Category Archives: Children

America, what is going on?

I “apologize” to those who follow this blog for periodically “going political” on you but some things need be shown and said. There is a growing problem in America today, and as a Canadian living within a few miles of the longest “friendly” and undefended border on earth, what happens in America concerns me. It should concern the entire world but many are those who, like the German people in the 1930’s simply choose not to believe what is right before their eyes.  Our problem today is, as America increasingly goes rogue and out of control, do we really want Russia and China to be our “Allied” saviours? Wouldn’t that be jumping from the frying pan into the fire? Food for thought as you read the following. I post the entire blog, there is no “re-blog” on Tom Dispatch, but all the links are there.  I’ve also left the bottom of the blog post advertising the books and all that.

If you care or are concerned, take a few minutes to read, then a few more to ponder the consequences.  We’re not in a good place right now.  I’m 71 years old, so I’m not concerned about myself, but what about the children? What about their future? Where will the spend that time between “now” and eternity?

Tomgram: Nate Terani, Being Demonized in Your Own Country

Who could possibly keep up with the discordant version of musical chairs now being played out in Washington? When it comes to Donald Trump’s White House, the old sports phrase about needing a scorecard to keep track of the players pops to mind (though you would need a new one every day or maybe every few hours). The turnover rate of top White House staffers was already at 43%, a record for any administration in little more than its first year in office, before the latest round of exits even began.

Recently, the president nominated Gina Haspel (“Bloody Gina”) to head the CIA.  She had, in fact, been responsible for running one of the Bush administration’s earliest and most brutal “black sites” and had a significant hand as well in destroying evidence of what CIA torturers had done there and elsewhere. Meanwhile, he tapped the Agency’s previous director, Mike Pompeo, a notorious Tea Party Islamophobe and Iranophobe, to replace Twitter-fired Rex Tillerson as secretary of state. Now, another key post is evidently about to be up for grabs. National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster is reportedly almost out the door as the president openly considers a replacement for him, possibly former Bush-era ambassador to the U.N. John Bolton. He’s another major Iranophobe, who has called for launching military operations against that country for years. Like the recent replacement of economic adviser Gary Cohn by conservative CNBC commentator Larry Kudlow, all of the president’s new appointments or possible ones seem to have something in common: each is to the right of and significantly more extreme than the person he or she is replacing. Whether it’s the tearing up of the Iran nuclear deal and a possible future war with that country or yet more plutocratic economic policies, Donald Trump now seems intent on creating an ever more extreme administration.

In the context of that growing extremity, including the potential return of torture, the possible refilling of Guantanamo with new prisoners, the intensification of war across the Greater Middle East with a new focus on Iran, and the entrenchment of particularly extreme forms of Islamophobia, let U.S. Navy veteran Nate Terani take you into his own personal hell as a Muslim-American. It’s a hell that remains largely private at the moment, but for how long? Tom

Donald Trump’s America
Already Hell Enough for This Muslim-American
By Nate Terani

Understand this: I’m an American veteran. I’m also a Muslim-American in a country in which, in these years, that hasn’t exactly been the happiest category to fall into. Now, let me tell you a little story.

Recently, I had an ominous dream. It was noon on a grey, cold January 20th, 2020, and Donald Trump was being sworn in for his second term as president. Massive inaugural crowds cheered him exuberantly as a gentle snow fell upon a sea of MAGA red-hats and TRUMP banners waving in front of the Capitol.

In my dream, however, the Capitol wasn’t quite the same as I remembered it from my days stationed there as a young Navy sailor. It seemed almost war-torn as clouds of dark smoke billowed up on the horizon and the sound of gunfire could be heard somewhere in the distance. In my dream — don’t ask me how — I could also hear the terror-filled voices of people screaming or crying out for help as ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) agents, clad in black uniforms, stormed local Washington homes and businesses, arresting people and loading them onto large unmarked cargo trucks.

Meanwhile, those inaugural crowds — I have no idea if they were the largest in the history of dreams — were flanked by military Humvees as heavily armed soldiers in unfamiliar camouflage uniforms stood behind the president while he delivered his second inaugural address. I could even hear his words eerily reverberating through the Capitol. “The enemy,” he exclaimed, “has infiltrated our great nation because of weak immigration laws allowed by treasonous politicians!”

At that very moment, he told the exuberant crowd, he was already singlehandedly purging “those terrorists and their enablers from our ranks.” The MAGA banners waved ever more frantically and the crowd roared as he declared, “Law and order are now being restored to our great nation once again!”

I awoke in a cold sweat. Unlike the sort of nightmare I’d normally shake off as a fantasy of slumber, the result perhaps of that late night dose of Ben and Jerry’s I had meant to resist, this one stuck with me and, I’m sorry to say, recurred.

American Fear-scapes

Worse yet, these days I no longer have to drop into some deep, unnerving dream state to experience it. Though few of us are likely to admit it, some version of that dream of mine is, in fact, the secret daily nightmare of millions of my fellow Muslim-Americans. In a moment, when immigrants in this country live in a fear-scape all their own, believe me, so do we. In our living nightmare, an administration that can seem not just ineffective but hapless beyond imagining, plagued by scandal, and stocked with staff members heading for the exits (or being escorted off White House grounds) might nonetheless transform itself into something even more deeply threatening to Americans like us. It might sooner or later consolidate power and, eager to distract the public from its actual plutocratic and other grim policies, turn on us “bigly.” Without dropping into another dream state, I can easily enough imagine how, with the tacit endorsement of Trump’s base, that administration might prepare itself to use a future devastating terror attack, the next Orlando or San Bernardino, to skewer American Muslims or the immigrant community and so pave the way for a true living nightmare.

Such a crisis could take many forms, but imagine, for instance, a “dirty bomb” attack (the use of conventional explosives to spread radioactive nuclear waste materials across a wide area of some urban neighborhood). Just such an attack has certainly been a focus of concern in the U.S. intelligence community for years now. In fact, in 1999, while on active duty as a new member of the Defense Intelligence Agency, the first interagency briefing I attended at CIA Headquarters in Langley, Virginia, focused on that very issue.

Should that happen or anything like it, it’s easy enough to imagine how the Trump administration might use it to enhance its own power at our expense. With the public cowering in fear, martial law might be declared. Meanwhile, a Congress that, in the face of the imperial presidency, has already abdicated its constitutional duty to declare war, might grant Donald Trump far greater authority than he already possesses, thanks to the unprecedented post-9/11 powers any president now wields — and the American people (or enough of them, at least) would “rally ’round the chief.”

And then, or so I imagine (and, at least among American Muslims I know, I’m not alone in this), so much worse would begin to unfold and my recurring nightmare would become a nightmarish reality. In the aftermath of such an attack, so much in our world, from the Women’s March to Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation, would become distant and forgotten memories. Dissent would be denounced as unpatriotic, perhaps ultimately illegal, and basic human rights might be suspended.

By now, I’m sure you see where I’m going. In my nightmare at least — and I’m talking about the waking one now, the one I live with every day — countless immigrants and American Muslims are in camps awaiting who knows what. It’s not as if there is no precedent for anything like that in America, given the experience of Japanese-Americans rounded up and kept in just such camps during World War II.

In this moment of growing Islamophobia, at a time when a president has a desire to simply ban foreign Muslims and cast American ones as the worst of the worst, it’s just one more step into my fears of the future for me to imagine myself, an American veteran, as well as my family and other members of the Muslim community, sitting inside darkened train cars on our way to internment camps, while we desperately try to convince ourselves that surely the Supreme Court will overturn such an injustice.

And given our world, given the history of racism in this country, it’s not that hard to imagine scores of broken men, women, and children already at our destination as we hurtle down the tracks to join them. Nor is it that hard to imagine the Trump administration dismissing those who protest such treatment as disloyal co-conspirators, and then using militarized police raiders to hunt some of them down, too. I can even imagine mosques being set ablaze and synagogues and churches that attempted to protect citizens fleeing all of this being raided at the government’s orders.

Heading for a Dark Destination

In some dark corner of my mind, given what we know about what we human beings are capable of, I can almost imagine some kind of Muslim-American version of the Holocaust, the ultimate nightmare that immigrants and Muslim-Americans have dreaded since Donald Trump’s election victory in November 2016, but dare not whisper. There’s nothing sadder to say than that such fears do not completely lack historical precedent: the world has, of course, been here before.

If the fate of the millions who perished during World War II, thanks to Adolf Hitler and his minions, doesn’t seem real enough to you, just pay a visit to the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C. There, you can witness the haunting images of our human brethren who, by virtue of their faith or background, were destroyed, some by their own countrymen.

Now, I know perfectly well that those of you who aren’t Muslim-Americans are likely to find such fantasies at best extreme; at worst, beyond conception. The reason isn’t hard to imagine, because of course Donald Trump isn’t Adolf Hitler; White House adviser Stephen Miller isn’t Joseph Goebbels; White House Chief of Staff John Kelly isn’t Hermann Göring; and former CIA Director and next Secretary of State Mike Pompeo isn’t Heinrich Himmler.  Yes — but Pompeo, a major Islamophobe in an administration filled with them, has insisted that all Muslims are potentially complicit in terrorism and that “people who deeply believe that Islam is the way” are a “threat to America.”  He has also received the “National Security Eagle Award” from a noted anti-Muslim hate group, ACT for America, and has been interviewed more than 20 times by Frank Gaffney, “the country’s most influential Islamophobe,” on his radio show.  And when it comes to Islamophobia (and Iranophobia as well), in this administration Pompeo is hardly alone.

Still, not even bans, insults, and a visible loathing for those of us who don’t look like and pray like the president and his men, not even torchlight parades by Trump-supporting American neo-Nazis, get you easily to anything like an American Holocaust.  But know, when you read this, that there are those of us out here who, in the dark of night, are indeed haunted by such thoughts anyway and by thoughts as well of those in the 1930s who dismissed the fears of the worst to come as so much hyperbole.

Speaking just for myself, I can’t help but believe that, in our 241-year history that includes a bitter civil war, two world wars, and the Great Depression, this could turn out to be the most crucial moment of all. I can’t help but wonder, at least in my bleaker moments, whether there will be any coming back from the dark destination, whatever it turns out to be, that we, as a nation, now seem headed for. And if not, just remember that no one will be able to say that we didn’t know what we were doing, that there were no warnings as people like me were demonized in our own country.

Whatever hell might still come, for this veteran at least, Donald Trump’s America is already hell enough.

Nate Terani is a veteran of the U.S. Navy and served in military intelligence with the Defense Intelligence Agency. He is currently a spokesperson for Common Defense PAC and regional campaign organizer with Veterans Challenge Islamophobia. He is a featured columnist with the Arizona Muslim Voice newspaper. This is his second TomDispatch piece.  Follow him on Twitter at @NateTerani.

Follow TomDispatch on Twitter and join us on Facebook. Check out the newest Dispatch Book, Alfred McCoy’s In the Shadows of the American Century: The Rise and Decline of U.S. Global Power, as well as John Dower’s The Violent American Century: War and Terror Since World War II, John Feffer’s dystopian novel Splinterlands, Nick Turse’s Next Time They’ll Come to Count the Dead, and Tom Engelhardt’s Shadow Government: Surveillance, Secret Wars, and a Global Security State in a Single-Superpower World.

Copyright 2018 Nate Terani

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Violent American Dower bookThe Violent American Century: War and Terror Since World War II

World War II marked the apogee of industrialized “total war.” Great powers savaged one another. Hostilities engulfed the globe. Mobilization extended to virtually every sector of every nation. Air war, including the terror bombing of civilians, emerged as a central strategy of the victorious Anglo-American powers. The devastation was catastrophic almost everywhere, with the notable exception of the United States, which exited the strife unscathed and unmatched in power and influence. The death toll of fighting forces plus civilians worldwide was staggering.

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Julian West, looking backwards from 2050, tries to understand why the world and his family have fallen apart.

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You won’t see segments about it on the nightly news or read about it on the front page of America’s newspapers, but the Pentagon is fighting a new shadow war in Africa, helping to destabilize whole countries and preparing the ground for future blowback. Behind closed doors, U.S. officers now claim that “Africa is the battlefield of tomorrow, today.” In Tomorrow’s Battlefield, award-winning journalist and bestselling author Nick Turse exposes the shocking true story of the U.S. military’s spreading secret wars in Africa.

Shadow Government EngelhardtShadow Government: Surveillance, Secret Wars, and a Global Security State in a Single Superpower World

In 1964, a book entitled The Invisible Government shocked Americans with its revelations of a growing world of intelligence agencies playing fast and loose around the planet, a secret government lodged inside the one they knew that even the president didn’t fully control. Almost half a century later, everything about that “invisible government” has grown vastly larger, more disturbing, and far more visible.

They Were SoldiersThey Were Soldiers: How the Wounded Return from America’s Wars: The Untold Story

At 73, having spent years focusing on the civilian toll from Washington’s Afghan War, Ann Jones embedded on an American forward operating base to experience what that war was like for the U.S. troops in the field. The next year, she began following grievously wounded American soldiers from the moment they came off the battlefield all the way back home.  Her journey proved to be nothing short of an odyssey. Despite all the talk in this country about our “wounded warriors,” no other book gives us a more powerful sense of the genuine cost of war to Americans.



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The Sword, the Bow and the Staff

[Time for another chapter of the novel. Enjoy!]

Part I    –   The Calling

Chapter 19   –   Meeting the priest; all is set for the wedding

To Lo and Nal, it wasn’t much of a ‘town’ but to Deanna it was unbelievable. Not only the large kirk that sat imposingly in the centre of the main town but the shops, so many shops, and people walking everywhere. There were even people on horseback, and horse-drawn carts hauling various merchandise. At an open air butcher shop several women were haggling with a portly butcher over the cut meat and the hanging geese and chicken. After each left with a purchase, she was replaced by another just as eager to haggle over the prices.

Children ran wildly through the filthy streets, yelled at by the adults they splattered when their bare feet slapped into puddles of stagnant and stinking water.

As Ian and his group walked on deeper into the town, most people stopped doing whatever they were doing and stared. The men were particularly attracted to the three young women, the two tall imposing light-haired ones and the short, small dark one. On the faces you could read the question: who are these well-armed people and what do they want here?

Then some recognized MacGruder and greetings were exchanged. Women came forth to greet lady Jen MacGruder and their daughter they did not recognized so grown up she was. They were introduced to Lo whom they openly admired, and the two other young women, Genti and Deanna. Ian ventured the news that they intended to have a wedding here in Glowmere between the two travellers who were friends of the MacGruders from the south. He announced that Nal and Lo, whom he singled out, were to be united in holy matrimony at the kirk if the priest was in agreement.

The news was greeted with a loud cheer that spread up and down the main street and brought the curious street urchins forth. Soon items went missing here and there from the shops and stalls as the cries of “Thief, stop him!” or “That miserable scoundrel, stop her!” followed by some useless chase that only left a shop or stall open to more pilfering.

“An where does one find the priest?” ask Ian. An urchin offered to lead them to the priest, for a price. Contrary to his usual parsimonious nature, Ian good-naturally accepted and paid the rascal. They intercepted the priest as he was stepping out of the kirk and getting ready to bar, bolt and lock the door.

“Wouldn’t want yer God er his saints t’ run off come night eh Father? Keep ‘em locked up, that’s the sure way.” said Ian with a large smile.

The priest, a tall, stringy sort of creature in a fading black cassock eyed MacGruder with a frown and asked, “An what do ye be wantin’ fro’ me, mon?”

“Well Father, ‘tis not what I want, ‘tis what these young un’s here be needin’ – an’ that’d be a proper weddin’ t’would be, if ye be amenable to it?”

The priest cast a haughty look over the group trying to figure out which of them were to be the victims. Unable to decide, he turned to MacGruder and said, “They be proper Church people then? Baptized and knowing their catechism?”

“Aye of that I’m sure Father. Might not hurt ‘em just the same to have a confession afore the ceremony?”

“That is mandatory mon, and may I know whom I be addressin’ and whom the intended’s be?”

“I be Ian MacGruder, perhaps ye’ve heard of us from up t’ cottage? An’ here are the two ‘intendeds’ as ye put it: Lo ‘n Nal. Don’t know if there be any family names attached to ‘em, I reckon not.”

“Well, I’ll need such particulars for the book ye understand. We keep decent records here, not like the old pagan days thankfully gone from here, praise God.”

“We’ll get ye the names Father.” MacGruder’s voice had grown somewhat harsher and definitely colder as he prepared to haggle prices with the priest.

Having heard their names mentioned, Nal and Lo came forward and introduced themselves to the priest. Again he gave his haughty look, equally met and brought down forcefully by both Nal and Lo who would not tolerate such from a pawn of the Church. For a moment the priest sensed something that scared him and was of a mind to refuse the ceremony, then thought of the money and held his tongue. On top of the incentive of good gold, there were those deadly looking swords, bows and staffs to reckon with. It might not do to upset these and seemed more prudent to let the moment have its way.

‘I can deal with any sorcery and paganism afterwards and I certainly will.’

All three, Nal, Deanna and Lo, had been mind-focusing on the priest and heard his thoughts. Here was another dangerous enemy, certainly for Genti and the MacGruders. This priest would have to be dealt with after they settled with the Betrayers and before they carried on to further adventures, such certain to come about as a result of Nal’s vows and Deanna’s need to return to Torglynn.

As there was overt thoughts of violence and murder in the priest’s heart, Lo felt no qualm about disposing of the creature come the right time. This work might well fall to wolf and his mate he reckoned. Both Nal and Deanna agreed though Nal who had some personal scores to settle with the Church insisted she’d be involved in the priest’s demise. They left it at the stage where the priest would be killed but not who would do the honours.

Meanwhile, let the hypocrisy reign supreme.

“Any o’ these others gettin’ married also, Ian?” Asked the priest, trying hard to sound innocent, caring, and friendly but inwardly licking his greedy lips thinking of the gold a double or triple wedding would bring, winter being financially remarkable only from the increase in burials.

“Hasn’t been mentioned Father. Must be waitin’ for spring, t’other ones eh? So then to business, time and cost? Ye’d be needin’ gold yea?”

“Gold, yea. Five ounces, weighed on the scale at the kirk. As to time, does next Saturday suit ye, Ian?”

Ian called his group together and after consulting with Jen asked them, “Does next Saturday suit ye all for the weddin’ t’ take place or ye havin’ second thoughts now? Last chance ‘fore I put down the money.”

Nal and Lo smiled broadly at one another then burst out laughing while a spark of hope flashed through young Giles’ heart only to be extinguished in the same moment when Nal said, “Saturday is perfect for us ‘n the sooner t’ better to get it done. Can’t wait! An’ Father if ye be wantin’ our clan names, I be a McBanish, n’ Lo here, he be a MacDunit.”

“Interestin’ names. Can’t say I ever heard o’ those clans, interestin’ indeed. Saturday then, ten o’ the mornin’?”

“Aye that’ll suit us fine, that will, Father,” quickly answered Ian.

They left the skeletal priest standing there like a patiently expectant vulture on his favourite dead tree perch and Ian declared they all deserved a drink at the Wild Horse Inn, a good place, he added.

Once out of the priest’s hearing they all burst out laughing until the tears were running down their faces. Ian had to lean on a hitching post to keep himself upright.

Only Deanna failed to join, finally asking what the sudden hilarity was all about.

“Dinae hear girl? McBanish, MacDunit? Who ever heard o’ such nonsense? That was good that, truly magnificent, gal, and he slapped Nal on the back, making her jump.

Ian didn’t give his charges too much time to develop introspective moroseness that would demand another round and declared it was getting late and they had a fair walk ahead of ‘em yet.

As they were crossing the small drawbridge, Lo stayed behind to speak to the guard detail. He gave them each enough coin for a couple of rounds at the inn and was rewarded with some slaps on the back and cheers. Then in a vibrant voice he wished them a wonderful end of the day and a safe, healthy, prosperous and long life. They received his words as if they had been gifts, realizing that there was more than words in the blessing. They waved sheepishly then, thinking this was no ordinary man. They all sensed that their entire lives ahead of them had been magically blessed and the words would prove true.

Entering his speed lope he soon caught up to the group and immediately noticed that Deanna was gone and Nal was carrying her clothes.

“So she’s gone back to her wolf then? How did she manage to take off her clothes without upsetting the group?”

“We slipped into the ‘by woods to do that. She’ll inner nudge me when she needs ‘em again.”

“Let me strap those to my pack then, Nal, so you keep your hands free. It may seem silly here but remember that ultimately we are always alone, working singly, and must always think thus. Never rely on anyone else to take the point, or protect. Let them if they want to but don’t ask it nor expect it and I repeat, never rely on it.

“Keep your hands, arms and legs free at all times and your weapons handy.”

“Truly sorry, I temporarily forgot. Too much on m’mind an’ don’t push me, MacDunit.”

“Indeed I’ll endeavour not to, Miss McBanish.”

They laughed, hugged fiercely and kissed again.

Don’t look at me like that and I heard that snort. Look, I’m just writing it the way I see it. And remember, they’ve been apart for thousands of years, how do you think you would act if you suddenly found yourself back in the arms and love of a lover you knew was dead and you hadn’t seen for, say, twenty thousand years? Would you say,

“What? You again?” or

“I really wasn’t expecting you back this soon.” or

“I hadn’t planned on this; I have a life now.” or

“Things getting too boring for you, decided to come back?”

Right, I didn’t think so. More likely there would be sparks, maybe a flame, and hugging and kissing would just be the breeze that sets everything on fire. So put up with the hugging and kissing and let me go on with the story, which by the way is turning out pretty good, in my opinion, if I’m allowed to have one.


The Day After


[a poem by   ~burning woman~]

It was a day long after
what happened didn’t happen:
denial was in full force then,
it made everything work,
and work was the order of the day.

There were warnings,
there always are warnings.
The planet was upset
sending signs of distress
in skies and seas and lands.

Birds, bees and butterflies
were less to be seen.
Fish left rotting carcasses
strewn across sandy beaches;
floating among the flotsam.

Violent storms, deadly droughts
succeeded chemtrails
and incessant burning of trees.
Smoke filled the valleys;
children choked in gun-smoke.

It would come, of course:
everybody knew it, everybody.
But promises and hope ruled the day
Larger bandaids were handed out
with flu shots and plastic smiles.

The day came, it was inevitable:
everybody had known the truth of it,
the inescapability of it.
Oh, it would have been a day
to be remembered.

Had there been anyone
to remember.



The Challenge of Death

Happy Valentines Day

(thoughts from ‘The Other Side’ by ~burning woman~ )

I took a break from writing the novel tonight and watched a movie my friend left with me. It’s called “The Carer” and it is a good story.

Here are some quotes from that movie:

Quote: “Great Dramatists and great actors conspire to blow up complacency, corruption, pretension, all the vices of our rich, sordid, jaded world with humour, passion and a large dollop of sex.”

(And I would add, so do great writers.)

Quote: “How many of us here deny the human condition in one form or another? We get old, that’s the truth. And how can you tell true stories about the human condition if you deny it, choosing only the good bits: youth and beauty, passion and sex. There’s no truth in cosmetic enhancements, you know, no candour in collagen.”

(And here I would add: Nor in ostentatious adulation and riches.)

Quote: “Cowards die many times before their deaths, the valiant never taste of death but once.”

(And here I would add that those who work so hard at denying the coming reality of death and what it may entail of the unknowns it hides, are as cowardly as those who quail when facing it on the battle field or in opposing tyrants.)

Quote: “Of all the wonders that I yet have heard, it seems to me most strange that men should fear, seeing as death, a necessary end, will come when it will come.” {End of quotes}

Let’s engage the topic of “this or that” History Month. Let’s look at some big topics we could have official history months on and pretend, just for one moment, that a “History Month” means that we actually cared about what “month” is being recognized for or celebrating.

OK, big topics.

How about a “Love History Month”? I’m told that love is really, I mean, really important; that everybody wants love, needs love. Two days from “Valentine’s Day” and suddenly the subject of “love” is all the rage. Maybe they should have made February “Love History Month.” Ah but then I wonder what sort of “history” would emerge from such a topic. Who would mention that love is an absolute value; that there are no “degrees” of love? Imagine a whole month where, as celebration of love everybody does nothing else but love one-another.

I think not. Let’s just send each other little red hearts on cardboard or on digital screens and keep on pretending.

Do we have an official “Life History Month”? I don’t remember hearing about that either. Yet, is there a more important topic to discuss and engage? Shouldn’t we, once and for all, define life as an absolute value? How about celebrating a whole month without any killing, not in warfare, not in sports, not as a police activity, not as random street crime and not in the killing fields of meat packing. For one month, all life is sacred, at least to the very best of our ability to practice this.

I’m afraid we’re not touching that one with a ten foot pole.

Do we have a “Peace History Month”? OK, here goes, one whole month dedicated to doing peace. One whole month of total cease-fire, no warfare. One whole month no oppressing, no bullying, no extorting, no taking advantage, no competitive activity. Just peace.

Hm. Why can’t I see that happening either?

can’t do love,
can’t do life,
can’t do peace.

Hey, I know. Let’s have a “Death History Month”! Focus on everything and everyone on this world that’s died, is dying, and will die, how and why. For an entire month all we do is study death, observe death, think and talk about our own guaranteed, certain death, then feel the feelings engendered by such a study.

Of course we would never do that; it would be considered morbid.

Yet does anyone realize that the more death is studied and focused upon, particularly one’s own death, the more one comes to understand the necessity of
loving unconditionally? Of
treating all of life as sacred? Of
personal and global peace as the only foundation for any civilization?

But we won’t have any of that because, well, we all know why, to the tune of about seven and a half billion reasons. We would never contemplate engaging love, life or peace in any meaningful context, it would upset the applecart and the applecart is what’s sacred!

I’m told that mankind is not brainwashed, is not manipulated, is not controlled. Therefore what I’m really being told is that mankind is autonomous, free to think, speak and act in every way.

If that is the case, then mankind, that is each and everyone of us, is fully responsible, and accountable, for all the misery, the horror, the killing, that takes place all over this world. There is no one else to blame! If you’re not the victim, then you are the perpetrator. Sure, there’s countless arguments against my black and white views of things, but they remain spurious.

As perpetrators of global injustice the reality we exist in is a reality we all want, desire, or feel the need for. As victims, the same reality is one we consider hell and would do practically anything, if we had the power, to get out from under. It’s just that the perpetrators, the consumers, the relatively content, the remaining “haves” won’t let their victims escape; they won’t even let them seek refuge from oppression and drone bombing in the box store, the fast-food drive-tru or multiplex theatre because that would spoil the game and the game must go on.

We of the west with our fake religions, fake economics, fake politics, have been masterful at vicariously spreading hell and death throughout the world through our Master we call the Military Industrial Complex. For several hundred years we’ve benefited from that exploitation and now, when it’s coming to a justly deserved end we’re not giving up in the face of certain collapse, we’re desperately attempting to shore up the crumbling edifice of militaristic imperial democracy and “Christian” values even if all we’re doing is pretending it isn’t collapsing.

The costs? More deaths of innocents, but as long as it’s not my death, or the death of “my” innocents, it’s normal and fair collateral damage. If a dozen Kurd children need slaughtering today so I can fill my SUV gas tank or buy a bigger screen smart TV, that’s the price the Third World or developing world has always had to pay to the Empire so why should that be a problem today, particularly?

Happy Valentines day…

[thoughts from ~burning woman~ by Sha’Tara]

Something that puzzles me this morning. There are so many things that actually do puzzle me but this one, this one, takes the cake.

Balance. There is even an old Chinese symbol for it: the yin-yang.

 Yin-yang symb2
 As a general rule, at least for people who take a couple of minutes a day to actually think about something, balance is thought of as a good thing. Necessary.

Imagine a world not in balance we say, or a universe. We naturally assume we live within some kind of great see-saw which guarantees that we won’t get thrown off.

We assume that when ‘this’ happens over here, ‘that’ (being its opposite) happens over there and all’s well with the world.

Where did we ever get that idea from? Well, it has to do with belief systems and of course, brainwashing, a method of indoctrination that simply has no equal. Once brainwashed: addicted for life. Exceptions noted: they prove the rule.

Do we live in a balanced universe? Oh, never mind the universe, what do we know about that apart from nothing. What about this world? Is this an example of a balanced world?

Apart from the fact that through some freak of biology there is approximately the same ratio of males to females among the Earthian species, and if we don’t look too closely on how that little miracle is accomplished, what about the rest?

Balance in nature is achieved through a madness called predation. We call it that, what it calls itself is another story. Another approach dear to the heart is survival of the fittest. Through ripping apart, destroying, killing, murdering, we, or our world and us, achieve, so we are forced to believe, the wonderful state of balance.

Is there as much “good” as there is “evil” on this world, fact-wise? Could it be proven either way? No. So we look at whatever evidence is thrown our way and we see depending on the evidence we have access to and how we’re trained to believe.

While we’re focused on this see-saw, we do not see because we never saw. That’s the problem.

We don’t realize that we don’t have to believe in the see-saw.

Rather, using our own brains, or mind if we really are the daring sort, we can say, to hell with the see-saw. Balance is a joke, a lie. How can there be balance in any finite environment? Balance is an absolute, like love. You can’t have it, or do it, incrementally.

You can’t begin in unbalanced chaos, reach a state of balance, then lose it again in terminal chaos. That’s a fairy tale of gargantuan proportions. It’s a lie.

When we reach that elementary stage of reasoning we see it all crashing down, the yin-yang symbol becomes push-pull and tears apart, blood, guts and gore gushing everywhere.

We were lied to about balance? Oh surely no more than we were lied to about God, about politics, about economics. No more than we’re being lied to right now about everything.

Do we need balance? Should we be seeking balance? What are the benefits of balance, or who benefits from balance? I’m not going to dignify those questions with an answer because if you can’t see it, my answer would only cause anger. To a brainwashed person nothing is more insulting or threatening than a fact, or a truth, that exposes cherished beliefs as being carefully fabricated lies.

Imagine you’ve spent all of your born-again life dutifully paying for your favourite televangelist’s private jets and turning on the TV one Sunday morning he comes on and says, “Thanks a lot folks, but I’ve made enough money now and I regret to say I’m quitting: God is dead.” How could you possibly accept the fact that for once in his life your preacher was telling the truth?

The problem with balance is this: if I do good in the world, balance will demand… a balancing. The more good some people do, the more evil other people ‘must’ do. The conclusion is, do no good at all and no one else will have to do any evil at all. No good=no evil. That’s your perfect state of balance. That’s your wonderful *Brave New World.

I like to wake up in the morning with a great thought, a powerfully motivating thought, more important even than breakfast. This morning I had this thought. Knowing what I know now, if I were starting a family again, had my two sweet little daughters again, this is what I would tell them, each and every morning before they went to school:

“I want you to be nothing but kind, gentle, caring, accepting, loving, generous in praise and in offering help to all this day. Nothing else you do, or are told to do, is as important as this.”

When they came home and we had our time in the evening, I would ask them about their day, and how it all went. I’m sure they would have much to say about their experiences trying to live an alternative lifestyle! They might have even been subjected to mocking or to other indignities – all of which would prove my point about Earthians and their chuildren, but would go a long way to educate my own two children in the things that really matter.

But it does not end there. I would say to them, I have to be your example of the things I ask you to do, and to be. So when you see me failing, don’t let me get away with it. Call me up on it. Point it out. I am asking you to live the most dangerous life so you can be my teachers.

Forget balance, it’s a chimera.

(*Reference is to Aldous Huxley’s dystopian novel)


Throwing away the Key

[thoughts from ~burning woman~ by Sha’Tara

There are days, as today for example, when I would like to get dressed warm enough for the weather, carefully slip my purse over my shoulders, look around to make sure everything is in its proper place, walk out the front door of my house, lock it, and without looking back, walk away. Walk until the road crosses that little bridge under which flows the small river that was my companion, lo these many years, and throw in the key.

Then just walk on.

The direction now is no longer important. Walking will get me the farthest because it will cost less. I could take the bus but they confuse me so much. A taxi I cannot afford. Walking then. As I walk I can notice my world as I have never seen it with so much intensity.

I can imagine already seeing snowdrops popping up in someone’s front yard under a Japanese maple with its lovely orange branches.

I can see robins flitting about under the influence of a Spring that is just around February’s corner. As I continue, farther from town and into the farm lands, horses and cattle are already roaming the fields. It’s Saturday so children too have come out of their homes to play in greening yards or on paved driveways. There is less and less traffic here.

The road that chose me takes me along another small river, more of a drainage system than a river, really. Here and there where in the wider sections ducks actively seek for food. There are the small divers such as buffleheads, hooded mergansers and golden eyes. There are the dabblers, mallards and widgeons, who plunge their heads into the murky depths then pop up again like battery-operated toys. Black willows and cottonwoods lean over the ponds, some of their branches and trunks broken in a Winter ice storm angling down into the dark waters revealing oily reflections.

Overhead flock after flock of Glaucous-winged gulls fly. They too are on their way to feed. By there direction it’s easy to tell they’re going to the landfill for their daily feast.

You may wonder why I haven’t mentioned the many sounds emanating from such a scene. To tell the truth, it’s my hearing. It isn’t as good as it used to be. There was a time I remember when I could pin-point the location of a tiny golden-crowned kinglet in a tall cottonwood by its weak call, ‘tsit-tsit-tsit’ repeated. Still I can hear louder calls, Canada geese coming in for a landing on one of those ponds formed of brackish waters and in a backyard, a chainsaw; someone busy cutting up firewood.

I hear a baby crying as a mother is putting it in the backseat of the family’s SUV. I think, what a world, that a baby has to ride out of sight of its mother and turned so it cannot see anything. There is evil at work at every level of this man’s world and it’s called ‘security’ and ‘safety’ yet the more of that there is, the less there actually is.

That brings me back to the beginning of my thought-wanderings. There is something calling me that this life which I’ve taken to observe more the less I desire to participate in, is preventing me from responding to. That troubles me because how do I know, how can I know, if the calling is not more important than the staying? How can I know the calling will wait for me, for my ambivalence resulting from my decision not to walk out on the ephemeral comfort of a house and throw away the key today?

I know about callings. I’ve had quite a few in this one life alone. If they are not responded to, they go on to someone else and later I read about them, some famous, some both, famous and martyred.  I cannot know if they changed the world but they expressed a courage I chose not to.

If I did leave my house today and threw away the key, would I find such courage? Is it too late and should I just wait?

It’s been raining, it seems, forever and looking out the window I can tell the sun is going to, once again valiantly try to break through the endless clouds and once again, fail.

I’m going to make a fresh pot of coffee and answer some emails, then we’ll see about throwing away the key.

Treaty Song Lyrics by Joanne Shenandoah

It seems to be that kind of a day, past, present and possible future meeting at the apex of the three-sided pyramid that is my life and little of it any of what one could call good.  I think the following lyrics express much of what I’ve been reading today.  We don’t want “fake news”?  Then this isn’t. 

Treaty song – Joanne Shenandoah

When you’ve razed all the forests… silenced all the birds

Destroyed creation that came before your words

When you’ve stamped to the ground all the things you fear

One thing to be sure of… I’ll still be here

Remember the treaty you have made with me

As long as grass grows and the sky is blue and rivers run free

Does this not mean forever?

Or did we not agree?

Will lies and broken promises be your legacy?

Who am I your Honour?

Who am I your Grace?

Who do you see standing here as you look upon my face?

Hear me Mr President…

This is Sacred Ground

You cannot own my Spirit, though you might lay me down

So take all your children… teach them your lies

Why waters are polluted… smog fills the skies

You can drain all the oceans and fill them with tears

You will never remove me…

I’ll always be here

So when you seat your Council, who will come to speak

For the Buffalo, the Eagle, the forest and the trees

The oceans and their bounty are all here nearby

And for all the children standing at our side

(Repeating refrain omitted)

Facts:  Over 100 million Native American people were genocided in the “conquest” and western expansion by white Americans.

Facts: British traders transported an estimated 3.4 million Africans to North America as slaves during the 245 years the transatlantic slave trade was active.