American Chess Game

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In recent weeks, overwhelmed by the gut-wrenching posts of gifted writers, I have written little worthy of sharing. But I spend hours reading what the rest of you write. And I hear you, friends. I share your pain. I understand the disbelief, the anger, the recurring horror following an election that spoke NOT for the majority of voters, but set us up for a nightmare administration that shakes us to our very foundations. We do, indeed, grieve.

Chatting with my thirty-something son yesterday, he shared his disappointment. “I really thought we were better than that, as a nation.”

I thought so, too. I grew up believing that we, as Americans, stood for progress, for humanitarian support around the world. Through our influence and assistance, we could help other people achieve the freedom to speak for themselves, without fear. When I was a child, I felt pride in my country. That is not the case today.

Echoing a dear friend, I say, “I so want us to be the good guys.”

Yet now, it seems even though the majority of us still subscribe to decency, integrity and honesty, it matters less than if you have a lot of wealth and can buy your way into a misleading and dangerous leadership position. This is what happens when there is only one recognized litmus test for success and that test is money. Those with a lot of money control the game. The rest of us are pawns. We’re expendable. It’s a big game of power and apparently it’s been going on for decades.

Two weeks ago, on a long flight returning to the US from abroad, I chose to watch a movie on my seat’s private screen. All the President’s Men was available. Remember that one? It was the true story of two reporters in Washington DC who uncovered the Republican Party’s involvement in and cover-up of highly illegal activities intended to manipulate and influence the election in 1972. I was a high school student then, a member of my school’s Teen-Age Republicans. Watergate became a huge story. As a youth, I had no real idea what it meant, but it ended Nixon’s term early.

Watching the movie in 2017, all I could think was—“Republicans have been manipulating elections through any means available to them for a LONG time.”

To what end? This morning I read a post by Jon Perr, “The simple, sinister reason for the GOP’s never-ending war on Obamacare”. He described how the recent attack on the ACA was not an attempt to promote a better system or better care for millions of American people. There is nothing proposed to replace the contentious health care act. Indeed, the number-one reason Republicans chose to repeal Obamacare was apparently to stifle public approval and support for their opponents, the Democratic Party.

We are indeed pawns in a mega-chess game of power.

No wonder we grieve. We have suffered great loss. No stranger over the years to heart-wrenching farewells and grief of many origins, I recognize that our national reaction to events in Washington DC reflects many facets of loss. What are some things we have lost? Beyond the assurance that our healthcare needs will be answered, we grieve for much more.

We have lost the leadership of a remarkable president who consistently demonstrated his dedication to the welfare of our people and others around the world. Instead, through some political shenanigans, the reigns are handed to a tyrant who seems to care little for the majority of the people.

We’ve lost faith in the ideals and processes of our people-driven government. What might have been and where could we be now if, instead of choosing every action to make the people’s president fail, our senators and representatives had worked together for our common good? What might we have become over the past eight years? We will never know and can only wonder.

We’ve lost our belief in the basic goodness of humanity.

We’ve lost hope for the betterment of our future, for the preservation of a pristine and sacred planet to pass on to our grandchildren.

We’ve lost a dream of a future where each of us is treated with respect and dignity, and all things matter on a healthy and robust planet.  Instead, we have a vision of an Earth such as the one Wall-E was cleaning in the animated movie, because all that matters is money. Who has the most money and how will they use it to manipulate us pawns for their own greedy ends?

It is no wonder that we grieve. Loss of a dream is hard.

As a novelist, I find myself pondering some of the plotting techniques I learned in workshops over the past few years. Consider, for a moment, that we are collectively the protagonist in an edge-of-the-seat thriller story. The poor protagonist experiences set-back after set-back, crisis after crisis, conflict after increasingly intense conflict. Just when you think you’re in the clear, you’re not. (Election of Barack Obama as US president.) Just when you think it can’t possibly get worse, it does. (Inauguration of Trump, and his cabinet choices.)

Collectively, as a character in an on-going drama, we are riddled with internal conflict. The election of November 8, 2016  is one giant plot twist, catapulting us into the final climactic scenario. How will we cope? Can we find the means to pull through this era of consternation as a better nation? Will we even survive?

We pawns must write the ending to this story. Recently a Facebook friend shared a thought about grief. “Grief is really just love with no place to go. It’s all the love you want to give, but cannot.”

The way to move ahead is to find new avenues to spend that love, in honor of those people, dreams, or ideas we have lost.

I sometimes have the opportunity to counsel others working through grief. It’s hard. There’s no denying that. The event, the compound losses, have changed our lives. It’s up to us what we do now. We can work through it, and become stronger in the process. Or we can wallow in it and drown.

We can either let our grief make us better people and a better nation, or we can let it break us.

I choose to let it make us—make me—better. I’m not off the board yet. I may have little or no influence in Washington’s big game, but I can influence my home and hometown. The question is, “How?”

I refuse to be overcome by fear and suspicion of neighbors and family members on the other side of issues. I can choose to share love, to smile at strangers, to listen with compassion. I can increase my support of humanitarian causes, here at home. I can be an ambassador of goodwill wherever I may go. I can support the ideals of freedom and equality. I can defend the first constitutional amendment just as adamantly as others have defended the second amendment.

(Amendment I. Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.)

I can march in a near-by Sister March on Saturday morning, a peaceful way to celebrate human rights, diversity, freedom, and equality for all. (www.womensmarch.com)

Who knows, if pawns in every hometown opted to spread goodwill, understanding, and justice, maybe the sorry protagonist in this suspenseful story will manage to pull through and save the day after all.

Do you have ideas about ways to resist with love and compassion? If so, please share them in the blog comments. If you’re shopping for more great ideas, check out  johnpavlovitz.com/2017/01/14/10-acts-of-resistance-on-inauguration-day

A Mother’s Dream

Soon I will be traveling to spend a special birthday with my youngest, a beautiful woman now of 24 years. By this time next year she’ll have a child of her own crawling around, maybe tottering some first steps. I recall the wonder and anticipation I felt awaiting her arrival. And I remember the instant love, a mother’s bond, a determination to do whatever I could to see that she had a chance for a meaningful life.  I would give my life for my children. I suspect that many mothers–and fathers–feel this way toward a new life entrusted to them.

That was about the time when I renewed my interest in protecting the earth, our home planet, to preserve its vitality for generations to come. I wanted my children to experience the beauty of nature, to revel in the wilderness as I had when young. I wanted them to grow up with principles, and goals, and a sense of justice for the good of all, even wild creatures of God’s creation.

I imagined that mothers the world over held high hopes for a new baby, though the hopes might differ in their content. How would my hopes for a child in Kansas differ from the hopes of a new mother in Haiti? What hopes do new mothers harbor today? What hopes do you have for your new sons or daughters?

Below is a poem written when my youngest was weeks old. Thanks to my good friend, Lynne Hunter, for the photos from Haiti.

A Mother’s Dream

From a Kansas perspective                                            From a Haitian Perspective

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Her brown eyes filled with wonder at the moment of her birth

And they have yet to lose the spark that miracle did place.

I wonder, Baby Girl of mine, as you arrive on Earth

What is your future?  Can I see a hint within your face?

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His brown eyes filled with wonder at the moment of his birth.

But will that spark begin to dim, this miracle a waste?

I wonder, Baby Boy of mine, as you arrive on Earth

What is your future?  Will you be granted one with grace?

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My girl, I thank the Powers that be for your sake on this day.

There is a list for which you’ll never have to pray.

A home with food and clothing and a roomy place to play,

Security for all you need to make a life each day.

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My boy, I thank the Powers that be for your sake on this day.

There is a list for which you’ll never have to pray.

A character built up through need, through learning to say nay;

You will be patient, understanding, quick to share your play.

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And yet, my child, there are some things that I would ask for you.

Dear God, please give her challenges enough to grow within.

Spare her the clutter of a life empty of all that’s true;

Too many options, too much ease, affluence her great sin.

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My child, there are a lot of things I ask in your behalf.

Kind Father, grant his needs be met so he’ll become a man.

Give him this year good nourishment.  Protect him with your staff.

See that he grows to have a chance and thus fulfill your plan.

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My little child, whose birth inspired in me unequalled awe—

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I’d give my life if I could know your innocence will prevail.

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Lord, give her character built by patience; teach your loving law—

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Dear God, protect him; let him grow; our hope do not impale.

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My girl, refuse a life of idle ease.

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                                                            Son, learn to fight. Do not let go of things you need.

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                Daughter, reject the load of justices denied to others so we can live right.

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Grow up my son.

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Be strong, my girl.  Choose your road with care.

 

His brown eyes filled with wonder at the moment of his birth

And they have yet to lose the spark that miracle did place.

I wonder, Baby Boy of mine, as you arrive on Earth

What is your future?  Can I see a hint within your face?

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Her brown eyes filled with wonder at the moment of her birth.

But will that spark begin to dim, this miracle a waste?

I wonder, Baby Girl of mine, as you arrive on Earth

What is your future?  Will you be granted one with grace?

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Sanctuary: A Photo Essay

“A picture is worth a thousand words”. I wonder how many scenes can be pulled from just one word?

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courtesy Vijay Sherring
courtesy Vijay Sherring

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“A picture is worth a thousand words” but how many scenes can be pulled from just one word?

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s a n c t u a r y

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SACRED SACRED

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courtesy Rebecca McCutcheon, The Winfield Courier
courtesy Rebecca McCutcheon, The Winfield Courier

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Sntay anurySncay nct ractr –ntuy –ncta-tu–     r     –    y

aaghh!

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sanc SANCtuary. . . .SANCtuary

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S A C R E D 

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 S  A  N  C  T  U  A  R  Y  !  !  !

 
 
And Jesus went into the temple, and began to cast out those that sold and bought in the temple, ond overthrew the tables of the moneychangers . . . . And he told them, “Is it not written my house shall be called a house of prayer among all nations? But you have made it a den of thieves.” Mark 11: 15, 17
 
 
 
 
For more information, see
http://www.vjsexoticsafaris.com
http://www.rideforrenewables.com
http://350.org
http://www.tarsandsaction.org
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LpfWCpRvY9c&sns=fb

http://www.winfieldcourier.com/archives/article_e9faf415-cec6-562c-963e-98c3916b12c3.html

Once there was a Rooster

Dear Septanna,

Perhaps it was predictable that I should become an environmentalist, an earth-lover, a tree-hugger, defender of Nature from encroaching civilization. I was born in the month of May, the green month. PICT0635May’s stone is deep green emerald, the color which has always been my favorite. Green represents life, renewal, constancy, dependability. And hope. Green, the cool background color, frames splashes of vivid prairie blossoms during May. Just as the foliage of a wild rose bush catches and holds dew at night, green is a beautiful color, but in a quiet way.

PICT0085Like me. I’ve always been a quiet person. Public appearances never come easily to me. I am much more comfortable alone on my prairie, pen and notebook in hand, dogs panting happily at my feet after a run through the native pasture. The only sounds I hear besides their panting are wind whistling through bare branches on the trees surrounding our nearly-dry pond, and the screech of a hawk circling high above our heads.PICT0106

Gentle and kind-hearted, I wouldn’t hurt a flea.  Well, maybe a flea. But you get the idea. I am the calm greenness surrounding today’s flashy and assertive personalities.

So what happens when my prairie is in peril from the short-sighted choices of billions of people? What can I do to shake my fellow humans awake? You wouldn’t think there’d be much a timid, background sort of person could do. Those who have great wealth seem to possess the power on our planet today. They seem to be seduced by the prospects of even greater profits and will wield significant influence to exploit our finite planetary resources for short-term gain. At your expense, dear Septanna. But what can one shy grandmother do about it?

Just when I feel all is lost, I recall the rooster. And I find hope.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOnce there was this rooster.He was supposed to be a hen, an araucana hen, no less. He should have laid eggs with pastel green shells. Several years ago I bought three araucana pullets for the novelty of having green eggs. Two of those pullets turned out to be roosters. There was only one hen. Pullets are supposed to be female chicks so all three should have laid eggs.

Somebody made a mistake.  Twice.

As these two roosters grew, they began to crow. One turned aggressive. He terrorized his brother, his sister, and every other hen in our chicken house.

I exiled him to fend for himself outside the chicken yard. You may be wondering why I didn’t just make some chicken noodle soup. Well, that’s me—prisoner of my own soft heart, I was incapable of harming this fighting cock. I couldn’t kill this rooster. But I wouldn’t have stopped a coyote from hauling him off. He was exiled. He paced the chicken yard perimeter day after day, month after month, even (yes) year after year. He plotted in his wee bird brain how he might gain access to the hens again.

I’d scatter some grain for him every morning—couldn’t let him starve either. But I wasn’t going to let him terrorize my hens.

So he charged me. Imagine that! I was the person who let him live, the provider of his daily food. But he charged me. He seemed to wait until I turned my back and, with a rush of feet across the ground and a flurry of wings, he launched himself toward my legs, spurs outstretched.

I took to carrying a child’s plastic bat with me to do chores. If I thumped the bat on the ground as I approached, he seemed to get the message. He left me alone. Most of the time.

There were still instances when I heard the rush and thunder of his charge behind me. Then some interesting things happened inside me. My heart rate  jumped to double in about two seconds. I’d turn toward this fighting cock, raise that bat and swing with all my might. No thought process was involved, simply act and react, a mere instinct to fight my aggressor. On more than one occasion, the bat connected squarely with this rooster’s head. I knocked him silly. He’d stagger around and slump to the ground, quivering and jerking in spasms.

I felt instant remorse. “Oh my God, I’ve killed him!” I thought. As if that would be a bad thing. For me, though, kind-hearted timid little me, it was a bad thing. I dropped the bat and retreated to a safe distance. I watched until he struggled to his feet and dragged himself around the corner of the hen house.

Eventually this rooster met his fate, but not at my hands. However, because of his aggression, I learned that somewhere deep inside of me, I have the instincts and the adrenaline to fight when I feel threatened. I think that’s applicable to our world today, Septanna. My intuition tells me that many of the choices made by my fellow human beings pose a threat—not just to me, not just to my prairie, but to you as well. And there’s nothing more dangerous than an angry mother, be it a bear or a human being. Maybe it’s time to start carrying my bat again and fight for you in every way I can imagine.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA