Crafting Gentleness

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

The Point However Is To Change It

I take out my Webster's Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary and I look up the word "gentle." I find it has several meanings. The primary one seems to be "belonging to a family of high social station." Then there is "honorable, distinguished." "Kind, amiable." "Free from harshness, sternness, or violence." Personally I've always associated the term with quiet, delicate touching, and so on. I suppose you could interpret it in a lot of ways.

I don't know why everybody seems to be steering away from the obvious realities of our time. They are not exactly secret, they take up most of the front pages of our daily papers. There is a war going on. It is a very dangerous thing. There are several ways to describe it but not all of them are correct. America is not defending itself. Nor is it spreading democracy, or freedom, or elevating the status of other peoples. America is flexing its muscles, it is spreading its influence, it is building permanent bases in the Middle East, it is creating huge fortunes for selected people and institutions. And it is collapsing. Without this as a backdrop I don't see how any of this discussion can ring true.

To live at home in the empire while the empire plunders abroad is to live in Alice's looking glass world. Everything is askew. Torture is acceptable, prisons are privately owned and operated and stocked to overflowing, civil and human rights are deferred or cancelled outright for the good of the grand scheme, elections are rigged, news is managed, reporters embedded so the Stockholm Syndrome can kick in, decent is vilified, thinking is discouraged. The military budget could cure cancer. Teenagers kill each other in high school. The two major causes of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder are military service and rape. The troops drive around in radio active depleted uranium reinforced tanks. We has so thoroughly saturated Iraq with DU that they may never have normal children again. We have killed somewhere around 100, 000 of them. We have lost over 3,000 of our own. Everybody knows this stuff, it is not a secret. The empire works because the citizens don't want to put the pieces together in their heads. They don't want to see that picture.

We have to. We have no choice.

We are not talking about people who have the time to consider how they should express their anger. We are talking about mothers who are trying to put the blown up pieces of their children back together so they can be buried in one place. We are not asking someone waiting for a cab to think before they say something regretful. We are hearing the cries of a million orphans staggering into the next century. This is serious business.

I was at home on 9-11 when those planes hit. A friend called me and told me to turn on the TV. I did. There they were, smoking and on fire. New York City, Manhattan, United States Of America. My first thought was, "what took you so long?" My second thought was, "America will go crazy now." We will have another attack if we stay on this course. You cannot think of slow and artistic ways to respond when your children are burning. We have got to do something about this. Now.

The anger that many people feel is real and justified. And we, as complacent citizens, have a lot to do with it. It is up to us.

Hope? "Desire accompanied by expectation of fulfillment." I don't use the word much, it tends to make me think of somebody not really doing much, just waiting for the cavalry to get there. Waiting for Godot. I think that humanity has always historically evolved toward the humane. And we do that by struggle. I understand that "hope" is a part of the tool chest and I will accept it that way. As long as we do something, that's the point. You mentioned Marx, you said something about his insight regarding our being born into historical situations not of our making. True enough. But he had another great insight that I believe they put on his his tombstone: "Up until now philosophy has only succeeded in explaining the world; the point however is to change it."

We have to change it.


  • Hey... I just noticed that people have been talking to me by leaving comments. Duh.

    By Blogger Jim Page, at Wednesday, 27 September, 2006  

  • Jim,

    I read your post and I realise I know nothing about you. I read it and I want to give up....I hear what you are saying but I wonder what the alternatives are in your world. You say we need to do something but it's like telling a smoker to quit - you need strategies to help, behaviour breaking stuff (where are your cut carrots and reminders to walk around the block when you say 'just do something'? *g*)

    So, it makes me wonder what keeps you going whilst holding so much? Can you explain, elaborate, fill-in?

    For me, just by way of intro first up - I work on my plot, my ground, my turf (which is becoming quite global), spreading good news, creating networks of profound change, learning and influence... In my story I am not responsible for changing the world but I am responsible for being what I need/want the world to be and influencing others...and in doing so change happens. In my story, everyone has a level of responsibility, not just me.

    How is it for you?


    By Blogger Soooz, at Monday, 02 October, 2006  

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