Saturday, October 29, 2011

To the 99% in San Diego and around the world who are being harassed by police:

Stay strong. Stay calm.

You are doing a great service to this country. Many people are made uneasy by the thought of standing up to authority (particularly those in authority). This is just the way most people are wired, and this natural inclination to acquiesce to authority figures is largely conducive to a civil society. But those who have the ability and the will to challenge authority and the status quo must accept the responsibility to answer to a higher moral consciousness than the average sheep.

The cage rattlers, the agitators, the children who color outside the lines... this is our time to shine, this is our moment to serve our fellow citizens and change our society for the better.

Stay true to your principles. Walk with a righteousness that few can comprehend. Remember your duty to serve, even as those whose job description is to serve lose sight of that very duty. Be honorable, kind, upright and strong; because when such individuals are dragged away unjustly by frightened authority figures, the rest of the herd takes notice and we become stronger and stronger.

Thank you all!

Saturday, October 8, 2011

We are the 99%, and we want... well...

99% of the population is too many people to ever reach a consensus or a singular agenda. For now it is enough that we are coming together because those in power have worked so hard to keep us distracted with our petty differences. If we can unite, not on every issue or idea, but physically unite in the streets and join hands with one another; that simple act could send a shiver down the spines of those who look down on us from their priestly heights. They will have to face the reality they already know but have refused to acknowledge: that our current economic trajectory is unsustainable. Perhaps at that moment they will willingly move toward the changes they already know are just and right. And if they choose instead to dig their heels deeper into the poisoned ground beneath their feet... well, by then we will have had time to truly organize ourselves and set forth on our own trajectory... together.

The Day of Atonement

As I fast for Yom Kippur, with each hunger pang that rattles through my gut, I am thinking about all the people, right here in San Diego, who are hungry today, not by choice, but because their wallet is as empty as their stomach. I am thinking of the mother in Somalia right now whose stomach has given up crying out to her for food, as has her child. She stares numbly into the distance as her baby quietly withers away in her arms. I am also thinking of the gluttons; the 1% of the population who hoard enough money to feed everyone who is hungry and would still have enough left over to live comfortable lives. We are the 99%, and if we don't take a stand for our brothers and sisters who go without food, clean water, and basic human dignity, then we will eventually join them. For the greed of the 1% is boundless and insatiable.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Fear Itself

Who is Obama trying to placate with his perpetual capitulation to a small faction of Republicans with whom the overwhelming majority of this country completely disagree?

He's the president of the United States, not just the president of the people who voted for him; I get that. But the tea partiers are another story. They don't accept him as their president, they never will, and they are willing to drive this country into oblivion in the dim hope that Obama will be the one ultimately held accountable, and he will lose his bid for reelection.

Someone will be destroyed when this game has run its course.

Will the country blame Obama if our economy tanks and can't recover, or will most people see the Tea Party as a reckless back-seat driver grabbing the wheel and turning the country sharply into the nearest ditch?

The fact of the matter is that Obama should not be playing this game to begin with.

The moment that Congress was on a path to brinkmanship with the debt ceiling, Obama should have invoked the 14th Amendment and raised the debt limit himself. Problem solved. No circus, no bird-brained politicians strutting around, fluffing up their feathers, and making an international mockery of our entire republic.

Would the Right have cried foul? Of course! They are going to cry foul no matter what the president does. But when the majority of the country elects a leader, that person has been given the right and the obligation to lead!

Our government is not beholden to banks, and our president is not beholden to Congress. Sure there are checks and balances, but if Bush Jr. can get away with ignoring the will of 50% of the population, then I'm pretty sure Obama can get away with ignoring the will of 30% of the population.

Ultimately, the only thing that matters to people is knowing that there is someone in charge.

The fear-charged stampede that drove the markets down today was, I believe, all about uncertainty. What's going on? Who's in charge? Are the banks in charge? What does that mean for the future of our country?

Obama needs to stop trying to reason with people and take command (he's only slightly left-of-center, it's not like he'd do anything crazy). Those who hold left-wing views will abide, those who hold right-wing views will never abide no matter how reasonable he tries to be, and the vast majority of the people in the middle aren't interested in politics at all: they just want to know that someone is in charge, and when they don't know who, if anyone, is at the wheel, they flip-the-hell-out and, in a state of mass confusion and panic, will jump off the nearest cliff.

Monday, August 1, 2011

We Don't Need No Water...

I, for one, am getting sick and tired of being threatened with financial doom by the government.

Fear mongering was the tactic I hated most by the Bush administration.

Where's the hope?

Where's the change?

Where is the leadership I voted for when I voted for Obama?

How is a tiny, crazed uber right-wing minority able to hijack our government and get everyone else to bend to their demands?

My initial inclination when this financial crisis first happened was why should we bail out the banks? Let them fail! Why should they get to play god with our economy and then get help from the very people they damage with their insatiable greed and reckless behavior?

Still, against my gut instincts, I conceded that a global financial meltdown was probably a bad thing, and though the alternative was disgusting, I felt that bailing out the banks was the safest action to take.

But this whole "global financial meltdown" threat is becoming straight-up blackmail: every time we clench our teeth and pay up, a new demand is made.

Now the Tea Party is refusing to raise the debt limit unless the Democrats give in to their demands in regards to cutting spending and not raising taxes on the rich. And we are being told that if the debt ceiling is not raised, we will be faced with...

wait for it...

financial collapse!

Oh, no! Say it isn't so! Who will save us?

And who will save us the next time the Tea Party people refuse to cooperate with some routine congressional procedure unless their insane list of demands are met? And who will save us the time after that?

When will we say enough is enough?

Financial crisis? That's the life I live everyday, along with most of the people in this country.

So, go ahead Obama; cut the programs we rely on; let the 3% of the population who owns 90% of the wealth refuse to pay their taxes; don't stand up to the Republicans; don't fight for the people who are counting on you.

Pretty soon there will be nothing left to threaten us with.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Wait... the Terrorist is... White?

And he's Christian?

Blue eyes and gorgeous blonde locks?

[Deleted picture of Anders Behring Breivik, Norwegian far-right terrorist who killed 8 people with a van bomb and 69 summer camp participants on the island of Ut√łya on 22 July 2011.]

I don't know why everyone is so surprised.  Is Oklahoma City ringing a bell for anyone?

Well, I do know why everyone is so surprised because this is an issue I've been railing about since September 11th. Although Islam has become intertwined with terrorism in the minds of Westerners, the fact is that no one religion or ideology is more or less likely to produce violent terrorists than any other.

The key to understanding this kind of behavior won't be found in skin color, religion, or culture. There is one common thread; and that is extremism. Extremists are certain of the superiority of their beliefs (and/or race) and fearful of groups who have different beleifs (and/or skin color). Their self-righteousness and fear inevitably leads to hatred of other groups, which inevitably leads to violence.

In 2005, in my first published work, I imagined a scenario where we could rid the world of extremism by letting all the militants battle eachother to the death while leaving the rest of us out of it.

One can dream...

At any rate, I hope that the people of Norway will re-think who they consider "one of their own." For the moment, however, I am wishing them the best as they try to cope with this atrocity. My heart goes out to the families of the victims, heavy with the knowlege that so many of those victims were young, eager, and involved in the political process in a positive way-- unlike their vicious, hate-filled attacker.

Let's Play the Name Game: Republicans are Anarchists

I once had a coworker who had grown up quite wealthy and pampered (seriously, she was only working for something to do until she got pregnant). She was extremely conservative in her political views, so she and I had a lot of friendly debates about politics. Her husband was an anarchist.

She thought taxes were an abomination. For instance, she went to expensive private schools, so why should her parents have to pay to send other people's children to school as well?

I tried to appeal strictly to her own self-interests, rather than talk about the greater good of society as a whole. I pointed out the fact that she needed the services of the working class; wouldn't she prefer mechanics and x-ray technicians who could read and write? And how about the doctors and nurses who would at some point have her life in their hands? Would she rather they be the best and the brightest society has to offer, or just the ones whose parents could afford them an education? I even tried appealing to her basest self-interests; if the masses are not reasonably educated and given an opportunity to be productive in society, they will become quite destructive. How safe could her home, car, or money be in a country full of ignorant, desperate, starving thieves?

But alas, no argument could sway her from the belief that the government should not have the right to take any of her money for any reason. She would prefer total anarchy to coerced taxation. Her arguments were rooted in trickle-down economics. If rich people were allowed to keep their money, she reasoned, they would willingly fund schools for the poor or the paving of roads or whatever their personal pet projects might be.

So... if rich people were not forced to share their money... they would share it willingly?

How can one argue with such sound logic?

Ultimately, what I'm wondering is why the Left doesn't play the name game. We are called "communists" and "socialists" because we believe that everyone should put a portion of their money into a common pot in order to assure that everyone in our society has a reasonable opportunity to be healthy and productive citizens.

Our opponents on the Right want to dismantle the social programs that have made our country great so that rich people and corporations can hoard even more of their precious, precious money.

Republicans elect government officials who run on the platform of hating government, and now, they are openly and unabashedly attempting to dismantle our government.

At first, their methods were a little more covert: dramatically cutting taxes for the wealthy while reasoning that such cuts would help the economy, because the "job creators" would have more money to "create jobs."

But they didn't create jobs; they just pocketed the money and left us high and dry. Now the bills are due, we don't have the money to pay the bills, and we need to raise the debt ceiling. But the same folks who cut the government's revenue are now demanding that we balance our budget before they will agree to raise the debt ceiling... oh, and we're not allowed raise more revenue (i.e. make rich people pay their taxes again).

The solution to balancing the budget according to the Right? Dismantle the government. Cut welfare, cut medicare, cut education, cut regulatory agencies, cut, cut, cut, and then cut some more.

We call them crazy, but only because the truth seems unfathomable. They are not crazy or stupid enough to believe that the government can function without revenue; they want to destroy the government. Republicans are anarchists. Let's start calling them out for what they really are.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

"FREEDOOM" -Libyan Revolutionaries

[This picture was also deleted by the internets. I had taken a picture of my TV screen of a news clip of a war zone, I think in Libya, with graffiti on a broken wall that said "FREEDOOM." This is a drawing from my foggy memory. Hopefully the internets won't delete this also.]


I know this is probably just a spelling error made by people for whom English is not their first language.

But perhaps a beautifully ironic commentary on war could be a brilliant accident.

Freedom isn't free and righteousness cannot guarantee success.

Never stop fighting the good fight, brothers and sisters.

Hasta la victoria siempre!

Monday, June 6, 2011

This is all a joke... right?

Et tu, Weiner?

Really?

My first thought when I heard that Wiener had actually sent a picture of his wiener over the INTERNET...

you know, let me break in here just for second, I'm a little ADD, so pardon me for straying from my thought... can we have some sort of public service announcement or something... can we please drill it into everyone's thick skulls that

THERE IS NO ANONYMITY ON THE INTERNET!

Can all the high school kids and football players and public officials out there please understand that sending lewd photos of yourself into the cloud is the same thing as posting lewd photos of yourself on a metropolitan billboard along with your name, phone number, and home address? 
OK, so when yet another man in public office was caught doing something stupid regarding his penis, my first thought was "That's it! All MEN must relinquish their control over all public institutions immediately!" Let's face it, there is apparently no man on earth capable of resisting his sex drive. It doesn't matter how educated he is, it doesn't matter how well-intentioned he is, and it doesn't even matter how beautiful his wife is. The moment an opportunity to present his penis presents itself, he is no longer capable of rational thought; he is reduced to a hairless ape with a hard-on.

My second thought was of Palin, with a dear-in-the-headlights expression, painfully stammering through an explanation of who Paul Revere was... He... warned the... the British... um... that uh... they weren't going to being taking away our arms... with... by rignin' those bells... and... and riding that horse through town... and sending those warning shots... by golly... darn tootin...


*sigh*


Whatever... I give up...

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

The State of this Blog

I've been kicking up a little traffic lately, which is good, I guess...

But I was going over some older posts, back when I had more time to blog, and this place was hoppin! So many passionate arguments that nearly spilled over into name-calling. Those were the days...

Now I get an occasional comment, but always from someone agreeing with me, which I appreciate, but there's no conversation; no back and forth.

I think I'm going to try to rehash some of my more controversial subjects and see if I can drive some life and passion back to this place (which I will probably lose again in the Fall when I will be once again working full-time and going to school full-time).

Monday, May 23, 2011

Why Glen Beck Stands with Israel

I had a good laugh when I first saw Mr. Beck, so serious and dour, proclaim that, though it will be difficult in these trying times, we must stand with Israel, even as President Obama tries to destroy it!

ahhh... good stuff, good stuff...

Then my amusement turned to dismay when, on an Israeli blog, I saw someone actually defending Beck's sincerity, pointing out that Beck has always stood with Israel, and asking, "Why do Christians love Israel more than American Jews?"

I thought this was a no-brainer, but then, maybe my Christian upbringing has afforded me some insight that other Jews lack. It's apparent that Israeli Jews in particular really don't know why Christians are so emphatically pro-Israel.

So, let me explain:

Christianity was born in Israel as an apocalyptic messianic sect of Judaism. A good parallel is the people who thought that the world was going to end on May 21st, 2012: giving up worldly possessions, devoting what's left of their time on earth to proselytizing, and mostly adhering to their faith even after the world doesn't end.

Although many Christian groups over the centuries have set dates for the Apocalypse which have come and gone, there's actually nothing in scripture that alludes to any sort of date for the second coming, though the earliest Christians believed that Jesus would return within their generation.

The fact remains, however, that there are prophesies which must be fulfilled before Jesus can come back and oversee the end of days, and since Christianity was born in Israel, it follows that those prophesies would involve Israel.

Many evangelical Christians and Mormons (Beck's religion), believe that we are now living in the end times because the Jews have established a state in Israel (this is one of the prophesies that must be fulfilled before Jesus can return).

The next thing that has to happen, is that the Jewish Temple must be rebuilt on the Temple Mount.

The modern state of Israel was born in 1948, which means that you and I are part of the last-days generation (see Matthew 24:30-32). However, the Temple must once again occupy its place on the Temple Mount before the final major prophecied events of the last days can take place. 
 Then something about all the Jews of the world praying in unison, and then the Antichrist will be revealed, yada, yada, yada... it gets weirder the more you read... four beasts, or a beast with four heads... the Whore of Babylon, the Hounds of Hell... it's a scriptural acid trip.

The point being that Christians in general, and Beck in particular, are not standing with Israel because they love Jews; they are standing with Israel because they want the prophesies fulfilled so Jesus can come back and destroy all the people who don't worship Jesus (which includes all the Jews who don't convert to Christianity).

It's like the divine final solution.

And let's not forget that rebuilding the Temple would involve tearing down the mosque that's there now, so if Israel were to do that, it would certainly cause a lot of violence and strife, even by Middle-Eastern standards, which would only encourage the folks who are trying to bring about the Apocalypse.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Bar Mitzvah Project

I don't have time to write a post, and I'm too exhausted to think of anything clever to say, so I'll just share my boys' Bar Mitzvah Project. They had problems with the video editor they were using, so they had to paste together a music program with Windows Movie Maker, so the song could have been put together better, but I think they did a great job for a couple of twelve-year-olds. Then, of course I'm biased...

Sunday, May 8, 2011

On Shooting Bin Laden

I appreciate that Michael Moore is a consistent contrarian. It's one of the things I like about him. Plus, I'm about as liberal as a person can get before they fall off the deep end (or maybe the political spectrum is more like a Jacob's Ladder, and if I got any more liberal I'd be conservative).

Anyway, I'm overwhelmingly busy these days, so I only caught a brief clip of Mr. Moore bemoaning the killing of Osama Bin Laden without American due process of law.

Now I get the gist of what Moore is saying. It's not about Bin Laden; it's about us, and who we are as a people. But if I may be completely pragmatic for a moment; why would we try Osama Bin Laden in a court of law? What purpose would that serve? Is it because he's innocent until proven guilty? Because he's already taken credit for and spent 10 years capitalizing on the September 11th attacks.

Would we try him in court so that we could parade him around the public square before we kill him? Drive up television ratings? Have opinion polls about whether he should face the electric chair or lethal injection?

Once captured, would there be a scenario that didn't end with his death? Should we house and clothe and feed him for another decade while we let the appeals process run it's course, and then kill him?

Let me also say that I'm opposed to the death penalty, and I think it should be abolished.

Let me go out on a limb here, just to verify my liberal credentials, and say that I don't believe Osama Bin Laden was an evil person. I think that he believed he was fighting for a just cause, and he was willing to die for that cause. I believe he was a human being, just like the rest of us. I believe he loved his family, was good to his friends, and loyal to his god (granted, I think gods are stupid, but then people like Bin Laden kind of prove my point).

So I'm not being spiteful or vengeful when I say that it doesn't bother me that he was shot in the head rather than taken into custody (if taking him into custody was even an option). Hell, I don't care if they creeped into his bedroom and shot him in his sleep. He made his own bed ten years ago.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Take that, Republicans!

*sigh* I was going to do a "Ding-dong, the witch is dead" post, but when I googled that phrase, ten other sites had already done it. Really? The news of Bin Laden's death just broke like twenty minutes ago! Perhaps I'm not as clever as I thought...

Anyway, I'm eagerly waiting to see how Fox News and the Republicans are going to try to spin this; or will they be forced to grit their teeth and pat Obama on the back for accomplishing the task that Bush failed to complete?

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Affirmative Action

This country has come just far enough that public displays of hate and racism must be made in code. Gone are the days when a mild-mannered white person could simply say, "I don't think a black guy should be president." (Of course, the "one drop" rule still applies, since we don't recognize that our president is actually half white.)

So, since people like Donald Trump can't question the legitimacy of our president on the grounds that he is black, he hammers the ridiculous question of whether he was born in the United States. (It's not like Trump can be racist. He gets along so well with "the blacks.")

But Trump can no longer hammer the birth certificate issue now that Obama has produced the coveted long form version. (Personally, I don't think Obama should have dignified the question with a response.)

What now, Donald?

That's right, now we're going to question whether Obama should have gotten into Columbia and Harvard. After all, it's not like he had rich parents who could buy his way in. Where does he get off, anyway? Getting a top-notch education? There was a rich white kid who could have used that spot. Uppity. That's what it is.

Seriously though, I think Trump is doing a great service to our country. He's stirring up the filthy muck that rests in the depths of our society, lest we believe that the election of a person of color to our highest office is a sign of the end of hate and racism in this country. Keep stirring, Mr. Trump! Keep drudging that mud up to the surface and exposing it to the light of day. Keep proving that we still need Affirmative Action to level the playing field for intelligent minority kids whose parents can't buy them a good education or job.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Dear God,

Now I lay me down to sleep,

I pray the lord my soul to keep.

If I should die before I wake,

I pray the lord my soul to take.

And if I may ask one humble favor:

Please, please, please, with sugar on top;

Please, please let Donald Trump run for president.

I promise to do all my homework and clean my room,

If I could just have this one thing. Please, please, please....

Amen

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Dear Afghanistan (and Muslims around the World),

I don't know why no one told you this sooner, this is actually kind of embarrasing, and we really couldn't have expected you to know this, but here in this country... um, how can I explain this? OK, in America, we completely disregard anything said or done by people with mullets and/or handlebar mustaches.

They're what we call "rednecks" and "hillbillies." Basically, they tend to be ignorant, racist and hateful people. They love to go around waving the American flag and the Bible, but if you spend more than five minutes talking to them, you'll find out that they know very little about their country and their religion, and they are prone to regurgiate Fox News talking points in lieu of any thoughful political insights.

Yeah, so... I'm sorry to be telling you this after the fact, but "Pastor" Terry Jones has all the tell-tale signs of just being a redneck idiot (I'm not sure why our own media payed him any attention to begin with; they knew better). Anyway, I'm sure this must be very embarrasing for you; being manipulated into a violent frenzy by a gosh-darn hillbilly. Ouch.

In the future, to prevent this kind of thing from happening, it's always a good idea to avoid getting angry when someone who doesn't like you is trying to make you angry. See, if you get angry, then you are giving that person what they want; you are giving them power over you. It's one thing if you are going to hurt the person making you angry, but hurting innocent people, and eachother... well that's just stupid. I mean, that's the kind of thing you'd expect a bunch of rednecks to do.

Sincerely,

Heather

Friday, April 1, 2011

On Libya and "Western" Civilization

Frankly, when it comes to Libya, I think we are doing the best we can with a bad situation. Unlike the Iraqis, the Libyan people asked for help. Unlike Iraq, the US is not the sole driving force of international intervention. And unlike the Iraq war, most of the world, including many Arab nations, support military intervention in this conflict.

I want to say that the political movements sweeping the Middle East are an opportunity for Western culture to take hold in that region, but I have a problem with the term "Western" culture. Here in the West, we have this notion that our culture was born in Ancient Greece, and from there it followed a straight path to Rome, then to Europe, then to America.

The problem with this notion is that it overlooks an important time in European history following the collapse of Rome. Do the "Dark Ages" ring a bell for anyone? You know, those hundreds of years after the fall of Rome when people forgot all about reading and math and science and the Earth being round?

People are forgetful; that's why we keep doing the same stupid things over and over. But it just so happens that after the fall of Rome, there was a group of people who didn't forget about math and science and reading... anyone out there know who I'm talking about, because it's another one of those things that our culture seems to have completely forgotten...

The correct answer is: the Muslims!

That's right, during our "Dark Ages" while Europeans had lost essential knowledge like the importance of washing hands and purifying drinking water, the Muslims flourished in places like Spain. They practiced the arts and sciences handed down from Roman culture, and even improved on it by inventing things like the number 0 (seriously, they were the first ones to think of 0, which is the basis of our modern numerical system, also known as the "Arabic" system).

It was only through our conflicts with Muslim nations that we were able to recover all that lost knowledge; and it was that recovery, and the education that followed, that eventually led to our culture's Renaissance.

So as we yearn for the prospect of "Western" culture taking hold in the Arab nations, I think it would be more appropriate and productive to view this process, not as us giving them something which is uniquely ours, but as us helping them find something they lost. We are not so much doing them a favor as we are returning a favor owed.

And may we all move forward together, hand in hand.

Dear Congressman Kucinich,

     I'm an Ohioan and I have always liked you. I voted for you in the presidential primaries, and I had Kucinich signs on my lawn. So please don't take this the wrong way, but what the hell are you thinking? Going on Fox News to talk smack about the president? I'm not saying you have to support Obama on everything, and you have the right to your opinions about our involvement in Libya; but Fixed News? Really?

     And the comments you made about the situation in Libya were just below the level of intelligence that I know you possess. Do you really think that the Libyans can protest their way to freedom like the Egyptians did? Gadhafi is no Mubarak. He has no problem mascaraing civilians. There are times, unfortunately, when change cannot happen without bloodshed. Our own great country could not have been born through peaceful protest.

     Still, you are entitled to your opinions. Just, please, in the future, don't give Fixed News the satisfaction of ridiculing you and everything you stand for on a daily basis, and then entertaining you when you have a grievance with Obama. Have some dignity; not just for yourself, but for the Ohioans and the liberals you represent.

Sincerely,

Heather

Monday, March 7, 2011

National study of the role that emotion may play in politics

Apparently, there are a group of researchers at Appalachian State University who are under the impression that this blog has a readership. ;)

Please take a few moments to take this political survey. I tried it, and it really does only takes a few minutes.

Plus, you'll be entered in a drawing to win a $20 gift certificate at Amazon.com.

Plus, you can help me keep up the appearance that I have readers, which would be nice.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Watching TV (My Yellow Rose)



I keep thinking about this song as I think about the events that have unfolded in Tunsia and Egypt and how humanity has become more and more connected through technology.

We are such complex creatures. At our most animalistic level, we are driven to fight and kill one another on ever increasing scales. But even as we invent newer and more efficient ways to kill our fellow human beings, we are also inventing newer and more efficient ways of connecting with them.

I suppose art came first; cave drawings. Even hundreds of thousands of years later, we are able to connect with people we can never meet. We share the bond of knowing that those people were in so many ways just like us. We know this because they left behind messages that we can understand.

Writing was the next big leap in technology. Like every new technology, it had its skeptics and detractors. Socrates thought writing was a terrible idea. When you send your thoughts out into the world where people you will never meet can read them, there's just no telling what those strangers will make of your words. They could interpret something completely different than what you meant, and you won't be there to correct them. Of course, the only reason we have any idea who Socrates was and what he thought is because Plato, his student, wrote it all down. And although Socrates was absolutely right about the dangers of writing, he missed the point of writing entirely.

Human communication is not the process by which we transfer information accurately and completely, but the process by which we connect on the most basic of levels and understand that we are all the same.

There is no ideal more important than the understanding that we are all the same, because there is no idea more destructive and more exploited by those in power than the sentiment that those people are different than us.

You see, every cell in your body has a marker on it that identifies it as you. When a cell enters your body that is not you, it is immediately destroyed. We are programmed, all the way down to every cell in our body, to survive by destroying what is alien or "other."

But we are more than collections of cells. We are more than animals. We are not driven by survival alone. We are driven by love and hope and fear. We crave touch. We need to be connected to one another. We are forever inventing new ways to communicate, not just with the people next to us at the moment, but with people we will never meet on the other side of the planet and the other side of the next century.

Art, music, writing, the printing press, radio, television, the internet, Facebook and Twitter. Every new connection brings us closer to each other until one day, we will be as ready to kill a stranger in another country for the benefit of those in power as we would to kill our cousin or neighbor. This is why governments, religions, and dictators have always sought to control our means of expression, and why we must always fight for the freedom to speak, draw, write, blog and even tweet.

We must fight for the ability to love our brothers and sisters on every continent because the more we connect and work together for the benefit of mankind, the more we will prosper and flourish together; rather than allowing a select few to prosper at the expense of everyone else.

("Watching TV" is by Roger Waters on the album "Amused to Death." It's performed by Roger Waters and Don Henly)

Friday, February 11, 2011

Today, we are all Egyptians

I was eleven years old.

The extent of my political knowledge was that I had been vaguely disappointed when Bush defeated Dukakis in the presidential election the previous year. I lived in a dilapidated blue-collar neighborhood, so there was a pervasive anti-Republican sentiment that I simply accepted without further thought. I also remember being occasionally worried that we might be nuked by the Russians, but beyond that, I had no awareness of or concern about international politics.

Yet there I sat, on my knees in front of the living room television, crying.

I knew very little about World War II, except that the Nazis were evil and had tried to kill all the Jews. I'm pretty sure that I thought the United States entered the war to save the Jews. I knew that Berlin was in Germany, I had become increasingly aware of the existence of a wall there, but I basically had no intellectual understanding of what was happening.

But I understood perfectly. I understood in the core of my being; the way an infant understands music. It was raw and pure. I sat there alone, with no adult explaining to me exactly what was happening. With tears streaming down my face, I watched as jubilant strangers on the other side of the planet tore down a once insurmountable wall with hammers and their bare hands. I watched people from one side of a wall putting their arms around people from the other side; and we all cried together.

At the completely ignorant age of eleven, I acutely appreciated that I may never witness another such moment in history.

And here I sit, my own children almost exactly the same age I was on the day we were all Berliners; but on this day, we are all Egyptians.

What a beautiful day to be alive.

Thank you people of Egypt; and may you continue to be a light of peace and justice to your region and the world.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Dear Egyptians,

You have come so far. Don't give up now!

No system of government is perfect. There will always be selfish, greedy, short-sighted bullies trying to take for themselves what should rightly be shared. There will always be gluttonous monsters who will flood fertile green fields with the blood of innocents before they would give a single grain to a starving child.

And it will always be the tendency of the masses to live like sheep; quietly following the butt of the sheep in front of them, unwilling to expend the energy necessary to even lift up their heads and look at the world they live in.

But there are moments in history, however brief, when we shake off our docile stupor and risk our lives to take the reins of our own destiny. There are moments when we humbly accept our obligation to humanity, climb out of the herd, and refuse to accept anything other than justice and the free will granted to us by the magnitude of our frontal cortex.

I know this is terrifying. It's terrifying to watch, but you have our attention. Sheep from every corner of the globe are breathlessly watching your heroism in the face of tyranny. I can't tell you that what you eventually accomplish will be exactly what you hoped for, but it will be yours.

Rip your destiny from the hands of your oppressors, and it will be yours to mold and guard, and you will pass it on to your children with the hope that they will never allow it to be stolen away again.

It is that hope that you are fighting for, and it is more valuable than the blood, sweat and tears you will shed to get it. You can feel the hope at your fingertips, you are so close, and though it is barely in your grasp, already you are throwing its seeds high into the atmosphere where winds carry it to the rest of the world. You have already taken your place in human history and continued the germination of hope, justice, and freedom.

Now take what is yours and plant it in the waiting earth beneath your feet.

Sincerely,

Humanity