Tag Archives: rhetoric

Cannon Fodder

When all else fails (and at some point it will),
so all that’s left to us is simply talk,
the victors will be those with basic skills
for making idle words seem like a walk

through all the rhetoric and empty lies
that promise surplus but deliver less,
and when we take offense and act surprised
remind us of our own unmindfulness.

I wonder, when that fateful day arrives,
the morning we awaken at long last,
if our frail egos will in fact survive
with sense enough to learn some from the past.

I doubt it. It’s much easier to sleep.
Besides, that keeps the cannon fodder cheap.

02 DEC 2014

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The answer: a 20 questions poem

What’s the point?
Is there some reason why you ask?
Do you really care?
Does anyone really want to know?
Why does it seem to matter so much?
Who do we think we are?
What difference does it make, anyway?
Will it change a thing, our birth or death?
And what about that life stuck in between?
Is there some great epiphany to come?
Has everything that ever counted been here and moved on?
Where did we expect to go?
And what did we expect to find?
If all of this is nothing, what are we doing?
If this is all there is, why do we waste an instant?
Who gains anything poised delicately in the middle?
Can anyone that seeks a balance survive?
Who makes these rules, anyway?
What is the proof of anything at all?
Why ask and why answer?

14 APR 2014

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You Could Change: tanka

You could change the world
if just given half a chance;
why are you waiting?
It really doesn’t matter
once the moment’s gone away.

You could move mountains
if just sincerely inspired;
what more do you need?
It doesn’t really mean much
to speak loudly but not act.

You could light the way
if these clouds would only clear;
how is that helpful?
When the darkness has dissolved,
no one needs a raging fire.

You could change the world
in an instant, with a word;
why not start speaking?
You might as well say nothing
if no one will ever hear.

11 APR 2013

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Blue Monday

I’ve never met a President, I doubt I ever will;
In recent years, the only likely one for that was Bill.
They never seem to be much like the people that I know:
they have more money, that’s for sure, and travel to and fro

persuading and attempting to convince me what is real
in case I haven’t figured out the truth of the whole deal:
it doesn’t really matter, in the end, who claims to run the show
or who claims some authority based on some need to know,

I’ll do what I believe is right, just like I’ve always done,
and won’t require one law to change, nor need to purchase guns,
nor back my claim with scripture, nor intimidate with threat,
nor count on anyone to help me but my work and sweat.

You see, it doesn’t matter – ’cause if the whole world’s insane,
the only thing you’ve got to fear is what’s in your own brain;
and if you need approval from the masses for your truth
you might as well forget it. It won’t be from voting booths

that your redemption will come forth; no, it will never be
so long as there need to be laws to give you liberty.
You’re free already – it’s your choice to stand or else to kneel;
you’ll be convicted either way, so which has more appeal –

to live the life you know is right, be kind, and just and wise?
or wait for some new world to dawn? If you think that these guys
who look to be elected, either one, can make things right
and turn approaching twilight into dawn by skipping night,

can with some magic heal the wounds we’ve spent years making sore,
can get rid of depression, terrorism, hate and war,
can counter greed, and selfish interest, and make people care,
then you’re off in some other world, and I wish you luck there.

But here, real change is up to you and me, and no one else;
there’s only one who’s fit to change your world, and that’s yourself.
Unless you work to make this place, this time, worth living in,
you might as well vote with a blindfold. Don’t bitch if you win.

03 NOV 2008

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Dear Kleenex

As of late, there’s been a commercial advertising your products that runs a little something like this …

A man with a shaven head (not tonsured, but completely shaven), wearing maroon robes very similar in style to those worn by the Dalai Lama, is shown during his daily activities to be careful about not harming the natural world around him. He rights a beetle so it can go on its way. He checks his steps to make sure no creatures are harmed by his footfalls. And so on.

Then, he plucks a tissue from a Kleenex box and blows his nose. There is a voice-over reminding us all that Kleenex tissue kills millions of germs. Germs, of course, are living creatures too. This puts a very worried look on the man’s face. I say man, but quite obviously he is supposed to be some kind of monk, most likely a follower of an Eastern religion, particularly as he has been acting with a Jain-like level of non-violence, and even sports a set of japa beads, not a rosary.

But all is not lost, the voice over assures us, saying “Thank goodness for forgiveness. Thank goodness for Kleenex.”

However, there is a bit of a problem here. So far as I know, and I have been studying Eastern religions and the myriad of paths that preach non-violence and “do no harm”, none of the sects to which the monk might belong have what you might call a “Doctrine of Forgiveness”. That is, I believe, a Christian notion. Where paths preach non-violence and non-aggression, there is no forgiveness, regardless of how small or petty the infraction may seem. There is payment due. It is called Karma. It is also, in some strange circles, referred to as a law of physics: for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. To coin a phrase, what comes around, goes around. If you truly believe in non-aggression and non-harm, you take personal responsibility for your every action, and do not seek (or expect) forgiveness. You expect a bill, and you are prepared to pay it. Even if it is mere, lowly germs who have given their lives to afford you better health, you are inclined to thank them for the sacrifice.

As one non-Christian practitioner who thinks that the beliefs of others should not be parodied out of ignorance, particularly to sell products, I think this oversight (and I’d like to think that’s all it is) is nothing to sneeze at. But it certainly has inclined me to purchase Puffs instead.

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The Art of War on …

Poverty, Illiteracy, Hunger, Drugs, and ultimately what I’d like to address, Terrorism.

Does it appear to anyone but myself that our great “national” causes (that we cast as decisive “battles” since Johnson’s Great Society and its War on Poverty) deal primarily with the symptoms, and not their underlying causes? Let’s take Terrorism, for one. Terrorism is violent action taken to bring attention to one’s issues. To me, that makes it a last resort. A final desparate parley when all other avenues have been exhausted. I can think of one absolutely sure way to eliminate Osama bin Laden as a threat: sit down at the table with him, with an open mind, willing to admit where he is right, and willing to prove where “we” are right. As Marshall McLuhan put it in his book “The Medium is the Massage”, propaganda ends where dialogue begins. But the problem is that in the world political arena, there is an “adult’s” table and a “kid’s” table. And those that sit at the “adult” table take it for granted that because they are sitting at that table, that they are doing everything right.

There is an old saying: “There are four kinds of people in this world. Those that like you for the right reasons, those that like you for the wrong reasons, those that don’t like you for the wrong reasons, and those that don’t like you for the right reasons. The first three groups need not command your attention — but you must address the last.”

Part of the problem with eliiminating terrorist threats is that we have not provided terrorists with any other viable means for communication as equals. As a result, they are left desparate enough to use “whatever means necessary” to wage their own “War on Hypocrisy.” Part of that hypocrisy might be, from a Muslim perspective, that so-called Christian countries, who are not interested in having anyone step into their lands and tell them how to behave or treat their subjects or interact with their neighbors, or control their national industries and elections, seem very interested in doing those very things in other places – which is a direct violation of the Christian truism “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” If you aren’t willing to take advice from parties that are diametrically opposite from yourself ideologically, then stay out of their business, too.

The point is that dissidents, to become dangerous, must feel that no one is listening to what they have to say, or that any dialogue in which they participate is a farce. Having a “dialogue” on how to best address global tension, for example, without any interest in or commitment to changing your own national actions as required to resolve conflicts, is hypocrisy; just like waging a war on drugs and focusing on the ghettos is obvious hypocrisy, as the only people capable of large-scale importation of drugs typically are not ghetto residents.

With respect to the “current” war on terrorism, which seems to be focused on Islamic Terror: that is a war we, as a “Christian” nation will never WIN, so long as we deny that there are things about Islam (and every other religion other than our own) that are worth learning, and learning from. And there are things to be learned from non-democratic nations that are applicable to our dear Democracy, particularly as we see it slipping away, eroded by the very “rule of kings” that we were supposedly founded as a bulwark against.

Back briefly to the adult vs. kid table. The problem is of course that who sits at which table, globally speaking, is largely defined by military might. We as a global community seem to believe that all other ideologies aside, as long as you are well armed, you deserve attention and respect. Of course, that’s part of the problem — we are basically telling anyone disenfranchised, alienated, ignored or otherwise marginalized that if you get your armaments together (remembering that about 75% of the world’s high tech weaponry is produced by the USA), and prove that you will use them, then and only then will you be worthy of notice. And then we wonder when the guns are pointed at us. Hmm…

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The disembodied politic

Sometimes I wish it wasn’t so that I’m a Democrat
Perhaps if things were different it wouldn’t come to that
But as it is I often wish the slate could be swept clean
And then I wouldn’t have to choose from Kerry, Clark or Dean

Sure there are other candidates and other parties, too
But in the end they rarely count or stir up much to do
So while I wait for something more substantial on the scene
I’ll have to take my chances backing Kerry, Clark or Dean

If only they would stand together there against the idle rich
Or put their shoulders next to one another in the ditch
Instead, it seems that all they want to do is stand and bitch
It makes me think that Florida was not a pointless glitch

Oh, Democrats, where are your backbones vigilant at night
Why can’t you talk cohesively about putting things right
And don’t you get that half the country won’t know what you mean
As long as the best things we’ve got are Kerry, Clark and Dean?

I’ve nothing ‘gainst these gentlemen, they seem honest enough
Between the three I’m guaranteed they know some of their stuff
But none have really fired my spirit, or inspired my dreams
They each seem rather boring, these boys Kerry, Clark and Dean

Now don’t react with vitriol to these few humble lines
I only wish that I could read the Democrat’s designs
So that come late October when the leaves have turned from green
I’ll know which one might unseat Bush of Kerry, Clark or Dean

Because the country, nay the world, is riding on this race
And as we know, there must be no doubt who’s in second place
The win must be substantial, by a margin quite extreme
So who can do it most decisive? Kerry, Clark or Dean?

The future of the human race may rest upon this year
So I’m not looking for the man who’s had the best career
Nor spouts the greatest rhetoric, nor looks most neat and clean
So in November who shall it be, Kerry, Clark or Dean?

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