Sunday, July 31, 2005
The more hip among you will probably roll your eyes. The lovely Thomai will tease me. But I'm a big boy, I can take it! That being said, here is what is tickling my fancy right now!
1. "You Don't Know Me" by Michael Buble. He's done an excellent job of interpreting this timeless classic. I probably listen to it at least once a day.
2. "The House is Rockin" by Stevie Ray Vaughan. Stevie Ray's music is never far from my playlist, and I've been into this one even more lately.
3. "When I'm Gone" by 3 Doors Down. "There's another world inside of me that you may never see. There're secrets in this life that I can't hide". I love the opening guitar solo and I'm drawn to the angst-ridden lyrics.
4. "Hoochie Coochie Man" by Muddy Waters. Its not his best tune, but when you want that authentic bluesy feeling there is no one better.
5. "Zoe Jane" by Staind. Probably just because Aubree and I regard this as "our song". "And I want to hold you. Protect you from all the things I've already endured. And I want to show you, to show you all of the things that this life has in store for you. I'll always love you, the way a father should love his daughter. Sweet Zoe Jane."
6. "Werewolves of London" by Warren Zevon. Yeah, I know. But sometimes I'm just in the mood for it.
7. "Walk This Way" by Aerosmith. I play a mean air guitar to this one and its been known to make all of us in this house dance. Badly. But we dance.
8. "A Song For You" by Leon Russell. Since I did the post on Leon I've been listening to his music a lot more than usual. This song always grabs me.
9. "Round Here" by the Counting Crows. Just because I like it.
10. "My Father's Eyes" by Eric Clapton. I can't list ten songs without including one by the master.
Thomai - because if I show her mine she has to show me hers.
Splendid - because I'm curious. I 'm sure her taste is just..well..splendid!
Kyra - because I've never tagged her before and I know nothing about her musical tastes.
Joan - because she gives me a hard time, and when I wield the power I exact my revenge. :)
Babs - because I'm curious what a fellow Okie is listening to.
Anyone else is of course welcome to participate. Its Sunday. Its an easy meme. You like music. So write! In my very best authoritative school administrator voice I'm saying, "get to it!"
Did I ever mention that I just love music?
Saturday, July 30, 2005
It depends a lot on the blogger, doesn't it? There are blogs on my blogroll on the right that share an enormous amount about themselves. They chronicle their life, their fears, and their hopes. They share with us the most intimate details of their lives. Others share nothing more personal than their favorite recipe. They maintain a large zone of privacy.
I'd like to think I'm one of the fairly open bloggers. I share a lot here. I can't tell you how many times my finger hovers before I click "Publish" and I think to myself, "should I really tell that?". Then I do. I've never regretted it....not even once. Each time I share something of myself I feel stronger. Its almost like an addiction. You do it. It feels good. You want to do it some more. Its changed me in a noticeable way.
But of course there are some things that don't come through here very clearly. At least I don't think they do, but then again I'm not seeing it through the eyes of others. I'm thinking that to have the entire picture of me you would have to understand a few things that are difficult to make clear in posts. What is missing?
- I actually have a very onery streak. I come from a family of practical jokers....my grandfather was the master. I've played many a practical joke in my time.
- I like to tease those close to me, and I like to think I do it in a good way.
- I have something of a wicked, playful sense of humor. It goes along with the teasing. :)
- I can be very moody and thoughtful. Its not all that uncommon to find me sitting quietly and looking out the window.
- My voice is a very deep one with a hint of Oklahoma accent.
- I laugh out loud a lot.
- I'm a bit of a smartass.
- I enjoy a good debate.
- I'm a sucker for a hard luck story
- I'm a pretty good judge of people...well, most of the time.
- My hands get sweaty when I'm nervous.
- When I get really angry, I get really quiet.
- I don't like to lose an argument.
- I can be stubborn. Too stubborn.
- Eye contact is my thing. If you have my interest, you have eye contact from me.
- I multi-task a lot.
- I can get totally lost in a daydream.
- I'm a weird combination of caution and risk-taking.
Friday, July 29, 2005
The last weekend in July is here! The dog days of August will soon be upon us. None of that has stopped me from making my weekly trip through the blogworld. Guess what I found?
Lisa was happy that her friend “grew a shiny new set of balls.” Kyra is happy that she’ll be seeing her husband in six weeks.
Joe waxes poetic about the tangled web of life. Melanie isn’t being poetic but she is being iconic
Grace has been getting some daily motivation. John has memories of feeling like he died and went to heaven.
I shouldn't have to say it by now, but I would like everyone to stop by and comment on at least one of these fine posts. They are worth it.
Savor what remains of the summer and have a great weekend!
Thursday, July 28, 2005
For peace of mind we need to eliminate the dissonance. We either change one of the competing beliefs or behaviors, reduce one of them in importance, or add more "ammunition" to one side so that it clearly outweighs the other. We have to do this to eliminate the conflict in our minds.
Have some competing attitudes or behaviors floating around? I certainly do. I'm guessing that most of the people who read this post do. Its not a bad thing, is it? Part of the way we grow and change is letting new ideas in to compete with the old ones. We either accept the new idea, modify it to fit with the old, or ultimately reject it.
I'd like to play around with a few of these. Some are personal and some are not. All of them are situations many of us have been faced with. Ready?
When my wife decided to end our marriage I begged and pleaded for a chance to keep our family together. I begged like I'd never begged anyone for anything before, and I'm not exaggerating one bit. My very last scrap of pride is probably still embedded in the carpet fibers of that house. I was raised that a man should have dignity and pride and should never beg or humiliate himself. I did it anyway. There are your competing cognitions - my strong desire to keep my marriage and my need to retain a semblance of pride. Either you get rid of one or the other. You make a choice about which of those is most important and it eradicates the other. They can't both co-exist together.
Most of us have a desire to keep on living as long as we can. Its a definite idea we have in our heads. But we also drink, smoke, eat fatty foods, and avoid exercise. How do we resolve the dissonance? We pretend those things aren't that bad or that not living so long isn't such a bad thing. I have a passing familiarity with this one.
You value faithfulness and fidelity, but you find yourself involved in an affair. You want this other person but it violates your belief system. You have choices: A) end the affair and return to your belief system, B) leave your mate to join you lover, resolving the fidelity issue, or C) find a way to justify the competing notions. "He doesn't care about me anyway." "She's probably cheating too." Isn't rationalization just the neatest thing? Its a great help in resolving internal conflict.
You believe in honesty and integrity, but challenges to those values arise all the time. You find a wallet full of money in the parking lot. You look at that tax return and know you could change a couple of numbers and only stand a remote risk of being caught. Someone has a copy of the test. You find yourself in an uncomfortable or embarassing situation and its just much easier to lie.
You remember some of the unpleasant things about your youth and resolve never to inflict those things on your children. Fast forward many years and you're doing it anyway. Maybe you've grown up and realized those things weren't that bad. Maybe you've learned how to make excuses. After all, you are tired and stressed, right?
You wouldn't steal a nickel from Bill Gates but you download music like a fiend. *Raises hand*. You find a way to justify it in your mind. Somewhere you know its wrong, but after all, "those record companies make too much money anyway and charge too much for their CDs". Thats how you resolve the conflict....you introduce a third belief that mitigates the part of you that thinks you're swiping something.
You consider yourself an open-minded person but you cast aspersions on people every day. They belong to a different political party? They've gotta be evil or ignorant. They believe something different from you on some hot button issue? They're stupid. They have a different lifestyle than you do? What the hell is wrong with them? This dissonance is easy to resolve. Its THEIR fault.
We face these internal conflicts...this dissonance...every day of our lives. New things meet the old. We find a way to resolve it. Sometimes for the good and sometimes not. How we resolve our internal conflicts plays a large role in who we are.
Just the fact that we have conflict says something about us. Think Ted Bundy had internal conflict going when he killed those girls? Think Bin Laden lost any sleep over financing the deaths of innocents? When you don't have the conflicts...that is when you should worry.
I had a little cognitive dissonance over putting up this post. How did I resolve it? I clicked...."Publish".
Wednesday, July 27, 2005
We've had a problem with wasps getting into the house the past couple of weeks. I could be seen with a rolled up newspaper or magazine hunting them down. A couple of nights ago Patrick told me there was one in his room. I walked in with my rolled up magazine and the wasp was sitting on Patrick's light fixture. Kerwhack! Dead wasp. Dead light fixture too...it won't work anymore!
I went and bought some bee and wasp spray. It promises a guaranteed kill on those little suckers and can shoot them dead at 20 feet. We seemingly had wasps everywhere before I bought the spray. Now? I haven't seen ONE. I haven't got to even attempt to shoot them. How did they know?
I took the kids to see "Fantastic Four" this afternoon. The movie is probably not going to be up for any Oscar awards, but it is fun summertime entertainment. Now I just have to get Patrick to stop saying, "its clobbering time!"
I've been reading Bill Clinton's autobiography, and a quote from Russian president Boris Yeltsin made me laugh. He was asked if he was happy about how things were going at the meeting. His reply? "Happy? One cannot be happy outside the presence of a beautiful woman. But I am satisfied." Those Russians do have a way with words! :)
Aubree goes nuts every time the commercial comes on for the "Country Love Songs" double CD set. Her musical taste tends to run where mine doesn't - country and rap. When we go to Wal Mart, there are two CDs she wants, Kenny Chesney and Bow Wow (Kenny Chesney is her current celebrity crush. I guess thats better than Justin Timberlake). Where did I go wrong?
I've been in "deep cleaning mode". I'm not a very consistent housekeeper. I pick things up, wipe things down, and try to keep the house presentable. Then a burst of inspiration hits and I CLEAN. I clean under things, over things, and inside things. I spent an hour and a half cleaning my computer desk and the area around it. Every speck of dust gone. The kitchen? I've spent a couple of days in there scrubbing every tiny surface. I'm working my way back to the bedrooms. Look out!
The kids have been hooked on a computer game found online at Toontown. The problem? You only get a three day free trial. After that its a monthly fee to play the game. Three days happens to be just long enough to really get hooked. I'm not seeing paying a monthly fee for a game that will become old news pretty quickly. This isn't winning me any popularity awards in my house in recent days, but sometimes a dad has to draw the line!
Thanks to all who took my quiz. Not that easy was it? *grin*. Naomi and Monica both got 80% and MizKittay and Restless Angel got 70%. Not bad!
Aubree got two new pairs of shoes recently and has been wearing what I call her "Cinderella shoes" everywhere. This morning as I prepared to drop her off at Vacation Bible School I noticed she was wearing her new tennis shoes. I said, "no Cinderalla shoes today?" She sighed, rolled her eyes and said, "Dad, its cool outside and I don't want my feet to be cold. You men don't know anything about women do you?" Kid, ain't that the truth?
So how is YOUR week going?
Tuesday, July 26, 2005
I came across this yellowed newspaper photo in an old box. I actually found it two pieces and stuck them back together.
There is no date on that I can find, but I'd estimate it to be around 1974. Over thirty years ago. I would've been 13 years old. My brothers would've been 11, 8, and 6. I'm the one holding the cat!
On the back side of the picture a local drugstore is advertising Windsong Cologne for $2.25. A jewelry store is having a sale. A portrait studio is offering nine wallet size pictures for .99 cents. A local church is promoting a "self denial program". That must've been fun.
I remember that shirt I'm wearing. It was a reddish/maroon checkerboard pattern. The vest was maroon as well. I'm wearing jeans and they look new. For that matter, all of the jeans we're wearing look new. I'm guessing we all wore them for the first time that day. I'm sure they are Levis jeans. We always wore Levis.
My dad was running for the local school board and this picture was part of his campaign ad publicity. How could you vote against a guy with nice looking boys like that? My sister would be adopted about a year after this picture was taken. I'm a little fuzzy as to if he won this one or not. He did lose an election before he won later.
The cat I'm holding was Samantha. She was something of a regal cat. See the way she is looking at the dog? She looked at him that way all the time. She didn't hiss and get her back up. She would just look at him with disgust as if to say, "you dare enter my presence?" She could also be a very empathetic cat. One of the games we used to play was to lay down on the floor and pretend like we were crying. She would come over, purr, nuzzle you, and lick your face. She would perch herself on top of the couch and survey the scenery for hours.
Then there is Shadow, the family dog. Shadow was there for almost all of my childhood. I can't remember a time when he wasn't around. I ran in the yard with him as a first grader and was still doing it when I was in high school. He was part cocker spaniel, part something else, and had gorgeous shiny black fur. Leash laws weren't as strict then, and Shadow just ran the neighborhood with us. He went with me to the park. He followed me as I rode my bike up and down the streets. He was aggressive enough for boys to play with a little roughly but gentle enough not to hurt anyone. He did get in his share of mischief. It would've been right around this time that he yanked a Dairy Queen coney right out of my youngest brother's hands in the backyard. He ran behind some bushes and gobbled it down while my brother stood crying with nothing but splotches of chili in his hands. He got older and finally became contrary. He lost most of his earing and loud sounds would startle and anger him. My dad was talking to a neighbor one day and a train whistle blew. Shadow turned and bit the guy on the leg. After that he had to be leashed and chained to a tree. It was sad.
Its amazing how a picture can capture the essence of people. This picture shows a lot of the personalities that we had. There is me, the oldest, thoughtful and reflective, looking down. My brother Scott, wide eyed, creative and artistic. My brother Matt (on my right), the youngest, showing that mischievous grin that we would all see so many times. My brother Kerry (on my left), showing that gregarious smile and winning personality.
You've gotta love the hairstyles. I'm thinking that it looks like we could all stand up and start singing "I Want To Hold Your Hand." At this age we were still getting our hair cut by the local barber. Anyone remember what a real barbershop looked and smelled like? Aftershave. Old men sitting around and telling tales. A big plastic bin of bubble gum sitting behind the counter. The barber wielding a straight razor like an artist's brush.
This picture was taken in the living room of our house. We had a formal living and dining room that was generally off limits to the ruffian boys of the house. We weren't allowed to sit in the living room unless company was there to visit. I always felt like I was getting away with something if I passed through there and sat down on the couch for a couple of minutes. It was always spotless, free of the chaos that a houseful of boys can bring. Immaculate. Ever so formal. Nothing out of place. Right behind me there would be a large white ceramic cat. It got broken one day when SOMEONE was horsing around in there when they weren't supposed to. My dad glued it back together.
Its amazing the tales that one picture can tell.
Monday, July 25, 2005
This is the next in my series of posts about history. I've chosen someone that most people don't know much about. But the woman in this picture was a tremendous influence in millions of lives. She changed the way a nation viewed its outcasts, its forgotten, and its despised citizens.
Dorothea L. Dix was born in 1802 and her home situation as a child was less than ideal. Her mother was mentally ill and her preacher father was an abusive alcoholic. She was taken to live with her grandmother in Boston, and spent a big part of her childhood there.
She became a teacher at 15 years of age and had a passion for teaching and learning from the start. She taught off and on for many years, served as a nanny, and travelled. She contracted tuberculosis before the disease even had a name, and spent years recovering from it. Her boyfriend broke off his engagement with her because he disliked her devotion to her work. She would never be involved with a man again for the rest of her life.
In 1841 Dorothea began teaching Sunday School classes for women in a local jail. She was shocked by what she found and it was the beginning of her life's work. Murderers and rapists were housed along with mentally ill people and prostitutes. The cells were foul, unsanitary, unsafe, and lacked heating. She was disgusted by this practice and it became her crusade for the next 40 years.
In the mid 1800's no one had a concept of what we call today "mental illness". Schizophrenia? Manic Depressive? Those words meant nothing. "Crazy" people who didn't fit in were thrown in jail cells with common criminals. Many spent their entire adult lives in cages. Jailers threw their food into them like they were dogs. They were beaten if they got too loud. Ignored and out of sight. Their familes were told that this was the best thing for them. Lock them away. They were beyond hope.
No one in the 19th century did more to help the mentally ill than Dorothea Dix. She documented her findings and presented them to the courts and the state legislature. At first laughed at and shunned, she would not give up. She persuaded the legislature and the governor to set aside funds for a first-of-its-kind facility, a state hospital for the mentally ill. Not nuts to be thrown in cages anymore...people to be treated. Citizens with basic human dignity. The treatments of the time were crude by today's standards, but were revolutionary for their time. She urged meaningful work, music, literature, and recreational opportunities for those that were shunned even by their own families.
Not content to make reforms in her home state, she travelled the country making her case for the humane treatment of the mentally ill. She also took her cause to Europe and made a big difference in how European nations treated their mentally ill as well.
Dorothea wasn't just interested in treatment of the mentally ill. She was one of the very first voices in American thought to argue for the humane treatment of all prisoners. Most prisoner were held in local jails no matter how long their sentence. She fought for the construction of the first state penitentiaries. It made no sense to her to dump a criminal in a hole for a few years and then let him out. Dix and her followers believed that most criminals could be rehabilitated and that it was in society's interest to help them become productive citizens upon their release. This was a revolutionary approach for the time. Heated cells. Education for inmates. Job training so that they could be productively employed. Professionally trained wardens and guards. A focus on preparing prisoners to rejoin society.
Dix capped off her career by serving as the Union Army's Superintendent of Nurses during the Civil War. She supervised thousands of nurses who provided care to soldiers on the battlefields of the bloodiest and ugliest war in American history. Although she was in poor health by this time, she sometimes visisted battlefield hospitals and make sure that proper care was being provided.
I guess I have a soft spot for people who take on what seem to be lost causes and win them. Treatment, hospitals, and humane treatment for crazy people? Can you imagine how that must've gone over in 1840? Treating prisoners like human beings? Hell, that doesn't even go over very well today!
Dorothea Dix went places where proper ladies were not supposed to go. She saw things that proper ladies were not supposed to see. She didn't follow the path that was laid out for her. She was supposed to teach school until she met a proper man, get married, make a couple of babies, and spend the rest of her life sipping tea with her friends. What did she do instead? She went to the jails and the dungeons. She demanded to see the worst inmates, the most hard-core, the craziest ones of all. She talked to them. She listened to their stories. She took those stories to the public.
It took a sackful of guts and a ton of courage to do this. She knew that people didn't want to hear about it. She knew that politicians didn't want to spend money on people who had no constituency and no voice. She became their voice. She looked at them as PEOPLE. Not crazy nutcases who just needed to rot away somewhere out of sight. Not as hopeless criminals beyond redemption. Not as animals in cages.
So she became a not-so-quiet conscience of first a state and then a nation. Her message? You aren't allowed to forget these people. I won't let you. They can't speak from their freezing cages so I'll speak here for them. I'll make them listen.
We can say of Dorothea Dix what all of us would like to think of ourselves. She made a difference.
Sunday, July 24, 2005
"You see things; and you say, "Why?" But I dream things that never were; and I say, "Why not?"
Wouldn't this world be a better place if we all asked "why not" more often? I have some dreams "why nots" of my own.
I dream of people of all faiths and no faith putting aside their differences to work for the betterment of mankind. Why not?
I dream of a world where every child is immunized for deadly diseases and provided minimum basic nutrition. Why not?
I dream of terrorists throwing their weapons away and working for things that actually benefit their own people. Why not?
I dream that everyone will get to hear love's siren song at least once in their life. Its not to be missed. Why not?
I dream of schools where every kid gets a clean, safe, well-equipped classroom taught by a qualified, motivated teacher. Its not too much to ask is it? Why not?
I dream that everyone can find a partner to love them. I think there is someone for everyone. Why not?
I dream that judgemental people will throw away their dark colored glasses and accept people for who they are. We're all in this together aren't we? Again I ask..why not?
I dream that a cure will be found for diseases like heart disease, cancer, muscular dystrophy, and Alzheimer's. We can send people into outer space and we harnessed the atom. We can do this. Why not?
I dream of a day when someone's race won't matter anymore than their shoe size. Why not?
I dream that everyone who has been knocked off their feet like me will be able to stand up proudly again and find their way. Why not?
I dream that everyone who is abusive to their spouse/mate will get help, be arrested, or get the hell out. Why not?
I dream that someday we'll all realize that there is more that brings us together than there is that divides us. Why not?
I dream that we'll all some day look back on the age of terrorism like we do the Cold War. Why not?
I dream that every kid out there will grow up knowing that someone gives a shit about them. Why not?
I dream that some day everyone will realize what Walker says is true. Its PEOPLE that count. Why not?
I dream of a day when people are judged by how they've treated their fellow man and not the size of their bank accounts. Why not?
I dream that all of us will realize that life is too short to be quabbling over the petty shit we do. Why not?
I dream that we can all see our children achieve their dreams and know we helped make it possible. Why not?
I dream that we'll all be able to look at senior citizens and realize they have much to teach us. Why not?
I dream that my children will grow up in a cleaner, safer world. Damnit, we can do it. Why not?
I dream that my friends, online and off, will realize their dreams. Why not?
I dream that love, a force more powerful than the atomic bomb, will be the credo we live by. Why not?
I dream that we'll all some day realize that violence begets more of the same. Why not?
I dream that drunk driving will be a thing of the past. There is no excuse for it in this day and time. Why not?
I dream of the day when I can someday adequately thank those who have been so kind to me. I don't know if I can. I've been given love that hasn't been earned, but why not?
I dream that we all realize the fragility of our existence and live our life to the fullest. We're here for the blink of a cosmic eye. We can. Why not?
I dream of the day when all employers treat their workers with dignity and respect. Why not?
I dream that all of us will resolve the petty feuds that keep us from those we love. Your pride isn't worth that damn much. Why not?
I dream that we all can find the power of forgiveness in our hearts. Most of us have been hurt, burned, and scarred. Forgive them, even if they don't deserve it. Why not?
I dream that all of us can find the courage of a Vickie, the passion of a Satisfied Spouse, the positive attitude of a Karen, the big heart of a Joe, the honesty of an Edge, the spirit of a Redneck Diva, and the wit of an AKA Monty. Maybe thats just me I dream it for. Why not?
I dream of the time when we realize that how we love each other and act on that love is what really matters. Why not?
I dream of the day when wars will only be in the history books for guys like me to study. That sons won't have to send their mothers letters like this. Why not?
I dream that we'll all have the courage to find that person we want in our lives and fight for that love tooth and nail. See above for the fragility of life. Why not?
I dream that I'll leave a legacy that I can be proud of. Its up to me. Why not?
I dream that the many bloggers I admire will keep sharing their wisdom and their lives. Why not?
I dream that we'll all understand that its the small, simple things in life that make all the difference. The smell of a flower. The touch of a hand. The cool breeze in our face. Why not?
I dream that all of us will accept the responsibility for our mistakes and own up to them. Who are we trying to fool anyway? Why not?
I dream of a time when my son will be accepted for the love in his heart and what he has to offer and not by his limitations. Why not?
I dream for myself that the things that haunt me can be put in their grave where such demons belong. What am I waiting for? Why not?
I dream that the person sitting alone tonight realizes that there is someone out there for them, that they are worthy of that love, and that they find that person. Why not?
and I ask
Saturday, July 23, 2005
I made a Quiz for you! Take my Quiz! and then Check out the Scoreboard!
Friday, July 22, 2005
I clicked around the blogosphere and what did I see?
There are things Muse would rather be. Trick would probably rather be at her daughter’s first birthday party than anywhere else.
Stationery Queen can’t wait for the Smurf movie to come out. If you can’t wait to read the new Harry Potter book, don’t click on this. Amanda might spoil it for you.
While you're at it, just enjoy your whole weekend? Sound good?
Thursday, July 21, 2005
John Brown saw a grave injustice in society. The vast majority of his fellow citizens were either supportive of this injustice or indifferent to it. Most of his northern neighbors yawned and shrugged their shoulders. It didn't affect them. They actually benefitted from the cheap textiles made possible by southern slave labor. We often bash the South, but the northern states were incredibly hypocritical in their condemnation of a practice that they subtly supported. All but the most enlightened of northern citizens saw black people as inferior. They also feared an influx of cheap black labor to northern cities, throwing them out of work in the factories.
Here is what John Brown saw when he cast his eyes to the south. There were over four million slaves in the Southern states out of a total population of about 12 million. Those slaves lacked basic human rights. They had no legal name, could not marry, and in many states were forbidden by law from learning to read. About 1/10th of Southerners owned slaves and only a tiny fraction of that owned more than a handful. But even the majority who were not slave owners defended the practice. Most southerners were just barely eking out a living on their small patches of land. They saw chattel slavery as part of their way of life and could not imagine freeing those four million slaves to live side by side with them as equals.
Northern politicians offered routine condemnations of slavery but advocated restrictions on the growth of slavery. However, the Supreme Court's Dred Scott decision in 1856 made it clear that owning slaves was a Constitutional right and that Congress could do very little to restrict its growth. That Supreme Court decision lit a fire under Brown and other abolitionists. The nation's highest court had made it clear......slaves were property and not citizens, and slave owners could take their slaves anywhere they pleased. This decision cut off many of the democratic approaches to ending slavery that abolitionists had hoped for. The delicate dance of compromises that had kept a lid on the most radical of both sides was thrown out the window.
So what is an ordinary man or woman to do when they see an injustice that appears to have no hope of being corrected through the democratic process?
You can just give up. Sit back and hope someone else will do something. Grouse and complain to your friends and neighbors. Let history takes its course.
One can take the approach of Gandhi, Thoreau, and Martin Luther King Jr. This would be the path of non violent resistance and civil disobedience. Simply refuse to obey the law. Stage non violent sit-ins and protests. Use the economic power of your constitutency to affect the powers-that-be. This path avoids frightening the public and has the advantage of bringing more of them to your side. Anyone remember the video of southern sheriffs spraying non-violent civil rights protesters with water cannons? Those images altered the direction of a nation and awakened an apathetic public into realizing that something was wrong in their country. What would've happened if the northern states had used their economic leverage and refused to buy cotton produced by slave labor?
You can raise hell. There is a proud tradition of that in my country and in many others around the world. Think of Thomas Paine, Mother Jones, and Malcom X. Hellraisers who challenged the established order and through their anger made others rethink long held assumptions.
Then there is direct violent action like Brown did. His murder of pro-slavery settlers in Kansas crossed a line. These were not soldiers of an oppressive government. They were just common men who had a view different from his. Timothy McVeigh did the same thing, didn't he? He blew up a building in Oklahoma City in his war against the American government. He killed secretaries, children, and low level federal workers. What did he accomplish? Eric Rudolph bombed an abortion clinic, killing a police officer and a nurse. He also killed a woman in the 1996 Summer Olympic bombing and set off another bomb at a predominantly gay nightclub. His cause? The decadence and godlessness of American society. John Brown would've approved. He was just acting on his beliefs, right? The bombing of an abortion clinic would prevent a murder perhaps. The Olympic bombing would disrupt what he called a celebration of "world socialism". The nightclub bombing would strike fear in the hearts of those he believed immoral.
John Brown is easier to talk about because slavery is universally condemned now. His cause can be regarded as universally righteous. It wasn't as clear in 1859. Brown was regarded as being on the fringe just as much as McVeigh and Rudolph are today. McVeigh's characterization of an American government controlled by Jews and Rudolph's belief that his country is one giant moral abyss are not in the mainstream of public thought any more than Brown's violent abolitionism was in the 1850's.
Thats the problem with taking matters of morality into your own hands and using violence to solve them. Who decides? Are any of us so righteous and moral that we have the ability to decide that someone's life can be sacrificed for a greater cause? I think not. I'm not that wise or all seeing. No one elected me to make decisions like that. I'm not qualified to do it. Neither are you. Neither is your neighbor or mine.
I look around my world and I see injustice everywhere I turn. I see kids in school on Monday morning who haven't had a decent meal all weekend. Their parents are do busy doing drugs and running around to provide their children basic nutrition. I want to grab them by the collar and shake some sense into them. It makes me angry.
I see women who have been physically abused by those who profess to love them. I see their bruises and hear their muted stories. I think those men are bullies and cowards. It makes me angry.
I see kids who need eyeglasses to read, clean clothes to wear, and loving encouragement to succeed. They don't get it, and that makes me so damn angry.
I see adults who mentally, physically, and sexually abuse children. It makes me angry. Very angry.
Like John Brown, I see injustice and I seethe with anger when confronted with it. The question is what to do about it. I fight those battles every day. In my own way. With all the passion I can bring and with all the tools I have. In my corner of the world. With anger AND love.
Brown could've joined those who helped slaves escape through the Underground Railroad. He could've raised hell on the steps of the Capitol and in statehouses across the nation. He could've offered help to escaped slaves, established schools and provided job training. He could've been the conscience of a nation.
Brown chose a different route. When he hacked an unarmed man to death with his sword he crossed a line that we don't have the right to cross. Had airplanes existed in 1859, Brown might've pulled his own 9-11 off. He would've taken the innocent to their graves along with the guilty. By whose authority and by whose right?
One thing that is ironic is that Brown's actions did indeed help bring about what he wanted. Six years after his death, over 600,000 dead soldiers later, slavery would be made illegal in the United States. It took years of death, carnage, disease, and starvation to purge slavery from American soil. It would've happened anyway, maybe on the same timeline, maybe a little later. Had Brown taken a different path he could've lived to see his dream.
His cause was just. He burned with a hatred for injustice that few people do, but he wasn't God. I sympathize with his passion, but I condemn anyone who thinks they can unilaterally decide that some of us don't have the right to live. John Brown. Tim McVeigh. Eric Rudolph. The London bombers. 9-11 suicide terrorists. They needed to take their passion, their anger, and their intelligence, and use it to help their fellow man. There is so much to be done in this world that doesn't involving choosing some of your fellow human beings to die for your cause.
R.I.P. John. I'm glad your dream was realized and the slaves were freed. I want to sympathize with you. But no man is an island, and none of us have God's warrant to kill in pursuit of our goals. You could've gone down in history as a leader who helped free the oppressed. You took a different path, and the consequences that flowed from that were just by the laws of the time.
Kill injustice. Kill the wrongs. Kill unfairness. Don't kill people. Enlist us. Enlighten us. Cajole us. Wake us up from our slumber. Inspire us to join you.
If your cause is righteous, we'll be there with you. If you kill your brothers and sisters we'll fight you every step of the way.
Wednesday, July 20, 2005
Splendid referred to me in comments as "an enigma wrapped up in a tie" and an "adult Jackie Paper". I loved those descriptions for some reason. The "Jackie Paper" reference made me smile. I love "Puff the Magic Dragon" and used to sing it to my kids as a lullaby.
Dave asked me to write about the questions I asked in my John Brown post. I'd be delighted to. Coming up soon! The next history post coming up will be about someone who also saw injustice in the world but took a far different approach from Brown. Stay tuned.
Slate's slideshow on the history of the vibrator was rather informative. Who knew?
Its blazing hot here, and Patrick insisted on wearing a long sleeve white shirt, tie, and suit jacket yesterday. He said, "I just want to look good today. I think I look like a junior executive." Indeed.
Aubree is the proud new owner of what she calls "pimping shades". She even wears them in the house.
I'm currently reading "White Hot" by Sandra Brown. I'm part way through it and it is good stuff!
One year ago today I wrote this post. I'm glad I decided to bring the dog with us. We've had so much fun with her. She does howl like a wolf at police/ambulance sirens, but she's a pretty good dog.
I'm trying to interest the kids in going on a canoeing trip with me. Both are frightened of the canoe tipping over. *Sigh* I'll keep working on them.
School supply lists greet me when I walk into the local Wal Mart. Its getting closer and closer!
So how is YOUR week going?
Tuesday, July 19, 2005
Its been awhile since I've written a music post, so I thought I'd write about one of my favorite all-time musicians. The lovely Thomai thinks my taste in tunes is cheesy, but I do love me some music! In my world, it doesn't get much better than Leon Russell.
I've been a fan of Leon since I was a teenager. I grew up listening to Tulsa's rock station KMOD, aka the "Rainbow Station". One of their signatures was a snippet of Leon singing "Somewhere Over the Rainbow". I loved it.
My best estimate is that I've seen Leon Russell in concert six times. I've seen no one else more than twice. What is it about this guy's music that draws me back time after time? I've seen him perform in the historic Brady Theater (second row seats for that one!) I've seen him outdoors at a couple of festivals. I saw him in Cain's Ballroom. I caught his act at New Orleans' House of Blues. Every show was a little bit different, and every one has some memories for me.
He defies descriptions and labels. Leon has recorded bestselling pop albums and a couple of classic country albums (under the persona "Hank Wilson"). His music has elements of rock, jazz, the blues, gospel, R &B, and country. He is perhaps the only singer I can think of who can belt out "Jumpin Jack Flash", follow it with "Rollin In My Sweet Baby's Arms", croon "This Masquerade" and have them all sound totally like his style.
Interesting tidbits about Leon:
- As a teenager he toured with Jerry Lee Lewis.
- You can hear him playing keyboard on Jan and Dean's "Surf City" and on the Beach Boys "Pet Sounds" album.
- George Harrison played guitar on Leon's first solo album.
- He played on a number of producer Phil Spector's albums.
- He performed on recordings by Bob Dylan, Sam Cooke, The Rolling Stones, Ike and Tina Turner, Frank Sinatra, B.B. King, and The Byrds.
- Elton John, Charlie Daniels, and ZZ Top were once HIS opening acts.
- His tours with Willie Nelson were regarded as helping bridge the gap between "hippies and rednecks".
- "Superstar" (The Carpenters), "This Masquerade" (George Benson), and "Delta Lady" (Joe Cocker) were songs written by Leon.
- At the height of his pop career he switched gears and recorded several country albums under the persona "Hank Wilson".
I know your image of me is what I hope to be ----- but darlin can't you see.
There's no one more important to me
Darling, can't you please see through me?
Cause we're alone now and I'm singing this song to you
You taught me precious secrets of truth, withholding nothing
You came out in front and I was hiding
But now I'm so much better and if my words don't come together
Listen to my melodies because my love is in there hiding
But I love you in a place where there's no space and time.
I love you for my life, you are a friend of mine.
And when my life is over, remember when we were together
We were alone and now we're singing this song for you
The rollicking "Home Sweet Oklahoma" is a song I've listened to a lot in the last year. I didn't leave to seek fame and fortune like Leon did, but I did leave to chase a dream. I was chasing love and happiness, not all that different from what Leon was looking for. I just waited till I was a little older to roll the dice. Like him, I came back, and the lyrics make me smile. Leon is telling my story.
When I was young man, barely 17
I went out to Hollywood to chase my dream
Dusty Oklahoma was all I'd ever seen
And I was getting older
The memories of the Greyhound would fade and quickly pass
In the lonely restaurant windows, the empty hourglass
Reflects the human hunger for the questions never asked
I only had my time suspending
Now I'm going back to Tulsa just one more time
Now I'm going on down to Tulsa just one more time
Now I'm going back to Tulsa just one more time
I've got home sweet Oklahoma on my mind
"The human hunger for the questions never asked"....I love that line.
I've always loved "Magic Mirror", a fun look at how we tend to perceive others and are unable to see how they see us.
To the thieves I'm a bandit, the mothers think I'm their son
To the preachers I'm a sinner. Lord, I'm not the only one.
To the sad ones I'm unhappy, to the losers I'm a fool.
With the students I'm a teacher, to the teachers I'm in school.
To the hobos I'm imprisoned by everything I own.
To the solder I'm just someone else who's dying to go home.
A general sees a number, the politicians too.
To my friends I'm just an equal in this world.
Magic mirror, won't you tell me please. Do I find myself in anyone I see?
Magic mirror, if we only could, try to see ourselves as others would.
The wistful "Back To the Island"......well, I could've written it myself if I had Leon's talent.
Now the day is gone and I sit alone and think of you, girl
What can I do without you in my life?
I guess that our good thing just had to end that way
The hardest one to lose of all the games we played
But the time is past for living in a dream world
Lying to myself can't make that scene
Of wondering if you love me or just making a fool of me
Well I hope you understand I just had to go back to the island
I also enjoy singing along with "Lady Blue", "Stranger in a Strange Land", "Roll Away The Stone", "Ballad For a Soldier", "Crystal Closet Queen", "This Masquerade" and "Tightrope".
I find it fascinating how music is such a big part of so many of our lives. I can listen to Leon and feel such a range of emotions.....playful, wistful, sad, mischievous, jovial, and energetic. I can close my eyes and play the air keyboard on "A Song For You" and I'm in a different place. I can pound the steering wheel to "Tightrope" and feel like a boy again, ready to run away and join the circus. I cue up "Home Sweet Oklahoma" and consider what a journey this life has been. I listen to "Back To The Island" and think about the importance of letting go. I can let "This Masquerade" wash over me and ponder the meaning of life.
Hey Leon? You'll never read this, but thanks for the memories dude. You've made my life on this planet just a little bit richer.
Sunday, July 17, 2005
Most people who read this blog know that I spent a good part of my adult life as a history teacher. Now I'm not in the classroom anymore, but I still occasionally get the itch. Guess what? I'm going to scratch that itch here by using my blogger's discretion to teach a history lesson. I plan on making this a semi-regular feature of this site (perhaps every other week). My thought is to select a figure out of history and do a feature post on him/her.
Slept through history in high school? Football coach teach it by handing out ditto sheets or word searches? This is your second chance. History is full of fascinating characters and I'd like to bring some of them alive to you here in my own words.
Ladies and gentlemen, meet John Brown. Look into his eyes. Those are the eyes of a man who could cold bloodedly hack another man to death with his sword, with his children cowering in the house. Those are the eyes of a man who believed that God put him on Earth for a reason. Those are the eyes of a man totally dedicated to his cause. Those are the eyes of a man who believed that the ends justified the means. He believed he had a personal responsibility to end slavery in America. It was his destiny, he believed to lead the slaves in a revolt against their owners.
John Brown would be considered a terrorist today by almost any definition. A cold blooded murderer. An insurrectionist against the government. A fanatic devoted to his cause. Think of someone who shoots an abortion doctor in his home. Think of Timothy McVeigh and the Oklahoma City bombing. We have our own John Browns running around today.
But his cause was righteous, wasn't it? How do you square the actions of someone who committed crimes for a cause that was right?
Brown is an unlikely person for us to be discussing almost 150 years after his death. He was born into a strict Calvinist family and grew up in an area known for its abolitionist sentiment. He fathered 20 children by two different wives, went bankrupt, and was a failure in one business venture after another. A loser. A hard luck story. A man whose friends even worried about his sanity.
So why are we talking about him at all? A failed businessman and farmer who many people regarded as insane is regarded as perhaps the individual most responsible for the outbreak of the American Civil War. He was referred to as the "meteor of the war". The song "John Brown's Body" would become an anthem to anti-slavery forces. ("John Brown's body lies a mouldering in the grave.")
By the 1850's there was a growing movement in the United States to end slavery. Much of the rest of the civilized world had already given up the practice, but the American South was not keen to give up what it regarded as the lifeblood of its economy. A coalition of ministers, civic activists, escaped slaves, and advocates of women's rights pushed for slavery's restriction and eventual abolition. Speeches were made. Sermons were given in churches. Rallies were held in the streets of northern cities. Pamphlets were distributed. "Uncle Tom's Cabin" became a bestseller with its depiction of the cruel slavemaster, Simon Legree.
John Brown felt like that all of this activity was simply not enough. He was disgusted with politicians like Abraham Lincoln, who he believed (correctly) would allow the continuation of slavery to prevent a breakup of the Union. Remember, Brown felt personal responsibility for ending slavery. It was his mission. He didn't want to slowly restrict it out of existence as the early Republican Party did. He wanted to END slavery. Now. A century before Malcom X uttered those famous words, Brown wanted to end slavery by "all means necessary".
When violence broke out between pro and anti slavery activists in Kansas, Brown jumped into the center of the action. He took several of his sons with him and went to Kansas to do battle with the forces of slavery. At last Brown had a chance to put his passion into practice. After the city of Lawrence was sacked by pro-slavery forces, Brown and his sons rode to a settlement on Pottawatomie Creek and hacked five men to death with their broadswords. This was war, and Brown believed he was acting as the arm of God.
In 1859 Brown and about 20 men crafted a plan to raid the federal arsenal in Harper's Ferry, Virginia. The plan was audacious. He and his men would seize as many of the 100,000 guns there as possible, ride south, and start freeing slaves. The freed slaves would take up arms with him and free even more. Brown envisioned himself as a general leading an army that would sweep through the South as God's army, wiping out slavery for good.
Now, if it is deemed necessary that I should forfeit my life for the furtherance of the ends of justice, and mingle my blood further with the blood of my children and with the blood of millions in this slave country whose rights are disregarded by wicked, cruel, and unjust enactments, I submit; so let it be done!
He was hanged a few weeks later at a hastily constructed gallows near the courthouse.
Brown's trial and hanging radicalized both sides of the slavery question. Southerners, seeing the threat of other John Browns, began arming themselves, forming militias, and secessionist ideas gained an even stronger hold. Many in the North viewed Brown as crazy, but his execution was like a clarion call to the abolition movement. He died for the cause. "What can we do to finish his work?", was the cry. A presidential election was less than a year away at Brown's death, and the nation was on edge....a powderkeg.
Look at Brown's life and actions. Was he a hero or a common criminal? Do the ends justify the means? When is it morally acceptable to do the wrong things for the right reason? Think about our own modern-day examples. Think about the line between right and wrong. Just think about it.
Thanks for your attention. Seeya next time.
Saturday, July 16, 2005
1. Who are you?
2. Are we friends?
3. When and how did we meet?
4. Do you have a crush on me?
5. Would you kiss me?
6. Give me a nickname and explain why you picked it.
7. Describe me in one word.
8. What was your first impression?
9. Do you still think that way about me now?
10. What reminds you of me?
11. If you could give me anything what would it be?
12. How well do you know me?
13. When's the last time you saw me?
14. Ever wanted to tell me something but couldn't?
15. Are you going to put this on your blog and see what I say about you?
Enjoy whats left of your weekend!
Friday, July 15, 2005
I have had time of course to take a little stroll around blogland. Wanna see my path? Start clicking.
Sue reviews evidence of her grandfather’s deeds in World War I. Trucker Bob thinks back to his own deeds in the Marine Corps.
Jack's son has a sad penis. She may not be sad, but Kim isn’t happy about the heat.
Fly Girl had the urge to literally kick her husband out of bed. Christine probably had the urge to kick her’s somewhere else when he objected to her buying toilet paper.
LitlSassy had sex with her husband and doesn’t remember it. T. Marie jumped off a cliff and definitely remembers that.
Karen has a toilet fan all rigged up. New Wave Gurly has friends coming in to visit.
Greek Shadow thinks his brother is mad at him. Bsoholic is plenty mad at whoever stole his car stereo.
SonSon likes to go to the movies by herself. Mary Lou can go to the movies more often now because she has a new job.
Mestiza has her artistic rituals. Red has a mouse in her house.
Monica gave life to a man’s fantasy in the bookstore. Teresa may not be doing fantasies, but she will be visiting the bookstore to buy the new Harry Potter book.
Bec shares 101 sexual things about herself. Whew! Pauly shares his thoughts about bubble gum ice cream.
Kyra wants a clean heart. Aka Monty wants to find a new boyfriend so she can buy new underwear.
Maddy shares some bits of herself. Hopefully, Penny will be sharing some of the pictures she takes with her new digital camera!
Life’s a beach for Breazy. Life’s not great for Charity right now, but she’s determined to make it better.
Dawn is loving “Big Brother”. Red Headed Gal is loving being sober.
Caren is knitting a pinwheel blanket. Jazzy was commenting while drunk.
Vickie is thinking about time. Splendid is thinking about the concept of happiness.
Walker is sluttier than I am…and that is saying something. Lewis may be crazier than I am….it wasn’t me who was petting a lion.
Cindra remembers summertime play. Stationery Queen remembers watching Live Aid.
Melanie wrote her name in the sand. Andie is writing her name the same way she did before she got married.
Amanda wasn’t thrilled with the car she bought. Sallie was pretty thrilled with this picture she took.
Sally remembers her first true love. John remembers listening to the “Star Spangled Banner”.
Shirazi wonders if blogging is addictive. Michelle wonders if she is going to pull her hair out.
Sleeping Mommy explains why she needs sleep. She should take a page from Mona’s book.
Chosha is looking for ideas for a personalized license plate. Libby is just glad that its Friday!
Candy Tuft got a call from a childhood friend. Stephanie got a meeting with her husband’s pet skunk. Go get’em Chuck.
Funky Cowboy is a real multi tasker. Chaotic Serenity is a real life coach.
Restless Angel has been taking a break from the computer. Babs has been pondering the concept of “belonging”.
Rachel doesn’t believe it when he tells her she is beautiful. Believe me when I tell you that these rainbows of Sara’s are beautiful.
DL is applying for a new job. Janet is attending her first Orthodox Jewish wedding.
Safiyyah gives her thoughts about the London bombings and Muslim deaths. Aubree gives her thoughts about her dog’s hat being too small.
Joe wants to know…what is it about blogging? Faith wanted to know….why did her daughter say that she didn’t play with her.
Janine does some free association. A.J. does some dreaming….and Billy Baldwin is involved.
Jennifer got the N.F.L. Sunday Ticket. Ginger got a very yummy meal.
Bored Housewife was so tired she couldn’t sleep. Inky had a birthday and no one could believe how old she was.
Christine submits a third person biography. Diana submits her next lesson on human sexuality.
Joan is ready to get into her garden. Erin is living on the edge.
Laine has a woman in her life. Lip Schtick has some Lean Cuisine dinners in hers..and she likes them!
Lisa got a raise. Yay! Thomai is rich whether she has money or not.
Nameless is jealous of the kid’s summertime. Undergraduate shares her thoughts about just letting kids…..be.
Prince Charming would like to have sex. Trick would like to have some money.
Roselle got really angry. Tish got really disappointed when she saw “Fantastic Four”.
Satisfied Spouse wonders if he’d miss her if she left. Wanda would miss “Big Brother” if she couldn’t watch it…its her guilty pleasure.
Stacey shares some pictures of Jack. Steph shares some information about Wal Mart.
Chubby Girl isn’t Martha Stewart. Annabel is too sexy for her blog.
Dewdrop isn’t giving her husband sex when he wants it. Edge just wants a vacation. He probably wants sex too.
Muse admits that her husband isn’t the only one at fault. Carol admits that her Imac might be dying.
Mystic has a lot of things going on. Old Horsetail Snake’s writing has a lot going on too.
Scorpy had Worlds of Fun. Diana is having lots of fun becoming a runner.
As always, I ask that you show a little love and appreciation to these fantastic bloggers. They deserve it.
Hey there. Yeah you. Have a great weekend! Ok?