Monday, August 31, 2009
The fog is lifting slowly this morning. The gulls and ducks and Heron have been active since sunrise around six. The night was peaceful and reflective in my tent along the shore near Freeport on the coast of Maine. I've been here for four days of camping with my family and teenage twin grandaughters before they head off to another year of school activities, sports, chums and friends. And I might add with a touch of reluctance, "Facebook."
For the first time in human history we are in danger of having a generation of youngsters who have never experienced what we call nature, who have never spent quality time in what we affectionately call the “outdoors”. Read Richard Louv's book, "Last Child In The Woods."
It is possible, if we keep going the way we are, many children may never hear wild bird calls, sleep in a tent, paddle a canoe, fish, hunt, or understand the myriad of kingdoms that exist within the forest canopy and also under the leaves of the forest floor and how we have a symbiotic relationship in mutual survival.
To me that is a sadness beyond understanding. I share the goals of the Children and Nature Network an organization started by Mr. Louv and I hope that every child, young and old, will experience what I do every time I take a walk in the woods or set up camp for a few days with nature.
My walk began at ocean's shore, beneath a summer sky
The morning air was crisp; the dew to soon drip-dry.
I looked around at nature knowing I would find
Her rhythm in a rock, and reason in her rhyme.
I heard it first, on the path, walking, slowly not too far.
It faded in and out of mind, like a distant twinkling star.
Then louder came its gentle tone, uniquely humming mild;
When tuning clear to natures sound, your spirit is beguiled.
You know it in the sparkle of a trickling tiara stream
That slides o’er stone and granite bead crowning Gaia queen.
You feel it in the wilting wind with all its names that please,
“Refreshing,” “Cooling,” “Gentle,” special kinds of breeze.
You see it in the flora and the rainbows of the flower,
As blossoms burst with color, in a natural sculptured bower.
You taste it in her breath when fragrance fills the air,
With tiny pollens of her heart, perfumes of scented prayer.
Nature’s essence is profound; her truth comes when you listen,
To the dew that’s on the grass and hear the sunlight glisten.
Squinting crystals in the bright that hide when it is warm,
Returning precious liquid life in shower and in storm.
I found it tiny, on the ground, in trails of hurried ants.
I found it too, among the herbs and healing medicine plants.
I find it often in the trees, amid a darting of delight
As playful fluttering feathered ones put magic in their flight.
There are other things to know, from the silence of her breach,
And heed the wise and warning shrill of the Owl’s casting screech.
Nature’s sound speaks many tongues to tell us there is trouble
For in the print of humankind, the future reeks in rubble.
But on this day, I shall not dwell on the ablutionary bad,
For it would change my wooded walk and make my smile sad.
In all my walks, on many paths, even ones without a tree,
I choose to find the joy of life, for nature lives in me.
Friday, August 28, 2009
From time to time we need to assess whether our leaders in business, and politics and even the leader in ourselves, measure to the definition.
Leadership is the ability to enthuse, to inspire, to create, and to accomplish goals for the greater good.
Some seek leadership, some are promoted to it, some are elected to it and some have it thrust upon them. There is gentle leadership, ego leadership, benevolent leadership, partisan leadership, dictatorial leadership and inspiring leadership. Whichever one is chosen by any individual it is based on character and character is the outward quality of one's inner being.
Character is a visible piece of the heart that others see when action is required.
In these times of political rhetoric, of constant change, of interdependency and minute interconnections, where truly the out-breath of one is the in-breath of another, leaders need to look for and then act for the greater good.
Anything less diminishes character and keeps leaders from the potential of greatness.
Thursday, August 27, 2009
What should the America of today and the future require from its current and future leaders. What are the non-partisan qualities of leadership we must demand and encourage in the actions and intellect of those we choose to lead?
To answer these questions we must each ask ourselves, what is in our own heart. Are we a nation of individuals where everyone is out for himself or herself, or do we still collectively embody the endemic truth and enthusiasm of democracy?
What so many fail to acknowledge is that on a spiritual level we are all one, and if one succeeds then so do all way beyond materialistic gain or intellectual prowess. The question each of us must answer is, are we willing to be the evidence of it?
America began as a nation with a noble destiny to show a divergent and burgeoning world that freedom, coupled with democracy, is a noble path to greatness and from that greatness comes benevolent power and global success.
On a subliminal level America is also a profound alchemy to the chemistry of oneness, but the oneness is not the greatness of America. The diversity within the oneness is our greatness and the miracle of democracy.
Today, individual and collective fear abounds in our daily lives. Recent leadership and some still in positions of power see fear as a mechanism of partisan control. Plain and simple, it is the wrong way to govern.
America was not founded on fear. She was founded on inspiration, the desire for individual and collective freedom, neighbor helping neighbor and a belief that personal prayer and thankfulness is a daily practice and graceful right of liberty. Somehow we have misplaced that belief.
The foundation of America is layer after layer of noble ideals, sacrifice, hard work, and shared vision. Fear is something we embrace when we think we have something to lose, when in fact fear holds nothing but emptiness and want. Courage, the antithesis of fear, holds the abundance we seek and the future we hope for.
America’s leadership for this millennium must make a commitment to be of service, not just to serve.
America has not yet finished her revolutionary pledge to the integrity of an ideal. She is not done being a positive example of responsible participatory government, nor is she finished being an inspiration to the oppressed of the world and imbuing perennial hope to all tyrannized citizenry.
The inner covenant of Democracy has always been conveyed through equal opportunity, unalienable rights endowed by our Creator and these powerful words: “…to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. That whenever any form of government becomes destructive to these ends it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government…as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness.”
These words are still valid and universal right now.
Let us let go of fear and get back to being America and American.
Wednesday, August 26, 2009
I’m wondering where we are going as a society these days and even as a global humanity.
It seems to me there are more deceptions, disagreements, and more contentions within our common exchanges of thought and action. Daily transactions often end in arguments over innocuous issues. Negotiations over important issues in the chambers of government and corporate boardrooms lack conversational courtesy and completion.
What has happened to us? Are we so cemented in blind opinion that we refuse to consider another thought or idea as valid? Are we so busy, so tied to the construct of time, that we cannot read a little more, research a little more and even change the channel once in awhile to hear another viewpoint?
My career as a reporter, writer, and producer in broadcast television began and was sustained in the era of fairness and strict rules. There were and are always more than two sides to every story and you were not a good reporter unless you sought out and checked all conceivable sides to the story and reported only the facts as you discovered them. If you didn’t, there was always a solid, experienced senior editor who demanded you verify your facts and eliminate conclusions or the story did not run.
These old editors where not just sticklers on facts and fairness they were curmudgeons on grammar and spelling. Find that today in the television newsrooms of America.
A great writer-reporter friend of mine once told me about a time an editor said to him after submitting a story.
“All A’s” It’s all A’s.”
My friend was thrilled, he was new at the job and he knew the old editor didn’t give out compliments.
As my friend started to walk away from the editors desk, glowing in the compliment, the editor said, “When you spell Manhattan, it has all “a’s” in it.
I see more blatant errors in news stories today than I ever did. There was one last night on the evening news from an old friend of mine. The anchor failed to put the word “alleged” in a sentence thereby removing the right of presumed innocence from an accused suspect.
I see more opinion in news stories today than ever would have been allowed in my era and should not be allowed today.
Opinion should be left to the certified experts and not to the reader or reporter of the story. We, as free citizens, have the responsibility to inform ourselves by listening, reading and watching widely. To listen to only one station, read one newspaper, or read one magazine you are narrowly informed about as much as a flashlight bean lights the whole darkness.
How do we as a society, with a multitude of informational choices, get back to informational accuracy and fairness and back to social and intellectual civility?
I think if society embraces courtesy and civility first, the media will have no choice, but to follow. The media today is a reflection of all social mores.
Perhaps it will take an individual change of heart! Perhaps it is the ascension of a conscious and benevolent choice of our hearts into the mind choices of life and remembering the “do unto” ethic that is a tenant of all beliefs.
We hear a lot about unconditional love these days. Maybe combined with our heart’s authentication and authorization that’ll work. I hope so.
Unconditional love is unencumbered, undefiled by emotion.
Tuesday, August 25, 2009
I have friends coming to visit in a few weeks. For one of them it is his first time to New York City and first time to the Hudson Valley where I live.
Hyde Park, the ancestral home of President Franklin Roosevelt is not too far from my home and my friends are history buffs so that is a logical visit. The Val-Kill cottage of Eleanor Roosevelt is also nearby.
In doing some planning for their visit I came across these words from Eleanor Roosevelt. She apparently wrote them to her circle of friends.
I liked what I read, I trust you will too.
"Many people will walk in and out of your life, but only true friends will leave footprints in your heart.
To handle yourself, use your head; to handle others, use your heart.
Anger is only one letter short of danger. If someone betrays you once, it's his fault; if he betrays you twice, it's your fault.
Great minds discuss ideas; Average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people.
He who loses money, loses much; he who loses a friend, loses much more; he, who loses faith, loses all.
Beautiful young people are accidents of nature, but beautiful old people are works of art.
Learn from the mistakes of others. You can't live long enough to make them all yourself.
Friends, you and me, You brought another friend and then there were three. We started our group, our circle of friends and like that circle, there is no beginning or end.
Yesterday is history. Tomorrow is mystery. Today is a gift.”
So are these words.
Monday, August 24, 2009
Good Monday morning to all of you who choose to read this blog.
Sometimes my friends and readers send me comments on my pontifications and sometimes they send me sentiments or copies of other things they have read that have moved them in various ways.
Today I want to share with you another person’s thoughts sent to me from Australia. The thoughts, however, come from an American journalist named Charlie Reese. Like me he has been a journalist for a lot of years. His discipline was print. Mine was broadcast. But the desire and diligence and determination to get at the truth are endemic in both styles.
Note to my friends who distrust all media: The late columnist Walter Lippmann once said and I agree with it. “The theory of a free press is that the truth will emerge from free reporting and free discussion, not that it will be presented instantly or perfectly in any one account.”
Here is a past column from retired Orlando Sentinel columnist Charley Reese: Bravo!!!!!
Charley Reese has been a journalist for 49 years.
By Charlie Reese
Politicians are the only people in the world who create problems and then campaign against them.
Have you ever wondered, if both the Democrats and the Republicans are against deficits, WHY do we have deficits?
Have you ever wondered, if all the politicians are against inflation and high taxes, WHY do we have inflation and high taxes?
You and I don't propose a federal budget. The president does.
You and I don't have the Constitutional authority to vote on appropriations. The House of Representatives does.
You and I don't write the tax code, Congress does.
You and I don't set fiscal policy, Congress does.
You and I don't control monetary policy, the Federal Reserve Bank does.
One hundred senators, 435 congressmen, one president, and nine Supreme Court justices equates to 545 human beings out of the 300 million are directly, legally, morally, and individually responsible for the domestic problems that plague this country.
I excluded the members of the Federal Reserve Board because the Congress created that problem. In 1913, Congress delegated its Constitutional duty to provide a sound currency to a federally chartered, but private, central bank.
I excluded all the special interests and lobbyists for a sound reason. They have no legal authority. They have no ability to coerce a senator, a congressman, or a president to do one cotton-picking thing. I don't care if they offer a politician $1 million dollars in cash. The politician has the power to accept or reject it. No matter what the lobbyist promises, it is the legislator’s responsibility to determine how he votes.
Those 545 human beings spend much of their energy convincing you that what they did is not their fault. They cooperate in this common con regardless of party.
What separates a politician from a normal human being is an excessive amount of gall.
No normal human being would have the gall of a Speaker, who stood up and criticized the President for creating deficits. The president can only propose a budget. He cannot force the Congress to accept it.
The Constitution, which is the supreme law of the land, gives sole responsibility to the House of Representatives for originating and approving appropriations and taxes. Who is the speaker of the House? Nancy Pelosi. She is the leader of the majority party. She and fellow House members, not the president, can approve any budget they want. If the president vetoes it, they can pass it over his veto if they agree to.
It seems inconceivable to me that a nation of 300 million cannot replace 545 people who stand convicted -- by present facts -- of incompetence and irresponsibility. I can't think of a single domestic problem that is not traceable directly to those 545 people. When you fully grasp the plain truth that 545 people exercise the power of the federal government, then it must follow that what exists is what they want to exist.
If the tax code is unfair, it's because they want it unfair.
If the budget is in the red, it's because they want it in the red.
If the Army & Marines is in IRAQ, it’s because they want them in IRAQ
If they do not receive social security but are on an elite retirement plan not available to the people, it's because they want it that way.
There are no insoluble government problems.
Do not let these 545 people shift the blame to bureaucrats, whom they hire and whose jobs they can abolish; to lobbyists, whose gifts and advice they can reject; to regulators, to whom they give the power to regulate and from whom they can take this power. Above all, do not let them con you into the belief that there exists disembodied mystical forces like "the economy," "inflation,” or "politics" that prevent them from doing what they take an oath to do.
Those 545 people, and they alone, are responsible.
They, and they alone, have the power.
The people, who are their bosses alone, should hold them, and them accountable.
Provided the voters have the gumption to manage their own employees.
We should vote all of them out of office and clean up their mess!
Friday, August 21, 2009
The Obama administration is very disappointed in the decision to release him on humanitarian grounds to go home to Libya to die.
Did those who died aboard Pan Am flight 103 die for humanitarian purposes?
Abdel Baset al-Megrahi was the only person convicted in the Lockerbie plane bombing. He served eight years of a minimum 27-year sentence.
Shortly after Ft. 103 exploded over Scotland, there was a bouquet of red roses sent to Lockerbie officials. A note was pinned to the flowers. It said, "to the little girl in the red dress who made my life so enjoyable from Frankfurt to London. You didn't deserve this."
the 270 people who died in that terrorist's bomb did not deserve it. By any civilized standards, this was a mass murder. The memory of the dead does not deserve cheering crowds in Tripoli welcoming home the murderer.
I am all for compassion. I am all for forgiveness once the offense is balance by law, but Scotland was wrong.
The Scots have a saying they should remember: A bad wound may heal, but a bad name will not.
Thursday, August 20, 2009
I saw these photos on the Internet the other day and thought they were a representation of a poem I wrote.
The poem is entitled, “The Cutting Of Nearby Timber.”
A number of years ago I would hike a mountain trail near my country home. I did this same hike for a number of years and watched a particular grove of trees grow bigger and I even seemingly befriended some of the trees as I hiked passed calling them by made-up names. I even watched their seedlings sprout in the nearby loam.
One day as I headed up the mountain the grove was gone, freshly timbered by the owner.
They were not prisoners within their woods.
They lived in peaceful growth on pristine land.
Tight straight they stood in timbered neighborhoods.
To them it was their family grove and stand.
I knew them well and walked among their strength.
I watched the elders die and seedlings grow
To be the stalwart ones of greater length.
Then slaughter came. One lived - one cameo
When saws transgress on mountain slope incline.
The needs of man could not yet understand
These are a sentient species and benign -
Who could not stop the cut with countermand.
There is a sadness now upon this spot
Soft tawny dust dries out the scent and loam
Where shade once cooled to stop the late day hot.
Man oft' forgets the sanctity of home!
Wednesday, August 19, 2009
They just don’t get it!
I’m talking about Congress. I’m talking about the House and the Senate. These guys and gals get elected and think congress is a career path, rather than one of limited service to the people. They don’t get it that what they do and where they are is a privilege, not a right.
Our Representatives and Senators are sent to Washington to serve us, the people. They are not there to serve themselves with perks, pork, junkets and other financial courtesies that are not available to the rest of us.
We are in financial trouble despite the predictions that the recession, depression is ending. We need solid fiscal responsibility on the part of those who are our voice in the sacred and consequential legislation of American life.
In point of fact:
There was a plan in the House of Representatives recently to purchase four executive jets to transport congressional officials on foreign trips. The 300-million dollars for the jets was to be hidden, ah, sorry, attached to the Pentagon’s $636 billion spending bill.
House leaders figured nobody would notice the paltry $300-million since it was for the military. NOT TRUE! We the people noticed and the line item was abandoned when congress noticed that we noticed.
I still think what needs to be done is to elect all new people, impose term limits, spending limits, perk limits; staff limits on all elected and appointed federal personnel.
Speaking of foreign trips.
This is the congressional August recess. So what do some congressman do at TAXPAYER expense?
They go on junkets. Spouses and staff often included.
Representative John Boehner a Republican from Ohio is leading a delegation of six other congressmen on a trip to Ireland, Switzerland, China, Kazakhstan and to several other countries on a very, very important mission.
They are discussing global and regional economic performance and energy security. I hope they check out the peat bogs in Ireland and learn a lesson from the holes in Swiss cheese.
Economic performance? Energy security? I feel better; I was worried about those things even more than the partisan holds and congressional inaction on confirmations, appropriations and health care.
Democrat Henry Cuellar of Texas and six of his fellow legislators are in Greece, Italy and a few other Mediterranean countries to investigate critical security measures.
We the people were not given much more information because investigating critical security measures is, you know, secret. I'll bet they see how the Via Condotti shopping district in Rome conducts security against the gypsies and shoplifters.
See what I mean. THEY JUST DON’T GET IT!