Category: Spiritual

I, Flathead

Polls Graphic Cartoon

Most voters are smarter than just about anyone has ever given them credit for.  For instance, they will tell you exactly what they think.  It’s the question that’s important.

Ry Cooder has a recording by that title – “I Flathead.”  I think it’s appropriate today, November 5, 2014.  The day after the mid-term elections.  I’ve claimed to be a member of the Acronym Party.  That’s not true.  I’m a Democrat, fluttering in the winds today.  The flat head of course occurs over time, not overnight, usually.  The repeated slapping of the forehead when one discovers what was there all along.  Usually accompanied by, “Well, I’ll be….”

Remember the good old days, maybe just one general election ago, in 2012, when voters felt alienated?  That was back before most folks realized that there was more at play than just a case of misunderstanding the political ambitions of candidates.  Armed with research of voter sentiments, the candidates too have mistakenly believed that feeding a line of eloquent slight-of-hand to simply show some empathy with contemporary social sensitivities might be a good way to get elected.  But, all this, I think, is predicated upon bad or mis-applied polling.

What “people” were compelled to express to pollsters in those “alienation” days actually concealed a real and growing public assessment and understanding that wealthy persons shape the laws more than they could ever have imagined.  Nowadays, a potential candidate might do well to stay out of this game unless and until he or she undertakes a serious study of populist thought among potential constituencies, filtered by honest self-evaluation.  How else can one determine if a set of beliefs are in line with some kind of truth?  Too much time and money is involved to simply experiment with half-baked concepts on real human beings, mis-identified as an adoring public.

What  President Obama (and frankly, I really like him) failed to do in his bid to attain the Presidency was not intentionally deceitful to the voters so much as to himself in cynically overlooking the serious issues of human equality and instead viewing and passing along the results of skewed polls as voter disenchantment.  Disenchantment demands assurance, and he’s good at re-assuring folks – at least he used to be.  It was at best ill-advised to try to mitigate or even ignore the damage caused by the rampant selfishness of a few.  He has had a multitude of opportunities to publicly and fearlessly scold Congress for failing to act on programs which could lighten the load of economic recovery carried, for the most part, on the backs of ordinary Americans.  And it is precious little satisfaction that he persists in believing that carefully crafted tax laws alone could ever provide real economic justice.  He and all of us would do well to just understand that self-serving practices are truly beyond bad now and that charitable thinking is fundamentally unenforceable.

A sizable majority of Americans, and not just Democrats, currently believe that policies today favor the wealthy.  Statistically, among that majority of those taking a sober look at this are millions of Americans – millions of millionaires who incredibly may be deceiving themselves into believing they will escape having to just step up and do the right thing about it.  Whatever ambitions and programs our nation might officially embark upon, the individual should still concern himself with his responsibilities to a healthy society by whatever means his conscience will dictate.

Leave the back-patting and finger-pointing to sports figures.  Leave the political rantings on the disposition of church and state to the orators of the world.  Anyone who has ever thought to undertake the responsibilities of public office has my great respect.  I have always believed however that running for office must require a willingness to examine the potential conflicts that exist between societal and personal truths.  And there are some politicians, though very few, who have found a lovely balance within those truths.

An honest self-examination will surely reveal that none of us is purely conservative or liberal; nor are we strict adherents of any political party’s mission.  We should bring our honesty and our honest differences to the table and talk about it.  And, put it on the calendar for, say, right now.  Let’s get serious.  Let’s seriously try to get along.  God knows, it’s high time.

Anyway, speaking of God, composer Gabriel Faure came up with this piece.  It’s the “Cantique du Jean Racine” and was arranged for Daniel Hope by John Rutter:

Who’s A Good Boy?

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“Heaven goes by favor. If it went by merit, you would stay out and your dog would go in.” – Mark Twain

 

I’ve become increasingly aware that I don’t know squat – I can say, from experience, that making a life is possibly a good deal more involved than simply making a series of adjustments to survive.   Life for humans is, apparently, the adjustment.  In much the same way that the chiropractic experience, with its pushing and pulling and bending of our bodies is an adjustment – this life, taken as a whole, is our adjustment.

And I’ll go a step further with this hold-the-phone theory – it doesn’t appear that we have any choice in the matter.  The die is cast when we first arrive.  Here we are, these pitiful, helpless beings, unable to exert any real control over our circumstance, much less our environment.  We don’t know how to stay warm or awake, we can’t talk, sit up or even eat.  If not for a mother, or someone else’s mother, or just some gentle someone to bestow some real kindness, warmth, protection and proper foods during those tenuous days, months and even years of hopeless dependence, ours would be a very short story indeed.  Being a spiritual (though not religious) man, I try to thank God every day that someone took care of me back then.

Where was I?  Oh yes.  From the moment of birth, we make a racket, make a stink, and create lots of sleepless nights for everyone around us.  It’s one of our first common experiences as humans where we’re really making anything!

Beginning in early childhood and continuing throughout the remainder of our days, we manage to stay pretty busy, making some stuff and destroying other stuff.  I’m speaking of males primarily since I’m not in any position to speak with authority on the roles of women in this world.  Men and women do get together in the “making things” department during the course of some lives and this is good in lots of ways.  In short though, men’s duties include creating some artifacts, breaking others, sometimes even repairing our trappings, and we do several reps of this specialized  recycling routine until we run out of steam.

Whether we made more friends than enemies along the way may possibly be a determining factor when it comes to how alone we’ll be when the lights go out.  A conundrum here is that only we know, and no one else cares, if we intended to do the right things, or even if we made up a whole load of crap in order to create the impression that we did the right things.  It only matters if we can believe and trust that overall we were as kind to others as we wanted them to be to us, and that we made more and messed up less.

This is my most recent take on the cycle of life.  If there’s a next time for me, maybe I could come back as a dog.  There’s got to be a nice, warm, simple couch to curl up on in somebody’s house.

…so how about a tune by Wendy Waldman.  It’s called “Lee’s Traveling Song” – From her album “Love Has Got Me”

Wendy Waldman

Many years ago, my good friend Wayne Scheiner introduced me to a lot of great music and musical artists, and even gave me a going away cassette he’d put together that included some of his favorite songs by Wendy Waldman. This was 1979. I loved it, and I listened to it repeatedly as I traveled through the expansive Western states on my way to a new radio job in Seattle.