Thursday, January 31, 2013

Heads I win, Tales you loose.

I’ve never really been afraid of polemic utterances and in fact I think I can honestly say that I’ve promoted my share of controversy through inflammatory statements, innuendo and out and out blatant ambiguity with the hope of spurring and inciting discussions for the sole purpose of getting people to talk.  What good is a blog if no one responds?  I  guess it’s like the experiment of determining if a tree that falls in the forest makes a sound, if no one is around to hear it, is it really a blog if no one reads what’s been written?

I like controversy, the storm and hullabaloo of provocation and the niggling of minds beliefs in order to garner debate.  Debate is good, “jaw, jaw, Jaw is better than war, war, war.  Winston Churchill.  As long as we can continue to debate the issues, as long as we can continue to flap our jaws the alternative of war is averted, at least for a time.  When talks break down, feelings get hurt or groups are offended the serious issues turn into unsolvable problems with neither side listening, there is not hearing when all you want to do is yell.  

The issues of our day are serious and are on the verge of a breakdown from the salvation of discourse, common interchange of words for the purpose of finding shared beliefs and equal standings on the variety of issues that currently plague our nation and our world.  We are on the cusp of a meltdown, the boiling pot of community is overflowing into the fires of discord, burning and scorching every one as the once mild waters spill over, steaming its disgust over our inability to maintain even a low boil of civility.

Too many issues are already beyond tongued dissertation.  Abortion is fractured with both sides obdurate and obstinate, no space for yielding even the smallest of connection.  Conservatism versus Liberalism created a level of distrust that both sides see the devil not only in the details but in the actual representatives who speak for their beliefs.  It is an all-out war for supremacy and congressional control.  Gun rights, global warming, fossil fuels, the list goes on and in each case the galactic separation creates camps of followers that pay allegiance, scheme and strategies not for the good of the people or the nation but for their beloved cause.

Our nation has changed it used to be simple.  There was the Republic it was a representative government ruled by law (the Constitution).   Now, we have a democracy, which is a direct government ruled by the majority (mob rule).   A Republic recognizes the inalienable rights of individuals while democracies are only concerned with group wants or needs (the public good).  Even the fundamental aspects of our society have become fractured and blistering under the heat of controversy.  It seems as though no one really wants us to return to what worked and the plan is to move full steam ahead on tracks that have failed in the past and will most likely fail again. 
The fissures and fractures within our standards are widening with an overall believe in moral relativism, whatever you think is right is right, just because you think it is.  But the Moral framework must be standardized or else there is no framework to speak of.  We must have standards and limits but so far all we have is discord and a cacophony of voices clambering to be heard just so the speakers can hear themselves speak.

How do we get back to the civility when one side or the other is obdurate and immovable? How can do immovable forces be aligned so that they move together?  I can only see one way.  Talking hasn’t worked, regardless of what Churchill hoped for, discussions don’t seem to turn the tide, nor do negotiations where both sides get less then they expect creating animosity and distrust.  This is the controversial part of this blog…are you sitting down or maybe you prefer to stand, whatever makes you the most comfortable:

As parents what do you do when your children don’t get along?  What do you do when two kids on the playground are fighting?  There has to be a superior force, a rational voice to intervene, a power over the rest that sits them down, tells them were their wrong and basically forces them to listen to reason.

One side needs to take charge, I mean really take charge and that my friends may mean real battles, a real war in order to establish the voice of law.  

What side will you be on depends on what you believe, what your experience with history has been and what level of wisdom you currently possess.  Will you simply cut the child in half or find the true mother of our nation and give the child back to its rightful parent?

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Ghosts at your front door.

It was late, 2:30 or so in the morning. There was a deep fog surrounding the pillars of the old Hacienda. As the truck lumbered down the uneven gravel drive the lights of the 18 wheeler bounced with each dip in the road, many still filled with water from the recent rain. Trees of poplar stood tall but leafless, like sentinels guarding the way, casting shadows that moved and danced with the bounding and dipping flashes of the headlights creating a surreal scene of ethereal creatures floating and falling, appearing and disappearing as each tree exposed was passed and forgotten.

As the truck passed the last of the tree-lined guards the illuminated structure of the water tower irradiated and glowed and for an instant, the metal cross beams and ladder animated and energized its long legs stepping ever so quickly, only to freeze in place once the lights passed. The fog again obscuring the sides of the truck, its lights now heading straight for the 17-century Hacienda, its arched pillars casting their shadows quickly from side to side as the truck rolled to a screeching stop, its air breaks releasing a hiss of escape and then all was silent.

Petro, the truck driver open his door and stepped first onto the metal grating below the door, his boots, handmade of alligator skins slightly glimmered from the still shinning beams of the headlights that reflected off the terra-cotta tile flooring and the plaster walls.  Petro was delivering his bi-weekly load of ore from a mine near agua-Caliente, a mine that produced a variety of metals including trace amounts of gold, silver but mostly copper. His duty was to drop the trailer, leave his bill of lading and go home.

With the bill in hand, Petro moved toward the opening of the patio, a patio that in the traditional Spanish design surrounded the entire home, encircling the inner chambers with pristine arches and red tile floors, floors that glistened with the glow of kerosene as a polisher.  His boots clipped the tile as he steeped under the first arch.  His eyes were down mostly as he walked toward the massive double doors that led into the inner courtyard of the stately home of Don Edwardo, Edwin Jarvis the owner of the hacienda and president of Kold Kist foods, one of the first companies to freeze cooked foods in the world and supplier of beef from this Mexican ranch and packing house.

As Petro looked he saw a beautiful woman dressed in glowing gowns of the traditional style of old Mexico replete with flowing headdress and ornate hair comb.  He stopped in his tracks and was speechless; this in itself was a wonder for Petro was never speechless. A moment later “who are you” he spoke in Spanish, not rude but a simple inquiry, knowing that the parties at the Rancho San Martin were legendary.  

There was no response, so he stepped closer and asked again, “Who are you, are you lost?”
Again, no response so he stepped closer; as he did the beautiful woman turned, her flowing robes following like the fog that surrounded the area and walked through the massive oak doors and disappeared. 

Petro was no fool, nor was he afraid, his first thought was of some mischief so he ran toward the door and tried to open it, it was locked. He quickly removed his key and opened the doors only to see the same woman standing next to a bedroom door on the far side of the courtyard. Again as he stepped closer she disappeared.

Without pause, Petro rapped on Don Eduardo’s window and in seconds recounted with breathless urgency the events of the past few minutes. They both made their way toward the bedroom door and opened it, Petro expecting to see what he had seen before, Don Eduardo not knowing what to expect.
With the door open they turned on the lights and saw me lying asleep (true story) on the bed situated in the middle of room. My grandfather gently woke me and asked if I had seen anything? “What, seen what?” I asked. He patted my ten-year-old head and sent me back to sleep.

Two days later, the same Petro drove his same truck to the same Hacienda with a similar load of ore. He stepped from his truck and started his walk toward the same massive oak doors. Almost forgotten was the apparition. But this time not only was the woman present but with her a stately gentleman of a young age, dressed impeccably with black waistcoat ornamented with silver buttons, and ornate piping with silver lacing down each leg; his hat large and ornate covering most of his obvious handsome face.  

He called out without pause, “Who are you?” his voice raised in both slight fear and anger. Petro ran toward the door his papers still in hand; he reached the door moments before the two disappeared beyond the massive 15 foot double doors, again locked securely. 

Petro reached to his left and grabbed the rope below the bell that hung next to the doors and feverishly rang an alarm. He jumped again toward the doors and unlocking them and springing into the hallway that led to the open courtyard. When he reached the inner courtyard, my grandfather was out of his room and running toward where Petro was standing and both saw the phantoms standing next to the room where I was once again sound asleep.

Without thinking, the two large men bolted toward the spirits, Petro again yelling, “Who are you?”
As before they disappeared into the room and as before my grandfather, Don Eduardo woke me to ask if I had seen anything. It took me less time to awake but again I had not seen nor heard anything and was again told to go back to sleep. Sleep, however, did not come so easy as before, it took a long time but eventually the cocks were crowing and the sun was ready to show its power.

No one said anything to me about the events of the past few nights and it wasn’t until a tractor was excavating near the rear of the house a few days later, it had gone over a small ditch and was attempting to smooth the area when the tractor fell six feet into an opening, an opening that revealed a long forgotten tunnel.

That same day two tiles cracked right in front of my bed. I told my grandfather, and he had a worker there to repair it within the hour. As he started to remove the tiles, the floor gave way, and with it about 4 square feet or so of tile, all fell within the opening.  

I had been watching the man work; I was actually bored and a little tired as I lay on my bed and watched the worker scramble away from the hole. When the dust settled, we could clearly see the bottom of the pit. The worker had run to get Don Eduardo, leaving me on the bed.

Before they returned, I leaned over the front of the bed and peered into the hole. Despite the fallen tiles I could clearly see two skeletal forms, their bony arms wrapped lovingly around each other. The fancy hat still intact but threadbare, her hair comb held in place, not by hair but by the remnants of the fine silk that still draped over her once beautiful head.

The story goes that 100 years before, this particular hacienda and others in the area were often attacked by local Indians. As a precaution the ranchers built tunnels between the ranches so the occupants could escape if the Indians attacked one ranch or another, escaping into the tunnels to a connected hacienda. It was speculated that the two ghosts were caught in the middle with no way out and died in the very tunnel that was supposed to be their salvation. 

Their bones were left as they were found, the tunnel filled in and the tile was replaced. I moved rooms and no other sightings of these two lost souls have ever been witnessed again.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Peace Or Freedom?

Peace or freedom has often been pitted against the other to sway the minds of those who eschew the one for getting in the way of the other.  The balanced attempt to achieve both peace and freedom has eluded mankind throughout the ages with only short intervals of both combining to gift to man a Shanghai-La existence.   Even in those short intervals of time one or the other had to be spent in order to lift the other.  There is a direct correlation between the attainment of Peace and the realization of Freedom.

For most the two terms are often interchangeable with peace being a form of freedom and freedom being the act of peace.  Our desire should be to obtain both in harmony but the reality of peace is often the result of a vigorous defense or active offense against foes that want neither peace nor freedom for those that appose their designs.  

Peace can be obtained as long as you’re willing to give up your freedoms and accept the rules imposed by those in control.  The issue of peace over freedom is in a sense a form of slavery, an acceptable repression of thought and action, giving up the rights of free thought, free travel and self-improvement for the safety and security of a like Nanny State.  

There are millions who would rather have that peaceful feeling of complacency rather than the fight over choice and independence.  This is not a black or white issue but rather an issue of degrees.  On one side are the anarchists who want no laws nor controls, choosing to live without the rule of any law, willing to take their chances with others that feel the same way.  Survival of the fittest might be apropos with the weak almost always subservient to the strong.  The week however could find a sense of peace as long as they succumb to the demands of the strong.

Another issue is for those believers who would rather lay down their lives rather than have to fight.  There wish is that everyone gets along and tranquil feelings of love and trust abound.  It may not be realistic but it is probable.  Most religions believe in a perfect state of harmony where lamb and lion lay side by side.  I’ve always wondered what goes through their respective minds when the lion is licking his lips in hunger and the lamp is petrified with freight but that is the goal for those who profess that perfect peace with the hope that the mind set of both the lamb and the lion is sufficiently altered to allow for that peaceful coexistence.

Communes and collectives have tried to create harmonious societies were everyone shares, free love abounds and no one knows who’s kids are who’s, but it has been tried and with some success.  Any failures are usually attributed toward the few selfish among them or outside influences that filter in and rust the true nature of the living peace.

If you had to choose would you choose peace over freedom or would you prefer freedom over peace knowing you could only have one which one would you choose?  This exercise in theory may bring some interesting results when we realize that one cannot survive nor flourish without the other and both must be fought for and battled over, sustained through hard work and vigilance.  Neither comes without sacrifice and it is in the sacrifice that each is ultimately appreciated and obtained.

Unless all of humanity can agree that peace is the answer and everyone is willing and able to forgo any selfish desires, “thou shalt not covet…”, then there will always be the issue of defending what is ours.  As long as there are those who wish to retain ownership then the desire for power over another will continue and with it the need for defense of our free will.   Desire toward ownership is not evil nor bad but in relation to establishing total human peace there can be no desire to have over another in want.

Freedom is so much more than the anarchistic and animalistic ventures of men without rules.  True freedom requires rules and adherence to those basic principles that bring the society of man together inharmonic synthesis.   Gravity is a good example of a law that brings more freedom not less.  Kindness and charity are other universal laws that actually expand our rights and privileges rather than curtail those freedoms.  

The balance between peace and freedom is the ultimate goal but as we continue to struggle for peace we will assuredly have to continue to fight for the freedoms that allow us to live a peaceful and productive life.  If we chose not to fight both our freedom and our peace will be taken from us.
Think again, what would you chose, peace or freedom?

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Pugnacious Pigskins

The super bowl is coming, an anticipated event for what Americans refer to as the greatest sporting event of all time, all time?  A little presumptuous but it’s all in fun, isn’t it?  We call it football a name stolen from the Original version (the English one...) that means the one from England.  Their game originated over 400 years ago, when villages, sometimes a mile apart, would kick a bladder (stomach bladder, the inside of a cow) around a stretch of countryside and the first one to get it to a set point, or a goal, in the opposing village would win. At these matches, they were incredibly violent; some people even used clubs to beat the opposition away.  

Can you imagine the American version using clubs to break through the defensive line, wielding perfectly balanced bats, not to be confused with the American Baseball Bat or the English Cricket Bat, they would have to have their own designs I’m sure, maybe with spikes?

American Football was created and has very specific differences than its Soccer and rugby counterparts around the world, the most notable being the line of scrimmage, not to be confused with the rugby scrum and most notably the rule changes instituted by Walter Camp, considered the "Father of American Football" who also instituted the down-and-distance rules, in other words the grid iron and the need to advance the ball within set parameters.

The violence of the original and the current American version are about all they have in common.  The English version morphed into rugby and worldwide soccer while the cows, it might have been a sheep as well, bladder was eventually made into a real ball that was kicked around a defined field with thousands of screaming fans, standing, ranting, singing club songs and starting massive riots to justify a win or make excuses for loosing.

In the American version the goal is the same and the goal is a defined line, soccer has a goalie that actually does protect the goal and the goal is to get the ball into the net that is the finish line in soccer. In American football the same goal is to get the ball over the finish line, the goal line, but the difference is that there is no net, it’s simply an end zone, kind of like a war zone, except most of the battles are fought within the field.  

From its humble beginnings the farmers, shop keepers and anyone else brave enough to venture onto the open fields of England would do their best to avoid being clubbed to death or stabbed by a pitchfork or impaled by some other unknown sharp object.  Their goal was a simple, albeit a dangerous one, get the air filled bladder to the other town before the other town got that same bladder to your town.

Today we don’t use sticks or clubs, we do in baseball and cricket but generally their not used as weapons, we use padding, face shields, sticky gloves and helmets;  not only for protection but to cause as much carnage as possible with the opposing side.  It’s amazing what a helmet on the head of a 250 pound defensive end can do to the groin or lower back of the poor sap holding the ball. 
We used to play a game in school, the name was very pejorative, “smear the ….” At the time I had no idea what a gay was let alone an LGBT (if you need to know look it up) but the game involved creaming the guy or occasionally the girl with the ball.  You could pass off the ball but that’s all you could do, there were no goals, no nets, no end, no glory, except for Danny the fat kid who could repel all comers and literally just stand there, laughing at the rest of our feeble attempts to knock him over.  The point is many of us got hurt playing this little game between finger painting and third grade math with Mrs. Maze.  I wish she would have picked up the ball, I think the whole class would have enjoyed tackling her to the ground.

It seems we are a violent race of people; we take great joy in watching boxers beat each other to a pulp, cage fighting and school brawls always bring a ready and curious crowd.  American football will most likely generate over 115,000,000 viewers, most loving the game, many having played in high school or college, many more thinking they played but almost all waiting with tongues hanging as they wait and drool over the helmet crashing, bone crushing crusade of one team trying to get the village of the other just to score a point or two.   

Did I mention how much money the NFL makes?  Each season the NFL will generate up to 14 billion dollars. No wonder they don’t want their players, like Junior Seau who died recently from mental issues derived from taking too many hits to the head, to know about the devastating injuries, the loss of memory, the paralysis and the other life changing mishaps that occur on the field of battle.  Maybe we should simply pay our soldiers more and televise their battles; it is all about the violence isn’t it?