Tag Archives: activism

Rock the Casbah

In one sense, as the Casbah rocks,
it merely sways on concrete blocks
that buried deep beneath the sand
give history its strength to stand;

and its foundations, built of steel
and solid rock, can barely feel
the tremors from such surface noise
cranked out by grown men and young boys

who think to change the world, but fail,
forgetting it takes years for shale
to yield to pressure, making oil
there miles beneath the fertile soil.

In one sense, as the Casbah crowd
believes the hype thats blast so loud
across the endless sea of sand,
it neither will evolve or stand

for anything beyond its press,
just fade to nothing, more or less,
converting substance into style,
then neatly sorted to some file:

the “where are they”, “what happened to”,
brought out of mothballs for their due
at some parade where they are mocked
by those who never knew they rocked.

10 APR 2007

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Ayn Rand

So you would change the world
and make the roughest edges plain,
extend your level down the field,
widen and pave each lane,

erase what makes a difference
between one soul and the next,
reward in equal measure
with the coin of self-respect,

enforce equality across the board,
no matter what,
regardless of the steps it took
to get each to that spot.

Forget that it’s adversity
that defines who we are,
our flaws as individuals,
the perfect surface marred

that makes a talent marvelous,
a special gift unique,
a voice worth recognizing
in the mob from which it speaks.

The world is not an easy place;
it is not meant to be.
A price is paid for every breath,
for every liberty,

for each kind of convenience,
for the smallest bit of joy,
for every gift you choose to squander
or by luck, employ.

To change the world,
to make it so that each has equal share
when some work harder
than the rest seems blatantly unfair;

that’s like imagining auditions
to find out who’s best
that don’t require participation
or some kind of test.

I wonder how you pick
a winning singer on a show
where everybody thinks they’re great
because someone said so;

despite the fact they have no rhythm,
sense of key or pitch,
and will not listen to advice
but instead only bitch

that those who judge are blind,
or worse, malevolently cruel,
and cannot see that every lump of coal
contains a jewel.

Which isn’t so. Only a few,
that persevere in time,
and overcome the pressure make it
to the finish line.

Would you lay out your hard earned cash
for coal and gem the same?
That’s not the change that this world needs.
It’s already half lame.

19 SEP 2006

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Peace is a Verb

No passive meal, no rare stuff bird,
true peace is not a noun, but verb;
inaction, apathy and doubt
that whisper are not her. She shouts

from rooftops, making foul war shake
in fear at her approach. Mistake
not mewling whiners for her knights,
but rather find those awake nights

who seek to change first, in themselves,
the hurt and violence that dwells
inside us all, and is expressed
in hatred’s cruel unhappiness.

Peace is no victim, she just waits
while we excuse or blame on fate
why we act not who know the course
that will alone deter blind force:

to cease rewarding strength and might
for its own sake, calling it right
that those who kill and those who die
are somehow not just you and I.

11 AUG 2006

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Treating the Symptoms, Not the Cause

Something to think about in the context of today’s America and unrest around the world (emphases mine):

Hitler was able to enslave his own people because he seemed to give them something that even the traditional religions could no longer provide; the belief in a meaning to existence beyond the narrowest self-interest.

The real degradation began when people realized that they were in league with the Devil, but felt that even the Devil was preferable to the emptiness of an existence which lacked a larger significance.

The problem today is to give that larger significance and dignity to a life that has been dwarfed by the world of material things. Until that problem is solved, the annihilation of Naziism will be no more than the removal of one symptom of the world’s unrest.

— Konrad Heiden, Der Fuehrer, 1944

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Foolish Notions

for Bob Dylan

Youth’s rebellions dissipate;
brave destiny succumbs to fate.
One morning you find it’s too late
to join the revolution.

One’s high ideals sink in the mud;
mountain retreats recede in flood.
The fire that once burned in your blood
Is ash and tar solution.

The words you chanted echo back
with missing verbs, with added tact,
contaminated by the fact
they’re now just noise pollution.

What was the problem has become
the status quo, opposing thumbs;
and the low beating of the drums
is just sheep in wolves’ clothing.

Those questions you posed to the air
have lost their sense of savoir faire.
Youth listens, but it doesn’t care;
they have their own self-loathing.

The answers aren’t there to find
out in the world, inside your mind,
to questions, now, of any kind.
Your gurus were all posing.

And yet the world is still the same:
victors dividing up the blame,
while tired and poor and sick and lame
sit waiting for a saviour.

While those with strength enough to fight
pretend their side is mostly right,
with pills to help them sleep at night
not doing them a favor.

Pretending at community,
while slicing up eternity;
the dish is done, it seems to me
the salt has lost its flavor.

I could, but now it’s far too late;
while we sit back and hesitate
the tabla rasa changes state
and crumbles in the ocean.

And each of us that could have been
if only we’d decided when
is left with words and bitter pens
robbed of our forward motion.

To sit and kvetch about the news
our backsides warm in worn-down pews,
forced now to listen as our views
are shown as foolish notions.

01 AUG 2006

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So You Want to Change the World …

but the World doesn’t want to change.

And so, you insist upon changing it, by doing whatever you think the world needs (but it doesn’t, because if it thought it needed it, it WOULD change – because everyone and everything is where it is because that’s the only place it actually CAN be. Everything is evolved to the level of its own realization, and gets to the next level when it is ready to do so, not because YOU think it’s timetable is too slow).

So now you’ve done it. Changed the world, that is. Haven’t you interfered with the World’s Free Will (by doing something against its will, which was to change out of accordance with its enlightenment timetable)?

Does Free Will matter? That’s a Catch-22. Because if you say it does, then you have no business changing the World (against its will). And if you say it doesn’t matter, then why is what you think (or your freedom to decide what to think or what you think is best to do) important anyway?

Call this Philosophical Dilemma 47A(ii).

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Everybody Wants to Change the World …

but (and there’s always a BUT – depending on whose diatribe you’re reading at the time, it might be [and I’m making these up as absurd examples, they’re not real quotes]) …

nobody wants to change their underwear.
nobody wants to make change for a dollar.
nobody wants to change their OWN life.
nobody wants to be hated for it.
nobody wants to do it for nothing.
nobody wants to start with their own backyard.
nobody wants to give up their life to do it.
nobody knows how.

There are tons of organizations out there (http://www.zaadz.com and http://www.one.org, to just name two) whose tag line incorporates something about “changing the world”.

And there are hundreds of thousands of bright-eyed, bushy-tailed enthusiasts that flock to these kinds of organizations with big ideas and high hopes. And they spout things like “how about getting children enthusiastic about global change” or “why don’t we win over the ‘Heartland'” or “let’s think globally, and act locally”. I’ll admit, I am one of those people who look for organizations and people with big ideas. But I wonder … as I’ve often wondered when I see the Jehovah’s Witnesses somberly traipsing up the block, or see the clean scrubbed Mormon bicycle evangelists or street corner Nation of Islam boys hawking their particular brand of enlightenment. What I wonder is this: when you say “save the children,” whose children are you talking about? The children of famine-ravaged Ethopia or war-torn Bosnia or overpopulated India? Why is it that so many “missionaries” tend to look elsewhere for somebody to save? There are probably kids in your own neighborhood that are under- or mis-educated, malnourished, disenfranchised. Hell, they might even be relatives. What about them? Why are there so few missions to the trailer parks, to the coal mines, to the squatter villages right here in town “on the wrong side of the tracks”? What about those “black sheep” cousins, or your own parents? Try convincing a set-in-their-ways, old-fashioned, conservative, Bible-thumping auntie that Buddhism is a viable option for some. That’ll keep you busy for a spell.

In other words, if you can’t convince people who KNOW you, because you’re worried they’ll resent you, or cut you out of their wills, or not let their children play with yours, or whatever — why do you expect a different reaction from someone whose space you’ve invaded without the courtesy of LIVING among them?

And check your information. Figure out that it’s not fossil fuel dependency to run our cars that’s the problem. It’s the dependence on CORN that’s the problem. It takes less petroleum to fill all our tanks than to produce the synthetic nitrogren required to fertilize the corn crop that produces not only ethanol, but 45% of what fills the supermarket shelves (and in some cases, is used to construct the shelves themselves). There’s not enough naturally occurring free nitrogen on root bulbs and produced by lightning to fertilize the food for my FAMILY for a year. Without synthetic nitrogen, there would need to be a significant population reduction. EVERYWHERE. At the very least, there would need to be an elimination of 95% of all candy and soft drinks (most of which rely upon corn syrup and corn sweetener). To get that nitrogen requires burning fossil fuels. So biofuels are a double-edged sword, aren’t they?

How to change the world, then? It isn’t by teaching, or educating, or spending, or practicing random kindnesses, or sending healing energy around the globe. It’s not conversion by the sword by any other name (and that sword need not be made of steel). It’s not, as I used to glibly jibe, changing the way people think by making sure they are thinking to begin with.

What is it, then? Some humungous collaboration of do-gooding, glad-handing, happy-shiny smiling know-it-alls changing the lives of those underprivileged and unwashed masses surrounding them?

No. I think it starts a little differently. I think it starts by doing what you think is right and ethical for those whose lives you already touch. And by remembering that every system of ethics has as its root principle “Thou before I”. In other words, to be ethical, you have to consider the other person’s situation as equally valid and important as your own. And you have to think about the impact of your actions on others before counting the benefit to yourself.

Such small things. Things that don’t get mentioned on the Philanthropic Channel. Or get you plaques or medals or knighthoods. Certainly not things that anybody is going to thank you for.

At least, not yet. Until you’ve changed the world.

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