Thursday, August 31, 2017

The Lone Star State

Whenever nature explodes into an aberrational fury, we quickly re-establish awe for her power and acknowledge our respect, not only for her seemingly indiscriminate manifestation of the elements but using a force we cannot truly understand or appreciate. Fifty plus inches of rain and catastrophic flooding is a continent record.

Those who live in a hurricane's path know that it’s coming and get away or prepare as best they can. Our friends, our common communities all over southern Texas understood the wind and its consequences but were surprised by the amount of water.

It is difficult for the rest of us to empathetically put ourselves in the shoes of those who live and love there. It is difficult, if not impossible, to feel the fear of nature’s force unless you’ve been there. Fleeing only allows you to take worry with you. All you left behind is gone; taken by an ill wind known well to so many.

In all things, we can find beauty, if we look for it. In all things, we can find the lessons of life and the consequences of choice, but never when we are just trying to survive.

Now is when we must come together as a nation. Politics be damned. Sniping and snipping be gone. Quid pro quos dropped. We need to instantly respond to need.

For Texans the joy of life and the infinite lessons it offers for growth will only come when the mind’s weather becomes a gentle climate.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Things have changed

I received in the mail the other day a high-end magazine touting the upcoming fall fashions.

On one page, there is a male model, a good looking fellow sporting and advertising his outer wardrobe: coat, pants, boots, hat, and scarf.

In my working time, I was fortunate to make a good salary, and I was able to buy nice clothes. Things have sure changed.

Here’s the list of what the model was wearing and the cost.

A Brunello Cucinelli coat: $4,495.
Coach wool pants: $395.
John Lobb leather boots: $1,815.
Albertus Swanepoel felt hat: $380.
Prada wool scarf: $690.

That totals to $7775.

The average salary of the American worker is $24,060 a year.

For comparison, the average yearly salary in India is $1600.
The average yearly salary in Mexico is $894.50.

Kind of makes you wonder, doesn’t it?

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Hurricane Harvey

Of course there is no climate change,
The ignorant will say.
High heat and rain are never strange;
It’s all in nature’s play.

Some others say it’s not our fault
That arctic ice will melt.
Mankind cannot make nature halt
Despite big changes felt.

For me, it seems that ignorance
Is pandering to greed,
And Trump may beg the difference,
But change is now the seed.

And when it warms to melt the ice
And seas begin to rise,
And Texas floods and pays the price,
“Well, that’s a big surprise.”

When some exclaim with deep concern,
This storm is tragic news,
Then I will add we still can learn
We are what we abuse.

Monday, August 28, 2017

Last Friday's pardon

First of all, my prayers and sympathies travel to Texas. They are having a tough time with rain and flooding and survival. May the All That Is bless them and help them in their trials and troubles.

In the news business when anyone puts out a news/press release on a Friday night it’s usually bad news. Friday’s are traditionally dump times for negative information. A corporation announces poor earnings. A government agency reports rising crime statistics. Usually on a Friday evening and for the Saturday papers or television or cable news, the next morning, there is little readership and few watchers. Hence the release of negative news or news you hope people don’t see or hear, or read is released. Couple it with a major devastating hurricane and you've got a major cover-up attempt.

President Trump did just that last Friday. He pardoned, without going through the usual justice department pardon channels, former Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio for ignoring a direct federal court order to stop discriminating against Latinos with no cause arrests.

First and foremost, Mr. Trump is ignoring the rule of law as the foundation of our republic. A federal judge ordered him to stop it.

 Constitutionally the President has the right to pardon; unfortunately, the Arpaio pardon validates Trump's position on Charlottesville and confirms his standing as a bigot.

I am for changing the way Washington works. I am for draining the proverbial swamp of ineffectual bureaucrats and pure partisan politicians. I AM NOT FOR ignoring the rule of law for political purposes. MR. PRESIDENT, IT IS TIME FOR YOU TO LEAVE.

Friday, August 25, 2017

I read this...

I read this on yesterday.

"The world has gone dark, motionless. People aren’t allowed to leave their homes, turn on the lights, use a computer, light a flame or participate in any entertainment or work, and if they must speak, it should be done at the quietest level. This postapocalyptic-sounding martial law actually exists one day of the year in Bali, Indonesia, during Nyepi, a Hindu celebration for the Saka New Year.

Bali, with its more than 4 million residents of varying faiths and large tourist population, is the only place in the world that celebrates this Day of Silence. The motorbikes aren’t running, every business shutters its doors, television stations stop broadcasting and even the airport closes. It’s a day when nature and humanity recharge, while expelling bad spirits. You may be celebrating Earth Day, but what we ought to consider celebrating across our planet — and for the planet — is Nyepi."

And then I read this from Plough Publishing. It is from an essay by Philip Britts. An undiscovered farmer-poet of the British Isles: Philip Britts (1917–1949) was a soft-spoken West Country farmer, poet, activist, and mystic.

"We have many opportunities to sense the power of God in nature. When the great thunderstorms roll up, and the lightning splits the sky above us, with thunder like the crack of doom, when flash follows flash, and explosion follows explosion, each one mightier than the last, and the wind rises with increasing violence—in our hearts is the whisper, "How much fiercer will it get, how much stronger can it get; is there a limit to this awful display of power?" And we do not know if there is a limit, but we know we are utterly helpless to stop or change it."

I like this guy Britts. How powerful his storms without and the storms within. He’s talking about God and at least applying a weather identification because of its power to manifest the All That Is. For me, that is a simplification to the un-simplifiable, but I like his structure of words and their collective meaning.

But then, on the OZY story from Indonesia, I love the silence of respect, the nothing but gentle and necessary movement, the closure of everything. If all countries, all people for just a day shut down all mechanicals just to honor the earth with a singular time of silence then, I believe, the earth and we would be changed and in sync with the divine heart of All That Is.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Freedom of the Press

Let me say again and again. The first order of a totalitarian leader is to silence the press. The press, the media is not the enemy of America. The mainstream press, probably more than any other organization or individual sees itself as a bulwark against the usurpation of rights, as a checker of the facts and as a sacred responsibility to speak truth to power.

If you as an American do not uphold the constitutional tenant of “freedom of the Press,” you know not your history or the honored responsibilities of the press.

Yes, there will be prejudicial reporting. Yes, there will be stories written without full fact checking. Yes, there will be individual bias in some reports, yes, there will be mistakes, but for the most part, the press, the mainstream media, will be as accurate as journalistic diligence can be. Attacking them as “fake” or “hating America” is dictatorial rhetoric diminishing the long and rightful traditions of the first amendment.

Mr. Trump’s diatribe against the press is pandering to his myopic base and lying to the rest of discerning citizens.

Beware, my friends, this is serious stuff with serious consequences. Ignore it at your peril, and your children’s children may never know what truth is.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

A Trillion

For most of us, it's difficult to fathom what a trillion dollars is.

Sure it's a million million, or a thousand billion, but beyond that, it is hard to understand what a trillion is except to say that's a lot of money or stuff, if you are counting things.

If we look at it another way, the understanding of the amount becomes mind boggling.

If someone started counting seconds, like one...two....three, the moment that Jesus Christ was born that person would be up to just over sixty-five billion seconds now.

That is six point five percent of a trillion.

It takes thirty-one thousand seven hundred years to count to a trillion seconds.

That is three hundred and seventeen centuries, and we are only in the very beginning of the 21st century. Somebody, maybe Congress, ought to count a lot faster for as of today we are over 9 and a half trillion dollars in debt.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

The Eclipse

America had its eclipse event yesterday. The Moon blocked the sun with its shadow swath across our land. People were excited to see the phenomenon both with protective glasses and with ignorant stares into the sun.

For me, I listened and watched the events that lead up to the moon’s passage as well as the passage itself. I am only reporting personally here.

Within twenty-four hours of the celestial experience, I was driving on a rural road in the Catskills mountains of New York State when an unusual event happened. A black bear was lumbering up in the middle of the road as my car approached. I have driven these roads for over fifty years, and I have seen many black bears, but never one sauntering in the middle of the road in broad daylight.

Next, the morning of yesterday's solar passage, I am sitting next to a pastoral waterfall watching a tricking gentle stream fall into tiny pools and then minutely cascade over rock and rill as the mesmerizing sound captured my spirit. Silently, a doe and fawn walked into to my reverie and stopped, stared and stayed within ten feet before they gently turned and stepped away.

Later just before the start of the eclipse. A wild turkey family. Two adults and two chicks tried to fly into my office window. After a few attempts,  they gathered themselves and strutted away.

I don't know about you, and I’m not saying anything, but something was different. I only have to wait seven-years for corroboration.

Monday, August 21, 2017

Sleeping on the Ground

Many years ago, I met the chief priest of the national forest of Togo. He came to a conference at Oxford College in Great Britain.

It was cold at that time in England. The priest wore no shoes. I asked him why he wore no shoes. He said, “to feel the earth.”

Recently I read an essay on spiritual ecology, and it talked about connecting to nature through the senses and feelings of the body.

It brought back atavistic sensations of when I was an adolescent camping with friends as a young teenager. In those days, we didn’t have the foam pads and air-mattresses of today. We had an old plastic table cloth as a ground cloth, and that was all we had between the earth and our sleeping bags. What power we experienced because of the cloth’s thinness. Body to body. Earth to near skin. We are 98.6 degrees. The earth at six feet depth is said to be 55 degrees.

The first thing you feel is cold as you twist and turn trying to find a comfortable synapse between the energy of your body and the vibrating power of mother earth. Then, slowly, there is a warmth of embracing energy from deep within the earth that envelops you in an embrace of oneness. You and the earth become ONE and no longer is the cold perceptible.

I am a believer that each of us and the earth is connected in ways our society and educational systems are unable to understand or haven’t remembered that we used to know our connections. We are nature and nature is us. As I have said time and time again. We are the nature we abuse. If you’ve never slept on or close to the ground, do so. It will change you.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Along the Road

Along the Road
© 2016 Rolland G. Smith

Bachelor buttons and Queen Anne’s lace
Astride the ways to every place.
Crocheted in white, the doily blooms
Beside the lanky Bachelor plumes.
Both thrive where few would like to be
Along the road for all to see.
A gift of grace for passersby,
Their whites and blues reflect the sky.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

It makes you wonder...

Somethings just make me wonder.

I just received a check from Verizon Wireless. It was apparently what I was owed from a surcharge judgment by New York State.

They spent 47-cents to mail me a 2-cent distribution.

Whatever happened to common sense?

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Trump's News Conference

After yesterday disastrous news conference in New York, by the President of the United States. I am ashamed at what I heard. Thus leadership still occupies my thoughts today.

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. The heart of Donald Trump was exposed to his detriment and the shame of America.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

What are we?

What should the America of today and the future require from its 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. We all come from the same SOURCE. 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 chemistry to the alchemy of oneness, but the oneness is not the greatness of America. The diversity within the oneness is our greatness and the miracle of our republic.

Today, individual and collective fear abounds in our daily lives. Recent leadership sees fear as a mechanism for 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 a neighbor and a belief that personal prayer is a graceful right of liberty.

The foundation of America is layer after layer of noble ideals, sacrifice, hard work, and a 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 for which we hope.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Little things start wars

The North Korean bravado, between them and us reminds me of the Falklands Conflict in 1982; stupid little things get out of hand and end with lives being lost.

Back then there was a 39-year-old scrap dealer by the name of Constantine Davidoff, an Argentinean, who wishes today he could take back an innocent action.

Davidoff heard about three abandoned whaling stations on the British owned Georgia islands. It was a chance to make some salvage money with scrap parts. In December of 81, Davidoff, and seven crewmen got permission from the British to inspect the stations. In March he started salvage operations. His Argentinian salvage men raised a blue and white Argentine flag over the salvage operations.

The flag was spotted by a group of British researchers camped about 5 miles away. They got their British dander up about an Argentinian flag flying on British territory and got on their radio and called London.

Word spread and in the British Falkland Islands 800 miles to the west, a group of patriotic islanders broke into the Argentinean National Airlines office in Port Stanley, put up the British flag and wrote, on the wall '"Tit for tat."

More words were exchanged. Argentina complained. The British Government protested and said that the Davidoff crew landed illegally. They didn't, but distance and time and inter-department bureaucracy didn't get permits to the right people at the right time.

Argentina said the Davidoff Salvage crew had a right to be there. Britain responded by sending in an Ice Patrol Boat. Argentina then sent a navy ship to protect the crew from forcible removal. More meetings were held between the British and Argentina. Words became angry. Ownership rights were stated and demanded, and days later the Argentinians invaded, and the Falkland’s war began. You know the rest.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Nature and Children

When I was a youngster, my mother would say, “Go outside and play.” And I would, with all the other kids in the neighborhood. We learned a lot about nature and ourselves playing outside. For one thing, we quickly learned to recognize poison ivy.

A few years ago, I was asked to join the advisory board of Children and Nature Network (C&NN). It is a still growing organization created by author Richard Louv and administered for a long time by my good friend Dr. Cheryl Charles. Louv’s book, Last Child in the Woods, became a best-seller as people realized we have a generation of children so connected to electronics that they are losing their connection to nature. As Louv writes, “We are fast approaching a generation of children where no child will have played outdoors.”

Nature is more than the flora and fauna we observe each day. Nature is a shared spirit of being with all things. Through nature, we learn the everything is cyclical, that life begins and life passes, that every life is in the balance with all other life forms, and each one helps the other fulfill its intrinsic purpose.

I have near-by neighbors that farm and teach their children that nature has her purpose. They live out the philosophy that we are part of nature, and when we abuse her, we abuse ourselves.

Spending time outdoors both in solitude and at play is an important education for children. The outdoors encourages an inner connection to nature, and if you stay there for a little while in meditation, you will see and feel all the natural connections as pulses of soothing and loving light. You will connect to the chlorophyll of plants and trees, the flights of insects and birds, the awareness of mammals, and especially the knowing of the earth herself.

In Shakespeare’s As You Like It, the Duke in the forest of Arden says: “…there are tongues in trees, books in running brooks, sermons in stones, and good in everything.”

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