congress, Parliament, Windsor Castle, and the Louvre are piled deeply beneath the former shores and sand of the one-time Great Lakes, the no-longer-there North Sea, and the gravel that once laid at the bottom of the English Channel.

~when that ice, in epochal time, begins to melt and frozen swamps give rise to the bacterial surge of New Life, and the hundred thousand year movement toward new geological eras begins, and where new ice will again appear and new swamps, new mountain ranges, new continents, new volcanic islands, new life forms- slimes and swarms- birthing and dying, become themselves 100 million year old fossils, never to be found, catalogued, or contemplated.

~ when the Sun, explosively benign and vital through all that has been, begins its final interior burn and expands as the last stores of helium flare through ten billion years of pressure and the Sun, larger and larger, encompasses one by one the orbits of its planets, and the blue and green of Earth becomes a desert, then a smoldering coal, then a hot ember, then an ash, then smoke, then nothing but the chaotic then coalescing atoms which, in this tiny portion of the Universe, will begin again to end and begin again and again, and then- indeed-

This, too, shall have passed..

What just happened..a story of the day after..

What I worked on today and have ready to post here will have to wait, because I want others to read this. It is an email which my daughter Sarah just sent to her mom, her brother and sister, and me. Travis is Sarah’s husband, and they live in  a very integrated neighborhood in Dallas. They have had Obama’s picture in their front window for months.

To: Family         11/05/08,7:05                                                                                                                       Subject: What just happened

Travis just got home and we were sitting in the living room and the doorbell rang.  It was a woman who lives down the street. 

She came to our house to thank us.  To thank…us. 

Her name is Sheryl, and she is a 57 year old black woman who grew up in times of segregation.  She told us about how she used to work at AT&T as an operator, and how people would not go into the bathroom with her, and how people would call and say they didn’t want to talk to a n***.  She said that her parents would only be allowed into a neighborhood like ours to mow the lawn or clean the house.  She said that her father supported a wife and six kids on $40 a week.  She said that she never thought that she would see this day.

She cried on our front porch.  And she thanked us.  She said that Obama is not just for black people, he is for all Americans, and she can’t believe that these times are here when we can be one nation and move forward. 

She stood on our front porch and she cried and she thanked us- for something that we did for ourselves!  But for her, this is everything.  I think I knew that.  I mean, I think I knew how momentous this is, and I think I knew that this changes everything for many different reasons for many different people…but then the woman down the street came to our house and she cried and she thanked us…and I can see it more clearly than I could before.  I won’t ever understand it the way that she does, and the way that so many Americans do, but she showed us a glimpse this evening.  She showed us her heart and it was bleeding for the past and rejoicing for the future and it was everything that I want for us.

I can’t believe we did this.  I can’t believe this time is here. 

How many hundreds of thousands of times- how many million times- are versions of this story happening around the country today? This is one lady, one young couple, one neighborhood in one American city. But it is precisely and exactly why America is different today than it was yesterday.

Hallelujah

Was Blind, But Now I See: Hope

I have no hope; I have no fear. I am free.” (Nikos Kazantzakis)

“Frankly, I don’t have much hope. But I think that’s a good thing. Hope is what keeps us chained to the system, the conglomerate of people and ideas and ideals that is causing the destruction of the Earth.” (Derrick Johnson, Orion Magazine, May/June 2006)

I throw the word hope around quite easily and very often. Most preachers do:

“My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness.”
(Old hymn)

“To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.” (Colossians 1:27)

I have used the word and concept of hope most often as an antidote for some set of uncomfortable, unsettling, even fearful circumstances which exist in the present moment. Implicit in hope (as I have most often used it) is the looked-forward-to future absence of those difficult feelings being experienced right now.

I am wondering, though, if I have not merely been grabbing at the whole concept of hope in the same way I used to grab at a glassful of Jim Beam? Is it simply one more way to get outside of the present moment, and to justify inaction? Does pie-in-the-sky hope cause me and others to sit around and wait for future bliss while the muck and mire of the moment is rising over our shoes, our ankles, our knees ?!

Hope is an attempt to counterbalance Fear. We can control Fear by constructing an imagined scenario of No Fear. Or so it seems. To Not Be Afraid is a primary motivator used by advertisers, preachers, and politicians. They know their audience is afraid of not being pretty enough, of not going to heaven, or of being blown to bits in another 9/11 scenario. So they offer Hope: a new shade of Max Factor lipstick, a walk down the aisle for the absolution of sins, or a “Happy Days are Here Again” ballot choice.

And we, wanting desperately to escape the dread which weighs heavily on our shoulders, believe them. Again. And again. And again, again. We have believed them for so long, that it feels natural- human, we think- to hope for a better tomorrow. We shovel out money- usually, borrowed money- in the hope that a new car, a new entertainment center,  or a shiny new piece of bling-bling on our arm will finally, despite the $125,738 unsuccessfully spent on similar doo-dads in the past, make us happy.

We pray for miracles- supernatural interventions by God, Allah, or the personal guardian angels that over 50% of Americans believe are standing nearby in anxious desire to serve them- to alleviate the anxieties of today.  It’s sooo much easier to tell God what to do, than it is to ask “What can I do?” And, where two or more are gathered, it sounds a lot holier , too.

And, politicians? 9/11 and stories about inadequate health care are mantras for them. They know we fear violence and sickness because we are afraid, above all, of Death (another soon-topic in this series),  and so they work hard at keeping those fears in the forefronts of our present thinking, so that we may hope for an end to them by properly voting.

Hope, too often, nullifies, debases, and puts off Action or Acceptance. We are blinded to our own abilities to actively affect the difficult circumstances we can do something about, and to Accept those circumstances over which we have no control. To help a 16 year accept themselves as the unique person he or she already is, it seems to me, a far greater act than helping him buy steroids, or signing the permission papers for her to get a boob job. To visit a lonely invalid or prisoner is a much more satisfying way to follow Jesus (or Allah, or one of those angels) than waiting in miserable self-absorption for glory, yes? And certainly, get out and vote, but stop hoping that Big Brother (or Sister) will make our days happy ones. Only we can do that. And if we can’t do it for ourselves, helping others do it for themselves is an even more fulfilling, satisfying, and- dare I say?- happy substitute.

I cannot make myself say that Hope is bad thing. It’s nice to believe the sun will shine tomorrow. But, more often than not, we must simply open our eyes and see that the Light is, and has been, there anyway!  If we look for it, instead of hoping for it, we can experience Light flowing in on us from all kinds of cracks in formerly dark corners. And then we might even observe that while we had been waiting for pie in the sky, there was a big slice of chocolate cake, with ice cream melting beside it, in front of us, waiting to be eaten. 

Was Blind, But Now I See..Part I

Do you want me to tell you what I think, Yes, do, I don’t think we did go blind, I think we are blind, Blind but seeing, Blind people who can see, but do not see. (Blindness, Jose Saramago, pg. 326)

Luke 4:16When he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, he went to the synagogue on the sabbath day, as was his custom. He stood up to read, 17and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written:
18‘The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because he has anointed me
to bring good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives
and recovery of sight to the blind,
to let the oppressed go free,
19to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.’

I once was lost, but now am found..was blind, but now I see.. (“Amazing Grace,” John Newton)

I’m not anticipating with any glee whatsoever, what I am about to begin writing. Most of what I write (or think, or preach, or eat, or do) is motivated by Want– I want to write about nature; I want to eat mashed potatoes with hamburger gravy; I want to go to South Padre Island next week. And I will do, because I want to, all of those things.

But, kind of like the occasional serving of greens peas that I eat at a dinner party so I do not appear to be rude, there also those things which I, or any of us, must do. These personal essays about being blind are, therefore, motivated by Must, rather than Want.

(There are few things I find more repulsive to eat than green peas. Don’t ask me why; I don’t know why. You’ve got an illogical, indefinable revulsion about some food, too- I know you do. So I know you know something of the feeling I’m talking about. I put the peas in my mouth, try to keep my tongue from touching them, dare not chew [!], then swallow quickly, and hope I don’t obviously gag.)

After reading Jose Saramago’s Blindness several weeks ago, enough of a new vocabulary permeated the boundaries of my thinking, that previously unformed groups of thoughts, ideas, and even dreads began to coalesce into what has become, for me, a new coherence. Vague feelings of confusion and concern which have a way, when they are inexpressible, of descending (personally, anyway) into anger or depression, seem to be backlit now; I have been able to begin to think about them in new ways, shadowy as they might still be.

I was emerging, with a language, from a very real blindness which had been caused in large measure, by an inadequacy of words with which to communicate, to myself or anyone else. But it was not a good feeling: it was flat-out alarming! I had gotten used to living with a mild, unfocussed alarm over “what it is I do not know specifically.” But vague shapes and washed-out colors have now begun to gel and brighten; I can see them well enough to feel the need (I apologize ahead of time) to shout them.

This entry serves as a warning then: future entries will begin with this same title but be followed by a specific word. You will see words like Life, Death, Religion, Time, Science, Technology, Politics, and Evil following “Was blind, but now I see..” My point in telling you this is that you may not want to see, or you may be highly interested in the particular word of the day, but not want to read about what I am seeing. So be it. Skip that day’s essay, or all of them. My personal therapy is to write, and plant seeds of curiosity and thought in doing so. Some of those seeds will blow away, some will be eaten by birds, some will be washed downstream, but some might take root and grow.

And I think some of them, all of them eventually, must. And soon. We have lived under a veil- luckily, some of us- for so very long that it feels comfortable in the darkness. The air might be stuffy, we may rarely be able to discern real Light, but having gotten used to such things, we don’t even notice we are breathing harder and struggling to see with less and less success.

I think we’ve been blind; I know I have been blind, much of my life, to much of what I have only begun to see, to look at critically, and then to observe contemplatively. While we’ve been blind, others have been dying and suffering en masse because of the majority’s inability to see.

I know I’m not alone in my “shouting.” I am simply one more in a long long line of known and unknown men and women throughout the ages who could not stop seeing, once they had begun. I also hope there are many millions more that will transcend my voice and vision with greater eloquence, insight, and urgency.

Tomorrow’s word: Hope