Choosing Your Battles


When the middle of the road is muddy slick
so that the vehicles of truth get mired,
‘Tis then the vultures gather there to pick
among the helpless and the uninspired.

The wheels of progress spin but cannot grab
or gain a purchase ‘gainst the tide of war,
but spout mere rhetoric and useless gab
until the words don’t matter anymore.

And love? It is subsumed in mindless hate;
the doves of peace set on by hungry hawks
who speak of “help” but would decide our fate
while the whole world still argues and just gawks.

The future in such times is so unsure –
for who’s to judge whose motives are more pure?

21 JUN 2003

for LJ user stephanielynch

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Watergate and Lao Tzu


I remember being 8 years old and watching every minute of the Watergate hearings on television. Watching the PBS special on the 30th Anniversary of the Destruction of the Innocence of the Republic, or rather, the Watergate scandal (which Kurt Vonnegut so eloquently pointed out was the first time we as a nation were made aware that a President so hated the American people that he in essence used the Constitution as toilet paper and demonstrated his contempt for law as being for other people), I am reminded of something Lao Tzu wrote:

The value of a government lies in its honesty;
The value of management lies in its ability;
The value of action lies its timing.

To which I might also add: the value of justice lies in its impartiality.

As many of the senators who participated in the hearings commented in this retrospective, it would nice if we as a nation had learned some kind of lasting lesson from Watergate. Something about the nature of the Executive branch to stretch its tentacles seeking power and usurping the nature of balance between itself and the other branches of government. Something about our Chief Executive believing themselves above the law, beyond the realm of culpability, outside the judgment of history, able to justify its own actions in the name of national security.

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For Allen Ginsberg


I can hear you breathing, America
Will you catch up with me
Dangling your embittered and jealous umbilicus
Asking
Who among you when your child asks for bread
Will hand him a grenade?
It’s not some dark sin that hides you
That tangles itself between your hunchback slouch
Taking the offense
And turning it to saccharine misgiving,
Writing manifesto after manifesto
In depressed Republican villages,
Burning books
(besides, who reads?)
That betray the lies:
The absence of a common enemy
A booming peacetime economy
Unprecedented availability of information.
No one wins this anti-trust action,
America,
I can hear you breathing,
Sweating,
Cursing your unseen enemies
In the absence of the rear view mirror
I was young, once,
But you were born to bed pans and liquid food,
To hearing aids and walking sticks,
To constipation and incontinence.
Can you hear me, America?

2001

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The Parable of the Sower


Sometimes, I think that I have borne a lot
of resentment, and fought against the world
believing to lead with your fist uncurled
meant weakness, and what you deserved, you got.

I lived as if my troubles were the most
important thing in the whole universe;
and those who hurt me, from me got it worse.
I thought of myself as a hungry ghost,

feeding on others misfortune and pain,
using their foibles as inspiration
for forming great theories, the creation
of a clever ruse to hide my disdain.

And karma? What was that to do with me?
My actions, like a pebble in the pond
sent waves echoing outward, far beyond
my line of sight. In my sad vanity

I imagined that being the center, source
from which this negativity bounded,
it was the ugly world that surrounded
the force for good that was myself. Of course,

I was wrong about some things, and yet right
about a few others. Like what you get
being what you deserve; if you forget
that one, your world view becomes wrapped so tight

a light, little touch can send you spinning
into a void of angry self-pity
where your soul’s balance and integrity
are lost in cruel games, and no one’s winning.

Sometimes, I think that I have borne a lot;
but then, I look at where my life is now,
looking back on the bitter weeds I plow
under, those tares I sowed in my own plot.

I realize my misspent days of youth
were but a preamble to my real life,
and that by reaping then that field of strife
I have prepared the soil to grow some truth.

28 JUL 2003

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Truth is Stranger Than Fiction


It is sometimes quite odd the things that happen when you are on a journey of self-discovery. Take this weekend, for example. I was sitting around, minding my own business, meditating and updating various computer things, and the telephone rang.
The voice on the other end asked, “may I speak to John Litzenberg, please?”

I responded, “this is he.”

The man on the other end replied, “so is this.”

Apparently, about two years ago, this man’s son was visiting in New Orleans, and was his wont, he looked up other Litzenbergs in the phone book. Finding someone listed with his father’s name, he wrote it down and gave the note to his dad when he returned home to Elkton, MD. While going through his desk, John Litzenberg found my name and number, and immediately thought to call me up.

We talked for a while about ancestry and family history (we had never met, but I informed him if he wanted more information on me, that I was in the big Litzenberg-Litzenberger book [compiled by my cousin Homer L. (whose father was Blitzin’ Litzen, the Marine Corps Brigadier General in charge of Marine forces in Korea, BTW)] as entry 3778), and shared pleasantries and such for about 15 minutes. He is apparently in real estate; I am in project management and information technology consulting. Both of us lamented the high cost of the reunion trips that are planned every year to Gemunden, Germany for persons of like name, and noted that while there seem to be a great number of Litzenbergs active in the States, probably keeping their numbers at no more than a thousand or so is a good thing, as we seem to be a rather “ornery” bunch (LOL).

As he is in his early sixties, he of course had the name first. But it is still quite odd to talk to yourself on the phone, is it not?

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Seed Thought on Wealth


Money is not wealth. Wealth is the accomplished technological ability to protect, nurture, support, and accommodate all growful needs of life. Money is only an expediency-adopted means of interexchanging disparately sized, nonequatable items of real wealth. — R. Buckminister Fuller, Critical Path

How wealthy are you? What is your treasure? I know that sometimes I think I have so little to work with; and yet, in the overall scheme of things I have indeed an abundance. And what we have, that is what we have to give.

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Suggestion for Philip Morris


I have been a smoker for a long time. You know, I’ve been watching these Philip Morris legislation required commercials advocating parental communication as the method for preventing children from smoking…and I’ve been thinking…while it is necessary for parents to communicate with their children, their words mean very little in comparison to their actions.

So here’s my idea for the new Philip Morris ad:

Parents
if you want your children to be non-smokers
don’t just talk about it.

Quit smoking.

As long as we’re in business
you’re wasting your breath.

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