Thursday, April 28, 2011

"The Donald"

What is it about our country that encourage and supports, accepts and often times actually believes the buffoonery of media hogs like Donald Trump.

There seems to be unfortunate axioms unbound in our land: money breed’s mega egos and celebrity sires megalomania.

Unfortunately the media, these days, will follow money and report anything that money says including statements without reason, assertions without fact and pronouncements as phony as the person saying them.

It’s not only The Donald who is saying untruths or promoting imaginary distortions in order to pander to partisan beliefs for his own agenda, a number of our elected politicians are doing the same thing.

I think we as a democratic society are better than that. Truth, honesty, fairness, courtesy, compassion and common sense are the values that all of us embrace. These are the only attributes that should get candidates elected.

In the theatre, all drama must have some comic relief. I guess it's the same in the theatre of life.

You're fired Donald!

Hidden Prejudice

The talk around NBA circles is that the L.A. Lakers star Kobe Bryant’s anti-gay slur proves that homophobia is active in the NBA; active may not be accurate, but latent may be.

If you want to know what he said you can look it up. What the issue here is that when a star, a celebrity the stature of Kobe, lets loose on a national television broadcast with a anti-gay slur it can influence young fans all over even though it was said in the heat of the game.

Bryant has apologized.

Prejudice is inherently abhorrent to the human spirit because deep down we know the miracle of life is in its diversity, not in its created separation and fear of difference.

Prejudice and all of its alias’s, particularly poverty, can disguise itself in the illusion that one is better than another. It can hide in the way we say words to describe others, Mexican, Gringo, Jew, Black, and even in the non-ethnic words like gay or immigrant and foreigner or poor or disadvantaged.

Prejudice can also manifest in rules and regulations that diminish the dignity of any society. It can harbor in actions of hatred and bigotry and sometimes in walls and fences, both real and imaginary. A comfortable commonality for all people is found in the open front yards of our hearts, not in the walled courts of intolerance however the ego builds them or the intellect sustains them.

We must remember that prejudice grows from many seeds: statements without truth, judgments without justice, belief without compassion, anger with thought, and even conversation without courtesy.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Oil Prices

I wrote the following post three years ago. It seems to me that nothing much has changed.

To wit:

Most of us are saying, “not again.” We've had rise, after rise, after rise in the cost of gasoline to the tune of hundreds of billions of dollars in profit for the top five oil companies and they are arrogantly defiant before a congressional committee that the profits are in line with other industries.

Come on, we know, that they have to say what they have to say, because they are employees of their companies, but do they think we are that stupid? Apparently we are for we have yet to collectively stand up to giants of greed. Do they think that congress is that stupid, apparently they do or they know that some of our elected representatives are in the pocket of the big five oil companies via campaign contributions.

Oil industry explanations include the old law of supply and demand saying gasoline is in short supply and demand is high. Industry executives cite all sorts of reasons to justify the gouging of the American gas consumer.

Hogwash comes to mind. Nothing in the law of economics can justify four dollars or more a gallon of gas. The current gouging has nothing to do with the pristine science of economics or even the mundane yin yang of supply and demand. It has do to with a far older human condition: Greed!

Greed is an attack on the decency of common living. Until fairness is the rule, fairness in profit, fairness in value, the consumer both here and abroad will continue to be ripped off by the insensitivity and unadulterated greed of the oil companies.

The gas consumer sits back with a hose in the gas tank and says "woe is me".

Want to do something?

Boycott one company! Pick Exxon/Mobil for instance. They import Arab oil so that's a reasonable start. If all of us stopped going to Exxon/Mobil for one month and bought our gas elsewhere, what do you think Exxon/Mobile will do? LOWER their prices. When they do, the others will have to follow suit to compete. In a small, but exponential way, we the consumer have a way to fight back. Try it! I am!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Easter Visit Sonnet

Easter Visit Sonnet

© 2011 Rolland G. Smith

What is this? This nothing, I hear and feel.
It was not here just a moment ago.
Then it seemed that only noise was real
With chattered talk and din a loud tableau.
There were the clinks of glass and plates to clean
And conversations long around the room.
Families come with sound when they convene
To tell of life and stories they exhume.
We oft forget to hear the silent space
That disappears within an ambient noise.
When gone, it leaves no sign, no note, no trace,
But reappears when sound is minimized.
I know the reason silence must now roam
It waits for all the kids to head on home.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Easter and Spring Celebrations

Easter is Christianity’s rite of spring. It is the celebration of the resurrection of Jesus, but even before Jesus lived on this earth another culture celebrated a re-birth.

The Egyptians worshipped many gods, but the two they celebrated in the springtime were Isis and Osiris. Each represented a part of nature. Isis was the land, mother-earth. Osiris was the river, the fertilizer. Their union each spring when the Nile flooded the land, brought the birth of crops, food, a gift from the gods.

The celebrations Easter and that of Isis and Osiris are close in symbolism. Osiris and his followers battle his enemies and during the struggle Seth, a leader of a foe, kills Osiris. The body of Osiris is entombed and after several days of mourning, his followers slay Seth and Osiris is restored to life and the celebration of re-birth begins.

The ancient Anglo Saxons had a goddess of spring too. She was called Eostre and her name may be the derivation of our word Easter.

The Easter bunny too has its origin in pre-Christian fertility lore. Because rabbits are prolific breeders, the rabbit and the Hare became symbols of new life in the spring season. Happy Easter.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Finally There Farm

Every once in awhile in our earthly travels we come upon a place of peace. It immediately resonates with our spirits and we stand in awe, not only of what we are seeing, but also of what we are feeling.

During my visit to Lynchburg last week I was invited to such a place. It is called, “Finally There” farm.

I will share it with you in a poem.

Finally There Farm
© 2011 Rolland G. Smith

There is a farm called "Finally There"
Where nature spirits come to share
The truth of life where all is free
In new dimensions few can see.

Soft mountaintops and rolling hills,
Let breezes dance on rocks and rills.
The cattle roam on grass serene
To dot the meadows: black on green.

There's something else 'bout Finally There
That's different and earthly rare.
There's peace and calm - tranquility
From all the places we can see.

Some souls will see a normal farm
Of scenic grace and natural charm.
But inner sight sees spirit's play
Within the valleys light bouquet.

Thursday, April 21, 2011


For those who accept the concept of human auras I had an interesting experience yesterday walking in New York City.

I didn’t actually see anybody’s aura, but I pretended I did as I walked by or passed and chris-crossed or side stepped and dodged hundreds and hundreds of pedestrians as I walked to my destination.

It was a remarkable. In my pretend seeing, all of our auras meshed or blended and intermingled and passed through each other.

I imagined each aura color blending and changing as they glided and sailed by and through or bounced off of one another. Each of our singular human frequencies instantaneously changed as we walked by each other, but quickly returned to its native state. If only for an instant we were ONE with the other. It was extraordinary.

My individuality sustained itself, as did the persona of all the other people in whose proximity I wandered.

My persona also embraced the essence and frequency of each individual I passed. It was like our spirits hugged, embraced and kissed and went on their separate ways.

I wondered if this could be true for all the world's souls and if we could but see the auras would we not know just how alike, connected and ONE we really are?

Such fantasy! Isn’t it wonderful?

PS: My new website is coming very soon. I will move these postings to the new website so stay tuned.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011


Today would have been the 100th birthday of my Mother. Somehow that's a significant number and it  encourages me to acknowledge my own aging.

Most of us have fond and powerful memories of our Mothers. They are our first care giver and nurturer and  in many ways our first protector, teacher and disciplinarian.

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.

Ethel Collins Smith, Happy 100th birthday.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The Harbinger of Red

Have you ever noticed how spring moves North? Somebody once said it comes North about 20-miles a day. I think it’s less than that, but it really doesn’t matter. It depends on the jet stream and weather systems.

A few hundred miles to my South it’s already spring. It’s warm and colorful and aromatic.

Right now I am waiting for the blossoming of an old friend. It is a single red tulip near my front porch that comes back year after year. The leaves are there, but not stem. When it blooms I know its time to plant without worry of frost.

Here’s picture from two years ago.

Tulips Touch of Spring

© 2011 Rolland G. Smith

A single Tulip near my porch
Ascends alone as crimson torch
To be the one by teaching all
That it’s alive long past the fall.

I read its thoughts within the red
And vow to spread the message said:

It matters not where you abide
As long as you subside your pride
And be your bright upon the earth

As blessed within God’s love and mirth.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Virginia Episcopal School

I mentioned in a previous post that I was visiting Lynchburg, Virginia. What a lovely city filled with southern history and warm hospitality. Everything was in bloom festooning its seven hills and the cities surrounding curtilage with flowering Dogwoods, Black Cherry, Eastern Redbuds, Magnolias, and Azaleas.

I was there to speak at an event at the Virginia Episcopal School. It’s a college preparatory, coeducation, independent boarding and day school. Its campus is on 160 manicured acres that reminded me of sacred spaces I’ve visited in the past.

It is a place where you feel welcome the moment you enter the campus drive. Wandering lets you embrace a peaceful unseen energy that is familiar and comforting. The non-spiritual word would be “safe.”

The student body embraces elegance in dress and manners and the faculty exudes an enthusiasm for sharing their expertise without pomposity or pedantry. Learning here is a gift, not a chore.

These are trying times for young people. World events move faster than the comfort of the youthful mind can reasonably sustain. Students especially need context, not contention. They need the freedom of creative thought, not a prevailing penchant for contagious hate.

VES is an academic oasis. Congratulations!

Friday, April 15, 2011

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Looking For Solutions

Yesterday I wrote about a misstatement on a quotation panel in the Jefferson Memorial in Washington, D.C.

Since I am today visiting the great state of Virginia for an address at the Virginia Episcopal School in Lynchburg, I thought I'd stay in the Jefferson genre and offer another comment about the Jefferson Memorial.

A few years ago the memorial was crumbling.  It turns out that it was the frequent washings of the monument stone that was creating the problem.

The reason they washed it so often was because there were so many bird droppings in the building.

Then the Park Service asked themselves, why are there so many birds in the building?  The answer was that there was an abundant food supply; hundreds and hundreds of little fat spiders.  So then they asked themselves again, why are there so many spiders?

The spiders were attracted by midges, thousands of tiny insects.  So they asked, why are there so many midges?

The answer was simple.

Every evening at dusk, millions of midges emerge in a mating frenzy.  Also at the same time every evening, the national park service turned on the powerful spotlights that illuminated the monument.

The excited midges were attracted to the light.  The solution: the park service delayed the daily lighting of the structure to one hour after sunset.  The midge population stopped. The food chain was broken and there are now less frequent washings.

So, when your looking for a solution to a problem make sure you are working with all the information and get to the true root cause of the problem.

This story is courtesy of the Juran Institute.


Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Happy Birthday Thomas Jefferson

Today is the 268th anniversary of Jefferson's birth.

Back on his 200th birthday, April 13th, 1943, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt stood on the banks of the tidal basin in Washington D.C. and dedicated the Jefferson Memorial.

Its placement along the tidal basin and its design were not without controversy, but three million dollars and three and a half years later the structure designed by John Russell Pope was reflecting Jefferson's wisdom in the Potomac.

Or was it?

Inside, surrounding the massive 19 foot tall statue of Jefferson by Rudolph Evans, are four inscribed bronze panels all neatly chiseled with the words of Jefferson or so it seems.

The third panel sets Jefferson's basic belief in freedom of the individual and the necessity for educating all the people. Part way down it says, "Commerce between master and slave is despotism."

Jefferson never said it that way. The edited quote comes from Jefferson's Query #18, one of his writing on democracy in Virginia. Twenty-three words are missing  from the entire quotation.

The original quotation reads: "The whole commerce between master and slave is a perpetual exercise of the most boisterous passions, the most unremitting despotism on the one part and degrading submissions on the other."

There are no series of dots on the panel to show that the words were truncated. It was not a mistake. It was  done purposely by the architects in order to fit Jeffersons words onto the rectangular panels. The truncation changes the meaning of the sentence.

How many Americans have read those words? How many term papers were written believing they were the words of Jefferson?

Things are not always as they seem.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011


Some thoughts today on abuse.

         Abuse in all its forms, and in all its other indignant names, inhibit the innate creativity of any individual, whether wife, husband, friend, employee, child and even stranger.  The nature of abuse, the desire to control another, defiles the goodness that is within everyone.

         There is no place for abuse and cruelty in any relationship for any purpose.  Abusing another is the ultimate act of cowardice and fear. The abuser forgets there is an immense difference between the freedom of unconditional love and inhibiting temporary force of abuse.

         Those who choose to use force and abuse another perpetuate a negative fear that feeds upon itself and eventually dissolves into the emptiness of self shame.

Monday, April 11, 2011


Why is it that members of Congress still get their pay if the government shuts down?


Why is it that members of Congress have their own healthcare system and not Medicare?


Why is it that members of Congress have their own retirement system and not Social Security?


Don't these men and women work for us? Should they not experience the same obsticals and obligations and obstructions as the average taxpayer?

Friday, April 8, 2011

Government inaction!

We all learn lessons from one thing or another.

As children we learn not to touch things that are hot, because it will hurt.

Politicians learn not to touch things that are hot, because it will hurt.

The budget is hot, both in debate and in it’s conflicting immensity of costly programs, projects and plans.

The budget has been contentiously hot for a number of years and our elected representatives have been afraid of getting burned beyond the salve of their partisan particulars and in so doing they have passed the pain directly onto the American people over and over again.

 It is not the government that should stop at midnight tonight, it is the bickering, the finger pointing, the name calling. It is the stubbornness of the tea party folks that needs to compromise. Every American is entitled to the freedoms and services democracy provides. Every federal employee is entitled to a paycheck and not a slip that says non-essential. Debate, discussion and even demands are encouraged, but not at the expense of the national operational process. Livelihoods are at stake. Democracy is compromise. Democracy is a sitting down and getting it done for the good of the whole.

          Our leadership must have the courage and integrity to seek the greater good and in that choice comes Response-ability. And, as democracy requires, we all share in response-ability, might it not be time for, we the people, to simplify our wants, and supply our needs.

Thursday, April 7, 2011


Prejudice is inherently abhorrent to the human spirit because deep down we know the miracle of life is in its diversity, not in its separation.

         Prejudice and its entire alias’s, particularly religious, ethnic and economic can disguise itself in the illusion that one is better than another.  It can hide in the way we say words to describe others, Mexican, Gringo, Jew, Black, and even in non-personal words like immigrant and foreigner or poor or disadvantaged.

         Prejudice can also manifest in rules and regulations that diminish dignity. It manifests in actions of hatred and bigotry and sometimes in walls and fences, both real and imaginary.   A comfortable commonality for all people is found in the open front yards of our hearts, not in the walled courts of intolerance however the ego builds them or the intellect sustains them.

         We must remember that prejudice grows from many seeds, statements without truth, judgments without justice, belief without compassion, and even conversation without courtesy.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

A Candy Bar

Have you had a candy bar recently?

Next time you do, think of this.

       The chocolate may have come from Ghana, the peanuts from the Sudan, the corn syrup from Iowa, the sugar from Ecuador, the butter from Australia, the paper from Canada, the fruit from Israel, if its wrapped in tin foil, it probably came from Thailand, and if it had coconut in probably came from the Philippines.
       Add to this, all the people it took to bring those products to market, for export, and you have thousands and thousands all over the world who have in some way contributed to your enjoyment of a candy bar.

Are we interconnected or what?

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Where is Peace?

Where is Peace?

© 2011 Rolland G. Smith

The world’s gone awry it seems,
So many harms and hurts each day
That change the hopes of global dreams
Both in our hearts and faraway.

But what I know and what I see
Are separate things beyond the mind.
The seeing lets me disagree
Yet knowing is my soul’s remind.

It lets me know that life is right
Despite the anger and the pain,
For we create and then indict
The actions that we all disdain.

Where do we go for peace and calm?
A forrest patch or by the sea?
In Christian thought or too Islam?
The other then would disagree.

So here’s a truth I know as true.
You want to live in peace and light?
Let go of what we all eschew
And watch your soul in light ignite.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Pope Joan?

Pope John the VIII or was it Pope Joan?

Nobody knows if it's a true story, but during the later part of the 13th century it was believed to be fact. It all happened hundreds of years before that, so it's hard to tell truth from fiction.

There was a person who became Pope John VIII and supposedly ruled the Church for over two years from 855 to 858. It was a relatively short papacy and was first mention by Mariano Scoto, a Benedictine monk in a document called the Chronicon. In his writing he mentions the rumor of a woman pope, by the name of Joan who reigned for two years, five months and four days.

The next time, in historical writings, that Joan is mentioned is nearly a hundred years later by another Benedictine monk, Sigiberto of Gembloux. He writes in a work called Chronographia: "It is quite well known that this John was a woman and...having become heavy with child gave birth while she was pope".

The legend of a woman pope states that her name was Joan and an Englishwoman, born in Mainz, now in West Germany. She apparently fell in love with an English Benedictine monk and dressing as a man went with him to Athens where she studied and became highly educated. The story says from there, she moved to Rome, impressed the Roman Curia with her wit and wisdom and was named a cardinal and then elected Pope.

Supposedly during a papal procession she gave birth and died and was buried on the spot.

For centuries the church has denied there ever was a woman pope and has supplied numerous documents to refute the rumor, but still it persists. A book and a movie in 2009 invigorated the story.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Syracuse Symphony Sadness

Maybe some of you know about Syracuse, New York. I grew up around that wonderful city: Manlius, Marcellus, Skaneateles, and Oneida. I learned music in that city, both piano and singing. It was big to me when I was a child and even as a teenager and young adult. I was proud to be living near Syracuse because in my limited and youthful  experience in rural New York Syracuse was culture, education and sophistication.

I met my wife 47 years ago in Syracuse. I saw classical guitarist Andre Segovia play in concert there. I was news director for a radio station there. I started my television career there. I saw theatre there and marveled at the attributes and cultural attainments of Syracuse University.

To me Syracuse was the culture city of upstate New York. It had class. It had exposure to the arts, to music, to the elegance of life.

Now I read this from the Associated Press.

“The Syracuse Symphony Orchestra's board of trustees has voted to suspend operations on Sunday amid financial woes.

There were more than 20 concerts remaining in the orchestra's season, including an April 27 concert by renowned cellist Yo-Yo Ma.

The orchestra's 18 full- and part-time staffers and 61 core and 14 contract musicians will be laid off Monday.

Interim Executive Director Paul Brooks says the orchestra fell short of its March fundraising goal of $445,000, failed to receive $1.3 million in concessions from the musicians for the current season and had $5.5 million debt.”

       There is sadness in my heart for Syracuse. Music is a reminder of our harmonic connection to grace, to nature, to each other and to the infinite melodies of the universe. A symphony is a visual and audible link between the spirit of a community and the Divine.

       The compositions of the great masters calm the turmoil of the heart and body and soothe the worries and pains of daily life for they transport us to another place; a place of peace and wonder.

       Music cultivates the intellect and as it echoes the heart it embraces the human spirit into a synergy with the sacred and through its vibration a new understanding of the glories of life emerge.

       Appreciation is the gift you give back to the artist. Financial and attendance support is a gift you give the future. It is essential for a civic soul to expand.

       No one can live without music and no community should.
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