Tuesday, March 13, 2018


The stark socio/political impressions that inspired the pen and voice of  activist-artist Bob Dylan, who recently was a recipient of a Nobel Prize, are still with us. Those impressions led him to pen such anthems as:

Blowin’ in the Wind

‘’How many roads must a man walk down
Before you call him a man?
How many seas must a white dove sail
Before she sleeps in the sand?
Yes, and how many times must the cannonballs fly
Before they’re forever banned?

The answer, my friend, is blowin in the wind
The answer is blowin in the wind”

And …

A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall

“Oh, what did you meet my blue-eyed son ?
Who did you meet, my darling young one?
I met a young child beside a dead pony
I met a white man who walked a black dog
I met a young woman whose body was burning
I met a young girl, she gave me a rainbow
I met one man who was wounded in love
I met another man who was wounded in hatred
And it’s a hard, it’s a hard, it’s a hard, it’s a hard
And it’s a hard rain’s a-gonna fall”.

The season of Rock and Roll evolved into the season of Rap and Reggae… Reggae, a sound that has its origins in the shared dynamic syncopation of our heartbeats… This season mobilized a strident uprising against racism and apartheid, against wars and rumors of wars, against economic vampires and their bloodsucking ways… It shook the foundations of the System of Oppression from Jamaica to Rome to London to Paris to Washington to South Africa to Mozambique. This season spoke with an unmistakable force in the voice of prophetic luminaries like Robert Nesta Marley and the Wailers… A force felt in the well-fired architecture of renditions of:

Babylon System

‘We refuse to be
What you wanted us to be;
We are what we are:
That’s the way it’s going to be. You don’t know!
You can’t educate I
For no equal opportunity:
Talkin’ ’bout my freedom,
People freedom and liberty!
Yeah, we’ve been trodding on the winepress much too long:
Rebel, rebel!”



“Until the philosophy
Which holds one race superior and another
Is finally
And permanently
And abandoned
Everywhere is war
Me say war
That until there are no longer
First class and second class citizens of any nation
Until the color of a man’s skin
Is of no more significance than the color of his eyes
Me say war”

Are you listening?
Are ... You ...  Skanking ...?


The tension between who we are and who we must become in order to realize our fullest human potential is real. That tension is, for many, a source of great physical, emotional, and spiritual trauma.

The demands of growth and change can seem overwhelming, but to maintain our health and sustain our general well-being we must at some point make a determination to meet them. This process is without doubt uncomfortable, since it involves our breaking out of old ways into new ways of being and behaving. Some of us recognize and embrace the change that grows us; while some of us will have that change forced upon us in the very midst of our unwillingness.

Over the course of our lives, and from one generation to another, we develop a certain vested interest in keeping things stable. We do not like change. We work on the establishment of a certain status quo in our personal and communal experiences, and we invest substantial material and intellectual resources in its maintenance. We become comfortable with the ways we establish, and we resist any attempt to breach the walls that surround those ways. To keep those walls up we foster certain self-serving dogmas… We demand that others not rock our boats… And why?…  Well… We do not want our boats to be rocked! Simple. No more questions. That. Is. It.

Well, as for the no more questions part… Not so simple. For better or for worse, the rocking of boats is an inevitable fact of life in the very fluid course of our dynamic reality. The challenges of our existence are not just omnipresent and inevitable; they are necessary. They enliven us by stirring our creative juices. These challenges come and go like day and night. They are as present and as essential as Oxygen in the air we breathe. They are at once as certain, and as unpredictable as the wind. And, when they come, they demand that we make adjustments in both the perceptions and the practices of our lives.

Thursday, March 8, 2018


Remember Malala?

“Malala Yousafzai was born on July 12, 1997, in Mingora, Pakistan. As a child, she became an advocate for girls’ education, which resulted in the Taliban issuing a death threat against her. On October 9, 2012, a gunman shot Malala when she was traveling home from school. She survived, and has continued to speak out on the importance of education. She was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize in 2013. In 2014, she was nominated again and won, becoming the youngest person to receive the Nobel Peace Prize… “ ~From her biography

All of us, female, male, and those who find themselves in the challenging position of not being able to declare for either side of the gender equation must speak with our own words about our own lives. We must articulate our aspirations with the force of our own breaths. This is the great challenge of our existence. It is a challenge that we must own in the face of every circumstance that seeks to define who we are and what we can become. And when we have lived up to that challenge we must then become the voice of those who cannot speak. We must stand up for those who cannot stand. We must insist on equal treatment for our fellow beings who depend on us because they suffer disadvantages and disabilities that make them unable to do so for themselves.

In a world that has tended to encode the “law of the jungle” as our modus operandi, we continue to witness the use of tradition and religion to express the imbalance that is a fact of our communal experiences. In too many of our “villages” the “strong” continue to inflict their will on those they can use force to victimize. It is in this kind of world that a girl can be shot in her head for pursuing an education that does not limit her to the roles that some men have carved out for her. It is in this kind of world that girls and women are raped and sold into slavery to satisfy the fundamentalist delusions of those who have not sorted out their existential insecurities. The rest of us must not stand by and allow this lunacy. We must face this madness with resolve. We cannot ignore the cries of the disadvantaged, nor can we remain in our safe enclaves while our fellow human beings are subjected to the unspeakable horrors of a culture of vile ignorance.

The great challenge of our time is not just the building of civil societies. That work must be enhanced by our insistence on the encoding of Justice in our laws. Justice is a function of Equality… the state of being equal, especially in status, rights, and opportunity. This then is not just a work that must be pursued in Pakistan and other places afar off. The work of Justice must be done on our own doorsteps, in our own homes, and community, and nation. The areas of concern are many. They include the arenas of race and gender. Just wages. Equal access to every opportunity for betterment. Equal pay for equal work. The right to vote of every citizen must be guaranteed.

Those who seek to deny others these basic human rights are in fact not better than the men who shot this young woman in her head. It is time to stand with courage against every brute who lives by denying others their just claim to Life,  Liberty,  and the Pursuit of Happiness.

Starbucks recently announced it is partnering with the Malala Fund to improve the lives of at least 250,000 women and girls from all over the Globe. And we should all say an ongoing “Amen!” to efforts such as this.

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Winged - A Tribute to the World Champion Philadelphia Eagles

I …am an eagle
Watch me rise…
Beyond limiting horizons
I have set mine eyes…
And I…Will brace my wings
Against the wind
And rise…and rise…and rise

I…am an eagle
Watch mine eyes…
Surveying the dominion
Of yonder skies…
I have seen the world
Beyond the limits…
And I am determined
To find my place in it…

I am the eagle with omnipotent wings…
My strength is a wonder
To all lesser beings
Who have tried to detract
In all the ways they could…
But my life is a fact
They never understood”

I …am an eagle
Watch me rise…
Beyond limiting horizons
I have set mine eyes…
And I…Will brace my wings
Against the wind
And rise…and rise…and rise

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

The End... And The Beginning

Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing?
The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord, and against his anointed, saying, Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us.
He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh: the Lord shall have them in derision.
Then shall he speak unto them in his wrath, and vex them in his sore displeasure.
Yet have I set my king upon my holy hill of Zion. I will declare the decree: the Lord hath said unto me, Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee. Ask of me, and I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession. Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron; thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter's vessel.
Be wise now therefore, O ye kings: be instructed, ye judges of the earth. Serve the Lord with fear, and rejoice with trembling. Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and ye perish from the way, when his wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all they that put their trust in him. - Psalm 2

The establishment of a more just society will always have its detractors. They are usually those interested in keeping things the way they are. They want to do so because they can collateralize their existential insecurities by creating constant imbalances in the lives of others. Their hope is founded in the despair that they breed and cultivate in the life of others.

The prospects of a more equitable world threatens the system of things. And so there will be "rage" against those who seek, through just means, to bring about a more peaceful world. To maintain the status quo, those who want to benefit from it engage in sowing discord among peoples and nations. They do so in order to fill their coffers with the ill-gotten gains of conflict-generation. Their treasure chests are filled at the expense of the flag-draped coffins of those they trick into combat with their fraudulent calls to patriotism.

The establishment of Justice is by no means a parochial event. There is a whole world waiting to be redeemed. It is not the proffered endowment of any “chosen people”. The unrelenting objections and protestations of those who believe and act as if the World owes them preferential treatment will come back to haunt them. This will be the case because of the existential contradictions in their behavior. They ignore the evil tendencies in their own hearts, while they pursue their intentions to raid and steal their neighbors' vineyard as some kind of birthright. This vain  hypocrisy will not endure...

That day will come when the inherent contradictions in the behavior of  the unjust will cause derision and revulsion toward and among them. That day will come when they will be measured by the same judgement they pronounce against others. Against their loud and aggressive protestations, Justice shall prevail; and the "stone" that the builders refused, and berated, shall be its very foundation. The hegemony they assumed will be obliterated. In the end those who resist what is just and right will have to deal with the consequences of their own intransigence.

The just shall inherit the earth.

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Let Virtue Abound!

Ralph Waldo Emerson - in one of his many moments of clarity - reminds us that: The essence of greatness is the perception that virtue is enough”. This insight was as useful in his time as it is now; its veracity being the reason for its durability. In our time the preoccupation with greatness is a major indulgence of certain individuals, groups, and nations. Some want to become great, while some long to have again the greatness they claim has been lost over time via the dilution of cultural and political influences that they perceive as antithetical to their interests. 

At the very core of the assumptions that inform the concept of prominence implicit in the strident rhetoric that serves these interests, is a sense of selfhood that presumes supremacy over those who are seen as somehow inferior by virtue of certain specific cultural indices. Hidden among these are held prejudices about race, skin color, economic dominance, and gender. These prejudices serve to mask the existential insecurities of those who are shaken by the threat of being non-entities in a world where power is perceived in terms of the parading of opulence. That opulence historically is the result of a dynamic of exploitation; the entrenched disenfranchisement of the many by a few whose vices are rationalized by philosophical and institutional devices designed to propagate their interest.

Absent from the consideration of greatness are the deeper issues that cradle the essential viability of the human enterprise. Among these are sound values that underlay community. Ultimately there can be no greatness, individual or otherwise, in isolation. Gestalt makes a valid point - the whole is much more than the sum of its parts. United we stand. Divided we will fall. Any meaningful contemplation of greatness must include precepts that bring us together against the assault of a culture of selfishness. Chief among these precepts is Virtue.
Virtue is defined as: moral goodness; upright living; righteousness. All these values may be expressed as: doing to others as you would have them do to youVirtue challenges us to lift each other up in the face of circumstances that are down-pressing. Virtue is that light in the darkness. It warms the cold, comforts the afflicted, reassures the frightened, and shows the way to those who may be lost.
Virtue moves us toward each other. It makes us care in a culture where one person’s mis-step or misfortune is treated as nobody else’s concern. Virtue opens our eyes where it is more convenient to be blind. When we care, we align our lives with the cause of Justice. When we align our lives with the cause of justice, we find ourselves in solidarity with the purpose of working to liberate our fellowmen from all circumstances that are dehumanizing.
Virtue calls us to community... to a sense of personal and corporate accountability. This precept challenges us to let our light shine as a guide to others. Unlike the superficial platitudes of those who would exploit others for their own ends... Virtue reminds us that an authentic love is not a function of our simple-minded heroism. An authentic love... a virtuous love... is the real work that we must each do to save ourselves from the despair bred by dysfunctional living
If we would be great we must firmly and sincerely point the way to both communal and self-redemption. The cultivation of Virtue is absolutely necessary in each life. Virtuous living is liberating. It is expressed as a state of good health - in a State of good health. Virtue prioritizes Moral health... Physical health... Cultural health... Communal health... National well-being. 

Beyond the putrid rhetoric of a vain nationalism - Let Virtue abound!

Friday, December 22, 2017

A Season Of Hopefulness

Comes a time when the need to change the circumstances of your life will impose itself on your consciousness in a markedly undeniable way. You will know that moment as a new and forceful breath that fills up the stale chambers of your being. That enabling wind will lift you above the depressing old expectations that once informed your sense of being in the world in which you exist. And when that Arising comes to you, you will make a compact bundle of the things that mean the most to you. And you will gather around you those who have shared the experiences that shaped the now in which you find yourself. You will tell them that the time has come for you to pursue a different kind of future. It may be that some of them will want to trade the stale air that depresses them for the inspiration of that dynamic new gale that ruffles feathers and enables the wings that will lift you above and beyond the vale of despair.

Your life is yours. It is yours to lose. It is yours to save. It is yours to do something or nothing with. Ultimately no one else can occupy that space in eternity that you now inhabit. Accept that… know that this is true. Wake up from the slumber of unconsciousness that befalls so many. Open your eyes and train your senses for the challenges you must face as you become more and more aware of the circumstances that you now call your life. Is it what you want it to be? If not, why not? Be honest.

What are the aspirations that once energized you that have over time gone dormant? Where is the fire in your gut that once danced as a sparkle in your eyes? Like so many before you and around you, that fire may have been doused by the too many swallowed tears of mounting disappointments. Your primordial blaze may have succumbed to the many buckets of cold water poured on by those who seek to thrive by suppressing the aspirations of others. You may have gotten stuck in the mud of a sense of worthlessness cultivated by an overindulgence of your failings. You do not have to continue to wallow in that precarious existential state.

Your Moment Of Awakening comes, and when it does do not slight it as one more occasion of pipe-dreaming. Do not ignore your Epiphany by deferring the need to get up out of the bed of despair. Instead, adjust your position… determine to take up your bed and walk. Wake up and set your face against the place that locks you up and shuts you down. Make up your mind to leave behind you every influence that binds you to a future of hopelessness.

Beyond the state of bondage and despair that too many of us endure, lies The Land Of Promise… the promise of a more fulfilling life. Getting there will force you to confront daunting odds. There are “many rivers to cross”. There are discouraging voices calling you back to the deleterious ways that you must now discard; voices you must necessarily disregard. Yes, there are obstacles that will seem insurmountable that you must face and overcome. But you can… you must… and you, with the inspiration of a new vision of yourself, you will overcome those obstacles.

Your life is a promise to be fulfilled. Your dreams are possibilities to be explored. You have within you the power to become everything you believe you can be. Yes, beyond the state of bondage and despair lies the Land Of Promise. Beyond the disparaging critique of those who live to break others, lies the power of your possibilities… the boundlessness of your dreams.

Beyond the days of pain and grief lies a Season Of Hopefulness that only you can deny yourself through your own lack of faith. Faith… that ability to reach into the the future and touch the things you have hoped for. Faith… that focus on your life which allows you to grasp the significance of things you have not yet accomplished, but which you now must.

Arise! Get up out of the rut of complacency. Stand up and determine to find your footing despite the instability that has come to define your circumstances. You can part the “Red Sea” in your mind a thousand times, but your journey to a prosperous future will only begin when you actually get up and start doing the work that your better life demands. This moment is as good as any to embark on that journey into A Season Of Hopefulness.

Friday, November 3, 2017

Of Our Fears, Our Dogmas, and Our Fragile Existentialism

Some random thoughts on a recent flight...
The idea that we are free and are therefore ultimately responsible for the choices we make is a philosophical burden that few of us are prepared to assume. In a world in which it is sometimes convenient to believe that “what is to be will be”, we tend to cultivate a certain pathos around the reality that whatever is to be is up to us. I have come to believe this. Many of us declare a pre-determinism that assumes that our course in this life has been set, and there is nothing we can do about it. What is to be, will be. Period.
We can agree that there are some things we have little or no control over in our lives; but our fate and destiny are determined by the course that we ourselves set by each decision we make. There are people who will never set foot on an airplane because of their fear of flying. Like bungee jumping, and riding on the latest version of a wild roller coaster, they just wont do it. Our most awe-full phobias are fed by one decision after another not to do something…not to take those steps which will ultimately give us power over our irrationality.
In other contexts in our lives we parrot the dogma “practice makes perfect”, but we fail to see its implication for the “finishing” of ourselves with regards to our fears. Yes, the word “perfect” means “finished”, and it is an often stated fact that none of us are. We are impacted daily by the formative influences of the hands of experience. The perfection that life nudges us toward is a function of the steps we take to overcome our worries and our fears. Sometimes the nudges of reality are painful and unsettling, but they force us to look more clearly at the ground around our feet. They make us look again with more critical eyes at the assumptions in which we have anchored our expectations.
Our fears sabotage every aspect of our existence. They prevent one from asking for a deserved salary increase at the job one has done well for five, six, seven years. It is fear that causes an unhappy spouse not to declare to the world that his or her marriage is a miserable sham that should end. The desire to maintain the status quo at the expense of one’s fulfillment demands unreasonable self-sacrifice. We worry about outcomes that may never be because fear breeds irrationality. My existentialism says, if a thing is unreasonable it is wrong. There comes a moment when we are shaken by the need to right the ship of fear-filled living.
My thoughts go by like wisps of cirrus clouds. A multitude of “what ifs” find their way in and out of my mind despite the protestations of my rationalism. I eventually surrender to the moment, recognizing the reality that there are some possibilities that lay on the heap of fate which are out of my control. My mind goes back to something that Cypher Raige says to his son Kitai in the movie After Earth : Danger is very real. Fear is always a choice”.
I try for a moment to reconfigure the notion… Fear is a response to danger… . 
My reformulation sounds reasonable, it is congruent with what I have heard others conclude, but I chose to stick with Cypher Raige’s dogma…Fear is a choice. Something about this formulation engenders a sense of being in control. I identify with that. The thought appeals to something in the DNA of my personhood, so I let it soak in. It fleshes out my existentialism, fragile as it may be.