Friday, August 29, 2008

August Nights

The first night of August I spent in Seattle. It was a cool night, kept warm in the arms of my truest love. The nights of the second week of August mentally transitioned me from a California summer to a final year in Ohio. The summer left behind a past that left me long before I found the strength to actually let it go. I rediscovered in myself what had been burried long ago or perhaps something new that has been waiting to burst for the one who knows how to handle my fragility and my strength. The summer also brought me home to a world of responsibility where I was needed. As I thought about leaving those in need behind as I ventured back to school this fall, I felt guilt, but I forced myself to remember a fact so sure, that just as all my needs are met no matter where I go, so are the needs of those I love met without fail. The third week of August nights physically brought me across the country with a friend so cherished by my side. We braved musty motels with boys jeering outside. We sang to our favorite songs through the desert, through the mountains, and through the corn fields. Eventually, we found ourselves upon our senior year of college, both quite impressed that we made it through all of the last three years to find ourselves still the kinderedest of sprits to one another. And here in the final nights of August I feel content, happy, and alive, though trudging through the muggy late summer air. Tonight I found myself among real friends with real laughter and real conversations. I have found myself in a new world, older, more mature, more enjoyable. It is a world no longer of the impersonations and put-on's, but of being true and being for real. August nights have brought on many a different kind of night, but none would I have wished away. Each has had something to say. August, thank you, you've served me well.

Sitting on a park bench...

The wind blew, the drum line exploded with a ding. As the sun spattered out from the clouds a man lumbered past. Jug in one hand walking stick in another. Before I could become consumed in his odd appearance or even reach out in curiosities gaze a young women past. She was of such a plain and generic form that she stood out like a beacon as she past by me through the commons. It was her nose that garbed me. Over the thunder of the band and the genital purr of the wind I heard it. It came like thunders echo in the night. A single sniffle. It pulled all of my senses to her. I was left to wonder was it a symptom of illness just like my own. Was it simply the drifting pollen of a nearby flower. Or was it the silent echo of a tear. Perhaps a single tear of pain. The fear of another day past or the stinging response to the pain of lose. It will for every remain un-known to I. But I will always stand witness to the women with the sniffle.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Blog full of quotes...

"Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a harder battle..."A wonderful quote by the ever insightful Plato. Except for one odd problem. No one seems to no where in Plato it comes from. Even more interesting is that with a quick glance around the internet we come to find this statement credited to everyone from Bob Dylan to Mother Teresa.

The furthest back it can be found in black and white is in the works of John B. Watson's a psychologist from the early 1900's. He is quoted to have made the statement, "Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a harder battle with his own ego." This seems to make a great deal more sense seeing that the statement fits perfectly within Watson's behaviorist paradigm. I am not sure how many are willing to claim such a statement fits with in Plato's work, but I am sure there is some one who will. This all leaves us to ask who on earth do we credit this with anyway! The answer is most likely no one. Clearly it is a sentiment passed down from the ages. Taking it in its present stage of generic abstraction makes it almost meaningless. So why bother using such a quote?

I my self have been known to quote the occasional text or song lyric. I on the other hand tend to stick to things I've actually read. A quick survey of the blogging community will quickly show that a huge number of writers began their posts with the occasional quote. The vast majority of time, unfortunately, they never comment on the actual sources location or context. I get the strange feeling that just maybe a large number are getting there quotes not from the works themselves but from the ever convenient internet.

A quick Google search yields an ever increasing list of websites which provide quotes categorized by topic and author. These collections are not new by any means and have filled libraries across the globe for many decades. Before though, most writers tended to use them as references and not crotches. A good quote does make a fascinating way to draw in your audience or a precise way to develop a theme. But only if it is well developed and used in the context of the original author. Otherwise you should know that what your up to is incredible cliche and incredibly boring.

So as blogging comes under increasing criticism for its inferior quality both in substance and the quality of writing it self, it is important to recognize the need for originality. It is of increasing importance for Bloggers to invest fully in the originality of the work, and where appropriate invest fully in the work of those they intend to discuss.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Ekecheria: The Olympic Truce

Even as the festival of peace and good will which is the Olympics begins we are forced to bare witness to the horrors of modern warfare. As Micheal Philips charges towards new world records and the nation of Korea raises towards the top of the medal count we are confronted by the horrors of modern warfare. The Republic of Georgia, a former satellite state of the soviet union, is being overrun by Russian armored divisions and now lies on the brink of total collapse. Russia has unleashed Armour, Air, Espionage, and computer age warfare on Georgia in such away as to bring back to life the fears and anxieties of the cold war. It was not so long ago that the Russians poured troops and Armour into another not so distant nation.

In Afghanistan the soviets struck out to expand there empire through a well timed and strikingly unopposed invasion of a sovereign neighbor. As we speak the invasion of Georgia goes unopposed but in words. Instead of the Olympics supporting the cause of world peace it seems to have allowed world leaders like our own president to take the weekend off and turn their backs on the Russians violent assault on a sovereign nation. It seems that not only is China hiding behind the Olympics but now so is Russia, the U.N., and N.A.T.O. Now I would never support a Olympics Boycott but more must be done to shed light on the actions of world Governments.

In the ninth century when the original Olympics where being held in ancient Greece all of the city states of Greece signed a truce. The Olympic Games truce, or ekecheiria, forbid warfare among Greek states, armies entering Olympia, and the use of the death penalty. It extended protections to all athletes, their families, and fans to allow them safe passage to the games and returning home after their completion. The Greek historian Thucydides tell us the truce was seldom broken. Upon the one instance it was broken, by the Spartans who where then forbidden from attending the games and find a large sum of money for assaulting the city of Lepreum.

Now I am not suggesting that we should banish the Russians from the games. But with the re-introduction of the Olympic truce over the last few years by the I.O.C. it seems prudent that this truce be enforced. The Russian athletes of course should in no way be punish for the actions of their government, but the Russian government should beheld responsible for breaking the Olympic truce. Many would argue that the Olympics should not be allowed to be used for what may seem to at first a political purpose. It is the clear mission of the I.O.C. to protect its athletes and further the cause of world peace.

As such the Russians invasion of Georgia has not only violated the the truces by waging war but they have endangered the athletes and families representing the Republic of Georgia. These athletes are no longer able to travel safely from the game to there homeland. This is the greatest violation of the truce imaginable and Russia deserves to be held responsible for there actions not only by the I.O.C. but also by the international community as a whole. As a global community we must hold all accountable for there action or forgo any hope of world peace.

The Olympics...

The XXIX Olympics arrives with a confusing out pour of human rights protests and celebrations of rebirth. The protests, the call for a presidential boycott, “The Genocide Olympics” campaign, the calls for peace by the Dalai Lama, and the continuing human rights violations of the communist government in china over whelm our sense. All as the Olympics stands before us as one of the greatest symbols of the human condition. What are we left to make of all this chaos? What message can we take from this momentous time? We know clearly that we must persevere and raise the whole of or nation against the outrages of China’s human rights record. But we must do so while examining the our selves and the whole of the human struggle. To do any less is to take all the Olympics have to offer and reducing it to a simple television debate dominated by the ethical distinctions of ‘Us and Them.' As Roger Waters and The Pink Floyd did in their ground breaking album the Dark Side of the Moon we are left to ponder, "those fundamental issues of whether or not the human race is capable of being humane."

One must look at least as far back as the Boxer’s rebellion to truly come to terms with China's own struggle to comprehend themselves in relation to the world at large. The Boxer's struggled against the oppression of imperialism and the looming threat of 'them'. During the rebellion thousands of chines fought against the British and many other nations which had began to over run China's cultural heritage through religion, economics, and technological advancement. From the boxer rebellion to the founding of the People's Republic of China the people of china have struggled to find meaning in a world increasingly dominated the advancing scientific out look of the modern world. In this way China has struggled with the sins of the modern world for close to a millennium began the first to pioneer the modern world with the inventions of gunpowder, compasses, paper, and printing.

One may be left to ask why such a struggle emerges with the advancement of the scientific view. Martin Buber explains for us in his book I and Thou, a work similar not only in title but also in content to the Pink Floyd's 'Us and Them.' "Modern science and technology, not to mention philosophy, direct us to see everyone and everything as an object to be understood intellectually and to be used for practical purposes to support our own well being and happiness (Johnston, 2007)." In mush this way we have come to view China in all its complexity as on would relate to a machine which produces certain goods and services. This form of instrumental reason has left us to categorize and sterilize all experiences we have with China leaving us with no understanding beyond the instrumental nature of its people.

As it stands China represents one fifth of the worlds population. Our nation and theirs share a symbiotic relationship beyond any we have seen before. Economically we are bound to a nation which at first seem culturally and politically opposite our own. We must move beyond viewing china in the sense of intellectual, ethical, or political categorization and judgments and view them as human beings. That in essence is what the Olympics are all about. As we watch men and women from all the nations of the world compete we see them struggling with there own humanity. We can watch as they over come cultural stigmas of race and creed. And even more simply as the over come their own mortality coming to grips with pain, heart ache, and spiritual fulfillment and lose which comes with the very highest forms of the human struggle. We are most importantly forced to view other nations like China not as a simple 'them' but as human beings just like our selves who posses the same fear and the same infinite nature granted by the human condition.

When we face the question of boycotting such an event we to often view the situation only in terms of the present state of affairs. China is the regard is a nation which is violating human rights acts, subverting the United Nations in Sudan, and exporting dangerous good to the U.S. We must instead view China as a nation of people struggling to over come themselves. We must only look back to our own Olympic games of 1984. It was China who defied the Russian boycott of our Olympics and reached out to the world in a gesture of good will. In this alone we surely owed China our support in the Beijing Olympics. But with the events in Tienanmen Square in 1989 and the atrocities in Tibet have left some, like those support "The Genocide Olympics" Campaign, to wonder if the Beijing Olympics of 2008 will not be more a kin to the 1936 Olympics in Berlin.

We must simply stop and realize one simple fact. The Berlin Olympics did not cement the raise of Nazi Germany any more the the rallies at Nuremberg. Instead the Berlin Olympics allowed men such as Jesse Owens to raise above the odds and strike down Nazi Theories of racial dominance. It is here that we must stop and point out one other crucial effect of the Berlin Olympics. Jesse Owens, a man of color, face no racial segregation while in Berlin. He returned to a nation where he could not freely use public transportation, eat at public lunch counters, or even use a whites only restroom as he had in Berlin. The Berlin Olympics pointed out the very hypocritical position the U.S. would often find it self for the years to come. It clear to us the atrocities committed by the Chinese government if in no other way then by Hu Jia's open letter on human rights. But what of our nation? If the Olympics where held today in the United States what sorts of protests would we have seen as the Olympic torch made its way around the globe?

What should be clear above all is the importance the Olympics holds in over coming the struggle between 'Us and Them.' In the end, as Waters put it, "The fundamental question that's facing us all is whether or not we're capable of dealing with the whole question of us and them." The Olympics is one the single greatest ways we have come up with as human beings to deal with that question. Nothing should stand in the way of its progress. But when the dust settles, the fans wonder home, and the world leaders and diplomats depart we must make it our sacred duty to work in every way to ease the suffer of all of humanity not only abroad but here in our own land. In the mean time we must take solace in the fact that all of humanity will struggle forth and over come as it always has.

And everything under the sun is in tune,
But the sun is eclipsed by the moon.
-Roger Waters

Wednesday, August 6, 2008


The fear and heart ache,
Shake back the tears and lie wide awake,
Coming is the scorn of a thousand lost nights,
Light so heavenly must fall from such great heights,
The fear of slings and stones,
Moans echo filling the night like the cracking of bones,
The night air’s stinging recoil,
Foil all that was born of our blood, sweat, and toil;
But all is lost upon the suns first light,
Trite it is to think only now of our Father’s last blood rite,
The Knight of Faith no longer everlasting,
Lasting through time only till the atoms blasting,
With borrowed dagger and the broken jar,
Scar our final night bellow that long lost star,
What is left of the Grammar school?
Cruel are the compass and the rule,
Games of language scrawled in chalk,
Walk one last time past the silent clock,
Upon the blackboard they are left to cry,
Fly from here or stay but to die,
For Copenhagen and Kierkegaard,
Scared they come to lie in the church yard,
As shall I upon the first light,
Fright has taken me long from such rite,
Consumed in fear no longer alive,
Thrive I shall for into the void I will dive.

the final thoughts...

I have spent a long time thinking over that letter. What to say; what to say? How dose a man face the lies of his past? At first I thought only time could heal such wounds. Perhaps with time I could answer such a question. Soon I found that I could do no such thing, for the heart to quickly will have moved on rising upon the wings of such a loving spirit. In just that insight the answer became crystal clear and yet absolutely meaningless. As I could only think of how any such answer could only drive doubt into the heart of love. In such I may have declared to God himself that I would never contemplate these thoughts. But in such it has fallen upon me as of late to throw off the great mortal dream of time it self and embrace the eternity that I must face. An eternity of the mind in which I may never escape the heart ache and pain that I brought into the world of one so dear. It remains within my soul each and every day. It will come to pass over my hands like so much blood. And all this must occur even as I only began to grapple with the eternal nature.

I have spent most of my life within the monstrous illusion which consumes so many. I lived in this world labeled as a Christian. The language of our fathers made the chains of of my slavery. I was consumed by the one written law. Defined by a label I had no true knowledge of. No conception beyond the aesthetic categories of the society in which I was conceived. The grammatical aberrations of the ethical consumed my every thought and made of me a slave to a notion of sin far from the realm of faith. I acted as a man consumed by a disease; a man with a sickness unto death which I could escape not even in death it self. My very actions reached out in anger to destroy the chains of the ethical, groping towards the aesthetic notions of the past. In doing so all spirit would be lost, all I could have held dear would be destroyed.

I pray now only that your spirit will eternally soar. That in faith you may be guided only to love. I can wish for nothing more for you or my self that I may never again tumble into your life. Instead it seems I must be left to spend eternity clamoring towards the unreachable. For not one moment will I live in such fear. I will live instead in the sweetest longing. In the memory of love eternally lost.

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