Toledo LOVE Fest: Anti-Trump Rally

As Donald Trump brought to Toledo his caravan of hate, bigotry and xenophobia, Toledoans met him with a LOVE fest, declaring resoundingly that his fear mongering is not welcome in Toledo.  Here is my favorite picture from the rally:

Top Pun Loves Muslims, Welcomes Immigrants, and Works to End Racism

Earlier, I met these two women while they were circling the block in their car.  I witnessed them being harassed by a cop for reportedly not turning immediately on a green light and holding up traffic. Ironically, the biggest lineup of cars that I saw at the corner were produced by the cop stopping them for a couple minutes. Not pictured is a sticker on my back that says, “I LOVE MUSLIMS.”

I LOVE MUSLIMS

We had someone else take a similar picture of us with one of the women’s phones (you can see this on the left of this pic).  I asked if they could share the pic with me on facebook.  They responded that they don’t do social media.  They prefer to keep it simple and real.  I LOVE THIS!  This is WAY better than getting a copy of their pic.  And, as it turns out, the love karma and sharing mojo, sent this picture my way anyways.

In unrelated karma, the police were out in force, the only ones dressed for a riot.  I couldn’t help but notice that the vast majority of the police for the vast majority of the time were facing the LOVE fest participants, not the Trump designated side of the street.  Hmmm…who do the police think are the threat, and whom are they focused on protecting?

Police Lineup

I was instructed by two separate police officers at two different times to return to the other side of the street, the protesters’ side.  There were plenty of legal observers (lawyers) present.  I spoke with several of them.  They confirmed that it is illegal, an unconstitutional limit of free speech and peaceable assembly, to partition public spaces into partisan zones.  In years past, the police set up “free speech zones” (sic), areas cordoned off with police tape to box up and control protesters.  Such “free speech zones” have  been ruled unconstitutional.  The legal observers are making a report, and, hopefully, this experience will add to the training of law enforcement officers as to their legitimate, legal duties.

Thanks to a grant from Homeland Security (emblazoned on the side of the armored vehicle), a military-style armored truck was parked adjacent to the demonstration area.  This was accompanied by a set of more-heavily-equipped police officers ready to leap into action if there was some type of invasion that a couple dozen policemen (there were no women cops) couldn’t handle.  This all strikes me as a great opportunity to normalize the militarization of local police forces.  Would we call a nation patrolled with armored trucks the “land of the free?”

Military-style police armored truck

If you would like to see more photos from Toledo’s LOVE fest and anti-Trump rally, check this out.  There were plenty of beautiful Toledoans and wonderful signs of love and anti-Trump messages.  May peace and love break out everywhere!

POEM: In The Scheme of Things

First class was all
Most sold out
Withal more empty than seeming
Wanting even
Titanic eves
To match their daze
Equally unenlightened
Missing that sinking feeling
Drinking in their moonshine
Wrecklessly straight
With nary an ice cube
Their glasses deluging them
Halving left
More than half fool
Long a go
At the no room inn
Taking
Parting shots
Through the looking glass
With mirrorlike lust-er
Not even a wave
Lapping up
The hem
And haw
In the face of global swarming
With frozen tears
Of mother earth
As if
Monumentally frigid
Proffering
Worthless rocks
Comprised of a billion carrots
Flawless in their mine
And blinding still
Un-be-knownst to them
In a twinkling of the I
Awe that they will no
Is mostly underwater
And in the scheme of things
A tiny cap size
In the sink

This titanic poem confronts the monumental hubris of mankind (sick) ignoring the rising tide of climate change and increasing climate instability.  Titanic - Too Big To Fail - OCCUPY WALL STREET POLITICAL BUTTONThe metaphor of the Titanic, over a century later, still, at the bottom of the see, epitomizes the lethal consequences of underestimating nature’s ability to cull out suicidal weighs of life.  Wile the rich in penguin suits toast the destruction of icebergs, their karma wades for them in what is as qualm as can be.  Yep, as global warming fires up, be the toast!  I am rather fond of humanity, but in the scheme of things, whatever undying infection Mother Earth may have of us, she heels to the largesse faucets of life.  As clear as night, we don’t know ship when it comes to our titanic undertakings.  And the see lies in weight.  In a slight paraphrase of dialogue from the movie Titanic: “But this shit can’t sink!   She’s made of irony, sir!  I assure you, she can… and she will. It is a mathematical certainty.”  May we wise up sooner rather than later to avoid any more first class disasters.

POEM: Less Taken Now

It was an eve to remember
The surf was swell
Giving rise to him
Way above his peers
He cried out mightily
“I’m on top of the world!”
Just moments later
Crashing onto the rocks
Baring him
No ill will
Nor give
A lessen too great for won
What remains
Borne by less fêted peers
Less taken now
By swell futures
Rocking on
Before the rising dawn

By accident or design, by great will or serendipity, we may find ourselves in epic places. This poem addresses issues of humility, grandiosity, and risk. A desire to be above our peers carries inherent risk. In both humans and the material world at large, there are natural limits. The organic nature of life does not easily support parasitical relationships. Even a parasite must take some care not to kill its host. I view humility as being right-sized, neither being too big, puffed up, nor being too small, shrinking to life’s demands. This poem addresses the puffed up half of the humility equation. Nature is not mean. Nonetheless, nature has laws. When nature’s laws are broken, such a lawlessness creates chaos rather than harmony. There is risk inherent in chaos. In pushing natural limits, we can reasonably expect push-back. Some might call this karma. Sometimes it is simply gravity.

To some degree, we must all deal with some form of chaos, if simply the unknown, or even unknowable. Life requires some space for give and take to thrive. Nonetheless, even gifted surfers of chaos would be better served by respecting grander surges. Living life in harmony requires a balance and a deep respect of the danger of extremes. A harmonious life, in contrast to a parasitical life, often demands from us to be “less taken.” This phrases double meaning encompasses both the material world where hoarding of nature’s bounty, or its destruction creates imbalance, and the transcendent world where our undue attachment to material wealth and power originates such imbalance.

Humans seem to have quite peculiar, even unique, role in nature. If we learn and respect natural laws, we can navigate the world in a nearly infinite number of ways, symbiotically glorifying both nature and the highest human potentials. If we live in ignorance and conflict with natural laws, in essence being parasites, nature may very well take us down, crashing us on the rocks from our foolish heights. There is great wisdom in understanding the simple and profound gravity of such situations. There is plenty of room for harmony. Nature is not miserly. Our own greed and blind grandiosity is the greatest threat to humanity. As Gandhi so wisely summed up, “There is enough for everyone’s need. There is not enough for everyone’s greed.” This is the most basic natural limit that humans face. It deserves the highest respect.

POEM: Hard on the Poor

Hard on the Poor

Our moral compass
Goes south
Skewering
Those below
Under lyin’
Poverty abashed
Without abjections
Needle US
Too say
Pricks
Hand shakers
And grand standers
Razing just for fund
He’ll freeze over
Before changing any position
Undertaking another bleak poll
Never about-facing mistakes
Fueled by deft ears
As the eaves drop on the homeless
Given props by spooks
Out of focus groups
Like miss diagnosing
The mortified
A rhino virus
In the middle of the living
Room for a growing boy
Like a Pinocchio knows
Running up bills
Virulent peckers
A fecund plague
Deifying gravitas
With hearts sow cold
Bringing them to their sneeze
A wretched climax
Eyes watering
When seize it
Progress
And congress
Members stiff
The public
Relations privatizing
A press corpse
Unable to issue a retraction
Interminable hacks
That even in their coffin
They are still
Convinced that they are
Looking up
Mean wile
Enjoin bye
The least of these
Has been
All ready
Spinning
In their gravy
Known as
Underground resistance
Ever more
Digging their new haunts
Offering no quarter
Giving berth
To just deserts
Best served
Cold
As south is south
And north is north
Encompassing awe
Probity

This poem offers a bevy of mixed metaphors and social commentary.  I wrote this poem before the latest Republican government shutdown, but its themes are eternal in politics.  The rich get richer and the poor get the shaft.  Republicans moralize to others and then epitomize sleaziness themselves.  Politics is governed more by money than the needs of the people.  Proselytizing politicians paint themselves into a corner driving their internal contradictions into explosive stupidity matched only by their intransigence.

Still, reality gives feedback.  Karma wends its way into the path of even the morally blind.  With wisdom, the subtle nuances of life’s ways can be discerned from a distance, and it’s gentle signs guide us in harmony.  With increasing foolishness, a dulled capacity to read wisdom’s kindly signs, ever-increasingly blunt warnings of impending danger will be offered.  If we insist on continuing down ever-increasingly perilous paths, mere red flags will turn to violence — sometimes physical violence, sometimes emotional violence, sometimes political violence.  Violence is the province of fools, whose understanding ends at blunt instruments.  May we keep our eye on wisdom’s gentle signs guiding us to harmony amidst giant oafs clumsily swinging their blunt instruments.

POEM: Work Week

One day I didn’t feel like going to work
Some people call them weekdays

This one goes out to all of you who feel, chronically and/or acutely, that going to work is, well…work.  I wouldn’t mind being the guy who was known for proposing the 3-hour work week.  My suggestion of a 3-hour work week is based on the concept, and with some experience, that working on average more than 45 minutes per day for four days per week is detrimental to human well-being.  Now, I define work as doing something you don’t want to do.  As the economic beings that we are often reduced to, this largely means those activities where we simply exchange your life energy for money — most people call them jobs, where you sell yourself to someone else — and shortchange your quality of life .  Of course, it could mean squashing spiders occupying your living space — which generally fits well into one’s 45-minute allotment.  No doubt, one of the handier practices in achieving a 3-hour work week, is learning to like what you do.  A version of this would be called Karma Yoga in Hinduism.  However, those of us living in Western civilization may be better able to relate to following our passions, structuring our life in such a way that our passions flow more freely.  Unfortunately, Westerners are socialized from birth to achieve security through money, and that money will give us freedom.  Perhaps the best illustration of why this doesn’t work can be had by simply observing Western culture over my lifetime (50-odd years — some would say very odd!).  For instance, the U.S. has over three times the material wealth that it had when I was born.  Also, a dream from those days, and perhaps these days still, is for increasing leisure, often brought about by technological advancement minimizing boring or routine tasks.  Well, this hasn’t happened.  In fact, Americans work longer work weeks than they did in recent generations — with the added “benefit” of having more household members selling themselves outside their home. We are no happier.  I suspect that a more workable solution to living consistent with our passions would be to downgrade the whole money gives us freedom thing and start with the question, “What would I do if money were not an issue?”

You may have noted that clustering the work over four days implies that at least three or more days a week should be free of work.  I see the practice of sabbath as essential to create and re-create our lives.  My own personal take on this progressive spiritual practice would be to take off every seventh year, every seventh month, every seventh day, every seventh minute, and every seventh second.  This represents the re-centering our lives around something other than “work” — read “money,” and practicing mindfulness at all times, in all that we do (or don’t do).  Plus, as an addendum to this progressive journey of sabbaths, I am partial to the Jewish concept of the year of jubilee practiced. The year of jubilee is a sabbath year of sabbath years (every 49th or 50th year), where property returns to its original owners, recognizing that God owns that land (and all), and serves to prevent accumulation and concentration of wealth due to the vagaries and greed of human life.  Making such a grand project a reality definitely provides a lot of work that I can be passionate about!

POEM: I Dropped My Sword and Shield

One day I dropped my sword and shield
And as it turns out, it freed more than my hands

It is not unusual for me to want to see someone hurt; this is the metaphorical sword.  It is not unusual for me to want to protect myself and limit my vulnerabilities to others; this is the metaphorical shield.  On a good day, I find freedom in heaping compassion on all living beings, and opening myself to the reality that me and the so-called other are actually one.  It has been said that resentment is like taking poison and expecting another to die.  Resentments hurt me first, and then often go on to hurt others.  It has also been said that hurt people hurt people.  However, it is possible for me to break that cycle. And when the cycle of hurt is broken, I am the first one freed.  To live this way requires a lot of vulnerability, that is, dropping my shield.  While our culture often lifts up the virtues of the warrior, I believe that a willingness to experience hurt without passing that hurt on to others takes more courage than hurting others.  Punishment as a lower form of justice.  Also, by offering a break in the cycle of hurt it serves as an invitation to others to break the cycle.  The point is not to visit the karma of violence upon another but to escape that karma.  This is a higher form of just us.

What Are Conservatives Conserving?

What Exactly Are Conservatives Conserving (Earth) POLITICAL BUTTON

What Exactly Are Conservatives Conserving (Earth) POLITICAL BUTTON

What Exactly Are Conservatives Conserving (Earth) POLITICAL BUTTON

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What exactly are conservatives conserving?  This is a great question!  Of course, I love the play on the similar root of the words conservative and conserving.  Conservatives love talking about freedom.  However it seems that if we listen to conservatives we would be free to live in a world that is being consumed by all of its so-called free human beings, and all these human beings would be competing to no end against one another.  Sounds like a crappy version of freedom to me.   Freedom without understanding and honoring the limits of the natural world seems to me to be simply a license to ignorantly destroy the planet and all of its inhabitants.  Of course, the shared reality of the natural world, if it is going to be protected for the benefit of humanity, must put demands and limitations on human freedom.  Human beings, though seen as the pinnacle of reality by many, are certainly not exempt from the feedback or karma that the rest of reality causes in response to our actions.  Oftentimes, when I hear conservative speaking of freedom, it sounds to me like some immature fantasy of being free from anything and everything (or anyone).  However, I believe that true human wisdom lies in discerning what we should do, not simply what we can do (or get away with).  Reality gives plenty of good feedback about what we actually can’t do, so the obsession with freedom seems to me to be a sort of moot question.  Like the existentialist philosopher John Paul Sartre says, “we are condemned to be free.”  Freedom actually isn’t even a choice; we are born free.  Certainly, living in community with other human beings is a complicated and difficult thing.  However, it strikes me as foolish to ignore or greatly discount all the great things that we get from community as somehow too fuzzy or somehow reducible to some  individualistic form of math (the whole equals the sum of the parts, not more) that need rely only on some “invisible hand” to do the difficult and messy work of creating and maintaining a healthy and functional community.  In the end, it seems to me that what conservatives are conserving is the right to be selfish – more of an excuse than a human right.  Then, to get out of this amoral or evil conundrum, they claim that selfishness is the highest form of selflessness or benefit to the common good.  I suppose it’s very difficult to argue against an ideology that creates both its central tenet in its exact opposite.  Let them eat cake and keep their cake to.  What could be more conserving than that?