Monday, May 31, 2010

Memorial Day Memories

In my youth Memorial Day was different. It was a day of remembrance, honor and appreciation of those who died in the service to our nation.

I lived in a small village and parades were loosely organized. School bands marched playing Souza’s tunes and the service anthems. The Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts and Cub Scouts paraded in uneven lines as the local fife and drum corps headed up the volunteer firemen and a police contingent. The Ladies Auxiliary from the VFW posts was there too. They always seem to march with a grace that the vets couldn’t muster.

I rode my bike festooned with red, white and blue crinkled crape paper woven in the wheel spokes with a piece of cardboard attached to the bike frame and moved by the spokes. It rattled like a motor as the wheel turned. We kids would ride between the marching groups; little American flags taped to our handlebars fluttered in the peddled breezes.

The guests of honor were always the veterans. Some wore their old uniforms and proudly displayed battle and campaign ribbons. Tight fitting uniforms kept the bulges of time from being too noticeable. Their step was proud as they kept their eyes ahead and heads held high.

The veteran contingents marched together by the war in which they served. In my youth, in my small town in central New York, the largest groups at that time were the vets from World War Two; that war had ended only a few years earlier. Then came the doughboys from World War One. They were older and fewer. The oldest veterans, two from the Spanish American War rode in a convertible at the head of the parade. The next year they were gone and a Medal of Honor recipient rode at the head of the parade.

The parade ended at a local monument honoring all those from the area who died in war. Their names were embossed in bas-relief bronze on a plaque bolted to chiseled granite.

Memorial Day Celebrations in those days engendered a reverence for the fallen. Even as youngsters we felt a connection to those who had passed. We all knew someone whose Father didn’t come home.

Little did we know then that Korea, Quemoy and Matsu, Vietnam, Iraq one, Grenada and Iraq two and Afghanistan would follow and there would be new war veterans marching.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful that in some future time Memorial Day would have no new names to remember?

Friday, May 28, 2010

Spider Squatters

I went to a place I rarely go to the other day. It was a space primarily used for outdoor furniture storage during the winter months. It was time to bring out the chairs, tables and lounges for the summer warmth and deck sitting.

I unlocked and entered a sparsely used screen door only to encounter the cross-crossed webs of spider squatters. Their tangled threads of sticky silk blocked my passage to where the furniture was stored on the other side of the screened area. It’s a lower porch never used for sitting. Yet! Maybe someday.

I admit I am not a spider liker. I never have been. I know they are beneficial insects, but I’ve always figured if they are on the outside of the house I’ll leave them alone, but if I find them on the inside they are fair game for the spray can and the toilet.

This time I was reluctant to disturb their community. I’m not sure why, but I did feel at one with their desire for life even though that realization went against my minor phobia of their presence. Technically they were on the inside, but equally valid they were on the outside. What to do? A dilemma.

I removed the furniture from another door less encumbered with webs and now I have more space for the spiders and easier access for me to destroy them.

Any suggestions?

Thursday, May 27, 2010


Do you ever wonder about our constant and continuous connection to nature?

Yesterday here in the East it was a hot and humid day. Temperatures were in the nineties with a high humidity that makes the warm seem warmer. Florida understands it, but you folks in the dry desert southwest don’t get the same humid warmth as we do here in the northeast and in the southeast states.

There is a knowing connection to the magnificence of nature in warmth, in cold, in wind, and in the calm of a pleasant day. All we have to do is acknowledge it for a simpatico relationship to embrace our spirit.

We are attuned to nature, because we are nature ourselves. We use the gifts of nature to enhance our well being and comfort, our enjoyment and sensory appreciation of just about everything.

Music is one, as are other artistic creations inspired by an experience with and in nature. What would a classic violin composition be without the resonance of curly maple and spruce to amplify the string vibrations of a skilled musician? What would an evening be without chrickets and peepers or the early morn be without the tuneful melody of the feathered ones?

Nature is not just outdoors or within the self. It is everywhere.

I sat at my kitchen counter and looked closely at the granite top. Is this not nature at its best connection? The granite came from deep within the earth, was mined and polished and then usefully formed into a counter in my kitchen. I took a moment to touch the countertop in respect and appreciation for its intrinsic beauty and form and usefulness.

I then looked outside the kitchen windows to a flowing curtain of green. A plethora of verdant leafs festooning the branches of Oak, Maple, Birch, Pine, Spruce and the many attendant lower floras that fill in the constant changing palate of what we called shrubs and ground cover. I was overwhelmed with appreciation. No wonder green is the healing color.

I watched the sunset through the windows and the slow dark claim the space of sky that was the canvas of the light. I realized once again that light is the power, the grace, the spirit of balance for all things and creatures. Night too has its place, but no power. Night holds the moonlight and the starlight in reverence to remind us that the morning light is only moments away.

We are ONE you and I. We are the nature we abuse and love.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Eclecitic Thoughts

I’ve often said in these posts that I subscribe to a magazine called “The Week.” It is a compendium of the weeks events gleaned from magazines and newspapers from around the world.

This weeks issue, the week of May 29th is the one that supplies my thoughts for today’s post. Rand Paul was the first page article and that was my post from yesterday, so I’ll leave that to the past.

I’m only going to give some headlines for short clips often summarize the spirit of a nation at a particular moment in time. I will leave the big stories like Supreme Court designate Kagan’s sexuality and the devastating oil spill to your individual interest, but here are some the little stories and headlines I gleaned from the magazine.

I love this one: Two Russian people who didn’t know each other were about to commit suicide at the same time by jumping off the same bridge over the Belaya River in Ufa. They apparently looked at each other and decided not to jump and subsequently fell in love. Try that in a sit-com and see if it flies.

An Alabama high school teacher decided to teach his geometry class about angles. His example was stupid! He said if you are in a building and the President is here, this is the angle you would use to shoot him. Good grief!

In the tiny headlines:

More US Troops are now hospitalized for mental-health disorders than from battle wounds.

55% of polled voters want their states to follow Arizona’s lead on immigration.

People glued to their television set eat up to 71% more food. Here’s the subliminal admonition. Turn off the foolishness of Glenn Beck, Bill O’Reilly and Keith Olbermann and dozens more and get slimmer. It’s a perfect weight loss diet.

I trust you will have a great day.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Kentucky's Rand Paul

First of all, I cannot believe Republicans in Kentucky, the boyhood home of Abe Lincoln, would elect Rand Paul to run for the Senate seat in November. Second of all I can believe Kentucky elected him as their Republican nominee given the Tea Party’s penchant against change at any cost. Most of the Tea Party’s rhetoric is unsustainable in cross-examination.

What we have here is the old energy of return to what once was versus the new energy of enlightenment and hope.

The Tea Party embraces an old mechanism in hopes of forcing a return to a time when political parties and back-room deals set the agenda, the law and control of an ignorant and dispassionate electorate.

I cannot say that Rand Paul is a racist although some of his comments suggest a leaning that way. I can say that Rand Paul and his Tea Party followers believe that a return to the old ways is what America needs and they will work hard to make sure it happens. I don’t think it will happen for once a new energy of change is released into the minds of people it can never be put aside, ignored or dismissed. If there were to be a return to old way, it must be re-created by the collective mind of all to give it ignition and I don’t think that is going to happen.

I don’t deny the Tea Party or Paul their constitutional right to support, believe and present their philosophy to the electing public. I do oppose their narrow, if not inaccurate interpretation of government and many of the long standing Supreme Court decisions as unconstitutional and a reason to “take back America.”

At one moment, Mr. Paul espouses Libertarian tenants. The next moment he upholds strong conservative invectives. The next he backs off and blames the liberal media for asking tough questions which he has difficulty answering. I think he would be a six-year thorn in the political paw of all republicans in congress if he gets elected in November.

What I want to see is integrity first, ethics second and no apologies. What I want to see is a sound argument for one’s position, right or wrong and no refusing to talk to the media because one does not like tough questions.

It will be an interesting November in Kentucky.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Storms and Awareness

Just recently I was outdoors and saw playful storm clouds tease the mountains with dancing light and shadows as on and off showers spread a few sprinklings to the sunny valley where I stood in awe.

The distance used the scenic tableau as a singular vision and lit the far off mountains with a colorful purple brilliance that few see in a lifetime, let alone in a single day. The light was a prayer with no words. It was a soft embrace with no touch. It was a symphony with a score of soundless music and crescendos brilliant in its silence.

And then I moved to another place of peace and there, as if it were a package tied, decorated and ready to be unwrapped by all who saw it was a high definition opening in a canopy of green to the heightened May blue of sky.

High, very high, was a circling Golden Eagle. The Sun’s reflection on its under-wings made it a precious idol, an auric icon of the Great Spirit’s manifestation on the earth and that was enough for me.

I have seen and felt the same God-presence in the beauty of a Rose. I have seen and felt the same spiritual connection in the fragrance of a pine forest after a summer rain and in the drifts of snow as they pillowed white softness upon the earth. I have seen and felt the same oneness in the tunes of little birds when they sing their songs of self and joy.

The eagle is now gone and so is the light on the mountains, but not the image of beauty, not the scent of fragrance, not the sparkle of light, nor the little songs for they are forever, not only within my heart, but within my words.

I wish you could have been there!

Friday, May 21, 2010


We’ve just had some new folks elected to be candidates in November or election to serve out an unexpired term. It is time to assess whether our leaders and would be leaders in politics and even the leader in ourselves, measure to its simple definition.

Leadership is the ability to enthuse, to create, to accomplish goals for the good of the country, the organization, or the business. Inspired leadership is accomplishments for the greater good. Political leaders like to think they are inspired, but too often, "the greater good," is replaced with partisanship.

Some people strive to be leaders, 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, inspiring leadership. Whichever one is chosen, by any individual, true leadership is still 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, inspiration and difficult choices are 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, in all their forms, need to look for and then act for the greater good.

Anything less diminishes character and keeps leaders and the country from the potential of greatness.

Thursday, May 20, 2010


I won’t be there next week for their graduation, but I was there years ago to see the pomp and celebration of four years of accomplishment for the young men and women of West Point. I have also lectured at the Air Force Academy and was impressed with the collective as well as the individual dedication of the cadets and instructors.

All of the service academies graduations engender a spectacular ceremony that wells with emotion and precipitates deep patriotic pride and a foreboding bellicose prognostication.

Pride because these new spirits of the American dream have spent hard physical and mental hours over that last four years to honor their dream of an education and of service and commitment to the everlasting ideals of America. The bellicose possibilities exist because many of these men and women that West Point graduates will be heading to Iraq or Afghanistan as platoon leaders and officers in the field of war. It is their destiny determined by the times.

This will be a longer post because I have other observations to make about the way our Nation treats these young warriors. It has nothing to do with whether you think the war is just, or right, or wrong or should be ended. It has to do only with the warriors we, as a nation, send into harms way.

Many of the men and women we designate as warriors and send to battle have families and all the needs that go with that responsibility.

Too many of them cannot afford to care for their families on what pay they take home, even with allowances that vary depending on rank, duty, and dependents.

It is not uncommon for young military families, in all the services, to need food stamps to exist. We ask them for sacrifice, not only of their lives if need be, but the sacrifice of extended time away from family closeness at seasonal and personal celebrations, yet we seem to forget them at budget time.

The lower ranks, after taxes might have a spendable income of maybe 18-thousand dollars a year and it does not get proportionally greater for the upper ranks or years of service. If we are to continuously ask the peacekeepers to risk their lives, then we need to provide peace of mind at home.

It starts with public awareness and goes way beyond the meager pay raises that congress occasionally approves.

When we send our men and women into battle we think of them as warriors, as skilled fighters, as cohesive units trained to win. They are that and so much more for no matter where they are the dichotomy of trained soldier and the tenderness of human nature abounds.

I have seen pictures from the AP and from Reuters that shows American soldiers at their best. I’ve seen a soldier on patrol, weapon at the ready, kneeling for a moment to pet a kitten. I’ve seen a soldier teaching a little Arab boy to slap a five. A smile on all their faces is a lasting victory. I’ve seen a soldier, maybe a father himself, sitting on the ground cradling a wounded child in his arms.

You can have the best technology to fight a war, but you also must have the best of heart to win one.

Now to the hard part of war!

In Vietnam, I covered the war and the coffins coming home. I’ve seen the dead in Croatia and I’ve reported on the nightly news the mortality count in numerous wars and conflicts since the sixties.

What governments have always failed to acknowledge is that once a warrior is dead, politics end. The dignity of a name is important to the validity of service, not only to the family, but also to the social and patriotic permanence to our society. Heroes are honored, not hidden.

Hang the politics of hiding the death count. These are our dead. We directly and indirectly sent them where harm could happen. They serve and served by choice and honor. They die by circumstance and the hatred of another. Let us acknowledge their remains with honor and names and bugle calls in public. And let us congratulate the new warriors who choose to serve and pray they are kept from harm.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Texas Bluebonnets

A friend sent me some beautiful pictures of Texas Bluebonnets blooming along side the road. When I drove through Texas a couple of months ago the bluebonnets were not out yet. Other graces of nature's beauty festooned the roadside, but not quite as prolific as the flowers in this photo. Thank you Bart.

Bluebonnets Bold

© 2010 Rolland G. Smith

Bold blossoms blue stand proud above their green,

They grow in strength and know their light is seen

By all who motor by or stop to gaze

Into this garden of wonder, a maze.

Color binds attention and form holds grace

Attracting heart and spirit to this place.

The flowers stand as one and separate too,

As symbols of the noble ones, too few

Who come to see and hold this place in love

Responding to an essence from above.

Sweet nectar is the wine of blossoms blue,

Sipping through the lips of zepher’s new.

Tell all who pass here, fast or walking by:

The fragrance of the flowers glorify

The spirit of the earth and nurtured seed

That blossoms into beauty when we need.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Dark Matter

I recently watched an Internet clip on “dark energy.” It is theoretically a substance, a force, perhaps a power, but it is believed to permeate the universe and scientists don’t know much about it, only that it exists.

That leaves me wide open to speculate on what “dark energy or dark matter” is.

I love it when speculation frees the fleeting confines of proven description. Usually accumulated scientific facts hinder conjecture, wonder, mystery and magic in their limited support of a hypothetical theory.

Here goes!

Dark Matter or Dark energy is a corollary energy of light; only it has not yet been assigned a creative component of awareness by the expanding divine essence of All That Is.

Science tells us that the Universe is constantly expanding. Somewhere in the expansion there is a prime motivator or a prime motivation that sets into motion the expansion of All There Is at the beginning. Whenever that was.

Physics tells us that energy can be neither created nor destroyed, just changed. If the laws of physics holds true all over, then that energy must be used for something more than to loosely dangle in the vastness of an expanding Universe.

Light is the creative building block of the Universe. It is to some all knowing and all loving. The dark component is there, like an empty computer disc, ready to be assigned a specific piece of knowledge, inspiration, grace, elegance or creativity and as the Universe expands that new component is instantaneously available to be embraced into the computation of the Universal whole. In my wonderment, the dark, with its new creative component becomes the light for the light can contain the dark, but the dark cannot contain the light.

What is delightful in my speculation is that I am not tied to known science, I am not required to prove my hypothesis or defend it, I am only allowed to express its fiction or its mystic possibility as manifested in my meditative imagination.

This is fun!

Monday, May 17, 2010


Two days ago, Jessica Watson, a 16 year old became the youngest person to sail around the world solo, nonstop and unassisted.

It took 210 days. She experienced 40-foot waves, homesickness and many people who said she’d never make it alive.

Watson sailed into Sydney harbor on Saturday to the cheers of thousands of Australian fans. Her Mom and Dad and brother were there to greet her. Her parents were criticized for allowing their young daughter to do such an extraordinary and dangerous thing.

Here are a couple of paragraphs from the Associated Press covering her arrival.

“The route took Watson through some of the world's most treacherous waters, and the teen battled through monstrous storms, suffering seven knockdowns.

Watson said she had moments of doubt during those times, but generally kept her spirits up.

"Amazingly, I just enjoyed it much, much more than I ever thought I would and handled the challenges better than I thought," she told journalists. "You don't actually have a choice — you're in the middle of a storm, you're being knocked down — you can't fall apart."

But her journey was also peppered with moments of beauty. On her blog, she described stunning sunrises over glassy seas, the excitement of spotting a blue whale and the dazzling, eerie sight of a shooting star racing across the night sky above her boat.”

Australia’s Prime Minister Kevin Rudd called her a hero. Jessica said, “I’m not a hero, I’m an ordinary girl who believed in her dream.”

Bravo Jessica!

Dreams are important in this short span of life we are given. You can have a dream at seven or seventy and if you embrace your dream with intent, preparation, knowledge and acquired ability you will probably succeed and accomplish it with personal satisfaction.

Even if you don’t totally manifest or finish the dream, it doesn’t matter. The dream is always in the doing; it is never the goal.

And it doesn’t matter whether anyone else approves. Your dream is your dream. Let the skeptics critique and the non-doers belittle. It is not their dream and never will be.

Going after one’s dream crosses the barrier of practicality. It burns with the flaming passion of desire and it explores the unknown limits of spirit as it is housed in this form called life.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Train Talk

I met a delightful gentlemen on board a train yesterday as we both traveled home from New York City.

Normally very few people talk to those they are sitting beside. I don't know why that is for there is so much to learn from shared conversation. People seem not to want to bother another or they are occupied with their own troubles and thoughts.

This was not the case for me. I sat down next to a guy who was reading the Times and he offered me a section of the paper. That started an innocuous conversation that morphed into a full hour plus of pleasurable exchange.

Our commonalities were books, art and poetry. Not bad for a quick association. For this post I will focus on poetry. We both lamented that the old style of poetry that couples with rhyme and meter is not the norm today and from there we shared experiences of poetic rejection and accomplishment.

I will always be a proponent of classical poetry.

President John F. Kennedy spoke at the dedication of the Robert Frost Library. He said:

“When power leads man towards arrogance, poetry reminds him of his limitation. When power narrows the areas of man’s concern, poetry reminds him of the richness and diversity of his existence. When power corrupts, poetry cleanses. For art establishes the basic human truth which must serve as the touchstone of our judgment.”

I would add to that…

Poetry precipitates emotion into words.

Poetry embraces the perceived pain of life and breaks it down into soft images of understanding and it takes the joy of life and transcends it into a sustaining ecstasy of imagination.

It amplifies the tiny specks of grace from the minutia of things beautiful and allows us to be it, if only for the moment of appreciation.

Poetry clarifies and sometimes condemns. It magnifies the inner magic of feelings and encourages the soul to rejoice in the shared awareness of another’s insight and makes it our own.

Poetry laughs and cries and brings the sensual into an undulating body of words and it holds sometimes forever, an emotion long past, a desire forgotten, a wish remembered or a splendor that’s vanished in the illusion of time.

Poetry is a link to the Divine within each of us and to the demons of our imagination. It allows introspection without pity and effacement without fear of obscurity.

It is intellect and spirit wedded in the sacredness of creation. I believe it is agape love at the purest verbal level.

I hope I have more conversations with my new friend from the train.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

A Political Caution

Florida Governor Charlie Crist may think he’s an independent, but he’s really the harbinger of an etherial “sustainment party.” It would be a party described as a coagulating mist of public officials who don’t want to lose their job. Being in public service, for some, is a lot like being on the public dole. I know, that's harsh and not true for all politicians, but hear me out. There are a lot of perks being a politician and most of the public is not aware of the public treasury largess.

Governor Crist wants to be a U.S. Senator from Florida. He thinks he will do a good job. He has a working knowledge of the governmental systems, he understands how politics work, he knows how to push voter buttons so that they will endorse and vote for him, he hopes they will forget their party loyalties and elect him as an independent candidate since his long standing Republican party rejected him in favor of rival Marco Rubio.

And I love his spin: Crist says being an independent allows him to stay true to his beliefs.

Mr. Crist, I hope that quote is true to your heart and to your ethics and not just true to your campaign rhetoric. My experience, not with you, but with some other politicians in public service is that their primary motivation is one of keeping their jobs and not one of altruistic public service. If altruism were the motivator of political lives and votes, we would not have the contention, the partisanship, and the logjam of needed legislation in Washington.

Changing party’s to keep one’s job is becoming commonplace in American politics. I don’t blame the politicians. I chide the electorate for not seeing beyond the ruse. We claim we want change in Washington or in our state governments, but unless we reject the familiar and all its encumbrances and embrace the hope, the mystery and the promise of positive change, we will never move from what we do not like.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

The Personal Use of the Airwaves

The late Reverend Jerry Falwell, Dr. Robert Scheuler and Dr. Billy Graham are all men of the cloth who used and use television to spread the religious word. Dr. Falwell even spread his ministry deep into the political world forming the Moral Majority and exerting some influence in the Political arena a few years ago.

All of these men's power and influence did not equal the pulpit power of the first airwaves religious: Fr. Charles E. Coughlin.

His era was the 1930's. His medium: Radio and his audience as many as 50-million.

Father Coughlin prided himself in helping FDR get elected in 1932. They were friends at first. FDR Calling Father Coughlin "Padre," and the priest called the President "Boss," but their friendship didn't last too long.

By 1934, Father Coughlin became disenchanted with Roossevelt's new deal politics and formed "The National Union for Social Justice." He claimed 5-million members and in 1935 the radio priest announced a hunting season for members of congress and endorsed candiates who opposed Roosevelt.

(Does that sound familiar)

Father Coughlin tried to get President Roosevelt defeated in 1936, but failed.

After the election he continued his name calling, was antisemitic and sought impeachment of Roosevelt.

Finally Pope Pius the 12th put tighter controls on the radio priest and the United States Attorney General ordered a grand jury probe of Coughlin with charges of sedition in mind.

Father Coughlin became and remained quiet.

We all have the right to express our opinions. But let us not call it fact, truth or news. What we think we know and what we construe to be its meaning are often the opposite of the truth.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010


I’d like to offer some thoughts on integrity. Have you seen the General Motors commercial where their Chairman Ed Whitacre walks toward the camera on the assembly line and proclaims that GM has repaid their government bailout loan?

He says they paid it back with interest and five years ahead of schedule.

What he says is true, to an extent. But a press release from GM says the payback was possible because more people are buying GM cars and trucks.

Whoops! Nor true! We are in the spin zone here.

Neil Barofsky, the government’s top watchdog who oversees the bailouts of GM, the banks and of Chrysler recently testified to a congressional committee that the $4.7 billion used to repay the loan did not come from operating earnings, but from taxpayers.

It was in the form of a special escrow account set up to hold taxpayer bailout funds in case GM needed them for extraordinary reasons. Seems like a fiscal shell game to me. Put the 4.7 billion dollar pea under a shell, move it quickly around, lift it up and lo and behold GM paid back their bailout money with bailout money.

I guess Whitacre forgot to mention that in his commercial.

Also not mentioned in the commercial was that the bailout leaves Uncle San (taxpayers) with nearly $50-billion invested in the car company. The taxpayer might get some of that back when GM issues new stock perhaps later this year. Maybe!

We the people need to reeducate ourselves in the discernment of commercial and political speak. Do not believe everything you see and hear. Check it out! The recipients of bailout money and all of congress should be made to memorize the meaning of INTEGRITY.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Mother's Day

Some thoughts on Mother’s Day

We know them and call them by different names, Mother, Mom, Mum or Mommy, but they all means the same thing. Love!

The word, the name, the affection we feel, just in the saying of it never changes throughout our adult life. Our mothers are our first nurturer, our first care giver, our first friend.

My mother returned to spirit a long time ago, but she lives in vibrant memory in my heart.

I remember.....

A kiss hello and a kiss good-bye.
A hug when I was hurting, even when I was an adult.
Understanding, when she didn’t.
Worry when she needn’t.
Bragging when she shouldn’t
Giving when she couldn’t.
And I will always remember her smile.

I remember too, her happy tears and laughter and her unconditional love for me that came with every hope, every success and every failure. And in the positive memory and love for my own mother, comes an acknowledgment and an appreciation for all Moms yesterday.

Happy Mother’s Day!

Friday, May 7, 2010

Cinco de Mayo

Some school authorities have lost their way, their knowledge of first amendment constitutional guarantees and especially their common sense. Sometimes zero tolerance is wrong.

Here’s the story.

The date was Wednesday, May 5th, Cinco de Mayo.

Live Oak High School in Morgan Hill, California.

Five students wore American Flag bandannas and tee shirts.

An assistant principal and the principal asked the boys to remove their bandannas and turn their tee-shirts inside out in order not to offend Mexican-American students celebrating their heritage.

The boys removed the bandannas, but thought that turning their tee shirts inside out would be disrespectful to the flag. Their parents were contacted and they elected to take the students out of school for the day without penalty rather than turn the tee shirts inside out.

The school district authorities issued a statement disagreeing with the local school decision.

What the principal and assistant principal did was to enflame an already volatile issue in Border States like California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas. They amplified what they were trying to diminish, common sense would have told them that.

The ultra conservative pundits have seized upon this story and are using it to push a political agenda. American patriotism and multi-cultural heritages have always blended into an amicable honoring of both.

The celebration of one’s culture is not the same thing as honoring one’s country. In my northeastern neighborhood we celebrate dozens of cultures every year with parades and festivals. No one gets offended. Everyone becomes that culture for a day. It works because the authorities join in, delight in the celebration and honor the culture and cultures that agglutinate America.

Lighten up everybody. Here’s the order of things. We are spirits first, human beings second, individuals third and nationals forth.

For centuries human beings have been fighting each other over the efficacy of nationalism. It is time to stop.

Thursday, May 6, 2010


We say a lot of old expressions these days, and many times the original meaning has been lost.

Our Grandparents had a saying for almost every occasion. If you tried to do something in a hurry and flubbed it, you would hear "A stitch in time saves nine." How about "bite the bullet," that comes from the medical profession in the 19th century. Surgeons called on to perform battlefield operations ,when no anesthesia was available, would give their patient a bullet to bite on in hopes of taking attention off the pain.

"Cut to the Quick," has an Anglo Saxon origin. Quick meant "alive or living." The original phrase means to cut through the skin to living tissue or figuratively "you have hurt my feelings."

"Tongue in Cheek," first used in the mid 1800's was similar to the wink nowdays. It means we really don't mean what were saying.

"Out of the Frying Pan and into the fire" is an ancient expression probably adapted from the old Greek saying "out of the smoke and into the flame."

"Thrown in the clink," is a slang saying for being taken to jail. Clink probably came from an old prison on Clink Street in London, England.

How about BVD's. The euphemism for long underwear? For years people thought BVD stood for "Baby's Ventilated Diapers" or "Boy's Ventilated Drawers." All BVD stood for was the names of the founders of the company that made them. Bradley, Voorhies and Day.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Waiting Time

Someone's always saying to us "wait a minute" or "wait up" or "Wait for me." So we do! We wait for a minute, or ten or a half hour.

Once waiting for dinner guest at a restaurant I wrote the following verse.

Tabled company, most unknown,

Furtive glances, exchanged or sown.

Aroma binds and flavor holds

The thoughts of strangers in the folds

Of mindless space and clinking glass.

Enough of that. She’s here at last.

We wait to deposit our payroll checks. We wait in traffic. We wait in restaurants and if you were ever in the Army you know the old saying, "Hurry up and wait".

Mathematician Dr. Thomas Saaty of the University of Pittsburgh years ago fed all kinds of waiting data into his computer and concluded that normal people get very abnormal when lost in line. The gasoline lines of the 70's showed us that with fistfights and even shootings.

It's not just the line around the block that does us in. There are other kinds of lines, the ones formed in our mind. Waiting for someone to pay us the money, parents waiting for teenagers to get home or waiting for a special date or event.

People being people, someone is always ready to profit on all our waiting time. In some of the bigger cities you can pay people to do your waiting for you. Some supermarkets show commercials on a television monitor as you wait in line at the checkout counter. Apparently it works. They say when we wait we get bored. With boredom we eat. It's no wonder wait and weight sound the same.

When the computer added and subtracted all of Dr. Saaty's data it came up with a surprising statistic. In an average life span we spend up to five years, just waiting.

Next time somebody say "wait a minute” maybe we should think twice. But that takes time too.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Times Square

We knew America was not immune after 9/11

It was then that we joined the rest of the world’s nations in dealing with the fringe political elements of arrogance, anarchy, ambivalence and dispassion.

The New York Times Square crude car bomb is just another reminder that there are people in the world who don’t care for life. They only care for the agenda of a perceived religious or political dogma. It is a shame they cannot see the difference between life and living.

Life is the gift from the All That Is. Living is what we choose to do with that life.

Some choose the greatness of literature, music, art and unconditional love, which is the greatest of all choices. Fine literature, great music and inspirational art moves us into a realm of appreciation and self-resonance which is the criterion of creation.

Killing, terrorism, fanaticism and dispassionate awareness for the welfare of the “other,” are the antithesis of what we spiritually are.

If we accept that a loving deity created all of us, then it follows that each and every soul on earth, despite their individual choices, beliefs or non-beliefs is part and parcel of that Deity.

In trying to understand why some souls, all of whom are part of the holy whole, would choose mayhem and murder rather than the emulation of the Supreme Love that they truly are is a hard cognitive stretch.

There is only one word that works for me in understanding this struggle.


What if this whole theatre of life is a script from before and beyond that we designed to teach ourselves that love is just that! UNCONDITIONAL.

Damn, that’s hard to accept.

P.S. I still what to put their butts in jail. It's easier to love them there, than when they are hiding in the shadows of American freedom.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Smell The Roses

I saw something a few years ago that you don’t see very often. I think it is worthy enough to remember and post.
I watched a well dressed man stop abruptly, as if held by some invisible force. He was in a hurry, given his stride and determined pace, yet when he passed a public garden of blossoming roses the man suddenly stopped, put down his briefcase, and turned to face the beauty that bloomed there.

There were probably sixty rose bushes each with eight to ten blossoms festooning the prickly stems. It was a magnificent site. The plethora of color, in the softness of the morning light, stopped this busy man in his hurried quest. He stood there surveying the garden patch, spending a moment at each bush. His gaze stopped at a particularly full bush of bright golden yellow blossoms. He reached down, not to pick, but gently touched or better yet caressed this gift of nature. He kept his hand there for a long moment as he once again glanced at the entire patch of extraordinary color.

I thought how fortunate I was to be reminded in such a tender private way that no matter the urgency of an appointment, or how focused we are in our thoughts, when nature chooses to embrace us with her beauty and we choose to see it, that moment transforms our thoughts into a passion and we respond with awe. Thank you Sir for the reminder to take time and smell the roses.

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