Sunday, December 18, 2011

The Color of Money:

Why Greed is NOT good.

"Just because you do not take an interest in politics doesn't mean politics won't take an interest in you." -- Pericles

It is a fact; there are more people in the middle class than there are people in the upper class. However, the recent issue of taxation has ultimately led to a redefinition of classism, and the dubious phrase, “class warfare” has been thrown around recklessly.

Almost all of the Republican Presidential candidates and many of the more outspoken House Republicans have called Obama's recent tax increases upon the wealthy idea as being symptomatic of
“class warfare.” They boorishly go on and on about how it creates division and a lack of incentive for American “Job Creators” (the lovely conservative way of saying rich person) to create those jobs. Over the last decade, taxes on the wealthy have been lower than they have EVER been—and I do mean EVER. Alarmingly however, Job Creation has either been stagnant or non-existent.

The truth is, the biggest hurdle to job creation is not government regulation, but a very human element—Greed. Greed is one of the seven deadly sins for a reason, and, ironically, is the driving motor of the American way of life. No one wants a socialistic government, however, one cannot deny that our current system is built upon an idea that naturally excludes less fortunate people. Capitalism is a wedge that separates the haves from the have nots. Essentially, it is two lions and a gazelle arguing over what they will have for dinner.

The Republican party knows this. However, they must find a way to convince people to vote in favor of their ideology. Because that block of wealthy people is so small, they must convince the rest of the country that they are looking out for them. This is why social issues exist within public policy.

For example: I have an aunt and an uncle who base their election decisions on who is Pro-Life or Pro-Choice. While the sanctity of the voting booth is, indeed, a cornerstone of American Democracy, my aunt and uncle are a glistening example of how both political parties have inverted and ultimately perverted the electoral process. My aunt and uncle are normally reasonable people, but they make a very important decision using skewed information, or by ignoring information that should take much more precedence. Abortion, for better or worse, will never be repealed—it exists as an issue to divide and horrify, to stir up the emotions of people whom can be tricked into voting based on those emotions instead of their mind. In truth, the President of the United States has ZERO power over laws regarding Abortion—since that is already a law, only the Supreme Court can decide that, and they are appointed for life.

My aunt and uncle make a modest living—below 150,000 dollars, if not below 100,000. This would place them in the middle class, where Democrat tax ideas will benefit them. However, I am fairly certain that they vote Republican because of the Abortion issue.

Churches have a long history of being very important around election time. From their pulpits, preachers wield great sway over the fragile minds of their congregation. These people, entranced by the soaring voices of the preacher and the fervor with which he delivers whatever he delivers, mindlessly shuffle towards voting booths and punch the ticket—horribly misinformed and lacking their own individual ideas.

Usually, it is the conservative party that benefits from these division topics. By rallying behind something as ridiculous and divisive as religion and abortion, they can draw attention away from the fact that they will NOT tax millionaires, but will happily raise taxes upon the middle class. When they are caught on this, they explain that they will not tax millionaires because to do so would ruin their ability to create more jobs. Ironically, even with taxes as low as they are because of the Bush Tax Cuts, job and economic growth is deplorable.

But reality is not often a stance taken by the GOP. This is because to be realistic, defies the ideology that the party has truly adopted—religious fanaticism. By pandering to the hyper religious, they have effectively "dumbed" down their stance on science and things that have always been seen as an assault upon religion. Evolution, which, everywhere else outside of the Middle East is seen as a fact, is still considered a “theory” here.

This is because religion has always been scary, has always been the boogie man that keeps people in line. While it worked to civilize an ancient and brutal culture, it now serves to chain us behind the times and remove any chance we have of progressing into the future. Religion is now, more than ever, the tool of the wealthy to dominate the not-wealthy. Napoleon said it best, “Religion is what keeps the poor from murdering the rich.”

The rich have bought their politicians on both sides, and have maintained their foothold into the American mind with God as their weapon. I do not hate or fault God for this, I hate the fact that mankind can so easily manipulate the minds of other human beings, and that human beings will so easily allow their minds to be manipulated. Man is a vicious, deceitful creature that has siphoned and destroyed the very planet that it sits upon, cloaking its dagger fall behind a shroud of righteousness.

Sadly, the average human being will never understand this because Fox news will not tell them. Most of the people who read this will not understand, and may even be offended or put off by it. To them I declare that you have already been lost to the void that has been built by your corporate masters, but it is not too late to break free.

To do so though, one must be able to expand their own mind and not have their information dictated to them. The greatest, most powerful weapon they have over us is the media. He who controls the media, controls the minds of the people who consume that media. The nature of reality television and things of its ilk serve only to distract us and make us complacent—to numb and dumb our minds into malleable facsimiles of themselves, so that we will continue buying whatever is being sold during the commercial breaks and keep voting for whomever has the best hair and attack ad.

I love this country, I really do. I have seen the rest of the world, in the best of times and in the worst of times. I still come back and I still call this country home. Let us remember that we stand for the colors on that flag and the fifty stars upon it—not for the colors upon our currency.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

The Defense Of An Idea:

How the Defense of Marriage Act is actually an assault on it.

Social issues inevitably become a driving force behind any change in policy recently. It seems to me a shame. While it is true that, to some degree, a measure of social change should occur within our society, I feel that to base the very principals of something as important as an election upon such shifting, and often times misguided subjectivity, is gravely dangerous. However, it happens every day within our country. Unlike other liberal minded people of my generation, I will not lay the blame upon any specific group of people, though some of them may actually be to blame. I will however, set upon highlighting why I feel it is ultimately against the interests of the country to base such monumental decisions upon personal prejudices.

Abortion has always been that key issue that people have taken sides upon. This makes sense—abortion, by its very design, is a concept of alarming consequence; the destruction of a potential life. While I do not wish to touch upon this issue here (for it has been covered, ad nauseam) I mention it to merely highlight its inherent connection with the new, modern day social issue—Marriage, and what it means.

This issue, like so many others, has become decorated in various shades of gray. Heavy handed Republican candidates almost unanimously oppose marriage of any kind outside of the traditional idea that it should only exist between a man and a woman. This is to be expected from a party that has, traditionally, always been an advocate for older, more historical times. What is depressing though, is that the other side has yet to gain foothold within an established party; Democratic candidates seem to shy away from support for same-sex marriage in favor of the rather ambiguous “civil-union,” a legally binding contract of sorts that carries with it many of the benefits of marriage. This, in my opinion, is a weak gesture by a party associated with words like “progressive” or “liberal.” Because of their apparent fear of alienating sections of the middle voters, Democrats have assured that the only voice of support for same-sex marriages will come from those whose voices do not have the power to create policy on any chamber floor.

This is indefensible. Whenever a sub-sect of humanity is ignored, it can ultimately be marginalized. This is the greatest fear I have with “The Defense Of Marriage Act.”

This bill establishes marriage as being explicitly between one man, and one woman—nothing else is to be justified as a marriage. To me, not only does this represent a very backward approach to social tolerance, but it also creates a justifiable set of mandates that a government can dictate something as individual and personal as sexual orientation.

The Government has never had any problem with invading people's privacy. In the past, it was illegal for a black person to marry a white person. Though this act may still, to some who harbor prejudice, carry a sort of negative social stigma, no one in the world would ever be justified in denying such a union. To do so, would cause an unrelenting backlash upon the denier.

Yet, to deny a marriage is done every day to same-sex couples. Why? Are they not entitled to a modicum of privacy? To assault the individual liberties and privacy of this group of people, will ultimately establish the precedent that it is acceptable for a government to remove from existence any element of society that it feels is subversive—here, for our purposes, synonymous with different. Essentially, today's same-sex ban could be tomorrow's interracial ban, or something far worse.

Hitler was allowed to rise to power by the people he presided over. Liberty does not fall with weapons of force, for any coup d'├ętat based upon violence ultimately loses the support of the people that are its literal engine. To take down any structure of power, one must have the support to do it. Remember, it was Caesar, the favorite son of the people, and not Crassus the wealthy, that became a tyrant.

I simply ask, if we allow it to become constitutional to ban same-sex marriage, what else will we allow our leaders to do? If the individual is not free within the confines of his own bedroom, how much longer until the confines of his mind are broken down? It takes only one step, no matter how small a tip-toe or how large a leap, to set into motion the collapse of the American ideological bulwark. This nation was built upon a progressive mind set, built to change with the ever changing winds of social evolution and the current of an ever connected and ever global world. To close off such a civil liberty like marriage to anyone, is a disservice to all that is American.

America was once, and perhaps still is, the envy of the entire world. Governments envied the way our economy churned, or how powerful our military might could be when flexed. People, however, did not envy our government. People envied the United States because it was home to all that they could only dream of—home to liberties like free speech, free religion, and the right to love and be loved by whomever.

In the end, it comes down to that issue. It simply is not anyone's business, especially the Government's, what occurs in anyone's bedroom, or at anyone's altar. To allow this, is an indefensible assault on marriage and the idea it represents, not a defense of it.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

America, the Beautiful.

There is something quite wrong with this country—that much is obvious and certain. People say that, but no one really defines what that problem is. If you do meet someone who can offer up a definition, what you will hear will typically include various topics ranging from Government, to business, to greed, etc., etc...

However, the very real problem is not the institutions that have been established—if they are indeed the problem, then these problems we seem to be experiencing just recently would have always existed. I think everyone would agree (falsely as it turns out) that life was better then than it is now. That those who came before were somehow smarter (they probably were) and purer towards God (they weren't) and that we have deviated from their standard and plunged ourselves into darkness.

The reason we cannot compare ourselves to those that founded this country is because of the simple, immutable fact that the world is very different now than it was then. What do I mean different? Aside from the very complex issues of racial equality or inequality, or wealth balance or imbalance, or any of the other very specific things that Americans routinely grip about, the biggest difference is that the world is bigger now than it was three hundred years ago. Not only literally; within fifty years of the revolution we were expanding ever westward and growing own borders, while other countries and ourselves made pilgrimage after pilgrimage abroad as well—but also abstractly.

Each generation is categorized by three things: The tragedies it endures, The industry it pioneers, and the arts and monuments it leaves behind. For us, the tragedy is very obvious and ever lasting; we cannot hide from the shadow of those giant buildings—nor should we. They were testaments to our ingenuity, just as the aftermath of their destruction has been a testament to our resolve to never give up our way of life.

Our generation, depending on where you believe our generation begins, has also been responsible for the next great industrial evolution—not revolution. Our parents generation was all about continuing the trends of the past, working away in factories and building things, such as our cars and our buildings. If not this pursuit, our parents hunted down college educations, which became more common as middle class wealth increased. For us, we have developed or benefited (used loosely) from an information based industry. Instead of smoke spouting factories, we have constructed infinite highways of invisible information, technology that is so advanced that we have yet to ascertain its true capabilities. All of this is exciting, and it is this direction that will drive the spirit of our innovation.

And that innovation will ultimately lead to the art we leave behind. Perhaps the internet will be our calling card, perhaps something some young man or woman reading this will paint will live on forever as a microcosm of all that we were.

But how do we get there? Right now, it is impossible to deny that we are stuck, that we are lacking the fundamental forward progress of our fathers. Why? Are we less intelligent? No. In fact, on average, quite the opposite is true. We know things now that even Jefferson, with all of his intellectual prowess could never have fathomed—the human genome, evolution, penicillin as just a few examples. So why are we unable to achieve the greatness that we are destined to achieve?

I do not have the answer to these questions—no one does. The critics of our generation will call us lazy, they will delude the minds of those older into thinking we have done this to ourselves, that achievement is easy. It is not. For every billionaire is just a queen bee, sustained by the sweat of those less fortunate, creatures who have but one task—work for another.

That takes us back to the true source of the American Flaw—the misconception of the American Dream. What is it? The first thought that pops into every person's head will undoubtably be a white picket fence establishing a perfect square perimeter around a perfectly mowed and perpetually green yard. I bet the house is bricked, and the deck has an American Flag hanging off of it in most people's mental picture.

What is wrong with that image? For some, nothing. Such an idea can be achieved and probably sustained with a simple life—being a teacher, an auto-worker—something that has a set lifespan and a set wage counter. By indoctrinating this idea into our collective cultural subconsciousness, the keepers of our country have stripped away the inherent desire that every human being truly has—the desire for more.

I am not ashamed to admit that I want more. There is no limit to the amount that I desire to take for myself. But I do not wish to thieve it, I wish to earn it. I do not see myself as exceptional, but I do see myself as capable of exceptionality. I, unlike others, do not believe that this is a rare and mysterious gift possessed only by a few; that belief is what has fostered one of the real problems with the people in this country—the willingness to settle.

A simple search and scan amongst those you know will reveal that much to you; we all know a girl who accidently got pregnant and, even without feeling love for him, married the father. Why? Because it was the easy choice, because even though that feeling wasn't there, it was good enough. Instead of casting out and taking a chance, the girl went with the comfortable choice—the choice that required minimal additional sacrifice.

I don't know what I am going to do with myself. Perhaps I don't place enough emphasis on tomorrow, and it's obvious that I definitely didn't used to. Living in the moment is dangerous, but it is within that realm that we are able to truly let go and live. There is a future out there, yes, but let it be in the future.

If we do look to the future, we have to realize that the future is naturally uncertain. Ironically, this is because we don't take into account the present actions that will ultimately create (notice I did not say influence or any synonym of it) that future. The future is a swirling vortex of gray uncertainty—a nebulous hue without form that shifts, breaks, bends, collapses, and rebuilds itself with whimsical abandon. It is not random, but it is not preordained. The very essence of the future or contemplating it results in a mind numbing paradox that ultimately leads to a point beyond human understanding.

To exemplify, let us examine the girl and her baby. After choosing her babies father out of apparent necessity and comfort, she finds herself struggling with a very common mid-life crisis in her later years. Perhaps she has lived a moderately happy life, perhaps she has not—Such a distinction is not, in the end, particularly important. As her child becomes an adult, the apparent necessity that drove her towards that life will dissolve and no longer be of any relevance. This creates a typical paradigm of a disgruntled housewife. At this juncture, because it is no longer necessary to live for or pretend and feign happiness for the benefit of a child, such weak structures of domestication will collapse. The woman will now seek to live for herself having not been able to do so for the majority of her life.

And that, in my opinion, is simultaneously the greatest beauty, and greatest tragedy of the dilemma of life. At this point, it is very difficult for our subject to live for herself because she has spent so much of her life sacrificing herself for the good of others; this results in very little self to live for, or, worse off, very little self to die for.

For those who do not give in to such situations, or who are able to avoid them all together—one is always living for themselves, but has no barometer to measure the self and the selfless against because they have never lived for another.

Humanity is always in opposition to itself. It feeds off of the paradoxes inherent in its shrewed and shabby system. These simultaneous failures and successes give us the yard stick by which we will ultimately measure our own lives—a measurement that will never, no matter what, be what we wanted it to be.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Fire, Walk With Me. (Violet)

In a line with the fire and the flock,
astray in the meadow
with the sheep and the fox.
Fire, walk with me in the attic of contempt
to mock my malaise.

A proud smirk—eyes, steel blue and angry, unblinking,
balancing the culprit of my damnation,
soapy tears that have mixed with my faults and sinew
to form a response, a lesson learned
but not applied.

A fledgling Shepard guides me, holding my hand
underneath a table of wood, our drinks balancing neither empty
nor full upon its top! Our heads, weary and heavy,
our voices no longer make sounds but merely take shape,
and so we tip toe along the dream in the cool evening hours.

Your laugh—the last piece, the most important piece—
sine qua non. And then,
all the pretty horses escape from their stables
and take over the fields,
galloping free in the sunlight.

The sun shall fall out of the sky and give way
to a canopy of stars and moon!
The meadow will creak and moan with insects and life,
fireflies will ignite the air in rhythmic blinks,
and the Shepard shall retire for the night.

A garden snake will slither amidst the weeds,
the fox will skirt the edge of the meadow—blanketed in darkness.
His eyes—little alabaster pools—
will dart from victim to victim,
in line with the moon and the flock.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Adelade (Red)

They met in class—not by chance.
She, the little girl with the auburn hair,
the pale white skin, porcelain—without flaw.
He, the plastic little boy, tongue tied and aloof,
manufactured prestige—little man sans briefcase.
His eyes transfixed upon her ruby hair and lips,
watch her as she breathes life into him.
Her soft hands, welcome the man—
destroy the child.

How much the dream has wavered,
inevitable collapse! Such strain,
such time and hope lost. It seems so much like an instant,
an instant that played out over years and years.
Incalculable days and hours, minutes vanishing to never again
exist. Charon, drag me to the other side—
fire burning without heat. Embers flare and fall and resound
amidst the mighty swell!
Release me, release me!

For a child cries and cries and cries. She must answer the call.
He cannot, his ears are muted for him, he wants to reach out
but his arms are not big enough to cross such a distance,
they cannot cross the even bigger chasm of time.
Wicked valley, stretching out from the now to the then,
punishing, as tomorrow becomes yesterday
and yesterday is gone.
Do not cry out little child,
for mother will always be there.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Wandering Down Along The Creek Bed.

Wandering down along the creek bed,
twisting and turning through the wood—the leaves slashing
and thrashing aloud, confused as they tumble down.

Brittle paths of brown and orange and red, crackling underfoot,
volume pitched high and low under the strain of my pounds
and the stride of my sensitive gallop.

Wandering down along the creek bed,
the stream breathes and its mighty voice echoes off of the trees
and bounces up into the sky, losing itself amidst gray cloud.

The water looks like it feels cold,
it runs slowly but constantly, height changed by the wind and the rain.
And there, in the middle, floats a single green leaf.

A lilly pad, plucked from a tree by another.
It is still alive! One wonders how such a thing remains
long after love and life have abated, replaced by seasons of doubt and regret.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

The Lost Generation

Today is one of those days where the sky looks like concrete and the sun is hidden behind an impregnable wall of oppression. Somewhere up there in the cosmos there are stars trying to get out, but they cannot escape. Somewhere on Earth, there is a little man who can't lift his head anymore, but he keeps trudging along.

Let us not forget him, for he endured so long. His ambitions were once defining elements of his being. Now, his being is centered around an inexplicable collapse of potential and "could have been." His eyes have that sagging quality-- all the luster of youth is gone and all that remains is a dark oyster shell that has been emptied of its valuables.

The simple act of showering or dressing or even waking now seems like an exercise in futility, a discourse against reason and sanity. His bed represents all that he seems to ever have actual dominion over anymore; the rest of the world just seems vast and unimaginable.

As a child, he could trace the borders of the globe in his imagination-- now, he merely laments and laughs at the irony that globes do not have corners. There is a world out there, but it's best left for someone more deserving to observe and experience. To him, they are just giant misshapen chunks of land that some gallivanting Marco Polo should stake a claim to. And there, like a pirate, he can quench his appetites on all of the spoils, riches, and philandering that he can stand.

That's the crux of it all; the world is a cruel, twisted, paradoxical joke; it turns its players against one another with rules in perpetual opposition and advice that is skewed and antiquated. For some, the world simply works. For others, even messianic capability and purpose cannot drive them towards achievement or success.

To those who do survive, it is not jealousy that the boy in his bed with the sunken eyes feels-- it is a lustful longing. He wishes to be you, but his vanity will not allow him to outright claim such. Because he has failed and you have not, he lashes out at you with great wrath. Like a glutton, he absorbs the failures and deconstructs them with apparent apathy. He has become a sloth, laying in his own depravity, waiting for a guiding light to release him. All of it derives from the most petty but simultaneously enduring of human desires-- greed.

He wants to have so that he can ascend some metaphorical mountain and shout down with arms spread wide at those who have hurt or wronged him. He wants to represent that idea, that idea that is so intrinsically American; "look at me now!" That is all we are-- vain, vapid, shuffling leeches that have no other need or desire than to validate ourselves to others-- because ourselves are despicable and unholy.

Even the Devil doesn't want us, for we are the lost generation.

On Letting Go.

He rests now, stoic in a wooden box with rails along its side,

where half a dozen of his kin shall align

three to a side and carry him all the way home.

The sound and smell of tears shall rise up in the room but

it will not choke the life from any.

Though a child lies sleeping, let us not forget the man.

For Heaven, in all of its beauty, splendor or promised treasure

cannot equal that smile!

How radiant his eyes, ablaze like polished meteors!

Now they are closed, forever resting, sheathed by lid,

wreathed in sorrowful embrace,

the tranquility, letting go!

Though heavy, that steel and wood will be lifted effortlessly

and all of the tears shall follow down with him.

For love has no measure of strength, its will is unbreakable.