Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Naked and Afraid

I’ve watched a couple of new survivor shows recently. There’s one called “Naked and Afraid.” Yep, two people, a man and a woman, who don’t know each other take off all their clothes and meet in a field or somewhere and together they test their survival skills for 21 days.

It's a production. A game show. Survival is a misnomer. Naked is true. I'm not sure about afraid. There is a production crew on location, videotaping the choices of these naked strangers. The front parts of the body are blurred; the backs are not. It’s shock drama to keep you watching, but it's not really survival.

If anyone of the contestants were starving, hurt or harmed in anyway, other than a bruised ego for not making it, then the production crews would provide aid or sustenance. Besides the contestants can quit at any time.

The real survivors of the world are the starving children and adults in places that might just as well be a wilderness for all the attention the outside world gives them. They do not have the luxury of immediate outside help, nor can they quit and go home. They die. According to the world health organization, 35 thousand people a day, a thousand children an hour, die from hunger and hunger related diseases.

The few who do make it are the real survivors.

Monday, May 30, 2016

Decoration Day

We used to call it decoration day, for it was a time of placing flowers and flags on the graves of America's war dead. Later it became know as Memorial Day to honor all those who died in service to their country.

And again this year we have new names and places to put the flowers and flags. The greatness of democracy is that we acknowledge the value of dissent, discussion and demonstration, but Memorial Day is not the time for that exercise. It is the time for honoring the choice of service of so many, so young that have crossed the eternal threshold to the light of another place.

In many places today along with small town parades and family barbecues and flags waving in the holiday breeze you will hear the somber, but clarion call of taps.

Daniel Butterfield an upstate New York businessman, with no musical training, who became a General during the civil war, wrote taps.

Following the Peninsular Campaign, the General's brigade was camped overlooking the James River in Tidewater, Virginia. His troops were tired and as they settled in for the night the bugler played "extinguish lights".

It's a stuffy, un-inspiring, call with no emotion.

Hearing the bugle that night, General Butterfield thought the final call of the day should bring comfort and peace to his men. Scribbling on the back of an envelope, the General wrote late into the night and the next morning he called for his bugler. He listened to his notes being played and made a few minor changes. He then ordered it to be played each night as the last call for his brigade.

Even though the term "taps" goes back to the 16th century, it soon became connected to General Butterfield's final call.

Taps was first sounded at a funeral in the civil war, when a Union captain was concerned the usual rifle volley might spark an attack from a nearby Confederate army encampment. He ordered "taps" played instead.

There is no greater honor than remembering in public appreciation the final act of service of others. Taps has become the prayer of sound for warriors past and present.

Friday, May 27, 2016

The Potters Clay

The Potter’s Clay
©2016 Rolland G. Smith

We are the potters of our clay
We sculpt our images to time;
Despite some choices that delay,
It is our living paradigm.

Within the center of our soul
Is truth and love as light unfolds.
In there we find the chaliced bowl
That forms our clay in sacred molds.

It’s different though from what we’re taught
To plant our life in dogma’s creed.
Someday, we’ll wonder, in our thought,
If there is more to spirit’s seed.

As in all things upon the earth
Life, is the way it ought to be.
We each create our pain and mirth;
It’s choice that’s hard when will is free.

So worry not with heavy mind
For people’s choice you can’t control.
It is the way of humankind
To learn the love that’s in each soul.

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